Essay Option #1: How is Mormonism literary?
The characteristic of literature that I feel is most relevant to my life is how it attempts to understand and find meaning within specific areas of the human experience and the cultures that surround it. I think this is a powerful and vital role that literature plays in our society and in our individual lives. Literature is a tool for learning. As a Mormon, I've felt my religion compel me to learn and understand my place in this world and in eternity. There are so many literary aspects to life in the LDS church.
Every Mormon congregation is full of people trying to understand the events that surround their lives. Trying to understand why things happen and what they mean for each of us is an integral part of being LDS. This mirrors the way that literature explores ideas and looks for meaning through stories, characters, poetry, fiction, and non fiction. My favorite reading this semester was our study of Fire in the Pasture, a collection of poetry written by Mormons. Through their poetry, these people attempted to come to terms with difficult and complex ideas: Christ's sacrifice, motherhood, the death of loved ones, ancestors, family life...the list goes on and on. Even though I believe we have the blessing of a true gospel that helps us understand the answers to difficult questions, we still feel compelled to look deeper and gain a more thorough understanding of our experience as human beings and children of God. This effort to search, to learn, to discover patterns, to see beyond the trivial events of life and find true and real meaning is what studying literature and being Mormon is all about. This is what makes Mormonism literary.
Mormonism places a huge emphasis on scripture. Both the Book of Mormon and the Bible are considered by many, inside and outside our faith, to be works of literature. When I made the decision to make English my major, I did so partially because I knew that the strategies and skills I would learn would help me to better understand the scriptures. Studying great writing as a full-time college student has exceeded my expectation in this regard and I've come to realize that the very foundation of our faith is based on a strong literary experience with the scriptures. Only after Joseph Smith studied and pondered a verse in the Bible did he realize he needed to pray about which church to join, leading him to the revelation that would initiate the formation of the LDS church. This same process is key to each member's journey in the faith. We place heavy influence on the sincere and diligent study of the scriptures, and we believe in the power it has to lead us to act and do God's will. I've felt my study of literature enhance this principle and I've had similarly powerful experiences from secular books as well. Studying, learning, and acting is a process that Mormons try extend to every part of our lives.
As mormons our history, theology, and everyday lives lead us in a literary path. I truly believe that the mormon experience is a literary experience.