I first discovered the fictional blog Mormon X when it was only a few posts old. And here I need to leap into a disclaimer because although I did not make the connection for quite a while, I am personally acquainted the anonymous author of this blog—rather well, in fact. The first thing I did when I discovered Mormon X was rush to his Facebook page and leave a link for him.
But it didn’t occur to me that he was him because X, the eponymous blogger, is such a naif I was convinced he was written by an actual current BYU student. And whatever you might say about my friend, you cannot say he is neither naive nor a current BYU student.
Anyway, feel free to allow this information to color your opinion of my review if you are so inclined.
X is a mutant in the X-Men sense of the word. He attends BYU in the midst of a culture war the Church is deeply involved in. Of course, if you know the X-Men, it will not surprise you to learn that the Church is against mutants, finds their powers a not-from-God perversion of the priesthood, does not desire mutants to even marry. X accepts this, but it does lead to challenges for him.
The unmistakable parallel is to the current culture wars fixed around gay marriage. In fact, since the blog is being written in realtime, it can refer to ongoing events such as yesterday’s guest shoutout by X’s girlfriend to “all the mutant couples out there who lost your right to be married this week.” It’s a good thing X is such an innocent (though it’s hard for him to maintain his spiritual simplicity within this milieu) because otherwise the occasional hamhanded connection to What’s Happening Now would be harder to accept.
That said, I should point out that this is absolutely the tradition of mutant comics, which, when they began, were bald allegorical commentary on the race issues in the early 1960s.
So it’s not just okay for Mormon X to be “political”—it’s the only appropriate choice for the genre. It’s the whole POINT of mutant stories. So get over it. It’s like complaining that an epic seems to wallow in Great Man Theory. The only real question is how well does Mormon X engage in these societal issues?
In its 45 posts since November, I have to say pretty well.
The story must start by both establishing its protagonist and the world in which he lives. X (a blogonym, natch) is personable and likable and a tad self-loathing—an early-twenties kid easy to relate to—and his world is just superhero-y enough and just like our world enough to make finding your footing easily. He starts a blog to talk about things he can’t talk about (being a mutant, cute girls) and like many blogging neophytes discovers that it’s pretty easily to out yourself online. But early reactions from those who discover his identity are positive and kind. Then, with things going so well, he asks a cute girl on a date and it’s one of the cutest darn things I’ve read in some time ending in utter disaster.
Cute girl (her blog designation is Lucy) gets a severe comeuppance that can seem a bit maudlin, but as the story’s progressed, her fate is becoming more than just a point to be made—her story is interacting in important ways with X’s and other characters’ and with the question of priesthood gifts versus mutant perversions.
In short, for something being written on the fly, the crafting of the tale is impressively tight. And although I feel confident predicting some likely plot points, I cannot predict how they will happen or what they will mean. In short, Mormon X is a complex work of fiction, even as it unabashedly embraces obvious genre tropes and points blatantly at political/religious/societal problems.
Of course, like any work-in-progress, it’s hard to say if Mormon X will ultimately arrive someone worth arriving, but, as of now, I feel quite confident declaring the journey worth embarking upon.