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 » 19 May 2022, 11:32

Roy wrote:
19 May 2022, 08:51
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.
This is an example of mental gymnastics I think we're sometimes asked to perform as members, only in this case it's not actually the church making the leap (although it could be argued it was if the pamphlet was an official publication and there is little doubt that some members might believe this anyway). Other translations of the Bible change the wording of Matt 5:32 and instead of fornication use sexual immorality, unfaithfulness, or unchastity. The argument there could be made that other translators were trying to make sense of the use of fornication in relation to married people, especially when adultery is also mentioned later in the same sentence. Rather than make the leap the Laffertys/author did that fornication must include something non-sexual, I choose to interpret as the majority of other translators do, that it had to do with some sort of sexual immorality.

Bible Hub link to Matt 5:32: https://biblehub.com/matthew/5-32.htm

The writers seem to be trying to make a point that the Laffertys/school of the prophets were very literal in their interpretation of Bible passages where women were to be subjugated to their husbands. That very well may be true because other fundamentalist groups (and similar religious fanatics outside the church) hold similar beliefs. I think intelligent viewers can see this for what it is and that it does not cast a shadow on the mainstream church.
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 DarkJedi » 22 May 2022, 05:01

Episode 5 brings up a conspiracy theory that Brigham Young was behind the assassination of Joseph Smith because he and Joseph were in disagreement about polygamy and because Brigham wanted to take over the church. I had not heard this theory before, but if you Google it you'll find it. You'll also find there's no evidence for it. I'm not going to defend Brigham Young because I personally dislike him, and it's not impossible he may have had a hand or had his own plan (even though I don't believe this particular conspiracy). And this series seems to paint Brigham as even more sinister than he was, and I'm not sure his portrayal is accurate (the same can be said for others, including Joseph Smith).
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."

My Introduction

Roy
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Re: Under The Banner of Heaven miniseries

Post by Roy » 26 May 2022, 11:26

DarkJedi wrote:
22 May 2022, 05:01
Episode 5 brings up a conspiracy theory that Brigham Young was behind the assassination of Joseph Smith because he and Joseph were in disagreement about polygamy and because Brigham wanted to take over the church.
I don't recall that part about BY being behind the assassination. I do however recall there being some tension between Emma and who I think was John Taylor. Emma was saying that her son would inherit the role of prophet and John retorted that the young JS was only a boy and that he was sending for BY to return. Later, Emma is pictured as being present when BY has his transfiguration speech (the speech where some later report that BY was transfigured to look and sound like JS during the speech), she gets up disapprovingly and takes her adolescent son with her.

I also agree that BY did not seem to have any involvement in the death of JY. However, the way that he consolidated his power after the Q12 came to be the leading body of the church was pretty cutthroat IMO. OTOH, without BY consolidating power like that, our LDS history might have been marked with power struggles and schisms. BY had plenty of flaws but he also got things done.

Episode 6 has another reference to the odd definition of fornication being when wives alienate their children from their fathers. In this instance it was Dan's wife Matilda making that accusation of Brenda. Brenda surprisingly does not seem to react much to being called a fornicator - but the audience has already been introduced to this non-traditional use of the word and the story has to move forward.

Matilda warns Brenda that to alienate children from their fathers ("fornication") was a crime punishable by blood atonement. Brenda seems to be confused whether or not to take this message as a threat or a cry for help.
"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

Roy
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Re: Under The Banner of Heaven miniseries

Post by Roy » 30 May 2022, 09:42

Episode 6 includes a scene where Allen Lafferty strikes Brenda in anger. He is immediately remorseful. Brenda leaves and returns later with her dad and sister. The dad stays with Allen and the sisters go to a 1980's version of McDonalds.

The dad talks with Alan about not going to extremes, following the living prophet, and modern church trends. He gives Allen a piece of chocolate to prove that it isn't against the WoW and that to partake is ok. I feel that Brenda's father represents a more moderate and modern side of church membership.

At McDonalds, Branda tells her sister Betty that she is planning to leave Alan and move to Montana with the baby. Betty advises Brenda to not give up so easily on the marriage but to go to church leadership for guidance. Betty is not the same sister that was recently interviewed by the Deseret News about the TV Program. That sister's name is Sharon.

Brenda secures a meeting with a 70 in the COB. Allen gets upset that they won't answer questions about BY and Mountain Meadows and leaves. Brenda remains and asks for permission to separate from Allen. The assembled men give Brenda a blessing where HF assigns her a special and secret calling to not only stay with Allen but work to bring all the Lafferty family back into the more mainstream fold (remember that Dan and Ron had already been excommunicated at this point).

