The Theology of “Saturday’s Warrior”

Shawn Larsen church, Culture, Folklore, Humor, LDS, Mormon, Mormons 32 Comments

Many Church members consider Johnny Lingo to be the zenith of kitschy Mormon culture (for the uninitiated, you can see it here).  When I was at BYU 15 years ago, I often ran into “wild and crazy” RMs sporting “Mahana, You Ugly” or “Wanted:  Eight-Cow Woman” T-shirts.   But for me, while Brother Lingo and his island crew hold a special place in my heart — along with that kid from the “Cipher in the Snow” — they pale in comparison to the granddaddy of all Mormon cheese:  Saturday’s Warrior.  For the sake of brevity, I will refrain from a detailed plot description; suffice it to say, it’s a dramedy about a young man’s struggle with temptation, that features wild-eyed teenaged representatives from the local chapter of the “Zero Population” movement, a wheelchair-bound dancer, an extended mediation on the size of the father’s nose, dozens of “friends,” and the most devastating “Dear John” letter ever written.  It’s quite a ride!

For me, what sets “Saturday’s Warrior” apart from other Mormon entertainment is that, for better or worse, it has spawned several quasi-doctrinal ideas that still hold sway today.  “Johnny Lingo,” “My Turn on Earth,” “It’s A Miracle” — they all preached generalized Christian messages, such as treat others kindly, don’t judge a book by its cover, etc.  Only “Warrior” had the chutzpah to craft its own unique theology, courtesy of the Flinders clan.

Before getting to the nitty-gritty, I feel compelled to demonstrate my bona fides on this subject.  When I was a teenager, my father, along with a couple of like-minded friends, started a small community theater company, dedicated to the idea of presenting wholesome family fare.  Given that the founders were all active LDS and hoped to tap into the large Mormon community in Las Vegas, they spent the first several years of the company’s existence staging LDS-themed plays.  Part of my duties as the oldest son included spending nearly every weekend night for the next 2 years running a spotlight, manning a soundboard or selling frozen yogurt at the playhouse (yeah, I was really popular with the ladies back then).  As a result, I have seen “Saturday’s Warrior” more times than I care to count.  (I was also subjected to dozens of performances of “Starchild” (the sequel) and “My Turn on Earth,” neither of which have any redeeming value whatsoever and are best forgotten altogether).  All these years later, if you were to put the music on, I could probably belt out 95% of the lyrics before collapsing into the fetal position.

Here are four doctrinal/cultural issues that, by my reckoning, were spawned by “Saturday’s Warrior”:

1.   My Wife, My Soulmate:  At the beginning of the show, set in the pre-mortal plane of existence, a young couple in love promises to find one another in the next (Earth) life no matter what it takes. SPOILER ALERT — by the close of Act II, they run into one another in a park, feel an instant (eternal?) connection, and fall madly in love.  The message, sounded loud and clear, is that righteous couples who marry in the Temple are living up to promises made prior to birth, i.e., they are soulmates.  I still hear talk of soulmates all the time in Church settings.  Romantic, right?  Well, the problem is, Pres. Kimball debunked this notion over 30 years ago:

“Soul mates” are a fiction and an illusion; and while every young man and young woman will seek with all diligence and prayerfulness to find a mate with whom life can be most compatible and beautiful, yet it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price.

Notwithstanding this counsel, the idea of pre-ordained lovers still gets much lip service in Church meetings.  Perhaps that’s why Kimball’s quote is still the centerpiece of the YM lesson on “Choosing An Eternal Companion.”

2.  Let’s Do The Eternal Time Warp Again: This is my favorite one.  Much of the play’s narration comes through the voice of littlest sister Emily Flinders, who is waiting patiently to be born.  Oddly, when oldest sister Pam Flinders dies, she immediately sidles up to, and strikes up a conversation with, the still-unborn Emily.  Put another way, when we die, we all return to the exact same place we were before we were born.  So much for eternal progression!

3.  My Kid Was A General In Heaven:  The chorus of the title track includes the lyric:  “These are the few/the warriors saved for Saturday/to come the last day of the world/these are they, on Saturday.”  The main plot point is the journey of troubled teen, Jimmy Flinders (he’s the crestfallen swordsman in the picture above), to overcome temptation (“Who can survive? Who can survive?”) and realize his place among the Lord’s chosen in the latter days.  The notion that we are members of the most awesomely righteous generation that has ever lived — in your face, baby boomers! — certainly has its appeal.  Indeed, it is so pervasive that Pres. Packer actually made a public statement against it ont too long ago:

We continue to receive reports of the distribution of a quote attributed to me which begins, “The youth of the Church today were generals in the war in heaven,” and ends with the statement that when they return to heaven “all in attendance will bow in your presence.” I did not make that statement. I do not believe that statement.  The statement, on occasion, has been attributed to others of the First Presidency and the Twelve. None of the Brethren made that statement.

