Dissension in the Ranks

or, Opening a Critical Discourse in Mormon Visual Arts

As a fan of LDS author Orson Scott Card, I have long frequented his website and discussion forum, a place which has shaped my ideas of civil discourse. It was at Hatrack River that I learned the meaning of words like ad hominem and strawman and acquired an uncanny radar for the oft-confused correlation and causation. For a long time, my exposure to online discourse was rather exclusive to Hatrack, and it wasn’t until my final years of college that I began to venture into new venues, among which I discovered Card’s other forum, Nauvoo: a Community for Latter-day Saints.

The folks at Nauvoo are friendly, open to newcomers, and fond of online emotion. It was easy for me to open up and join whole-heartedly in their discussions.I was a bit taken aback, however, to the response one day when I replied to a discussion on recent LDS cinema. I had posted my review of the new rendition of Pride and Prejudice, which I had enjoyed upon initial viewing, but upon reflection was troubled with its insular depiction of a very narrow subsection of beautiful, wealthy Provo people as indicative of the Mormon population. The reply to my critique was a sardonic one-lined, “well gee – why don’t you tell us how you really feel?”

Being an art school graduate, I was stunned at such an emotional response to what I had tried to phrase as an objective artistic critique. The forum being Nauvoo, I bit my metaphorical tongue and offered a sincere, heartfelt apology, buffered with some animated smiling emoticons.

Since that initial encounter, I have become very sensitive to, while at the same time disappointed by, a perceived tendency among the LDS public to eschew any sort of criticism as “fault finding” and an unfamiliarity with the sort of (dare I use the now-trite expression?) constructive criticism that is essential to progress in the arts.

Admitting that said essentiality is as much a product of academic culture as anything, I can attest from personal experience to its motivating and perfecting power. My graphic design professor, a particularly savvy agnostic of a U of U alum Jeffrey Conger, often explained to his classes full of budding egotistical sophomore design students the difference between defensiveness and acceptance of critical discourse. “Are you going to let it make you mad?” he posed, “Or are you going to let it make you better? Take that anger, that first response to explain away your too-large font or imperfect composition, and turn it into the desire to perfect your work.”Are we, as Latter-day Saint artists and disciples, any less obligated professionally than we are personally to be “perfect, even as [our] father in heaven is perfect”?

Contemporary LDS artistic style at once inspires and disappoints me; I think we are doing well. I think we can do better. I think it is largely the public’s reluctance to open that floodgate of civil discourse that prevents progress in many of our artistic arenas.

While flippant remarks about my personal tastes have backed many a friend or mission companion up to the wall of defensiveness, (a proclivity which I have had to learn to check) occasional experiences convince me that the undercurrents of productive artistic motivation are alive and well in the general LDS and academic populations. Once in the MTC I counseled a sister whose district had broken into contention after one of the elders expressed disappointment that in so much official church art the prophets and angels are so “built.” The Arnold Friberg Moroni, contended this elder, was a bodybuilder, not a man who had wandered and been hunted at the brink of starvation for decades. The sister I was discussing this with was distraught that such an observation could “shake his testimony.” I pointed out to her that there is nothing disobedient about artistic taste and that the Pharisees would have been chastized in the New Testament for arguing over such a matter.

Which brings us to the real crux of the issue: the spirit of contention. Anything that makes a mock of my brother is not inspiration. Anything that prevents me from being an instrument of the Lord’s peace is not inspired art nor inspired criticism.

So how can we improve?

We can foster an atmosphere of congeniality in which friends and brothers in the gospel are allowed to disagree. To achieve this, I’d like to propose three rules for critical discourse in the arts. At very least, they will serve as an appropriate fetter for me.

Rule 1: “Whenever your politics cause you to speak unkindly of your brethren, know this, that you are upon dangerous ground.” (George Albert Smith, Conference Report, Apr. 1914, 12.)

