I would venture to say that the average non-Mormon movie goer, without any prior knowledge of what the movie “Meet the Mormons” is really about, but out of curiosity decides to go see it, may at first have some preconceived ideas. No doubt there may be some who may attend expecting the movie to be a media tactic used by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to convert more people to Mormonism. However, what they experience from their movie going venture is something far beyond their expectations.
Viewing the Movie through Non-Mormon Eyes
This author has been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for over 16 years. Prior to becoming a member, I was born and raised in a Baptist home, and at one time in my life I was studying for the Baptist ministry.
As I sat and watched the movie, I opted to put aside for the duration of the movie, my knowledge about The Church of Jesus Christ and Mormonism, and objectively watch the movie “through the eyes” of that young man of years ago studying to be a Baptist minister who had a limited knowledge of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its beliefs other than what he had learned through brief encounters with Mormon missionaries prior to leaving home for military service.
As I did so, I believe that I was able to gain some insight as to how people of different faiths view Mormons in general. The movie even begins with a brief interview on the streets of New York with people being asked what they knew about Mormons and The Church of Jesus Christ. Their answers were interesting and I am almost certain that as a Baptist, I may have given some similar answers. Their responses also left me with a sense of wonderment as to how effective my own life is in letting people know that I am a Mormon, and not so much through conversation only, but more importantly by putting my beliefs into action.
Viewing the movie through the eyes of a non-member, from beginning to end, I was overwhelmed by the examples that each of the six Latter-day Saints portrayed, and how through those examples there was always the open invitation to everyone to come and “Meet the Mormons” and learn more about who they are. The overarching message of the movie is that Mormons are ordinary people who raise families, work, actively participate in their faith, and face trials and tribulations in life, the same as anyone else.
Not another Sunday Sermon
Some critics of the movie may have expected the movie to have more of a doctrinal flair. Some may have thought that this would be another documentary about Joseph Smith and the history of the Church. Still, others may have expected a more “preachy” tone to the movie – more like an expanded Sunday sermon. However, it is obvious that is not the intent of “Meet the Mormons.” Yes, the movie talks about the importance of faith in each of the character’s lives, but it does so more effectively by demonstrating how their personal faith plays a vital role in each of their lives.
This author believes that one of the main things that makes this movie stand out and capture the attention of viewers is the fact that gospel conversations were able to be held without actually having a conversation riddled with doctrine and gospel principles. I am not saying that is a bad thing, but this movie was a fulfillment of the old adage that people would rather see a sermon than hear one any day. Each of the stories that comprise the movie are mini sermons within themselves without the actual “preaching.” Each story leaves the viewers, regardless of their faith and beliefs, with something concrete to think about.
At no time during the movie are people asked to leave their faith and become members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The message that is emphasized is: “We are Mormons. This is what we believe. This is how we live our lives. Our beliefs may be differ from yours, but we are really no different than anyone else.” As the lyrics to the song “Glorious” sung by David Archuleta at the end of the movie exclaim, “It’s like a symphony, just keep listening. And pretty soon you’ll start, to figure out your part. Everyone plays a piece, and there are melodies in each one of us, it’s glorious.”
Keith L. Brown
Keith L. Brown is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having been born and raised Baptist. He was studying to be a Baptist minister at the time of his conversion to the LDS faith. He was baptized on 10 March 1998 in Reykjavik, Iceland while serving on active duty in the United States Navy in Keflavic, Iceland. He currently serves as the First Assistant to the High Priest Group for the Annapolis, Maryland Ward. He is a 30-year honorably retired United States Navy Veteran.