Monday, May 9, 2016

Everything Wrong with Big Love Season 2

-the lady yelling outside the meeting about Roman Grant seems unusual.
-I have never heard of South American sites being called the "Holy Lands". The Holy Land is in Israel/Mid-East. We'd call the South American sites "possible Book of Mormon sites", as there is no consensus on where it actually took place.
-that's a pretty big Baptist church for Sandy, although there are a couple bigger ones in the area so I won't say is necessarily wrong.
-at the prayer meeting, "celestial heaven" would more likely be celestial kingdom. And testimonies are not done prayer style on the knees.
-the LDS grows most or all of its own wheat and alfalfa for the welfare program and bishop storehouses, I guess they might have bought it from private farmers at one point though.
-Bill and Ben were driving north away from Downtown, about 45 mins from where their home would be, south of downtown (20th east in Sandy) when they saw the supposed downtown, state street sign. They would've been in Bountiful, on the other side of a mountain from downtown.
-Nikki and Margene were driving westbound out of Lehi toward Eagle Mountain, and Nikki says they saw the graffiti billboard on their way out of town... Except they never would have passed downtown.
-there is no way any modern LDS Mormon would believe that it would be better to die than to give up your chastity. That is ridiculous.
-There's no Meeker county or town in Utah.
-there is a Jefferson County in Missouri, but I think they meant Jackson County, which has significance in Mormon culture.
-We just joke about Democrats being heathens, mostly.
-how could Adaleen possibly have gotten back to the compound to get Bills call? Other episodes imply its hours away.
-the yelling to pray or repent or something was weird to me, I don't know of any Mormon groups that do something like that.
-tons of people in Sandy own boats, but they'd likely never consider taking them to the Great Salt Lake. When people say they're taking the boat to the lake I assume Jordanelle or Deer Creek, which are about an hour east near Park City. Sometimes Utah Lake, about an hour south.
-Bill finally reveals Juniper Creek is a few hours south, which really destroys some previous scenes and references to the compound.
-there is no newspaper in Utah called the Sun-Times.
-not wrong, just worth noting, it would've taken Ben awhile to drive to this church, its at 700 south 2500 west in Syracuse, at least an hours drive from his home near 2000 east in Sandy.
-that is definitely not the bishop's office in an LDS church. There would not be a kitchen next to it, a glass door, or a display of books and pamphlets. The large table would likely be in a different meeting room.
-a Bishop doesn't have a parsonage and should not be counseling with parishioners in his home office.
-also those aren't LDS books and pamphlets.
-and if this guy were the Henrickson's bishop when they were still on the church, he is not likely to still be a bishop. Most serve for only 5 years and the Henricksons left the Church 7-8 years ago when Bill married Nikki.
-which brings up the point that Ben was only 8 years old when they left, half a lifetime for him. Not many 8 year olds have met with their bishop more than once so the "I feel more comfortable talking to you" is weird.
-Bishops are unpaid so they usually have regular career jobs during the day and would not be able to meet with Ben in the middle of a weekday, especially if he dropped in with no notice.
-the bishop's little speech isn't quite doctrinally accurate. Yes sexual morality is important when it comes to creating an eternal marriage but honestly probably half the Mormons I know had sex before marriage, and are now in sealed "eternal" marriages like it never happened. We all make mistakes, repent, and move on. I wouldn't say that temple marriage is the only moral way to start a family, only that it is the best way. And the bishop shouldn't be focused on converting the girlfriend, just on helping Ben.
-"Reverence and Morality" and "Satan's Thrust" are actually titles of talks given by LDS leaders in the 70s and 80 addressing sexual immorality, but they are from Gordon B. Hinckley and Ezra Taft Benson, respectively. Not Rommel Resonoble, Jeoffery Dingcong, or someone named Pamela as the pamphlets say. (if you go through the effort to find 30 year old talks, why don't you go through the effort to be accurate with other things?)  The talks are pretty outdated and old-fashioned, I can't imagine a bishop in 2007 referring to them when there are so many more modern resources.
-Not much here, but I've noticed that Nikki keeps saying "the" before she says the name of a highway. (i.e."the 215")  They say that in California, but in Utah we just say the number. ("There was an accident on 215")
-I'm not positive on this, but I don't think a bishop can go to the parents like that. Maybe they can, but in my experience if he thinks the teen should talk to the parents he encourages the teen to tell them and if the teen wants support might have them all in to meet with him together.  It's an interesting situation with him not being their bishop. He has no authority over Ben or the Henrickson family so I'm not sure there are any protocols in this situation.
-I don't think activity/inactivity is listed on membership records? Maybe it is. He could probably see that neither of them held a calling or had a current temple recommend, which might tip him off. But I don't know if even that information is accessible to leaders outside your current boundaries.
-the stake president comment is bordering on wrong. This comment seems to imply that people wanted him to lobby for stake president but he decided against it. You can't lobby or apply for that position, you can only say yes or no if it is offered to you.
-When the Bishop tells Barb that they are always welcome in his ward... its true, but you do need special permission from both bishops involved (and often the stake presidents as well) in order to have your records and "home ward" be other than the one to which you are geographically assigned. And what it had to do with Bill not being able to "righteously lead the family" is beyond me. This bishop is weird and pushy.
-There is/was no Meineke at the 5300 South exit.
-Ben says there is a Murray store, but previous episodes have said there are two stores, one in Sandy and one in West Jordan.
-Bill says he is going "up" to the compound, previous episodes have said it was 2 hours south, which would be going "down" to the compound.
-a good Mormon girl wouldn't take the name of God in vain
-there are no palm trees in Wendover
-Joseph Smith was never a pioneer and thus is rarely featured on Pioneer Day floats.
-the neighbor would probably know that Barb wasn't LDS because LDS congregations are assigned geographically, so they would likely be assigned to go to the same ward.
-not going to say that no LDS guy would be such a jerk like Howard, but in my experience that wouldn't happen.
-"if I don't have a family for him we'll have no family in heaven" just isn't LDS doctrine. I've never heard of a man divorcing his wife because she couldn't have kids, but I guess it could happen. He'd probably be hated by everyone though.
-"lost boys" are really only those who have left very closed off groups like the FLDS. Leaving a polygamist family who are living out in the world like the Henricksons wouldn't put you in the lost boys.
-on the news report: the pioneer parade is actually called the "Days of '47" parade, and there is no channel 6 in Salt Lake (ironically, that was always HBO). Also, did we still watch VHS tapes in 2007?
-there is no "pioneer week grand marshals parade"
-Utah Bell is not a phone company

