Under The Banner of Heaven miniseries

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DarkJedi
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Re: Under The Banner of Heaven miniseries

Post by DarkJedi » 17 May 2022, 04:42

Roy wrote:
16 May 2022, 16:15
I find the two quotes somewhat interesting. 1) the series doesn't do enough to depict Brenda as faithful to the church and 2) the series goes too far and depicts Brenda as too religious.
Yes, I did pick up on that same dichotomy. I think somehow Brenda's sister interprets things differently than I do, which of course is what art is about, and she does reference things that are not likely going to be in the series (like the second trial). I don't think the series depicts Brenda as involved with the "school of the prophets" her in-laws are becoming increasingly invested in, I think just the opposite. And, I think Brenda's opposition to them, and support of other family members who are concerned and lack of support for her husband, are directly related to why she was murdered. Brenda's sister (Weeks) seems to believe it was much more about the group's political ideation. The authors (both of the book and the screenplay) are trying to make a point, and like it or not it's a relevant point - some of those off-shoot groups have their faults which can be dangerous (and the church has been deceptive in the past). In the end, Brenda and her young daughter were murdered by leaders of this group who also happened to be family members, regardless of whether it was about polygamy, fundamentalism, anti-government, or anything else.

I think episode 4 dragged a bit and perhaps the story is being stretched out too much at this point. That's just my opinion, and it's not like there wasn't anything that moved the story forward. But with only two episodes left it seems like they may now have to cram some stuff in. (Although I don't know at what point the story ends in this series - does it end with arrest or trial?)
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Re: Under The Banner of Heaven miniseries

Post by Roy » 17 May 2022, 15:42

I feel like I came across as not very sympathetic to Sharon (Brenda's sister). I feel like I have made a hobby of comparing "based on a true story" movies to the historical record for so long that I am just much more accustomed to creative license for the sake of the narrative. She does not appear to have that same comfort level with creative license and I am sure is doing the very best that she can to process her trauma.
DarkJedi wrote:
17 May 2022, 04:42
I think episode 4 dragged a bit and perhaps the story is being stretched out too much at this point. That's just my opinion, and it's not like there wasn't anything that moved the story forward. But with only two episodes left it seems like they may now have to cram some stuff in. (Although I don't know at what point the story ends in this series - does it end with arrest or trial?)
In Episode 4, the church interferes in the investigation in 2 main ways: 1) the church HQ contacts a bishopric counselor and has him omit certain details so as to divert all attention/blame towards Dan Lafferty and away from Ron Lafferty. (Detective Pyre accuses them of not wanting the bad publicity from having a favored son of Utah go over to the fundamentalists) 2) The second event is when the Robin Lafferty's Stake President shows up at the police station and tries to get the Lafferty boys currently in custody released to him. I feel that there is a very big fact that is missing from this story. By this time, both Dan and Ron had both been excommunicated from the LDS church. It does not make much sense that the church HQ would have a witness lie to protect the reputation of an excommunicated person. The Stake President depiction in particular was hubris and cult like behavior personified. It felt like something that should come out of Midsommer or the Wicker Man. Later in the same episode the Relief Society Pres. met Detective Pyre and his family at the door of the church and gave them a passive-aggressive lecture that included references to earlier miscarriage's or stillbirths that the couple have experienced and their need to stay faithful in order to have their lost babies again in the celestial kingdom.

In my estimation, episode 4 is where the church starts to get really invasive in ways that I might expect from a religious cult horror movie.