4.  It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s A Missionary:  OK, this one is not exactly doctrinal, but it certainly is an idea that has become ingrained in Mormon culture.  The comic relief in “Saturday’s Warrior” is provided by Elders Kestler and Green, who are the most pompous asses imaginable.  Working in their own “humble way,” they serve proudly but with few tangible results.  While missionaries have always held a special place in the Church, the last few decades has seen the rise of a sort of hero-worship of those young men (sorry ladies, you don’t seem to get the same respect) who leave house and home for the mission field.  Goofy as it may sound, in my mind, the treatment of Kestler and Green in the play set the stage for this trend.  Granted, they are presented as slightly dimwitted, but the show placed them on the same pedestal we still reserve for elders today (are your chapel walls lined with shiny plaques for the missionaries serving from your ward).

So, 35 years on, at least some of the the “folk doctrine” borne of “Saturday’s Warrior” still holds sway today, despite official repudiation.  For better or worse, that play still has prominent place in popular culture.  Am I the only one with love in my soul for the Flinders family?  Am I overstating the case about their influence on modern Mormon culture?  If forced to choose, would you rather spend eternity listening to “Will Wait For You?” or “Everybody Ought To Have A Body” (from “My Turn on Earth”)?

Comments

comments

Comments 32

  1. Thanks, Shawn. We must have been at BYU at the same time. I remember those shirts!

    Some of my earliest memories are of the soundtrack to Saturday’s Warrior. I still occasionally annoy my wife by breaking into “Feelings of Forever” or “Zero Population” or the title track. It brings back good memories and a simpler time.

    I must take issue with your characterization of “My Turn on Earth” as presenting a generalized Christian message. Christ barely figures into the equation in either My Turn or Saturday’s Warrior, and I see them as two peas in a pod, down to the involvement of good old Lex de Azevedo in both. Carol Lynn Pearson’s influence is seen in My Turn’s emphasis on free agency, etc. The doctrine of the preexistence is what they have in common.

    My MP denounced the false doctrine of My Turn in presenting Jesus’s plan, when in reality we all KNOW it was the Father’s plan, simply being presented by Jesus.

    More later…

  2. From memory. A one, a two, a one, two, three:

    “Why Wally Kessler you oughta be ashamed of yourself!
    I’ve given you the best years of my life!
    I’ve stood here through it all,
    Through short and fat and tall,
    Through thick and thin and rain and snow and ice!
    And now you’re questioning my IN-TE-GRI-TY!
    Is that anyway to treat your future wiiiiiiiiife?”

    “I’ve seen that smile somewhere before!”
    -“I’ve heard that voice before!”
    Both: “It seems we’ve talked like this before.”
    “Sometimes who can be certain when…?”
    -“But if I knew you then…?”
    Both: “Its strange I can’t remember. Feelings, come so very strong,
    Like we’ve known each other soooooo loooonngg.”

    “Jimmy, oh Jimmy don’t listen to them,
    How can they say they’re your friends?
    If they take you away from your family and home,
    They’ll leave you alone in the end.”
    -“Isn’t there a someone with a hand to spare,
    Who can share what they have for my hunger?
    Isn’t there a someone, who will take me as I am,
    Brace me up, not put me down,
    Make me feel like I’m as good as another?”
    –“Jimmy, we love you,
    That’s all we have to offer.
    Jimmy, we need you,
    Please don’t turn us away.”
    —“Hey Flinders, yo Flinders,
    Come on we gotta go FlinDERS,
    We got a world out there, FlinDERS!
    Believe us, we’re your frieeeeends.”

    Man I don’t think I’ll ever be able to successfully purge the music from Saturday’s Warrior from my brain. But hey, as much cheese and questionable doctrine you might find in the musical, Douglas Stewart and Lex de Azevedo had a knack for songwriting and formulating a compelling, multi-layered latter-day family drama that has withstood the test of time. From the perspective of LDS film history, Saturday’s Warrior holds a special distinction as the first LDS film that was not made or sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Brigham Young University. (Source: Wikipedia).

