Discussion Questions for In the Midst of Miracle—So What?

Discussion questions for William Morris’s newsletter on Marden J. Clark’s essay “In the Midst of Miracle–So What?”

Here are the discussion questions for the fourteenth email in the AMV Deep Dive of Marden J. Clark’s essay collection Liberating Form.

If you haven’t signed up for the email, you can read it (and sign up to receive future ones) here: In the Midst of Miracle—So What?.

Please note that comments are moderated, and the goal is to make this a place welcome to Mormons of all stripes (as well as folks with an interest in Mormonism).

  1. Tell me your favorite poem. Bonus points if it was written in the 20th or 21st century.
  2. In what ways might Clark’s three questions What? Why? So What? be useful? Is it less the questions that are the issue and more how one goes about answering them?
  3. What literary or other cultural works do you have both a Mormon self and a critical self interpretation of?

Discussion Questions for The Virtue of Virtue: A Sermon

Discussion questions for William Morris’s newsletter on Marden J. Clark’s essay “The Virtue of Virtue: A Sermon”

Here are the discussion questions for the thirteenth email in the AMV Deep Dive of Marden J. Clark’s essay collection Liberating Form.

If you haven’t signed up for the email, you can read it (and sign up to receive future ones) here: The Virtue of Virtue: A Sermon.

Please note that comments are moderated, and the goal is to make this a place welcome to Mormons of all stripes (as well as folks with an interest in Mormonism).

  1. One of the things I enjoyed about this essay are the three poems Clark puts in dialogue with each other. Which cultural works have you put in dialogue with other in interesting ways?
  2. Do you feel guilt over choosing one form of cultural activity over another? What governs how you choose to spend your time when it comes to culture?
  3. Have you ever bumped up against forms that felt confining rather than liberating? What were they and what did you do as a result?

Discussion Questions for Toward a More Perfect Order Within

Discussion questions for William Morris’s newsletter on Marden J. Clark’s essay “Toward a More Perfect Order Within: Being the Confessions of an Unregenerate But Not Unrepentant Mistruster of Mormon Literature”

Here are the discussion questions for the twelfth email in the AMV Deep Dive of Marden J. Clark’s essay collection Liberating Form.

If you haven’t signed up for the email, you can read it (and sign up to receive future ones) here: Toward a More Perfect Order Within: Being the Confessions of an Unregenerate But Not Unrepentant Mistruster of Mormon Literature.

Please note that comments are moderated, and the goal is to make this a place welcome to Mormons of all stripes (as well as folks with an interest in Mormonism).

  1. Where does your mistrust and/or championing of Mormon literature come from?
  2. What literary/cultural studies theories, thinkers, texts, etc. have you found useful (or not useful) in relation to Mormon literature?
  3. What forms of sincerity or openness do you value in Mormon culture? Are those the same as in non-Mormon works of culture? Why or why not?

Discussion Questions for Paradox, Tragedy, and Mormonism

Discussion questions for William Morris’s newsletter on Marden J. Clark’s essay “Paradox and Tragedy in Mormonism”

Here are the discussion questions for the eleventh email in the AMV Deep Dive of Marden J. Clark’s essay collection Liberating Form.

If you haven’t signed up for the email, you can read it (and sign up to receive future ones) here: Paradox and Tragedy in Mormonism.

Please note that comments are moderated, and the goal is to make this a place welcome to Mormons of all stripes (as well as folks with an interest in Mormonism).

  1. Are you familiar with this canard that Mormons can’t write tragedy? Where/from whom did you first hear it? What other canards/truisms about Mormon literature are out there that bother you?
  2. Do you agree with Clark that tragedy comes out of paradox? Why or why not? What paradoxes has he missed in his essay?
  3. What sorts of tragic and/or comic situations do you want to see more of in Mormon literature?

Discussion Questions for Zion and the Arts

Discussion questions for William Morris’s newsletter on Marden J. Clark’s essay “Zion and the Arts”

Here are the discussion questions for the tenth email in the AMV Deep Dive of Marden J. Clark’s essay collection Liberating Form.

If you haven’t signed up for the email, you can read it (and sign up to receive future ones) here: Zion and the Arts: What Will Really Matter?.

Please note that comments are moderated, and the goal is to make this a place welcome to Mormons of all stripes (as well as folks with an interest in Mormonism).

  1. Does your vision of Zion or Utopia or any sort of ideal community in this world or heaven in the afterlife involve art? Why or why not? And how central is art to how you envision that place/state?
  2. Clark acknowledges that the Mormons of his time don’t value the arts all that much. If you’re subscribed to this newsletter, you likely find some sort of value of art–whether it’s Mormon art or not–how did you come to have that mindset or habit?
  3. Clark describes the time he is living in as an “artistic ferment” (128)? Do you think we’re currently living in a time of artistic ferment? Why or why not? What needs to be add to the mix to increase the levels of fermentation and make the results of such ferment more delicious?

