Episode 6
The "Miracle" Man: Interview with T.C. Christensen
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The "Miracle" Man: Interview with T.C. Christensen

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Director and screenwriter of "17 Miracles", "Ephraim's Rescue" & "The Cokeville Miracle."

The Miracle Man: Interview with T.C. Christensen


Chris: Welcome back to ForeverLDS. Today, as hoped, I am bringing to my inaugural interview, one of the most, if not the most, successful LDS filmmakers in the history of LDS film. Modern LDS audiences would know him for his 3 most recent landmark films, 17 MIRACLES, EPHRAIM’S RESCUE, and THE COKEVILLE MIRACLE. I should mention that these are only a few of his most recent films. T.C. has been making an impact upon LDS and Christian- or spiritually themed movies for well over four decades. He served as co-director and cinematographer on JOSEPH SMITH: PROPHET OF THE RESTORATION that played for years in the Joseph Smith Building across from Temple Square, as well as the movie EMMA and—this list is really long, T.C.. You also were either the director or the cinematographer, or both, on such movies as THE WORK AND THE GLORY, FOREVER STRONG, GORDON B. HINCKLEY: A GIANT AMONG MEN, OUTLAW TRAIL...you can stop me anytime that you want to.


T.C.: Now! But yeah, I’m bugging out. But hey, that’s a lovely introduction already, Chris. I can hardly wait to hear what I’m gonna say.


Chris: Well I’ll try to let you get a word in edgewise from time to time! Not only did you produce the first three films that I mentioned, which are most recent—and those films were pivotal in breathing life back into the LDS market, because I think it had been—what would be the word—suffering. It had not had a lot of success for several years, and your movies breathed life into that market. 17 MIRACLES was just an incredible film, and I think you released it right in the midst of the summer, against all the biggest competition, but somehow you found a window. And I remember that. You found this window, where there were no other films competing, at least for another week or two, and that thing would have played on into the fall, and I remember you were upset that they took it out of the theaters too early. Is that right?


T.C.: Yeah, it was still going pretty well; anyway, there’s other considerations and so forth, and yeah, we ended up going to DVD then. It’s been a fun ride, Chris! I can tell you, it’s all fun. It’s a lot of hard work, filmmaking is, as you know, having done your project as well. But it’s rewarding. I still am excited, even as old and fat and bald as I am, I’m excited to get up in the morning and get going and get working on another project. It’s great.


Chris: I was gonna say, on those films that you made most recently, you served in all those positions, and also wardrobe, crafts service, driving the transportation vans to the sets every day.


T.C.: Well I don’t do that, but I do a lot of jobs, and I have to say, it’s not because I think I’m the— independent filmmaking, you don’t have any money, you have to...whatever you can do yourself.


Chris: Oh man, I already knew the answer to that question. Having directed the low-budget feature film that I did, and by low-budget Hollywood would probably define that as anything under two- or three-million dollars. And I happen to know the main reason why anyone would want to wear so many hats on a production, and you just said it. What is it?


T.C.: You don’t have the money! Whatever you can do, you’re gonna say, you’re gonna be able to put it on the screen—


Chris: For me it was just raging ego, but no, I happen to know that saving money is always much more compelling of an incentive. I don’t think there’s anything more humbling than trying to helm the production of a feature film. What would you say is the first time that you realized how harrowing that experience is?


T.C.: Well, you get it in pieces, because when you’re doing short film and commercials and whatever, you know it’s easy to be the people behind the director, and say, “Oh, see what he’s doing there? I wouldn’t do THAT. I would do it this way,” and have these kind of little criticisms all along the way, but the truth is, when you’re The Guy, and you’ve taken it from this whole universe, and narrowed it down to This-is-what-we’re-gonna-do, and this-is-the-shot, and this-is-how-I-want-you-to-deliver-these-lines—you know there’s a lot of responsibility, and there’s a lot of chances to make mistakes. So anyway, I love to have supportive people around me, who at least don’t gripe to my face when we’re filming.


