The Book of Mormon Musical — A Mormon’s Review

The Book of Mormon Musical. It’s true, I saw it. And I lived to tell about it.

I have to admit, I was curious to see what all the hype was about. A Broadway musical about the Book of Mormon was an opportunity too tempting to resist.

Book of Mormon Musical marquee

Show tagline: “God’s favorite musical!”

I had read a handful of reviews, but the phrase “surprisingly sweet” from the Salt Lake Tribune’s review was the only idea sticking. I had failed to read some of the more granular reviews like the one in the New Yorker that would have probably prevented me from seeing the show.

I was born and raised in Salt Lake and have been a member of the Church my entire life. I went to Brigham Young University, I worked at the Church’s Missionary Training Center, I attend church weekly, I go to the temple several times a month, I pray often, I read my scriptures, I wear my seatbelt. You get it. I’m pretty Mormon.

I have however lived for the past six years in arguably one of the most liberal cities in the country – Boston. I have a handful of gay friends whom I love, I’m not afraid to be at a bar, I drink Diet Mountain Dew everyday and don’t’ consider “hell” or “damn” swearwords. Again, I’m pretty Mormon.

That being said, as I sat down in my seat, I felt a tinge of anxiety. What had I just paid to see? Would the next three hours prove to be only a few short minutes of tolerance until I was too uncomfortable and had to leave? As the curtain rose, it would reveal some sweet surprises and some not so sweet ones.

It’s a very well-done production. The music, the scenery, the choreography, the writing and the casting do not disappoint. I found at the end of the show I could hum almost every melody—very catchy tunes.  Time flew by quite quickly (besides a few uncomfortable moments).  This is Broadway and you don’t make it here with a show that does anything subpar.

It’s pretty accurate. Besides very minor details – like how one is assigned his or her mission call – the creators got all the details right. They did a great job capturing the culture, terminology and idiosyncrasies. They tell some of the history of the Church with an obvious bias and outlandishness, but I applaud the creators for at least doing their homework.

It’s highly vulgar. I tell people that the F word was said about 200 times. That’s probably a slight exaggeration, but it’s in there. A lot. You also have a few scenes with sexual innuendos involving male anatomy. I certainly would not go see the show with my parents or grandparents, but I was sitting next to a 70-year-old-woman who seemed to be having a great time. Out of about a dozen scenes, I was definitely uncomfortable for two of them.

It’s sacrilegious. Jesus speaks like a dude – hardly a language of a divine being – and uses other phrases that you’d probably never associate with Him. The resolution at the end appears to be that religion is a nice story we tell each other to give ourselves hope—a pretty narrow and flawed conclusion of something that has SO much more potential.

All in all, it’s vulgar, but fairly harmless towards the Church directly. It has about as much impact as an episode of South Park. For any believers in God – not just members of the LDS Church—you’ll probably not be wishing to see it again. (And Mormons aren’t the only ones not wishing to see it again — this “Non-Converts View ” shares some of my same points.)

I have no doubt that the show will win a few Tony Awards, however I think the Mormon church’s official statement sums it up quite nicely, “The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.”

I know how I feel about the show now that I’ve seen it, do you have interest in it? Or have you heard enough to dissuade you? Do you think the general public’s perceptions of Mormons will change based on the musical or its success?

 

 

Other posts you might like:

Mormon Women and Careers

Media Attention Misses the Heart of Mormonism

Why Should I Adopt My Baby to Someone Else?

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272 Responses to The Book of Mormon Musical — A Mormon’s Review

  1. M. E. Pickett says:

    I am also a lifelong Mormon from the West now living on the East Coast and I have been thinking very seriously about seeing the musical, especially since I am planning a trip to NYC next month. But the more I learn about it, from your review and some others that I have hunted down, I think I already know what I will think about it. I know that it’s vulgar. I know that, while it doesn’t directly ridicule the church, it does treat religion as a fairy-tale like story that naive people like to believe. And I know that the music is catchy. So, I really feel less of a desire to go see it. If I’m going to spend my money on a broadway production, and I’m not sure if I am going to next month, then I think I might as well spend it on something that I have a better expectation of enjoying. Too bad “Cats” isn’t still playing.

  2. Brooke says:

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve been wondering what it’s really about when I read articles in Entertainment Weekly or my co-workers have asked me. I don’t have an interest in seeing it now I have this great review. It doesn’t seem like it will motivate me in any way than purely entertain me for 3 hours. I like entertainment that also has a greater purpose.

  3. Erica says:

    Thanks for the review – I’ve been wondering what it would be like to see it. Not sure I could handle Jesus as a dude… 🙂

  4. Alaina says:

    Thanks for the review – a great and thorough summary. I appreciate hearing an insider’s perspective – thanks again.

  5. BBS says:

    Thanks for this review–you hit all the important points. I had just read a review from Kathleen Flake in Washington Post yesterday…and appreciate your detailed approach and summary.

  6. Brad says:

    I’m kinda surprised that a member who is in good standing would even be tempted to see this play, but then again, maybe I shouldn’t be. Not that I’m better than anyone else, but I think there were already a significant number of red flags to deter any member: first of all, the creators of South Park. I’ve never seen a single episode, but I’ve heard enough to know it is vulgar, crass, sacrilegious, offensive, crude, and irreverent. I mean, c’mon! One doesn’t need to be banged on the head to know the offensive quality/tone of their work. “By their fruits, ye shall know them.” The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Hence, I would have little interest in their work, no matter how much the world praises them. Second, they are not LDS themselves, so I would expect some exaggerations, distortions, and misinterpretations (no matter “how accurate” they appear) just to get laughs. To them, nothing is be too sacred to mock or ridicule. Third, the play’s intent is to merely entertain, not to inspire, and it panders to a world that has very little understanding of the LDS faith. I could go on…

    I’m happy with the Church’s response to the play. Why give it any attention it doesn’t deserve? But, unlike Emily, I would be careful to brand it a “success” since it’s way too early. In time, however, it may get attention for being a stage flop. Only time will tell.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hey, I don’t think you should ridicule Emily for seeing the production. Who are you to judge. If anything she provided a service. It’s not like Broadway has a rating system, and people are going to be curious. She simply let people know what they were in for.

    • MollyMormon says:

      Emily was was obviously well aware of the red flags of the play, “as I sat down in my seat, I felt a tinge of anxiety. What had I just paid to see? Would the next three hours prove to be only a few short minutes of tolerance until I was too uncomfortable and had to leave?” But, she’s like me, solid in the faith of the restored gospel and mindful of how others perceive it. I like to be informed of these perceptions so I can provide a perspective of faith by opening conversation about it. Perhaps some of the naive stereotypes portrayed in the play would be diminished if more faithful Mormons were willing to take on such roles.

      The best review of the play I’ve read was from a practicing Mormon working in the Arts industry in New York City. He mentions how it influences his conversations with those not of his faith. If he chose to cover his ears regarding the whole topic, he wouldn’t be able to share his reasoned view of faith regarding the play. http://www.mormonartistsgroup.com/Mormon_Artists_Group/Elders_on_Broadway.html

  7. Tim says:

    Great review Emily. Thanks for taking one for the team.

    Here’s an interesting piece in the Washington Post by the Mormon Church’s head of public affairs. I thought it might be relevant.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-faith/post/why-i-wont-be-seeing-the-book-of-mormon-musical/2011/04/14/AFiEn1fD_blog.html

  8. Matt says:

    We appreciate this article… seems open-minded and thoughtful.
    Thanks for posting.

  9. Aaron says:

    If the play were a movie, it would be rated R on language alone, (e.g. The King’s Speech).
    I try to ‘rate’ all media / entertainment and act accordingly.

    • non-mormon Christian girl says:

      I hope I am not misinterpreting your message above as condemning the movie The King’s Speech. For which it was one of the very few films this year in being a wholesome, yet beautiful portrayal of a man rising to the destiny that God had given him. I am a film student at a public university, in the hopes that one day I will be able to provide entertainment that is both focused on God and that is intriguing to the public. The fact that it has 2 brief segments of language which is used “Therapeutically” and that is also historically accurate is silly and needs to be re-considered.

  10. JS says:

    Joesph Smith, he was a prophet, DUMB DUMB DUMB

    • Emily L. says:

      I see we have a South Park fan in the house.

      Whether you agree or disagree with Joseph Smith, I hardly think you can call the man dumb. If nothing more I hope you can see that the founder of the Mormon Church established an organization that has served millions of people around the world by donating BILLIONS of dollars in humanitarian relief. Here is what the church is currently doing to help those who are suffering://lds.org/service/humanitarian/church?lang=eng

      To learn more about the life of Joseph Smith, I suggest you watch this wonderful movie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xVw6PsSinI

      • OpenMinded says:

        To be fair – that South Park episode is not calling Joseph Smith dumb. They are instead poking fun at some of his followers credulousness – i.e. if someone refuses to show you golden plates, but instead gives you a transcription that he can’t reproduce exactly when asked to make it again, most would doubt that the plates existed.

        The actual morale of that episode is that it the specifics of a religious belief aren’t as important as the actions of its followers, and in that regard the creators of South Park have far more respect for Mormons than any other religion.

        The morale of the musical is fairly similar – the specifics of a religion aren’t as important as the core values and how they treat others, and although it’s likely that most founders of religions were making a lot of what they said up, they were probably doing it with good intentions and there is still merit in those stories even if they aren’t exactly true.

        I know this is a Mormon blog so the consensus will be against this musical since it does not take Mormonism seriously, but from a non-believer’s perspective, trust me when I say this is a much kinder take on Mormonism than you will see if Mitt Romney makes another serious run in the Republican primary. Take it as a given that the creators of the musical do not believe in the same things that you do, but still respect you for what you do with those beliefs. Can you really ask for that much more from a non-Mormon?

        • Emily L. says:

          Thanks for your comment. I agree with you. I think the creators do have some sort of affinity for Mormons. They just choose to express it in a very interesting way. 🙂

          I don’t think their intention is to get others to hate Mormons. I think if anything, people will walk away from the musical thinking Mormons are really nice and kind (but a little ignorant, but that isn’t directed just to Mormons, but to religious people in general).

          While I may not agree with their view on religion, I don’t feel like there was any harm in me learning about their opinion. I was an English major at a Mormon university. We read books that countered traditional Mormon beliefs and values all the time. I think it was a healthy way for me to define my own beliefs — within reason, we weren’t reading X rated material.

