Every Needful Thing: Essays on the Life of the Mind and the Heart, ed. by Mellissa Wei-Tsing Inouye and Kate Holbrook. (Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship and Brigham Young University and Deseret Book Company, Provo, Utah and Salt Lake City, Utah, 2022.) ISBN: 978-1-63993-126-2. 252 pages.

This book has 23 contributors and is broken into five parts. The introduction indicates all contributors are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The editors point out that all contributors are female and note that most similar collections neglect the female point of view. The contributors all have impressive credentials: for example, they include a botanist, a psychologist, a geologist, a mathematician, historians, a medical doctor, a political scientist, two legal scholars, a judge, and many others. This underscores the thesis of the book, which is to show “professionals who speak about discipleship not only with their minds but also from their hearts” (taken from the inner cover flap.)

The editors begin their introduction by referring to an 1832 revelation to Joseph Smith telling him to establish the School of the Prophets. D&C 88:78–80 makes it clear that this school was to be not only a place for religious learning but for a wide range of secular knowledge, which would include science, history, current events, domestic and foreign affairs, geopolitics, cultural studies, and geography. Students also learned languages (Hebrew and English are mentioned explicitly, though I do not know whether others, such as Greek, were taught). Sometimes Joseph went home and taught his family what he had learned in grammar that day. As one reads the writings of Joseph, one begins to appreciate the depth of his understanding of things, such as that human beings are both eternally existent intelligences and the children of a divine Heavenly Mother and Father. Additionally, Joseph understood that the Creator Gods did not create matter but organized it and prepared it to bring forth human beings created in Their image. He also understood that They were so concerned with human actions that they could even weep at our wickedness.

This importance of establishing a school reminds me of an incident that has meant a lot to me. I was a faculty member at Brigham Young University during the last part of the twentieth century. In the latter 1970s the Church divested itself of its hospitals, turning them over to schools and communities. The question arose whether it would also divest itself of its schools. BYU President Dallin H. Oaks called this the “Parable of the Hospitals.” In the early 1980s, BYU’s new president, Jeffrey R. Holland, came to our annual faculty conference and told us this story. He had been worrying about this parable. Then he had a dream in which he was referred to D&C 97:3, which says, “… I, the Lord, am well pleased that there should be a school in Zion…” Of course, the verse originally referred to the School of the Prophets; but President Holland clearly felt that this was reassurance that the Lord was pleased that there should be a Brigham Young University and, by extension, the Church’s other schools.

The editors of Every Needful Thing focus on D&C 88, which was, in a sense, the constitution or founding document for the School of the Prophets. Verses 78–80 say, “Teach ye diligently…” and go on to suggest a wide variety of subjects to teach. Verse 119 refers to the future Kirtland Temple and says, “… teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”

“Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing…” The editors Italicize these words to emphasize that they are the title of the book. Their next sentence states a clear thesis, or purpose, for the book: “This book gathers together perspectives from scholars and professionals who demonstrate a multidimensional and characteristically Latter-day Saint approach to sacred behavior.” They then give examples of the sorts of needful things that we might consider: “… wrestling with longstanding questions, walking through a meadow, reading scripture, and singing with children.” They continue, “Instead of confining ourselves to artificial dichotomies forcing choices between faith and reason… we must unflinchingly seek ‘anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report.’ ”

This reviewer agrees wholeheartedly. I have written elsewhere of the dangers of forcing premature reconciliation of different areas of knowledge like science and religion, since our knowledge in both areas is very much incomplete.

The editors continue: “These essays narrate journeys through challenging terrain. In many cases, authors explain how their faith led them to scientific breakthroughs [as I myself, the reviewer, have experienced], professional success, and new insights into the human story. At other times, disciplinary perspectives compelled scholars to measure and test their beliefs, along the lines of Alma’s ‘experiment’ to discern what is real.”

These quotations from the collection’s introduction give a good picture of what is to follow. Reading the introduction makes me anxious to read the essays in the book. Let us make that journey together. What follows is a sampling of the essays.

“Solid and Whole in a Messy Universe” is by Astrid S. Tuminez, president of Utah Valley University. She tells of the blessings in her life; of being found at five years old in her Filipino home by Catholic nuns who recognized that she and her siblings had some talent and offered them free places at their expensive convent school. The nuns did not separate the religious from the secular: along with religious training, the children were taught English, math, biology, speech, physics … Tuminez writes, perhaps a little tongue-in-cheek, that she feared the nuns—they taught her to “read, write, and dissect frogs.”

At age 10, Tuminez converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (She does not give details.) Her new beliefs influenced her desire to excel. She learned that whatever principle of intelligence she gained in this life would be with her in the resurrection. She read more books, got better grades, and became more ambitious. (Reading this essay gives one a sense of her exceptional ambition and intelligence.) At 16, in the Philippines, she began learning Spanish, French, and Russian—in addition to the three languages she already knew. (She has since written on Russian nationalism.) In Moscow in 1985, while standing in line, she met young Russian Baptist women who were courageously living their faith despite its dangers in the USSR. Later, hearing the Dalai Lama speak encouraged Tuminez to study Buddhism—e.g., its concepts of non-self and interbeing, which reminded her of the LDS belief in unity (“If ye are not one, ye are not mine”).

