I have heaps of respect for Jane Birch and all of the research she has done on the Word of Wisdom. Having corresponded with her by email on several occasions and reading her essays, I’ve been more and more impressed with what she continues to produce on the subject. Her “Doctrines, Principles, and Applications” series that can be found at Meridian Magazine (ldsmag.com) represents some of the best work that I have ever read on the Word of Wisdom.
Building on the foundation of Elder Bednar’s teachings concerning doctrines, principles, and applications, Jane takes us on an engaging exploration of the Word of Wisdom that speaks reason to the mind and wisdom to the heart. This revelation is needed now more than ever and Jane’s work does more than bridge the past with the present, it emphasizes those keys that unlock treasures, even hidden treasures.
Rather than take a dogmatic application-based approach that preaches to us what we should or shouldn’t do, Jane leans on the doctrine and principles as her guide while respecting individual applications that may vary from case to case. Her sober persuasion invites thought and self-examination without resorting to ineffective guilt and shaming.
While I respect the light she brings to the topic of the Word of Wisdom, I think Jane’s series has demonstrated a wonderful framework that can be applied to so many other topics in LDS theology. I offer the following links to her series for your consideration with my full endorsement:
- Distinguishing Between Doctrines, Principles, and Applications
- The Doctrine of the Word of Wisdom
- Rethinking Alcohol, Tobacco, Coffee, and Tea
- The Principle Behind Alcohol, Tobacco, Coffee, and Tea
- The Letter of the Law
- The Spirit of the Law
- Section 89 as Parable
- Why God Doesn’t Over-Explain
- Three Foods Ordained by God
- The Wholesome Herbs Ordained by God
- Animal Flesh is Ordained by God
If you liked those, you can find links to all of her published articles at Meridian Magazine here.