Joseph Campbell said:  Read myths. Read other people’s myths, not those of your own religion, because you tend to interpret your own religion in terms of facts–but if you read the other ones, you begin to get the message.  So, what are the myths of Mormonism?
In a way all storytelling is myth-creation. In re-telling the story of how you met your spouse, how you got your job, how you aced a test, or whatever, you are creating a myth with lessons for yourself or others of how the world works. The same is true of stories in the scriptures, and also true of the historical myths of the church. (I’m using the term “myth” here to refer to its universal value rather than implying “fictional.”) We all create myths. They tell more about us than about what actually happened. Myths can grant us self-knowledge, and can help us understand how the world works.
(“Myths” (as used here) are stories that have themes with universal application, not as an indicator of stories being factually correct or incorrect.  Certainly, some stories are more factual than others, but it seems obvious, too, that when we are trying to stress the points of a story with universal application, the facts come secondary to the theme and application.)  So, what are some “Mormon Myths” or stories that I hear people tell at church?
  • Divine proof.  These are stories that provide evidence that the church is true or that God had a hand in someone’s life (e.g. answer to prayer or divine guidance).  They are designed to reinforce the value proposition of living the commandments.  Here are some examples:
    • Answers to prayer
    • “Promptings” to do or say something specific
    • Looking back on a situation and seeing the hand of God
    • Prophetic statements or policies that are “proven” later
  • Persecution.  These are stories that illustrate that members of the church will be picked on by those outside the church.  They are designed to reinforce tribal behavior (if inwardly focused) or missionary work (if outwardly focused), depending on the plot.
    • Pioneer stories often fit this category (and some fit the first, too)
    • Prophets are usually cast out or killed
    • Stories that illustrate social evils (e.g. abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, promiscuity, alcoholism, drug addiction, etc.)
  • Seek and Find.  These are stories about someone seeking for something and then finding it.  Several parables are like this.  The BOM experience, which is the foundational story of Mormonism, is one big “seek & find” story.  So is the First Vision, although what is being sought differs slightly from version to version.  The emphasis seems to be on the need for each person to seek out and find his/her own way spiritually.  Examples:
    • Testimonies
    • Answers to prayer
    • Conversion stories
    • Scripture experiences (finding answers or inspiration)

What other myths or stories are there that you hear at church?  What myths or stories do you hear repeated in the b’nacle?  Are they the same or different?

Are any of the myths more or less useful than others?

Can you hear these myths at church in the stories people choose to tell, the quotes they choose to share, or the way they talk about their lives?

What do our myths say about us?  Are these the same myths of all Christianity?  How are they the same or different?

Discuss.