I’ll frankly admit that, while, on the whole, I was reasonably satisfied with Thursday night’s special edition of Brian Williams’s Rock Center on NBC, there was one part of it that I didn’t like, that I found quite uncomfortable:
I was jarred and offended to see two pairs of temple garments displayed on national television.
However weird and bizarre others may find such things, believing Latter-day Saints such as I regard them as sacred and, thus, deserving of a certain amount of deference and, yes, in this case, of privacy. Just as I don’t interrupt the prayers of others, or walk between Catholic worshipers and the altar at mass, or even remain seated when the priest asks the congregation to stand, or stroll between praying Muslims and the mihrab of a mosque, or even gobble down pork in front of my devout Jewish and Muslim friends, I believe that the boundaries of the sacred — even of the sacred in other people’s faiths — ought to be respected.
Was it really necessary to display “Mormon underwear” on national television? As somebody wrote yesterday, “How on earth, now, can American voters possibly be expected to make an intelligent decision in November, unless they have a chance to see Barack and Michelle Obama’s underwear, too?”
I recall a friend who made a guest appearance, quite a few years back, on a rather adversarial Evangelical cable television show in a Western state. The host of the program, who soon turned out to be much less civil and fair than my friend had expected — and my friend hadn’t expected much — kept taunting him, demanding that my friend show the host and his audience his “magic underwear.” The Mormon guest took it for quite a while, but then, finally, exasperated, turned on the host and demanded “What kind of a pervert are you? Why on earth are you so obsessed with my underwear? Is this some kind of fetish of yours? Do you always want to see other people’s underwear?” I’m told that the subject never came up again.
Still, Mormon temple garments have become a matter of real interest for certain folks, and there are legitimate ways to address legitimate interest.
Bob Rees tells me that his article will also appear shortly (probably this week) in the Oakland Tribune. (And — I’m speculating — perhaps, since this topic seems so weirdly fascinating to so many, it will be picked up further from there.)