Category: Mormon Arts

Arts – Music – Poetry – Cinema – Television

Ein Ruf aus der Wüste: Foreword

The fierce desire harbored by the author of this booklet to fulfill an obligation that, he feels, a more than human power has imposed on him, as well as the heartfelt diligence with which  he hopes to gladden his fellow men through the proclamation of those truths that fill his own heart with inexpressible joy – these things have impelled him to commend the following little volume to the German people so that it might be received with an interest appropriate to the importance of the subject being treated. When in the course of human events it is made incumbent on us through the injunction of Divine Providence to record those unusual events that are suitable to comprise a new era and lay the foundation for renewal of a spiritual world and the destruction of tyranny and oppression to help promote the glorious kingdom of the Prince of Peace – then minds are filled with wonder and astonishment. The millennial church of Christ has been founded in the United States of America through the direct action of Divine Providence by His sending of His holy angel to show the nations the true fundamental teachings of his church, which was to be restored in the last times to prepare for the second coming of Christ to this world. The author of this little work is an American by birth and has been a priest of this church for eleven years, almost…

Ein Ruf aus der Wüste: title page

The first non-English Latter-day Saint work, Orson Hyde’s Ein Ruf aus der Wüste, was published in 1842 in Frankfurt. The section recounting the life of Joseph Smith and the translation of the Book of Mormon has been translated multiple times and is available at the Joseph Smith Papers Project, in Dean Jessee’s 1989 The Papers of Joseph Smith: Autobiographical and Historical Writings vol. 1, and in Dan Vogel’s Early Mormon Documents vol. 1. That leaves around 100 of the 115 total pages still untranslated. As a first step toward making this source more widely available, a translation of the title page and a few notes follow. To accompany this year’s “Come Follow Me” focus on the Doctrine and Covenants and church history, I’m planning to post additional sections in English translation as a way to look at how an early church member understood the restored gospel and presented it to others. * * * A Cry in the Wilderness, a Voice from the Bowels of the Earth. A short overview of the origin and doctrine of the church of “Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” in America, known to many by the designation: “The Mormons.” By Orson Hyde, a priest of this church. Read, reflect, pray and act! Frankfurt, 1842. Self published by the author. * * * One thing that immediately sticks out is that Ein Ruf aus der Wüste provides an early example of using the First Vision…

Lit Come Follow Me: D&C —Joseph Smith History 1

In the second lesson for this year, the Come Follow Me curriculum turns to Joseph Smith-History in order to include a brief look (over two lessons) at the origins of the restoration. For most Church members, the story is very familiar, and the principles taught are well-covered material. And, as you might imagine, the events of the First Vision have been told many times in poetry. But, that was not always true—Mormon poets didn’t cover the First Vision until the saints arrived in Utah. Below I’ve included three poems that treat the First Vision. Two of them are from some of the best known of Mormon poets. But, don’t stop there. The final poem, a sonnet, is the best, and one of my favorites of all Mormon poetry. Eliza R. Snow’s Historical sketch of the Life of President Joseph Smith The earliest poem I found is from 1856 — found in Eliza R. Snow’s first collection of poetry. Snow started writing a poetic epic poem to tell the life story of Joseph Smith in the early 1840s, completing an introductory poem that was published in 1843. She later wrote two “chapters” of the poem covering Smith’s life until the organization of the Church, and then apparently abandoned the project. The whole poem was published in her 1856 collection. The following is a portion of the second chapter that covers the events of the current Come Follow Me lesson: Historical sketch…

Lit Come Follow Me: D&C Section 1

The first section of the Doctrine and Covenants is meant to be its preface; an outline of both its reason for existing and its purpose. Presented at a conference of the Church in November, 1831, Section 1 was given and composed specifically because the church was compiling the revelations Joseph Smith had received and was trying to publish them. So this section is the revelation the Lord gave to outline the purpose of this volume of scripture. The Come Follow Me lesson for this first week of the year discusses several main concepts, including the restoration of the gospel, the primary reason why the Doctrine and Covenants exists. So, I’ve found two poems this week which talk about the restoration of the gospel.

