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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

21: MODIFYING OR DELETING PARTS OF THE ORIGINAL

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Do we have the right to modify, change, tamper and/or delete parts of a master’s original work?

Most Mormons appreciate the work of the master artist, Carl Bloch. The Museum at Brigham Young University recently showcased many of his paintings in an exclusive exhibit held earlier this year. The Church often uses his paintings in their publications, manuals and as recently as this month’s Ensign (December 2011).

However, there are elements in some of the paintings that we don’t like. Now that this master artist is dead, we have removed those things we are uncomfortable with to fit our taste, preference and doctrines. We can justify the changes since the opinions of the majority prefer the new look.  We tend to pick and choose from what was created before and take out what we might consider in an error to begin with, since we have more truth today. We don’t like wings on our angels.. so we have “professionals” alter the original work of art.

Below left is Carl Bloch’s original painting entitled, The Resurrection. There is beauty in the composition, the symbols used, and the colors. … but we don’t like the two winged angels that are kneeling. So in this month’s Ensign the new version of the painting has the “new and approved” version of the painting with wingless angels.  

I wonder how the creator of this masterpiece would feel now after a hundred years later since he finished this painting, that we feel we have the right to change and delete from his original painting.  
Obviously, the church felt they had good reason to remove the wings. But I wonder, where does the modifying/changing stop?  If we were in possession of the Ark of the Covenant, would we also remove the wings of the two cherubim? Should we also change the text in scripture, especially in Ezekiel,  when this prophet not only describes personages with two wings but with six?  Wings symbolize “movement forward”, and power. They represent something celestial/heavenly and not earthly. Yet, we feel we need to change things to fit into our present day paradigm of what we think things should look like, even though that was not what the original master and creator intended.  Is this the only example of deletions, changes, altering, or modifying from an original? Have we ever been warned not to change, modify, remove or alter things?  The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, 'Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.'… But that is an entirely different post.