Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)
Lt 81a, 1897
Jones, C. H.
Stanmore, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
December 20, 1897
Portions of this letter are published in 8MR 456-457.
Dear Brother Jones:
I wish to say to you that I am sadly disappointed in the cuts prepared for such a book as the Life of Christ. I consider that if Brother Reaser accepts such figures that his eye and taste has lost its cunning. You cannot expect me to be pleased with such productions. Look at these figures critically, and you must see that they are either made from Catholic designs or Catholic artists. The picture of Mary has a man’s face, the representations of Christ with the two fingers prominent, while the others are closed, is wholly a Catholic sign, and I object to this. I see but very little beauty in any of the faces, or persons. There is the scenery of nature, landscape scenery, that is not as objectionable, but I could never rest my eyes upon the face pictures without pain. 12LtMs, Lt 81a, 1897, par. 1
I would much prefer to have no pictures than representations that are not representations, but disfigurements of the true. This is my opinion. Where is the discerning eye? Better pay double price, or treble, and have pictures, if pictures must be had, that will not pervert facts. I wish there had not been an attempt to make one representation, but send out the book and let it make a place for itself. I call these faces in the pictures and scenes so poorly represented that it is a perversion of the facts. If this is Reaser’s work, I cannot accept him as a designer, and if he can accept such pictures, I cannot respect or honor his judgment. Do not spoil my book by disfigurements which lower the facts and the matters they represent. 12LtMs, Lt 81a, 1897, par. 2
Brother Reaser needs the sanctification of the senses to understand the spirituality of truth. He may study European artistic skill, but there will be seen in nearly all designs the Catholic features. 12LtMs, Lt 81a, 1897, par. 3
While I was perplexed and so distressed over the matter, the light given me was to read the warnings of God against similitudes and pictures. There is a perverting influence in pictures. (Deuteronomy 12:28-32): “Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did this nation serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God; for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters have they burnt in the fire to their gods. What things soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” 12LtMs, Lt 81a, 1897, par. 4
If the study of the artist in Europe results in such designs as are presented before me in the faces and persons as these, the book is better without them. Let Brother Reaser become familiar with the sanctification of the Spirit of Christ. My idea is that the less illustrations that are cheap and ill-favored we have in the book the better. From the light given me of the Lord there is a wonderful departure from God’s Word in presenting pictures in any papers; many of them are such a blotch that it is no recommendation to our papers that have the most solemn, sacred truths ever given to our world. 12LtMs, Lt 81a, 1897, par. 5
Again I say, I think the book would bear the endorsement of heaven far more without these pictures then with them. 12LtMs, Lt 81a, 1897, par. 6
I will write more fully on this subject when I get home. 12LtMs, Lt 81a, 1897, par. 7