I saw Meet the Mormons on the day of it’s release. Honestly, I thought it was fine.
Now, the Church has an incredibly talented group of people who produce their media. I have been brought to tears by many-a-Mormon Message, and I could watch their new series of New Testament videos all day long. The Church creates a lot of high quality, powerful media, and I have been singing their praises for it for years.
But Meet the Mormons isn’t new, or powerful, or even really all that interesting.
I’m grateful for this explanation from Elder Holland explaining the origin of the film.
The film wasn’t produced to change people’s lives, or even teach gospel truths. It was simply produced to educate people who had wandered onto temple square about the fact that you can be a lot of different things and still be Mormon. Hopefully, it will dispel myths based on stereotypes.
But I already know that there are black bishops in our church, that LDS people do cool things to help the world, and that Mormon moms do more than cook and clean. So really, what was I supposed to get out of this?
I do have to admit, at this point, that I enjoyed the story of the missionary mom. Many others have also cited it as their favorite. It was the only one, in my eyes, that showed the struggle that accompanies being LDS. A very “worth it” struggle, but a struggle nonetheless. I honestly thought her whole story would be about how much she loves being a mom and is excited that her son was going to serve the Lord. I did not expect (spoiler alert) that she had been a teen mom, had lost her second child, and married a man with only one leg. Her story surprised me, engaged me, and moved me. Those featured in the other 5 segments all seemed to have basically perfect lives. There was reference to hardships, but we as viewers did not really get to see or feel those hardships. If we had, I would be giving this film 5 stars, two thumbs up, and all the accolades I could articulate.
I’m not saying that Meet the Mormons was bad or that it should not have been distributed. I am just saying that, for me, it was fine. It is basically a long “and I’m a Mormon” commercial- it’s agreeable, positive, and unobtrusive.
I was asked a few days ago how I felt about the movie.
“I thought it was fine.”
“You are so hard-hearted!”
That’s right, I was called hard-hearted (a serious accusation in my opinion) for finding the film to be fine.
Would weeping at it’s influence be a sign of my sincere humility? Would pretending to wonder at a work that was not even intended to inspire wonder make me more faithful? Am I obligated to act like I love everything the Church produces just because I love the Church?
Some of the things the Church makes I love, some I really like, and some I am just fine with. It just so happens that the thing that is prominently in the public eye happens to fall into my “fine” category.
Please, don’t try to make me blind, don’t try to make me into a sheep.
When the Church produces media I love, I share it, I talk about it, I show it to my non-member friends and family, I bookmark it, I blog about it, I extol it. But in order for my enthusiasm for those works to be genuine and powerful, I have to be allowed to be just “fine” with some things.