14: The District – A Mormon Expositor Review for Episode 2: Brothers and Sisters

Brandt Malone hosts the review of the second “The District” series episode where Amy, Sara and Lance discuss the cultural pressures missionaries face when there is a death in the family and whether or not proselytizing creates “spiritual ambulance chasers” by setting missionaries up to focus on people that are facing hardship and then offering the Gospel as the “solution”.

You can watch the episode online here.




  1. bret

    Great discussion. I may have to catch myself up on the first few episodes of The District, even though the commercials during conference made me cringe. I’m ready for my awkward joke now.

    Reply Oct 30, 2012 @ 09:22:32
  2. brandt


    Thou good and faithful servant. Here is your awkward joke:

    What’s sad about 4 black people in a Cadillac going over a cliff?

    They were my friends


    Reply Oct 30, 2012 @ 13:09:50
    • amy

      waw wawww. You silly white boy in Detroit.

      Reply Nov 02, 2012 @ 03:54:56
    • Bret

      Did not disappoint. Thank you.

      Reply Nov 05, 2012 @ 12:32:07
  3. Heather

    I’m loving Amy on this episode.

    Reply Oct 30, 2012 @ 13:57:55
    • amy

      aww…you sweet sister.

      Reply Nov 02, 2012 @ 03:54:12
  4. Gail F. Bartholomew

    I was in the MTC in 88. We just had gotten new discussions that we were not to memorize. We were taught to teach them conversationally. All the ways you all describing the new teach my gospel, which I have seen and read when they first came out, are the same things they were saying about my “new” discussions when I was in the MTC. I think it is funny how things change, but yet stay the same.

    Reply Oct 30, 2012 @ 18:26:08
    • Chris

      I was in MTC in 88 as well and remember the same thing being said about the new discussions. Its always puzzled me when I hear how missionaries are teaching differently today.

      Reply Oct 31, 2012 @ 11:38:57
  5. Gail F. Bartholomew

    Also, on the intro Brandt when you ask the opinions of the panelists on whether the companionship where put together via inspiration or not. I wonder do you mean if the president and AP’s or whoever is involved in doing transfers that inspiration is not involved if they discuss who would be best where and with who, and why would not such discussion also involve who would be best on TV? If you believe that inspiration is used in decision making in the church, or elsewhere for that matter, why would the addition of logic into the process negate your belief in the process of inspiration?

    Reply Oct 30, 2012 @ 18:40:19
  6. lumanwaltersluman walters

    am I the lone wolf who thinks that there’s a huge possibility that this all is staged??

    Reply Oct 31, 2012 @ 11:33:15
    • brandt

      Could be. I’ve got insider information that says that this was 100% legit though. I mean, no matter what, there is a certian amount of “control” over this series, for example, the missionary apartments are impecable, the missionaries are always fully clothed in their apartments, and apparently when the missionaries would go contacting, there would be a camera crew in front of them trying to get people to sign waivers so they could broadcast things.

      Not saying that different people wouldn’t be “hamming it up” for the camera, but at the same time, it appears to be on the up-and-up.

      Reply Oct 31, 2012 @ 13:10:04
      • Steve In Millcreek (SIM)

        The simple process of filming an event changes it — especially when people are involved. Science has a name for it: Hamilton effect, (??, or similar.) And the editing process changes it more. Having said that, I think the crew did the best possible under their constraints. Even if remote, hidden, high-resolution cameras were possible, the crew would still need to obey disclosure laws; and thereby, some of their best film footage may not be permitted by participants; requiring even more footage. Under conditions, I think this District film crew did (about the) best possible.

        Reply Nov 01, 2012 @ 11:58:09
  7. Chris

    Amy, the other guest are pretty good but thanks for bringing a needed perspective to the discussion.
    The irony is that the missionaries seek out those who are broken to teach with the promise they can be fixed, but the truth is the church and many of its practices break us all in some way. We just don’t realize it until the crises of faith hits.
    The pinebox story was really sad. I thought this kind of talk was a myth.

    Thanks for reminding us we truly behave and believe in some “bat sh.t crazy stuff”
    I love your feistiness.

    Reply Oct 31, 2012 @ 12:14:52
    • amy

      i’m doing my best to rep the apostate perspective but its hard out there for a pimp :)

      Reply Nov 02, 2012 @ 03:53:54
  8. Gail F. Bartholomew

    I am not so sure that missionaries seek out the broken, but when they are those that listen that is who the missionaries teach. When I was a missionary we would use Alma 31 and 32 to explain this.

    Reply Oct 31, 2012 @ 13:42:08
  9. Cylon

    Wow, you guys were at the top of your game for this episode! Great points from everyone this time, big props.

    The parts about the stigmas against coming home were really good. I have two younger brothers who came home from their missions early. One came home for a combination of physical and mental health issues, he was out for about 9 months, and the other one left because of just mental health issues, and he had only been out of the MTC for a few weeks. I don’t really know if they got any flack from the home ward, but in my family there certainly wasn’t any condemnation. However, as far as reactions from other people, one of them got married about a year after coming home, and his in-laws did not appreciate that their daughter was involved with someone who didn’t serve a full mission. I think they’ve gotten over it by now, though.

    Best line of the podcast has to go to Amy, when she said if we heard some of these things from any other group, we’d think they were batshit crazy. So true.

    Reply Oct 31, 2012 @ 19:16:34
    • Steve In Millcreek (SIM)

      Thanks for your comments, Cylon. The church community can do better to validate missionaries who return home early. The stigma afterward may exceed not having gone at all. One out-of-the-box idea may be to formally continue the mission into the next life phase; for example, invite him to be a home ward mission leader despite his return to full-time college, work, or marriage; then release him at the 2-yr mark. Some may feel this “waters down” the meaning of a 2yr, full-time mission but I feel there is room here for inclusiveness.

