“The Book of Mormon” Musical is Anti-Mormon Dreck

[ Cross Posted from Sixteens Small Stones ]

By now you’ve all heard of the The Book of Mormon Broadway Musical, created by the makers of the vulgar comedy show South Park in collaboration with one of the people behind the obscene Puppet Broadway show Avenue Q.   It’s received glowing reviews from nearly all the elites and has been nominated for 14 Tony Awards.

It’s been described as “sweet” and it’s mockery of Mormonism dismissed as a form of affectionate teasing about the goofy beliefs that Mormons have, while still recognizing their value to society. Even some so-called “Mormons” and supposedly “Active Members” of the church have lauded it and encouraged members to see it. [Clarification: i.e. even some that claim to be “faithful” to the teachings of the LDS Church have lauded it and encouraged members to see it.]

I’m here to tell you that these plaudits are a load of tripe.  The Book of Mormon Broadway Musical is pure garbage.  The fact that so many people, including members of the church, have given it such glowing reviews simply manifests how desensitized these people are to vulgarity and blasphemy, and how far their hearts are from God.

When brother Michael Otterson, who is the head of the public affairs department of the LDS church, wrote about why he won’t be seeing The Book of Mormon musical for the “on Faith” blog for the Washington Post, some members of the church said that he had no business criticizing it when he hadn’t seen it.

Like brother Otterson, I would never pay money to go see the show.  I don’t want to give any support to something that even it’s most adulating reviewers say is full of unbelievably obscene language, so much so that they can’t even print it in their reviews.   However, when NPR posted the entire cast recording of the show for free listening on their website, I made the mistake of letting the criticism of brother Otterson’s not having seen the show before he criticized it get the best of me.

I tried to listen to all of the songs from beginning to end.  I made it through most of them, but there were two of them that were so unbelievably offensive that I had to stop and skip on to the next song before they completed.

It’s not just the extremely offensive language.  Even disregarding the vulgarity, the only way I can think to describe the message of the music is Anti-Christ.  There is absolutely nothing uplifting, edifying, or virtuous to be gleaned. And while some of the music is catchy and happy-sounding, it is merely a colorful envelope with which the spiritual anthrax is delivered to it’s victims, the audience.  And even the musical envelope itself is pedestrian and superficial. You’ll find more musical authenticity in the boy’s band organized by Herold Hill in The Music Man or even a profanity laced emo-punk album.

The way in which the names “Heavenly Father” and “Jesus” are used throughout the music made me cringe every time they were said.  All the expressions of faith by the characters, even the supposedly faithful ones, were hollow.  The ways in which the Mormon characters refer to their relationships to God, Jesus Christ, the Church, and each other are so inauthentic and false that the audience can’t help come away from it with a complete misunderstanding of what Latter-day Saints are like and what they really believe. This was not a good-natured, affectionate jibing.  Sarcasm is by definition belittling and unfriendly. This was a sarcastic, anti-Mormon production from start to finish, performed more artfully than your typical anti-Mormon tract, but no less maliciously.

One of the most offensive songs actually had no profanity at all.  In it the missionary and a woman they have been teaching sing about baptism using terminology meant to explicitly invoke the idiom of a first sexual encounter.

From the second song onward it is clear that Elder Cunningham Price has no interest in the glory of God, or bringing people to Christ.  In fact, the elders in the songs talk about bringing people to the church, but not about Christ or the Atonement at all. CunninghamPrice‘s primary motivation  is to leave his own mark, doing something great, and change the world– and get the credit for it.  While he does progress from wanting to do it all by himself and reap all the glory himself to the point of doing it with his companion, in the end he is willing to knowingly perpetuate false teachings in order to do it.

The missionaries in the songs progress from superficial beliefs with which the writers have conveniently endued them (as a straw-man to knock down) to a more nuanced belief. This transition culminates in the finale called “Tomorrow Is A Latter-day” which is not much more than an anti-Mormon rewrite of Annie‘s “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” with a few reprises from previous songs.  In it the missionaries, who by this point have lead the Ugandans to believe that God commanded Joseph Smith to stop raping babies and that he could instead cure his AIDS by raping frogs, declare:

“We are still Latter-day Saints, all of us, even if we changed some things, or we break the rules, or we have complete doubt that God exists, we can still work all together and make this our paradise planet.”

“Who cares what happens when we’re dead, we shouldn’t think that far ahead. The only latter-day that matters is tomorrow.”

And the song ends with Ugandans reprising the opening song now as missionaries themselves, except they are now preaching the story of their “prophet, Arnold Cunningham” instead of Joseph Smith, and the Gospel of curing AIDS by raping frogs.  So Elder Cunningham Price‘s desires to leave his mark are fulfilled in becoming himself his companion becoming a “prophet” who brings happiness to people through stories that he knows are lies.

This implied analog to Joseph Smith as a false prophet, and subtly to Jesus Christ as well, is the final message of the show.

Don’t waste your time with this dreck. Read the actual Book of Mormon instead.  It has more depth, more complexity, more honesty, and a much, much greater potential to change your life.

Latter-day Saints should distrust anyone, member or not, who praises such wicked doggerel.  And if our society rewards it with treasure and plaudits, then it just goes to show how little they have progressed since “Trapped by the Mormons” came out in 1922.

87 thoughts on ““The Book of Mormon” Musical is Anti-Mormon Dreck

  1. There’s a joke that goes like this: Why did God invent mosquitos?

    A: To make flies seem better by comparison.

    Maybe the purpose of TBOM: The Musical is to make “Jesus Christ Superstar” seem better by comparison.

  2. JMW,

    Let’s be careful not assign too much foul play to those involved in this production. Surely we ought to forgive those who know not what they do.

    As to those among us who feel that this show has some redeeming value — I won’t attempt to take the battle to the moral high-ground with them. I’ll just remind them that no matter how seductive the novel qualities of this show may be it’s still a piece of junk. Artistically it has about as much depth as it does theologically.

  3. You’ll give yourself an ulster worrying about stuff like this. This show wasn’t made for an LDS audience and it wasn’t made to attack the church either. It’s a critique of our culture. Getting in a huff over stuff like this is just giving them more material.

  4. Even some so-called “Mormons” and supposedly “Active Members” of the church have lauded it and encouraged members to see it.

    “Classy”.

  5. Jjohnsen, “classy” is the bloggernacle apostate’s lazy catch-all put down. How ironic that you deride my forthrightness as a lack of “class” so that you can defend a musical that openly flauts every single standard of decorum and class recognized by our society. Pathetic.Bite The Wax Tadpole!

  6. Here’s something I posted elsewhere on the subject. I agree with your assessment J.Max.

    I see their critic as being one of the worst kind from a church-going-perspective. It eliminates any concept of the purpose of this life from an eternal perspective and just focuses on the here-and-now. It’s just a modified version of eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die, that basically says, do what you want, no matter how dumb, and be a good person.

    Some of the greatest doctrines of Christianity (from a Mormon perspective), which relate to suffering in this life, is that their is a purpose to this life, and the trials we go through in this life as we follow in Christ’s footsteps to various degrees, will act as a refining fire to prepare us in the eternities.

    Parker and Stone handicap Mormonism, and all faiths in general, by seeking to redefine their scope to only include the here and now. What’s in front of your face is the only thing that matters — and that’s a terrible deception indeed. Truly an approach that says, eat up all temporary pleasure you can find, drink up those things that make you happy in the here and now, for tomorrow you’ll be dead and nothing else matters.

    And you’ll notice I’m doing them the favor of critiquing their belief on a higher-level than they critique my own — without resorting to crude, vulgar, insulting rhetoric that is designed to mock on one hand, and slap you in the face on the other but pro-ports to pass for a balanced approach at the end. No thanks guys. I’m hopeful that most people are classy enough not to appreciate their approach.

  7. I don’t know why every single review said something like “this vulgar musical may offend someone, but it is really surprisingly sweet and friendly towards Mormons”. I don’t see anything sweet about it. Thanks J. Max Wilson.

  8. Just a warning to commenters here. JMax is allowed to put forward his opinion. He thinks the BoM Musical is dreck. If you don’t like his post, you have two choices: ignore it and go read something else, or politely disagree. Attacks on the author of the post (such as “classy” above) and attacks on the Church will be swiftly deleted.

  9. Going through our trash log, it is fascinating to note that many of the people posting here to defend the BoM musical — with insults aimed at the author of the post instead of polite disagreements — are well-known FORMER members of the Church. By their fruits ye shall know them.

  10. One last comment. True story. Six years ago I was going to be in NY with my wife, and we wanted to go see a musical. I am a big fan of old-time Hollywood musicals. So, I asked a friend who lives in NY to suggest musical that was relatively clean. She searched and researched for a week and came back and said, “the only one I can find is a Disney musical for kids.” Which is what we saw. It may be that this was a bad time for musicals on Broadway, but I found the experience fascinating. Do all adults think they have to endure two hours of foul language and sexual references to be entertained? Apparently yes.

  11. I found that once I decided not to be offended by swear words the world was a much more interesting place. I would have hated this play about 5 years ago. Now I’m glad I don’t have to dismiss it because of the language, or dismiss it because people believe differently than I do. I found the messages to be insightful, hopeful, meaningful and hilarious. Being offended by a few words in the English language is a way to turn off hearing the meaning of what others are saying and focus solely on the use of certain words. When we attack each other for the choice of words we use rather than the content we aren’t trying to truly understand one another.

  12. “Do all adults think they have to endure two hours of foul language and sexual references to be entertained?”

