Liveblogging Big Love

I’m watching the episode now. The bishop and SP just came to visit Barb at home. They mentioned that she and Bill haven’t paid tithing for seven years. She says yes, they’re “inactive now,” they went through a bad time, and she was very sick. So the bishop just comes right out and asks if she’s living in a polygamous relationship. She’s shocked by the question, but after a pause acknowledges that she is. She explains that Bill got a testimony of it. She didn’t at first, but she thinks she does now. They informed her that they were there to determine whether they needed to take action regarding her membership.

I’ll post this now and then in the comments describe the further developments as the episode unfolds.

Bookmark Liveblogging Big Love


  1. Kevin Barney says:

    Barb and Margene have come to the compound to talk to Nicki; it didn’t work out.

    Barb has just now spit out that she’s facing excommunication. Bill is asking about it. He’s sorry; Barb says she’s alright. It’s not like they weren’t expecting it.

    Now Barb is talking to her mom and sister about going to the temple. She wants to “take out her endowments.” Her mom asks how she’ll get in. She wants to borrow one of their recommends. Mom says no; it was just a few years ago that they stopped going through the motions of slitting bowels and such. Barb says, “You don’t believe that superstition, do you?” She’s begging for an opportunity to get her endowment.

    The scene has changed now to one involving the daughter.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    Albie is talking about how he went to the office of the Church Historian, and then to the President’s office; he was going to sell them the polygamy letter for $50,000, then $70,000. He enjoyed the respect of hobknobbing with the bigwigs (my words).

  3. It’s so illogical to think that anyone, especially someone who had left the church, would believe that there would be anything advantageous about going to the temple on someone else’s recommend. Why would she want to do that?

  4. Kevin Barney says:

    Nicki is encountering the man she used to be sealed to. I’m getting the impression she had a daugher with him, but hasn’t seen her. He says he paid a big price being unsealed from the prophet’s daughter.

    BTW, if anyone else is watching please feel free to add commentary and observations.

    Nicki just walked in on Sarah and her old boyfriend having sex.

  5. It’s also odd that Barb wouldn’t have already been endowed. She and Bill were married for years before they became polygamous, and they were both active in the Church.

  6. Kevin Barney says:

    They’re in the endowment room now. They showed the last sign around the altar.

    They are showing the last actions at the vail, including the actual last token being spoken. Now Barb is repeating it.

    She enters the veil and is now in the celestial room, with various people sitting there. She joins her mother and sister who are waiting for her. Her mother is so happy, and says this is just a little foretaste of eternity. They sit down together.

    Now Barb is crying. A worker offers her a tissue. She says the SP has called her to a disciplinary hearing tomorrow. Her mother is crying; she thought she was going to leave Bill. She says no. Her sister encourages her to leave Bill. It’s her chance to get away; just say you’re sorry.

    A worker tells them “I’m sorry, your fifteen minutes are up. The scene shifts to Bill and Nicky at a restaurant. Bill wants to end the marriage–Nicky is shocked.

  7. Kevin Barney says:

    Good point, Tracy.

  8. As one who hasn’t been through the temple- they kick you out after 15 minutes??

  9. No, I’ve never seen that. You’re fine sitting as long as you like.

  10. Ariel, No. You can stay in the Celestial room until the Temple closes.

  11. makakona says:

    tracy, that’s what i thought, too. ariel, no. and it’s endowment, singular. how does barb end up getting into the temple? makes NO sense that she’d be able to receive her endowment on another recommend.

  12. Kevin Barney says:

    Barb is mad at her sister, who is the one who told the bishop and SP on her. She’s upset that she’s being called to a council.

    Hollis Green kidnapped the BIL’s daughter–he wants the letter. But now that the Church has it, they’ll never release it (the BIL already called the Church). So now they’re going to have to do anything they can to get her back. Barb’s sister is very sorry she set this in motion.

    Bill goes to Roman for help with the Greens; together they go to the FBI guy.

  13. Regular members are allowed to loiter; polygamists get 15 minutes tops.

  14. makakona says:

    i can’t remember now… how “out” was barb after the mother of the year thing? wouldn’t her bishop and sp have caught wind then?

  15. You have to have a special signed card to receive a living endowment. It’s an involved process. You don’t just walk in. There is no way she could have gotten in on her mothers Recommend, and have her mother there. Also, whoever lent out their Recommend would be in hot water.

  16. Kevin Barney says:

    Barb is upset because she thinks she’ll be cast into outer darkness. She’s been in the church all her life, her ancestors for six generations. Bill tells her we won’t be cast into outer darkness; “Have faith.” “I’m so scared,” Barb says.

  17. Beggin’ everyone’s pardon, but the synopsis of this episode, even minus the covenant betrayal, shows this program to be one mell of a hess of a soap opera. Can’t imagine why anyone watches it regularly. Beggin’ your pardon.

  18. You have a point, Ardis.

  19. Kevin Barney says:

    Bill’s brother and the sister of the woman he was gong to marry, who had died when she tried to run away from being forced to marry Hollis Green, are at the “McConkie farm” where that happened.

    They’re at the hearing now. The SP is paranoid that she’s taping it. They remove her bag from the room. They ask if she’s still observing her temple covenants. Is she wearing her garments? She says “You’re asking me what kind of underwear I have on?”

    She asks if they received instructions from headquarters. They say that’s not relevant. She says she is being punished over the letter.

    The SP says “Some things that are true are not very useful.” The bishop says they want to help her escape this life. Will you repent?

    No, she says. She loves the Church more than she can say. But she believes the Church is in grave error on polygamy. She can’t forsake her family.

    Her name js removed from the records. She can’t partake of the sacrament. The sacred ordinances that bind her are severed. (Nearer My God to Thee is playing in the badkground.)

  20. Kevin Barney says:

    Yes, Ardis, it’s definitely a soap opera.

  21. Big Love may have just Jumped the Shark.

  22. “They ask if she’s still observing her temple covenants.”
    I thought the whole point of the controversial temple scene was that Barb had never made temple covenants before…..

  23. Kevin Barney says:

    Bill and his brother Joey were having an argument. Joey leaves, and says “We’re not brothers anymore.” Bill falls through fllor of the hayloft in the barn where they were talking, and is incapacitated on the ground.

    Thus endeth the episode.

    Preview for season finale next Sunday.

    Flight of the Conchords is on next! Woo hoo!

  24. I heart Flight of the Conchords :)

  25. Kevin Barney says:

    Ariel, yes, there were some definite continuity problems with this episode.

  26. I think the episode (and hence the liveblogging) is about to end. Is it possible to do a more thorough description…or better, your reaction to how it was, based on how “bad” members thought it would be?

  27. Kev, at first I thought you had written “…and is decapitated…”!

  28. They’ve always been a bit ham-fisted with the explicitly LDS stuff (calling it a “love court” instead of a “court of love” for example).

    Count me as among those who think that, regardless of how reverently or respectfully they attempted the portrayal, they showed waaaaaay too much. Leaps and bounds.

    Very, very disappointing.

  29. Kevin Barney says:

    Mormons who see it will be quite shocked by what they showed.

    Non-Mormons will be curious about it, but from that point of view I don’t think it was too bad.

  30. My problem with Big Love is that it’s neither great art nor good ethnography the two main possible justifications for outsiders showing LDS endowment ceremony. I’m not outraged, but I am a bit embarrassed for them.

  31. Clarification question:

    Did they actually voice the last token aloud?

    That question aside, so much for any semblance of respect. The writer who crafted this knew exactly how to misstate every single thing that would cast the temple in a negative light, and he knew exactly what the most sacred parts of the endowment are. There are innumerable things that could have been portrayed; this synopsis was an attack piece of the highest order, and I was one of the people saying I wasn’t surprised and outraged.

    I am now – although I’m not going to rant and scream about it. I am more disgusted than I thought would be possible.

  32. Seriously, I can’t imagine all this temple stuff being very interesting to anyone but Mormons. And I can’t imagine that Mormons are the main demographic they are targeting with the show.

  33. I meant to say: “the writer who crafted this knew exactly how to misstate every single thing that would cast the temple in a negative light, including stuff that’s not even in the endowment anymore”

  34. Kevin Barney says:

    Ray, yes the last token was pronounced aloud twice, both by the veil worker and by Barb herself.

  35. I don’t have cable so there’s no way I could see this, but I have to admit I was curious to see how they portrayed it. Although I am upset that they showed the temple scenes, it’s nothing you couldn’t google and see depicted on youtube. So it’s out there more now. What does that really change? My covenants are still valid, the one’s on Big Love aren’t.

  36. Steve Evans says:

    Told ya so!

  37. Justmeherenow says:

    Had any BCCers cancelled something connected to TimeWarner? Do you now plan to now?

  38. Kevin Barney says:

    Yeah, I think Steve nailed it. This really isn’t going to end up being a big deal. (But they still shouldn’t have done it.)

  39. Steve Evans says:

    Agreed, Kev. The artistic pretentions of the show are now thoroughly done away with, I think. Kinda sad, since I think there were probably ways for them to get at the heart of Barb’s perspective without so obviously trying to poison the well for Mormons. This is a deliberate poke in their eye.

  40. Eric Russell says:

    Look at the bright side: if Romney or Huntsman (or Reid!) or anyone else were to succeed in winning a presidential primary, I don’t think there’s any doubt but that all of this and more would hit the public widely right about the first week of September. As such, Big Love might be doing Mormon candidates a favor. They’re providing a form of inoculation that church members could never provide themselves. Get it out now and it reduces the supply of shock ammunition during campaign season.

    Of course, this all assumes that politics is more important than sacred covenants, but I’m sure we would all agree that it probably is.

  41. I posted a thorough description of the temple scene, it’s place in the overall plot, and a transcript of the conversation in the Celestial Room here at Mormon Mentality.

