Unofficial Big Love

Real Mormons Talking About Fictional Mormons

Episode 10: Barb’s Has a New Church, Plans for Bill in Jail, Showdown with Alby

The penultimate episode of Big Love means the penultimate podcast.

Yes, Barb is going to a new church–the Reform Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which, as far as we can tell is a fictional approximation of the Community of Christ (formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Women holding the priesthood? They’ve got it. But do they approve of the Principle? Nope. Bill obviously doesn’t like it.

But Bill could be going to jail. So the wives start planning how to get their “needs’ met. Who’ll change the oil? Can Marge see Bill if she’s carrying his child? Hey, Bill, why not signing on for Barb to exercise the duties of the family’s priesthood holder?

Things heat up between Bill and Alby. Bill is tearing down buildings at Juniper Creek. Alby is plotting to have Bill killed. It culminates with a shootout at the State Capitol that ends with Bill shooting and capturing Alby.

All that, Ben and Heather and Rhonda, Cara Lynn and boarding school, Frank and Lois, the Bill-o-meter, and more!

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  • windysea

    First of all, thanks for your podcasts. I like a lot of what I hear from you guys, for the most part.

    But, seriously? You don’t understand why Barbara feels that she could have a calling, or want priesthood? For those men on the panel who are still believers, and don’t get it, or think it’s all about “wearing the pants?” How quickly would YOU give up priesthood? Can you seriously NOT put yourself in the shoes of a LDS woman, who needs a priesthood holder to get her into the Celestial kingdom? Who, because she lacks a penis, is a 2nd class soul to God? Oh, and please don’t blather on about how women are a different kind of “equal.” They are not close to being “equal, spiritually in LDS or FLDS eyes, and yes, I have read the church views on this. It doesn’t wash. I don’t expect you to say anything negative about your church, but a complete lack of empathy, let alone understanding for Barb’s feelings on this is disingenuous as best.

    Listening to you guys takes me right back to Utah, and also why I left, both the state, and the Church. That whole, endless discussion, and lack of knowledge by some on the panel about your (our) history, I mean, I know that reading something that is not “faith promoting” for some is a huge and impossible step, if you want to remain in good standing. I get it, and sympathize. But aren’t you curious?

    Finally, the FLDS are discussed too often as crazy or in other ways. Have you thought about what it would have been like back then? To suddenly be told, that your families must be abandoned? Sure, for the very wealthy of the Church, they could just build a few more houses for their wives and kids and visit on the sly. Many knew they were doing this and that temple sealings and celestial marriages were still being performed well into the 1920s by highly placed church officials. So, is it any wonder that the people who began the FLDS groups felt that the Church had lost it’s way, and indeed, become Apostate?

    They believed in Joseph, and his words in D&C 132 made it very clear that there would NEVER be changes to those covenants. They believed that the Church sold out because their property was about to be seized. The vast majority of LDS were quite poor, especially around Short Creek and Cedar City. Please read at the very least, the history of the Iron missions, or the diary accounts of wagon trains passing through Utah about the desperate poverty that got worse the further from SLC they got. They had no money to set up wives and kids in different homes. What were they supposed to do? Turn them out from the meager little shelter and farm they could barely hold on to?

    What would YOU have done? Basically, they WERE put into a ghetto, made criminal for sticking by their families, and that did foster abuses that we see today. Bill was right about that. It’s time for Utah/the Church (same thing) to finally address these issues, in a REAL way. Stop the lies, and look clearly at the roots of these issues.

    Again, thanks for your podcast/blogs…but I hope you can go out BIG here.

    • Anonymous

      Well this gives an outsider some more information- I don’t have a personal ‘dog’ in this fight, but it’s interesting to see the different perspectives- I’m just surprised that it seems there are women who care so passionately about this because I still fail to see what we (women) gain from having priesthood, but at he very least, it clearly shows that at least in the LDS church- possibly because it is so culturally entwined with daily life, social activities and so on, having priesthood means a whole lot more than simply ‘going to church’, and having the power to give blessings and whatever else- it seems to have a social standing that those not raised LDS are totally unaware of.

      In hearing various podcasts and having at least cursory knowledge of pioneers and early westward migration, it certainly would speak to what windy was saying about seriously hardscrabble and life or death beginnings, whether one ‘approves’ or not of the marital arrangements, past or present of the LDS ancestors who were simply and probably mostly just trying to survive amidst some really tough times. The pioneer history of survival is amazing in itself, but one hardly hears about these stories, maybe because it is tied up alongside the polygamy history- are people ashamed of this to the point these stories of survival are lost because of it? Would be a shame if that is the case.

