This brief, light treatment of possibilities for the LDS nature writer is excerpted from my unpublished paper “Why Joseph Went to the Woods: Rootstock for LDS Literary Nature Writers,” presented at the 2008 Association for Mormon Letters Annual Conference. This paper arose out of blog posts at A Motley Vision and Times and Seasons.
Perhaps one reason LDS writers haven’t ventured far into the field of nature writing is because they’re not sure what it is or does and whether or not writing it fulfills covenants they’ve made to help build the kingdom of God. Furthermore, in my experience, many in the LDS population don’t know how to interpret the anger, misanthropy, or sorrow that crops up in traditional nature writing, especially when the high rhetoric expressing such emotions threatens LDS lifestyles and beliefs. Important, call-to-action terms like €œstewardship, € a word that many if not most LDS accept as an essential component of concepts like €œservice € and €œrighteous dominion, € prove uncomfortably mercurial when applied to environmental issues. Writing nature literature might qualify as exercising €œgood stewardship, € and thus as an act of building the kingdom, but what kind of writing qualifies as nature writing and what aspects of building the kingdom might it accomplish? Continue reading “A primer: What is nature literature?”