  42. Justmeherenow says:

    And a NYPost TV writer desribes the episode here:

  43. Justmeherenow says:

    The NYPost writer was confused by continuity issues WRT the endowment scene too:

    “…Barb is visited by church bigwigs who ask her flat out if she’s living in a polygamous relationship. When she confesses the truth, she’s asked to participate in an endowment ceremony before facing a hearing on her excommunication. Then they ask her about her underwear.”

  44. Kevin Barney says:

    DKL, that’s amazing. How did you do that? I was typing as fast as I could, but I just couldn’t keep up. Anyway, I appreciate you providing a more complete description.

  45. For anyone saying this has all been on youtube, the difference is most people don’t google mormon on youtube, lots of people watch big love, like my sister, my boss etc. I doubt they’ll mention it, but it does make a difference.

  46. Left Field says:

    It sounds like they could have done a lot more if they really wanted to make it seem as weird or sinister as possible. Not that I’m happy with what was portrayed, but I’m guessing that quite a few people who saw it will wonder what the big deal is. If they figured we had something really embarrassing to hide, they’ll still be wondering what it is. Anyone who tuned in expecting to see the sacrifice of a virgin wildebeest will likely have been disappointed.

  47. Kevin Barney: How did you do that? I was typing as fast as I could, but I just couldn’t keep up.

    I type very, very quickly. Like I’ve always said: I don’t actually spend a whole heck of a lot of time blogging, I just type super fast.

    I’m glad you found the description useful.

  48. Agreed, Matt W. I was just making the point that you could find this stuff before this episode. The Church has gone through “being exposed” many, many times in the past. The early exposes written during the territorial period had wide readership and exposed temple ceremonials, complete with illustrations, “The Godmakers” had mock temple ceremony recreations, and I personally know many people outside of the Church that watched the film. My point is simply that this has happened before, and nothing will derail the work of the Lord. No unhallowed hand…

  49. My problem with Big Love is that it’s neither great art nor good ethnography the two main possible justifications for outsiders showing LDS endowment ceremony. I’m not outraged, but I am a bit embarrassed for them.

    Exactly. This was a middle finger in the faces of LDS, while seeming relatively innocuous to non-members. I’ve been a huge fan of the show — and written much in its defense — but it’s hard not to see this as Prop 8 sour grapes.

  50. Isn’t Tom Hanks a producer of the show? Ditto Brad–Prop 8 sour grapes.

    I really thought they would have at least done better research at depicting theology–outer darkness?
    15 minutes? and there is no way she could have taken out her endowment. So much for their experts.

  51. and what’s up with the NY post article and recreating church history? Where did she get that weirdness?

  52. The whole “take out my endowment” thing was a goof–if you’re familiar with Big Love, you’ll know that Bill and Barb were active LDS when they were married and were married in the temple.

  53. clarkgoble says:

    Why would she be shocked they ask if she’s wearing garments? That’s a pretty commonly known thing in Utah. Even non-Mormons here regularly know about the garment bit and excommunication.

    Nate, I thought Bill wasn’t a Mormon but was a lost boy from a pseudo-FLDS compound. (I don’t watch the show so I don’t know) I confess from the descriptions exactly how she got into the temple doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    Of course people do occasionally do this. (My parents were actually attending a session at the SLC temple where someone got caught doing this – the person conducting refused to continue until they left. Finally they did.)

  54. Craig M. says:

    Here’s another non-LDS recap of the episode:,25125/

    Seemed to minimize the temple scene in the summary, although it did raise questions for the author. Comments have been slightly more interested in the scene (and at times disrespectful).

  55. StillaFan says:

    Not really a threadjack, but watching the episode and reading the blogs the last week or so, I find it curious/interesting what kinds of things the Church gets upset over, and at whom.

    One of the actresses in Big Love is an active Mormon in real life. The Church doesn’t seem to have a problem with her acting in a show that parades the tokens and signs or covenants for the world to see on cable TV. Two young single LDS males are on popular reality shows this season. One swears like a sailor and loves to talk about his roommates’ private lives and parts. Another (on a different reality show) has dropped his drawers twice for no reason, parading fully nude in front of men and women. The Church doesn’t seem to care. Another single LDS man produced a calendar of shirtless males and was excommunicated for it. Yet his subjects (the photographed men) weren’t disciplined at all.

    Anyone know why? I think this would make a great BCC post, BTW (*grin).

  56. Clark,

    Bill was a lost boy who converted–He was a member until after the birth of his and Barb’s third child, when he decided to take Nicki as a wife.

  57. clarkgoble says:

    Thanks Nate.

    Is it weird that the thing that bugs me the most is the 15 minute thing? It seems obviously wrong and put in there intentionally just to make us seem uncaring. Plus they simply never would do that. Even at closing they are pretty nice about it.

  58. That’s funny, Clark, I was bugged by it too, but I just assumed it was because they needed a way to put a period on the scene–to break the tension. I don’t think it was malicious, but then again I tend to see the world with rose-colored glasses…

  59. Steve Evans says:

    StillaFan, if you think chad hardy was exed for making a calendar you’re mistaken.

  60. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 39
    Agreed, Steve. The whole scene was completely unnecessary. They knew exactly what they were doing. It was a cheap shot, and totally lame.

    I never went to the temple, but watching that scene made me very uncomfortable. Pete said “Is that what they do in there?”

    Question: Is there some kind of ID-verification to make sure that a person arriving at the temple with a TR is who they say they are? Have people really snuck in?

    Also, I wonder if they intentionally cast the notoriously foul-mouthed Ellen Burstyn as Barb’s mother. Placing her in the Celestial Room is ironic indeed.

  61. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    Thanks for the synopsis. I was hoping to find one on here, and this one was done well. I’ve only watched a few minutes of one episode while in a hotel, so I don’t know the plot. The discussion of the 15 minutes thing is interesting. It may have been a way to put a period on the scene, but it is also reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s saying that ‘everyone has 15 minutes of fame.’ When someone becomes ‘passe’, one can say that their 15 minutes are up. That is probably really over-thinking it.

  62. As someone who almost never watches television, I don’t really see what all the fuss is about. If you turn the silly thing off, it ceases to offend. It’s that simple. I urge everyone, with the most zealous evangelical zeal imaginable, to try it. =)

  63. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    “a church official cruelly enumerates exactly how alone Barb will be in eternity (no ancestors, no family, no progenitors, oh my). The scene was truly heartbreaking.”

    That quote is from the link. Was this really the description given of Barb’s consequences? Was it really heartbreaking?

  64. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 63
    I watched it, and my heart remains unbroken. fwiw.

  65. #63 – Like I said, they took every opportunity to present everything in as negative a light as possible.

    #60 – Mike, the new recommends are bar-coded, and you are supposed to present a picture ID – but that doesn’t happen all the time.

  66. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 65
    Retinal scanners would be way cool.

    I’m not sure it’s fair to say “they took every opportunity to present everything in as negative a light as possible.” It’s more subtle than than, and maybe worse. There was a beauty to the temple scene, especially with the soundtrack. It kind of freaked me out. I immediately deleted the recording on the DVR.

  67. Justmeherenow says:

    “Outer Darkness” (part 1) on YouTube:

  68. I have a bar-code recommend, but no one has ever asked to see my ID.

  69. Justmeherenow says:

    Guess that’s the “Rough Edges” episode, last week, sorry.

  70. Latter-day Guy says:

    Re: 59,

    What was he excommunicated for then? The official word was “behavior unbecoming a Latter-day Saint,” by which they mean “We told him not to make any more calendars, and he said “No,” so we excommunicated him.” Which is just a roundabout way of excommunicating him for making the calendar.

    However, if you have any other info, I would love to see it. Truly. I would be happy to be corrected on this if I am misinformed.

  71. Molly Bennion says:

    I just feel sad. Disrespect for another’s sacred spiritual traditions diminishes the perpetrator and has proved to be such a destructive force in our world, but, since this feels like revenge, I do hope the Church ignores it.

  72. Left Field says:

    The claim to have researched everything to the hilt perhaps applies to the ceremony itself, but apparently not to anything needed no construct a remotely plausible storyline. Given the incoherent mass of Swiss cheese that passes for a plot in this episode, the claim that the temple portrayal is essential to the plot is also nonsense.

    It’s unclear whether she was supposed to be receiving her own endowment, or was acting as a proxy. Either way, the reasons for her visit to the temple at this point in the story are mystifying, and either way, the plot is riddled more holes than a doughnut shop. Rather than the temple portrayal being essential to a well thought out plot, it appears that the plot was cobbled together after the fact and without much thought other than to find some way to wrap a story around the gratuitous portrayal of the endowment.

  73. CleverName says:

    63- Yes, that was the description given, and yes, it was very heartbreaking if you like Barb as a character. Most who watch the show do like Barb. She’s the entry point for most viewers–the character easiest to identify with. She came to polygamy late in life after having been an upstanding, true-believing member of her church for her entire life. Her struggles over her original faith and believing in her husband’s make-it-up-as-you-go-faith are very relatable and understandable. So yeah, it was heartbreaking to see Barb excommunicated because you know how incredibly painful and frightening it was for her, and why she let it happen. You know what she lost.

    I’m not Mormon, so I don’t understand exactly how offensive the Temple scene was to Mormons, but I do think it was necessary to show Barb in some sort of ceremony/ritual of LDS. Barb’s been terribly conflicted about leaving the Church for the entire three seasons. And it made sense to me that she would want to experience something in her Church before she was excommunicated. It demonstrated both her love of the Church and her genuine concern over her soul.

    As a non-Mormon, I didn’t find the scene to be strange or damaging. It was clear how important it was to Barb, that it was very meaningful to her, and underscored that much of Barb’s practice of faith revolves around family and being with family in eternity. While she was very emotional, she was more ‘herself’ there than she often is on the show. It made her excommunication that much more painful to watch.

