Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I am a big fan of Big Love - Part 2: That endowment scene...

I've got a much longer post planned about the use of ritual in Big Love that provides a broader context for its depiction of a portion of the temple endowment. Before I do that though, here are a couple of quotes from (different) responses I found from non-Mormon fans of the show:

From the New York Times:

I unexpectedly choked up many times — . . . when Bill prayed for some sign that their family’s path was righteous, and when they all gathered together by the bridge over the river; when Kathy Marquardt walked away to gather flowers for Wanda’s hair; when Barb participated in the religious ceremony at the temple — these are moments that raised great emotion in me and will stay with me for a long time. . . .
For any Mormons reading this — if you are among the ones who felt dismay at the depiction of the temple ceremony, I’d like to encourage you to not fear the revelation of such things. I found the words beautiful and I appreciated understanding something of what goes on in the hearts & minds of people in your religion. The scene seemed to be done with great respect and it enhanced our understanding of Barb’s tremendous grief at being cast into outer darkness.

From the Huffington Post:

I can imagine how a practicing member of the church must feel. . . . Of course the depiction of corrupt church officials seems more volatile to me than the fictionalized portrayal of a ceremony that I don't believe in. I can relate to the negative ramifications of corruption more easily than the revelation of the endowment ceremony. But for a practicing member of the LDS church, I can absolutely understand why pulling back the curtain on something sacred would mean more than dissing some guy behind a fancy oak table. The Mormon leaders are merely human, so a stain on them is a stain on one person. The ceremony is holy, so a stain on it is like a stain on God.
Thinking about it this way, I feel sullied by what was shown. It's the same way I felt when I saw a performance of a Native American tribal ritual as a teenager. Everyone is demeaned when something so powerful is put on display as entertainment. Or at least they are when the ritual is designed to be private. I don't think it demeans Christianity, for instance, to show fictional Baptist preachers on television, because the ethos of Christianity is so often about creating public declarations of faith... of not keeping the "good news" to one's self.
But from my understanding, that's not how Mormons work. They're not public worshippers, and so by forcing them to become public in this scene, Big Love may have crossed a line. . . . I'm not sure there is any aesthetic achievement that can be worth so much hurt.

1 comment:

  1. On RadioWest, one of Doug Fabrizio's guests, Brent Rodriguez Plate, had a comment similar to the first one--that he was really moved by the ceremony, that he wept.


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