Flunking Sainthood

Flunking Sainthood


A Mormon Reviews Broadway’s New “Book of Mormon” Musical

posted by Jana Riess

I was prepared for scatological humor, generous doses of the F word, and off-color bawdiness—this is South Park without network censorship, remember?—but I wasn’t prepared for my Mormon faith to be lampooned with any sensitivity. I was happy to be wrong.

 

By Jana Riess

“Jesus sounds like Kenny,” my friend Donna whispered at the start of Book of Mormon: The Musical, which is still in previews but already a smash hit on Broadway.  That triumph is not surprising, since the musical was co-written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, and Bobby Lopez, the writer for Avenue Q, one of my favorite musicals of all time. (And guess what! We’re going to run a Q&A with Bobby Lopez this week, talking about his curiosity about Mormonism.)

I was prepared for scatological humor, generous doses of the F word, and off-color bawdiness—this is South Park without network censorship, remember?—but I wasn’t prepared for my Mormon faith to be lampooned with any sensitivity. I was happy to be wrong.

I had bought tickets for Tuesday’s performance back in January, advance planning that turned out to be a good thing. A few days before we attended, Jon Stewart cemented the production’s bright future by raving about it for a full seven minutes on The Daily Show. Stewart told Stone and Parker, “You have somehow managed to satirize religion while simultaneously almost celebrating it in this sweet, yet really hard-edged [way].” Needless to say, the theater was packed.

Despite the production’s title, the musical has very little to do with the scriptural Book of Mormon. There are a couple of framing scenes in which we see golden plates being buried in “ancient upstate New York.” We have brief glimpses of Mormon and his son Moroni (who shows up with great hilarity later in the musical as something of a disco star). Then the opening song is an up-tempo, doorbell-ringing number with ten male missionaries proclaiming, “This Book Will Change Your Life.” They are excited, thrilled to be getting their mission calls, and dreaming aloud about where in the world they might be sent. They know that serving a mission is their calling because “God loves Mormons, and he wants some more!”

The companionship we follow is that of Elder Price, the quintessential Eagle Scout who is earnest about his faith but also deeply self-absorbed; and Elder Cunningham, who is just . . . weird. He’s a follower, a science fiction geek, and something of a pathological liar. Mostly he wants to be accepted and to have a best friend for the first time.

The elders are sent not to Orlando, Elder Price’s dream destination, but to Uganda, where they are immediately robbed. When the locals burst into a song with a “Hakuna Matata” feel, Elder Cunningham enthusiastically joins in, only to learn that what they’re really saying is “F you, God.” The Ugandans are sick of the wars and diseases that ravage their lives. Eighty percent of the people have AIDS, and as one character keeps reminding the audience in one of the show’s running gags, there are maggots in his scrotum.  Where is God in their suffering?

Although the show has some decided stereotypes, they’re not of Mormons so much as they are of east Africans. Uganda is depicted as an entirely rural place, where many people still practice female genital mutilation (which is actually illegal in Uganda) and no one has a cell phone or access to the outside world. (In reality, between one-third and one-half of Ugandans have cell phones.) The locals’ only information about Mormonism therefore comes from the elders, especially Elder Cunningham, who steps up to leadership in Act I’s concluding song “Man Up!” after Elder Price burns out in frustration. However, Elder Cunningham’s tendency to embroider the truth comes out in his determination to make the Book of Mormon relevant to the Ugandans’ lives and problems. His portrayal of Mormonism, with its liberal borrowings from Star Wars, Star Trek, and The Lord of the Rings, results in a fabulous uptick in baptismal rates (and what may be the world’s first sexually suggestive baptism song). Such success attracts the attention of the buttoned-up mission president, which leads to a scene of wildly comical hijinks and a crisis of faith.

In the end, the musical has some very positive things to say about Mormons, who are depicted as naïve but committed to helping everyone they can and trying to improve their corners of the world. There are some missteps, to be sure. The song “Spooky Mormon Hell” is hilarious (check out the life-size dancing Starbucks cups; I could not stop laughing) but theologically inaccurate. Although Mormons believe that a tiny fraction of humankind may spend eternity in outer darkness, it’s nothing like the Jonathan Edwards-styled fire-and-brimstone hell depicted in Elder Price’s nightmare.

