Artists and Saints

The art you create may relegate you to the margins of our community of faith. Church discipline seems very unlikely in most cases. Perhaps more likely: getting labeled as an “alternative voice” Continue reading “Artists and Saints”

Dutcher bows out

So father of Mormon cinema Richard Dutcher has gone public with his disaffection from the LDS church and the Mormon audience. And, of course, godfather of Mormon cinema Kieth Merrill can’t help but respond. This repeats pretty much the re-enacts the same drama as last fall when Dutcher and Chris Heimerdinger got into it. I’ll let others decide whether this one or the previous one is/was the tragedy or the farce.

I suppose it’s good to see Utah’s newspapers actually having relevance to the world of Mormon arts and culture. And it is by no means surprising that this latest dust-up has caused a flurry of discussions in the various nodes of Mormon cultural discourse. And yet one can’t help but wonder if those of us who care about Mormon arts are getting the best spokespersons for this duel. I mean think about it. Combine America’s bizarre celebrity culture with auter theory, the high-financial stakes of film, the Mormon emphasis on personal revelation and individual achievement, all that talk about Miltons and Shakespeares, and strong, charismatic males (so far it seems to only be males) and wrap those into the most emotionally-manipulating of all arts forms and no wonder you have Dutcher comparing himself to Oliver Cowdery and Merrill prophesying Dutcher’s future career. With all the egos involved (and how the express themselves) one is tempted to tell all LDS filmmakers, including Dutcher and Merrill, to let us know when they’ve created something powerful, well-crafted, sophisticated and capable of connecting with at least a portion of the Mormon audience. One also wonders if perhaps Mormon film shouldn’t be more communal. Continue reading “Dutcher bows out”

The Bright Side of the Dark Side

In September 1999 I attended a “Writing from the Land” workshop sponsored by the Entrada Institute, the first workshop I’d been to in almost 20 years.  At the time, I was finishing up my novel The Pictograph Murders and decided to take Levi Peterson’s fiction class to help with that process.  At one point Levi advised the class, “Write from the other side of your inhibitions.” Continue reading “The Bright Side of the Dark Side”

Out of Obscurity, etc.

I watched a Gilmore Girls rerun (original air date: January 20, 2004) with my wife tonight. GG is no Northern Exposure, of course. But it is (perhaps was before the present season) good for consistently clever dialog. The following is certainly not the first GG reference to Mormonism. But, as a Mormon blogger, it is my favorite by far: Continue reading “Out of Obscurity, etc.”

Breathing In, Breathing Out

A few nights ago I took my kids to a local storytelling festival.  The storytellers were all Native Americans or had Native American heritage and the stories they told were trickster stories — Coyote stories, etc. — that traditionally may be told only during the winter months. Continue reading “Breathing In, Breathing Out”

Mormon Art and Greatness

Except for two or three older writers, all modern literature seems to me not literature but some sort of handicraft, which exists only so as to be encouraged, though one is reluctant to use its products. Even the best products of handicraft cannot be called remarkable and cannot be praised without a “˜but.'” Continue reading “Mormon Art and Greatness”

The Passions of Parallelograms and Affections of the Mind

Be still when you’ve got nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you’ve got to say, and say it hot.  D. H. Lawrence

He only employs his passion who can make no use of his reason.  Cicero

Why is the word “passion” so difficult for us?  For as the two quotes above suggest, the intellectual jury appears to have hung itself on the question of whether or not passion is a good or bad, productive or destructive, rational or lunatic state of mind. Continue reading “The Passions of Parallelograms and Affections of the Mind”