The Canyons of Grace


Good literature is informed and energized by conflict. Levi Peterson finds ways to give fictional voice, in believable and revealing actions, to the deep religious conflict some Mormons experience—obedience to the ordering of divine grace versus integrity to the independence of human grace. In doing so he makes the nature and power of his characters’ various versions of Mormon theology—its stern demands and compelling visions—clearer to others, as well as to Mormons themselves. But in the main his protagonists are attractive human beings in spite of their being Mormon, not because of it. We still must wait for a writer to capture consistently the deep ravishment of sincere Mormon faith, the comprehensible joy as well as utterable anxiety God’s presence can bring. Peterson’s book breaks extremely valuable ground and may well be the best collection of Mormon stories yet, but we can anticipate better, from him and others.

In the first story, “The Confessions of Augustine,” the narrator experiences the ancient conflict of flesh and spirit in his own Mormon terms.

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