Where the show really nails Mormonism is in the ballad “I Believe,” sung by Elder Price when he remembers his call to serve and decides to head back to the mission field. “I am a Mormon, and a Mormon just believes,” he croons. This brilliant song is at once a mockery of the genre of the inspirational ballad and an affirmation of the choice to remain Mormon despite the apparent irrationality of some of the religion’s beliefs: “I believe that in 1978, God changed his mind about black people!” Elder Price sings. “I believe that God is on a planet called Kolob!”

The production closes with a demonstration of Mormon commitment: although many other Christian missionaries have come and gone in the musical’s fictional village, the Mormons are determined to stick around and change the Ugandans’ social reality. They are not just passing out Books of Mormon, but standing toe-to-toe with warlords. In doing so, they bring hope. As one new convert sings, “I am a Latter-day Saint/ I help all those I can/ The only latter day that matters is tomorrow!”

It is an honor to be thus lampooned.



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Russell Arben Fox

    Lovely review, Jana–I really want to see this, someday. But one correction:

    the world’s first sexually suggestive baptism song

    Surely that would be Al Green’s “Take Me to the River,” don’t you think?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Kent Larsen

    “Mormons are the new minstrels. Might as well put on the blackface, except this time the stereotype is white shirts, ties, plastic smiles, and (if they haven’t done their homework) polygamist bonnets.” — Mahonri Stewart on Dawning of a Brighter Day (http://blog.mormonletters.org/index.php/2011/03/_the-book-of-mormon-the-musical_-and-mormon-minstrelsy/)

    Stewart admits that he hadn’t seen the show yet, so I’m wondering, Jana, to what extent the above quote from his post accurately reflects the show. Is it just stereotypes about Mormons, or does it go significantly beyond that? Your post above seems to imply the latter.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Knight

    I saw the show last night and had a wonderful time laughing and enjoying the shocking warm hearted tenderness it brought to the idea of religion in all forms. I think your review is incredibly accurate and I thank you for posting it.

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  • http://bradcarmack.blogspot.com Brad Carmack

    Thanks for the review, Jana! This is just the kind of write-up I was looking for.

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Steve Miller

    You needed to get some reviews from some LDS members other than Jana Reiss. Any truly sensitive and active Latter-Day Saint would be immediately offended at the mocking of Brigham Young, Joseph Smith, The Book of Mormon, and tenets of our religion that we hold sacred.

    This musical was a sad waste of time and talent. It’s sadder that a so-called artistic culture that prides itself on respecting the beliefs of others, and particularly those who appear to be outside the mainstream, would condone this play.

    This whole idea of a group of talented writers, lyricists, songwriters, actors, singers, and producers collaborating to mock and desecrate a sacred religion is tragic indeed.

    Do you know why I think Mr. Stone and Mr. Parker picked the Mormons? Because they knew they would not fight back. Why did they not pick Jews, or Evangelicals, or Catholics? Because they know darn well the uproar would have been so loud they would have been run out of town.

    One observer, commenting on some other tasteless and deeply offensive so-called modern art produced by some exceptionally talented people, referred to it as “taking out the garbage in a Cadillac.” Isn’t that a fitting description for this production?

    Also, the New York Times gives prime space for Robert Lopez’s shot against the Book of Mormon, his saying that it is “so obviously made up,” which actually demonstrated real ignorance. Has he read every page of it? Did he open his mind and heart as he read it? Yet he dismisses it out of hand. In 181 years no one has been able to successfully refute it, especially those who have tried to take it apart line by line. There are in fact more Book of Mormons worldwide in more languages now than ever before.

    Brigham Young said, “When you kick Mormonism you kick it upstairs.” People with an honest mind and heart will be as repulsed by this play as I have been, and will only seek to know more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

    These creators, Broadway and their willing accomplices in the press can try to make mocking Mormons a “cool” thing to do, but people of good will everywhere will reject it.

    For them to mock belief, and make those of any faith appear to be irrational fools, is in itself foolish and irrational.

    It’s another sign of our culture: If there’s anything bad, that’s good! If there’s anything good, that’s bad! Funny, I recall a scripture in the Old Testament – that is also quoted in the Book of Mormon – that predicted this would happen in our day. Scripture fulfilled.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mary

    I consider myself a strong believer of the restored gospel. I am not one that walks along the edge of the path of obedience, I’m a straight-arrow mainstream Mormon. I’ve had personal experiences with the Atonement of Jesus Christ that have made me want to obey him and follow him for the rest of my life. I believe in modern-day prophets, I’m a nerd for General Conference. And I am planning to see The Book of Mormon musical. Here’s why.

