One of my favorite perks that comes with working for a publishing house is that I have access to a lot of books. While that’s a pretty cool benefit, I don’t have the time to read as many of them as I’d like. Of the nearly 450 books that my employer has published since I started working there, I’ve read fewer than 15 of them. That figures out to only about 3 percent of the books we’ve released since 2012—and even less when considering Cedar Fort’s entire catalog.
I’ll be honest: I haven’t liked some of the Cedar Fort books I’ve read, but there are several that I have really enjoyed. Like John Pontius’ “Visions of Glory,” a near-death experience book that includes visions—or dreams—about the events surrounding, and leading up to, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
An unidentified man referred to as “Spencer” shares his experiences and recollections about these events in the book, which Pontius wrote based on many hours of interviews and conversations.
“Visions of Glory” is a spiritual book that’s based in the tenets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, though those who are familiar with the Bible will recognize “Spencer’s” experiences that are based on the prophecies of the New Testament.
Some of the visions “Spencer” shares will leave a lasting impression. Like the scenario he describes following massive earthquakes that reshape North America—and particularly Utah. Or Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ addressing a large gathering in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. Or the discovery of a lost civilization that retreated underground in the northern hemisphere long ago.
Many have criticized “Visions of Glory,” based on the assumption that “Spencer” claims prophetic privilege, which he does not. That he says that what he saw is gospel, which he does not. That he implies personal high status in the future, which he does not. While some may disagree with my assessment, the truth of the matter is that, when read without prejudice, “Spencer’s” recollections come across as matter-of-factly.
I understand—and shared—the discomfort some readers feel while reading of the calamities that “Spencer” shares in “Visions of Glory.” However, as I continued reading, I realized that my discomfort was based in the fear I feel whenever I read or hear about the calamities that are taking place today—such as the 2011 tsunami in Japan or recent earthquake in Nepal. Human suffering and the vicarious thoughts of, “What if that was me?” or “What if I had to endure that?” are never comforting.
If “by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20), then ultimately “Visions of Glory” bears good fruit. I came away from this book not with doubts and questions about the gospel of Jesus Christ, but with a renewed desire to live more by its precepts. That, to me, is good fruit. In the end, if a book awakens a desire to draw closer to our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ, and to live with an eternal perspective, it’s a book worth reading. “Visions of Glory” is that kind of book.
NOTE: Because of the reasons the book’s critics have expressed, it took me over a year, from the time I read the introduction, to read the entire book. Ultimately, I proceeded in the same manner I would while reading a work of fiction on the same topic: not as gospel truth, but picking out and embracing the truths that spoke to me. I suggest you do the same.