From Aaron R.
I had an institute teacher named Peter Vousden, his name might be familiar to some of you as he has written a few articles for BYU Studies. Aside from him being a thoughtful teacher and kind man, he also had a strong conception of the importance of his writing outside of the traditional academic arena. He once wrote me a letter which stated that, ‘I feel as a lifelong English member of the Church that I want to say something about our history… One aim I have is to perhaps encourage younger British LDS Scholars to express themselves… I think it is tremendously important for British LDS to speak up for themselves.’ Those words have had an important impact upon my life.
I am certainly not a scholar nor have I contributed anything to LDS academic community but I feel passionate about supporting the work of others. I sense that others feel the same, like Ronan. I think endeavours like EMSA and the work done by Kent Larson in South America is vitally important to creating important cultural cross-over’s between the US and other parts of the World. It seems to me that although membership is increasing outside the US, culturally we live beneath the hegemonic weight of the inter-mountain west. This is not necessarily a negative dynamic but I also would like to see Mormons from all over the world exchanging their ideas and work.
In the UK, the Church’s growth really began 40-50 years ago. As a result we are now seeing (what I consider to be) the maturing of the first generation raised in the Church. These are the children of the mid-70’s to mid-80’s. It seems that the time is ripe for these people, who are culturally as well as theologically Mormon (at least in part), to begin to express themselves to a wider Church culture. As a result some friends of mine have begun an online magazine/blog of British Mormon cultural products. It is called ‘Crumpets & De-Caff’ and we have just released our second issue. Currently, it is small scale and most of the people submitting are friends of ours, plus we have added some things which are just pertinent to our friends like a video of my ward’s Roadshow (yes, we still do them!!!). I even feel a little embarrassed about sharing this because I have included some of my poetry in there, which I wholly recognise is not anything to shout about, but I have been persuaded to tell you about this venture.
I believe that there are some people of genuine talent in Britain who have not got the same opportunities to speak to a Mormon-based culture, that might exist in the US. This is not a lament directed toward Imperialistic US but rather a call to British Saints to speak up and I think that there are possibilities for change. Academically we have EMSA and the IJMS which I hope will continue to flourish. Yet, these, to my knowledge, are focussed on academic publications and do not have the same diversity of content of a Dialogue or a Sunstone. That is not a criticism because I think that they should do what they intend, and it seems to be doing it very well. My point is that there is scope and space for publications which focus on Art, Poetry, Creative Writing, Fashion and whatever else we can pretend to be good at it. Additionally we have the Latter-day Book Store(s) which holds a monopoly (as far as I am aware) for the distribution of Church books in the UK . I do not run the company, but they are in a unique position to be the publishers and purveyors of UK-based Mormon books, music, poetry and art. To my knowledge they have not really explored nor invited such possibilities, but they could.
For those who might be interested the website is www.crumpetsanddecaff.co.uk
I am excited about the future of this area of British-Mormon culture and I was pleased to have the approval of Bro. Vousden who graciously allowed us to include one of his short articles. That approval of an unassuming mentor has provided an increased impetus to keep trying to do what I can to further British-Mormon culture.
1. I am of course aware of the publications available through the internet, but these book shops are situated very close to both temples and I have met few members of the Church who buy their LDS-related books and music from anywhere. I think this is evident by the fact that their website is completely awful. They obviously do not need fight for that internet market.