  74. CleverName says:

    In terms of offensiveness, again, as a non-Mormon, I thought Bill’s speech saying that LDS was as corrupted as Roman’s brand of faith to be a direct insult to LDS. That was definitely unnecessary.

    Perhaps the writers meant to show that Bill is utterly lost, but we already knew that. He’s already been shown to be as selfish as Nikki, if not moreso, and more than willing to engage in criminal activity and shady alliances whenever it suits him. So for him to denounce LDS in that manner seemed unnecessary to me.

  75. StillaFan says:

    Re 59 and 70: While it’s true that we don’t know *exactly* why Chad Hardy was disciplined (beyond “conduct unbecoming a member”), we do know that he was, and that the calendar in question was only of shirtless men. I still find it interesting that Mireille Enos–an active Mormon–has acted in Big Love for two seasons now, and has signed on for next season, drawing a paycheck despite the tokens and signs shown on cable TV. It would seem that being shirtless is more unbecoming than being fully nude on TV (Mormon on Survivor) or revealing tokens and signs of the endowment.

  76. If you google Chad Hardy, you’ll see that he was living an openly-gay lifestyle and thathe was campaigning hard against the church’s policies regarding the law of chastity.

  77. John Taber says:

    Right now (8:40 am) the Early Show on CBS has Bill Paxton on. They just showed the scene with final sign at the veil. (Thanks to this thread, at least I had a little warning on that.) Paxton said he considered it one of the best episodes of the show or something like that.

  78. Whoahorsies says:

    Matt W: There is a lot of speculation about Hardy on Google, but it’s erroneous to say either that he’s gay or that he was exed for living an “openly gay lifestyle.” Is he? Do you know that? How ? His own ecclesiastical leaders thought he was in a relationship with a woman, and they questioned him about that during his disciplinary hearing. Frankly, if every single or divorced member were exed for sex outside of marriage with gay or straight partners, there would be far fewer members.

    Anywho, I thought the points made in #59 were good ones: it seems that revelaing signs and tokens or appearing nude on TV are not that big of a deal– at least the Church would rather discpline it’s members for other, lesser things.

  79. Thanks for the running commentary.

  80. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 77
    They showed it again on CBS? Wow. Now that’s just wrong.

    Imagine the ruckus if HBO and CBS were broadcasting something so offensive to Baptists or Muslims.

  81. #60, “Question: Is there some kind of ID-verification to make sure that a person arriving at the temple with a TR is who they say they are? Have people really snuck in?”

    Yes, according to Dorothy Solomon Allred, member of the LDS church who was raised in the Allred clan, some polygamists do sneak into the temple. Others apparently do sealings etc, at home or elsewhere.

  82. I guess the whole Barb/Temple thing had it’s quirky charm, but it didn’t do much for me. I guess I just didn’t buy the whole suddenly turning LDS thing. Also, she never would have made it into the temple without her own recommend.

    What I thought was strange was the “twin” stuff that almost seemed to be lifted right out of Vertigo. The episode even ended with a fall and a Vertigo camera trick. I wondered if it was an intentional homage, or a “coincidence”.

  83. StillConfused says:

    I have not watched the show and based on the commentary, I don’t think I will. Not because of the disclosure of temple stuff, but because it just sounds like a soap opera. I don’t like that kind of programming. That and reality TV annoy me

  84. MikeInWeHo (80) has a valid point, re: CBS and morning TV. If this was another religion, the furror over this would be greater.

  85. So how did Barb get in with her mother’s recommend and then meet up with her mom in the celestial room? What did her mom use to get in?

  86. BTD Greg says:

    I haven’t watched more than about 15 minutes of this show, and that was in the first season. Even at that, it was pretty clear to me that the producers of Big Love are about as concerned about not offending Mormons as the Farrelli brothers were about not offending the Amish when they made Kingpin.

  87. Latter-day Guy says:

    RE 76:

    I’ve looked on google, and I can find nothing about Chad Hardy being gay. There is one comment on yahoo’s Q&A site, but it is merely an unsubstantiated assertion. Would you care to clarify/name a source, Matt?

  88. dc (85): it wouldn’t have been possible for her to get in on either her mother or her sister’s Recommend. Since they were with her, she would have had to get a Rec somewhere else. Period.

    It’s a plot hole. It’s also a griping point. If they felt “accuracy” was important enough to show sacred things, they tossed that same “accuaracy” to the wind with the pre- and post- Temple plot.

  89. #80 and #84:
    HBO and CBS show things that offend Muslims and Baptists every day. Have you ever seen a woman on TV with her head uncovered? Have you ever seen drinking or dancing or TV preachers who are depicted as hucksters or worse? I have. In a free society, people are not bound by other people’s idea of what is sacred. Citizens of free societies have to develop thick skins. It’s part of the deal. I sure don’t want to become like those idiots who burn buildings down over a cartoon.

    I think the proper response to someone’s disrespect is to shrug and then go hometeaching.

  90. CleverName says:

    @ Luke #82:

    I think the references to Vertigo were quite intentional. It was the MUSIC that first gave me the reference. At first I thought it just sounded like a Hitchcock film, and then WHAM, I realized they were aping the music from Vertigo. It’s eerily and intentionally similar. ( As a total Hitchcock freak, trust me, it was unmistakable.)

  91. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    I feel a greater violation with CBS than with HBO. Good thing I don’t support that network either!

  92. CleverName says:


    As an Irish Catholic, if I were up in arms every time an Irishman or a Catholic were depicted poorly in drama, well, I’d never get anything else done. I’d just be writing letters of protest all day, every day. ;)

    But here is where I think typical depictions of Catholicism (exorcisms, the Sopranos) and Big Love’s depiction of LDS, FLDS and somewhere-in-between differ:

    Well-known religions (Catholicism, Judaism, major stripes of Protestantism) are used as an immediate cultural reference. The entire point is that you think you know what they are.

    Various types of Mormonism, real and fictional, in BIG LOVE are used for the OPPOSITE effect. You DON’T know them if you are mainstream America. You vaguely know they are Christian, and know very little else about it.

    By choosing a lesser-known religion and its offshoots, the show is able to approach the BIG QUESTIONS of faith. If they were Cahtolics, you’d say , “yeah, I know what they think”, and dismiss the scenes that center on faith because you’d think you know where it’s going.

    But few outside of the faith understand Mormonism with any real depth. Our lack of knowledge allows us to explore the true mysteries, challenges and responsibilities of faith, and of raising a family in faith. I think those of us who are not Mormon end up examining our OWN rituals and doctrines as we come to know the Henricksons. And develop an interest in LDS because some of its practices are beautifully and movingly depicted on the show.

    I think it was intentional that these characters are Mormon or Mormon offshoots. But not to chastise them, any more than the show chastises faith in general. I believe it was a conscious choice to select a Christian, but not well-understood, religion to allow the audience to really consider faith and all of its challenges. The challenges are familiar, but the tenets of the religions at hand are not, allowing the viewer to seriously question what draws anyone to faith, what keeps them there, and what challenges are inherent in maintaining it.

  93. Kevin Barney says:

    Nate W. in #52 I think is right, that the “take out my endowments” language was simply wrong, and that this wasn’t a live endowment but a proxy one. That solves a couple of the continuity issues, but not all of them.

  94. “The claim to have researched everything to the hilt perhaps applies to the ceremony itself, but apparently not to anything needed no construct a remotely plausible storyline.”

    It doesn’t even apply to the ceremony. The research necessary for pulling off the scene was no more thorough than a few google clicks or tossing the Godmakers into a Netflix queue. Then again, really fine-grained, ethnographic research would have made clear that they were portraying those specific points of the ceremony held by LDS to be the most deeply sacred and, therefore, most in need of guarding. So, if their intent was to be as offensive as humanly possibly while still claiming the pretext of a reverent or respectful portrayal, they certainly did scrupulous research.

    The fact is, they could have accomplished “artistically” (here I use the term quite, uh, loosely) with the scene the same thing without explicitly disclosing what they did. This was, bar none, the most poorly written episode dramatically and artistically. They treated it as a forum for making their most explicit and direct attacks on the LDS Church (lying about history, weird temple stuff, secret meetings with murderous polygamous leaders, purchasing dubious historical documents, general corruption), while doing very little to move forward the various plotlines. This feels like something they threw together as an afterthought in the wake of getting really pissed off at the Church.

  95. A comment on a Gentile blog:

    “I have to say, that as a Catholic, I was absolutely intrigued by the depiction of the ceremonies and mysticism of the Mormon Temple. I found it to be stirring emotionally and I was a little envious of the peace that faith can, in fact, bring to some.”

    I am pretty sure that in among all the teeth-gnashing about this episode, there’s a missionary opportunity to be had.

  96. That’s a very interesting and thoughtful take on it, CleverName (92).

  97. I’ve seen a couple of comments on other sites referring to watching it on the internet– is it available on hulu or somewhere else? I’m surprised to hear it might be available so soon since it’s a pay channel.

  98. CleverName says:

    Tracy (96),

    Thank you.

    It’s how I’ve always seen the show. Because most of us are not in any way familiar with LDS or LDS-offshoot practices, we experience their fictionalized portratals, for the first time, through the eyes of the Henricksons. Frankly, none of them seem odder than what we Catholics hold dear, but they do share a similar emotional and spiritual power. And I do believe that if they were Catholic, I would have mentally tuned out of their spiritual struggles because I already have an arsenal of ideas, judgments and defenses of Catholic doctrine.

    It’s been a very interesting show for me both from the family aspect and the spiritual aspect. But I do believe it is more effective in the spiritual plane because the religions of the characters are not already familiar to us.

