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Arts and Culture

‘Big Love’ Causes Scene With Mormon Church

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Posted on Mar 12, 2009
Big Love
starpulse.com

Big trouble or big ratings?: HBO’s “Big Love.”

Some members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints got their sacred undergarments in a twist about an upcoming episode of “Big Love” in which secret religious practices and spaces are depicted. HBO has apologized, but, as Salt Lake Tribune columnist Vince Horiuchi wonders, will all this hubbub just serve to draw more attention to Sunday’s installment of the series?

The Salt Lake Tribune:

If The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had not uttered a single word about this Sunday’s episode of “Big Love,” it wouldn’t have exploded into the hotbed of controversy it has become. Now, a lot more people are sure to watch Sunday night’s episode.

In a statement released on Monday, the Church criticized an upcoming scene inside an LDS temple that shows sacred practices, rooms and garb. “Certainly Church members are offended when their most sacred practices are misrepresented or presented without context or understanding,” officials said.

No one outside of the network has seen the episode, including myself as of this writing. So how does anyone know that these practices will be “misrepresented or presented without context or understanding?”

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By Ellen Shatter, March 18, 2009 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I saw the episode mentioned and did not find it at all offensive. The ritual seemed
a bit bizarre to me but then I’m not a Mormon. I’m sure the writers and producers
of the show never intended to ridicule the ritual. It was also very much in context
with the plot and the character it is depicting.
  I’m a big fan of the show and watch it every week. At times the plot gets a bit
convoluted and I have to read HBO websites plot summary of the episode the day
after it airs. But the show portrays human relationships beautifully and the
acting is superb.

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By Stephen Smoliar, March 16, 2009 at 5:23 pm Link to this comment

Purple Girl, BIG LOVE did the “child bride thing” a long time ago.  That has less to do with Mormonism and more to do with the Warren Jeffs case.  No, my comparison with Mozart’s MAGIC FLUTE was surprisingly close.  The “sacred practices, rooms, and garb” were all there in a spectacle as solemnly touching as the rituals that begin the second act of FLUTE.  This was, without a doubt, the closest this series has come to genuine tragedy (for at least one character);  and, on purely narratological grounds, I cannot fault the choice of setting.

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By photoshock, March 16, 2009 at 5:05 pm Link to this comment

I think human religion is proof God has a sense of humor. (Paolo)
The only reason for any church to try and surpress such things is a realization that their dogma is so crazy publicity will reveal it to all. (Jim Yell)
re: Sage of Zion,  I am working on being a recovering Roman Catholic, I too think that someone’s mythology must stand the test on another person’s scrutiny. It is not so much the scrutiny part that scares the LDS but the fact that anyone is questioning their rites and sacred spaces.  This scares the ‘bejeezus’ out of any person who is a ‘true’ believer in any religion and makes them quake when someone questions their belief system.
Why anyone should be offended at another person’s questioning is beyond me, doubt has played a huge part in my spiritual walk and questioning my belief system is an inherent part of my life.
#####################################################
Now on with the show!  For anyone to be offended at someone questioning their belief system is absolutely
foolish and ridiculous. For this is the very heart of
discourse and our rights in America. If any religion is to survive in the coming years, it must be a pragmatic and meaningful set of beliefs, that make a difference in people’s lives. If not, then let that religion or practice fall by the wayside.
Man is evolving, we are growing closer to the image of an almighty, for we are seeing that we must take care of the world or it will not take care of us.
The use of masculine language and idioms, when speaking about G-d, is rather disconcerting to me, for even in the letters of Paul, upon which the whole
of Christianity relies for their belief system, says,
that “G-d is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, quoting just part of Paul. If as Paul says G-d is neither male nor female, then why does the Church, any church for that matter that follows a monotheistic bent call G-d, male, and make females second class citizens in the community?
One must wonder at the repressive bent of monotheistic faiths?  There is no G-dly reason for the making of women into second class citizens.
Almost all monotheistic religions, and one from the East, Jainism, puts women in second class status, this is not the way of the person who recognizes G-d in all. We are but earth suits, we are all created in the image of G-d, including women.
The masculine language, when being attributed to G-d, is an abhorrent use of words to me. Why in the face of all that is holy, do men, continue this practice?  Might it be, that men are afraid to recognize that women too have a place in the community of faith that does not require a sex change?  Women as much as men, show the handiwork of G-d in their lives and the faith that they live. Could it be, that men, just need to feel superior? 
I end with this statement, G-d is not mocked, for whatever a man(woman) sows that shall they also reap.

