Non-Fiction Book Review | “At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women” by The Church Historian Press (edited by) Jennifer Reeder and Kate Holbrook

Posted Monday, 27 February, 2017 by jorielov , , , , , 4 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I received an enquiry from the (LDS) Church Historian Press regarding working with them on select non-fiction releases – which interested me as I have been reading LDS Fiction and Non-Fiction for the past two years. My interests in non-fiction (LDS or otherwise) tend to parallel through the historical past (as I love learning about History) and thread through biographical accounts of persons who lived. I love to seek out a variety of topics across different sub-interests of mine – including Science, Philosophy and Feminism as well. Being an ancestral sleuth in my family alongside my Mum, I love finding out the hidden histories not as well known as other aspects of the historical past, too. Therefore, when they approached me about reviewing for them, I was quite keen to find out more about their releases. This marks my second review following my first review for this publisher on behalf of ‘Saints at Devil’s Gate’ and extraordinary spiritual legacy of travelling the historic Mormon Trail through visual representations in Fine Art and accompanied by journalled insights by the Pioneers.

I received a complimentary copy of “At the Pulpit” direct from the publisher The Church Historian’s Press (in conjunction with The Church of Latter-day Saints) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Why I was keenly interested in this particular release:

Throughout 2016, I had the joy of finding a lot of Feminist Historical Fiction – wherein Women’s Rights, Suffrage and issues of fighting for Equality across gender lines were explored through the historical past. Stimulating works by Eva Flynn, L. Davis Munro, Nicole Evelina and others who sought out to pull incredible stories out of the pages of History which still need to be told for today’s audience. Continuing from where I left off, I am still very interested in seeking out the lives of women who were on the forefront of activism, advocacy and helping to create social change.

When I first heard about the premise of this particular release, I was encouraged to notice it is a collection of women voicing their opinions about service and being mindfully present of how spirituality and faith can help guide us forward in our lives when we are compelled to act and cause change on behalf of others who need someone to advocate for them. These are spoken dialogues on behalf of LDS Women who felt motivated to rise to the occasion to give voice to their beliefs but also, to inspire others by what they had to say about the things they felt were most important to them.

Over the history of active participation in communities, LDS Women have always sought out to be of service to others – striving to help make the world a bit better and to find ways to make a difference by fulfilling the needs of their neighbours. What is interesting is how this collection is assembled and presented – similar to ‘Saints at Devil’s Gate’ (see also Review) the presentation of these discourses allows the reader to take a personal approach to how the information is absorbed and digested. The discourses themselves were hand-selected and presented in such a way, as you can get a feel for the woman who is speaking through the biographical sketches which accompany the speeches themselves. You also have illustrations complimenting the speeches – where you can see a visual photograph of the woman whose words you’ve just read.

Not all of the speeches are traditionally written – but what is conveyed is the strength of sisterhood bonds and the joys in being united as women who seek to serve and make a difference in our world.

As previously stated:

I also appreciated the Church Historian’s Press for being open to having a diverse group of reviewers and book bloggers receiving their releases from different backgrounds – as this highlights something I’ve been trying to understand better about why there is such a division of interest in INSPY Non-Fiction and Fiction releases. INSPY is the shortened word for Inspirational Fiction and Non-Fiction – the main umbrella of literature for faith-based literature – not limited to one religion nor branch of Christianity; as sometimes I think is wrongly perceived. I read INSPY Lit as it was intended – across cultural and religious backgrounds whilst finding inspiring stories in both fictional and realistic (non-fiction) settings of interest.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comNon-Fiction Book Review | “At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women” by The Church Historian Press (edited by) Jennifer Reeder and Kate HolbrookAt the Pulpit
Subtitle: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women
by (Editors) Jennifer Reeder and Kate Holbrook
Source: Direct from Publisher

At the Pulpit contains fifty-four discourses given by Latter-day Saint women throughout the nearly 200-year history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While the book illustrates the history of women’s public preaching in the church, its most important feature is the actual words of Mormon women.

