A Court of Love; A House of Order; Dust
"A Court of Love," Sunstone
(March 1988): 30-38.
"A House of Order." Dialogue
(Autumn 1988): 129-48.
14.1 (1988): 1-10.
In three finely-honed stories -- each appearing in a
separate journal and one of them the 1986 D.K. Brown
Fiction Contest winner -- John Bennion squarely
confronts the age’s challenges to the Mormon world
view and way of life. Whether themselves transgressors
and uncertain believers or their distressed kin,
Bennion’s protagonists reflect both the conscience of
sensitive, good people and sophistication and vulnerability
of real twentieth-century human beings. As
in much significant fiction, the common objective
correlative and concrete occasion of their inner
struggle -- till now largely skirted by Mormon writers
-- is sexual distress. The world of insular communality,
agrarian values, strong family and marital ties,
an accepting if narrow view of sexuality, dogmatic
convictions, and individual sacrifice is -- in each of
their minds -- arrestingly opposed to one of rootless
personal autonomy, self-centered professionalism,
guilt-ridden hedonism, cosmopolitanism, and underlying
dread of nuclear destruction (closely paralleling
the conventionally religious anticipation of Armageddon).
This juxtaposition, dynamic and kaleidoscopic,
creates a refracting lens in which Bennion’s Mormon
readers can easily discern their own uneasy ethnocentric
selves. His portraits urge that the choices
before us were never more subtle, all-determining, or
difficult. In its culturally informed context, Bennion’s
psychological realism should enhance Mormons’ self-understanding
and others’ recognition of their intrinsic
humanity. John Bennion’s is a talent of great promise
-- one to be watched with thanks and applause.