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25 January 2018

The Gospel at 30,000 Feet {Book Review}

A review of The Gospel at 30,000 Feet by Dieter F. Uchtdorf, published by Deseret Book.

I always love Brother Uchtdorf's airplane stories, both because he's an excellent storyteller, and also because he's got a knack for turning the airplanes that he loves so much into fantastic parables and allegories that clearly and effectively teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. So it's not surprising that only few pages into his new book, The Gospel at 30,000 Feet, which I was sent to review, I was reaching for my commonplace book.

To follow Christ is to become more like Him. It is to learn from His character. As spirit children of our Heavenly Father, we do have the potential to incorporate Christlike attributes into our life and character. ... This leads me back to my aerodynamic analogy from the beginning. I spoke of focusing on the basics. Christlike attributes are the basics. The are the fundamental principles that will create "the wind beneath our wings". 
-page 4-5

The airplane story here is fun (aren't they always?) but the things that he's saying about the importance of the basics really resonate. It's the same way in the martial arts: the "magic" is in the basics. You master those, and you master the art. It's very much easier said than done! Likewise in the gospel, the basics are what makes the indelible marks upon your soul.

A review of The Gospel at 30,000 Feet by Dieter F. Uchtdorf, published by Deseret Book.

In addition, the book itself is very beautiful. Not too big; nice for slipping into a bag to read for a few minutes while you wait. The pages are smooth and heavy, and the art is great. It's been done in an eye-catching geometric style. The whole thing is a pleasure to look at and to touch, so much so that I initially hesitated over making notes in the book. But in the end I did make some. Carefully and neatly. Writing in my books has become a thing that I very much enjoy: it makes reading feel almost like a conversation. So, in between admiring the beautiful book itself, I did make a few notes.

Let marginal notes be freely made, as neatly and beautifully as may be, for books should be handled with reverence.
-Charlotte Mason 3:181

A review of The Gospel at 30,000 Feet by Dieter F. Uchtdorf, published by Deseret Book.

Not only are the pictures beautiful, but he makes good use of fonts and colors in the text to emphasize the most important points he wants to me. Here, he explains lift in terms of aerodynamics, then uses the text design to emphasize how this has its parallel in the gospel. One cool thing about this, is that it makes it really easy to flip back through the book and find the quote that you liked: quite frequently the best parts are already highlighted for you.

A review of The Gospel at 30,000 Feet by Dieter F. Uchtdorf, published by Deseret Book.

It's not a long book, and it's all in his simple, clear style. I'm so impressed with how his English (which was never bad, only pleasantly and charmingly accented) has come along, until, reading this book, I would have never in a million years guessed it wasn't written by a native speaker, had I not known it beforehand. Being a serious student of a foreign language, I have some appreciation for the kind of work that goes into gaining that kind of accomplishment, and I'm impressed.

A review of The Gospel at 30,000 Feet by Dieter F. Uchtdorf, published by Deseret Book.

I think that, in all those long flights from Germany to Florida and wherever else, he must have spent a great deal of time thinking about how flying is like the gospel, because the depth of the insights and the number of correlations, it's just not the sort of thing that you just dash off in an afternoon. These are topics that he's clearly mulled over repeatedly, and I would guess he's used these analogies many times from long before we became aware of him as a general authority: these are well-developed ideas, expressed simply and clearly. Nephi would approve.

A review of The Gospel at 30,000 Feet by Dieter F. Uchtdorf, published by Deseret Book.

 There's lots of stories in the book. Some of them are familiar friends I recognize from Conference, some are entirely new, at least to me. He tells of following a hijacked airplane (which he then flew home), of the allure of the massive thunderstorms in the tropical convergence zone (with their soccer ball size hail), of flying with the Blue Angels and restoring a 1938 Piper Club plane. He talks about deep blue skies and vast starfields, turbulence and smooth flying. And he ties it all back to the Gospel smoothly and elegantly. Nothing feels contrived. I love stories, and often have wished that I could have this or that person over for dinner, and just get them to tell stories all night long. This book is a little like that, only instead of a single evening of tales, I get to put them on my bookshelf and revisit any time I want.  

From the time President Dieter F Uchtdorf first took the pulpit at general conference, members around the world have loved his stories about airplanes and the poignant gospel lessons he draws from them. In fact, his history of sharing tales of flight has lead many listeners to find themselves internally asking a question as soon as he gets up to speak -- the same question President Uchtdorf voiced one memorable conference: "What does it have to do with flying an airplane?"

Prior to hearing Brother Uchtdorf, I had no idea that airplanes had so much to teach about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I'm glad he tells his stories; I would hate to miss out on these beautiful parables.


I received a FREE copy of this product through Deseret Book in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  All opinions I have expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

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