We have four missionaries in our ward, with ipads. They have complete access to the LDS.org library, but (per their mission president’s wishes) little else in terms of reading/enrichment material. I keep mentioning different books, as is my wont (see here, here, and here), and telling them “all you need to do is read,” so they’ve been frustrated at the apparent lack of access to “the good stuff.”
So I told them, “Go read the old Ensigns. There’s great stuff back then, and they’re all on LDS.org.” Those old Ensigns kept me intellectually alive until I was able to read other material.
For a starter list on history, doctrine, and things of interest, all of which I found on my mission, I offered the following, with appropriate caveats about this being introductory material, written for a certain audience, may have errors, potentially 20-30 years outdated, etc., but better than nothing, esp. for a missionary.
- Bruce Hafen, “Dealing With Uncertainty” Ensign, August 1979. Really an excellent one, I’ve highlighted it before.
- James Allen, “Line Upon Line.” July 1979. Another really excellent one. I love that his examples are not common. He talks about Adoption and rebaptism, for example.
- Hugh Nibley 4-part on Atonement, starting July of 1990. This was republished by FARMS as one piece.
- John Sorenson “Digging Into the Book of Mormon: Our Changing Understanding of Ancient America and Its Scripture” Sept 1984, October 1984. Precursor to his book.
- Stephen Robinson, “Believing Christ” April 1992. Precursor to his two books.
- Gerald Lund, “Countering Korihor’s Philosophy” July 1992. Introduced me to “epistemology” and “axiom.”
- Russel Rich “Nineteenth-Century Break-offs” Sept 1979. All about early conflict over who would follow Joseph Smith.
- Elder Oaks “Recent Events Involving Church History and Forged Documents” Oct 1987. This is how I learned about Mark Hoffman, forgeries, bombings, and the infamous Salamander Letter.
- John Lundquist “The Value of New Textual Sources to the King James Bible” Aug 1983.
- - “Life in Ancient Biblical Lands” Dec 1981.
- Kevin Barney “Understanding Old Testament Poetry” June 1990. Kevin won an award for this one, back when they used to hold contests and give awards.
- Sidney Sperry “Hebrew Manners and Customs” May 1972.
- Stephen Robinson “Background for the Testaments” Dec 1982.
Defining “best” more or less however you want, what are the best older (and therefore probably unknown) Ensign articles? Let’s limit it to the actual Ensign, instead of earlier Church magazines, and focus on the positive and best articles, not the evolution of the Ensign (on which see here and here) or articles that aren’t, well, the best. What else can I point them to in the older Ensigns?