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Wednesday, June 13, 2007
posted by Jon | 6:46 PM | permalink

I know I’m a late-comer in reviewing Blogfather Hugh’s most recent book “A Mormon in the White House?: 10 Things Every American Should Know about Mitt Romney”. With the way my life works, or doesn’t work, I don’t really have time to read much. Most of the books I consume are recorded – they make commuting much less dull.

But before I get to my book review, let me present for you some of my “Street Cred” so you’ll understand from which vantage point I’m coming from. First off, I’ve been listening to Blogfather Hugh for a long time. I’m not one of his KFI Eagles, but I caught his show shortly after he launched his KRLA morning program. He was my main source of information on the morning of September 11, 2001 and I’ve been with him ever since. My one claim to fame on the Hugh Hewitt Show is being the author of The Jimmy Malone Theory of International Relations. If you know what that is, congratulations. The Hewitt Radio Juggernaut has yet to penetrate my home market, so I’m part of his podcast audience – thus his “Evening Grace” is always my “Morning Glory”. I don’t mind because I can listen to his three-hour broadcast in about an hour and a half. Shhh. Don’t tell his advertisers.

Now to the Mormon question. Yes, I’m a Mormon – have been my entire life. I served a mission in Brazil a long time ago. Since then I’ve held multiple church callings (sometimes several at once) and am currently married with children. I know my doctrine well enough to tell if someone is making a valid argument or whether they’re just parroting what they read from the latest anti-Mormon tract or heard at the latest barn-burning.

Enough about me, on to the book.

Blogfather Hugh writes a tightly woven, well documented description of Mitt Romney that focuses on the entire package and not just the religious aspect of his candidacy. Hugh knows his stuff because he does his research. He carefully chronicles Mitt’s formative years in Michigan, his college experiences at Stanford, BYU, and finally Harvard, and details his personal, professional, and political life in the years leading up to his run for the Oval Office. In all of his details, I found few flaws – none of them very important. Hugh miscounted the number of Romney grandchildren, exaggerating the total by one. Knowing the prolific nature of Mormons, I’m pretty sure Hugh’s arithmetic error will be a self-correcting one. The other error, again not important, was Hugh’s description of Mormon missionaries as wearing white shirts and black ties. For the record, I do not now, nor have I ever owned a black tie. Missionaries are permitted to make their own choice in neckwear – within reason. Some make good tie choices. Some wear ties that look like they shot a 50 year old couch and stripped off the fabric. Again, an unimportant error.

Where the Mormon religion is discussed – and the subject does take a good portion of the book – Blogfather Hugh does something few other authors do when confronted with daunting task of writing about a religion of which they are not part. Needing a source for the fundamental beliefs unique to Mormonism, Hugh went to a man he considered to be a reliable, well reasoned, and well spoken Mormon. Rex E. Lee, former Solicitor General of the United States and former President of Brigham Young University, wrote a book entitled “What Do Mormons Believe?” Lee’s work gives the basics in an easy to understand manner and the quotes chosen by Hugh did a great job of explaining the historical details of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hugh did not attack the Mormon belief structure, nor does he show any signs of joining the LDS Church. He simply laid out the facts as he saw them. This is a far cry from what most journalists and erstwhile reporters do because conventional wisdom dictates that Mormons talking about Mormonism won’t sell books, magazines, or newspapers because there are no fireworks. As documented here at B4M, Article VI, and other similar blogs, most people writing about Mitt and his Mormon roots will waste little time before jumping off the proverbial cliff into polygamist ancestors and the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Sensationalistic subjects of centuries past matter far more to the average journalist than does a lifetime of success in the private and public sectors. Mitt has to answer about the events of September 11, 1857, but his views on the dangers of the spread of radical Islam aren’t newsworthy. Why that kind of logic makes sense to anyone is beyond me.

Mitt Romney is an exceptionally smart and phenomenally successful businessman with a proven political track record on every issue which really matters to conservatives, republicans, and every American. He also just happens to be Mormon. To some people the Mormon question overshadows every other aspect about Mitt. That is a truly sad state of affairs in a country whose founding document both guarantees Freedom of Religion and specifically forbids a “religious test” for public office.

