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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Ghost at Work: Bailey Ruth Raeburn Series, Book 1 by Carolyn Hart

Have you ever read a book and had something click for you that just made you want to hunt down the author and ask the golden question, "By any chance are you LDS?" Well, that's the experience I had when I read Ghost at Work.

Ghost at Work was the first book I’d read by Carolyn Hart and I was thoroughly pleased with my experience. This is a national title, but I found Ghost at Work to be a wholesome, fun read without all the unnecessary stuff found in so many books these days. It made for a great afternoon escape and I highly recommend it.

Ghost at Work is the first book in the Bailey Ruth Raeburn series by Carolyn Hart. Bailey Ruth is dead, happily living in heaven with her husband, when she gets the urge to return to earth. The solution? Signing up with the Department of Good Intentions. In her new role she will be allowed to visit earth to help out people experiencing “dire situations” requiring heavenly intervention. The problem? Bailey Ruth has difficulty following rules, and there are a lot of rules for those sent to earth on heavenly missions. If Bailey Ruth can ever learn to follow the precepts of the Department of Good Intentions she might actually get to keep the job; but, helping out Kathleen- a preacher’s wife who finds a dead body on her porch- seems to require a lot of rule breaking and it’s totally fun to read about!

You can hear a podcast about the book here. Or, read an excerpt from the book here.

Now. What was it about Ghost at Work that made me suspect Carolyn Hart might have some knowledge about the LDS Church? Bailey Ruth Raeburn’s biggest problem with helping Kathleen seems to be an inability to remember to be “in the world, but not of the world.” Sound familiar? Uh-huh. It did to me, too and it’s been driving me crazy ever since. See, I was sure that it was simply a scripture, but it also felt like something I kind of thought was specific to the LDS culture. Hmmm. Hence, I drove myself and several people in the halls at church insane trying to figure out the origin of that statement.

I tried looking it up in the scriptures. At first, I thought it was a Doctrine and Covenants thing. No luck. Then, I thought, “Ok, it kind of sounds like a Paul thing.” No luck. Then I got really determined. I looked through the entire Topical Guide reference sections for both world and worldly. I found some close matches: John 17:11-17 being the closest, but no scripture that specifically said, “Be in the world, not of the world.”

I looked online. I found one quote that said it was a statement coined by Hugh Nibley (upon referring to the above scripture), but could not find an original reference under his name. I found a couple of generic Christian websites talking about it, but not quite quoting it the same way my silly memory has it etched in my brain.

I took a casual poll among my friends in other religions and converts to the LDS church. Those outside of the church said, “Sure its makes sense as a Christian thing but it’s not something I hear all the time.” Those who were converts to the church said, “No, I never heard that before joining the church.” Those who were life-long members said, “Of course it’s in the scriptures.” At that point a long silence would follow as they went through the same searches and logic I did, eventually they’d sigh and say either, “Well, it’s in there somewhere” or “it’s a modern revelation did you check [insert prophet’s name here] works?”

So. Here I am, sorely tempted to contact Carolyn Hart just to find out what religion she is. At any rate, I do highly recommend curling up with Ghost at Work for a no stress, feel good mystery. I’ll be checking out a few more of her titles to see if they all tend to provide such good, clean entertainment. Ghost at Work certainly fit the bill.

Now, somebody set me straight on that whole worldly business. I can’t afford to be any crazier than I already am. Besides, if I can’t get it figured out while I’m alive how will I ever stand a chance of landing a job with the Department of Good Intentions myself?

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