I think that they would not include the trial. More than anything, this story is fictional detective Pyre's personal journey. It works narratively as the police procedural, solving the clues and determining who is guilty, and the detective being changed in the process. I do not think including the trial would make much sense where detective Pyre would have tangential involvement at best.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Re: Under The Banner of Heaven miniseries

Post by Roy » 17 May 2022, 15:56

While national headlines labeled the Lafferty murders as “religious killings,” Weeks said anyone who paid attention to the court cases — especially the 1996 retrial — would know prosecutors accused Ron Lafferty of using his religious views as a cover for what was really a “crime of passion.”
In court, Dan Lafferty said he was fulfilling the “revelation” Ron claimed to have received, calling for the “removal” of Brenda, Erica and two church leaders. Prosecutors said Ron Lafferty used the “revelation” as an excuse, and the killings were revenge for encouragement Brenda gave to Diana Lafferty, who divorced Ron in 1983.
That’s what the series misses while focusing on religious extremes, Weeks said: The real story about how “dangerous” human emotions of “jealousy and revenge” can be.
I feel that any prosecutor worth a hill of beans would want to disassociate the crime from a movement and particularly a religion. Prosecutors do not put religion or churches on trial. If a jury comes to feels that the defendant was brainwashed or indoctrinated into committing a crime then that might make room for reasonable doubt. Especially if there were any LDS members on the jury, the prosecutors would want to work extra hard to demonstrate that the church was not on trial. I feel that there is significant overlap between the personal grievances, antigovernmental feelings, and a fundamentalist Mormon worldview and the prosecutor would be doing their job by downplaying those connections.

I find it interesting that the Deseret News is putting the word "revelation" in quotes.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Re: Under The Banner of Heaven miniseries

Post by Roy » 17 May 2022, 16:16

Another point is the pamphlet "Peace Maker" being attributed to JS. I do not recall having heard of this pamphlet earlier.

The truth is murky. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_Maker_(pamphlet)

I think there is evidence to suggest that JS had a hand in this work. He is listed as the printer. The author makes a point in the text to say that he is not a Mormon and that he merely used the Mormons printing press because it was the most "convenient." That seems really random. The author did live among the LDS and was baptized the year after the pamphlet came out.

The content of the pamphlet mirrored some later justifications for polygamy put forward by the Utah church.

John D. Lee said that JS had commissioned the project as a "feeler" to see the people's reactions to the ideas of polygamy. As such, perhaps JS gave the author wide latitude in how to present the ideas and those ideas that seem the most misogynistic might not have originated from JS.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Re: Under The Banner of Heaven miniseries

Post by DarkJedi » 18 May 2022, 04:53

Roy wrote:
17 May 2022, 15:42
In Episode 4, the church interferes in the investigation in 2 main ways: 1) the church HQ contacts a bishopric counselor and has him omit certain details so as to divert all attention/blame towards Dan Lafferty and away from Ron Lafferty. (Detective Pyre accuses them of not wanting the bad publicity from having a favored son of Utah go over to the fundamentalists) 2) The second event is when the Robin Lafferty's Stake President shows up at the police station and tries to get the Lafferty boys currently in custody released to him. I feel that there is a very big fact that is missing from this story. By this time, both Dan and Ron had both been excommunicated from the LDS church. It does not make much sense that the church HQ would have a witness lie to protect the reputation of an excommunicated person. The Stake President depiction in particular was hubris and cult like behavior personified. It felt like something that should come out of Midsommer or the Wicker Man. Later in the same episode the Relief Society Pres. met Detective Pyre and his family at the door of the church and gave them a passive-aggressive lecture that included references to earlier miscarriage's or stillbirths that the couple have experienced and their need to stay faithful in order to have their lost babies again in the celestial kingdom.
And this part is where I'm not sure what's real and what's poetic license. The Laffertys were apparently well known in the community and well respected - but did a local church leader or the church really try to intervene? It is possible, but it also makes for good storytelling when trying to make a point (and the writers are trying to make a point). I have have no trouble believing the woman confronting the Pyres with her judgementalism (and the other more subtle judegmentalism inferred in those scenes) but that absolutely didn't happen because we know the Pyres are fictional. It is all believable, and could happen, so I'll accept it as part of the story. I think it's helpful to keep in mind that the "good name of the church" was (and is) something of concern for the higher church (it's a reason for excommunication). Of course in this case the brothers had already been ex'ed, and probably partly for that reason. Murder is of course also something people get ex'ed for - particularly one of this caliber.
I feel that any prosecutor worth a hill of beans would want to disassociate the crime from a movement and particularly a religion. Prosecutors do not put religion or churches on trial. If a jury comes to feels that the defendant was brainwashed or indoctrinated into committing a crime then that might make room for reasonable doubt. Especially if there were any LDS members on the jury, the prosecutors would want to work extra hard to demonstrate that the church was not on trial. I feel that there is significant overlap between the personal grievances, antigovernmental feelings, and a fundamentalist Mormon worldview and the prosecutor would be doing their job by downplaying those connections.
Agreed, I think this is all just the writers doing their thing. And maybe that's where Brenda's sister is coming from when she said the trial was more about their anti-government views.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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DarkJedi
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Re: Under The Banner of Heaven miniseries