    I question the term “adults” to describe those who enjoy today’s sickening and absurd culture. Its as if the modern Western (American?) world didn’t make it psychologically past the early years of middle school. We live in the most disgraceful era since Sodom and Gommorah and popular culture proves this every day. You didn’t have to, and I refuse to, listen to the soundtrack to know that the so-called musical is disgusting.

    This is one case where I think that trying to ignore it and not boycotting (as in not going) or protesting has been a big mistake. Its offensive to a lot more than Mormons and yet its treated with kid’s gloves. The argument that it would only increase its audience by doing this is lame considering the large amount of words given to it already by the supporters. At the least those who might have thought to go might be persuaded to skip it as they should! More than one person who thought of going heard the awful things it has and decided NOT to go. Speak up because someone who doesn’t represent your views will.

  13. By the way, I think that Mormons should stand outside the theater before and after the performance and hand out actual Book of Mormons. Not sure if that has been done yet, but it probably would have been news if enough Mormons have. It could have an insert that quotes Scripture that warns against the filth the so-called musical represents.

  14. Here is what President Monson said about modern entertainment just a few weeks ago in Conference:

    “Many movies and television shows portray behavior which is in direct opposition to the laws of God. Do not subject yourself to the innuendo and outright filth which are so often found there. The lyrics in much of today’s music fall in the same category. The profanity so prevalent around us today would never have been tolerated in the not-too-distant past. Sadly, the Lord’s name is taken in vain over and over again. Recall with me the commandment—one of the ten—which the Lord revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” 2 I am sorry that any of us is subjected to profane language, and I plead with you not to use it. I implore you not to say or to do anything of which you cannot be proud.”

  15. What if I was raised in a culture where the phrase “and it came to pass” was strictly forbidden and I should never say such a thing. They also taught that if other people said it you would know they had lost the spirit in their lives. This would be a cultural belief. How likely do you think I would be able to fully read and appreciate the Book of Mormon if such a filthy phrase were found throughout? Wouldn’t you think my taking offense of that phrase to be rather arbitrary?

  16. No, Jettboy, it’s not worth boycotting. It’ll strut and fret its hour upon the stage, and then will be heard no more.

    And, frankly, it’s not a matter of being offended by the language of the gutter–or of somehow rising above offense to discover what terrific insights the F-word virtuoso is trying to deliver. As the descriptions suggest, vulgarity is vulgar–it’s low, it’s cheap, it’s crude. It lacks grace or nuance or beauty, and generally masks any grace or nuance or beauty that the speaker is trying to communicate.

  17. I agree with the overall sentiments of this post. However, I do take issue with the statement “Even some so-called “Mormons” and supposedly “Active Members” of the church have lauded it and encouraged members to see it.” Just because a member of the church lauds it or encourages members to see it does not mean the person is a “so-called Mormon” or “supposedly Active Member.” While I have not lauded it, have no plans to see it, and would not encourage members to see it, I attend church with people who have lauded it. These same people hold leadership callings, participate actively in their ward, and are faithful members of the church. To call them “so-called Mormons” or “supposedly active members” is attacking those who are faithful members of the church.

  18. Tim, I think that’s a decent point, and I tend to agree. I hope JMax expands more on that issue.

    The whole “being tolerant of people who are not following Church guidelines” is a tricky thing. Modern-day prophets have made it very clear, including at the most recent Gen Conference, that we should avoid profane language and entertainment like this. However, there are people who enjoy it, including perhaps people who are active members, etc. Calling them out for behavior that seems to violate the prophets’ guidelines isn’t going to have much effect on them because *none of the people on this board have authority over them.* If their spouses or bishop or stake president called them to repentence, it might have an effect, but no M* blogger is going to change their minds. And, as I say, none of the bloggers here have any authority over the people in question, which is really the crucial issue..

    I still think posts like this are important for many reasons: 1)we get an idea of what the BoM Musical is about because somebody actually listened to parts of it 2)we get the confirmation that it is just what many of us thought it is< ie total garbage 3)JMax has the right to call it total garbage, and you have the right to politely disagree (on this blog — on your own blog you can do whatever you want). 4)There are many of us who are “on the fence” on the whole art vs. garbage issue. I occasionally see R-rated movies, and sometimes I struggle with the issue of whether it is right or not. Some are OK, others really offend the Spirit. It is nice to hear from somebody else who has the guts to stand up and say, “you don’t have to subject yourself to that garbage. Go do something else with your time.” I like hearing that from others, and I will make my own choices, but it takes gumption in today’s world to stand up for your own (and what you believe to be the Church’s) standards.

  19. Mike Wilcox, I will engage your ludicrous point with just a few brief comments. Every culture in the world has “bad words.” Words have purposes and objective meaning. Cultures set aside certain words as being “daring” or dangerous or even evil. The process is the same the world around and in all languages. In every culture, parents teach their children how to deal with these “bad words.” 99 percent of the time, parents say: don’t say bad words. Why? Because it makes the children appear uncultured, rude and untaught and can even embarrass the parents. And in every country where the Church is present, Church authorities encourage members not to say bad words in the local language.

    You may feel enlightened because certain bad words don’t bother you anymore. That is certainly your right. But you cannot change the entire culture, and you certainly can’t change Church teachings and revelation. You are tilting against windmills. Go get another cause.

  20. After listening to the NPR music, I have to say that the musical is no doubt offensive. Anyone who is familiar with the work of Trey Parker and Matt Stone knows that this is their “style”. They tend to lampoon everything and everyone and no target is considered “sacred”.

    Everyone thought that their movie/musical, Team America World Police, was going to be anti-USA and anti-war. The movie ended up lampooning the Hollywood elite and their over the top liberal biases.

    The episode of Southpark, All about the Mormons, ended with a message against religious bigotry. They took their shots at Mormon beliefs but the episode was much more positive about Mormon culture than the episode on Scientology.

    The Book of Mormon Musical is a parody of the overly positive Mormon attitude. It lampoons our culture’s ultra positive outlook on life in the face of horrific real situations like those in Africa. The Mormon characters in the play falter at times, but in the end, they are successful in bringing some light into a very dark and real situation.

  21. *Well-known former Mormon alert*

    I haven’t seen the show (not anywhere near New York), but I have listened extensively to the soundtrack and I will probably get it when it’s officially out.

    That being said, there are some songs even now that, after one listen, I just don’t really listen to. It’s not necessarily because of the crudeness or whatever, but just because I didn’t like them from a musicality standpoint, and I liked other songs better.

    The vulgarity doesn’t bother me that much. At least, it doesn’t bother me to the extent that I know it’s what to expect from Stone and Parker. (Literally. No one should have been surprised on this front.)

    What I do believe is that one’s reaction to the musical is a GREAT barometer for one’s own experience in the church. I guess I can understand J. Max’s feelings to the musical. It is clearly a critique of the church as a serious church with serious truth claims. This carries through Chris’s criticisms: the musical doesn’t approach Mormonism on its claims about the eternities (because, well, Stone and Parker don’t buy those claims.)

    I wouldn’t go so far to say that anyone who likes the musical or identifies with some part of it is a “so-called Mormon” or “supposedly Active Member” (I’m still kinda chuckling at that last one…in a system where we have rather bright lines for activity [and so we can EASILY tell people who are inactive vs. active], we can still doubt these clearcut brightlines and say that one might only be “suppposedly” active,) but I do think that a lot of people who have publicly gone to various news media as “Mormons” have a qualitatively different experience, and certainly aren’t representative of all Mormons.

    I’m not going to name names, but I am reminded of someone who said the musical hit close to home and reminded him of his mission experience. What kind of mission experience must he have had?! Well, in fact, this person has written about his mission experience, and yeah, it makes sense that his mission experiences features abuses as pervasive as the profanity in the musical.

  22. If we are not offended by profanity, we can be certain that type of language offends the Spirit. There is a huge difference between what society may find offensive and what is offensive to God.

  23. Positive doesn’t negate the negative. I have yet to hear anyone who saw the South Park “All About the Mormons” episode come away with less bigotry against Mormons. The take away message was still mostly “dumb, dumb, dumb” with not a word about more respect.

  24. I think this musical is targeted more at Atheists and Anti-Theists than it is at Mormons and other believers. The message I walked away with was “religious beliefs may be made up by man, but if they’re helping people isn’t that a good thing?” My impression was that Mormonism was simply the vehicle the writers used to communicate that point – and let’s be honest, our history of road shows and other silliness lends itself perfectly to the medium.

    Non-believers aren’t going to walk away from this performance with a negative view of Mormonism. Current research already shows that most of America already has a negative perception of Mormonism. Judging from the reviews I’ve read, people actually walk away from this performance with positive feelings towards Mormons.

    In short, while you may be offended, I really do think this performance will be positive for Mormonism in the long term.

  25. J Max,

    I haven’t be able to blog for a while, but I stopped by M* and saw this and was glad to find out about the musical and to have some awareness of the content.

    jjohnsen and J Max,

    If we are going to be honest with ourselves on this issue, I think we need to admit three obvious things:

    1. That there are active (I use the term in it’s technical sense of ‘attending church’) members (I use the term in it’s technical sense as meaning ‘baptized’) of the Church that did recommend the musical. Indeed, I do not doubt that in a Church our size there are even ‘Believing’ (I use the term technically and in the common sense of someone that believes — accepts as true on faith — the truth claims of their religion) members of the LDS Church out there that would recommend this musical, as irrational as that position seems to me. Given this, J Max is obviously technically wrong in his statement, and I do see this as problematic and would encourage a chance of approach in the future.

    2. However, it’s also a fact that there are active and non-believing (I use the term technically as the negation of “believing” above) members of the LDS Church that also recommend this musical in part because it supported their non-believing (again, used technically) world view and heaped scorn on believers (used technically) that they disagree with.

