Wayfare is Stretching the Heavens

As endings are new beginnings, the end of my term as the BYU Humanities Center Intern coincides with a new assignment as a contributing editor at Wayfare, a new literary magazine published by the Faith Matters Foundation. Accordingly, I thought I might take this last blog post as an opportunity to ruminate on the current state of the humanities in our faith tradition and its exciting future, using Wayfare as a promising case study, especially given the imminent release of issue no. 2 later this summer.

Really, though, what I’m up to is more personal. I love Wayfare. It has been speaking to me. It is the type of content I want delivered to my doorstep, the type of magazine I’ve been searching for.

What is it about Wayfare that has made it so resonant with my needs and desires as a young adult humanist Latter-day Saint in the twenty-first century?

For one, its self-proclaimed mission is “to be a companion and guide on the journey of faith.”

That is what it has been for me.

For example, when I feel caught between heaven and earth, mud and cloud, I remember Rosalynde Welch’s insightful observation that we are “airborne at low elevation” (9).

When life feels dark, I remember Rachel Jardine’s assertion that: “Life is not only a struggle; it is generative abundance propelled by an unceasing stream of light” (52). Every time I peruse the pages of Wayfare, “I feel as infused with light as a leaf open to the morning sun, silently photosynthesizing” (Jardine, 50).

Wayfare is a cosmic collision of the humanities with the resources of Latter-day Saint faith that will scatter stardust for galaxies.

When I’m happy, James Egan reminds me to keep “laughing with Jesus” (63). Egan urges, “don’t miss the laughs”—catch “the holy joy of Christ’s humor” (63).

When I’m bombarded by faultfinding, evil speaking, and contention, I remember Bill Turnbull’s story from Irish mythology. He tells of a peaceful people who, when confronted with a violent army ready for battle, simply “turned sideways into the light and disappeared” (98). The beauty of refusing to engage in contentious clamor, of turning sideways into the light and simply vanishing into the goodness—that has been my renewed and gentle impulse.

When I am as busy, stressed, and frenetically rushed as I can be, I remember Tyler Johnson’s essay, “Soulcraft at BYU.” He has taught me that being the best for the sake of being the best is far too short a standard for the excellence of Zion. No, we are called to consecration.

When my wife and I talk with other young married couples, all of us wrestling to balance work and school, family and faith—while still trying to fit in some fun—we sometimes feel overwhelmed. Charles Inouye, though, offers “A Taoist Reading of ‘The Family—A Proclamation to the World’” that is all about “extremes and their resolution” (73). Inouye has helped me catch the spirit of yin and yang, push and pull, the cyclical helix of becoming. “As opposites without opposition, we rest in intimacy” (75).

Finally, Steven L. Peck has given me a whole new vocabulary for faith. For Peck, and now for me, faith is like “seeking to unearth a bird-like Cretaceous tyrannosauroid”—you don’t know if you are going to find it, “And yet you press on. Not in certainty, but in a species of hope, the kind of hope that science demands, that life requires, a recognition that even though it is often against the probabilities, you dig as if you might find this beast… you unearth as if” (133). Wayfare has helped me keep on digging, because that “is how you honor the probability that something may be there: You dig as if it were more certain than it ever can be” (133).

There is so much more I could say about Wayfare, so many more excellent pieces I could highlight. I wish everyone going through a faith transition, a faith crisis, or a faith maturation could read Zach Davis’s essay “Journeys of the Spirit” (145). I wish everyone could handle with their hands and see with their eyes the gorgeous formatting and layout of this magazine, replete with rich artwork and profound poems. Even D&C 121:23 is snaking across the inside cover like the very “rolling waters” of “the Missouri river.”

For me, Wayfare issue no. 1, winter 2022, is a rendezvous—a gathering of the very best in the art, literature, thought, and culture of the restored gospel. Put simply, Wayfare is a cosmic collision of the humanities with the resources of Latter-day Saint faith that will scatter stardust for galaxies.

Lest that seem too celestial, let me bring it right back down to the muddy mire that sometimes is this telestial kingdom. In earlier versions of this blog post—one that I’ve wrestled with all summer long—I considered a more academic approach, such as situating Wayfare in the history of independent Latter-day Saint publications and pondering its potentiality, trajectory, and future. Inevitably when people hear about Wayfare, they want to know where it sits on the spectrum of publications. This question always calls to my mind the spreadsheet I saw the other day that color-coded venues all the way from red fundamentalist periodicals to orange official Church publications such as The Liahona straight through yellow institutionally aligned publications like BYU Studies Quarterly and green-colored cells denoting academically neutral publications such as The Journal of Mormon History all the way to progressively blue and purple publications such as Dialogue and even Sunstone.

Look, I’m far less interested in where exactly Wayfare might land on that continuum and far more interested in the question of why there clearly seems to be a need to start yet another Latter-day Saint magazine when there are already so many out there in existence.

The reason might be that there is something about Wayfare that strikes a chord for readers, writers, and thinkers like me. These various publications clearly meet a variety of needs for a variety of different people. Amidst the diversity of faith experience in the Church, perhaps Wayfare reaches yet another audience, and thereby is making visible another underexplored dimension of our tradition. Some spirits are stirred by a simple nursery rhyme; others need a much richer poetry.

For me, then, the beautiful contribution of Wayfare is its delicate merger of faith with the life of the mind, the way it blends the restored gospel with intellectual rigor and aesthetic richness. The subtitle of the magazine is “explorations in faith,” which I think makes its positionality perfectly clear. Whichever way you read it, though, I can only offer my personal opinion and witness. I believe that Wayfare has the potential to leverage the resources of the restored gospel and the richness of the humanities in a way that builds and nurtures faith like never before, in a generation with more challenges to faith than ever before.

That’s at least what I hope it does.

That, at least, is what it has done for me.

This blog post was written by Isaac Richards, the BYU Humanities Center Intern.

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