Saturday, April 15, 2006

Drama and the Change of Soul

Good drama changes you. I remember the powerful forces of change within my soul the first time I sat on a lumpy couch and watched Les Miserables. My physical environment faded away and I sat riveted to the screen. I lived the amazement and bewilderment of Jean Valjean as he tried to steal silver from a Priest who turned from victim to benefactor as he gave the silver to Valjean.

Valjean's encounter with the Priest would change his being. He had been a criminal--outcast and shunned by society. He became a mayor and philanthropist, deeply interested in and devoted to the welfare of the helpless and hurting. Watching the transformation of Valjean transformed me too. I was able to live his (fictional) experience vicariously and learn from his struggles. I felt that yearning in my spirit to lift others and to selflessly serve. I wanted to be more like that Christian Priest and like his pupil, Jean Valjean.

I've been moved similarly by various works over the years. I think that is why Latter-day Saints have been called upon to make great art. I think how much I was touched by "Trail of Dreams" or "Legacy." These dramas can help place spirit over body and help us connect with our history and with what we really are.

That is the reason that I think arts are so important for humanity, not just Latter-day Saints. Just last night I watched "The Secret Garden," a musical put on by the Provo Theatre Company. The venue was small. I was in row G which was only one row from the back. The acting and singing were fabulous. Music, lighting, and sets were great. I was able to look right into the world of Mary Lennox, a miserable and spoiled orphan girl whose life is transformed by the discovery of a garden. As the garden is restored to life, so is her little soul.

I am grateful that I can have transcendant spiritual experiences even outside the formal boundaries of religion. As someone said, we are spiritual beings having a mortal experience. Thanks to the many people that dedicate so much of their lives, talents and time to creating things of beauty and meaning.


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  • There are books in my life that have the power to change my attitude and outlook for long periods of time. I'm not just talking about the scriptures, although they are the ones that have the power to effect the greatest change. But there are books of fiction--Rilla of Ingleside and The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery, The Little Princess by F.H. Burnett, The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg (I could go on, but this comment is long enough)--that help me want to be a better person, to act more Christlike and good to all I meet. I am also grateful for those who offer these gems to us.

    By Blogger Keryn, at 4/15/2006 9:54 PM  

  • There is a parallel here to something I experienced at Martin's Cove. I've never been one that has felt it necessary to make pilgrimages to religious historic sites. I believe I can get most of the spiritual experiences I *need* very close to home. But when a group of us (in a very minor way) re-enacted a small portion of the handcart trek and then walked through Martin's Cove, I had an experience that changed my soul. Perhaps this is why the church maintains historic sites.

    I also find a parallel here with great music, even non-religious music that nevertheless inspires the soul.

    By Blogger Scott Hinrichs, at 4/17/2006 6:32 AM  

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