Idol Chatter

biglovepic.jpgThus far, “Big Love” has gone to great lengths to distance their storyline– a polygamous marriage in Utah– from the Mormon faith. The central characters, the Henricksons, don’t refer to themselves as Mormons, and even the throwback sect at Juniper Creek doesn’t say the word Mormon. But last night’s episode has some members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints riled up, not for an unrealistic or unflattering depiction of Mormons, but because the HBO show depicted a secret temple ritual that usually is not open to outsiders.
According to the Chicago Tribune, some mainstream Mormons are considering a boycott and “canceling subscriptions to companies owned by HBO’s parent company Time Warner,” because of the show’s treatment of a rite called “the endowment ceremony.” But the Church itself is not taking a boycott position.

“Certainly Church members are offended when their most sacred practices are misrepresented or presented without context or understanding,” the church said in a statement. “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as an institution does not call for boycotts. Such a step would simply generate the kind of controversy that the media loves and in the end would increase audiences for the series.”

In the episode titled “Rough Edges” (and this might be considered a spoiler, so duck out now if you’re concerned), pretty much everything is dissolving. Nikki’s been kicked out while Bill thinks about her betrayal; she is living at Juniper Creek with her uber-creepy brother, and being visited by her previous husband (Zeljko Ivanek, in his third memorable role in the last year) who talks about an unnamed third person (“she’s doing well, do you want to see her? She won’t remember you…”) who we can only assume is a daughter that the two had before she was unsealed from him. Drama, but not for LDS followers.

Over in Barbland, the first Mrs. Henrickson (Jeanne Tripplehorn) gets a visit from LDS elders asking directly if she’s involved in a polygamous marriage, and she admits to it, knowing full well she was risking excommunication. Barb’s then seized by a desire to go into the LDS temple to participate in the sacred endowment ceremony, and begs her mother and sister to sponsor her access. She is allowed into the temple and proceeds through a series of liturgical statements to “converse with the Lord in His presence,” which translates to her sitting in a room with her mother, sister and several others among the faithful until a woman tells her that her 15 minutes are up.
In approaching the dramatization of the ritual, the executive producers admit they had a responsibility “to be completely accurate and to show the ceremony in the proper context and with respect,” and that the ceremony was “thoroughly vetted by an adviser who is familiar with temple practices and rituals. This consultant was actually on the set throughout the filming of the scenes to make sure every detail was correct.” The producers revealed that the consultant was born into the church and taught temple ritual and practices, before resigning from the church eight years ago.
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