Tuesday, March 10, 2009

HBO releases statements about upcoming Big Love episode

 HBO released two statements about the upcoming episode which will re-enact parts of the LDS temple endowment, as reported here.

From creators Mark Olsen and Will Scheffer:

"In approaching the dramatization of the endowment ceremony, we knew we had a responsibility to be completely accurate and to show the ceremony in the proper context and with respect. We therefore took great pains to depict the ceremony with the dignity and reverence it is due. This approach is entirely evident in the scene portrayed in this episode and certainly reflected in Jeanne Tripplehorn's beautiful and moving performance as she faces losing the Church she loved so much. In order to assure the accuracy of the ceremony, it was thoroughly vetted by an adviser who is familiar with temple practices and rituals. This consultant was actually on the set throughout the filming of the scenes to make sure every detail was correct."

From HBO:

"We know that the writers/executive producers of the series have gone to great lengths to be respectful and accurate in portraying the endowment ceremony. That ceremony is an important part of this year's storyline. Obviously, it was not our intention to do anything disrespectful to the church. To those who may be offended, we offer our sincere apology. It should also be noted that throughout the series' three-year run, the writer/executive producers have made abundantly clear the distinction between the LDS church and those extreme fringe groups who practice polygamy."


  1. Well the LDS Newsroom has succeeded in making a big deal of this. One of the headlines on the main page of the Huffington Post this morning read, "HBO vs. The Mormons In Battle Over Temple Ceremony."

    Thanks to the free publicity, far more people are probably going to watch Big Love this week. I think this is what we call an "unintended consequence."

  2. Another thing.

    The LDS Newsroom statement, and Mormons in general, criticize HBO for "misrepresenting" the LDS faith. Each of the HBO statements quoted in this post respond to that criticism by emphasizing the pains that were taken to ensure that the ceremony is depicted accurately.

    All this talk among Mormons about "misrepresentations" seems misplaced--and perhaps disingenuous. For one, since the episode has not aired, none of us knows how accurately (or inaccurately) the endowment ceremony is depicted. But even if it were presented 100% accurately, I'm guessing that these upset Mormons would still object to it.

  3. You're right Steve. This wasn't national news until HBO released their statements in response to the (probably) hundreds of angry phone calls and e-mails they received.

  4. I'm actually hopeful about all of this. I hope a lot of non-Mormons (and Mormons) watch this episode. I won't, but simply because I do not have HBO (BitTorrent anyone?) As one of those who thinks that too much of the temple ceremony is (unnecessarily) kept secret, I am glad to see it get out there. Hopefully this can get Mormons and non-Mormons speaking intelligently to one another about the temple, instead of the prurient interest by non-Mormons and desperate attempts to avoid the subject by Mormons. I have said for years that with all of the rumors about what goes on in the temple (orgies, naked clogging, money changing hands for proxy baptisms...I'm not kidding. I have heard all of these), a revelation of what is really going on inside will be completely underwhelming.

  5. As usual I am kind of a middle-of-the-roader on this. Brigham Young talked about how the temple was where we go to perform the ordinances and learn the tokens and signs that we need to give to pass the angels and enter heaven...or something along those lines. Anyway, too many people are too hushed about the temple, especially when it is so central to our doctrine. It bothers me in a similar manner to when people skip the word ass in the Bible or say "heck" instead of hell when reading the scriptures. That drives me nuts and I've only sworn 6 times in the last 16 years! Please people.

    That being said, because this is sacred it doesn't seem respectful to reenact this, even if it is done correctly and with respect. The best example I can think of is, would they care if we reenacted their most personal experience of their life if we found their journal, even if we did it with respect and accuracy?

    I don't buy the argument that they did't covenant not to disclose the signs/tokens, only members do and therefore members can't divulge them, but for HBO it is ok. Its about respecting what is most sacred to the church. Would they give the same respect to something as sacred for Muslims?

    In the end, this hullabaloo may all be for naught. Are they even going to show the signs and tokens? If not, the argument would be very different. Yet, it is still not very respectful to show the ceremony at all.

  6. If the show's creators are sincere in their intent to "depict the ceremony with the dignity and reverence it is due", and if the scenes with the ceremony really end up "beautiful and moving", then I wonder if this could end up having a positive effect on how the endowment is viewed (both by members and non-members)?


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