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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Heart, Mind, and Soul: The Ethical Foundation of Mormon Letters
Heart, Mind, and Soul: The Ethical Foundation of Mormon Letters1 Neal W. Kramer When I was in my early teens—it seems like I was no older than fourteen—I received a special gift from my grandparents. They knew I liked to read. In fact, they knew that I read a lot. I was a regular patron of the local library, often rushing through two or three books on a long summer day. Of their twenty-seven grandchildren, therefore, I was singled out to receive a treasured possession, a copy of Orson F. Whitney's Love and the Light,2 which my grandfather had given my grandmother shortly before they were married in 1926. The book was remarkable to me. It was the very first example of Mormon literature I had ever seen. In fact, I was amazed that Mormons actually wrote literature for other Mormons. I had thought that if we needed literature, we turned to the gentiles—or the Reader's Digest Condensed Books in the basement. I was not surprised to find, however, that Elder Whitney had written the poetic romance for the youth of the church. It was didactic literature designed to help young people struggling with intellectual challenges to their faith. In addition, it provided models for appropriate behavior. Whitney hoped to educate our conduct and believed literature was an appropriate vehicle to that 1. Versions of this essay were presented at a Ricks College Major Forum in February 1999 and as the Presidential Address at the 1999 Annual Conference of the Association for Mormon Letters. I would like to thank Scott Samuelson of the Ricks College English department, Richard Dilworth Rust of the University of North Carolina English department, James E. Faulconer of the BYU philosophy department and BYU Dean of general education and honors, and Paul Alan Cox, Director of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, who each read earlier drafts and made many helpful suggestions. I, of course, am solely responsible for the many flaws which remain. 2. Orson F. Whitney, Love and the Light: An Idyl of the Westland (Salt Lake City: n.p., 1918).