Richard Dutcher: Variations on a Theme

My wife and I just got our copy of States of Grace and the God’s Army Special Edition 2 Disc DVD in the mail this evening and almost immediately watched States of Grace and the special features of God’s Army. Thus my mind has been full Dutcherized and for the evening, I wanted to throw in my thoughts once more about the man that is such a popular discussion piece among Mormon intellectual and social circles.

Folks, if you haven’t already, go to one of Dutcher’s sites and buy this DVD. Watching it again, it made me plunge right back into the sort of thoughts and feelings I had the first time I watched it in the theaters.
It’s interesting watching the first God’s Army and comparing it to the “sequel”– in that time between the two films, Dutcher’s touch went from good to golden. The artistry, the professionalism, the “polish” of this film far surpasses his prior two projects. Dutcher didn’t settle for good enough, he didn’t become lazy or haphazard after a bit of success. Every project is better than the one before. But beyond the technical aspects, what makes this film powerful is its rich characterizations and its mature understanding of Grace and the Workings of the Spirit. Four Stars for this powerful film.

I already owned God’s Army on VHS and had considered getting it on DVD, but I’m so glad I waited for this Special Edition. I love special features and am kind of bummed when a DVD doesn’t include any significant special features. This set didn’t disappoint me. It had a “making of” mini-documentary with interviews from Dutcher, his lovely wife Gwen (I love how inclusive he is of her with his projects– she always seems so involved and supportive), certain members of the cast, investors, technical crew and critics who all had something interesting to say. One of the rather funny and eyebrow raising moments of the documentary detailed how Dutcher didn’t have filming permits and thus had a run in with the LA police. And, of course, if there is anything that Dutcher has, it is passion, and that fully shines through when he speaks. Overall it was an interesting behind the scenes look at the movie that created a genre. Also on the special features were outtakes, deleted scenes, trailers for his three movies and director’s commentary. Three well earned stars for this nicely done special edition.

Recently on the AML List I had a knee jerk reaction about the rumors circulating around Dutcher’s newest project Evil Angel. I said some things that I regret, both publically on the forum and privately to a couple of individuals. I formally retract such statements. I have already done so before, but I just wanted everyone to be clear that I don’t want to go the record for a knee jerk reaction which I think was rather asinine on my part,
I’m still dubious about the title “Evil Angel”– it makes it sound to B-movie to me, and I know Dutcher does not make B movies. But that’s his artistic choice and it may become more clear why it’s called that soon enough. However, I now don’t have any issues with it being a “scary” movie (in fact, my concern was not that it was scary, but that it may be a real Freddy Krueger type “slasher” flick). Brigham City was “scary,” and M. Night Shyamalan has “scary” films, but all those movies are superior spiritual tales. I have no reason to believe that Dutcher will cross any significant moral boundaries (social boundaries, however, have always been fair game with him, I suppose). Whether it has some of the “spiritual” undertones that his films have had in the past, or is just an interesting mainstream film, it’s one that I’ll pay a ticket for because he has earned my trust– and I hope that I have not violated his with some misinterpreted feelings of my own and a big mouth.

I was very glad to read on Dutcher’s new website ( a clarification of something he quoted Max Golightly saying at BYU. When people started saying that at the Sunstone Symposium Dutcher quoted Golightly in saying, “The first great Mormon writer will be excommunicated from the Church for his writing.” It sounded to me (especially as he was sharing the panel with Brian Evanson and Neil LaBute), that he may be prophesying his own fate with the course he was planning for himself. This disturbed me greatly, especially with the high regard I hold for his work. But reading Dutcher’s fleshed out thoughts on the matter give it a whole different context. From

“His sharpest memory of his first year at the university was a statement made by his playwriting professor, Max Golightly: ‘The first great Mormon writer will be excommunicated from the Church for his writing.’
” ‘That statement sent chills down my spine,’ Dutcher says. ‘I knew that I wanted to become a great writer. I remember hoping and praying that he was wrong.’ “

The fact that this statement wasn’t one that he wanted to be right, that it isn’t one that Dutcher believes is prophetic or necessary, relieved a good deal of my worry. From this statement, I draw the inference that Dutcher isn’t shopping for his excommunication, that he is striving to walk the line between real artistry and faithful membership in the Church. It’s not an easy one, but I don’t think it’s an impossible one. And it doesn’t seem that Dutcher does either.

I think Dutcher is one of the greatest artists within the History of the Church. It may sound hyperbolic, but I fully expect that time will verify the statement.

69 thoughts on “Richard Dutcher: Variations on a Theme”

  1. Thanks for the review (on States of Grace) and additional thoughts. I’m a fan of Dutcher and look forward to seeing this movie.

  2. “The first great Mormon writer will be excommunicated from the Church for his writing.”

    That has not been the case. The first great Mormon writer, Orson Scott Card, has had far more success than any other Mormon writer in history. He has done popular plays, novels, video games, and etc. Only 1/3 of his works are directly Mormon, but a significant non-Mormon audience have read and even enjoyed those few direct contributions. Perhaps that goes back to literature’s dislike of SciFi as a genre, but his books (especially “Enders Game”) are getting read in colleges. Now, there have been Mormons who have complained about some of the things he has written. Others, even myself, have complained he hasn’t written enough Mormon themed content. What he has done, at least literarily, is inspire Mormons to write where they otherwise would never have considered it. Hyperbole that it might end up sounding, I think he will be read long after Dutcher is mentioned as a footnote in independent film history.

    There are others that might be considered “great Mormon writers,” but I think that is very questionable. Brian Evanson is almost never read outside elite groups and Neil LaBute is well known, but not actually popular beyond an “Eastern U.S. and Hollywood” culture. They might be influencial, but they don’t have staying power of themselves.

    What the Mormon writing community needs is less elitists and self-important literary wanna-be’s. It needs writers like Orson Scott Card who tell it like it is, but not by trying to make a point what “it” happens to be. They should just enjoy writing a good story with people of flesh and blood; having passion, problems, and hope.

  3. I forgot to add a sentence. It should read:

    ” . . . Only 1/3 of his works are directly Mormon, but a significant non-Mormon audience have read and even enjoyed those few direct contributions. Yet, he continues to be ignored as a sideshow to Mormon literary history. Perhaps that goes back to literature’s dislike of SciFi as a genre, but his books (especially “Enders Game”) are getting read in colleges . . .”

    I really wish there was an edit button.

