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Mar. 18th, 2009 at 10:04 am
When looking at depictions of the temple ceremony we should probably consider the context.Â On Sunday Big Love aired scenes depicting ceremonies that faithful Latter-day Saints consider sacred and secret.Â I am not aware of a previous depiction of the ceremonies of the temple that isn’t firmly in the genre of anti-Mormon film.Â Given that fact, one could classify Big Love as anti-Mormon simply by creating a depiction that only anti-Mormon works have done in the past.
In addition to this is the fact that you can’t have an accurate depiction of the temple ceremonies without your ultimate source being a person (or several people) who have broken oaths to not reveal certain aspects of the ceremony.Â Thus any accurate depiction has as its root a broken oath.Â The faux ceremony is an outgrowth of dishonesty and should be seen in that light.Â At its heart it is an act of retribution and a repudiation of the ceremony.
This is fundamentally different than the example of the film Brigham City in which the ordinance of the sacrament is examined.Â There is no oath to not reveal that ordinance, in fact the public is invited to the meeting each Sunday.Â Yet even Brigham City made some LDS uncomfortable.Â Of course whether something makes some Mormon unconfortable shouldn’t be the ultimate standard for what is appropriate.
A bit more context.Â Lawrence O’Donnell is an actor on the show.Â Last year he made some horribly bigoted comments about Mormons and Joseph Smith on the McLaughlin Group.Â This was in the context of the Mitt Romney speech on religion.Â Interestingly Lawrence hasn’t appeared on the program since that incident, but he continued his tirade online in pieces on the Huffington Post.Â He is a very clearly biased participant on the show.
Also, Tom Hanks, the executive producer of the show, has recently made (and then apologized for) comments regarding LDS participation in the political process during the Prop 8 fight in California.Â His comments were stupid and hopefully an unfortunate expression of his frustration rather than a reflection of his understanding of American politics.Â But opinion of the mainstream LDS Church was on clear display.Â He is mad, motivated, and in a position to do something about it.
Given this context, I’d be hard pressed to see the inclusion of these ceremonies on the show as anything but a thinly veiled attack on the LDS Church, as retribution for political activities.
Frankly, this is about what we should expect.Â As a Church we did little to raise the level of discourse during the Prop 8 debate.Â Rather than provide valid arguments we engaged in fear mongering and hysterics.Â Opponents of Prop 8 did the same.Â What should have been a civil and enlightening discussion was instead the political equivalent of a street fight.Â After Prop 8 passed many LDS justified their rhetoric by pointing at the bad behavior of some of the protesters on the losing side, but that hardly strikes me as fair, in fact it is revisionist history.
I’m not attempting to justify what Hanks has done or blame the victim.Â I’m just looking at the situation and wondering what we could have done better.Â Prop 8 has hit some people where it hurts.Â Supporters have “won” and opponents have “lost”.Â They are going to strike back, plain and simple.Â I would like to think that this didn’t have to be the cost of the Prop 8 fight, but it is likely that it would have happened even if we had done our part to keep the discussion civil, logical, and fact based, assuming that Prop 8 would have passed had we done so.