          The work of the creators is pretty harmless. If it gets people to question their own beliefs, I have no issue with that. At least they are promoting the counter resource to their beliefs — the Book of Mormon — which may further get people to question their beliefs and one way or another find truth.

      • non-mormon Christian girl says:

        I am a Christian who isn’t a Mormon, and I was just wondering if you could explain your reasoning for believing Joseph Smith. My main issue is that their is no archaeological evidence of the Book of Mormon and the events surrounding the early mormon “church” is very elusive. I have thoroughly studied the Book of Mormon and the Bible, just leading me further into questioning the legitimacy of Joseph Smith’s claims.

        • Paul, the convert says:

          Would you like the explanation at an analytical level or an emotional level why I’ve concluded Joseph Smith did indeed communicate with God at a prophetic level?

          • non-mormon Christian girl says:

            Analytical or any thing fact-based mainly because an emotional level is something only you benefit from because unless I have proof, their is no debate in my mind.

          • Natalie says:

            NMCG — I have no doubt Paul is working on a response for you but in the meantime I think you might find this article interesting, it’s titled “A skeptic’s experience with the Book of Mormon.”

            http://www.reallifeanswers.org/2011/02/19/a-skeptics-experience-with-the-book-of-mormon/

          • non-mormon Christian girl says:

            Interesting article, however the fact that most of the old testament is word for word the Book of Mormon, I am not surprised that it is eloquent. I know a lot of smart 21 year olds who could write something similar to the Book of Mormon. This is a very small reason behind something as big as believing Joseph Smith whole heartily.

          • Emily L. says:

            NMCG – The Book of Mormon contains readings from the Old Testament, but the Book of Mormon is not word for word the Old Testament. There are a few instances where the Book of Mormon cites Isaiah differently than the KJV of the Bible. Based on this article it looks like the Book of Mormon more accurately agrees with the Septuagint — the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible.

            Again, I’m no expert on this stuff, but thought it might be interesting for you.

            http://www.fairlds.org/Book_of_Mormon/Bible_and_the_Book_of_Mormon.html

          • Dmac says:

            Your looking for facts in religion. It’s isn’t going to happen. You claim you are Christian yet what *proof* do you have that god exists. Go find a proof. In ten minutes, either I will find the flaw or I will find you the article that points out the logical flaws.
            I’m not advocating that Mormonism is in anyway correct but perhaps if you are demanding facts you should turn a critical eye towards your own faith. Treat the bible as pure fact and its loaded with problems. You wont even get out of the first chapter of Genesis.

            Clearly you are here to attack Mormonism but on a basis of rational thought and that should be considered but its also valid of all Christianity. Try the Descartes method of doubt, assume nothing, the underlying principle of the scientific method, and build for me any form of religion. Its not going to work.

            Mormonism is not a cult or evil or bad. The people are not deluded. It is simply what they believe just like anyone else.
            To quote the episode of South Park “Maybe us Mormons do believe in crazy stories that make absolutely no sense, and maybe Joseph Smith did make it all up, but I have a great life and a great family and I have the Book of Mormon to thank for that. The truth is I don’t care if Joseph Smith made it all up… but your so high and mighty you couldn’t look past my religion.”

            If your going to have faith, might as well give up the rational basis, then whats left: the emotional argument. Mormons have a great one.

          • faithW/Oworks_is_Fred says:

            “I am a Mormon…and a Mormon just believes.”

    • Anonymous says:

      JS: Can’t call a dude who founded an organization that has millions of members dumb! Just ask yourself whether you are going to call Mark Zuckerberg dumb. You can ridicule, but let’s make sure you don’t sound ridiculous yourself when you are making comments.

    • JF says:

      I agree with JS and I am not a South Park fan. I am also a former Mormon. I think the play writers of the character of Joseph Smith, Jr. did a great job showing how ridiculous his story of how he came across the Book Of Mormon is and that he was very amused that people actually believed every lie and excuse he made along the way.

      It is just too bad that this man’s deception has affected so many wonderful people. Wake up and realize Joseph Smith, Jr was no prophet and he wasn’t even that good of a human being playing tricks on everyone he encounted in his life.

      • Emily L. says:

        JF, I’m wondering if you would like to elaborate? I think you make some pretty broad-sweeping claims in your argument and I would love to know your reasoning.

        In Luke we read, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit…Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

        I’m sure you are familiar with the 13 Articles of Faith written by Joseph Smith. http://lds.org/library/display/0,4945,106-1-2-1,FF.html What of “these fruits” do you find “evil” or feel is making us current members have such miserable lives?

        The LDS Church helps me to have a relationship with God and Jesus Christ and teaches me to continually strengthen that relationship through reading my scriptures, praying and worshiping God through attending church and the Temple. The Church also emphasizes the importance of families and building those relationship with love and kindness.

        What of these things do you find so intolerable?

  11. Amy T says:

    Emily, thanks for the great review. I’d heard that a play (by the south park guys) was in the works. I actually saw the mormon south park episode, and, though it was funny, it was also very irreverent and made me uncomfortable. I’m sure those who have little understanding of the Church and the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon will find this play highly entertaining, and the Church is not going to harass them if they do. The beauty of God’s work is that the “truth of God will go forth” despite a measly play.

    • Emily L. says:

      JF, I’m wondering if you would like to elaborate? I think you make some pretty broad-sweeping claims in your argument and I would love to know your reasoning.

      In Luke we read, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit…Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

      I’m sure you are familiar with the 13 Articles of Faith written by Joseph Smith. http://lds.org/library/display/0,4945,106-1-2-1,FF.html What of “these fruits” do you find “evil” or feel is making us current members have such miserable lives?

      The LDS Church helps me to have a relationship with God and Jesus Christ and teaches me to continually strengthen that relationship through reading my scriptures, praying and worshiping God through attending church and the Temple. The Church also emphasizes the importance of families and building those relationship with love and kindness.

      What of these things do you find so intolerable?

  12. Claire Burgin says:

    Emily,

    I really liked reading your review. I especially liked your objectivity and honesty.

    I think you brought up an interesting point about “Jesus as a dude”. It reminded me of some reading I did about Christianity in the late 1400’s and early 1500’s. If I remember correctly, Martin Luther decided to translate the Bible from Greek into the German vernacular, so that the common people could read it or hear it read in the language they spoke and understood.

    When undertaking this, Luther spent alot of time in villages to hear how the common person spoke. Prior to Luther’s translation, it was almost exclusively clerics of the Holy Roman Empire who could read Greek or Latin. The common person had to rely on what they were told by someone else.

    The church officials resisted Luther’s translation emphatically. It must have sounded quite sacrilegious to suddenly hear “The Word of God” spoken in what then would have been the common villager’s words. I believe Luther’s effort in this was one of the many things that lead to Christianity developing different denominations, among other things.

    The LDS church uses the King James version of the Bible, where Jesus speaks in the King’s English. There are many other versions of the Bible in English, one reason being that many people can’t understand or speak the King’s English. It does take a very good understanding of the roots of the English language to understand or speak in the King James version, which is something not everyone who speaks English today has.

    Is there a canonized, or officially sanctioned declaration in the LDS church that tells what language, dialect, vocabulary and colloquialisms a divine being uses when speaking? Does it change according to the language, etc., spoken by the person being spoken to?

    Thank you for bringing up such an interesting point, Emily. You’ve given me lots to think about, which I will enjoy.

    I think the statement you cited by the LDS church was very well spoken. It’s my opinion that the play is meant to entertain. It shouldn’t be taken as a means to learn about the beliefs or tennets of the LDS religion. I watched the interview with the creators, and they didn’t posit the play as an instructional, educational, or informative portrayal of the LDS religion. I would hope that people would not accept something they saw in a satirical play (or cartoon) to be a source of fact. For instance, if I wanted to learn about Hinduuism, I wouldn’t ask an African tribal priest to present it to me in the form of entertainment.

    • Anonymous says:

      Claire: Emily’s description of ‘Jesus as a dude’ is not just based on the portrayal of his langugage and his behavior in the show. I won’t get into the details of the show, but if you were there, you WILL recognize that it’s not the contemporary interpretations of his language or behaviors that are at issue but rather Jesus’s portrayal as an irreverent and profane individual. To those who belive Jesus is a member of Godhead (if not God himself for Trinitarians), that would be tantamount to a sacrilege.

  13. Emily (not the one that wrote this) says:

    I am also LDS and i have been my whole life (15 years). I enjoyed your review, because i was curious as to how the musical portrayed us. I can admit, even as a member of the church, that some witty jokes about us are true and funny. In my opinion, to portray God as a dude is not funny, it’s not only something that should upset LDS members, but should offend any person that has faith in him. I’m glad to hear that the musical got most of the historical background accurate, its the least they can do.

  14. Confused says:

    I am trying to understand why a self proclaimed “pretty much mormon” person would tolerate the filth that is this musical and sit through the reported barrage of F-bombs? It makes about as much sense as shooting yourself in the foot just to see how it feels. Additionally, how is having gay friends relevant to this discussion? Does that somehow make you better qualified to review a Broadway production? An understanding of the the churches stance regarding any brother or sister who struggles with temptation and sin in any degree would make one recognize that it is an unnecessary position to assert for a review of a Broadway musical. I am 1/4 Japanese. That must make me more qualified to review compact cars, right? Again, relevance? Seems the author is trying to balance unbending doctrines and standards with a world which has no standards or doctrines. Good luck with that. We don’t have to bend our standards to have and show unconditional love to those around us and we certainly don’t have to see this musical to demonstrate our tolerance of things we should not tolerate.

    • Emily L. says:

      When I wrote my reivew I thought it was important for the reader to understand a little of my background. Saying that “I’m Mormon” can sometimes paint a very specific picture if one only knows the sterotypes that surrond the LDS Church. When I mentioned that I had a handful of gay friends whom I loved, it was just a way to provide context about who I am and my exposure to more liberal ideas.

      My background may also help to explain your first question. I live in a major, diverse city where in most instances, even very proffesional settings, it’s not uncommon for me to hear crude langugage. It is something that doesn’t bother me for the most part and so it wasn’t enough of a motivator to get me to leave.

