This article ran in the Daily Herald today. It seems to be Richard Dutcher‘s farewell to the LDS church. Dutcher is the dynamic and visionary “father” of Mormon cinema. A part of me is shocked by his leaving the church. Another part of me isn’t at all surprised:
Mormon doctrines are powerful and beautiful and have given great meaning to my life for more than 30 years. I’m sure they will always continue to inform not only my future work as a filmmaker, but also my private spiritual journey. But it does not appear that it will be my honor to make some of these films that the LDS community so desperately needs.
As many of you know, I am no longer a practicing member of the church. The private answers to the questions I have asked in my prayers, and in my films, have led me on an unexpected journey, a spiritual path which may ultimately prove incompatible with Mormon orthodoxy. This understanding has brought me some of the most profound surprises and also the deepest sadness of my life. It is very hard for me to say goodbye to something that I love.
Who knows? Maybe, like Oliver Cowdery (to whom I’ve always felt an uncommon kinship), my travels will someday lead back to Mormonism and to this effort. Such an end would be beautiful and, in a strange way, an answer to my prayers. But I don’t know. One fundamental thing I have learned over the past few years is a genuine humility regarding my spiritual beliefs.
I know that some of you will not understand my decisions. Please know that I will always be not only a great friend to the Mormon community, but also one of its strongest defenders.
My brothers and sisters, I respectfully leave Mormon cinema in your capable — and now seasoned — hands. I hope that someday I will hear a few of your names mentioned in the company of the handful of filmmakers who have dared to explore human spirituality in film: Bergman, Bresson, Tarkovsky, Dreyer, Ozu, etc. One of my greatest hopes, of course (in true competitive spirit), is that one day my name will be at the very top of that list.
May God bless you in your individual and collective efforts. And may Mormon cinema one day achieve its powerful and beautiful potential. May it be “the praise and glory of the whole earth.”