What should the talks be about for Mormon Arts Sunday?

Kent in a Beret
Why Kent can’t wear a beret on Mormon Arts Sunday (plus, his daughter stole the beret!!)

Our nascent annual attempt to change the way Mormons think about the arts, Mormon Arts Sunday, (a.k.a. “Wear a Black Beret to Church Day”) is approaching soon! I’m trying hard to make this a “thing,” and so while the whole “black beret” thing won’t work for me (as this photo demonstrates), I have managed to arrange for our ward to devote its sacrament meeting on June 8th (the 1st of June is Fast Sunday, so that won’t work) to the arts.

However, we do have to somehow give those who speak on Mormon Arts Sunday a subject. And since there will probably be 3 speakers, we need to divide up the subject of the Gospel and the Arts and Mormon Art into general areas–or at least select three specific topics from among the universe of possible topics. What should we say to speakers? What should they talk about?

Continue reading “What should the talks be about for Mormon Arts Sunday?”

Announcing “Wear a Black Beret to Church Day”

beretThe recent success of “Wear Pants to Church Day” has inspired me to take Mormon Sabbath Day activism to the next level, namely: Arts Activism!

As many of you know, Mormon art and literature  are terribly undervalued in our culture today. Too many Mormons believe that Mormon art and literature plateaued around the time of C.C.A. Christensen and Nephi Anderson and refuse to take arguments to the contrary seriously. Moreover, they actively speak out against true Mormon artistic creation, arguing that the production of a Mormon art and literature is a wastrel’s errand and an apostate’s pastime. Meanwhile, those of us engaged in said pastimes and errands are marginalized in our own communities. Rather than being called to decorating committees, or bulletin design callings, or roadshow revival directorships, we are sidelined to mundane, inartistic callings like Sunday school and Seminary teachers, Relief Society presidents, ward greeters, and secretaries in the Young Men and Young Women programs.

I think the time has come to raise more awareness of Mormon art and literature in our local congregations. Our fellow ward- and stake-members need to realize that we have read many, many books, written several short stories and novels, composed achingly beautiful poems, sculpted crushingly abstract sculptures, and mixed paint with blood and tears for the cause of Zion. Our contributions can no longer go unnoticed. We need to take a stand and let our artistic souls be heard.

The first Sunday in February–February 3, 2013–is Scout Sunday. I propose that we coopt Scout Sunday for “Wear a Black Beret to Church Day” to raise awareness about the marginalization of Mormon art and literature. As Mormon artists and literati, we owe it to future Saints–our children and grandchildren–to direct attention away from the paramilitary decadence of Scout Sunday and celebrate that which is creative and pure in all of us, i.e. Art.

Here’s what I propose:

1) If you are a Mormon artist (defined loosely), wear a black beret to Church. As we all know, the black beret is a universal symbol of the artist.

2) If you are not a Mormon artist, but sympathize with our cause, wear a maroon shirt, tie, skirt, scrunchie, or pair of socks. Again, as we all know, maroon is the color most closely associated with A Motley Vision and therefore (historically speaking) most closely associated with Mormon Art and Literature.

3) If you are not a Mormon artist, and do not own any maroon clothing, pin a plastic cockroach to your shirt front or dress. The cockroach, after all, symbolizes the analogies most Mormon philistines use to oppress Mormon artists and compromise our artistic output.

I encourage all of you to spread the word about this special day. Do not let our detractors stop you from speaking out in favor of Mormon Art. They may level death threats against us. They may call us modern-day Korihors or Radical Middlists. They may say all sorts of mean things about our loyalties in the premortal life. We cannot let them keep us down!

Remember, this is about the future. OUR FUTURE.

I hope to see everyone in their berets, maroon clothes, or cockroach pins on Scout”¦er”¦”Black Beret Sunday”!