A Christmas Hymn Wishlist

I’m always curious to hear what people think about music in the Church, particularly in recent years with the forthcoming new hymnbook.  Usually this time of year is insanely busy for me—with the bell choirs that I’ve been a part of, ward Christmas parties and programs, etc., around now I’m used to an endless series of rehearsals and performances of Christmas music.  This year has been much more quiet, but both Christmas music and the recent update on the forthcoming hymnbook and children’s songbook have still been on my mind.  As such, I’d be interested to hear what is on everyone’s wish list for the Christmas sections of the new music collections of the Church.  What Christmas hymns and songs would you like to see included and why?  Are there other changes with the Christmas music of our hymnal or children’s songbook that you think should happen? I’ll share some of my wish list while I’m at it.  There are several Christmas hymns that are currently included in Latter-day Saint hymnals outside of the English language one that I would love to see be included in the new hymnal.  “Sing We Now of Christmas,” “He Is Born, the Divine Christ Child,” and “What Child Is This?” stand out among them for me.  I also would not object if “Stars Were Gleaming” (or the older text associated with the tune, “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly”) migrated from the children’s songbook to the…

A New Update on the New Hymnbook

Last week, the Church released some new updates about the new hymnbook and children’s songbook.  The short and sweet version is that we’re still several years away from the books being published and that the process and the books themselves are evolving (both due, at least in part, to the sheer volume of material that is being evaluated for inclusion and current world circumstances).  We’ll look into the specifics in a minute (and I’d love to have some discussion about what you think about the projects from what we know), but first I’ll take a moment to link this to previous discussions I’ve posted about the new hymnbook (which, in turn, link to the previous news releases on the Church’s site): The New LDS Hymnbook: Changes and Possibilities (discussion about original announcement June 2018) Updates on the New Hymnbook (discussion from the last time we received new information about the hymnbook and children’s songbook May 2019) “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” Throughout the Restoration (discussion about the history and likelihood of the titular hymn being included in the new hymnal) Spanish Hymns and the Future Hymnbook (discussion about which hymns original to the Spanish hymnals of the Church may be included in the new hymnal) The sheer amount of material that is being evaluated is overwhelming.  According to the new article on the Church’s site, over 16,000 original hymns, songs, and texts were submitted for consideration.  About 55% of…

The Author and the Congressman

The Author In my childhood, I watched my evangelical classmates devour the Left Behind series, curious what a Mormon analogue would look like. Lo and behold, in 2003 Deseret Book published a novel titled The Brothers. Befitting his history as a military pilot, the author had previously focused on military techno-thrillers, and the book series to which The Brothers was a prologue — The Great and Terrible — was mostly of that genre.  While it turned out that The Great and Terrible was not exactly comparable to Left Behind — it wasn’t about the end of days — The Brothers did not disappoint. I unironically love the book as a ingenuous crystallization of a certain moment in Mormon political theology, projected back into a narrative set in the premortal, pre-Earth life. The author prefaces the book with an Author’s Note, in which he admits that he “was forced to take author’s license in many of the details presented in this book. The simple fact is that we know very little of what life was like for us in the premortal world, and the war in heaven is a mystery we know even less about. Yet any literary work, especially fiction, requires some sense of time, location, conflict, and description in order for readers to allow themselves to be pulled into the story.” Without these, he says, “the story turns out to be little more than a series of conversations.” He…

When You Believe: An EP Review

Last Friday, the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square released a new extended play record (EP), “When You Believe: A Night at the Movies.”  I bought and downloaded the music this weekend and I have listened to it several times since then.  The EP is short (totaling five tracks and about 23 minutes), but it is a lot of fun and displays a high quality of performance.  My biggest complaint is that there isn’t more. One of my first thoughts with the idea of the Tabernacle Choir recording soundtrack pieces was the question of whether the choir can bring something to the pieces that the original soundtrack recordings do not have.  With the two pieces from blockbuster sci-fi films featured on the EP (Avengers and Star Wars), it feels like having a 300+ member choir combined with a virtuosic performance by the Orchestra at Temple Square packs a punch that added something extra to the tracks.  While I enjoy the originals, I think I enjoy these recordings more because of that added umpf.  The choir has also cultivated a lighter, younger sound in recent years that worked well for a softer, angelic tone at the start of “I’ll Fly Away” (though I felt like they had a difficult time making the transition to the rowdier, gospel-style singing I that I feel like the piece asks for later on in the arrangement) and makes for a pleasant rendition of “When You Believe.” …

