I’ve just had a rather strange experience.
On Monday night, I wrote up a blog post in response to a New York Times op ed piece that was pretty negative about Mormonism. The NYT piece was really nothing new–the central point seemed to be that Mormons are naive, kooky creatures who just crawled out of some time capsule. Which I’m sure you’ve heard before. Maybe it was seeing it in the NYT that motivated me to respond. Maybe it was just that my mom had to go before I finished talking with her on the phone about it.
But whatever the reason, I wrote a response, and posted it, and put up a link on Facebook.
According to Google Analytics, over 17,000 people have read my piece since then.
Why did so many people read it?
Why is it resonating so deeply with so many of them?
And are there broader implications for Mormon Lit?
I really don’t know the answers to any of these questions. But it seems to me there’s a significant LDS audience out there who need to hear someone speaking their language. Who feel the pressures of being systemically misunderstood in a noisy larger culture and are thirsty for something lyrical and articulate that is grounded in the universe of values, experiences, and ideas they come from.
When we performed my play Prodigal Son nearly four years ago, people sometimes came to me crying after performances: not because of the story I’d created so much as for the way that story spoke to their own pain, their own struggles for dignity.
There are always people talking around us, anymore. Maybe it’s the feeling that someone is really talking to us that we crave. That moment when a piece of writing throws open doors of memory we’ve half-closed.
Maybe the audience for Mormon literature today is ready. Maybe they’re already seated, waiting. But are we ready to step out onto the stage?