Big Love to Show Temple Ceremony

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Big Love, the HBO drama about a polygamous family living in Sandy, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City, is rumoured to be airing an episode next week (15 March) that will feature scenes and events from the mainstream LDS Temple ceremony.

“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 church has issued a response to the unwelcome publicity stating basically that no official protest against the show will be forthcoming but that members are free to boycott as they see fit.

As someone that watches the show regularly, I am surprised by the move, since the show doesn’t really centre itself on mainstream beliefs and the temple ceremony can’t possibly be necessary as “a very important part of the story”—it’s quite the publicity stunt.

Previously

32 thoughts on “Big Love to Show Temple Ceremony

  1. I know that the church says TV Guide is their source, but I can’t see an actual reference to this anywhere.

    I call shenanigans on this. Rumours and nothing more.

    On a related note, why would the church decide to give so much free press and raise awareness of something they’d rather the world didn’t see? Counterproductive much?

  2. Hmmm… looks like it’s legit.

    As far as who instigated the publicity, I would not have heard confirmation on this if the church hadn’t issued the response.

    I’d have let it go in passing otherwise.

  3. I agree with Mary, I think the church was responding to the show’s actions, not making a publicity stunt. There probably were complaints from its members too.

  4. <

    p>HBO has no Man-Mojo, they are simply going after ormonsecasue we are an easy target.

  5. the flds don’t use the mormon temples they have their own. if HBO wants to show poligamy than show it in it’s true light. may I suggest the writers get on mormons in transition and read the comments, go to carm.org and feel the atmosphere, hear the true stories of mormons.they are glamorizing a horrible existance. Let the truth be told. read or interview some of the ex flds. reality would raise the hair on the back of the neck. Show that.

  6. the flds don’t use the mormon temples they have their own. if HBO wants to show poligamy than show it in it’s true light. may I suggest the writers get on mormons in transition and read the comments, go to carm.org and feel the atmosphere, hear the true stories of mormons.they are glamorizing a horrible existance. Let the truth be told. read or interview some of the ex flds. reality would raise the hair on the back of the neck. Show that.

  7. There are plenty of mistakes in the way Big Love portrays mainstream and splinter LDS groups on the show.

    My biggest pet-peeve is the fact that the writers aren’t aware that Mormons practically never (at least in my lifetime of experience interacting with them) take the Lord’s name in vain. In my experience, you’d hear them dropping a lot of other foul language before doing that.

    The episode in question particularly strays from plausibility. The inactive daughter/polygamist wife convinces her active mother and sister to sneak her into the Temple with them, because “it means so much to her”. (They don’t go into details on how they actually accomplish that feat).

    I had expected at least a flash-back scene for believability, and as far as it related to the story, as I figured, it was completely unnecessary.

  8. My understanding—I haven’t seen the episode—is that Barb ends up using someone else’s recommend to get into the temple, which of course, wouldn’t work since you would need a living ordinance recommend.

  9. It easy to sneak people into the temple. If you have access to temple recommends. I many times could have easily picked up a couple blank temple recommends.

  10. Not anymore, Trevor. The stake has to enter your barcode number into the system. If they don’t, you won’t get past the front desk at the temple.

  11. The episode was confusing. At one point she states, I need to go through to get my endowment. Later, she talks about how she had missed the temple experience, as if the ceremony bought back nostalgia. ie. that she didn’t go through and complete ordinances for herself this time.

    She supposedly was going to borrow her sister’s recommend, but then ended up going with both the sister and the mom.

    “It easy to sneak people into the temple.”

    Maybe the sister’s husband had access to blank recommends, I’m not sure. Still, it all seemed very contrived.

  12. I believe, but don’t quote me on this since I haven’t seen all the episodes, that Bill and she were originally married in the temple. His revelation on polygamy came after they were already attending members of a ward.

    The ‘endowment’ line was clearly the writer not having a clear understanding of the first time vs. other times through the temple thing.

    I think the whole point of her going was to show how much she still cared for the process and how spiritual and useful it still was – since she hadn’t been attending, and all.

    I think the main point was to underscore that it was STILL a big deal that she was getting ex’d because she hadn’t divested herself of all of the beliefs of mainstream mormonism. She’d hadn’t stopped valuing the things Bill and she had previously believed – in her opinion, she had augmented those beliefs.

  13. Which is valid. I guess my concern is with whether they were trying to get this point across to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If so, then they should have been careful of the anachronisms, which would have distracted most members away from getting the point.

  14. Yeah, I’m not sure what the target audience is. Given the fact that it’s the same network that produced The Sopranos, I would guess that the LDS, in general, are not their target demographic.

  15. So, they were trying to help non-Mormons understand “how much she still cared for the process and how spiritual and useful it still was” and “that she was getting ex’d because she hadn’t divested herself of all of the beliefs of mainstream mormonism”?