Post by DarkJedi » 18 May 2022, 05:06

Roy wrote:
17 May 2022, 16:16
Another point is the pamphlet "Peace Maker" being attributed to JS. I do not recall having heard of this pamphlet earlier.

The truth is murky. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_Maker_(pamphlet)

I think there is evidence to suggest that JS had a hand in this work. He is listed as the printer. The author makes a point in the text to say that he is not a Mormon and that he merely used the Mormons printing press because it was the most "convenient." That seems really random. The author did live among the LDS and was baptized the year after the pamphlet came out.

The content of the pamphlet mirrored some later justifications for polygamy put forward by the Utah church.

John D. Lee said that JS had commissioned the project as a "feeler" to see the people's reactions to the ideas of polygamy. As such, perhaps JS gave the author wide latitude in how to present the ideas and those ideas that seem the most misogynistic might not have originated from JS.
I was also unaware of this pamphlet before. As you point out it is available online. I agree that Joseph may not have wrote it but certainly had a hand in it.

My wife, who has not studied church history as I have but is aware that Emma was not a fan of polygamy, was a bit taken aback by the way she was portrayed in episode 4. Again, it is a dramatization from someone trying to make a point, but I found it plausible, and I am reasonably sure the evidence points to Emma being very vigorously opposed to polygamy and probably did burn the original copy of Section 132. The idea was certainly purged from the Nauvoo remnant of the church, and I think it is clear that some other prominent Smith descendants whitewashed and covered up some of that history.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Re: Under The Banner of Heaven miniseries

Post by nibbler » 18 May 2022, 08:41

From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_Maker_(pamphlet)
During the winter Joseph, the Prophet, set a man by the name of Udney Hay Jacob to select from the Old Bible scriptures as pertained to polygamy, or celestial marriage, to write it in pamphlet form, and to advocate that doctrine. This he did as a feeler among the people, to pave the way for celestial marriage.
I see Lee had similar thoughts that I had as I was reading the wiki entry. A possible timeline:

Joseph Smith practices polygamy in secret.
The secret gets harder to maintain.
Joseph entertains thoughts of making the doctrine public.
Joseph commissions someone to write a pamphlet about polygamy to gauge member's reactions.
If members react negatively, issue a statement condemning the pamphlet.
If members react positively, "Hey, that's my name as the publisher. That's because it was a revelation. We're doing polygamy now!" All out in the open.

That the pamphlet was written by a non-member is interesting.
1) Why would a non-member write a pamphlet about polygamy out of the blue?
2) Having a non-member write the pamphlet gives the church cover. It's not an official church document, it's wasn't even written by a member (at the time).

It's almost as if someone went out of their way to make sure the church couldn't be implicated... without taking the added precaution of telling the guy you hire to write the pamphlet to print it in another state and then wander into town to distribute them a year or more later. I guess that takes effort and patience.
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Re: Under The Banner of Heaven miniseries

Post by Roy » 18 May 2022, 10:37

nibbler wrote:
18 May 2022, 08:41
That the pamphlet was written by a non-member is interesting.
1) Why would a non-member write a pamphlet about polygamy out of the blue?
2) Having a non-member write the pamphlet gives the church cover. It's not an official church document, it's wasn't even written by a member (at the time).

