The Odd Couple: Story and Community

And indeed we see, in the website's archive of "Member Stories," that every narrative sounds the same notes, as surely and predictably as an LDS testimony meeting: beginning from a state of closed naïveté, a precipitating crisis, moving through confusion and rupture, finding Mormon Stories, and ultimately achieving openness and health. "Health" appears to be the dominant value in the community and the ultimate good, replacing the traditional Christian categories of truth and salvation: the archives, for example, are organized into narratives of Individual, Marital, Community, and Family Health. The website contains language assuring the reader that Mormon Stories is not and will not become a religion in itself. These assurances are at once grandiose and unnecessary, since the community evidently lacks the moral gravity necessary to anchor a religion. I have nothing against health, but it is far too comfortable and anodyne a concept to capture the soul.

I see nothing sinister about the predictability of these narratives and their relatively insipid moral grounding; my quarrel is only with the intelligence of their discourse. Mormon Stories seems like a textbook liberal mini-institution, a lot like a high school gay-straight alliance and about as important. And if it is founded on contradictory projects, well, the same can be said about much of Western civilization. Contradiction can add interest and energy to a project; incoherence can also eat itself from the inside out. I doubt anybody knows which will be the fate of Mormon Stories.

6/28/2012 4:00:00 AM
  • Mormon
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  • Rosalynde Welch
    About Rosalynde Welch
    Rosalynde Welch is an independent scholar who makes her home in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and four children.
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