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If Truth Were a Child


This is an age of polemics. Choices are presented as mutually exclusive and we are given little time to listen. You are either secular or religious. You either believe in the exclusive truth of your own religion or you believe that truth is everywhere, or nowhere. The battle over truth rages on. But what if truth were a child? With how much more care and humility would we speak and act if the truth were not the result of some war of wills, but a flesh-and-bone living child, a living soul? Something that couldn’t be owned or divided up into broken pieces but was instead something we must learn to gather and keep together with love? In these thirteen essays, George B. Handley charitably invites us to put away the false “traditions of the fathers” while seeking to “lay hold of every good thing” wherever it may be found in the world (D&C 93:39; Moroni 7:19). If Truth Were a Child exemplifies how education in the Humanities can enrich our pursuit of truth and increase our faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Handley explores his incremental a Christian, as a Latter-day Saint, and as a critic. In each case he traces his responsibilities as a scholar and as a true believer back to sacred personal experiences of charity and grace.

Douglas Christensen Association for Mormon Letters

Handley's ideas will stretch your mind and promote examination of your soul. I recommend this volume to anyone who likes to think critically about things of the soul and the stuff of eternity.

Robert Wheadon LDS Apologist Now


George Handley, one of the Latter-day Saint tradition’s most gifted writers, desires to build a culture worthy of its revealed truths—and this work is a step in that direction. It is a searchingly honest examination of the disciple’s quest, viewed through his own yearnings and failures—and small victories—along the way. A provocative call to the heart and mind alike.

Terryl L. Givens

In our rancorous era of polarization, If Truth Were a Child arrives as a breath of fresh air. George Handley calls us to a better version of ourselves, one characterized by capacious curiosity, serious moral engagement, compassionate critique, and most of all reconciling love. This is a wise and generous book that presents a model of being deeply Latter-day Saint in a pluralistic world, a vision that is both humanely religious and religiously humane.

Patrick Q. Mason

Drawing incisive connections between various aspects of Latter-day Saint life and thought that initially strike his reader as counterintuitive, Handley helpfully illuminates how Latter-day Saints today might live and believe with greater compassion, charity, and insight.

Deidre Nicole Green

About the Author

George B. Handley

George B. Handley is Associate Dean of the College of Humanities and Professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities at Brigham Young University. A scholar of literature, religion, and the environment, his publications include New World Poetics: Nature and the Adamic Imagination of Whitman, Neruda, and Walcott and most recently the environmental memoir, Home Waters: A Year of Recompenses on the Provo River.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Why I am a Christian
  • Why I am a Latter-day Saint
  • On Criticism, Compassion, and Charity
  • A Poetics of the Restoration
  • If Truth Were a Child
  • Letter to a Remarkable Student
  • Church Life and the Discipline of Renewal
  • Waiting on the Lord, or Sustaining Church Leaders
  • Politics, Religion, and the Pursuit of Community
  • On the Moral Risks of Reading Scripture
  • Reading and the Menardian Paradox in 3 Nephi
  • The Grace of Nothingness
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Publication Information

  • Publication Date: April 2019
  • ISBN 13: 978-1-9443-9473-8
  • Page Count: 253
  • Illustration(s):
  • Binding: paperback
  • Price: $ 19.95
  • Imprint: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship

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The views expressed here and in Maxwell Institute publications are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Maxwell Institute, Brigham Young University, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Seek ye diligently and 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.” (D&C 88:118)