  99. Kevin Barney says:

    I agree with Tracy, CleverName, that that’s a very interesting point.

  100. Mrs. Peacock says:

    #95, I am not a Mormon and I felt the same way about the temple scene. I thought it looked beautiful and very peaceful. Is that supposed to be a secret ceremony?

  101. clarkgoble says:

    Probably the only way to see it is to Bit torrent it. I can’t imagine HBO letting it pop up on YouTube or Hulu given that they want to sell subscriptions.

    As others said I think ultimately this may be beneficial to the Church in that it at least did portray the temple as meaningful to us rather than just weird.

  102. I just watched the temple scene on youtube.
    Yep, that’s a few parts of the secret ceremony.
    It did look pretty cool!
    But trust me, Mrs. Peacock, although it is very similar to what was depicted in the show, the actual temple ceremony that Mormons do is not that peaceful or beautiful in real life. A lot of the time not even close :)

  103. #102 I disagree wholeheartedly.

    I haven’t watched the episode or the clip, but my experiences during the endowment ceremony have stirred my soul and brought me great peace nearly every time.

  104. Steve Evans says:

    Right on, Ben.

  105. Re “take out my endowments,” I hear people refer to it that way at least 10 times more often than the correct way.

  106. I have watched the ep, I have been to the Temple (in the last week, too), and it IS that peaceful and that beautiful. I’m not sure what you are talking about, Julie K.

  107. There is way more about our Temple endowments on the internet than in that Big Love episode. Plus the internet sites with the information are there to prove the LDS Church as a cult and are geared to that purpose.

    Overall there was only a slight amount of discomfort for me with the scene at the Vail. The parts of the program that struck me as anti-Mormon or even anti-religion are the prayer scene in which the alter was black and the room dark also I thing Bill said after Babs excommunication, ” The Church headquarter are as corrupt as Roman” or something close to that. Was the creators of Big Love trying to send a message to it’s audience?

  108. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    RE: #92 AND #98

    Thank you CleverName for that insight. It gives me much more calmness to understand it from that point of view. I guess I’ll have to confess that I read Angels and Demons and The Davinci Code. I didn’t understand at the time that it was offensive to Catholics. I can see that it casts representatives of the church in a bad light, but I always took them as fictional characters dramatized for the sake of suspense. I don’t really know Catholicism, Judaism, or the Muslim religion, however, to know if there is something that is so personally sacred in a way that is comparable my feelings about the endowment. Because of that limited knowledge, maybe I’m missing the boat on how deeply offensive The DaVinci code or other depictions of Catholocism are. The best comparison from my personal experience would be to compare broadcasting the endowment to the changing of the guard ceremony at Arlington National Cemetary. Suppose you were watching that reverent tradition and a group of foreigners walked past to ropes into the pathway of the soldiers; taking pictures extremely close as they guarded the tomb. Then they pulled costumes out of a bag and started to copy the soldiers, not knowing the training or performing with the dignity with which the US Military is so accomplished. What kind of feelings would exist in the heart of a patriotic American as such a mockery existed? That is the sadness that goes through my heart. I am glad, nevertheless, that others found the Big Love depiction of the endowment peaceful and beautiful. Your kind words in your response mean a lot to me, and I am learning a greater appreciation of members of other religions through your wisdom.

  109. I appreciate this post, on behalf of those of us too poor or busy to subscribe to HBO. Frankly, I don’t see the big deal. As I posted, nothing anyone else says or does can tarnish my own experiences in the temple. Those have truly been peaceful and replenishing.

  110. I found the portions of the episode in question to have been as tastefully done as they wanted to (i.e. no eery music, forcible coersion, lighting, etc..), despite their flimsy arguments & reasoning about why, absolutely why, it was necessary to include that portrayal.

    I’m unclear why some have voiced concern about how they showed the ‘most sacred’ parts on purpose. To me, it is all equally sacred – whether they showed what they did, or if they had depicted other parts, it was a needless publicity stunt, and it was poor judgement on the part of the producers, writers, and those involved to desire to use this depiction in the story-line. They could have captured the emotion, longing, separation, etc in some other very moving ways while still respecting things that many people hold dear and sacred.

    Then again, HBO progressing to religious pornography shouldn’t really catch anyone by surprise.

  111. I’m not LDS, but I have to tell you that it made me more curious about LDS and possibly joining the Church. I tend not to be offended easily, to turn the other cheek as it were, but I understand that it can be offensive — especially those who have dedicated their lives to whatever is being portrayed and have earned the right to go to the temple due to your example of how to live. I am, and have been, drawn to LDS because the people seem to genuinely like and care for people, helping each other greatly in times of need, something that I have not seen in my life (for example, when I was diagnosed with an excruciating, incurable neurological disease, many of my “friends” abandoned me. From what I can tell, LDS wouldn’t have done that). I think that Big Love has always shown that the Henricksons, and especially the Grants and those on the Compound, are not mainstream LDS. I don’t see them as such.

    I hope those of you who are upset about this can take comfort in the fact that HBO got so many things wrong — as it means that it doesn’t truly represent what happens in your sacred temples. I hope that you can take comfort in the fact that its inaccurate portrayal can take nothing away from your own experiences in the temple, as well as the bonds which hold your family together in eternity, which seems rather comforting to me.

  112. I believe that Julie K is referring to the live minks that are released during randomly selected endowment sessions.

  113. “It doesn’t even apply to the ceremony. The research necessary for pulling off the scene was no more thorough than a few google clicks or tossing the Godmakers into a Netflix queue.”
    Godmakers isn’t available on Netflix.

  114. Antonio Parr says:

    95 — Ronan, I had the same thought. I have always found the Temple to be a place of extraordinary peace. Perhaps some might draw similar conclusions.

    111. Leigh: Godspeed on your spiritual journey, and best regards with respect to your medical condition.

  115. I didn’t watch the episode. I guess I can be happy that the temple parts were limited and fairly positive. I echo the disappointment that someone kicked them out of the celestial room after 15 minutes. Like many, I like being in the celestial room of the temple and have never been asked to leave.
    I guess it goes to being irritated with Big Love when they portray something inaccurately (which they do quite a bit and their LDS “experts” seem to miss it). It makes me realize that there are countless things that are portrayed inaccurately on TV and in movies but I don’t even know because I am not not knowledgable about that subject. House sometimes bugs me because they get things wrong sometimes.

  116. Leigh (111) thank you for adding your voice here. I’m pleased that our charity is something you’ve been drawn to…

  117. I hope you don’t mind another Catholic chiming in. I’ve studied religions of the world for most of my adult life and have to admit the temple scene fascinated me. I thought it was beautiful and I was interested, though I knew it was something not meant for me to know. I assumed upon watching the episode that it was supposed to put the excommunication in context for non LDS, that they are symbolic and ritualistic and meant only for the fold, so the viewer would know what Barb was going to miss. I am sure it could have been staged in a less controversial way, but I will admit, it gave me reference.

    I also will admit that I thought Barb and her family were told they had 15 minutes because they were fighting and crying and causing a fuss. Sort of like being shushed.

  118. clarkgoble says:

    What’s more surprising in all this is the link from your sidebar. Why on earth would the SL Tribune put the picture from the show in the paper? So let me get this straight, in a time where all newspapers are struggling, you living in a relatively small market with two newspapers, and the other paper is gaining readership you decide to do the one thing that would alienated much of your target market. Wow. Were some Trib editors clueless.

  119. John C., you’re not helping.

  120. #112 – I’m going to have to add that to my list of funniest FALSE images – right along with “Never volunteer to be the virgin,” and, “Stay off the goat.”

    I can see all three of these appearing on multiple anti-Mormon sites as “real examples” of what goes on in temples.

  121. The parts that they did show I did not find offensive. As one who was LDS for twenty years. They got it pretty well dead on for the little bits they showed.
    Some inaccuriences were there though ie how Barb was able to sneak, borrow a recc I just dont see an active LDS person doing that for anyone. As well there have never been time limits on the temple that I know of.
    Now regarding Bills remarks after the scence: I think that refers the church’s buying and hiding of documents. Which apostle was it that said not all of the history really mattered to the church of today? Trying to remember.

    As well having known a well respected LDS man( actually the man who baptised me)who bought and then gave documents to the church that were damaging the scences about the letter are hitting to close to reality, although the letters I speak of where of another nature and dont relate to pologamy.

    Also to note there are many polygamus Mormons today who are members in good standing. Men who are sealed to more then one wife..just they are only currently married to one, other have either died or they are divorced, yet they are sealed for eternities…two of the current apsotles fall into this catagory. My Ex is sealed to 3 of us, so tell me the church believes in one wife for eternity and the evidence is not there.

  122. Willswords says:

    So are members who have been watching this show, still going to keep watching?

  123. Cynthia L. says:

    #122: No.

  124. Left Field says:

    I thought it was “Don’t fall off the goat.” Have I been doing it wrong?

  125. Kevin Barney says:

    No. 122, I have no plans to stop.

  126. Technically, Kevin, that should be, “Yes, 122, I have no plans to stop.”

    (I know. It was #122 – and correctly worded, but that was too good to overlook.)

  127. As someone who hasn’t been active or attended the temple for a while now, I thought the scene was actually quite lovely. In fact I felt a little pang of nostalgia. The temple is beautiful – it’s really strange, but it is beautiful.

  128. CleverName says:

    Re # 108- I read those books as well, and while I understood what was offensive, I also ended up doing a bit more study of my faith as a result. But thank you for realizing that other faiths are regularly misrepresented in popular fiction. The best one can do is to seize the opportunity to educate those who are prompted to ask questions following an interaction with these portrayals.

    From what I have read on various Mormon sites, I’m not sure if other religions could be offended in the way that ‘that scene’ has offended Mormons. Perhaps if I were more conversant in other faiths I would know.