Friday, April 22, 2016

Everything wrong with Big Love Season 1

I discovered Big Love is on Amazon Prime, and in honor of the it's 10th anniversary decided to give it a watch.  I was interested in the show when it first came out, but only saw a few episodes - I had just graduated high school, was dating, working full time, and it was super awkward to watch it with my parents.  I grew up in a Mormon family in Sandy, Utah. I went to school with kids of polygamists. I thought it might be fun to compare my reality of being a Mormon in Sandy in 2006 to what was portrayed on the show.  So, here it is! Everything wrong with Big Love.
(I will add, I fast forwarded through any sex scenes, so anything that might have been discussed there has been missed. And some things that I point out as mistakes are clarified in future episodes, I may or may not have gone back to fix my comments.)

-When Bill is driving home from work, he drives north to downtown Salt Lake, drives past the temple on the busiest street downtown, then turns around and drives back south to his house, this would be at least an extra hour detour. (Hey maybe he's avoiding the family, who knows?)
-Most fundamentalist Mormons wouldn't wear a sleeveless top like Margene does.
-A Bishop wouldn't move in across the street, as you don't take your church calling with you when you move. He might be a former Bishop, or be called as the new bishop of the ward
 in his new neighborhood, but he wouldn't be a bishop when he moved and would be unlikely to be the bishop for a while.
-I don't get the girls in matching black outfits at the diner... Are they supposed to be Mormons? We don't dress like nuns. And we'd never call our ward a congregation unless explaining it to someone.
-I don't know many Mormon families with "white bread and jello" in their pantry, most are into healthy eating. Whole wheat and bottled peaches are more likely.
-"Are you in young women's?" Is a silly question, as every teenage Mormon girl is in young women's, even if they don't go. Its just the name of the girls youth group. A Mormon girl would just ask if a girl was a Mia-maid (14-15) or a Laurel (16-18).
-When you ask a Mormon what their parents "do", you'll almost never hear their church calling mentioned.
-There is no possible way you could get away with giving a public school a Mormon name like Cumorah.
-Its unusual for a Mormon or fundamentalist Mormon family to have a cross decorating their wall.

-I know those aren't Salt Lake mountains but I'll forgive that.
-again with the sleeveless tops
-still confused about this bishop thing. What's going to happen if a bishop finds out? Even if he called the authorities, the state wouldn't prosecute unless there was evidence of abuse.
-pretty sure most Mormon high school girls know what transgender is, especially today. I know I did and that was before the show was made.