Art criticism is politics, in every sense of the word that matters. The critic and the critic’s critic, be they Latter-day Saints, should not stoop to low name-calling, stereotyping, and mockery. The words tripe, drivel, and crap are hereby banned from my artistic commentary. I encourage you to take similar measures.

Rule 2: One may not, under any circumstance, play the Spirit as a trump card.

This is not to say that personal spiritual experience and confirmation are not important parts of producing and viewing art. They are vital to the pursuit of artistic perfection. However, one must acknowledge the limits of one’s stewardship and also the fact that the Spirit speaks to different people in different ways. The spirit is never inherently present in any work of art. Defending your personal tastes with “well, it brings the spirit into my home” is implying, albeit obliquely, a spiritual deficit in another viewer who does not share your response.

Rule 3: Seek to build up, to enlighten, to encourage. Critiques are an essential part of encouraging growth; always treat them as a growing experience. Build up the positive; encourage and suggest ways to improve. Remember that every artist in Zion, as prodigal as you may think his efforts, is your brother.

As benevolent as this may sound, I bring it up because I see some serious deficits in current trends of Latter-day Saint visual art. There are aesthetic trends that are damaging credibility and communicability. There are incredibly disturbing practices in the marketing of fine art that I would like to see abandoned. There are avenues for improvement, and there are amazingly prescient techniques being explored by some rogue artists that I would like to see nurtured and pursued. Overall, I see a great potential for the visual arts to fill the measure of their creation.

If we have the guts to talk about it.

 

 

 

30 thoughts on “Dissension in the Ranks”

  1. Hear, hear, Anneke. I think this extends not only within the ranks of Mormonism, but also with our relationships outside – that is, I think we’re far too ready to pull the ‘anti-Mormon’ card, strenuously assert how wonderful we believe our own charming cultural practice/nugget of theology/Arnold Freiburg painting to be, and dismiss legitimate disagreement as the result of hostility or lack of enlightenment. This is one great barrier, I think, to genuine professional dialogue with those of other traditions.

  2. I don’t know what happened to my other post. Something about conformity and uniformity. Sometimes I think the spirit keeps me from being able to post things I shouldn’t.

  3. Great post, Anneke.

    “a perceived tendency among the LDS public to eschew any sort of criticism as “fault finding”

    I think this hits the problem exactly. And I’m not sure what the solution is besides a hope for improved artistic maturity. I suppose it will come with time.

    (by the way, note that Pride and Prejudice itself is also very narrow subsection of beautiful, wealthy people of Longbourn.)

  4. Interesting post. I’m not sure where you want to go with the discussion and I may be off the mark here but after I read the post, I ran across and article about Neal LaBute in the Jewish Journal . I would suggest that the whole article should be read but I have included part of it here to see if it applies to the subject of this discussion. Part of the article follows:

    The tension between LaBute’s work and his faith also played out in his personal life. In the late 1990s, his wife phoned him on the first day of his “Neighbors” shoot, to beg him to cancel the production. LaBute has been reported to have said that his work created great stress in his marriage, but he was not about to let anyone dictate what he should write. (LaBute said he is still married, but declined to say anything further.)

    Mormon officials mostly left him alone until his 1999 trio of playlets, “bash” (later a 2001 Showtime production), depicted clearly Mormon characters hurting babies and homosexuals. LaBute was summoned before a 15-person tribunal and interrogated.

    “It was upsetting because I felt misunderstood and misread,” he says. “I understand that Mormons have a defined sense of what art should be and the kind of art that Mormons should be making. It should be uplifting, even if there is a darkness to it. I agreed that one can write dark things that still show a moral side, and I said that’s what I think I do.”

    LaBute said he had intended “bash” to show how even devout people can commit atrocities; he made the characters Mormon “because I was too lazy to research other religions.” He agreed to refrain from writing about Mormons ever again.

    Nevertheless, LaBute was disfellowshipped, which he describes as “a kind of limbo where you can work back into the good standing of the church or toward excommunication. In my case, the issue raised enough questions and made me angry enough that I did nothing about it for a while.”