  4. I totally agree that Orson Scott Card is the first *great* Mormon artist. I believe that Eugene England has made the same point elsewhere. Some elitists may disagree otherwise, but that was a point I had actually thought to make, but forgot to include. I have probably at least 3/4 of Card’s books and hope to eventually read everything he has written– I’m a big fan. He’s somebody who has great courage and talent and he doesn’t let anyone intimidate him.
    So I believe that Max Golightly’s “prophecy” fell flat on its face.
    Card’s talnet and success (deserved success!) does not take away from Dutcher’s.

  5. And for at least some of us, he was the first intelligent and well-educated Mormon to whom we were exposed, and the understanding his books conveyed of what it means to be a Mormon was influential in our conversion to the church.

  6. I didn’t know this was out on DVD. I’ll have to call Bill to bring it home, we haven’t seen it yet. It can be our family home evening.

    Was Juanita Brooks excommunicated? I enjoyed her book. I love Orson Scott Card.

    I think it’s possible to write wonderfully without betraying the church. Not easy, but possible.

  7. Juanita Brooks was never excommunicated, unless it happened recently. Is she still alive? After her Mountain Meadows book, there was some question, but she came out with her membership in full standing intact.

  8. I don’t think anyone here is really understating what “Max Golightly” actually meant by a “great writer”. What in Max Golightly mind quantifies a great writer and in who’s eyes are making the qualification? Other church members? A small but vocal fan base? The rest of the secular world as a whole? Why would anyone honestly think that they were going to be a great writer and then interpret and take personally what Mr. Golightly said?

    And furthermore, I find that this statement: “…striving to walk the line between real artistry and faithful membership in the Church.” to be utterly problematic. Who is dictating what real artistry is? If you feel real artistry contradicts Church teaching then you are trying to walk though life with one foot in the church and the other foot worrying about what the world is doing?

  9. TGD,
    I think you have misinterpreted me.
    When I said, “”¦striving to walk the line between real artistry and faithful membership in the Church,” I do not mean in any sense that by the inherent nature of art or the inherent nature of the Church that this SHOULD be a problem. But it IS a problem for many LDS artists, because the artistic world, in general, has adopted so many of the norms of Babylon and to succeed in a larger market beyond the Jell-O belt, many artists are being asked to make compromises which ought not to be made.
    When things like, say, Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ go up and try to make a real religious statement, there is terrible opposition trying to deflate such a project’s success by finding other paper tigers (such as the movie’s alleged anti-semitism) to accuse so that the whole project can be derailed.
    I do not believe that the “line” I talked about should be there. I think true artistry and true religion should be utterly compatible. But let’s take a look– Kurt Bestor, Neil LaBute, Aaron Eckhart (sp?), Brian Evanson– we’ve lost so many fine artists once they become successful in their craft. There is some lure there that taints their view, that alienates them from the principles they once embraced. I don’t want to see us lose anymore of our most promising artists. But I also don’t want us to lose the crafts of the arts within the membership of the Church.
    Max Golightly is contradictory in his conclusions, because we could have no great LDS writers once they’re excommunicated. For once they’re excommunicated, they’re no longer LDS. They could be cultural Mormons, and I suppose we could claim them in that way, but what I want to see are artists who have fervent testimonies in not only its doctrines, but in the organization of the Church itself. I want fire in the bones, not embarassment to be associated with the Church.
    What makes a great artist? Well, depends on who you ask. You’re completely right there. I think mine and Max Golightly’s opinions would vary immensely. Right now I’m reading C.S. Lewis’ “Till We Have Faces” for the third or fourth time. To me that is a great piece of art, one of the most powerful novels I have ever had the pleasure of engaging in. I’m sure many secularists would disagree. But even more important than its fine craftmanship (which is vital) is the fact that its craftmanship becomes a vehicle for the Spirit of God.
    No man can serve two masters. That is completely true. We can not have dual citizenship in both Zion and Babylon. Yet what I still look forward to is when our artists can still be refined and engaging and challenging, while still being in total sync with the Spirit of God and loyal to the building up of the kingdom of God.

  10. Curious incident last night. I had a dream about Richard Dutcher. Perhaps I’m becoming a wee bit obsessed. 😉
    I was an extra on his movie, Evil Angel. We then talked about his wife’s artwork and had a discussion about the Church. He said within the dream, “No matter what happens, the Church is still true.” It was actually a rather spiritual moment of the dream.
    Okay, so I know that was a random footnote to this entry.

  11. Sounds rather Jungian–you encountered the “Great Self” as embodied in Richard Dutcher (whom you revere) thereby assuaging your fears that you would one day be excomunicated from the church as you secretly harbor the notion that you might very well be the church’s first great writer.

    Ha! How’s that for an off the cuff analysis? Pretty good, huh?



    (He’s in denial)

  12. That’s hilarious, Jack. [No offense, Mahonri — great post. I can’t really speak to it because I have yet to view any Mormon films (other than New York Doll)].

  13. Jack, I laughed at your psycoanlysis of me. Even more curioser and curioser because I’ve had a strong interested in Jung, Campbell, mythology, dreams and archetypes for the past year or so.

  14. I’ve only read one of Juanita Brooks books, it wasn’t fiction. Now that I think about it.

    Levi Peterson’s books were great, though. He’s still a member. He doesn’t seem to be happy about it, but I’m pretty sure he’s still a member.

    Seriously, I think it’s sad that this is a concern. I wonder once in awhile if my stake president will see what I post and call me in. He’d love an excuse to throw me out of the church.

  15. I remember watching an interview with Elder Holland on the arts wherein the issue of LDS artists and/or their work not being accepted as they would like by their fellow religionists was discussed. He reacted with an “I don’t get it” followed by something having to do with an image of the artist sullenly limping off into the wilderness. I thought it was pretty funny.

    All I can say is that if an artist is going to give up his/her membership so as to not compromise his/her art then they better damn well be the best there ever was–not that being “the best there ever was” will ever match the value of one single human soul. But until artists are that good–truely world-class–they’re just embarrasing themselves *as artists* when they throw everything on the altar in a fit of rebellious creative rage in an attempt to preserve their precious little golden calf.

  16. Amen, Jack.
    Sometimes I think certain artists (and lawyers, doctors, plumbers, etc. It’s a pretty human trait) like to be rebellious just to be rebllious. To show that they have power over their own destinies– invictus and all that.
    And in many ways we do have that power. And that’s why I’ll use what agency I have to tenaciously stick to the Church. I owe them so much, I think I can manage a little loyalty back. Others can follow their own consciences, wherever it leads them. It’s not for me to judge. But as for me, I love this Church too much to ever abandon it for any spacious, floating building that’s promising a roaring party. Or even if they promise adoring appreciators who will pay their artists handsomely to glut them with lust and blood and movement. They can tumble without me, as far I’m concerned.

