Of Prophets and Artists: A Household of Faith Or A House Divided?

In the most recent General Conference of the LDS Church Elder Jeffrey R. Holland stated the following:

“Not often but over the years some sources have suggested that the Brethren are out of touch in their declarations, that they don’t know the issues, that some of their policies and practices are out-of-date, not relevant to our times.
“As the least of those who have been sustained by you to witness the guidance of this Church firsthand, I say with all the fervor of my soul that never in my personal or professional life have I ever associated with any group who are so in touch, who know so profoundly the issues facing us, who look so deeply into the old, stay so open to the new, and weigh so carefully, thoughtfully, and prayerfully everything in between. I testify that the grasp this body of men and women have of moral and societal issues exceeds that of any think tank or brain trust of comparable endeavor of which I know anywhere on the earth. I bear personal witness of how thoroughly good they are, of how hard they work, and how humbly they live. It is no trivial matter for this Church to declare to the world prophecy, seership, and revelation, but we do declare it. It is true light shining in a dark world, and it shines from these proceedings.”

There were many things that captured my attention during this last conference, but this statement is one that will stay with me for a long time to come. I don’t know why it is (at least not for a certainty), but there are many an intellectual, many an artist, many an actor, many a writer, (not to mention many a doctor, many a lawyer, many a housewife, many a business man, many a waiter, many a teenager, etc.) who are intent on casting accusing phrases or disparaging implications towards those who are in leadership within the LDS Church. From the Prophet to local bishops, intellectual or societal snipers aim their sites on the biggest targets available to them, for with leadership (especially courageous, outspoken leadership) always comes criticism. And many Mormon artists (being courageous and outspoken themselves) feel put upon when they feel out of sync with those who they term their leaders– when their supposed artistic expressions are disjointed from the leadership of an organization which they otherwise (hopefully) cherish.
Continue reading “Of Prophets and Artists: A Household of Faith Or A House Divided?”

This Question of Audience, Part One

Theories about the audience’s role in the writer-audience relationship show up as pale shadows tacked on the heels of inquiries into the writer’s purpose and product.  I can’t help but wonder what that means. Is the audience’s role really fully subordinate to the role of the creative writer, or have we merely overlooked characteristics of audience that point us toward livelier models of the writer/audience relationship?  Is the Internet altering the role of audience? Does a writer even really need an audience? Well, let’s poke around a bit and see what we turn up …   

Presently, I’m teaching basic reading and composition classes at a local community college.  All of my students are Native Americans.  When I tell them to consider their audience as they compose their essays, I know I’m putting them on the spot. Continue reading “This Question of Audience, Part One”

Interview With Patricia Wiles, Part Two

In Part One, Patricia Wiles answered questions from A Motley Vision.  In this segment of the interview, Patricia fields questions from two admiring fans.  Saul, age 16, is interested in herpetology and is an aspiring writer himself.  Val, age 9, wants to be a naturalist when she grows up but has also begun writing stories.  Both kids enjoyed Patricia Wiles’s Kevin Kirk series tremendously and were excited to have an opportunity to ask her questions about her storylines, writing techniques, and … a few other things. Continue reading “Interview With Patricia Wiles, Part Two”

Interview With Patricia Wiles, Part One

Patricia Wiles is the author of three novels for young adults: My Mom’s a Mortician (2004 Covenant Communications), Funeral Home Evenings (2005 Covenant Communications), and Early Morning Cemetery (2006 Covenant Communications).  My Mom’s a Mortician and Funeral Home Evenings won the Association for Mormon Letters’s Award for Young Adult Fiction in 2004 and 2005, respectively. Continue reading “Interview With Patricia Wiles, Part One”

Dramatizing History

Last night we had a staged reading of my play “The Reluctant Convert” about C.S. Lewis’ conversion from atheism to Christianity. It was a very productive, edifying experience, having given me a lot of food for thought about where to take my next draft of the script. Continue reading “Dramatizing History”

Woe is Me for the Boy I Loved in Vain

In 2004 the Entrada Institute in Torrey, Utah offered a creative nonfiction workshop taught by Craig Childs, author of The Secret Knowledge of Water, etc.  Craig claimed to have never taught a workshop before.  Certainly, he took risks I’d never seen a workshop instructor take.  Continue reading “Woe is Me for the Boy I Loved in Vain”

Mormon Lit: Heaven Knows Why

Jackson Whitetop, a no-account loafer, lives alone in the home that his grandfather Moroni built. Moroni is no longer with us, but he has a good job in the Compiling Office of the Accounting Section of the Current History Division of the Records Department. After several requests, Moroni gets clearance to pay Jackson a visit to deliver a message from beyond: Continue reading “Mormon Lit: Heaven Knows Why”