Category: Mormon Arts

Arts – Music – Poetry – Cinema – Television

Tooth Bugs

Recently my husband and I came across a set of rather old LDS song books. As my ward’s primary chorister my favorite was The Primary Song Book: Including Marches and Voluntaries. The edition is missing the title page and so I’m not sure when it was published (and am at a loss as to how I would find out). Let’s just say that it’s really old. Among the very few songs that have survived from this edition to the current one are, “Give said the little Stream”, “I Thank Thee Dear Father”, “Can a Little Child Like Me”, and “Tell Me Dear Lord.” The most interesting songs, though, are the ones that didn’t make the cut. My personal favorite among these songs is #148 Tooth Bugs, by Ivy W. Stone and N. Lorenzo Mitchell:

Black Comedy

So maybe I missed something, but I’m pretty sure that one genre the Saints haven’t touched is black comedy. I’m not much of a narrative writer, though, so think of the following as sitting on little scraps of paper on a rickety table in my front yard with a hand-lettered cardboard sign next to them reading ‘Free to a Good Home.’

Heder-day Night Live

Last night Jon Heder, star of Napoleon Dynamite, hosted “Saturday Night Live.” I caught a few of the sketches he played in, and one thing was pretty clear: the kid’s no Philip Seymor Hoffman. He’s amiable and sweet-faced, to be sure, but there’s a muddiness to his voice he can’t seem to clear, and his mouth, for all its soft pliability, is suprisingly unagile with dialogue. I haven’t seen his latest effort, a supporting role in the romantic comedy Just Like Heaven, but in my judgment he doesn’t have either the chops or the charisma to make a career of movie-acting. It’s too bad, because he seems like a genuinely good kid, and Napoleon earned him a ton of celebrity-capital among an important demographic; he might have been the really big, genuinely Mormon star we haven’t had yet. I just hope the boy has managed to keep clean in Hollywood and New York; those are pretty muddy straits for a…

Toxic Fumes and Memories of Mormon Art

The summer after my mission I got a job restoring Mormon pine furniture. Over the course of its life, the furniture had been painted many, many times. My job was to painstakingly remove layers of later paint with an exacto knife and Q-tip swabs soaked in paint thinner while leaving the original layer of paint unharmed. It was very slow work — generally no more than a few square inches a day — and it involved breathing in a lot of toxic fumes.

Here and There in Mormon Art

Last month I kindly provided my husband some uninterrupted bonding time with his children and flew to New York City for a few days. On the recommendation of a friend (bloggernacle personality D. Fletcher), I stopped by Lane Twitchell’s current art show, “Here & There,” at the Greenberg Van Doren gallery in midtown.

“Let us walk through the door”

In honor of this holy day, I offer a favorite poem: “Seven Stanzas for Easter.” John Updike wrote it in 1960 as a university student, as I understand, and published it in a periodical called The Lutheran. ___ Make no mistake: if He rose at all it was as His body; if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules reknit, the amino acids rekindle, the Church will fall.

Eccentrics

There is a student on the Georgetown campus that makes me uneasy. He has glasses, a bushy beard, heavy features, long brown hair knotted in dreadlocks. I see him often, and he always seems to be wearing the same thing: a camouflage jacket, brown trousers, and a heavy backpack full, I’m convinced, of books on anarchy.

In the Cultural Hall

The danger in telling people you write a little bit is that they then assume you can. Last week a friend from my ward called and asked me to write the libretto for a musical show she has been called to coordinate for the stake; a few of the creative decisions had already been made, she told me, but she needed me to write lyrics and a narrative frame for the story. The show is meant to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of our stake, headquartered at the Butler Hill meetinghouse; the stake presidency had designated a “Sound of Music” theme, and the show had been titled, naturally, “Butler Hill Is Alive with the Sound of Music.”

Reading Poetry Aloud

Now that I finally have a child, one of my enjoyable activities with him is to read to him before bed. The one problem I face is not in selecting poetry I want to read, but learning how to read it properly aloud. I’ve scanned Google for some suggestions. They all tell me what I already know. Don’t put too much emotion in it (over acting). Don’t pause at the line breaks – it makes it choppy. Basically they tell me not to do the thing I can’t seem to keep from doing!

Sunday with Prophet Bob

Last night, after helping get the kids to bed, I went to a Bob Dylan concert. I’ve never been to a rock concert on a Sunday before, but I made an exception for Dylan. I’ve had to pass up seeing him on several other prior occasions because of finals, work, or because the show was on a Sunday. But I just couldn’t bring myself to miss him again. I don’t regret it.