  17. Mahonri,

    That dream really cracks me up.

    Of the many endlessly regurgitating and recycling debates in the bloggernacle on the question of art vs. faith, this is the my comment, certainly not last of all but presently most exasperated of all – until I get more exasperated – that it is a false dichotomy. Max Golightly is wrong. For art to be entertaining and intellectually rewarding or even challenging, artists don’t have to stray into condemnable paths. Now surely some do, but to my thinking there are other problems as well.

    I think a major problem is a Pharisaical spirit that get’s a grasp on too many mormons. The Devil gets us trapped in obsessing too much on rules, making a hedge around the law to guard against every possible wrong to the extent that we can no longer even simply judge right from wrong for ourselves, thus completely missing the spirit of the law – and, to the pleasure of devils, ultimately breaking the spirit of the law. Cases in point; a commenter at my blog and a fellow who perpetuated some of these rumors about Dutcher, which fellow unendingly emailed me wearying speculations about how and why the rumors could be true until I very ardently informed him that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Whatever. I called Dutcher’s PR guy. When we get to where the horse’s mouth isn’t good enough for us, we’re in a bad place.

    Yes, I am saying that this fellow is seized upon by the ghost of a Pharisee. You may say that this is very inappropriate of me to declare. Well, some of the rumor-milling is really innapropriate. If I go too far with this, like, anti-Satanic stuff, well, forgive me for saying the devil has got us, and let me say only that I think the hypervigilant rule-obsessed spirit – wherever it comes from – that comes over some Mormons is inappropriate. It is the foundation of division, contention, undue public condemnations of others, and an overall harsh, judgmental spirit.

    I loved this entry, Mahonri. I found it by looking at where my blog traffic comes from – several folks are dropping in there and here from there.

    By the way, I just noticed this very enlightening wikipedia entry. I find this amusing. WELL, where might some people have gotten ideas about nudie films? It gives me an idea. What if it’s a horror-comedy about devils slashing hyperzealous anti-porongraphy Mormons to pieces? Oh wait, that’s not a realistic premise. Devils love those kinds of Mormons. I know of a ward where the leaders were far too harsh and redundant in warning the young women against immorality – and then most of the young women went out and got pregnant long before and outside of marriage. To treat evil with so much shame and fear backfires and gives it more power; too much sterness is a form of control, which the D&C warns against, and youth tend to rebel against control. It would have been better for the leaders to sit down and say “So, any of you girls been wanting to sleep around with boys lately? It’s a lot of fun. Hell, I did it when I was your age. But I regretted it. And I recommend against it. And so does Jesus.”

    The good news is that Jesus consumed all our shame, which is why we can avoid evil and be freed from it.

    Also, there are a lot of Mormons that devils hate, and with good reason.

    I thought you had to step away from AML for time matters, Mahonri. May I consume and deter your wishes to save time here? }:]

    Hallo up there at the first comment, Dan. Perhaps I am properly frightening you. Boo! Happy Halloween.

  18. Yes, there is a problem with pharisaisim (however you spell the confounded thing) in the church–there always has been. What really irks me, though, is when artists cry “Pharisee!” at the slightest provocation. And what really, Really irks me is when the artist, like a good pharisee, thinks that anyone who disagrees with him (read: disaproves of his work) is bigoted, uneducated, ill informed, or down-right stupid. And what really, Really, REALLY irks me is when we see this kind of silly liberal hubris gushing forth from the most amazingly mediocre artists.

  19. That seems reasonable. It would be well to conclude that people might be irritated by an artist who thinks that people are bigoted, uneducated, ill-informed, or downright uneducated; it could be unpleasant for one to be presented with the possibility that one could have weak culture. Challenges are hard. Such a conjecture would assume, of course, that if an artist (of any percieved skill level) did not issue impersonal challenges to culture, one could speak on behalf of an artist’s thoughts and feelings toward any audience.

  20. Alex,

    Not sure that I understand the last part of your comment. However, I agree that criticizing a culture (generally) may be different than criticizing individuals–and certainly there is no culture that is not due for a bit of criticism now and again.

  21. I recently spoke with an on-set make up person who worked for a few weeks on Evil Angel then had to start on another project. She said that there was loads of sex and nudity and that Dutcher seemed to have gone off the deep end. She said he frequently drank alcohol on the set and would over embellish the sex and nudity scenes, going beyond what the actors thought they were getting in to. She said she was relieved to be done working the project and based on the amount of sex and graphic violence she saw being filmed figured it would be a “HARD R” rating. What a shame. Dude’s lost his marbles.

  22. Just to be clear — the above is hearsay and AMV neither endorses nor disavows such accounts.

    If anyone can clarify/confirm/deny/spin/whatever the above information, I would appreciate it.

    This is not a slam of scott. I’m just saying that I have no way to verify the info and so suspend judgement until such time as more information is forthcoming.

  23. I think someone here ought to defend Max Golightly’s assertion. To be honest, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the first great Mormon author excomunicated for his writing.

    Why? Great writing has frequently (if not always) been about criticism of the writer’s culture, among other things. And often that criticism get’s the writer in trouble. Isn’t Huckleberry Finn (often considered the greatest American novel) in part a criticism of slavery and other cultural ills?

    But in an LDS context, such criticism can be considered speaking ill of the Brethren or even preaching false doctrine — things that might lead to excommunication no matter how correct the criticism is.

    So, while I hope that Golightly’s prediction never happens, I won’t be surprised if it does. Who knows, I may even agree with such an excommunication, while still considering the work great literature. That doesn’t necessarily seem like a contradiction to me.

  24. Yes, Scott (or anyone else), please, is there another way you can verify the information. There has been so much said about Dutcher on every spectrum that it is hard to sift what is true and what is inaccurate and overbloated. I so want to think the best of Dutcher, but all of this information/ misinformation is making it difficult to see the many in any semblence of clear light.
    More than anything I really hope that he and his family (his wife Gwen is such a cool lady) find a way out of whatever slump they’re in. I don’t get angry about Dutcher like some seem to– just very sad. It’s all seeming very tragic at the moment.

