Tuesday, April 10, 2007

mark your calendars

On April 30 and May 1 there is a four-hour documentary on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints scheduled to air on PBS. The first two hours on April 30 will be on American Experience and the following night, two hours of Frontline.

On Meridian: PBS Film Likely to Cause Debate

From Helen Whitney, the award-winning producer: It is “a complex film, a respectful film, but not an uncritical film.”

"I hope that most of the stereotypes — ideally, all of them — will be blown away,” she told the newspaper. "Because so many of them are just based on ignorance. Ignorance about Mormon history, ignorance about Mormon theology. Ignorance."

In the Meridian blurb it says that in the first two hours there is extensive treatment of polygamy, including interviews with modern-day polygamists. For me that raises red flags. If this is a documentary about the LDS church, why is there discussion of people who are not even members of our church? They do not share our beliefs. A major distinguishing characteristic of the Mormon faith is our unifying doctrine. People who do not believe that doctrine usually leave the Church. The Church does not change its doctrine to accommodate them. However, I have not seen it yet. I should not prejudge. I'm just saying it raises red flags.

I think the following comment by Michael Purdy of the Church's Public Affairs Department sums it up:

“The big question that members of the Church are asking is whether these programs will come close to capturing the essence of how Latter-day Saints define and see themselves."

“Will members look at these films and say, ‘yes, that's me.' Or will they look at it and say, ‘even after four hours, they missed the point.' It comes down to both content and context and it is important that those closest to the faith see themselves in the portrayal.”


sippinghotchocolate said...

i'm with you about the movie sending red flags if it mentions modern day polygamists. sigh. i think that if there is any movie i can relate to when it comes to identifying me with my religion, it would have to be the RM. that movie is such a crack up.

Julie said...

Hmmm, thanks for the heads up. I'll be looking to watch that program. The quote at the end of your post is absolutely dead on, isn't it. Will they "get it" or will they miss the point again and concentrate on things that just aren't important in the long run?

Karen ~ said...

I agree that many non-LDS people initially think polygamy when they hear the word Mormon. It's interesting (and I don't really believe in coincidence) that this is being aired now, roughly the same time as Romney announced his candidacy.

I also have to say it's clearly the media which continues to promote the mental link between LDS and polygamy - certainly I never hear about it from any of you (the only Mormons I regularly interact with, as far as I know) - it's unfortunate that the media has decided it's a ratings booster or something and continue to perpetuate it.

There are certain parts of LDS doctrine that I don't agree with - just as there are certain parts of most religions I don't agree with - but there are many things about your church that I truly admire. I hope the documentary highlights those things.

Should be interesting!

Montserrat said...

Thanks for letting us know about it!

I agree about the RM movie. That was so over-the-top funny.

ave said...

I have to say that if the documentary says much about polygamy I wouldn't watch it, that just fires me up. Let me know if you think that it is a positive documentary, JW would want to see it if that is the case.