    My instinct tells me that the message behind this musical is not to maliciously undermine, discrminate against, or belittle Mormons. There are so many people out there who are either mystified, disgusted, or misinformed about religion as a whole, much less the LDS faith. From what I have read, this show is about recognizing that ALL religious faiths have elements of the peculiar, even ridiculous, when looked at without a believing eye. As a human being, I have to concede that point. But further than that, the show appear to embrace the value in believing something you cannot prove, and using it to better the world around you. For a secular world, so entrenched in disbelief and fatalistic or negative thinking, this is a good message for most. It is accessible, it is understandable, and I predict it will do more good than harm for the public perception of Mormonism.

    I believe our job as latter-day saints is to not be alarmist on this. Yes, they mock some of our cherished leaders, and they illustrate points of doctrine really, really, erroneously. I choose not to be offended by it. I choose to believe that Trey and Matt are just trying to understand something they know extremely little about, meanwhile recognizing that Mormons, on the whole, are a good and generous people. That’s the sense I get from them. And I’m going to take that and stay open.

    I’m sure I won’t enjoy the entire show, I’m sure some things will be over the line for me. But I’m focused on, and sincerely believe that, more good than bad from this. This may open ourselves up for conversations with non-members we otherwise may not have. We then have the opportunity to laugh with them at what we’ve heard about this show, and perhaps expound on some of the things it presented with more accurate explanation.

    I’ll stop there.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment A non-religious woman in Salt Lake City

    Yeah, Mary!

    It is wonderful to read of a thoughtful person who has faith but is open to lampooning of that faith.

    Open-mindedness and a sense of humor are qualities that are invaluable. Thank you for sharing those qualities in your post.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment NY Theater Queen

    Thank you so much for this well written review. I just saw the show Monday. As a gay, athiest, New York Jew, I appreciated lampooning of religion of any kind, and as a theater fan, I appreciated the quality of of the work. But as a caring human being, I was concerned about how it may be hurtful to those being lampooned. It’s nice to know that this material can appeal to both people like you and like me.

    Of course some will be offended (like some of the people commenting on your review). However people think that things “offend them” as if they have no choice in the matter, when the truth of the matter is people choose to BE offended! There are people out there who are just “offended waiting to happen”. It’s VERY hard to offend me…you really have to try. And of someone has a very differing opinion I don’t have to take it personally.

    The more people of different ideas can accept that fact that there ARE so many different ideas out there that can co-exist, the better world this will be.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Tim

    The creators of “South Park” have become very wealthy attacking, ridiculing and mocking religious faith. It is curious that most people of faith do not even know when we are being insulted anymore. We are so desperate to be considered politically correct that we go along with anything.

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mary

    Tim: I could be wrong in my thinking. Maybe the makers of South Park really are aiming to be malicious and tear down religious faith. For myself, I have no desire to be politically correct, and as an active member of the Church, my life (if you’ve seen it) clearly demonstrates that I do not go along with anything. But for the time being I think this show is not meant to be an attack, I really don’t. I’m trying to look beyond the surface here. I don’t get the sense that their objective is to make money by mocking religious people. I think they’re trying to understand it. And they express their interest in us in a way that is, in an understatement, off-color. But that’s who they are. I think this show will open up opportunities to talk about our faith, and clarify our beliefs, to those who are truly interested in knowing what’s what.

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Bill Keating

    As a Catholic, now used to having one’s beliefs and practices publicly ridiculed, I am really surprised by the Mormon posters here who do not recognize the ridicule of the Mormons’ faith and beliefs directed at them in this musical.

    If you believe that the authors of this musical mean to do you anything but good, then you completely are not getting this production. It is nothing except a shot across the bow of religion that the South Park folk have been doing for years.

    Light rain tomorrow in the NY Metro area. Suggest that you or someone else purchase tickets to TicketMaster.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rachel

    This show is a waste of time and money. What ever happened to wholesome entertainment? People have nothing better to do than to mock others who actually believe something and who fight for it.

