Monday, March 9, 2009

They're At It Again

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the only remaining groups you can (without fear of repercussion) persecute, distort facts about, and mock. HBO is at it again. The church's official statement regarding an upcoming episode of Big Love included this: Before the first season of the HBO series Big Love aired more than two years ago, the show’s creators and HBO executives assured the Church that the series wouldn’t be about Mormons. However, Internet references to Big Love indicate that more and more Mormon themes are now being woven into the show and that the characters are often unsympathetic figures who come across as narrow and self-righteous. And according to TV Guide, it now seems the show’s writers are to depict what they understand to be sacred temple ceremonies.

Apparently the writers hired some disgruntled "ex-Mormon" to fill them in on the nitty-gritty details. You know the details, all secretive and whacked out crazy....ughhh! Let me just say, for the record, the only people who call the ceremonies "secret" are people who have never participated, or those who are no longer invited to attend because of their own choices. There is truly a tremendous difference between secret and sacred. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not call their experiences sacred because they are hiding something. It really does make me laugh when people, who think they know so much, insinuate that we use the word sacred because it sounds better than secret.

Now that I think about it, why would I be surprised at this nonsensical portrayal? Almost NOTHING in this world is sacred anymore! I can really only think of two things left that most people in this country find sacred: (1.) the name of Barack Obama and (2.) protecting the "rights" of everyone except conservative Christians. So it really shouldn't be a shock that this is how HBO will present their material. They have no understanding of sacred. Instead of being angry, I just feel sorry for them. I always feel sorry for stupid people. They really are a sad, sad lot.

I have to say, it's not too edgy on the part of the Big Love writers either. Not if you consider, as I mentioned before, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is never off limits. Mocking Muslims, Jews, the Pope, Hispanics, African-Americans, it's all off limits. Or at the very least, if it does happen, the act will be met with some sort of disapproval from at least a few media outlets. But Mormons? Never off limits. Why? I believe these words from the church's statement say it perfectly:
...when expressing themselves in the public arena (referring to emailing HBO, etc.), Latter-day Saints should conduct themselves with dignity and thoughtfulness. Not only is this the model that Jesus Christ taught and demonstrated in his own life, but it also reflects the reality of the strength and maturity of Church members today. As someone recently said, “This isn’t 1830, and there aren’t just six of us anymore.” In other words, with a global membership of thirteen and a half million there is no need to feel defensive when the Church is moving forward so rapidly. The Church’s strength is in its faithful members in 170-plus countries, and there is no evidence that extreme misrepresentations in the media that appeal only to a narrow audience have any long-term negative effect on the Church.

Now comes another series of Big Love, and despite earlier assurances from HBO it once again blurs the distinctions between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the show’s fictional non-Mormon characters and their practices. Such things say much more about the insensitivities of writers, producers and TV executives than they say about Latter-day Saints. If the Church allowed critics and opponents to choose the ground on which its battles are fought, it would risk being distracted from the focus and mission it has pursued successfully for nearly 180 years. Instead, the Church itself will determine its own course as it continues to preach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

Just a little head's up from Snarky to the Haters...we aren't going anywhere. I am happy to answer questions about my church. You should also know that I respect every person's right to exercise free will, and make their own choices about what they believe or don't believe. Too bad you can't show me that same level of respect. You will not find me trying to convince you of anything, there will be no attempts at persuading you to believe as I do. Because you are going to believe whatever you WANT to believe. But, know this...The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has survived things FAR worse than a Hollywood tv show full of false information. And yes, I have in fact watched the show a few times. I wanted to see for myself what is was like. I thought it was ridiculous. It very simply played on the multitude of misconceptions and stereotypes floating around out there. And quite frankly, that isn't too hard to do, definitely not a task requiring great writers.

Haters, this one's for you: But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. (Matthew 5:44) With love from Snarky.

And for those of you who wish to express your lack of appreciation to HBO (with dignity and thoughtfulness of course), go here.


La Yen said...

Courtney has got a really good discussion going on over here (well, it was good this afternoon. Who knows how it will be when the nutjobs get home from work...)

Shauna said...

I doesn't even make me mad it just makes me sad:(!! I will pray, and continue to stand for good conservative values. Thanks for taking time to unlock the silence behind the glamor of hollywood and HBO.

Carly said...

