Subject: Where are our Michelangelos?
Date: Apr 16 15:24 2003
Author: Terrasanct

Do any of you remember this talk? It was given at BYU by Gordon Bowen. Here is a quote:

"We are a Church of nearly 10 million people. That is more people than lived in Italy during the Renaissance and we are as numerous as our Jewish brethren. Yet, where are our Michelangelo's and Meryl Streep's? Our Frank Capra's and Monet's? Our Shakespeare's and Bryshnikov's?"

I used to wonder about that, too. If we as a people had the Spirit, it would seem that we'd be getting inspiration in the arts. And yet, there are very few Mormons who have produced anything noteworthy. Most of what Mormon authors, visual artists, and moviemakers have produced is second-rate, hokey, feel-good crap.

Of course, I see the reason for this now. In a church that preaches conformity as one of its basic tenets, how can an artist produce anything valuable? Conformity isn't conducive to the arts.

I've mentioned this before, but when my husband (an artist) and I went to the temple open house, he made an insightful comment. He said, "How can they say this is a true church when there's no original art in here?" Good point.

I was looking forward to that creative renaissance. I wanted it!

Subject: "If a Mormon is famous, then they aren't a very good Mormon."
Date: Apr 16 15:55
Author: Kristen

My mom used to say that and I didn't understand what she meant until I got older. The older I got, the more I was preached to about the importance of family and how it has to be a person's #1 priority.

Every morgbot I grew up with that had any talent let it die away because building a family was so much more important. With all of these talented kids getting married young, they couldn't focus on their talents because they're too busy working to make enough money to not starve. They couldn't work on it in their spare time because any spare time is spent on church activities. Therefore, their talents go to waste and are eventually forgotten. Use it or lose it.

In order to become a Shakespeare, Streep or Michaelangelo, you have to spend countless hours working on your craft to take it to the next step which may emotionally cut you off from your family and possibly your church. This is definitely what the church is afraid of.

Here's an example. My brother is an attorney. He could become VERY successful and make tons of money doing what he loves if he wants. However, he is conditioned that family is more important. Therefore, he will work an 8 hour day for 5 days a week and go home to be with his family. If he wanted to be a VERY successful attorney, he would need to spend some long hours on his cases and smooze clients. I'm making it sound bad that he wants to be with his family, but I'm just showing how different priorities are.

Subject: Re: Where are our Michelangelos?
Date: Apr 16 16:14
Author: AussieJohn

Don't remember the BYU talk Terrasanct but I've mentioned here before an article in the Ensign sometime in the early '80s by Spencer W. Kimball, when President, bemoaning the same fact. His reasoning was that because the church was true it should be producing great artists.
My reasoning why it doesn't is because most of the time active members are so-o busy doing church busyness (sp, correct) they ain't got time to scratch themselves. Another reason is because many great artists are gay both in and out of the church, and we know what the church thinks about that.

Subject: I remember that Ensign
Date: Apr 16 21:56
Author: Robear

I also remember one of the featured artists was Trevor Southey, who has since left the church 'cuz he's gay.

Also, for creativity to flourish, you need to have an environment where it's safe to explore wherever the creativity will take you. Where it's safe to be unsafe. Mormonism is not that place. A culture that stresses conformity is no place for the nonconformist, and artists definitely are nonconformist.

I know, I wanted to study painting. But in order to play it safe, to support a family, I went into graphic design. But I still wonder what if...

Subject: Well, there's Neil LaBute and Aaron Eckhart...
Date: Apr 16 16:16
Author: John

They don't come across as exactly TBM, but they both still claim to be Mormon. Also, they aren't super famous although I think Eckhart has some promise if he can pick the right projects. Neil LaBute picks interesting projects but is a little too out there to be mainstream.

Subject: Polemics and Art...
Date: Apr 16 16:25
Author: Richard Garrard

...don't mix.

Unless your idea of art is ten story high portraits of Lenin and Stalin, and deceptive little statues of JS and BY on Temple Square. As medieval artists experimented with the imagery of Christianity, they ran out of steam until they eventually had to reach back to the techniques and vision of the Greeks and Romans. This syncretism led to the Renaissance, which helped bring about the Reformation, which, shall we say, raised "holy hell."