    The author decided to withdraw his church membership around 2005, when he was informed that his excommunication was imminent. “It was like quitting before you get fired,” he says. “But I realized that it was actually better for my kids to have a father who wasn’t a member of the church than what they considered a bad member.”

    The decision was also best for LaBute: “When I finally focused on the fact that I was making R-rated movies, and Mormons aren’t supposed to attend them, I had to say ‘I’m hustling here, I have to choose one or the other,'” he recalls. “You go along, and you hope nobody busts you on it, but then you bust yourself. It wasn’t really a brave choice, it was just a choice, and in the end it was relatively selfish — I was just doing what I wanted to do.”

    I haven’t seen all of LaBute’s work and some of it is edgy and uncomfortable but I have to ask when does an artist cross the line from faithful member to apostate? Do rules and policies exist in the Church to govern artistic and intellectual expression or are these just decisions made at the local level? Are we being held back to a certain extent in expressing our ideas in order to protect our membership in the Church? Is it self exile when an artist become inactive or are they being pushed in that direction? As a working artist I only became active again in 2001 after being gone for 35 years, I don’t know the answers.

    On a lighter note, I thought that “Pride and Prejudice” was a fun well done romantic comedy. I had no expectations of it being of a serious nature. The girls were pretty and the guys goofy, kinda like a lot of Mormon wards I know.

  5. Here’s some grist. I once asked Wallace Stegner why the American West had not produced any truly great artists? His reply was, “I believe the wide horizon of the West, tends to make westerners, more optimistic.”

    Implication being, optimism and great art are incapatable. Based on the what the little I know about great artist, (decided in large, by gay critics), that pessimism is the trait most shared.

    Perhaps Mormon optimism has more to do about the failure of critics, to get all greedy and hysterical about Mormon art.

  6. Gay critics and Mormon optimism? All greedy and hysterical about Mormon art? You got there, I don’t have a clue what your taking about. By the way please define Mormon art.

  7. Good post, Anneke. And welcome to AMV!

    “The forum being Nauvoo, I bit my metaphorical tongue and offered a sincere, heartfelt apology, buffered with some animated smiling emoticons.”

    I’m curious. Why did you apologize rather than defend your point?

    You said: “Admitting that said essentiality is as much a product of academic culture as anything, I can attest from personal experience to its motivating and perfecting power.” And “’Are we, as Latter-day Saint artists and disciples, any less obligated professionally than we are personally to be “perfect, even as [our] father in heaven is perfect”?’

    Your idea of how perfection plays in the arts fascinates me. Could you explain more? I would guess you’re not just talking about perfection of technique, theme,and so forth, but also, somehow, about art’s effects upon its viewers — about achieving perfection in effect? (I mean, since we’re supposed to become of one heart, it would seem that art should contribute toward that process.)

    “There are aesthetic trends that are damaging credibility and communicability. There are incredibly disturbing practices in the marketing of fine art that I would like to see abandoned. There are avenues for improvement, and there are amazingly prescient techniques being explored by some rogue artists that I would like to see nurtured and pursued.”

    I hope that you talk about these matters in greater detail sometime.

  8. “I hope that you talk about these matters in greater detail sometime.”

    I intend to. 🙂 I’m working on a two-part discussion on my objections to the “Simon Dewey Style” (apologies in advance to Simon Dewey. It’s not my intention to slander – he just happens to define the style), the first post of which will be an aesthetic discussion, the second of which will focus on the marketing and business aspect. I still need a bit of research before I can fully treat the latter, however.

