Adam S. Miller, the Mormon philosopher who wrote the highly praised book “Letters to a Young Mormon,” wrote a piece that was published on LDS Living yesterday. The article can be read here. The title of the article is: “Defending the Family Means Defending Women and Rooting Out Misogyny.”
I have re-read the article multiple times, and I don’t understand it. Really. I think I know what Bro. Miller is trying to say, but then I re-read the article and I think, “no, that can’t be right.” So, I am back to thinking I don’t know what he is saying. I wrote this article in the hopes somebody who knows him will pass it along to him and perhaps I can get some answers.
Before we get to the article, I should probably point out that I did not like his much-praised book. At all. To sum up my experience, I found it full of convoluted, difficult to understand statements that ended up being dull platitudes. For me, it was kind of like trying to read a pretentious 13-year-old’s diary. I would never have read a book like his when I was a young person trying to find my way through life. (Now to be fair, I only went to church a few times when I was young, and I did not get baptized until I was in my 30s, so perhaps I was not the target audience. And also to be double-fair to Bro. Miller, many people I respect loved his book).
To understand where I am coming from, let’s take a look at Bro. Miller’s talk at BYU on Jan. 11.
In that talk he said the following:
“It is a mistake to think that Mormonism is about Mormonism. Mormonism is not about Mormonism. And if we try to force Mormonism to be about itself, we paint ourselves into corners and lose track of the very thing we are trying to say. . . . In my experience, Mormonism comes into focus as true and living only when I stop looking directly at it and instead aim my attention at Christ. Instead of aiming at Mormonism, I have to aim what Mormonism is aiming at. Otherwise, I’ll miss what matters most.”
What the heck? This has to be one of the strangest statements I have ever read. Mormonism is about Christ. I mean, it is right there in the name of the Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What the heck does he mean saying that “Mormonism is not about Mormonism?” I have read that paragraph a dozen times now, and I have no idea what he is talking about. Again, to be fair to Bro. Miller, perhaps I would have understood better if I had watched his talk in context. Does he mean that Mormonism is not about Utah culture? Does he mean that Mormonism is not about American triumphalism? Does he mean that Mormonism is not about blindly following prophets? Does he mean that Mormonism is not about Joseph Smith? I simply don’t know.
So, question number one for Bro. Miller is: what the heck does that paragraph mean?
My same concerns apply to his article in LDS Living.