Eleusis and the Spanish-language LDS Novel

Some years ago I learned of and became fascinated with a 1976 Venezuelan LDS novel, La Puerta Azul, o Georgina Altamirano, La Venezuelana que se convirtió en Mormona. This autobiographical novel was written by the granddaughter of the “patriarch of Meridan Letters,” Tulio Febres Cordero. It also was the first long-form Latter-day Saint literary work I knew of that was written in another language1. But, although I have a copy, I haven’t yet read it. Since then I’ve kept an eye out for other works, and I’ve found some2. Recently, I’ve seen some activity in Mexico, most notably the literary association “La Cofradía de Letras Mormonas“ and its periodical “El Pregonero de Deseret”3. And I learned of a recently-published Mexican Latter-day Saint novel: Eleusis [The Long and Winding Road] by R. de la Lanza. I believe that a Mexican Latter-day Saint literature is developing. A Short Review I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by Eleusis, which is available as an ebook from Amazon. Given the average book in the Wasatch-front based LDS market, I expected a fairly traditional work—a genre work written for entertainment, perhaps with a thriller or romantic plot with a Latter-day Saint setting. But I think Eleusis has higher aspirations. The novel tells the story of multiple generations of a Mexican family as they work through their relationship with the Church over a century. Shifting back and forth through time, the family members join the church,…

Art and Christ in Church Buildings

Yesterday, the Church released new guidelines about the appearance church meetinghouse.  The latest in the series of Christocentric reforms during President Nelson’s tenure, the intent of the guidelines is to help “create a feeling of reverence and dignity” in the spaces that “establish the first impression and feelings that individuals receive when entering a meetinghouse.”  In line with the recent strong emphasis on Jesus the Christ’s role in the Church that began with insistence on using the Church’s full name and continued with the shift from using the Angel Moroni to the Christus statue as the Church’s primary symbol, “framed artwork that focuses on the Savior should always be displayed” in these meetinghouse spaces.  Steps are to be taken to remove artwork, furniture, display cases, etc. that do not fall in line with these requirements (either to other parts of the building or from the building altogether) and a list of approved artwork has been issued. In many ways, I feel that this is a good move on the Church’s part.  As indicated in the First Presidency letter, the entrances and foyers are the first impression people have of the meetinghouse interior and set the tone as they come in.  Removing some of the clutter provides a neater appearance.  The artwork will help focus attention on Jesus Christ.  Those will both be a good thing as we enter the building and are mentally preparing ourselves for the sacrament and other…

How Much Art Comes through Church

Think through this with me: How much art do we see through the Church or because of the Church? I’m talking about all forms of art; visual and performance, representative and symbolic, etc. and etc. What art is delivered to us by the Church? How much art is in our worship and lessons? What impact does it have? And what art do we participate in because of the Church?

COVID, Conference, and Choir

The world is facing extraordinary times.  With the COVID-19 pandemic raging worldwide, everyone is (or soon will be) feeling an impact from it in one way or another.  It will likely leave some lasting changes on our society.  Within the Church, it provides us with an extraordinary opportunity to reflect on how we have been doing things and to consider how we can change and possibly improve.  In the age of technology that we live in, there are plenty of opportunities available, such as the has been shown with how the Church is handling general conference. In the past, pandemics and epidemics have changed how the Church has done things.  Towards the end of WWI, a the most severe pandemic in recent history spread across the world, infecting nearly a quarter of the world’s population, shutting down many countries for a time, and killing somewhere between 17 million to 50 million people between January 1918 and December 1920.  During the ongoing battle with this H1N1 influenza virus, the spring 1919 General Conference was delayed from April until June.  Beyond the impact on the timing of general conference, the Spanish flu influenced a few other events and policies in the Church.  It was that pandemic that spurred the Church to change the Sacramental water from being partaken from a shared cup to using separate cups.[1]  It was also in this era of massive death due to the Great War and the…

What are the New Roles for our Latter-day Saint Cultures?

