Banner of Heaven: My Take (So Far)

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dastardly stem
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Re: Banner of Heaven: My Take (So Far)

Post by dastardly stem »

Kishkumen wrote:
Mon Jul 25, 2022 11:58 pm
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.
Thanks, Kishkumen. As would be expected a very well put review. I think I largely agree with every line you put down above. I finished a few weeks back and walked away feeling a similar pile of conflicting things.

Nice point on the temple content. Agreed. It was a terribly strained segment of odd clips from different places that may or may not have any connection whatsoever with the murders.
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Dr Exiled
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Re: Banner of Heaven: My Take (So Far)

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dastardly stem wrote:
Wed Jul 27, 2022 1:47 pm
Kishkumen wrote:
Mon Jul 25, 2022 11:58 pm
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.
Thanks, Kishkumen. As would be expected a very well put review. I think I largely agree with every line you put down above. I finished a few weeks back and walked away feeling a similar pile of conflicting things.

Nice point on the temple content. Agreed. It was a terribly strained segment of odd clips from different places that may or may not have any connection whatsoever with the murders.
I think the temple content was there to make the surrounding culture/church look culty enough to spawn the likes of the Laffertys. That was one of the main themes of the show - crazy Mormon cultists with their odd rituals and their murderous mountain meadows past, of course, could give birth to Lafferty types. It was only a matter of time. However, I agree that it was too obvious a connection. I was surprised that there wasn't an overlay of the murder scene and the temple, just to make it more obvious.
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Binger
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Re: Banner of Heaven: My Take (So Far)

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Kishkumen wrote:
Wed Jul 27, 2022 11:21 am
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."
So, your point is these murderers' story is like the story that brought us Trump because it connected violence from a long time ago to the crimes of a psychopath. Do I have that correct? Because it seems even more messed up now than the first time you said it.
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Kishkumen
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Re: Banner of Heaven: My Take (So Far)

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Binger wrote:
Wed Jul 27, 2022 3:00 pm
So, your point is these murderers' story is like the story that brought us Trump because it connected violence from a long time ago to the crimes of a psychopath. Do I have that correct? Because it seems even more messed up now than the first time you said it.
That is most definitely not my point. I would like to give you credit for being able to figure out what my point is by drawing an inference or two intelligently, but you seem more interested in clouding every issue.
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Binger
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Re: Banner of Heaven: My Take (So Far)

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Kishkumen wrote:
Wed Jul 27, 2022 3:31 pm
Binger wrote:
Wed Jul 27, 2022 3:00 pm
So, your point is these murderers' story is like the story that brought us Trump because it connected violence from a long time ago to the crimes of a psychopath. Do I have that correct? Because it seems even more messed up now than the first time you said it.
That is most definitely not my point. I would like to give you credit for being able to figure out what my point is by drawing an inference or two intelligently, but you seem more interested in clouding every issue.
I have no interest in clouding this. On the one hand, we have a story about murderers. You said there is a parallel to the story that brought us Trump and the Dobbs decision by the Supreme Court. There is nothing cloudy in your point or my restatement.
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Re: Banner of Heaven: My Take (So Far)

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Dr Exiled wrote:
Wed Jul 27, 2022 2:22 pm
dastardly stem wrote:
Wed Jul 27, 2022 1:47 pm


Thanks, Kishkumen. As would be expected a very well put review. I think I largely agree with every line you put down above. I finished a few weeks back and walked away feeling a similar pile of conflicting things.

Nice point on the temple content. Agreed. It was a terribly strained segment of odd clips from different places that may or may not have any connection whatsoever with the murders.
I think the temple content was there to make the surrounding culture/church look culty enough to spawn the likes of the Laffertys. That was one of the main themes of the show - crazy Mormon cultists with their odd rituals and their murderous mountain meadows past, of course, could give birth to Lafferty types. It was only a matter of time. However, I agree that it was too obvious a connection. I was surprised that there wasn't an overlay of the murder scene and the temple, just to make it more obvious.
Also, the interplay between blood atonement and temple penalty commitments, together paint the Lafferty's twisted sense of rightness. To the director, I imagine that twisted thinking required somehow conveying both sides of that interplay. Not saying I agree with visually replaying a part of the temple ceremony -- a tactful conversation *about* covenants and penalties could have done the job. However, I do understand why some people carry so much anger about the destructive side of Mormonism (and its obsession with secrecy), and unfortunately we live in a world where toxic organizations have lost their ability to maintain a demand for secrecy, or respect for claimed sacred things, in the public eye. Mormonism has plenty of good, but plenty of toxic too.

