Finding God at BYU

Edited by S. Kent Brown, Kaye T. Hanson and James R. Kearl

We freely admit that we draw inspiration for this collection of stories from a work titled Finding God at Harvard, which was edited by Kelly Monroe and appeared in 1996. Monroe's book offers to readers a rich array of stories that explore a variety of personal responses to religion, particularly as one can find religion at Harvard University, a bastion of secular education. A person immediately senses, of course, the motivation for collecting stories about faith at a university that is unabashedly secular. So why a book about faith at BYU? Is it not one of the chief purposes of BYU to strengthen faith, to assist students and others to find God? After all, the published mission statement since 1981 states that "all students at BYU should be taught the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ." Hence, one expects BYU to provide a classroom atmosphere in which faith finds strength and the name of God brings respect. So why a book on finding God at BYU? Experiences are likely to be predictable and, in a general way, pretty much the same. We were wrong again.

Instead, the variety of personal experience among the authors points to a high degree of both reward and frustration. For some, BYU was not an easy place to come to. In fact, for them it posed powerful personal challenges almost from the first day. For others, the spiritual and personal rewards for coming to campus were immediate. The essays of Patricia Holland and Terry EchoHawk are of individuals who as young teenagers were deeply touched by their first contact with the University. They came expecting a wonderful influence and found it. Because of Earl Kauffman's visits to other universities during his senior year in high school, he also came away from his first contact sensing an unusual, special dimension to the campus.

In contrast, overtly or subtly, for others the atmosphere at BYU apparently demands that they decide how to respond to the openly religious campus environment. The stories of Vivian Mushahwar and Kevin Giddens reflect this dimension of life at BYU. Each came as a student who had grown up in a very different atmosphere and had no idea what campus life in an LDS setting would be like. Their transitions to life on campus were challenging. It was similarly challenging for Benoy Tamang, who attended BYU-Hawaii as an undergraduate from Nepal. For Julie Boerio-Goates, who is married to a Latter-day Saint whose family has deep ties with BYU, there were few surprises. But the intensity of the atmosphere forced her, as it were, to decide how she felt about her own faith.

  • $(Out of Print) [Purchase online]
  • ISBN: 1–57734–929–6
  • Published in 2001