Dieter F. Uchtdorf Soars to New Heights with “The Gospel at 30,000 Feet”

Breklyn Miles

Breklyn Miles

In which the apostle goes all-in on his favorite metaphor.

“In reality, time is perhaps the only commodity of life that is equally divided among every person in the world. Think about it—we all have twenty-four hours in a day. Though some people have more demands on their time than others, we all have an equal opportunity to use those twenty-four hours wisely.”

This was perhaps my favorite concept presented in Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s new book, The Gospel at 30,000 Feet. In a world of widening wealth disparity and political and social polarization, time is indifferent and equal among all of us. It’s a good reminder about how much is truly out of our control; we can merely choose what to do with the uncontrollable variable. This is one of many profound insights shared across this enjoyable, breezy read.

Across approximately 130 pages, now-Elder Uchtdorf (which admittedly makes some of the references in the book a bit funny in light of recent events) goes all in on his favorite metaphor – flying. The sections of the book are entitled, “Principles of Flight,” “Lift,” “Guidance on the Journey,” “Weathering the Turbulence,” and “Our Eternal Destination.” Within those sections are quick anecdotes, most of which have been lifted from Uchtdorf’s numerous aviation-related remarks over the years.

There are some terrific stories here, such as the time Pilot Uchtdorf had to chase down a hijacked plane from Italy all the way to Kuwait, pondering the tempting beauty (and danger) of massive thunderheads on the horizon, recognizing one’s age after feeling woozy from flying with the Blue Angels – all of it rolled into the gospel.

Also worth mentioning was a quick section about light and truth, and how the knowledge of man is limited. Uchtdorf relates what must be one of the greatest perks of flying a red eye as a pilot: observing the awe of the Milky Way. Uchtdorf mentions that only 100 years ago, astronomers thought the Milky Way was the only galaxy. Now we know better.

I will not tell you that this is a deep read in terms of complexity. It’s a great read, and poring over many of the apostle’s classic remarks feels like putting on a warm blanket, but don’t expect hardcore doctrine or a deep dive into the salient issues of the day. But you’re probably not buying a book by Elder Uchtdorf for that sort of thing. He’s all about the feels!

Also of interesting note is the formatting of the work. Quite often a page of uniform body text suddenly gives way to bolded, enlarged text, like a pull quote but that’s not actually a pull quote. Likewise, an adjacent page might have only a few words, artistically and stylistically arranged like unto a meme. But the funny thing is, even those words are part of the flow of text, not pull quotes. There are graphics everywhere. Essentially, if you were able to download a digital PDF of this book, you could yank out the meme-worthy pages and have them ready made for your #ldsconf social media use. Incidentally, this design approach results in plenty of open space, meaning you can blow through the entire book in about an hour.

So is The Gospel at 30,000 Feet for you? Absolutely. Pick it up. Enjoy the excellent, modern aesthetic. Then ask yourself why a book by a European is not entitled, The Gospel at 9,144 Meters.

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