The Book of Mormon Musical: To Embrace or Heed It Not

 

Before we go any  further, dear reader, you have homework to do. If you wish to participate in this conversation it  is necessary to read the required reading the synopsis of the Book of Mormon Musical. I apologize for the smut you will encounter, but hey, the Pandora Box has been opened, and not by me.

 

Jumbo Stick It Pad

 

Remember high school?  The most terrifying  aspect of the high school experience were the Bullies.  Those of us who were vulnerable, did our best to blend in and not attract attention. We  cringed nervously in the presence of a Bully,  hoping we weren’t next.

One kind of Bullying was more pervasive and difficult for the adults to identify and punish.  These demonic kings/queens of high school dealt a subtler form of abuse disguised as “comedy” which didn’t leave bruises as evidence.  They were the ultimate in the Cool Kids Club. Everyone  was afraid of the them and sought to appease them to protect their own precarious social position.

“Hey, I was just “ribbing”, we are friends, just having a little fun!”

The Cool Kid Bully would reply to the Vice Principal after receiving a scolding for  putting a “kick me” sign on the back of some unfortunate unpopular kid. Once you were the unpopular kid  who was put into this situation you had three choices:

a) To be the Not-So-Smart kid who would put up a feeble protest by fighting back, inviting laughter from the crowd and more abuse from the bully

b) To be the dignified kid who walked away ignoring the boorish behavior, in doing so, minimized the bully’s fun

c) Or to be a poor soul, who suffered from such low self esteem they were grateful for the attention. After all, negative attention from the “cool kids” was better than none at all, right?

They would defend the bully to the Vice Principal, ” Oh yeah, I don’t mind, we were playing! We are friends!”

They were pathetic in hopes their pandering would somehow earn them a place in the Cool Kids Club.

Sometimes in life  we replay the awkwardness of high school, well into what should be our adult years. As members of the LDS church in North America, perhaps we suffer from a little teenage low self-image. Apparently we are willing to sacrifice our dignity to pander to the “cool kids” of Hollywood; who are really just grown up versions of those comedic high school bullies.  We LDS have found ourselves, for the moment,  the unfortunate victims of  the ultimate Cool Kids Club, the creators of South Park. If you did your homework, dear reader, you now know about the production of  The Book of Mormon Musical. Parker, Lopez and Stone are mocking what we consider to be sacred and precious. I don’t blame them, per se, they are the devil’s minions and do not know entirely what they are doing.  We cannot control the actions of others, so we should preserve our dignity and just walk away.

As always, the key to solving our difficulties can be found in the scriptures.  Let us turn to the Book of Mormon for guidelines in what to do in this situation. In 1Nephi we read about the Vision of the Tree of Life.

In chapter 8 Nephi tells us of a tree:

9 And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field

10 And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.

11 And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.

 

Nephi also tells us the ways and means to obtaining this desirable fruit:

19 And I beheld a rod of iron, and it extended along the bank of the river, and led to the tree by which I stood.

20 And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood; and it also led by the head of the fountain, unto a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world.

 21 And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood.

22 And it came to pass that they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree.

 

 Where there is good; there is also opposition, in this case  of a ”Great and spacious building”:
26 And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.
27 And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of  mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.

 

This mocking had an effect on the behavior  of the people in the vision:

25 And after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed.

28 And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.

 33 And great was the multitude that did enter into that strange building. And after they did enter into that building they did point the finger of scorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also; but we heeded them not.

 34 These are the words of my father: For as many as heeded them, had fallen away.

 

Ok, dear  reader, perhaps you are wondering why I am not following the advise of Lehi and Nephi and “heeding them not”?  It  is because it came as a great shock  to me to learn that the church bought advertising space in the Los Angeles production playbill of the Book of Mormon Musical.  From an article in the Deseret News: 

“Patrons of the musical aren’t likely to leave the theater with a better understanding of the Book of Mormon,” LDS Church spokesman Michael Purdy said Thursday afternoon. “Our message in the playbill invites the audience to seek a more complete perspective on the book, its Christ-centered message and its place in Mormon belief.”  

 Brother Purdy, and rest of the Public Relations Arm of the Church, people who go to see this musical are not interested in the Book of Mormon as scripture, but instead, are mocking it. They are the same as the multitudes who entered in the great a spacious building to mock those who partook of the fruit.

Christ told his followers, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” Matthew 7:63 Nephi 14:6Doctrine and Covenants 41:6

In other words, We should take no heed to what the mangiest dog thinks of us.

For those who did their homework, know, dear reader, that  The Book of Mormon Musical is not about the Book of Mormon at all.  The Book of Mormon Musical is NOT about the faith and hope of Christ in the Americas prior to his birth, and the ministry of the Resurrected Christ after his crucifixion. This is a production that is saturated in filth and blasphemy; mocking G-d and Christ, and our missionaries.

It is naïve to assume that the audience of the Book of Mormon Musical production needs that ad to be reminded that there is a real Book of Mormon out there. I dare to guess the patrons of this musical have access to the Internet, and have probably stayed in a Marriott Hotel, where each room has it’s own complimentary Book of Mormon. A copy of the Book of Mormon is easy enough to acquire.  I find it laughable that anyone would presume the spirit would be present in such an atmosphere, to impress anyone to learn more about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“The playbill ad is another example of the LDS Church’s savvy response to ‘The Book of Mormon’ musical,” said award-winning public relations guru Chris Thomas, co-owner of Intrepid Communications in Salt Lake City. “Instead of protesting the musical, which is something that many would do, especially religious organizations, they made a bold and deliberate decision to embrace the situation.