We’ve all seen the changes. Two hour church. High Priests don’t meet separately. No more Scouts. Come Follow Me. Etc., etc., etc. Anyone with a serious continuing connection to the Church is still adjusting. And those adjustments include adjustments to our culture. You’ve probably seen the changes in culture. They include changes to our terminology (“ministering”, “come follow me”), changes in how we structure our lives (“two hour church”, home-based study and study groups) and changes to the cultural goods we consume (podcasts, YouTube videos). During my life the culture associated with the Church had already changed markedly before the most recent changes. The roadshows, bazaars and theater, the sports competitions and blue and gold balls, the Relief Society magazine of my youth are gone, along with many other things. How I act as a Church member now is radically different than what was normal then. With all of this, I wonder how the role of culture has changed and should change. In my view culture is an extremely important part of any organization. We rely on culture to allow members to express their feelings about the church and their place in it and the world. Our culture gives others signals about whether we are part of the community or not. Culture fills in our experience between ritual and meeting. It is present in how we try to accomplish our religion. And sometimes it even limits and thwarts what the…

Resources for Ward Choirs

This week, the American Choral Directors Association is meeting in Salt Lake City, so choral music is on my mind.  While my career isn’t in music, it’s an art form that plays an important role in my life.  I have some training in piano, choral performance, and organ while my wife was trained in vocal performance.  We’ve spent most of our married life in music-related callings as a result.  It’s not a stretch to say that leading a ward choir is, perhaps, the most rewarding and most difficult of the music callings we’ve been involved in.  Few people want to put in the extra time at Church or (especially if young children are involved) feel like they can do so, which means that ward choirs are often small.  Budgets are limited, so finding music that is usable in sacrament meetings can be difficult.  Luckily, however, there is an ever-growing corpus of free or inexpensive choir music available for Latter-day Saint ward choirs online, and my goal here is to gather a good list of those resources into one place here.[1] One of the newest sites to join this list is Ronald Staheli’s sheet music site.  Staheli is an internationally known and respected choral conductor who retired a few years ago from leading choirs at Brigham Young University.  Apparently, he’s spent a fair amount of time during retirement focusing on writing music for ward choirs.  Launched just a few months ago,…

Book of Mormon Stories: New Verses for the Liahona, Nephi’s Bow, and Building the Ship

I teach nine-year-olds for Primary, and I’ve started composing new verses to the old primary song Book of Mormon Stories as a way to recap the events before we get into discussion and activities. Here are four verses (which are arguably terrible but also instructive: I’m clearly not a songwriter) that go along with tomorrow’s Come, Follow Me lesson for 1 Nephi 16-22. At the end of many lines are optional interjections (in the style of “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer“). I share them in case they might be useful for primary or family lessons tomorrow.   The Liahona Lehi and Sariah needed guidance on their way. (in the wilderness) One day Lehi left his tent right at the break of day. (good morning!) There was a ball outside, and it did show them the way. (how curious!) The Liahona led if they lived righteously. Nephi’s Bow Nephi and his brothers went out hunting to find food. (delish!) Nephi broke his bow and his whole family did boo. (boo!) Nephi built a new bow, asked his dad where he should go. Lehi prayed, Nephi hunted, they all ate. (yay!) Building the Ship Then the Lord called Nephi, told him he should build a ship. (wow!) His brothers did make fun of him so that working they could skip. (lazy!) Nephi did remind them of all that the Lord can do! (miracles!) They got mad, then got shocked, and helped grudgingly. (fine!)…

Updates on the New Hymnbook

It’s been nearly a year since the new core hymnbook was announced. While there have been a few rumors about the book (like a smaller size and getting rid of hymns with problematic copyrights), very little actual news has come up. Recently, however, the Church published an updated set of guidelines for the hymns and children’s songs that are being submitted. The timing is opportune, with less than two months to the submissions deadline left. Accompanying this publication are a few articles on the Church’s newsroom and on lds.org. What do these reveal about the forthcoming hymnbook? First is the announcement of the committees that are going to guide the creation of the hymnbook and children’s songbook. Two committees (one for each book) have been organized. Each has members with expertise in areas relating to the hymnbook and songbook (music, various cultures, doctrine, etc.). Members of the hymnbook committee include Steve Schank (a music manager for the Church), Ryan Murphy (the associate music director of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square), Cherilyn Worthen (Utah Valley University professor of Choral Music Education and the director of the Tabernacle Choir’s training school), Stephen Jones (BYU professor of music composition), Sonja Poulter (a German alto in the Tabernacle Choir), Carolyn Klopfer (author of the words to “Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth”), Herbert Kopfer (a long-standing member of the Church Music Department and composer of the hymn tune for “Home Can Be…