      As for the “selling out” part, I hadn’t heard about the threat of property being seized- I thought it had to do with Utah becoming a state- maybe you are saying that this is what people believed was the threat and acted accordingly as far as physically and otherwise distancing themselves from the ‘new’ church and thus in effect, “ghetto-izing” themselves in these splinter groups- and the rejection of the same folk from the new church. I’m not sure who in this scenario is feeling the rejection and/or doing the rejection, although it appears that at least today, the new church doesn’t want any perceived alliance to the old order groups, although I have heard in other podcasts that the ‘lost boys’ actually end up building churches and other buildings for the main church. I’m sure there must be a kind of ‘six degrees of separation’ effect constantly at work here, simply because for one- a lot of these people are still related to each other, new or old church notwithstanding.

      • windysea

        Fixed my typo, thanks.

        Yes, I was raised that polygamy was abolished because Utah wanted to be a state as well. The reality was slightly different, although it may have had a large role in the decision.

        The Edmunds Act and the Edmunds/Taylor Act removed voting rights, and threatened the church with the seizing of all church property. The United States had, of course, threatened them before, but the civil war distracted them for a while. You can find a bit more detail at, or by googling. This account dovetails with other accounts I have read of those times though.

        The official LDS site also states:
        In 1889 in the face of increasing hardships and the threat of government confiscation of Church property, including temples, Wilford Woodruff, President of the Church at the time, prayed for guidance. He was inspired to issue a document that officially ended the sanction of plural marriage by the Church. The document, called the Manifesto, was accepted by Church members in a general conference held in October 1890 and is published in the Doctrine and Covenants as Official Declaration 1 (see also “Excerpts from Three Addresses by President Wilford Woodruff Regarding the Manifesto” following Official Declaration 1).
        (more at this link:

        As far as what women would gain from priesthood? Well, obviously, I no longer believe in any of it, but at the time I left?
        That God judged people without regard to sex or color, but instead, knew their hearts, souls, and skills, and would choose the prophet from that criteria, not whether or not they had a penis or a vagina.
        That God would let me into the highest kingdom all on my own, without my husband or priesthood holder pulling me through the veil.

        Those were the two biggest reasons for me personally. I didn’t, and still don’t, consider myself inferior in the eyes of God, and I just don’t think God would be more concerned with genitalia than content of character. It didn’t feel true, or right.

        • Anonymous

          “It didn’t feel true, or right..” (trimmed)

          See, here’s that word again ‘true’. Is it only LDS that has this thing about whether something is ‘true’ or not, or feel they’ve been lied to, like finding out a parent or spouse has lied to them? Almost everyone else I have spoken to has a more…uhh how can I say this without sounding flaky-hippieish…they have a less either/or all/nothing view of their religion- they don’t worry about is every single thing true, is every single thing palatable and/or verifiable..they take the good parts out of it and make that work in their life and kind of ignore the parts that bother them. Yes, I know that sounds like picking and choosing parts that one likes or doesn’;t like out of a faith but that’s how a lot of people do it in real life.

          That said….
          Of course others besides ex-LDSers become unhappy with doctrine or feel they don’t agree with something about the church or politics or whatever. I’ve had some conversations with ex-Catholics who were told their child couldn’t be baptized because the parents weren’t married (and I guess if you’re not baptized, you go to hell or wherever that isn’t a good place, child or not), or another person that said if they got their marriage ‘annulled’ it would also be as if the children didn’t exist (instead of the just the marriage ‘not existing’).. these are the kinds of things that make me want to bang my head against the wall, so even though I’m not LDS, I understand about certain rules or doctrine that doesn’t make sense or is frustrating.

          In my own background, which I’ve described here as being very flaky Greek Orthodox, the issue of women doing anything religious-wise isn’t even a question. I have seen women do things, like when someone dies , or some other big event but these have all been mostly in-home, private type events or even things culturally unique, like circle-dancing or a grandmother dancing with a bride- but not necessarily always religious in and of themselves- and certainly nothing comparable to what is described as ‘having the priesthood’, which definitely seems more formal or official than the things I’ve seen. Whether there are Eastern/Greek Orthodox women priests I don’t know- I’ve never seen or heard of any.