-Bill mentions "prairie garb and sunbonnets" and it brings up a good point... There are a lot more bonnets and headcoverings on the compound than I'd expect to see. But this is a fictional group, carry on.
-"lay a blessing on you" sounds silly. More likely "give you a blessing", although I don't see why you would give your wife a blessing in the middle of a fight.
-Bill has what looks like iced tea in his hand, some fundamentalist Mormons drink coffee and tea some don't. LDS do not.

-the talk between Bill and Don about revelation at the store is a bit more "religious nut" than I'm accustomed to, but might be normal among fundamentalists.
-"receive testimony" also seems like an awkward phrase, I think "feel the Spirit" would be more likely.

-Mormons do sometimes check for "garment lines", because it can be awkward in some situations if you are unsure of their religion. However, I have several Mormon friends who don't wear garments so it's not necessarily a good indicator. (and in this specific situation, many descendants of pioneers live in Utah but aren't active Mormons, so I didn't think garment lines were relevant.)
-the employee suspicious that Don is polygamist seems extra prudish. Sure ladies like that exist, but most of us wouldn't say anything, and we wouldn't button the top button of that shirt either.
-I've never heard of after school seminary. Its usually before school or in Utah many schools offer "released time" religion classes during the school day (not just for Mormons, other churches can offer classes as well)
-Mormons don't think that going to seminary will somehow solve your problems or cleanse you of sins, but I can see how a teen boy might think it would help.
-I would hope that Mormon kids aren't judgmental and thinking their bodies are dirty, but I get the girlfriend's point
-seminary teacher is dressed more casually than what I'm used to, they are usually required to wear a suit. And the classroom looks an awful lot like a school room, usually its in a church.
-"a member of our holy family"? We do believe that families are sacred but we don't go around calling our families holy like that.

-its usually "bear testimony" not "give testimony", although I admit that give makes more sense.
-I've never seen a polygamist funeral, but LDS funerals are not like that. No creepy talking to the person in the casket, and of course no walking out wedding style with another wife. And I'm surprised they didn't pick a hymn for the music.

-the garment line thing... I thought the other lady was the one wearing garments. The apparent garment line one seemed low cut. And the lady totally looked "prairie/compound".
-I sure hope missionaries don't seem that creepy weird. And why do they have photo ID cards on their shirts rather than black name tags? and they don't give out coloring books, and they aren't supposed to wear backpacks...
- I've talked to missionaries who tract into polygamists (they live up the road from me) and they don't use a 'polygamy is wrong' approach, they discuss prophets and line of authority.
-the sign at the church had directions to a "fellowship hall", "sanctuary", and "counseling center" which are all terms Mormons don't use. It would be "cultural hall", "chapel" and the counseling center would just be the Bishops' office.
-this ward seems huge and way involved. Most Utah wards are pretty minimal on activities... They wouldn't have enough singles for a salsa night, Sundays are usually spent with family...

-the attorney makes it sound like the compound is on the Utah Arizona border, 6 hours south of Salt Lake. But they say they're going "up" to the compound and of Salt Lake being "down here". Someone must be geographically challenged.
-Mormons don't really recognize Holy Saturday
-another geography issue... To get to the Arizona border by 8 pm they need to leave at 2 pm... A Jazz game isn't long enough to be a decent cover up

-This Chad guy is super goofy and creepy. I'm not saying there aren't Mormons like that, but most of us are normal people and I'm kinda sick of being portrayed like that. Who says weird crap like "I had a burning in my bosom when I met you"? That's the stuff you see in Mormon-made satire movies.

-"it's two hours to get home"... So the compound is not on the Arizona border? Idaho, Wyoming, and Nevada are all about two hours from Salt Lake. Or it could be in central Utah. Just explain why the AG talks about AZ!
-General Conference has always been twice a year, in April and October, since the 1830s.
-most Mormon kids would receive a Bible/Book of Mormon set rather than just a Bible for a baptism gift. I imagine it's the same in most Fundamentalist families.
-Barbs sister... Mormons aren't racist like that, although we do tend to adopt minority kids, don't know where that trend came from.
-and as far as baptisms are concerned, its tradition for Mormon kids to be baptized by their dad if he's also a Mormon, and the baptism can be anywhere. (although most churches do have a baptismal font) Our neighbor was baptized by her dad in our backyard hot tub! I don't get why the sister is so disgusted by the idea.
-babies are usually blessed when they are a few months old, not immediately after birth, maybe its different in fundamentalist groups.