Chris: And I’ve noticed that you like to go back and use a lot of the same people over and over again, not only in crew positions, but also as actors. When I say that, you might think that I’m referring to your lead actor from 17 MIRACLES and your most recent film that you made, THE COKEVILLE MIRACLE, but I’m actually referring to Katherine Nelson. She is someone that you’ve worked with on four films now, and I’m not sure that many people would know that or recognize her. But I have a history with her; she sang—she has one of the most lovely haunting singing voices, that I‘ve ever heard in the LDS market, and I hired her to sing a couple of songs on the album for my motion picture soundtrack. So, I was wondering, did you ever have in any of your films an opportunity to let her sing?


T.C.: In the EMMA film, I believe she does a little kind of an on-camera thing and then she also does something in the soundtrack—I’m sorry I don’t recall exactly what that was. But she is terrific. She’s always [unintelligible - 33:40 left] It’s not unusual for any director, even if he has a hundred million dollars a film, to use a similar cast over and over. There’s just something that happens where you become friends with actors, they please you, you’re happy with them. My idol in film, Frank Capra, said “80% of directing is casting.” So when you make good decisions and it works out, it’s just very common to keep going back to those same people because you can trust them. You know that they’re going to deliver and you enjoy working with them. But on the other aspect, in our market here is that, you know, I don’t make films thata re signatory to the Screen Actors Guild; they’re all independent people. And so...there aren’t that many—it’s not like I can go out and find—


Chris: Just to explain to the listeners what you mean by that there’s a—


T.C.: It’s the union that governs the screen actors. And any of the names you’ve ever—you’re familiar with and is famous, they’re all signatory to the Screen Actors Guild. But that comes at a price and cost, and in making independent films, one of the things I’ve tried to do is not deal with Screen Actors Guild talent, and anyway it limits your choices, too. So when you find someone that’s good, boy you really want to hang on to their—


Chris: —hang on to them. And Utah is non-union state, one of only a handful of states in the United States that you can even use, non-SAG actors. There are exceptions in Utah I know, people like Rick Macy or Bruce Newbold. They have a card, they are SAG, but because they live in Utah, they’re allowed to work off their card. Well listen, I wanted to take you back a little bit in time, because you and I first met in the early 80s, at BYU’s motion picure studio. Iw as a brand new student, and at the time BYU had an international distribution arm, for 16mm films. And I happened to meet the man who ran that department. Do you recall his name?


T.C.: Darrell Stoddard.


Chris: Darrell Stoddard, that’s right. Great enthusiasm. And when—that’s where we met, and he happened to mention, that one of the most successful films in his entire catalog was a film called THE BRIDGE. I’m sure you recall that production.


T.C.: Yes!


Chris: How old were you? What brought about that short film?


T.C.: Well I was in my senior year in college, and I had to make sure I say that. There were a lot of people [who] worked on that film—Robert HaT.C.h who ended up as the director, Robert Erickson, John Wadsworth, me...I was one of the executive producers and the director of photography on the film. We made several short films back in those days, and that was one that really kinda punched through, and is still selling, still available on DVD, and people still comment on that film to me, even though whatever that is, 36 years ago or something that we made that.


Chris: Oh my goodness, the first time I saw that film, I don’t even think I was a member of the church. And it had an enormous impact on my understanding, my comprehension of the Atonement. And another place we may have bumped into each other was in the Harris Fine Arts Building, on the BYU campus. Were you a member of the Tad Danielewski’s Professional Director’s Workshop?


T.C.: Well I wasn’t actually admitted to the class as a director or a writer or an actor (he did that also), but I was the director of photography my senior year for all of the shows that they produced as students, and so I was admitted to the classes, and I would go and be there and was very involved with it that whole year.


Chris: Well, that was a lot of fun, I mean Tad was a Czechoslovakian director and very involved in I think the Actors Studio in New York. And I doubt that very many students who were LDS ever really grasped how many people he had influenced, doing what he did. Do you remember how he’d beat into our heads the rules of dramatic structure?


