I’ve been working around the clock the past two weeks with Barb Walden and David Howlett to create a new, brief, illustrated history of the church. We want to have the book published in time for the sesquicentennial of the Reorganization next year, so time is tight.
Our goal has been to tell the church’s history vividly, using the graphic-intensive format we created for last year’s illustrated history of the Kirtland Temple. The new book will be 74 pages long. Writing a 74-page book doesn’t initially seem like that big a deal, but some times it can be harder to write a short book than a long book.
For one thing, when writing an introduction designed for both church members and a general audience, you can’t just jump right into church jargon — you have to introduce and explain every word as you go. Take the statement, “the Temple was ultimately built on part of the original 63 acres that Bishop Edward Partridge purchased for the planned city of Zion.” There’s a lot of things that have to be introduced to make that statement. Not only who was Partridge, what’s a temple, what’s meant by Zion, but also, what’s a bishop?
The next big challenge was constructing a new historical narrative. Our historians community has done a great job deconstructing church history, but as we’ve challenged folklore, we haven’t always done a great job replacing it with an informed story that is inspiring. For me, that’s a shame, because I think the informed story has the potential to be infinitely more inspiring than the old folk tales.
So a lot of thought has gone into it, and I’m pretty proud of the results so far. I’m including here a sneak-peek at some of the 2-page spreads:
The book will be available next year from John Whitmer Books (and on Amazon), debuting at the Restoration Studies Symposium. I can’t wait!