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.
Dialogue Foundation, University Station -- UMC 7805, Logan, Utah 84322-7805
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Peterson, F. Ross ; Peterson, Mary Kay
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Book of Mormon Stories That My Teachers Kept From Me
AR TICLES AND ESSAYS Book of Mormon Stories That My Teachers Kept from Me Neal Chandler I am about to make a confession — not to my bishop who does not read Dialogue and who would probably not want to hear it anyway, but to you who as Dialogue readers are surely more at ease with scandal. I would like to keep the exercise simple, but for the sake of honesty — and what is confession without honesty? — I'm going to undermine my confession by admitting right up front that I am about to do this right thing for a wrong reason. The right reasons for confession, according to tradition and the Bishop's Handbook, are a contrite spirit and the desire to repent. But I have searched my heart in this matter and found no particular pang, no ache of regret. In fact, it may be no more than a kind of perversity that brings me to admit what I will tell you now, namely, that when it comes to the Book of Mormon, that most correct of books, whose pedigree we love passionately to debate and whose very namesakes we have, all of us, become, I stand mostly with Mark Twain. I think it's "chloroform in print."1 I am guilty of this impiety, but I am not, I think, utterly incorrigible. I do not, for instance, stand with Karl Marx who insisted "the NEAL CHANDLER shuffles paper and sometimes teaches writing at Cleveland State University in Ohio. His own stories are still available from the University of Utah Press. 1 This famous phrase occurs in the sixteenth chapter of Roughing It and is only a small part of Twain's puzzlement over Mormonism. "The book is a curiosity to me, it is such a pretentious affair, and yet so 'slow,' so sleepy; such an insipid mess of inspiration. It is chloroform in print. If Joseph Smith composed this book, the act was a miracle — keeping awake while he did it was, at any rate. If he, according to tradition, merely translated it from certain ancient and mysteriously-engraved plates . . . , the work of translating was equally a miracle, for the same reasons" (1872, 127). Twain was not a believer, but unlike many believers — and as the long book review which follows clearly shows —he at least had read the Book of Mormon.