    • Anonymous says:

      Confused: You need to realize that there are 13 million Mormons around the world. Thirteen million people will fall into a wide spectrum of backgrounds, including their tolerance for bad language. I think Emily’s mentioning of having close gay friend is IMPORTANT because Mormons got hounded for being homophobic during California legislation issues in 2008. Emily, by talking about her gay friends, indicated that she is a much more open-minded Mormon. If you are a 1/4 Japanese, you may not be able to do a better job of reviewing a compact car (only because Koreans, Chinese and even Americans are making better compact cars that Toyotas with brakes that won’t stop), but your opinion on WW II (Hiroshima, etc) as well as your reactions to recent earthquakes in Japan should be more respected than an average Joe/Jane American who does not have the direct relationship to Japan. Emily went to see the musical out of cuoriosity more than anything else. If you haven’t gone to see an R-rated movie in your life, I respect that, but those who do watch R-rated movies are just as good members in standing as you, and they may even be your bishops or stake presidents.

      • Still Confused says:

        In defense of Emily, Anonymous wrote “You need to realize that there are 13 million Mormons around the world. Thirteen million people will fall into a wide spectrum of backgrounds, including their tolerance for bad language.” I do realize that there are millions of Mormons around the world and that with such a rich and diverse group come differing backgrounds, cultures and opinions. However the application of clearly established doctrine-based standards does not bend for cultures, opinions or personal tolerances. You are correct that the gospel is universal, spanning all national, cultural and ethnic differences, for the meek in heart.

        Anonymous says, “Thirteen million people will fall into a wide spectrum..” Again, you are correct, even amongst self described active Mormons there is a wide spectrum. Many inadvertently lending themselves to the “I know a Mormon who does it” argument made by so many within and without our faith. It is a shame, but one which troubles all church members (me included) clumsily pushing themselves to live beyond that which is easily attained and faithfully enduring to the end. Thus the need for an intercessor. As far as the wide spectrum is concerned, wide is the gate that leads to destruction, and narrow is the way… You know the rest.

        Anonymous also wrote, “I think Emily’s mentioning of having close gay friend is IMPORTANT because Mormons got hounded for being homophobic during California legislation issues in 2008.” If this were a discussion about Prop 8 this would have been germane. But what does Emily having gay friends have to do with the price of tea in China? Answer: about as much as it has to do with the musical. Get the point? Emily said that she only mentioned this to separate herself from Mormon stereotypes. Of course the problem with that is by doing so she only reinforced those stereotypes by positioning herself as a Secularized Mormon rather than one of those naive, draconian hate mongering Mormons. At an honest look one must come to the conclusion that such a thing (Secularized Mormon) cannot exist because they are polar opposites; the secular world and the doctrines of the church. Even if one tried to be so, one would fail miserably because the two theologies cannot co-exhist. You must betray one regime to conform to the other. As I stated in my first posting the authentic views of any true disciple of the the LDS faith are to love all mankind ESPECIALLY in our imperfections. Those who really want to know the truth about our doctrine will know this and those who don’t want to know the truth cannot be reasoned with. Love of all mankind does not, however, translate to tolerance of things we should not tolerate. If the spirit will not tolerate it then neither should we. And we do not have to be apologetic about it.

        Anonymous also wrote, “…but those who do watch R-rated movies are just as good members in standing as you, and they may even be your bishops or stake presidents.” Thank you, Anonymous, you have again added credence to my mention in this post of the often used but very week, “I know a Mormon who does it” argument and extended it to the lesser used but equally weak, “I know a bishop or stake president who does it” argument. So if your Bishop jumps off a cliff…? Yeah, I know, sophomoric of me to mention, but such a sophomoric point for Anonymous to make.

        Lastly, to those who may read this and wrongly assume that I am a sheltered, naive, brainwashed Utard from some dusty town near 300 East and 100 North let me assure you that I am not and never have been. In fact, I have traveled the world, speak multiple languages and work amongst some of the crudest language and behaviors one could imagine (LEO). I have lived most of my life on the Left Coast of America and lived in cities far more liberal than Boston. And as Emily I have friends and acquaintances in the LGBT community. However, I am still confused, and again I ask, why a self proclaimed “pretty much mormon” person would tolerate the filth that is this musical and sit through the reported barrage of F-bombs? If the answer is, “to provide context to put off the Mormon stereotype” then my congratulations go out to Emily because seeing that musical is not Mormon-ly at all, job well done. IJO DESU.

        • Emily L. says:

          I’m confused as to what is your objective? Is it to make me feel bad for watching the show? Is it to condemn me and others who tolerate crude behavior? Please point me to the doctrine that condemns me for not being offended by the F word and for loving gay people. I don’t know what in my review has made you so defensive. I think your tone is shocking on a blog that is trying to help others find Jesus Christ. Moving forward, this discussion should be just that…a discussion. It doesn’t need to be an argument and judgmental.

          • Confused says:

            No condemnation here for you or others who TOLERATE crude behavior. The written word is difficult because each reader can inject their own tone so I apologize if you felt attacked. A talk titled “Weightier Matters” by Elder Dalin H. Oaks sums up what I felt and where my mind delved when I read your review and other postings here. Not throwing stones does not equate to not having or espousing standards and truths. Perhaps this blog is not the proper platform for a different Mormon Perspective than the authors.

          • Anonymous says:

            Dear Confused: After reading your ‘Still Confused’ rebuttal, I am deeply concerned by your judgemental attitude that borders irrationality. My point is that Emily is probably just as temple worthy as YOU, if not worthier than you due to her love for her fellow beings. I pointed out your bishops and stake presidents watching R-rated movies NOT TO suggest that you should justify your behavior based on your church leaders, but you should recognize that the church is for EVERYONE, people like you who claim to have strong standards AND people who are not as focused as you are. And some of them even may be people whom you may respect! While you may be offended by Emily’s mentioning of her having gay friends, you must recognize that that’s how ‘average LDS of good standing’ is percevied by the world. It does not portray Emily as a secularized LDS, it just points out that Emily is not sheltered like an ‘AVERAGE’ Utah LDS whom the world perceives as someone who has not seen an African American person or gay people. It’s interesting to note that you claim to have grown up in ‘liberal’ part of the country, and you somehow failed to learn the most important lesson as LDS which is: You love the people and hate their sins. It is absolutely respectful and honorable for you to express YOUR thoughts about why YOU wouldn’t go see the show. It is extremely offensive AND un-Christian-like for an upstanding member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to question ‘why a good Mormon would go see the show.’ You may have that rule in your family, but do you judge the person until the Judge of Israel declares that person is under probation. Judge of Israel here is NOT you. It’s Emily Bishop and Stake President.

          • Katie says:

            THANK YOU SO MUCH CONFUSED! I thought I was taking crazy pills or something. I do not see how any member of the church can rationalize going to see this play. I am in no way a perfect Mormon, but I know that there are some things that should not be “tolerated.” Blasphemy is one of them. Supporting anti-mormon literature or media is another. Uhm…I’m pretty sure that’s one of those questions we get asked if we want to go to the temple, right? Figuring out what is wrong and what is right is not rocket science. Would the Savior want you to go to the play? Would President Monson go to the play? Come on…common sense here.

          • Anonymous says:

            Dear Katie: Unfortunately, you ALSO miss the point The issue began with Confused claiming that s/he could not possibly imagine a ‘good/pretty mormon’ would go see such a filth! It has nothing to do with supporting anti-Mormon literature or siding with groups who teach principles that are contrary to the Gospel. It’s one thing if Emily supports the show or encourages all the members to go see it! She does not! So, let’s not judge or question Emily’s standing in the church b/c she went and saw the show! You guys don’t have enough info to make judgement! Of course President Monson would not go see the show, and it is clear that Jesus Christ would not go see the show Himself, although I cannot say for sure as Christ did hang with publicans and prostitutes, two groups that were most despised. So, express your view but let’s hold off on judging Emily’s character lest you may be judged yourself!

          • Katie says:

            To “Anonymous” (see comment below)
            1. It’s filth because it’s blasphemous and anti-mormon. Unless she got in for free, she supported it. It doesn’t matter if she agreed with the content. She knowingly supported an anti-mormon/God play. It’s hard to understand how a member of the church could feel okay about that.
            2. Thanks for agreeing with me about President Monson. He’s a good man, that we should try to emulate.
            3. You need to reread the New Testament. Christ did not “hang” out with sinners. He taught sinners. There is a HUGE difference between supporting/encouraging sin and loving/teaching those who are sinners. Going to see this play is not an example that is even close to what the Savior did/would approve of. Apples and Elephants.
            3. I have limited information on Emily’s character. The information that she has given is not real impressive. I believe in free agency, and I believe that people can act on their own accord. What really infuriates me is when people do things that are CLEARLY against church standards and teachings, and then they feel the need to broadcast it to the world. I care because I have family who are not members of the church that I would like to someday see baptized. I care, because I spent a year and a half teaching the gospel to strangers…and I know how important our example is in the mission field. As a church we can not afford to cast our pearls before swine. We have to set a standard to the world. It is not “cool” to have one foot in the world and one foot in the church, etc., etc. This is nothing new. Stop trying to be “cool” and “normal” mormons and be GOOD ones.

            That is why I care so much. I want to see the work progress.

          • Emily L. says:

            Katie, in the New Testament we learn that two of the original 12 Apostles denied that Jesus was the Son of God–Peter and Judas. I say this not only to prove that Jesus did in fact hang out with blasphemous sinners (he ate with them, slept in the same room as them, traveled with them, hugged and kissed them), but to prove how difficult it can be to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, regardless of circumstance. There is a saying that goes “Be Kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” I would encourage you to treat people with such kindness, regardless if you agree with their choices. Jesus did teach “I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you.” That kind of affection made him one of the greatest teachers the world has ever or will ever know.

            You have a lot of conviction for choosing the right. For that I applaud you, but I think you could be a much better missionary if you approached each conversation with love. That is what will invite the Spirit and that is who will make them see the error of their ways — not you.

          • Katie says:

            Are you using the Savior to justify your actions? Seriously? He did not support sin. EVER. Do you remember when sin and transgression infuriated the Savior? Remember those tables he overturned?
            1. Emily, do you not think it was a sin to go to that play?
            2. If so, should you broadcast your transgressions to the world?
            3. Do you think your article and participation in this play is going to build up the kingdom?

            Please, I really want to understand this.

          • Mr. T says:

            Katie, you really remind me of one of those Evangelicals who refuse to open the Book of Mormon, yet persist in calling it “blasphemous,” without ever having read a word of it. Stop condemning Emily for something you don’t know anything about. Furthermore, you criticized her for doing something which was “CLEARLY against church standards and teachings.” Where, exactly, does it say this clearly? Even the Church’s official statement on the musical doesn’t condemn it.