  25. To reference back to the dream I had of Dutcher which I mentioned in comment #12– there was a part I purposely left off which has become strangely appropriate since this whole Richard Dutcher “Christianity Today” article came out amd the firestorm that followed on AML.
    In the dream, when I was finally able to talk to Ducther, he had a much darker countenance than I expected and he mentioned that he had not gone to Church for a while, also somehow indicating that he may be in flux with the Church. That is why his last comment in the dream, “No matter what happens, the Church is still true,” became significant to me, because the dream was making clear that no matter what happens to Dutcher (whether his road leads to success and spirituality or excommunication), that had no bearing on the truthfulness of the Gospel. Although I have some strong feelings about the dream, I am not claiming this to be some formal prophecy and it certainly has no bearing on any one else but me. Yet it was a great comfort to me when this issue was becoming sticky and having a strange kind of stress on me. I woke up feeling what I believe was the Spirit, and do believe that the Lord does communicate in such personal ways for our own personal betterment. I did feel like I ought to share the experience, however.

  26. Scott,

    You seem to think very little of thrashing someone’s reputation in a public forum. Frankly, I’m disgusted with this entire conversation. Someone from our production office stumbled upon this blog and shared it with me. I wish I’d never read it.

    I’m not a Mormon, but I have been working very closely with Mr. Dutcher during the production of EVIL ANGEL, and I have to step up and defend him because he’s a good man and because he’s one of the best directors I’ve ever worked with.

    When a man employs hundreds of people, as Mr. Dutcher is doing on EVIL ANGEL, it’s not hard to find somebody who’s willing to throw a nasty accusation at him. How many CEOs are popular with 100% of their employees? Not even Walt Disney managed that trick. But to accuse him of being immoral and irresponsible on his set…unbelievable.

    I’ve never worked with a director who is more loved by his actors. I have a hard time imaging him EVER forcing an actor or actress to do something they felt was immoral. As for drinking alcohol on the set: I’ve never seen that happen. A longstanding tradition in filmmaking is to celebrate the 100th roll of film with a champagne toast. I was with the crew when they reached the 100th roll, and the 200th, and the 300th. And, yes, Mr. Dutcher provided champagne for the crew. He also provided non-alcoholic champagne for those who don’t drink. Frankly, I never took notice of whether he drank the real or the fake champagne. (I drank the real stuff!) And I don’t really care.

    All I care about is that he’s a great filmmaker and a very decent man. In incredibly stressful situations I’ve never seen him lose his temper or treat anyone unkindly. I’ve seen him work three consecutive shifts, 36 hours straight (because the filming conditions demanded it) and still be the one keeping the crew positive and energetic at the end. I’ve seen him walk onto a confused set and figure out how to film a complex scene in just a few minutes. I’ve seen him treat the lowliest member of the crew with as much respect as he treats his stars. And I’ve seen him treat his wife with such affection and gentleness whenever she comes to visit the set.

    What nonsense this all is. Who cares whether the man drinks a beer or if there’s a flash of breast in one of his films? All I care about is that the films are good and (from a professional standpoint) that he’s a good man to work for. And Richard Dutcher passes that test.

    I don’t know where he stands in regards to the Mormon Church. Frankly, I think the Mormons should be very proud of him, they should be grateful for the movies he’s made about them, and they should leave him the hell alone and let him go on whatever journey he’s on.

    I have a hard time imagining that he’ll ever make any movie that will treat humanity with anything but respect and affection, because that seems to be the way he feels about humanity. However, there seems to be a good section of humanity, maybe all of them in the Mormon Church, that won’t return the favor and who will be very quick and harsh in their judgements if he ever does (or is even rumored to) make a mistake.

    Frankly, I think he should leave the Mormon Church. There’s a bigger world out there that needs men like him. He should leave the Mormons to their gossipy, backbiting blogs.

    And so should I.

  27. Heather, your comments are welcome here. I just wish you weren’t intent on fighting fire with fire. You decry judgementalism with a good deal more judgmentalism. While Scott was making perhaps a harsh judgment on an individual, you made some very harsh, stereotyped statements about a whole community (if you had said the same thing about the Muslims, Jews or African-Americans, you would have been labeled a racist. But there is a major double standard in the world which allows people to make just as radical and unfair of statements about Mormons and get away with it, when no other community would stand for it).
    Even if we have gone too far on our discussion of Dutcher, it does not justify attributing the comments made by individuals on this blog to the whole Mormon community. We do not pretend to represent the sentiments or thoughts of the Mormon community as a whole. Nor does one person’s opinion represent A Motley Vision.
    That said, I totally understand the knee jerk reaction. You have some very fond feelings for Richard Dutcher, which I think you would be surprised that many of us share, even when we disagree with him. Yet Dutcher is a public figure, and also a public figure who doesn’t go to great lengths to keep his thoughts and opinions private. I come from a very similar situation in my family. My father was mayor of my city (and is currently a city councilman) and he is a very vocal person in fighting for his beliefs. It’s a very admirable quality, one which many of his children inherited. However, it did set him up for public scrutiny. I have heard my father slandered publicly and privately, there were both positive and negative editorials and letters to the editor, we received taunting phone calls, there were signs put up criticizing him and I received some flack myself being his son (although I couldn’t have been prouder defending him). Yet my father’s response to all of this will always stick with me. He would say, “All news is good news,” meaning that no matter what criticisms he received, at least he was making a difference and people were noticing.
    Now as much as I love Dutcher’s movies and have seen him be a powerful, good man, he is not a martyr in my mind. He has said some very critical, even mean spiritied things about people, about institutions and about the Mormon community as a whole that were very hostile. He felt justified in doing so, I’m sure, just as many feel justified in feeling betrayed by someone they once so ardently defended and not being happy about it.
    So if he’s willing to be not only a public figure, but a critical public figure, then he ought to expect some criticism back, justified or unjustified. If you push someone, then expect to be pushed back. That’s the territory of a public figure, and those who handle with grace under fire are the ones who are able to continue on and make a difference. And I truly believe that Richard Dutcher has the capability and power to make a difference. He has already done so for many of us.
    The reason that some of us dwell so much on him, you must understand, is because we care about him and his work. He inspired us, to many of us he was to be the great, white hope in showing that a faithful Mormon filmmaker, who truly believes and lives his religion, could really make a difference in the wider world. With his recent comments in Christianity Today, I think its understandable that some of us are dissappointed that he seems not to be that particular figure. That’s fine. It’s his life, and he can take his own “journey.” Some of us are just disheartened that the day may come when we can’t call him our own anymore.

  28. Have you heard the Glenn Beck radio spots that are running? He call STATES OF GRACE “The best Mormon movie I’ve ever seen” and “I saw it and loved it. My family wept.”

    There’s not too many Mormons here in Illinois, but that ad has certainly caught the attention of all the Evangelical Christian listeners who are fans of Glenn Beck.

    I bought the movie because of an Evangelical listener who told me about 1)Glenn Beck being a Mormon, and 2)Glenn quoting all these critics hailing it as the best Christian cinema has to offer.