 

Mr.  Thomas, I suggest the correct course of action to take is not:  a) protest  or b) embrace, but rather, the correct answer is;  c) ignore,  as is counseled in the scriptures “heed them not”.  Your words remind me of the poor pathetic victim who chose to “embrace” his tormentor, rather than taking the dignified way out and Heed them not.

They have taken something that could have been detrimental to the church’s missionary efforts and made it positive.”  Chris Thomas

Once again, Mr Thomas,  patrons of this production are not interested in the Book of Mormon as scripture. Instead it is  the grossest example of mocking, using vulgar homosexual humor at the expense of the missionary experience. What is detrimental to the LDS church’s missionary efforts is, to give this garbage give any kind of  validation, rather than as you (Mr. Thomas) have suggested that we “embrace the situation”;  instead we should do as Lehi and Nephi have admonished us to do,  “Heed them not”! 

“The official church response was something along the lines of, ‘The Book of Mormon’ the musical might entertain you for a night, but the Book of Mormon — the book as scripture — will change your life through Jesus,” Stone said. “Which we actually completely agree with.  That’s a cool, American response to a ribbing.”

Mr. Stone, For me and other faithful believers, the Book of Mormon is sacred scripture. It is as precious to me as the Bible and my reverence for it is similar to the devotion the Jews have for the Torah.  The Book of Mormon Musical is blasphemy against G-d and Christ.  You have depicted our Father in  Heaven and our Savior in the vulgarism of terms. Mr Stone, it is not “cool” nor “American” to blasphemy the Divine.

Stone said that “before the church responded, a lot of people would ask us, ‘Are you afraid of what the church would say?’ And Trey and I were like, ‘They’re going to be cool.’ And they were like, ‘No, they’re not. There are going to be protests.’ And we were like, ‘Nope, they’re going to be cool.’ We weren’t surprised by the church’s response. We had faith in them.”

Yeah, sounds just like the Cool Kid Bully.

 

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About JA Benson

Joanna entered the world as a BYU baby. Continuing family tradition, she graduated BYU with a degree in Elementary Education and taught for several years. Growing up in Salt Lake County, her favorite childhood hobbies were visiting cemeteries and eavesdropping on adult conversations. Her ancestral DNA is multi-ethnic and she is Mormon pioneer stock on every familial line. Joanna resides in the Southeastern USA with her five children ranging in age from 8 to 24. Her husband passed away in 2009. She is an avid reader and a student of history. Her current intellectual obsession is Sephardic Jewish history, influence and genealogy. She served as a board member for her local chapter of Families with Children from China. She is the author of “DNA Mormons?” Summer Sunstone 2007 http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2007/04/dna-mormons/ and “Becoming Hong Mei`s Mother” in the Winter Sunstone 2009 http://theredbrickstore.com/sunstone/becoming-hong-meis-mother/.

42 thoughts on “The Book of Mormon Musical: To Embrace or Heed It Not

  1. I think the Lord’s comment to Moroni in the Book of Ether works here, “fools mock”, but the writings are sufficient for the meek and humble.

    In placing an ad in the playbill, the Church is not supporting the musical, but are recognizing that it is there and not going away. For the curious and humble, it opens the door for them to then ask about the REAL Book of Mormon.

    The Northeast director of PA for the Church told me that when the musical came out, their first thought was to comment, “if you liked the Broadway musical, wait until you read the book!”

    Of course, SLC instead came out with the statement that the musical can entertain for an evening, but the BoM can touch souls for a lifetime.

    We find doors open where we can. Yes, even if it means we must knock on the front door of the great and spacious building to do so.

    For the Marriott Hotel that sits directly across the street from the Broadway show, they find the free BoMs that are in the rooms are going like hotcakes. They use a case of them a week. That is not bad advertisement for the Church, even though it comes in a rather twisted form. We can look at it as the devil, or as an opportunity, just as we can look at Mitt Romney’s candidacy as blessing or curse.

    We should be the dignified high school kids who don’t just ignore or walk away from the cruel jokers, but use their actions to our own advantage.

  2. …So the kid should ignore the ”kick me” sign on his back, and when people inevitably ask him about it, he should pretend he doesn’t know what they’re talking about? Hmmm…

    FWIW, I think the majority of the audience of the musical would feel you are greatly mischaracterizing them. They’re simply not there to mock Mormons. The very fact that you insist this about them is, ironically, a defensive protest against the musical, IMO.

  3. A reminder that Jmax already did the definitive review of the musical without actually seeing it (he listened to the soundtrack):

    http://www.millennialstar.org/the-book-of-mormon-musical-is-anti-mormon-dreck/

    Without criticizing Church public affairs (which has a very difficult job), I would tend to agree with Joanna that the best thing to do is to ignore the whole thing. The BoM musical came to Denver, near where I live, and I told people who asked that I just wasn’t interested. The musical had nothing to do with me as a Mormon. Joanna is also correct about the whole bullying aspect of this: it is the cool kids dominating once again with sarcasm, snarkiness and profanity. Unfortunately, there is a lot of that in the world these days.

  4. It would seem to depend on your interpretation of “heed”. I think it’s certainly valid to say that ignoring something could be considered as not heeding something/someone.

