The announcement was made a few months ago, but with everything else going on you might have forgotten it. Starting January 2021, there is no more Ensign. Behold the January 2021 issue of the rebranded Liahona, the new LDS magazine for all the world. I seriously wonder whether one in ten active LDS adults read it anymore. Or even one article per month. But let’s take a peek at a few articles in the new mag anyway. See what there is to see and say what there is to say.
“A New Publication for a Worldwide Church.” A short letter from the First Presidency explaining the change. “Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can be found in countries around the world. Although we speak many languages, we are united in our efforts to follow the Savior and rejoice in knowing that we are all children of God.” Translation: Let’s stick to the basics. We’re all peasants now. Or at least we will all read what peasants read. Another step forward for Correlation. There’s a real opportunity here for Sunstone (the magazine) and Dialogue (the journal) to fill a niche for LDS adults who still read and who want a little more substance in their monthly magazine.
“How Studying Church History Strengthens My Faith.” A nice thought, that. The article is written by an African member of the Church, with this nice intro paragraph:
As a high school student in South Africa, I enjoyed studying history. When I went to university, I received my degree in history. As a seminary and then an institute student, I enjoyed all my courses, but I particularly enjoyed the Doctrine and Covenants because it introduced me to Church history. Over the years, I have enjoyed reading books on Church history—even those that addressed difficult topics in our history. As I continue to learn Church history from various sources, my own faith is strengthened.
I wish they had put titles to a few of the books on LDS history he had read in a footnote. Or give a paragraph each to two or three books. Nope, just a wave of the hands. A different approach to the topic is found in Davis Bitton’s 2004 talk, “I Don’t Have a Testimony of the History of the Church.” Well worth reading if you haven’t read it before.
There’s a Come Follow Me section, including the article “What did Moroni Teach Joseph Smith?” The first thing I noticed was how much the young Joseph Smith in the article looks like a young Ringo Starr, but maybe that’s just me. In 2020, we get by with a little help from our friends. Here comes the sun: 2021 is just around the corner. A testimony, it don’t come easy. No, those are not quotes from the article.
In the Young Adults section of the magazine, “Waiting for Answers Without Doubting.” The obligatory monthly article combating the faith crisis pandemic. Makes me think of Keynes’ famous aphorism, “In the long run we are all dead.” I suppose all of your doubts will go away if you just wait long enough. “I have learned that doubts often stem from focusing on circumstances rather than on the Savior and His love for us.” There’s a bonus faith crisis article in the “digital only” young adult section, “Faith: The Antidote to Uncertainty.”
At the bottom of the Table of Contents there are several “local page” sections for English-speaking countries, with interesting groupings based on LDS regional boudaries: Africa Southeast, Australia, New Zealand, UK and Ireland, Canada and the US. It’s just odd that Australia and New Zealand have separate pages, but Canada gets grouped with the United States. I’m sure the Canadians will be as happy about that as the Irish will in being grouped with the UK. Turns out there’s nothing particularly local about these “pages.” Just the usual gospel discussion written by an Area Authority Seventy assigned to that area. (I’m not sure that’s an actual title; I just made it up.)
As you can tell, I’m having a hard time finding something nice to say about the new publication and the new approach. Maybe one or two of the readers can chime in with an article that works for them. It’s possible the magazine has a different effect in print, with color illustrations and better formatting. Old issues of the Ensign are still available for die hard magazine readers who don’t like the new Liahona. If you have absolutely nothing to say about the Liahona, maybe you can offer a suggestion or two for my Wheat and Tares blogging in 2021. I’ll probably do a lot of LDS history posts in 2021 because that’s what the LDS curriculum is studying, by way of the D&C.