Spanish Hymns and the Future Hymnbook

Recently, Walter van Beek wrote an interesting post on this blog about Global Mormonism. Globalization and decentralization are important topics in the Church right now. Even within the past few weeks, the gathering of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve in Rome has been portrayed as a hugely symbolic moment for the Church’s broadening its focus beyond Utah and the USA. When the new hymnbook was announced last year, Elder Erich W. Kopischke stated that one goal of the new edition was to “include some of the best hymns and songs originating in other languages that will then be translated into English and the other languages around the world.”[1] So far, the only hymn in the English hymnal to be written by a Latter-day Saint that had translated from another language is the stirring Restoration hymn “Sehet ihr Völker, Licht bricht heran!”, written in German but known in English as “Hark All Ye Nations!” The hymn was included in the English hymnal for the first time in 1985.[2] From there, it has spread around the world. As far as I can tell, the non-English hymn that stands the best chance of making its way into the new hymnal is the Spanish missionary hymn, “Placentero nos es trabajar.” One thing that must be faced to achieve the goal described by Elder Kopischke is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has historically prioritized the hymns of English-speaking…

“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” Throughout the Restoration

I remember seeing a survey several years ago that claimed that the two most popular hymns among Latter-day Saints were “I Stand All Amazed” and “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. I have not been able to find that survey online in recent years, but the latter hymn would be an interesting case, since it is not included in the current English hymnbook published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am pondering on hymns that may find their way into the new hymnbook, however, and there seems to be a lot of interest in the hymn and requests for its return. This made me wonder—what is the history of this hymn in our hymnbooks? Why is it not in the current English one? What is the status of the hymn in other Latter-day Saint hymnbooks? The hymn was written by Robert Robinson and was first published in the United States of America in 1759. It is uncertain what tunes it was sung to originally, but the hymn tunes NETTLETON and NORMANDY became standard in the USA and the UK, respectively. For Latter-day Saints, the hymn text was first included in A Collection of Sacred Hymns, for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, published in Nauvoo during 1841 as an updated edition of Emma Smith’s 1835 Kirtland hymnbook. The hymnbook competed with a different one published by the Quorum of the Twelve in Manchester,…

Where are the women artists in the Come, Follow Me manual?

As I started preparing family lessons using the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’s new Come, Follow Me manual, I was struck by the quantity of art. In addition to photos and screenshots from Church-produced videos, the manual includes 78 reproductions of paintings or stained-glass windows. Many lessons – particularly in the first half of the year – include two or three paintings. But as I started going through the art, noting the artists, I saw a pattern: Brent Borup, Del Parson, Walter Rane, Dana Mario Wood, Walter Rane, Tom Holdman, Greg K. Olsen, Robert T. Barrett, Jorge Cocco, Simon Dewey. They’re all men. It’s not until the 20th painting that we get to a woman artist: Liz Lemon Swindle’s Against the Wind, showing the Savior lifting Peter out of the water in Matthew 14. Out of 76 paintings for which I could identify the artist and the artist’s gender, only 9 were by women artists – that’s just under 12 percent.* What’s more, 5 of those 9 were by just one artist, Liz Lemon Swindle. Even though Walter Rane has 12 paintings and Del Parson has 6, those only make up a quarter of all the paintings by men, leaving room for a wide array of lesser known artists to be featured. Why does this matter? We want to be involved in organizations where we can see ourselves (or see what we’d like to be). In India, adolescent…

Sing a Christmas Carol: Christmas Music in the Latter-day Saint Hymnbooks

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gather today around the world for their Christmas Sunday meetings, Christmas hymns and songs will be sung and performed as an important part of those meetings. One thing that not everyone may realize, however, is that the options for that music varies around the world. As a teenager, I had a strange obsession with collecting Church materials in different languages. When I picked up a few hymnbooks, I was surprised to find that they were not only much smaller than the English hymnbook I was used to, but that there were some different hymns in them. This was most noticeable in the Christmas section, where I was able to spot a few carols that I knew but that weren’t in the hymnbook as I knew it. I have been curious since then what Christmas songs have received approval from the Correlation Department to become part of the corpus of Latter-day Saint Christmas music that aren’t in the English hymnbook or children’s songbook. Finally, I sat down this weekend to spend a few hours browsing SingPraises.net in order to find out. My first area of interest was in the hymnbooks. Do you agree with the Living Scriptures blog that “He is Born” (“Il est Né, le Divin Enfant”) is one of the most gorgeous Christmas hymns not in our hymnbook?[1] It actually turns out that it is in the Latter-day…