    It seems equally valid to say refusing to give -careful- consideration would also be not heeding. It doesn’t mean you don’t consider it. It doesn’t mean you don’t respond, but you don’t really carefully consider what they are saying, as if it were important. You dismiss them without further argument and move on. You’ll notice that even the application of that example requires some attention, before returning to the course you’ve already set.

    The ad is a dismissal, not a careful consideration of the useless things they have to say.

    If the church were more respected, these actions would probably go down in the course PR & Marketing books as the best way to respond in a difficult PR situation: dismiss it in a way that doesn’t inflame passions, open the door of understanding for your opponents to walk through if interested, and get on with your mission.

    So while I certainly agree with your bully analysis, I don’t agree the church is actually heeding anything here.

  5. You do make some good points Joanna. I still like the campaign though. I’m not going to question this, because I’m pretty sure the high ups gave this a go.

  6. You miss a fourth reaction to the bullies, which is what I try to teach my kids: laugh along, and turn it back on them. Show them that you see them, you hear them, and they have no power over you. That is a sight more effective than pretending they don’t exist, which is easily seen through. And it also qualifies as “not heeding.”

    I think the ad campaign does that beautifully.

  7. If you think it’s possible that someone might have serious questions about the LDS Church and/or our beliefs after having seen the musical, I think it’s probably difficult to have an intelligent conversation if you don’t know what the person who has seen the musical has been exposed to. I don’t think that sticking one’s nose in the air as if to say that such a conversation is not worthy of our time or effort is helpful or ideal. It’s probably not likely that conversations with theater-goers about the musical will be turned into instant conversions to the Church, but a positive experience with a member who has something intelligent to offer about the musical could at least leave a favorable impression about the Church.

  8. I think JAB’s analogy falls a bit short.

    Yes, Parker and Stone are the “cool kids” bullies.

    But the audience members are not the bullies, they are the third party witnesses to the bullying, who are wondering how this is all going to sort itself out.

    The ad in the playbill is not directed at Parker and Stone, it is directed at the audience.

    If the audience members are Philistines, well then, in order to convert the Philistines, you have to go where they are.

    Very few of the audience members will end up converting, but it’s like that in any group. Proselyting via advertising is only expected to reach a small percentage anyway.

    I think the ad in the playbill is the perfect way to make lemonade out of lemons.

    I’ll refer to one of my favorite Brigham Young quotes, “You can only kick the church up stairs, never downstairs.”

    If you read the nearby quotes to that (source is Journal of Discourses, and re-quoted in “Discourses of Brigham Young” edited by Widtsoe) it says that those who speak ill of the church do more for the kingdom than all the elders normally would. Kick the church, and we’ll stay up late at night working to further the kingdom. Leave us alone, and we get lazy and take it easy and go slower.

    In other words, there ain’t no such thing as bad publicity. Let the bullies and antis say what they want. It just gives the church and its defenders opportunity (and motivation) to go out and counter the lies with facts.

    When atheists blaspheme God, I think it’s like DKL over at Mormonmentality.org says, “God can take the heat.”

    Let the antis say outrageous things, because it makes a lot of people more curious about us, and some try to find out if it’s really true.

    An example from my mission: after the local catholic priest preached against the Mormon missionaries, a lady pulled us off the street into her home to find out what we really beleived.

  9. Sorry guys, I had a rough day.

    Rame- The Church would have paid a lot of money to place that ad in the playbill. So in that way they are supporting it.
    I am sure the Northeast Director of PA is a lovely person, but I find it sad how he/she is so willing to lower their standards so significantly because of the attentions of the world.
    The only similarities between the Book of Mormon Musical and the Book of Mormon Scripture, is the name only. This is the kind of entertainment our leaders have warned us about. It is a kind of musical p0rn.
    The danger in approaching the Great and Spacious building was warned of in 1Nephi:
    31 And he also saw other multitudes feeling their way towards that great and spacious building.
    32 And it came to pass that many were drowned in the depths of the fountain; and many were lost from his view, wandering in strange roads.
    33 And great was the multitude that did enter into that strange building. And after they did enter into that building they did point the finger of scorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also; but we heeded them not.

    “For the Marriott Hotel that sits directly across the street from the Broadway show, they find the free BoMs that are in the rooms are going like hotcakes. They use a case of them a week. That is not bad advertisement for the Church, even though it comes in a rather twisted form”
    See you proved my point. The Church does not have to dirty its hands by buying an expensive ad in the playbill. If we maintain our standards and our dignity, G-d will lead people to the Book. I suspect many who are getting a Book of Mormon after seeing the show are only doing so in a spirit of mockery, but that’s their problem.

  10. Trevor, No, the kid should pull if off and gracefully wad it up and toss it into the nearest trash bin. Sorry I was not specific enough.
    I am not suggesting we are oblivious to the musical. Just don’t pay to place an ad in the playbill! Stand up for Truth and Righteousness! Anyway, that is what we tell our youth to do in similar situations.
    I am disgusted with the mockers in the great and spacious building. Yes if you go to see this play and listen to the words and the songs that blasphemy G-d and Christ, and mocking in such a vulgar way Joseph Smith and our missionaries and not walk out, yes, you are bigot. Since the tickets cost quite a bit, I would guess most of the audience is well aware of what they are going to see.

    To quote JMax:
    “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.”