From the time that Emma Hale Smith, wife of church founder Joseph Smith, first exhorted women at meetings of the Nauvoo Relief Society in 1842, Latter-day Saint women have been charged with instructing their congregations, their families, their Relief Societies, and other groups. The addresses featured in this volume show Mormon women doing the spiritual and intellectual work inherent in a life of Christian faith—seeking to do good works, understand the mission and teachings of Jesus Christ, and strengthen their own faith and the faith of those around them. These women endeavored to live what they believed and to help their listeners do so as well.

Each discourse in the volume begins with an introduction that acquaints readers with the vibrant personalities of the women who have shaped the church. Readers may encounter some familiar figures from the church’s history and from the contemporary church—leaders like Eliza R. Snow, who was the first Relief Society general president in Utah Territory, and Linda K. Burton, current Relief Society general president. But they will also learn from largely forgotten women like Jane H. Neyman. Neyman applied to join the Nauvoo Relief Society in 1842, but her petition was rejected due to gossip about her daughters. Over twenty-five years later, she spoke in a Relief Society in southern Utah on charity, urging members to be forbearing and forgiving of one another.

Genres: Biography / Autobiography, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Interviews & Conversations, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Spirituality & Metaphysics

Places to find the book:

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ISBN: 9781629722825

Published by The Church Historian's Press, The Church History Department

on 27th February, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 484

Published by: The Church Historian Press (imprint of) The Church History Department

of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Formats Available: Softcover

Converse via: #INSPYbooks, #LDSChurch, #WomenOfHistory, #Feminist

About (Editors) Jennifer Reeder and Kate Holbrook

Jennifer Reeder is the nineteenth-century women’s history specialist at the Church History Department, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. She holds a PhD in American history from George Mason University. Kate Holbrook is the managing historian for women’s history at the Church History Department. She received a PhD in religious studies from Boston University.

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My Review of At the pulpit:

Whilst reading the Introduction on behalf of ‘At the Pulpit’, I was not surprised to have learnt the contributions by women in the LDS Church have largely been removed from historical relevance. The words etched out of the minds of women and shared with everyone who would listen to what they had to say are nearly erased from History due to how poorly the records of those discourses were originally kept or initially published. This is a sad fact across cultures and religions where the work of women are shirked out of sight and/or are purposely silenced in historical recountments. The brevity of the work ahead of the editors of this collective work must have been impressively complicated – to go back and try to re-establish a thread of speeches given with such purposeful intent to inspire or direct change had to be quite the undertaking.

Why the works and voices of women across the board are not seen as important as the works of men isn’t something I will understand in my lifetime. We do live in a male dominated world – this much any girl growing up in society learns quite early-on in her growing years, but to realise we are not limited by our gender and have the ability to rise to stand on equal ground is something that unites all women. However, I would hope – the future will look back on the recent past a bit differently than how the present views the historical artifacts of today – how everyone’s voice is critical to listen too and how each of us plays a strong part in causing social change. If women could be viewed as solid equals with equal worth and purpose in the future, perhaps we have finally transcended past where the Women’s Rights and Women’s Movement for Equality had long ago attempted to take us.

I was amazed at how the photographs included in this work were so enriched and vibrant – even the photographs from the 19th Century view as if the photograph was recently taken! You can get a strong sense of these women – of who they were and what was keenly important to them to find the words to affect the masses of whom heard or read their speeches. These are the strong women who can be seen throughout history effectively rising to the occasion to make a difference even if their voices might be forgotten shortly after they were using a platform to speak. How lovely then, the Church Historian’s Press has found a way to preserve their voices and their legacy of thought across topical interests which speak to the root of humanity.

The direct thread of connectivity of the LDS Women featured in this text are the works behind the Relief Society – where LDS Women would go out into their respective communities to help those who had fallen on hard times. The back-history of how women were repressed inside churches and religious organisations not to have a vocal participation is also explored; as it is not only the LDS Church which viewed women as being ‘less’ than their male counterparts. It was through the work of the Relief Society LDS Women were pivotal on the footfalls of history where the rights for women and the rights of suffrage were taking centre stage. They were given a platform where they could talk in full confidence of being heard whilst being able to discuss the topics which were directly impacting their lives. It’s an incredible well of ideas and ideals; of finding the voice to reason out your views whilst trying to work against the prejudices of society at the same time.

