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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Review: Lifestyles of the Great & Spacious by John Bytheway

Lifestyles of the Great and Spacious by John Bytheway, NF, Self help -LDS, 2013, 159p, Rating=5
Source: provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

With every passing day, the unforgettable imagery in Lehi’s dream becomes more real and more relevant. In our modern world, we can literally hear the taunts and see the pointing fingers of people like those in the great and spacious building. We find ourselves clinging with greater energy to the rod of iron as we work through the massive mists of darkness toward the tree of life. In Lifestyles of the Great and Spacious, John Bytheway looks at Lehi’s dream, and with his characteristic humor, comments from Church leaders, scholarly insights, and personal experiences, he expands our understanding of these precious verses of scripture.

This was my first taste of Mr. Bytheway's work and looks like it won't be my last!  This latest in his series of scripture commentaries was a treat.  This one focused on Lehi's dream found in 1 Nephi 8:4-35 from the Book of Mormon.  For those not familiar with this scripture, in summary it is about Lehi's (a prophet in the Americas, about 600 B.C.) vision of the tree of life where he partakes of its fruit and desires his family to do likewise.  In this dream he sees a rod of iron, a strait and narrow path, the mists of darkness that enshroud men, and the ominous great and spacious building (see book cover for artist rendition).  The author described the rod of iron as the guide/guard rail in the strait and narrow path that leads to the tree of life.  Whereas the mists of darkness was blindness to the path but subject to the mocking of those in the great and spacious building who swayed travelers away from the strait and narrow.

Breaking the scriptures down to few verses at a time, we find the author's "thoughts, insights, and observations".  This made for a concise and thoughtful presentation of the meaning that can be found in what the author pointed out about Lehi's dream as have been called the "parable of the paths", comparable to Jesus' "parable of the four kinds of soil" found in Matthew 13 from the Holy Bible.  Hence, the dream was an illustration of ones choices to a path of life ... (1) Start the narrow path, overcome by the mists, get lost, (2) Start the narrow path, partake of the fruit, be ashamed, wander off, get lost, (3) Start the narrow path, hold fast, partake of the fruit, stay, or (4) No interest in the strait and narrow, move directly toward the building.

The last two chapters tipped the star rating to the top for me.  Up to that point, the author went into laying out Lehi's dream and explanations.  Now the author concludes with what the people in the great and spacious building could be saying to those in the path today (like, "You're an overzealous fanatic.", "Why are you trying to convert people?", or "You think you're better than us.") and how to "heed-not" to the scoffing and answer with the Savior in mind.  Love it! Overall, I gained understanding from the wealth of information and wise counsels and felt the truthfulness in those words.

Excellent book!  A great tool for ponder and study.  I could also see myself using excerpts from this book should I ever give a "talk" (lesson speech) regarding "agency".

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