Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Simeon Solution

This book had two strikes against it before I even started to read it. First, my husband brought it home from the library and told me, "You should read this." The author is a radiologist he works with whose name I have heard and seen on his many radiology textbooks. Unfortunately, we have rather different tastes when it comes to book choices and both of us have been burned by this seemingly harmless advice. When I read its description on the inside jacket, my inner ump cried, Strike Two! It's a non-fiction, inspirational church book.

Why that's a strike, I have no idea. I only know I have a hard time getting through books like this. They invariably seem redundant and turn into a really long relief society lesson in my mind. Always a good message, but rarely anything I haven't heard before, or even thought of before. Yes, it's always good to have reminders, but when it comes to reading, I'm usually in too much of a hurry to trudge through a message book. I know. I have a serious failing here.

This book was in no danger of striking out, however, after I read the first two pages of the introduction. Anne Osborn Poelman's voice is clear, intelligent, interesting, funny and honest. I was completely drawn into her story and finished this short book within a couple of hours. Very, very enjoyable. Oh...I'll just add one more very. Very!

While this book was published 13 years ago, I wish it were more well known amid reading circles today. How applicable this book is to my generation! Or to any church member of any age. The thing I admired most about it was the fact that a highly intelligent professional woman didn't intellectualize her faith. In fact, she explains incredibly reasonably how she lives by an almost opposite principle, which she calls The Simeon Solution. Simeon was a High Priest briefly mentioned in the New Testament who had been promised by the Holy Ghost that he would meet the Messiah. Much later in life, he is prompted to go to the temple and sees Joseph and Mary there with the Christ child, knows that the promise was fulfilled. (Luke 2:29-32) By this time, he was very old, and must have lived an entire lifetime on that brief bit of knowledge or inspiration he had earlier in life. How easy it would have been to doubt his faith after years and years of waiting. Most of his peers did. Many ridiculed anyone who believed in something that they certainly did not know "for sure" would ever happen - the coming of a Messiah. But Simeon remembered the promise he had from the Lord, and recognized its fulfillment. Similarly, Anne Osborn Poelman realized her faith was much like Simeon's. During a lively discussion of faith at a dinner party, questions were directed to her wondering how she justified being a member of a sexist faith that "withholds" the priesthood from women. Her answer, with support from another guest at the party who helped explain how she felt into a concrete idea, is the basis of the book. So simple, yet so easy to dismiss. It's about having a testimony that the Lord fulfills his promises.

Osborn Poelman uses her own conversion, which happened DURING medical school, and her later trials that came with being a new member, a single sister, a world famous radiologist, and a married-later-in-life to a general authority woman. I don't think this book will disappoint anyone. It's perfect for those who are looking for more than a pat on the back but simple and clear enough for those who are looking for encouragement in an increasingly intellectual literary crowd.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Thanks so much for your review of this book... I too loved it when I first read it probably 15 years ago. About 5 years ago I bought a used copy on ebay. (I'm sure I had loaned my original to someone and never got it back) I read it again and yes, loaned the new copy to someone and didn't get it back. I now teach seminary and wanted to quote from the book. I'm teaching about Simeon this week and love his simple faith and especially how Anne Poelman applied that simple faith to her life. I hope you don't mind me quoting from you, since I can't find my copy of the book. Thanks again, Karen