Mormon Images: Office Decor and the Place of Mormonism in American History

A few weels ago I finished my stint at the public trough and left the service of the federal courts. I know work for the law firm of Sidley, Austin, Brown & Wood in Washington, DC. The identity of the firm is significant only because this is the firm (and office) where Rex E. Lee practiced law for many years. There is actually a three-foot tall bronze statute of Lee outside the office’s moot court room (named in Lee’s honor). As you might expect, the firm’s DC office hosts a sizable continent of LDS attorneys and their office decor reflects the the trajectory of Mormonism within American society.

Mormon Creative Outlets

I was just thinking that I keep stumbling across LDS creative outlets, and that it might be useful to put a list of these in one place. Here are a few that I’m aware of; please let me know, by comments, of any others that I’m missing and they’ll be added to the list: The church music contest. The screenwriting and movie making contest at LDS Box. Irreantum contest (possibly not continuing). AML unpublished novel contest. Meridian, I’m told, may accept submissions if you ask nicely and have something to say. Deseret Book for music, novels, etc (though perhaps less accessible, as there is not a “contest” or other easy breaking-in point). Sunstone. Dialogue. BYU Studies for poetry, and an essay contest. Okay, folks, what am I missing? If I want to write a poem, novel, hymn, rock song, opera, short story, essay, play, musical, or screenplay; paint, draw, lithograph, or sculpt a piece of art; or make a film,…

The Priesthood of Our Lord

I speak not of the actual priesthood, but of the hymn. Number 320, set for men’s voices, is (I believe) the only hymn in the current book which is “approved” (i.e., has a notation at the bottom) for singing in rounds. Which we did today, in Sacrament Meeting. Logan Bobo led the first group. He took about a third of the priesthood; I had about two thirds for my group. (The numerical superiority of my contingent didn’t come close to hiding the fact that Logan has, by far, the best male singing voice in the ward.) I thought it sounded pretty good, though. It was especially nice for our heavily-convert ward, where the music tends to be extremely plain-vanilla. The Priesthood of Our Lord is a fun hymn with a catchy tune, and it’s too bad that it is exiled to a relatively unused part of the hymnal. It capability for singing as a round is a cute added bonus.…

The errand of angels is given to women

In an earlier post, Kristine mentioned the consternation felt by ward members who had to sing feminine-language hymns in a sacrament meeting. Was her experience an isolated incident? Grasshopper reports the result when his own ward sang (gasp!) As Sisters in Zion.

Music Notes, July 25

No history lesson today, just my favorite story about one of the hymns we’re singing. The LDS poet Emma Lou Thayne relates this story about her friend, Jan Cook, who moved from Salt Lake City to a remote part of Africa: “[Her husband’s] work had taken them and their three small children there, and any meetings attended were in their own living room with only themselves as participants. By their third Christmas, Jan was very homesick. She confessed this to a good friend, a Mennonite; Jan told her how she missed her own people, their traditions, even snow. Her friend sympathized and invited her to go with her in a month to the Christmas services being held in the only Protestant church in the area, saying that there would be a reunion there of all the Mennonite missionaries on the continent.

Music Notes, July 11

I don’t do great Sunday School lessons like Jim and Julie, but I do write short notes on the music for our ward bulletin most weeks. Mostly I shamelessly steal from Karen Lynn Davidson’s book on the hymns, but sometimes I plagiarize from other sources as well, and I occasionally have an original thought. I’m going to start posting my notes here, too, on the off chance that someone might find them interesting.

A Mormon Image: Gadfield Elm Chapel

One of the interesting factoids of church history is that for a brief period in the 1840s there were more Mormons in Great Britain than in the United States. Beginning with the mission of the Twelve to England, Mormon missionaries were very successful in Britain, especially in the so-called “potteries” region around Manchester. (Momon missionaries didn’t seem to do so well in London, and Wilford Woodruff had some choice things to say about the city in his journal.) The greatest missionary success came among the so-called United Brethren. The United Brethren were a splinter group that had broken off from Methodism. (Methodism had become very popular in Britain, especially among the working class, in the late 19th and early 19th centuries.) The United Brethren were worried about issues of divine authority and Christian primativism. When Wilford Woodruff preached to a congregation of the Brethren in Preston, England, the whole congregation joined the Church, and Mormonism spread like wild fire among…

Newly-Discovered Tablet Sheds Light on Pre-Existence

Look, my proto-Semitic is a little rusty, but since I found the facsimile online and the real scholars are busy, I thought I’d take a stab at it. It cuts off in the middle, but before that is an interesting little dialogue with some compelling parallels to the doctrine and practices of the Restoration. Someone told me that FARMS is planning a special issue on it in a few months.