Well, I’m sad today for two reasons. One, I will be attending the funeral of my sister-in-law, and two, I have witnessed the fall of one our great examples for writing.
My sister-in-law was a sweetheart. She was fun to talk to, she had lots of spark, and she loved me (which is always a plus). Unfortunately, she was also a alcoholic, which possibly contributed to her death. (She fell down some stairs and received a fatal head injury.)
Sunday, my brother gave a wonderful talk in Sacrament meeting about examples. He said there are two types of people; those who lead by example, and those who learn by example. He figured he was one of those who learned, and based his talk on that. (We wanted to throw our hymn books at him, but that would have disrupted the meeting...) My sister-in-law was one who didn’t learn by example, but had to figure things out on her own. I’m still pondering that, I think I’m someone who learns from others.
The reason I share this with you, is an article I read by Richard Dutcher. Anyone who knows anything about film and writing in the LDS church, has heard of him. He has been called the “Father of Mormon Cinema”.
This “Father” has opted to leave the scene. He has decided that his journey has taken him away from the church and that part of this journey has been the lack of quality within the film works of the Mormon church. The article ended with the announcement that he had left the church. I felt like saying “Elvis has left the building”...
Why is it that someone who is famous has to leave in a big way? So what if he left the church...did he have to write a newspaper article slamming the way the church makes movies to show in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building?
I was particularly saddened because I met him several years ago when he spoke at a writing conference held at Thanksgiving Point. I asked him if anyone had done a modernization of the movie The Bishop's Wife for the LDS market. He said that he thought it would be a great idea, but that he’d been largely disappointed in the quality of work that had come to light. He had produced God's Army with the idea that it would bring out all the closet LDS writers in the church and bring our film standard up from that of the industry. I can’t help but think that started the bitterness I hear in his words.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been disillusioned, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. We keep forgetting that our hero’s of clay are just that – clay. They are mortal and make mistakes and fall just like we do. Unfortunately, some of them fall bigger than others, and some of them try to take as many with them as they can.
I hope that those of us who want to write good literature and uplifting products for those who desire better, will not be discouraged by Richard’s bitterness or follow his example. Sometimes we forget that this life is an enduring to the end proposition and that reaching the end is not always a profitable venture.
I wish him well and hope he finds the way back, losing his bitterness along the way. Just like I wish my sister-in-law well in her new adventure and the trials ahead. I’ll miss her, and Richard.