    What I’m struck most by in the musical is the fluidity with which the characters engage and incorporate the doctrine of eternal families into literally every decision of their lives. This, of course, is intentional, and given the constraints of the medium, is heightened by the compression of time so that it seems like nothing else happens in the lives of the characters except situations where they must confront, reaffirm, reject, or struggle with their faith in eternal families. Still, it provides a sort of sounding board for my own life. How often do I situate my decisions, my attitudes, and my actions around the LDS plan of salvation? Sure, I make decisions all the time in the best interest of my family, but I don’t know if I’m constantly thinking of how its binding us closer together in an eternal family unit or anything. And I’m certainly not picturing my unborn children, singing in harmony up in the premortal realm, yearning for my wife and I to conceive. 🙂

    My guess is that we’ve not seen the last of Saturday’s Warrior. And as much as I hate to admit it, that might not be a bad thing.

  3. The whole context of 70’s and 80’s Mormon art is extremely funny, between Carol Lynn Pearson’s desperate attempts at encultureing Utah and Lex De Azevedo’s attempt to enforce 1950’s attitudes towards teh race moosic. (Pop Music and Morality)

    Have you seen ‘The Ark’? False doctrine is alive and well and musical! It’s right up there with the best of the cheese, and I’m sorry to say I have the soundtrack. Michael MacLean decided to include our good, old fashioned racist folk doctrine that Egyptus was black, thus explaining Ham’s exclusion from the priesthood.

  4. And are the “bad guys” of the play still relevant bad guys? When I was young it was overpopulation concerns. When it was released to video in the 90s it was environmentalists. Would that still hold today? I think environmental issues are starting to become an area where liberals and conservatives are starting to find common ground, even if solutions are not always the same, the problems are a given. Even the average size of the LDS family, while still among the highest of national (US) averages, seems smaller than when Saturday’s Warrior debuted.

    Those lyric are deeply embedded in the back of my head, too. No… removing…. them…. aaaaaagggghhh!

  5. ““Johnny Lingo,” “My Turn on Earth,” “It’s A Miracle” — they all preached generalized Christian messages, such as treat others kindly, don’t judge a book by its cover, etc. Only “Warrior” had the chutzpah to craft its own unique theology, courtesy of the Flinders clan.”

    Actually, we have to credit My Turn on Earth with coming up with the doctrine that Satan and Jesus presented their plans in heaven rather than Satan opposing the Father’s plan and Jesus supporting it. It took years to get that doctrine back out of the Church.

  6. Even my mission president, who was gutsy enough to do “temple demonstrations” with his wife at mission conferences, firesides, and the like, had the good sense to ban this musicalized false doctrine from the mission (though he was generally very open-minded in allowing other forms of entertainments, both sacred and secular). A couple of years after this unfortunate work was released (escaped?), Hugh Nibley made a rather cutting comment on “LDS musicals”:

    “[We have] the present-day practice of combining the splendor of the gospel with the lowest fashionable idiom of the day, the kitsch of the Broadway stage, as a means of selling inferior compositions in the Church market. The facile, sentimental Broadway melody tolerable in its place is set to equally mawkish words and exalted to the realm of high art simply by assigning it the subject of the First Vision or the Temple. This is definitely hitting below the belt. It is like trying to raise the standard and status of a school simply by giving it the cheap and easy title of ‘the Lord’s University.’ ”

    Lex acknowledged in his book “Pop Music and Morality” that SW and MTOE were his response to such shows as “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Godspell”, as well as Christian rock, which he regarded as offensive because they married the Word of God with the Devil’s Music.

  7. “Soul mates” are a fiction and an illusion; and while every young man and young woman will seek with all diligence and prayerfulness to find a mate with whom life can be most compatible and beautiful, yet it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price.

    Sadly, I must have missed this quote from SWK growing up. My parents read “Added Upon” (by Nephi Anderson) to us for FHE and I thought for sure that there WERE soul mates. This caused some heartache when after ten years of marriage my husband said he didn’t believe in soul mates. I was crushed. He of course explained that didn’t mean he didn’t love me, but I had grown up with this idea that at some point in the pre-existance that were reflected in our relationships today. My parents must have really focused on that principle a lot.

    Earlier this year I was reading The Mormon Experience or Essays on New Mormon History (I can’t remember which) but there were quotes from John Taylor about soul mates and the pre-existence and I said “Ha! At one point this was taught”.