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By RAE, March 16, 2009 at 5:02 pm Link to this comment

Christian: you asked “...I would just like to know why you reached this conclusion.” (that God does not exist, I presume).

Faith.

(Heck, if you believers can rest your case on this crutch, so can I.)

A touch more seriously… because I have never felt the need to have a god in my life. I KNOW and ACCEPT that there is much about this life/planet/universe that my little brain simply cannot comprehend. I feel no anxiety or urge or compulsion to either accept a “ready made” God (pick a religion) or to invent one for myself.

I think I know what I’m talking about - for me -... I tried it. I went to church. I listen to the pastors. I read the Bible. I sang the songs. I experience the “warm fuzzies” at Christmastime. I thrilled to the organ music. I watched preachers on TV. I talked to others. I even talked to “God” and listened for his response on all wavelengths using all senses. I did all this because I found it really difficult to accept that my conclusions were correct while so many millions could so profoundly delude themselves otherwise.

Then it dawned on me that “50 million Frenchmen COULD be wrong.” In the not too distant past MOST PEOPLE believed that disease was caused by bad air… MOST PEOPLE believed the earth was FLAT… MOST PEOPLE believed that only gods and evil spirits lived in the mountains. The only sensible conclusion to be drawn is that MAJORITY BELIEF IS NOT A RELIABLE MEASURE OF RIGHT OR WRONG.

So from my search for God period - nothing. Not one hint or inkling that a god exists. Not one sign that even if He/She/It did exist that even one nanosecond of His/Her/It’s attention would be focused on me or my “problems.”

What I DID learn is that NO ONE KNOWS ANYTHING ABOUT GOD FOR SURE, no matter how many degrees, no matter how much Bible pounding, no matter how much pomp & ceremony, and that I much prefer to hang out with those who accept that we’re on our own on this planet to make of life what we will, without need of emotional crutches to assuage the anxiety or fear that might be generated by not “knowing” for sure. I also learned that a significant percentage of church goers are phoneys - people who go only to be seen - to be part of the groupthink support system - to reinforce the faith (because, I assume, so much of it is based on a foundation of quicksand and needs/requires constant reinforcing to keep from evaporating.)

I simply don’t feel the need for a god or to justify/defend my position. I do so here only because you politely and genuinely asked.

Over and out.

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By BobZ, March 16, 2009 at 4:26 pm Link to this comment

Mormonism is a religion like most religions that stretches incredulity to the max. Because so much of their history took place less than 200 years ago and in the country, their beliefs have come in for a lot of ridicule - justly deserved. They are in a class approaching Scientology. Their history represents a sad chapter in America. Brigham Young was a murderer and the less said about their marriage practices the better. When you add that to their funding of Proposition 8 in California, they also come across as a bunch of hypocrites.

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By christian, March 16, 2009 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment

Thanks for your response.

you quoted my question: “Don’t you find it peculiar, that the vast majority of mankind seems to have an inborn need to do this?  Why do you suppose this need exists?”

you answered: Yes I do. I argue about your statistics - “vast majority” - I think perhaps the majority do NOT feel the need to invent a god… but let’s not quibble.

my response: No, let’s not. 

you said: Why does it exist? Good question - but given the number of other limitations and frailties of the human organism (right down to bad backs - whoever the hell invented our spinal columns never attended Engineering 101)

my response: wow.  Maybe you could reinvent it. 
But, seriously, I’m not sure how our frailties prove that there is no God? Is that even what your saying?
If not, what exactly does this prove?

