There. I said it.
The flaw is in me, not in the discipline of history, which I just don’t have much of a mind for. Kiskilili and Elbereth–who study very different aspects of it in very different ways–both have a much better intuitive sense of history than I do, and Lynnette earned a couple of degrees in it before finding her calling in theology. Me, I’d rather wander around in the abstractions of philosophy than have to deal with the tedium of what actually happened.
My family moved to Utah right before I started fourth grade. I believe I was forever scarred by those grainy photographs of pioneers bravely conquering the desert, eternally grim and stalwart in their long black outfits. Also, the pioneers are the sacred bogeyman of every Mormon child. If you ever complain about being hot in the back seat of the car on some long trip, someone inevitably points out that the pioneers didn’t have air conditioning when they crossed the plains.
But I can’t blame it all on hagiography. Strike two is polygamy. It’s hard to deal with a version of marriage that essentially continues, in terms of our temple sealing practices, and that has such uncomfortable orignary authority. I’m descended from lots of polygamists, so I owe my existence to the practice, but I can’t say I enjoy examining the grim and dirty details.
In the end, all hagiography and polygamy aside, I’m just bored by it. I think it’s great other people love it. I think it’s great there are–evidently!–so many fascinating conversations going on in the LDS world about our history. I have nothing but the profoundest respect for Dave of DMI, the range of whose knowledge and whose civilized tone are my ideal of what the Bloggernacle should be. I think it’s great there are books like Early Mormonism and the Magic Worldview and Mormon Enigma and In Sacred Loneliness and Rough Stone Rolling. I just can’t make myself pick them up. I just can’t. I’m sorry. I end up reading Harry Potter instead.
I wouldn’t deny history funding if I had lots of money. I would just want other people to do it, not me.
Further confessions of my general unfitness to be a Mormon intellectual, coming soon!
- 8 May 2006