Latest from Mormon Land: Why all R-rated movies aren’t a no-no for Latter-day Saints

Also: “The Mission” comes home; the Salt Lake Temple is honored; the church’s investment portfolio loses billions.

(Photo courtesy Amblin Partners / Universal Pictures) Liam Neeson, left, and Ben Kingsley star in Steven Spielberg's drama "Schindler's List."

The Mormon Land newsletter is The Salt Lake Tribune’s weekly highlight reel of developments in and about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Support us on Patreon and get the full newsletter, exclusive access to Tribune subscriber-only religion content and podcast transcripts.

The reel rule about R-rated movies

The counsel seems clear in some corners of Latter-day Saint culture: Faithful members don’t — OK, shouldn’t — watch R-rated movies.

And while top church leaders have warned about such films, there is no general proscription against viewing them.

Good thing, argues Times and Seasons blogger Stephen Cranney, because not all R-rated and TV-MA flicks should be off-limits.

Latter-day Saints are “rightly concerned about a diet of dark, heavy material,” he writes, but “by not sometimes including R-rated material in our media diets, we run the risk of not having access to potentially moving or insightful content [or] consuming disproportionately infantile content.”

Cranney doesn’t contend, of course, that anything goes in the viewing choices of Latter-day Saints — “there are still some genres,” he states, “that are bright red lines for me” — but “when done with care and caution, incorporating some select R-rated movies into a media diet can be beneficial for one spiritually, emotionally and intellectually.”

He then lists dozens of “impactful gems” that are worth watching, including “Saving Private Ryan,” “Marriage Story,” “Breaking Bad,” “Schindler’s List,” “The Passion of the Christ,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Good Will Hunting.”

Which R-rated or TV-MA productions would you add? And which do you think Latter-day Saints not only could watch (without any remorse) but indeed should watch?

Homecoming for ‘The Mission’

(Antti Savolainen | Sundance Institute) Sisters McKenna Field and Carolina Debiassi, missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are among the subjects of a Finnish documentary, "The Mission," directed by Tania Anderson.

Transfer day is fast approaching for “The Mission.”

The widely acclaimed and festival-traveled 2022 documentary about Latter-day Saint missionary life is coming home, in a way, making the jump to video on demand and digital streaming Jan. 27.

The 95-minute movie, written and directed by Tania Anderson, follows four young Americans — three from Utah — as they serve their proselytizing stints in Finland.

“Of course, they’re normal kids,” she told The Salt Lake Tribune’s Sean P. Means before the film’s Sundance premiere last January, adding her wish that viewers “feel what it’s like to be a missionary and be in their shoes just for a few moments.”

On that score: Mission accomplished.

Salt Lake Temple is tops in Utah

Jeremy Harmon | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Salt Lake Temple is surrounded by Christmas lights in 2017.

The Angi website researched Tripadvisor reviews to identify the most “beautiful” buildings in the world, in each of 132 countries and in each of the 50 U.S. states.

The Utah winner: downtown Salt Lake City’s Temple Square, featuring the church’s iconic, six-spired Salt Lake Temple (minus its current shroud of scaffolding). The historic structure also ranked as the nation’s 11th most beautiful building.

Which Latter-day Saint building — anywhere in the world — would you put at the top of the tally?

The latest ‘Mormon Land’ podcast: Nelson’s five years

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Russell M. Nelson at the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City on Thursday, April 13, 2022, as he became the faith's oldest ever prophet-president.

Patrick Mason, head of Mormon history and culture at Utah State University, examines the presidency of Russell Nelson — the big changes, the impact, what’s working, what isn’t and whether the church is better today than when he took over. Listen to the podcast.

From The Tribune

• The church’s most prominent investment fund is $12.1 billion poorer after suffering its third straight quarterly loss. The value of Ensign Peak Advisors’ portfolio, according to the latest federal filing, is pegged at $40.3 billion.

• A new lawsuit in the ongoing sex abuse scandal entangling the Boy Scouts targets a Utah Scout council and the church.

• Tribune columnist Gordon Monson laments that some Latter-day Saint congregations too often overlook some wise, worthy and willing assets: older members.

• Religion News Service columnist Jana Riess suggests resources — from podcasts to YouTube to TikTok — to enhance study of the New Testament this year.