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Truth matters. Truth ALWAYS matters.

If the only way you can win on the “Battlefield of Ideas” is to be dishonest, you undermine the credibility of your legitimate arguments, and you simply don’t deserve to win.

If your idea of an “adult discussion” is to engage in character assassination or encourage (even tacitly) death threats and other threats of violence, you aren’t interested in the truth, only in sounding a trump before you as you signal your own virtue and basking in the praise of sycophants.

And if you think for one nanosecond that someone deserves to die or be assaulted simply because you disagree with them, YOU have a problem.

Another epic adventure from C. David Belt, and a special treat for Edgar Allen Poe fans. Lenore O’ Corbain, a somewhat edgier heroine than Belt’s standard characters, has the power to communicate with birds and uses her abilities to investigate her family’s murder. The lore behind Lenore’s powers is intriguing, and I’m hoping to see more of this element in future books. With a sweet romance, heartwarming interactions with ravens and parakeets alike, and the kind of horrifying, gut-wrenching gore I’ve come to expect from Belt’s works, An Enchantress of Ravens is absolutely thrilling.

Elissa C. Nysetvold – author of “Nightwalker”

Choosing Hell

In John Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” Lucifer proclaims, “Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven.” Lucifer willingly chose Hell over Heaven. And I’m certain he felt justified in doing so.

Recently, we have experienced yet another senseless tragedy, yet another monstrous act of violence, yet another horrific slaughter of innocents. Such villainy is all too common today. Across the globe, evil men (and women) somehow find justification for evil.

And in the wake of this latest horrific act, many—too many—will attempt to seize on the tragedy, to cash in on the grief to promote their own selfish agenda, to justify their own evil.

The vultures are circling yet again, salivating over the prospect of feeding on the dead.

Details are emerging about the shooter’s terrible homelife, about the bullying he endured at the hands of others. He was a victim certainly. But somehow, in his mind, he twisted all this into a justification for murder. He justified himself killing innocent children.

I will not name him. I will not give him, even posthumously, any notoriety. At the very least, he deserves ignominy.

He is dead now and has gone to the justice of God.

He was slain by a courageous Border Patrol agent, while local law enforcement waited more than 40 minutes without acting.

May God bless the hero who risked his own life to prevent more slaughter. I wish I knew his name, because HE deserves to be named. (The gunman’s bullet ripped through the hero’s hat. That’s how close he came to sacrificing his own life.)

Shame on those who will use this monstrous act for their own ends, never letting “a good crisis go to waste.” They say,  “But I’m just trying to make the world a better place!”  

To which I say, “Seriously?” You think you are the heroes here? You’re ghouls, feasting on the corpses of murdered children.

Rather than exploit this tragedy or simply wallow in the horror of it, let us examine our own hearts. I certainly am. May we turn to God. May we beg His Son to heal the wounds in our own souls before we justify evil or exploit evil for own ends or give in to grief.

Hatred, no matter how justified it might feel, will never make us happy. Hatred and love cannot co-exist in our hearts. Let us choose love over hatred.

Revenge, no matter how justified it might feel, will never make us happy. Revenge is not justice. The ancient Nephite prophet, Mormon, witnessed the complete destruction of his own people, slaughtered in the name of revenge and hatred. I’m certain the Lamanites felt justified in genocide. Mormon said, “Behold what the scripture says—man shall not smite, neither shall he judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord, and vengeance is mine also, and I will repay.” (Mormon 8:20)

Self-righteousness will never make us happy. It only makes us feel (falsely) superior.  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

Being a victim for the rest of our lives will never make us happy. Victimhood is its own self-perpetuating hell. Let us choose Heaven over Hell.

Having been a victim never justifies bullying, no matter who the target is. Bullies target those who cannot fight back or defend themselves. Bullies often cut their victims off from any hope of succor. Yet, too often, we cheer the bully on or stand aside and let the bully act with impunity. (Because, after all, the bully was once a victim, right?) Bullying is cowardly. Having experienced evil at the hands of others will never justify committing evil ourselves.

