Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Mormon young adult with a love of literature

Let's take a brief peek at my cultural identity! (assignment for my Multicultural Education class)

The books I read have done so much to shape me and reflect my moral views and what I consider social norms. I feel like books communicate your social values more effectively than many other artifacts would - and they certainly represent who I am culturally. I was always a bit of a bookworm, to the point where I almost read a little too much. When I was younger, my reading was strictly for pleasure. I even enjoyed the books that I read for school because they all interested me.
Once I got older, my taste in reading started to change to reflect my personal preferences, morals, and ideas. The beautiful thing about looking at the books that an individual reads is that there are so many books to chose from, so which of those books you actually take the time to read deeply reflects on your values. I have a preference for romance novels (clean ones), mystery novels, religious literature, a bit of fantasy, and then I have a big love for the classics written by authors such as Dickens, Austen, Dumas, and Bronte (just to name a few). The question is: how does my literature choice reflect my values and morals? For one thing, the literature pieces that I take the time to read do not have explicit scenes in them. There are often good moral messages at the end of these pieces, and many of them make me think about a given topic at a deeper level. I will admit that Harry Potter does not require much deep-thinking, but it reflects the child-like, creative nature inside of me, which is completely separate from the part of me that wants to learn and grow from literature.

Out of all the options I could choose from to represent me culturally, my mind kept being drawn back to one in particular, although it's a very broad category. I think that many would agree with me when I say that the Disney franchise has done much to shape the culture of America over the years and will continue to do so in years to come. This short clip is often shown in the previews before Disney movies, and I have a great many Disney movies in my collection. Too many to chose just one from. So I chose this clip to represent all of them. It is also representative of how I was primarily exposed to Disney through visual media:
So... am I right in assuming that Disney is a HUGE cultural artifact? It's not a specific artifact; rather, it is a collective idea that is represented as whole by thousands of smaller artifacts. I grew up on Disney movies, Disney music, Disney merchandise, and Disneyland. In 2010, the revenues for the year of the Disney company totaled about $38.1 billion dollars. This franchise has done so much to shape the world - and on a smaller scale, my life. I do believe that I grew to love music because of Disney. Some of my fondest childhood memories relate to Disney in some way, even if only in a small way. Disney movies tend to teach morals related to dreams, magic, kindness, laughter, and the ability to believe in happy endings. Instilling these values in a child at an early age can affect how they view the rest of their life, and I am certainly a happy person today. I'm sure that I can credit some of that happiness to the magical years that Disney provided me with. It sounds very cheesy, I know, but to a child... Disney is a whole new world! [see what I did there? Eh??!?]

At first, I was not sure if what I am about to talk about is considered an ethnicity. But after a little bit of research, I discovered that Mormons are considered as an ethnic group. After all, ethnicity is not only about race, but also about a central belief system or a common heritage. So, assuming that is true, I feel that the scriptures represent me very well, ethnically.
(Isn't it a little ironic that my ethnic artifact is a BOOK?!) I have grown up reading the scriptures. My family has gathered together to study them often, and I study them on my own as well. I've taken 4 years' worth of seminary classes and continue to take classes in college that focus on the Standard Works. The pages of these precious works contain words that are the foundations of so many of my moral values, my beliefs, my philosophies. They bind me to the rest of the Mormon "ethnicity" because we all believe in these scriptures. We read them. We study them. We pour our minds and souls over them. I truly testify that without the scriptures, my life would be hopelessly deficit of much light and knowledge. I have gained so much from these books, and I know that there are many more treasures of knowledge hidden in their pages - I just have to keep studying until I find them. Additionally, the scriptures are representative of my religion as a whole. I am so proud to be a member of the Church, and what better object to chose to represent the church than the books that we get most of our knowledge about God and His Gospel from?

When I stop to consider all of the options that were available to me to choose from for this assignment, I think it says a lot about me that I settled on these particular things. There were so many other artifacts I could have chosen from! However... I just like books. And happiness. And spirituality. And music. And the things I chose just seem to go hand in hand in my life.

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