Book Review Series: The Throne of David, what Saturday’s Warrior & Da Vinci Code have in common, Mormon movies, my cute kids, etc.

The Throne of David

The Throne of David begins when teenage boys find a thirty-year-old, undelivered bag of mail. The authorities deliver the long lost parcels, including a letter to the prince of England. The contents of the letter spark a deadly chain of events on both sides of the Atlantic as the rightful heir to the British throne is called into question. The Throne of David is the first novel of Ann Farnsworth, a mother of ten who tells readers that “the stories that have been stewing inside my head as I washed dishes, cooked dinner and helped with homework these last 25 years are bubbling up and out of my fingertips.” But this novel is no reflection of the domestic life the author tells us she was living as she imagined the story. From the moment the teenage boys turn over the mailbag at the beginning of the first chapter, this novel becomes an adult adventure, much too harrowing for children, with characters chasing each other around the world, fighting for their lives, killing each other, and never washing dishes or cooking dinner.

I chose to read the Throne of David after reading some complimentary reviews at Amazon. One of the readers compared it to the Da Vinci Code. That piqued my interest. On her blog, Farnsworth says that the the Da Vinci Code is one of her favorite books, so perhaps she was influenced by it.  Personally, I didn’t feel like the books were similar, other than that both books have a lot of action (violence) and incorporate some elements of religious legend into the crime motive.

The Da Vinci CodeI don’t really enjoy reading violence, but I tolerate it when it is relevant to the plot and the plot is compelling. Maybe it is the compelling plot of the Da Vinci Code that inspired so many other books refuting its “truthfulness.” I read the Da Vinci Code because I was curious why so many people would busy themselves convincing the world that a work of fiction isn’t true. Isn’t that a given? Before I read it, I thought that maybe it was a novel written to appear like a history book, hence the confusion. Nope. It is a novel that reads like a novel. Over a decade later, I am still baffled by the Da Vinci Code controversy.

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Book Review Series: The Bishop’s Wife (Plus: ebooks that read out loud and giving ebooks as gifts)


The Bishop's Wife (A Linda Wallheim Mystery)This mystery novel by Mormon feminist Mette Ivie Harrison is told from the perspective of Linda Wallheim, an LDS bishop’s wife in a predominately Mormon suburb of Salt Lake City. Linda is more progressive than the average Mormon in many of her views; she is pleased when her son joins the Gay Straight Alliance at his high school and isn’t scandalized by couples that marry outside the temple. However, her lifestyle is conservative, even more so than that of most Mormons. Although she is nearly an empty nester, she does not work outside the home and hasn’t done so since before the first of her five children was born.

With her sons grown up and no professional responsibilities, she has a lot of time available to serve as an unofficial assistant to her husband, the bishop. In fact, while the actual bishop is doing his paid day job as an accountant, Linda spends most of her day doing the sorts of things full-time professional clergy might do: visiting the sick and afflicted in her congregation (often at her husband’s request) and even counseling members who approach her for advice when they want a woman’s perspective, something the LDS Church’s male-only priesthood structure can’t offer them. Through these acts of service and her own nosiness, she becomes privy to intimate details of her neighbors’ lives. When tragedy takes place in her neighborhood, she is among the first on the scene. When news crews have lost interest, she is still there, both to help families cope and to search for answers.

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New ways to navigate the Exponent

Exponent II Pinterest Collage

A collage of pins from the Exponent Pinterest Account.

An Exponent reader recently gave me some feedback on the website.  She told me that she would like to be able to see a list of all posts by a certain author, or a list of all posts in the archive by date from her phone. I have updated our top navigation menu so this is now possible.

One way that I have always liked to read the Exponent on my desktop is to peruse recent comments to see where conversations are in progress at the blog. I have now added this feature to the top menu so that browsing recent comments is available on both desktop and mobile devices.

I also added some navigation options that are new not just to mobile devices, but to the desktop version as well. For some time now, gracious volunteers have been translating Exponent posts into Spanish and French. (You can read posts by some of our translation volunteers here, here, here and here.)  We have even had some guest posts submitted in Spanish, that were posted in their original language along with an English translation. But until now, there has not been a way to view the complete collection of Spanish or French posts. Fixed.

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Teaching No Greater Call: Exponent Resources for Teachers

Do you have a teaching calling? The Exponent can help! Here are some of the resources we have to offer:

primary-class-391476-galleryLesson Plans

The Exponent has an ongoing project to compose Relief Society, Visiting Teaching and Young Women lessons.  We have also completed series on lessons based on Daughters in My Kingdom (the Relief Society history book) and Activity Days ideas.

Relief Society

Young Women

Visiting Teaching

Daughters in My Kingdom

Activity Days

While the Exponent has not done a specific series on Primary, several bloggers have posted their Primary lessons and tips as they have completed Primary callings.

Exponent II Magazine

The Sabbath Pastorals feature of the magazine provides examples of excellent talks delivered by women in Sacrament Meetings across the globe. Borrow their ideas and wisdom! The Flannel Board feature offers suggestions for teaching Primary, Young Women or Relief Society with a feminist bent. Subscribe to Exponent II magazine and/or purchase past issues here.

Learn How to Teach

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Teaching No Greater Call: Public Speaking Boot Camp

I recently had the opportunity to attend a “public speaking boot camp” at a conference I attended for work.  The trainer was Christine K. Jahnke, a professional speech coach and author of the Well-Spoken Woman. (It’s endorsed by Gloria Steinem!)

I learned skills that would be useful not only for professional work, but also for giving talks in Church.  The fact that virtually all Mormons have opportunities to speak in Church is one of my favorite aspects of Mormon worship; the downside is that not every member who speaks has public speaking skills.  At times, the presentation can distract from the message. So how can we lay clergy sound like pros?

Writing Your Talk

  • If anyone else could pick up your talk and read it instead of you, it is less interesting. Put yourself in it. Tell personal stories.
  • Begin with a one-sentence topic statement that makes it perfectly clear what you will speak about.  This advice sounded alarm bells in my mind, so I asked about a personal pet peeve, beginning a talk with the sentence, “My talk is about fill-in-the-blank.” (This is probably the #2 most common intro to a Mormon talk, right after, “I hate talking in church, but So-and-so asked me to speak.”) She said that was okay!  So fine, go ahead, start your talk that way!  (But I still don’t like it.)  She also said that if you prefer a more elegant introduction, you could use a grabber.  
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