Those who follow @motleyvision on Twitter know that, in addition, to posting links and bon mots, I occasionally go on mini-rants that attempt to carve out a way of speaking about Mormonism, especially in relation to the larger culture and other socio-cultural paradigms. These are often gnomic and sometimes silly and often stretch language as I try to express ideas and experiences that I haven’t fully processed. They often come out in the form of tortured metaphor.
I wanted to record here a particular instance of this that took place on July 17 (original line breaks):
We must operate within neoliberalism/capitalism effectively, but also
let the metaphysics of Mormonism deposit a core inside of us.
Christ is the irritant; the pearl builds its titanium layers through
exercising acts of faith, charity, hope, patience.
We emanate when we magnify, but in so doing we also accrete to
our secret core. That thing which man, which the man-made, cannot
Yes, we get tangled up in the multitudinous notions of gender,
materialism, authority, class (in short: power). That’s all part of the
So many stories; so many explanations; so many special pleadings;
so much back and forth. It’s easy to get distracted.
It’s also easy to want to create a gestalt out of it all. c.f. the
Republican Mormon, the Progressive Mormon, the Not-of-the World
Or to focus on what one can control: the Hobbyhorse Mormon; the
All those impulses are understandable, albeit doomed in the end.
And none of the layers we build are wholly pure and refined. Our
pearls are gray–not white. Our titanium plates unevenly.
The important thing is to build and preserve the core.
Or as I wrote in Gentle Persuasions III: “And yes, beneath the
swirling clouds of doctrine, doubts, duties, history, troubling things,…
…things put on a shelf, things amalgamated with the theories of the
world, the core gently hummed, quiet with power.”
/end maudlin philosophizing.
It’s gauche to quote yourself. But seeing this laid out in it’s entirety, I realize that found in that rant are many of the major concerns of my fiction and criticism as well as the types of metaphors that I tend to fall back on (layering and secret cores come up a lot). Metaphor is tortured. But when part of your worldview includes things that operate outside the observable world as well as beyond all the various discourses, sometimes you have to resort to it.
One thought on “Finding language to describe Mormonism at work”
When I read your statements about the “core,” I think these sorts of thoughts: There are absolutes. I absolutely believe that. I think that they are powerful and personal, and arrived at by individuals one by one, as they gain testimonies of these core things, and then individuals share with one another and come together in belief of these things.
I also believe that questioning is important up to and until we come to a knowledge of our absolutes. It’s healthy and good and the foundation for gaining real testimony/knowledge. That doesn’t mean we allow our behavior to cross lines we know about, it just means we allow ourselves to really gain that firm footing that only questioning will bring, and dialog with different people who have different beliefs, and scripture reading, and times spent at church, and listening to our leaders speak….
In the end, I find deep comfort and peace in the truths I have gained, and I savor the process of gaining testimonies of other things. We all need to be patient with ourselves and with others. And seek out the illumination that will actually bring truth.