Today the Mormons and the Religious Right would like to take us back to the Middle Ages. Don't let them.

Subject: "When the profit speaks, the creating has been done"/nt.

Subject: Boyd KKK drove them out of the church
Date: Apr 16 16:56
Author: Yikes!

because they were feminists, intellectuals and homosexuals.

Subject: Maybe I'm missing it
Date: Apr 16 17:00
Author: homebody

but the Mormon culture does not seem very rich and inspiring. And artist must have inspiration, something beautiful and moving to create great works of art. Mo culture is bland.

Bowls of Jell-O do not make for beautiful still life's.

Subject: Ooh, that inspires me
Date: Apr 16 17:37
Author: Terrasanct

Too bad I'm not a visual artist--

I'm envisioning the Birth of Venus, ala Botticelli, but instead of rising from a shell, she's standing on a molded green Jell-O salad in a cultural hall. She would probably have to be wearing garments to cover her nakedness.

I can imagine a whole series of these with a Mormon subtext...

Subject: Michaelangelo was not in to pleasing church leadership
Date: Apr 16 17:57
Author: Breeze

Perhaps the morg leaders should look to those who please them less than the safe and lovely that they embrace.

Our orchestra here just had a pretty spiky classics concert with contemporary, not-so-pretty-and-tender pieces on it. It was fabulous watching people walk out and be excited because the music moved them to a place they didn't expect. The experience of music they didn't actually all love made them think about what it was "saying" in their lives. The experience they loved, not all the thorny music. good art.

Subject: Re: Where are our Michelangelos?
Date: Apr 16 18:52
Author: Wag

I have a sister who was/is a VERY talented artist and has immense potential. Now, however, she is married and popping out kids right and left. She doesn't even touch her artwork any more. It is highly disappointing.

My wife's brother is also a VERY talented artist, even more so than my sister and he is busy knocking up his wife and doing NOTHING with his immense potential.

It just really PISSES ME OFF!!!


Subject: "We have to save the dead. No time for culture."
Date: Apr 16 18:52
Author: StationaryTraveler

You'll be blessed in the afterlife for sacrificing your talents to further the condom of God.

Subject: Re: Where are our Michelangelos?
Date: Apr 16 19:16
Author: Lil ol Meme

I hated the church for just that reason. I am a painter, and if I can't paint I can't breathe. Yet I was expected to pop out a hundred little white shirt clones to be considered a productive member of society. Thank God I left. My art is going well and I am reaching new levels I thought I would never see. As for reproduction, I stopped at two before I lost my sanity and my will to paint.

Subject: What could be less inspirational...
Date: Apr 16 23:57
Author: TLC

...than the Mormon "pay, pray and obey" environment? What I find suprising is that any art at all could come out of such an oppressive culture.

When I was a college freshman at BYU riding on a full music scholarship, my compositions were roundly criticized because "they're not what we're looking for." (Imagine that in a Mormon environment!) Instead of encouraging me to build on what was already there, the mo professors simply dismissed my efforts and offered nothing in the form of suggestion or development.

I left the music program after a year and a half and went on to write some amazing music that's been wowing audiences for thirty years now.

Mormonism will never foster creativity because creativity means individualism and that's just something that doesn't fly within the confines of a cult. Mormonism depends on sameness and blind unthinking obedience to carry itself forward. That's not where art comes from.

Art comes from the individual responding to what they're seeing, thinking, feeling and hearing inside of themselves. All of that inner vision and inspiration is killed off in Mormonism.

Chances are good that there will never be a Michelangelo or anyone even remotely like him in Mormonism. Virtually all of the great Mormons artists have left the church. How could they not, when staying means a complete abdication of self.


Subject: Safety in the Center or how it's easier not to try.
Date: Apr 18 12:41
Author: LauraD.

We've had a few posts here recently about creativity or the lack of it in Morgdom. Where are the Michelangelo's? Where are the Virginia Woolf's and so on? I think most can agree that creativity has to be nurtured in order for it to survive and thrive. The phrase "use it or lose it" comes to mind.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to someone at work about those who seem to succeed in life. I said, it seems that those who take the most risks are the ones who succeed. She agreed.

