This weekend, I was playing Scrabble and chatting until 4 in the morning Saturday with my 70 year old Catholic cousin and his son. It was my first time to meet his son: an intelligent and bright guy, one of the movers and shakers in Microsoft.
Great discussion on many topics, including politics and the events occurring in our day.
Then out of the blue, he asked me: “What do you think of the Book of Mormon Musical?”
I smiled and told him that I have no problems with spoofs on religion, as long as it is not done as a vicious attack. Personally, I would not see it, but only for the vulgarity and profanity, not because of the Mormon theme. He recently saw the musical and said that while it did make fun of many concepts, it made the Church look good in the end. He was impressed with the Church’s response: while the musical will entertain you for an evening, the Book of Mormon will bring happiness and joy for a lifetime. It was an even-keeled response, unlike those one often sees when a religion is made fun of.
Yes, we also talked about Romney and Huntsman, but I think the real impact came from the musical for him. We can graciously take a joke, even from Parker and Stone (South Park creators), and allow the Church in its own way to move forward.
Personally, I think it is evidence of the Church’s maturing. For a century, we over-focused on our victimization. Anytime someone spoke against Mormonism, even innocuously, the Church and its members felt like they were at Carthage with Joseph Smith (who was slain 167 years ago today, as other blogs will attest to). Anytime the Church received negative press, we felt we were again being driven out of Missouri.
Now, with a few exceptions, most of us can laugh at the “I Believe” performance during the Tony Awards. We can share the humor and accept that it is okay to be a Mormon and have others occasionally mock us in good humor. We can laugh at ourselves, while still promoting the good and laudable truths of the restored gospel.
I think I would much rather have people ask me about being a Mormon because of the Book of Mormon musical than to have them ask me why ____________ (fill in the blank on the Anti-Mormon remark).
Thanks to South Park for helping bring Mormonism out of obscurity!