    I agree with Bill… you could say that it is pertinent to all religious groups but HELLO… the title is The Book of Mormon… and the main characters are MISSIONARIES. Mormons are the focal point. It is crude, and certainly not uplifting.

    Will it bring the church “positive attention”? Who knows, only time will tell but I do not feel that as a member of the LDS church you should in any way support a production such as this.

    Pathetic excuse for entertainment.

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Carrie

    Just a brief theological point: Mormons do belief in hell (or “spirit prison”) where sinners will suffer from the time of their death until final judgment. And considering the degree of guilt engendered by the Mormon obsession with sin, it should be no surprise that young Mormons would feel the fear of “hellfire and damnation,” even if the images come from Milton rather than the Book of Mormon. Growing up Mormon, I sure had those fears.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment JaneAnne’s Brother

    @Steve Miller: “Any truly sensitive and active Latter-Day Saint would be immediately offended……..”

    Are you now the judge of which Latter-Day Saints are “truly sensitive and active” in their devotion to the Kingdom? God love you. The beam in my eye doesn’t let me see quite that clearly.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment NowhereMan

    To those who keep saying things like, “Of course they picked on the Mormons, no one ever picks on the Jews/Muslims/fill-in-the-blank…” (Yes, I’m talking about you Steve Miller…)

    You clearly do not know much about Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

    One of the main characters in South Park is Jewish, and his religion plays a major role in a good percentage of the episodes (along with another character’s anti-Semitism). Want to see a really offensive stereotype of an ethnicity/religion? Watch the episode of South Park “Earth! Cancelled”…

    Comedy Central actually had to increase it’s security because the creators of South Park insisted on trying to air an episode of the show with a depiction of Mohammed, resulting in death threats against the station and the show’s creators.

    No matter how much they may seem to make fun of Mormons, they are much more vicious against Scientology, and that attack had far more serious repercussions for them (there are far more Scientologists than Mormons in the entertainment industry – they lost Isaac Hayes due to that episode).

    They even have lampooned champions of Atheism, like Richard Dawkins (in a three-part episode no less).

    What the creators of South Park have an issue with is not any particular faith, but hypocrites and idiots who take themselves far too seriously. They do not aim for “easy” targets, they try to attack everything in turn. If anything, they have more respect for Mormons than members of most other religious faiths, even if they find several of the tenets of your religion patently absurd. Your comments illustrate an incredible lack of self-awareness on your part, and I must say you do a much greater disservice to the public perception of members of your church than the Book of Mormon does…

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment R Beatty

    This was wonderful to read after only just learning about musical. I have been trying to catch up with the news that has followed and am finding a wealth of good things being said about the work. I was raised as a mormon but was never able to reconcile my differences and quietly left. Having said that, I have a big soft spot for the LDS church and have always tried to give a fair view of the beliefs that many know so little about. Honestly I am still amazed by how misunderstood LDS are.
    Obviously beliefs are difficult to address so directly because they are intensely personal and difficult to explain and defend. I have not always been a fan of Stone and Parker or the humor that relies entirely on irreverence but that is stylistic preference. Their storytelling and subject matter rarely seems to be malicious (their approach to Scientology has been almost aggressive at times). In dealing with LDS it seems to be quite the opposite! To me, all of their works involving mormons have playfully chided the stranger portions of their beliefs but practically gushed about the values LDS have.
    Perhaps it is all simply lost in translation because irreverent speech causes some to stop listening and assume the intention was to offend. You don’t have to enjoy it but, please, take the time to look a little closer and gain a better understanding the message. I believe that you are likely to find some of theirs to be truly worthy of praise.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Liselle

    I liked your review. I admire when people go and judge for themselves controversial events. If I was on the fence about seeing it, I consider your opinion, because you actually saw it. I would NOT consider the opinions of anyone who didn;t see it and just working the rumor mill it.

    HONESTLY, IF this show was really a two hour long, disrespectful goof on Mormonism–or on any religious sect for that matter–no one would want pay good money to see a show like that. Not in this economic and social climate.The reviews and feedback would suck, people would TALK about how bad it is and within weeks it would be closing. But as it is, most critics have given it top/5-star reviews. And it’s selling out every night, and it’s been nominated for 14 tonys. No conspiracy against LDS here.

