In this book aimed at young people, Gordon Hinkley, president
of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who has lived for more than
nine decades, offers Christian advice about how to happy. This advice consists of 9 "Be"s.
I should preface my comments by noting that I am
neither a practicing Christian nor a young person. When I was a young person, I was not much inclined to take the
advice of my elders, and now that I am in my middle years, I am not inclined to
give advice to others. I am, however,
interested in the question of whether it is feasible to teach other people to
Hinkley tells stories from his long life. Hinkley extols the virtues of being neat and
well groomed. He says, "All work
and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Jill a dull girl." He says the world is full of filth and
sleaze, and he recommends staying away from it. He condemns the use of tattoos, citing St. Paul as justification,
and predicts that anyone who gets a tattoo will regret it. He condemns the use of body piercing. He says, "Stay away from pornography as
you would a serious disease." He
condemns the use of all drugs, predicting that their use will lead inevitably
to addiction. He condemns sex outside
marriage. He says that one should be
happy, and ironically he gives the example of Winston Churchill during the
Second World War as someone who kept a positive attitude. He makes no mention of Churchill's
"black dog" the great politician actually experienced severe
depression, and thus was often unable to simply be happy. Hinkley insists that one cannot cope on
one's own, but that one needs God's help and that God answers one's prayers.
The advice offered by Hinkley is mostly conventional
Christian conservatism. Hinkley
justifies his views by appeal to his personal experience, but this gives no
good reason to think that his advice is good.
Indeed, any self-respecting young person reading this book who has a
healthy sense of rebellion should want to take drugs, use pornography, and
engage in promiscuous sex. Even those
young people who are practicing Christians are likely to find that Hinkley's
advice has little to teach them that they haven't already been told, and I
would hope that they would seek out more thoughtful and probing sources of
advice about how to live a good life.
audiobook is read well by Robb Webb.
© 2002 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.
Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy
Department at Dowling College,
Long Island. He is editor of Metapsychology
Online Review. His main research is on philosophical issues in psychiatry.
He is especially interested in exploring how philosophers can play a greater
role in public life, and he is keen to help foster communication between
philosophers, mental health professionals, and the general public.