    • LouisD says:

      I have difficulties with any form of entertainment that makes light of the Lord, or God. Having said that, I find it equally offensive that someone pontificates about the worthiness or a personals personal affinity for the divine. In other words, judge your own character and not the author’s. One might do well to re-read (in case you’ve nhever read it) the story that begins the entire 8th chapter of John. You would be a little shocked and hopefully humbled knowing with-whom the Lord takes advocacy and against whom he takes offense. If you are not praying with love and compassion for the one you perceive to be a sinner, you too might be invited to withdraw from God’s presence, your own self righteousness a bit too bright (like the blinding beam in thine own eye).

      • LouisD says:

        Oh and thank you Emily for your thoughtful perspective.

        By the way, I rather suspect that to whatever extent this generates questions at doorsteps, it will be used of God’s good will to his purpose in the end anyway. It will ultimately therefore do less harm and perhaps plenty of good.

  15. Ben, Newnan says:

    Thank you for such a thoughtful summary of your experience. I’m curious whether you laughed during the show? It’s doubtful I’ll be very offended if I see it–I feel that laughter is one of God’s finest creations, and the ability to see humor in ourselves is a matter of self-confidence and security in our faith and choices. In other words, I can handle Jesus talking like a dude–but I have to admit it would be difficult to pony up $150 toward something that doesn’t entertain me. I’ve read many reviews by both LDS and others, but yours is the first I’ve come across by someone who personally saw the show and didn’t comment on whether or not it did what it set out to do, and that is to entertain.

    • Emily L. says:

      Ben, great questions. I laughed quite a bit when they poked fun of our culture. They managed to capture a lot of our idiosyncrasies. The parts that were more irreverent made me uncomfortable. If I could cut out two or three scenes, I would recommend this show to any Mormon.

  16. Paul, the convert says:

    Atheists have no answers. So they trash & ridicule our beliefs for sport and profit. These men assert nothing better. What do they offer once they’ve torn us down?

    This musical is spiritual opium. Feeling good about yourself, by making fun of others. Our life and death is not a cartoon. Turning the important questions we should be contemplating into a cartoon story line is not progress.

    • Ben, Newnan says:

      Although your comments may be valid in some instances (i.e. Bill Maher), from everything I’ve read and seen about this show, the writers sought to be as respectful as possible within the context of the overall goal, which was not to tear anybody down, but to create an enjoyable experience for anybody who’s interested in seeing their show. I sincerely doubt they were trying to answer any important questions regarding faith or LDS, but rather presenting a fictional account from a humorous angle. In my opinion, this is probably not something worthy of such venemous rhetoric, but I’m sure your thoughts are shared by many.

    • Anonymous says:

      Paul: I went to see the show as well. The show DOES NOT trash the LDS church. It actually represents the LDS church as America’s faith, and the show TRASHES ALL those who are believers of God and Jesus Christ. So, the show actually elevates the Mormons ‘above’ the contemporary Christians and Catholics as well as every other religion that espouses Christ as its Savior. As a believer in God, the show was offensive. As a Mormon, I was proud of myself.

      • Paul, the convert says:

        Well I’m at a loss to make sense of the new logic. It seems to me the show trashes belief, Mormon, Christian, Catholic and the idea that Africans have any intelligence at all.

        Making fun of people for their beliefs or because they are stupid is the venom, not my rhetoric. We used to call that religious intolerance and racism. They may sugar coat their poison, but it seems to me they are all about destroying belief in what is right.

        • Emily L. says:

          So I wouldn’t say that they creators are calling those who are members of the LDS Church stupid. Their point seemed to be that religion is a nice story we tell ourselves and others to make ourselves feel better.

          To me, religion is a way to establish a relationship with God. I pray to him daily, I try really hard to live the commandments He has given us through scriptures and inspired leaders, I seek ways to exemplify Jesus Christ, I worship Him by regularly attending church and the temple.

          I think a strong point that has come out of these comments is that we all would do well to examine what we tolerate, even if it’s a joke.

          • Paul, the convert says:

            Emily, my family and the people I worship God with can tolerate this cartoon venom. God has blessed us with a substantial endowment. I could easily handle this anti-Catholic bigotry before I joined the church. This is a cake walk compared to what my family has faced.

            The question remains when we buy into their sugar coated, “nice story” skepticism what do we have? They assert nothing, except do what makes you feel good. Tell yourself a story, because ….

            We have an HIV epidemic in this country among Gay men and African Americans. How did their cartoon musical address this? I’m not saying our church is perfect, or that our approach is not better than the Catholic approach. Rather, I’m asking what did they offer.

            In the cartoon world, the coyote goes off the cliff and lives to face the road runner again and again. In the world we live in, our core beliefs, hopefully, keep us from jumping off the cliffs. They ridiculed the belief, what did they offer in its place.

        • Anonymous says:

          Paul: in general religious people do enough damage by showing intolerance towards people with said issues. Let them give a break. I think you are taking this too seriously.

  17. Ben, Newnan says:

    Wow. I feel like I have a front row seat at Mormon Diversity. Some of you folks are so not like the Mormons I know. Granted, that’s a pretty small group (less than 20), and I hate to generalize, but I’m in rural Georgia so my exposure is limited. My friends who are Mormon live in a very secular world here, but they don’t have to partake in anything that they find offensive. I know that a lot of people feel like LDS has gotten a bad wrap lately with the fringe groups in the news and such, but in reality, most of the poeple I know have never met a Mormon they didn’t like. So far, the one’s I’ve met have been noticably lovely, warm, caring people. These are the representatives of the faith that are far more likely to win somebody over than the dogmatic litigators I see here.

    Emily, I think you did a great job sharing YOUR opinions, and it’s wonderful to see so many others. I found your post very helpful. Like every person who sees this play or any other, not everyone’s going to enjoy it (I personally thought “Cats” was incredibly boring, but it was the talk of the town for years). I just feel like if you don’t want to expose yourself to things that make you uncomfortable, you don’t have to. If your faith is strong enough to be exposed and still not be diminished, then praise be to God. Weaker individuals should probably stick to the things that make them more comfortable.

    Love to all, angry or not.

    • Emily L. says:

      Ben, I really appriciate your insights and thoughtful response. Very well said. I hope you continue to share your thoughts and ideas on this blog.

  18. Shibummy says:

    I would like to make a special shout out to the closed-minded Mormon hooligan who accused Miss Emily of having wielded the “gay friend” card to make a statement about her Broadway expertise. You sir, are the type of Mormon, non-Mormons love to hate. You pass judgment like you pass gas, it’s intolerable, and it’s rotten. Emily is a Mormon whether she lives up to your Mormon standards or not. It’s ultimately not within your power to do much about it, other than to love her and appreciate that she is trying to make her own sense of a world that seems to be senseless. If Emily wants to see a musical based on the cornerstone of her religion, even if only out of curiosity, it is her choice and I’m pretty sure it’s not going to earn her a demerit. To you sir, I would suggest reading the very fine scripture found in John 8:7, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone…” Perhaps you can throw a stone at Emily, but I’m not sure going to see the Mormon Musical constitutes a sin. So I would ask that you quit your ways or soon someone may be judging you a Pharisee.

    • Emily L. says:

      That is one of my favorite stories from the New Testament. We learn that Jesus Christ is merciful, kind, understanding, loving and courageous. He is our advocate and our savior. As we seek him, he will be there to save us from sin, sorrow and any hardships that we may encounter.

  19. James says:

    It’s all a matter of perspective. If someone sees the good in things, they may see the musical as sweet towards Mormons and they may be inspired by it. The Mormons in the musical are sweet and kind regardless of what they experience and see around them. It is like anyone’s mission. You are exposed to all of these things constantly. You will get out of it what you want to get out of it. If one is open and sensitive, I would think that they would feel endeared towards Mormons. Some who have left the church have seen the musical and it reminds them of many of the sweet and noble qualities that the church espouses. Mormons do tend to be generous, kind, loving, and good intentioned. Many of us would like to be like that to, but we have been too jaded by the world around us. This show inspires me to try and see the sweet and believe in the good and to put less emphasis on the negative.

    • Emily L. says:

      James, I’m glad you were able to enjoy the show and be inspired. My mantra in life is, “Trust God. Don’t Complain. Be Kind. No Exceptions.” It requires some self-discipline to implement, but it has helped to take out almost all the negativity in my life and has brought me much joy. I wish you well on your pursuit of happiness.

  20. Canadian says:

    Some Mormons are offended by the show. The most offensive aspects of the show are about beliefs and such that are very real in many parts of Africa and the missionaries are trying to help them to see these things differently. Many critics of religion are also offended by the show because it shows so many good things about religion. The show definitely would make someone want to find out more about Mormons and why they believe what they do and why it makes them so positive and happy. It shows us all that we can agree that love, kindness, faith, hope, serving others, being optimistic, change for the better, etc. all makes us happier and have more purposeful lives. Turn it off is a good song about the gay missionary who says that he just turns off gay thoughts. It shows how hard something like this would be to do and I like how the other missionaries do not judge him, but seem supportive, regardless. They laugh at it because if that is what he chooses to do, then that is a hard job. I like the African female character and how ernest she is in wanting to believe that there is something better and more. Her song about Salt Lake City is soooo cute. She dreams of somewhere where human life has worth and where people are open minded and do not judge where she has been and where flies don’t bite her eyeballs and aids and poverty are not a problem. I have been to Salt Lake City and maybe it is not as ideal as she dreams up with unicorns and rainbows and drug lords being kind and helping her cross the street, but she has dreams of something better and that is beautiful. Regarding SLC, my friend from Hawaii and I went skiing there and it was super friendly and happy and somewhat ideal. The bad areas did not seem bad at all to us. There is a huge temple in the middle of the city. I met many Mormons there and many different types of Mormons. Some went to church and others did not. I met Mormons there who were designers, gay, artists, lawyers, with a full range of interests and perspectives of beliefs. Even the gay ones seemed to have a sweet spot for the Mormon church. I loved so much about the city. The baptize me song is good-she is in love with this missionary, but also she is in love with the idea of something better and believing. I think that a lot of times we do just have to believe and sometimes it takes effort. The song about a mission being a rite of passage and such a looked forward to time and how he sings about Orlando, I love you, disney and golfing. The two missionaries close friendship is super cute, as well. Someone would have to be a zombie inside to not feel sweet and positive towards Mormons after seeing this musical. Yes it has some bad language and potty humor to keep it going, but underneath it all-it’s faith positive, at least, it was for me.

    • Emily L. says:

      I’m glad you had such a positive experience in Salt Lake City. I was born and raised there and find it to be a remarkable place (I’m a little biased).

