One frequent and misguided claim about Mormons is that we are anti-intellectual; that somehow we reject learning. While I can’t agree with that characterization, I do think that there is a complexity to the issue. Theologically, mormonism is actually highly supportive of intellectual pursuits–but tempers that with an overriding constraint; spirituality. In addition, Mormon culture adds its own wrinkles to this attitude, with clear anti-intelectual elements that are justified by the theological constraint.
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.