Thursday, August 23, 2012

Rock Center with Brian Williams

Did Brian Williams accurately portray, as they said, "What it means to be a Mormon in America?" That's open for debate. Aside from the rhetoric, there were just two facts that I felt were inaccurately or incorrectly portrayed, and I wanted to clear those up.

On Caffeine
"we're going to sell them cheap books and legal addictive stimulants." - Tom Hanks as Joe Fox in You've Got Mail

The Church doesn't have an official stance against caffeine! Faithful members do not partake of Coffee, Tea (Herbal is ok), Tobacco, or other harmful substances. Some members choose to interpret this as a ban on caffeine, but it's not necessarily so.

While we're on this topic, let me just make a note about entertaining Mormons: most are used to navigating the intricacies of religious dietary bans and won't be offended or embarrassed if you offer something that they turn down. It's our job to understand our religion, not yours.

On Temples

"What about the fact that you and I right now could walk across 5th Avenue into St. Patricks Cathedral, no one would care or wonder what our religious affiliation is. I can't get into the Mormon Temple. Will that ever change?" - Brian Williams

To someone outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I think the temples are probably one of the least understood things. Its understandable why. Aside from the brief period of time between when a new temple is completed but before it's dedicated when a temple is open to the public, temples are closed to the public, and even to some members of the Church. 

But the comparison to St. Patrick's Cathedral isn't really fair, because the temple is *not* the place where our weekly worship takes place. That happens in a local meetinghouse. These local meeting houses ARE open to the public. Drive past any one and you'll see it right on a sign out front: "Visitors Welcome." Come join us.

Racism, homosexuality, inequality towards women, etc.
Brian Williams' special, predictably, touched on some hard-hitting aspects of Mormonism. These are topics that I'm happy to talk about, but I spend enough time reading comments on blogs to be leery of discussing controversial things with anonymous on the web. If you'd like my take on any of these things, the door is open.