“The mills of the Gods grind exceeding fast.” In the expanding and even “exploding” Church it is difficult enough to keep up the cadence in action. This new volume by Spencer J. Palmer is a vivid and literate sign of the times: we need to adjust to international horizons. For some of us this may mean radical reconversion, an awakening from the dogmatic slumber of our cultural mores.
The book exhibits Dr. Palmer’s unique combination of gifts. His initial chapters uncover historical and doctrinal footings for the mandate to “penetrate every clime,” not a paper dream but an exceptionless requirement. His seasoned grasp of world religions and traditions is combined with firsthand up-to-the-minute acquaintance with the Church programs and procedures that are crossing the divides. He has been monitoring carefully the events and trends of the last two decades. (The book is more than an update of his The Church Encounters Asia.) Then the book presents two landmark addresses—one by Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve and the other by the Church’s able secretary of state, David M. Kennedy. Both come to grips with the Alps the Church has yet to cross; both are declarations of interdependence, global in scope. Finally the book chronicles moving human stories, paradigms of conversion, selected from western Europe, Latin America, Asia, and the South Sea Islands. Throughout, Palmer intersperses introductory material that sews the book together in an almost seamless way. Abstraction is balanced with concrete data, and both are enlivened by flesh-and-blood recitals.