    Trey Parker & Matt Stone had a great interview on NPR’s Fresh Air this month. I would encourage anyone to download the free podcast on ITunes. Amongst other things, they said that the church’s official response was one they actually agree with.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment California Girl

    I suspect that the South Park boyz and Mr. Lopez “picked on” Mormons because of Mormon support for Proposition 8. The idea that the Mormons, with their history of polygamy, would challenge another minority’s marital rights and choices struck many as grievously hypocritcal, if not hateful. Before Proposition 8, Mormons were generally considered super nice (albeit a bit peculiar). But when they showed a previously hidden nasty side, it was shocking and disappointing. I grew up a Mormon. I’ll never forget how shocked I was when “in 1978 God changed his mind about black people.” I was instantly struck that my religion was a fraud. While I was relieved that the all-male leadership had finally backed off their long-held, embarrassing racist position, it was obvious that they had bowed to public opinion (and maybe their tax-exempt status was threatened). Anyway, the golden plates are no more silly than the immaculate conception. The show makes this clear, while also glorifying man’s capacity for love, service, faith in human goodness, music, and humor.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Liselle

    @California Girl, I don’t disagree with your point, but know that this show was created over 6 years ago, way before Prop 8. While they do tackle the issue of being gay and a member of LDS, that wasn’t what set their light off.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mormon eSensation

    I know I show be offended because I am a mormon but I am so curious to how exactly they managed to portray us. Im afraid that soon mormons will be thought of as the characters in a musical, yet im intrigued!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Gasp123

    @carrie What are you talking about?! Im growing up mormon right now and I do not fear “hellfire and damnation” that is unless maybe YOU were doing something worth going to hell for

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rich

    Thanks for the review. As an active member, I was looking for someone with an ‘insiders’ perspective and you delivered. I realize that if I am going to enjoy the satire of others, I am going to have to take my lumps too.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment AZimmerman

    Steve Miller, you are not the first or last person to declare that modern society is bereft of values and that the young are on the path to destruction. Older folks have been saying that for millenia. Your points aren’t well-researched. The fact is, after we are dead, society will still be there.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Lane Woodall

    Last week we took two real Mormon missionaries to Outback Steakhouse for dinner. We survived the typical stares from the other patrons in the restaurant. It takes a lot for these young men to leave the comfort of their homes and families and be ridiculed on a regular basis. I haven’t seen the musical but would love to…. The Church’s comments on the musical in People magazine were spot on: you can either laugh at us or laugh with us…..

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment truth

    F*** those who created this Musical. what are they trying to prove. huh. so are they happy they have finally made fun of the LDS religion. what a disgrace!!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment happy mormon

    Thank you Lane for being kind to our missionaries. As an active mormon who has served a mission and now has a nephew on a mission, I cannot thank you enough. We are “normal” people with the same emotions and feelings as members of other religions. I went on a mission because it was missionaries who brought this church into my life and changed it forever. It has not been an easy road, but one that has been full of direction. I understand my purpose in this life and believe that God will bless me for staying close to him, even if I am wrong when I get to the other side. Thank you for your reviews. I too was thrilled to hear members of the LDS church review this show. I have not seen it, but have no problem laughing with others about our quirky antics…for there are many in this religion and I am the first to admit it. And, call it naive, but I agree with Mary and hope to be able to see the show and form an opinion of my own.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Keri

    @Steve Miller:
    In one of the South Park episodes, all different religions are down in Hell. One of the characters asks Satan, “Well, if we’re all here, then who [as in what religion] was right?” Satan replies, “Mormons” and everyone nods and agrees.
    Trey Parker and Matt Stone do seem to have a soft spot for Mormonism, whatever the reason.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Ben

    Some good comments and attitudes reflected in here.

    A comment I keep seeing resurface though is that the writers ‘picked on’ Mormonism because they felt Mormons wouldn’t fight back.

    I think this is entirely wrong; South Park has mocked Catholicism, Mormonism, Judaism, Scientology, Atheism and Islam – and they really pushed the envelope with the latter and drew a huge response, but undeterred they carried on.

    I think it’s pretty fair to call them ‘equal opportunity offenders’ and I for one do not see the harm in it; they’ve mocked things I believe before but I’m still a fan. It never hurts to see your beliefs through another’s eyes.

