What is religious about literature? Obviously some literature is overtly about religious belief or experience. But is there anything inherent to literature that is also inherent to religion? Does Mormonism aid us in seeing this dimension to literature?
After reviewing all the prompts I decided on this one. The honest reason why I chose this prompt was because out of the four this was the only prompt I felt most unsure about answering. I wasn’t positive what my answer would be right away unlike the others questions provided. In honor of my last semester I wanted to turn to “soul searching” and a little bit of research to answer this deep question.
Literature and religion have one of the most important things in common. They are or should be the most apparent things in our lives daily. Every day we are constantly reading, whether it’s a news article, Facebook post, or a reading assignment given in class. More than ever I have seen and been exposed to the more modern types of literature, such as the blog post we conducted in our course. This has helped me to start seeing different connections to literature (old or modern) and religion.
Disclaimer: Now before I start babbling my own words I want to share something simple but was profound to me.
A simple Google search led me to a BYU website named Literature and Belief. Here I found SEVERAL analyses of literature and their inherent connection with religion. As I scrolled through these articles I realized that at one point of another I had read many of the original pieces of these analysis during my four years as an undergraduate in the English department. And then I was shocked. Where had MY mind been this whole time while I was reading? I had done several analyses on these pieces, and sure I probably compared them to Mormonism of some sort because I attended BYU but not in the same way these authors connected them to religion. "Rereading 'Christabel',” by Daniel K. Muhlestein is an article I found on this website. Now, I have taken a course in which I was required to read Christabel and it was one of the most interesting pieces of literature I had ever analyzed due to the many critics who had their own interpretations. In class we discussed the most prevalent religious hints in this piece however, we did not dig as deep as Professor Muhlestein. During his essay he discusses the transformation of this piece from a Christian poem to a more anti-Christian poem. When I finished reading his piece I was mind blown. I mean MIND BLOWN. He summarizes his piece by saying that this poem was neither a Christian or anti-Christian piece but rather a piece about families, and trails, because of society’s expectations. (I know this is going to be a longer blog post but I can’t stop writing) Professor Muhlestein was able to disfigure this poem that was arguably about Christianity and now all at the same time and bring it to one idea that the Mormon Church is founded on, families. Now, these were not his intentions nor did he ever mention Mormonism however, why was it he brought it back to the foundation of our gospel? Because he couldn’t help it. He didn’t even know he was doing it. We can’t help the influence that appears in our writing from the background of our childhood and beliefs. This is WHY AND HOW religion is inherent to literature. Because authors can’t help be influenced by their beliefs even if they are intentionally trying to avoid adding them within their works. They are still there. And they are apparent to those who are looking for them.
And This is What I Believe Our Class Did This Semester. We were those eyes in search of those perfect little secrets.
One other thing I would like to mention is "Born Square: On Being Mormon, Western, and Human,” by Eugene England. In the first few pages he explains his own connection he has with landscape and his faith Mormonism. But I don’t have any more words for my blogpost . . . so I’ll have to skip this. But I did FIND this SO interesting.
Back to me babbling and I promise I will keep it to 4-6 sentences because I know I am well over my words for this post. (please don’t doc me for going over I just couldn’t stop typing) Back to discussing how we READ everyday regardless the genre. This is when I would like to say that being Mormon has aided me in seeing religious context in my everyday reading. Whether it is a religious or not I find myself finding connections to my religion. And I like it. I think that is how it is meant to be. And how I would like it to stay