07/19/2001 - Poisein Pen
Eh, Poisein--nice analogy there with the sword. You should have titled your rant "da BOM or da Sword." The Intifada that the brethren have proclaimed ain't nuthin new. It was prophesied by JS hisself:
Spoken at public square, Far West, MO, October 14th, 1838:
If the people will let us alone, we will preach the gospel in peace. But if they come on us to molest us, we will establish our religion by the Sword. We will trample down our enemies and make it one gore of blood from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. I will be to this generation a second Mohammed, whose motto in treating for peace was "The Alcoran or the Sword." So it shall be with us--"Joseph Smith or the Sword!" - 04/13/2002 - from Don Azote
The cover of the July Ensighn drew sighs even from my True Believing Mormon family. The cover may as well have been an International Traffic sign—the symbology was concisely clear. The Negroid hand, clothed in the white shirt of the schlock-troop clones, extends his hand from the African Continent, with the corner of the BOM a la toucheé en Mecca, the heart of the Islamic world. The olive-skinned recipient hand, dwelling in a disembodied shadow, represents the benighted masses of the non-Christian world. To the East, the Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Muslims of the Indian Continent bare their collective bosom to the saber of their ethnocentric Brethren Conquistadores. Harold Bloom describes such a quixotic vision thusly:
...Two aspects of the Saints’ vision seem starkly central to me; no other American religious movement is so ambitious, and no rival even remotely approaches the spiritual audacity that drives endlessly towards accomplishing a titanic design. The Mormons fully intend to convert the nation and the world; to go from some ten million souls to six billion. This is sublimely insane, not merely because of the stunning numbers, but primarily because it means going up against such worldwide antagonists as the Roman Catholic Church and Islam, as well as such endlessly subtle formulations as Buddhism and Hinduism... Yet the Mormons will not falter; they will take the entire 21st century as their span, if need be, and surely it will be....As the above map shows, Mecca is located just inland from Jiddah, which sits on a small thumb-bump extending westward into the Red Sea. If you draw a line perpendicular from the black thumbnail to Mecca, then make a hard Right turn along the spine of the BOM, you will land on the almost blasphemous olive skinned right thumb first knuckle joint. You know, the one that the old geezers fumble for as the lights come up from the temple film and you yawn and get up to stretch. Yeah, that knuckle—the one with a new name attached to it. Or is the old name?
Harold Bloom, The American Religion: Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation, pp. 81-96
A nice, pretty post-millenial vision, huh.
As a designer, my first thought was, man, they could do better than this, in
fact, they used to do better. My second thought was, gee when did the Ensign
start hiring ex Watchtower staff? The badly done photos of the family in front
of the TV, the happy couple, and the amputated hands exchanging scriptures with
the Earth behind them looked like they could have been lifted straight from
Jehovah's Witnesses literature. What's going on?
There used to be a time back in the early '70s when LDS design was really very good. The design department at BYU had national recognition. The new fleet of church publications were crisp and original looking. But now, Mormon design seems to have been infected by the same clunky, smiley, look-at-us-we're-being-ethnically-diverse, religious utopian surrealism that has been the hallmark of Watchtower and Awake! design for generations.
I can imagine what's going on here. First, the brethren are probably exerting greater editorial conrol than ever. Ensign design has the stench of amateurs force feeding professionals. (But of course, according to Benson, the prophet is an expert on any and all topics, whether trained or not.) The second is the church's rigid employment policies have probably excluded the more creative sort of people. "LDS church" and "creative" have become mutually exclusive terms. The smart, original, independent types (if they happen to get hired) leave while the hacks stay, knowing there's really nowhere else for them to go.
It's just further evidence that things are getting literally and figuratively uglier at Mormon, Inc.
It is not often I look at an Ensign, but I too have been struck by how similar it has become to Watchtower literature recently. I studied the Watchtower (JWs) for a few hectic months when I first realized Mormonism is a cruel hoax. The reason I studied the Watchtower was to learn, more dispassionately than I could with Mormonism, how a cult operated.
The graphics and language of the Ensign mirror the Awake magazine now. Why the change? Did my perception change over the last few years, or has the Ensign really changed? Until Stray Mutt mentioned this, I kind of forgotten about the similarities. This is interesting.
07/18/2001 - Andy O
When I went to that website with the Ensign covers I thought "Watchtower", especially the cover that shows that hand giving the scriptures to that other hand. And the picture of the family looks Norman Rockwell-esque to me.
07/18/2001 - Gazelem
I did a quick perusal of all the conference reports for the past 10 years a few months back because all the covers were starting to look the same. I found at least 3 warm fuzzy versions of Christ with sheep, 3 warm fuzzy versions of Christ in America, and 2 warm fuzzy apparitions of celestial hippies to a boy in forest. The rest were similarly trite. Almost all were done by the same three artists, Olsen, Knapp, and some other guy I can't remeber right now.
I haven't laughed so hard in years! I always wondered what other religions thought about the cartoons the JW's created. I'm a partner in a design firm in Portland and have been involved in the commercial art world for years. Past National Marketing Director for Iwata Airbrush among other things. The JW's knew of my illustration work back in the early eighties and flew me back to see if I could help their graphics department. I told them sure, they need all the help they can get. After spending a week at their Brooklyn headquarters I gave a report to the head guy in charge. I told them that first there are bunch of amateurs working in their graphics, illustration, and photography departments they have very little clue about what they are doing. Second I told them that the people in each department hate the people in the other departments and the communication among them is non existent. Each department head was an elder but had absolutely no experience or clue about anything having to do with graphics or art.
They then asked me if I wanted to give up my company, move to Brooklyn and head up all three departments. I told them that not only did I not want to do that, but because of what I had seen in my week long visit I had decided to leave the religion for good after being in it for 26 years. They were a little beside themselves. It cracks me up to listen to you guys talk about their graphics capabilities. If you saw the people who are doing the work you would understand. The JW's think they have the best designed propaganda literature in the world.
You guys have been cracking me up for two day. Makes me wish I had been brought up a Mormon instead.
PS, as a designer, if you want to check out what I do, here are a couple of URL's
For you sea-faring types, you may know that ensign is the lowest ranking officer - like a 2nd lieutenant.
But its also the name of the national flag. In fact, the Army used to have an officer rank of ensign as well. That person had the "honor" of carrying the national colors into battle. That's the connect between the two.
Well, guess who was an instant target? Yep, the "ensign". So when I see a magazine called "Ensign", I immediately think of some poor sucker talked into the "honor" and becoming that target.
07/18/2001 - Ann
...Actually, inside the front cover of the magazine is a preferred pronunciation statement: N'sign, not N'sun. FYI :)