The essay is a form particularly well suited for Mormon writers, for it blends a number of their cultural and religious imperatives. We are a confessional people, in both senses of the word. In keeping with Augustine’s principal employment of the term, we are committed to the public profession of our faith. Not merely as an act of evangelizing, but among the more reflective Saints, as an articulated meditation on our yearning for the divine, and a psalmic celebration of God’s gifts. We are also confessional in the more conventional sense: journal keeping, the informality of Mormon worship, public testimony bearing, the intimacy and interdependency of ward life, all conspire to make us a people prone to self-revelation. The essay form allows a Mormon writer to do both at the same time: reveal the imprint of providential design in the vibrant though secret life along the rushing stream and in the father’s blessing of his newborn child on the one hand, and on the other, to assess one’s response to the mystery, one’s own role in those designs, one’s participation in the rhythms of life as a disciple, as a member of a family or partner in a marriage, and as a citizen in kingdoms earthly and heavenly.

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Copyright © 2013, Greg Kofford Books, Inc. This chapter first appeared in Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and Family.

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