Sunday Lit Crit Sermon: Joseph Smith in Literature — Orson F. Whitney

Orson F. Whitney
Orson F. Whitney

Was Joseph Smith a poet? In the first post in this series Orson F. Whitney argued that Prophets are the greatest poets, implying that he was. But in 1905, 12 years earlier than the source of that initial post, The Strength of the Mormon Position, Whitney looked at Joseph Smith’s literary role in an article published for the centenary of his birth.

Whitney not only had an expansive view of poetry, he also had an expansive view of literature in general, which also comes out in the excerpt of his 1905 article included today. Here Whitney claims that “Learning is another name for literature” and claims that Joseph Smith’s teaching that we should seek learning also means that we should cultivate literature.

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Responding to bigoted but famous texts

0--banned_books1From time to time I see news items about attempts to remove a book from a school libraries and classrooms. The reasons are even appealing at times. One text is bigoted against African-Americans. Another against Asians. But more often the reasons are less appealing (at least to me): Harry Potter is attacked for teaching about witchcraft, The Golden Compass for being anti-religion, many books are attacked for profanity (including, ironically, Fahrenheit 451).

Yesterday, to my dismay, I learned of an attempt by a Mormon parent to get a book removed from a middle school class reading list because of its attitude towards Mormons. The book? A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle.
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