    As far as picking Mormons in particular for the musical, from my encounters with members of the church I think the stereotype about being clean-cut, polite and very friendly isn’t exactly baseless, and I think it makes Mormons a more suitable subject for a musical than say, Buddhists.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Jojo

    Umm…coming from a Mormon, I think Mormon satire s hilarious! We do have a lot of quirky things we do that are easy to make fun of. What is NOT funny is blasphemy( the way they talk about God our father) and the more sacred parts of the religion.

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Lisa Shields

    I loved it from beginning to end. I was raised as a mormon and force fed a lot of things that even as a child seemed crazy. What gets me is how someone who is otherwise intelligent believe in it as reality. I remember hearing the quote by Brigham Young saying that a black person will never the kingdom of heaven unless as a slave, and I knew that this religion was racist and coming from a lower place. This play was 2 hours of delicious therapy for me;)

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Jake

    Lisa: I would appreciate a link to that quote by Brigham Young that you mentioned in your post. Nothing like that can be found on either LDS.org or Mormon.org, where all quotes, talks, and scripture from past and present prophets can be found. If you could locate a trustworthy link to that quote on an LDS site directed from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, that would really help me out.

    On a side note, I completely understand your feelings toward the church. I am an active member of the church and have always felt a very deep connection to it, even in my childhood. I am now 18 and my testimony of the Gospel has only increased. However, I have an older sister who is currently inactive because she, like you, feels like she was “forced to go to church and participate in Youth activities.”

    It has to be your decision to attend church and other meetings regarding the church on a weekly basis.

    It can’t be your parents’, sibling’s, or any other relative or friend.

    I’m not sure why you think this religion is racist in anyway. In fact, a member of the church can be excommunicated for such racist involvement as you stated in your post. Equality is a very important thing in the LDS church and I’m truly sorry that you didn’t feel that way growing up.

    I have no intentions of seeing this play. Ever. South Park’s animated musical clip describing events in Joseph Smith’s life was rather offensive to me, and I was flustered for days. I finally got over it, realizing that what I think of the church is enough.

    Whether this play is meant to be a direct insult to Later-Day Saints and our beliefs or not, it shouldn’t affect the way any member of the church feel toward anyone, even the directors and creators of the play and it’s offensive soundtrack.

    I was not thrown off by the fact that this play was created, especially by the people who created it. What threw me off was how much money and publicity it has gotten.

    I can’t believe people find enjoyment in the ridiculing of others, especially in such an open manner.

    Nevertheless, my opinions on the church have not been phased one bit.

    I still plan to serve a full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints next year when I turn 19. I will serve with a full, happy heart, much like the missionaries seemed to have done in the play.

    If anything, this play will bring more to research the church in some way or another, and spread the church to all corners of the U.S.

    Despite the negativity this play radiates, it could be a blessing in disguise for some people.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Willy1962

    Brigham Young comments about blacks

    “You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind….Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 290).

    “In our first settlement in Missouri, it was said by our enemies that we intended to tamper with the slaves, not that we had any idea of the kind, for such a thing never entered our minds. We knew that the children of Ham were to be the “servant of servants,” and no power under heaven could hinder it, so long as the Lord would permit them to welter under the curse and those were known to be our religious views concerning them.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 172).

    “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, p. 110).

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment KD

    Those who are familiar with South Park’s history with Mormonism, would recognize that Parker & Stone do, indeed, ultimately respect people’s honest belief – so long as that belief doesn’t lead to outright deception and harm.

    For example, they’re quite vicious about the “Church” of Scientology, because a solid argument can be made that Scientology is simply a scam, using the label of religion to hide its activities from legal investigation.

    They have already lampooned Mormonism on South Park, but with a twist. The fact that Mormons are asked to believe in what seems like such a clearly fabricated story, is first mocked as something that intelligent people, including religious people, would not take seriously. Mormons are then satirized for not accepting that claiming there’s nothing strange or silly about Joseph Smith’s claims and convenient excuses to maintain a situation of blind faith in followers.

    However, when they’re done, the Mormon boy at the center of the story, admits that yes, taking Mormonism literally in every single detail is as shakey and possibly indefensible as any other traditional form of biblical literalism, and maybe it does deserve to be questioned and challenged. But at the end of the day, Mormonism helps him help others, and be a better person. So “f*** you guys” the boy says, to those who have spent the entire time mocking Mormons, and the boy walks off leaving them without a snappy retort for once.

