Friday, October 12, 2012

Latter Days

It's been a Mormon kind of week.

B spent a week in Utah, mostly in the national parks, but with a day or two in Salt Lake City and a tour of the Mormon sites. Although Mormon aesthetics are not shy of pictures or statues, B found them rather pale in comparison with the robustly bloody images of his Italian ancestors. Very nice people, though. Plus, "everything's clean and everything works." Sounds pretty Caucasian to me.

Which is one of the reasons that South Park creators' The Book of Mormon can ridicule this faith on Broadway and no one gets beheaded over it. Unlike a certain other peaceful religion we are not supposed to mention...

I downloaded and watched Brigham City, a 2001 murder mystery by then Mormon filmmaker Richard Dutcher, who wrote, directed and starred in it. Mayhem comes to an idyllic LDS small town: "Nothing attracts a serpent like a paradise."

This book has nothing directly to do with the film,
but I like the cover image a lot.

Dutcher as the local sheriff is also a Mormon bishop. Although there are a few false-step moments where his actions seem quite inexplicable except as a way to heighten drama, it is a strong film, worth watching. An engaging story, with heart and suspense. The final scene is very moving. Even the New York Times liked it.

The depiction of Mormons, and of Mormon worship (local sacrament meetings, not Temple rites), is fascinating and friendly and sees this religion and its believers as real and honorable people. I was struck by the co-existence of strong women characters and (perhaps because of rather than despite) a clearly patriarchal religion and culture. Much more respectful of actual human nature than the current liberal regime under feminism and its unhappy hordes of bitchy phallic females.

One or two moments illustrate the problems that arise when local religion and local government are so hand in glove. Imagine your local cop and your local parish priest as the same guy...

As historically shaky as Mormonism is, --Dutcher left the the faith while researching Joseph Smith's life for a biopic--it seems to provide happy and meaningful life in community for many people. You could do a lot worse. (See paragraph 2, last line, above).

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