SL10152: A Field Guide for Turning History into Myth

The LDS Church has released a guide for journalists titled Approaching Mormon History. The document acknowledges that some journalists “have questioned the miraculous aspects of the faith” and wonder “why Latter-day Saints continue to believe them as reality and not myths.” The document argues for the historical reality of the Mormon foundational stories, namely the Joseph Smith story. They are of value, the document tells us, because they “actually happened,” and not for any “symbolic” value. In this presentation, I will look at the mythological themes in the First Vision story and suggest that in the effort to celebrate and glamorize it, the story has become more mythological than literal history.