Monday, June 6, 2011

The Book of Mormon


Five years ago today I sat on an airplane for the first time, heading to Sao Paulo Brazil for the Missionary Training Center (it was June 6, 2006...i.e. 666). I had almost forgotten that today was my mission-versary until I finally logged on to Facebook to see most of the guys in my group bemoaning this particular day. The big 5-years.

Without even intending to, I spent the day celebrating mormondom, first reading this article in the latest edition of newsweek (the cover story no less)


then making my way over to EW.com where they have the cast recordings from the BOM musical on Broadway streaming. Check it out, you'll be glad you did.

Now, I was ready to hear it all, but EW politely selected 6 of the less-graphically-offensive offerings to showcase. I think there's only one F-bomb in the entire bunch. Still, if these are any indication, then the play probably is surprisingly heart-warming (as many critics have said). No joke, I got goosebumps listening to "I Believe."

And, I appreciate the subtle humor of "Baptize Me" that metaphorically compares the act of baptism to losing your virginity. I was a missionary, I know what it's like to have the slogan of BAPTISE OR DIE stamped into your brain until you want to huddle in a corner and weep. And to hear the fictitious Elder Cunningham preparing himself for his "first time" like a teenager headed to the Jr. Prom is a moment of comedic ecstasy. "I baptized you good" he cheers after holding her close, laying her down, and then dropping her into the water with a loud splash.

Backtracking to the Newsweek article, I hope that a lot of people read it. For every intelligent person out there who realizes that EVERY religion has its odd customs when examined under a microscope (something that many Mormon faithful and many friends of mine would be benefited in realizing) there's at least 2 backwoods hicks that still think we have multiple wives. How refreshing, then, to see Newsweek interviewing renowned and revered professionals like the effectively-habitual Steven Covey and JetBlue founder David Neelemen or too-blue-for-school Senate Majority leader Harry Reid.


Newsweek's right, Mormonism is having a moment. I can only hope that the LDS rank-and-file embrace it instead of shunning it away as yet another "thing of the world" as we are so prone to do. As much as I hate twilight, I dig that a LDS writer was able to make a name for herself writing about something BESIDES the church (I'm looking at you Work and the Glory club), or that not one, but TWO LDS men stand a viable chance at gaining the GOP nomination (sadly, Barrack ain't going nowhere but still, keep it up boys).

Which brings me back to the musical. Yes, it's filthy, offensive, crass, crude, raunchy, irreverant what have you. But it's funny, relevant, popular and I personally can't wait to see it. People are laughing, and it's now up to the Mormons to either laugh WITH them, or continue to be laughed AT.

1 comment:

  1. Loved your take. I completely agree with your thoughts on the musical and the "moment" we are in. Maybe it's because I'm a faithful Mormon who loves this new musical, but enough people have "liked" my iTunes so that it sits at the top of all the user reviews (I was a little embarrassed about that, but now I'm kind of pleased). I also wrote a blog post reviewing the cast recording: http://ideas.derrickclements.net/the-book-of-mormon-musical-tartuffe-of-the-21st-century

    What this show is doing is taking Mormonism as a case study to make some very astute comments about religion in general (and not in a disrespectful way, even if it does cross far over the line of reverence). It really captured something genuine about my missionary life--and something I didn't think COULD be captured: not just the silliness of it, but the sincerity and eagerness I felt, even when that sincerity and eagerness was mixed with immaturity and arrogance. I'm kind of shocked this show exists, but I'm really glad it does. And I can't wait to see it.

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