      Faith and hope are two incredible principles that Jesus Christ taught about during his ministry.

      Great faith in Jesus Christ led to abundant blessings for those who associated with Him. For example, a centurion begged Jesus to heal his servant who was sick. The Savior observed, “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel,” and the servant “was healed in the selfsame hour” because of the centurion’s faith.

      Throughout my life as I have had an increased amount of faith in God and his son Jesus Christ, I have seen the Lord work great and small miracles in my own life.

    • Ben, Newnan says:

      I agree completely. Such a sweet show.

  21. Deanne Hutch says:

    I really think this play is a good representaion of the LDS. The play is not ment to celebrate mormons, but to make fun of them. We have beliefs that differ from what the worl thinks. There response is to use rude humor to make fun of our beliefs.Not cool!!!!

    • Leonardo Dogger says:

      Wow I really agree with you Deanne, but I think your first sentence is supposed to say thi,s play is not a good representation of the LDS Church. Any way I agree with you all the way

  22. Harlow says:

    This play is super dumb. Those who made this play must not understant the Lds church. I am very upset that someone would make something like this.

  23. Katie says:

    For any of you reader that may be confused on the standards of the church concerning taking part in plays such as the aforementioned.

    “I encourage you, my dear friends, to speak up for moral standards in a world where filth, sleaze, pornography, and their whole evil brood are sweeping over us as a flood. In the first place, none of us can afford to be a partaker of this rubbish. Not one of us, neither I nor any one of you, can become involved with such things as sleazy videotapes, suggestive television programs, debasing movies, sensual magazines, so-called 900 numbers, or the kind of filth that evidently can be picked up now on the Internet. Avoid them like the plague, for they are a serious and deadly disease.

    “You can reach out to prevent a foolhardy decision on the part of a boy or girl. Your interest, your caring attitude, and your voice may make the difference between life and death in a very literal sense.

    “Stand up for integrity in your business, in your profession, in your home, in the society of which you are a part.

    “Again, it is not enough that you retreat to your private cloister and pursue only your special private interests. Your strong voice is needed. The weight of your stance may be enough to tip the scales in the direction of truth.”

    -President Hinckley

    • Anonymous says:

      Katie, let me tell you a story on President Hinckley and a church leader whose son had completely gone inactive. The parents went to see President Hinckley and they were despondent, being prominent leaders in the church but having a child who was not active. President Hinckley asked them how old their son was. He was barely over twenty, they said. Then President Hinckley said, “give him some time. He is young and impressionable. He has a lot of time left in his life. Pray for him that he will see the truth.” Funny, Presdient Hinckley did not lecture the parents or gave them pointers on how to talk to their kids. He just told them to love him! Satan’s key ingredient is pride, and he uses this on BOTH sides, those who falter and those who do not falter (or claim that they KNOW the standards). Your quoting of President Hinckley’s passionate plea is appropriate, but you and others who claim to have those ‘standards’ well pegged in your heads need to approach these issues with gentleness and meekness, so that your pride does not interfere with the prides of those who may be guilty of not following the counsels word for word. It is sad to be the prodigal son, but it is sometimes sadder to be prodigal son’s brother who proudly claimed, “…Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends…” It is sadder because if you were that good all those years, you’d KNOW why your father would be so glad to see the prodigal son, but you obviously didn’t. You never know whether down the line, YOU will be the one on the other side of the table, having committed even greater sin than just watching an R-rated show. Let’s approach things more gently. Thanks for the quote, however.

      • Paul, the convert says:

        Anon:

        I suppose when you tear down African beliefs & creedal Christianity, our story does seem better.

        I just don’t see the rigors of the LDS life as being consistent with thinking our faith is a nicer story. So our belief is also shot down.

        Which leaves cartoon thinking. Cartoon thinking may be popular among our young people, but it is going to be problematic when real life issues arise.

      • Katie says:

        I don’t think Emily will like being compared to the Prodigal Son. (I don’t know her…but I think that’s a safe assumption.) I am so far from being where I should be that it is ridiculous. Not once did I say that I felt like I was spiritually superior to the author in any way, shape or form. We all make mistakes. We all fall short of our Heavenly Father’s glory. That is why we have the atonement. My irritation does not stem from the fact that she went to this play (although I can’t say I understand it), but that she is announcing her transgressions in a public forum. What would you think if I wrote a review on a really trashy porno that I recently saw? What would you think if you were reading an article about the church’s stance on Pornography and in the comments you saw “I’m a mormon and I watch Porn…here’s my review…” I bet you would be offended. I bet you would comment on my post. Am I wrong? Blasphemy is a serious sin. I doubt Emily felt good about what she was hearing during that play. I doubt she can really defend going. I bet she thinks it was wrong to go. So why write about it? It’s easy to say “don’t judge me” when you are doing something that YOU know is wrong. Maybe had Emily used some righteous judgement and discernment, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

        • Katie says:

          Just to be completely clear…I am not judging Emily’s character, church standing, or testimony of the gospel. I am judging her actions in going to this play and writing about it.

          • Shibummy says:

            Katie and Paul the Convert,
            You people are unbelievable. Why don’t you just say something to the effect of, “You know what? I wouldn’t personally choose to go to this play, but Emily made the choice that was comfortable for her, for better or worse.” Why can’t you leave it at that? She saw a musical and wrote about her perspectives as a Mormon. She might even drink Dr. Pepper and I would love to hear her experiences with that. Do you drink Dr. Pepper? Regardless, I’m sure you made the choice that was the best for you… and the tastiest.

          • Katie says:

            Would you love to hear my review on the last Porno I saw too?

        • Anonymous says:

          Katie: Ok. So, let’s get technical here. I have some perspectives on this ‘sin’ issues and what is ‘wrong’ and
          ‘right’ on these issues. I am a bit astounded that you as a returned missionary would sound as if you do not have the perspectives on these issues. The reason why your views are often dangerous both to the members and to the non-members is NOT because you are wrong, but because you are making a gross assumption that encroaches on individual’s agency AND their relationship with Father in Heaven.

          1. Did Emily transgress by going to the show?

          The answer is NO. A transgression is an action that often needs to be confessed to your bishop, and it is clearly outlined in the church doctrine as commandments (e.g. Words of Wisdom). While there are many important counsels from the prophets and church leaders about a number of activities, going to see an R-rated movie or a show DOES NOT constitute sinning or transgressing. They may be bad judgements! But, you cannot put the word ‘sin’ on every activity there is. Emily is NOT going to lose her temple recommends because she went and saw the show. I am almost certain of that.

          2. Did Emily make a mistake?

          Well, here is a tough one. Did she make a mistake by going to see the show? I am not sure! I know what the church leaders have said on avoiding entertainment that are ‘filthy’, but did she make a mistake? You seem to suggest much more beyond that. But, some people would say, “doesn’t affect me to go watch an R-rated movie! I feel completely in line with Father in Heaven and the Spirit!” Well, then you run into “But, the prophet said!!!” Yep, the Prophet did say, but if he were that concerned he would have made an official commandment out of it, don’t you think? So, it comes down to individual’s personal relationship with Father in Heaven, and whether they can stand before Him and say, “I am clean!” Remember, what Emily did IS NOT confessable. There is NO ONE, not even President Monson, who will take Emily’s confession as a sinner. Very important for you to remember.

          3. Broadcasting this ‘transgression’.

          Now, we have established that Emily’s action is NOT a transgression, AND she may feel completely ok as a member of good standing to do this (it’s your opinion vs. hers, so her opinion WINS when the action is NOT a confessable sin – you can try to talk to your bishop about it), the question is, what about Emily broadcasting this to the rest of the world? Well, I advise you to re-read Emily’s posting. She provides a very balanced, objective view on the show. She avoids judgemental terms such as ‘filth’ and ‘sin’, and provides a good review and a personal opinion on the show. In fact, she says ‘other than a couple of scenes’ the show is clearly recommendable to LDS people. That’s probably why she didn’t end up leaving the show early! Don’t you think? Also, you do not know the context of how and why Emily wrote this up! It is possible that Emily was invited and/or asked by people of this website or other members of the church who felt her perspectives could be important. You seem to portray a view that ‘Emily went and saw the show, LOVED it, and she couldn’t wait to tell the world about it!’ Such perception could be correct, but it is more likely to be incorrect here.

          4. A thought on how to share your views.

          If you did serve a mission for 18 months, you MUST HAVE BEEN TAUGHT that as missionaries of the church, you provide YOUR message and AVOID name-calling people. You do not go see an investigator and say, “Sir, you are sinning, repent!” So, instead of sitting over there fuming for no reason, I would like to invite you to voice your opinion, but leave the judgement that are INCORRECT both church policy-wise AND doctrinally!

          You and Mr/Ms. Confused above essentially decided that (1) the Church’s standard is clear, (2) Emily going to see the show is inconsistent with Church standards and therefore she is a sinner, and (3) you were offended.

          Well, I can appreciate (1) and (3), but when you get into (2) is when YOU ARE SINNING, maybe more than Emily, because you are now falsely judging people and applying incorrect church principles on people.

          So, if you are offended/uncomfortable reading about this review, state that, but you SHOULD assume Emily is a member in good standing. If you had such an assumption, your response would be something like, “thank you Emily. I am not supportive of these activities that are inconsistent with Church standards, and your review reaffirms my conviction. I will make sure to let my friends know that I won’t be recommending the show!” INSTEAD OF “I cannot believe a member in good standing would go to this trash, survive it, and have time to write about it!”
          Who knows? Emily may even be your General Relief Society President in the future. If that happened, are you going to leave the church? I hope your faith in the Gospel is beyond that, but right now, I am not clear on it.

          • Katie says:

            1. I never questioned her relationship with the church and/or our Heavenly Father.
            2. Calling a sin a sin is not near as hateful and condemning as you are making it sound. Not once did I say that she would be kept out of the Temple, need to confess it to her Bishop, nor did I assign her to Hell for her actions. When I say sin, I mean…anything going against the will and command of the Lord. I did not call her actions a 3rd degree sin, or assign any sort of seriousness to it. I sin, you sin, we all sin. You assume too much, and read far too much into the word sin. You are making the assumption that I am judging her, based on the fact that I said that going to this play was sinful and wrong.
            3. She is not setting a good example for the church by broadcasting it to the world. I understand that you can’t see my point of view here…and I can not see yours. Agree to disagree.
            4. I love how you “teach” me how to share my views kindly and then finish your lecture questioning my faith. Passive aggressiveness is a much less becoming and kind attribute than frankness and boldness.

