Recently, an anthropologist (quoted below) said to a group of individuals that it is important to take this seriously. By “this,” he meant a specific thing – Estel – but I’ve allowed myself the liberty of expanding this to mean the sum of reimagination.
This blog is my attempt to document the journey to reimagination. This blog is, in a way, my Red Book. It is an attempt to take this seriously and to believe, to hope, to imagine.
Real work is required, of course, should you set your feet on a new road. Where you end up is perhaps the best description of your spirit, what it has deemed a suitable story. New stories can be told, however, but they don’t come easy or on the cheap. It seems that a new imaginary doesn’t come in little parts and buttons and sound bites. In my experience it comes wholesale, as you build a possible world you may someday compare to the world you current inhabit. At some point, I realized I could inhabit the possible world I was still building. I could leave behind the dead one I had occupied, it having served well its purposes for a season. You must build enough from the Book of Mormon to get your footing, to stand upon something higher from which you may observe the old landscape you received from the fancies of others. Quine likened it to building a new ship from the parts of the ship you currently sail in. When the whole, new imaginary has been taken up, you will be surprised to open the book and find its words saying all sorts of things you never heard before. This is what happened to me, and is ongoing even as I compose this fifth volume.
If you take parts and pieces, shortcuts and labor half-heartedly, hoping to build something worthy on which you may sail or be carried away from your current imaginary world (let’s call it, “the Church”), you will probably sink or break down not far down the road. And then what? Better to wait until your ship is worthy of the wind and current. So the transition cannot be done half-heartedly. It is done with a broken heart opening the imagination to hoped-for world. If you enter that imaginary world unprepared, or look upon it as a shortcut to God, I believe you will be lost on strange roads, blown hither and thither by every wind of doctrine. It is one thing to be lost— and dangerous in different ways— amid a multitude in a deep sleep; and quite another to be lost, alone in the wilderness of text suddenly turned to sand, and you are looking for water to drink. I have been both kinds of lost and undoubtedly remain somewhat still wandering. The only real options, in my experience, are to stumble back to an accursed fold, pretending along with them that all is well is Zion; or keep reading, thinking, praying, studying.
You cannot even see the important questions— I learned long ago as a foolish first year graduate student— until you have read and studied and thought, in short done a lot of hard work. Yet you may end up where you had no thought of coming to, when you set your feet on the road outside your door. I don’t even know how to explain what I believe about the Book of Mormon anymore. What I have written is enough; no doubt more than enough. You cannot come to answers by asking others on Facebook or by reading a blog post, or an article or essay here and there. Or by feeling this or that, when you open the book for thirty minutes a day. It is the reading that matters. You read not only to get the “facts,” but because by reading you are changing, letting words work upon you; becoming more honest in that submission of your will to the word. If you read for facts or wish I would just tell it straight and give you the short and sweet truth about Mormon history and the scriptures, you have been beguiled and are in need of exorcism. It is by reading that I exorcised those demons; although, some other demons were only exorcised by gifts.
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
Tolkien, J.R.R.. The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings (pp. 35-36).