    If I understand correctly, the privacy of the LDS ceremony is not in any way meant to hide it, but rather to preserve it as something only experienced in its proper context by members who have spent years demonstrating their willingness and ability to uphold the faith, because approaching it in any other way would fail to provide the real spiritual experience. It would therefor be impossible to create the proper context for the ceremony in drama.

    I’m sorry if I’ve misunderstood why it was offensive, but please consider that I am here, trying to learn, and my understanding is probably incomplete.

  129. #128 – That’s a very good explanation – along with the idea that some things simply are sacred and not meant for public consumption, much less misrepresentation. For example, I wouldn’t dream of having someone film or record an actual, personal prayer in the “privacy” of my own home. For me personally, that simply is too sacred for public viewing. It is me one-on-one with God.

  130. For me, an active, temple-going, LDS member, the worst thing wasn’t the temple scenes; it was the court. I found it hard to believe that people would act that way toward another church member. But, I asked my grandfather (who is a High councillor), and he said, yes, that’s the kind of questioning that happens.
    I’ll never look at bishops and stake presidents the same way again after that.

  131. #122- I’ve watched from the beginning and probably won’t watch it after this. I did find the portrayal egregious and intentionally disrespectful, but honestly, I agree with Tracy M’s assessment that the show has jumped the shark. It’s just not interesting anymore.

  132. CleverName says:

    Re: 130-

    Tom, I am not a Mormon, but please consider speaking to several clergy in your Church before resigning yourself to such disillusionment. Religions are practiced by people, and people make mistakes. It’s very possible that your grandfather’s experience was not the only experience or even the intended experience.

    It saddens me that anyone would be so pained and sure there was no way around that pain based on one person’s accounting of their understanding of a practice. IMO it’s worth discussing with several clergy before determining whether your understanding is correct as this seems to be important to you.

  133. CleverName says:

    Tom (120),

    Thank you.

  134. #65 – Mike, the new recommends are bar-coded, and you are supposed to present a picture ID – but that doesn’t happen all the time.

    Ray, I have never, ever, ever, ever–in any temple in any part of the world–been asked for ID. Do all of you get carded?

    John C (#112), no, I think it’s the animal sacrifice that is done below the oxen in the font area. At least that’s what some tourists said at the Orlando Temple open house.

  135. Re: 130
    I was a stake clerk for several years and had to take minutes at disciplinary councils. While I did not see this episode, I can say from experience that yes, the questions are very direct and personal, but the Spirit at the councils was always palpably strong and tears were shed by nearly everyone present. But, none of the people I witnessed were obstinate-most sought repentance and reconciliation. Regardless, I would not be ashamed of the Church disciplinary system if I were you.

  136. Alison, maybe my experience is the exception and I simply assumed it is the rule – since it makes sense to me.

  137. Actually, if you read this article, I think you will see that Church courts are meant to be completely fair and balanced. They actually go out of their way to ensure that the “accused member” has representation and has a chance to bring in witnesses to defend him/herself. The reason it’s called a “Court of Love” is because Bishops and Stake Presidents really do care about the church member who is being disciplined and actually want to do everything they can NOT to excommunicate them before essentially being forced to do so, either a) because the sin is so offensive to God, or b) because the person is completely unrepentent. Also, wouldn’t Bill have been excommunicated way before his wife? I’m surprised nobody brings this up. He would be held accountable for their polygamous family–not just Barb by herself. Unless I’m missing something?

  138. Dude… the Stake President AND the Bishop make house calls to confront Barb about her polygamy?

    Funny thing, after spending a week trying to explain to several co-workers and friends about why this is offensive… it has become clear to me that the temple is dearer to me than my inactivity indicates. So I’m going to do what it takes to become worthy to have a recommend again.

  139. Just a couple of quick thoughts…
    First, as to sneaking into the temple with someone else’s recommend; my understanding is that this has indeed happened, on plenty of occasions, and is what prompted the barcoded recommends. So, for her to get in, along with her mom – easy. Her mom goes in with her own recommend, several hours early, preferrably with knowledge of when “shift change” would be at the front desk. Then, her sister goes in, with her own recommend. Meets up with mom, mom passes sister her (mom’s) recommend. Sister exits the temple, with her own, and her mom’s recommend, meets up with Barb, gives Barb their mom’s recommend, and they both re-enter, and meet up with mom.
    What I don’t understand is why they don’t just check recommends upon leaving the temple, if that was the problem. I assume that there must have been other issues.
    Also, as to portrayals of other religions being offensive….I am not up on that many religions, I must admit, but none come to mind that have any “secret” ceremonies, other than perhaps Wicca? And I’m sure that those have been displayed in various movies. But I don’t think other Christian religions have secret ceremonies….?

  140. CleverName says:


    The only one that comes immediately to mind for Catholicism is Confession (also called Reconciliation), where you confess your sins to a Priest, often through a veiled window to maintain privacy, and receive instruction on how to repent those sins and achieve absolution. In some parishes, there are group Confessions. The reasoning behind this is that when a parishioner sins, it is impossible to confine the damage only to oneself–by sinning, you have cast a wake that damages others, and you therefore must attempt to Reconcile not only with God, but with the Church in its meaning of The People.

    While I don’t recall that I was ever instructed that this was a tremendously private ritual, it is certainly implied. (You learn about Confession/Reconciliation prior to your First Communion, so for most you be would be no older than 7 or 8–that was some time ago!) If privacy were not maintained, then parishioners could not feel comfortable in fully confessing. If you couldn’t fully confess, you would not be in what we call a “State of Grace” and worthy of receiving other sacraments such as Communion. If the privacy of Confession/Reconciliation were not respected, one would quickly be cut off from full participation in the Catholic Church.

  141. Elphaba, that’s fantastic. Maybe this is the silver lining… I wish you peace and joy on your journey.

  142. MikeInWeHo says:

    Did anybody else notice that there was a Big Love parody on Saturday Night Live this weekend? Pretty funny, imo. It’s more ‘Mormons are polygamists’ silliness, but you have to wonder if it makes the average American (who doesn’t know any Latter-day Saints) more confused about this.

  143. CleverName says:

    Allison (134),

    I must say that the idea of animal sacrifices is startling to me. (I’m not Mormon).

    Oh my.

    Will wait to see if others agree that same is typical of LDS rituals, because frankly, I’m confused and, well, startled!

  144. Cynthia L. says:

    CleverName, Alison was joking about some of the rumors that go around about what happens in temples (orgies, animal sacrifice, you name it). There is absolutely no animal sacrifice in LDS temples.

  145. Cynthia L. says:

    ….and erring on the side of caution perhaps I should explicitly clarify that there are no orgies either. :-)

  146. Re #143 – Don’t worry, they are all just joking around. We don’t do anything whatsoever like that. It’s the whole “well, if people think we’re weird anyway, why not make a bunch of junk up to make our temples seem REALLY weird.” Sorry, they’re just goofing around and unfortunately it’s just making the temple ceremony even more confusing…

  147. #143 – CN, the funniest thing is that nearly everything you might from us that is “joking” we actually have heard from others who think that’s what we do.

    For example, a best-selling novel in the 1800’s featured a heroine who was kept locked in the Salt Lake Temple. She escaped by jumping out of a window into the Great Salt Lake and swimming away. It didn’t seem important to clarify that the lake is miles from the temple, since that would have destroyed the message. When you hear that kind of garbage over and over and over for decades, it’s easy to laugh at the most bizarre claims, like animal sacrifice and orgies.

    It’s both funny and sad, frankly, but if you don’t laugh, you cry.

  148. CleverName says:


    Thanks! I was suspecting trolling, but good to know that it’s a sort of ‘inside joke’ about attacks that have been made in the past.

    Ya got me!:)

    While we’re on popular misconceptions of religions, may I clear one up? This is so misunderstood by non-Catholics and even some Catholics that it grates on me frequently.

    The Immaculate Conception is not synonymous with the Virgin Birth. The Immaculate Conception refers to Mary, who is believed by Catholics to be the only human being conceived without the stain of Original Sin. This is why she was able to be assumed directly into Heaven upon her death, which would not be possible for any other human being. It is also part of why she was an acceptable vessel for the birth of Christ.

    The Virgin Birth refers to the conception of Jesus Christ.

    These two concepts are commonly confused and the term ‘Immaculate Conception” is so misused that the misuse has become most people’s working definition of the term.

    Sorry I don’t have a good joke about it. ;)

    And Catholics do not regularly run about performing exorcisms, either. ;)

  149. Srsly… my agnostic friend who I took to the Draper Temple tour… (and to be honest that really sparked my desire to have a temple recommend again, and the week talking about this confirmed it) she really asked if the baptismal font was where we sacraficed oxen. Not Joking. I quickly cleared that up for her.

  150. Spell Check Elphie, Spell Check.

  151. I’m wondering if KSL television in Salt Lake City aired the CBS Early Show segment with a scene from the second sign at the veil. Given the time difference and that the show isn’t live when it’s broadcast in Utah, I wondered what they did.

    I watched the clip online (after reading about the segment on this thread) and felt like I shouldn’t have even though I’ve been through the temple countless times. My vote is that HBO is clearly sending the one-fingered salute to us.

  152. John Taber says:

    KSL hasn’t been a CBS affiliate since 1995.

  153. #148 – Thank you so much. I had no idea that it referred to Mary. I was also under the impression that it referred to the conception of Jesus Christ in Mary’s womb.

  154. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    Re #128

    CleverName, you certainly didn’t owe me an apology. Your understanding is on the spot, and I wasn’t trying to say that it wasn’t.

    Re # 139

    Carrie, I never would have thought of that, but you’re right, it could be easy to pull off. The barcode scanners need to be programmed to warn of a “repeat entry” if an “exit” has not been scanned!

