I’ve been a little quiet lately on AMV because of dissertation work, but I’ll be finishing Zane Grey’s surprisingly excellent (so far) anti-Mormon novel Riders of the Purple Sage (1912) sometime next week, and I expect to have a lot to say about it (and Ed Harris, for that matter).
Before tomorrow (2/3) comes, though, I want to remind everyone about Black Beret Sunday. Don’t forget to take this opportunity to raise awareness about Mormon Art and Literature by wearing a black beret, a maroon-colored item of clothing, and/or a cockroach pin. I know many people—including me—have certain reservations about the ethics and effectiveness of Sunday activism, but I am sure the following death threats I have receive will steel your nerves and lend conviction to your soul:
The 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”!