I recently prepared a Christmas package for my missionary son and hit upon the idea of searching past Ensign magazines for missionary Christmas stories to add to the package. I’m not sure if these stories are typical of other missionary Christmas stories, but I can say that the stories I found included two broad themes: stories of missionaries caroling (or giving other musical performances) and stories of missionaries overcoming loneliness. [I do believe there are other themes in these stories, I just didn’t come across them in my very limited search.] Continue reading “The Missionary Christmas”
Traditionally, two arts have most bent our ear: music, whose relationship with the ear is a long-running whirlwind courtship; and poetry, an art that in its earliest days hung all its hope upon the openness of the aural corridor running to the mind. Music has retained its, shall we say, aural tradition. Few people read the score for Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67″ or even the sheet music for Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” to engage those works’ full effects. Continue reading “Science, Art, and Spirit at the Bluff Arts Festival, Part Two”
On Saturday, November 29, I participated in activities at the Bluff Arts Festival in Bluff, Utah. This little town of just a few hundred people really knows how to throw a party. I took my eighteen-year-old son, an aspiring writer, to this celebration of the arts, sciences, and the human spirit, and having him with me deepened my pleasure in the event immensely. He’s already a part of the unusual Bluff community via his participation in a Shorinji Kempo class held there weekly, but this was his first experience with a writing workshop and open mic reading. Continue reading “Science, Art, and Spirit at the Bluff Arts Festival, Part One”
“Most poets can’t read their own writing.” Leslie Norris said this as we mulled over a reading we’d attended the night before. He wasn’t speaking just about Mormon poets, though most poets reading at the previous night’s gathering had been Mormon. He meant poets generally.
His criticism wasn’t an off-handed remark. He meant it as vital instruction. Many people who have heard him read can sense that for Leslie, getting words down on paper was only part of the business of writing poetry. His verse bloomed when he spoke it aloud to an audience. Or we could say a kind of auditory sun rose in his verse when he performed it. That is, if we could hear the sun rise, it would sound something like Leslie performing a poem. Continue reading “Sing, O Maysie!”
The world today is too big; too full of sheer human inertia. I don’t think any of us can comprehend the magnitude of cultural currents as we drop pebbles just to watch the water ripple. We think ourselves educated, well-read, perhaps a little hungry for exploration but for the most part masters of our own little worlds and the way things are. And every once in a while we are lucky enough to get enough of a peek out of our own paradigms to realize that we don’t know anything. This happens culturally; this happens spiritually. And when it happens, the results are usually exhilarating and terrifying.
As missionaries in Japan, we didn’t meet many Christians. But we met a lot of savvy, educated people. And a lot of them had seen The DaVinci Code. It was an odd development halfway through my mission when casual street contacts evolved from “Oh, you’re Christians! My daughters go to Christian school!” into “Oh, you’re Christians! I know all about Christianity. I watched The DaVinci Code.”