Tuminez tells of being one of two principal leaders for a diplomatic project in Mindinao in the Philippines after 9/11. She worked with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a group fighting for Islamic rights in the Philippines. “Moro” was a derogatory term used by Spanish colonists from the 16th to 19th century to refer to Muslims (Moro meaning Moors). She says that growing up she was guilty of this prejudice herself, but that in working with them, she learned to be “no more strangers” and to learn more deeply about what it means to weep with those who weep, to mourn with those who mourn, and to bind up the brokenhearted. She learned to pray at dawn just as the Muslim prayers and chanting began. She also tells of her experience in the corporate world, where she met innovative, educated, and caring souls.

This short (six plus pages) bio of herself conveys two things to me. First, Tuminez’s brilliance, her intense desire to improve herself, and her melding of the religious and the secular. Second, her gradually expanding appreciation of other people’s lives and cultures that enriched her life—and by extension, those with whom she comes in contact, including UVU students and faculty. Surely, they are blessed by such contact.

“The Two-Way Street of Faith and Scholarship” is by Valerie M. Hudson, who holds the George H. W. Bush Chair in the Department of International Affairs at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. She is a former member of the BYU Political Science Department. She is the author or editor of several books and is a cofounder and principal investigator of the WomanStats Project, which includes the largest compilation of data on the status of women in the world. She is also president of a non-profit organization producing peer-reviewed research on cystic fibrosis.

Hudson says she originally wanted to be a geologist and still has a killer rock and mineral collection. But after taking two BYU general education courses—one in anthropology and the other in international relations—she decided people were more interesting than rocks and her gaze became directed toward nations, peoples, and international relations (IR). Research in IR produced a further narrowing of focus when she realized that most IR courses omitted human agency as a variable of interest. Motivated by her belief in the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, Hudson rebelled against the IR view that the important variables in international affairs were “humanless.” Personal forces on the small scale actually form the foundation of large, seemingly impersonal forces. Rebelling against the standard IR dogma, she advocated for and researched in its subfield, foreign policy analysis (FPA), in which the basic unit is the individual person, acting singly or in groups. FPA examines the nature of leaders of small groups, in which the most important decisions are made, and gets into the policies of the executive branch of government. She says, “FPA is a radical vote for individual human agency in a world of structural explanations.” Her 35 years as a university professor have shown her that “which individual occupies which position in an institution does matter tremendously, that groupthink is real, that dysfunctional cultural norms such as passive-aggressiveness are readily observable and even predictable.”

These realizations helped her better understand the Church of Jesus Christ. Within it, there are small group dynamics and individual personality forces at work. Individuals are fallible; they make mistakes. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland noted this in a famous quote: “…Imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but he deals with it…” She recognizes that members of the Church are fallible. She honors the doctrine and revelation of the Church even as she realizes that many of its programs have been created much like the proverbial sausage. As a fallible mortal herself, she is hoping for mercy from the Lord. She has learned that “this world was meant to be a messy, hurtful learning experience and was never meant to be a place run efficiently…”

Hudson notes the place of male-female relations in the interaction between the gospel of Jesus Christ and her work as a social scientist. In her undergraduate and graduate work in IR, she says there was virtually no mention of women.

Her first exploration into researching male-female linkage came when she was director of graduate studies at BYU’s Kennedy Center. In a book Hudson read at the time, the historian Elizabeth Perry noted the relation between the rise of rebel groups and female infanticide in China. Girls that should have grown up to form families had been killed and so there were excess single men with nothing to do but cause trouble. She and a coauthor Andrea Den Boer spent years exploring the effects of greatly skewed sex ratios on regional and national security, which led to an award-winning book, Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia’s Surplus Male Population. The “woman-less” world of her professors was totally incapable of understanding important security trends.

This eventually led to the WomanStats Project, along with several books authored or coauthored by Hudson and others. The basic thesis of this work is that the way that women are treated individually affects worldwide national security. The understanding in the Church that women and men should be considered equal partners in the Plan of Happiness is thus very important, and LDS scholars should consider this foundation when undertaking social studies research. As her research continued, she began to translate it into a Church context. She co-authored, with LDS political philosopher Alma Don Sorensen, Women in Eternity, Women of Zion, which discusses the role of women in the Church and includes a much-cited discussion of polygamy.

When she was an undergraduate at BYU, Hudson taped a Latin invocation from Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe to her wall. Translated, it means, “Let me not seem to have lived in vain.” Hudson is grateful to God for the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and the opportunities He has provided for her.

Emily Bates authors an essay titled “Faith as a Scientist.” Bates served a mission in Geneva, Switzerland, has a B.S. from BYU and a PhD from Harvard, and completed a postdoc at San Francisco School of Medicine. She has taught at BYU and is now on the faculty at the University of Colorado Medical School. She has published in scientific journals, enjoys playing the violin, running, hiking, and skiing—and considers her husband and two children a great blessing.

In her research into the laws of biology, Bates has found the most enjoyable work to be work where she can employ techniques that facilitate discovery, such as when she was studying genetics as a graduate student at the University of Utah. Classes that required “rote” learning were not so enjoyable. She felt similarly as an assistant professor at BYU; students in a lab class complained because they felt they were just following “cookbook” instructions, so she redesigned the experiments so that students could use them to discover something new (which, in this case, meant exploring how blocking a cell protein could block cancer development). Some students in the class enjoyed this so much that they ended up changing their career plans.

Bates grew up believing in a God who could do all things. In order to “ask and ye shall receive,” the receiving depends on one’s faith and obedience. She was faithful and obedient to the Word of Wisdom as God’s law of health. This childhood view of God was challenged by her having migraine headaches and dyslexia. Because of the migraines, she could not rely on being healthy when she was running in a track meet, playing the violin in a recital, or taking an exam. During times she considered critical for her life and schooling, she might lose her sight, the contents of her stomach, or her ability to stand upright.

