04 May 2007

Responding to "The Mormons"

My comment at Conner's Conundrums:

"The more I think about it, the more I realize I didn’t like the documentary as a whole. There were highlights throughout that were well-done. Polygamy had a lot of articulate points raised about it. The black sister’s testimony was enjoyable, as others have already stated. But it missed the point entirely when it attempted to talk about Joseph Smith, excommunication, the leaders of our Church, and women’s roles within the Church and the family.

Joseph Smith came off as an enigma instead of a person. And that may be what Joseph Smith is to people on the outside. To those who are a part of the LDS Church, you cannot help but love and cherish him, for all his faults, for what his obedience cultivated for us all. Whitney, as a non-member, cannot fully appreciate who Joseph Smith is to us.

Excommunication came across as something that constantly hovers over the heads of the Saints, and that’s just not true. How many of us go through our lives thinking about excommunication? The documentary captured the gravity the punishment, but not the rarity. The Church isn’t like some kind of Inquisition that goes around excommunicating people just because it can. I personally never thought about excommunication until I watched the documentary, and I found myself thinking, 'Wow. I wonder if I’m next.' And then I remembered I haven’t don’t anything that bad and felt kind of stupid. LOL.

Did anyone else get the feeling that, in the context of that one Sister’s excommunication (the one who now teaches Classics at U of Utah), the Church leaders came across as intolerant and cruel? Elder Jensen countered that well by asserting the Church’s role in protecting faithful Saints from faithless rhetoric. I felt as if the professor was glorified as a victim, and the Church was condemned for making her suffer, when in actuality, she brought her suffering upon herself. The whole point of being an intellectual is to seek knowledge. Just because knowledge isn’t made public in a paper doesn’t mean it wasn’t learned. Publicly parading diluted doctrine is of course going to invoke consequences from the Church. I thought the whole perspective of that segment was warped and unbalanced.

And, to be honest, I don’t think the documentary made a sufficient effort to really portray the roles of women in the Church. Not once did it mention the Relief Society. Not once did it talk about, in depth, the women of the early Church. AT LEAST go into more detail about Emma Smith. But no, she was mentioned in passing twice, if that. And only as a wife. Before the documentary portrays us Sisters as pill-poppers waiting to happen because we just can’t handle the pressure (or whatever it was they were getting at by the anti-depressant statement there at the end.) Women have their own special place in the Church. We aren’t just wives and daughters that 'bake cookies' and try to be the perfect Mormon mothers. We have our own responsibilities to the Church itself, and to ourselves as Saints. Where were the working mothers to counterbalance the 'baking cookies' comment? And what’s so wrong about cookies anyway?"

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