-nothing wrong here! I loved the little accurate details - the Postum, the extras in the locker room, there were probably more that I didn't notice because it's normal for me. Very nice.

-this whole season I've felt the women dress pretty formal. Nicki is obviously going to, but Barb and Margene and the supporting cast are always wearing skirts, dress pants, or khakis. Utah women are very much jeans and t-shirt type people.
-I don't know that a woman could be disqualified for mother of the year just for being polygamist... Maybe? Either way, it's a fake award.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Provo City Center Temple

Everyone!!! The Provo City Center Temple is COMPLETE! Wahoo!  This means new pictures are up in my Picasa album, AND that there's a public open house going on starting this weekend through early March.  If you'll be in central or northern Utah at any time for the next 6 weeks or so I highly recommend stopping by, it looks amazing.

In case you didn't know, the Provo City Center Temple was built inside the facade of the old Provo Tabernacle, which was destroyed by fire in 2010.  I love that they kept the Victorian style, even though practically everything is new because very little was salvageable.  Knowing the people in the church history and decorating departments, chances are there are a handful of real Victorian-era pieces, such as the stained glass of Jesus Christ behind the recommend desk. (This was reclaimed from an old Presbyterian church in New York).

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Quebec Temple Open to the Public!

Okay I'll admit, I didn't even know the Quebec temple was undergoing renovations.  Whooops!  And it was even my husband's assigned temple as a missionary! (although he went to Boston instead, because he didn't have a passport or permission to go into Canada!)

Anyway, I found out just this morning that it is open for public tours starting THIS THURSDAY!!  So if you live anywhere near Quebec you might want to check it out.  It looks beautiful, they've really added some customization and details to make this "cookie cutter" temple more special.  I'll be adding the interior photos to my Picasa album today.

*Update:  You can see the interior photographs by clicking here!*

Anyway if you go:
November 5 - November 14, except Sunday the 8th
1450 Boulevard Marie-Victorin in Longueuil, Quebec.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Indianapolis Indiana Temple Open House

Hello everyone! The Indianapolis Indiana Temple is open to the public until mid August and interior pictures have been released.  I've added them to the online gallery here.
Let me know if you get a chance to go on a tour, I'd love to hear about it!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A tidbit of testimony from the JST

This year I have been studying the Inspired Version Bible (also called the "Joseph Smith Translation").  Although the King James Version is the official Bible used by the church, I have often been curious of the differences.  Since Elder Bruce R. McConkie praised the IV and said it was "a thousand times over the best Bible now existing on earth" I obtained a side-by-side IV vs. KJV comparison Bible from the Community of Christ's publishing house, Herald.  So far I've seen some enlightening changes, and I'd like to share one that I found during my morning Bible study with you:

Today I was in Luke 22.  First compare verse 31:

"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:" (Luke 22:31, KJV)
and then:

"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired you, that he may sift the children of the kingdom as wheat." (Luke 22:31, IV)

This made me curious about the ancient process of sifting wheat.  I wanted to understand that symbolism to get deeper into the meaning of the verse.  What I found, however, was less an understanding of the sifting of wheat (well, I did find that, and I get it now) and more a testimony of Joseph's calling as a revelator.  The commentaries I found when discussing this verse said that the original Greek indicates that the "you" in "that he may sift you as wheat" is plural.  Just reading the KJV, I would've thought it was talking about Simon (Peter), not a group. So, Joseph Smith indicated that it is plural by saying "the children of the kingdom" rather than "you".  So at first I remembered that Joseph Smith studied ancient languages for a time, and it validated the fact that his studies were good.  But then, I learned something - Joseph translated the New Testament Gospels in 1831-33.  This was years before he began a study of the ancient languages (and, come to find out, he may not have studied Greek at all, only Hebrew in 1836).  From what I read (I could be wrong) Joseph went through Genesis and the Gospels first.  He went through these books from beginning to end, revising the text by revelation.  I doubt that Joseph, who at this point was a 4th grade educated 26 year old, knew what the original Greek said.

So, here are two conclusions:

a.) Joseph Smith was truly an inspired revelator, and revised this verse because he was inspired by God to understand that "you" meant "the children of the kingdom" and not Simon Peter.
b.) Joseph Smith used logic to understand that when you are sifting, you are sifting many things and not one thing.