  155. MinJae Lee says:

    No matter how beautifully it was presented (and this wasn’t that great of a presentation), no matter that it was “researched out the wazoo” to make sure it was accurate (which it wasn’t), no matter that it may have given some people warm and fuzzies – pearls are not to be cast before swine. God has declared these ordinances sacred and not for public display. It is offensive on its face and mocks God and all that is holy and sacred. Remember when Uzzah steadied the arc?

    That said, they only hurt themselves and they don’t even know it. While it sounds patronizing to say so, I sincerely feel sorry for those who chose to do this. They deny themselves so much happiness.

  156. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    Nevertheless, the Book of Abraham, Fascimile #2 contains the following advice on those who discover what “cannot be revealed unto the world; but is to be had in the Holy Temple of God”: ” If the world can find out…, so let it be. Amen.”

  157. Rigel, that is a very good point.

    I’ll admit when I was 12 waiting to do baptisms I got pretty bumbed when I opened up a triple, and the fascimile looked just like it did the day before. I guess I thought just being in the temple was like having a secret decoder ring for the decyphering fascimilies.

  158. Rose Tyler says:

    I should state for the record that I am not LDS. I’m just wondering shouldn’t it be more offensive to Mormans that the show implied that the church was willing to allow a kidnapped child be harmed rather then allow that letter to be become public? I’m also having trouble coming up with another religion that has these super secret, members only ceremonies.

  159. Cynthia L. says:

    I’m just wondering shouldn’t it be more offensive to Mormans that the show implied that the church was willing to allow a kidnapped child be harmed rather then allow that letter to be become public?

    Rose, that implication is so far-fetched that it can’t really cause offense. If somebody were to “insult” me by mocking me for being short, I would just laugh. (I am quite tall)

  160. You’re not that tall.

  161. re: super secret, members only ceremonies, I’m actually having trouble coming up with a religion that doesn’t have them, now that I think about it.

  162. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 160
    Can you elaborate on that, Steve?

  163. Mike, it just seems to me that every religion at some level has private ceremonies only for the initiated.

  164. One prominent example: The Pope is selected in absolute secrecy. The Catholic Church takes great steps to prevent electronic listening, the cardinals are searched for cell phones, they burn the ballots. Also the breaking of the Pope’s ring is done privately.

    Scientology has many rituals which are kept for members.

    Those two come to mind off the top of my head.

  165. How about the Mikvah? Is that a private ceremony?

  166. There is another one. Mikvah is done with a female witness to ensure it is done correctly. While some Mikvah’s are public, the adoption of children for instance, for the ritual clensing after a woman’s period it is done in private.

    Another obvious one: While not religions Masons, fraternitys and sororities all have ceremonies kept for members only. Another famous example of this would be the Skull and Bones society at Yale, their rituals are extremely secret.

  167. Some googling found a whole lot more secret societies.

    Being from CA and UT, The only one I had ever heard of is Skull and Bones.

    Another point, while they do it publicly, Muslims keep Mecca for themselves. They go to Mecca to worship, learn, and be with other Muslims, and to complete one of the pillars of their faith.
    Other that it being public… sound like any other place we know?

  168. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 162
    Fair enough, but I think the temple is unique nonetheless. Does anything else really compare?

  169. Not to me, but I’m prejudiced in favor of the temple.

  170. I’m with MCQ. I’m a Kappa Alpha alumna, and the temple rituals mean much more to me. Although I’d never disclose either ceremony, only in the temple did I covenant with Heavenly Father.

  171. Steve Evans says:

    Mike, if you mean in terms of layers of secrecy, etc., yes I do think there are other religions with similar features, and even some that surpass Mormonism in secrecy. I think of some Shinto shrines where none can enter, or the Kaa’ba of Islam. Judaism also has similarly private rituals. The temple is unique in that all worthy members can participate, whereas in some religions there is no access at all. But they all have layers.

  172. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    I was visiting the Hopi village of First Mesa 10 years ago. It is a historic pueblo on the top of a ridge. I drove up to the top and parked, planning to walk around. I was approached by a Native American woman and was told rather bluntly that they were planning to hold a ceremonial event, that the entire Mesa was closed to outsiders and that I would have to leave. I wonder if there would be an outcry if HBO broadcast their sacred ceremonies?

  173. Speaking of secrecy, our family scripture reading this morning was Matthew 6. It reminded me of how important secrecy in certain things is to the Lord Jesus Christ.

  174. Rose Tyler says:

    I wouldn’t compare secret societies or frats to religion personally. Besides most every ceremony listed above has been fictionalized in TV or movies in one way or the other except maybe the Scientology ones. I thought the Temple ceremony in this episode did a very good job of showing what Barb was going to miss. I would guess that the average fewer until that point just didn’t get what Barb was so upset about.

  175. Peter LLC says:

    So, wait, this isn’t the forum to announce my plans to double my tithing contributions this year?

  176. Go ahead!

  177. Rose Tyler says:


    Has anyone read “Under the Banner of Heaven” by John Krakauer(he also wrote Into the Wild and Into Thin Air)? It’s a pretty detailed and well researched book about the both fundamental and nonfundamental Morman beliefs and such. It’s a very good read and very insightful at least for outsiders.

  178. Julie M. Smith says:
  179. Steve Evans says:

    Rose, you’ve been traveling with The Doctor for too long. Julie is correct.

  180. While the Hopi go back and forth about letting outsiders witness kachina dances (and I’ve been privileged to witness two in my lifetime), the kiva ceremonies are certainly secret. I think this is certainly comparable to depicting either a kachina dance or a kiva ceremony inaccurately, and I’d be just as disappointed and saddened with that as I am this.

  181. #180 is probably the best example I’ve seen. It would be unthinkable for those ceremonies to be broadcast to the public, no matter how “respectfully” it was done.

  182. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    The language used in these descriptions of the Hopi Ceremonies from a website is language that I can relate to in terms of why respect requires keeping things sacred.

    “Each year the Hopi Peoples of the area of the Four Corners in the southwest of the USA, perform nine religious ceremonies that are ancient rituals, strange and seemingly barbaric to modern society. The ceremonies are so complex that a non-Hopi would have to study for years to be able to fathom the meaning of the preparations, the rituals, the spirituality instilled in them and the faith derived from them, yet the simplicity of the concept is so profoundly beautiful.”

    “So much faith and perfection is put into these ceremonies that even one slip of the tongue in a recitation, one omission of a word, one stumble in a dance, can discredit the performer and bring misfortune for the entire village and a failed crop for the year – then all is in vain, all the time-honored preparations and ancient wisdom is wasted. Even the wrong thoughts, evil thinking, will be known to the spirit beings and all is lost. These ceremonies are to dramatize the universal laws of life and they unfold the Hopi Road of Life, therefore must be performed without mishap.”

    “The most important part of all ceremonies is the Kiva, an underground chamber where the rituals are held by the priests of the clans who had the authority to conduct the religious ceremonies. The kiva represents the world below, from whence the people emerged. The kiva is sunk deep into Mother Earth, symbolic of the womb, is cylindrical and large enough to hold several clans.”

  183. It’s not just Hopis. I am Native American and live in New Mexico-all of the Pueblos here have secret ceremonies for the initiated only, with oftentimes several priestly societies that oversee their proper practice.
    I can’t believe I didn’t remember to make this point earlier, but a San Juan Pueblo man who became a professor of anthropology at the University of New Mexico, Alfonso Ortiz, wrote a book entitled _The Tewa World: Space, Time, Being and Becoming in a Pueblo Society_ in teh late 1960s. In this book, he essentially gave away the details of sacred, SECRET, Pueblo religious ceremonies and was ostracized by Pueblo peoples for the rest of his life. Look it up online for the entire story. Very interesting parallels to this whole story…

  184. Rose Tyler says:

    Well, Steve I suppose years of time travel ending with being dumped in an alternative universe with a clone version of the man I love who of course is actually an alien will do that to a person.
    I suppose the whole Temple ceremony scene uproar thingy is just a hard concept for me to grasp because I have nothing to relate it to. My faith doesn’t have an secret ceremonies. In fact we pride ourselves on being open and inviting, not that Morman’s don’t. Well, I guess I don’t really know.

  185. Um, and really, aren’t we overlooking the biggest secret ceremony? And it applies to anyone of Judeo/Christian faith. At the Temple in Jerusalem during Jesus’ lifetime, wasn’t on the highest priest allowed into the Holy of Holies? No one else? Am I mistaken?

  186. MikeInWeHo says:

    Complete tangent:

    Somebody should run a liveblog thread during the final episode of Battlestar Galactica this Friday evening. That would way cool.

  187. Mike, I think Kulturblog is planning on something like that.

  188. I’ll be liveblogging the whole fracking thing on Kulturblog, yes.

  189. Rose Tyler says:

    There’s goign to be a live blog for Battlestar Galactica on entertainment weekly’s website as well. More of a tangent: any Lost fans?

  190. Rose, also see Kulturblog (top left sidebar). Religion-free!

  191. Rose Tyler says:

    Will do thanks! I find the religion stuff interesting, if you don’t mind me sticking around.

  192. Rose, just don’t call Steve names. You’ve been warned. *grin*

  193. I’m not a member of LDS and I am a fan of Big Love. I just wanted to say that I’m sorry that they chose to air something that your church feels is sacred and private, and that, from the point of view of someone who is not Mormon, I didn’t feel that they depicted it to be weird or sinister or uncaring in any way. I thought it showed how beautiful and meaningful that ritual was to the character. I appreciated the glimpse of what the LDS church holds sacred, even if I regret how the glimpse came to be. I guess I just wanted to say that not everyone who watches the show is looking for a ‘freakshow’ or enjoying any finger-pointing for differences in religion. My experiences with the LDS church have always been warm and caring and I was happy to see that the show didn’t vilify the church.