      Reply Nov 01, 2012 @ 12:12:38
    • amy

      thank you brother cylon. i stole that line from my southern born step-mother. it seemed appropriate :)

      Reply Nov 02, 2012 @ 03:52:52
  10. Steve In Millcreek (SIM)

    I see a pattern within church films; and I wonder if you see it too. Do you?

    When a person faces a critical decision and either of two choices are understandable, the person opts for the one that the film’s steering committee prefers without validating the alternate choice. By inference, this becomes ‘the faithful choice’ and the other choice is marginalized. For example, Sister Voyles decides to remain in San Diego, missing her brother’s funeral. Her explanation was valid given her family’s dynamics. However, I suggest, the decision to remain may be a terrible choice for another missionary facing a family death; yet the film did not validate this other choice. Thereby, the director-editor is nudging all viewers to make the same faithful choice when they face similar life issues. You may feel that I am seeing something that is not there but why do I see this pattern in church films? (Please offer contrary films that I may have missed.)

    Voyles’ choice works for her for many reasons, (i.e., parent’s sentiments, supportive local community, other adult siblings in Mississippi,…); and another missionary facing a family death may not have those supports. A decision to remain on mission and miss a family funeral may divide or alienate family back home. A good film will (1) include diverse/divergent choices, and (2) emphasis the decision process over the end choice.


    Reply Nov 01, 2012 @ 12:57:27
  11. JD

    This is a great podcast. I’m pleased with how you have gone out of your way to develop a panel that gives both perspectives (Member and non-member). I would like to point out the implication of something Sara said though without her even realizing it. When she was talking about sharing with other belief systems she said something to the effect of “Even though I had superior knowledge I was still able to gain insight from these other faiths.” Now, from listening to Sara I know she did not mean anything by it (as she seems to have good intentions) but, this was very condescending. What most heard was “Even though I am a superior Mormon, I can still pick up crumbs from these other lowly religions.” I can recall Scott Gordon saying something similarly condescending without even realizing it when he said that apostates were using Blacks to speak out against the LDS church. The condescension to the African American community was also very clear here. Scott was unwittingly saying something that was an outcrop of his Mormon belief and that was “these poor lowly black people could not think for themselves, but could rather be manipulated by the superior “white” apostates”. This is a problem inherent with the teachings (both past and present) of the Mormon Church and it flows out in current culture. They may make the claim that they don’t criticize other religions, but the subtle “true” belief of superiority comes out without them even realizing it. It leaves many of us on the outside scratching our heads especially when we hear things like the Story of Zelph the white Lamanite, Quakers on the moon, Cain the sasquatch, the kinderhook plates, the facsimiles of the BOA, etc. Please help me understand Brandt and Sara (and I really don’t mean this to be harsh) but, how do you distinguish superior belief from inferior folklore?

    Reply Nov 02, 2012 @ 09:45:22
  12. Polly Anna

    “… because i’m not a horrible sexist.” I think Brandt doth protest too much. I didn’t think you we’re but now that you said that…. : P

    Reply Nov 02, 2012 @ 11:24:11
  13. Vian

    Somebody is a great talent scout out there. I’m delighted with the funny, interesting people that land on this podcast.

    Reply Nov 02, 2012 @ 12:38:18
  14. Paul Barker

    I love the great discussion this brings out on missionary work in general. Now I have to watch these episodes! One last thing GO GIANTS!!!

    Reply Nov 02, 2012 @ 18:28:53
  15. Lance Rowley (@StuffLanceSez)

    Wow so many great comments. Thanks everyone!

    Reply Nov 02, 2012 @ 20:01:41
  16. sonya_d

    Thank you Amy for being the voice of reason in this discussion. It took everything in me not to SCREAM at the top of my lungs, that it is completely insane that a missionary would not go home to attend their brother’s funeral and grieve with their family. As a mental health professional, I find this utterly horrifying. I did not see the episode, but I don’t believe for one second that if her mission president came to her and said that he thinks she should go home, she would say, “No, thanks, I’m good.” But that is probably the kind of permission she would have needed to admit that she wanted to be with her family at the time. That Mormon/midwest stoicism that we have been raised with is so prevalent throughout this whole discussion.

    Reply Nov 28, 2012 @ 14:38:06
    • Steve In Millcreek (SIM)

      I haven’t yet heard this episode but tend to agree with Sonya’s comment, above. Missionaries may be given a choice by their leaders but there is often a stated or implied “faithful choice”, and departing from it is believed to disappoint God, the missionary’s leader, or both. A smart leader should work to empower the missionary, showing no fallout from either choice and truly mean it. Expand “missionary” to include “all church members” here. Topics reach far beyond Sonya’s “home for funeral” issue, touching every social topic facing humanity; i.e., bearing and raising children, divorce, finances, community involvement, time management, more.

      This is not just a Church issue. Similar relationships occur between parent and child, teacher and student, employer and employee. Hopefully, each leader was once a subordinate and remembers it.

      Reply Nov 29, 2012 @ 00:59:31
    • Steve In Millcreek (SIM)

      Correction: I saw this episode a month ago and commented soon after. Looking back at my Nov 1st comment, I’m glad my core ideas match the one I said Nov 29th, above. Different words, similar ideas.

      Reply Nov 29, 2012 @ 01:12:34
  17. BYU TV - The District: Episode II - Rational Faiths

    […] Click here to listen to the Mormon Expositor podcast’s review of this episode. […]

    Reply Dec 12, 2012 @ 08:54:12

Leave a Reply