So I’m flipping channels this evening and happen upon a new show on the National Geographic Channel, called “Polygamy, USA.” It premiered a week ago; the second episode, “Winter’s Ball,” will run later tonight. Unlike Sister Wives, which focuses on a single family, or the Dargers, also a single family, this show gives a broader picture of the Centennial Park group in Arizona. (Centennial Park split from the FLDS back in the 80s, and don’t practice the abuses encouraged and required by Warren Jeffs.)
So I’m still watching the first episode, but so far there are three things I found quite fascinating:
1. They have a “mission program,” in which young men who have graduated from high school may elect to participate. But they don’t travel away from home or proselyte. Rather, it’s largely a community service endeavor, and an attempt to help these boys grow up into responsible men. So they do things like clear weeds at the cemetery, pick up the community’s garbage, build community buildings, and so forth. It was interesting to see this different vision of mission work.
2. Unlike other forms of polygamy with which I’m familiar, neither the men nor their existing wives choose a new wife. Rather, it is the prospective new wife who is entitled to revelation about whom she should marry. Really fascinating. They talk to a good looking, single young man, who says he has his crushes, but they’re irrelevant, all he can do is wait and hope that at some point a girl will feel called to choose him as a husband. So what do you think, sisters, should we import this practice into our own tradition (sans plurality, of course)?
3. Some things are no different from our version of Mormonism: At Thanksgiving, they hold a “Turkey Bowl,” the young single men against he married men.
Joseph Smith gets coverage, and they just now explained preexistence (in the context of a funeral).
The producers embedded in the community for six months for this project, and you really do get a glimpse into what this particular strain of polygamy is like to live on a day by day basis. You can see more about it here.