  194. John Hamer says:

    Well, I finally got to watch the episode half a week late. So I missed the debate, but I’m showing up at the end anyway to say that I disagree with essentially everyone, except CleverName (73, 92).

    Although folks on the thread (prior to comment #93) took the phrase “taking out my endowments” as their jumping off point and then misinterpreted from there, it’s very clear from the episode that Barb isn’t going to the temple for the first time. She is going back for the first time since becoming an independent fundamentalist Mormon. She wants to re-experience the comfort she once felt there, because it’s something that she values and is important to her, and she’s losing it for all eternity. If it were her first time, she would have been freaked out rather than comforted; she wouldn’t have known the words, etc. It wouldn’t make any sense at all.

    I also disagree with everyone who thought the scene was gratuitous. It’s only gratuitous if you think temple work is gratuitous. They’re trying to illustrate why it’s such a big deal to Barb to be excommunicated from a church that she believes is in a condition of apostasy. If it’s in apostasy, what’s the big deal? It’s a big deal because Barb’s testimony of fundamentalist Mormonism is something that’s growing, but the only thing it’s built on is personal faith in her husband, her family, and herself — their personal beliefs. The LDS Church, by contrast, stands upon a vast institutional foundation. Barb has traded that security for the whirlwind and the last lifeline back to bedrock is being severed by the excommunication.

    I think the show went out of its way to portray temple work as incredibly crucial and sacred. This is something that could easily be mocked. (I should note here that although I’m a kind of Mormon, I have never participated in the LDS endowment ceremony.) Ritual clothing and liturgy are not things that regular Americans do much in their daily lives. There was a refrain on a separate thread where commenters were agreeing with each other over and over that is absolutely not about doing something that’s embarrassing. I don’t buy that protest. Stripped of its context, the endowment is embarrassing. But as it has done with so many other Mormon beliefs, Big Love put temple work into a context that shows its importance to the faithful.

    Far from jumping the shark, I think the show is just now coming into its own this season. Big Love was a little problematic in the first season because it had such a hands-off attitude towards Mormonism (in the broad sense, i.e., not just LDSism). When the writers were just dipping their little toes in, you wondered why these people even became polygamists. Now that the writers have jumped into the pool, the characters’ motivations and the episodes’ storylines are richer.

  195. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    Thanks for the perspective John. I’m not a watcher of the program and likely won’t become one, so I’m glad to hear that your impression was positive. The colloquial term “take out your endowments” in my LDS experience is almost always used in connection with someone going to the temple for the first time. When doing an endowment for the dead, people usually just say, “I’m going to the temple”, or “I’m going to do an endowment session.”

    For the LDS watcher, hearing her wording as “taking out my endowments” would make them assume it was her first time. It could be that their advisor on the temple was a little off, or that the term “taking out my endowments” had a more bizarre quality to add to the drama.

    Her later comment in the church disciplinary counsel, when asked if she was wearing the garment, “Are you asking me about my underwear?” would also insinuate that she was new to the concept of the garment enough to have to make sure she was understanding the question correctly. This would further confuse an LDS viewer. Perhaps her asking of this question, however, was a dramatic way of telling the audience that garment = underwear.

    I still wonder about the point of the black altar cover that I’ve heard about. There are enough pictures of LDS temple alters around to know that black would be unusual. Was it to contrast with the white scriptures that were on it or was it just a way to make her experience seem darker?

  196. MikeInWeHo says:

    I don’t think the ‘black’ alter cover people saw on TV was actually black on the set. Ditto the aprons that looked teal blue, not green. My sense is the colors didn’t ‘read’ the way they intended. The whole scene was oddly lit. Could the alter cover be some deep color like plum or blue?

    Like John, I’ve never been in a temple except for two open-house visits. I agree with him that the scene was quite powerful and beautiful from an outsider’s perspective.

    The show is much better this season, and my sense is that ratings are up too. I wonder if Latter-day Saints might be able to squeeze this lemon and make some lemonaide. Invite the non-member neighbors over to watch it together?

    Pete and I watch the show together and always seem to have an interesting conversation about religious topics afterward. This is a topic he would normally have no interest in.

  197. Left Field says:

    Thanks for your comments, John. Since I’m the only one who called it gratuitous, I guess I’m the “everyone” that you disagree with. I should say that I haven’t seen the episode; my comment was in response to Kevin’s description. The reason it seemed gratuitous to me was that most of the stuff inside the temple seemed fairly accurate, while the storyline that led us into the temple seemed (by Kevin’s description) mostly incomprehensible. That muddled story is what gave me the impression that the plot was just cobbled together without much thought except to try to figure out a way to show Barb in the temple.

    The distinction between Barb “taking out her endowments” and her taking out someone else’s endowments by proxy is crucial to the plot. It does make sense now that that was probably just an error in the script vocabulary, but that one error evidently made the story completely baffling to Mormons. But even recognizing that as a script error, there still seemed to be numerous problems with the plot. The logistics of getting two people into the temple on one recommend is another issue that made the plot seem poorly thought out. And the response to Barb’s request to borrow a recommend is puzzling. What does the length of time since the change in the endowment have to do with anything? If it had been longer would it be ok to loan out a recommend? Were they reluctant to loan the recommend somehow because the ceremony had changed since Barb had last been to the temple? I really don’t get that at all. If a polygamist asked to borrow my recommend, the length of time since the last revision of the ceremony would be the last thing I would think of to justify my refusal.

    The plot perhaps makes more sense if you’ve seen it (and maybe I should have kept my mouth shut rather than commenting solely on Kevin’s description), but the description given here certainly makes it sound like the story is a pretty weak excuse for why we ended up seeing the endowment in this episode.

    So anyway, I suppose I should defer in my judgment to someone who’s actually seen the show.

  198. Well John Hamer, I always love your voice and I respect your p.o.v., and since I’m the one who call the shark jumpage, I will consider carefully what you have offered.

    I have been surprised at the good response by people online who found it beautiful. Other than in my own family, the fallout seems negligible, and what there is seems mostly neutral or positive.

  199. John Hamer has jumped the shark if he has adopted NL’s “LDSism” — that’s offensive, John.

  200. Steve Evans says:

    Ardis, NL?

  201. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    I’m thinking I might have to watch it after all to gather my own interpretation. I had hesitated to do this as I always declined the opportunity to watch The Godmakers because I didn’t want to be participating in an uplifting temple session and then have images of a enacted portrayal of the endowment cross my mind. It sounds like I could watch this episode and not carry that with me. I haven’t carried the portrayal from the September Dawn movie with me and it focused on the unprepared unconverted being coerced into strange rites by a domineering fanatical father. Barbs experience sounds a far cry from that (even if they disclosed a very sacred token).

  202. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 200
    Nick Literski, I assume.

    But agreed, LDS-ism is an offensive expression. It always rubs me the wrong way.
    Why can’t we all just label ourselves?
    Personally, I prefer Urning.

  203. John Hamer says:

    Ardis (#199): If you and all other members of the LDS Church agree to always use the terms “Mormon” and “Mormonism” inclusively, so that you include me, the fundamentalist Mormons, and every member of every other branch of the religion, then I won’t be called upon to continually explain that there’s more than one kind of Mormon and that there’s more to Mormonism than The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Thomas Monson).

  204. John Hamer says:

    Left Field (#197): It wasn’t just you, but it might have just been you on this thread. On MormonMentality, DKL said “Was the portrayal of the ceremony essential to the plot? Not by a long shot.” Other people made similar comments without using the word “gratuitous.” The “taking out my endowments” phrase is a super precise detail, which obviously you folks (as real insider insiders) get. That was clearly a mistake and that slight snafu of phrasing led to the misinterpretation here. There’s no doubt Barb had previously been endowed. She’d been to the temple many times back when she was active LDS and she wore garments back then. The back and forth about garments in the excommunication scene was not realistic; it was a simplification for the show’s non-Mormon audience.

    In terms of the temple recommend, this is the most bizarre and unrealistic aspect. We don’t have to imagine that they got in using the original plan of borrowing a recommend; we don’t know how they got in. That’s not important and they left what happened out. What we do know is that Barb not only got in (not particularly hard to imagine, lots of people who aren’t worthy have gotten into the temple) but also brought her active LDS mother and sister. That’s more unlikely! I think Barb’s mother might have gone along with the idea because she’s an ultra-liberal feminist Mormon. Her character is essentially one of the 1970s activists who founded Dialogue and Sunstone. I think she might have been willing to concoct some ruse to get Barb into the temple and go along with it herself in order to try to win her back to the LDS Church. Winning her daughter back is that important to her. But for Barb’s snide sister, the wife of a GA? It’s hard to imagine she would participate. On the other hand, her sister’s character too an extreme turn that episode, so we have to see where she’s going. I’d say that her sister’s participation was totally unlikely, but conceivable, lacking further information/development.

  205. John Hamer says:

    Tracy (#198): I love you and I’m sorry that you’ve had so much turmoil with your family over Mormonism. We had the same experience in my family 7 generations ago. My great great great great great grandfather George Christman was the son of German immigrants, a War of 1812 veteran, and a proud believer in 19th century US secular republicanism. His son and granddaughter (my great great great grandmother Eliza Jane) converted to Mormonism in 1841. George Christman was furious, but there was nothing he could do to persuade them not to abandon the family and its traditions. They finally moved away to Nauvoo and as they left, George impotently yelled after them “Don’t take my name to Mormondom!” They honored his request and changed their last name from “Christman” to “Crismon” and the family was split apart forever.

