Banner of Heaven: My Take (So Far)

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Kishkumen
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Banner of Heaven: My Take (So Far)

Post by Kishkumen »

So we finally started watching the limited series on Hulu. It is less annoying than I expected, although it really does not get things right in a number of ways. Everyone is saying Heavenly Father constantly, basically anywhere others might say “God.” That’s one example of annoying boners in the series.

On the whole, I find it to be much more effective and frankly frightening in its treatment of American political extremism in the Western US than I had expected. In its treatment of LDSism, on the other hand, it comes off—to me—as almost unremittingly negative in its depiction of the faith, its history, and its modern culture.

Now, this is not to say that there wasn’t a measure of truth to much of what the show depicts. Rather, it is the way the show piles negative upon negative until one wonders how anyone could ever remain, much less convert to, LDSism that strikes me as a grotesque distortion.

It is very much a reflection of the modern ex-Mo experience. Constant references to “the shelf” were a dead giveaway. The LDS world is shown through the bitter, regretful, and disillusioned lens of a recently departed ex-LDSer of the Intermountain West.

The temple part was bizarre and offensive, in my opinion. Really awful that they disrespected the ritual in that way, and then drew a facile connection between early Mormon violence and the crimes of a psychopath clothed in Sunday worst.

And yet, it is all just close enough to leave me with the eerie feeling that it touches upon truth. No, it is not the whole truth, and it is not particularly fair, but I know this Utah. I have experienced it. Some of my relatives reflect it a little too well.
“Academia’s continual campaign to disregard or neglect the classics is a sign of spiritual decay, moral decline and a deep intellectual narrowness running amok in American culture.” ~ Cornel West
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DrStakhanovite
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Re: Banner of Heaven: My Take (So Far)

Post by DrStakhanovite »

I was entertained watching it, but I don’t think it would merit a re-watch a year from now. Even as a Never-Mormon I thought the depiction of Utah religiosity a bit hokey and inauthentic; I understand it was the 80s, but come on. I liked the acting of Wyatt Russell , Rory Culkin and Sam Worthington, as the Lafferty boys.
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Kishkumen
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Re: Banner of Heaven: My Take (So Far)

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DrStakhanovite wrote:
Tue Jul 26, 2022 1:51 am
I was entertained watching it, but I don’t think it would merit a re-watch a year from now. Even as a Never-Mormon I thought the depiction of Utah religiosity a bit hokey and inauthentic; I understand it was the 80s, but come on. I liked the acting of Wyatt Russell , Rory Culkin and Sam Worthington, as the Lafferty boys.
Thanks for this perspective, DrStak! Oddly, I think I could watch it again. In my view it is a horror movie aping a historical drama. LDSism just comes off as creepy, and that is due in no small part to the way it was filmed. It reminds me of Mindhunter and Archive 81 in its aesthetics. You are right about the acting. Really well done on their part.

I do find sympathetic the way these characters come to the conclusion that something is lacking in the LDSism of their day, but the answers they reach for are absolutely terrifying. Part of the creepiness is the depiction of Brigham Young as a villain. THAT part strikes me as somewhat believable. Although I don't ascribe to their particular conspiracy theory about BY, I do agree that he is probably responsible for making Mormonism much, much worse than it had to be.
“Academia’s continual campaign to disregard or neglect the classics is a sign of spiritual decay, moral decline and a deep intellectual narrowness running amok in American culture.” ~ Cornel West
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Binger
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Re: Banner of Heaven: My Take (So Far)

Post by Binger »

I am curious to see how non-Mormons and non-exmormons compare the drama series to the book.
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Dr Moore
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Re: Banner of Heaven: My Take (So Far)

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Thanks Kish, for the thoughtful and well-rounded take.

I thought it captured the dark side of Mormonism very well. No, not perfectly in every whit, and definitely not the whole picture. But I have to object that somehow the director owed his audience a full spectrum view of the Mormon experience -- why? I think the director wanted to show how the uniquely-LDS combination of history, beliefs and practices may, when wrought on certain people and families, lead to devastating outcomes. This is a documentary metaphor for a variety of instantiations of violence and abuse that are magnified by Mormonism: physical, sexual, emotional, religious.
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Re: Banner of Heaven: My Take (So Far)

Post by Kishkumen »

Dr Moore wrote:
Tue Jul 26, 2022 5:56 pm
Thanks Kish, for the thoughtful and well-rounded take.