She prayed earnestly for God’s help. Though the pain was not relieved (I gather from the text), she felt the love from her Heavenly Parents and learned strength and motivation enabling her to help others. Her migraines motivated her to study genetics, to understand why biological processes go wrong. Mistakes (mutations) in our DNA are unavoidable, and they can cause birth defects, cancer, or other problems.

God did not make these mistakes happen. He does only good. One of Bates’ favorite scriptures is 2 Nephi 26:33: “For he doeth that which is good among the children of men [and women]; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness…”

As Bates studied genetics and molecular biology, she began to believe it was less likely that God will intervene in our sufferings and more likely that our Heavenly Parents expect us to learn from Them. Disease is not a punishment. We are to help each other. Of course, He still may intervene, and she prays for that. Her migraines inspired her to seek out research that would help her and others.

The COVID pandemic complicated her life. She and her new baby were quarantined in the hospital. She felt she was failing her students because of required separations. The pandemic did not come from God, but He inspired people to work together to overcome it. The worldwide collaboration seemed to be a miracle.

When Bates was a young girl, her dyslexia and migraines would have led her to have no confidence in her future, except for her patriarchal blessing and the love she felt from her Heavenly Parents. They gave her the confidence to follow her career and to help others. For her, that was a miracle.

“Faith and My Life as a Medical Scientist” is authored by Elizabeth Hammond, who has degrees and training from the University of Utah, Stockholm’s Karolinska Institutet, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School. She established an electron microscopy unit at the LDS Hospital and provided specialty services to laboratories throughout Utah. Among other positions, she has served as professor of pathology and internal medicine (cardiology) at the University of Utah. She has authored 250 original publications.

Hammond begins with a personal experience. Her sister was in an automobile accident. In the operating room the surgeon told her parents that her sister was likely to die. The apostle Harold B. Lee, a good friend of her father, was present. He went to the girl’s bedside and pronounced a simple blessing, promising her healing and a long life. Hammond and her parents received a calm assurance that he spoke the truth. Her sister was comatose for a week then made a full recovery.

This taught Hammond there is a difference between scientific knowledge (man’s truth) and God’s truth. The latter encompasses everything. Skilled physicians surely have excellent knowledge, but it is limited. Only God has complete knowledge—and that was available only by prayer and faith. Her parents’ frequent, heartfelt prayers helped her own faith to grow.

Hammond writes about her love of learning about almost anything. Her junior high biology classes convinced her that she had found an intellectual home. She had a role model in a fine female pediatrician, who found joy in her profession but also in her service to patients. Hammond liked to serve others. She writes, “Medicine seemed a natural career to combine both medicine and science.” Her parents supported her career decision, although others said it was in conflict with a proper Latter-day Saint upbringing.

Hammond describes her research in cardiology. She studied heart transplants and became convinced that the presence of antibodies was damaging in transplants, an opinion that challenged the conventional wisdom that only immune cells influenced heart transplant outcomes. She was publicly shamed and derided for this opinion, but her colleagues in Utah supported her, and she continued to publish her results because she knew they were correct. The presence of antibodies in the heart increased the risk of death in transplants by nine-fold. Eventually—22 years after her original paper—her recommendations were accepted by the international cardiology community. Her faith in the process of discovery drove out her fear of failure.

She became chair of her department, and because she was a woman, she experienced significant rejection from others. The criticism made her angry, and she focused on that anger instead of on God, choosing her own thinking instead of God’s advice. She let this consume her. Her family noticed the change and helped her overcome her anger and return to God.

On another occasion, the hospital had a massive computer failure, and the hospital staff were reduced to recording data manually. She did not know how to solve the matter but through faith and prayer, was guided to those who did and the problems were resolved.

Hammond expresses her gratitude for God’s help to her as a wife and mother of three children. Her husband was an architect, and they faced the challenges of a dual career couple: choosing the correct career path for each, finding appropriate childcare, thinking about how to solve their children’s problems, and so forth. They were guided by the decision they made early in their marriage to maintain their activity in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, despite challenges.

Hammond is filled with gratitude for God’s blessings to her over 50 plus years in science and medicine. While others have helped her along the way, reliance on inspiration helped her in her family relationships.

Faith in God was given to Hammond as a gift, and she recognized the obligation to use it wisely. President Nelson has pointed out that we can know God’s individual priorities for us if we strive to be righteous and listen to His personal messages for us.

“Singing as a Teacher” is an essay by Laney McClain Armstrong. She holds degrees from the universities of Harvard, Oregon, and Washington. A singer and conductor, she has made choral music and education her life’s work. She has taught both middle school and high school —and is the director of Musicianship at the Cantabile Youth Singers of Silicon Valley. She has also worked with the San Francisco Girls Chorus and is currently a music teacher at the Renaissance International School in Oakland as well as an artistic director for the women’s ensemble in San Francisco. She lives with her spouse and four daughters in Oakland.

She writes about teaching music to children. A useful method was developed by Hungarian Zoltan Kodâly, who realized that children learned music through play; his method is now used worldwide. It utilizes the two concepts of music rhythms and intervals. The interesting thing about Kodâly’s method is that each new concept is introduced with a folksong from the child’s culture.

