Poems of Biblical Proportions Week at Wilderness Interface Zone

The intertwining of spirituality with images, metaphors, analogies, parables and other language containing  strong veins of agrarian- and wilderness-oriented content is part of what gives scripture its power.   Along with a large proportion of the rest of this Bible-reading country, as Mormons increasingly move inside and explore via the electronic frontier, scripture becomes one of the few places where folks might encounter nature with some constancy.

Of course, one problem that arises from the general nature-human disconnect is that of faltering literacy.  Lacking their own spirituality-nature approach, some readers of scripture find the outdoorsy contexts and nature-hued saturation levels of many scriptural stories and passages mysterious and obscure, or maybe quaint and thick, rather like how the King James version of the Bible loses some students of scripture with its Shakespearean-era rhetorical density.

Wilderness Interface Zone is nothing if not interested in promoting literacy, especially nature-literacy.  So to honor and enjoy scripture’s endearing and enduring traditional affinities with nature and to  encourage folks to throw themselves into experience with nature–even just parks, with trees, grass, ducks, and space to fly kites–to improve their scriptural literacy, we’re running Poems of Biblical Proportions Week.  WIZ is soliciting poetry (or even poetic creative nonfiction) based in both scripture and nature.  Mp3s of music combining  nature and scriptural themes are also of interest.  Your work need not be based in the Bible only.  It may reference any scriptural source, such as the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, etc.

To submit a poem, creative non-fiction essay, mp3, or other poetry-like venture containing both scriptural and natural wavelengths, see our guidelines here.

A litany of excellent links

I’ve got a bunch of cool stuff piled up to share. Some of it’s fresh and new; some of it has aged a few weeks or even months. But it’s all good, and if you are looking for some good reading, right click on all the links below and open them up in new tabs and get lost for awhile in reading about fiction and poetry.

The chanson challenge

After reading and participating in the robust discussion on Kent’s Reaching the Market post, chanson wrote up a post featuring a bunch of Mormon-related works (some fiction, some nonfiction) and challenges Mormons and ExMormons alike to determine if they are anti-Mormon or not. Please note that the link is to the ExMo-oriented blog Main Street Plaza. There’s stuff that orthodox Mormons won’t like, but their cultural coverage is worth checking out for those interested in the middle market of Mormon culture.

Emily Milner on the poetics of LDS fiction

If you haven’t checked out Segullah Associate Editor Emily Milner’s LDS fiction-related posts on her personal blog Hearing Voices, then the link above will take you to a handy index of everything she’s written so far on the topic. There’s some great stuff there. My favorite post so far is on negation of negation, which takes Robert McKee’s principle of antagonism and applies it to LDS fiction. Good stuff. And much of her work is focused on the finalists for The Whitneys so if you are looking for more analysis/reviews of those titles, Emily’s blog is the best place to start (and her future posts in this category will appear on the Mormon Arts feed over there in the left sidebar). And speaking of The Whitneys… Continue reading “A litany of excellent links”

Elsewhere: T&S poets, Larry Miller’s reputation, M’s letters

Guest blogger danithew has invited Times & Seasons participants to post poems they have written. As usual I have contributed no actual creative work, choosing instead to play the critic. But seriously, it’s a fun thread. Thanks for veering into arts and culture territory, dani.

In other news: “Reputations ride on the success of this film,” claims KSL-TV in a story on the upcoming release of the screen version of Gerald N. Lund’s best-selling historical novel series “The Work and the Glory.” Financed by LDS film sugar daddy and Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller, the film cost $7.4 million — making it the most expensive moive ever made for the Mormon market (I’m kidding about the sugar daddy comment — I wish more successful LDS would support Mormon art).

Considering that the most successful LDS film to date “The Other Side of Heaven” only took in $4,720,112 at the Box Office (source: LDS Film) and that the movie is opening the day after Thanksgiving (i.e. serious competition from the major studios, including a lot of family-friendly movies such as The Polar Express), Miller may have a tough time recouping his investment. DVD sales will help, but he’s not going to be making much profit on the venture — unless the film seriously outperforms. Which it might. Lund’s status as a general authority helps as does the popularity of the novels. Either way it’ll be a very interesting test of the LDS film market.

And: I don’t think that anybody’s reputation (especially Larry Miller’s) is going to suffer if the movie tanks — except perhaps that of director Russ Holt. Although even Holt’s reputation may be untouchable. He directed the LDS favorite “How Rare a Possession.”

Sidenote: KSL says that “Millions of readers of the book series know a movie, featuring their favorite ficticious characters set in history, is about to be released.” Ummm. The Work and the Glory is a blockbuster — the blockbuster — by Mormon publishing standards, but I’m not sure that it has millions of readers out there.

Finally: Deseret Book has published the letters of Marjorie Pay Hinckley and has posted three of the letters on their Mormon Life Web site. The posted letters aren’t super revealing, but they are well-written, and it’s interesting to view church events, such as a 1976 national broadcast about families and a 1977 trip to Asia, through her eyes.

Elsewhere: Time out for a purple pansies fireside

Update 12/23/04: If you are looking for details on “The Fireside Song,” see below or click here.
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Braden Bell has an interesting post over at To Speak of Many Things on Deseret Book’s Time Out for Women progam. I discussed the book club part of the program back in July. Braden’s post is on the event part of Time Out. Modeled after Oprah’s speaking tour, the one-day events cost $38 and are a sort of motivational seminar/fireside hybrid.

