I saw you.
About a week ago many of us started sharing last night's upcoming promotional video about Rock Center's report on "Mormon in America". Granted, the promo video highlighted a segment in the piece that was done very well -- the tour of Welfare Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. So we all immediately assumed that the entire, hour-long report, was going to be great! Our anticipation was high, thinking that finally someone was going to represent what being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was genuinely all about -- for the vast majority of faithful Mormons, who live it everyday!
Did they succeed? Well, that depends on who you talk to... Overall, the general consensus, taking all things into consideration, was positive -- for most. Some were outright enraged, however, that the temple garment was displayed with zero regard to how members would feel having something, to them, so sacred, strewn across the screen for all of America to behold! I do understand this reaction. It feels like you've been violated. I had a similar response the first time I saw the garment being displayed, online, by anti-Mormons. I'm now kind of immune, although I shouldn't be, as I've accepted that this is the world in which we live -- little respect for religious worship and beliefs. So we press on...
There have been no shortage of reactions, by members of the Church, to "Mormon in America". In fact, hours before I was able to watch it, here on the west coast, friends in earlier viewing time zones, were sharing real-time feedback. And from what I was hearing, at that point, not favorable. It seems that it took a while, after a bit of discussion, to decide that most of us are pretty okay with how it all ultimately went down. But can I just sneak in, that my favorite response to the showing of the temple garment was the suggestion that if they must show it, could they please use one of our newer styles? That just made me chuckle -- and of course was intended to be humorous.
In the middle of it all, I decided to ask the question on my WBMW Facebook Page: ( If you haven't already, you should LIKE it :)
QUESTION? To those of you who watched or are planning to watch the NBC special *Mormons in America*, I'd be curious to know what you thought about it? Tell me what you liked and what you didn't like....
Feel free to check out their responses HERE -- very thoughtful.
And including other places around the Internet, the discussions boiled down to basically these general thoughts:
General negatives, with a few critiques:
Definitely number ONE -- Did not like that they showed the temple garment.
Did not like that someone, pretty much clueless about the garment, and the temple endowment, was allowed to comment about it, and other facets about Mormonism, of which she has removed herself. Did not like that she was given "authority" status. It was suggested that it would have been better to take those same questions to an actual Church authority -- like an apostle.
Did not like that they interviewed people from both extremes of Mormonism: From dissident, less-active members, to the extreme orthodox member. (Those who read scriptures for 30 minutes a day, as a family-- and still see drinking Coke as a no-no, to be embarrassed about.)
Did not appreciate former Mormons being a representation of what it means to be "Mormon in America". If this was a show to represent those who have left the Church, then certainly their experiences could be considered valid. Although most agreed that they were touched by the former member, who served a mission, now in the Book of Mormon Play -- and the respect that he showed his parents. Some even saying that they wanted to hug him.
Would have preferred to hear more voices of Mormonism, that the majority of active Mormons feel would better represent their faith. There seems to be a great lack in proper representation of normal Mormons, in the media.
Did not like that the policy on same-sex marriage and homosexuality was not defined from the position of the Church, when the issue was presented.
Did not like that a feminist Mormon woman was presented as a spokesperson for the Church, or worse, to represent the vast majority of Mormon women who have no problem with equality in the Church -- at least that's how it came across.
Would loved to have seen a segment on the humanitarian efforts of the Church -- and yet we realize this was supposed to be about the Mormon people themselves.
Tired of seeing baptism for the dead brought up.
Positives that definitely outweigh much of the negative, with a few suggestions:
Tour of Welfare Square and accompanying interviews, seen as glowing! Many really liked how the principle of self-reliance was taught, and how we help those in need -- by giving them the opportunity to work and receive employment services to improve their lives -- versus receiving handouts. No victims allowed.
Loved the family they chose to interview.
Did like that the Mormon family interviewed was of a mixed race marriage. The husband was positive example of how Black Mormons, today, have moved beyond the concerns of the previous Priesthood ban.
Mention of fast offerings -- a positive. Perhaps they could have brought in more about tithing to try and clear up some misconceptions -- though we know that wasn't the purpose of the program.
Interview with a current Bishop of the Church.
Liked how the Mormon ethic of work was presented. Return missionaries are able to use skills learned on mission to better their communities. Missions are a great experience.
Showing the cooperative nature of how members serve in the Church.
Brief intro of Joseph Smith and founding of the Church -- well done, but would like to have heard more about the importance of current Prophet and what that means in the lives of our members.
Happy that polygamy was not made a big deal.
Brief explanation of the Book of Mormon -- well done.
It was informative, without being overly negative.
Personally, I pretty much agree with all of the above, but felt there was one BIG miss, if you really want to know about the Mormon people -- and that is the importance of living prophets. Though from a political perspective it was probably best not to go there, as there are some concerns that Mitt Romney may potentially have issues with where to place his loyalties, if he becomes POTUS -- which we all know should not be a concern.
Overall, most felt that a fair job was done, considering this was an outsider's look at the Mormons -- but perhaps not balanced. Okay, I can live with that. And of course the fact that it was only an hour long program, with commercials -- giving little time to cover everything we would have liked to see.
Now getting back to our, perhaps, overenthusiastic sharing of this program before it even aired. Yes I do think we all need to be a bit more careful, in the future, with how fast we jump on a bandwagon, before we fully understand the journey. And yet, I continue to see the positive side of welcoming outside observations of the Mormon faith -- as it give us better opportunities to discuss what Mormons believe, and to share our own personal stories. And that, is always a good thing!
If you happened to miss Mormon in America, you can watch the entire show, online, HERE.
So, did we cover your concerns and thoughts? And what do you think was the BIG miss?