Primary songs ingrain in us concepts in the same way Kodâly’s method does, but the concepts are gospel truths. They are taught by rote, play, visual aids, and lots of repetition, and in this way the gospel principles become part of the children. Armstrong says the songs can teach children the fundamental ideas of the gospel of Jesus Christ “in a way that reaches the core of their being. [She] knows because [she] was one of those children.”

Armstrong spent hours at her piano trying to sing and play simultaneously and, in the process, built her testimony. One of her favorite songs was, “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus.” She says she loved its “soaring melody and its simple message.” She analyzes the lyrics. They remind her that no matter how hard she tries to follow the Savior, things do not always go her way. She must work hard and “remember the lessons He taught.” The text reminds her to listen to the still, small voice as the melody climbs and moves back toward the home key. It says to “love one another as Jesus loves you,” leading singer and listeners to the core commandments of the gospel.

The lessons and spirit of those Primary songs continue to speak to the author. They are part of her. They remind her, comfort her, and help her live the gospel. She trusts that as she teaches these songs to her children, they will have the same impact on them as they did on her.

Growing up, Armstrong sang everywhere. At the age of seven, her wise mother enrolled her in the San Francisco Girls Chorus where she found her true love: choral music, which is now her profession. She notes that vocal music is a unique form of music—only with it can the singer combine music and words to express meaning and emotion. In choral singing, singers benefit from hearing each other. This is especially powerful in a religious context. [Reviewer’s note: The Pilgrim’s Chorus from Tannhȁuser comes to mind.]

Armstrong mentions hymns that have meant a lot to her. In addition to the aforementioned “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus,” she lists “Nearer, My God, to Thee”—sung at the funeral of her young nephew—and “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” from a glorious Easter service. She writes about the unifying benefits of choir singing. I can also attest to the benefits Armstrong discusses. Our ward choir had unforgettable performances of O, Come, O Come Emmanuel and Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs.

Armstrong finishes the chapter with a few remarks about times when, as either a singer herself or as a school choral conductor, she did not feel the Spirit as she should have. Of course, we all have these moments. But one of her experiences is remarkable. In her early twenties, she was struggling with the direction her life would take. She felt God was far away. In one Sunday School class, the teacher played the Tabernacle Choir recording of “It Is Well With My Soul.” The words and music went straight to her heart:

When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to know
It is well, it is well with my soul

“As tears streamed down my face, I felt the reassurance that my Savior loved me, my God knew me, and I was seen and heard.”

“From Peru, My Academic Development Hand in Hand with Faith” is by Ana Maria Gutiérrez Valdivia. The text is first given in Spanish, then an English translation follows.

Gutiérrez Valdivia was born in Arequipa, Peru. She received her MD, MS, and doctoral degrees from the Universidad National de San Agustin, where she was academic vice-chancellor in 2021. During this time she worked on curricular development. She has also explored sexual health, reproduction, and medical education.

Gutiérrez Valdivia considers her baptism into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a “transcendent event that helped her start her path of discipleship.” She has served as a stake Relief Society president and helps future missionaries fill out their medical applications. She credits her husband Luigi and her children Diego, Luis, Coco, and Ximena with helping her academic growth. In addition to the support she has received from her family, she has received help from God in the midst of difficult circumstances. She has seen His hand guiding her in her most important decisions. She trusts Him and this has brought her peace.

Her parents were “industrious, honest, simple, and loving.” Devout Catholics, they taught her, by example, to serve others. They had little but enough and lived off the produce of the land and the animals they raised. “Cultivating a field is an act of faith that depends on nature and an unstable market.”

Gutiérrez Valdivia started school before she was six. Studying was difficult. She had to help with chores, and because there was no electric lighting, she studied at night by kerosene lamp or candlelight. Despite the hardships, she did well in school and often was assigned to teach her classmates. At age 10 she moved to Arequipa for further education, where she lived with family friends. Life was a challenge because she was a rural student attending an urban school in an upper-class neighborhood. After a year, her mother came to live with her and she transferred to a parochial school. Their living conditions were bad so she felt she could never invite friends over. However, at age 15 her situation improved as they moved to a house her parents had built with much effort. At the end of secondary school, she was awarded first place and gave the valedictory address.

Gutiérrez Valdivia enrolled at the National University of San Agustin (USNA), majoring in medicine, where she found the gospel through a friend. She took the missionary discussions, read the Book of Mormon, and prayed. “I received so much peace and warmth within my being, confirming the truth of what I had learned… I was literally born again.”

Joining the Church brought many changes to her life. Coffee and wine had been customary drinks in her family, but she gave them up. Living with her sister, who also was baptized, helped. Friends and family learned to respect her beliefs. She grew to love others, such as her visiting teacher sisters. Service in the Church, study at school, and selling various things helped her show young people it was possible to study and work in the Church at the same time.

Working with young people while serving as a young single adult representative led her to her future husband, Luigi Morales Velásquez. Luigi was serving a mission and decided to finish it; they knew they would be blessed. They were married in the Lima Peru temple without their parents; hers were not members and his did not have the resources to make the trip.

Gutiérrez Valdivia writes that one can study and be faithful simultaneously. She completed her undergraduate degree, placing third in the class of 125. But starting married life with a demanding residency was difficult, especially when she became pregnant. Heavenly Father, her husband, and his family helped her through. In 1988 interest in geriatrics had increased in Peru and her senior thesis, “Renal Function in the Elderly,” received national recognition. After her residency she had a second child. They struggled financially but got by with vegetables from their garden and produce from her parents.

