Tag Archives: vanity

I Met the “Mormons”


“Sweep the earth, as if with a flood,” Elder Bednar prophetically pleads, “But this is not, I repeat, NOT a proselytizing effort!”

I saw Meet the Mormons (MTM) last week and here is my report:

I went into MTM concerned about this project for a variety of reasons and hence had very low expectations.  I arrived at the theater 6 minutes before the movie started in a very populated LDS area where I assumed there would be the best turn out.  I went on Saturday night of opening weekend.  There were no lines and I was surprised the theater was only half full, despite all the advertising and at least two apostolic requests to all LDS members to watch the movie opening weekend.  Perhaps other locations saw better attendance.  If my experience is anything like other areas, then this movie is not likely to be a blockbuster nor is it likely to make much money.

I admit I was touched by those whose lives were being highlighted. As I expected, they all seemed like good people. I do feel like they are being showcased for their “uniqueness,” however, and still think the church’s very choice of this film’s title is a little misleading.  It would have been better to call it, “Meet some extremely unique Mormons” or “Meet 6 Mormons not necessarily from Utah.”

I read an article in the Salt Lake Tribune where the author comments:  “The film is more of a showcase of Mormon wholesomeness than a candid look at the real us. While it’s nice to have my people portrayed as so blissfully positive, I came away wondering if I had been raised in a completely different church” (See article here).

In Elder Bednar’s promotion of MTM and while urging members to flood the earth with social media messages, he warns members:

“Be authentic and consistent.  A person or product that is not authentic is false, fake and fraudulent. Our messages should be truthful, honest  and accurate.” 

I could see how some may not view this film as totally accurate.

The church is encouraging members to use social media channels such as Pinterest to promote the gospel.

I’ll be candid, I was very underwhelmed by the movie itself.  It was dry, slow, non-climactic, and really quite bland. I was surprised that the film was only an hour and eighteen minutes long. Its length was much shorter than I expected.  Most movies are at least an hour and a half or more in length.  I’m not saying longer would have been better, I was just surprised at how short it was.

The coverage of these 6 people was very shallow, with very minimal real details of their lives or their faith. “Mormons believe in God and Jesus and families and the Bible and an interesting book called the Book of Mormon” was the general idea.  As I sat there amongst a mostly LDS audience, I wondered if any of them would have attended a movie that was called “Meet the Jehovah Witnesses, or Catholics or Amish.”  I kind of doubt it, unless the reviews of course were off the charts.

One movie review on Rotten Tomatoes said, “Would you go out of your way to see an infomercial that was more than an hour long?  Would you even pay for the privilege?  That’s what ‘Meet the Mormons’ would have filmgoers do” (See here, and here).  Many other reviews from news outlets were equally disappointed in MTM (see Nearing Kolob for other questions and links).

In all candor, this movie seems out of place being in the theaters.  The quality and story line were simply not there.  I think the Legacy theater would have been a better fit, although I think The Testaments and Joseph Smith movies are much more powerful.  In fact, I wonder if the Testaments would have not been a better hit in the theaters, despite its obvious attempt to share our message.

After seeing MTM, and after contemplating the project more generally, I think focusing on our core doctrinal message would be a better use of our time and resources.  Focusing on highlighting people in a time of such great urgency, may be a luxury we cannot afford.

“Take away the Book of Mormon and the revelations, and where is our religion?  We have none; for without Zion, and a place of deliverance, we must fall; because the time is near when the sun will be darkened, and the moon turned to blood, and the stars fall from the heaven, and the earth reel to and fro’.  Then, if this is the case, and if we are not sanctified and gathered to the places God has appointed, with all our former professions and our great love for the Bible, we must fall; we cannot stand; we cannot be saved; for God will gather out his Saints from the Gentiles, and then comes desolation and destruction, and none can escape except the pure in heart who are gathered.”

Joseph Smith

UPDATE on 12-15-2014

Meet the Mormons to date has grossed $5.8M.  Reviews from movie critics is averaging about a 5-10% like rating vs. a 90-95% dislike rating.  Interestingly, according to Rotten Tomatoes, 91% of all viewers have liked the movie.  This translates as many if not most or all movie goers likely to be LDS.

“We’re Glorious”


“Enter your email, Share it on Social with hashtag…, Download your free single….”