  8. Don’t forget the seminary drama’s ……..Quest (I always thought of the Carpenters when I heard the songs), Gates of Zion, I cannot recall the B of M name, and who did not make fun of Tom Trail (Lily, Lily). That was some good stuff.

  9. Shawn? Karl’s son? It’s good to see a Larsen beard again. 😉
    I’ve seen your posts here and didn’t know you were *the* Shawn Larsen I knew and admired back then in Vegas when I was *in* all those productions you mentioned. You totally have Saturday’s Warrior bona fides.

  10. This is one point where I depart from Mormons and formaer Mormons alike — I’m still fond of Saturday’s Warrior after all these years, and still sing along with the recording occasionally. I played Emily Flinders in the Cincinnati Stake 1979 production, and (as I’ve said before) it was the high point of my experience in Mormonism.

    Unsurprisingly, one of the segments of my novel is about a group of young people putting on this play (see here). The story delves into the theology of the piece, and you’ll (perhaps) be pleased to note that one of the protagonists is the guy who ran the spotlight. 😉

  11. Back while living at Deseret Towers, one Sunday Afternoon I was listening to Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, or something like it, and my roommate asked if we could listen to something that would help him feel the spirit. Being a bit of a wimp at the time, I said to go ahead and change the record (boy, does that date me!). He put on SW!

    One of the earlier Utah productions was a Spanish Fork HS, and according to the story, while the soloist was singing “Who are these children coming down”, one of the lighting techs lost his footing and in full view of the audience fell on the stage . . . and some audience members thought it was part of the show.

    The most effective production of SW I saw had Jimmy enter drinking a Pepsi with the outline of a pack of cigarettes in his shirt pocket. And, in the embarrassing scene where the missions bombard the poor guy with pamphlets, the last item they pulled out was a Donnie and Marie poster.

    I’d hoped this type of thing would disappear, but then the whole batch of Hale/Storm filmed road shows hit the market . . . .

  12. On the soul mates topic, I also remember Pres. Hinckley talking about it, although he didn’t use that term. He talked along the “any good man and any good woman” lines and said it never occurred to him to pray for confirmation that he was marrying the right person. They had similar goals, etc., and they were both willing to work at it.

    I liken Alma 32 to dating/marriage, along the same lines that any good man/woman who are willing to work at it can be successful. Even if it has been good in the past, you have to keep nourishing. Soul mates not required.

  13. Being an ole’ BYU vet, I’m convinced that SW has actually undercut its own message…when was the last time at BYU you heard a bishop say: “Find your soulmate.” It’s “your choice, your agency, your spouse” ad nauseum. Elder McConkie’s quote is often (incorrectly) cited concerning how he didn’t pray over whom he should marry. Premortal love, though not doctrinally incorrect (Joseph F. Smith allowed some wiggle room on it), is frowned upon as the stuff of RM-nut jobs who are aching to get married lest they find themselves to be a nuisance.

    So I agree w/Shawn on one level: SW has had a profound impact on doctrine, but ultimately, it has played the part that folks like Bo Gritz and Strom Thurmond have for the Republican party…that is, provide a caricature of weirdness so extrme(at least to present ears…its contemporaries left the musical weeping) that no one wants to be caught being like Julie Flinders.

  14. Ya know, we could apply the same apologetic parsing routine to the SatW-debunking statements: “Were they (the statements debunking the Sat-W myths) personal opinions of those speaking, or doctine?” “Were they given by the first presidency during general conference or in the first presidency message in the Ensign?” “Were they repeated by the same and subsequent first presidencies?”

    Next sub-topic:

    In the Spencer Kimball Priesthood/RS manual, you’ll also find the quote:
    “yet it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price.”

    But look at what’s immediately in front of it and behind it.

    In front: “In selecting a companion for life and for eternity, certainly the most careful planning and thinking and praying and fasting should be done to be sure that of all the decisions, this one must not be wrong. In true marriage there must be a union of minds as well as of hearts. Emotions must not wholly determine decisions, but the mind and the heart, strengthened by fasting and prayer and serious consideration, will give one a maximum chance of marital happiness. It brings with it sacrifice, sharing, and a demand for great selflessness. …”

    Behind: “Two individuals approaching the marriage altar must realize that to attain the happy marriage which they hope for they must know that marriage is not a legal coverall, but it means sacrifice, sharing, and even a reduction of some personal liberties. It means long, hard economizing. It means children who bring with them financial burdens, service burdens, care and worry burdens; but also it means the deepest and sweetest emotions of all. ….

