Picture Perfect Ick

I watched the PBS documentary (as did over 250 million others) The Mormons and I was both impressed and disconcerted.

I was impressed with the accurate portrayal of the past, including the good and the bad; I was impressed with Dallin Oaks’s admission of the complicity of the Mormons in the MMM. But the latter-day stuff was, to my mind, sugar-coated fluff. I mean, who out there bought Boyd K. Packer’s “Well, gee, duh-hilt, if I said it then I must’ve said it, uh huh.” What pseudo- sincere, disingenuous bullshit. Yes, the Church does a lot of good for SOME families, and does charitable work around the world. Yes, the piece on the girl dying of a heart condition was brutally poignant, and her family was seemingly ideal. Yes, those bright-eyed missionaries were portrayed as very sweet and stalwart.

But what about the other side of today’s Mormon Church? The subject of depression and perfection was barely touched upon. No mention was made of abuse within the Church authority, lack of reporting sexual and physical abuse; the good ol’ boys network. No mention was made of the extreme levels of secrecy surrounding historical documents, financial records and salaries of top authorities. No one saw the mother with too many kids, crying in the bathroom because she’s got no where else to go. It didn’t show the father coming home from church meetings after everyone’s in bed and he hasn’t seen his children in a week. There was no portrayal of the recrimination ex-Mormons face when they leave, the process of shunning that occurs. No disaffected Mormons were interviewed because they would be too scared to be seen on TV; but how would it have been to have had people still “in” talking about how miserable their lives were along side those who had found happiness within the framework of Zion?

It felt toward the end that the sugar-coating was in a way, kowtowing to the Church to make up for telling the truth about their past. It left me with an icky feeling that I just can’t place my finger on. But it’s the feeling I get when I’m faced with someone–or something– inauthentic.


repost from Ravings of a Mad Woman


My name is JulieAnn Henneman. I am an author living in Draper, Utah. My first novel, 2000 dollar loan online. Always Listen to the Ravings of a Mad Woman: a Story of Sex, Porn and Postum in the Land of Zion, is a fictional story about a suburban Mormon housewife who discovers that her husband of 17 years is a sex and pornography addict. I am also a poet and enjoy writing short stories with an erotic bent. You can find my poetry online, and probably some erotic shorts. I will be performing my poetry in the Utah Arts Festival this year, among other venues. I was born and raised in the LDS faith and left several times throughout my life; however, I left for good in 1995. Currently, I am a full-time writer and parent. Beginning next month, I will reprise my role as a creative writing workshop facilitator for Art Access of Utah. Through Art Access, I teach creative writing workshops to adults and teens with disabilities and addiction issues. Oh, and I really, really love coffee.

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8 Responses

  1. Kullervo says:

    Incidentally, the family with the girl who had the heart condition are friends of ours- the older sister who talked about being married in the temple, she and her husband were the first people who babysat my wife’s and my little boy.

    Seriously quality people. But it was a head-trip to see them on the documentary, since I wasn’t expecting it (I think they had said something about it, but it was a while back, so I forgot).

    And the bright-eyed missionaries? I just about dropped my jaw on the floor- I was their ward mission leader at the time they were interviewed. I remember them saying something about a documentary, but I didn;t think about it until I saw their faces on TV. It was weird.

    Anyway, it was a good reminder to me that there are a lot f really genuinely great people in the Church. Even if the Church is, you know, a load of bunk.

  2. JulieAnn says:

    There are so many great people in, and out, of the Church. I am fortunate to have many friends and neighbors who are quality people and who are accepting and kind.

    Thanks for the comment. :0)

  3. Kullervo says:

    By the way, JulieAnn, when I comment on your blog, it won’t let me use my WordPress ID, so I have to comment as Random Goblin, which is my Blogger name.

    I don’t comment all that often I guess, but just so you know. Random Goblin and Kullervo are one and the same.

  4. JulieAnn, interesting thoughts here. I didn’t see the documentary, but read quite a bit about it.

  5. Sounds like interviewing the disaffected and downtrodden would make a good documentary. Who’s up for it? 🙂

    SML, you can watch the whole thing online if you’re curious.

  6. Thanks, Jonathan. I’ll have to do that.

  7. JulieAnn says:

    Random Goblin! Comment more, I miss them!

  8. I actually really liked the documentary. I mean, I’m not running back to the church or anything – I still disagree with practically all of its stances, and I don’t think it’s a one-size-fits-all (or even -most) – but the very tiny bit of resentment I was still holding onto? That documentary released it. I like my Mormon heritage. Most of my best friends, and all my family, are still Mormon. There’s been no shunning, and, with the exception of one email, no effort to re-convert me.

    True, the documentary didn’t really go into the lack of evidence for their claims (or the evidence AGAINST their claims). But they actually DID touch on the secrecy of the financial records, and one active woman talked about the completely daunting and unrealistic expectations for women in the church. It also talked about how the church requires pretty much all the free time of its members.

    No, it wasn’t an expose (imagine an accent mark on that last ‘e’) – but I actually thought it did a pretty good job of covering most of the bases fairly objectively. I enjoyed it.