Gutiérrez Valdivia began her career as a university lecturer in 1991 at UNSA. She had to balance university time and family time, and this delayed her progress. However, she was able to write a master’s project on violence against women, which was selected by the Pan American Health Organization for publication. This led her to study a subject in earnest with the help of undergraduates: domestic violence.

After the deaths of her parents, Gutiérrez Valdivia began a doctoral program in public health population problems. Research and administrative opportunities gradually arose, and she became the treasurer for the board of directors of the regional chapter of medical professionals despite her lack of experience. She helped in an election and her candidate won, enabling her to get governmental experience. In succeeding years, she served as director of the research unit of UNSA and as academic vice chancellor for a special faculty group, all the while serving as stake Relief Society president and in Young Women’s and Sunday School.

The pressure of being academic vice chancellor was overwhelming. That time was a period of changes— not only in terms of regulations, institutional licensing, and accreditation, but also when it came to updates for academic programs, and so forth. Gutiérrez Valdivia surrounded herself with capable people and that helped. With God’s aid she was able to counsel all the university people who came to her with their problems.

Gutiérrez Valdivia served six years in that position. It was satisfying because of the service she could perform in helping improve the university. It is now one of the five best universities in Peru. UNSA was the first public university in Peru to open virtually during the COVID pandemic in 2020.

Professionally, Gutiérrez Valdivia would like to help people grow, especially if they are from areas of poverty. But her greatest joy comes from her family. She marvels that having been born a country girl, she could achieve her position and travel the world learning about higher education. She gives credit to divine inspiration.

“Faith as a Complex Ecosystem” is by Kyra N. Krakos, professor of biology at Maryville University and research associate at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. She earned degrees at BYU and Washington University in St. Louis. She lives happily in St. Louis with her husband and three children.

Krakos is a classroom professor during the school year, but in the growing season she turns to field work. In the mornings, before her students arrive, she thinks to herself “… I am Eve, walking in my Garden, enjoying the peace of anticipated discovery.”

Her field of study is pollination. It is important to human survival—over 85% of wild flowering plants require some sort of pollination. Honeybees pollinate 66% of the world’s food crops. (She notes that pollination is important for human happiness since chocolate requires a pollinator!) As she looks over a prairie field, she sees a complex system in which the various plants compete for pollinators, through the shape of the flowers, the nectar, the scent, and other characteristics. Besides bees, pollinators include birds, animals, and wind. Many plants can self-pollinate. “The pollination web is intricate, in peril, and in need of our care, understanding, and active preservation.”

She then speaks of her faith, which she says is a similarly complex system. Her childhood faith, nurtured by parents, teachers, and Church leaders, could not withstand the “shaking of my questions as I grew.” She had to build a new system with redundant mechanisms for building faith and spiritual growth. She was hungry for new information; she is sure that her endless questions exhausted her poor Primary and Sunday School teachers. In her tweens, her father was called as bishop; she secretly slipped his handbook out of his stack of materials and read it cover to cover. Alas; it contained only bureaucracy, not revelation. She was too young to see the importance of topics like birth control or how to counsel a rape victim. She spent years preparing for the temple rituals by attending early morning seminary, earning the Young Women medallion, and attending temple preparation classes. The day finally came; she went to the temple with her parents and other family members. Afterwards they excitedly asked what she thought; she smiled and nodded her head, hiding her deep disappointment that she hadn’t learned more theology from the experience.

So, Krakos turned to science. As a girl, she had been taught in church to respect our Church leaders and to accept their authority. Her faith and hope were rooted in the Church. In science, she was taught to challenge authority. How could she resolve this tension?

She had always loved plants, so she became a botanist. She says, “while these changes in the way I interacted with the world and ideas impacted my faith, they also gave me ways of understanding faith. The different ways of knowing in science and in my spiritual life became redundancies, strengthening me, making my wisdom durable.”

When she teaches evolution in the Midwest, there are always students who come haltingly to her office to tell her about their own struggles in resolving faith and science. Some of them weep. With her own experience, she can help them through these struggles.

Her lessons often fall under the heading, “science is a how; faith is a why.” To me, that is an excellent way of looking at things.

At the end of her essay, she speaks about walking in her garden and says, “Here is the garden where I walk with God. Here is where I find that my humanity is part of my divinity.”

“In Search of the Wise” is by Kimberly Applewhite Teiter. Teiter has a varied professional life; she is a licensed clinical psychologist, a published author, an adjunct professor (her bio does not list the institution), and an entrepreneur in the Salt Lake City area. Her degrees are a psychology BA from New York University and MS and PhD degrees in psychology from the Federal Graduate School of Psychology of Yeshiva University. She has held fellowships at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard. She now lives in Utah, is a bishop’s wife with two daughters, and is the assistant director of a gospel choir.

Teiter says she was always attracted to wisdom. She taught herself to read at age three. She had encyclopedias and the scriptures to read. She drank in everything. “When I read, I felt a fullness and an increase of light; it would have been intoxicating if it hadn’t felt so holy to me.” She figured that as long as she was seeking that light, that wisdom, she was on the path God wanted for her.

She grew up outside a small North Carolina town. As a Black child who was precocious about learning, things were complicated. There was a suspicion around people who could do what she could do. Furthermore, being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meant that she was cut off from Black cultural practices. She remembers being shocked to see her mom swaying to the beat of gospel music. This isn’t in the hymnal!

She had trouble trying to reconcile her own ethnic identity with what others seemed to expect of her. Her heart was often filled with fear, a fear that didn’t make sense. She was afraid that people would see her like they saw those city kids, but also feared how those city kids would see her, and part of her just wanted to hide. She felt like she was trying to hold on, like the people moving toward Nephi’s tree of life, but mists of darkness threatened to cover her way. To find meaning in her life, she started to follow whatever feeling of light she could find.