I thought it captured the dark side of Mormonism very well. No, not perfectly in every whit, and definitely not the whole picture. But I have to object that somehow the director owed his audience a full spectrum view of the Mormon experience -- why? I think the director wanted to show how the uniquely-LDS combination of history, beliefs and practices may, when wrought on certain people and families, lead to devastating outcomes. This is a documentary metaphor for a variety of instantiations of violence and abuse that are magnified by Mormonism: physical, sexual, emotional, religious.
Point taken. It is one version of a familiar story. It is not that far off from the story that brought us Donald Trump and the end of Roe v. Wade. But that story is too familiar to tell in the same way. It is easier to tell about someone who is just different enough not to make people look over their shoulders every five minutes.
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Re: Banner of Heaven: My Take (So Far)

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Kishkumen wrote:
Wed Jul 27, 2022 1:53 am
It is not that far off from the story that brought us Donald Trump and the end of Roe v. Wade. But that story is too familiar to tell in the same way. It is easier to tell about someone who is just different enough not to make people look over their shoulders every five minutes.
The Lafferty story, including the Murder of Brenda, is one that is not far off from the "story" that brought us Trump and the end of Roe? Oh boy. Just, just, just... oh boy.

Yeah. Put me on the record as one who lived in Utah at the time of those murders, served a mission in France and heard all the stories of the Church of the Firstborn and would describe myself as no longer a practicing Mormon (including resignation.) And, I call B.S. on the nonsense that somehow a cult murdering lunatic family and their murdering story is not far off from the story that brought us Trump and the end of Roe.

Now, if you had said that the Lafferty story is not far off from the story that brought us Country Rap, I would think you had at least put some thought into this. But nah, I think you are just making stuff up.
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Re: Banner of Heaven: My Take (So Far)

Post by Dwight »

I'm reading the book for the first time now. I liked the series well enough and thought it did an admirable job of trying to distill this tragic event and the culture it happened in just seven episodes. Though I will admit my appreciation has been deepened and I missed some things that were purposeful only after listening to Lindsay Hansen Park give more of a behind the scenes look at her involvement. Particularly the Sunstone ones, but she has appeared other places. One eye-opening thought came to me first after I had finished watching from Consig talking about it on Rameumpton Ruminations and they talked about the flashbacks not being just a flashback, but really showing what e.g. Alan narrates as having happened. The flashbacks are coming through multiple filters of imperfect understanding of the history and from the narrator. This was confirmed by LHP that they were intentionally written for the script this way.
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Kishkumen
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Re: Banner of Heaven: My Take (So Far)

Post by Kishkumen »

Binger wrote:
Wed Jul 27, 2022 2:37 am
The Lafferty story, including the Murder of Brenda, is one that is not far off from the "story" that brought us Trump and the end of Roe? Oh boy. Just, just, just... oh boy.

Yeah. Put me on the record as one who lived in Utah at the time of those murders, served a mission in France and heard all the stories of the Church of the Firstborn and would describe myself as no longer a practicing Mormon (including resignation.) And, I call B.S. on the nonsense that somehow a cult murdering lunatic family and their murdering story is not far off from the story that brought us Trump and the end of Roe.

Now, if you had said that the Lafferty story is not far off from the story that brought us Country Rap, I would think you had at least put some thought into this. But nah, I think you are just making stuff up.

LOL! I love how you put almost no effort into understanding what someone writes and then spend much more time writing complete nonsense. At least the nonsense is eloquently put and somewhat funny.

For example, you seem to have ignored the part where I said, " . . . drew a facile connection between early Mormon violence and the crimes of a psychopath clothed in Sunday worst."
“Academia’s continual campaign to disregard or neglect the classics is a sign of spiritual decay, moral decline and a deep intellectual narrowness running amok in American culture.” ~ Cornel West
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Kishkumen
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Re: Banner of Heaven: My Take (So Far)

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Dwight wrote:
Wed Jul 27, 2022 11:05 am
I'm reading the book for the first time now. I liked the series well enough and thought it did an admirable job of trying to distill this tragic event and the culture it happened in just seven episodes. Though I will admit my appreciation has been deepened and I missed some things that were purposeful only after listening to Lindsay Hansen Park give more of a behind the scenes look at her involvement. Particularly the Sunstone ones, but she has appeared other places. One eye-opening thought came to me first after I had finished watching from Consig talking about it on Rameumpton Ruminations and they talked about the flashbacks not being just a flashback, but really showing what e.g. Alan narrates as having happened. The flashbacks are coming through multiple filters of imperfect understanding of the history and from the narrator. This was confirmed by LHP that they were intentionally written for the script this way.
Huh! Interesting. Thanks for sharing that, Dwight. I did like a lot of what they were doing with "flashbacks."
“Academia’s continual campaign to disregard or neglect the classics is a sign of spiritual decay, moral decline and a deep intellectual narrowness running amok in American culture.” ~ Cornel West
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