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David O Mckay Essay Contest

The Office of Christian Values in Literature has published two new editions of ongoing series, which celebrate gratitude and investigate belief.

PROVO, Utah (October 5, 2015)—Students at BYU may at times not realize the depth of religious research that takes place on campus. The Office of Christian Values in Literature has released a new edition of their ongoing publication, The Restored Gospel and Applied Christianity, and an issue of Literature and Belief.

This year marked the 25th anniversary of the David O. McKay Essay contest, held annually by the Office of Christian Values in Literature. Every year, the winning entries of the contest are published in The Restored Gospel and Applied Christianity. This year’s essays deal heavily in gratitude.

“These authors teach us about gratitude and how cultivating it in unlikely places can change our lives. All of the essays, regardless of their stories, point to the theme of gratitude in relationships,” reads the publication’s acknowledgment. “Ultimately, all of the authors exhibit gratitude and even reverence for the ‘everyday epiphanies’ that have connected them more closely to God.”

Literature and Belief is a semiannual journal that publishes scholarly articles, interviews, book reviews and poetry that focus on religious literary issues. Jesse S. Crisler, the journal’s editor, explains in journal’s preface the importance of exploring belief: “To believe seems a universal aspect of the human condition, for even when or if one doubts, the very act of doubting suggests either a questioning of what one has believed or an exchange of a previous belief for another.” He adds, “Regardless of its focus, belief truly surrounds mankind; even when the focus remains undefined, inarticulate, or merely imagined, belief itself is nonetheless real.”

In November, Literature and Belief will sponsor Beauty and Belief, a two-day conference held in BYU’s Museum of Art. For more information, visit the Humanities Center website.

—Samuel Wright (B.A. American Studies ’16)


Samuel covers the Office of Christian Values in Literature for the College of Humanities. He is a junior pursuing a degree in American studies with a minor in editing.

The Restored Gospel and Applied Christianity: Student Essays in Honor of President David O. McKay, 1995

ReviewerSteven C. Walker,

This eighth volume in The Restored Gospel and Applied Christianity series is an even better read than its predecessors. As word has gotten out over the past decade about O. C. and Grace Tanner's generous prize bequest to the McKay Contest, the student writing competition's quantitative leaps in submissions have stimulated a steady increase in the quality of the best essays—these eleven were the cream of almost two hundred entries.

There's a lot to like in this collection of student essays examining the application of the gospel to life. Matthew Kennington's "Mud," for example, illuminates the miracles God can work with the meanest, muddiest materials—not only with lowlifes like Matthew's friend Frank, but with us. The essay challenges whether we can "look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands" (Alma 5:19). I, with the author and muddy Frank, would "kinda like to get cleaned up first." This vivid essay sticks in the mud of my conscience with the probing persistence of those "pesky foxtails that burrowed into my socks and scratched my ankles all the way home."

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