When the Prophet Joseph Smith was questioned as to what members of his faith believed, he penned what came to be known as the Thirteen Articles of Faith. These basic tenets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints make up the foundations of the Church. The eleventh of the thirteen articles reads:

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. (Emphasis Added)

Wouldn’t it be nice if everybody involved in this debate could abide by that admonition? Yes, Mr. Pastore, I’m talking to you.

This election cycle is full of candidates from the left, right and fringes on both sides. The winnowing process will refine the field rather quickly and the fringe kooks on both ends of the spectrum won’t last long. At the time of this writing, Mitt has a better than average shot at running the table in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. If the stars align properly and Mitt ends up with the nomination to run against Hillary, America will have a real choice before her.

Anyone who questions whether Mitt’s Mormonism should be a factor in his White House run should read Blogfather Hugh’s book. He has no axe to grind other than he wants a Center-Right Republican in the White House. As for myself, I’m a charter member of the Al Davis Republican Caucus. In other words, “Just Win, Baby”.

There are rumored reports of a host of evangelical Christians who are said to be unwilling to vote for a Mormon in any circumstance. I, for one, believe any Republican candidate would be vastly superior to another Clinton presidency. I just happen to think that of the current crop of Republicans, Mitt has the best background, intellect, and skill set for the Big Chair. That he sings from the same hymnbook that I do, while allowing for easy harmonization, is fundamentally unimportant to me. That’s how the Founders set it up, and I think they had principally sound judgment in doing so.

Well done, Blogfather.

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What a wonderful review!!! I haven't had time to read the book yet, but you're making me even more excited than I was before! Thank you for taking the time to write all of this out. I need to go buy the book. Have you read Turnaround? I haven't read that one either yet, but I want to!


I think Mormons contribute to the haze regarding their beliefs. I wish they were more forth-coming instead of trying to sound like run-of-the-mill evangelicals. For example,proclaiming Jesus is the Son of God but hiding their belief that He is one of many gods and by the way we're hoping to be gods too. That additional information kind of changes things. Believe what you want, but be up front about it. That's why people like me have a problem with Brother Mitt. He has that Mormon tendency to adjust his foundational beliefs based on new revelation. Upon further review.....

By Anonymous Anonymous, at June 13, 2007 at 10:34 PM  

Hey anonymous,

This is about politics--not religion. Nobody is intentionally increasing the "haze level" in the room relative to Mormonism. Look into Mitt's church if you wish. Then, join it or leave it alone. Let others focus on important things. Geez!

Hugh and many other Christians have found natural ways to align w/ Mitt, despite theological differences w/ him. It's really not that hard to do. You need to discuss these issues w/ heavyweights such as David French et al. at evangelicalsformitt. They've got healthy positions on the Mormon issue and still manage very well w/ respect to their own faith.

The growing number of Christians (and non-Christians) aren't going to go to HELL for supporting this Mormon. In fact, they'll likely be safer, more prosperous, and more proud as Americans w/ Mitt sitting in the "big chair."

I would like to respond to Anonymous. His/her understanding about Christ being just one of many Gods does not reflect LDS doctrine.
1. God is our Father. He will always be so - he will always be our God, no matter what our future potential.
2. Jesus is our Saviour - through his atonement we receive the grace necessary to return to our Father.
3. CS Lewis describes our potential in a way that would resonate with any Latter_day Saint, in Mere Christianity. Paraphrasing, "Gods wants us to become gods, reflecting His light as He transforms us." Note the small "g".
4. We know precious little about other worlds and other Gods. Moses chapter 1 gives a glimpse, and early leaders expounded their thoughts. It is the logical extension of the concept that God wants us to become like Him. However, the key principle is that God will always be our God, that it is through Christ's atonement and the workings of the Holy Spirit that we are lifted from our carnal state into the state God would bring us to.
Beautiful doctrine. It is unclear to me why other Christians resist it so much.
BTW - as a British member of the church I am following this critical election for the wellbeing of the world, and hope with all my heart that Mitt makes it.

Just read Turnaround, it was my husband's father's day gift but he couldn't wait either so he's reading it now. I could care less about business concepts, but I still found the book a fascinating, even enlightening read. I appreciate Mr. Romney's unapolgetic expectation that anyone that deals with him have integrity and understand the concept of loyalty. My husband is locked into the book because he is into the budget talk and business concepts. We wish we could see the Olympics again now we have greater insight into the miracle the Games were. Great read all around.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at June 14, 2007 at 4:41 PM  

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