Joy to the World
Joy to the World is quite different from other LDS films. It contains two narrative stories, plus additional scenes than can be selected on the DVD menu. Distributed by the LDS missionaries during the 2003 Christmas season, this film is fairly forward in its attempt to proselytize.
Joy to the World tells the familiar Christmas story with shots of Jesus' later life added in, then segways into the appearance of Christ in America. Much of the material for Joy to the World was already in existence in other films, and merely spliced into this video. This film contains scenes from Finding Faith in Christ, performances from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, possibly The Testaments (fairly sure about this one), and even a picture from the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir features prominently in this video. Testimonials of Church members are found in this video as well, including one by LDS President Gordon B. Hinkley.
The appearance of the Christ in America follows the account in 3 Nephi. To those not familiar with the Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi tells of the appearance of Jesus Christ in the Americas after his ascension. Christ appeared and set up for Himself disciples, much like He did in Israel. This is the crowning event in the Book of Mormon.
This video carries on the Mormon tradition, first started in the Book of Mormon, of Christianizing everything. All the prophets, from Adam to John the Baptist, are said to preach of "Christ." At one point, the film even alleges that the magi found the Christ child from searching the scriptures. This video goes on to affirm the total apostasy of Christianity, citing it as the reason the gospel needed to be restored under Joseph Smith, Jr.
It is always interesting to see how Mormon movies will depict the ancient Americans. Here they are depicted in a tropical environment (probably central America, but the video does not say), and wearing clothes that look like a Middle Eastern and Native American blend. There is even shown what looks like a book written in a Semitic language (it had vowel pointings).
Evidence for the Book of Mormon being of ancient origin is scant at best. On the other hand, there is much evidence to suggest that the Book of Mormon is of 19th century origins. For more info on this subject, see the links listed in The Book of Mormon, Vol. 1: The Journey. Joy to the World puts forth the LDS Church position of Christ during Christmas time. It is not designed to be a polemic or apologetic work defending Mormonism, and that is understandable. However, Mormonism's truthfulness rests on the Book of Mormon. That book (and its claims) can, and should, be examined.
I liked Joy to the World; although, I am not sure how I feel about the recycling of other films. Mormons are doing fairly good films these days. I enjoyed watching the tabernacle choir. The advent of the Christ coming into the world is a joyous occasion to be celebrated. This film does that and adds a little more. I am sure this film will arouse the emotions of most viewers, which was probably part of the makers' intent. However, I can, and do, get all the same warm fuzzies from watching Mormon videos without attributing those fuzzies to the Holy Spirit testifying of the truthfulness of the LDS Church or without believing their incredible claims.
To order a copy of Joy to the World, click here.
February 20, 2004