    In response to Larry’s comment (thank you, by the way!): I wasn’t familiar with Neil LaBute until reading these recent AMV posts on him; I am not the most qualified to speak specifically to his circumstance. However; in principle, I am not supportive of Mormonism as an ethnicity. That is to say; I define Mormon Art as art produced by Latter-day Saints. I define a Latter-day Saint as one who is a member in good standing and supports the ordained leaders of the church. I respect priesthood authority enough, even at the local level, to defer to decisions of stake disciplinary councils and the like. I think hostility and enmity towards church leadership is a flashing red light; an artist crosses the line between “faithful member and apostate” when these sorts of disputes arise. It’s such a fine line, isn’t it? I always tend to fall back on the words of Elder Eyring when he spoke to the Tokyo North and South missions in February 2006: “This isn’t to say that you can’t disagree with your leaders. But a disagreement should not be in the spirit of contention.”

    Back to Patricia’s comment:

    “I would guess you’re not just talking about perfection of technique, theme, and so forth, but also, somehow, about art’s effects upon its viewers ““ about achieveing perfection in effect?”

    Exactly. I believe that there is a Celestial art. I have to believe this because I don’t believe that art was merely meant to be a temporal thing. I imagine that the creation of our world was a work of Celestial art. I don’t think this means there is not diversity and a plurality of style; but I do think we can work towards art that is free of all earthly stain and imperfection. I imagine that Celestial art is not only beautiful but is able to communicate universally ““ something that modernist artist have tried to do for centuries. As artists, I think the atonement helps us perfect our art. And if we’re bold enough to claim that what we do is a valuable vocation and a worthy life’s pursuit, then it must be also a valuable eternal pursuit.

  9. The reception of your criticism at Nauvoo reminds me of the Zen conundrum:

    A newly ordained monk is brought to a wall in the monastery that has two doors in it. He is told that through the door on the right, he will find all the wealth he will need to provide him with both the accomodations and the free time he will need to devote the rest of his life to meditation and exploring greater understanding. Through the door on the left, he will meet someone who will tell him, with perfect precision, exactly what he is doing and thinking wrongly.

    He can only choose one door.

  10. I’m still chewing on a lot of the comments here as well as the post and this is so not fair because it’s completely underdeveloped, but….

    After reading several of LaBute’s plays (including bash), I was left with this question:

    What do you do when the art you (apparently) are driven to create is ready-made to appeal to and titillate (and in spite of itself confirm) the prejudices and fashions of the American (generally Eastern) cultural elite?

    And I’m being completely genuine in this. I think LaBute had (still has?) pure intentions (or at least as pure as anyone can have). I believe him when he says choosing the use of Mormons was simply laziness.

    I think that this is sort of what huck is saying although I’m not sure why the emphasis on gay critics.

    Larry asks some excellent questions about apostate-ness and self-exile. I have no answers, but I think one thing that often gets missed in blog discussions, AML List discussions and, generally, in the whole world of Mormon cultural criticism is specific examples — not only formalist readings of the artists works, but their reception, marketing, reader-response, critical response, etc.

    Anybody want to give me a couple of hundred grand to explore these issues for a few years? ::big grin::

  11. Good questions, William. I think what makes it un-resolvable is the fact that it’s so personal. We don’t know what was discussed in LaBute’s disciplinary councils. We don’t know whether it was his motivations that were mistaken or whether there were separate issues. And we don’t need to know. Which makes me repent slightly of my previous sentiment, but —

    I just can’t get over the concept that there’s got to be artists who are capable of producing compelling art without making it objectionable to priesthood authorities. I refuse to believe that you’ve got to be “edgy” to be a marketable success, but…

  12. “I just can’t get over the concept that there’s got to be artists who are capable of producing compelling art without making it objectionable to priesthood authorities.”

    Don’t hold your breath.

    “I refuse to believe that you’ve got to be “edgy” to be a marketable success, but”¦”

    I refuse to believe that the definition of edgy art is that priesthood authorities, wherever they may by, find it objectionable. Perhaps this is THE problem. As long as priesthood authorities are art critics, Mormon art is in trouble.

  13. I understand what both Anneke and Aaron are saying — I also thing that it demonstrates the problems with divorcing the phenomenon of art from the actual works and the actual circumstances in which works are created and consumed. One of the strengths and weaknesses of LDS church administration is that it is often private, sometimes inconsistent and always leaves open the possibility of change.

