Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Mormons


I spent the last two nights glued to my television, intrigued by the documentary, The Mormons, on PBS. Honestly, I didn't know whether I hsould expect an ambush, or praise. In my opinion, it was a largely balanced approach to our faith. I will say that I thought too much time was given to Mountain Meadows and Ploygamy, but I was happy to see all shots and comments on modern polygamy were balanced with snippets of a President Hinckley General Conference talk that renounced polygamy. The churches history of Polygamy is always something that I have personally wrestled with, so it is a little scary to put it on the public stage. That is however, the reality of the church and its history, and like it or not, that is what we are associated with. Additionally, I did not like the segment on The Book of Mormon. It seemed that the thesis of this segment was that this sacred book is not an ancient record. Scholar after scholar were introduced all in apparant agreeance with this "fact." Obviously, as a member of the church, I do not agree with these scholars, but The Book of Mormon is the cornerstone of our faith. To deny it's veritude, is to discount everything we believe. Now, I am no historian, nor am I an "intillecutal," but could they not have brought up an LDS perspective countering these ideas such as Hugh Nibley or others? I remember hearing in institute at BYUI that several studies have been done on The Book of Mormon concluding that it could not have been written by one man, especially one who was as uneducated as Joseph Smith.

I also found it interesting to hear the commentary from the feminst scholar, Margaret Toscano. The story of her excommunication was particularly intriguing to me. She describes a sort of gag order from the local leadership, and further outlined her intention to not adhere. In the film, it talks about our absolute leadership as confining and/or limiting... and obviously, in the case of Ms. Toscano, she felt that it was. However, as members of this church, we believe that the commandments that we follow are the laws of God. Thus, strict obediance is required. That is an entirely different subject, but what I am getting at is that Magaret Toscano, because of her attitude and actions, obvioulsy did not value her membership in the church in the first place. This idea forced me to think, as I often do about "disciplinary councils,"--- why does the person even show up? If you are so far gone that you are on the verge of being cut off, what inside you makes you want to go and fight for your membership?? I think in the case of this woman, it was in the name of research, but for others I don't know.

A couple of compliments to the program: I loved Dallin H. Oaks. His articulate responses were uplifting and made me cheer. I also was moved by some of the stories of member sacrifices. I identified with some of the women who spoke of the "mormon woman" as an unattainable image of perfection. I think that is cultural, not doctrinal, but still a truth that I see. There was much more to think about and write about, but I will stop here. On the whole, I guess that I was pleasantly suprised, if nothing else for shear introspection and self-analysis. That is never a bad thing in my mind.

The entire documentary is available online: http://www.pbs.org/mormons/view/

1 comment:

Gustogirl said...

I watched it too and was glad that the church wasn't totally attacked, but the director sure gave a lot of air time to the excommunicated feminist and the gay man the second night. The airtime she gave the members was to talk about their family and how much they love each other, oh and how sad it is that their daugther is dying. Not to diminish how sad her circumstance is, but I agree that Elder Oaks gave some great articulate answers and the director should have given equal airtime to answers to doctinal issues from well-spoken members, not just oh I love my family and we are going to be together forever. I felt that the viewer was supposed to feel so sympathetic to these two excommunicated members plight. Overall, I did enjoy it though and with all the stories out there, it was a little more balanced than most.