    3. It is also a fact that some of those in #2 did this deceptively. For example, I have seen people refer to themselves as ‘Believing’ when they didn’t actually believe any of the truth claims of the LDS Church; and they did so knowing that calling themselves this would mislead people. More commonly, I’ve seen people recommend this musical while flashing their “Mormon credentials” but fail to mention that they don’t believe any of the truth claims of the LDS Church any more, thereby leaving a false impression about themselves that actually is pertinent to the recommendation to see the musical. (The proof of this statement is obvious: if it weren’t pertinet to mention that one no longer believes the doctrines, then there is also no point in flashing one’s “Mormon credentials”.)

    When we realize that all three of these statements are beyond criticism (well, beyond criticisms that are true) then we realize J Max was emoting #3 based on the truth of #2, but instead wrote #1.

    But on the other hand, how should J Max have said this in a sound bite?

    Here is how I would say it — it’s sort of unwieldy, I admit:

    Even some that say they are active and say that they are Believing members of the LDS Church have lauded it and encouraged members to see it. However, I do not see — and doubt the rationality of — how someone that accepts the truth claims of the Church could honestly feel this musical was anything but offensive to our beliefs and was a hurtful screed against those that believe in our religion.

    Because I know people that do not believe in the LDS Church at all any more, but often intentionally misrepresent themselves, I am concerned with this sentiment and rightly suspicious that it might have a ulterior motive in some or most cases, namely an attempt to suggest that they believe in the teachings of the LDS Church when in fact they do not, and thereby leave a false impression about their recommendation to go see it.

    But, I remain open to the possibility that someone that really does believe in the LDS religion might, for reasons I can’t fathom, actually see this musical as uplifting or sweet about Believing Mormons. But I would need a real explanation of how they arrived at such a seemingly obviously contradictory view, and I have never seen this honestly offered. But utlimately, I am not their eternal judge, only the judge for myself of whether or not their recommendation was made sincerely or deceptively.

    As an alternative, perhaps instead he could have said:

    I know some people that say they believe in the teachings of the LDS Church claim it’s sweet on Mormons. But I fail to see how this is possible after hearing the lyrics and am rightly suspicious of the motives of those that say such things. But I am not their eternal judge.

    This shorter form fails to say everything that really needs to be said, but it at least gets closer to the mark.

    And at least it avoids the issue that “Mormon” is a correct term for even non-believing but still baptized members of the Church.

  26. I attend church with people who have lauded it. These same people hold leadership callings, participate actively in their ward, and are faithful members of the church. To call them “so-called Mormons” or “supposedly active members” is attacking those who are faithful members of the church.

    Tim, as you know, every time I post and say that one thing or another is incompatible with being a faithful member of the church I get the same response as you have posted here, and frankly it’s boring. My words “supposedly” and “so-called” clearly recognize that there are people who pass themselves off as Active Mormons and who maintain the appearance of faithfulness. It is silly to assert, as you have, that actively participating in a ward and holding leadership callings equates to being a “faithful” member of the church and places one beyond criticism for promoting and recommending this anti-Mormon garbage. I feel perfectly comfortable saying that promoting this musical is completely incompatible with being a faithful Mormon in any coherent sense of the word faithful.

    Here is a quote from Elder Packer, printed in the August 2010 Ensign magazine, which I think applies very specifically to the musical and those in the church who promote it:

    Atheists and agnostics make nonbelief their religion and today organize in unprecedented ways to attack faith and belief. They are now organized, and they pursue political power. You will be hearing much about them and from them. Much of their attack is indirect in mocking the faithful, in mocking religion.

    You who are young will see many things that will try your courage and test your faith. All of the mocking does not come from outside of the Church. Let me say that again: all of the mocking does not come from outside of the Church. Be careful that you do not fall into the category of mocking.

  27. J Max said:

    It is silly to assert, as you have, that actively participating in a ward and holding leadership callings equates to being a “faithful” member of the church and places one beyond criticism for promoting and recommending this anti-Mormon garbage.

    J Max, will you do me a favor? Based on what you said above would you consider rewriting that part of your post to say:

    Even some that claim to be faithful to the teachings of the LDS Church have lauded it and encouraged members to see it.

    I would point out that people across the Bloggernacle have attacked my faithfulness to the Church’s teachings many many times and it never offended me in the slightest. How could one have serious dialog about the teachings of the LDS Church without also measuring if we are living up to it or not in given particular instances? I’ve seen the faithfulness of every blogger on M* sorely called into question at one point or another.

    The fact that this happens so often does seem to leave it beyond doubt that there is such a thing as the ‘teachings of the LDS Church’ and that one can be ‘more or less faithful’ to those teachings. (Was this ever seriously in doubt?) This also has the added advantage of being admited (through actions, if not words) as ‘on limits’ across the ‘spectrum of belief.’

  28. I know that I have expressed this idea before, but I feel compelled to say it again. I have never even thought of leaving the church, nor would I say that my commitment to the gospel has ever really been challenged in any way, certainly not by atheism or anti-Mormonism or any of the other boogymen raised here, except when I read J.Max’s posts. It is far, far worse for my testimony than any actual anti-Mormon literature, and I would venture to say is far more insidiously destructive that anything in the BoM Musical. I don’t know what you want to do with that information, and I only speak for my own experience, but when I read the interpretation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ offered by some of the posters here is when I face the greatest threat to my own faith, precisely because it passes itself off in the guise of self-evident orthodoxy masking its anti-intellectual, radical conservatism.

  29. J.Max – I personally don’t like calling people out on their faith as it seems counter productive (isolates/makes them defensive and only serves to rally those who are already stalwarts – it’s like playing to your base in politics). But if you’re looking for things to say, you could always follow in the footsteps of many apostle & general authority and say things like, “No true Latter-day Saint…”

    I don’t think it would lesson the criticism, but at least you’d be in good company!

  30. Is “remaining a member” is all that counts as having a testimony? A testimony of what exactly? That its a good social scene? I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: I am a Mormon and not a Methodist or Catholic. That has religious, and not just cultural, meaning and consequences. If you can’t say “I believe” then you aren’t a believer and therefore I believe not a Mormon.

    I am not afraid of having my faithfulness questioned. First, because I know what I believe and therefore have no reason to defend myself against such charges (not to mention that has never happened to me. What I believe is unequivocal past question and my critics know this). Second, because if that ever did happen to me then it would give me a chance to present my testimony and most importantly OF WHAT. I must give credit to the Christians who deny that label to Mormons; they at least stand up for something.

  31. TT, if this blog is that destructive to your faith, why do you still come here and read it and comment regularly?

  32. JMax, once again, you have gone viral. 46 “likes” on Facebook. No unhallowed hand can stand in the way of the work! :)

  33. This is a sad situation…but nothing has changed except the forum. When I was a senior sharing the gospel with a friend, her family checked out every bit of anti mormon literature they had in their church library. I freaked out. My dad said, reading it is your choice. But you won’t find a single truth only half truths. You know us, you know what we believe. She did begin to read it, she was so offended by the lies, that she burned it all in a trash can, took the discussions and was baptized. And now her lovely family are active and faithful in the church some 20 years later. This kind of thing makes the job of faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a little more difficult, but other than that nothing has changed. Any member who goes to that production unknowingly and does not leave immediately is either not living close enough to the spirit or not listening to him. Our job is to be a light, when all around us there are people in the darkness…why are they in the darkness? Often it is not that they have chosen darkness ( I know some have)…but it is that they have not received the light. Darkness…is really the absence of LIGHT! Here is an even better reason given to us to live, and walk uprightly before not only the Lord, but everyone. Thanks for the share, I was unaware of this, but I am grateful to know about it, since I have mostly friends that are not members of the Latter-day Saint church, and I will be more prepared if they see or hear about this, to talk with them intelligibly.

  34. Geoff B,
    That is an excellent question. I don’t know why. M* is in my feed and has been since 2005. Admittedly, my above mentioned reaction was more emotional than engaging, but ultimately I do feel like open conversations with capable dialogue partners is my ultimate goal, and have often found that here. I often disagree with what gets written here, and usually don’t have the time to engage it. I think that my frustration is that I don’t find that J.Max, Adam Greenwood, and Bryce Hammond (of blessed memory) are in that category and have a negative emotional reaction to it. I suppose that I hope to encourage the members of this blog to help them reign it in, as they have often done, including in this thread, and to let them know that I appreciate those efforts. Perhaps by letting people know how hurtful this kind of extremism can be will encourage those of you to continue to dampen it.

  35. Disclaimer: Only an occasional visitor here. What I have read and heard about BOM: The Musical does not make me want to see it, for most of the same reasons that J Max points out.

    However, I am reluctant to make judgments about the faithfulness or testimony of anyone who did want to see it, or enjoyed it at some level, or even recommended it to someone else. As a result, J Max, your intended message gets obscured by the way you deliver it. Just say you found it offensive, vulgar, crude or whatever, without making assumptions about others that you are not really in a position to make.

    To put it a different way, imagine if I were to say that anyone who supported the conservative, tea party flavored congressional Republican agenda was obviously ignorant, uninformed, and truly lacking Christian values such as charity and kindness, I would be doing the same thing. It would be much better to say that I found the congressional Republican agenda confrontational, shortsighted, lacking in pragmatism and fraught with significant potential for damage to the economy.

    Benjamin Franklin in his autobiography talked about criticizing others by using less offensive language, such as “One might conclude that….” or “some might determine that…” rather than “I think that you are an idiot”. Obviously not his exact words, but one can catch the general sense of it.

  36. TT, what I am reading from you is not that this blog is hurting your faith, but instead that you disagree with certain writers and their style and want them “reined in.” I have two suggestions: 1)if they are really hurting your faith, please stop reading them and their posts. But that is your responsibility, not theirs and not mine. There are literally millions of places I don’t visit on the internet for precisely that reason. The responsibility lies with you to control what you read. 2)True tolerance means realizing that there will be people, a LOT of people, with whom you disagree or who express things the way you don’t like. True tolerance means being able to put these comments in the category of: “whatever, another idiotic comment/post from so-and-so.” Once it is in that category, then you can either move on to another post/comment and just ignore the stupid thing the other person wrote or you can politely disagree. Again, the responsibility is with you, not with the other person, to be polite, to be civil, and to be tolerant. People have the right to express opinions that are stupid and are written in ways you don’t like.

  37. Geoff,
    I don’t think that I was being intolerant or uncivil or even impolite. It is not like a called this site anti-Mormon schlock or suggested that anyone who advocates reading this site is a “so-called Active Mormon.” I was expressing my personal reaction and observation. I’m sure your obvious bits of advice putting all the responsibility on your readers is well intended, and I largely agree. But it also avoids any responsibility of the writers, who happen to belong to the same community as I do, to offer their thoughts in ways that aren’t designed to damage other members of that community.

  38. Chris says: “I personally don’t like calling people out on their faith as it seems counter productive (isolates/makes them defensive and only serves to rally those who are already stalwarts – it’s like playing to your base in politics). But if you’re looking for things to say, you could always follow in the footsteps of many apostle & general authority and say things like, “No true Latter-day Saint…””

    Chris,

    I think this is a good point. I wish I had suggested this instead.

  39. @ Jack comment #3 – I realize that we often try to take the position to avoid judgement of others. It can be a slippery slope. But lets face it, anyone involved in this musical and its production would be lying at best if they felt that there was any gospel value to this production. Raping frogs? How is it even possible for something of value to be in the same context as the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ?

    As far as those who have seen it, as is debated in KevinF’s comment #37, I actually tend to lean in support of J. Max on this as well. Elder Christoferrson quoted in his October 2010 Conference talk the following: “Life offers you two precious gifts—one is time, the other freedom of choice, the freedom to buy with your time what you will. You are free to exchange your allotment of time for thrills. You may trade it for base desires. You may invest it in greed. …

    “Yours is the freedom to choose. But these are no bargains, for in them you find no lasting satisfaction.

    “Every day, every hour, every minute of your span of mortal years must sometime be accounted for. And it is in this life that you walk by faith and prove yourself able to choose good over evil, right over wrong, enduring happiness over mere amusement. And your eternal reward will be according to your choosing.”

    As far as I read, we are accountable for our choices including those to support financially or by offering a positive review, of this obviously degrading production. ‘Every minute on this earth we are accountable for our time’ means that if this play is two hours and one could have spent that same two hours in the temple instead, we will have to account for that. I know no feasible justification to rationalize supporting one while avoiding the other. Perhaps we should not weigh the people as much as the act itself. But in this case, I would respond with “from such turn away.” 2 Tim 3:1-5

  40. Let me rephrase: How is it even possible for something of value to be in the same context as the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ?

    I meant to say, how is it even possible for something like raping frogs, something of no value to be in the same context as the Book O Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

  41. TT, my point is in reaction to your claim that this site is somehow hurting your faith. If something were hurting my faith, I wouldn’t read it anymore. You of course can do what you want with your life. But to continually visit a site that you claim is hurting your faith shows a disconnect somewhere. I think the reality is that you simply disagree with what the writer has written and the way it is written, which is a different thing entirely.

  42. I listened to about one minute of each song, since I’m a bit of a musical theater junkie and it was hard to resist. As with most shows produced these days, the music was bland and forgettable; I found it hard to maintain patience to get through even one song.

    Good musicals are so difficult to write and produce that stuff that really isn’t great gets overpraised when it only merely adequate.

  43. Geoff,
    I think I can understand TT’s point though. He’s in a minority position where he has to put other beliefs on-par or superior to what various authorities in the church have taught. Now, I’m not being too harsh on him, as to be honest, I think we all have done this from time to time. To be reminded that a personal belief, which he holds as core to his identify seems fundamentally at odds with what other (or even a majority) of the adherents to the church are preaching is indeed difficult. My own personal take on this is to simply look for the nuggets of true principles inside of what my “opponents” (not really that) are preaching and see if I embrace them and can combine them with my own understanding of what is the Lord’s will.

    I think in any issue from immigration, to gay marriage, to welfare, etc. I try to look at the principles which provide the foundation for the conclusions of those on each “side”. And I make sure that grain of truth from that principle is a part of my own belief system. Because if a brother in Christ has received a testimony of it, there’s a strong chance the Lord finds it important. But that doesn’t mean I agree with their conclusions.

    It’s hard enough to be worth to receive revelation, but then working from true principles into God-inspired conclusions is the fun and difficult part of revelation and life I think.

    I’ve drifted a little from my original point… but I’d just hope that TT is not so fundamentally numb to the bedrock principles of those whose ideological conclusions he opposes. But I will agree it sounds a little like sour grapes — when ever I have that feeling I have noticed in myself its usually because I place my own feelings and thoughts above what the Lord is trying to teach me. And it sure as heck doesn’t mean the “other guy’s” conclusion is right.

  44. I’ll preface my remarks by saying that I’m no longer Mormon. I would just like to say, (as respectfully as possible), that I disagree completely with the sentiment here. Hopefully, disagreeing doesn’t merit deletion.

    I understand the LDS aversion to profanity/blasphemy, but this seems more like competitive piety and willful ignorance. I contend that the were the average Mormon were to endure a little discomfort and attempt a little understanding, (heaven forbid they hear a swear word!) there is much R-rated wisdom to be had in the world.

    Latching onto the obviously crass and blasphemous nature of the play is taking the easy-way-out as a Mormon. There are very real questions raised by a simple musical “anti-mormon” play. I dare say that this piece of “wicked doggerel” is vastly more relevant to real life, than the weekly 3 hour meeting that rehashes the same platitudes over and over, and that each and every member tells themselves is soooo-important. It is the very definition of the emperor’s new clothes.

    The views expressed in this review and the comments appear to corroborate the belief in type of Mormon that the creators of the play were poking fun at; The kind of Mormon that is too prude to see value in anything uncorrelated, too Kool-Aid-drinking to see the glaring problems in their own religion, and too self-righteous to be likeable to anyone but other Mormons.

    But hey, I may be wrong! (See, it’s ok to be wrong about things…)

  45. @ kevinf in #37,

    I can appreciate what you are saying here and I think you said it tolerantly. And I think J Max should take notice that this one line is quickly becoming the focus of a post that had little to do with it and consider whether it’s worth it or not.

    I also accept that I’m one of the ones making it a big issue.

  46. Cody, perhaps you would be willing to expound. If we are “taking the easy way out” or stating that we are corroborating the creators position, maybe you would be willing, as someone speaking with what sounds like familiarity of the content of the musical, what in this musical correlates with actual church doctrine and positions – and please don’t say raping frogs. You defend the play as if you have seen it. Have you?

    What part of this show IS true? Seriously, most of the time they at least have some semblance of a potential connection to actual mormon theology in the South Park stuff. But this whole premise sounds so far gone that it makes Monty Pyhton’s Life of Brian sound doctrinally plausible.

  47. TT,

    You know I don’t agree with how you approach things sometimes… However, I do have to give you really high marks for how you handle your tone when you write. You don’t use personal attacks for one thing, or at least I’ve not see you do so. And you often come right back to counter criticism and really do (like you do here to Geoff) seem like you sincerely want to have dialog.

    I think I could learn a lot from you in this regard and believe it or not, I am constantly trying to moderate my tone based on people like you and Geoff, who I think have a more natural gift than me in this regard. (Though Geoff sometimes loses it when we are talking politics.)

    So thank you for your comment and the continued dialog. I think it is worth considering what you are saying here. And for what it is worth, your comments do help me ‘rein it in’ at times.

    I agree with Geoff that your ‘testimony’ is not really what is in question here — really at all. But I think the real underlying point you are making is this: you are sometimes not sure you want to be part of a Church that has too many members that say some of the things some of us on M* says because you find it offensive. It’s maybe (at times) too judgmental, or too narrow in who is considered “acceptable”, etc. This is really what you are saying, isn’t it? If so, I think these are valid points worthy of discussion. And I am human and do cross the line at times.

    However, I do think there is a larger question here that — to be forthright – needs to be addressed too.

    The truth is that the larger ‘bloggernacle’ often does equally and opposite offensive things and no one says boo about it. So why is J Max singled out?

    No… I should say the truth here as it really is. Let’s call a spade a spade. Just as the ‘conservative side’ (if, indeed, we are on ‘sides’) sometimes goes too far in creating a sort of ‘us and them’ mentality or ‘you’re not really one of us’ mentality, or ‘you are stupid if you don’t agree with me’ mentality, so to can we see this is obviously true of the ‘liberal side’ as well, right down to a powerful ‘orthodoxy’ of what can and can’t be said on the Internet and even implied or real threats of attacks if you violate the ‘standards’ set.

    In fact, the comparison is poor because it’s not even a close contest. The truth is that J Max is the single most offensive person on the ‘bloggernacle’ who fits the ‘conservative mold’ and he’s maybe 10% as offensive of probably hundreds of commenters, posters, and bloggers who fit the ‘liberal mold.’ The better commenters, like yourself, let these people go without a wince much less an attempt to get them to stop being outright jerks.

    I can honestly say that I’ve gone out of my way to read J Max’s writings because people consider him so offensive and I wanted to evaluate it for myself. I have even read that post he did years ago calling into question if BCC should have an alliance with Dialog or not, including a comment he made that did probably straddle the line of tolerance. But this the absolute worse I’ve seen out of J Max. And frankly, it’s not even close – not even reasonable comparable – to literally thousands of other comments and posts I’ve seen that have little problem assaulting people (usually quite personally) and beliefs that they see as ‘too conservative’ or ‘too believing.’

    TT, have I ever told you I am a universalist fideist? I think I’ve mentioned this to you before. Heck, I even voted for Obama (Given that the alternative was McCain, this isn’t say much, I realize. And I won’t pretend I’m a political liberal.), I often meditate because prayer sometimes doesn’t work for me, and my parents sometimes wonder if I’m in danger of losing testimony. Moreover, I joined the bloggernacle (though I didn’t know it was called that back then) because I had largely lost my faith at one point and was starting to regain it and wanted to do my best to encourage people to believe and find hope in their imperfect Church/Religion, warts and all. In fact, I had just discovered the term “NOM” and, not having met any real ones yet, thought I was or at least had been a NOM. (Clearly, in retrospect, this was not the case. I am an “on paper” NOM only, not one in real life because there is a gap between the on paper definition and the reality.)

    So I ask you, TT, do you have any idea how offensive many in the ‘liberal mold’ are to someone that wants to encourage hope in this way if it’s perceived as too believing or too conservative?

    I get it that it’s not like there is a universal ‘liberal disease’ any more than there is a universal ‘conservative disease.’ My first experiences with “NOMs” were John Dehlin and John Nillson who went to lunch with me and I found to be very open and interested in multiple points of view. Even some of the more hot headed ‘liberal’ Mormons were at least very honest and open when they didn’t believe in the LDS Church any more. Here I think of people like John Hamer and Clay Whipkey, that didn’t seem to like me much, but I don’t recall being dishonest or mis-representative of themselves and their beliefs. And they did behave well in my opinion.

    But for all the positive experiences I did have – the fact is I left Mormon Matters because it was an really offensive place to be if you are someone like me. I could not tolerate how intolerant it was at times. I eventually realized that someone like me – someone that found real literal hope in religion – simply did not belong in a place like Mormon Matters. Probably ever.

    I remember calling my friend DougG (who back then was a regular NOM commenter) and he personally asked me to return because he missed me. But I told him I felt like I was a disturbance there to others that need a form to vent their frustrations and I was doing no one, not even me, any good.

    It was actually Adam Greenwood and J Max that helped me find M*. So it was the ‘two most offensive people on the conservative side’ that treated me personally with the utmost of respect even if they don’t always agree with me and think I’m a bit ‘out there’ or even too ‘agnostic’ at times. I can honestly say that despite the occasional raised eyebrow, that every ‘conservative Mormon’ I’ve met has been nothing but kind to me. I admit that this is undoubtedly in part due to the fact that I am ‘faith friendly’, though again I have to wonder what is so wrong with wanting to believe one’s own religion and why that was considered such a crime by many ‘liberal Mormons’ that has to be suppressed and attacked so?

    I won’t name names, but during my time on Mormon Matters I was ambushed more than once by people that were trying to set me up in a trap of words because they didn’t like what I had to say. More than once I found that commenters had intentionally left false impression about their beliefs to create such an ambush. (This is, of course, why this is such a hot button issue for me.) I was accused of unfaithfulness to the Church’s teachings, of being stupid, of being immature for believing, and, of course, of being a jerk for asking people to explain where they were coming from. This last apparently violates the widely known yet unspoken Bloggernacle rule that you are not allowed to ask NOMs what they believe because it means you are implying they are a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And while many of the posters and commenters were nice and quite encouraging to me (Hawkgrrl, AndrewS, AdamF, and Jeff Spector come to mind), there were more than just a few that were dishonest and offensive and regularly intentionally misread what I said to make light of me. And, more to the point, when this happened, I was always alone and on my own. There was no TT there to come to my rescue and to ask for the hurtful extremism to be reined in.

    I know this just goes with the territory on the Internet. I am not saying otherwise. Mark Brown once told me a few hair raising stories that went the other way. (But I note had nothing whatsoever to do with J Max or Adam Greenwood, who simply do not be have that badly.)

    But I will say this. If you are spending this much energy worrying about the tone J Max sets, you really need to spend way way way more time looking at ‘the other side of the spectrum’ and have a massive reality check.

    J Max just isn’t as bad as many on the bloggernacle claim he is. He’s way more careful about not calling out individuals than his critics are about him, for one thing. And even his most infamous ‘crime’ against the bloggernacle really did boil down to interpreting the Church leaders stance on Dialog as mostly negative – a point that seems to be factually accurate and thus worthy of discussion on Mormon blogs without turning it into a claim that J Max was accusng anyone of personal apostasy. I did not see any statements that anyone was apostate at all. His negativity to Dialog seemed to merely be ‘taken’ to imply that and he was summarily executed for it.

    Yes, he could have handled it better. I do not like one of the comments he made in the Dialog incident and told him so. I note, however, that he then did a public apology for it, so in my book, it’s forgiven and forgotten. It should be that way in everyone’s book. So we’re talking about one bad comment years ago that was later apologized for that was – to be frank – completely valid and worthy of real dialog. Yet people continue to hound him over it as if it was the great crime ever perpetrated by humankind and the epitome of intolerance. After my own bloggernacle buffetings, there is no way I can agree with this point of view nor even see it as sincere any more.

    So here is my modest suggestion, TT: I think you would be well served to let someone like me do more of the ‘reining in’ of J Max (as I am doing, I might add!) because he’s probably going to care more about what I have to say than he is about what you have to say. Likewise, I have no influence at all with the ‘liberal’ point-of-viewers, but I’ll bet you have considerable ability to rein in their excesses.

    So what do you think of this? Should we spend our energy encouraging tolerant dialog with those we actually have influence with? It sounds like a no-brainer to me.

  48. Cody, I would remind you of President Monson’s admonition up there in comment #15. You say you are no longer Mormon — fine, it’s your life, you can do with it what you will. But the prophet who we believing Mormons revere has told us in the plainest terms possible to avoid things like this play. Again, all people are free to do what they want — this is the great thing about agency — but you cannot do what you want and then give people who don’t want to see it — or who have seen it and don’t like it — lectures about “competitive piety.” This is nothing better than the people in the great and spacious building pointing and laughing at the people holding on to the rod.

  49. Bruce,

    Thanks for your comment. It just seemed that too many of the follow on comments to the OP were keying in on the more judgmental lines that J Max wrote, including his closing paragraph that leaves the reader with the charge to “…distrust anyone, member or not, who praises such wicked doggerel.”

    My own personal take on Parker and Stone is that they have somewhat of a soft spot for Mormons, and mostly like us, in what I have called elsewhere a “Dinner for Schmucks” kind of condescending fondness. I’ve drawn the conclusion that they view us as the cutest of all the deluded followers of religion, but nonetheless deluded. I don’t think they intended to be mean spirited, but we can certainly take offense if we choose to. I just choose not to watch this production, and I have generally avoided their TV show, except when I’ve been pointed to some of their Mormon-themed excerpts on Youtube. I don’t need it, and they’ve got their own built in audience anyway.

  50. Hey James, I haven’t seen the play. I can’t wait to, though! As with the author of this review, I did listen to the entire musical portion of the play yesterday and I’ve also listened to the Mormon Expression review of the play found here [ Removed Link] where they discussed the play and it’s theme’s in-depth. It doesn’t make me an expert on the play by any means, but i’m familiar enough with it, with the South Park guys, and with Mormonism enough to speak somewhat intelligently about it! :D

    Anyway, there is a bit of Mormon history in the play, and it’s about the same level of “the Joseph Smith Story is dumb” like in the South Park episode. It’s enough to annoy any believers, tickle the non-believers, but it’s really not the point of the play.

    The real crux of the play is the fact that these fresh-face, naive Mormon boys from Utah come to Uganda (a place with very-real problems such as female genital mutilation, aids, starvation, etc…) and think that they’re gonna solve everyone’s problems with what is essentially a completely american and frankly irrelevant story to them… the Book of Mormon. (There’s no need to discuss the veracity of the Book of Mormon here, but suffice it to say that there are also arguably legitimate problems with it’s veracity). The point of the play is that who cares if the Book of Mormon is made-up, it helps many people. And who cares if these Elder’s take Mormonism and make-up more stuff to fit Ugandans, if it helps them.

  51. “And who cares if … make-up … stuff to fit Ugandans, if it helps them”

    I care.

  52. I’ve been mostly ignoring the discussion here, so I apologize for that.

    But one thing that bothers me about J. Max’s critique of the musical is that it doesn’t seem to even get the plot right.

    Now, I see that J. Max has made a few name changes where necessary, but still, the problem is he’s presenting more simplistic character motivations than actually exist in the musical.

    And I mean, maybe the full musical squashes out these nuances, but the soundtrack seems definitely to have them.

    As a result, he’s making criticisms about the musical that might be displaced. (Then again, I understand that part of my disagreement is simply placing a different criticism at a different place.)

    For example, he criticizes Elder Price for speaking about bringing people to the church (but not emphasizing Jesus and the Atonement)…but isn’t this often a criticism within the church? That we talk too much about “the church” and not enough about Jesus and the Atonement? When we talk about bring people to Christ, we of course mean bringing them to the church, because the Mormon church has the fulness of the Gospel, right? So, why shouldn’t this look like a church centrism to non-Mormons? Elder Price, btw, is not the one who is willing to promulgate false teachings…and the reason Elder Cunningham does so is because he lacks basic understanding of the Gospel. (But the church should’ve known about this — hence why there was the raising the bar efforts.)

    Elder’s Price’s motivation to do something great, incredible, to bring sheer numbers to the church…well, from reading quite a few mission experiences, it seems like many people would recognize *that guy* on their mission. And this is a guy who, like Elder Price, is very concerned about rules. To the sake that he burns out in dazzling flames when he breaks one little rule (and although many people complain that “spooky Mormon hell dream” is unrealistic and un-Mormon…the point is Price is clearly distraught and guilt-ridden…about something as slight as playing hooky.)

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that…

  53. Cody, you just seemed to be making accusations about how J. Max was ignorantly categorizing individuals with relation to the content of the musical but to your own admission you are as ignorant of the content as you claim J. Max is. The reality is that J. Max is not pretending to have an opinion based on what other people of said of the play as it sounds like you have. His statement is that based on the principles involved, one doesn’t need to see the play or hear the music to judge it a steamy pile of garbage.

    I find it interesting that this play makes no secret of the fact that truth is irrelevant – yet people defend it – they defend open lies. Truth is irrelevant to the characters and it is irrelevant to the producers goals. Truth is not irrelevant to faithful LDS. It is our Helmet, Buckler, and Shield. Cody, you seem to be trying to attach some moral value to some potentially charitable message in this play that seeks to slaughter mormonism in the process. To a faithful latter-day saint, the Book of Mormon is not only very real, very true (a discussion for another time), but is in fact life fulfilling. As the cornerstone of our faith, we believe that the words of salvation and happiness are contained therein, therefore we should with even greater vigor share that message with the world as a way to help each individual through and out of their life struggles. Just because you believe differently, or because parker and stone do not see it that way, does not categorize the entire faith into the realm of the ridiculous and irrational.

    However, I consider the premise of the play that we think the Book of Mormon is the only part of missionary service is an oversimplification and therefore, as stated previously by others, a straw argument. It is easy to make anyone look silly if the argument that you seek to counter is silly. This is how people like Bill Maher function. They are masters at making an irrelevant argument look genuine and therefore easily ridiculous.

  54. Andrew S,

    Might it makes sense to you if I were to be concerned that the musical takes the worst scenarios in all history and treats them as the norm? (I have not seen it, so I mean this hypothetically only.)

  55. Bruce,

    Yeah, I agree with that. But then again, I’d have to see the musical to ascertain whether it does that. The soundtrack doesn’t lead me to think it does. And I think the active members (who we are As Of Now Unsure About Their True Mormonness) who feel the musical resonates with their mission experience don’t necessarily make the judgment call as to whether the musical (or even their experiences) are the norm.

    …although it would be interesting to ask them after all.

  56. As a friend of mine says: “You can’t blame a skunk for stinkin’.” And I think that applies to Parker and Stone.

    The money quote is from Lane Williams: “. . . If the attention this musical receives impels more people to read the actual Book of Mormon, more power to it.”

    The production is potty-mouth grossness. J-Max is right to point that out, and right not going to see it, and right to encourage other LDS to not see it.

    But what’s going to be the end-result of the production? What will most of today’s garbage-consuming consumers of mainstream entertainment come away with?

    I think the musical is an ingenious way of getting the notion of church into the mind of that segment of the population.

    Sure, the pearl of the gospel (or even a distorted version of it) is being wrapped in garbage, but how else can you get garbage-consumers to sample the gospel? Wrapping a pill in dog-food is one way of getting a dog to eat the pill.

    The church and the gospel is not merely for the already-pious segment of the population. The church and gospel is also for those potty-mouths who would never consider going to a church. So the musical is, in a way, a very clever introduction. Even if the version of Mormonism presented is more of a “Fractured Fairytale.”

    I think one should keep in mind that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”, and Brigham Young’s famous quote: “Every time you kick ‘Mormonism,’ you kick it up stairs: you never kick it down stairs.” (Journal of Discourses 7:145; Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 351.)

    Commenter MCQ wrote on http://www.Mormonmentality.org :

    “In a general sense, we really should be happy about the fact that a musical like this has been made, whether or not we actually choose to see it. It shows that our faith is reaching a certain maturity and status among the population. It’s a compliment, of sorts, to be made fun of, and it will actually cause some serious inquiry among those who see the musical and those who only hear about it. To me, it seems to be all part of God’s plan, and a direct result of the efforts of the missionary program and the endless PR campaigns that the Church has undertaken over the years.”

    Glen Nelson, a member of the church in New York did see the musical, and his review is here:
    http://www.mormonartistsgroup.com/Mormon_Artists_Group/Elders_on_Broadway.html

    It’s a rather long review, so here are a few key paragraphs. But read his entire review to get an idea of what’s in the musical.

    There’s a scene in which the Ugandan villagers are all in white clothing being baptized. Strangely enough, it’s quite moving. And I’m not the only one who thought so. The audience got very quiet at that point. The show ends on a Mormon-induced euphoria, an interesting mirror to the opening scene that introduces missionaries at the MTC. At the end of the show, I felt like it was “cool” to be Mormon in the eyes of the audience. I imagined that my friends and neighbors were going to ask me about the show, and I would say, “I was a missionary like that. They sent me to places like Uganda and I was over my head with issues of poverty, devastation, disease, and hopelessness. I didn’t know what to do either. I simply tried to make the world a tiny bit better, and I think the people I taught changed for the better.” And indeed, that is what has happened. My wife, who works in Sales, has been inundated with questions about the musical; it’s all people can talk about when they hear she’s LDS. Being able to talk about it knowledgeably has been invaluable. My guess is that if real Mormon missionaries were parked outside of the Eugene O’Neill theater every night, that they would have many great conversations with people who had otherwise never thought about the Church in a positive way. …

    The Church has absolutely nothing to fear from The Book of Mormon musical. That opinion is the base of why I’m writing this. I think that anything people of our faith write in the mainstream press at this point—those silly articles about how they haven’t seen the show, and won’t see it, and want to justify how the Church is helping the people of Africa—is unhelpful, maybe even damaging in the long run. It is a defense that follows no attack. If we are a major world religion, we could do a lot worse than this. Ever heard of Nunsense, one of the longest-running shows in history? This musical calls for no Church response.

    Many times in the performance, I thought to myself, as an overview of Joseph Smith began, or when diorama figures from the real Book of Mormon popped up, Here we go. This is where it gets ugly. But you know what? The show never goes there. It easily could have. And at the same time, they get into serious theological, cosmological stuff, most of it flying over the heads of the audience. Doctrinal inaccuracies? There are almost none.

    I’m glad I went. I might even purchase a couple of the songs from iTunes when the cast album comes out. Still, I can’t recommend the show to anybody. It’s just too much. I was frequently uncomfortable watching it. But that’s a different thing than saying the show is hurtful or willfully antagonistic to the Church. It simply isn’t.

    So Glen agrees with J-Max, that LDS shouldn’t see it. But disagrees that the musical is a “bad thing” from a PR standpoint vis-a-vis non-members.

  57. When I was a youth guide at the Arizona Temple Visitor’s Center, prior to my mission, I used to make it a point to thank the “anti-Mormons” for showing up for the Christmas lights and Easter Pageant to protest the Church. Because of their efforts, I was able to answer people’s questions about the Church and bear testimony of Jesus Christ and His restored Gospel. To some extent, I see this musical as the usual anti-Mormon message and look forward to answering questions about The Book of Mormon with my not-yet member co-workers and associates.

    It is dreck, in my opinion as well, but Stone and Parker are giving the Church a lot of free publicity. From a public relations perspective, sometimes even bad news is good news…especially if it gets your name in the paper. On that note, I thought the Church’s response to the musical was wonderful.

    I loved your post J. Max and appreciate your boldness.

  58. Yeah bookslinger,
    But, when there are “self-proclaimed” florists who forcefully insist that the skunk just as lovely as a rose, all of us with good noses start to question the reliability of those florists…

    I don’t blame the skunk for stinking, I blame those who should know better who defend and peddle the filth.

  59. Bruce,
    Thank you for your very thoughtful comment. I didn’t all of your backstory and I appreciate you sharing it here in this context. I really respect your efforts to have a good faith conversation. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    I think that you are probably correct that there isn’t much that I can say that is going to have any effect on J.Max. Far, far more capable folks than I have tried and failed. But, I wasn’t really addressing J.Max so much as I was addressing his audience and his fellow-bloggers. I know that you, and many others, pointed out the problems, and I was simply adding to that growing chorus. As an emotionally charged reaction, it probably just threw gas on the fire rather than attempting to work out precisely what was problematic, and that much I regret.
    That said, I’m not sure that it is as simple as us both just coaching our own teams. I have no idea what my reputation is, but I doubt I have any real sway one way or the other, nor do I really have the energy to police even just the “liberal” bloggers. I’ve heard the complaint that the supposedly liberal “bloggernacle” punishes conservative voices. I actually don’t even doubt your experience at MM, and I largely stopped reading over there because I found the discussion and posturing to be a little too much for my taste (though there were some excellent bloggers there too). But I have to say that I don’t put a lot of credibility in those complaints from many conservatives because often the problem is a lack of ability to make a persuasive argument, to understand opposing points of view, and frankly arguing from an uninformed perspective. There are actually a lot of pretty amazing bloggers that I would say are conservative (though they might not meet the radical definition of conservative that some offer) that I deeply respect. Some of them blog at M*. Some are at T&S and BCC. Some are even at FPR. Again, we are both just speaking in impressions, but my sense is that the persecution complex of people like J.Max is more a result of their inability to have a productive conversation than a supposedly pernicious intolerance for conservatives.

    But in some ways this is besides the point. Part of the problem is that ultimately I don’t believe in teams, at least not two teams that are simply divided by “conservative” and “liberal.” The world is just more complex than that, and I see myself challenging that narrative whether it appears on the “right” or the “left” as simply an inaccurate mapping that distorts reality and impedes our abilities to understand one another. This is why I don’t like labels in general, and why I refuse to categorize myself. I find categories often more restrictive than illuminative. They put us on “teams” and we feel like we have to defend our “team” against some other team who is attacking it. When we can create a true space for dialogue, teams start mattering less than the individuals with whom we are talking. We can see them are real people rather than representative ideologies. I certainly don’t see myself on some liberal team and giving passes to liberal Mormons. I’ve written posts critical of other feminists, of Daymon Smith, of the presumed value of sexuality by liberal Mormons, the 8:A Mormon Proposition film, and many more (and that is just in the last few months). I used to frequently critique the posts at post-Mormon blogs. I also try to raise the problems of an unreflective Mormonism.

    In the end, I think that the category that matters is that we are all children of God, and more specifically Mormons, members of the Kingdom of God. The covenants I have made are not simply with God, and in some ways not even primarily with God, but rather with other people. It matters to me that the community of the church is a welcoming one. I think that you accurately capture the ways that J.Max challenges my testimony. It isn’t my belief in God or in the teachings of the church that he challenges, but whether or not the Body of Christ is healthy. It challenges my ability to love, to be open and understanding, and to want to associate myself with a body that sees itself at war with me or others. I admit to stumbling on wanting to love and serve someone with such contempt for me and others, even when I am not included in the group he despises.

    (As I side not in all of this, I am pretty ambivalent about the BoM Musical itself. Honestly, South Park isn’t really my humor and I have a hard time watching it. But I see this as a matter of taste rather than evidence that everyone who disagrees with me is a minion of Satan. So, I don’t have any problem in principle with people trying to persuade others not to see it. I do think that those persuasions should be rooted in accurate representations and careful analysis (this post is short on both). I thought Glen’s response was excellent and persuasive because it both understood the musical, acknowledged it strengths, but made a recommendation about the film based on his own cultural presuppositions about art and vulgarity shared by his readers. I will see it eventually because I see it as part of my job, but I don’t think there is any mandate for LDSs to see it. )

  60. Andrew S,

    I see your point. And, frankly, if for some reason I went to see the musical and it reminded me of the craziness of my mission, I suppose it is not unthinkable that I might have a soft spot for it.

    Though frankly, I’d never go see any play that I feel marginizes minorities, nor ever recommend it to others. But then I wouldn’t even go see Da Vinci Code as a sort of personal boycott against the book’s treatment of Catholics. And I got on people’s cases for doing so in the midst of Mormon Utah where no one cared but me. Everyone ignored me of course.

    However, would you agree that it would be a very interesting study to take the active LDS people that recommend the musical to other LDS people and put them under in a lie detector and see how many believe in the truth claims of the LDS Church?

    As I said, I do not doubt we’d find people that believe Nephi was a real person and also recommend the musical. But the fact is that it would not surprise me if it turned out that disbelief highly correlated with recommendation. It would not even surprise me if the correlation was high, like say 0.7 or better.

    On the other hand, I probably wouldn’t fall out of my chair if it was low either. (say 0.3). But either way, it would be fascinating.

    I think about John Dehlin doing a post of 10 reasons on why he, as an active Mormon, was looking forward to the musical. It was a very humorous post and I enjoyed it. But he left off reason #0, which was actually the most important reason: because there was no chance whatsoever that they were going to mock people like him.

    The mocking and belittling of human beings due to their religion or for any reason (if it happened) would only be aimed at Mormons that were highly invested in the truth claims of the Book of Mormon. So I do feel John was being a bit unfair and maybe even disrespectful of others — though as always with Johh, he was more guarded than most.

    But it just isn’t true that in a situation like this that beliefs and investment in them don’t matter.

  61. Shall we cast a beautiful child in the river because she was born of a whore? No.

    Neither should we cast aside any positive experience one may have though the circumstances were abominable.

    But even so, it would be better that the whore were chaste and the abominable virtuous.

  62. Bruce,

    I feel like there’s not be a lot of media to consume if I avoided all of the ones that marginalized minorities.

    I would find your lie detector test interesting, but lie detectors can be faked. Not to mention, if we’re talking about some of the people I think we’re talking about (rats, you had to go and name names!), then they have developed ways to be able to honestly answer questions about LDS truth claims (at least, how they are in the temple recommend interview questions) by taking advantage of rhetorical ambiguities. But certainly, I think if you started getting far more specific, then for the most part, there’d be predictable findings. (Thus, I don’t think that J. Max is swiping at *nothing*…I just think he’s using the wrong description. It’s difficult to be a “so-called active member,” but it’s easier to be a “so-called believer“)

    I’d caveat that there are a few issues that might be wrongly conflated. For example, when assessing the LDS people who recommend the musical to others, we might find that there are different groups of such. And one such group might recommend the musical because it reminds them of the warts in the LDS culture and mission experience. Another group might recommend the musical because it plays to their sympathies against the LDS church’s truth claims.

    It’s entirely possible that the former group could believe in LDS church claims, but be “disaffected” only with respect to how the church is run, how LDS culture may contribute to mission abuses, etc., My recent posts into the “uncorrelated Mormon” phenomenon are really clueing me in to this diversity.

    So, it would be interesting to find out not only the raw correlation, but if the data could be drilled down further.

    Anyway, your hypothetical reason #0 is really interesting. But I don’t think it follows. “Turn it off” is something that John is probably very intimately aware of. And if I were not feeling charitable, I would make some less flattering comparisons.

    This gets back to why I would like a drill down of why active Mormons (whoever they are) recommend the musical to others. Then we could see whether people really feel that the mocking is only aimed at Mormons that are highly invested in the truth claims of the BoM. I do NOT think that is the only aim of the musical, for example (but then again, I don’t count as an active Mormon recommending the musical, so darn).

  63. I haven’t seen the musical, but I don’t think I could sit through it. I am an atheist/agnostic Mormon and I just find their stuff to offensive for my ears. Some people like this kind of humor and entertainment and others don’t. I love the first song “Hello.” I find myself and my little kids singing it from time to time. That was the first and only song I heard until yesterday. Then I started to listen to “Hasa Diga Ebowai” and I couldn’t finish listening to it. Just too much foul language that I’m not used to.

    From what I have heard about the plot, I don’t think I would be bothered by the musical in general. I guess different people just like different stuff and it isn’t a call who is gonna like it.

  64. @ Jacob Brown – An atheist/agnostic Mormon? How on Earth that is even remotely possible? I for one would be very interested to see your reconciliatory “logic” into that labeling.

  65. ““And who cares if … make-up … stuff to fit Ugandans, if it helps them”

    I second the caring. Its either true or its not. If its not then there are far better ways to improve my life and the world without resorting to falsehoods and fables.

  66. “And one such group might recommend the musical because it reminds them of the warts in the LDS culture and mission experience. Another group might recommend the musical because it plays to their sympathies against the LDS church’s truth claims.”

    I would agree with you on this, AndrewS. In fact, I have no doubt this is true for some segment of the believing Mormon population, as I was hinting at with my previous comment about what might cause me to be soft on the musical.

    One thing to keep in mind with my John example, that you seem to have missed. It was *before* the musical had come out. The point being that John was never in any danger of having something he cared about mocked or himself being mocked. So the comparison he draws between himself and believing Mormons (pardon me, but that is the technically correct term and I know of none other) is unfair. Whether or not the musical did or didn’t marginalize Mormons once it came out is actually unrelated to the point and might even been subjective. But that does not matter to the point.

    As for this comment: “I feel like there’s not be a lot of media to consume if I avoided all of the ones that marginalized minorities.”

    Not sure what to say to this other than it seems to me to undermine the perception I hold of the immorality of marginalizing any minority group.

    If it’s okay to marginalize one minority, I would either need a really good exaplanation as to why the two groups were somehow fundamentally different in this regard or I’d have to wonder if maybe marginalization should be shrugged off by all minority groups as ‘all in good fun’ and ‘don’t be so sensitive.’

    I will admit to one thing, however, anything can offend somneone. My post making fun of Conan seems to have caused real hurt feelings with at least two commenters, one of them was a friend of mine. But if making fun of Conan amounts to attacking a minority (Conan-lovers, say) then it would be literally impossible to talk without ‘marginalizing a minority.’ So clearly this is not what I meant. Someone ‘being offended’ or ‘being hurt’ is too low a bar to be useful. (This is a point the Bloggernacle has abused to grotesque proportions.)

    But in so far as the Davinci Code asserted factually false things about Catholics and left a negative impression of Catholics while claiming in the preface it was factually true, I can’t just turn a blind eye to this and neither shoud you.

    The bar should be some combination of prejudice, untruth, and potential hurt, perhaps. The reason my Conan post should not count is because it was factually true that I had a subjectively negative view of Conan and that I made no claim beyond this. It certainly did not make fun of any group of people at all.

    I guess that raises the legitimate question: can we excuse the BoM Musical as only claiming to be a subjective perception of an entire group of people? If so, can we do the same for racial stereotypes? (Especially ones that are rooted partially in statistical fact?) Is any subjective perception of a group of people anything but prejudice?

    I admit these are difficult questions.

  67. I’ll fall into the “politely disagree” category.

    I still take issue with someone who has not seen this work in its entirety passing such incredibly harsh judgment on it. They may not be swears, but J Max uses some VERY sharp words.

    Would the Mormon’s on this board appreciate someone passing judgment on the ACTUAL Book of Mormon if they had not read the whole thing themselves? Wouldn’t it bother you to hear someone say “I don’t have any interest in reading The Book of Mormon because it’s all just made up stuff”? I imagine you’d want them to see for themselves, just as I would like J Max see for himself about this show.

    Unfortunately the album of this musical is an incomplete representation of the show. The reason many of you bloggers have missed the “sweetness” that the reviews all mention is because it is not contained in the music, it is in the sincere, moral-giving scenework BETWEEN songs. Thus, J Max’s summary of the plot is spotty at best, and sometimes just plain confused.

    Believe it or not, the message at the end of the show is that Mormons are very good people, and that they make the world a better place – they just hold some beliefs that just aren’t exactly mainstream.

    So I won’t demand that J Max see the production, but I just wanted to make sure he was fully informed.

  68. re 69:

    Bruce,

    I think I was conflating his post pre-the musical’s release with his continued praise for the musical (which doesn’t seem all that different from his top 10 reasons). But I mean, in reviewing the post, I think there’s far more to be upset about than the idea that he wasn’t in danger of being mocked (and the fact that he masks this). It’s that he’s using that vantage point to make vicarious jabs *through* his support of the musical. I’m a bit amused (re-reading) how much edge there is there.

    If it’s okay to marginalize one minority, I would either need a really good explanation as to why the two groups were somehow fundamentally different in this regard or I’d have to wonder if maybe marginalization should be shrugged off by all minority groups as ‘all in good fun’ and ‘don’t be so sensitive.’

    Note that my comment was not so much to take a position on whether it’s okay to marginalize a minority or not, just that, regardless of whether it’s ok, it happens. A lot. I swing between the goals of decrying such and being resigned to such (e.g., “shrugging off” that it’s “all in good fun.”) As much as I dislike the latter idea, the former is just really draining.

    With respect to your legitimate question (which is, indeed, legitimate and difficult), I’d have to say that to the extent we cannot excuse the BoM Musical as only claiming to be a subjective perception, it is in the case that despite what it claims, it has different end results. The same would be and is true for those about racial stereotypes. And I mean, there are many other issues to be found in each case.

    For example, one might criticize a racial stereotype because it lumps things in the wrong way. (E.g., the statistical correlations must be interpreted. One can interpret it in a variety of ways, and interpreting it in such a way as, “Intrinsically, this race is like this…” isn’t going to go over that well.)

    (Ultimately, I feel this conversation has gotten way too heavy for a morning conversation, so I apologize up front and say that I’m not really prepared to give it the full consideration it deserves.)

  69. “As much as I dislike the latter idea, the former is just really draining.”

    Gosh dang, Andrew! I just really can’t disagree with you over this. ;)

  70. “That said, I’m not sure that it is as simple as us both just coaching our own teams. I have no idea what my reputation is, but I doubt I have any real sway one way or the other, nor do I really have the energy to police even just the “liberal” bloggers.”

    TT,

    I really liked your response and I think it showed of more of your civil tone.

    And I don’t want to be in any way critical of what you said, because I think you are pretty much right.

    And forgive me when I use the term “liberal” and “conservative.” I agree that the labels just don’t cut it in a lot of cases. But I am strongly against dropping labels altogether if there are not better replacements available because then you just remove the ability for people to talk and have dialogue in the first place. (And I have noticed that many that are ‘against labels’ are only selectively so.)

    What I will say is this. I am virtually certain you have real influence and sway with many people on the bloggernacle. I’m virtually certain some of them out out right trolls at times far more often than J Max and that your radar isn’t calibrated to see it.

    While it certainly isn’t ‘as simple’ as this, it sure isn’t that complicated to start here in a place where we have real influence on making the world a more tolerant place.

    If you really are interested in building bridges and dialogue with capable partners with “teams… mattering less than the individuals with whom we are talking” then can there by any doubt that tolerance is the place to start and influencing those we actually can influence is the place to start it?

    So speaking up against J Max and leaving your friends alone just doesn’t make sense. Either accept that occasional caustic remarks are part of the DNA of the bloggernacle, and stop being offended by it (is this really humanly possible?) or start being offended by it when it comes from those you are closer to and relate to politically, philosophically, and theologically.

    I know it seems weird this idea that we should teach our friends tolerance rather than those we disagree with. And by golly its scarier to do then telling off a perceived enemy. But is there really a more effective way?

    If you don’t have the energy for this – and who would blame you – then you probably ought to both give up policing J Max and also give up on the pretense you are hoping to encourage real tolerant dialogue. You might as well just choose a team and back it, for this is effectively what you are already doing even if that “team” doesn’t fit a specific conservative/liberal mold.

  71. Eric Banner,

    The lame-o excuse of “don’t knock it till you try it” was addressed here

  72. “Wouldn’t it bother you to hear someone say “I don’t have any interest in reading The Book of Mormon because it’s all just made up stuff”?”

    Interesting question.

    I guess the bottomline is that people do this all the time. And, sure, I’d prefer that everyone in the world read the Book of Mormon before passing judgement.

    But I think I’d have to be realistic here. One does not have to read the Book of Mormon cover to cover — or at all — to know, say, it’s fundamentally at odds with Evangelical or Catholic doctrine. So if they were rejecting it on those grounds (i.e. they don’t wish to read it because they are already happily Catholic or Evangelical and don’t want to waste time on a Mormon book) reading it would not be required at all to pass a judgment of that sort.

    So I guess the answer is “it depends.”

  73. Bruce N, I would be interested in a post from you sometime on how you think the BoM is fundamentally at odds with evangelical or Catholic doctrine. I’m not sure the actual contents of the book and its message are at odds with evangelical or Catholic doctrine. Its acceptance as scripture might be, but as a religious tract (let’s say it’s invented by Joseph Smith as some say), I’m not sure evangelicals and/or Catholics would find it to be at odds with the majority of their theology. Anyway, I would love to see you explore this in some future post. You probably could convince me I am wrong. :)

  74. Its acceptance as scripture is what I actually had in mind when I said it.

    If you mean doctrinally, for Catholics I can think of a few things and for Evangelicals I an think of a big one if they are Calvinists (which they usually are.) But you are right there isn’t very much.

  75. Mike Wilcox: What if I was raised in a culture where the phrase “and it came to pass” was strictly forbidden and I should never say such a thing.

    I’d say, “Get yourself a French BoM. All the “and it came to passes” have been asterisked out, because the French people apparently found the phrase “il arriva que” boring and repetitive.

  76. Mark N.: Which edition of the French BoM are you referring to? I just now looked up and cross-referenced five examples of “And it came to pass…” in Alma of the copyright 1998/2008 French Book of Mormon, printed in Germany 7/2008, and it has all the “Et il arriva que” in the 5 verses I just looked up.

    A French missionary (and maybe Ardis P can confirm) told me that the previous (to 1998) French edition of the Book of Mormon had issues with the translation.

  77. JMax, thank you for your words. It’s made me very sad to find out the members of the Church have supported this prouduction and have gone to see it. Just from the things that have been said, you know it’s not lovely, virtious or of good report.

  78. I’m not aware of any particular dissatisfaction with the Book of Mormon translation we used when I was a missionary in the ’80s, Books. (Not to say that there might not have been one, only that I’m not aware of any.) That edition preserved “Et il arriva que” in a few places, with a footnote early on stating that repetitive uses of that phrase were represented by an asterisk. I’ll have to check out a current edition to see what the difference is.

    As for the hypothetical that introduced this tangent: hypotheticals only bolster an argument when they are at least as plausible as the circumstance they’re used to counter. This one is lame, no?

  79. From the second song onward it is clear that Elder Price has no interest in the glory of God, or bringing people to Christ. In fact, the elders in the songs talk about bringing people to the church, but not about Christ or the Atonement at all. Price‘s primary motivation is to leave his own mark, doing something great, and change the world– and get the credit for it.

    That song immediately reminded me of the song “Humble Way” from “Saturday’s Warrior” (written by and for faithful Mormons). They were making essentially the same joke: That while the missionaries sincerely want to do something great for God and humanity (and while they’re supposed to be humble), it’s hard to avoid getting your ego involved in that task. I think one can absolutely make a legitimate case that it is good-natured, affectionate jibing.

  80. Which edition of the French BoM are you referring to?
    Whichever one was being used in France in the mid-70s. I served in the France, Paris mission from 75-77.

  81. I went to a restaurant once and was enjoying a lovely meal when I found a fly in the food. Suddenly, I did not feel the same way about the meal or the establishment. I did not eat another bite, never went back, and would not recommend the cuisine to friends.

    Similarly I started listening to the NPR provided music from a talented Broadway cast for “The Book of Mormon” and actually enjoyed a couple songs. They were slightly offensive, but no worse than some of the themes found in LDS movies as we poke fun at ourselves. Then I happened upon a metaphoric fly in the food and was sufficiently disgusted. I had no interest in listening to any more of the “straw-man” beliefs that were set up to be mocked. I could have listened to the rest, but even though I wanted to be able to address arguments I might encounter, it really would not have been worth it.

    I’m trying to cultivate greater respect for things that are sacred. (I must admit that I’m unable to watch an entire episode of South Park) I know people who find it hilarious enough to overlook the offensive parts. Maybe I’m just not hungry enough to ignore the fly in the soup.

    On the other hand, I’m not sufficiently wise enough to judge those who are either so hungry for humor or so desensitized that the mockery of sacred things does not bother them. There is someone who is that wise (sorry, it’s not anyone on this blog).

  82. Mark:

    The BoM in French that I had in the late 1990s had that same asterisk. We got the new edition in 1999-ish, but I can’t remember if the asterisk was in that one or not. I still have that late 1990s edition and love that I don’t have to read “il arriva que … “. ;)

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