Sunday, December 23, 2007

"Scripture Readers"

One item I've spent pondering as of late has been the set of children's readers that the church has put out for each of the canonized standard works, not including the Pearl of Great Price. This set of books is the closest thing that the church has made to a standardized scriptural piece of cinema.

It raises all sorts of issues: placement of narrative, narration, narrative in image versus text, visual style despite differing sources, etc.

The most interesting, though undoubtedly the least successful, is the Doctrine and Covenants reader. This is both experimental and didactic and worthy of serious discussion.


Jen said...

Trevor, i don't think this has anything to do with what you said but it reminded me of something interesting. Sean and I were at the distribution center and saw a Book of Mormon available in paperback. The lady said something like, "it's for investigators, so it doesn't look so different... from other books" or something.

Sean turned to me and said "yes, so then, when they come to church they'll wonder why their scriptures don't look like anyone else's." ha. Isn't that weird though?

Blair Adam Baillio said...

yeah, I imagine I'll be getting those in the next few years.
This line reminds me of the pictures I saw in the JSB at BYU. They were paintings of the Book of Mormon stories by a painter who was not accepted to represent the church's views. When I realized that there were probably dozens of considered applicants and probably more they didn't even look at, it makes me realize that there are details that are not mentioned in the scriptures that will probably have an impact on the audience.
As a primary teacher, I'm starting to see this idea bare itself among the children. I'll hold up a picture and they will have identified it by some movie they've seen (probably Living Scriptures :P). They'll go into detail about what happened just before and just after the moment that picture represents. Unfortunately, those pre and post moments don't exist in the scriptures.

Th. said...


Animated movies: the new source of odd folk doctrines.

Trevor said...

The thing I think is fascinating about these scripture readers is that they become cinematic without wanting to be cinematic, but the D&C is a special case. It is essential non-narrative. The book tries to make it illustrative, but struggles between narrative and non-narrative didacticism. Could, then, this children's book have benefited from Chris Marker?

The sheer possibility makes me giddy.