Besides a review of Grant Hardy’s new book, yesterday’s edition of Slate carried an article by Dialogue’s poetry editor, David Haglund (also one of my multitudinous cousins), in which he becomes the latest in a long line of Mormon thinkers to wonder where those Mormon Miltons and Shakespeares might be. The novelty, perhaps, is in his musing about whether we may have skipped a few centuries and produced a Mormon Philip Roth instead, in the person of Brady Udall, whose new novel, The Lonely Polygamist, was just released by W.W. Norton. He links to this 2003 Dialogue article by John and Kirsten Rector, still one of the most important considerations of Orson F. Whitney’s famous prediction.
“We will yet have Miltons and Shakespeares of our own.”
—Orson F. Whitney
SINCE THE ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH, Mormon spiritual leaders have emphasized the importance of attaining knowledge, both spiritual and secular. Not only have we been admonished to seek and value learning, but church leaders have predicted that church members would surpass the rest of the world in their scholarly and artistic accomplishments. President John Taylor exclaimed,
You will see the day that Zion will be far ahead of the outside world in everything pertaining to learning of every kind as we are today in regard to religious matters. God expects Zion to become the praise and glory of the whole earth, so that kings, hearing of her fame, will come and gaze upon her glory.
(While you’re there, consider making a small donation to Dialogue. So far, people are saying lots of nice things about the site, but the, uh, windows of heaven are not yet opening…)