08 December 2007

Orson Scott Card defends LDS theology

I love Orson Scott Card's writing. The first book of his I read was Ender's Game, in 11th grade. At the time, I was assigned to read The Grapes of Wrath in Honors English. I don't have anything against John Steinbeck, personally. I'm sure he was a great guy. But holy cow, The Grapes of Wrath is the most aggressively depressing book on the face of the earth. We were required to read a couple chapters every week, and after every session, I was extremely blue for two days.

Finally, I got sick of spending half my week depressed, so I decided to read the rest of it in one sitting. Got the bone-crushing despair out of the way and moved on with my life.

Afterwards, I read Ender's Game and was blown away. The characters were great, the story was fantastic, and the writing was the best I'd seen. I confronted my English teacher and demanded to know why we weren't reading quality books like this.

That didn't go well.

Another one of Card's books I love is Lost Boys. I found it in the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU a couple days before classes started and read it in one night. One of the many things I was impressed with was his portrayal of the main characters, an LDS family. It seems every attempt to show LDS family life is either too syrupy and perfect or else awful.

Lost Boys did a great job striking the balance where it's tough juggling callings, four kids, a new job and a mortgage, and it's not paradise, but sometimes you look around and realize how lucky you really are. The Church is a great organization full of imperfect people. Everyone just does their best and somehow it all works.

Card also gave a forum address here at BYU-I a couple weeks ago. I attended and was riveted the entire time.

Okay, enough fawning.

The real point of this post was to link to an article Card wrote about Romney, Evangelicals and Latter-day Saint beliefs. It's very well-written and does a great job tackling some of our beliefs conservative Christian voters tend to have issues with.

The doctrine that our opponents would love to hang around Romney's neck is the one about human beings having the potential to become like God.

Or, as our opponents like to put it — because it sounds more insane — Mormons believe that they're going to become gods.

Now, that's just not accurate. We believe that those who repent of their sins and become perfect of heart will be, by the grace of Christ, exalted. But how many people have you known who are truly perfect of heart, desiring nothing but to serve God and their fellow humans?

I've known a few. But I'm most definitely not one of them. I'm in the category called "sinners," and I have a pretty good notion that most of us are.

We also believe that people who never heard the gospel during mortality can accept it in the next life. Certainly many who were never "Mormons" in their mortal lives will be exalted.

Give it a read. If I can grow up to be half the writer Card is, I'll take it.


Aliese Fry said...

I agree with you 110%!! I also had a brief confrontation with my Honors English teacher about the depressing nature of ALL the books we were required to read that year. Honestly, with the exception of Huckleberry Finn, I can't think of ANY that were uplifting in any way, shape, or form; even that's a bit of a stretch.

Jessie said...

This is ridiculous. What is wrong with you?!? Grapes of Wrath is all about hope for mankind. Didn't you read the ending? Sheesh. Sorry, but I love Steinbeck. Travels With Charley is one of the best books I've ever read. It's a little bit lighter, and much shorter than Grapes of Wrath, plus it is a true story of a journey Steinbeck took--you should check it out when you have the time. The things he does with his characters--his ability to really make them seem like the humans they are--are amazing.

I can imagine you duking it out with Tucker... :) My class had an uprising one day, I think while we were reading Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. Good times. I was a defender of the lit we were reading, though.

As for Card--I've actually never read any of his works, but due to the number of people recommending his works to me, he is on my list now.

Brandon said...

Jessie, yes, The Grapes of Wrath is about hope, but before the hope Steinbeck establishes chapter after chapter of despair.

And even the ending doesn't contain any sense that things would work out. For all we know, everyone dies a week later.

Anna said...

1st-- I love Orson Scott Card...after the hardest 3 months of my life I like to call "Moving Van Fiasco meets 1st Quarter Grad School" I felt the need to reserve Ender's Game at the library. I'm picking it up tonight to re-read it for what must be the 10th time

2nd-- Steinbeck...oh Steinbeck. I read one chapter of the Grapes of Wrath and checked out the Cliff Notes. And I did better on that test than I did for "For Whom the Bell Tolls" which I read in its entireity. So I disagree with Jessie that Grapes of Wrath is worth my time and I laugh and laugh because I was the English Sterling Scholar. I think students would get a heck of a lot more out of reading Ender's Game than Grapes of Wrath. Students would actually read the book (not skim with their brain shutting down) and class conversations would be much more engaging. Aliese--NEVER make your students read something as terrible as the Grapes of Wrath. There are too many good books in the world for me to waste my time on something that is 90% depressing. Sheesh. I'm stepping off the soapbox now.