    So my neighbor (the Evangelical Christian) buys it, we watch it and we love it. He even thinks the movie has now converted me to “true grace.”

    I very much believe that STATES OF GRACE has the rare – and historic – potential to break down many of the long-standing barriers separating mainstream Christians from us. Mitt Romney’s impending presidential campaign has already started to focus national media attention on the LDS Church in ways and at levels not previously seen. I’ve seen the polls suggesting that a significant percentage of the Christian base would have issues with Romney’s religious affiliation, and that misconceptions are still rampant as to what the LDS Church believes and stands for.

    Can STATES OF GRACE become the landmark film that Kimball and others have talked about?

    It answers simple misconceptions (ie. polygamy, Mormons dancing and our take on grace) and presents a view of LDS life that has never before made it to the big screen.

    In short, does this film have the potential to actually shift and mold public opinion?

    I may not be as well-versed as all of you, but in my neck of the woods, STATES OF GRACE is a hit among many of my Evangelical friends. I’d love to hear your thoughts…

  29. Barry,
    It makes me very happy that States of Grace is making some headway among the Evangelicals. I would be ecstatic if many of those barriers were broken down. There has been some bad blood on both sides there, and it would be wonderful id Dutcher’s films were able to bridge that divide.
    And that’s one of the things that I was hoping with Dutcher, is that he would stick through the rough times he’s been through lately– that he would stick to the Church, that he would stick to the best denominator of his craft so that after his hard labors he may finally receive the fruits of his labors. I would hate for him to give up right when he’s making a difference.

  30. It would be particularly tragic if Dutcher abandons his commitment to Christian principles in general in his choice of movie themes. I do think it’s a big deal if he decides to flash a breast here and there. If he gets too adventurous he won’t even stand for the evangelicals any more. But that would certainly demonstrate what happens when people apostatize; they have a hard time hanging on to the spirituality they once had.

  31. Apostatize? Richard Dutcher is apostatizing because of a breast flash? (that may or may not be accurate gossip – which is what a lot of this is…)

    I’m the first one to admit that I’m nobody important in the church, but I thought the definition of apostatizing was anxiously engaged in arguing against, tearing down doctrine and leading astray the current members of the church.

    Am I wrong?

    I read the Christianity Today article (thank you for the link Mahonri) and for the life of me, I just couldn’t see any evidence of Mr. Dutcher’s “apostatizing.” I saw plenty of evidence of being “inactive,” but 3/4 of my branch is inactive. Most of those inactives drink, smoke, swear, enjoy rated-R movies, probably pornographic, many have been unfaithful, and not once has our branch president referred to them as “apostates.”

    I even belive that the author of the Christianity Today article went too far in saying that Mr. Dutcher has been shunned. Last time I looked, States of Grace is being sold in Deseret Book. No where in the beginning of the article does he quote Dutcher.

    Do we really want to go down this road of defining what an apostate is?

    I can be a little foul mouth when I’m upset – am I apostatizing?

  32. Barry,
    I think you’re right. Dutcher has not strayed into the definition of apostate and I hope for the life of me that he stays as far from it as possible. Inactive? Yeah, that’s probably a fair assessment.
    But I’m thinking of a quote from Joseph Smith: “There is no salvation in believing an evil report of one’s neighbor.”

  33. Barry, calm down. It’s amazing when people go into attack mode when they perceive an attack from someone else.

    My point was that spirituality declines after apostasy; that people’s commitments to many standards fade, even standards they thought were part of their innate being but were in fact largely the result of their enlightenment by the Holy Spirit.

    I read the post in Christianity Today, and I see some serious signs of apostasy there. What else can you call it when Dutcher says that the LDS church has no special claim on God or heaven (or words to that effect)? You can bend that statement to just mean that LDS people aren’t guaranteed salvation, but really it’s a refutation of the principle that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s one true and living church, the only one with which he is well pleased, etc.

    Dutcher started out saying he was not pleased with the church individually, now he’s saying he’s not pleased with it collectively. He drops in on whatever church is convenient, it’s all the same to him.

    That’s apostasy. There are lots of people who say apostate stuff and don’t get ex’d, because unlike some people think, the brethren don’t have a hair trigger about those things. Give Dutcher some time, he’ll either reverse direction or end up saying something even more definitive.

    Dutcher hasn’t picked a fight with the brethren, but he’s been dissing the membership of the church big time ever since they failed to throw him enough money for States of Grace. IMHO, when you start lambasting the membership as a bunch of fools and start setting yourself up as a great spiritual light, you’re at least on the low road to apostasy, if not the middle.

    That’s the danger of being an “artist.” We need artists and scholars and business tycoons, but all of them have a pitfall of pride they have to walk carefully around. (I personally wish people would just call themselves musicians, painters, sculptors, writers/novelists/ playwrights, etc., rather than calling themselves “artists” because it’s like a self declaration of superiority. Art is not simply anything produced by someone who calls himself an artist.)

    Mahonri, I’m with you on there not being salvation in believing an evil report, but if you look at my post I’m discussing general principles and basically saying “if, then.” It won’t be long before we’ll all know what kind of film Evil Angel is, though if it’s as bad as is rumored it will just be a signal for people to start hollering “judge not” and excusing excesses in the name of art.

    Barry, I think you can understand what I mean by “Christian principles.” Evil Angel doesn’t sound like a movie that will be mariketed to either the LDS or evangelical audience, or carry the claim that it reinforces a Christian theme (I could be wrong, but from what I’ve read about the movie even on Dutcher’s web site it sounds like more of a mainstream suspense or horror movie).

    And I don’t think it would be judgmental of me to say, I think Dutcher is losing his moorings. He’s deliberately making himself a public spectacle. If you don’t want me to have an opinion about your beliefs and actions, don’t do interviews that parade your beliefs and actions in front of the public.

  34. Brother McConkie,

    Where is the line of apostasy? Not going to church one Sunday? Only 75% home teaching? Stub my toe and yell out a s*!#? Disagree with my Bishop but follow his counsel anyway? Don’t follow it? Or do we draw it at filming a rated-R movie?

    By your “definition” we’re all apostates.

    Quit thinking that your not judgmental… you are. By your definition, you’re apostate.