you said: it doesn’t surprise me a good number somehow feel euphoria about falling to their knees and praising imaginary deities!

my response: I’m convinced He exists even if I can’t prove it.  But then so are convinced He doesn’t even when you can’t prove it.  And I bet you don’t even believe in faith, while you exercise it so perfectly.  And I have to say, the evidence that there is a God weighs heavier than the idea that there is not.  I imagine it is precisely this evidence that points most to the supernatural seeing, there is nothing to show that humans are capable of producing such complicated and miraculous inventions wouldn’t you agree? Sure we create things in His shadow, but seriously, have you considered the eyeball alone as a point of such miraculous inventions?

you said to someone: Some “know” because they have a “feeling” or “intuition” - well, who’s to argue with that.

Have you proven the Old or New Testament to be false?Have you found any of the prophesys that were prophesied and fulfilled as false?  I have a feeling, that you have destroyed God in your life without proving it with evidence.  Show me your proof that He doesn’t exist and I will show you mine that He does.

you said to someone: Since the whole matter comes down to a coin toss, I prefer to err on the side of what I do KNOW via my “god-given” senses (oops).

my response: I would love to know which God given sense directed you to such a conclusion. No not really, I would just like to know why you reached this conclusion.

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By Purple Girl, March 15, 2009 at 4:43 pm Link to this comment

Could it be a scene where they marry off some poor 12 yr old girl to some skanky 60 yr old man?
personally I have no problem with Consenting Adults being in Polygymist relationships. But I do have a problem of marrying off children or forcing young woman to marry men they do not want to.Religion or not these are acts of child endangerment, abuse and frankly neglect. These children are not intellectually developed enough to undeerstand nor cope with the demands of being married. For the ‘of Age’females, it is a matter of Civil Rights and Freedoms. If this Sect can not abid by the laws of this country which afford all citiznes the Right to ‘life , Liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ but not at the expense of another citizen, then perhaps they should consider moving to the Middle East where such Women and Childrens Rights are not as highly Valued and protected by Law.

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By RAE, March 14, 2009 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment

To Stephen:
“This evades the extent to which beliefs are enculturated.”
Yes… I avoided ‘going there’ because that’s another page or two and I was already too long-winded. I’m astonished that given the conditioning (brainwashing) that many of us are subjected to before they have developed analytical skills and/or defenses, that so many have managed to overcome such abuse and find their own “enlightenment.” Cultures come in some bizarre formulations and deserve almost no consideration when one is seeking the “truth.” I agree, though, that when seeking the “cause” the roots often can be found in this mass hypnosis.

“...I DO believe (HAH!) that beliefs can be changed.”
I fully agree which is about the best argument I can offer that any belief held without valid corroborating evidence, is little more than an OPINION (conditioned or dreamed up). Some “know” because they have a “feeling” or “intuition” - well, who’s to argue with that. It’s a whole other realm beyond the senses of which I spoke and not open to examination. Either you believe or you don’t. Since the whole matter comes down to a coin toss, I prefer to err on the side of what I do KNOW via my “god-given” senses (oops).

Finally, Stephen, I guess I’m no Socrates because I just don’t have the patience to wait for the light to come on in the brains of believers. There’s just too many of them to deal with. Either they have the native intelligence to “get it” or they don’t. Either way it doesn’t really matter to me.

To Christian:
“Don’t you find it peculiar, that the vast majority of mankind seems to have an inborn need to do this?  Why do you suppose this need exists?”

Yes I do. I argue about your statistics - “vast majority” - I think perhaps the majority do NOT feel the need to invent a god… but let’s not quibble.
Why does it exist? Good question - but given the number of other limitations and frailties of the human organism (right down to bad backs - whoever the hell invented our spinal columns never attended Engineering 101), it doesn’t surprise me a good number somehow feel euphoria about falling to their knees and praising imaginary deities!

