by Lauren Johnson:
Saint Mark brought this 2009 Conference talk by Elder Gary
Stevenson to my attention back in his November
Elder Stevenson encouraged us to take a virtual tour of our
home with our spiritual eyes… “Is it
clean and orderly, and do you see uplifting images, which include appropriate
pictures of the temple and the Savior?”
It was a beautiful talk,
but one that caused me some questioning. What are "appropriate pictures"? Art within my home has always been quite personal. I am deeply moved by art. I don’t own a Greg Olsen painting, and it’s not because I don’t think
he’s talented, or appreciate what he does, but personally, realism art does nothing for me. When it comes to art sold at Deseret Book, the only artist that
resonates with me is Minerva Teichert, but I want an original (not that I can afford such a thing) and
it would gnaw on me if I purchased a print.
I do have religious art in my home: A bust of Christ carved
by a Jewish man in Israel. It
reminds me of my travels there, and feels more like Christ than some of
the popular LDS images that cause me to envision a California surfer. I have an architecture blueprint
replica of the Kirtland temple—a reminder of my mission in Ohio and the sacrifice of the early saints. It was purchased at
the Community of Christ Book Store. I also have photos of my recent wedding day, in front of the
I have never felt ashamed before in the lack of LDS art I display… until recently. I wonder if some believe that the art sold at Deseret Book is
doctrinal, and that to be a Mormon—a “good” Mormon—it is mandatory I get myself
some framed prints. Discovering Elder Stevenson’s talk didn’t help, because I
wonder if this is the art he is asking us about.
As I go through my home with my spiritual eyes and I ask
myself about cleanliness, Godly reminders, and contemplate if my home feels
like a sanctuary, should I feel ashamed that little “Mormon Art” adorns my walls?
Art and design communicate with my soul. If I have the responsibility of creating a spiritual haven
for my family, and I feel the best way to do this is with art that I find strong
and beautiful, should I not remain true to my creative intuition? If I think art
from all over the world, portraying different traditions, cultures, and even
religion, is a way to bring harmony and understanding into my home, is this not
what I should give my family?
I wrote those questions in a way that tells me: Yes Lauren, that is what you should do!
But I also left them as questions, rather than statements, so that I could remain open, and ask
the readers here: What do you think? What is your opinion on appropriate
religious décor? What does Elder Stevenson mean when he asks us about "appropriate pictures of the temple and Savior"?
Lauren Johnson first wrote for the Modern Mormon Men team about being a 32-year-old single. It's sort of a blur, but somehow she found herself engaged later that year, and married at 33. She considers herself a story-teller, and was a television reporter in both Idaho and Salt Lake City, most recently with ABC 4. Some might recognize her as the founder and original host of "The Cultural Hall" podcast. She's now living in Boston, and experiencing what is being a newlywed. She loves the Mormon tradition of calling each other Brother and Sister. Since serving her mission in Cleveland, she prefers Brotha' and Sistah. Sistah Johnson's 2014 New Years Resolutions are to become a better tweeter, and to continue wearing something from a thrift store every single day—something she semi-regrets committing to during the summer of 2013. Twitter: @laurenruthie. Blog: laurenruthie.blogspot.com.
Image: Minerva Teichert.