A well-known axiom in both life and storytelling states that the matters we find most personal are also the most universal. Whether it’s film, literature, or some other medium, stories with the most specific and distinctive settings and points of view are usually those an audience will find most relatable. In the words of Robert McKee: “An archetypal story creates settings and characters so rare that our eyes feast on every detail, while its telling illuminates conflicts so true to humankind that it journeys from culture to culture.” A Serious Man, the 2009 masterpiece from Joel and Ethan Coen, is a darkly comic film exploring the nature of God, religious inquiry, and human suffering. Set among a community of Jews living in Minnesota in the 1960s, the film mirrors the Coen’s formative years, arguably making it their most personal film to date. That level specificity brings with it a familiarity and universality that just isn’t present in most of their work, or anyone else’s for that matter. Mormons can have a hard time grappling with the same issues explored in A Serious Man. We seem to define periods of our lives by the struggles we face. Dealing with trials is the focus of countless conference talks, priesthood and Relief Society Lessons, and Mormon.org videos. Within Mormon doctrine and culture, there are recurring themes about the source and meaning of our mortal struggles. And, let’s be honest, quite often, they are…
Author: Bryan Hickman
Uber-Deep and Important Doctrinal Questions
After reading the post from a couple days ago about optimal tithing rates, I started to think about some of the unanswered questions that have come to mind while I’ve been playing Brick Breaker in Elder’s Quorum pondering the mysteries of the Gospel. It seems like this audience might be able to offer some differing perspectives on these conundrums that, up to now, have kept me at a loss. A lot of you seem to be much smarter than I am. Have at them.
What Does My Lack of Personal Trials Say About Me?
I’ve been thinking long and hard about what I should talk about in my inaugural post on this blog. Quite honestly, when I agreed to do a stint as a guest blogger, I thought it would be pretty easy. But, lately, it seems that all my Mormonism-related thoughts have been trite and meaningless. For example, I considered drafting a post complaining about one of the teachers Elders Quorum and his refusal to teach out of the manual. But, honestly, I think that post would have just ended up being a rant about a quorum discussion outlining the evils of facial hair (true story, by the way) and I don’t think that’s what the faithful readers of this blog are looking for.