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By christian, March 14, 2009 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment

To RAE: “If God didn’t exist man would have to invent Him” which, IMO, is precisely what we humans have done…

Don’t you find it peculiar, that the vast majority of mankind seems to have an inborn need to do this?  Why do you suppose this need exists?

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By Stephen Smoliar, March 14, 2009 at 10:47 am Link to this comment

RAE, I appreciate your reply.  However, it seems that you have now shifted the distinction to the difference between “physical fact” (such as body state) and “mental choice.”  This evades the extent to which beliefs are enculturated.  As they say, you cannot choose your parents;  and, as a corollary, you cannot reason your way beliefs you acquire from them, your other relatives, and your community, not easily at any rate.  Belief is a philosophical mine-field.  Plato knew it, and he may have just been fronting for Socrates.  Nevertheless, I DO believe (HAH!) that beliefs can be changed.  However, what we learned from Socrates is that, if you want to change someone else’s belief, start by accepting it and see where it leads.  If you are skillful enough to get that other person to follow you, you may make your case!

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By RAE, March 14, 2009 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

Stephen, “beliefs” are notions we CHOOSE and therefore, IMO, are fair game for examination and judgement. If we have any intelligence at all and perhaps a little balanced, objective education, we require at least some legitimate evidence to support our beliefs otherwise what we believe is nothing more than glib opinions or untested assumptions.

I strongly object to having such notions inflicted upon vulnerable minds (children, for example), as FACT. That, to me is ABUSE and should be prosecuted not protected as a right of an authority figure (parent, for example).

It seems a goodly proportion of the human organisms on this planet require some sort of “spiritual” support system. Seems most people “can’t handle the truth” that WE JUST DON’T KNOW where we came from, why we’re here or where we’re going (if any place.)

Someone (can’t remember who) said “If God didn’t exist man would have to invent Him” which, IMO, is precisely what we humans have done… created gods in our image and then argued, gone to war and even committed mass murder over whose gods are the real ones ever since.

As you said, the “main contentions are quite ridiculous” which Camus summarized as “Man is absurd.” What more can be said (without wasting a whole lot of breath and time)?

You might ask where’s MY evidence that what I believe is any more factual than those notions held by the abovementioned nutcases? Answer: I don’t have any! Except that to the five senses I was given at birth… sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, or even if I add in pain, balance, joint motion, acceleration, sense of time, temperature difference and direction, there’s still not one iota of what I can accept as legitimate evidence to support the belief that any God exists.

Perhaps I’m missing the “God” gene? This would beg the question “What kind of all-knowing Creator would go to all the trouble of making humans in His image whose purpose is to worship/adore Him, and then create a great number of us which could be judged “defective?”

It’s crazy making nonsense and very lame to counter with “He gave us free will.” Really… well, first prove to me that He exists and then we can examine the notion of free will.

Anyway, gotta go. I’ve got a whole pile of sacred undergarments that need attention.

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By Stephen Smoliar, March 14, 2009 at 7:38 am Link to this comment

RAE, where do you rank calling out self-contradiction in your “hierarchy of malice?”  grin

“If someone comments in a hurtful manner about your height or weight or sex or some other affect, defect or idiosyncracy, not of your making, that makes you YOU, then to take offence seems to me valid.”

This was very well put;  but your belief systems also contribute to what “makes you YOU.”  Indeed, they probably have more to do with your sense of identity than many of your physical attributes.  From that point of view, it strikes me as quite valid to be offended by having your belief system called “some half-baked mythology that you’ve swallowed, hook, line and sinker!”

No offense intended, just a positive attempt to keep the discourse of track!

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By Jim Yell, March 14, 2009 at 7:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I can’t see where society as a whole must obey the tenents of any one religous order or sect. In the interest of freedom of belief each has the right to practice unmolested in their churches, but it doesn’t carry over into forcing others to hold their opinions or interest in what is really going on in each religion and if it is illegal activity than they must answer for it.

The only reason for any church to try and surpress such things is a realization that their dogma is so crazy publicity will reveal it to all.