There were two major incidents in her teenage years that influenced her spiritual journey. One was her journey to understanding that she was a child of God. In that process, she began to see how the Lord’s love could extend past worldly matters like prejudice and hatred. That helped her love herself and her heart began to “swell wide as eternity” (Moses 7:41) with love for her fellow heavenly siblings—Black kids in the city and the Lord’s sheep in many lands. She understood the Lord’s love for everyone.

The second spiritual incident was guidance she received in her desire to help others. She felt directed, after high school, to go to a magnet technical school. There, she took a psychology course that enabled her to realize that many of the world’s disparities are perpetuated by unresolved mental health issues. She pursued the path of becoming a clinical psychologist.

Eventually she found the Child Study Center at NYU. There, she was able to align with the values of shaping youth minds that she believed in. Then came years of schooling. She was able to find a professor who was helpful in directing her. He was a strong advocate for the diverse branches of humanity.

She found commonalities between family science and psychology. In family systems, behavior is not judged just for itself but in terms of its context. Behaviors exist to fill a need. In this way, behaviors that may seem unforgiveable are understood, like the woman taken in adultery.

As Latter-day Saints, we believe we inherit traits both human and divine. It is a comfort to her to think of her progress in those terms. She learns from her behaviors both good and bad.

When she came to Utah she struggled to adjust to a predominantly White society. Her desire to advocate for marginalized groups felt conspicuous. Her female graduate school supervisor reminded her, “These are human primates, primarily White men, maintaining the system of power they know. This place is working just as you would expect.” This helped her feel compassion for different groups.

The clients she sees come from different backgrounds with a variety of problems. They work through these together.

“Eternal Principles of Reasoning” is by Noemi Lubomirsky. She is a native of Argentina, with bachelor and doctoral degrees from the University of La Plata. He is currently an adjunct professor at that institution. She has authored several published articles and has taken part in projects that promote the articulation of math between high school and university. In addition to math, she is passionate about family history and has researched various ancestors and has traveled to their countries to learn more about them. She has served in Primary, Young Women’s, and Relief Society at both ward and stake levels.

In her essay, she explains that mathematics nowadays is defined not as the study of numbers but the study of patterns. Logical rules are used to find new relations between numbers and to see what these relations have to say about the original things.

Lubomirsky writes that when she was one years old, she would build towers of cubes by size or color. Interestingly, she says that she was never very good at mathematical calculations. No matter; she continued her mathematical interest and made that her major.

Her main interest was mathematical logic, where one uses the propositions of classical logic (à la Aristotle) and puts them into a symbolic (algebraic) form. One can then manipulate them for study. She gives several examples.

But the propositions are simple and human life is more complicated than these simple examples. Not only that, but heavenly reasoning is well above our own. She quotes Isaiah 55:8–9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We cannot perceive or understand eternity because it seems to have no beginning or end and earthly processes have beginnings and ends. But some things we may perfectly understand and that will help us.

The Lord invites us to reason with Him (D&C 50:10–12. See also D&C 45:10 and 61:13, Job13:3 and 6, and Isaiah 1:18). That gives us some hope in learning things of God. It is, of course, possible to make mistakes in our logic. We may rationalize, for example, that despite our acceptance of the Word of Wisdom, it is permissible to drink alcohol in some circumstances. D&C 78:10 describes Satan’s desire to turn us away from truth.

One afternoon, after Lubomirsky had served many hours in the Buenos Aires Argentina Temple, she sat in the temple gardens enjoying the sun. Suddenly she had some insights in solving a difficult math problem related to her thesis. Writing them out, she realized how to prove one of the main theorems of her thesis. She believes it wasn’t a coincidence that she had just served in the temple.

Job 8:32 says, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” She notes that it is important to reason using true principles. All the reasoning in the world is worthless if the basic principles, or axioms, are false.

Axioms in mathematics may seem simple, but those in human relationships are more complicated. In those cases, how do we obtain truth? D&C 84:45–46 says that the Spirit enlightens every man [and woman] who cometh into the world. We look to the Holy Ghost for truth. We understand (D&C 9:8–9, Moroni 10:4) that we should study matters out in our minds and then ask God if they are true. The Holy Ghost can give us help with our theorems. [I also testify this is true.] Other scriptures can help us with this model, for example Alma 32:6 and the following verses in that chapter show the importance of experimentation, as every physicist knows.

Citing D&C 93:26, 30, 36 and 2 Nephi 9:40, Lubomirsky gives us a brief outline of a system she uses for determining truth: “First, I try to identify the truth I want to know (find the proposition). Second, I develop a sincere desire to know it (prayer helps me for that). Third, the Spirit comes and testifies, and fourth, then I know.”

“Warts and All” is by Jenny Hale Pulsipher. Pulsipher is a native of Los Angeles, was raised on a farm, and is a BYU professor of history. The bio lists two of her books: Subjects Unto the Same King, which treats authority matters in New England, and Swindler Sachem: The American Indian Who Sold His Birthright, which won an American Historical Association best book prize. She and her husband have four grown children, five grandchildren, and live in Salt Lake City.

