As a personal matter of discipleship (and repentence), I feel the need to type up this little post with a somewhat controversial title. As some may be aware, especially local Utahns, noted filmmaker Richard Dutcher formal announced a year or two ago his separation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which included his departure from any involvement in LDS Cinema. Perhaps most breathed a sign of relief.
At the time, I read his public letter to the Daily Herald and couldn’t help but feeling a little sorrow for the tragedy that it was that one would give up their membership in the Church of Jesus Christ for a career in film making. As time grew on I think I grew a little more frustrated with his announcement. Though I didn’t tread heavily upon it, I think I was growing in the direction of most– grateful that he was gone.
There is an aquantaince of mine, who, from what I understand, has a personal association with Dutcher. From time to time, others will post the question to him, “Do you thing Dutcher will come back?” He replies, “I think he will. It may take him some time, but I think he may be like the prodigal and return eventually.” This acquaintance is the only one I know that has openly expressed this type of optimism and hope. I am indebted to him for his example.
The question then is: Why do we need Richard Dutcher back? I think it is this: that we as individuals church goers need to be willing to welcome Dutcher back into the LDS Church, and for those of us in film making, we also need to be willing to welcome him back as a film maker, if per chance that were to happen.
Part of me says that having departed from the path of membership (note that I said membership, not discipleship– that’s a personal matter that I could never pretend to determine on another’s behalf), that he will never again be able to contribute to the discussion of LDS Cinema in either criticism or content. If this be true, then where is there room for forgiveness or repentance. There is none. Hence, I must conclude that it is my obligation to be ready to accept that perhaps some day we will be blessed to have Richard Dutcher back again as a contributing film maker and member of the LDS Church. Only in the great story of LDS Cinema, that is still unfolding, would such a thing be possible!