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The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life
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The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  1,339 ratings  ·  403 reviews
"Whether by design or by chance," Terryl and Fiona Givens write, "we find ourselves in a universe filled with mystery. We encounter appealing arguments for a Divinity that is a childish projection, for prophets as scheming or deluded imposters, and for scripture as so much fabulous fiction. But there is also compelling evidence that a glorious Divinity presides over the co ...more
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published October 15th 2012 by Shadow Mountain (first published October 1st 2012)
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The Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith Jr.Jesus the Christ by James E. TalmageHoly Bible by AnonymousStanding for Something by Gordon B. HinckleyThe Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball
Best LDS non-fiction
66th out of 190 books — 226 voters
Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price by The Church of Jesus Christ ...Holy Bible by AnonymousThe Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith Jr.Truth Restored by Gordon B. HinckleyJesus the Christ by James E. Talmage
LDS - Mormon Studies and Theology
20th out of 130 books — 26 voters


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Community Reviews

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Emily
If you only pick up one book on Mormon theology, make it Fiona and Terryl Givens’ The God Who Weeps. The Givenses have written a masterful encapsulation of the most transcendent and sublime core beliefs of our faith, particularly as they relate to the nature of God, the plan of salvation, and the purpose of our existence.

This beautifully written book describes the weeping God with whom Enoch conversed (see Moses 7:29-37). This is a God who “chooses to love us. And if love means responsibility,
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David Redden
The God Who Weeps is a beautifully written book with a beautiful message for a broad audience. Fiona and Terryl Givens endeavor not to prove God's existence, but to demonstrate the more modest point that a belief in God is not unreasonable. More specifically, they seek to show that the Mormon conception of God and our relationship with Him is not unreasonable. I am of course admittedly biased, but I think they are generally successful.

Rather than an ethereal and impersonal God, the Givens relate
...more
Derek
The Givenses write very beautifully and compellingly. This distilled essence of LDS theology is one I find very attractive, very enticing. Oh, that it were the vision of theology taught in LDS services, sermons, and classes!

The book begins with five propositions of the LDS theology as the Givenses interpret it. They then go on to elaborate on each point, to explain the evidence for each position, both deductive and inductive. They don't attempt to prove anything, acknowledging up front that ther
...more
Shauni
What I love most about The God Who Weeps is its humility. Even though it was published by Deseret Book, it doesn’t assume a Mormon audience. For that matter, it doesn’t assume much at all, not even the existence of God. Rather, it merely attempts to place Mormonism in a broader philosophical context and to show that Mormonism’s theological claims are not unreasonable. Terryl and Fiona Givens quote extensively from philosophers, scientists, and theologians from the so-called “dark ages,” and surp ...more
Shauna
START THIS BOOK IN CHAPTERS 3-5 THEN READ CHAPTERS 1-2! JUST SAYIN'
I have had a couple of people now tell me that this book is a little hard to get into...And I tend to agree...
BUT...
Once you get to chapters 3-5 you can't put it down!
Amazing thoughts on who the God we worship is and how he LOVES his children~~US!
AND...How he wants us to be HAPPY!
If you have started this book...and have put it down...pick it back up and skip to chapter 3...
You will be happy you didn't give up on this book :)
Lon
Most books marketed to an LDS audience present gospel doctrine as easy-to-digest pablum, making no intellectual or spiritual demands of the reader. Safe and familiar quotes from past and present leaders of the Church back up every insight--to the point that one wonders if the authors are unable to do any original thinking of their own, or if, instead, they are simple unwilling to take intellectual risks in a ecclesiastical culture that privileges orthodoxy above all else. Want to be safe? Organi ...more
Spencer
Terryl Givens is one of my heros. I hope what he says is true. He certainly paints a picture of life and God that is more beautiful than any I have read. I still dont know how to reconcile it with my reading of the old testament God but. . .shelved it. He seems pretty utilitarian in his understanding of sin. Like God is more upset that we are in pain and estranged, not that we have broken a law. What a wonderful idea!

sweet quotes

"there must be grounds for doubt as well as belief. . . an overwhel
...more
Brad
I read this book when it first came out, but have since read it 2 more times (yeah, it's that good). Anyway, I decided to do a thorough review of it for those who might be interested in reading this book.

***It may be easier to read my review at the following link:
http://hartbrad.blogspot.com/2013/10/...

Unfortunately, I couldn't get the format to work here at Goodreads. But, for what it's worth, here is my review:

The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life. By Terryl and Fiona Givens (S
...more
Chris Taber
Can't say enough good things about this book. It was eloquent, thought-provoking, prejudice-challenging, profound, contemplative, humorous, intellectual yet accessible, expansive, and familiar all at once.