T.C.: Yeah, I remember a lot of  things about him. It was a great start for me, when I won film festivals those years, he was the first one to stand up and say Wow, and Great, and tell others.


Chris: He wasn’t a member of the Church and I think his style kind of wore on BYU for awhile, and he ended his career at USC. But I’m told that the funeral—it was a who’s who of Hollywood that attended that funeral, and I don’t think tha tmany students at BYU or professors even for that matter, were quite aware of how well-connected he really was. But I remember one day, in that workshop, we were shown a short film—Ivan Crosland was in it; he was a wonderful professor of acting and theater at BYU in those days, and he played a doctor. Were you involved in that production?


T.C.: Yeah, that’s my film; it’s actually called GREATER LOVE.


Chris: GREATER LOVE, okay. Tell us the premise of that, if you could.


T.C.: Well, it was another short film. Kind of a faith-based idea. It’s a story that many people, especially in the church, have heard for many years across the pulpit or in lessons, where a child, who’s in an accident—they ask the sibling of the child to give their blood. They’re in a remote hospital, and the child says Okay, and the punch of the film, is that in the end, you realize that the child thought when you give blood, you’re giving your life, and did it anyway to save her brother.


Chris: I’m glad I let you give that summary, because I was trying to remember—that film also had an impact on me. And so, I’ve known your name a lot longer than you may have known mine. The credits on IMDb are a mile long, and yet they don’t even have a photo of you up on IMDb. How does that happen?

T.C.: That’s my own fault, they expect me to do it, and I don’t want people to see what an ugly, scary guy I am. Let them use their imagination!


Chris: Yeah, my face isn’t up there either. Maybe somebody with technical savvy can go take care of that. T.C., I know that for my entire career I’ve been a strong proponent of the fact that no latter-day saint has to compromise their values, their morals, their testimony, in order to be a storyteller, or to be successful in this industry. And to me you’re a prime example of that. How difficult has it been for you to hold those standards?


T.C.: Well, Chris, it’s like the regular Sunday School lesson. This is my pat answer I say to that question is, You decide early on what you will do and what you won’t do, and when you’re presented with an opportunity to do whatever it is you decided you’ll never do, a beer commercial or something, you’re presented with that—there’s no decision to be made. You’ve already made the decision! Back when you were younger, and you just say no, you don’t worry about it, and you move on. And that has happened to me, not a lot, it’s not an every year occurrence, but I’ve been offered a lot of shows that I’ve looked at, or a commercial, and I just very quickly knew it wasn’t something I was willing to do. And let me just say, I don’t criticize other—if there’s other members of the church, and they’ve done things that I turned down, that’s great, that’s your own personal decision, but for me and my house, it’s worked well, that I’ve just decided I steer myself towards projects I feel better about.


Chris: And I think that’s probably a very balanced way of putting it. People have to put food on the table, they have to feed their families. It’s a blessing that when you make that kind of a decision, young in your life—I know the hunger that a talented artist, or storyteller can feel for wanting success, for wanting to make a living in this industry. What advice, then, would you give to someone who might be tempted to let that hunger override their moral stance, their integrity, override I guess the values they feel as a member of the church?

T.C.: Well, I think it’s like any of those choices in life. You can go ahead and do some things you probably shouldn’t, but you’re not looking at the overall picture. You might put food on your table today, but I don’t—it can be a bit of selling your soul involved. It changes your attitude in life; the more you accept, you’re able to just move off and say I’ll make anything anybody will pay me to do, and so I think you pay a long-term fee for it. It’s the same as any moral standard; if you hold to the rod, many many years later you can look back and say, “Well I didn’t make as much money as I did, but I have a great family and I stuck with it.” It’s a hard business, you know. I never want to get specific about what I think people should and shouldn’t do, because it is tough to make a living in this freelance business.