Either way, I would never have come to either conclusion, but given what I already know about Joseph, I believe that it was option a, and this is just another drop in the bucket of testimony.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Mormonism in 1860 vs. Mormonism Today

I was recently asked how Mormonism in 1860 was different than Mormonism today.  In response, I wrote the following and thought I would share it with you:

Mormonism in 1860 was actually quite a bit different than it is today. While modern Mormons still follow the same theology and have a similar organization, the culture of Mormonism has changed quite dramatically over the past 150 years.

Demographics: In 1860, there were approximately 61,000 members of the Church (over 15 million today), the vast majority were living in Utah Territory or other Mormon settlements in the west (over 60% today live outside the US). Foreign converts, most of which were in Great Britain and Scandinavia, were strongly encouraged and in fact expected to gather to Utah as soon as possible. As the Church had only been in existence for 30 years, nearly every member was a convert. The first generation that had been born into the church were young adults and there was some excitement over what a "born and raised Mormon" could accomplish.  Very few members were not Caucasian.

Preaching and Leadership: Mormonism was much more insular at that time, with most members living quite isolated from the outside world. Brigham Young was the prophet, and many considered him their only political and government leader as well, despite what the Federal Government had to say. Utah was just ending a period of near theocracy, where the Prophet and Governor were the same and had power over nearly every aspect of life. Church leaders did not shy away from condemning specific non-Mormon groups and teachings, and were much more direct in their manner of preaching. Preaching at that time was much more "hellfire and damnation" compared to today's "love and acceptance" style. Like today, much of Mormon preaching focused on practical life advice on topics such as family relationships, hard work, preparation, and education. However, the expectations were much more strict - modesty standards dictated being covered to the wrists and ankles; parents were advised to avoid telling fairy tales and fantasy stories to their children; and members were told to grow, cook, and make everything from scratch rather than purchase items or supplies from non-Mormons. Mormons were encouraged to develop their own clothing styles to set them apart from non-Mormons, and even developed their own alphabet called Deseret to further set them apart from outsiders. (neither of these caught on)

Mission Life: Mormon missionaries were often married, called for an indefinite period of time to leave their wives and children to fend for themselves back home. Women would not be allowed to serve as missionaries for another 30 years, although some were permitted to go with their husbands if they did not have kids. Mission life was focused on preaching, and missionaries did a lot of street preaching and cottage meetings. Conversion to the church was a huge commitment, as it often meant leaving your family and country behind. Many converts sold all they had and risked their lives to cross the plains to Utah.

Lifestyle, Organization, and Temples: While the preaching was more direct, the standards were more strict, and the expectations were much higher than what we see today, Mormon culture - especially among those in the American West - was less conservative. Attendance at Sunday meetings tended to be quite low, with most families worshiping in their homes rather than at church. Mormonism truly was a way of life, and not a Sunday thing. The Relief Society was just beginning to be re-organized at the local level, and children's Primary and Young Women/Young Men organizations wouldn't come to be for at least a decade. Most Mormons drank coffee or used tobacco, and drinking alcohol was quite common - the Word of Wisdom was just a 'suggestion' and was rarely preached about. There would be no Temples until the St. George Temple was dedicated in 1877, but members could be endowed and sealed in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. Because the Endowment House was not a Temple, vicarious ordinances were limited to baptisms and marriage sealings (no sealing of children to parents, and no endowments for the dead). Polygamous marriages were allowed and were often arranged by church leaders. Many converts were unaware of the practice of polygamy until they moved to Utah, although they may have heard rumors from non-Mormon sources. Many Mormons, especially those in rural areas, were exceptionally poor and still trying to come back from the losses they suffered due to losing a harvest season in the Utah War two years earlier. The United Order had been considered but not yet put into practice due to the disruption caused by the Utah War. Tithing was not especially common and was not limited to money - clothing, household items, livestock, food, and land were accepted at a Bishop's Tithing Office and then distributed to those in need. The Priesthood was much more exclusive - not every man and boy was ordained, and fathers were rarely given the privilege of blessing or baptizing their own children.

Scripture and Hymns: Modern Mormons might also find it interesting to know that most 1860's Mormons would be using a copy of the Book of Mormon that did not have verse numbers. Those with verses were divided into much different chapters and verses than they are today. Mormons also tended to be more widely read and well versed in the Bible, and the Bible was referred to more often than the Book of Mormon in sermons. Additionally, while the hymn book contained several songs that might be familiar to modern Mormons, they were sung to different tunes.