Are We Special? examines the source of the feeling experienced by so many of us and portrayed in so many films and books, that we are more than merely mortal beings and may even be chosen to fulfill some special destiny. Drawing upon the scriptures and the teachings of modern-day prophets, Are We Special? contrasts the true, divine origin of this special feeling with the worldly counterfeits propped up by the Adversary that lead us away from the love of God and produce feelings of pride, selfishness, and despair.
Are We Special? provides insights from the gospel that are reinforced by psychological research and the authors’ therapeutic expertise that will help the reader become more vigilant against the subtle manifestations of the Adversary’s lie and more receptive to the resources God has provided us to know how truly and wonderfully special we all are.
About the Authors
Jeffrey S. Reber holds a PhD from Brigham Young University in psychology. He’s an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at BYU. His publications look at the relationship between religion, psychology, and interpersonal relationships. He has also worked with LDS Family Services and has served as a bishop.
Steven P. Moody received his master’s degree in clinical social work from the University of Southern California. At USC, his clinical work focused on families, including marital therapy and relationships. Steven has worked as a counselor with LDS Family Services. He is now a therapist in private practice specializing in both relationships and addictions.
What inspired you to write this book?
I came to the ideas for Are We Special? The Truth and the Lie about God’s Chosen People experientially before I developed a conceptual understanding of them. Two regularly occurring experiences were especially influential.
The first took place in church meetings as early as my primary years, but were particularly common in my teenage years. It was typical to hear from speakers and church leaders that my cohort of youth were reserved by God to come forth in the last dispensation of the fullness of times because we were among the most valiant of the noble and great ones in the pre-earth realm. We were specially prepared for the challenges of this time and would be instrumental in preparing the world for the second coming of the Savior, which was very nigh. The implication was that even our parents and grandparents, as good as they were, were not as special as we were, and our children would be even more special still.
My earliest recollection of the second influential experience took place when I was 7 years old and watched Star Wars for the first time. As I watched Luke Skywalker realize his special ability to work with the force I had this tingling, exciting sensation go through my whole being, which I interpreted as the possibility that I too might have an as yet undiscovered ability and mission to perform that was unique in all the world. I remember vividly sitting up in my bed that night trying to use the force to turn off the light switch in my room. I concentrated with all my might and really believed it might be possible that I had the force with me. This was not my last experience of this type. When I watched the movie Superman that tingling feeling came back, as it did with so many other superhero movies and books. Only later in life did I realize that I was not the only one having this experience. Many of the other people in the theater felt that same feeling and asked themselves the same question. I began to wonder: What is it that connects so many of us to this “chosen one” theme that is so pervasive in the media?
I did not connect these two experiences or consider their origins for many years. Then, one day in 2005 I came across an article in the Ensign by Victoria Anderson in which she wrote about a feeling of a void we all feel as a result of our separation from our Heavenly Father. We can try to fill this feeling with pleasures of this world, such as drugs, sex, and power, but ultimately it can only be filled by the love of God. As I read this short article, I immediately made a connection to my Jedi Knight experience and I realized that the feeling we have that we might be special, that we might be in some sense chosen, stems from the truth that we are special because we are not merely mortal beings, but children of a divine King who have the potential to become like him. Although the veil may cause us to forget our experiences with this divine King and Father, we are nevertheless His princes and princesses and we are at some vague level aware of this wonderful truth.
I also realized that this feeling of the void can be exploited by the adversary and other people to lead us to think we alone are the chosen ones in the world and therefore are more special than others. This can be a particular temptation for church members, just as it was for the Pharisees of Christ’s time. I determined to write this book to help members of the church realize the true source of their special feelings without becoming lifted up in pride and vanity above others.
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