Sunstone

This Saturday night, I will be the keynote speaker for this year’s Sunstone Symposium.  This is a tremendous honor, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity.

So, what’s Sunstone?  Here’s a link to their website.

Well, let’s see, it’s a magazine, a really interesting one, with lots of articles that will really resonate with you and other articles that don’t resonate at all, but that’s okay.  They publish short stories (they run an annual contest, and publish the winners), plus personal essays, doctrinal essays, historical essays; all sorts of stuff.  They also publish plays, and have published a number of mine–8, I think, but I could be wrong.  Once a year they sponsor the Sunstone Symposium, and there are all these awesome sessions where all sorts of fascinating topics get raised and discussed.

Sunstone is a home for people who don’t feel at home with mainstream Mormonism.  Except a lot of the people who congregate there are pretty mainstream Mormons.

Try it this way.  If you’re a Mormon, and you’re lonely and full of doubt and scared and you feel totally alone, totally out on a limb by yourself, and no one in your ward seems to even get why you feel that way, and you try to tell your home or visiting teachers and they are really super nice, but give you that look, like what on earth is wrong with this person, Sunstone is for you.  Sunstone is where you’ll find a community.

That’s not to say that Sunstone is for disaffected Mormons, though there are disaffected Mormons who come.

When I was first hired at BYU, Sunstone asked if they could publish one of my plays, Accommodations.  I was thrilled, and they did a dandy job with it; it looked great in the magazine, with illustrations that I loved as well.  I’ve been published there many times since.

I have also spoken there many times in the past, though never as keynote speaker.  I’m only able to go to my session this year, sadly, due to health concerns.  But I love the place.  Just love it.

If you have a chance to catch any part of Sunstone, please, do, you’ll be glad.  I’m speaking at the University of Utah Student Union.  There’s a banquet, and then I’ll speak, around 7:00.  I look forward to seeing some of you there.

One thought on “Sunstone

  1. juliathepoet

    I will be honest. I am jealous. I want to go to Sunstone for all the reasons you say, but one of the biggest reasons that I need Sunstone is because I don’t live in Utah. My brief experience living for a summer in Draper has left scars way deeper than I expected at the time.

    I don’t know how to fix the issue that you need people to pull off a conference, and if you need Mormon people then Utah, Idaho and Arizona seem to be the easiest places to find them. Once that group has found each other, of course they want to keep seeing each other, and get even more friends to come too.

    For people with family in Utah, or who have professional connections to Sunstone, or have employers who pay for them to go, I understand why going to Utah for Sunstone, and some research on the current project, makes it an easy sell. The conference is pretty expensive, but if your other costs are low, it probably makes sense. But this paragraph needs an addendum to be true:

    ” If you’re a Mormon, and you’re lonely and full of doubt and scared and you feel totally alone, totally out on a limb by yourself, and no one in your ward seems to even get why you feel that way, and you try to tell your home or visiting teachers and they are really super nice, but give you that look, like what on earth is wrong with this person, Sunstone is for you. Sunstone is where you’ll find a community.”

    What is missing is, as long as you live in Utah, and/or have $1200-1500+ that you can afford to spend on the conference, travel, lodging and food. (Even assuming I slept outside or couch surfed my way through the conference, it would be more than $10 to attend by myself.) I know that it is not the fault of people who live in Utah that it is comfortable and easy to assume everyone will travel to Utah, if they want to do cool Mormony stuff. And I hear people who grew up in Utah who like having excuses to go back and visit.

    I don’t expect Sunstone to start changing where Sunstone is held. The people who are most committed to it are *so close* that there is no reason to consider other venues or cities. I do wish that there was an effort to make more things like this available online, and maybe have two mini conferences a year, that go to places that don’t have many ways to find a community like Sunstone. I think we need that sense of community at least as much as most of the Sunstone regulars.

    My 2 cents.

    Reply

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