Friday, June 12, 2009

LDS Newsroom - “A Record Kept”: Constructing Collective Memory

The LDS Newsroom yesterday released a fascinating statement about Church history. You can read the full statement here:

Here are a couple paragraphs from the statement:

An active engagement in the historical process eliminates barriers imposed by time and space and enables Latter-day Saints to situate themselves within the grand sweep of history. The Mormon historical consciousness impels one to step outside the comfortable confines of the present, develop empathy to understand the past and, in turn, lay the spiritual groundwork for future generations. A collective memory preserves the shared experiences and common language of meaning that binds a people together. To preserve history is to shape identity.

The new Church History Library is the substance behind the growing emphasis of transparency in the Church’s interaction with the public. This facility opens the door for researchers and historians of all kinds to flesh out the stories of Mormon heritage that pass through the imagination of Latter-day Saints from generation to generation. The Church cannot undertake this project on its own. It requires a groundswell of countless individuals — from within and without the Church — operating on their own personal inspiration. The story of the Church will inevitably be told as historians of good faith are given access to the library’s records and archives.

It is in the interests of the Church to play a constructive role in advancing the cathartic powers of honest and accurate history. In doing so, the Church strives to be relevant to contemporary audiences that operate under changing cultural assumptions and expectations. A careful, yet bold presentation of Church history, which delves into the contextual subtleties and nuances characteristic of serious historical writing, has become increasingly important. If a religion cannot explain its history, it cannot explain itself.
I think that this is a very good sign for the future of LDS Church history.

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