There have been a few things in the news lately that have caught my attention.
The Salt Lake Tribune from March 30th reported on an email campaign that is underway to encourage HBO to cancel “Big Love,” the new series about polygamy. Allow me a couple of observations.
The email circulating on the internet complains that the series is full of “parodies of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” A specific complaint is an alleged parody of “belief in priesthood by a man blessing his hunting rifle.”
I would like to draw your attention to a scene from the LDS film Legacy which used to be shown at the Legacy Theatre in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City, Utah. In a heartrending depiction of Mormon pioneers crossing the plains, one woman blesses her sick oxen that they might stand up and pull her wagon safely to Zion. Which they do, of course. No one, to my knowledge, ever complained about this scene promoting a Mormon parody; how is blessing a hunting rifle different from blessing oxen?
The Salt Lake Tribune article also mentions 2 Mormons by name who received the email calling for action against HBO:
“Nicki Rime, a 25-year-old project manager from Orem who received the e-mail Monday and instantly forwarded it to 30 of her friends and family, even though she hasn’t seen the show.”
“Justin King hasn’t seen the show either, but the 24-year-old Brigham Young University student also spread the e-mail to more than a dozen friends and family members.”
This reminds me a little bit of something from a 1993 performance of Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo. In this LDS play Mormon missionaries made fun of 19th century non-Mormons for believing the Book of Mormon was rubbish when they hadn’t even read it. The dialog went like this:
“I wouldn’t touch that Book of Mormon with a ten-foot poll.”
“Because everyone says it’s false–even Ezra.”
“Oh, how would Ezra know? Ezra doesn’t even know how to read.”
“Well, he’s smart enough to listen to what other folks say and Reverend Duberry says it’s a pack of lies.”
“Has he read it?”
“No! He’s not going to. He says it’s leading everyone astray.”
Anyone else see a parallel here?
Yesterday, April 4th, the Huntington News Network carried an interview with Kim Wolfe, a local police officer who is seeking the Republican nomination for Congress in West Virginia’s Third District. Mr. Wolfe is a Mormon; the interviewer asked if he thought that would be a problem for him politically. Mr. Wolfe answered,
“I don’t wear my faith on my sleeve; I don’t make an issue of it – and I don’t hide it. I have support from Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists.”
I was interested in Mr. Wolfe’s choice of denominations when listing his non-Mormon supporters. The list sounded familiar to me. Here’s why:
“Sometime in the second year after our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. …Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist…so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible … to come to any certain conclusion who was right, and who was wrong.” (Joseph Smith’s First Vision account, Joseph Smith History 1:5, 8)
Of course, as the story goes, in the end Joseph Smith asked God and found out who was right and who was wrong: None of them were right; all of them were wrong. And not only were they wrong, but the beliefs of the Methodists, Presbyterians and Baptists were condemned as “an abomination in [God’s] sight” and the members of those faiths labeled “corrupt” (Joseph Smith History 1:19). In Palmyra, New York, not far from where Joseph Smith learned the answer to his spiritual question, there is an intersection with a different church on each corner. Mormons affectionately referred to this intersection as “the corner of confusion.”
I wonder if Mr. Wolfe’s non-Mormon supporters know the story of the foundation of Mr. Wolfe’s religion?
Speaking of confusion, another article from the Salt Lake Tribune exhibited apparent confusion in the journalist who wrote it. Reporting on the Mormon Church in Chili, she explained why there seems to be a problem retaining LDS converts in that country:
“For many, being a Mormon is a big leap from other Christian faiths, especially in the demands it makes on its members…Because the church has no paid clergy, it expects new members to take on assignments including administering the sacrament, giving speeches, teaching Sunday school, organizing youth activities and doing charitable work for others – and that’s every week.”
In my nearly three decades of experience with Christian churches (with paid clergy) all have relied on volunteer church members to pass communion, give speeches, teach Sunday school, organize youth activities and do charitable work for others. Actually, I think the “big leap” for people familiar with Christianity comes in the non-biblical doctrines Mormons are required to embrace.
Finally, there was another odd incident reported near the St. George, Utah LDS temple (see the February 23rd post, St. George Temple Scare for previous incidents). An AP article from April 4th says,
“A man is behind bars this morning after walking around naked near the LDS temple in St. George. Police say 32-year-old Cody Calegory of Ivins was arrested Sunday night. Officers say they found him walking naked toward The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple in St. George…Authorities say this is the second time in three months, Calegory has been Tasered in a confrontation with officers near the Mormon temple. Back in January, Calegory was Tasered after becoming violent and combative inside the temple’s visitors center. During that arrest, he told police he was God.”
I’ll keep you posted as the list of strange disturbances at the St. George temple continues to grow.