This week on Utah NOW, we ask the question...what is sacred? A recent episode of HBO's "Big Love" portrayed a private and sacred temple ceremony practiced by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We'll look at the struggle between the spiritual privacy of religion and the expressive freedom of art.
I appreciated the non-defensive approach to this disucssion from the point of the professor from UVC. I didn't feel he was trying to convince or convert anyone, or represent the LDS church. I appreciated his honesty; he seemed quite comfortable with his identity and is well educated. I don't agree with everything that he felt, or even the reverened, but I respect what he said, becasue he wasn't trying to convince me. I'm surrounded by defensive people and I appreciate the way this discussion went.
Posted by Blessing Z, Friday March 27th, 2009 @ 7:52 pm
I'd like to make the Mormon case for exclusivity in our temple ceremonies. The case is very simple; the temple ceremony literally teaches salvation, and salvation is so deeply personal that it resembles a marriage relationship. In the same way that no other would be admitted to the most sacred parts of a marriage relationship, no one but those prepared to make covenants are admitted to the most sacred part of the ordinances of salvation (the temple ceremonies). This might sound strange, but the bible confirms the metaphor. Isaiah repeatedly referred to God's relationship with His covenant children through the metaphor of a marriage, God being the husband, and His covenant children being the bride. When one breaks covenants with God, Isaiah taught that the infraction was akin to marital unfaithfulness.
Christ also taught the principle in the parable of the 10 virgins, or wedding guests, in Matthew 25. On the eve of the wedding (a metaphor for Christ's coming and the salvation of the people who have made covenants with God), five of the virgins (wedding guests) had not sufficiently prepared to attend the wedding party and were consequently left behind. There just isn't room in a ceremony of such importance for those who have not committed themselves.
The scriptures compare salvation to a marriage relationship, and most Christians feel that salvation is as joyous as the most intimate of marriage relationships. Inviting others who are not committed to that relationship to view it would be like inviting any curious person to watch on your honeymoon. I don't care how respectful you are of me and my wife; if you look in on our marital intimacy, you are deeply violating us. In the same way, the uncommitted viewer of this temple ordinance of salvation violates the relationship between God (the husband) and his covenant people (the bride).
Posted by Jeffrey Robertson, Friday March 27th, 2009 @ 8:28 pm
Big Love, I never saw the show concerning the LDS portion. But can't the producers be more up to date with the Facts for the show. A FLDS show portraying a LDS marriage when the producers couldn't portray a FLDS marriage, sounds pretty sad the producers couldn't stay within FLDS guidelines especially when it comes to an important subject such as marriage. The FLDS group left the LDS faith during the early portion of 20th century. Rituals change from decade to decade so under human common sense would suggest and question that the FLDS and LDS marriage rituals would change and would be very different between the two religions in the 21 century. Do the producers have an agenda? Let's keep to the present and keep it on subject. Are the producers going to interject non-FLDS doctrine into the show and teach the viewers that the FLDS believe and practice non-FLDS doctrines? Let's keep real and up to date.
Posted by Kenneth Reynolds, Friday March 27th, 2009 @ 10:57 pm
Thank you to Utah Now for examining the issues raised in the Big Love series.
As a former member of the LDS church I was interested in the controversy of depicting temple ceremonies. While as humans we have license to do many things should we do them is our moral question.
Should the question have been the depiction of a sacred Native American ceremony I wonder would the answers have been the same. I believe that as humans we become a little less every time we cross one of those borders of respect for our neighbors. Issues like these ask us to examine our values and set personal standards.We should be led not by what is permissible but what makes us better as a society and individuals.
Posted by John Bowles, Sunday March 29th, 2009 @ 12:15 pm
The ignorance of your non-LDS guests of the existence of hidden teachings, or as the Bible calls them the mysteries of Godliness taught only to initiates in a temple, and the lack of propriety to hold sacred those teachings reinforces to me the complete disrespect for the sacred and the utter secularization of our society. I think that there is a place for respect in our language and culture and even if I may be so bold in our art.
I first heard of the upcoming episode of Big Love on ABC “news”, of which if I am not mistaken HBO is an affiliate, who ran the story of the upcoming expose of sacred temple rights in what to me was a blatant self-interested attempt to promote controversy for a lame show with poor ratings.
My exposure to Big Love has come from the clips and media stories about the show. Based on that small sampling it appears to me that Big Love continues to perpetrate deliberate lies and misinformation under the guise of “fiction”, using LDS terminology, temple rites and organization to portray a non-existent fundamentalist sect and confuse viewers as to the teachings, doctrine and practices of the true Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Are lies and misrepresentation “good art”? As an artist myself, I believe that art is truth and beauty so to call these trash peddlers “artists” is offensive to me as an artist as well as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Your program for me was difficult to watch this week.
