Big Love

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An email is circulating among LDS circles regarding the HBO series, Big Love. The email is typical social action stuff (i.e. write to the station, complain about the show, take a stand, yadda, yadda, yadda).

A couple of points are made in the letter I thought I would briefly comment on here:

Parodies of beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints occur- belief in priesthood by a man blessing his hunting rifle, belief in personal revelation from the Holy Ghost by dramatic visions that the polygamous leader discusses casually with a friend. Talk of “celestial kingdom”, “free agency”, and the “Choose the Right” slogan are included.

Other than perhaps the “Choose The Right” slogan ( I am not familiar with the context with which its usage appeared on the show), none of the above is specific to only the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Big Love. . . demeans and distorts sacred beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. By setting the show in Salt Lake City, it blurs the line between the Church and the long renounced practice of polygamy.

Right. Because no other Mormon denominations or followers exist in Salt Lake City. Even so, I wish the originator of this email would explain exactly how it is demeaning and distorting. Is it because they are sexualising polygamy (implied by the earlier statement that it is a “sexually driven show”)? Seems odd then that a sacred belief (if they are indeed referring to polygamy) would be long renounced, or that a long renounced belief would be sacred. After all, I thought polygamy was a practice.

16 thoughts on “Big Love

  1. The problem as I see it is many members want to have their cake and eat it too.

    They want the producers to say the show is not about the LDS. They proclaim loudly to everyone who will listen that the show is not about the LDS, and by no means do the practises have any correlation with the doctrine.

    …and then in the next breath want the show pulled because it sheds bad light on the church.

    Look, it’s either a terrible representation of a fringe group of LDS faithful, or it’s a not a show about the LDS.

    Get over it.

    I think the biggiest fear to the membership is that it caters to all the kooky cultistic preconceived notions of the non-LDS population of the world about mormons. It sheds light on protions of LDS history which are *still* touchy.

    This is a case of a persecution complex gone horribly wrong.

    What is the membership afraid of?

    That other people will see the faith as strange? It’s too late, many do.

    That the baptism rates are going to drop? It won’t matter at all unless many Mexicans and South Americans get HBO.

    That it may, in truth, reveal the existence of LDS breakoff groups? There have been many, many articles and TV programs already presenting these groups to the world at large.

    There is no problem here.

    If you don’t like the show, don’t watch. Period.

  2. I see things this way: we made our polygamous bed (regardless of whether or not it is still a practice endorsed by the church) and now we must lie in it.

    Polygamy was not something foisted on the nineteenth-century church from the outside–the practice was home-grown and sanctioned by church authorities. Until we can say as a church that we were wrong, that polygamy was a BIG mistake, and that we wish we hadn’t gotten into it in the first place (rather than trying to quietly sweep it under the rug) it will always be that big, dark cloud that hangs over us. And we will have to deal with it.

    What is more, by propping up polygamy post-Manifesto, persisting with polygamous sealings into the twentieth century, and sending polygamists to Mexico, Canada, and other geographically-removed places in the West, the church (or certain authorities within the church) created the very monster so many LDs opponents of “Big Love” abhor. In some sense, the church helped create and breathe life into Mormon fundamentalism. Perhaps it’s time we all acknowledged this “little quirk” of history and spent a lot less time fulminating on how we are being “perceived” in relation to modern-day polygamists.

  3. Personally, I’m not afraid of anything that this show brings up.
    In fact, I’m a bit surprised at how many members are “up in arms” over this one. This show seems to be exploring polygamy as an “alternative lifestyle” , clearly identifies the religion (not LDS) and uses a current timeline. Personally, I find the many movie versions on the life of Christ and his ministry more disturbing than a show about modern day Polygamy. Which, quite frankly, has as much to do with my current life as a show about Dances of Norway.

  4. “Right. Because no other Mormon denominations or followers exist in Salt Lake City.”

    Kim, that sarcastic sentence seems to be demanding that others use the word “Mormon” as you do, in a broad sense referring to all sorts of apostate groups as well as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, there’s no reason they shouldn’t insist on a narrower definition of the word “Mormon.” For example Associated Press style guide takes the opposite position, calling for use of that term only in reference to the above-mentioned church and rejecting its use in regard to other groups.

  5. Has anyone actually seen the show to know if it in fact contains any scenes that are derogatory and offensive?

    And who originated this mass email that is going around?

  6. Roland, do you honestly think even half of the people forwarding the email have taken the time to generate an informed opinion on it?

    Some one (maybe even another member) said it was bad, and they’ll just run with the pack…or flock as getherings of sheep are usually called.

  7. All you show is that someone else agrees with your broad use. So what? Now we know that some people (including Kim Siever) advocate a broad use of the term “Mormon” and that others (such as the Associated Press and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) advocate a narrow use that prevents confusion. That doesn’t mean the people writing these letters should be forced to adopt your viewpoint rather than that of the AP and the Church.

  8. It’s not just my viewpoint. It’s also the viewpoint of many historians, educators and even some other churches descended from Joseph Smith.

    Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, by the way?

  9. What makes this so ironic is that we object when others deny us the label “Christian.” And now the tables are turned and some of us seem to want to deny others the label “Mormon.” Sorry, but the fundamentalists as followers of Joseph Smith’s teachings have just as much right to the term as we mainstreamers do!

  10. As to first paragraph: I already said it’s not just your viewpoint. The fact that some others share your viewpoint doesn’t mean the writers of these letters should be forced to accept your viewpoint. Those who hold the opposite viewpoint are a pretty impressive bunch, as well.

    As to the second paragraph: As a matter of fact, I am pretty cranky today, and I am aware that it’s showing. So I suppose I should apologize.

    Sorry.

    It’s not about the wrong side of the bed, though. I think it has more to do with a certain cowardly, egotistical, narcissistic, troll I’ve been engaging with on Jeff Lindsay’s Mormanity blog, who formerly identified itself as “Radicalfeministpoet” and is now just operating (quite transparently) as anonymous.

    I realize it’s not fair to get pissy with a whole other group of people because of this, so again, let me apologize.

    Sorry.

  11. I received the email and decided that I should see what the show was before I start sending letters with my name on it. The show I saw did not mention the Church. You could tell it was in Salt Lake since I have been there numerous times. I doubt the show will last very long unless it gets a lot of people sending emails about it. Maybe someone connect with the show started the email?

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