Do believing LDS complain as vocally when film/media/audio scenes are made public of other "sacred" spaces of other religions and/or cults? It's a house of mirrors and angles, and insofar as 99% of the population is concerned, believing LDS have no special ground to stand on in demanding special treatment on secrecy.
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Kishkumen
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Re: Banner of Heaven: My Take (So Far)

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dastardly stem wrote:
Wed Jul 27, 2022 1:47 pm
Thanks, Kishkumen. As would be expected a very well put review. I think I largely agree with every line you put down above. I finished a few weeks back and walked away feeling a similar pile of conflicting things.

Nice point on the temple content. Agreed. It was a terribly strained segment of odd clips from different places that may or may not have any connection whatsoever with the murders.
Thanks, stem! Yeah, the temple part was odd, offensive, and seemed to me to be a real stretch in the way they repeatedly sought to connect removed parts of the ceremony to the violence of the Lafferty men. To give you an example of just how far the filmmakers went to exaggerate this point, they made up a whole bit about Ron seeking to kill Dan in a bathroom at the casino they were hanging out in. The LDS detective intuits the probability that one will seek to kill the other, leading to him finding the brothers at the casino and barely arriving in time to save Dan from his brother strangling him to death. Through it all, the detective is shown envisioning Dan et al. miming the slitting of his own throat in a building that appears to be patterned off the interior of the Salt Lake temple.

None of that stuff about Ron attempting to kill Dan and the two being apprehended in the nick of time thanks to the LDS detective's insight into applying the teaching of the One Mighty and Strong and the old endowment ritual to the case is in the book. For all I know it was completely fabricated out of nothing, and its main point seems to be to drill down on the idea that in order to understand these killings, one must appreciate the culpability of Mormonism and its founders.

Having listened to the early 2000s interview with Dan Lafferty, I have concluded, to the contrary, that Dan is a psycho and thus largely responsible for the fact that the murders were carried out. A closer reading of the film hints at the very same thing. It was Dan who seems to have been incapable of keeping his father's business going when Father Lafferty was on a mission, and one of the reasons seems to have been his own special brand of religious detachment from reality. At every step, Dan seems to have been the real guiding force in the extremism and madness, only eventually drawing Ron into his mess, when Ron was desperate thanks to financial dire straits. Dan was insane, and Dan was the driving force in the lunacy that led to the murders. Unsurprisingly, it was he who drew the blade across the necks of Brenda and her child.

What we don't see in this is the culpability of LDS beliefs and practices. If the temple ritual had been so destructive and dangerous, as the book and even more so the film try to depict it, then there would have been all kinds of abuses of this sort in 20th century Mormonism. To the contrary, 99.999% of all people who went through the temple did not engage in ritual murders. Dan Lafferty murdered in a manner that was reminiscent of ritual elements of the endowment, but, then, he was also insane. The criminally insane mind can twist just about anything. The temple really was not the problem here, nor was the LDS Church. To put culpability where it belongs, Dan Lafferty richly deserved punishment for these crimes, as did his brother.
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Kishkumen
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Re: Banner of Heaven: My Take (So Far)

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Dr Exiled wrote:
Wed Jul 27, 2022 2:22 pm
I think the temple content was there to make the surrounding culture/church look culty enough to spawn the likes of the Laffertys. That was one of the main themes of the show - crazy Mormon cultists with their odd rituals and their murderous mountain meadows past, of course, could give birth to Lafferty types. It was only a matter of time. However, I agree that it was too obvious a connection. I was surprised that there wasn't an overlay of the murder scene and the temple, just to make it more obvious.
There are really only two religious orientations that do not provoke a lot of criticism and voyeurism in American culture. The first is Protestantism. That is the baseline norm for American religion. It is so much a part of the fabric of the country that it only elicits comment and criticism at its most enthusiastic extremes, and, even then, the extremes of American Protestantism draw little criticism compared with the harmless quotidian activities of other religious groups. The other position that is normative in the more limited scope of the intellectual elite is atheism. The majority of Americans are biased against atheists, but for intellectual elites atheism is the only "adult" viewpoint to hold.

What atheists and Protestants hold in common is an aversion to ritual. Indeed, I would say that many if not most liberal atheists are just graduated cultural Protestants. They hold to many progressive Protestant views while eschewing the "childish" beliefs of their fundamentalist conservative counterparts.
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Kishkumen
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Re: Banner of Heaven: My Take (So Far)

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Dr Moore wrote:
Wed Jul 27, 2022 3:43 pm
Also, the interplay between blood atonement and temple penalty commitments, together paint the Lafferty's twisted sense of rightness.
It was probably impossible to do this well, and the bad results come through in the series. The precise connection between the Lafferty brothers' views and the endowment, not to mention half a dozen other LDS historical points and teachings, is adumbrated only as far as it excites prurient interest and facile outrage. The filmmaker really tries too hard to indict Mormon history for the crimes of the Lafferty brothers, and the results are pretty poor.

That said, I don't know how they could have done better, if they were set on an accurate treatment of Mormonism and not just a sensational takedown of the faith. if they were aiming at the latter, mission accomplished, and no wonder so many LDS commentators are pissed about it.
To the director, I imagine that twisted thinking required somehow conveying both sides of that interplay. Not saying I agree with visually replaying a part of the temple ceremony -- a tactful conversation *about* covenants and penalties could have done the job.
Yeah, good point. I wonder how it is, though, that anyone but a complete looney holds someone responsible for covenants they themselves have broken to the point of excommunication? In my view the real story is Dan's untethered and insane way of applying Mormonish things (more like sloppy references) in a way that suited his own narcissistic pathologies.

But that is a lot less sexy than saying, "See Dan Lafferty is just like Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and, if you do the things they did (like go through the temple?), you will kill mommies and babies too!"
However, I do understand why some people carry so much anger about the destructive side of Mormonism (and its obsession with secrecy), and unfortunately we live in a world where toxic organizations have lost their ability to maintain a demand for secrecy, or respect for claimed sacred things, in the public eye. Mormonism has plenty of good, but plenty of toxic too.

Do believing LDS complain as vocally when film/media/audio scenes are made public of other "sacred" spaces of other religions and/or cults? It's a house of mirrors and angles, and insofar as 99% of the population is concerned, believing LDS have no special ground to stand on in demanding special treatment on secrecy.
Here is where I think the filmmaker really let everyone down, and I would say irresponsibly so. The hands down heroes of the story were Brenda and Detective Taba. One was a believing Latter-day Saint, and the other didn't give a fig for Mormonism. At the end, those two perspectives could have come to the fore, and the bizarre, fictional intuition of Detective Pyre about the One Mighty and Strong, etc., should have been left on the cutting room floor. The story seemed to have been headed in that direction anyway, so squeezing in Pyre's fictional discovery of imminent fratricide confused things in a way that only benefited the sensationalist angle of "weird Mormon beliefs lead inevitably to bizarre crimes."
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Re: Banner of Heaven: My Take (So Far)

Post by Kishkumen »

Binger wrote:
Wed Jul 27, 2022 3:37 pm
I have no interest in clouding this. On the one hand, we have a story about murderers. You said there is a parallel to the story that brought us Trump and the Dobbs decision by the Supreme Court. There is nothing cloudy in your point or my restatement.
Disingenuous, really. You have a brain. Use it. Don’t exploit gaps in posts to make others look bad. That’s what you habitually do. It should not be necessary to bog the conversation down with the time-wasting activities you foist on everyone.
“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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