Not all of the discourses themselves are full-on speeches – some of them are the biographical accounts of the women who lived their life devouted to charity or to social concerns where they could change the circumstances of their neighbours such as the account of Phoebe M. Angell – who worked as a mid-wife, nurse and apothecarist creating homemade remedies and medicines which would aide the medical issues her neighbours had succumbed too as medical science was not at that point in time widely received. You get the full benefit of understanding her purpose in her lifetime but reading a small slice of what she felt was important to do with her life. In effect, this discourse is of a living truth lived by a woman who believed strongly in serving others and being selfless in her acts towards healing and physical change out of adverse medical situations.

Some spoke about how women can change the tone of atmosphere in their everyday lives – even on the homefront, where being cognisant of their husbands and the charitable nature of standing by their neighbours could help to offset difficulties before they arise. Other women had a more broad view of the charity which can be given and others, kept it closer to home; each of the women had one singular purpose: to start to speak about the harder topics which all women are interested in hearing and discussing. Their voices were given a unity of thought and the feeling that even if you do not feel you can make a positive difference in the world, there are ways in which you can direct your prayerful resolve and earnest attention to the projects which give you the most joy to become a part of – how all of this resolves the issues cannot always be seen ahead of time but observed at later date.

They spoke about how the actions of today can change the future and how being actively present in charitable actions can create a better tomorrow for all people. They did not discriminate against anyone who needed their help either – there is a passage about how they helped the Native Americans who needed medical assistance and clothing after having their lives upended a bit by the new Mormon settlers in Utah. They sought to find where they were needed most and how what they could provide could be given the best chance to succeed in changing the life or lives of those who were receiving their charity.

Not only that, but they wanted to endeavour to change the mind-set about only being involved in one’s own family or set of circumstances – to seek outside the self and the sphere of the family, to re-align with society and to find ways to embetter the world. These are the stories of the women who found everyday ways of promoting their views and finding how to celebrate the calling they had to be lights of change whilst inspiring the younger generations rising after them to re-take the torch and carry on their legacy after their days of service were done.

At the Pulpit Quotation card provided by The Church Historian's Press

If you enjoy reading biographies where the beauty of the biographical sketch is a personal exploration of that person’s life whilst honing in on what they felt their life’s purpose was at the time they were living – then, I think you will find this volume of insight quite palatable to enjoy reading! You can take up residence in this text, moving from one discourse to another and returning again lateron to read more of it’s context. Little nuggets of motivation to inspire you in your own life or to start a conversation about the women who fought to find a voice and the courage to act in times where women were not given as much freedom as men. There is still a lot of social change on the forefront of our own century where Women’s Rights and advocacy for change are still necessary in order to counter the rights and liberties which are still being tested to be withdrawn. I would think anyone who picks up this book would become re-inspired to realise we each can give back something to the social commentary by standing up for our rights and the rights of others – to seek out our humanity and the spirit of charity in all aspects of our lives.

on the accessibility of this text for all readers:

I found this text to be accessible to everyone who picks it up – as even if your a non-LDS Protestant like I am or of a different religious background altogether – these are everyday passionate women who are sharing a portion of their living truths and ideals with everyone. They seek to inspire and to get a rise of clarity out of the people who find their words – to encourage people to sit and up and take stock of what they are sharing with you whilst hoping to motivate you to find your own voice and share it as strongly as they had theirs.

Women are empowering motivators – this text has a plethora of concise and specific insight on the importance of living true to yourself but also being mindful of society at large. Of finding ways to speak out on topics and issues that are keenly important to yourself but also, finding the ways to effectively change the patterns of the status quo.

At the Pulpit Quotation card provided by The Church Historian's Press

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This book review is courtesy of:

The Church Historian’s Press

I released my review of ‘Saints at Devil’s Gate’ prior to this review going live, wherein I had the pleasure of book-ending my reviews for the Press. I look forward to sharing both of these releases back to back as it was such a pleasure to be a part of the celebration of their publications.

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!

Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Monday, 27 February, 2017 by jorielov in Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host, Christianity, Family Life, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, Spirituality & Metaphysics, The Church Historian's Press

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4 responses to “Non-Fiction Book Review | “At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women” by The Church Historian Press (edited by) Jennifer Reeder and Kate Holbrook

  1. Holy moley, how did you get on THIS review copy list, and how can I get there too?? I love reading LDS women’s history (and history in general) but the high cost of the books makes me slow at keeping up.