  35. Barry,
    When you call some one judgemental you’re making a kind of judgement. We’re all judgmental. None of us can escape that label. The best we can do is, as Moroni says, strive to judge righteously. To recognize error, but to extend mercy to the individual. It’s a fine line which is difficult for the best of us.
    And in the strictest sense, your miscperception of of Preston’s views are actually right. We ARE all “apostates.” We all fall short of the glory of God. “Are we not all sinners?” We all need the Lord’s grace–
    However, I don’t think it’s fair to peg Preston for making some fair observations. It’s one thing not to be judgmental. It’s another thing not to recognize error. I think Preston is recognizing error. I do not, I DO NOT think that Dutcher is making particularly wise decisions. I’ve been debating with myself about him for years now, and for a long time the pro-Dutcher side of me was winning. However, as much as I admire the man and as much as I have loved his movies, I can’t in good conscience condone the direction he’s headed. As to his own personal salvation, that’s his own personal affair. I fully hope to see him in the Celestial Kingdom, no matter what roads he has to criss cross before he gets on the right one. However, I do not want, for the sake of being non-judgmental, to every get the point of calling evil good and good evil.
    On a related point, my wife had a Dutcher dream to match my own (what’s up with my little family and Dutcher dreams?!). My wife and I were at Testimony Meeting, and I had to bring out our baby Hyrum in the foyer. After I left, Dutcher got up to the podium. He was in tears– he said that he never lost his testimony and that all his friends had abandoned him. Anne was really hoping I was hearing this in the foyer when the dream ended.
    Although I do not claim this was visionary or anything (nor do I disclaim it. It’s not for me to judge either way), I was touched by my wife’s dream. As it is, I really hope that Dutcher sticks with the Church, I really hope these have been but hiccups in the line of his life. I will not condone his behavior, but nor will I condemn the man. He is in God’s hands, not mine, and God’s hands are very capable.

  36. Mahonri, I understand and respect that – to a point. But, do we have so little to do that we find ourselves bickering and gossiping over Richard Dutcher’s eternal salvation?

    Yes, we all have to be “judgmental” to a point, but to the point that we’re airing out Richard’s “assumed” dirty laundry?

    If he’s really struggling with what he believes or doesn’t believe, and comes to this blog and reads what we all have said about him, have we helped him in any way?

    The bandwagon is huge to tear him down – funny that the bandwagon is so small to lift him up…

  37. Barry, I wish you weren’t so predictable. When you can’t get people to stop making fair observations one way, you try another, and it’s the same tired approach I’ve observed for years. First you flare up with judgmental indignation over another’s judgmentalness; you throw out straw-man arguments about where the line to apostasy is crossed; now you’re saying everyone should just shut up because they’re not accomplishing anything and let’s just be nice to Richard.

    The truth is, Richard Dutcher made himself impossible to ignore. He told me once that President Kimball was the greatest influence in his decision to become a cinematographer. Now he is going on national forums to state that that influence no longer exists. It’s very convenient for self-proclaimed artists to seek public attention when they want to sell their works or stand on a soapbox, and ridiculous to cry foul when that attention yields something besides money and applause.

    I reread Pres. Kimball’s 1977 message on the arts last night, and it repeatedly emphasizes the need for inspired artists who are morally clean, spiritually inspired — and, yes, “active” in the church. Pres. Kimball wrote repeatedly of what could be accomplished by artists with the abilities of a Michelangelo or a Wagner who weren’t “perverted,” “eccentric” or — and this one is for you too, Barry — “intolerant.”

    And as for the notion that all this storm in a teacup is hearsay, when I talked about flashing breasts, I was quoting Richard’s defender who claims to be among his entourage.

    Barry, what makes it so much better for you to cut me down and call me names than for me to make comments about Richard Dutcher? You complain about the “bandwagon … to tear him down,” but I don’t see you trying to uplift us poor sinners who’ve gone astray by expressing our doubts about Mr. Dutcher’s recent conduct.

    I and Mahonri have both expressed our hopes that Dutcher can turn things around. But Barry, from you I just don’t feel the love. So feel my love, brother. (Hug!)

  38. Barry,
    I thought we were discussing, not bickering or gossiping– a discussion you have included yourself in.
    As Preston pointed out, for the most part we have been discussing things that Dutcher has made public through interviews, websites, forums, speeches, etc. Once he does that, it’s MEANT to generate discussion. That’s really the point of such media. If he wanted to keep all of that private, why go to a magazine and tell it all? Nobody is airing Dutcher’s laundry (dirty or not), but himself. I think Dutcher likes the limelight. There’s nothing wrong with that, but surely he knows (and counts on) it generating discussion.
    And Dutcher himself certainly doesn’t hold to the philosophy of shutting his mouth concerning others, either. His very acidic comments towards Halestorm and other LDS film makers (in very public settings) are legendary. His now very public comments towards the Mormon community as a whole have been published by a magazine which is perceived as being hostile to that community. And I personally sat in on a group discussion with Dutcher and others at the Mormon Artists Retreat where he was very hostile towards some comments Elder Ballard had made to that forum of artists. Elder Ballard had given a talk to the Mormon Artists Retreat a number of years ago, and they had replayed some of it last year. In it Elder Ballard was encouraging, but had warned LDS Artists not to think that an artist’s occupation was any higher better than, say, a plumber or a carpenter (or something to that effect). Ducther was very hostile to that idea, and pretty much indicated that we DID have better occupations and that Elder Ballard was “wrong.” Well, if Dutcher can have a differing opinion than Elder Ballard in a public setting and not feel bad about it, then I can have a differing opinion than Dutcher in a public setting and not feel bad about it. And I doubt that Dutcher feels that anybody else should be constrained from speaking their mind, just as he doesn’t. Even when I think he’s wrong (like in the case of Elder Ballard or his Christianity Today article), I think it’s actually a courageous trait which I aim to follow. For, as the old maxim says, silence is consent, and being a very public writer, I’m anything but silent.
    And as to why we dwell on the topic of Dutcher– its because we think he’s important. We think that what he says and does have impact, for the good and for the bad. He has made three splendid movies which I thoroughly enjoy and am uplifted by. He started a movement, whether it dies or not, that yielded some very good fruit. He personally effected my life, and thus I feel personally involved in the PUBLIC statements he makes (and, yes, I will discuss and even speculate what he means by those statements, which ought to be expected in public statements, thus the Clintonian awareness of public words). To me, he matters. His membership and activity in the Church matters. He made a deep mark upon me regarding that Church. It’s like in God’s Army when Elder Dalton confronts the “apostate” missionary and tells him something to the effect of, “I know you have a testimony. I have heard you say it.” And I’m on the edge of my seat to know whether or not Dutcher will have the same response as the apostate elder: “I lied.”
    For his sake and our sake, I hope that is not the response. There are signs that it may be headed in that direction, but that could be smoke in the wind and perhaps it will be like my wife’s dream: “I never lost my testimony.”