This seems pretty damning for the church. A young mother asks for permission to escape a den of religious extremists and (as fictional Detective Pyre describes it) they instead put her on a direct collision course with them. That would seem to be worse than the prior bad acts of church leadership in trying to withhold information about Ron's domestic abuse or when the the SP showed up at the police station attempting to obtain the release of Robin and the other Lafferty brothers from police custody.

This scene does not appear to have happened. Brenda did not ask the church for permission to leave her husband and they did not give her any secret mission. Incidentally, those other "bad acts of church leadership" described in the paragraph above also seem to be fictional. There just does not seem to be much direct involvement from the institutional church in the events leading up to Brenda's murder and then in the subsequent investigation.

It does seem to be true that Allen abused Brenda. According to Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven book, when Brenda would “embarrass” Allen in front of his brothers, he would berate her verbally with an uncontrollable rage or physically beat her. It is worth noting that the book itself may have some errors, particularly where it tries to connect the murder to violent episodes from Mormonism's past but Allen abusing Brenda does not appear to be something that anyone has disputed. I think that Allen's abuse is downplayed in the TV show because Alan is supposed to be a sympathetic character. We are meant to sympathize with Allen in feeling torn between his wife and his brothers while having a faith crisis. He comes across as the most sympathetic Lafferty brother.

The meeting between the sisters at McDonalds also seems to be based on a real meeting and conversation where Betty advised Brenda that she had a responsibility to make her marriage work with Allen. Real-life Betty later said that she hadn't known the truth of the extent of Allen’s violence or the Lafferty brothers’ behaviors and would not have argued for her sister Brenda to stay in the marriage if she had.
"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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DarkJedi
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Re: Under The Banner of Heaven miniseries

Post by DarkJedi » 31 May 2022, 07:00

Roy wrote:
30 May 2022, 09:42
Brenda secures a meeting with a 70 in the COB. Allen gets upset that they won't answer questions about BY and Mountain Meadows and leaves. Brenda remains and asks for permission to separate from Allen. The assembled men give Brenda a blessing where HF assigns her a special and secret calling to not only stay with Allen but work to bring all the Lafferty family back into the more mainstream fold (remember that Dan and Ron had already been excommunicated at this point).

This seems pretty damning for the church. A young mother asks for permission to escape a den of religious extremists and (as fictional Detective Pyre describes it) they instead put her on a direct collision course with them. That would seem to be worse than the prior bad acts of church leadership in trying to withhold information about Ron's domestic abuse or when the the SP showed up at the police station attempting to obtain the release of Robin and the other Lafferty brothers from police custody.

This scene does not appear to have happened. Brenda did not ask the church for permission to leave her husband and they did not give her any secret mission. Incidentally, those other "bad acts of church leadership" described in the paragraph above also seem to be fictional. There just does not seem to be much direct involvement from the institutional church in the events leading up to Brenda's murder and then in the subsequent investigation.
I agree a meeting like this was very unlikely to have happened and appears to be fictional. The whole thing with Brenda having a special calling to bring back the Laffertys seems especially suspect. However, the point about divorce being not only frowned upon but highly discouraged is well taken and that was the policy of the church in those days, especially concerning temple marriage. It was even in the handbook, and that only relatively recently changed. I have a former neighbor (still in the ward) who holds a lot of bitterness toward the church because in the 1980s she was in an abusive marriage (she and the children) and she went to her bishop and SP (different stake) and they were not supportive and actually called him to leadership positions. She left with the children and scraped out a living on minimum wage and has not been to church since the late 80s. I don't blame her.
It does seem to be true that Allen abused Brenda. According to Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven book, when Brenda would “embarrass” Allen in front of his brothers, he would berate her verbally with an uncontrollable rage or physically beat her. It is worth noting that the book itself may have some errors, particularly where it tries to connect the murder to violent episodes from Mormonism's past but Allen abusing Brenda does not appear to be something that anyone has disputed. I think that Allen's abuse is downplayed in the TV show because Alan is supposed to be a sympathetic character. We are meant to sympathize with Allen in feeling torn between his wife and his brothers while having a faith crisis. He comes across as the most sympathetic Lafferty brother.

The meeting between the sisters at McDonalds also seems to be based on a real meeting and conversation where Betty advised Brenda that she had a responsibility to make her marriage work with Allen. Real-life Betty later said that she hadn't known the truth of the extent of Allen’s violence or the Lafferty brothers’ behaviors and would not have argued for her sister Brenda to stay in the marriage if she had.
I agree, Allen is made to be somewhat the victim, but nonetheless a pitiful character. He's made to be one of the more likeable characters, and I'm not sure that's really the way it was. The no divorce/make the marriage work thing was part of church culture then, so I was only slightly taken aback by Betty's reaction.
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."

