Title: The Good That Men Can Do
Author: D. Todd Christofferson
Publisher: Deseret Book
Year Published: 2017
Number of Pages: 58
Reviewed by Trevor Holyoak for the Association for Mormon Letters
D. Todd Christofferson is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This book is a slightly edited version of his talk entitled “Fathers,” given at the April 2016 General Conference. It is a small book, both in length and in physical size, with a nice embossed cover, fabric on the spine, and high quality paper. It definitely appears to be a book meant to be given as a gift, most likely intended for Fathers Day. And it is affordably priced for such.
It is a quick read, usually with just a few sentences per page, and sometimes just one. The pages are full of stock photos and decorated with patterns and different fonts and sizes of text. The design is actually a little too cutesy for my taste – particularly the cover – but the younger generations may appreciate it more.
But the message contained inside is very important. “I wish to focus on the good that men can do in the highest of masculine roles: husband and father” (page 1). “As a Church, we believe in fathers. We believe in ‘the ideal of the man who puts his family first’” (page 4). It talks of the complementary roles of fathers and mothers as equal partners, but that “fathers are unique and irreplaceable” (page 11).
“The perfect, divine expression of fatherhood is our Heavenly Father. His character and attributes include abundant goodness and perfect love. His work and glory are the development, happiness, and eternal life of his children. Fathers in this fallen world can claim nothing comparable to the Majesty on High, but at their best, they are striving to emulate Him, and they indeed labor in His work. They are honored with a remarkable and sobering trust” (page 17).
It speaks of the sacrifice required and the joy produced, and the responsibility of fathers to lead out in teaching the gospel and reading scriptures with his children. It talks about teaching by example, careful discipline (there must never be anything approaching abuse), and work. He also speaks of those who are not able to fully provide through no fault of their own, as well as single fathers, foster fathers, and stepfathers, and the difficult roles they have. He reminds us that Jesus was raised by a foster father.
The message of this book is very appropriate for Fathers Day, and it would make a good gift. I appreciate the reminders and advice it contains. It makes me want to strive to be a better father.