    Those young people who chart their course to a marriage in the temple have already established a pattern of thought which will make them amenable to mutual planning with the chosen partner once he or she is found. ”

    So if you take SWK’s “almost any good man and any good woman” quote in context, you’ll see that he means something quite more than just “any good man” and “any good woman” which seems to be the cultural or folkloric interpretation of it.

    Also, I like to point out that to SWK a “good” man or woman would likely be someone who appears near-perfect in our lesser eyes.

    He specifically mentions using fasting and prayer to assist in making one’s decision. Now this doesn’t mean there is “only the one”, but it seems to clearly imply seeking divine approval of one’s choice.

  15. Great post, but it does make me want to go postal. I can’t number the times growing up I had to clarify to people in my ward that Saturday’s Warrior and Mormon Doctrine were not accurate “canonical” sources of what we really believe! The soul-mates one is particularly insidious. What is this? Hollywood??

  16. Post
    Author

    #9 — I am indeed Karl’s proud son. Who are you? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at larsenshawn AT gmail DOT com, if you would rather not reveal yourself here. I’m dying to know.

  17. Okay, devil’s advocate time:

    1. Wife = soul mate? Okay, not exactly. But, look at it this way: God is (apparently) in charge of which pre-mortal spirits go into which little babies being born. (Paul said that God is in charge of the “bounds of our habitations”, ie where and when we’re born, etc.) In other words, God was in charge of where and when and to whom you were born, same as all your school mates throughout grade school, junior high, high school, college, and your co-workers too. In other words, God is/was in in charge of the “pool” of available people you can meet, at least in terms of where and when you and they were born or placed on earth.

    Or, as CS Lewis wrote in “The Four Loves”: “But in Friendship… we think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another, posting to different regiments, the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting – any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of Ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples ‘Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,’ can truly say ‘You have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another.’ The Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others.”

    I’m not saying CS Lewis trumps President Kimball. But how do we apply President Kimball’s words? Did he mean it “generally” doesn’t happen, or did he mean it “never” happens?

    I’ve met plenty of people who give me a sense of deja vu. I’m pretty confident I’ve met many of them in the pre-mortal existence. And why not? Wouldn’t cohorts from the pre-mortal existence also have a good chance of ending up cohorts in mortality, both in terms of time and location? In the words of Judy Tenuta: “It could happen!”

    2. Eternal Time Warp: “Oddly, when oldest sister Pam Flinders dies, she immediately sidles up to, and strikes up a conversation with, the still-unborn Emily.”

    We have no scriptural evidence of whether this is possible or not. In the standard missionary presentation, the place where pre-mortal spirits live is not the same space where post-mortal spirits live. But we don’t know exactly where those places are, or whether any travel or communication can occur between them. Maybe the sisters weren’t _actually_ together, but through a vision-like experience, like a holographic video conference, they were “virtually” together.

    Come on, let’s allow some poetic/dramatic license here.

    A point in favor of the Sat-W presentation is this: The early apostles and Nephite disciples (except John the Beloved, and the 3 Nephites) wanted to go “where Jesus was” immediately upon death, and if Jesus is where the pre-born spirits are, then yes, post-mortal spirits can go where pre-born spirits are.

    So this possible meet-up isn’t proven, but it isn’t disproven either. Plus, we don’t know about what temporary exceptions there are for cross-over visits.

    3. re: My kid was a general in heaven. No, but at least he was a soldier in that war against Satan and his followers, and worthy enough to have been placed on earth at a time when the fulness of the gospel is on earth.

    The vast majority of the 2/3rd’s of heaven who were on the right side in the war, were born and died on earth when the gospel was not available. And I bet those who lived on earth without the gospel might be just a little bit jealous of those who got to live during the gospel times, and even had a chance to hear it. Or to even be born in the true church! “Wow! You lucky dog! I was born a European peasant in 1242, and died of measles!”

    Next sub-point: Have you seen how true patriots today treat the living veterans of World War II? The only ones left alive were just teenage foot-soldiers and ordinary seamen back then. No generals and hardly any officers are left, they’ve died off. And the surviving foot-soldiers are getting a tremendous amount of respect, even if they were just a supply clerk or cook back then. They showed up, they answered the call, they fulfilled the callings and tasks assigned, they got on the ships and went into war zones. Why not give “veterans of the war in heaven” the same respect?