My Introduction

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DarkJedi
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Re: Under The Banner of Heaven miniseries

Post by DarkJedi » 06 Jun 2022, 05:13

The final episode has the arrest of the Lafferty brothers, although not in the way it actually happened. In real life the brothers were arrested in a casino buffet line, in the show they were arrested in a rather dirty looking casino restroom after Ron tried to murder Dan. Ron did try to murder Dan (apparently Dan consented) but it was while they were in prison some time later.

Leading up to the arrest the detectives become concerned for Dianna Lafferty's wellbeing as she is on the list and they don't know her whereabouts. They discover her to be living in Florida (where she is from) with the children and contact authorities there. They are taken into protective custody, although there was apparently no actual threat. In the episode Dianna (Ron's ex) disappears from Florida, travels to Utah and rescues Matilda (Dan's wife). That probably didn't happen. That said, little is actually known about either Dianna or Matilda nearly 40 years later except that Dianna probably does live in Florida.

In a scene that might strike a chord with some members here, while Pyre is preparing to travel his wife tells him she is leaving him because of his church faithfulness. She says something like "I married a faithful man and my children will be raised by a faithful man whether that's you or someone else." In the end Pyre does reconcile with his wife and apparently with the church.

There is a detailed scene of the Mountain Meadows massacre. It's hard to tell what they got right and what they didn't because there are few details about the incident that we have records of (or access to records of). Fictional Detective Taba, apparently a Paiute, tells Pyre that the version of the story his people are told is different from the church's (and Allen's) version.
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."

My Introduction

Roy
Posts: 6595
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Under The Banner of Heaven miniseries

Post by Roy » 09 Jun 2022, 11:24

I am not a fan of the final episode.

I really felt that the way that the mountain meadow massacre was introduced was unnecessary and detracted from the central story. In the show the creepy Stake President shows up again warning Pyre to protect the good name of the church then he turns to Taba and after finding out about Taba's Piute ancestry says that he (the stake president) really should be thanking Taba and his people for fighting alongside the Mormons at Mountain Meadows. Taba said that his people remember that event differently.

Taba later tells Pyre something like "your people are the ones that lie." and shares what really happened at MM. I felt that it was a big departure and tangent right at the point where the action needed to be ramping up.

A better way to introduce MM would be for Pyre and Taba to find something in Ron's journal or in his revelations that state that God is commanding the death of the people on the list just like God commanded the death of the people on the wagon train at MM. Then Pyre could be confused not ever really having heard of MM and then do some investigation and have that be part of Pyre's faith crisis that was explored in earlier episodes. That way MM is actually tied to the mentality and motivation of the killers and the attempt to get inside their head a little in order to better find them. Instead, the way that it was explored was completely detached from the storyline.

I also felt the Brenda's final speech to Ron & Dan after she realizes that they are going to murder her felt weird. She said something about God raising her up at the last day but the two murderous brothers standing condemned. Maybe it was an attempt to make Brenda seem strong. Maybe it was a last ditch attempt by Brenda to talk Ron & Dan out of it using religious talk. However, to me, it seemed zealous and fanatical and it felt strange to hear it come from Brenda's mouth as she is fighting for her life.

I personally would not have shown the inside of the dwelling at that point. The police are hearing the perspective of the stoners that stayed out in the car. I think it would have been better to show Dan force his way in and there be signs of a struggle, then Ron goes in, then later cut to them coming out covered in blood. They could also have showed more about the car ride with Ron & Dan and the Stoners and have the stoners feel more and more like they need to get away from Ron & Dan. There could have been a scene where the stoners slip away from a sleeping Ron & Dan that could have been similar in intensity to when Matilda's daughters ran away. (speaking of Matilda's daughters, that seems like a pretty big loose end. I wish there was some reference to their being found and with Child Protective Services.)

The ending few scenes were fine. I am glad that Pyre's wife decided against actually leaving him and his sharing a family prayer with them was a good metaphor for what might be a compromise for them going forward. The next scene was a poignant moment between Pyre and his Mom looking at the mountains and Pyre saying that he is just glad to be spending quality time with her. Pyre seems to have landed as more of a humanist that might be agnostic as to God's machinations but willing to put family, relationships, and people first.
"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

Roy
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Re: Under The Banner of Heaven miniseries

Post by Roy » 13 Jun 2022, 08:52

Roy wrote:
09 Jun 2022, 11:24
The ending few scenes were fine. I am glad that Pyre's wife decided against actually leaving him and his sharing a family prayer with them was a good metaphor for what might be a compromise for them going forward. The next scene was a poignant moment between Pyre and his Mom looking at the mountains and Pyre saying that he is just glad to be spending quality time with her. Pyre seems to have landed as more of a humanist that might be agnostic as to God's machinations but willing to put family, relationships, and people first.
One other observation about this post climax, resolution stage. Detective Taba has a conversation with Pyre while they are preparing to head back home from Nevada. Taba is older and more experienced that Pyre and has at several moments been a voice of wisdom. In this instance Taba says some words/sings a song in his tribal language. He described it as a ritual of protection. Pyre asked if it works and Taba said that it doesn't but that he still says it from time to time to keep him grounded and tie him back to his community, his people.

