Monday, 30 March 2009

"Knowing": Are Mormons Grasping at Straws?

My wife and I went this weekend to see the new Nicholas Cage movie "Knowing". She likes science fiction and I like action and adventure movies so it suited us both. Pop corn and drinks at the ready we were not only coming to watch an entertaining film but we were more than curious to spot all the Mormon themes said to be woven through the plot.

It had been drawn to our attention that Mormons have been blogging excitedly about the Mormon motifs and symbols in the film. Typical was this observation on Mormon Insights:

Although definitely NOT a LDS film, KNOWING contains many themes (throughout, even to the end) that are consistent with LDS theology. These themes go far beyond the mere "latter-day" theme. I am not going to give these themes away, because half the fun for the viewer is finding them. There are some clear religious elements to the story.

There is a more detailed comment on the Adventures in Mormonism blog. I should warn you that the blog is definitely a spoiler, and the writer does give fair warning. The writer has also been very busy and kindly linked each "theme" through to a Mormon source that explains the Mormon teaching.

The main themes identified (so far) are a tree of life in an open field motif, which is related to Lehi's dream in 1 Nephi 8; pebbles that are seen as having an echo in Joseph Smith's seer stones; the concept of being "Together Forever", a recurring theme; and the portrayal of an exodus and a remnant.

The film has clearly Judeo-Christian motifs the main ones being apocalyptic and that is a clue to the way Mormons would read Mormonism into the story. Mormonism is a Christian cult and many Mormon themes are lifted, often wholesale, from the Bible. But to a Mormon Mormonism is the whole world and they cannot see beyond it. However, each time they see Mormonism we saw Christianity and since Mormonism is a direct counterfeit of Christianity I know where I would attribute my sources.

The tree of life is a motif in the early chapters of Genesis (Gen.2:9-3:24) and again in Revelation (Rev.2:7; 22:2, 14).

Being together forever is a Mormon theme inasmuch as they teach that families can be together forever (as families) but the idea is common and people with no faith often use it in the sentimental way that is familiar enough. Certainly being together forever with the Lord is a Christian theme (2 Jn.1:2).

Surely I need hardly point out that themes of exodus and remnant are at the very centre of Judeo-Christian teaching and the ideas that pop up again in the Book of Mormon are obviously lifted from these Christian sources.

As to the "seer stones" first it seems odd that Mormons should get excited about such an embarrassing episode in the life of Joseph Smith, his involvement in treasure seeking and occultism. Then it should be pointed out that the stones in the film do not perform the same function as Smith's seer stones.

Finally, the central theme of the film is Christian beginning to end. The main character's father is a pastor, his family Christian; he has lost his faith but will he find it again; his work has him address questions of free will and determinism; the main theme is biblical apocalypse; the issues and questions are of an eternal nature. It certainly made us think seriously about our own Christian walk but are there Mormon themes? Like Mormonism itself it depends on how you squint but if you look straight at it the answer is no.


Anonymous said...

The film had Christian undertones, no doubt. It's interesting to me how many people are offended by this but would not hesitate to turn away or condemn films depicting violence, depravity, immorality and the many scenes of perversion so pervasive in media today that threaten the moral fabric of our society. How dare someone make a movie so offensive.

Ducheznee said...

I'm a Mormon, but I hadn't heard anything about this movie prior to watching it. I find end-of-world movies to be entertaining. While watching, I did think to myself on a couple of occasions that certain elements seemed very 'Mormon' to my biased mind. You mentioned one: the phrase "together forever". It's a mantra for us. I disagree with your opinion of the rocks in the film. I can see no similarities to the seer stones you referred to. I felt that the tree at the end of the movie represented NOT Lehi's Tree of Life, but Adam and Eve's Forbidden Fruit tree from the Garden of Eden. And the two kids were essentially Adam and Eve on their new planet. (Was that the metaphor behind the rabbits? Reproduction?) The belief that there are human beings (as opposed to aliens) on other Earth-like planets is also in harmony with our beliefs. I claim ignorance as to whether or not other faiths share our 'together forever' or 'God's children on other planets' beliefs. You've said that together forever is common among other Christian sects and I have nothing to prove otherwise. "Knowing" was a decent movie. Very intense in a lot of parts. Solar flares was an original way to destroy the earth (Earth's baptism by fire after Noah's flood - baptism by water for the earth.)

StoicDoom said...

ki'm gonna be honest, i'm an ex mormon... while it's true that this stuff is not strictly mormon... no other religion focuses on and connects these beliefs quite as strongly as the mormons do. the phrase together forever is a phrase that i heard, quite literally, every sunday for 18 years... argue all you want... but this movie is very mormon...