Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Big Love outcome

Take yourselves back a couple weeks, when Later-day Saints were sending around e-mails, posting blog entries, and doing every thing they could to stop HBO from airring an episode of Big Love that would re-create the LDS temple ceremonies and delve deeply into the complications of an LDS excommunication. I, just as many others, sent in a plea to HBO. Politety explaining to them why I did not appreciate the episode they planned to air. Our temple ceremonies are sacred and I didn't want Hollywood to misportray them. I was not mean or resentful in my comments, I tired to sound sophisticated and reasonable.

But today it was confirmed to me that we failed. And it actually doesn't bother me one bit. As a result, I was able to express my beliefs and Mormon history to a wonderful colleague of mine who is a big fan of Big Love. I admire the fact that after watching that episode of Big Love she came to me with her questions. Rather than assuming I had some strange secret she didn't want to be a part of. Of course, as I'm sure is the case with many of the viewers, she had no idea what the show was trying to represent by flashing back to a time when Barb (one of the main characters) was wearing all white and performing certain rituals with her mother in an LDS temple. I could tell from Erika's description of the scene that HBO did in fact try to recreate the ceremony I hold sacred.

This gave me a wonderful opportunity to tell her we believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in it's purest form has been restored and the temple ceremonies are part of that restoration. Just as the people in biblical times worshipped in temples so do we. I think she was surprised to learn that that gianormous castle she's seen hundreds of times isn't a Sunday worship place. I was able to explain we can drop in there anytime from Tues-Sat from 6 in the morning till 8 at night. It's a place we go to get closer to God and remember the promises we have made to him. She had more specific questions, thanks to scenes from the show, and I tried to answer them as best I could without further confusing her. I explained that it's hard for an outsider to really fully understand it. And even as a child in the Mormon religion there is a sort of mysterious curiosity about what goes on in the temple. I explained that we believe you have to be spiritually prepared to enter the temple. At this point another colleague jumped into the conversation and compared the whole thing to Methodist Confirmation. I loved the comparison she made, I felt like it was such a scencere effort to point out the fact that LDS temple worship isn't that uncommon or unusual.

Amanda's comments about her Methodist faith gave me a great opportunity to learn more about her traditions and faith. Which I told her I loved cause my grandmother was Methodist, not a practicing one (at least not while I knew her) but that that was her faith.

I know the opportunity for this conversation came as a result of my "set a date" goal and in answer to my prayers and I just have to smile when I realize Heavenly Father brought it all about through that episode of Big Love that had all my Mormon friends all up in arms. He really does work in mysterious ways. And the leaders of my faith really know that. I don't know how many of you looked at the Church's official statement about the Big Love drama, but I felt that the brethren knew it had potential to just as much good as harm. And when I talked to Ben about the whole thing he pointed out that anyone who really wanted to know about what our Temple ceremonies could find just about anything they wanted to know on the internet. And unfortunately he's right. I say unfortunately cause typically the people who put it out on the internet and the people who write it into the Big Love storyline aren't trying to represent the Church well. So like I said earlier, I admire viewers like Erika who go right to their Mormon colleagues and ask them about the show and it's representation of LDS faith.

In the end I kind of joked with Erika that I hoped I didn't throw too much Mormon info at her. She laughed and said "No, I worried I was asking you too many questions and you needed to get to work." I wanted to say, I can guarantee anytime you have questions for a faithful Mormon they'll drop their work and respond.

All this makes me miss the days of being a missionary. Though I could tell Erika that I believe the Prophet is real, it's just not the same as being a missionary. As a missionary you really don't care about social boundaries. In this conversation, when I brought up the Book of Mormon I explained it as a work of scripture kept on the ancient American continent. I didn't get to refer to it as a life changing miracle. I probably could have thrown that in, but it just wasn't the context of our conversation or her questioning. As where when you are a missionary, promising someone the Book of Mormon will change their life and work miracles in their soul is your whole purpose. And you get to push the social norm and say what is in your heart. Gosh, I really miss it.

As I said earlier, I'm grateful for moments like today and I know it came as an answer to prayers. Which means I have to delve deeper into this without crossing those social boundaries. It's so complicated now that I don't wear the tag. But I love it all the same. And in the end I have to give Big Love props for bringing it all about. I recognize that God answered my prayers and I'm fascinated that he did it through something we all thought was so evil and wicked, surely that episode would ruin us. But in my case, it didn't. It blessed me with a great opportunity.


Mom and Dad Bassett said...

I loved your reaction to HBO's Big Love and what a wonderful opportunity it gave you. You truly made lemonade out of a lemon! Way to go, girl!
Unfortunately many Mormons reacted negatively about the issue (got all snitty and rude) and only brought more condemnation on the church. As they say, "We are our own worst enemies" and Mormons can be some of the worst! I, too, liked the statement of the brethren. They know what they are doing. They had to encourage Utahns to stay out of the fray, but it was too late.
Just as Ben says, you can find out about anything Mormon on the Internet. Though we always say temple ordinances are sacred, not secret, they are often times treated very secretively by Mormons and that only causes for more contention.
Love, Pa

Mandi said...

While in the end I still wish they hadn't done it, I have to say that I am grateful to HBO for accurately portraying the ceremony. So many people take what they see on TV to be true, and I'm grateful that HBO didn't show something happening that doesn't.

It's great that you a missionary experience with this. I honestly haven't heard anything negative coming from this yet. Hopefully it will open even more doors.

Utah Youngs said...

Hey Liz, I didn't see the episode but I heard about it on the news- props to you for being open minded and open hearted enough to have a sincere conversation about our faith with a non-member! My husband is Methodist and we discuss religion quite often! I am grateful for the differences in our faiths because it makes me realize that they are also similar--in the end we all want the same things, we just go about getting there differently!! By the way, your plinky posts are hilarious!! Keep 'em comin!

Hannah said...

That's awesome, Liz! I have to say, I wasn't too worried about this whole thing--more worried about Prep 8 (and only slightly, there). I think if the church was going down, it would've gone down a long time ago, what with polygomy, Bo Grits :)and Joseph Smith-lore etc, etc, etc. As they say, any publicity is good publicity. Your expirence just proves that this is the Lord's work, and He is in charge. Thanks for sharing.

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