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  1. Hey there, here’s a response to the video from a non-LDS with LDS friends.

    I think the visuals in the video are good, and the displaying of LDS garments after showing a wide mix of more commonly recognised religious garments puts them in a good context.

    Regrettably, the very fact that LDS garments are not on public display like the others shown in the clip (the undergarments for very obvious reasons) is probably always going to result in them being less understood and more open to negative perceptions. The idea of sacred undergarments will seem strange to people, as no other major religion is known for them, and as underwear is always fair game for poking fun, sacred or not: Here in Australia, men’s briefs are referred to as “budgie smugglers”, for instance. That LDS sacred undergarments kind of resemble Victorian knickerbockers is, I think, always going to result in a humorous response from people in wider society. I think if you are brought up in LDS culture from the start you probably can’t see how it looks when you haven’t been.

    I think it’s good to attempt this kind of information release, but wonder what percentage of the public it’s going to reach. I reckon it’s more effective PR for everyday LDS to ensure they have good non-LDS friends: That’s more likely to make people think twice before poking fun. There are so many misconceptions about LDS I am constantly correcting with other Christians and non-Christians, just from being informed.

    When you have this kind of thing in a public arena, you are going to get critiqued, of course, and that’s part of the process. The obvious one, and many of you are aware of it, is the idea that having knee-length underpants and regulation tops is, whether intended or not, a sort of modesty enforcement by proxy, rather than by individual free will – and that it could be seen as defining female modesty in a particular way, like the burqa (obviously at a very different level).

    I also think, and my husband (a media buff who has himself been nominated for a community documentary award) felt exactly the same way, that the voice-over to the video doesn’t create a particularly positive representation of LDS people, nor is it, in my view, representative of the many lively, warm, friendly, passionate people I’ve met in LDS crowds. I’ll be honest here that both of us cringed at the voice-over, for the same reasons when we compared notes: There was this mis-match between subject matter and voice tone: Talking about deep and meaningful things like discussing an industrial manufacturing process, or something banal. It kind of droned, which we associate with brainwashing and soap operas, and very B-grade documentaries. It kind of sounded almost like its own parody. The same thing is true for quite a few non-LDS documentaries produced by other religious organisations – and it doesn’t happen when the BBC or ITV or National Geographic make religious documentaries. So maybe hire the BBC to do the voice-over! 😉 Because if that’s how we honestly feel, imagine how people who enjoy ridiculing religious things are going to respond.

    I hope that was in some ways helpful. I’ve been purposely forthright here and said some things that you don’t say when you’re trying hard to be polite and not offend anybody – but I’ve not said it in order to be impolite or to cause offence, only to give an honest, unedited point of view from an outsider. God bless all of you and best wishes.

  2. I like the video and the message it conveys. I do have one criticism: It states that the Garments of the Holy Priesthood are two piece, which is misleading. It should state that they are available in one or two-piece styles, based on the wearer’s preference.

    1. Interesting. I didn’t even realize they still sold one-piece garments! Thanks for the update on that. I guess I never look in that section.

  3. The subject of temple undergarments is one of the most misunderstood issues about Mormonism. It simply isn’t true that the LDS priesthood and temple worthy members are the only people to practice such a religious rite. As an Old Catholic priest in the Order of St John the Evangelist, I, too, have the privilege as a priest to wear an undergarment which stems from the Old Testament practice of priestly clothing. This was part of the reason the mixing of types of cloth was prohibited because the windings were seen as holy and sanctified. We all have a lot to learn from the ancient priesthoods about this practice. It was symbolic of God’s people becoming His dwelling place. Let’s think on this and give God praise.

    1. How interesting! However, the presence of sacred underclothing in some Catholic orders is not something that is well-known in Catholic lay life, nor is it taught in RE classes in Australian Catholic schools. For some reason, the LDS appear to be the only major religion with whom sacred underwear is popularly associated – probably also because it’s something that the majority of adult churchgoers do, not just the “people at the front” in some ceremonies.

