The Mormon Harry Potter. The Mormon Nancy Drew. The Mormon [Whatever].
After seeing the latest Nancy Drew movie (which was an amazingly excellent movie, BTW – I may post a review later just because I liked it so much) with my wife, I had a conversation with some members of my ward who were also there.
Some of them said something like this: “We need a Mormon Nancy Drew.” I hear sentiments like this all the time. The most common is “The Mormon Harry Potter.”
My initial response is: Huh?
We already have Nancy Drew and Harry Potter, and they work well in their respective universes. Why don’t we try and come up with something a little more original and uniquely Mormon rather than copy what’s been done before.
Still, the people persist: “It would be great to have a story about a Mormon kid who finds out he’s really a wizard and goes off to wizarding school.”
My response usually goes something like this:
I can buy into a fictional world that does not share my basic beliefs. That’s one of the major reasons to read fiction – to experience worlds that allow you to (as Orson Scott Card puts it) “live many lives” and experience worlds that rest upon different values than your own (even if the fiction is ostensibly set “in the real world”, unless – and sometimes even if – you are the author, there will be differences).
But once you make Mormonism central to the fictional world, to the plot, it seems that adding in such things as wizards, magic and spells that effectively take away people’s free will, you’ve left the “Mormon” part behind. I could see a Mormon character in Harry Potter and be fine with that – but if Potter himself were Mormon – well, then the only thing that would do is signal that Mormon theology is false in that world, and then we don’t really have a “Mormon Harry Potter” – we would just have a “Harry Potter who happened to have a tentative connection to Mormonism” or something.
Mormon fiction shouldn’t just flat out imitate popular other genres, it should provide a world where Mormon theology provides the basic metaphysics, and that’s just not possible in a world like Harry Potter’s. (Now, I could see a world where the Priesthood is the only way to ward off vampires, but that would be really stretching it).
As for a “Mormon Nancy Drew” – I could, perhaps, see something like that, though I would prefer to see it described more as a “Mormon girl detective” and make her more uniquely LDS, rather than just steal the Drew template.
Anyway, these are half-formed thoughts that I could easily write 30 pages on in order to clarify and strengthen my points. But I’m more interested in starting a conversation on this, so: What think y’all about “the Mormon [literary figure of choice].”