Monday, September 24, 2018

Black Sheep

You won't find this information on Andrew's CV, but he's been moonlighting as a typesetter for the past eight years (off and on due to weird bureaucracy issues, but mostly on). He's mostly worked for the Maxwell Institute at BYU, doing typesetting for the METI project (Middle Eastern Texts Initiative), doing side-by-side layouts of old Arabic texts and their English translations. He did some other projects for them as well. More recently he's been typesetting books for BCC press.

What can I say? Sometimes when you're trying to get through grad school with a handful of kids those graduate stipends need a little supplementation.

When we found ourselves in the painful predicament of not knowing what we were going to be doing for employment this school year, bids for Andrew's time started flooding his inbox. People were begging him to take on projects and he gladly took them on (even though they cluttered up his schedule) because we have five little mouths to feed.

Now that we have sufficient employment for this school year I'm beginning to question the wisdom in taking all these projects on (between teaching his classes, trying to remain dedicated to his research projects, applying for jobs left and right, and trying to knock out these extra projects he's been ridiculously busy). It seemed like the wise thing to do at the time and (fingers crossed) he'll soon finish all his extra projects and things will simmer down a bit.


One can hope.

Anyway, one of the projects that Andrew has been working on is in the final stages of pre-production and we're all super excited for it at our house. The Maxwell Institute is releasing a study copy of The Book of Mormon and it's beautifully done, if I say so myself (and I do (and not only because I'm in love with the typesetter but because the typesetter did a phenomenal job)).

Blair Hodges wrote a lovely blog post introducing it, which you can read here (and you can preorder it here if you feel so inclined (it comes out in December)).

It includes, among useful study tools such as "newly commissioned charts and appendices [to] help readers keep straight the names and relationships of various individuals, places, and records," some beautiful woodcut prints done by Brian Kershisnik (I'm pretty sure my brother Patrick knows him fairly well).

I was struck by the picture on the front cover, of the Saviour carrying a sheep—specifically a black sheep.

Very often when the Saviour is portrayed with sheep they are fluffy and white, so to see his arms cradling a black sheep was compelling (now that I've specifically searched for such a thing, I can see that black sheep art does exist but my impression is that sheep art is overwhelmingly white and fluffy).

The symbolism is obvious in English, where black sheep is an idiomatic expression "used to describe an odd or disreputable member of a group, especially within a family." I'm sure the symbolism doesn't hold in every language, though if the website Babylon is accurate it's the same expression in many languages.

And I just think it's great because...we've all had our black sheep moments...and the Saviour's atonement works for each one of us.

Rachel, Miriam, and I have been attending rehearsals for stake choir the past couple of weeks. We're singing O Saviour Thou Who Wearest a Crown (though to the tune of If You Should Hie to Kolob (arranged by Sally DeFord)) and it's beautiful (though I also like the original Bach tune that it's set to). The second verse, in particular, was speaking to me this week, as I thought of that black sheep cradled in the arms of the Saviour:

No creature is so lowly,
No sinner so depraved,
But feels thy presence holy
And thru thy love is saved.
Tho craven friends betray thee,
They feel thy love's embrace;
The very foes who slay thee
Have access to thy grace.

I don't think I'll ever be able to express the hope of the atonement as powerfully as the words of Karen Lynn Davidson or the imagery of Brian Kershisnik did for me today.

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