Pulsipher starts her essay by noting that she is White and comes from a position of privilege. She credits many of her advantages in life to having well-educated, upper-middle-class parents with good genes. Some of her ancestors, however, were non-White. That does not qualify her to speak for non-Whites; she has not experienced the prejudice and oppression that many Black and Brown people in her ancestry and in general have suffered in the past and even today. She notes that race is a social construct; it is shaped by your social history and background, your financial status, as well as the color of your skin.

Issues of race and ethnicity have always been important to her. Reconciling scholarship demands with her personal experiences and LDS religious beliefs has led her to a model of the past that recognizes both good and bad, warts and all.

Membership in the Church and her Shoshone ancestry both run very deep in her life. Her fourth great-grandmother was a Shoshone woman who was baptized in Fort Supply, Wyoming, in 1855; that has been part of her identity. She had a Native American costume that she wore to her Primary Pioneer Day party when she was six years old. She always identified closely with this part of her family history. This led her to study Native American history in graduate school.

As a historian, she has been trained to see differences—“nuances” as she calls them—in people. She is horrified by such events as George Floyd’s murder and those that led to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Hopefully, reconciliation will come later. She knows that people are never wholly good nor wholly bad, and that because of the gospel of Jesus Christ all flawed and sinful people are redeemable. Because of Christ’s Atonement, that possibility is available to everyone. Recognition of past and present wrongs is the first step to reconciliation. I gather that reconciliation, to Pulsipher, means something like a unification of peoples in brotherhood. She says that reconciliation is furthered by seeing people as complex individuals capable of change. Heroes and villains are caricatures, not real people. Native Americans are frequently stereotyped, characterized as primitive and uncivilized.

The author says, “If we are to learn from the past, we need to be able to see ourselves in it.” We need to understand the wrongs committed against Native Americans. She thinks she erred with the title of her book about Swindler Sachem because many were so put off by it they would not read the book. The author was a real person, John Wompas, who did indeed swindle his own people, but who recognized his wrongs toward the end of his life. He used his education and knowledge to try to repair the damage he had done, writing his will in a way that protected part of the Nipmuc homeland; it remains protected today. Her own grandfather was similarly flawed. Even Brigham Young was as racist toward Blacks as his contemporaries.

Her belief in the gospel and her training as a historian have helped her to be slow to judge people. As she writes about them, she chooses to depict them as whole human beings—"flawed, sinning, sinned against, but also striving and capable of redemption.”

“The Relationship Between The Study of Law and My Faith” is by Esohe Frances Ikponmmwen. The author obtained her civil law degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsuka, Ensign State, Nigeria. She has been a public prosecutor, a chief magistrate, a High Court Judge, and chief judge of Edo State until 2019, when she retired at age 65. She is a fellow of several civic and medical organizations. She has served as Stake Relief Society president and is currently the area organization advisor for the Benin City Coordinating Council, West Africa office of the Church. She is married with children and grandchildren.

Ikponmmwen credits her father for directing her to the law profession. As a health superintendent, he encountered many lawyers in court, and he spoke of them to her in glowing terms. She enrolled at the University of Nigeria to study law but got cold feet, fearing that she would seem to be superior to her husband and that he would feel it, and maybe she should transfer to English. But a faculty officer talked her out of changing, pointing out the virtues of the law profession and suggesting various jobs she could fill. She is indebted to him.

At age 25 she was enrolled in the National Youth Service Corps, compulsory for young Nigerians, as a legal aid counsel and a counsel in the Ministry of Justice in the attorney general’s office in Bendel State. She served in that position for 12 years, retiring to become a principal state counsel. She made hard work and honesty her values, which paid off when she was appointed chief magistrate, High Court judge, and chief judge at Edo State. This appears comparable to being a member of a state Supreme Court in the US.

At the midpoint of her life, as I read it, she says she was a passive Christian, a baptized Anglican. She was later baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and speaks of her faith in the gospel at the time she was chief judge, when there was a lot of corruption in the government.

The study and practice of law often conflict with religious faith, she notes. Ikponmmwen believes they should align and there should be perfect honesty, as with the people of the Church of God in Alma 27:27. Honesty is essential in administering justice.

Ikponmmwen chooses three core issues to discuss in her essay: divorce, gender discrimination, and morality in the law.

On divorce, Ikponmmwen notes that in the beginning God married Adam and Eve and there was no mention of the possibility of divorce. In fact, Mark (10:6–9) says: “What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” Moses rebuked those who sought a divorce (see Matthew 19:8–9).

But in Nigeria, the law clearly provides for the possibility of divorce. Reasons given are far more than that of immorality. Grounds can be that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. Nigerian courts now have made this the sole grounds. She comments that this puts a lawyer of faith at a crossroads when facing a case with grounds other than immorality; but the law must be followed. I remark that the Church allows divorce for a variety of reasons, including abuse.

On gender discrimination, Ikponmmwen comments that most of the world’s religions tend to discriminate against women. For example, certain admonitions of the apostle Paul, such as 1 Corinthians 14:34–35, seem to support this. But that admonition (that women should not speak in church, etc.) is in violation of international law, as enunciated in UN pronouncements. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, such discrimination is not allowed. All can speak in church under priesthood authority. This was one factor that endeared Ikponmmwen to the Church. She gives a quote from Eso, justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria: “The reasoning in religion is one of God—which passeth all jurisprudence.”

On morality, the law, and lawyers, Ikponmmwen notes that in popular culture, lawyers are often stereotyped as cheats, liars, and professionals who lack morals. But the author points out that, according to their professional rules of conduct, this is not [or should not be] the case. She acknowledges that the rules are necessary; there may be dishonest lawyers who take advantage of ignorant persons.

