Saturday, November 09, 2002

Qualified for the Work

I want to expand a little on what I talked about the other day. I’m a little on edge about this topic.

The more I read of articles by the powers that be in the LDS arts, the more I hear people saying how the quality must improve.

And I really don’t have any gripes with that, at face value. I think it’s important that we as a people are constantly striving to improve our art as we improve our lives. And when you consider how LDS popular arts has a reputation for schmaltz (particularly music and lit), it makes a certain amount of sense for those in the arts to want to raise the bar.

But I’d like to mention another Meridian article by Keith Merrill. It’s called “Go Make a Movie”. Before I go any farther, let me say that I like the article, and agree with it. It’s all about what he calls “Personal Cinema”. This is when people take their camcorders, their computers and make movies.

He’s not talking about filming Junior’s graduation or Sally’s wedding. He’s talking about making movies on your home computer.

And it’s really interesting to me because I just discovered the other day that the computer that I bought a year ago comes packaged with video editing software.

He says that we that have the ideas should start shooting and making our own movies.

But, oops, just like all the others “in the industry”, he ends by saying we should make GOOD movies.

Well, I’m sorry, but before we make a great movie, or song, or book, or poem, most of us are going to make a lot of bad ones. Or at least mediocre ones.

I should know.

I’ve made a lot of mediocre songs.

Even my good ones (even though they’re good) are not up to the level of things recorded and sung in the big leagues. What do you expect? I record them in my den! Now, I keep getting better. I practice, I take lessons, I redo and do over and over until it’s better. But even with all that, I’m not there yet.

Does that mean I should stop until I can do a masterpiece? Does that mean I should hide my light under a bushel until it’s worthy of a Pearl award? I don’t think so.

I read in D & C Section 4, and I notice something that I find kind of interesting. This section is usually interpreted to be applied to missionary work, and the “Marvelous work” that is about to come forth is rightly interpreted to mean the restored gospel.

But let’s reread it with a slightly different, yet still applicable, interpretation. Let’s make the “marvelous work” mean the arts of the gospel, and apply the whole section to us as artists.

1 NOW behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.

2 Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.

3 Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;

4 For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;

5 And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.

6 Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.

7 Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen.


As I read it, I don’t see any mention in all those wonderful qualifications that relates to skill or talent. It all deals with humility, desire, spirituality.

See, as I see it, if we have all those traits that God wants us to have, he’ll help us develop the skills and talents. We have the desires, we are called to the work, we’re cultivating the traits. Doesn’t it make sense to expect the help the Lord promises if we knock?

So, it seems to me that if my first songs aren’t that great, or if someone else’s first movie has a thin plot or bad acting, or if another person’s first novel has a storyline that’s pretty formula, that’s not a bad thing, is it? I’d rather have it be attempted than stifled.

So, let your light so shine, and don't hide your talent in the ground, and all those other parab-olic analogies! And don't be afraid to make art.

Mark Hansen

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