The back-story on the book is almost as interesting as the premise of the book itself. According to some interviews I listened to with the authors, Terryl Givens was speaking at an academic conference on religion in America and had said something about how it was a shame that the American schol
...more
J.
Givens has become a light among faith-challenged, struggling Mormons searching for answers about how to stay in the LDS Church. These strugglers met the internet and found differences between the LDS version of events and history. One such example was prominent in the NY Times a few weeks back: http://tinyurl.com/k549ffc. Givens gained this reputation by several publications, but most likely by a book that details and addresses some anti-Mormon claims about the Book of Mormon. Furthering his cre ...more
Jason
Thank God for Terryl and Fiona Givens. This book is a tremendous meditation on the Mormon conception of God and human existence, drawing on an overwhelmingly rich variety of secular sources from the Greeks to Kant and Dostoevsky to Freud and Bertrand Russel, to show how Mormonism seeks to address some of the thorniest questions of philosophy and theology. Most impressive is how the Givenses take some of Mormonism's more controversial or heretical teachings (a God of parts and passions, a premort ...more
Annie
4.5 stars. This book was so well researched and so comprehensive for a 148 page book. I loved the academic approach while appealing to the poetic. This is a must read before any mission, any lesson, any religious discussion. If anyone has any religious leanings then it shows how similar we all are in our yearnings for God's love. The world would have us believe that we are so disparate but we are very similar.

Caution: you HAVE to read this with a highlighter in hand.
Misty
I heard Terryl and Fiona Givens speak at a conference and was stunned by their ability to weave scholarship with gospel, history and art.

This book left me with that same stunned feeling. They write beautifully, they invite us into their truth without trying to simplify the experience for the reader.

This book greatly expanded beliefs that I already had and in some cases taught me new truths with a blinding clarity. It is profound and beautiful and one that I will refer back to often. It's a mus
...more
Josiah
I am often frustrated talking about my religion that discussions seem to focus on outward behavior like why I don’t drink, do I pay tithing on my net or gross income, etc. This book cuts to the most significant aspect of Mormonism, that we are children of God and he loves us. That is the starting point of my faith and I wish I could articulate it as well as the Givenses.
Jenny
An extremely well written examination of the philosophical underpinnings of Mormonism. It explores LDS theology without getting too academic (though it IS academic enough that Mormon studies classes are using this as their textbook) and without getting stuck focusing on pedantic traditions. It says a lot that both orthodox and progressive church members are praising this book as the definitive explanation of the LDS worldview. I highly recommend it for both members who want to think deeply about ...more
Mahonri
This is the best book on Mormon Theology I have ever read. Here's a snippet from my review at the Association for Mormon Letters blog, Dawning of a Brighter Day:

"It’s a masterful work that draws on a wide gamut of philosophers, poets, reformers, and theologians throughout the Western literary, philosophical, and theological traditions and shows how they lead to very Mormon conclusions of pre-existence; a relatable, and compassionate, God; a Heavenly Mother (or Wisdom as She is called in the Psa
...more
Terry
Quoting liberally from scripture and a wide variety of literary sources, Terryl and Fiona Givens help the reader understand that God loves us so much that He weeps for our suffering. They develop strong arguments for believing in a God of passion -- one who's love is so sweeping and enduring that he desires that all His children return to Him. Then He makes this possible through the gift and atonement of Jesus Christ. God chooses to be our Father and demonstrates through Jesus Christ that He is ...more
Neil Aitken
I've been waiting for some time for someone to write a book like this about the central concepts of Mormonism that I have always found unique, beautiful, and empowering.

Drawing on a wealth of ancient and modern scriptural and literary texts, Givens goes right to the core -- the image of a God who is capable of sorrow for His creations, who desires our happiness, who feels our pains, who longs to bless us with all we are willing to receive, and yet respects our right to choose our own paths and
...more
Austin
This book is a great survey of Mormon thought on a range of important topics, such as faith, the nature of God, universal salvation, pre-existence, the nature of sin, science, and the nature of our relationship with God. It turns out that the ideas Mormonism has vacuumed into one great constellation of doctrine have been around piecemeal for a very long time. The intellectual detective work to gather the relevant quotes supporting seemingly unique Mormon ideas such as baptisms for the dead, pre- ...more
Rachel Rueckert
In general, I liked this book, but it felt a little like I was sauntering along and randomly picking up shiny quotes along the way without really a sense of direction. It reads similar to how a C. S. Lewis book such as Mere Christianity would read, providing rational for faith in the God of Mormonism, particularly in subjects like the preexistence, belief, divine vulnerability, and the power of choice. The authors seemed to be speaking to people who were struggling with belief and complex faith. ...more
Matt
First, a note on style: I really hate when authors 1) don't number their notes and 2) obscure sources behind phrases like "according to a contemporary philosopher." The Givens's are guilty of both.