As an advisor and magistrate, her mind was open to new ideas. She was seeking truth and wanted to know a better way to serve God. Her brother was converted in 1989 and she learned of the Book of Mormon. She was initially skeptical, but also curious about new information about Christ; she met with the missionaries; they answered her questions satisfactorily; and she was converted in 1994.

After that, she found that she appreciated her role as a trained lawyer even more. She saw how the Holy Spirit can assist one in dispensing justice. He could help her find solutions to problems.

Besides the value of honesty there is charity. She saw this when a defendant had been convicted and counsel asked for leniency in sentencing. Defendants often had poor clothing and were hungry; on occasion she even provided them with their needs. =She cites one case in which a justice of the Nigerian Supreme Court said, “The lawyer’s question is, ‘Who, then is my neighbor?’…” She remarks that judges refer to biblical examples. I wonder whether judges in the US do that.

With her faith, Ikponmmwen is able to make changes in laws that are unconstitutional. In one case, her decision was soundly condemned and she suffered repercussions from it, but it was the right thing to do, and it enhanced her reputation as being fearless and incorruptible. She has found that the study of law has acted as a bulwark against all forms of injustice and oppression.

“A Journey of the Sacred” is by Keokaokawai Varner Hemi. Hemi is Hawaiian through her mother and Cherokee through her father. Her Bachelor of Law degree and her PhD come from the University of Waikata in Hawai’i. She was on the faculty there, where she taught legal theory, indigenous rights, and human rights. She was also an associate undergraduate dean and is now the first assistant vice chancellor. Her research includes indigenous education, equality and nondiscrimination, and learner success. She is chair of Universities New Zealand’s Komiti Pasifika and is a member of a panel of the New Zealand Ministry of Education, and she has published scholarly articles. Her greatest joy is being with her family, especially her five grandchildren.

Hemi states that she is a descendant of a native Hawaiian woman who joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1862. This woman, a nearly legendary ancestral figure, followed her faith from Waimea on Hawai’i’s Big Island to Lâ’iȇ on the north shore of O’ahu to the settlement of Iosepa west of Salt Lake City, Utah. Her pioneer life was one of sacrifice and “mov[ing] forward,” long before she crossed deserts, mountains, and oceans as a widow in her 60s to make covenants and receive blessings in a temple in a foreign land. She nursed a daughter through Hansen’s disease (leprosy) and died herself of that disease; she was the first person buried at Iosepa.

Hemi’s life is a journey into the sacred. It was not a journey across plains like her ancestor, but it was a legal education, which bears some similarity to the plains journey in that it entails challenge, promise, and movement across time and the spaces of a person’s soul. It is true for women of faith like herself.

Education changes lives. The ability to read and write is essential for understanding basic rights and the surrounding world. When a woman gains an education, she benefits families, communities, and generations. Her children are more likely to be healthy and to gain an education themselves. A legal education helps women help others, to develop society, and to teach basic principles like the basic rule of law, democracy, and equal protection before the law.

Hemi began her legal education when she was in her 30s. She worried about her children despite having a supportive husband and an amazing mother-in-law. But as she moved forward, she felt her faith grow, as well as her love of the law. She prayed more—and listened more—than ever before. She says, “As I tried to do what was right, the Lord expanded late nights, early mornings, and small pockets of time. On many occasions, I was able to recall things that I had only read briefly at crucial moments.” Despite multiple pressures, she was able to complete her degree with first-class honors. She grew to love what she had learned. She felt close to her ancestors and learned of the injustices they faced.

A singular moment at a family reunion in Hawai’i, where an injustice brought the power of law home to her, inspired her to seek a PhD in law. It was one of the hardest things she had ever done; but she knew that God answers prayers. Her PhD not only helped her find work; it helped her work on injustices.

Along her journey, Hemi has witnessed sister travelers, also seeking law degrees. They became close friends. As an associate dean, she was able to help students through their struggles. She gives an example of a student who had been missing class and who came to her. She did not make excuses, but it became clear that she had many challenges: a fatherless family, as well as siblings in state care after being assaulted by their mother. She was trying to hold a family together almost single-handedly.

They shared their faith that day. Hemi told her she was a daughter of God; she said she knew that. They both wept. Later, when she completed her degree, Hemi had the opportunity to stand on a stage and acknowledge her student’s excellence.

This collection’s “Afterward” is written by Rosalynde Frandsen Welch, who has a BA and a PhD from BYU and the University of California at San Diego. She is a senior research fellow at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at BYU.

Welch considers the essays in this book and the uses to which they might be put. She notes they are brimming with ideas, claims, and experiences, and are written by intelligent women. She also notes the ideas are widely diverse and sometimes exist in tension with one another. They may exhibit a world in which good and bad are inextricably mixed; or in which faith is made more resilient by doubt and ambiguity. The different cultural or racial backgrounds contrast with traditional Western values. Even the book’s table of contents and the list of contributors have something to tell us.

In conclusion, I said at the outset that the thesis seemed to be that women of faith and intelligence could reconcile faith and reason. I was looking forward to reading the essays, and by so doing feel the thesis to be well verified. I made several comments in my copy of the book, and I certainly enjoyed the essays!

Full Citation for this Article: Harrison, B. Kent (2023) "Review of Every Needful Thing: Essays on the Life of the Mind and the Heart ," SquareTwo, Vol. 16 No. 2 (Summer 2023),, accessed <give access date>.

Would you like to comment on this article? Thoughtful, faithful comments of at least 100 words are welcome.