The Church comes out of obscurity

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!

7 thoughts on “The Church comes out of obscurity

  1. The musical is God’s punishment to us for that awful Book of Mormon movie a few years ago. Or was it for Singles Ward?

  2. Ram: you’re confirming what I’ve been saying.

    Of course members shouldn’t go see the musical because of the profanity and blasphemy, but for those non-lds who normally consume such fare anyway, the net-net of the musical is that it’s getting people (who wouldn’t otherwise ask questions about the church) to talk and ask questions about the church.

    Thank you very much for this post.

    Here’s hoping that some fundies protest the Indianapolis temple up in Carmel.

    BTW, I heard from Pres Cowley last night (Sun the 26th) that the temple “passed” the zoning commission hearing. Next up is the Carmel city council approval.

  3. Well put, Ram.

    Though, to be honest, I wouldn’t probably go see it even if it weren’t for the profanity, etc. I haven’t gone to see Jesus Christ Superstar either.

  4. I am one of those Mormons who find the whole idea of the musical wrong and worthy of loud protestations. I want to scream “how dare you bigot!” The good news is that, surprisingly, religious conservatives and a few lone liberals are protesting on our behalf. Not as many or loud enough, but its a start.

    Honestly, I would rather have them ask me why ____________ (fill in the blank on the Anti-Mormon remark). Its a lot easier to answer why on something that has a reasonable negation or explanation than fight against mockery.

  5. Richard Bushman was asked about the Book of Mormon musical and gave a wonderful response. He said it was like a Mormon looking into a fun house mirror. You see your nose, but it is distorted for entertainment’s sake.

    He appreciated such attention to the Church, as well as all other attention we receive, as it brings people to asking about the Church, so that we may get to know each other better.

    Bushman on BoM Musical

  6. I like the analogy about the funny mirrors.

    But Elder Bednar and President Monson have warned us about this crap.

    Just because there’s no possibility of me seeing it doesn’t mean it’s OK for others – or not unhealthy for them. It dulls the Spirit (even for the unchurched). It doesn’t entice the Holy Spirit, there is nothing virtuous lovely, of good report, or praiseworhty about this tripe. It’s like me saying, sure, I don’t do Meth, but it’s OK for my neighbor, because it isn’t against his religion…

    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.

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