  24. Paul, the convert says:

    Katie:

    I’d tend to disagree. Knowledge is power, more or less. Emily’s knowledge and reporting helps us think about the threat, if it is a threat.

    Many people are going to come at us and our missionaries from this perspective. It is good to be forewarned. I see Emily taking one for the team.

    • Katie says:

      Paul- This is a quote from Dallin H Oaks. I think he does a much better job explaining why your logic is inconsistent with gospel teachings.

      “Some Latter-day Saints who wrongly think repentance is easy maintain that a person is better off after he has sinned and repented. “Get a little experience with sin,” one argument goes, “and then you will be better able to counsel and sympathize with others. You can always repent.”

      I plead with you, my brothers and sisters, my young friends and my older friends, avoid transgression! The idea that one can deliberately sin and easily repent or that one is better off after sinning and repenting are devilish lies of the adversary. Would anyone seriously contend that it is better to learn firsthand that a certain blow will break a bone or a certain mixture of chemicals will explode and burn off our skin? Are we better off after we have sustained and been scarred from such injuries? It is obviously better to heed the warnings of wise persons who know the effects of certain traumas on our bodies.

      Just as we can benefit from someone else’s experience in matters such as these, we can also benefit from the warnings contained in the commandments of God. We don’t have to have personal experience with the effects of serious transgressions to know that they are injurious to our souls and destructive of our eternal welfare.”

  25. Anonymous says:

    People! Going to R-rated movies IS NOT a SIN!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Also, let’s avoid using terms like “building up the kingdom” in this kind of public forum. Those are terms that send wrong messages to people who we are trying to introduce the Gospel to. Within the context, such phrases are clearly understood, out of context, they sound a bit weird, in my humble opinion.

      • Katie says:

        You are right.

        When I say ‘building up the Kingdom,” I am referring to strengthening the Kingdom of God on the earth. I believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to this earth. I believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the same church that Christ established while he was on the earth. I believe that it is the role of members of this church to build up God’s Kingdom by being good examples and teaching the gospel to others, so that all of his children can receive the blessings he would have us all receive. I hope that clarifies my previous statement.

    • Katie says:

      To commit sin is to willfully disobey God’s commandments or to fail to act righteously despite a knowledge of the truth (see James 4:17).

      Watching filth is a sin.
      Supporting a play that blasphemes our Savior and takes our God’s name in vain is a sin.
      We have been asked by the leaders of the church to abstain from these practices.

      “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, … whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same (D&C 1:38).”

      • Anonymous says:

        Katie:

        I am sorry. It is not. Ask your Bishop. It is not disobeying God’s commandment!

        • Anonymous says:

          You keep bringing up these scriptures and conference talks on avoiding sin, but given what Emily’s done IS NOT A SIN, they do not apply! Let’s be clear on that for both members of the church as well as non-members!

          • Katie says:

            The following quote is from the pamphlet “For the Strength of Youth.” It contains counsel, advice and commandment from Prophets and Apostles of the Lord. Going to this play is WILLINGLY going against the will of the Lord…thus it IS a SIN.

            Whatever you read, listen to, or look at has an effect on you. Therefore, choose only entertainment and media that uplift you. Good entertainment will help you to have good thoughts and make righteous choices. It will allow you to enjoy yourself without losing the Spirit of the Lord.

            While much entertainment is good, some of it can lead you away from righteous living. Offensive material is often found in web sites, concerts, movies, music, videocassettes, DVDs, books, magazines, pictures, and other media. Satan uses such entertainment to deceive you by making what is wrong and evil look normal and exciting. It can mislead you into thinking that everyone is doing things that are wrong.

            Do not attend, view, or participate in entertainment that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable.

            Pornography in all its forms is especially dangerous and addictive. What may begin as a curious indulgence can become a destructive habit that takes control of your life. It can lead you to sexual transgression and even criminal behavior. Pornography is a poison that weakens your self-control, changes the way you see others, causes you to lose the guidance of the Spirit, and can even affect your ability to have a normal relationship with your future spouse. If you encounter pornography, turn away from it immediately.

            Depictions of violence often glamorize vicious behavior. They offend the Spirit and make you less able to respond to others in a sensitive, caring way. They contradict the Savior’s message of love for one another.

            Have the courage to walk out of a movie or video party, turn off a computer or television, change a radio station, or put down a magazine if what is being presented does not meet Heavenly Father’s standards. Do these things even if others do not. Let your friends and family know that you are committed to keeping God’s standards. You have the gift of the Holy Ghost, which will give you strength and help you make good choices.

          • Ben, Newnan says:

            Having now seen the play I can honestly say that this particular quote is completely out of place in regard to this subject. There is nothing about the message of this play that is the least bit “vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic”, and no human being of sound mind would ever be led “to sexual transgression and even criminal behavior” as a result of having seen it. I promise.

        • Katie says:

          What constitutes God’s commandments? We have been commanded to avoid these things.

    • Anonymous says:

      But, I DO AGREE that we should avoid them, as they often lead to sins.

      • Katie says:

        “Do not attend, view, or participate in entertainment that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable.”

        That is what the Lord has commanded us to do. It is not a gateway to sin, it is sin.

  26. Paul, the convert says:

    This musical represents a threat to my family. I have learned more about the nature of that threat from Emily’s account than I did from over 15 hours of general conference. I am actually quite grateful for her “sin”, if it is a sin.

    I have been in the bishopric of a singles ward and it broke my heart to see these many righteous women and so few righteous men. It saddens me that most of our young men leave the church. It was more than I could bear listening to the trivia the attending young men were beating themselves up over.

    I didn’t grow up in the Mormon Bubble, so I guess I see things differently.

    • Katie says:

      I disagree with your logic, but I understand what you are saying. There are plenty of reviews for the play that would lead most LDS members away from this play. I don’t think we need “selfless” Mormons to go around watching and taking part in every piece of trash, porn, and anti-mormon literature to know that they are wrong. I think there usually is enough information available to help us make those choices with out someone “taking one for the team,” so to say.

      Just to be clear…I’m not from Utah, and I have lived on the east coast all my life.

      • Paul, the convert says:

        Katie:

        I think the threat is worse than you say. It isn’t a sin in particular, it is that there is sin at all. The threat is no god, no right or wrong, and sinning is fun.

        Me, you and all the general authorities avoiding the sin, does nothing to address the greater threat – no god dressed up in their highly skilled sugar coating. Our missionaries face this day in and day out on our behalf. I’d like to know how to support them constructively.

  27. Ben, Newnan says:

    Hi Emily, I don’t know if you’re still following this thread or not, but I just wanted to thank you one more time for your perspective. I saw the play Saturday afternoon and loved it. I thought it was awfully sweet, and not nearly as disrespectful or blasphemous as I’d been led to believe by many of the reviews, and I certainly didn’t get the impression it was aiming to ridicule Mormons or put them in a bad light of any kind. Looking beyond some “colorful” language and a couple of questionable choreography choices, I thought it was a great play. (Believe me, I’d be just as uncomfortable as you if my grandmother were sitting in the seat beside me during a couple of parts, but I would probably say that about every Broadway musical I’ve seen since Annie!) Anyway, thanks again.

    I’ve also enjoyed the different perspectives and the passion of the other folks who’ve commented. Though I do come from a Christian background, I’m not Mormon, so I don’t really feel like I have anything else to add to the thread, given the direction it’s taken.

    • Emily L. says:

      Hey Ben, Glad to see you back here! I’m curious to know, do you think the general public’s perceptions of Mormons will change based on the musical?

      • Ben, Newnan says:

        I’d say that’s pretty doubtful, based on the relatively limited number of people who will ever see this play.

        I’m not really sure what the general public’s perception is of Mormons, anyway. My perception, and I’d say most of the people I know, would not have been changed a bit by the play. I mentioned before how kind and peaceful and content the few Mormons I know seem to be, and this play only reinforces that. I think that anybody who sees this play without having ever known any Mormons personally would come away with a positive impression of Mormons in general.

        I will also say that, in my experience, I believe the general public does a good job of separating the modern LDS Church from the more sensational aspects as portrayed in the media like HBO’s “Big Love” and the media coverage of the FLDS and the Warren Jeffs situation of the last few years. I know there are some people who don’t pass up the opportunity to poke fun at some of the idiosyncrasies of Mormon faith, but most of them are comedians who aren’t taken very seriously to start with.

        The thing that has surprised me the most about public perception of Mormons lately has been the idea that some people might not vote for a Mormon running for president. I have no idea whether this is real or just media hype, but I’m reminded that there was strong opposition to having a Catholic in the White House when Kennedy ran, and I hope that if the best man for the job one day happens to be a Mormon, that the country would be able to be as sensible as they were when we overcame the silly idea that a Catholic president might not be able to govern a country because the way he worships may be a little different from what we’re used to.

        Okay, I may have given you more answer than you were asking for, but I get carried away sometimes. I will add here at the end, though, that I would say my perception of Mormons has been altered more by this comment thread than it would have been by that play. Not negatively at all, just more realistically. I think I subconsciously generalized all Mormons as the peaceful, positive, docile people I interact with socially and at work, and reading the comments here just pointed out that there are the same range of personalities and dogmas within the Mormon community as there are among any group of people. You seem like a nice sensible person, and I hope that your feelings aren’t too hurt by the accusations and inferences made by some of these people. I’m sure it all comes from a good place, but that probably doesn’t stop it from stinging when you read something about yourself that you don’t feel to be true.

        For what it’s worth, I’ve always been taught that every individual’s relationship with God is very personal, and He lets you know when you’re doing something wrong, so if He hasn’t filled you with a feeling of regret for having seen this show, you can probably be pretty certain that things are good between the two of you.

        Peace

        • Emily L. says:

          Ben, I really appreciate your insights and the kindness you’ve shown me. The internet is an interesting place. It allows us to go nameless and faceless, which at times, can enable some to be cruel and unkind. Your positive and loving tone has proven to be a real inspiration and I’m grateful for your example. Thank you for defereing judgment and for being so kind.

          The Mormon Church just released a video about kindness. The closing quote is from our current prophet and reads, “Life is perfect for none of us. Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life.”

          Thank you for demonstrating that love.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CiCYPisD5w&feature=player_embedded

          • Ben, Newnan says:

            Thank you, that’s a beautiful quote. I’m pleased to say that the Mormons I know seem to embody the spirit of it completely, as do you.