  16. I think it was important, from a complete outsider’s view of the LDS, to show that being ex’d by her previous bishop was still a big deal.

    She still believed in the ordinances of the temple, but was going to be permanently cleaved from that part of her faith due to her disagreement with the conventional LDS beliefs and practices.

    To the non-religious or the average Easter-christians, it may not have been apparent why it would bother her to not be able to go to the church she used to go to etc. so they showed her having a moving experience in the temple (and her associated breakdown) which confirmed how many good feelings she still had for the whole process.

    … at least that’s my take. I’m not sure if the screenwriter has a blog or not. Perhaps he’d share his motivations for the episode and we could stop speculating.

  17. Good point. And maybe it was trying to do double duty by showing members that just because one believes one thing against church teachings doesn’t mean one disbelieves everything or believes only apostate teachings. In other words, you can be excommunicated for teaching one wrong thing even though you may teach 10,000 right things.

  18. As far as the bar-code is concerned, not too many years ago, and even to this day, the bar-code is synonymous with the mark of the beast, 666. I challenge all to find a product, credit card, check, or document of legal or financial transaction (excluding legal tender) without a bar-code these days. Could this be prophecy fulfilled?
    I find it interesting that the church would go against its own council of “avoiding the very appearance of evil” by integrating such a mark into the members most treasured and sacred document.
    I feel very strongly about the integration of man’s ways into Father’s Kingdom. It brings to mind a scripture that goes something like this- “come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, that ye receive not of her plagues.” The Lord was talking about modern-day Babylon, or the kingdoms of the world, and their adopted and false systems.
    Brigham young once said that it is easy to take a person out of Babylon, but not so easy to take Babylon out of the person. A point duly illustrated in the story of Lot’s wife turning to a pillar of salt. Have we not been told that Modern Babylon would fall in the space of an hour. Then why adopt its ways?

  19. Not to take things too far off topic, but since Trevor’s already gone there… here we go.

    The so called “mark of the beast”? Please, provide us some canonical backing to show it even exists with any kind of reference to the number 666.

    Could this be prophecy fulfilled? No. It could not. It would not. It will not. Not in a house, not with a mouse.

    “A point duly illustrated in the story of Lot’s wife turning to a pillar of salt.”

    I don’t have much to say about the horrific story of Lot, but have you even read that story? Lot’s wife turned around (turned back?) but Lot is supposed to be the good guy and you know what HE did?

  20. “I think it was important, from a complete outsider’s view of the LDS, to show that being ex’d by her previous bishop was still a big deal.”

    I agree. I guess I take it for granted that it’s obviously a big deal. An outsider wouldn’t necessarily see it as such, since she’s been inactive for so long, so yes, I guess I have to admit it was important for the character development to show why this was such a big deal.

    In trying to think of other approaches that could have been taken to achieve the same thing, I guess I’m also forced to admit that this was likely the easiest route to show those strong emotions. (Or perhaps it just resonated with me because of my own background).

  21. “I don’t have much to say about the horrific story of Lot”

    Lot’s story is stomach turning but the story of Coriantumr and Shiz is even worse. Yikes!

  22. As a follower of your blog, life long member of the LDS church life, originally from Sandy, Utah (now living in BC, Canada) and an avid watcher of Big Love I have to say you guys hit it on the nose in your comments 18-27 above.

    Bill and Barb were originally married in the temple and were active members of the church before Bill decided to take on additional wives – Barb referred to that fact that she is from a 6 generation LDS family and that the principals of the church (outside of polygamy) were still a big part of her and her family’s life (spiritually and otherwise) – There were flashbacks in this episode – Big Love’s target audience is NOT people of the LDS faith – The writers are trying to show Barb’s inner confliction between the church she loves and was raised in and her love for her polygamist family – In the end she was ex’d because she wasn’t willing to change her lifestyle.

    I hope that helps :)

  23. If you mean, Jeff, about Lot and his daughters…well, ew, yes, but that wasn’t Lot, that was his daughters (which really confuses me to this day).

  24. Here is something really sad: A local Southern Baptist preacher used the episode to form his sermon this past Sunday. A friend told me that he went on and on about the episode and how the Mormons (implicating the mainstream) are teaching false doctrine and will not be given salvation by Jesus Christ. Sad.

  25. “Mormons (implicating the mainstream) are teaching false doctrine”

    Newsflash: Even without the show. faiths are claiming that all the other faiths are preaching false doctrine. With mutually contradictory doctrines, you’re going to run into this sooner or later. I hardly think the TV show was the the source of the preacher’s misgivings about Mormon doctrine versus his own.

  26. Revelation 13:18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. (666)

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