  206. John Hamer says:

    Tracy (#198 cont.): As I posted that, I realized that’s not a happy ending for the story. The story of my family and Mormonism is much more complicated as it continues on through the generations. I’ll blog about it at some point. The hopeful advice I can give is to do what my family in the present does: put family first; remember that family is more important than church. That’s how I get along fantastically with my active LDS relatives. Your parents may not be willing to do that any more than George Christman was, but you can definitely have that in mind for your own immediate family.

  207. Kokaubeam says:

    #128- Good point about most other mainstream religions not being good analogs to explain why this scene is a bit offensive to us. The only examples I can think of are from the time I lived in Lebanon, where there are several religions, the Druze and the Alawi, who have a sacred inner caste which performs rituals not for public consumption. The difference is they don’t convert, so no one exposes them, while us Mormons are shameless proselyters ;)

  208. Years ago, before the scanner cards, I once used my grandmothers temple recommend to get in.

    Now before everyone passes out, it was after going out to the grounds to take pictures after getting married, and even though fully warned to not forget it, what does a new bride with no pockets in her wedding dress do? Forgets her recommend inside her locker.

    I nearly had a panic attack over it outside. And the person I would least think would do so handed me hers and told me to relax and go get changed. Now my aunt, my other grandma, friends present, I’d could see them doing that. But that particular grandmother, not a chance, it showed me a side of her I never had seen before, and I loved her the more for it.

    Now, she did not try to get back in, and I’m sure the gentlemen at the door didn’t look too close at the recommend of a new bride. Got in with no problems.

    To me the whole thing of Barb, her mother AND her sister being in there makes no sense. I could see one of them, but not the other.

  209. Rose Tyler says:

    The real question is, who will be watching tonight? I will. I really can’t wait to see how all the craziness of this season ends.

  210. Kevin Barney says:

    OK, the finale just started. I’ll post if there is anything relevant to mainstream Mormonism.

    One thing I hadn’t noticed in the opening where they showed scenes from last week. When Barb was exommunicated, the SP or clerk or whoever told her that she no longer had any blessings in the “Church of the Latter-day Saints.” That’s a pretty major goof; no Mormon would misstate the name of the Church in such a way–particularly one that anti-Mormons like to use to remove “Jesus Christ” from the name of the Church.

  211. Kev, you ought to liveblog it every week. new post, says I.

  212. Rose Tyler says:

    So do you guys watch the show for entertainment purposes or strictly as watchdogs(to offense meant please)?

  213. Kevin Barney says:

    Bill is talking to the SP who exd Barb. He has offered an endowment to BYU to have Barb reinstated. The SP says he very much doubts the church would accept such an endowment, but Bill asks him to convey the offer anyway.

    Roman just told Bill that they’ve been forging documents on old paper and home made ink for years and selling them to the church. He is claiming that the polygamy document is a fake.

    Now there are two men from the church at Bill’s store who want to talk about his offer of an endowment for BYU, but Bill is too involved in trying to retrieve his kidnapped niece.

  214. Kevin Barney says:

    Rose, I watch it for entertainment.

  215. Kevin Barney says:

    Also, Albie had his wife make a bomb to try to kill Roman. He’s just now leaving it by the hotel room where he thinks Roman is. A maid runs over it, and it explodes. The maid and Albie get hurt in the blast. Roman wasn’t there. (Shades of Hofmann.)

  216. Kevin Barney says:

    Bill offered the Church 5 percent of the casino revenues for an endowment for BYU. He said his BIL was an impediment, and the church said they could make it go away. So the BIL is now cut out of the casino deal.

    Now Bill is claiming the keys and organizing a new church with his family. He’s giving the sacrament prayer and blessing the sacrament–something they hadn’t been doing because they weren’t organized and didn’t have keys. (Roman had told him that you’ve got to take the keys from God.)

    (So now they’re taking the sacrament, one by one. Meantime, it looks like Joey is trying to kill Roman. It looks like Roman is dead.)

    Nicki just arrived with her daughter; they snuck out of the compound. (She had had to leave her behind many years ago–it was the only way she could escape.

    The sacrament scene was really nice, actually.

  217. Rose Tyler says:

    I really enjoy your live blogs. I am really glad I stumbled unpon them.

  218. Does this episode imply that the Church is accepting the offer of casino revenue to reinstate Barb?

  219. Kevin Barney says:

    Ray, I got the impression that they’re accepting the endowment but with no quid pro quo concerning reinstating Barb. I guess we won’t know for sure until next season.

  220. John Hamer says:

    It was an exciting episode.

  221. wow, which is worse, making the church out as money-grabbers, or showing the endowment?

  222. CleverName says:

    @Jerry (153)-You are welcome! I’m glad that you found it interesting to understand the concept, and you are certainly not alone in misunderstanding the difference between the Immaculate Conception and the Virgin Birth. I think it benefits us all to understand other faiths and I am also thankful that the folks here have been so helpful and patient in helping me to understand theirs.

    @Nigel (154)-Thank you. I just worry that I may inadvertently offend due to limited knowledge!

    @ephelba(162) -Excellent example! Not one that most Catholics will ever participate in, but you are correct!

    @John-While I am glad that you felt my comments were helpful, I’m not sure that we are in complete agreement.

    @ (couldn’t find the post, but it was regarding Under the Banner Of Heaven)- I read this book when it came out. The book seems to be very misunderstood. Granted, I haven’t re-read it since its release, but the premise of the book was to explore the ways in which fundamentalism often leads to violence. Early in the book the author explains why he wrote the book and that he could have chosen ANY religion’s fundamentalist sect to prove the point. It was not intended to be construed as an encyclopedic understanding of any one religion.

    That said, I can certainly understand why it was offensive to many.

    Years after reading the book, I have two main impressions:

    1) I had no idea prior to reading it how instrumental Mormons were in settling the western regions of the US.

    2) In the very last pages of the book, some interesting questions about how to reconcile faith with a modern world were raised.

    I guess I may not have a point here, other than that I did not take the book to be an authority on LDS, and that it raised some interesting questions on faith in general in modern times.

  223. CleverName says:

    Regarding the finale:

    -How do members of the LDS Church typically celebrate Communion? Was the portrayal borrowing from your traditions? Or completely fictionalized? (As a Catholic, the idea of chewing Communion almost knocked me off my couch!)

    -It seems clear now that the Henricksons are off on their own version of faith, although I thought that was clear all along. They’ve simply articulated it.

    -The show has also finally articulated that churches in all the forms expressed on the show are being used as an analogy for power and of the difficulty in identifying just power from unjust. (Roman was clearly identified as a false prophet, and Bill identified himself as a Prophet.) Power can be used to help or can be abused and cause immeasurable pain. I can see two sides to this: one, members of LDS may be horribly offended because the Church is depicted as one more corrupted power; and two, as raising questions about how power can be justly and respectfully used in order to perform greater service.

    It seems likely that Bill will fail, given all the flaws he’s demonstrated over the course of the show and his own lust for power in and of itself. On one hand that can be a highly offensive idea, but on the other, it can illuminate the struggle that many people share in distinguishing their own wants and needs from the responsibilities of their faith.

  224. John Hamer says:

    CleverName (222): Is anyone on BCC in complete agreement?

    (223): The sacrament (communion) ceremony was pretty reasonable. Bill edited the traditional prayers on the bread and water together, which LDS people don’t do, but I’ve been to other Mormon services (for example, the Community of Christ) where they do both together. (Community of Christ also uses “wine” [actually grape juice] instead of “water”.)

    The Hendricksons have always been independent fundamentalist Mormons, but in realizing he holds all the keys, Bill has taken a step toward organizing his own Mormon church.

  225. CleverName says:

    I’m surprised that no one here mentioned it, but following last week’s episode, Mark Blankenship at the Huffington Post wrote a very sensitive review of the episode and how uncomfortable it was to watch as a non-Mormon. Here’s an excerpt:

    “Of course the depiction of corrupt church officials seems more volatile to me than the fictionalized portrayal of a ceremony that I don’t believe in. I can relate to the negative ramifications of corruption more easily than the revelation of the endowment ceremony. But for a practicing member of the LDS church, I can absolutely understand why pulling back the curtain on something sacred would mean more than dissing some guy behind a fancy oak table. The Mormon leaders are merely human, so a stain on them is a stain on one person. The ceremony is holy, so a stain on it is like a stain on God.

    Thinking about it this way, I feel sullied by what was shown. It’s the same way I felt when I saw a performance of a Native American tribal ritual as a teenager. Everyone is demeaned when something so powerful is put on display as entertainment. Or at least they are when the ritual is designed to be private. I don’t think it demeans Christianity, for instance, to show fictional Baptist preachers on television, because the ethos of Christianity is so often about creating public declarations of faith… of not keeping the “good news” to one’s self.

    But from my understanding, that’s not how Mormons work. They’re not public worshippers, and so by forcing them to become public in this scene, Big Love may have crossed a line. Like my friend, I’m not sure there is any aesthetic achievement that can be worth so much hurt.

    Sigh. ”

  226. Rose Tyler says:

    The end scene of the communion was very touching. I found myself tearing up. It was actually pretty close to how my church does it, though we use grape juice. We also do it every Sunday which I know is un usual. I thought this was a very good episode and a very exciting way to end the season. I found the Sarah and Scott storyline very touching. I thought Bill handled it well and Barb overreacted. I also liked that we , and Barb, finally got insight into why Nikki is the way she is. It will be interesting to see how that storyline plays out next season.

  227. Cynthia L. says:

    CleverName, that was a great piece. It was featured in our Sideblog (top left of the page) links. I thought he did a good job explaining why many view the temple scene as an offense that eclipses other slights against the church (depicted as rude, corrupt, etc), which is something that most outsiders don’t seem to have the framework to grasp.

  228. CleverName says:


    Thank you so much for your insights, discussion and education these last months as we’ve all delved into BigLove.

    I really appreciate your welcome and your thoughtful analyses!

%d bloggers like this: