Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors

The Book of Mormon, The Musical, Is Good For All Faiths

Broadway’s hottest new musical is the Book of Mormon, and in the wake of its triumph at the Tony Awards, the temperature continues to rise – as it should.  There are many reasons to like the play, but the most interesting is that it figures how to laugh with religion, not at it.

Faith needs to be able to laugh at itself, and so do the faithful.  That happens far too rarely, and when it does, the net effect is largely positive for both the faith and the faithful who can do so.  The Book of Mormon’s Tony Awards could be a triumph not only for a particular play, but for faith in general, if believers actually have enough faith in the faiths they follow to laugh at what they love even as they continue to love it.

This play pokes fun at elements of LDS practice and satirizes the experiences of some of its members, but it does so without hostility.  To be sure, the play is foul-mouthed, occasionally inaccurate in terms of doctrine, and all the other things you would expect from a play brought to the stage through the combined efforts of the guys who brought us South Park and Avenue Q.  But like South Park has done for years, the play also takes religion seriously, appreciating how it shapes many people’s lives and provides a sense of purpose and community.  And as Avenue Q did with Sesame Street, it pokes fun at some of the motifs and practices of a particular cultural phenomenon, but it does so in a way that also reminds us of how compelling and convincing those motifs and practices can be.


Nobody should confuse seeing The Book of Mormon, the musical, with serious instruction in the actual Book of Mormon.  But who does that?  One is a musical and the other is a sacred text for 15 million people.  If that’s a distinction one cannot make, then both the play and the book are beyond their intellectual capacity.

The show takes seriously the compelling nature of faith, and takes just as seriously the challenges associated with totalizing faith which makes little room for questions, doubt and the seeking new forms of religious connection.  If that’s uncomfortable for some, so be it, but creating that discomfort is not the same as mocking faith, especially when it’s done in the context of a cheery musical which leaves most of the audience, including as reported by many Mormons who have seen the show, feeling pretty good as they depart the theater.  Now if they could just put some tickets on sale, I could to take my kids to see the show!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Cully

    Rabbi, I love you dearly, but I really wish you would not comingle “Faith” and “religion”… one is G-d given and the other is man-made. Faith can always laugh… it is enlightenment and joy (and it makes the Holy ones happy). Blessings and love!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment romanscapegoat

    the Mormons believe in the spaced aliens….Lucifer wrote religion…Mormons believe when they die a spaceship will take them to their own planet…only jews are allowed to be successful in Jew controlled Broadway musicals….jew writers-with jew performers-playing Mormons….that’s funny!!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Haime52

    So I, as a Christian, should go listen to foul mouth comdey to enrich my Christian or religious experience? Wow! How far from grace we have fallen, that we actually advocate and approve something as low and hideous!
    I have found no instances where foul language enhance ANY performance. All it accomplishes is the lowering of our thoughts and gives rise to our basest nature. Many a good storyline has been ruined by coarse and foul mouthed dialogue. It adds nothing and detracts much. There is no excuse for such degraded language. The more we hear it, the more we use it, the more degraded civil society becomes. Instead of being uplifted to an ideal, we are, in effect, being told to lower ourselves, degrade ourselves to the lowest common denuminator, rather than lift ourselves to a higher plain.

  • Nell Minow

    I’ve seen the play and enjoyed it very much and appreciate your insightful post. The show made fun of people whose faith misses the forest of spiritual meaning for the trees of literalism but respects those whose devotion lead them to keep trying to help others.

    The language didn’t bother me. I am always surprised by those who focus on the words instead of the substance — I’d think people would be much more disturbed by the frank portrayal brutality and sexual repression. I don’t like bad language in entertainment for general audiences and have written about the increasing use of previously unacceptable words in PG and PG-13 movies and on television, but in the context of this show and its intended audience, I though the language was appropriate.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment romanscapegoat

    Nell…since the jews control the Broadway musical industry- with Jew writers-producers-performers…jews wrote the Mormon musical only to spew their anti christian-ism racist views-showing Christians as ignorant fools…the jew writer of this Mormon musical is clearly an ANTI-CHRIST-A-MITE….OHHHH THE HUMANITY!!!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Jesse Fox

    I was laughing a little about the profanity, and as a retired Navy Senior Chief I am reminded that the military considers profanity to be a violation of the UCMJ. I have noted that it has always been the youth out of High School that tend to use profanity but as they grow up in the service they find they do not need it. Of course some never grow up but there is always hope. ? With all of the needs in the world and not enough time I plan to skip the show and do something worthwhile.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment romanscapegoat can blame in on the jew writers and producers in jew owned hollywood-exploiting the black experience in America-for profit…creating black-ism pimping-among the average white community-SUDDENLY ITS OK TO STEAL TEN SPEEDS THAT ARE NOT LOCKED UP…HEY GIVE ME A DOLLA!!!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment ravtzav

    romanscapegoat, are you for real or are you attempting to portray a caricature of anti semitic rhetoric? it’s hard to tell as your name and posts do not immediately sync in my head so i wanted to ask for clarification. the romans are not generally referred to as scapegoats, a term usually leveled at another population that exists…

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment romanscapegoat

    rev a tat tat…Jews blame the Romans for killing Christ…Romans are scapegoats for an act that was done by jews…in the name of greed…

  • Gavriella

    Enough! Have you got writer’s block? We’ve seen this same article for months already! If you’re not on vacation, find something new to write about.

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!
Thank you for visiting Windows and Doors. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Truths You Can Use Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!   ...

posted 1:28:03pm Aug. 02, 2012 | read full post »

Apple's "Jew or Not Jew" App -- Should It Be Legal?
An Apple application that let users guess which French politicians or celebrities are Jewish was pulled from France's App Store. but its American equivalent is still available. French activist groups said the "Jew or Not Jew?" app violated ...

posted 1:18:48am Sep. 18, 2011 | read full post »

Is God A Christian?
R. Kirby Godsey’s new book, Is God A Christian?, challenges what the author describes as the commonly held belief among many religious people that the God in whom they believe is “one of them”.  People, Mr. Kirby observes, too often ...

posted 11:59:56am Sep. 12, 2011 | read full post »

Remembering 9/11 - Part One
The tenth anniversary of 9/11 brings up many emotions and presents some very real challenges, among them how to remember the past without being imprisoned by it.  This video, filmed at St. Paul's, the church closest to the World Trade Center ...

posted 2:40:58pm Sep. 08, 2011 | read full post »

Gilad Shalit, Still A Prisoner After 1,900 Days
Below is a copy of the Statement I got from the White House, and while I appreciate the words, I can't help but also ask, "Is this the best we can do?"  United States Mission to the United Nations Office of Press and Public Diplomacy 799 ...

posted 9:04:17am Sep. 08, 2011 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.