Chris: It is tough, and it’s tough on your families. I know that from personal experience. Just being an artist is a crazy career to go into. Did any of the major, uh, scripts you turned down become major successes and propel everyone involved into instant stardom and you maybe felt some regret about not being involved?


T.C.: No, I can’t think of anything like that. Maybe it’s partly because once I say no, I don’t want to be involved with that project, I don’t think about it or notice it, I don’t know. But I doubt it. I really don’t think I’ve had anything go across my desk that would have made any difference in my career.


Chris: Well, it may well be simply that as people got to know you, and they got to know the projects you would or wouldn’t do, and your name may have come up as a possible DP, they were already saying, No, this wouldn’t be the type of thing that T.C. Christensen will do, and so you sort of saved that problem before it ever becomes a problem.


T.C.: Yeah, if that’s happened, then, again, I have no regrets. Weed it out.


Chris: Well, if there’s any theme that seems to dominate the projects you’ve chosen over the course of your career, how would you define that?


T.C.: Well, those that I have chosen—there’s a big difference between just what I’m hired to do and those that I’ve instigated, and they are my projects. Of my projects, I would hope that they’re delineated by having some positive—not even always faith-based, but just some kind of a good moral, you know, something that you can feel good about showing to your family.


Chris: Well, at least in the last three films, I would characterize that theme as a testimony that there is a God, and He is intimately involved in the lives of His children, you and me, and that miracles do happen. In fact that word is in the title of two of your three most recent films. Why do you think that theme is so prominent in your films? Especially those that you’ve produced, written, and directed.


T.C.: Well one of my beliefs about this business, is that you can’t just make some nice little film and expect this independent film to compete in the theaters with, you know—other people are walking in, they can choose the latest Tom Hanks film or some local thing, and it costs the same amount of money. You’ve got to give them something strong, and something they’re not really getting other places, or you don’t stand out. It’s like any marketing and advertising class would tell you, and so I tend to choose life and death, things that matter, and show examples of people who stuck with it and did a great job in being faithful to the gospel and their lives and they won out. So hopefully people come out of the theater feeling buoyed up and happy at the hour-and-a-half or two hours they spent in the theater, and not all sad and depressed.


Chris: Well, your most recent film THE COKEVILLE MIRACLE is a film that Iv’ve now seen three times from beginning to end. And we have this rule in our home, that we can only watch spiritual movies on Sunday, so my children could probably claim to have seen it many more times than I have. After making several films from the pioneer era—in fact, I would say that if any filmmaker could claim to be an expert on the 19th century, it would be you. With that in mind, what drew you to the story of that terrible day in Cokeville, Wyoming?


T.C.: We had just finished a short film, a faith-based film, called THE JOHN TANNER STORY: TREASURE IN HEAVEN. We had a premiere at the Conference Center, in the little theater there. So this woulda been about 2008, I think. My cousin came up to me, who I’d invited, and his wife, and they said, “Boy, we’ve got a story for you. You gotta hear this story; you could make this into a movie.” And my immediate thought was—


Chris: And what’s interesting, and what you’re leaving out, is, they already made a feature film out of the Cokeville miracle. I don’t even know what it’s called, but it starred Harry Hamlin, or someone like that.


T.C.: It was Robert Urich and, uh, John [something].


Chris: I remember I saw that, but I don’t think they emphasized the same kinds of themes that you emphasized.


T.C.: Well I didn’t know about that film at that time. In fact, I lived in Utah in 1986 and I remember there was an incident up there. You know the spiritual side of it didn’t come out, really, for days, weeks, months, sometimes still coming out now. And so, that movie of the week dealt with just the sensationalism with a mean guy and kids. When I took this meeting with the fellow my cousin referred me to, I really was impressed, and thought, Yeah, that’s a good story. But right then, I was doing 17 MIRACLES, and kept me from (unintelligible @ -18:20) And so it wasn’t until two years ago that I was really available to do COKEVILLE, and as I got into that story and started interviewing people in Cokeville, I was just blown away with this story. You know, there’s been several stories told in the last few years that had a spiritual nature, that later have been found out there’s a hoax involved with it. There’s a little kid is saying he went to heaven but he really just made it up. This film, it took this whole possibility away, because there were so many kids who had a spiritual experience, and parents, and law enforcement people, and so forth, so it could have never been a conspiracy. It couldn’t have been, and I wouldn’t have to worry about that years later, somebody’s gonna say, Oh, somebody just made that film up.