In the first section, where the authors discussed non-Mormon and non-theological ways of viewing the world, the oversimplification was laughable. Though the authors say that there is good reason to be atheistic as well as good reason to have faith, their straw-men caricatures of nonbelief make it seem
...more
Greg
The Givens’ book was an interesting combination of doctrine, interpretation, and confirmatory support from a wide variety of sources, including prophets, scripture, scholars of ancient scripture, poetry, prophets, and so forth. Thoughts from some of the great thinkers and artists of the world have been juxtaposed with the ideas and teachings of great men and women of God to show that the doctrines of God, as fundamental tenets of the LDS faith, are fully supported.

I like the Givens’ writing styl
...more
Mike
This book is a breath of fresh air to the student of literature on mormonism. To those tired from the never-ending stream of sappy personal experiences and eager apologists seeking to justify individual faith, The God Who Weeps offers an approachable, rational explanation for why and what the authors--and by extension, readers everywhere--can choose to believe. The text is abundantly rich in citations from classical, medieval, renaissance, romantic, and contemporary secular and religious literat ...more
Sarah Bringhurst
The God Who Weeps tops the list of my favorite books about my faith. I found this both a thought-provoking and a faith-provoking book. Terryl and Fiona Givens have distilled some of the most powerful core doctrines of the Mormon faith into a slim volume brimming with hope, philosophy, and divine compassion.

Basing their premise on Enoch's moving description of his encounter with a weeping God, they describe the ultimate power in the universe in startlingly personal terms, as a being who not only
...more
Jeffrey Howard
A much needed book for Mormons today. It will be especially vindicating and validating for some while being paradigm shattering for others. The Givenses present a "reasonable and resonant" portrayal of Mormonism and how it makes sense of life. They defend and expound upon a particular Mormon worldview that I find the most strikingly beautiful and authentic, polishing away the falsehoods or misrepresentations that have attached themselves to Mormonism through Mormon culture or church leaders in l ...more
Mary
The Givens show that most of Mormon doctrine regarding the nature of God is not unique,even if in modern times it is regarded as unorthodox. They give numerous examples from many sources, philosophers, poets, writers, who aren't LDS, as well as many quotes from LDS scripture and prophets. I did wish the sources had been footnoted, but I think this book should be read as a meditation rather than as a thesis. The reflection is based on a passage from the Book of Mormon, where the prophet, Enoch, d ...more
Chris
Much has been made in the LDS intellectual community over this one, particularly among the more liberal-minded of us. I certainly consider it a must-read, particularly for those unfamiliar with the Givens' somewhat unique take on LDS theology. There were a number of occasions on which a particular idea or theory really surprised me with its originality and depth. I was touched in those moments, and brought to tears at least once. There were also, however, a number of times--particularly when the ...more
Ro Givens
"We have no way of knowing, of course, why some are born in health and affluence, while others enter broken bodies or broken homes, or emerge into a realm of war or hunger. So we cannot give definite meaning to our place in the world, or to our neighbor's. But Plato's reflections should give us pause and invite both humility and hope. Humility, because if we chose our lot in life, there is every reason to suspect merit, and not disfavor, is behind disadvantaged birth. A blighted life may have be ...more
Berrett
Their arguments for the existence of God in the first chapter are weak, but once you get past that the book really takes off. It's engaging and refreshing. Traditional christians have never shied away from using philosophy, poetry, and literature to inform their faith, so it's nice to see a similar approach being used by a Mormon.

And their approach was effective. I thought over and over as I read it, "yeah, that's the Mormonism that I recognize."

I enjoyed it a lot, and it's short. I might read i
...more
Jenny
This book meanders somewhat, but always through fertile ground for introspection and reflection about eternal things. I liked it very much.

In "The God Who Weeps" the Givens talk about belief, the conflict between rationality and faith, and a premortal existence (parts of this section, particularly the variety of sources cited regarding an existence for the soul before this life, were among my favorite parts of the book. Fascinating, and resonant.). But the primary narrative through the book is
...more
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Terryl L. Givens was born in upstate New York, raised in the American southwest, and did his graduate work in Intellectual History (Cornell) and Comparative Literature (Ph.D. UNC Chapel Hill, 1988), working with Greek, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and English languages and literatures. As Professor of Literature and Religion, and the James A. Bostwick Professor of English at the University of Rich ...more
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“A supreme deity would no more gift us with intellect and expect us to forsake it in moments of bafflement, than He would fashion us eyes to see and bid us shut them to the stars” 11 likes
“What we choose to embrace, to be responsive to, is the purest reflection of who we are and what we love.” 11 likes
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