          • Ben, Newnan says:

            Emily, I wanted to come back and correct something I’ve found I was mistaken about. With regard to your question as to whether the general public’s perception might be changed as a result of Parker and Stone’s “The Book Of Mormon”, I’m afraid I was a little short-sighted in my answer.

            I’m amazed and delighted that this show has spurred such conversation, so to answer the question suggested by the radio show I heard you on–yes, I believe we are in the midst of a “Mormon moment”, and I believe the play has an awful lot to do with it. I would suspect that there’s never been a time in the history of the LDS church when so many people were talking and learning more than they are right now about Mormons. At the risk of causing some of your readers’ heads to explode, I really appreciate the irony in the idea that G-d himself might actually be using Matt and Trey as vessels to spread the word. 🙂

            The grace with which the church has handled the publicity (for the most part) is remarkable. James Fenton, a blogger for New York Review Of Books, had an interesting comment on the subject:

            “It is as if they understand the ridicule that they are currently undergoing at the Eugene O’Neill Theater to constitute a sort of hazing. To get through the ordeal they must keep their good humor, and it is worth doing so because, at the end of the hazing, their reward will be a greater acceptance in society. Some hand is going to clap them on the shoulder and say: Well done, you managed to survive. And the audience is going to feel better about Mormons than they did before, and better about themselves for all that better feeling”

            Full post: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2011/jun/11/james-fenton-book-of-mormon-review/

            Although I personally think “ridicule” is a strong word for the good natured ribbing the writers give the church, I suppose it’s not completely inaccurate to use that word. Anyway, I believe that discussion of Mormons has entered pop culture, at least for a while, and people are finding themselves educated on the subject to varying degrees–never a bad thing.

            I’m pleased to stand corrected on the subject.

  28. Jessica Van Nostrand says:

    Dearest Emily,

    It does not matter where you live, who your neighbors are or the kind of negative influences that exist even in your own family, what matters is your ability to remember who you are in Jesus Christ and how comfortable you would be if he was sitting next to you in that theatre or anywhere else you may be, listening to your words and seeing your actions. If you wouldn’t want Jesus to see you do it or say it, then don’t. It’s that simple.

    God bless.

  29. Logan says:

    As somebody who is currently investigating the LDS faith, my baptism is scheduled at the end of the month, I found the musical very encouraging that I was making the right decision. It offered a fresh, light, sometimes offensive, and slightly skewed perspective that I hadn’t gotten from anywhere else. I feel in the end it makes Mormons look good to the average public.

    • Emily L. says:

      Logan, thank you for your post! Congratulations on your upcoming baptism. I’m curious to know what about the musical reinforced your decision to get baptized?

  30. Claire Burgin says:

    Holy crap. I did a google search because I wanted to find a review of this play from an LDS Church member’s perspective. I wanted to know if what Matt and Trey said in their interview about the play would be consistent with what Mormons would say about it. I really wanted a Mormon’s perspective, and I don’t see how you can get that, other than from a Mormon who has seen the play. (Forgive me if I’m not supposed to use the word “mormon”. I think I heard that somewhere.)

    Emily, I liked your review. I liked that you gave background information about yourself so I could understand whether you were extremely fundamental in your views, or otherwise. I’m really sorry you’ve had your thread hijacked like this and people are arguing about you and your actions as it is. Thank you, Emily. I wanted to hear what you thought, and you gave that to me.

    On one other note, I again want to draw attention to the quote the LDS Church gave, which Emily cited. They neither condemned nor supported the play. I think there is some great wisdom in that.

  31. Katie says:

    This is silly. Don’t write about controversial subjects if you can’t handle being criticized. I presented my argument, and instead of addressing my questions you say that I’m being mean spirited, un-Christlike or judgmental (which I’m pretty sure is judgmental, right?) Just because you think I am a jerk or abrasive does not make you right.

    • Paul, the convert says:

      I apologize if I implied an un-Christlike attitude or that you were mean spirited. This was not my intent.

      I just do not see this is that bad pornographically as say compared to the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated or a typical beer or Verizon commercial.

      I find the atheistic bomb throwing as the threat. Pitting us against Catholics against Evangelicals is the threat. All three groups are honestly, sincerely trying to have faith in Jesus Christ. My reading of the Book of Mormon indicates these are important conditions for inspiration by the Holy Ghost.

      (Obviously, without the Book of Mormon, the church and the temple ceremonies, the other Christians are in a weaker theological position when it comes to discerning the Holy Ghost. This is to say they are going after the least among us.)

      They flatter us while they stab our theological cousins in the back. And we defend them, because they are going to come after us last. This is a very sophisticated assault on the existence of God.

      • Katie says:

        I’m sorry Paul…I wasn’t referring to you at all. I think you’ve been very kind. Sorry about the miscommunication.

    • Emily L. says:

      Katie to answer your questions.

      1. Emily, do you not think it was a sin to go to that play?
      Was it the best decision? Maybe not. Do I regret it? Not at all. I don’t think the play is “sinful.” The play encapsulates an opinion. I’m not afraid to hear what others may think of Mormons or God. I wrote a review so others would be prepared to see the show and decide for themselves if they should go. I’m not saying I agree with the creators, but I was willing to listen to what they had to say.

      2. If so, should you broadcast your transgressions to the world?
      It was not my idea to write this blog post. I was asked by a Mission President to write this review.

      3. Do you think your article and participation in this play is going to build up the kingdom?
      Yes, I have had quite a few discussion with people about Jesus Christ since seeing this show. It has been a great way to discuss religion.

      As I looked at the audience in the theatre it was a very unique crowd. A lot of people who probably know nothing about our religion, but have now probably done further research because the play opened their mind. Several articles have been written that argue that this play may finally allow the general public to view Mormons as Christians, normal and maybe fit to be President of the United States.

      • Katie says:

        I disagree with you on whether or not the play is sinful…but I don’t think we will ever agree on that.

        I am curious to know if the mission president asked you to go to this play, and then write a review?

      • Interested says:

        I seriously doubt a mission president would ever suggest to write a review about this play. Maybe you were told to write blogs similar to other blogs found on this website but this type of review should not have a place on this website.

        • Shane A. says:

          Interested, stop getting your panties in a bunch! It’s a great review and one that definitely offers the ‘Mormon perspective’. What’s the alternative? Revel in silence, allowing the world to speak for us. Simply said: the world will tell us who we are until we tell the world.

  32. Tim says:

    Katie and other critics of this post,

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe your problem with Emily’s post is that it casts a bad light on the Mormon Church. I was wondering if you could explain to me why exactly that is the case. I’d love it if you could spell this out in an organized list of complaints and/or negative outcomes you see coming from this post and explanations of how exactly those negative outcomes will develop.

    I think anyone following these comment threads would really appreciate it.

    Thank you.

    • Katie says:

      1. This play is not a play that Mormon’s should support/attend.
      2. When a Mormon does something against church standards…it sets a bad example for the church.

      Yep…that’s it. Pretty simple.

      • Anonymous says:

        1. Do you have a church’s official statement on this? Why are you making a blanket statement that the church would NEVER endorse or proclaim?

        2. You realize your commentaries and postings actually have raised eyebrows of many LDS and non-LDS on this site? Don’t you think if you are the only one claiming that you have it right when the rest of us who are just as faithful as you are claim otherwise, maybe you should consider alternatives?

  33. Tim says:

    In addition, I’d love to hear from you how exactly you believe these complaints will be rectified by your public condemnation of the post.

    • Katie says:

      I’m not looking to rectify any damage done by Emily. I read a review, and I had an opinion. I presented my argument. People got offended.

      Not once have I felt angered or offended by anything that anyone has posted. I think this review was well written, but unnecessary.

      I don’t feel like the content of my posts were incorrect, but perhaps I could have been more careful to think about how people would perceive my tone.

      I would have liked to hear Emily’s view on how she thinks that going to this play was the right thing to do…but I doubt she feels as though it was a good choice.

      • Anonymous says:

        Katie: The issue with your postings in general are (1) you tend to make these gross assumptions that exclude multiple possibilities, (2) you have this crazy equation of “I am right” = “you are wrong”, and (3) you actually make incorrect statements about church doctrines and policies. (1) makes you come across as if you lack maturity and proper perspectives on these life matters, (2) makes you look like you are self-righteous, and (3) makes you look like you are teaching false doctrine. All these things are VERY VERY serious commission that you need to reflect and potentially repent.

        Your very first comment on this post begins with a very aggressive statement of “…I do not see how any member of the church can rationalize going to see this play…” can be implied as “…a (good/proper) member could not justify seeing the show.” Then you actually make a very dangerous statement by saying, “…. Blasphemy is one of them. Supporting anti-mormon literature or media is another. Uhm…I’m pretty sure that’s one of those questions we get asked if we want to go to the temple, right?” This is a fairly passive/agressive (more on the aggressive side) accusation insinuating that Emily shouldn’t be able to answer affirmative on her temple recommend interviews. Very innocent sounding reference, but seriously defamatory remark towards a member of the church in good standing! Then you conclude the comment by saying, “figuring out what is wrong and what is right is not rocket science.”, which is a classic ‘black and white’ argument that not only puts your argument in jeopardy of being wrong, but also raises questions regarding your perspectives on the big picture.

        You conclude above post with “I would have liked to hear Emily’s view on how she thinks that going to this play was the right thing to do…but I doubt she feels as though it was a good choice.”, again indicating your failure to recognize that there are certain activities that are neither right nor wrong, but neutral. Furthermore, because you haven’t seen the show yourself, if Emily claims that she actually finds her action to be right, you would hit the roof in shock and awe, essentially assuming Emily is either unworthy or lying. You haven’t made these statements explicitly, but your message comes across rather clearly.

        I believe your later comments backpedalled on some of these earlier claims as you may have realized that you had overstepped the boundaries, but you continue to maintain ‘I am right!’ and ‘you are wrong!’

        In doing so, you begin to introduce false doctrine, making claims that the church does not endorse nor has official position on, i.e. watching R-rated shows is sinning because the Strength of the Youth pamphlet says so. The Strength of the Youth pamphlet provides the guidelines through which if each members sticks to will help him/her to keep the commandments. Furtheremore, it says AVOID these things NOT do not do such and such as you are breaking the commandments. When the church publications and/or leaders make reference to sins, they make it very clear by quoting scriptures followed by explaining consequences of breaking those commandments. So, now you confuse non-LDS people who are not familiar with the Gospel and/or Strength of the Youth by making grossly generalized statements that are over the top.