  11. Geoff- Thank you, no I missed that one. It is an excellent review and JMax nails it. I suggest you all go back and read it again.
    Actually you might not want to criticize a bureaucratic arm of the church, but I am. I do not have a testimony in the PR department of the LDS church. This is their ugly baby and they need to own it. It does not matter how hard they work. Everybody works hard, you work hard. This ad is a big stinkaroo!

  12. Chris- are you an attorney? Cause that you comment is an example of the whole “is” definition from Clinton. ☺ You open the door to sinners, but you don’t give them money for advertisements.
    G-d will find a way folks, without us getting into bed with the devil. We don’t need to control every situation. Sometimes we show a little faith and let G-d take care of it.

  13. Joyce, I don’t know who the “higher ups” are. I don’t believe we are the MORG/BORG the anti’s make us out to be. If any of the 12 are involved (I really doubt it, from the conference talks they give), I guess they need a little reminder.

  14. Silver Rain, I taught school for many years and have a bunch of kids grown and not. Your method only works on younger kids who really are teasing a little. Those kids can be turned into friends. It does not work on the hard-core Jr high and high school bullies. Not matter how hard you try they will heap abuse if given an inch.

  15. Mark- what kind of serious questions would anyone have after seeing this musical? Really?? Are the missionaries all really gay?? How about Joseph Smith and those frogs?? Baptism is sex???? I repeat, this production is not about the Book of Mormon or the Restored Gospel. The only thing to say would be. “It is a mockery of the Divine” and leave it at that.

  16. Bookslinger- Ahh we usually agree, but will disagree this one time☺ The audience who is laughing, not reflecting, are the “people” pointing and mocking in the great and spacious building. If, there is someone who manages to “feel the spirit”, despite what we have been told by our leaders that the spirit cannot stay in an evil environment, G-d will provide a way for them to get a Book of Mormon. Heck, G-d will probably use you to do it.
    Maybe there is no bad publicity, but the gospel is not a business, but as witnesses of Christ and we need not dirty ourselves with this garbage.

  17. JA, Ill be more clear. Go to the temple. Dismissing someone without heeding them doesn’t mean you ignore them. Send them on there way with a curt dismissal and return to your business.

    The principle I take from the temple in this case is not that we have to banish detractors in the name of the Lord, but that keeping your mouth shut isn’t always the beat course (sometimes is). I think the principle of a directing a tiny bit of attention then moving on is a good one.

    I’d further say the legal argument I odd… I pointed out your understanding of what it means to heed is not complete. Similar to a square being a rectangle (but not vice versa) ignoring can be part of heed not, but heed not does not only mean ignore. It in fact also means to fail to give careful consideration. Ironically you are giving lots of consideration here in the strategy while also asking everyone to read and consider (heed!) the synopsis. The Church and many of us are content with a witty response and then moving on. That the response in this day and age costs money, which cares. We don’t value it any more than it allows us to accomplish our mission.

  18. Funny that you say that, JA….It worked for me. :) There is nothing about what I said that implies “giving an inch.” That is part of the point. You don’t give an inch, you step towards them and take an inch back with a smile on your face. That is what the PA of the Church is doing here.

    This has nothing to do with being afraid to criticize an arm of the Church, this has to do with disagreeing with your basic premise.

  19. JAB, I fully agree with you and JMax that we should not patronize the BoM Musical by going to see it.

    Yet proselyting opportunities are an entirely different matter.

    We should not subscribe to p0rnographic magazines, but if the church took out ads in such magazines, I would think that might be a smart move. If the gospel is to be preached to sinners, it will have to be taken to where the sinners are.

    We’ll see what comes of this. If the PR dept of the church did this without the Brethren’s advance approval, I’m sure word has now gotten back to the Brethren.

    If the gospel is to be preached to every soul, the church will have to explore more and more avenues of advertising. We learned long ago that knocking on doors isn’t going to cut it. We are now learning that members talking up the gospel to their friends isn’t cutting it.

    The church’s recent forays into mass advertising (real advertising, not just those cheesey near-worthless feel-good commercials on TV from the 1970′s) have provided results, real investigators.

    I sometimes wonder what the church is going to do with the tremendous amount of investment assets it is sitting on, lots of real estate, wholly-owned businesses, stocks, bonds, etc.

    I’ve wondered if those are reserves to help save the church and its members during the tribulation preceeding the 2nd Coming, or if at some point, those assets will be spent on advertising to literally take the gospel to every creature.

    Could the church afford to do a mass-mailing of a brochure to every address in the US, or in every country that has mail service to real addresses in that are in some database? Could the church afford to do a full-page ad in every newspaper in the US or the world?

    Could the church afford a 30-second commercial in prime time on every broadcast channel in the world?

    The advertising dollars that end up in the pocket of Parker, Stone and Lopez are trivial. The real questions, to me, boil down to two: 1) was this ad placement inspired of God? 2) If the PR dept did this on their own without input from higher-ups, then what’s the ROI (return on investment)?

    If it was inspired, then we need to get on board with it. And if not, or at least if God hasn’t made his will known in the matter, is the cost-per-investigator-generated of the playbill ad equal or less than the cost-per-investigator-generated through other advertising means?

  20. “We are now learning that members talking up the gospel to their friends isn’t cutting it.”

    I’m afraid someone is going to take that out of context. So let me belabor the point in advance.