          This may sound awful..but I suppose if one comes from a somewhat dysfunctional family and/or is estranged from them- maybe the concept of being with your (at least family of origin) forever doesn’t sound like a great selling point- it may sound scary or like punishment.

          Still it is interesting to me to see what things people find intolerable or great about their spiritual beliefs or particular religion, and the belief systems themselves I find fascinating. I found out maybe a few months ago on I think another podcast that Mormon women actually got the vote before the rest of us (women). That’s pretty amazing.

          • windysea

            When you bear your testimony in an LDS church it is all about believing it all. When I could no longer believe it all? I had no testimony to bear.

            For me, it would be like trying to sell a very poor man a bushel of apples, knowing full well that only the shiny, pretty ones on top were good, but below that top layer, they were wormy and rotten. Also, to me, it was like swearing before God about something I no longer believed to be true. Not possible for me.

            I don’t know how else to really explain it. Perhaps being in that culture is the only way to understand it?

            I did try, talked to my Bishop, church home teachers, even the Stake President, as well as many other church members who honestly did not understand what I was saying, but did try to bring me back into the fold. At that time, it was also about Black people for me. That “revelation” hadn’t happened yet. How could I believe in their idea of God? A God who cared more about genitalia and skin color than one’s soul?

            Believe me, living in SLC, this was no easy choice to make. The easier way was to bury my feelings and simply relax in that comforting blanket of acceptance and all of the good things. But, it would have been complete hypocrisy, and worse, my personal selling out and being a hypocrite with God.

  • windysea

    I decided to add a bit about my history, since I think you may wonder after these comments.

    One of my ancestors was one a seventy. Several were given personal blessings by Joseph Smith and later, Brigham Young. My extended family are for the most part, devoted Temple Worthy LDS, none became FLDS. A few are fairly famous, a few quite respected BYU professors, or historians.

    I love history, and have read as much as I can about all of it, when I left the Church, the genealogy bug remained. I left because, I, like Barb, could not believe in a God who would discriminate against me because I was a woman. It was wrenching, but when such a basic tenant was so wrong, how could the rest be true?

    • Anonymous

      *tenet, a tenant is someone who rents :-)

    • Anonymous

      Is it that you (used to) think God was discriminating against you, or the church? Was it solely the priesthood issue? I hear people bring up subjects on the various podcasts, but everyone who is still in it seems like they are tiptoeing an awful lot, as if they are afraid they are going to get in trouble or something. Not saying this podcast in particular- but I have noticed this in LDS podcasters that are totally different (present LDS I assume) people doing them- it’s sounds as if there’s this undercurrent of worrying that they are going to say something wrong or misrepresent themselves or somehow that they have to watch everything or they will get busted- a lot of explaining and sometimes backpedaling or disclaimers before something is stated- the tone of people who are carefully measuring things that they say. Who are they worried about is maybe listening and going to kick them out or ‘write them up’ or whatever happens? Am I wrong in this, or have you noticed this phenomenon?I’m sure they are great people and not doing anything so horrible they have to be afraid about anything..just wish they felt unafraid to speak their minds without a filter.

      On a side note, I’m so looking forward to this podcast, have to make sure I have room for it amidst the many various books and podcasts I have cluttering up the ipod. Oh, and though I feel the last episode was pretty well done as far as production value and added sentimentality -ghost of Bill at the table last scene, mega-hugs etc..I suppose I don’t like the finality of Bill being dead- though the thought of Bill as some spirit-guide-father-thingee speaking cheesily though piles of dry-ice fog a la the lifetime channel doesn’t appeal either….Ahh well, I’m sure after we all hear the latest podcast there will be more to discuss. I’ll buy you a tepid, decaf latte and we could discuss the series ad nauseum, lol. Everyone out here is pretty much a ‘Barb’, ha.

      • windysea

        That is where it started with me. The idea that God would never consider me worthy enough to become Prophet. (Hey, I was a kid.)

        I had never met a Black person, but had seen South Pacific when I was quite young, and the song “You have to be carefully taught” (to hate and fear, it has to be drummed in your dear little ear…) made a huge impression on me.

        So, it was those two things that became the first rotten apples for me. I didn’t want, and frankly, could NOT believe in a God who would be so incredibly petty, or care about such ridiculous things. A penis? A different shade of skin?

        My reasons for not believing now are much more involved and complex, but yes, that is where it started, and why I loved Barb’s storyline, and the resolve of that..even if it wasn’t done nearly as well as it could have been.

        • Bob Caswell

          Good discussion, thanks for sharing!