I just came across this little promotion on the Meet the Mormons Facebook page.   Great marketing pitch.  Who doesn’t like David Archuleta?  And what better way to spread the word than to take the message viral using all the social media tools of the day?

I don’t love the idea that the church wants my email, wants me to tweet, pinterest, facebook, follow and/or hashtag, all so I can get a “free” single of David’s song.  Obviously a joint marketing venture between him and the church, promoting Archuleta as well as the new movie.

You can actually watch the song and a movie montage below on YouTube without all the hassle:

Arch youtube

Click Above to watch video and film clips

It’s a good song I think.  Nice lyrics and message – although a little fluffy and maybe off doctrinally (see 2 Corinthians 3):

Here are the Lyrics to the Meet the Mormons theme song:

There are times when you might feel aimless and can’t see the places where you belong.
But you will find that there is a purpose, it’s been there within you all along.
And when you’re near it…you can almost hear it.
It’s like a symphony…just keep listening, and pretty soon you’ll start to figure out your part.
Everyone plays a piece in their own melodies… in each one of us… It’s glorious.
And you will know how to let it ring out as you discover who you are.
And those around you will start to wake up to the sounds that are in their hearts.
It’s all amazing what we’re all creating.
It’s like a symphony…just keep listening and pretty soon you’ll start to figure out your part.
Everyone plays a piece in their own melodies… in each one of us…ohhh… is glorious.
As you feel the notes build… you will see.
It’s like a symphony…just keep listening, and pretty soon you’ll start to figure out your part.
Everyone plays a piece in their own melodies… and each one of us…ohhh… is glorious.

It all kind of reminds me of the feel good movie “August Rush.”  A movie about finding your purpose in life, where you belong.  Interesting that the lyrics don’t mention God or even allude to a Creator.  It mentions “we’re all creating” and speaks of symphonies, but feels very self-focused rather than God-focused.  (Maybe this really isn’t a proselytizing effort!).

I am very curious if and how much speakers in General Conference will plug the movie.  I say they plug it hard.  I don’t think the timing of the release, the weekend after Conference (and the BYU-USU football game) is a coincidence.  If nothing else, I predict endless ads between sessions.  I hope I’m wrong.  But then, why wouldn’t they?  It’s a very important church business investment.

Bednar Internet

Elder Bednar. “Things As They Really Are” June 2010 Ensign

A comment from last week’s Meet the Mormon’s post pointed to the above talk from Elder Bednar and remarked what a difference 4 years makes.  I could not agree more.  In his talk, Elder Bednar speaks about the importance of not getting caught up in “cyberspace” and not becoming obsessed with virtual identities that are not real.  (eh hem, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

I’ve never liked that Facebook and other social identities encourage such illusionary self-promotions.  We all know people who sit at home all day, interacting in this fake world, taking endless selfies, always trying to portray how “blissful” their life is.

I fear this movie will be nothing more than a really expensive, glorified Facebook promotion of 6 otherwise very nice people.   Will this movie promote and encourage more Facebook idolatry?  Will it make me jealous that I’m not the Candy Bomber or not as successful and exciting as other “Great” Mormons?  Will I feel as “glorious” as these 6 (7 if you include David Archuleta) individuals?

Isn’t this part of our problem in the world / church?  We feel we can’t keep up with the Joneses, and the Joneses now tweet from Hawaii, where brother and sister Jones and their 4 perfect kids just posed for a selfie all at the Iron Man finish line.  Crap!  Now how do we keep up?  Well, it’s easy, lots of makeup, a tanning bed, teeth whitener, a little Photoshop, an expensive camera helps, and your own “glorious” post from… how about Temple Square.  That will make those worldly Joneses feel dumb.  You get the idea.

Are we really supposed to portray and see ourselves as glorious anyway?  If you do a search of the term glorious in the scriptures you will not see any mortal referred to by God as glorious.  Not that I could find.  You may become “glorious in the resurrection” if true and faithful in this life.  But, Glory is for God!  Not men.

Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine! (Isaiah 28:1)

King Benjamin reminds us we are less than the dust of the earth, far from glorious, no matter if we have “figured out our part” or not.  Even those like this righteous King who do figure it out, i.e. are redeemed, still consider themselves less than dust and preach repentance not self-promotion.