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  , 2004

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Godís Army: A Review of Sorts

By David Winters

Although ĎGodís Armyí is old news to many LDS members, I had my first opportunity to see it just last week. I live in Atlanta where the movie started showing on September 15. Plenty of reviews of Godís Army exist on the web. As editor of this web site, I have read at least a dozen Ė almost all of which are quite favorable. My purpose here isnít to review the film as much as it is to critique the audience.

I invited four non-LDS friends from work to attend the movie with me. I was a bit anxious to expose myself to these friends by sharing with them such a frank movie on Mormon missionary life. They all knew I had served a mission in Ecuador and also knew that I was heavily involved with my ward calling.

I recently read a letter to the editor of an Alabama paper where a gentleman offered a glowing review of Mormons making great neighbors. President Hinckley has challenged us to be good neighbors Ė and I think most of us take the challenge seriously. But, alas, the best neighbors donít always make the best movie-goers.

Before the movie even started, I realized that the movie would be the least of my worries in projecting a positive image of the Church. As I was waiting outside the theater with two of my four friends, a group of LDS young men walked by us. One of them let out a belch that registered at least a two on the Richter scale. One of my friends commented, "Do you think theyíre going to see the same movie as us?" I responded that unfortunately, I thought they were. (I recognized the youth leader who accompanied them.) The second comment from that same friend was, "Iíve seen at least two babies with parents who bought tickets for the show. Do you take your young children to movies?"

We all assembled, bought our tickets and took our seats. A young toddler made loud noises during the first half of the movie. First the father and then the mother got up with the child in an attempt to silence her Ė all with little success. Soon one of the parents was walking the child back and forth obstructing the view of many. In a further attempt to keep the child entertained, the mother let the child wander in the theater. If the little girl squawked, the mother would run towards the child and scoop her up in her arms. Finally a frustrated person in the audience -- and surprisingly not me -- came back with an usher who asked one of the parents to take the child out to the foyer.

The next embarrassment came from the group of young men who had belched so robustly prior to the movie. Equipped with Lemon Drops or Gobstoppers, they began hurling their small projectiles at the audience. I was hit twice Ė Iím not sure how my friends fared, and I certainly didnít ask.

The least offensive behavior came from several individuals directly behind us, who felt it was their duty to editorialize on nearly every scene of the movie. For example, the prostitutes appeared and immediately there was an exchange of oh-my-goshes and "I canít believe it!"

Am I being petty? Probably. However, I think the inconsiderate behavior is quite pervasive within the LDS culture. Iíve never been in a non-LDS audience where the conductor stopped the music to ask a parent to remove a crying child from the concert hall. (Iíve been to more than one where that was the case with an LDS audience.)

ĎGodís Armyí was a great movie. Unfortunately, though, most of the comments at work the following day werenít about the struggle of faith or of the miraculous healing that were so well acted in the movie. But there was plenty of talk about that toddler.



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