Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Chandler, Neal ; Chandler, Rebecca
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Danger on the Right! Danger on the Left! The Ethics of Recent Mormon Fiction
Danger on the Right! Danger on the Left! The Ethics of Recent Mormon Fiction Eugene England The first example of what could be called a Mormon short story was written by an apostle, Parley P. Pratt. It was published in the New York Herald on January 1, 1844, and collected in Richard Cracroft's and Neal Lambert's anthology, A Believing People: Literature of the Latter-day Saints (Provo, Utah: BYU Press, 1974). It is called 'A Dialogue between Joe Smith and the Devil" and is quite witty, imaginative in setting and characterization, lively in its language, and, though clearly pro-Mormon, aimed at a non-Mormon audience. It consists wholly of a conversation between Joseph Smith and "his Satanic majesty," whom Joseph interrupts putting up handbills calling for all "busy bodies, pickpockets, vagabonds, filthy persons, and all other infidels and rebellious, disorderly persons, for a crusade against. . . the Mormons." The story has an obvious didactic purpose, as Elder Pratt has the Devil bring up most of the central precepts of Mormon doctrine, such as "direct communication with God," and then indirectly praise them by pointing out how powerful they are and destructive to his own evil purposes. The story is important for my discussion here because of the author's ability to create two characters so completely different from each other in perspective and purpose and keep us interested in, and even sympathetic to, both throughout the story. At the end, the Devil proposes, "What is the use of parting enemies, the fact is, you go in for the wheat and I for the tares. Both must be harvested; are we not fellow laborers?" And Joseph Smith agrees: "I neither want yours, nor you mine—a man free from prejudice will give the Devil his due. Come, here is the right hand of fellowship." The Devil suggests they "go down to Mammy Brewer's cellar and take something to drink." Mammy Brewer is quite surprised but pleased: "If you can drink together, I think all the world