Gerald Griffin of the BYU-Idaho art department addressed students and faculty Tuesday on consuming uplifting culture and art and putting forth our best efforts to create.

“My purpose today is to inspire you to invite you to recognize your potential and your worth as a human being,” Griffin said.

Griffin told the story of Joseph Smith writing what would later be called the Wentworth Letter. This letter written to John Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat, in response to an inquisition about what Mormons believe. Joseph Smith replied with what are now the 13 Articles of Faith.

In closing of the letter, Joseph wrote about the culture of the Latter-day saints, Griffin said, in what is now the thirteenth article of faith.

“I am convinced that in that final sentence of the Wentworth letter the prophet Joseph laid a heavy responsibility upon each of us as members of the Church,” Griffin said. “In short, to drink deeply of what life has to offer. And therein lies the problem. Life offers much.”


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Griffin compared what we consume in culture, to what we consume in food. Often what we consume in culture has little meaning or bearing on our lives when there is so much more to offer, he said.

“Recognizing the better and more meaningful things in life requires work and preparation,” Griffin said. “That is what separates low culture from things that are ‘virtuous, lovely, of good report or praiseworthy.'”

Griffin told of how as a child he read Great Expectations and it challenged him to think more deeply than he would have at that age.

“It is a sad truth that if people don’t know there is something better for them, they will never aspire to it,” he said.

Art, he said, shows people what they can become.

Griffin gave three points to remember when choosing the art and culture to  partake of.

  1. “Remember that there are conspiring men in the last days that are much more interested in money than art,” Griffin said. “Seek quality in any form of art.
  2. Look beyond what is in a student’s immediate surroundings, he said.
  3. “You already know what is right and wrong,” he said. Learn the difference between the subject and the message in music and movies. 

Griffin said no one is exempt from having talents.

“Everyone, everyone has a talent, an ability, an aptitude, a gift,” Griffin said. “It only waits to be discovered and developed.”