    I don’t know whether LaBute was disfellowshipped for bash or for other things — I don’t want to know, and I think that the confidentiality of such discussions should be preserved for the sake of all those involved.

    I don’t think any Mormon artist should be judged by whether or not he/she is disfellowshipped or excommunicated or temple-recommend holding.

    At the same time, I like it when Mormon artists are up front about their relationship with the Church because it is one of the factors that I’m likely to use in deciding if I want to spend the time and resources to consume their work.

    I have read (but not seen staged) bash. I had a mixed reaction to it — I found it both shocking and somewhat pandering and neither of those really. A symptom, no doubt, of being able to read it (staged theater is a richer, more visceral experience) as well as having both sympathies and anitpathies with both the conservative Mormon audience and the liberal American cultural elite audience.

    A final note:

    Often these discussions center around the clearly edgy or didactic/sentimental.

    I think that’s fine. But my main concern of late are those works that could be enjoyed by a fairly wide range of audiences — if those audiences were willing to be a little charitable in their reading. I’m thinking of Todd Robert Petersen’s “Long After Dark’ here, but also some novels that seemed to have not found much of an audience — Leaving Moscow by Gary Huntsman and Vernal Promises by Jack Harrell and more.

  14. I agree, William, with everything you wrote. I think both Neil LaBute and Brian Evenson should be left out of the discussion, if only for the sake of making any common ground (just as the didactic/sentimental writers should as well). That said, my personal opinion is that these two writer are IMPORTANT Mormon writers. I know, for example, that Todd Robert Petersen (I will read his book soon) studied with Evenson at Oklahoma State.

    Even though I agree with your last comment about audience, I am not as optimistic about their charity. Again, I haven’t read Petersen’s stories yet, but I have a hard time believing that a large number of Mormon readers will enjoy it. It’s more than R-rated material or church activity or any number of such issues–I think it has something to do with how uncomfortable Mormons are reading about themselves. I’ll never forget how offended my sister was by the sacrament scene in BRIGHAM CITY–this was after I thought I had finally discovered a good piece of Mormon art that my family would enjoy. She was horrified to see a representation of that Mormon ritual on film.

    I hope I’m wrong.

  15. I hope you are wrong too, Aaron. I’m not real optimistic either.

    At the same time, I want to support that space as much as possible — thus AMV. 🙂

  16. Here are the websites of a few contemporary artists that are active members. They all either have a spiritual theme and/or social commentary in their artwork. Some othem are fresh out of school, others have been around for a while working for the Church, one of them has work being purchased by museums and was recently published in Ensign Magazine. They are from Utah, New York and California. Take a look, maybe this is another frame of reference for the dialogue.

    frankmcentire.com
    kentchristensen.com
    caseyjexsmith.com
    davidlinn.com

  17. The quality of the audience determines the quality of the argument. I am not sure who I am plagiarizing but that statement is probably correct.

    We cannot hope to produce quality art if the priorities are being nice and loyal. Being nice and loyal is important but in the end they are secondary virtues that might get into the way of higher values.

    Like prophecy, art can transcend reality. By challenging artists, it is the audience who can make a critical difference. If we settle for little then it is our fault that we get little.

    It is probably not possible to embrace and appreciate an art work without approaching it with questions and skepticism. Even when we fall in love with a piece, eventually our relationship will only improve with the questions we ask.

    Art is its own medium. We should not treat it as an appendix of faith. But just like faith, there is no art without doubt. That’s what it means to transcend reality and to have imagination. Without the courage to try something different, there is production but not art.

    Jesus asked us to take the narrow path. Artists can help us to explore the narrow paths that enrich our lifes. Lets not penalize them for being different.

