On Tuesday, June 13 at 11:30 a.m. in the BYU-Idaho Center, William Brugger, an English professor, gave his devotional talk which he focused on different types of literature and how they can benefit spiritual strength.
He began by talking about an imprisoned individual to whom he’s been writing. They exchange letters every few months, but Brugger recently learned that this man has read over 400 books since his incarceration. Apart from works of fiction and nonfiction, this individual has read some of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ published works, such as Jesus the Christ and the Liahona magazine.
“As impressive as it is, its not just about the number,” Brugger said. “Much more meaningful is that my friend has chosen to spend his time wisely and productively. So, this morning, rather than quantity, let’s focus on quality — hence the Lord’s superlative: the ‘best books’.”
Brugger continued his address by sharing various examples in literature that have helped others who struggle with loneliness, rejection, negative self-image and more. He quoted works from William Shakespeare, Dead Poets Society and Thomas Moore’s poem, Believe Me. He related each of these examples to being able to grow spiritually and emotionally at a universal level — not just for Church members.
“The ‘best books’ may serve as a safeguard against one of our greatest modern concerns: loneliness and isolation,” Brugger said. “My confined friend confided, ‘during the pandemic, my books kept me sane.’ The finest texts, like uplifting works of art, can ease that encumbrance and ‘speak to our souls.'”
In closing, he encouraged students to educate themselves with literature and to think twice before purchasing a big-screen TV. He shared images and experiences of his family and how his children have benefited from books in their lives. He bore his testimony of the ability that individuals have to extend their knowledge and he expressed that it’s a responsibility of Church members since it’s a gift from Heavenly Father.
“I testify that your Heavenly Father has blessed you with a beautiful mind, and now it’s your right and responsibility to develop it to its full extent,” Brugger said. “Learning from the ‘best books’ is one way to convey esteem for the gift and express gratitude for the opportunity.”