This is Deseret Book’s description:

Time Out for Women is a day long event intended as an opportunity for participants to regroup, commiserate with others facing similar demands, and catch their physical and spiritual breath. Attendees are treated to presentations by several respected authors and artists who address the spiritual challenges and needs of women in the Church.”

Braden asks:

“Is this a good idea? Do we want to have an event that will clearly separate the have’s and the have-not’s? What about women who can’t get off work, or whose husbands can’t get off work to babysit the kids? Is the potential benefit so great that it outweighs the possible negatives?”

I think those are good questions. So far the comments on the post have been fairly supportive of the program. One comment justly points out that Time Out for Women is similar to programs like Education Week and Especially for Youth. But I have to admit that I am worried that the Deseret Book impramateur of the whole thing (and most importantly the very visible involvement of Sheri Dew) puts this in an area of quasi-official discourse. The kind that’s seen as sanctioned, if not official.

Mark Hansen over at Mo’ Boy Blog asks readers to list their favorite and least favorite LDS songs. Mark isn’t fond of “Little Purple Pansies.”

Finally, I haven’t seen this crop up in the Bloggernacle yet so I have no idea if everyone else has already heard this and I’m just late to the game, but Alllen Simpson has done a Mormon take-off of Adam Sandler’s The Hannukah Song called, appropriately enough, The Fireside Song (a nod to Galactic Cactus for bringing this to my attention). The song is being used to promote LDS Fest, an LDS music festival that will take place in Las Vegas this December.

Film: Merrill’s ‘Tempest…’ brews a stormy dialogue

Update 9.24.04: Merrill’s column prompted such a volume of reader mail, that Meridian has asked readers to stop writing in about it. Merrill excerpts and reacts to reader mail in Tempest in a Teacup, Take II: The Broth Boileth Over.
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Remember when I paranthetically remarked that Kieth Merrill’s recent Meridian Magazine article on Mormon film was one of the best things that Meridian has ever published? Well, the article has spawned a fascinating series of replies (and replies to replies) by several prominent figures in the world of Mormon art.

Here are the various replies along with excerpts:

Ken Harris:

“I find it unfortunate, that few within Mormondom seem to understand the difference between correction and complicity in perpetuating mediocrity.

We are so cognizant of the mere possibility of giving offense, or anxious at even the appearance of contention, which we all know is of the devil (3 Nephi 11:29), that we go out of our way to avoid it to an absurd extremity.”

Greg Hansen:

“May I submit that the very thing that will make the skilled LDS artist, sculpture, film or play unique is the power of the Holy Ghost that accompanies it.

I advocate an inside-out approach to the arts in Zion.

If we create on our own terms, using the best of the world’s craft, coupled with original, inspired methods of our own within that craft, and infuse it with our own absolute worthiness and individuality, that art will do nothing but become more compelling to all those who want to ‘come to Zion and be taught of her ways’. If we create great Mormon art, it will be great just as Michelangelo’s David inspires the world regardless of their variance of belief, and it will be a vehicle for the Spirit.”

Preston Hunter:

“I did not agree with everything Kieth Merrill said in his article yesterday, but I also disagree with many of Ken Harris’ suggestions.

If we did things Ken’s way there would never be any LDS Cinema. Ken would have insisted on waiting for Spike Lee to come around instead of letting Oscar Micheaux or Melvin Van Peebles make any films. The problem with that is, Van Peebles would not have been able to do what he did had it not been for Micheaux, and Spike Lee would not have been able to do what he has done had it not been for Van Peebles. Make no mistake about it: the early films of Micheaux and Van Peebles (and maybe even their best films!) were inferior by the production standards of the day. These films do not necessarily speak to a broader audience. They don’t necessarily hold up when looked at today.

But they gave voice to a people, and they broke barriers on the Silver Screen — barriers that needed to be broken…”

Elsewhere: Mo’ folk, Mo’ rock!

For readers who have enjoyed the Mormon folk songs that have appeared on A Motley Vision, check out Justin Butterfield’s blog Mormon Wasp for the lyrics to a song called The Reformation. Written by LDS convert Philip Margetts in 1856, it includes the priceless lines: ” God bless the wife that strives/ And aids her husband all she can/ T’ obtain a dozen wives.” In addition, Justin has a more recent post on Mormon polygamy folklore. Good stuff.

In response to John Hesch’s A Motley Vision interview, LDS musician and blogger Mark Hansen has some comments (and a call to arms!) on his Mo’ Boy Blog about the lack of good Mormon rock and dance music.

ALSO: Here at A Motley Vision, Typophile‘s Jared Benson has contributed an analysis of the font choices for the cover of the Doubleday edition of the Book of Mormon (scroll down to comments section).

Elsewhere: Orson’s Telescope on Mormoniana

I usually only refence other blogs when I’m posting on a subject that other bloggers have posted on — and only then when those posts include actual commentary [see for example my post on the Doubleday Book of Mormon]. But I’ve decided that if I run across a post that is outstanding and very much on-topic for A Motley Vision, I should give it due props. Such is the case with Orson’s Telescope‘s recent review of Mormoniana, a collection of music and visual art created by Mormon artists.

It’s a great review of an exciting piece of Mormon art. Check it out.

By the way, I’m especially pleased to see that a paperback edition will be printed and priced at $50. At $150, the hardbound edition is a bit pricey (albeit collector-worthy). I also hope that the Mormon Artists Group is actively trying to get libraries with Mormon collections [BYU, Claremont, SLC Main, UofU, etc.] to purchase a copy.

NOTE: This is as good a place as any to mention that I support the Blog Sourcing Petition and encourage others to do the same.