    • Hallo, Hallo Jean!

      I honestly am unsure how The Church Historian Press initially found me. They sent me a request for Saint’s At Devil’s Gate (see also Review) which started my reviews for them. Since I reviewed both of these releases I haven’t heard from them – I am unsure how many releases they put out a year. I’d be happy to tell them your interested, as I know they are seeking more interested readers – as they love organic word of mouth promotion, etc. I was hoping some of my bookish friends and followers might drop me a line about either of these titles so I could put in a good word for them.

      The only thing I could think of is I have been a reviewer for Cedar Fort for nearly three years – and perhaps, they have noticed my track record of reviewing LDS Fiction and Non-Fiction through the publisher. Outside of this connection, I took it as a serendipitous point of contact. I was very grateful for the opportunity to receive these books and I definitely want to re-read them in the future for further study, as especially the Discourses warrant more than one reading!!

      You might enjoy an upcoming review I have this month for Remember the Ladies which is Feminist Historical Biography – I receive this one through Hachette Books. It’s a title I’ve been most keen to read (my allergies forestalled a lot of my readings this past Spring which I discuss on The Wedding Diary review; coming lateron tonight) as it’s a continuation of interest from my (organic) focus on Feminist Historical Fiction in [2016]. (see more info here)

      I’ll PM you tomorrow and we can discuss this further, but I wanted to respond tonight to send you some more links which I think you’d enjoy reading!! Blessed you’ve stopped by! I love finding the stories we share in common; as I do consider you a new bookish friend. I’ll be visiting your lovely blog more now that I have my allergies under control!! Til then, thanks for giving me a smile for knowing we both *love!* Feminist History + Topics of Interest!! Rock on!!

      • I am not familiar with Cedar Fort as a publisher — looking them up I see that they do the “Made Easier” series and Al Carraway, who I think is awesome. I don’t read LDS fiction hardly at all (those dollars again; if I can’t buy all the non-fiction I want, the fiction winds up much lower down the endless list). I would be super-excited to review Church Historian Press titles — the only people I know who do that are eminent scholarly types on big sites. I would not have thought they’d want anybody like me. I look forward to talking more!

        • Quick reply: Yes! They do publish Al Carraway — you can see my thoughts on behalf of her book! I have some personal favourites in LDS Fiction which include the following:

          * Soda Springs (see Review)
          * Keeping Kate (see Review) <-- re-telling of Jane Eyre
          * Sense & Sensibility: A Latter-day Tale (see Review) <-- want to rest of this sequence!
          * Duology: Pierced by Love (see Review) + The Matchup (see Review)
          * Dear Jane (see Review)
          –> NEWEST * Unseen Road to Love (see Review)

          (*) all LDS Fiction I read thus far is from Bonneville Books (full archive)

          I definitely understand a humble book budget!! This is why I submit purchase requests at my local library! They have purchased books from Cedar Fort imprints for me inasmuch as Indie Authors from small publisher and presses. They can also ILL (inter-library loan) books which are six months out from Pub which also includes the titles by CF imprints! You might be able to dig into your library’s catalogues to see if they currently own or can fetch some of the titles your most itching to read! :) To me, the best gift libraries give us is a wonderful gateway into the stories we most want to ‘meet’. We all want to expand our personal libraries, but if our budgets are humble, we should continue to celebrate the work of libraries for giving us the best gift of all: STORIES.

          I generally route to WorldCat book pages on all of my reviews. If the link is missing (from date of review posting) it is because the listing was not currently available. When I do a blog archive over haul I’m going to be ‘adding’ those links to books which now have a listing on WorldCat as it helps readers like us find the titles available which we can borrow through ILL’ing resources.

          I’ll be composing the second half of my reply privately to discuss The Church Historian Press. I will say, they are very open to a cross spectrum of readerly insights, impressions and remarks. I simply wanted to give you these pages to browse in case the stories would interest you as their all LDS. OH! I should say, the best Non-Fiction I’ve read and *devoured* which was a uniquely told Autobiography is 3,000 Miles to Eternity by the Pannells! You’ll see us winking and chattering on Twitter time to time – here’s my review of their debut release!

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