Unofficial Big Love

Real Mormons Talking About Fictional Mormons

Questions and Comments for Episode 3

Have any reactions to our second episode? Is there something you’d like us to cover on Episode 3?

Ask away!

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  • Bill W.

    How about covering “multiple mortal probations”? Is this something many fundamentalist Mormons believe?

  • Glenn

    Good catch Bill. We are totally on it. The quick answer is that it is not a very popular or wide spread belief, but it does exist so there is a precedent for the Bud character on Big Love.

    A guy named Jim Harmston in 1990 formed a break-off sect of Mormonism in Manti, Utah. They were angry that the Mormon church made changes to the temple ceremony, so they formed their own group — about 30 people at first — and they called themselves “The True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days,” — TLC for short. Eventually Harmston began claiming the doctrine of “multiple mortal probations” that he had been Joseph Smith and even the Holy Ghost incarnate. This is not common knowledge among Mormons today, and there may be other examples of this doctrine besides the TLC, but it’s the best I could come up with after only one day of hearing about it for the first time on Big Love! :)

    Here’s a link if you want to read more about it:

  • Bob Caswell

    Actually, “multiple mortal probations” was a teaching of the “mainstream” Church back in the 19th century. I put “mainstream” in quotes because, well, this teaching is the opposite of mainstream today. As you can tell from Glenn, this doctrine is lost on Mormons nowadays. It mostly came from Heber C. Kimball but was also taught by Brigham Young as well.

    Kimball was one of the original 12 apostles of the Mormon Church and remained very influential up until his death in 1868. His grandson (Spencer W. Kimball) was the prophet (leader) of the Church in the 1970′s and 80′s. And his great-grandson is an apostle in the Church today (Quentin L. Cook).

    Big Love portrays this doctrine in a more silly light by associating it directly with someone who believes that he has been reincarnated several times, as famous people no less! In reality, the doctrine is more nuanced than that, though I can see how it could easily be associated with reincarnation.

    Here’s a sample of Heber C. Kimball’s teachings on it:

    “If you do not cultivate yourselves, and cultivate your spirits in this state of existence, it is just as true as there is a God that liveth, you will have to go into another state of existence, and bring your spirits into subjection there. Now you may reflect upon it, you never will obtain your resurrected bodies, until you bring your spirits into subjection…I ask, then, if it is your spirits that must be brought into subjection? It is; and if you do not do that in these bodies, you will have to go into another estate to do it. You have got to train yourselves according to the law of God, or you will never obtain your resurrected bodies. Mark It!” – Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, p.356

    Also, some Mormons do believe in this actively today (though rarely). See here for the most thorough interpretation of what this means to at least one Mormon today:

    • Glenn

      Bob, when I read that quote from Heber C, I don’t get reincarnation/multiple mortal probabtions, where the spirit goes back into another body. I see that he is saying that you learn to control your spirit in this body here in mortality, or in the next estate (aka ” the spirit world”) before the final resurection (aka “plan of salvation”) — very straight forward with current LDS teachings — 1st estate, 2nd estate, next estate, etc etc). What am I missing?

      • Bob Caswell

        Kimball uses phrases like “another state” or “another estate” followed by a nod to you-have-to-keep-trying “or you will never…”, etc.

        The modern day doctrine you are referring to is finite with definite articles rather than Kimball-like indefinite references. It is bound by more of a start date (i.e., life on earth) and an end date (i.e., a couple things that happen to you after this life on your journey to whatever flavor of heaven).

        If you keep reading Kimball, you’ll get a lot more of the “over and over” again feel in regards to states of existence and little reference to the watered down mainstream “now, next, final” version we have today.

  • Chelsea

    I loved Sunday’s episode. Barb’s mom as a charter member of Sunstone and ERA supporter was a great twist, and I loved the Sunstone scene. Barb trying to give Margene a blessing really moved me (although her mispronunciation of “Melchizedek” was pretty grating.) Did anyone else notice Adaleen injecting herself through a hole in her full length garments? Awesome.

    • Bob Caswell

      I agree, quite a very interesting topics for discussion. I remember the Adaleen scene but didn’t think about it in the context of full length garments… gotta watch for that!

    • Bill W.

      I thought it was quite interesting that Barb mispronounced “Melchizedek,” but later in the show Bill pronounced it correctly.

    • Glenn

      Good catch on the garments Chelsea — I didn’t notice that — it just looked weird to me — I couldn’t figure out where or what she was really injecting to be honest, but that totally makes sense. We still owe Mike a discussion on garments, don’t we?

  • Meg In Brooklyn

    Hi, I think the podcast is great, but I would really like to hear more from Logan. I have some experience discussing thoughtful television with him, and I think he has a way with leading discussions and pulling everyone’s perspective together. And I just think he would make it more entertaining, speaking as a non-Mormon HUGE fan of Big Love.

    • Bob Caswell

      Good feedback, Meg, thanks. We’ll see what we can do to make that happen.