I am a true-blue, dyed-in-the-wool, pioneer-stock, eighth-generation Mormon girl with deep personal convictions. But I don’t think that makes me a parochial, narrow-minded, unenlightened, uncultured burden to modern society. Quite the contrary, in fact.
I value enlightening and expanding my mind—like pretty much every other young adult attending a university anywhere, especially a private, religious university. I understand that the only real source of light and truth is God. He has given us a precious gift, the gift of the Holy Ghost, to enable us to discern truth from error, to learn to distinguish light from darkness. Does darkness need to exist in order for us to comprehend light? Naturally, there must be opposition in all things.
What’s difficult for me, is being able to find the light in something when the darkness is so off-putting as to dismiss the Spirit. I can’t learn without the Spirit. And I’m not just talking about Sunday school learning. Sans the Spirit, my intellect is about as effective as a bag of sand, and maybe not even that useful. (Sand bags can be a world of help in flood relief and such.) So when I read articles that repeatedly use foul language, I get so distracted and hung up on trying to constantly purge my mind that I really don’t remember anything from the article except, “Wow, that was uncomfortable.”
Given my high school’s liberal use of explicit/violent media, I’m used to standing up for what I will and won’t tolerate in my education. I didn’t think I’d need to do that here at BYU. A class I took this spring exposed me to a lot of language I’d rather be without. Due to the subject matter, some hairy topics and less-than-polite wording, content, etc. are part of the deal. So the first handful of foul words I came across in my readings were jarring, but not altogether unexpected. The consistent barrage of profanity and indelicate language in subsequent readings continued to bother me. My classmates also expressed their discomfort with the things we read, and our teacher apologized for having to assign it. But why did she have to?
As a private, Church-run university, BYU doesn’t have to conform to how things are done and taught elsewhere. Am I advocating willful ignorance of current research and intellectual discoveries? Of course not. But we don’t need to insist on looking through a worldly lens when we know full well that we have access to a more divine perspective. We don’t have to adopt the methodology of other “normal” accredited universities. We have epistemological methods that most of the world hasn’t fully grasped yet. And that’s okay. To me, BYU’s charm and appeal comes from its uniqueness–it isn’t like other universities, so why pretend?
Having the Spirit of God as a constant private tutor is an unparalleled benefit in education so I think our methods ought to aim at keeping the real teacher of truth at the forefront of the equation.
Molly Mormon, educational advocate, over and out. Thanks, again.