I’m currently in the middle of reading B. F. Skinner’s utopian novel Walden Two (1948), so when by coincidence I discovered the following discourse by George Q. Cannon, it gave me an unexpected view on utopias. Cannon’s remarks, spurred by Edward Bellamy’s popular utopian novel Looking Backward (1887), portray not only a religious criticism of many of the utopian proposals, but also demonstrate that religion itself is, in a way, about creating a utopia or preparing for a utopian hereafter. And these remarks are particularly interesting given Mormonism’s own experimentation and involvement with utopian efforts well before Cannon made these remarks.
About a decade ago I read an essay on the modern artist Wayne Thiebaud which talked about the communal aspects of his work. The essay attributed these aspects of his work to the communal aspects of his youth, from his birth in a Mesa, Arizona LDS community. Of course there are many communal aspects to Mormon culture, and at least some of those are unique to Mormonism. But as I’ve thought and read about Mormon art, I’ve increasingly realized how at odds this view of Thiebaud is with views from within the Church about Mormon art, where Thiebaud’s work is not considered Mormon.
The difference I see comes down to a disagreement about themes in art.