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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Mormons

So, i finally watched the pbs documentary about mormons...
what did you guys think?
i had a few friends/family members say that they felt it wasnt fair. i disagree. i think it was fair. i think they did an excellent job. i think (and hope?) anyone watching it with an open mind would see it from that neutral perspective.
some of the things were hard to swallow, but, i wouldnt want to pretend or lie or cover it up.

1. mountain meadows massacre. i must admit a few years ago, i saw a history channel documentary on this that went more in depth, and did NOT do the mormons any justice. at that time, it left a bad taste in my mouth... but after thinking about it and coming to grips with the fact it happened... does it rock my testimony knowing that some mormons participated in such a brutal massacre? no, not any more than it would rock my testimony if my mormon bishop had an affair with a relief society president. even if the conspiracy went higher up in the church... i think those early mormon settlers were a people who had been brutalized and forced out of every place they went. they were suffering and had no trust in any outsiders for good reason... whatever happened, (although completely NOT justified or excused) it happened. fine. i am sorry for the victims, and i am sorry for the tragedy. i am sorry that humans are humans - capable of such fear and violence.

2. Joseph Smith. He was human. i have been exposed to lots of anti-mormon sentiment in the last few years - especially about Joseph Smith. at first, i started to doubt the whole thing. but then, i realized that the message can still be true, even if the messenger is not perfect. no man is perfect - only Jesus. so, we can find faults and dig up all the nasty things about a person, but if the message is true, does it matter if the messenger made a mistake or two along the way? does it change the validity of the message? Christ himself (John 4:7-42) taught a Samaritan woman (who had been sleeping around - VERY NOT PERFECT) and she went and told others and they in turn came to Christ. did it matter that she was not perfect? was the message she brought them somehow not true because a sortof 'harlot' delivered it? perhaps he gives his message to not-so-perfect people because it can test the faith of those who hear it?
Perhaps we can look for a parallel. just like Christ was born in a stable - the King of Kings - not born in some awesome clean castle somewhere - but in a stable. who would believe the Son of God would be born in some lowly stable?
Joseph Smith was the person in the latter days that restored the Gospel. he wasnt some king or well-spoken educated professor. he didnt have a lot of money. why would God restore his Gospel through him?
why would he let a woman who had been sleeping around testify of him?
why was paul a great apostle? why was alma a great missionary? need i say more?
He doesnt use the rich and powerful - he uses poor sinners.
so, when someone tries to tell me Joseph was a crazy gold digger or a sex addict... bring it on - wether it was true or not. actually, i would rather not hear it. i dont want to know. i dont care. i just think the message is true. by their fruits ye shall know them. look at what he started. i dont think anyone can argue with that - something good came from him, and he was a wonderful man!

3. Intellectuals. i think the Gospel embraces all truth. i have never felt like i would be shunned if i went searching for truth. i think the excommunicated people they interviewed were fair, but skewed their experiences. i dont think they could really be good mormons if they were trying to debunk the leaders of the church or protest about feministic views and the priesthood. maybe they didnt really want to be mormon anymore? maybe they had already lost their faith? The account of the lady who tried to make it look like she was a victim of widespread church sensorship - i couldn't take that seriously at all. where was the interview of the stake president who presided over that excommunication meeting? i think people are ex'd because they make mistakes or are blatantly disobedient - i thought excommunication was a means to bring about repentance. give them an opportunity to humble themselves, regain their testimony and be rebaptized?

all in all, i felt it was fair. maybe someone who watched it with questions about the mormons (like the lady i visit with at gymnastics) was able to get a glimpse of my faith and its history and culture.

perhaps my ramblings appear to excuse bad behavior - i dont. i think the prophets that have led our church are GREAT, honest, spiritual men. i think they listened and heeded promptings of the Spirit and built a great church. i think the Gospel is the message preached by this church - the Gospel Christ himself taught. i feel lucky and blessed to be a part of such a wonderful thing!


The Farnsworth Family said...

I LOVED this post Emily. I agree with you. PBS wasn't going to do a documentary suggesting that they had found the true church. They were giving information from all perspectives about the Mormons good and bad. I wasn't sure at first how I felt, but something someone said at the gym veered my opinion towards a "fair" conclusion about the documentary.
An elderly man that has talked to me and my friends a lot of times about the gospel came up to me and asked if I had watched the great documentary about the Mormons? I said I had and he said he really was impressed with the documentary and began to ask many more questions.
Just like those interviewed have skewed opinions about the do we. We watch it with a "momma bear" approach. We believe in it and are therefore offended if people try to diminish our belief or demean those that do believe. It is a blow to our intelligence. All in all I thought it was good. It wasn't a testimony strengthener for me, but it didn't hurt mine either. It was a somewhat objective look at the church. That is all we should have hoped for...and that is what we got.

Jennifer said...

Great post. My opinion...if it gets people talking, asking questions, wanting to know more....GREAT! I love that it has given both you and stephanie the opportunity with those at the gym and at gymnastics to share your testimony and what you believe. I think that is so neat you guys live in Texas where eveyone on your cul-de-sac isn't mormon and you do have the chance to talk about what you know is true. I miss that about my mission. Sad to say I haven't even handed out ONE Book of Mormon since I got home 10 years ago!!

Birchall Family said...

Love the post! For everytime they said one little good thing they followed it with 10 bad. I agree with Steph, I watched it with a momma bear approach and was kinda bugged..but I think if anything it got people talking about the church and I think it will lead to a lot more missionary moments for us all.

Jennifer said...

p.s. I actually did hand out "ONE" Book of Mormon. To Jack when he started Sunbeams this year:) Does that count?

Emily R said...

yes!!! of course that counts!!! ask me if i have handed one out?? ummm.... i have had lots of interesting conversations w/neighbors and people i meet everywhere, but i havent handed one out... um, i am a bad missionary!

tara said...

momma bear, thats the best way to describe it! I too, was bugged after watching it. It's the first time I've ever been seriously provoked to the point that I started to wonder. But then the next am I reaffirmed that I do have a testimony, and to consider the source. I was really annoyed when they said (and I quote) "The Mormons turned their backs on America and headed west" ExCuSe Me?! They had been persecuted to the point that they had no other choice (because who would WILLINGLY just start trekking off in the middle of winter?)

I don't know all the details of why the mountain meadow massacre occurred, but I could see some testosterone charged men getting fired up about whe way they've been persecuted, and having a "now it's our turn" kind of attitude. Doesn't make it right for sure, but like you said, Em, it's an organization with leaders who are mortal and plenty of the membership who all make mistakes and are human. The church is perfect in it's organization and authority, but the people certainly are not!

Amy said...

I feel so pumped after reading this being at a mormon pep rally! I am not an extremely reverent person so you won't be seeing me type out my testimony...but it is true! Thanks for sharing it with rock and are my hero:) Seriously!

Heather said...

I absolutely LOVE this post! It echos my sentiments, only I haven't put it into words. Brilliant post!

P.S. I found your blog via Amy's blog! :)