Evil never justifies evil. No matter how righteous we may feel in exacting our revenge, we are never justified in hurting innocents.

“Okay,” we say, “but I’m not going out and shooting children. All I’m doing is <insert-petty-evil-here>. What I’m doing is righteous, even if I am committing some petty evil. God will justify me in committing sin in the name good. Surely, the object of my hatred deserves what they get. And if there are innocents who suffer as collateral damage, oh, well. After all, I’m the righteous one!”

But God says, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4:20)

The answer is—and always has been—love. In other words, the answer—is and always has been—Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, the One who atoned for our sins and failings (and we all have them), the One who will judge us all in the end.

When faced with a choice between love and hate, Heaven and Hell, why would we willingly choose Hell?

A gruesome murder, a mysterious killer, and a woman with a peculiar power over ravens. Sound intriguing? That’s because it is.

An Enchantress of Ravens, by C. David Belt, was definitely a fun read. The main character, Lenore, has a very cool set of powers that she uses in the name of good, although it doesn’t always work out that way.

And then there’s the villains, my favorite part. These evildoers made me ache to see them get some comeuppance by the end.

And it all ties together with some great side characters, a blooming romance, some fun lore, and lots of Edgar Allen Poe references throughout.

I’d highly recommend this fun, fast-paced read.

Jared Agard – Author of “Dread Watch”

C. David Belt never disappoints. An Enchantress of Ravens took me for a wild ride and hit all my shiver spots.

Marsha Ward – 2015 Whitney Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

My English teacher, when I was in the eighth grade in Lexington, Kentucky, had a Ph.D. in (I kid you not) mythological birds. The woman was, in a word, eccentric, but she was also a great teacher. (What she was doing teaching junior high school was beyond me.) The focus of the class was literature. Early in the school year, we had a unit on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. The teacher (whose name, sadly, I have forgotten) required that each student memorize and recite before the class one verse (of the student’s choosing) from that classic, dark poem. For each additional verse memorized, extra credit would be given. And if any student memorized and recited the entire poem, that student would be awarded an “A” for the entire year and would be excused from all other classwork and homework. The teacher said, “Of course, none of my students have ever memorized the entire poem, and I’m sure none of you will either.”

Was she kidding? Challenge accepted!

I, of course, memorized and recited the entire poem. As it turned out, I was the first of her students, in all her history of teaching, that had done so. I was also the last. She told me she would never propose that challenge again . . .

For the rest of the year, I quite happily sat in her class and read whatever I wanted (which actually included all the course work, plus Tolkien, Burroughs, Stoker, and Shelley). And at the end of each semester, I happily accepted my “A.” (Just for grins and giggles, I took the final exam, and only missed one question.)

I adore The Raven (even though “what there at is” is, in my not-so-humble-but-almost-always-correct opinion, kind of a cheap rhyme for “window lattice”). The poem is masterful and haunting and deliciously dark.

At an even younger age, I developed a fascination for mythology—Greek, Roman, Hindu, and, most especially, Norse. My interest predated my obsession with comic books (and TV superheroes), e.g., Batman, Superman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, and, of course, the Mighty Thor. I was reading Bullfinch’s Mythology in first and second grade (along with Dr. Seuss). I watched or read any retelling of The Odyssey. My parents bought me a series of books retelling the stories of Thor, Loki, Odin, Freyja, Sif, Frig, Baldur, Siegfried, and Brunhilda.

I was, in a word, hooked.

In 2019, my lady wife and I went on a cruise to the Norwegian fjords. In preparation for this voyage, I studied Norwegian. I had zero intention of speaking to anyone in Norwegian (and, indeed, I did not), but I wanted to better understand the culture by learning the language. One of the many fascinating discoveries I made in that study is that the Norwegian word for “victim” is “offer.”

A victim is an offering.

(We had a wonderful time on the cruise, by the way.)

An Enchantress of Ravens ties in with my novel, The Sweet Sister, though only tangentially. But my research for that book (The Sweet Sister) engendered in me a fascination for ravens. They are quite fascinating and oft-misunderstood creatures. Ravens hold a place of significance in many cultures and mythologies.

Which brings me back to my eighth grade English teacher with the Ph.D. in mythological birds. Her doctoral dissertation happened to be on—you guessed it—ravens. She told us that the raven is not an actual flesh-and-blood-and-beak-and-feather bird, but a purely mythological creature. Like the punk kid I was (and, in many ways, still am), I felt compelled to show her an encyclopedia entry on the common raven. (Yes, children, this was in the primordial past before the internet when we poor, benighted humans had to look stuff up in printed books, instead of on a smartphone.) Even presented with that article (which included a photograph of an actual raven), my teacher informed me that ravens did not exist in North America. Once again, I showed her the text to the contrary. She then told me that ravens are extinct in North America. When I showed her (again) the same text stating to the contrary, she declared categorically that the encyclopedia was out-of-date.

Ah, well . . .

Never let the truth get in the way of the narrative?

While, technically, it is true that any print encyclopedia entry can be out-of-date the instant it is published, ravens are most definitely not extinct in North America (at least, as of this writing).

However, she was still a great teacher. Without her influence I would never have read anything by Maxim Gorky, and I would be the poorer for it.

As an added bonus, An Enchantress of Ravens finally answers the burning question that I’m absolutely certain has been on everyone’s mind since reading The Sweet Sister: How did Winslow Abbot obtain the ravens, Bran and Badh (pronounced “Bov”), on such short notice? I mean, that is the burning question that’s been on everyone’s mind, right? Well, even if it hasn’t precisely been burning, at least now we have the answer . . . (if you read this book).

For those who are police-detective-TV-show-challenged, “M.O.” stands for modus operandi, which (for the Latin-challenged), means, “method of operation.” In other words, how someone (usually a criminal) typically does things.

On another note, “UVMA” is the official acronym for the “Utah Veterinary Medical Association.”

Many works of fiction declare that they are, indeed, “works of fiction,” and that any resemblance to “actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.” Well, that’s not entirely true with this story. There is one very real person depicted in this novel: Dr. Willie Lanier, D.V.M. Willie is currently (as of this writing, but then, that might be out-of-date by the time one reads this) the Chief Public Health Veterinarian for the State of Utah. He is also a great guy. Willie frequently sits next to me (once again, as of this writing) in the baritone section of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. Willie has graciously consulted on veterinary matters in three (so far) of my novels. He has also consented to his depiction in this story.

I hope you enjoy my offering.

In the immortal words of Noah, “Eyes tasty!”

C. David Belt

December 2021

C. David Belt takes readers on a wild flight through the life of veterinarian Lenore O’Corbain, whose special ability to communicate with ravens leads her into dangerous trouble. Readers will find themselves hooked by the story’s fast paced action and suspense, and may even learn a thing or two about birds and Norse history. Will the “Hangman” succeed in silencing Lenore and her ravens? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Marie Woodward, author of “Between Here and Zion”

I’m that type of reader everyone hates… the one who flips to the end, because she needs to know what happens. I never do that with Belt’s books. Never! And why? Because I trust him as a reader. I always know he is going to give everyone, even the bad guys, some redeemable traits that keep me reading and trusting the storyline long into the night. I loved this book! Loved it! The sickly, mean characters, the budding romance between the Lenore and Thor that seemed almost too good to be true, and the main character’s relationship with the birds. It was all fantastical and creative and everything a reader hopes for in a book… and it has the bonus of a fantastic and satisfying ending. Well done.

Jenny Rabe – sweet romance author

For our fortieth wedding anniversary, I took my wife to Disney World. The cost of that trip was… a lot. We had our first of several honeymoons at Disneyland and later at Disney World, so Disneyland and Disney World are significant to us. I planned our anniversary trip as a surprise. (I almost pulled it off too.) When I found out the cost, I was floored. So, I had to decide if the cost was worth it.

Let me assure you, it was worth every penny. We had such a wonderful time. Florida is HOT in August, but it was worth it. Our feet hurt, but it was worth it. We were exhausted, but it was so worth it. We knew it would be HOT and painful and exhausting. We knew that going in.

We knew the price of admission, and we paid it willingly. And we had a wonderful time.

I write horror novels. (That shouldn’t come as a big surprise to anyone reading this.)

In a horror novel, I depict villains. The villains do evil things. They hurt innocent people. I also depict heroes and heroines. My heroes and heroines do heroic things. They also make mistakes. They are human, and to be human is to err. They are mortals, subject to the Fall of Adam. That means they commit sins. Now, in the course of a story, I’m never going to have one of my protagonists commit major sins (adultery, murder, etc.). I’m not interested in telling that kind story. I’ll leave that to others. But my protagonists do make mistakes.

Just like me. Just like all of us.

This morning, during my daily scripture study, I read:

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20-21)

That lead me to this:

“That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.” (Isaiah 29:21)

And this:

“Yea, ye overwhelm the fatherless, and ye dig a pit for your friend.” (Job 26:27)

And this:

“And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.” (2 Nephi 28:8, emphasis added).

And this:

“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4:20, emphasis added)

And this:

“Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” (1 John 3:15, emphasis added)

Which finally led to this:

“Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin. I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” (Doctrine and Covenants 64:9-10, emphasis added)

I have to forgive everyone who has hurt me, otherwise, my sin is greater than theirs.

That’s hard. Really hard.

But who is requiring it? Jesus Christ. The Savior. The One who paid for our sins and makes it possible to be redeemed and exalted.

But why does He require it? He requires it, because to refuse to forgive someone is to deny the efficacy of His divine atonement. To refuse to forgive is to say, “Lord, I don’t care if Thou hast forgiven the person who hurt me. I won’t forgive, because what that person did was so bad and it hurt me or someone I love so much, that that person cannot be forgiven.” That is denying power of Christ to save us.

I have to believe that person can be forgiven, because if that person cannot be forgiven, then neither can I. I must trust the Savior that He can do what He says He can do. Otherwise, we are all lost.

Jesus paid for my sins. He makes my redemption and exaltation possible. And if the price of admission into His presence and to be with my wife and family for eternity is for me to forgive all men, then I will pay it.

To be Crystal Clear…

Years ago, someone who has never read a single one of my books (and had an axe to grind), wrote a spurious review on Amazon under a fake profile. In that “review,” this individual declared that my book was “gay porn” and proceeded to describe something that was simply not in the book. It wasn’t that hard for me to figure out who this individual was, and after I confronted them (i.e., they got caught), the review was withdrawn. Bad reviews I can understand—“strangely uplifting Latter-day Saint horror” isn’t for everyone. But outright lies only speak to the character of the liar, not to my character nor to the quality of my work.

Recently, a different individual (with a different axe to grind) attempted, through misinformation or ignorance (or an outright lie), to discourage people from purchasing my books (at what turned out to be a very successful event), all because of my stand on COVID-19 vaccinations. When confronted (in private) about the spurious accusation, the individual did NOT remove the spurious item, merely grudgingly revised their statement to make it less of a lie—only misleading.

I haven’t received an apology from either of these individuals, and I doubt I ever will, but hope springs eternal…

Regardless of what THEY do, I have to forgive both of them. I’m imperfect, but I’m trying.

But since it’s come up, let me be crystal clear on the following points:

  1. I am very PRO-vaccine. I’m grateful to have received it. President Nelson called the vaccine a “Godsend.”
  2. I am very ANTI-vaccine-MANDATE. I believe in personal freedom.
  3. I am very ANTI-mask-MANDATE. Once again, I believe in personal freedom.
  4. I fully SUPPORT the right of private organizations and individuals to DISAGREE with me. (I have placed my life on the line many, many times to defend that right. Freedom of thought and speech are SACRED to me. I am willing to DIE to preserve those rights for myself and for everyone else, ESPECIALLY those who disagree with me.)
  5. I UNDERSTAND that there are people who CANNOT take the vaccine for medical reasons.
  6. If a private business, organization, or individual requires me to wear a mask or show proof of vaccination status as the price of association, I respect their right to do so. If I wish to associate with them, I will respect their rules GLADLY.
  7. EVERYONE has the right to be sincerely WRONG. That includes you AND me.
  8. You have to right to call me an “alien,” “no-longer-fully human,” “reprogrammed,” a “coward”—all for getting vaccinated. (Yep. I’ve been called those, and all of them by members of my own faith and by members of my own family.) But when you pretend to do so “righteously” or “lovingly,” I may doubt your sincerity.
  9. I have TWO octogenarians (look it up if you need to) who live with me, one of which has severe respiratory difficulties. They have been fully vaccinated, but they are still vulnerable, because NO vaccine is 100% effective. I will take reasonable precautions to protect them, and that includes not allowing unvaccinated adults into my home. I do NOT ask your vaccination status when you come to visit or ask anyone to wear a mask, but when you OPENLY DECLARE that you are not vaccinated and never will be vaccinated, I will not invite you inside (for the duration of the pandemic). I have a duty to protect these two vulnerable ladies. You can call me a coward in so many words (and many have), but I’m a big boy—I can take the insult.
  10. HOWEVER, if you extend your attacks to my wife or either of these elderly ladies, I will defend them. You are WAY out of line. Go after me all you want, but leave them out of it. And if you are a male, let me say without hesitation that attacking a lady is a cowardly act.
  11. When a person who claims to be a Latter-day Saint declares that the prophet of the Lord is “fallen,” “no-longer all the way there,” “mistaken,” “not listening to the Spirit,” “has sold out to Bill Gates,” or that “he should just keep his big mouth shut,” I would strongly suggest you get on your knees and ask God to help you to humble yourself. Seriously? THIS is the hill you want to commit spiritual suicide on?
  12. When you use lies, half-truths, or in any way intentionally mislead in order to prove your point, the truth is not in you. Only truth is truth.
  13. If you attack my livelihood, you are also attacking my ability to support my wife and those two dear octogenarian ladies who depend on me. Granted, my books aren’t my primary source of income, but they are an important part of it. Your opinions are your own, and you are welcome to them and welcome to express them. Read my books or don’t. Like my books or don’t. Like me or don’t. That’s up to you. But don’t lie. No matter how righteous you think you cause may be, lying may hurt me, but it corrupts you and damages your cause.
  14. Vengeance belongs to the Lord, who is the only righteous Judge. I will not seek vengeance, but I WILL defend those I love. You seeking to get your “pound of flesh” will never make you happy.
  15. I must forgive ALL those who hurt me, and I am earnestly striving to do so, because to NOT forgive is to bear the greater sin. And to be honest, I don’t want to carry that darkness around inside of me. But still, I would welcome an apology (if someone thinks the temperature in Hell ever gets cold enough).

There’s so much attention to historical detail in Belt’s books. I learn something new every time I read one. This had a fun time travel premise which creates so much rich variety and flavor for this story. I loved putting together where each time jump takes place and what historically significant things might be going on that our characters could get caught up in. Really enjoyed this one!

Crystal Brinkerhoff, author of Wicked Fun

ZAP! POW! ZOWIE! KABOOM!

The Cowardly Crusaders of Cyberspace strike again in their never-ending struggle for half-truth (or untruth), social injustice, and the not-so-American-do-as-I-say-but-not-as-I-do way. You know their modus operandi—they use malicious gossip, half-truths, and outright lies in their self-righteous attacks—whatever it takes to win—whatever it takes to make themselves feel righteous. Sometimes they use their real names while hiding behind the semi-anonymity of their keyboards and say horrible, unverified, and unjustifiable things that they wouldn’t have the courage (or the gall) to say to their targets in person. Sometimes they hide behind fake profiles and email addresses, often with obscene names they would be ashamed to own, thinking their anonymity protects them.