Discussion Questions for The New Mormon Mysticism

Here are the discussion questions for the eighth email in the AMV Deep Dive of Marden J. Clark’s essay collection Liberating Form.

If you haven’t signed up for the email, you can read it (and sign up to receive future ones) here: The New Mormon Mysticism.

Please note that comments are moderated, and the goal is to make this a place welcome to Mormons of all stripes (as well as folks with an interest in Mormonism).

  1. Which works of Mormon (or non-Mormon) literature wrestle with these paradoxes, challenges, and strengths in a robust way?
  2. Of the concepts Clark discusses, which do you think has the most potential for fruitful dramatization in Mormon art?
  3. What other notions that could be classified under Mormon mysticism (whether new or not) do you find interesting?

Discussion Questions for We Have Our Standards (For Mormon Writers)

Here are the discussion questions for the seventh email in the AMV Deep Dive of Marden J. Clark’s essay collection Liberating Form.

If you haven’t signed up for the email, you can read it (and sign up to receive future ones) here: We Have Our Standards (For Mormon Writers).

Please note that comments are moderated, and the goal is to make this a place welcome to Mormons of all stripes (as well as folks with an interest in Mormonism).

  1. Is writing for the market really literary dishonesty? In what ways can it be dishonest and in what ways honest?
  2. What are Clark’s blind spots here? What are works/genres that he might consider dishonest that you don’t? What are works/genres that he might consider full of honesty and integrity that you think are still dishonest in one way or another? And why?
  3. Why is literary excellence so difficult to achieve and/or recognize? How could individuals and communities better support it? Is it even the right phrase for what we think we Mormon artists should strive for? Why/why not?

Discussion Questions for Science, Religion, and the Humanities

Here are the discussion questions for the sixth email in the AMV Deep Dive of Marden J. Clark’s essay collection Liberating Form.

If you haven’t signed up for the email, you can read it (and sign up to receive future ones) here: Science, Religion, and the Humanities.

Please note that comments are moderated, and the goal is to make this a place welcome to Mormons of all stripes (as well as folks with an interest in Mormonism).

  1. Clark writes that “art can bring us pain as well as comfort” (70). Are those the two primary emotions it can bring us? Are they the most important? Which other emotions can art bring us? Are those other emotions of equal, greater, or lesser value than pain and comfort and how so?
  2. What kind of darkness do you seek out in art? (Which may or may not coincide with the kind of art that is labeled as dark). Which works of art that has darkness in it have you had interesting, profound, and/or emotional experiences with?
  3. Which works (if any) of Surfiction, postmodern art, metafiction, fabulation, high modernist art, etc. do you find valuable? Which do you think would be the most likely to change Clark’s mind on the value of such art?
  4. How does reading literature affect how you read scripture?

Every Literary Work Marden J. Clark mentions in “Science, Religion, and the Humanities”

Here is the list every literary work Marden J. Clark mentions in his essay “Science, Religion, and the Humanities,” which is printed in the collection Liberating Form.

Click here for the AMV deep dive email that goes with this list

Click here for the discussion questions that go with this list

  • Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri
  • “Heart of Darkness,” Joseph Conrad
  • “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,” William Blake
  • Paradise Lost, John Milton
  • The Brothers Karamozov, Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Notes from Undergound, Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • The Mysterious Stranger, Mark Twain
  • Letters from Earth, Mark Twain
  • “The War Prayer,” Mark Twain
  • “To the Person Sitting in Darknes,” Mark Twain
  • Moby Dick, Herman Melville
  • “The Turn of the Screw,” Henry James (plus “nearly all of his novels”)
  • “Apparently with no Surprise,” Emily Dickenson
  • The Castle, Franz Kafka
  • The Book of Job
  • Ash Wednesday, T. S. Eliot
  • The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren
  • Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
  • The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The Winter’s Tale, William Shakespeare
  • The Oresteia, Aeschylus
  • Mourning Becomes Electra, Eugene O’Neill
  • War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
  • Measure for Measure, William Shakespeare
  • Samson Agonistes, John Milton
  • Paradise Regained, John Milton
  • “The Waste Land,” T. S. Eliot
  • Four Quartets, T. S. Eliot
  • The Odyssey, Homer
  • The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell

Discussion Questions for The Mormon Commitment to Education

Here are the discussion questions for the third email in the AMV Deep Dive of Marden J. Clark’s essay collection Liberating Form.

If you haven’t signed up for the email, you can read it (and sign up to receive future ones) here: The Mormon Commitment to Education.

Please note that comments are moderated, and the goal is to make this a place welcome to Mormons of all stripes (as well as folks with an interest in Mormonism).

  1. What are the best educational experiences you’ve had? Have any of them come close to being like an Entmoot?
  2. What is your awareness or even memory, of the culture wars of the 1990s (Mormon-related or not)? How did you come by that awareness? What, if anything, is there to learn from how everyone engaged in/reacted to those culture wars?
  3. If you had the time and financial resources for further education, what topics, disciplines, institutions, crafts/skills, practices, types of research, etc. would you like to engage in?