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Monday, November 24, 2014

Inspiring "Meet the Mormons" Challenges Stereotypes

Have you ever been watching the evening news and finally just turned it off in disgust at all of the depressing stories? Have you, like me, said, "Why is the news just about all the bad things that happen in the world? Why doesn't anyone tell the stories of people doing good and making the world better?"

"Meet the Mormons" is that kind of good news we've been looking for. Six ordinary people--all Mormons--are profiled in this inspirational feature film. It was such a nice change to see news of people making a difference in the world, even just through small actions.

The church is also putting goodness into the world by donating proceeds from the movie to the American Red Cross. The ARC commented on the "Meet the Mormons" Facebook page: "We are grateful that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has selected the Red Cross as one of the primary beneficiaries for the proceeds from its film, Meet the Mormons. The support of the Church and its members is important in our work providing blood to patients in need and enabling the Red Cross to respond to disasters big and small."

Back to the movie. The film begins with man-on-the-street interviews and movie clips that expose some stereotypes of Mormons. The narrator notes that the movie will spotlight six members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She then asks viewers to watch the stories and decide for themselves what they think of the church and the way its members try to live their religion. It was decidedly un-preachy.



I loved the way the film focused on the very personal stories of these individuals from around the world. Rather than talk about beliefs and doctrines, the movie shows how these six people represent some of the very diverse church and defy the stereotypes and misconceptions.

In the segment "The Bishop," set in Atlanta, Georgia, images of the ward (congregation) showed a rainbow of people of all colors, sizes, and ages. One person commented that "God is the author of diversity." Just like He did not create one kind of flower or plant and call it good, He did not create just one kind of person. He created all of us. Everyone belongs. Everyone is a child of God.

I took something different from each segment. One story that really was touching was about the Berlin Candy Bomber, Gail Halvorsen, who in a split-second act of kindness, changed the course of his life--and may have changed the very course of history. Seventy years later, people still remember with gratitude the man who gave them hope in the terrible aftermath of World War II.

The stories of each of these people show the way they face each day with faith in Jesus Christ. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and yes, this movie is about Mormons, but I believe it would have been just as uplifting had it been about people of good will from any organization.

Don't let the haters talk you out of seeing this. They are part of that "bad news" crowd I'm really tired of hanging around. I left the theater today feeling inspired. As I walked down the street, I lifted my eyes to really look in the face of each person I passed. I saw them as human beings, as beloved children of God--and even more incredible, I feel that I am that precious to God as well.

Seeing "Meet the Mormons" gave me a new determination to focus on the good, to try to be a better person, and to make a difference in the world--no matter how small. Of course we all will have our differences. But despite our differences in beliefs, any of us can consider these as worthy goals.

Click here to see a list of locations where "Meet the Mormons" is playing now or to request a screening at your local theater. I hope you enjoy the movie as much as I did.

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