And they think themselves brave.

They demand for violence and hatred against others while pretending they are the arbiters of peace and love. They incite to riot, but hang back, not endangering themselves. The ends always justify the means to these cowards. They strive to take down the enemy by any means necessary—as long as they themselves, hiding behind their keyboards and their fake names, are safe.

And they think themselves heroes.

They pronounce condemnation without facts to back up those accusations. They don’t even go to the trouble to find out if there ARE any facts to back up those condemnations. The truth doesn’t matter as long as the lie, half-truth, or gossip supports their self-righteous cause. And any lives they destroy along the way, any innocents that are slandered, injured? Well, those victims are justified collateral damage in their unholy war. Because, as they will tell you (but never to your face), no one is innocent who doesn’t conform to their twisted misperception of reality.

And they consider themselves righteous.

They think they are invulnerable behind their masks, because they assume no one will see what they do in the dark. They act as if their writing style (or lack thereof) or their IP addresses don’t give them away.

It’s not that hard to figure out.

Someday, we will all have to stand before our Maker and give an accounting of our actions and our words (spoken in person or from the cyber shadows). Do we think the Savior will say, “So, you gossiped, so you lied, so you bore false witness against your neighbor, no big deal. So, you practiced hatred, but you hated all the right people. So, you ignored the commandment, ‘Ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.’ (D&C 64:9-10, emphasis added) You had a good excuse, right? They were in the wrong, so you are in the right. Right?”

I don’t think so. The Lord has said the very opposite. But, hey, maybe I’m just one of the people who deserves the hatred, the lies, and the cowardly attacks.

Some people get behind their keyboards, thinking they are the virtuous Dr. Jekyll, then they simply let their inner Mr. Hyde out. Well, for those who haven’t read Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic work, Hyde only wins because Jekyll is weak and cowardly and secretly revels in the anonymity of Hyde, indulging all his basest instincts. Hyde IS Jekyll and Jekyll IS Hyde.

SPOILER ALERT: Jekyll is not the victim, he is the villain.

Once we cross that line, once we let Hyde out, we are not brave, we are not righteous, we are not the hero. We are no longer the victim. We have become the villain.

Just like the Cowardly Crusaders of Cyberspace.

I’ve always loved Belt’s style of writing. It’s witty, informative, and action-packed with uniquely important characters that all play a role. I love how he shows the two characters at their weakest, both fighting inner desires and accomplishing a seemingly impossible task together. Maebh and Tormond are a great team, and it was fun to see how they work through challenges to accomplish the goal of vanquishing the evil. A definite twist almost every chapter that kept me turning pages. Dark at times, redeeming at others, and worth waiting for the conclusion.

Jenny Rabe, sweet romance author

“The Executioner of God” is the epic battle of good and evil with a time-travelling knight and nun who are up against a demoness and her minions. There’s a whole lot of action, horror, adventure, and even a bit of romance. Latter-day Saints will appreciate the scriptural references while readers of other faiths can still enjoy the complex storyline and well-researched historical fiction.

Marie Woodward, author of Pride and the Peddler

Have you been “cancelled?” Have you been “cancelled” by a loved one, perhaps? Does that loved one no longer speak to you or even acknowledge your existence? Do they ignore (or perhaps avoid) your phone calls, your texts, your emails? Have they attempted to bully you into silence?

I have. It sucks. It sucks rotten vulture eggs.

Was it perhaps because you didn’t vote the way they thought you should have? Or perhaps it was because you don’t endorse the right bumper-sticker slogans? Or perhaps it was because you passionately disagree with your loved one on a very important issue? Or perhaps it was because you simply refused to endorse an organization you think is corrupt and perhaps evil? (I’m fairly certain your loved one thinks the organization is engaged in a righteous cause.)