  39. I wonder if this blog would classify itself under the National Enquirer or Relief Society…

  40. Barry-
    I, for one, know nothing about Richard Dutcher. However, I just read through this blog, from start to finish, and I noticed a pattern. You always seem to come back and say angry things calculated to attack others. You are not attempting to have a rational discussion. If you disagree with what is being said here so fervently, why bother reading it? The internet is a wide place, and I am sure you can find something in it which will not offend you. Why do you continue to focus on this in such a contentious way?

  41. Barry,
    You are welcome to your opinion. We, like Dutcher, are displaying our opinions in a public medium, thus put ourselves under your scrutiny and the scutiny of others. Just remember that you’re exercising the same right in commenting on us as we are on Dutcher. It’s the price of being in the public eye, and we will just have to live with the consequences, won’t we?

  42. Barry,
    I’m rather sad that this conversation turned into a conflict. If you remember the original post, it was to promote Dutcher’s films, not the other way around. And I still stand by those movies. I think they are excellent story telling coming from the founder of Mormon Cinema. I do have concerns about some of the choices Dutcher is making, but frankly he needs neither my approval nor any other earthly person’s. I have briefly met him on a few occassions and I think he and his wife are delightful people. Dutcher certainly comes off as– passionate, but that is why he has been able to do what he has done against so many obstacles. That passion has driven him when many men would have given up long ago.
    My opinions, especially in the “comments” section, of course, are my own. They do not reflect the official stance of A Motley Vision, neither does anybody else’s comments on the site, whether they are an official contributer or not. We are all personally responsible for what we write.
    Most of what I have written has chiefly been in concern for him. Admittedly, it is flavored a little bit with how his prominent visibility may help or hinder the Church and artists within the Church, but for the most I just really want him to be okay. I not only cared about him as a filmmaker who made movies I wanted to see, but from what I could glean about his life and opinions from newspaper articles, interviews, presentations, and personal observations, I really do care about what happens to the man. His personal welfare, to me, is more important than any film movement. That’s why it comes up so much with me, is because I really do care about it, and the current situation frustrates me.
    From my personal worldview, I see the Church as a good thing, an essential thing in my life, and thus it makes me sad to see Richard Dutcher distance himself from it. I miss the days when I heard him speak and he was passionate about the Church, about Mormon Cinema, about Pres. Kimball’s talk, about his mission as a filmmaker. I want him to have that old light, that old fire, for it seemed to make him really happy, he seemed to glow! I want him to say, as of old, “Let’s do some good.”
    The last couple of times I have seen him, he hasn’t seemed very happy. He has seemed angry, disappointed– sad. Who can blame him? But that’s not the place I don’t think any of us want him to remain. There’s enough anger, enough vengeance, enough disappointment in the world. For him, who I held (and still hold) in such high regard, I wanted something more. He may not believe anymore that such fulfilment can be found in the Church (or maybe he does– his comments kind of leave us lingering on those kind of questions), but I still do, so from my worldview its natural for me to want him to stick with the Chuch as a body. I don’t want him to give up on Mormon Cinema or on the LDS Church.
    Of course we have our cultural quirks. Of course we have our flaws. Anybody who isn’t willfully ignoring them can see that. But so does every culture. I hope he can see past those, forgive us of our flaws, and be proud to associate himself with us again. For I truly do believe this is the Lord’s Church and that Joseph Smith was exactly what he said he was. And I have an inkling Richard Dutcher still believes that as well. If he doesn’t, then blessings still be upon him. If he does, I will rejoice all the more.

  43. “It’s the price of being in the public eye”

    Ahhh, the intellectual justification I knew was coming. Although, I was hoping for:

    “Because enquiring minds want to know…”

    Richard, if you ever do read this (and I hope you have better things to do,) I say:

    Those who can — do. Those who can’t — blog.

  44. Barry,
    For one who is defensive to what he perceives as attacks on Dutcher (which I still don’t perceive them to be), you’re very willing to dish out attacks on us (even to the point of straining your eyes at gnats by criticizing my attempt at being thorough. If brevity is the soul of wit, then Shakespeare or George B. Shaw weren’t very witty. As for me, I don’t like the modern sensibilities towards language, thus tend to be a little long winded).
    I’m sorry we’ve got you so worked up, Barry. I’m sorry that you seem to perceive us the way you do. I don’t like knowing you’re out there stewing about our little blog. I mean to uplift, not divide.
    As to “those who can– do. Those who can’t– blog,” perhaps you’re right. But I’ve written close to ten full length plays, three of which have been produced (with another two or three in talks), and a number of them have won local, regional and national awards. That may not seem like a big whoop-de-doo to you, but to this 26 year old striving to finish school; working to support his wife and seven month year old child waiting tables; and juggle his writing and theater work, it’s the best I can do.
    As it is, the comments on this entry have gone far astray from the field I had intended the original entry, so I won’t be commenting on this particular article anymore. It was never meant to be a battle field for people to take pot shots at me, or me at Dutcher, etc. It was meant to encourage people to buy Ducther’s excellent DVDs, which I still encouage. Buy States of Grace and God’s Army: Special Edition! They’re worth your time and money!

  45. And I’ve never been bored by any of Mahonri’s posts. Length is relative; it’s only too long if the content isn’t interesting.

  46. Here’s some fuel for Barry–a mildly edited version of a comment I posted at BCC yesterday:

    I’m sorry to hear that Dutcher has drifted away from the church. My guess is that this is not solely due to his disappointment with mormon cinema and its audience”“I don’t believe him to be that petty. (though I’m certain that such disappointments may amount to more than the “last straw”) Many in this forum (including myself) have had such doubts about the mormon faith and have found (or are finding, as in my case) a more healthy way of approaching it.

    By way of criticism–and I hope it doesn’t come a cross too harshly–Dutcher’s work is primarily reactionary. It stems more from a defiance of the more superficial elements of mormonism rather than from a well founded personal theology. His work seems to thrive more on how it takes apart the culture rather than on how it expresses deep religious experience”“though, no doubt, some of that expression is found in his work. And, no doubt, the culture is due for that kind of “taking apart” now and again.

    But, too often he attempts to convey religious experience by forcing the juxtaposition of incongruent elements that ought to find their way into conflict by means of a more inevitable avenue. The conflict becomes more situational than character driven because of his tendency to manipulate the context so as to channel the characters in order to insure a particular thematic outcome. This has a tendency to force the irony thereby rendering the characters irrational and therefore unbelievable–i.e., we don’t believe them. And to the degree that we fail to believe them we fail to derive meaningful metaphor from their experience.

