Friday, September 10, 2004

Brigham City -- Gripping Murder Mystery, Amazingly Spiritual

Brigham City -- Gripping Murder Mystery, Amazingly Spiritual

Sterling Allan criticizes Richard Dutcher, the director of Brigham City, for having the sheriff get the men of the community to search homes without a search warrant. "Such actions," Allan says, "present a dangerous precedent for violating fundamental rights to privacy. Even dire circumstances such as presented in this movie, do not provide a waiver of those rights. Such excuses are what fueled Nazi Germany."

Then, Allan claims that incorporating such a tactic into the movie is "a scary sample depiction of how ready the Mormon community is to give up their fundamental rights in the name of expediency."

"This, unfortunately, is a fair depiction of a general shallowness when it comes to an understanding of freedom's parameters among the mainstream LDS community. It is one of the attributes that makes them likely candidates to stand in line when the mark of the beast is enforced, with pain of death being the consequence of refusal to comply -- because of some 'socially justifying' expediency like Sept. 11, 2001."

Allan hits upon a possible cultural feature of the Mormon community -- a willingness to comply to leaders' requests without truly thinking through the broader consequences of their actions (or the request). Are Mormons truly shallow as Allan suggests? Do they fall in line accepting a loss of freedom as "socially justified" because of an expediency like September 11? Certainly Mormon support for the Bush administration (the Patriot Act and war in Iraq) would suggest they do?

"While many movies move me deeply, rarely do they bring me to tears," Allan wrote. He indicated that he and his wife cried during the ending of the movie. "The redemptive ending of 'Brigham City' is a fantastic spiritual accomplishment for which Dutcher deserves the highest of accolades."

Certainly, showing a congregation taking the sacrament (of bread and water) was risky. A number of the LDS people I showed the movie to indicated they felt uncomfortable seeing a sacred ceremony broadcast in a movie. Others were moved as Allan was. Although my non-LDS students may not have understood all aspects of the Mormon sacrament, they were also sensitive to the sacredness of the moment. I feel showing "taking the sacrament" provided strong cultural insights into the Mormon community and its practices.

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