About Secret History

Commentary on Latin America.
Mostly about Mexico - but not always.
Designed to encourage readers to learn about
the apparently "secret history" of 500 million people
spread across two continents
- but not always.
You can always count on a little snark.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Funeral Vessels and Big Love

Ok, so a few months ago our local TV channel did a HUGE no no. They came to a meeting of a local tribe and our anthropologists to discuss some of our holdings of funerary items. Despite being warned and asked not to, one of the channels there broadcast the pictures of the funeral vessels. What a stink it caused - and I think for good reason. If somebody's grave has been ripped up for education and profit, the relatives should expect at least a certain amount of respect for sacred things. Geesh.

This week, I hear that there is a big stink because the HBO series Big Love is going to broadcast their version of Mormon temple ceremonies. Another big geesh here. After my experience at the conference I went to where scholars treated religion like a Burns and Allen routine, the experience with the local TV stations and the funerary vessels, and now what I'm hearing about this Big Love stink I have to shake my head. The constant desire to "shed light" on items that are sacred to others in a way that evidences no obvious respect is simply too much. As Latin Americanists, we will be crawling all over ruins, caves, or churches physically (as well as in our research and writing) that have deep and sacred meaning to people who still use those sites and engage with those ideas, and I simply have to say, have some respect. I could care less about this Big Love show - I certainly don't have the cash (or the interest) for cable as a new professor. They can do what they like, but I think at times there need to be some limits. Burning a tallit and tzitzit in public has been considered a hate crime, so why is violating sacred Mormon experiences any different. Again, like the panel I attended, I guess we have "acceptable" religiuos whipping boys.

I once had a colleague ask a highly inappropriate (and I do mean HIGHLY) question about my own life and beliefs, to which I responded with an extemely graphic question about his wife and their sexual interaction. He was floored. What did I mean by asking such a question, he gasped. "I'm just pointing a light at a little studied topic," I replied. Boundaries, people, boundaries.

*** And just to be clear, this is a web site about Latin America. Unless you have something to say about Mormons in Latin America, I don't want anybody bringing your Big Love spitting contest on to this blog. I will continue to delete those comments.

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