In Morgdom it could be a shift in focus from creativity to family life and eternal progression that causes the talented to abandon their dreams and neglect their gifts. But I wonder if this isn't more of a valid reason:

When I was a young man, my friends and I went to an amusement park, where we rode the flying saucer. It was shaped something like an upside-down plate that went round and round. Most of us tried to get to the middle so we wouldn't be thrown off by the centrifugal force as the saucer picked up speed. Sometimes those on the edge would grab a friend who was closer to the middle, but that would pull them both completely off the saucer. I soon recognized that the centrifugal force was far less powerful in the middle. I was quite safe in the center even though the saucer was still spinning. But it was risky when someone on the fringe latched on to me. I learned that safety comes from staying close to the center.

Is this a mentality that prevails among Mormons, that it's safer when one doesn't push the envelope, doesn't stick out or doesn't take the risks? Is this what kills the creative life? Kind of makes me wonder.

For more pearls of wisdom go here:,5232,23-1-353-38,00.html

Subject: Wow Laura D.
Date: Apr 18 12:59
Author: Saucie

those are some awesome thoughts, I think you've hit on the truth here. The depth of repression suffered at the hands of morgdom is limitless. The "safety" it offers is a bleak exchange. The cost is personal individuality, spontaneity and creativity. The idea that to survive and be acceptable by being cookie cutter clones of each other speaks more of a cult than any thing else.

Maybe this suggests that part of recovery is to find who we really are instead of what the morg wants us to be.

Thanks for sharing Laura D. :-) Saucie

Subject: Thanks Saucie
Date: Apr 19 11:18
Author: LauraD.

Finding out who we really are after leaving the morg can be scary, trying and slow. If, after many years of neglecting our creativity, stifling our spontaneity, does it come back, will it come back?

Subject: Laura D. I think it will come back
Date: Apr 20 01:02
Author: Saucie

because it's been there all the time, it never left. It was just buried under all that guilt and repression. Do what you love, follow your heart, be good to yourself and everything will follow. :-)

Subject: Herd mentality
Date: Apr 18 13:56
Author: A Voice from the Past

Neat point Laura...

My example of the behavior, is 'herd mentality', or 'flock mentality' (for those avianphiles out there)... Basically in the wild, the herd operates on a few basic principles:

1) The ones in the center of the herd are generally safer from external threats (like predators).

2) in times of stress, the center of the herd and flock is always shifting, as each member tries to bring itself to the 'safe spot'.

3) The older and weaker members of the herd, have trouble competing for the 'center spot' with the members in their prime, so they are shifted out to the periphery (unless a healthy member is acting for them, i.e. a healthy mother actingto protect her young, which explains the necessity of the maternal instinct)

4) predators know to look for those members of the herd, who cannot make it to the center, as they are the weaker members, and ergo will be easier.

5) No matter what, no matter how much center time an individual can achieve, no matter how healthy or storng and individual is.... Any member of a herd that stands out from the herd is SCREWED.

Mormonism facilitates 'herd mentality' of its membership, it does so in several ways:
A) indoctrination (or mind control).
B) Inducing sameness in dress addtitude and styles.
C) Excluding all external acknowledgement, to the sole inclussion of the 'herd'... There is nothing worth having outside of the herd, so why look beyond the herd.
D) Exhiling members of the herd if they do not 'seek the center'.

So, when there are so many people trying to bein the center of the herd, munching on grass and complacently mooing, don't expect anyone to try anything new, or look at something differently, or experiment with themes that are not of the herd. Without experimentation or adventure, there is no discovery.

A Voice from the Past: The original naked albino in a herd of florecent orange marsupials wearing cumberbuns.

Subject: I always felt rather nauseated in the center of Merry-go-rounds...
Date: Apr 19 11:25
Author: The Walrus

..because my stomach couldn't decide which way it was being pulled. To further extend the analogy, it is far more fun and ultimately rewarding to go on the edges of centriguges, you go faster and get more of a thrill. Yes, there is danger, but that goes for every activity worth pursuing in life. With a solid grip on the metal bars, you'll be fine.