      For a non-denominational, grass roots Christian, the concept of the believer being God’s dwelling place is more about the Holy Spirit than any material thing associated with the body…just like the dwelling of God amongst us in Christ very significantly got rid of the concept of a middle man for many believers (temple veil torn in two etc and in Christ we can now approach God personally).

      Having said that, I totally uphold anyone’s right to use symbolic objects in worship or communication, and I really recommend that everyone should go to a Catholic mass at least once in their lives to see how effectively and incredibly symbolism and symbolic objects can be used…

  4. From the CHI, Bishops and Stake Presidents: Section 3.4.1: After garments are washed, they should not be hung in public areas to dry. Nor should they be displayed or exposed to the view of people who do not understand their significance.

    Looks like the PR department doesn’t read the CHI. Oh wait, only Bishops and Stake Presidents can read it.

  5. Handbook 2 Administering to the church, Section 7.10.3, Instructions about temple clothing and garments, is available to all members online, not only Bishops and Stake presidents as stated by Danny previously.
    Hope this adds to the discussion.

  6. As a non-LDS i really welcome this kind if video. My Lds friends often feel uncomfortable discussing anything to do with the temple for fear of exposing more than they are meant to in trying to answer my question. I try to avoid looking up some things online, such as anything to do with garments or temple covenants, as i really don’t want to offend or intrude on sacred and private aspects of the faith by inadvertently seeing something that is not appropriate.

    It is clear that the video is very vague and does not go into detail or explain aspects if the garments, which is sort of the point. however it does create clearer boundaries for members as to what is acceptable to say, and for non-members as to what is appropriate to know. This kind of defined area is key to continuing to have respectful and meaningful discussions about Mormonism.

    1. On the one hand I, like Bryony, also don’t want to offend or intrude on the sacred and private aspects of people’s faith or see something deemed not appropriate. On the other hand, given that we are all Christians, it gives me cognitive dissonance – the idea that what some Christians do is too holy for other Christians to share openly with them. I mean, we’re all Christians, and the majority of denominations are very happy to share their variations with each other, and have open communion (and LDS do open communion too, in my experience). Even the Catholic Church, which still has residual ideas about people only being able to have Catholic communion if they are Catholics, in practical terms, in my experience, has open communion (when I pointed out to one particular priest I wasn’t Catholic but as a Christian I felt moved to participate in their Christian communion if that was OK with them, the priest said, “I’m not going to stand in your way, that would be hypocritical!” and so I always had communion with them when attending Catholic services).

      It’s only been people like the exclusive Brethren, some of which I went to school with, who really insisted on maintaining rigid barriers with others when eating etc. They appeared to consider all other people, including other Christians, as some sort of contaminating influence to be excluded from anything particularly significant…which to me kind of said they were more concerned about maintaining their own relative holiness and accruing their own brownie points for heaven (paradoxical concepts), than in loving thy neighbour… Jesus did not behave in this manner.

      I’ve never experienced LDS as considering other Christians, or other people in general, as contaminating influences, by the way. And while I do totally respect the right of religions to have their own ceremonies etc, I just feel a bit uncomfortable as a Christian whenever there are communal things that can’t be shared with other Christians, no matter who does them. I kind of think there shoudn’t be such dividing lines within Christianity, in practical terms.

      1. Hi Sue and Bryony, Thanks for weighing in! We love having your perspectives as great friends who are outside the LDS tradition. Fun, too, to have Father Tom join in here! (For those who don’t know, Tom and Bryony have both been guests on MM in the past, and I’m working on getting Sue on the show!)

        Both of you, if you haven’t already explored it, I think will really enjoy the essay by Charles Randall Paul I linked to at the end of the blog post. “Randy” has also been a MM guest in the past, most directly on this topic in episodes 75-76, “Communicating about the Temple”: http://mormonmatters.org/2012/02/22/75%E2%80%9376-communicating-about-the-temple/

        Most specifically, Sue, I think Randy makes a good case in the article (several good cases) for why there are some things that are best left closed to those who haven’t made (or aren’t willing to) make specific covenants that are the essential feature of the endowment rites. On the other hand, he also is a huge advocate (and offers specific ideas) of far greater openness not only to the grounds but also some rituals, and certainly to far more robust public discussion of temple purposes and the positive societal impact that flows from Mormons who worship there.