Posted by curt david, Sunday March 29th, 2009 @ 7:24 pm
I appreciate the comments by Jeffery Robertson. The temples ordinances are a commitment to live as the scriptures, the prophets and The Lord has instructed us to live. It is no secret how to accomplish this. The level of commitment to enter the temple is high. One main commitment is fidelity and morality in business, family and marriage. Every day we see and hear the breaking of the these commitments. So does "the telling of the secrets". To me these things are sacred and I will keep them to myself. There is no shortcut to gaining temple privileges. Just check with your local LDS missionaries if you wish to find out more. If you are merely curious there are plenty of web sites and people who will tell of our sacred rituals. I believe in freedom of speech but there is responsibility in what is said and written.
Posted by Donna Fritchen, Sunday March 29th, 2009 @ 11:45 pm
What is Sacred? According to Webster's:
1a) Dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a diety.
1b) Devoted exclusively to one service or use.
2a) Worthy of religious veneration, holy.
2b) Entitled to reverence and respect.
3. Relating to religion, not secular or profane.
My question is why would the writers, producers, actors associated with this series risk offending a lot of people by bringing what is "set apart for worship", "exclusive to one service", and "entitled to respect" into a secular (profane?) setting? It seems to me that in doing so they are violating what I think most of us learned in elementary school, to show respect for other people's beliefs and religions. Part of good citizenship, it would seem, would be to not blatantly parade what others consider holy and not appropriate for public view. Perhaps the producers and writers and actors could use a good course in citizenship with a heavy emphasis on sensitivity training. Or maybe they might re-consider their own values and see if citizenship in their society is important to them, or is it the financial "bottom line" problem in some of the "arts" as well as in some of the (other) businesses that trumps their concern for others????
Posted by Mary Lynn Robertson, Tuesday March 31st, 2009 @ 5:49 am
I would like to address this comment to Mr. Fabrizio in response to your confession in the “What is Sacred?” program of not being able to find an analogous situation for the secret nature of temple ordinances. I offer the following analogy that may help you understand why we, who attend the temple, are so troubled by the decision of HBO to air an episode of “Big Love” that portrays temple proceedings.
Imagine that your grandfather is a very wealthy and generous man. An absolutely selfless person, he has devoted his life and resources completely to helping everyone and anyone. His work involves doing for other people what they are not in a position to do for themselves. Needing help and observing that you are at least honest, trustworthy and sincere, he has enlisted you. As an agent in your grandfather's foundation he has granted you certain powers and privileges and given you access to the treasury. However, to ensure that foundation resources are used properly, you are given explicit instructions and solemn warnings. The resources are to be used only for fulfilling the mission of the foundation and must be protected from any possibility of misuse, especially in light of the fact that your grandfather has enemies who are actively trying to thwart his work.
Now try to imagine how it feels when you hear that someone is planning to publish information that exposes the foundation's treasury, the very things that you promised your grandfather to keep secure. If you had the opportunity, would you raise an objection and express your concerns?
This analogy may, in a rather crude way suggest the regard Latter-day Saints have for the work of the temples, but it is still quite abstract and asks you to inject meaning that is also abstract. A more poignant way to represent the problem of making public temple rites may be to ask this question. What would you think if you discovered that someone was publishing personal information about you such as account numbers and passwords? Once you got past the initial shock and outrage, would you not see it as an egregious violation of your privacy and an act of profound disrespect.
It is quite a stretch to compare worldly treasures with heavenly things, but we of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints enjoy the blessings of the temple and to us they are precious treasures. We are under solemn obligation with God to protect them. Possessing these blessings does not make us superior to anyone else in any way, but it does place us under a great burden of responsible. We are still just regular people, foolish and prone to mistakes. However, in this we are not mistaken - God lives and the work of the temples is His work. Someday, you will know that as well as I do. Then you will understand perfectly. Until then, I hope this feeble attempt to explain helps you understand the sanctity we hold for temples and temple work.
Posted by Mark Palmer, Sunday April 5th, 2009 @ 2:01 pm
I would like to see the writers and producers of this program, depict an episode regarding sacred Islamic rituals. I suspect, there would be less enthusiasm in my opinion; There's not much fear that President Monson of the LDS Church would declare a Jihad against HBO.
Posted by Gregory Greer, Tuesday March 23rd, 2010 @ 3:44 pm
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