    Humor and satire of this sort will probably still be unacceptable to those who treat their beliefs with inerrant sacredness. But even if you decide to be offended, Parker & Stone DO recognize that religious beliefs can have positive aspects.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Brooke

    I grew up in the Mormon religion and when I heard about this I had to laugh and I was also curious so I was thrilled to see a Mormon critic who went to see the show and am kind of happy with the results. It may portray us on a stereo-typical level but at least they are being creative with it and as you said included a song that you thought “nails Mormonism” ^_^

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rick

    As an agnostic (some would say a wishy washy athiest), I find it commendable that Mormons are carrying out thoughtful, and meaningful discussions about this musical.
    I thought the musical was hilarious, but was somewhat uncomfortable about how it would make Mormons feel. I can’t imagine what the reaction would be if Catholicism, Judaism, or Islam were the targets of this parody. Mormons should be proud of their thoughtfulness. Matt and Trey were very astute to pick on Mormons and Mormons should feel flattered.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Brian

    Yes, Mormons should feel flattered that Matt and Trey picked us Mormons to lampoon. Are we all really that naive? They picked on us because they found our views to be the most lampoon-able. …and this review is a testament to our ability to look at anything the way we choose, regardless of reality. I for one didn’t appreciate the musical.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment jh

    It speaks well of this writer that he appreciates the basic good nature of the show. Obviously the authors of the show consider the Mormon scriptures nonsense, but the show stands up strongly for well-intentioned nonsense as long as it gets people to treat one another more kindly. The Mormon missionaries in the show may be deluded, but they’re also kind. The big crisis in the show is when the half of one mismatched missionary pair is unkind to his admittedly annoying partner. Good things happen in the musical when one of the Mormons departs in his preaching from Joseph Smith and starts making stuff up (just as Joseph Smith did) that it will help the Ugandan villagers to hear. If a prophet can have a revelation in 1978 that rids the LDS of scriptural racism, hopefully there can be a revelation that eases the position of the sweet gay missionary in the show, who thanks to the church’s teachings has to turn off his feelings “like a light switch” (it’s a big musical number), and who has the “spooky Mormon hell dream” (another big musical number) every single night. And by the way, for sheer entertainment value, this is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. It is FUN. In fact, I can’t believe that a goodly portion of the audience wouldn’t object to all the profanity and off-color material in a different context. But in this show, everything is so utterly good-natured, and the show is so on the side of the angels, that everybody just goes with it.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment LDS Teenager

    First of all, we are not mormons. We are members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

    I have not seen this play but am extremely curious about it. I think i would trully be offended because i cherish in my heart my beliefs and everything that goes along with this religion. I believe that if a person or people are not COMPLETELY acquainted with a subject or in this case a religion, then they should not be talking about it. Why are you going to say something that will most likely not be true and make others believe it is?

  • http://Themusicwasokay...nothingtoloseone'smindover...lol Thomas

    Has anyone reading this heard of THE BIRMINGHAM BAND? If you have… I would enjoy knowing how you learned of it…

    mtd.dtm2@verizon.net

    The story of The Birmingham Band is a part of LDS History that I doubt 1% of the LDS membership has a clue of it even existing.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ga0biKRzSYA Yerall Dumbasfuck

    YOUR ALL RETARDED AS FUCK IF YOU REALLY BELIEVE IN A DUMB FUCKING FAGGOT WHO “READ OUT OF A HAT” OR BRIGHAM YOUNG’S POLYGAMY SHIT. FUCK ALL OF YOUR STUPID ASS BELIEFS… KNOCKING ON MY FUCKING DOOR AGAIN AND AGAIN ASKING FOR FUCKING MONEY AND TALKING ABOUT A FUCKING STUPID “BEING” THAT DOESNT EXIST. GO EAT A BAG OF FUCKING DICKS… oh, and did it ever occur that mormon is one letter short of MORON?! you fucking lunatics…

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment The Guy Above me is a Yutz

    As an agnostic/naturalist/athiest what have you, i feel like i should apologize for the douche above me. Sorry about that, you guys.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Ralph

    It´s ridiculus !! If you dont know the LDS church, seek know church-members. There is no anything that you cannot know!!

  • Pingback: LDS Church responds to the Book of Mormon musical in Cincinnati | Flunking Sainthood

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