Thursday, March 12, 2009

Casting our pearls before swine

I have to confess, I'm having a difficult time getting all worked up in righteous indignation over HBO Big Love's plan to depict the LDS temple ceremony. First of all, it's already out there for anybody who's really interested. Just google and a few clicks and you'll find pictures, and even the text of the entire endowment ceremony. And the reality is, it's been available to anyone who was interested for decades. When I first joined the church - way back in college - I went to the public library looking for books on mormonism. Lo and behold, there was an anti-Mormon book in the library that included the entire temple ceremony.

Now, I do concur that there is a difference between having it available in some obscure media that few are even aware of verses blasting it out to the masses on a cable TV network. And, I think it shows a tremendous lack of respect on the part of HBO to make light of things we consider very sacred.

But, the temple ceremony is more than just funny underwear, odd clothing, words and a few hand gestures. It's being in a beautiful room with others all dressed in white. It's the quiet whispers. It's waiting in the chapel for the session to start in quiet contemplation. It's sitting in reflection in a beautiful celestial room at the conclusion. It's the whole experience. There is no way they'll be able to duplicate that experience on a TV show. What will be depicted on Big Love will be a pale imitation - distorted and out of context. True, a few of our pearls have been cast before the swine - but we still have the pearl necklace held tightly against our bosom.

What is interesting about all of this is the lack of outcry from non-Mormon's. Try depicting sacred parts of Islam and there would likely be a tremendous amount of righteous indignation with much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth - and not just from muslims. The same would be true for the Eastern religions.

But Mormon's - in fact, Christians in general - are fair game. It's like white guys being the only ethnic group you can poke fun at without being accused of being bigoted. Christianity in general and Mormonism specifically are the only religions you can poke fun at without being accused of being disrespectful. We're the fall guys. We're the plunky side kicks who are constantly running into walls and having pies thrown in our faces. If you're a white Mormon guy - well then there is absolutely no hope - we might as well walk around with a jester hat and a sign on our back that says "kick me".

I also think we need to get used to it - because this is how it's going to be from now on. With proposition 8, we can talk all we want about how we were simply standing up for morality and families until we're blue in the face. But, the reality is - we threw down the gauntlet and told the world that we will only respect the beliefs of others so long as they don't conflict with our own beliefs. And, so the world has responded - "if you aren't going to respect us then we won't respect you." Perhaps this is just more reaping of what we have sown. We can cry foul and say it's unfair all we want - but, from the media reports I've read it seems that, for the most part, our indignation is falling on deaf ears - and Mormon's are coming across looking petty and small-minded.

So, when we are kicked. we can allow ourselves to get all worked up about it - but in the end, it won't change anything. Or, we can just shrug our shoulders, say "whatever" and move on with our lives. I opt for the latter.

11 comments:

Beck said...

Here's to shoulder shrugs!

Lisa said...

You make a good point.

Then again, when are we screaming when the Prophet Muhammad (sp?) was depicted in a newspaper?

Anyone? I don't remember seeing/hearing anything. Could be wrong.

Either way, one does have to give to receive, and I still find this bit to be among the most telling of all sayings (beside "do unto others...")

We love Christ because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

I don't know if this is retaliation for Prop 8. I don't know what they're going to show - perhaps it's just the clothes.

While I do think it's in bad taste (and their apology is hardly an apology), I think we're doing HBO more of a service by bringing so much attention to it. Feeding the media monster.

On a semi-related note, I find so much difficulty in using the pearls before swine reference. It's a fantastic reference because of what it's supposed to be, and even the Church uses it. But we must know that in essence we are calling non-temple-worthy people swine.

Not a slam against you, just a thought. I struggle with that one.

Lisa said...

I hope that came across right. To be clear, I'm with you. Hardly incensed but often told I ought to be.

Beck is right.

*shrug*

Scott said...

I think it shows a tremendous lack of respect on the part of HBO to make light of things we consider very sacred.

What will be depicted on Big Love will be a pale imitation - distorted and out of context.

... Are we so sure that the show will be making light of the ceremony? Distorting it and taking it out of context?

I've never seen the show, but from what I've read it is in general quite accurate in its depiction of the Church, making it clear that the polygamist sect is distinct and separate from the mainstream LDS church, etc.

In fact, as I understand it, the temple ceremony is shown in flashback as one of the wives is being excommunicated from the LDS church for polygamy. It seems to me that a flashback in that context would most likely be a reliving of a cherished memory, and as such the ceremony would likely be presented with respect and dignity--not made light of or distorted.

It could be argued that any depiction of a rite that is intended by those who practice it to be kept secret is "making light" or "presenting out of context", and perhaps there is some merit to the argument.

But the common refrain is that the ceremony is not so much secret as sacred and if it is presented with respect (with certain parts that are intended to be secret being omitted), I'm not sure that there's any cause for offense. Personally, I'll withhold judgment until after the episode airs.

Captain Midnight said...

I agree completely. Even when I was an active member, the way Mormons got so worked up about stuff like this always left a bad taste in my mouth. As a people, the Mormons are really poor sports, and the best way they could ride out this Big Love thing is just to shrug and get over it.

Abelard Enigma said...

in essence we are calling non-temple-worthy people swine.

I love my non-temple-worthy swiney friends :)

Although, are we really calling all non-temple worthy people 'swine'? Or are we referring only to the people at HBO who decided to air this segment?

... Are we so sure that the show will be making light of the ceremony? Distorting it and taking it out of context?

HBO is in the entertainment business. Whether it will be deliberately made light of - I don't know. But, it will most certainly be depicted in an entertaining manner. Also, trying to describe the temple experience in a TV show is like trying to describe what it's like to visit Paris (France, not Texas :) ) - no matter how good of a job you do, it will always be a pale imitation of the actual experience of going to Paris.

Lisa said...

Awww.

As a non-temple-worthy swine I thank you :D

I think we tend to at least allude to the scripture enough to say we mean it anytime we talk about the temple and those who aren't permitted to enter.

Chino Blanco said...

Tom Hanks puts this brouhaha into perspective (and waxes prophetic) at the 3rd season premiere of Big Love:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7JgK_mmEBk

"There's gonna be lies, and secrets, and discoveries, and problems. Television!"

Chino Blanco said...

Tom Hanks puts this brouhaha into perspective (and waxes prophetic) at the 3rd season premiere of Big Love:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7JgK_mmEBk

"There's gonna be lies, and secrets, and discoveries, and problems. Television!"

Chino Blanco said...

Oh, crap. Sorry.

Alan said...

Second to last paragraph spot on. What goes around comes around and the fact that so many Mormons seem to be getting so worked up over this, and that they seem unaware that the information's been out there on the Internet for years already, tells me just how insular too many Church members are.

Add me to the shoulder-shruggers. So what. Big deal. Who cares. Move on.