Subject: Laura I have to disagree
Date: Apr 19 11:28
Author: Tyler

Many mormons I know are extremely crafty and imaginative when it come to creating companies whose sole purpose is to defraud and steal from others. Utah is to the Multi level marketing world as Milan is to the fashion industry.


Subject: lol, well...
Date: Apr 19 11:33
Author: LauraD.

that wasn't exactly what I was talking about but it's an interesting spin on it. The subject of creativity, as in arts and such came up a couple of days ago. However, you have a very valid point.

Subject: When I was younger I did enjoy the wilder rides at
Date: Apr 19 15:09
Author: StationaryTraveler

amusement parks or carnivals. There have been times where I paid a dear price for my sense of adventure.

It seems like I just puked my guts out yesterday when I took that Hammer ride along with the Tilt-a-wheel finished off with the Rockin'Roll Express. I swear I was never going to return to normal. My head spun for a day or two and I couldn't hold anything down.

Along with suffering from the heaves I also got to enjoy several explosions from my colon.

HEY,..........but it sure was fun!!!

Subject: You are quite right. The church makes people afraid to think.
Date: Apr 19 17:40
Author: NEM

How can you be creative if there are limits on what you can think.

And I don't know many risk-taking Mos either. This makes sense when you think of what kind of people are active Mo's - people who like knowing all the answers, people who like to be told what to do right down to choice of underwear, people who like the safety of knowing that if they check off all the right boxes they'll get their reward without having to think much. The business world doesn't guarantee anyone anything. It's complicated, and there are no mentors who will stand over you and tell you what to do every step of the way.

Subject: The "church" makes people afraid to think? Part of the delusion
Date: Apr 20 02:54
Author: observant

that seems to be perpetuated in certain locales is the very fact that people just like you refer to "the church" as something "apart from themselves":

the white-shirted, sterile, non-creative ones in the mormon hierarchy are those who you abstractly refer to as "the church". If one properly identifies just who the "church" IS, then they will be less susceptible to that herd mentality, mentioned above.

"The CHURCH" is not some nameless, faceless force which, like a vortex, seems to suck "its" people into the center of the vacuum:

if you stop to think about it for a moment, you MAY come to a creative conclusion of your own: or, at least, creatively come to a similar conclusion.

The "morg" is the group of "stuffy, non-creative-corporate-nerds" at the "top of the hierarchical heap" (AKA, "THE BRETHREN"): I think it is time that people began to tell it like it is and call a spade a spade)

You don't want to be guilty of "evil-speaking of the Lord's anointed", though--right? (You'll have to get over THAT fear while you begin to think for yourself; although, I do not recommend trashing individuals--just to correctly identify that "group" that so many, here, call "church").

"The Church" does not "dictate" anything.
The Brethren dictate everything.

"The Church" does not encourage herd mentality.
The Brethren encourage herd mentality.

The list goes on.

In reality, "the Church" is, and has always been, "the people": it has "ever been thus".

The English philosopher John Locke, of the 18th century (1700s), said,
"Man is born good: it is society that corrupts him."

I don't believe that Locke was saying to go find a Walden Pond--like Thoreau--and spend life (or part of it) in isolation. I just think that he, Locke, was saying, "Be aware." (Don't "get caught up in" the herd mentality of any given society, religious or not.)


Subject: I work in the Arts...
Date: Apr 20 01:50
Author: doubtingthomas

and I have been wrangling with this idea for some time. When I think of all the creative people in the Arts through the years that have achieved success, I have to wonder where we would be if Mormon Doctrine were true. All of the great artists have always drawn upon their personal experiences to express themselves--experiences that have nothing to do with so called "Mormon truth". It is their individuality of expression that has so profoundly reflected realityand given us a deep introspective of ourselves and the human condition.

If people had been true to mormon doctrine since the dawn of civilization, I think life nowadays would be pretty sterile and anything we have ever learned from artistic expression of any kind, would not be with us.

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