For many Mormons today, a play about a murderous school teacher would be hard to classify as “uplifting.” And while I would be surprised to hear anyone today suggest that all drama was in conflict with the gospel, the condemnation of the media today by many Mormons hardly seems different. But in the search for what is “uplifting” it might be nice to define what we mean by that term.
[Note: I've made no effort to select quotations from their term as Church president. The words quoted may have been spoken at any point during their life.]
By proving contraries, truth is made manifest.
Upon the stage of a theatre can be represented in character, evil and its consequences, good and its happy results and rewards; the weakness and the follies of man, the magnanimity of virtue and the greatness of truth. The stage can be made to aid the pulpit in impressing upon the minds of a community an enlightened sense of a virtuous life, also a proper horror of the enormity of sin and a just dread of its consequences. The path of sin with its thorns and pitfalls, its gins and snares can be revealed, and how to shun it. more
In General Conference, if a general authority quotes another work so extensively that it makes up the majority of his discourse, you might assume that the quotation comes from the scriptures or another important LDS work. And if something like that happened in a sacrament meeting talk, in many wards the member who gave the talk would be admonished to stick to the scriptures and teachings of the prophets and apostles.
But in April 1914, Elder Heber J. Grant, a 31-year veteran among the apostles, read about 1/2 of his talk from a book by David Starr Jordan.
It is, perhaps, one thing to specify what books and other media should be consumed, and quite another to make that material available. While many commentators today will suggest that the bulk of what Mormons have produced is not worth reading (yes, I am referring, among other things, to Jettboy’s post of last week), I think that the Mormon track record, at least in the early days, isn’t bad. For better or for worse, the Mormons of the late 1800s didn’t just complain that outside literature was bad, they began a “home literature” movement meant to provide a good alternative.
This past week news reports confirmed that Deseret Book will no longer print additional copies of the 42-year-old classic Mormon Doctrine, essentially taking a classic Mormon work out-of-print. While the move is apparently because of low sales, many commentators on the bloggernacle and news sites have claimed instead that the Church wanted it out-of-print.
While that seems unlikely to me, the effect is the same. What might be more interesting is what happens to Mormon Doctrine next.
Though this post is by it’s very nature heavily self-indulgent, I am going to try to spin it as more altruistic than it is. more
One of the great heroes in my family’s history is Mary Lee. She was a famed Southern Utah midwife, saved my father’s life, had none less than Harold B. Lee wish he was half as sure of his own salvation as he was of hers, etcetcetc. There is no question she was a great woman. I look forward to meeting her someday.
In 1955, Gene L. Gardner published 100 copies of an 85-page biography of Aunt Mary called “An Inspired Principle and a Remarkable Lady.” My father owns one of these 100 copies and I hope to have it pass into my hands someday and read it with the care and honor it deserves.
All of which is merely a pious introduction to my real topic today. more
Elder Douglas L. Callister of the Seventy wrote a delightful article in this month’s Ensign, “Our Refined Heavenly Home.” I’m ashamed to admit that I might never have read it had not my dear wife told me I should. (I keep saying I’ll stick the Ensign in the bathroom where it will actually get read, but it seems weird to have all those pictures of Jesus on my toilet, Backslider or no Backslider.) The article is adapted from a BYU devotional Elder Callister gave in 2006 which is about 1800 words longer and has even more dandy quotations. (Frankly, it’s tempting to just lift all his quotations and anecdotes and place them here for discussion, but I can’t quite feel good about that.)
The article has three main thrusts, language, literature and music, with an everything-else category to finish things off.
For brevity’s sake, I will take a short excerpt from each section to comment on, but in your comments, feel free to reference any part of his talk. more