Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Mormons episode 2

Since Monday I have been reading as much as I can from the PBS website. I’ve listened to a podcast from KUER with Ken Verdoia and Helen Whitney. I’ve read comments and reviews on multiple blogs and websites, both sympathetic and antagonistic. I’ve answered hours of questions from friends and co-workers in person, on the phone and via IM and email. I must say that I am really enjoying the lively conversation that this has sparked.
In the KUER interview Ken Vedoia talks about how he warned the director Helen Whitney that ultimately she would create a Rorschach test. One person would look at the ink blot and see two puppies, and the other would see their mother-in-law ruining their life. People were going to take their pre-drawn conclusions to the program and if they expect it to be hostile they will see hostility. If they expect it to be sympathetic they will see the sympathy. In a way I am also guilty of this. I was hoping it would be relatively fair and balanced and that’s pretty much how I perceived it.
Many of the comments on blogs and discussion boards were upset that there were so many people who weren’t members given the mike. Many of these posters fell guilty of assuming that non-Mormon and anti-Mormon were synonymous. They defiantly are not. Personally I thought that Vedoia who is not a member painted the church in a much better light than Elder Oaks and Elder Packer did. At least one of the ex-communicated members longed to be accepted back into the fold and was about as far from anti-Mormon as anyone else in the program.
There was one comment that I felt should have been edited out, and another that I’m researching to see if it was taken out of context. Tal Bachman’s comment that used the word “suicide bomber” was completely out of line. This inflammatory comment unfairly links the church to terrorism. My Baptist co-worker even remarked that this was a needless dig. I was pleased to hear from others viewer that this "guilt by association" ploy failed.
One source interviewed reported that he was told by a relative that John Taylor told him a very bigoted doctrine regarding blacks. Without any other sourcing this comment is at best third-person hearsay. I have a pre-1978 book at home that I got from my Grandmother that attempts to justify the Church’s position on blacks and the Priesthood. If this quote is legitimate it’s likely in that book. I’ll attempt to find it. For the record I don’t have any serious doubt that it was said. I’d just like to read it in its original context.
The comments from Elder Oaks and Elder Packer were the low point of the program. They came across as arrogant authoritarians. “It is our job to protect the church from evil”. The implication being that ex-communication for those who don’t follow the exact set of rules will protect the rest of the flock. This seems to me as going directly against Christ’s admonition to leave the flock and go after the lost sheep.
In sharp contrast to the attitudes of these two apostles, Marlin K. Jensen presented one of the most honest and humble faces on the church that I have ever seen. From his candor about his personal conversion story, to his deeply saddened expression as he explained about the sadness that homosexuality can bring. He did not make any concessions to the doctrine in order to convey this. In fact it was his humble, Christ-like love for his fellow men that came across in ever word he spoke. I have always been inspired by his talks at conference. He will have my attention next conference too.

1 comment:

  1. I too was disapointed by Tal Bachman's charged comment. I felt most of his comments were respectful but the suicide bomber comment was excessive.

    Thinking back to (I belive) Joseph's comments about it being impossible to be neutral with respect to the gospel once you leave that center ground. In effect the 'either you are for us or against us' argument. I found a blog Tal wrote on an 'anti' web site decidedly less respectful and more rhetorically charged.

    I wonder how many of the former members tempered their comments knowing they would have a national airing or was there a great deal of editing to keep the tone of the piece civil and schollarly. My suspicion is the latter. Considering that possibility, I think Helen Whitney deserves kudos for avoiding the temptation to resort to propoganda.