    4. Missionary worship. Ok, you got a point. But the Lord does do special miraculous things for his missionaries, prior to their missions (he knows which ones are going in advance, of course), during their missions (keeping them alive when they do stupid stunts), and blesses them tremendously post mission as a reward (even though most don’t actively recognize the blessings, since many take decades to show up or be noticed.)

    If anything, it’s the _potential_ that full-time misisonaries have for miracles. Most don’t actually live up to their potential to open the windows of heaven. But read the scriptures, and since God is a God of miracles and gifts, the same yesterday and today, all that stuff you read about missionaries in the scriptures is available to today’s missionaries, if they, and the rest of us, live up to it. As Moroni said, if miracles and spiritual gifts have ceased, it’s becaues faith has diminished, not because God has changed.

    I think we have to face one of the tough facts of the gospel: The gospel can be very “corny” from a worldly or jaded viewpoint. Paul often said in his letters: the gospel is foolish in the eyes of the world, and believers are fools in the eyes of the world.

    ————-

    I think it’s expecting too much to ask for a work of art to be universally applicable in every nuance. Let it have some poetic/dramatic license, and acknowledge that everything has some hyperbole and exaggeration. Instead of condemning it for not being 100% scripturally supported, celebrate the good parts and allow its metaphors to be applied in limited applications instead of demanding it fit universal or least-common denominator situations.

  18. Re: Did he mean it “generally” doesn’t happen, or did he mean it “never” happens?

    This is an excellent point. As a former “menace to society” who heard this “encouragement” to marry and make it work, it seems to me that one of the mission of the GA’s is to “prompt” the priesthood to “progress.” While I believe that it is true “that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price”, I’ve seen some that have to pay quite dearly. I waited and found someone that was better for me than any other person that I had an opportunity to marry. I don’t know if I knew her “sometime, who can be certain when”, but she is NOW my soul mate. 🙂

    Once I heard from someone that he knew someone who’s patriarchal blessing said that in the pre-existence, his best friend was Hyrum Smith. If this was truly inspired and we did have best friends in the pre-existence, then I would think its a possibility that a friendship akin to soul mates could be real.

    How can you not mention that the spirits of the pre-existent SW characters had differences in age that matched the differences of their earthly counterparts! Or that the pre-existent names were the same as the earthly names? It would seem that the pre-existent Flinder’s should all be similar in age but have physical resemblences to their earthly counterparts for authenticity. I jest in this, as the theater is a place to be inspired and entertained and poetic/dramatic license is very important. If you watch the special features of the movie Brigham Young, they talk about how the President of the church at the time thought it was important for the purpose of dramatic license to portray President Young as being unsure of his calling until the end of the movie. This is disappointing for LDS watchers as he comes off as more wishy washy.

    I was one of the unfortunate who’s parents didn’t follow the throngs to the theater and missed the first run of SW. So, they took us to a follow-up dud called “Threads of Glory”. (Awful). When we finally went to the theater to see a SW revival, the bad guys had been watered down to one wanton wench called “Sheila”. This brought a different image to the lyric “I know a place where we can get it together!”

  19. Hmmm… maybe my parents did too good a job of making sure we were taught orthodox doctrine, as the non-doctrinal parts of Saturdays Warrior make me cringe a little. Despite that I still have a lot of affection for it, and some of the beautiful music.

    “Paper Dream” in particular stands out to me as a very moving song.

    “I take some paper in my hand,
    an with a pencil draw a man.
    The dream of what I’d really, really, like to be.”

    My other favorite was “Sailing On”.

    It’s strange to me that nobody has mentioned those songs, which to me spoke more about the personal and individual nature of redemption, while other more… Mormon folksy songs seem to get all the attention.

  20. Cicero,

    I remember being on a Priest’s quorum superactivity and having our 1st assistant give a talk on repentence. As we were outdoors and not bounded by traditional rules for sacrament meetings, he took his tape recorder and played his “My Turn On Earth” tape with the song:

    Just in case you need to erase
    It was figured out before
    a thing called repentence
    can wipe out a sentence,
    a page or a chapter or more.

    I’m the one who writes my own story
    I’ll decide the person I’ll be.

    I remember thinking and still think about what a spiritual experience that was. Hearing that music in the woods with talks by someone that you related to on your own level. It was great.