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By Paolo, March 13, 2009 at 7:01 pm Link to this comment

As a student of comparative religion, I think Mormonism is quite fascinating. Obviously, its main contentions are quite ridiculous, but not much more so than those of other religions. The fact the church has so many adherents, and is still growing, attests to the fact that people are capable of tremendous self-deception when they come across something they really want to believe.

Mormonism isn’t quite as silly as Scientology, but the true believers of both faiths display tremendous resolve in the face of contradictory facts.

Regarding “big love,” I don’t see any reason for laws forbidding polygamy (with the obvious proviso that there be no other violations of law such as sex with children). If consenting adults want to engage in polygamy or polyandry, that’s their own damned business. I find it a little hypocritical that the American community at large, with a fifty percent divorce rate, presumes to criticize polygamists.

The Mormon church has shown some amount of political savvy, historically. For example, when they needed to outlaw polygamy in order to be admitted into the Union, their Prophet had a very convenient vision from the Great Beyond ordering that very thing!

When the Mormon doctrine of forbidding the priesthood to black folk [on the very thin assertion that the “mark of Cain” was black skin] became just a little too politically controversial, their Prophet had another convenient revelation! Amazing!

I think human religion is proof God has a sense of humor.

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By RAE, March 13, 2009 at 4:53 pm Link to this comment

““Certainly Church members are offended when their most sacred practices are misrepresented or presented without context or understanding,” officials said.”

Who, in their right mind, cares? Anyone who actually believes their UNDERWEAR is sacred needs counseling.

If someone comments in a hurtful manner about your height or weight or sex or some other affect, defect or idiosyncracy, not of your making, that makes you YOU, then to take offence seems to me valid. But, to be offended because someone maligns some half-baked mythology that you’ve swallowed, hook, line and sinker, that’s another story. You NEED to be offended badly enough to seek help.

The LDS Church is no more and no less a complete fraud than any other, IMO. They’re all controlling con games/businesses that make Madoff look like he was guilty of lifting five bucks from petty cash.

And I don’t care who takes offence at my stating my views on the subject.

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By Sage of Zion, March 13, 2009 at 12:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As a recovering Mormon, as well as an old one, I find this whole flap to be refreshing and amusing.  Over the last 40 or so years I have seen the LDS Church lurch from being an isolated relgion, proud of its otherness, its “pecularity,” to being a proud, mainstream religion with wealth,consipicuous political members of Congress and presidential hopefuls.  They can’t remain aloof and mainstream at the same time.  Their mythology must withstand the test of public scrutiny.  Kudos to HBO for staying the course.

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By godistwaddle, March 13, 2009 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

If the Mormons object to anything, point out that civilized people object to their Mountain Meadows Massacre.  Like other religions, Mormonism is given to repression and murder.

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By Stephen Smoliar, March 13, 2009 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

Given that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart came under fire for revealing “secret Masonic rituals” in his MAGIC FLUTE opera, I would say that BIG LOVE is in good company!

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By Chino Blanco, March 13, 2009 at 6:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tom Hanks puts this brouhaha into perspective (and waxes prophetic) at the 3rd season premiere of Big Love:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7JgK_mmEBk

“There’s gonna be lies, and secrets, and discoveries, and problems. Television!”

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By diamond, March 13, 2009 at 2:08 am Link to this comment

What a load of mumbo jumbo. ‘Big Love’ is one of the few shows on TV worth watching and yes, that’s not hard, but it has just the right chemistry and the right mix of actors. Cyrena, isn’t it obvious how they know? They have a royal telephone that goes straight up to heaven.

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By cyrena, March 12, 2009 at 8:36 pm Link to this comment

“No one outside of the network has seen the episode, including myself as of this writing. So how does anyone know that these practices will be “misrepresented or presented without context or understanding?””


~~~~

Good question. How do they know that these ‘practices’ will be ‘misrepresented’? They much “know” that the practices are likely to be seen as unacceptable no matter what the hell ‘context’ they’re presented in.

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