Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Big Love Hubbabaloo

I have stopped keeping track of all of the emails and Facebook requests that I have gotten charging me on all that I hold sacred to protest the episode of Big Love where they will depict a temple ceremony.

I haven't responded to a single one for a number of reasons.

One, I wanted to do my own research instead of being a reactionary. I read the TV Guide Article that has a picture of the main character in full temple garb. I read the Church's official release about it. I've read a few reputable blogs just to get my feel for it, and essentially I totally agree with what The Church said.

It's lame. It's super lame and irreverent. HBO essentially has broken its word with The Church over and over and there isn't anything we can do about that. HBO is a business, a facet of show business at that. Bottom lines are the only gods they worship or respect.

I'm not OK with it, but I'm not incensed either.

For one, grandma always said "Never wrestle with a pig. You just get dirty and the pig likes it". In this case pig = HBO. They're promise breakers and the more dander we get up about this the more people are going to start sniffing around the series and shaking their heads at our collective Rachel Lynde and Merryweather tendencies.

We have nothing to hide. These ceremonies are sacred, not secret. We have open houses for months before a temple is dedicated. The whole world is invited to see and walk through the building and ask as many questions as they want. And lets be honest, there is so much Anti literature and entertainment out there that temple clothing and the workings of the temple are already on full display in the public domain. Members don't see it much because, well, we have better things to do than pay attention to people who hate us. Truthfully, I think the biggest tragedy in this whole issue are them. HBO in their TV guide article said, in defense of the episode

… “We researched it out the wazoo,” says [executive producer Mark] Olsen, who along with executive producer Will Scheffer hired an ex-Mormon consultant to help the set and wardrobe designers re-create even the tiniest details. “We go into the endowment room and the celestial room [areas of the temple], and we present what happens in those ceremonies. That’s never been shown on television before,” says Olsen. Adds Scheffer, “But it’s not for shock value. It’s really a very important part of the story.” The decision won’t be without controversy: According to a church insider, “If they are in fact trying to emulate those rooms in any way, that would be extremely offensive. The general public is not allowed in our temples yet. Not even all Mormons are. We consider them very, very sacred.”

They've employed an ex-communicated member of The Church, someone who has made sacred covenants and totally violated them in whatever hideous, unapologetic fashion, and to further Gollumize themselves they're making money off of it. That's who I cry for. That covenant breaker and their sad state without a scrap of honor or dignity in their entire character. Not the fact that there will be a few more questions in the world about temple ceremonies.

Because, truly, I believe that those with an instinct for truth will find it and that things like this only propel those instincts. Questions will abound, people will wonder, and as the returned missionary I am, I think that's beautiful. Small minded people will always ridicule what is strange or what they don't understand but that doesn't scare me and this depiction of a temple ceremony doesn't make it any less real or sacred to me.

This is just a depiction of a ceremony, it isn't a real. There aren't any priesthood holders on set and its a set, not a temple. If this were a temple ceremony being subversively filmed in the temple and publicized then that's a different case. I would be going Xena on those people's arses but that's a different topic for a different day.

I think the reactions over the last week have been grossly out of proportion with the rest of the stuff that is out there that we as a group seem to have missed, almost to the point that it feels a bit hypocritical to me.

You know what is sacred and has been depicted in popular movies but no one seemed to mind much?

- Priesthood blessings
- Prayers
- Baptisms

All extremely sacred things. They're not the temple no, but that begs a really interesting question. Why the temple? Why do we turn into a collective stomping, frothing, hissy fit when this comes up but not other things that are holy?

Yes, its the symbol of everything we believe in, work for, and hold sacred. I think a lot of people are standing fairly on that box of indignation. They feel belittled, insulted, and blasphemed by a TV show invading sacred places. I would like to believe there is a place for me on that box.

But I think that's the minority in this situation. I think that the sacred nature of the temple and the fact that it's reverenced by those who have gone and is not spoken of casually is bended and demented, by members with limited understanding and/or experience into dangerous forms of elitism. I think that there are some members (oft times loud ones) who feel kind of smug and a tad sanctimonious about the fact there are places we go and worship, not because it's one of the best places in the world to be, but because other people don't.

I hate to burst whatever Primary balloon some may have banked on but other people not going into the temple isn't what makes it sacred. It's what goes on inside that does.

I personally want everyone I know and love in the whole world to go to the temple, to be able to see those rooms, to taste and know the truth and beauty that comes from it, to be worthy, and have all the amazing covenants, blessings and knowledge that's offered there. Can you image everyone you know standing in white greeting you in the hallway? I tear up at the thought, and anything that gets their minds wheeling in that direction can only be a good thing.

I think it's a bit hypocritical to stand on such righteous indignation too calling for Time Warner's head when we're barely worthy to hold our own up at Sacrament meeting. We may have the temples but how worthy are we to truly have them? Why are we selective with the sacred things we fight for?

You know what else is sacred? People and their feelings
- Mormon Culture has some of the worst gossip problems, classism, materialism, and racism I've ever encountered or been exposed to.

You know what else is sacred? Marriage
- Divorce has been on a steady rise for the last 15 years in the Church. People are getting married for the wrong reasons and giving up the second it gets hard.

You know what else is sacred? Sex
Do you know what state in the US is #1 for porn downloads? Yup, good ole Desert

I adore the temple. It is part of the inner most chambers of my heart. It is the measure of all things loving and worthy to me. Seeing it fought over like a lettermans jacket guts me. I kind of want to tell everyone just to shut up, let it be, and trust that there are powers at play bigger than Time Warner or Facebook groups, or anything else for that matter, that have seen worse things and conquered. Brilliantly.

My wish and prayer is that we could all be graceful, receptive, and respectful about it to each other and to the media.

That we could actually be the kind of people we profess we are and just aren't practiced at pretending to be

That we would get to work on whats in the mirror instead of whats on TV

And mostly I wish we'd all remember "Never wrestle with a pig. You just get dirty and the pig likes it."


Quixotic Healer said...

Um....can I have your permission to link to this post from facebook?

Or not....

Whatever you feel comfortable with.

(P.S. I love this, it's dead-on)

Ms. Liz said...

Feel free to link this to whatever you want M. I trust you.

Loyd said...

"HBO essentially has broken its word with The Church over and over"

I'm guessing you have never seen Big Love. The Newsroom's claims about Big Love supposed blurring the lines between mainstream Mormons and fundamentalist Mormons are unfortunately misinformed and based off of internet rumor.

Ms. Liz said...

I have seen a # of episodes of Big Love Loyd and I'm afraid I'm inclined to disagree. I think HBO has been less than respectful. I think they establish lines to cross them. I haven't been a regular viewer but I think I've seen enough to make a valid point.

Anonymous said...

I am a Mormon and a Big Love fan. The show itself does show how polygamist try to justify their way or life and how they brainwash their people. After hearing the whole "temple" episode, I was a bit worried. Needless to say while watching the "part" though beautifully done and acted, I could not help but cry. What was precious and pure was out there for display. But there is a reason for everything. Maybe this is God's way of showing the world WE ARE NOT A CULT, THAT WHAT IT IS DONE IN THE TEMPLE IS BEAUTIFUL AND PURE. People make fun of us or think we are a cult but little DO they know that everything we do can be traced back to the Bible. That episode, for what its worth does show Barbs inner conflict: Choose the church or support her spouse. To make such a choice, a spiritual divorce...there are no words to express. But the portrayal by Janine Tripplehorn is right on the bullseye as far as the confusion and living with her decision. Regardless how people may think of the episode and my own personal feelings, the episode was done with taste and honesty.