I certainly have been “cancelled.” I have been called a racist, a bigot, a hater, and a traitor to the Constitution of the United States (all very serious accusations) by family members, some of whom have not spoken to me in well over a year, even though I reach out to them every week. The pain is very real.

So, have you been “cancelled?” Are you the target of a loved one’s “righteous hatred?”

I personally think that there is no such thing as “righteous hatred.” Hatred is the absence of love. Hatred can never be righteous and is never justified. Righteous ends never justify unrighteous means.

So, if you have been the target of someone’s “righteous hatred,” I’m sorry. I feel for you. I really do. I’m there.

But I think there is a more important question than “Have you (or I) been ‘cancelled?’” Far more important. And that is this—

Have you (or I) “cancelled” someone else? A loved one, perhaps? Do you (or I) no longer speak to that loved one or even acknowledge their existence? Do you (or I) ignore (or perhaps avoid) their phone calls, their texts, their emails? Have you (or I) attempted to bully them into silence?

Was it perhaps because they didn’t vote the way you (or I) thought they should have? Or perhaps it was because they don’t endorse the right bumper-sticker slogans? Or perhaps it was because your (or my) loved one passionately disagrees with you (or me) on a very important issue? Or perhaps it was because they simply refused to endorse an organization you (or I) think is engaged in a justified and righteous cause?

I cannot control the actions of any person other than myself (nor should I attempt to). Forcing (or bullying) people to “be good” has always been Satan’s way. It is not and never has been God’s way.

If you (or I) can so easily see the mote in your (or my) loved one’s eye, perhaps you (or I) need to make darn sure there isn’t a beam in your (or my) own.

I once wrote an essay entitled, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in First Nephi.” I’ve long felt that there is a reason why the Lord included First Nephi at the beginning of The Book of Mormon, so that if we get bogged down in the Isaiah chapters of Second Nephi (and who hasn’t) and feel as if we need to start over, we would read this iconic story of Nephi and Sam, Laman and Lemuel, Lehi and Sariah over and over. The lessons contained in First Nephi are fundamental for all Latter-day Saints.

Calling upon her experience as an adult youth leader and as a parent, Sharla Goettl has broken down these essential lessons from First Nephi in her new book, Spiritual Resilience: Leading Our Youth to Go and Do, in way that is highly relatable for both youth and adults, and especially for parents of youth. Even more than her analysis of the lessons of First Nephi, I deeply appreciated the very personal examples from her life and the lives of her children. These examples and anecdotes helped bring these timeless principles into the modern world of “Come Follow Me” and “home-centered church.” These are the hard lessons that even those who attempt to live the gospel and their sacred covenants will go through great trials, where we cannot see the end, we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel—but Heavenly Father does see. He knows what we need to learn, how we need to grow, whom we need to become, and how to help us to get there. Sister Goettl’s insights into the idea that we must armor ourselves in spiritual resilience to weather our storms, to work through our doubts and as-yet unanswered question are timely and relevant for modern Latter-day Saints.

I found the book to be an easy read, with concepts and insights well supported by scripture, prophetic teaching, anecdotes, and experience. I appreciate the summaries at the end of each chapter that helped me review what I just read, to cement it in my mind, and to make it easy to return to the book again and again.

I understand that this is Sister Goettl’s debut book, and I say, “Well done!” I heartily recommend and endorse Spiritual Resilience: Leading Our Youth to Go and Do.

For more information, go to:

Affiliate link: https://amzn.to/2NVeZy9

Author’s website: www.sharlagoettl.com

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/authorsharlagoettl

Instagram: @authorsharlagoettl

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/sharlagoettl

Rafflecopter giveaway!

*  EVERYONE can get a FREE gift at www.sharlagoettl.com  Click on the link at the top of the page for “The Goal Maker”.

* EVERYONE can participate in her Goodreads Giveaway to win a free copy of the book!  Here’s the link:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57118553-spiritual-resilience        (The giveaway ends on April 13 though)

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