    That said, Dutcher’s work is sprinkled with powerful moments here an there but lacks an over all power that comes of well designed characters which live beyond the premise of the story”“as interesting as that premise may be (though such “spikes” of inspiration in Dutcher’s work are a clearly result of his raw ingenuity–there’s no question that the guy is really smart).

    It’s my hope that Dutcher will continue to refine his gifts and that he will not stray too far from the religious touch stones which have been the primary source of his inspiration in filmaking. Despite the weaknesses (as I see them) in his work which I have mentioned above, I must say that I prefere his offerings far and away above the silliness of other so called mormon filmakers. Dutcher has attempted to convey something truely meaningful in his work and has (imo) succeeded in some measure”“though I believe he can do better if he will remember his initial intent for creating films and found his work more squarely on literature rather than technology.

  47. Ahhh, my work is finished here. The Dutcher bashing has ended…

    …until Mahonri and Preston find another blog.

  48. Mr. Stewart,
    One can be a spiritual being and still create art that contradicts Mormon ideaology. This doesn’t mean that the artist is abandoning the church or “apostasizing”. Spiritual truth is honest in fiction. Juliet commits suicide for a specific dramatic reason. Is Will being amoral?

  49. Ah, I thought this thread was dead. *Sigh*
    Well, out of courtesy to you, EJ, I will answer your very fair question, but just know I don’t particularly want to indulge this subject for too long. It caused bitter feelings among some parties last time:
    Of course one can be a spiritual being and still create art that contradicts Mormon theology. There are many writers and artists that I respect who have rather harsh feelings about Mormons. For example, C.S. Lewis didn’t seem to have particularly positive views towards Mormons. In “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” he presents Eustace’s family as Mormons (which is implied by a brief mention of their strange undergarments and anti-tobacco/anti-alcohol habits). He doesn’t necessarily paint them in the most flattering light. However, you’ll find it hard pressed to find an author that I admire more than C.S. Lewis, Mormon or otherwise.
    And as to Richard Dutcher, I admire his work a great deal. All three of his movies had a deep impact upon me. I have very few issues with his actual narratives (again, see my actual reviews in the article that started this thread. I still stand by it). As in your example, I find no fault with Shakespeare depicting his characters doing questionable things. Brigham Young himself said we ought not to be afraid to represent sin on stage or in the arts, as long as sin’s consequences follow in due course. My own plays follow this tradition. You will never hear me call out for sugar coated Mormon art.
    I have never called Richard Dutcher “apostate,” (you may be referring to Preston McConkies’s comments), except in the sense that I said that we are all apostates, in the sense that we all fall short of the glory of God. We all need the grace of Christ (which is a major theme in Dutcher’s work).
    To the more strict meaning of apostate, I do not believe Dutcher is one. I may disagree with some of the positions he took in the recent past, but I admire the man and I admire his work.

  50. “Spiritual truth is honest in fiction. Juliet commits suicide for a specific dramatic reason.”

    Yes, but this doesn’t mean that Shakespeare condoned suicide. So as an example of something that “contradicts Mormon ideology” (or any ideology) it misses the mark because Juliet’s suicide is tragic–something that runs a foul of Shakespeare’s personal ideology in a limited dramatic sense while supporting it in a general sense.

  51. Jack,
    Look again. Shakespeare offers Juliet no other option. He writes that it is the only “right” thing to do. Not only does he condone teen suicide as a means to eternal life together, he offers it as the only solution.

  52. Not sure I agree, EJ. Shakespeare gives life to his characters–at least the most important ones–in such a way that all sides of the dramatic debate are given full say. IMO, if we get a sense that Juliet’s suicide is the only acceptable thing for her to do, it is because the difficult context in which her (and Romeo’s) story takes place has given her no better moral alternative (in her mind). But it is still tragic–something that would not have come about were it not for the fighting between they’re families.

  53. Jack,
    It is under these “tragic” circumstances where morality evolves. The dramatic debate is unequal. Both protagonists are compelled (fated) for suicide and marriage in afterlife. It is because of their sin the community improves.

    To the initial point of discussion: we should not see Dutcher as apostate or transgressor because of his dramatic honesty.

  54. About Dutcher, specifically, I mean. I have found nothing in his narratives thus far that can be construed in any sense “apostate.”

  55. EJ,

    You say, “it is because of their sin the community improves.” I agree. But acknowledging their actions as sin implies that we intuit such actions as contra an over-arching ideology. In otherwords, we still feel it is wrong–however inevitable and however naively justified by the characters.

    Re: “Dramatic debate,” I’m talking about Shakespeare’s charity toward his characters. With rare exception, he gives the audience ample opportunity to empathize with all his major characters. And so, we are rarely at a loss in hearing all sides of the dramatic debate.

    When you speak of the dramatic debate being unbalanced, it seems that you are implying the protagonist[s]’s ill-fated narrative–that is, the cards are stacked against them. If so, I agree.

  56. There was a discussion on this at the OSC site, and Card felt that Samuel W. Taylor was as good an argument for first great Mormon writer as himself.

    I’m kind of afraid to watch states of Grace, because my husband and my Mom thought it was the best movie of last year, and possibly ever. But I guess we’ll see.

  57. Gentlemen,

    I find this discussion incredibly insightful and provocative. Keep up the dialoge and I hope you don’t mind a few of us peeking in. I’m always a little curious about the moniker “inactive.” What exactly does it mean and what are the repercussions of those of us who are forced to wear this scarlett letter?
    Keep musing….

  58. I just read that dutcher is screennig another “mormon movie” at the sunstone symposium.

    I thought he said he was done with mormons? did he come back?

  59. This is probably Dutcher’s film “Falling”– I heard one of the characters was supposed to be a disaffected Mormon (don’t quote me, I may be wrong on that!). He filmed this at the same time he filmed God’s Army.

  60. Correction on my last comment– I meant to say he filmed it when he was making States of Grace. Mucho apologies.

  61. “I’m always a little curious about the moniker ‘inactive’.”

    I’m sure we meant “less active.” What does it mean? I guess I’d say it’s someone who doesn’t have a desire to gather with the saints often. I’m a bit of a solitary person, so I can relate on that basis. There has been a time or two that my association with the saints has been a grudging offering, and yet I have cried (in loneliness, as it happened) when I have to move from congregation to congregation.

    There are other reasons someone might not want to be active, being offended is believed to be a fairly common cause. After my first child died and before I had others, it was very hard to be in church in a way that I imagine single and divorced people feel, with the focus on family and all that.

    I don’t know what the answer is (to the question I don’t want to ask in print.) The church is a tree that needs constant pruning, digging, dunging, and grafts.

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