Wednesday, May 02, 2007

'The Mormons'

What did you think of PBS’s ‘The Mormons’?

I really would like to know the backgrounds of all the people that commented. It was obvious in the cases of the General Authorities and the Church Historian and a few others, like the Black woman who told a bit about her history. Then there were a few that admitted that they’d been excommunicated or were no longer active. There were others that I guessed that was the case for them, also. And that was my biggest concern: that the people who were telling the world about ‘the church’, as though they ‘knew’, were people who obviously (to me*) didn’t really understand, or they wouldn’t have left the church.

I don’t mean that as a ‘put down’ or criticism. Several of them were generally very positive, even expressing sadness in missing their church activity and I sympathized with them. I could even see where they were coming from, according to their own perspectives. I do realize that there are several things that are difficult to understand, and even harder to accept, depending on the circumstances of one’s life. And as one man pointed out, if we’re really true followers of the Savior, their not accepting the church should have no bearing on our accepting them. (And for those of us that would never dream of leaving the church, that very willingness - or lack thereof - to accept those who do, may be our test in life. Our failure to pass it may be far more damning to us than the act of leaving for those that have left! For to not accept anyone, is to judge them without the understanding that only God is in a position to have!) Nevertheless, it just seemed a little sad that those who didn’t seem to understand the church were put in a position to explain it to the world as though they were authorities. I’m guessing that, in a way, it was done on purpose, because if the story had been told only by strong church members, it couldn’t have been considered ‘objective’.

The other thing that seemed a little strange was that they referred several times to the church as though it was a business that had to ‘keep up with the times’ to continue being ‘successful’. It seemed kind of like offering a critique on how God handles things! But then, I realize, not everyone sees it that way, unless they truly believe - as I do - that this is Christ’s church and really not open for criticism in the way that man-made things are (keep in mind, I’m referring to Christ’s organization of his church, not the people who happen to be members!)

On the whole, though, I saw the four hour special as a positive thing. I remember back in the late ‘70s, when we first moved to Hawaii. I heard someone on the radio say something about the church that wasn’t true. I called the mission president, all alarmed and thinking he’d want to do something to correct this grave situation of the world being told an untruth about the church! He laughed and explained that there was no need to worry. He said there are a lot of people brought into the church from hearing such things, that otherwise might not have ever given the church a second thought. It makes them curious enough to investigate whatever ‘shocking’ bit of information they’ve heard, and they end up being baptized.

“The Lord works in mysterious ways, . . .”

* I do understand that understanding the ‘ideals’ of the Gospel and living all of the principles in the reality of one’s circumstances, may be two different things and take more than a lifetime to accomplish. I trust that the Lord understands my limitations and my heart, even if others may not. That’s why it’s important for me to remember that only the Lord has all the facts upon which to judge. He also allows me a lifetime to prepare and improve. If he can be patient with me, I trust he expects me to give others a little space, as well. :)

6 comments:

Tina said...

I liked it and too thought it was overall positive. We wrote down most of the names of all the commenters and then looked up some of them on the internet. We were able to see which were active lds, ex lds, or non lds. It was interesting to find out. Surprisingly, a few that were ex lds actually gave really positive comments about the church.

The only negative thing which has bothered me a bit since I saw it was hearing about the mountain meadows massacre. I had never heard of that before. To me that is far more shocking and "damning" to the church than polygamy. It doesn't matter that it was just zealots commiting the murders (and not instructed by authorities in the church). What matters is that alot of people may think it was instructed by leaders of the church. It is their take on it that I fear will be "damning".

TK said...

I agree Tina.

All of this reminds me of the comment in the movie, "God's Army" wherein the Black Elder tells about how after he was converted, he learned about the Blacks not being given the priesthood, and how he finally overcame that. He said (with much emotion) "It's like he gives you all these reasons to believe and then he throws one reason in there, not to believe, just to give you a choice to see if you'll believe or not."

Master Fob said...

I haven't seen the documentary (I could watch it online, but I'm not sure I want to spend four hours doing so), but the one thing I've heard about it over and over is that it does a good job of representing the church from an objective, unbiased point of view. The approach of using a variety of interviewees--active, ex-, and non---makes sense to me. I've always been bothered by the popular Mormon saying about anti-Mormon propaganda that "if you want to learn about the church, you should go to the source, not these other people." If you are shopping for, say, a new car, you don't want to hear only what Ford has to say about their latest model. You want to hear what neutral third parties have to say, and you probably also want to hear the complaints of people who used to own a Ford but don't anymore. Those complaints may be biased and even untrue, but you should at least look into them before you buy that car.

Furthermore, and this is going to sound like I'm being defensive and taking your comment personally but I'm honestly not and I honestly didn't, I think it's a bit presumptuous to assume that those who have left the church simply didn't understand the church. By that same logic those who have left could say that the only reason you haven't left is because you don't truly understand the church like they do, and then all we're doing is dismissing each other's belief systems as ignorance, rather than trying to understand each other.

svoid said...

I was going to post a comment, but Master Fob captured exactly the two points that I was going to make in his comment.

Th. said...

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I only saw the first half, but I was impressed and generally happy with it.

Angie said...

I had heard about the Mountain Meadow Massacre in my mission (Arkansas). But I never really knew much about it except that the Mormons who killed were doing it in unrighteous retalliation. However, after seeing it on the PBS special I was really curious what the real story was. There is actually a website www.mtn-meadows-assoc.com that shows the actual court testimonies of those involved including Brigham Youngs. It is really interesting to read, and it helps to see more points of views than just one (reading the testimonys of those that testified against John D. Lee). It is a shame that the PBS special really showed only the view point of John D Lee (who apparently was the major instigator and obviously an apostate), but I was very impressed by the apostles comments on the PBS special. It wasn't worth his energy to argue against the lies, but he just expressed his grief for those involved. I have experienced somethings recently where someone right out lied and said that I did something that I didn't in order to excuse their wrong behavior. Maika and I thought about setting the record straight by pointing out to others that this one lady had lied, but after praying about it, we just felt that it wasn't worth it, and in time people would see what type of person she was and know that what she said about me was not true. This really helped me to appreciate more what Brigham Young went through at the time and even what the church experiences now days. Yes, for the time there will be some people that are turned away, but ultimately people will see the overwhelming blessings that come from the church and will overlook the lies that are told. I think this is why the church highly advertised this PBS special to the members. Overall, the special showed the great blessings that come from the church.