Chris: I don’t think that the significance of the subject matter of this film escapes anyone who watches it, considering all the terrible incidents of violence that have occurred in American schools over the past decade. I saw in one interview—I can’t remember whether it was you or the person interviewing—who made the statement that this was probably the first, the first incident in American history, where we had a gunman go into a school, or bombs, or violence being threatened to children inside a school. Is that accurate?


T.C.: No, it really isn’t. It wasn’t the first time. It’s a sad history in America. There have actually been quite a few. But the thing that really differentiated this event in Cokeville was it was the first time that the incident was happening and played out on the news. There were news cameras there; it was broadcast internationally, and they were telling—”There are kids in this room right now that are being held hostage by a crazy man with a bomb.” And one of the things that that precipitated was many people, having seen that on television, bowed their heads and prayed for those kids in that room. And it worked. That national fervor that that caused, it was like the Kennedy assassination happening where BOOM and it was right on TV, first time something like that. Well this was kinda like that with one of these hostage situations.


Chris: At the end of that film, you have a paragraph appear on the screen, and I don’t recall the exact words; something about “We don’t know why this particular incident ended the way it did and why others don’t”—I don’t want to mess this up. Do you recall the wording on that?


T.C.: Not exactly. Something like, “Other hostage situations have not always turned out as positive as that of the Cokeville incident, and we don’t know why. But just as in Christ’s day, not every leper was healed, not every blind person was given their sight. But we should still recognize God’s hand when we see it.”


Chris: We all recognize God’s hand in that particular situation, and I would wonder in some sense, how others might react, who maybe came out of the situation somewhat differently. Have you ever been approached by someone who themselves was wounded, or the incident just didn’t come out as miraculously as Cokeville, and maybe make comments, positive or negative, about their reaction to this—?


T.C.: Yes I have. In one example, we actually a person involved in the Sandy Hook shooting, who saw the film and was actually very supportive and positive about it. I did have one person who had lost a child. Not in this kind of a hostage situation, but I don’t know, some type of a murder or suicide or some terrible thing for a parent to go through, and that person said to me, “Where were the angels when my son needed them?” And that’s a hard question, you know, and to think that I—”Oh, well here’s the answer to that.” That’s a point we make at the credits at the end of the film, is “I don’t know why!” Nobody, I don’t think can ever say that they know God’s will, and they understand Him, and they can explain it. It’s part of faith. It’s one of the things we deal with on this earth. We don’t know all the answers. We don’t know all this. But you have to have just enough to hang onto and believe there is someone who does understand God, and that at a later time we will understand.


Chris: Unlike perhaps 17 MIRACLES and EPHRAIM’S RESCUE, I would think THE COKEVILLE MIRACLE should have an impact on viewers of any Christian denomination, perhaps any religion that believes in God’s hand, or the direct intervention of God on occasion. What kind of response have you received from people of other faiths?


T.C.: Well it’s been a real mixed bag, because we took the film and premiered it in some southern cities, and did terrific. The audience would fill out cards, survey cards. They were so positive. “Oh, this is the best faith-based film we’ve seen! We loved this! Great message!” But when we would open in these towns, we wouldn’t get the support, we didn’t do very well. And that could be because maybe we didn’t have enough money spent on marketing, and people didn’t know it was there. I don’t know. But we really did not do well in any of those southern markets that we opened in, four of them primarily.


Chris: Do you think there’s a possibility that word got out that this was a Mormon thing?