        I’d love to hear your feedback!

        1. Dear Brother Dan and all who participate in Mormon Matters,
          Hope your former guests are not becoming a relic of the past because there is so much that is certainly being taken under advisement on all sides of these issues. For example, the Association of Hebrew Catholics had major discussions with Stephen Ricks and a panel of other Catholic and LDS scholars regarding the history of Hebrew worship and what fed early Catholic liturgy. A colleague of mine, Terril Littrel, has a fantastic article about the history and evolution of the Hebrew priestly garments and vestments and how it effects the practice of the priesthood today. My PhD dissertation From Sacral Kingship to Sacred Marriage was an update of Mowinkle’s work on the enthronement Psalms with an enlarged view through Salvation History which shows the temple endowments through the enthronement rites are sprinkled throughout the pages of the biblical text. As Christians we should have open discussions about these trends. There was never anything secret in the teachings of Jesus but there was in-house Rabbinic teachings that only applied in the form of a saying to his disciples.

          Sincerely in Christ,
          Father Tom Roberts

  7. One thing to note…women are designated as priestesses to their husbands, not to God. So while the clothing may indicate equality, the words of the endowment most definitely do not.

  8. t his was an interesting topic to be discussed. I do have one issue and that is when Dan and the others spoke of leveling. They spoke of equality in the temple. I absolutely could not disagree more. Without discussing sacred covenants women are told to veil their faces. They also are told that they have to obey their husband and the husband is to obey the Lord. They also don’t get to know their husband’s name. I am trying to be as respectful about what goes on in the temple as I can but to hear this podcast was frustrating because I feel it whitewashed and glossed over something that I as well as many other men and women in the church struggle with is the lack of equality that is shown in the temple.addressing this to the brighter audience in in the podcast would’ve been nice. Other than that I truly enjoy the work you do Dan. Thank you

    1. These are definitely things that are worth exploring, Randall and WI_Member.

      If I recall the comment that prompted your response, it was more of a passing reference to how equality of clothing that doesn’t indicate social rank (gender a different story!) helps to free up worshipers from one more aspect of life that can get in the way of true communion. Without those signals of rank, it’s easier to align with Spirit/deeper processes.

      For the larger issues of men’s and women’s inequality in the temple, I’d have to convene a separate panel. I do know several women who have found ways to shift perspectives on that issue, claiming to have discovered deep channels of wisdom within that separation, but I don’t know if they’d be willing to talk about them “on the air.” There was something somewhat close to this that came out in our episode from a few years back–one that happened to feature three women–40-41: “Ritual within Mormonism”:

      http://mormonmatters.org/2011/07/05/40%E2%80%9341-ritual-within-mormonism/

      If you feel like diving deeper, I hope you’ll take a listen to it! Besides the issue of gender difference, if I recall correctly, there are also sections that talk about the “leveling” feature of ritual/temple that prompted your jumping in. Cheers!

      1. Since the translation of the Temple Scroll contained within the Dead Sea Scrolls, many mainline and Hebrew scholars have interacted with Mormonism on a deep academic level. Krister Stendahl, the Lutheran theologian, has stated the ordinances within the LDS Temple structure do explain biblical salvation. David Noel Freedman editor of the Anchor Bible Dictionary and Commentary, has stated Mormonism has a deep connection with early Judaism. This element has been missing in Christian thought since the early church. Even inter-testamental scholars such as James H. Charlesworth have said the LDS faith is an American reenactment of the Moses story. Other world renown biblical authorities such as Mitchell J. Dahood and Frank Moore Cross, Jr. believe that Mormonism has many non-traditional teachings which nominal Christianity can utilize. With this type of interaction from these learned scholars, should we be any less willing to engage Mormon Christians about such crucial matters? I’m sure early Christianity was much more diverse and complex than our traditional counterparts are willing to admit.
        Sincerely, In His Service, Father Tom

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