    Yes, that is the _best_ way to share the gospel and grow the church, members talking it up with their friends, _when it happens_.

    My point is that we (as a whole) are not doing it, not that it doesn’t work when it is done.

  21. JAB,

    A sub-topic in your premise appears to me to be about “doing business with sinners.”

    Where do we draw the line?

    If I am paraphrasing your thesis correctly, you say the church shouldn’t do business with (buy ads from) a business (the BoM Musical corporation or its LLC whatever it is) that is owned by Parker/Stone/Lopez, because Parker/Stone/Lopez are blasphemers and mockers of the gospel.

    What other sins are worthy of generating a boycott? And how far should we go?

    Should we boycott recording artists if they are gay? Should we merely avoid buying their music, or should we go so far as to turn off the radio when their songs come on?

    Should Mormons turn off the Big Bang Theory TV show because the main character came out as gay? (I never watch it anyway because it was all about and promoted promiscuity in general. I tried watching one episode and couldn’t even watch the whole thing.)

    Should the Church PR dept specify that church ads should not run during Big Bang Theory?

    What about Ellen Degeneres’ tv show? Should the church specifiy LDS ads not to run during her show? Should members avoid watching her show because she is openly gay and promotes same-sex marriage?

    What about products from companies that provide same-sex partner benefits, and donate to gay causes, like most of the Fortune 500? Should we boycott Coke and Pepsi too?

    What about heterosexual adultery/fornication? Should we boycott all entertainment (music, tv shows, movies), even if it’s rated G, if it stars or is produced by or is owned by people who engage in or in anyway promote sexual sin in their lives apart from the entertainment we are watching?

    We’d have to boycott most all musicians and TV/movie actors if we did.

    What about drug users? Should we boycott all products that come from drug users?

    I’m with you 100% in that we should not go see the BoM musical as patrons. The work itself is vile.

    But when you say the church shouldn’t do advertising business with them, based on the content of the musical, you’re going into different territory.

    Should a LDS-member-owned catering firm refuse to cater to the BoM musical cast and crew?

    Should an LDS-member-owned printing company refuse to print up BoM Musical playbills?

    Should an LDS-member-owned janitorial firm decline a contract to clean the theater where the BoM Musical is playing?

    Should an LDS-owned bakery decline an order to make a cake that says “Gay Pride” or cupcakes with rainbow-colored icing for a pro-gay-marriage organization?

  22. Chris-

    “JA, Ill be more clear. Go to the temple. Dismissing someone without heeding them doesn’t mean you ignore them. Send them on there way with a curt dismissal and return to your business.

    The principle I take from the temple in this case is not that we have to banish detractors in the name of the Lord, but that keeping your mouth shut isn’t always the beat course (sometimes is). I think the principle of a directing a tiny bit of attention then moving on is a good one.”

    I completely agree!! Excellent points!

    “Ironically you are giving lots of consideration here in the strategy while also asking everyone to read and consider (heed!) the synopsis.”

    I understand the irony and pointed it out in my post:

    “perhaps you are wondering why I am not following the advise of Lehi and Nephi and “heeding them not”? It is because it came as a great shock to me to learn that the church bought advertising space in the Los Angeles production playbill of the Book of Mormon Musical.”

    Because I see this as the church PR dept. giving heed or validating the BoMM. I do agree we should be aware of what is in the world. The church corporation needs to be very very careful what what they validate because it sends very mixed messages.

  23. Good for you SIlverrain. I agree every situation and each person is different. Living by the spirit gives us discernment on who to friend.

    However, it is good to teach your children not to accept abuse from others. They are sons and daughters of G-d, and deserve to be treated as such. We do not have to accept abuse from others.

  24. To those that think we should avoid the things on Bookslinger’s hypothetical list (which obviously doesn’t include Bookslinger), keep in mind that Oscar Wilde, who was imprisoned for his homosexual acts, was recently quoted–favorably–in General Conference.

  25. Book- Thanks for your in depth comments.

    “We should not subscribe to p0rnographic magazines, but if the church took out ads in such magazines, I would think that might be a smart move. “

    Book, I have to disagree. Placing ads supports the p0rn industry, by giving money to their industry, for them to produce more p0rn. It also sends a mixed message that we validate garbage.

    “If the gospel is to be preached to sinners, it will have to be taken to where the sinners are.”

    I know you know this, but we are all sinners so, so I guess we do. I know you have done a splendid job of taking BoM to the people. However, do not take yourself, with your BoM, into a house of ill-repute or a crack house. The spirit does not dwell in such places and it is not safe. Instead meet the sinners on the sidewalk instead. The spirit does not stay in an evil place, so your efforts would be in vain.

    “We’ll see what comes of this. If the PR dept. of the church did this without the Brethren’s advance approval, I’m sure word has now gotten back to the Brethren.”

    I agree and hopefully we have done our part ;)

    I think the media campaigns that are the most effective are the humble ones centered on Christ. I was less impressed with the “I am A Mormon.”

    “I sometimes wonder what the church is going to do with the tremendous amount of investment assets it is sitting on, lots of real estate, wholly-owned businesses, stocks, bonds, etc.

    I’ve wondered if those are reserves to help save the church and its members during the tribulation proceeding the 2nd Coming, or if at some point, those assets will be spent on advertising to literally take the gospel to every creature.