  21. My Prexistence and war damage memories in heaven
    As a Pre Mortal spirit child.

    I was born a non church member as a mortal human being on earth.
    With no viel over my minds eye.
    And remember being in heaven a sa person.
    Falling through the air down too earth.
    to be born to a unknown mortal mother on earth with this message.

    No go forth and teach the people of these things that you see and do here.
    And are a part of.
    so that they might believe.

    end of message

    what dose it mean.
    Heaven is a butiefull place And It can cause tears to a person who see’s the destruction caused by war between Lucifer and Jesus Christ’s people over the plan of salvation.

  22. I challenge those who criticize Saturday’s Warrior to do a better job. If a critic were successful, I’m sure I would enjoy and be inspired by the work because Saturday’s Warrior succeeded in entertaining and inspiring me. Naturally, there are contradictions between SW and LDS doctrine, but it’s not hard to find contradictions in things said by various LDS leaders, either. All of us, even those who hold priesthood keys, are human and, therefore, are prone to err. It’s part of this mortal life, and we are left to perform our duties without wrongly judging others and hoping that we are as forgiving as God must be to accept us after our lives are finished.

  23. Mr. Larsen,

    I liked BookSlinger’s comment from 20080904 at 23:04, but wanted to add to it. It’s odd to reply to a post from 2008 because I found your page some six years later, but I wanted to point out errors with some of your four main points:
    #2. “…when we die, we all return to the exact same place we were before we were born. So much for eternal progression!”
    See D&C 138 to show that the pre- and post-mortal spirit worlds can commingle. Joseph Smith, et al were with Adam, Eve, Seth, etc. in this vast congregation of the righteous at the first visit of Christ to the spirit world after death, c. 29-34 A.D. My own interpretation is that travel is allowed between, but not failure to progress! Again, that’s just a personal interpretation of the doctrine, but the meeting of spirits on both ends of their earth time is scriptural.

    #3. It is correct that Pres. Packer specifically denounced the “generals in the war in heaven” quote. However, that is not what is said by SW. I interpret the play/movie as expansion of the “noble and great ones” doctrine in Abraham, and Pres. Hinckley did say the youth of today are That Darn Good. See Oct 2003 conference, Pres. Hinckley (Nov Ensign), talk titled “An Ensign to the Nations, A Light to the World”: “God bless you, my dear young friends. You are the best generation we have ever had. You know the gospel better. You are more faithful in your duties. You are stronger to face the temptations which come your way.” Sounds like he is not saying latter-day youth were generals, or that other spirits from other eras will fall down and praise them, but they are the best generation.

    Furthermore, in Oct 1989 conference (Nov Ensign), Elder Marvin J. Ashton’s talk “Stalwart and Brave We Stand,” he quoted Pres. Ezra Taft Benson’s talk to youth in a S. California meeting: “For nearly six thousand years, God has held you in reserve to make your appearance in the final days before the Second Coming. Every previous gospel dispensation has drifted into apostasy, but ours will not… God has saved for the final inning some of his strongest children, who will help bear off the kingdom triumphantly. And that is where you come in, for you are the generation that must be prepared to meet your God.” Again, it didn’t use the “generals in the war in heaven” or past generations will “bow down at their feet” imagery, but there is no doubt that they were saved for the last days.

    I’m in my 30s and was raised on soundtracks of SatW & MTOE, and the cheese and over-simplification is definitely there. The false idea of a “One and Only” was specifically noted as untrue by my parents as we drove to and fro with the tapes running (along with Power Tales and Primary songbooks). I saw it as for the purpose of story and to move the plot along.

    In response to your #4, there is no wrong in saying missionaries are awesome. They are offered protection by angels on their left and their right. It is a sacrifice to set aside your life for two years to serve. Granted, I served with multiple missionaries who I felt should not have served, and who I believe may have hampered the work by their actions. The humorously vain pair in SW were not portrayed as how missionaries ought to be.

    Unfortunately, the article needed specific corny points to list, and only attacking #1 doesn’t make much of an article.

    Take Saturday’s Warrior for what it was: an LDS play by non- official sources with LDS themes designed to entertain, not a deep doctrinal treatise on pre-Earth life and foreordination.

  24. Pingback: Salt Lake Tribune - "Iconic Mormon musical ‘Saturday’s Warrior’ is ready for its film close-up" | Saturday Warrior

  25. Pingback: Iconic Mormon musical ‘Saturday’s Warrior’ is ready for its film close-up – Shawn Miller

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *