The first precept I heard from the lips of Arthur Henry King was that an author is revealed by his work. Attitudes, prejudices, morality, commitments—all are unfolded in the works of any given author. At the very least, this expanded and edited volume, which draws upon Arthur Henry King’s earlier work, The Abundance of the Heart, reveals the man without being overtly autobiographical. Yet even his name unfolds key points of his academic and personal history. Arthur, a king, a legend; Henry the king, echoes of Shakespeare. As a Shakespearean scholar, he was unmatched. If this work reveals the man, he was a man of firm convictions, of great humility, and of guilelessness. He made the historical, the cultural, the philosophical accessible. In this book, this convert to the LDS faith affirms the life-changing experience of finding the Restoration of the gospel and then draws upon the understanding brought by it to recast the meaning of academic inquiry, tradition, judgment, language, education, effective writing, and wholeness. King—perhaps best described here as Brother Arthur Henry King—reveals how relentlessly transforming the fact of the Restoration is. His work invites the reader to see everything as measured by the gospel of Jesus Christ, whether the simplest issues of everyday life or the larger themes permeating a culture. The work prompts reflection and renewal after it has been devoured.
King’s conversion story sets the stage—in both personal history and testimony—for the credibility of the rest of the chapters. His was not a life that skimmed the surface nor waded in shallow water. His reaction to academic life prior to his conversion, his finding so many ideas and approaches wanting, parallels the spiritual quest of a C. S. Lewis. He offers quick summaries of situations and contexts in order to get to the point that the world needed a restoration of religious truth. For example, upon arrival at Cambridge, he found “a generation trying to make the experience of literature and the other arts a substitute for religion.” But they cannot replace religion because of the difference between science and religion: “the ideas we have about the physical universe change; it is the moral and religious truths that are permanent.” He found that “modern world culture has socially denied the virtue of the individual; it is reducing human beings to a mechanism; it has allowed power to proliferate without control; and it has also allowed moral behavior to decline without control. In other words, without the Restoration confusion is abundant; with the restoration wholeness is possible.