    Could the church afford to do a mass-mailing of a brochure to every address in the US, or in every country that has mail service to real addresses in that are in some database? Could the church afford to do a full-page ad in every newspaper in the US or the world?
    Could the church afford a 30-second commercial in prime time on every broadcast channel in the world?”

    Those are lovely ideas. I like the idea of the bulk of the money going to missionary work and humanitarian aid. I also think that humanitarian aid and missionary work would go best hand–in-hand.

    “The advertising dollars that end up in the pocket of Parker, Stone and Lopez are trivial. The real questions, to me, boil down to two: 1) was this ad placement inspired of God? 2) If the PR dept did this on their own without input from higher-ups, then what’s the ROI (return on investment)?
    If it was inspired, then we need to get on board with it. And if not, or at least if God hasn’t made his will known in the matter, is the cost-per-investigator-generated of the playbill ad equal or less than the cost-per-investigator-generated through other advertising means?”

    I have no idea if it was inspired, but I do not automatically assume that it was. I think the ad in the playbill goes against what we have been taught; because the spirit cannot dwell in a place that is evil and where the people are mocking G-d. So what would be the point to place those ads where the spirit does not/can not dwell? Consequently, I think the money spent is sacred funds used for an unholy practice. That makes me just a bit grumpy.

    “A sub-topic in your premise appears to me to be about “doing business with sinners.”
    Where do we draw the line?”

    The line is where they are purposefully mocking the Divine and making a mockery of our religious beliefs. The Church in placing those ads are taking a very public stance, that is what I find inappropriate. I don’t think the church should protest them; we should not suffer fools who mock G-d Christ and us, in contributing for them to do so.

    As for all the wickedness in the world, some of it your have listed, we as individual members should perhaps avoid, but that is our own personal choice.

  26. Tim- I am afraid I do not know a lot about Oscar Wilde. I will say this, we are all sinners, and apparently he produced something found to be.. “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, ( and so) we seek after these things.

    There is NOTHING in the BoMM that could be identified as such.

  27. Book –
    Good comment. Reminded me of the following:

    And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

    Consider the intimacy of going into their home and eating with someone, a very inviting and familial act in many cultures. Jesus was accused of approving of their lifestyles, or he could be accused of going into a place where the spirit doesn’t dwell.

    One might very well ask, How is it that we advertisith to actors and sinners?

    I think to place some advertising in the direction of not only “sinners” (but also all those paying attention as it has garnered a lot of press) is a lot less intimate than to go and dine with them.

  28. To me, I guess, the issue is that the audience is full of people who grew up in the great and spacious building. They’re familiar with the raucous laughter and the parties and the drinking and the fine clothing and so forth. It’s what they’ve known all their lives; they were born in the middle of it.

    And… we kind of have a responsibility to be all like “yo, iron rod out here, in case you’re interested – And, like, the tree of life? it’s really good fruit, here for the taking!”

    I mean… have you seen how kids on, say, Tumblr talk about the musical? They barely understand they’re mocking us. They treat it exactly the same way they treat Glee and “Pretty Little Liars” and every other bit of trash they’ve been taught to revel in. Having an adult in the room say “this is an actual religion and we actually believe and you can read the book instead of watching the silly musical” is *necessary* if they’re going to have any hope of recognizing what’s going on.

    Yes, there are kids (mostly) who are collecting free literature from the missionaries because “hee hee, Mormon stuff, so cool” – and yes, it’s frustrating. Not nearly as frustrating as them rolling their eyes at the missionaries for being such lame idiots, with the white shirts and ties and stuff (remember all the bloggernacle “grar, stupid out-of-touch missionary dress code” arguments?) They used to slam the door sin the missionaries’ faces. They may treat it as a thing of naught, but at least they have the book in their hands now. At least they know who the missionaries are now. There are little teenage girls shouting “HEY, MORMONS, WOOHOO!” on the street when they see missionaries. It used to only be the girls in YW who did that (maybe that’s just a mission field thing, but we were always seriously thrilled to see missionaries tracting.)

    Also: the bullying narrative presupposes that our biggest goal is survival. That’s the deal in junior high school, when the cool jerks put signs on your back. You just need to get through the day and get home with a bit of dignity left in your soul.

    But we have a bigger calling – we’re supposed to be spreading the word, turning the cool jerks into saints. That requires being willing to occasionally have a sign put on your back, and turn around and respond constructively despite how unsupportive and ugly the environment. We’re trying to get the cool kids to join the chess club, without changing the character of the chess club – this is more like the kind of thing we teach at the Army War College than the content of an anti-bullying PSA.

    In any case, I was delighted to see those ads. It shows that we’re confident in who and what we are, and it reminds the audience that Mormons are real human beings, and that the Book of Mormon is an actual book you could actually read. Most of the other YSAs and YW I know loved to see it, too. We felt like we, as a people, were standing for truth and righteousness in the middle of the worldly nonsense – which BTW is what most of us have to do on a daily basis, interacting with our peers. In college dorms and philosophy classes all over the world, Mormon kids have to face up to things which are just as disrespectful and disgusting as the Book of Mormon musical, and live with it while maintaining their sense of self – and while trying to remind people that the Gospel is relevant and true and helpful. It feels to me like these ads are doing the exact same thing, and in a way that doesn’t make us look lame or stupid or naive or unsophisticated, which is pretty much necessary to get any of these people to listen for even a second.

    (I feel somehow like Elder Holland’s awesome CES devotional from Sunday is relevant here.)

