Friday, August 2, 2013

Today's Maxwell Quote

From For the Power is in Them (1970), 23-24:
It is often asked, "Where are the great Mormon painters, sculptors, artists, etc.?" It is presumptive for one with such "middlebrow" tastes to attempt a response, but perhaps a "middlebrow" has some special clinical detachment. For instance, since Church members now constitute about .001% of the world's population, it is not statistically likely that we will have any Michaelangelos or Beethovens—let alone several.

Perhaps, some say, there is reason to expect us to over-produce so that we account for at least a few blips on the cultural radar screen. But I know of no scriptural promise that suggests such overproduction. But it is often said, shouldn't we at least "try harder?" Perhaps, yet the commitment to family and the chores of the Kingdom mitigate against the harsh, unrelenting disciplines that even genius requires.

There appears, however, to be no written hostility to the arts, though there may be and probably are attitudinal deterrents among individual members. In fact, there is scriptural affirmation: "If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." The rising generation of bright, talented young Church members may give us both "models" or artists who can do their home teaching and still play in Carnegie Hall. Meanwhile, a middle brow question: Is there a divine music or art? If so, the Church ought to reflect it and even to originate some of it. But does God really have a favorite school of painting, or musical composition? Or are such things a matter of preference, not principle? "There is beauty all around" and "we seek after these things." We clearly have an affirmative obligation to appreciate and to see and, presumably, to create as best a small culture can.