Subscribe Now for Summer 2016 Issue of Exponent II
The following is the Letter From the Editor for the summer 2016 issue of Exponent II. To receive a copy of this issue, you must subscribe by July 17. You can subscribe here.
I just finished reading J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey last week. Franny is a young woman who is spiritually ungrounded and is searching for divine direction and meaning. She begins the practice of repeatedly saying the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me,” so that it becomes unconscious and automatic. Yet she continues to feel lost and she resents the people around her who increasingly grate on her as superficial and egotistical. She doesn’t know where to find God, even though she is seeking.
There are times in my life when I feel like Franny. Sometimes my prayers, scripture study, service, and worship all feel rote and automatic. My lips are there, but my heart is not. I begin to wonder what my purpose is, in what direction I’m headed, and whether the effort is worth it. I struggle to see God and I get distracted. I’m ashamed by how easily it happens. I almost always cry during the hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing when I hear the lines, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it/ Prone to leave the God I love,” because I see myself too clearly in them. I am too frequently careless in my spiritual journey toward bringing God into my life. Day to day Mormonism continues, but I forget to be a seeker.
As Pandora and I reviewed submissions a few months ago, a theme emerged , fully-formed, ready to knit together the entire issue. Authors seemed to be seeking, searching for new or renewed sources of spirituality in their lives. Authors ask questions about how to breathe new life into their callings, their church meetings, and their visiting teaching. Rachel Rueckert in “Windows and Walls” and Brooke Parker in “Hide and Seek” earnestly pursue a relationship with their Heavenly Mother and explore individual yearnings for divinity in a complex community. “For Elsie” describes author S.K.’s efforts to make her temple worship an uplifting and spiritually rewarding experience, despite her ambivalence about the endowment ceremony. “Missionary Barbie,” by Sydney Pritchett, wonders whether our preconceived ideas of revelation limit our recognition of the spirituality we may carry with us. While some lean practical and some mystical, all these women are sharing ideas of how to seek after God.
My husband, Patrick, has been musing lately over Alma’s description of the “mysteries of God,” described in chapter 26. Alma states that some followers of God will receive the gift of revealing “things which never have been revealed.” How will these revelations roll forth? What will be their content? Why are they shrouded in mystery in the first place? Patrick believes that it is for the purpose of building the kingdom of God together: that by hearing others’ stories, beliefs, and spiritual journeys, we lay open the possibility of gaining greater revelation than we could alone. He sees the work of Exponent II as contributing to this work of revealing the mysteries of God through the multitude of voices. I am happy to agree with him.
Without spoiling the ending of Franny and Zooey, I will state that Franny comes to a similar conclusion: that her efforts at prayer are meaningless if she doesn’t see divinity inside herself and in every person around her. The Kingdom of Heaven may be found in ways expected and unexpected, but the critical requirement is that we must keep seeking for it.
“That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” –2 Colossians 2:2-3