Driving to work today, I had an odd epiphany. It occurred to me that there is an odd symmetry between the danger that “liberal” and “conservative” Mormons see in story telling. The conservative danger, of course, has to do with history. We should be careful — so the argument goes — about what sorts of stories we tell people about Church history. Folks learning about polygamy or polyandry may go off the deep end. The liberal danger has to do with authorities. We would do better, so they say, to not tell stories lionizing them because this leads to an inflated view of the importance of authority that has all sorts of bad consequences ranging from Mountain Meadows to membership in the GOP. Hence, I have seen some Mormons get hopping mad at any attempt to mention any aspect of Church history that they did not hear in primary. Likewise, I have seen some Mormons get literally white with rage when the primary children begin singing “Follow the Prophet!”
I am not sure that there is a great deal to be learned from this, other than the fact that some people are temperamentally disposed to get upset about things. (I keep thinking that I need to sit down and write my big blog post on the central role of temperament in Mormon intellectual life. The short version is that when you get all hot under the collar about your pet issue, it probably has very little to do with ideology, the merits of your beliefs, or the supposed evils associated with contrary beliefs. It’s just your personality.) Still, I always get a kind of perverse pleasure from finding that Gog and Magog are remarkably similar just under the skin. They are both frightened of stories.
Of course, perhaps we should simply expel all of the poets from Zion. God, alas, seems to have other plans.