I love the church, and it makes me sad when people decry it, not for me, but for them. I love the statement that the church made, specifically about how it speaks far more about the insensitivities of the writers than it does the membership of the church. Truer words are rarely ever spoken. What we choose to hate says just as much about us as what we choose to love, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints isn't going anywhere. The fact that it is still ok by society to hate Mormons shows just how strong the church actually is--where else in society is acceptable to fear (and therefore ridicule) any set of beliefs as much as ours? Why bother to hate something if it does not have the strength to stand on it's own two feet, right?

em said...

this is my second favorite post you've written. victoria's hands is my all time favorite:-) i was just saying to sean last night how as mormons we are expected to be accepting and open minded to everyone else's life styles, but when it comes to an acceptance of ours there is none. i think i mentioned this before to you, but my wonderful step brother compares me to hitler for supporting prop 8. so sad:-( he's serious, that's what's worse. for the first time in my life i am okay with that. i am holding my head high with a light in my eyes. i am so grateful for your eloquent words!
love emily

Laretha said...

Hey Natalie!

I'm not a Mormon, but I am a follower of Christ and I love a few Mormons. You are among them and I only know you from blogging and our mutual KC friends that have a growing place in my heart.

The words "conduct yourself with dignity and thoughfulness" says it all. It encompasses everything I know about my Mormon friends.

When I have questions, I will be sure to come to you, thank you for offering!


mom said...

Well girls...I WISH I could say it makes me "sad"...I'm not really. I still remain somewhat indignant over people who profit from furthering misconceptions and hate.

I guess if I were a better person, I would feel sadness for them. I don't. I firmly believe those who fall so easily in step with Satan and who can so callously defame and defile things so sacred to others are not people for whom I feel sorrow and/or sadness.

I feel sadness for those who sacrificed their all and for those who still sacrifice so much to be mocked and demeaned. I feel sadness that hate perpetuating evil flourishes behind the bright lights and glow of tinseltown.
I feel sad that just being respectful has become an almost unteachable trait in our society.

Nah...not me...I am far more angered and frustrated than sad. I guess there will always be a few rebel rousers in the mix. After all, Porter Rockwell is my Mormon History Rock Star!

So, for me...I am grateful that there are those who can love so deeply and genuinely you can feel sad for them, as for me and my house...Well, just makes me wish ole Porter was still around and could clean up the streets of Tinseltown!

jen said...

I'm with Snarky mama. Like tolerance has gotten us very far?
Ok, I guess it got us in the running for the White House, and it got us some ugly press over prop 8 (known as 102 in AZ), and . . .
Nevermind the ok.
Orrin Porter for vigilante! That's my motto!

Brad said...

Okay, this is a comment relating to your post about the 5-year old who's sick. It's a quote that I really like:
"If being involved in others' failures through love and caring brings us personal suffering, so be it. We follow a crucified God, who truly suffered for love rather than retreat to the power of unmoved self-sufficiency and detachment."
--Sidney Callahan

KC Mom said...

I just say...bring it on.

Gretchen said...

I'm sorry this show is perpetuating these distorted beliefs about your faith. I really like the church's response - full of integrity.

Sue said...

I almost wrote a post on this same subject today, but I had something else that struck me even more. Now I don't have to write this one because you've already said it for me!

I'm proud of the Church's way of dealing with these things...with its stance of "conduct[ing] [ourselves] with dignity and thoughtfulness." Yes, it does make us an easier target, which is always difficult and usually painful. But I can't help remembering that the Savior was an easy target for the same reason.

And that feels like very good company to be keeping these days.

karen said...

As usual Natalie, you've said it way better than I ever could! I was upset at the time, but yesterday saw a great video on the C Jane Run blog. It was some sort of religious forum at Harvard, and the portion I watched featured an LDS Harvard student from Idaho. Her incredible poise and excellent answers while being asked some tough questions by Sally Quinn truly inspired me. She was a great example to anyone in demonstrating how to conduct oneself with dignity and thoughtfulness.

K2cole said...

My family is reading in the BOM about Alma and the organization of the judges - only 5 years passed and then the dissent. Amalici used the same kind of deception to start a war - the people voted (prop 8 & 102) and he did not accept that and more than 20 thousand people died. You would think sometime humanity would wise up and not let Satan lead you down that bitter path!! Here we go again.

Whoops! Was that "thoughtfull and dignified?


little jill said...

I've always believed that there are two options:

1. If mormonism isn't true, then there is no life after death and we won't exist to know any different.

2. Mormonism is true and everything we believe is real.

So if it's option #1--the people who made this decision to film this and air it will live a normal life and die and it will never matter.

