The Anti-Book of Mormon Musical

A lot of wise things have been said of this runaway Broadway hit, but this review is by far the best:

The main thrust of its claims about Mormonism is that Joseph Smith made it all up, and that his message does not apply to the modern world. It portrays Mormons as naïve and simplistic. Of course, Mormons are also a cheerful, polite, and well-meaning bunch, and as such, are basically harmless. But the only way for them to truly do good in the modern world is to change their story so it applies to current problems, which should be fine since their scriptures were made up in the first place. This is all very appealing to the audience and to theater critics. They are made to feel superior to the delusional Mormons, while at the same time, feel good about themselves for acknowledging that it is important to help relieve suffering in the world. They don’t have to feel bad about lampooning the Mormons since the show acknowledges that Mormons are nice people, and since it is just satire, after all.

The creators of the show are welcome to their opinion, and even to advertise it in a propagandistic play (for what else is the play’s value?), but such lazy cultural tropes, in a better world, would at least be honest about the basis of their approach: an immediate rejection that the Book of Mormon, and religious beliefs in general, might have any grounding in historical fact.  Certainly, again, anyone is free to conclude that such is not the case after they have considered and investigated it, but until they’ve done so, how are they honestly qualified to assert so boldly that it isn’t true? 

Nobody would care a lick for a random layman’s scathing indictment of particle physics or macroeconomics.  Why is it OK, even encouraged, in our society to simply spew hot air about religion?  Why is so much respect accorded to the mockers of faith, especially when they present mere prejudice as entertainment? 

Far more offensive than any possible content to the show is that those who participate in it, including the audience, are so satisfied of their superiority, despite a massive ignorance of what they claim to definitively scorn.

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4 comments on “The Anti-Book of Mormon Musical

  1. Oh, whatever. Nobody wants to regulate or ban any speech, and certainly not because I disagree with it. My criticism here isn’t based on disagreement with conclusions (and I overtly say that they’re free to say whatever they want), but my beef is with the double standard our society has for anyone talking about religion.

    The mainstream is so wrapped up in a priori assumptions that any sad, silly, lazy little thing gets a round of applause for nothing more substantial than making an echo chamber. Surely this frustration can’t be that difficult to empathize with.

  2. But yes, the question has been thrown in the air, with no answer that I know of: What would have happened, if a similarly uncharitable version of Islam had been put up?

  3. I agree with this article. I don’t think it’s fair to pick on another person’s religion just to get a laugh and feel good about yourself. It’s just like making fun of that “weird” kid on the play ground. You don’t know why that kid is the way he is but making fun of them and thinking about how much better you are than them makes you feel better until someday in another situation you are that “weird” kid and suddenly it’s not so funny anymore.

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