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Several of the folks from Public Square Magazine were interviewed recently by Meredith Blake at the LA Times.

She highlighted the ways that Latter-day Saints have reacted to the show Under the Banner of Heaven. Blake did an excellent job of representing our takes on the show.

But we did have a couple of observations about the show mentioned in the interview that inevitably couldn’t make it, so I wanted to add those here for those who were curious.

Jeb Pyre, the fictional detective portrayed by Andrew Garfield, is the main character viewers see the story through. But none of the four people being interviewed felt like Pyre was a good depiction of a thoughtful Latter-day Saint.

Pyre is depicted as a well-established, thoughtful, fully-committed member of the Latter-day Saint community, yet the way he reacted to the information he learned felt less like the way an adult would respond to learning new things, and more like an adolescent response.

Pyre’s character did resonate with some of us, from when we were teenagers. His character feels like it was written by someone who left the Church when they were sixteen, and remained mentally stuck in that place, and then tried to project those thoughts into a grown man, hoping to give them more validity. Consequently, the character feels flimsy.

One of the other major observations from the interview was that we worried that the Church felt like it was part of the problem in the Lafferty murder when at the time, most members of the Church felt that they were part of the victims. These two men who had recently been excommunicated came back for revenge. In fact, the stake president was on their hit list.

It seemed to place most Latter-day Saints on the opposite side of this issue than they felt at the time.

The show’s writer, for his part, responded to these by engaging in the kind of motte and bailey techniques Cassandra Hedelius recently did a good job of identifying for us here at Public Square.

Thanks again to Meredith Blake for her thoughtful interview.



About the author

C.D. Cunningham

C.D. Cunningham is the managing editor of Public Square magazine. After graduating from BYU-Idaho, he studied religion at Harvard University Extension. He serves on the board of the Latter-day Saint Publishing and Media Association.
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