  18. I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, Hellmut, but a couple of things stick out to me as overstating, perhaps.
    About your “nice and loyal”– the “nice” aspect, I agree with you. Sometimes boldness in required. Loyal? Depends what you’re loyal to. For example, I’ve seen a lot of artists who are loyal to a particular political party (usually, in artistic circles, it tends to be the Democratic party). Tony Kushner, for example (writer of the pulitzer prize winning plays “Angels In America”). His writing tends to be extremely political. Yet he is hailed as this generations new, great playwright. As much as I disagree with some of his politics (I’m a conservative leaning moderate), I can’t deny that, artistically speaking, he’s written some remarkable plays. Yet he retains his loyalty to his chosen party.
    If the liberal writers can retain their loyalties and still produce great art, I think it should be equally possible for the religious writers to be able to retain their loyalties and produce great art. Especially if that loyalty centers on God and the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and not just predominant cultural philosophy.
    And then you said this: “But just like faith, there is no art without doubt.”
    Help me understand this philosophy. I don’t get it. It seems too restricting, too much of a blanket statement. When people say, “Art is this” or “Art HAS to be that” it throws up red flags for me. Are we saying that once a person achieves a perfect knowledge of things, that they couldn’t produce great art? Could God not produce great art because he hasn’t enough doubt? Help me understand.

  19. My thanks to Anneke who invited me into this forum. I look forward to accepting the invitation to address “Mormon” cinema, as it has come to be called, in the uplifting manner that she proposes. I think my task may be greater than the filmmakers’.

    First of all, there is a distinction between entertainment and art. For example, I think most of what we call “Mormon cinema” is entertaining, but not overly artistic by the etymological standard. The word “art,” stems from “artifice,” meaning, “fake.” “An imitation of reality.” And while I agree that it is unwise to pigeonhole art with restrictive definitions – as it continues to evolve – I do think it safe to say that art is largely about the pursuit of truth. By creating an imitation of reality – be that reality abstract, expressionist, what have you – we seek to understand something about things as they were, are, and forever will be (D&C 93:24). If you think about it, the art that moves you probably speaks to some element of truth, even if that truth is idealistic.

    Understand that there’s a significant distinction between truth and fact. The facts of Star Wars (Death Stars, Sith Lords, Wookies) may not be real, but the truths (goodness, friendship, faith) very much are. Hence art can be “authentic” without being “realistic.” (It also doesn’t hurt when truth is entertaining.)

    My point is this: If the purpose of “artifice” is to grapple with and understand truth (and if it’s not, then ignore this), then a work of “art” becomes a work of honesty.

    However, as noted by Hellmut, there is an audience to consider. And the fact is, honesty is a shared experience. Christ offered truth. Disciples accepted it, Pharisees didn’t, and the difference between the two can be construed as a function of personal honesty. Many claim to be artists who are all-too-willing to proclaim truth, but at the end of the day remain unwilling to receive it. This is like unto the warning issued in the Book of Mormon, wherein artists “think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not.” (2 Ne. 9:28)

    I made a film once about spousal abuse, which is an extremely personal issue for me. In order to create greater awareness, I made a film in which the audience was led to sympathize with the romantic lead, only to discover at the end of the piece that he was abusive. The purpose was two fold: First, to interrogate the idea that abusive people don’t recognize it in themselves (being governed largely by crippling insecurities), and second, to propose that abusive people deserve perhaps something more conducive to healing from us than outright disdain. I wasn’t even preaching; merely exploring the subject. The audience reaction to the film’s craft was largely positive. But they were completely divided on the treatment of the subject. Should I be praised or blamed? Some said it changed their lives for the better, others that it was diabolically misogynist. I learned, in a very powerful way, that the audience always brings baggage into the theater with them and that ultimately – AS AN ARTIST – I am not responsible for it. I am beholden to the truth, and if I have done that, then I remit to them a choice, which the governance of sound principles must help them make on their own. I believe that an audience is just as responsible for viewing art as the artist is for making it. And I think this is where people become offended: when an artist struggles to creatively express some element of truth to an audience in search of entertainment… or vice versa. The sacred mistakenly becomes profane… or vice versa. Hence art is a very personal thing, requiring honesty whether we are givers or receivers.