It's almost as if someone went out of their way to make sure the church couldn't be implicated... without taking the added precaution of telling the guy you hire to write the pamphlet to print it in another state and then wander into town to distribute them a year or more later. I guess that takes effort and patience.
Right. I suppose it is worth mentioning that JS did condemn the pamphlet and claim that it was printed without his knowledge. I just feel that condemnation would be much more believable if we didn't know (through historical hindsight) that JS was practicing polygamy in secret at the time.

The more full quote from the pamphlet where the author declares his non-Mormonness is as follows:
The author of this work is not a Mormon, although it is printed by their press. It was the most convenient. But the public will soon find out what he is, by his work.
I feel that I am giving JS the benefit of the doubt that some of these justifications from the pamphlet were not in alignment of his personal views. I have only really started skimming the document but the general thesis is that men ruling over women is the proper and divine order of things. Yet in a marriage of equals men are equally bound to their wives as wives are bound to husbands and this supposedly leads to all sorts of societal ills. Thus polygamy solves this problem "by exalting man to his original authority and dignity." I call it misogynistic because I don't know how better to describe it. Sexist does not seem to cover it. (Like someone can be racist and then someone else can believe that black people need to be slaves in order to have the boundaries and structure that they need and that white people need to be slave masters in order to experience their full potential and dignity that they need and all of this is upholding God's plan for his children. That latter person seems to go beyond just vanilla racism. That is similarly, how I feel about the depth of the sexism/misogyny in the pamphlet.)

Speaking of JS and his justifications for polygamy, a fairly common idea is that God commanded polygamy but did not leave an instruction manual for how or why to do it. In my research it seems that JS himself did use several sometimes competing justifications for polygamy at different times. It does not seem implausible that JS was starting with the end goal in mind. As if to say, "Polygamy is where we need to get. How do we reverse engineer doctrines/justifications that will get us to where we want to go from where we are currently." JS appeared to dabble in different justifications. I am personally thankful that the misogynistic ideas presented in the pamphlet did not come more fully from JS. I do not want our church to be attempting to defend the ideas in this pamphlet in any way.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Re: Under The Banner of Heaven miniseries

Post by Old-Timer » 18 May 2022, 17:55

I have very little time, so a very short comment:

"Nits make lice," was a statement used explicitly in some of the early anti-Mormon literature, as a justification to oppose Mormon emigration, particularly.

That's all. Carry on. :P
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

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Re: Under The Banner of Heaven miniseries

Post by Roy » 19 May 2022, 08:51

Watched episode 5 last night.

Lots of things happening. One interesting occurrence is the description by this Lafferty/School of the Prophets group that Fornication by a married woman refers to something other than extra-marital sexual relations. In episode 5, Dan's wife resists him when he tells her that he wants to take his 14 year old step daughter as an additional wife. Dan tell her that to deny her priesthood holder is fornication (and also that the punishment for fornication is death).

This also comes up in episode three where Sam Lafferty quotes the removal revelation in saying that "the fornicator, Brenda Lafferty" should be removed. Detective Pyre is confused by this description because he has only ever heard of fornication in reference to extra-marital sex. Sam is ranting and raving in religious riddles but he does manage to explain more or less that fornication in this sense is when a wife is out of alignment with her husband or disobedient to her husband.

This definition come directly from that pamphlet "Peace Maker." The author (of Peace Maker) uses Matt. 5:32 as his source text. In it Jesus is saying not to divorce your wives, save for the "cause of fornication." The author speculates that a wife cannot commit fornication in the physical sense because that would be "adultery" instead. Therefore fornication must mean something else. Fornication, according to his definition, is when a woman withholds her proper loyalty, obedience, or affection from her husband.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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