  29. Jab: I’ll introduce another sub-topic: “hard-and-fast rules versus guidelines” or “rules versus exceptions.”

    In airing “I am a Mormon” ads (and previous generations of TV ads), the church has already paid money to blasphemers, mockers, and p0rnogrpahers who own and produce network and cable TV shows. The only difference between advertising in the BoMM playbill and the network/cable TV ads was a matter of degree.

    TV shows such as Dallas, Family Guy, The Simpsons, Glee, Will and Grace, Rosie, Ellen, Desperate Housewives, etc., are only differnt from the BoMM by a matter of degree, not principle.

    So I think you’re more-or-less saying that advertising with the BoMM crossed a line, and you disagree with that decision.

    Personally, my belief/opinion is that the church’s PR department _did_ consult with the Brethren and got their approval before spending a dime with the BoMM business. And my belief/opinion is that the Brethren sought guidance before giving an answer.

    The guidelines/rules you mention for our associations and dealings with the Great-and-Spacious are correct.

    But I would point out that one of the main themes of the scriptures is that God can sometimes override our guidelines/rules for special circumstances.

    So while the advertising support of the BoMM seems to run counter to the common-sense rules we subscribe to, I’m willing to assume that the Brethren were guided by the spirit in their decision to approve that advertising.

    We’re not supposed to steal, murder or kidnap, but Nephi was commanded of the spirit to kill Laban, steal the brass plates, and kidnap Zoram. I know we are mocked for believing Nephi’s “God told me to” excuse, but I believe it.

    Joseph Smith was commanded to implement polygamy, which went totally against common sense rules as generally understood at the time, and as generally understood now. Yet I accept that polygamy was implemented and rescinded by revelation. (Though perhaps with some human failings and misunderstandings mixed in with it.)

    At certain times some modern day missionaries have been commanded of the spirit to violate mission rules, such as in the conversion story of Mary Sturlaugson Eyer.
    http://www.amazon.com/soul-rebellious-Mary-Sturlaugson-Eyer/dp/0877478414/

    There’s also the story that one of my missionary companions told me about how his brother (as a missionary) and his companion were commanded of the spirit to go into a bar, where one of the bar patrons became an investigator and joined the church.

    So is it possible that the Brethern were inspired to advertise (or received spiritual confirmation that it was okay to advertise) in the BoMM musical playbill? I believe so, even though it may go against the common sense rules of order as you and I understand them.

  30. Tim: I do pretty much avoid network and cable TV. I occasionally scan/flip through the channels looking for something worthwhile to watch. It’s rare that I find something. I often go two weeks without turning the TV on.

    I get my news online.

    I admit one of my vices is the UK’s Daily Mail online tabloid newspaper. Interesting thing is that they cover some US and international politics and news that the major US media does not. Unfortunately, they also include a lot of scandalous _tabloid_ stories, and sadly, I click/read some of those. :-(

    I subscribed to “Basic” (the least expensive option) cable-TV for a while, because it was so cheap when bundled with my cable-Internet package, but I cancelled even that, and only have over-the-air TV channels now.

    I don’t do Netflix. I occasionally stream free movies/shows from Crackle or Hulu.

    I sometimes go to the used DVD (brick and mortar) store, and buy movies on DVD for $3 to $5.

    I rarely go to movie theaters, and when I do, it’s the 2nd run bargain theaters where you pay at most $3.00 evenings, or $1.50 during the day. Exception: I recently paid $5 to see 2016.

    I’m in my fifties. Most of the music that I enjoyed in my 30′s and earlier doesn’t appeal to me now. I don’t have that level of energy. But a lot of the softer stuff of the 70′s and 80′s appeals to me, nostalgically. It is rare that a current top-40 hit appeals to me now. I never did like Elton John or Madonna. I like a couple of Cher’s hits.

    I like a few of the Mo Tab’s more rousing numbers. Most of their music puts me to sleep. Praise the Lord for Alex Boye.

  31. Book-

    “So I think you’re more-or-less saying that advertising with the BoMM crossed a line, and you disagree with that decision.”

    Yes, exactly. The level of vulgarity is unprecedented. It is musical p0rn, and it is directed at Heavenly Father, Christ Joseph Smith, and the missionaries. BoMM has taken blasphemy, vulgarity, and anti-religious bigotry directed at particularly our religion, to an all new level.

    “The church has not placed similar ads in the playbill for the Broadway run of the musical. And Purdy said that plans for future use of the ads for the production’s national tour “have not been determined.” Deseret News

    This comment seems more “focus group”, rather than “thus saith the Lord”.

    “There’s also the story that one of my missionary companions told me about how his brother (as a missionary) and his companion were commanded of the spirit to go into a bar, where one of the bar patrons became an investigator and joined the church.”

    See, I don’t think a bar counts as a “great and spacious building”. The patrons are not focused on blasphemy and pointing their fingers mocking sacred things. Also because the people in the bar have not taken out the covenants we have; consumption of alcohol is not a big sin.

    My son, Piano Man, on his mission in California, was in a gang infested area and regularly talked to gang members. One guy even joined the church and has completely turned his life around in the last year. G-d can and does find the pure in heart in some pretty awful places and can manifest his spirit and they can change their ways. The difference is in plain old sin, and directed blasphemy at the divine and sacred practices. The former may not drive away the spirit completely away, but the later most certainly does.

  32. Sarah,

    Back-story here: I do not live in Utah, or in the Western US. My older children do not go to BYU. They have lived in the dorms. I have a son on a mission and one is an RM. My RM son attends a university where he and only one other student are active LDS. My younger children go to schools where there are few LDS students. I know of what you speak of in a very real sense.

    I completely agree with you about the abominable behavior of some people. I agree we are to preach to all. However, it is a waste of sacred funds (and our dignity) to preach repentance while in the “great and spacious building.” The spirit cannot abide there. If there ever was a clear manifestation of that concept, it is a theatre where the production of the BoMM is being performed.

    We need to trust G-d that He will manifest his power, and Christ’s spirit will witness to the pure in heart. Christ does touch the pure in heart, but in a different place.

    20 Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 2 Nephi 15:20/ Isaiah 5:20

    PS FYI

    “maybe that’s just a mission field thing”

    I have never met a member of the church, except transplanted Utah Mormons, who use that term. Members outside of Utah dislike their area called “the mission field” because comes off as condescending; the mission field is everywhere, even in Utah County.

  33. Chris,

    “One might very well ask, How is it that we advertisith to actors and sinners?”

    I think if the church greatly upped its humanitarian aid, and got our great missionary force to do more of it, I think we would by our charitable actions touch the pure in heart, no matter their level of spirituality or sinfulness. THe gospel is not a business and should not be treated as such. We need to look closer to what Jesus taught us while he was on the earth.

  34. “However, it is a waste of sacred funds (and our dignity) to preach repentance while in the “great and spacious building.””

    Those funds are God’s, and it’s the responsibility of God’s servants alone to dispense of them. It is not my calling or place to criticize how God’s servants discharge their sacred obligations.

    To consecrate my funds to God, and then complain when expenditures don’t measure up to my interpretation of what the church’s priorities should be, is to still claim ownership of those funds in my heart.

    I’m tired of faithful Latter-day Saints second guessing the church like this. Do you really think that church leadership is unaware of the actions of the public affairs branch of the church? Do you really think they weren’t consulted on a move as gutsy as this? Let’s stop trying to steady the ark, folks.

  35. JAB: The Spirit of the Lord doesn’t have to be in the BoMM theater in order for the ad to be effective.

    (Most, perhaps all, of what you have stated as underlying factoids for objecting to the ad, are true, but none of them rise to the level of being a logical rejoinder against the placement of the ad.)

    All it takes is for someone to take the playbill home with them, or even take away the memory of seeing the ad while in the theater.

    If that person who has now seen the ad is ever in a situation such that the Lord wants to influence them for good, the Holy Ghost will then be able to have the person recall seeing the ad.

    I know for a fact that that is how the Lord can work.

    So it doesn’t matter if the audience members are joining the play’s authors in mocking or blaspheming while in the theater. It is not something they will do continually 24/7 for the rest of their lives. They will move on. Other things will occupy center stage in their minds as soon as they leave the theater.

    And for the right people, when the right time comes, the memory of that ad will come back to them.

    Yes, it may be good, as seen from our standpoint, if each and every contact with the church or its advertising is accompanied by circumstances that invite the Spirit. But those circumstances are not _required_ for _every_ contact with the church.

    I’ve seen a little bit how the Lord works using seeds that have been planted years previously.

    I’d even say that the “delayed effect” is extremely more frequent and more likely than situations where people investigate on first contact or first viewing an ad.

    I seem to recall some GA saying that investigators have an average of 7 contacts with the church before they investigate.

  36. Thank you Bookslinger for all your thoughtful comments. You are one of my heroes in the member missionary department. I am usually on board with the leadership of the church. However, anything about the BoMM is just too gross and offensive for me to swallow.

    Good points Idsp, but like I said before, I do not have a testimony of a PR firm the church has hired.

  37. Many active Mormons who have seen this musical come away with a very different impression:

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2011-03-18-Mormon_Broadway_17_ST_N.htm

    http://blog.beliefnet.com/flunkingsainthood/2011/03/a-mormon-reviews-broadway%E2%80%99s-new-book-of-mormon-musical.html

    I saw it myself on Broadway last year and wrote this review for the LDS blog By Common Consent:

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2011/07/25/the-only-true-and-living-review-of-the-book-of-mormon-musical/

    While most here probably won’t see this play, it’s important to know that viewers — even LDS ones — often leave moved by the faith of the two missionaries who are the main characters. Make of that what you will.

    (Thanks for allowing me to comment. It’s always nice to drop in on you here at M*!)

  38. MikeInWeHO, polite disagreement is always welcome and encouraged. It is the snarky/sarcastic/nasty disagreement that is not. I have always found your comments enlightening and polite, so please, please continue to drop in and comment.

  39. Thanks MIke for stopping by to comment. Sometimes I don’t agree with you, but I have appreciated your kindly tone in the Bloggernacle world.

    I know this is cliche, but my opinions are my own, so often I find myself on the road less traveled. Partly this is because I am me, and mostly because I am now 50, and one of the great blessings about being 50 is, I really don’t give a…… ;) that everyone thinks the BoMM is awesome! I don’t need to see it, to know it mocks the sacred.

    PS If you have commented on any of my posts, you would know, I only delete your comment if you call anybody (or me) names. I allow thread jacks, cause I believe it is the evolution of conversation and tangents are entertaining. If the bloggernacle ceases to entertain, it will probably die on vine.

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