Regional conference last Sunday was a broadcast from Salt Lake City. We and all the other stakes in Oregon had our own opening prayer, song, speaker, and announcements. Then the Packers and the Tingeys and Brother McAllister addressed us on the big screen.
Brother Packer talked a little about the growth of the Church and this new program of broadcast regional conferences the Church is doing. The first one went on in Venezuela two months ago, he said. He then reviewed the history of prophets and apostles visiting the stakes, from the quarterly visits of yore to the every-other-year visits of yesterday to today’s new program. He got into detail. And then he was done.
It was a boring topic and I loved it. Any of us can talk for hours about our own sicknesses and accomplishments and mundane little lives. Hooboy, can we ever. Hold your calls. And any of us listening will be bored. I certainly am. But sometimes you’ll meet someone who rattles on about a third party, and then your interest comes alive a little. Not that the subject matter has changed, but that someone loving another as much as himself adds novelty to the proceedings. The more President Packer went on about the details of these procedural changes, the more apparent it became that he thought they were interesting because he thought everything about the Church was interesting. I tell you, it was gripping (and moving) to watch.
I feel the same way about President Packer’s art as I do about his talk. I know some people dislike seeing his paintings and his . . . sculptures, I guess, if that’s the right word for those 3-D scenes he does with what look like stuffed birds and sculpted logs and what not. People think he’s not getting recognition solely on the merits. They think that he’s the racially-diverse-athlete-whose-alumnus-father-donates-millions applying for admission at Church Art U. I am willing to concede that it’s so. Even I can tell that his landscapes are all right but not great, and I have no idea what to make of the sculptures.
But I think that message isn’t that his art is intrinsically good, any more than his talk meant to communicate how important and gripping Church procedural changes were. No. The message is his example: one of the brothers, one of the brethren, loves art and loves creating it. The message is that ours is not a religion that exclusively glorifies Great Art and Great Artists who are gods among men. Ours is a religion that tries to glorify mortal men into becoming gods aborning. Try your hand, brother.