T.C.: There is that. It can be part of it. We did have some internet presence where people would write whatever, Facebook page, things like that, and say, “Don’t let them fool you. This is a Mormon film, they’re trying to convert you to Mormonism.” You know, there was a little bit of that. It could be.


Chris: Well I think that’s unfortunate, because as much as I’ve seen films that center on LDS themes, I felt like this one ought to have a lot of crossover. It deserved to have a lot of crossover. But, you know, it’s just an interesting thing—even an artist (I’m not going to name names, because they wouldn’t want me to)—but there are fine artists who will paint paintings of the Savior, and they simply don’t—when they go to galleries out east or down south, they don’t talk about the fact that they’re LDS, they just let their scenes of the Savior say for themselves what they wanted to say, and it’s unfortunate.


T.C.: I’d comment like this: this is a tough business; the toughest part is theatrical. You’re up against these multi-multi-million-dollar campaigns that Hollywood puts out, and that’s after you’ve spent a few hundred thousand on your film instead of a couple hundred million, but it ain’t over till it’s over, and I’m hoping that through DVD and digital platforms—you know, Netflix and so forth—that we still can make a good entry into those other faith-based areas that we weren’t able to in theatrical. One thing that’s surprising, I think, is that some people have found that’s a problem with COKEVILLE, that all of these kids who saw an angel or heard a voice or those kind of spiritual things that happened to them, they later identified the person that helped them as an ancestor. And there seems to be an importance to that, through some other events that I won’t go into—but there seems to be an importance in these kids knowing it was an ancestor. Other religions don’t believe that ancestors can come back and help people on the earth.


Chris: I don’t even think the world looks at the term “angel” and thinks of it being an ancestor. So that actually theology might be kind of surprising to people of other faiths.


T.C.: Their actual doctrine is that angels have nothing to do with living on this earth, unless they’re a saint. If they were a saint, then they can come back and deal with this earth. But otherwise they were created as angels and they have not had an earthly experience. Well the truth is that I think actually very few Christian people know that’s the doctrine of their church. And I’ve actually had many of them tell me, “I believe in it! I had an aunt that I know she helped me and I felt her presence.” But even so, that has been—we have had some distributors who’ve looked at the film and said we need to change that; it can’t be an ancestor that came and helped them. Well, we’re not going to change that, because that’s what the kids said!


Chris: Yeah, that’s the most innocent part of the whole story!


T.C.: Because it didn’t fit somebody else’s idea about how that should work, well sorry! That’s what they said, and that’s what we’re gonna keep.


Chris: I think that’s going to be a powerful theme, though, in countries like China and Japan. They may not overwhelmingly have a Christian culture, but they do have a culture that respects and worships, even to an extent, ancestors. So I’m going to be very curious to hear, in a year or so, how the film was accepted in those kind of cultures.


T.C.: Yeah that’s true, we have not had experiences yet with the Asian area. That may go over very well there.


Chris: What kind of message do you hope that this film will have upon victims and survivors of—and their families—of some of the incidents that we hear about in the news, where the outcome was not so miraculous, at least not on the surface?


T.C.: Well, my hope is that anyone who has gone through something like this, at least can see that sometimes God’s hand intervenes, and can accept the fact He did not intervene maybe in their instance, or maybe not in the way they would like Him to have intervened. Because we have several people in articles dealing with Columbine and Sandy Hook, who have said that there was some type of divine intervention, not as overtly as there was in Cokeville, but I hope that those people can not distance themself from God, and feel like, “Oh, who’s he? How could he let this happen? How could there be a God that would allow this?” But can see that we just have to hang in there and wait, and at some point maybe we’ll understand this better.


Chris: Well, there’s that great quote in the Book of Mormon, where the prophet is watching the torture and burning of children, and asks much that same question, and the reply, I think that he receives, is simply that the glory of God is going to be represented, and everyone has to have an opportunity to be judged. I wish I could quote that scripture a little more effectively.


T.C.: I know the scripture but I can’t say it either. But that is a good reference.