Trials, Tribulations, and a Movie: An LDS-themed Discussion of the Coen Brothers’ A SERIOUS MAN

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…

The New LDS Hymnbook: Changes and Possibilities

Recently, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that they were going to prepare a new hymnbook and children’s songbook for use in the worldwide Church. Specifically, the goal is to create unity in hymn numbers and selections that reflect the needs of a global organization. This is the first time in over thirty years that the official hymnbook for the Church has changed, and it is a matter of no small excitement for Mormon musicians and general membership. The current hymnbook is wonderful, but change can always bring new opportunities and improvements. Part of the excitement is that there is an unprecedented amount of involvement of general membership being made possible through online surveys and song submission opportunities. Based on trends within the Church, the history of hymnbooks in Mormonism, and the statements that have been made about the forthcoming books, what might the new hymn and song books look like? There are a number of faucets to examine in considering this question, including continuity with past hymnals, new LDS music available for use, what might be removed and changed, and the hymnbook and songbook’s relationships to the general Christian tradition of music, and the tunes being used. Let’s look at each of these in turn. Continuity During the latter half of the twentieth century, hymnbooks in the LDS tradition have been kept around the same physical size. The major consideration has been the size of hymnbook…

The Bread of Life, with Chocolate Chips

Today I am pleased to present a guest post from a good friend of the blog, Samuel Morris Brown.  I learned to cook when my wife was recovering from cancer surgery. There’s a hollowness, kindred to cancer, hungry to swallow you up when a beloved’s life is threatened. I still remember, with a soul-deep ache, that time when her body was a battleground for scalpeling surgeons and monstrously deformed cells. Those harrowing days are a distant memory now, but that fulminant awareness of her mortality still haunts me. I’ve seen a lot of death in my short life; nothing disoriented me like her cancer. The wild upheaval of unexpected illness unearthed more than a surgical specimen for the pathologist’s microscope. She and I discovered in the cancer’s aftermath my longstanding failure as a husband to be her full partner. This spousal dereliction had insinuated itself into the infrastructure of our marriage. I realized that my soul needed a surgery of its own. A spiritual death had wrapped its malignant fingers around my internal organs, a nefarious mimic of the tumor that had lifted the retina off the back of her eye. The simultaneous, stark revelation of her mortality and my personal failure left me wanting to sit alone in a room and cry my way through the smothering chaos rather than accept the painful transformation that beckoned. But there was no time to stare, heartbroken, at my pitiful soul, dithering…

Fiction and History

I’ll give you a couple of book discussions after one short paragraph on fiction and history. Both fiction and history are a form of narrative. Historical narrative is (ideally) constrained by facts and historical evidence; both fiction and history are constrained in a looser sense by the sensibilities of their reading audience, as few people will read a boring or irrelevant or uncredible narrative, whether packaged as fiction, nonfiction, history, or scripture. We readers want plausible, relevant, interesting narratives. Life is too short to bother with anything else. So let’s start with some fiction, Mette Ivie Harrison’s His Right Hand, the second installment in an ongoing series. The blurb on the front cover describes it as “A Linda Wallheim mystery set in Mormon Utah.”

A Mormon Image: Communing With the Saints

My loved ones are embarrassed by public breastfeeding, so I retire to the mothers’ room to fulfill the measure of my creation. ~ Bethany West If you have a photograph you would like to submit for consideration in our A Mormon Image series, please see here for our submission requirements.

A Mormon Image: Izyek Steps into the Waters

On a cold day in January, Eldon Umphrey helps his son, Izyek, into Mission Creek in western Montana. The creek runs through the family property, and it has become a family tradition to perform baptisms there, even when there’s snow and ice. ~ Michael Umphrey (http://umphrey.net/)   If you have a photograph you would like to submit for consideration in our A Mormon Image series, please see here for our submission requirements.