    To bring the subject full circle, therefore, “Mormon” cinema – or art – is a gross misnomer. It is neither the purpose nor the responsibility of the church, its leaders, or the God who governs both, to promote art. The concern of the church is to bring men unto Christ by providing correct teachings and ordinances of salvation administered with authority. It is, however, the presupposed belief of all members to seek after anything virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy; to seek truth. Therefore, “art,” a process through which reality is recreated by any of a vast number of methods, styles, crafts, etc., in order to discover truth, is inherently Mormon. And as such, it is personal to all who experience it.

  20. I would love to see your movie about spousal abuse, Eric. Have you posted it somewhere? It’s a fascinating topic that every home teacher ought to understand.

    Thanks for your kind words, Mahonri. I am not sure that it is correct to say that Tony Kushner is loyal to a party. He is certainly loyal to certain principles that might more consistent with a liberal or radical world view but that’s different from drumming

  21. Funny, isnt it, that most of the discussions posted on this site relate to the relationship between true discipleship and expressions of faith through the arts/humanities? This is the most intriguing aspect of these discussions and their implications.

    One of the recurring themes that we keep coming back to on this site is the notion of sacrifice. What do we sacrifice to be worthy members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint? How far does discipleship extend and to what extent do personalities and our personal expressions of faith interact with that discipleship?

    These are the issues that keep me reading this site. I love the level of insight and intelligence displayed by the ‘posters’ and by the ‘responders.’ This kind of thinking is stimulating, engaging, and certainly helps one to confront one’s own opinions about the separations between the faith and the syncretistic culture spawned by the faith.

    I have always been fascinated by the culture and the fascination so many possess with it. At times I am equally embarrassed/proud by the way in which our culture expresses itself publicly, and wish that many would think more carefully about where they cast their “pearls.”

    But, I suppose that experimentation is one of the fundamental ways we express our culture and, as such, can be a very positive thing for an artist whose work is often a very personal journey to “enter the world” and to understand the relationship between faith and the need to express faith artistically.

  22. bRadlyaLLen wrote:
    One of the recurring themes that we keep coming back to on this site is the notion of sacrifice. What do we sacrifice to be worthy members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint?

    Perhaps the discussion circles this particular point because both the best of artists and the best of saints seek to capture and articulate (and by articulating, to embody) truths. And when the two yield contrasting conclusions, the friction generates some light by which we can examine the truths to which we hold.

  23. My movie is not posted (to my knowledge). Unfortunately, neither my abilities nor my ambitions seem likely to attain the level necessary to change that any time soon.

  24. I agree with your comments, Anneke. As a regular over at Nauvoo I have to state that the response to your comment was not overwhelmingly negative (mostly not, in fact). Once person responded, “Don’t hold back, Susie, tell us how you really feel.” That comment doesn’t necessarily have to be interpreted negatively – it could be referring to the detail and length of your comment. That doesn’t make your comments wrong. As I already stated, I agree with you.

    I’m not usually one to offend nor am I one to take offense easily – too much energy can be spent doing so. Constructive criticism is often healthy except for those who can’t take it but then they live in a narrow world and get scared when you try to open it up for them. I’m sure that is some kind of phobia?

  25. I meant to also state a discussion forum such as Nauvoo misses out on some excellent participation at times due to those who don’t wish to weather those that live in their narrow worlds. I can understand the frustration but I wish that wasn’t the case.

    So, welcome back from your mission, Anneke. I would enjoy your return to Nauvoo.

  26. I’m so relieved to hear Neil LaBute took the “first great writer” hit. Now the rest of us can blossom without fear!

  27. .

    This was a very insightful post (as opposed to inciteful, which I accidentally typed first)–I’m sorry I missed it.

Comments are closed.