Chris: Well why do you keep doing what you do? What motivates you to pursue such a challenging career? And like I said, I know for a fact the sacrifices our families sometimes make, to let us go off and do what we’re doing. So what drives you and keeps you moving forward?

T.C.: Well there have been a lot of rewards to the career that I’ve chosen. It’s fun doing commercials, and a lot of the other secular things that we do, but the real driving force is, when you do a project—here’s my friend Chris, wants to talk about THE BRIDGE and GREATER LOVE and these films that were done 37 years ago or whatever. Those films give a longevity to your life and your career to where you feel like yeah, it’s been worth it. And there’s more stories to tell! In our culture we have so many great, true stories of our heritage. I don’t think I can ever run out of good stories to tell.


Chris: Okay, well this is your chance! And I’m sure I’m not the first person to ask, what can we expect in the future from your production company, Remember Films? What’s the subject of your next project?


T.C.: You know, truly I have not jumped in and said—


Chris: Oh man, I thought I would have an—well, that’s okay. So you’ve got some ideas bouncing around in your head, but right now you’re putting your attention on making sure everything happens for COKEVILLE MIRACLE.


T.C.: No, no, COKEVILLE’s kind of launched and gone. I am just kind of looking and deciding what to do next. But it’s a big decision! If you choose a project that doesn’t stir people’s souls and you’re not able to pull it off, in this business you’re only as good as your last movie, baby! You have to really make sure, I do, that I’ve made the best decision that I have in front of me, for a film to do. And I’ll tell you the way I do that, Chris, is that I don’t, in any way say, Okay, now it’s time to do this type of genre film, I think people will respond to this. That’s not what I do. I look for what is the best story that I know, and then I concentrate on that. That’s what it all comes down to—people love and relate to a story.


Chris: Well every story that you have personally produced has been based on a true story. Is that the kind of a theme that you’ll continue with?


T.C.: I don’t know. Because I actually have an idea—one of my ideas could involve historical fiction, where you take something that actually happened and build on it, because we don’t know that much else about it.


Chris: Interesting. And of course that’s how I’ve made my career, I just take an idea of something that has some history behind it, and let it bring up all its own questions. Listen, we want to thank you, T.C., for giving us your time, sharing your perspective, and for setting an example. Is that corny to say? I know none of us is perfect, we make many mistakes, but I’m still proud of the fact that you have demonstrated how an LDS artist can reach for the stars, reach for the highest quality in his or her art or craft, without compromising your personal values. That doesn’t mean that we’re like general authority material here, but I hope it means we don’t have to look back and cringe, too often, at the things that we’ve helped make or produce. And we’re honored that you agreed to be our very first ForeverLDS interview. That’s a distinction that you will forever hold! And I hope that someday actually means something.


T.C.: Well, Chris, not only am I not general authority material, what I am is I am primary pianist material! That’s my job in the church, and it’s the greatest you could ever have! Love it!


Chris: Well I’m just in the Sunday School presidency, so we do what we do and it’s all an honor. Listen, we wish you godspeed in all that you do, T.C.. T.C. Christensen, everyone!


T.C.: Thanks, Chris!

Chris: We hope you have a merry Christmas. And everyone who is listening to ForeverLDS, as usual, stay close to the Lord. And if you don’t feel as close to the Lord as yesterday, ask yourself: who moved? Thank you, and have a great day.



  • May 23, 2020 1:49 am

    That is fascinating that some resistance from Protestant-influenced distributors was based the notion that the angels were departed ancestors. I knew that traditional medieval Christian theology holds that angels are a separate species from mankind, a totally different kind of creature. But who knew that that kind of theology could matter at such a popular, practical level? Super interesting.

    I loved the brief text statement in the credits that dealt with the inevitable question about miracles: “Why would a loving God preserve this group, but let that other comparable group suffer?” The screen text said essentially, “We don’t know. But we should still recognize God’s hand when we see it.” Good way of putting it.

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