So if it's option #2. There will be a point when they die and cross the veil into the next life and they will realize what they've done. I don't believe that God punishes. I believe we are just made aware of what we knew before we came to earth and will realize the severity of the wrong things we've done. I feel sorry for them. Imagine the point where they realize that they took the Lord's house and mocked it on national television. Imagine remembering the promises you made before you came to this life, and how you defiled the one truly sacred place on this earth. It wont' be God's wrath they have to deal with, it will be their own hurt and shame and missed opportunities and broken promises.

I'm just glad that won't be me.

I am LoW said...

AMEN on your third paragraph!! AMEN AMEN AMEN!

Kim said...

Great post Natalie. Now if we could just write this post across the night sky... seriously, how can we get your words to an even bigger audience?

Carly said...

Okay, I can't get your post out of my head, to the point where I finally wrote a response to HBO myself. I did my best to use "dignity and thoughtfulness" and also, no swears or tears. It only took 3 days to come up with a draft! Do you mind if I link to your post and put my email on my blog? I just love you!

Mommy (You can call me OM) said...

I missed this one the other day. And, because I'm just not well-versed enough in politics to respond to today's post, this is MY post response.
As you know, I'm Catholic. Always have been and probably always will be. You also know I attended BYU. Despite a lot of crazy encounters at BYU (which we both agree do not represent the true church), I'm the first to defend LDS people and educate non-Mormons.
But, I do think the Church should do more to educate non-Mormons. I think LDS people should make more of an effort to be a part of the mainstream, instead of participating solely in exclusively Mormon activities (e.g., Relief Society). Don't get me wrong, I know these groups within the Church offer great support. But, I think the Church would be less misunderstood if its members participated in general society more.
Let me be specific. I now live in Rochester, MN. Rochester has two stake houses, but you'd never know Rochester's LDS population warranted even one stake house. LDS people just are not "out there." I take Community Ed classes with moms from all religious groups. I've met just two LDS moms in the last four years I've lived here.
My point is not that the Church deserves to be misrepresented. But, I think that everyday LDS people could do a world of good for the Church by simply entering and engaging with the rest of society.

Natalie said...

OM, you are right. While it is hard to hear (or I should say read), it is truth. I have felt this way my entire life. I firmly believe LDS need to be more "visible". It is strange though, when it comes from someone else, it makes me feel defensive. I sincerely appreciate that you wrote the Church doesn't deserve to be misrepresented. That is certainly true.

But I wholeheartedly agree, if members were more "visible", then if/when the Church is misrepresented, at least people could easily recognize those misrepresentations. Others would know we are actually very "normal" people. Not all that different.

Natalie said...

Also, we should be making more efforts to invite friends to things like Relief Society and those activities, because they aren't at all excusively for Mormons. In fact, people of other faiths, or no faith at all, are welcome to enter any of our church buildings and participate in our activities, with the exception of the temple.

So, this proves OM's point..not that it needed proving...if we were more visible, maybe people would be willing to join us for activities. But, then maybe they would shy away because they don't want to feel that we are trying to baptize them! :)

Mommy (You can call me OM) said...

I'm thankful my words were taken in the right context. Believe me, the Mormon church does not deserve to be ridiculed. I often feel that I am fighting the battle right along with you, because people will say stupid things about LDS to me, thinking I'll agree. Typically, it's just ignorance. Ignorance that leads to bigotry. I do attempt to counteract this with some basic education.
When I say that LDS people need to break out of their comfort zone, it's not so much a criticism as it is a suggestion. I do believe that by getting out amongst social circles that have nothing to do with LDS doctrines, the Church would thereby attract supporters without even promoting itself. Simply living life and sharing the LDS faith when prompted could enlighten many people. Until we all engage in a dialogue with that which is different than ourselves, I don't think we ever begin to understand.
I watched part of the podcast with the LDS Harvard student. I believe that by living her faith and socializing with people of different faiths, she does more for her church than those of us who isolate ourselves amongst those who think just as we do -- no matter if we are LDS, Catholic, Jewish, or any other denomination.

Natalie said...

Love you OM! Maybe the Church should hire you for PR. :)
Think I'm kidding? I'm not! :)

Fiauna said...

Snarky, I couldn't have said it better myself. That was great. You know, if Hollywood really wanted to see into the world of the Mormons all they'd have to do is read a few of these blogs. Then they'd see a real world of faith-filled, strong families living lives of real drama. You can't script the good stuff.