Native Americans dispensing tribal wisdom is a fairly worn movie trope. In this instance, I think it works to give Pyre a rational for not "throwing the baby out with the bathwater." He can StayLDS and even find new reasons and meaning that matter to him. It doesn't end with him bearing his testimony at church (something his wife had challenged him to do) but he seems happy and fulfilled leading family prayer in his home. Pyre is making his own way forward now.
"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

Roy
Posts: 6595
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Under The Banner of Heaven miniseries

Post by Roy » 16 Jun 2022, 16:08

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archi ... sm/661279/

McKay Coppins writes about the series and makes some good points.

1) He references the copious use of "Heavenly Father." I have my own conflicting theories about this. Maybe it was in reference to Mormons not wanting to say God (as in OMG, or God forbid, or God damn, etc.) in an effort not to take His name in vain. My second theory and the one that I am leaning towards is that the show producers wanted to distinguish Mormonism from other Christianity in the minds of the audience. Therefore references to God or Jesus were mostly replaced by "Heavenly Father" to make it easier to see the Mormons as "other" and harder to recognize the same sorts of dynamics within the audience's own faith tradition. McKay puts it this way, "To say that I have never met a Mormon in my life who talks like this would be to miss the point. These lines were not intended as shibboleths for Mormon viewers—they are there to serve a stereotype, to exoticize a people and flatten their faith tradition."

2) "Pyre’s partner—a non-Mormon detective who has served up to this point as the wise and likable audience avatar—delivers a righteous tirade against the religion that allegedly enabled the killers. “According to your God, who dies next?” he asks Pyre, later adding, “Our job is to get the monsters off her back, the ones you’ve helped feed with all your good Mormon testimony-bearing.”

In the show’s worldview, every rank-and-file Latter-day Saint bears some responsibility for the evil that’s done in the name of their faith."

I hadn't really thought of it that way. Is everyone that supports an organization somewhat responsible for every bad thing the organization does? What about things that that the organization doesn't do directly but that are tangentially related? For example, is an LDS Mormon partly responsible for FLDS polygamy because our church has a history of polygamy and we refuse to denounce it in theory? I think this could be a fascinating discussion. In a non-religious context, is the person that buys a fast food hamburger are they also partially responsible for the way that the cow is treated or how well the slaughter house employees are compensated? Some would say yes...

3) "In fact, the prospect that the show would offend Mormons was played up in the promotional press tour. “If ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ Made Mormons Angry, the FX Series Will ‘Make Them Apoplectic,’” read one headline. “Dustin Lance Black Is Ready for Backlash, ‘Death Threats’ From the Mormon Church Thanks to Under the Banner of Heaven,” read another."

I too noticed that the idea of offending the institutional church seemed to be promoted as a selling point. I guess everyone is competing for attention in the ad space and any controversy can help draw additional eye balls. Pure marketing!
"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 PazamaManX » 19 Jun 2022, 00:02

Roy wrote:
16 Jun 2022, 16:08

In the show’s worldview, every rank-and-file Latter-day Saint bears some responsibility for the evil that’s done in the name of their faith."

I hadn't really thought of it that way. Is everyone that supports an organization somewhat responsible for every bad thing the organization does? What about things that that the organization doesn't do directly but that are tangentially related? For example, is an LDS Mormon partly responsible for FLDS polygamy because our church has a history of polygamy and we refuse to denounce it in theory? I think this could be a fascinating discussion. In a non-religious context, is the person that buys a fast food hamburger are they also partially responsible for the way that the cow is treated or how well the slaughter house employees are compensated? Some would say yes...
That is a good point to bring up and not a bad one to discuss. Sticking with the fast food burger theme (this will be silly, so bear with me), people who twist the church's teachings for justifying their actions would be more like a bad customer. If a customer buys some cheeseburgers from McDonalds and then decides to go around throwing them at people, is it McDonald's or their other customers fault? They sold the burgers expecting that they would be eaten. Sure, they never explicitly said, 'don't throw burgers at people', but should they have to? Another scenario, imagine an executive from McDonalds decided to leave and start a competing restaurant named 'McChuckers', where they specifically sell burgers meant to be thrown at people. Are McDonalds or their customers responsible for the actions of someone who has many similarities and a shared history, but intentionally diverged from the organization to do their own thing?

It's not a perfect analogy, but it's fun to think about nonetheless. I'm curious what other's thoughts are on this?
"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness, even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." ~ Thomas Jefferson

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