Honorary Lifetime Membership
All members of the Association for Mormon Letters know the many things Gideon Burton has done for Mormon letters, things such as:
serving on the board, and as president, of AML (more than once);
co-editing the BYU Studies special number “Mormons and Film” (2007), which is the definitive volume of Mormon film criticism to date;
editing the Mormon Literary Library;
contributing many works of criticism to help define Mormon literature, including his essay “Towards a Mormon Criticism” published in Dialogue, which won an AML award for criticism in 1994;
contributing many creative works, published in Irreantum, BYU Studies and Dialogue — including 5 sonnets set to music and performed at a bicentennial celebration of the birth of Joseph Smith in 2005;
teaching and mentoring youth interested in Mormon literature and cinema at BYU;
making and sustaining the Mormon Literature and Creative Arts website, one of the most useful online resources for researching creative Mormon work.
But what I remember when I think of Gideon's contributions to the field is how I felt when I heard his Presidential Address given in 2004. It was entitled “Our Mormon Renaissance,” and it wasn't just an anacephalæosis of the exciting things that are being done in the field but rather a peroratio summoning me and anyone else who has ever thought of participating in the creation of Mormon art:
"So let the Mormon Renaissance begin within each of us! Enough of this hand-wringing and timidness, this reluctance to compose ourselves in ink, to do that work with words that is worth of the Word, the Son of God, who descended below all things, tracing for us the necessary trajectory of our souls and our art. Enough of worrying ourselves into mumbling and stumbling, when we have so much to say, so much to express, inspired doubly by a living faith and our faith in the lively, godly nature of the arts. We hold back our personal salvation and we mock the progress of Zion by not consecrating our æsthetic sensibilities, our drafts and redrafts, our stories, our narratives of life in all its vibrant vicissitudes, its mystifying contradictions, its souring ecstasies and soul-wrenching defeats. Eternity is within us and before us; we have tasted the goodness of God. Yet we are mired in ignorance and mortality and sin and self-doubt and the misgivings and misfirings of a million sordid sorts. And in the middle of this mess God has slapped us on the cheeks, has shoved a paintbrush or a keyboard in our hands, presented us with canvas and paper and stolen scraps of time and told us Be like me, create."
Now if that doesn't inspire you, I don't know what would.
For all of his work in collecting, cataloguing, critiquing, teaching, defending and inspiring Mormon literature, the Association for Mormon Letters is proud to bestow on Gideon Burton honorary lifetime membership.
Darlene Young, Secretary
Association for Mormon Letters