“A subject so worthy”

“A subject so worthy” July 15, 2019

 

Samuel Langhorn Clemens and Booker T. Washington
Booker T. Washington delivering a lecture at New York City’s Carnegie Hall in 1906. Mark Twain is seated behind him.
(Wikimedia Commons public domain photo)

 

Here’s a wonderful case of extracting good from bad or, as the old saying has it, of making a silk purse from a sow’s ear:

 

“Choir Goes Viral for Singing “I Believe in Christ” During NY Blackout”

 

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In any given month, there’s a whole lot going on in places far removed from Church headquarters and the Wasatch Front.  Here are a few examples:

 

“Latter-day Saints Around the World: Country Newsroom Websites, July 12, 2019”

 

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There’s a very strong connection to Brigham Young University in this item:

 

“Jeff Foxworthy, Kenan Thompson Praise JK! Studios’ Hilarious Sketch on NBC”

 

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Yesterday (Sunday) was partly devoted to reading through the latest iteration of the script for the dramatic theatrical-film portion of our Witnesses film project and discussing it with our producer.  I’m very pleased with the way that the script is shaping up.  Which is good, because casting begins very shortly and our production team intends to begin filming dramatic footage in early September, both on sets in Utah and in locations back east.  (We’ve already recorded numerous scholarly interviews for the documentary portion of the project.)

 

Our fundraising, though not yet finished, has been quite successful thus far.  We’re approaching our financial targets.  Now, though, my overwhelming concern is that our work be worthy of the trust that donors have placed in us and, even more crucially, worthy of the importance of the subject that we’re addressing.

 

***

 

I have long reflected on the challenge posed by President Spencer W. Kimball in his marvelous essay “The Gospel Vision of the Arts.”  Here’s a passage from it:

 

Freed largely from expansion and growing pains, we can now pour many firm foundations under our dreams for the future. . . .

For years I have been waiting for someone to do justice in recording in song and story and painting and sculpture the story of the Restoration, the reestablishment of the kingdom of God on earth, the struggles and frustrations; the apostasies and inner revolutions and counter-revolutions of those first decades; of the exodus; of the counter-reactions; of the transitions; of the persecution days; of the miracle man, Joseph Smith, of whom we sing “Oh, what rapture filled his bosom, For he saw the living God” (Hymns, no. 136); and of the giant colonizer and builder, Brigham Young.

We are proud of the artistic heritage that the Church has brought to us from its earliest beginnings, but the full story of Mormonism has never yet been written nor painted nor sculpted nor spoken. It remains for inspired hearts and talented fingers yet to reveal themselves. They must be faithful, inspired, active Church members to give life and feeling and true perspective to a subject so worthy. Such masterpieces should run for months in every movie center, cover every part of the globe in the tongues of the people, written by great artists, purified by the best critics.

Our writers, our motion picture specialists, with the inspiration of heaven, should tomorrow be able to produce a masterpiece which would live forever.

Don’t worry.  I’m not giving myself airs.  I don’t see myself as the great film impresario for whom President Kimball was hoping and for whom the Kingdom waits.

But I’m convinced that, if we don’t work and produce and try, the anticipated masterpieces will never arrive.  We’ll move toward such achievements in small, incremental steps, until the field is ready to harvest.  If I can help to move things a small step forward, I’ll be content.

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