A fancy centerpiece?

I happen to love the pictures on our blogposts. They draw the attention of the reader, they add emotion and beauty to the writing. There are just lovely.

But don’t you think, in some ways, that these images are just like the requisite fancy tablecloths in the RS Room? Or the vase of mauve-colored silk flowers on the corner of the RS piano? Or maybe they are like the little handouts given at the end of the lesson to stick on our bathroom mirrors? Or maybe they are the flowers painted on the clipboard that’s passed around in RS (because we women can’t have just a plain old clipboard–it needs to be pretty!).

Though I do appreciate the loveliness of a fresh floral bouquet, I am not one that finds RS table decor very meaningful. In fact, I find it rather meaningless and even showy. So then I have to wonder at my hypocrisy because I love the images that we use on our blog. So are these ‘pretty’ images just as frivolous as RS Room kitsch?

Jana is a university administrator and teaches History. Her soloblog is


  1. I love your pictures! I only wish our blog were as beautiful and eye-catching. Although I’m not particularly interested in RS centerpieces either, I think they have the potential to be fun and relevant attention-grabbers.

    I’m a glutton for majestic old churches with stained glass windows and statues and painted ceilings and decorated altars and ethereal choirs. I’ve never quite figured out for myself what the relationship between the aesthetic and the religious ought to be exactly, and where the line is crossed, but I do think engaging our aesthetic sensibilities can be an important component to worship (a point underscored by Amy’s recent post on music as well). Similarly, I’m all in favor of having interesting pictures accompany well written posts. Brava, Ex II!

  2. “So are these ‘pretty’ images just as frivolous as RS Room kitsch?”

    Only in as much as any art is frivolous.

    (I think the problem of kitchy RS handouts/centerpieces/clipboars tends to be the teacher spending more time on the frosting than on the cake…)

  3. I think having the pictures adds a human element. Adding pictures to a post is more analogous to facial expressions, than table decorations, especially when it is art instead of visual aides.

  4. I recently attended a RS meeting on a small island of the Philippines. And there on the table was a small vase with three silk flowers. It is either a universal need of women or the directives from SLC are way too specific!

  5. Well, since you asked, I’ve thought that same thing myself. I don’t mind them– and I like having some artwork on the site, but how about some variety? Some that aren’t pretty, or some that are disturbing, or even just from other cultural traditions. I went into the Carlsbad stake center the other day, and there on a table just inside the door, were two moroccan-style lanterns, as a display– and it was such a shock! And then I had to laugh at how narrow our cultural conventions are at church, that I’d do a double take over something that simple.

  6. I love the pictures too. I think they enhance the words, add to the emotional depth of the post.

    I don’t compare paintings to silk flower center pieces or decorated clipboards. I think the former has so many more nuances.

    I don’t particularly care for the RS room kitsch. But like Tracy, I especially find it bothersome if I get the feeling the teacher spent more time on the glittery beribboned handouts than on the lesson.

    Paula, that’s a good idea to get some multicultural art on the blog.

  7. RS centerpieces are good if you are sitting ‘up front’ (ie, a member of the presidency) and want to ‘hide’ behind them! I love flowers and even pics of flowers , I’ll take them any time, any where. ONe of our RS teachers uses her centerpieces (sometimes floral, sometimes not) as a teaching tool, not elaborate, always beautiful and to the point. that I can appreciate!

  8. If you scanned every piece of LDS art in your home; took pictures of a few books, some figurines, and maybe some food storage jars with ribbons on them and put them up to illustrate one post, that might be over the top. But at least you wouldn’t need two laundry baskets to bring them all in. (We’ve all seen it done, haven’t we?)

    In our YW room, we have several floral centerpieces arranged by a member of our board that we keep in the closet, as well as a set of flags in the value colors. I choose the flags every time I set up. I think I just prefer simple visuals.

    But the paintings here are lovely. Not kitschy at all. I do love the suggestion for more multicultural art. The Church is doing a better job of this than in the past and we can, too!

  9. This is a fun and interesting post. I think the art on ExII is beautiful. A while ago Emily accompanied an post with a picture of the sculpture “The Dying Lucretia” that I fell in love with. She’s bare-breasted, something we’d never see at church!

    I had a friend who attended BYU whose calling was to decorate the RS table each week. If it were my job I might have gone for fresh flowers or something else simple but lovely.

    I think that great art as well as nature are potent means by which we experience the numinous and divine.

  10. Jana,

    I like to think of the post itself as the fancy centerpiece. So you know, if I leave out any substantive content in my post, it’s just an act of rebellion against unnecessary fluff. 🙂

    Actually, I seldom put pictures up because they’re too much work. But I certainly appreciate the pictures on sites I visit, including here.

    Amy writes:

    “This is a fun and interesting post. I think the art on ExII is beautiful. A while ago Emily accompanied an post with a picture of the sculpture “The Dying Lucretia” that I fell in love with. She’s bare-breasted, something we’d never see at church!”

    So it’s not merely a center-PIECE, it doubles as a center-FOLD. 😛

    Actualy, the acceptance of bare-breastness in the Mormon context probably depends a lot on the country one is in. Public breastfeeding is considered more or less normal in much of South and Central America.

    But yeah, I agree — it’s an image we’re unlikely to see in church any time soon. (And speaking as a representative of the male gender, I find that lack to be a terrible shame.) On the other hand, perhaps X2-blog has inadvertently stumbled on a new way to drive more traffic to the blog. 😛

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