        This is why people like myself and some others have tried to explain things to you to ensure that correct principles and policies of the church are portrayed in public. If you have any questions regarding these issues, you need to appeal to your church leaders for their counsel and explanation. You will quickly discover that we are not making things up! You will be surprised how much you may have been misinformed on some of your views.

        The church leaders emphasize that if one listens to the prophets they will be blessed. But, they DO NOT make statements such as “if you do not follow prophets counsels, you are sinning!” because there is no doctrinal basis for such view.

        The questions one is asked during temple recommend interviews are important questions to consider as they are carefully phrased to eliminate ambiguity as well as separate what may be personal choice versus doctrinal commandments. This is why if the question is not part of the temple recommend interviews, you are likely to be clear.

        However, there may be some additional follow ups on chastity questions since the church takes a very serious view on sexual sins as a number of activities including viewing pornography usually lead to unchaste lifestyle. However, such serious sin could not and should not be compared or equated to swearing and other actions that are neither confessable nor punishable.

        So, you may think, “wow people are attacking me for saying the truth!”, but in reality people are reminding you that you are incorrect on many of your claims and assertions. And it is true that truth often hurts.

        • Katie says:

          PART ONE-

          Katie: The issue with your postings in general are (1) you tend to make these gross assumptions that exclude multiple possibilities, (2) you have this crazy equation of “I am right” = “you are wrong”, and (3) you actually make incorrect statements about church doctrines and policies. (1) makes you come across as if you lack maturity and proper perspectives on these life matters, (2) makes you look like you are self-righteous, and (3) makes you look like you are teaching false doctrine. All these things are VERY VERY serious commission that you need to reflect and potentially repent.
          **My rebuttal-
          1. The only assumption that I made is that Emily is probably a “good” member of the church. Because I am assuming that she is, in fact, a good member of the church I believe that she should not have seen this play. I believe that supporting this play is against the standards of the church.
          2. I am right.
          3. See below.
          4. Judgy Mcjudgystine.
          5. I am very self-righteous…one of my weaknesses. It particularly comes out when I am right.
          6. No false doctrine was taught….nope…not even once.
          7. I can’t call a sin a sin…but you can? Seems very hypocritical. At least I didn’t call Emily to repent.

          • Katie says:

            Your very first comment on this post begins with a very aggressive statement of “…I do not see how any member of the church can rationalize going to see this play…” can be implied as “…a (good/proper) member could not justify seeing the show.” Then you actually make a very dangerous statement by saying, “…. Blasphemy is one of them. Supporting anti-mormon literature or media is another. Uhm…I’m pretty sure that’s one of those questions we get asked if we want to go to the temple, right?” This is a fairly passive/agressive (more on the aggressive side) accusation insinuating that Emily shouldn’t be able to answer affirmative on her temple recommend interviews. Very innocent sounding reference, but seriously defamatory remark towards a member of the church in good standing! Then you conclude the comment by saying, “figuring out what is wrong and what is right is not rocket science.”, which is a classic ‘black and white’ argument that not only puts your argument in jeopardy of being wrong, but also raises questions regarding your perspectives on the big picture.
            My response-
            1. I cannot understand why/how a good member of the church would see this play. Perhaps that statement would have been more productive in question form. I should have said, “Why would you go see this play Emily?”
            2. In the temple interview remark…I was not at all insinuating that she was not worthy to go to the temple. I understand how it looked like that, and I should not have used that as an example. I was using it as a point of reference, to point out that both blasphemy and supporting anti-mormon material are serious. Again, it was a poor choice for me to use. I agree with you.
            3. Wrong and right is black and white. There is not kind of wrong and kind of right. However, there are sins that are more serious in nature. We know this because there are sins that are forgivable, and some that are not. There are degrees of right and wrong…but wrong is still wrong and right is still right. I believe that your biggest problem is that you do not seem to understand that when I say that I believe it was wrong and a sin for Emily to go, I am not saying that I think she is a bad Mormon, or unworthy to be in the temple. I am saying that it was just wrong for her to go.

          • Katie says:

            You conclude above post with “I would have liked to hear Emily’s view on how she thinks that going to this play was the right thing to do…but I doubt she feels as though it was a good choice.”, again indicating your failure to recognize that there are certain activities that are neither right nor wrong, but neutral. Furthermore, because you haven’t seen the show yourself, if Emily claims that she actually finds her action to be right, you would hit the roof in shock and awe, essentially assuming Emily is either unworthy or lying. You haven’t made these statements explicitly, but your message comes across rather clearly.

            My response-
            1. How is supporting this play a “neutral activity?” Is sitting through a song called, “**** You God” kind of okay? Is it “kind of” not blasphemous? Being ambiguous toward sin is not a good quality. Would Heavenly Father want Emily to sit and listen to His name and His son blasphemed? How is that not right, or wrong? What’s that scripture about being luke warm?
            2. If Emily says that she was right to go, and she believes that it was something that Heavenly Father would be okay with…I won’t say another word. I am not the judge of Emily’s worthiness. I have not, and will not try to assess her standing in the church. I don’t know her.
            3. Be careful of making assumptions as to what my message is by “reading between the lines.” I would hate for you to fall into hypocrisy again.

          • Katie says:

            I believe your later comments backpedalled on some of these earlier claims as you may have realized that you had overstepped the boundaries, but you continue to maintain ‘I am right!’ and ‘you are wrong!’

            My response-
            Yes. I agree.

          • Katie says:

            In doing so, you begin to introduce false doctrine, making claims that the church does not endorse nor has official position on, i.e. watching R-rated shows is sinning because the Strength of the Youth pamphlet says so. The Strength of the Youth pamphlet provides the guidelines through which if each members sticks to will help him/her to keep the commandments. Furtheremore, it says AVOID these things NOT do not do such and such as you are breaking the commandments. When the church publications and/or leaders make reference to sins, they make it very clear by quoting scriptures followed by explaining consequences of breaking those commandments. So, now you confuse non-LDS people who are not familiar with the Gospel and/or Strength of the Youth by making grossly generalized statements that are over the top.

            Me-
            I believe that you are extremely confused on many points here. You act as though there are is list of sins that are written in the bible, and anything else is merely a suggestion. When a prophet speaks and gives counsel it is as thought the Lord gave us that counsel. If you do not obey that counsel you are going against the will of the lord. You are picking and choosing which counsel to follow and which counsel to ignore. You are incorrect to say that it is only a sin if it has a clear consequence assigned to it. All bad choices have consequences, and those consequences vary as do the sins. When the prophets and general authorities tell us not to do things, they aren’t just good ideas to listen to so you can be blessed. If you do not listen to them, you risk the negative consequences that come from not heading the counsel of the Lord. You are twisting words by saying that AVOID and NO NOT DO are different. That is the most illogical argument.

            For example—
            I copied and pasted the following statements from LDS.org—

            1. “ Members of the Church should avoid pornography in any form and should oppose its production, distribution, and use.” (No author)
            2. “Avoid alcohol and tobacco or any other drugs, also addictions which you would be hard pressed to conquer.” (President Monson)
            3. “…avoid sexual transgression as you would a plague.” (President Hinckley)
            Are you suggesting that the above are just suggestions? Not sin? Not transgression because we were told to “avoid” something?

            Well…
            “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.” (President Monson)

            So I guess she shouldn’t have gone, right? According to your logic.

          • Katie says:

            The church leaders emphasize that if one listens to the prophets they will be blessed. But, they DO NOT make statements such as “if you do not follow prophets counsels, you are sinning!” because there is no doctrinal basis for such view.

            You are confused as to the definition of sinning. It’s pretty much anything going against the will of the Lord. The Lord would have us listen to his servants…because that’s how he lets us know his will. Again, I am not saying that she is going to Hell. All I’m saying is that it was wrong to go to the play.

          • Katie says:

            However, there may be some additional follow ups on chastity questions since the church takes a very serious view on sexual sins as a number of activities including viewing pornography usually lead to unchaste lifestyle. However, such serious sin could not and should not be compared or equated to swearing and other actions that are neither confessable nor punishable.
            Blasphemy is a really really really big deal. I mean…taking the Lord’s name in vain is one of the big 10, right?

          • Katie says:

            So, you may think, “wow people are attacking me for saying the truth!”, but in reality people are reminding you that you are incorrect on many of your claims and assertions. And it is true that truth often hurts.

            I do not feel attacked. I am okay with people disagreeing with me. If anything it proves my point. Emily is a good member of the church and Satan is using that as a tool to convince those around her (literally and figuratively) that sin is okay…because Emily is a good person. All of you who are defending sin, are pretty much evidence to what I am saying. It can’t be a sin…Emily is a good person…and she went.

          • Natalie says:

            Well folks, it appears we’ve reached a stalemate. I think one of the nicest parts about having the freedom to choose (free agency) is that we can all believe what we want to believe. I feel everyone has stated what they would choose for themselves and we can’t keep going round and round these circles.

            As an author on this blog, I can tell you that we try to write every post with love and respect for all of God’s children, regardless of the choices they make. I’m a bit sad the comments here have spun into accusations and finger-pointing in all directions. My plea is that each of us examine how we feel about what’s being said is affecting our own feelings, beliefs and ideas, internalize it and then attempt to see how someone else might view the same situation. And then let it go.

            If we continue to fight with each other, how will we ever get along with the rest of the world?

          • Ben, Newnan says:

            I think Answer #2 is as far as we need to go (though #3 cracked me up!). I have a mentally ill brother, and I learned a long time ago that you can’t reason with crazy. When someone truly believes they alone have all the right answers, you’re not going to convince them there may be another side to things that they can’t see from their high horse.
            It’s clear Katie deals with her own demons, and I think it’s getting kind of sad that she’s starting to get ganged up on, even if the gang is doing it to try to help Katie.

          • Katie says:

            Please…don’t be sad for me or the demons that I am dealing with. How do you know that I am not your mentally ill brother?

          • Ben, Newnan says:

            Katie, I can’t apologize enough! I was posting from my phone and my brain doesn’t work as well when I do that.

            I certainly did not mean to imply that you lacked any faculties yourself, mental or otherwise. The point I was trying to hit (and missed) is that when someone’s mind is so set, trying to change that person’s mind is usually an exercise in futility. It this situation it’s particularly difficult because the dispute is over opinion and interpretation, which is much harder to change someone’s mind over.

            And the way I know you’re not my brother is that he would have been so furious that someone disagreed with him that he wouldn’t have stuck around as long as you have.

            Again, I do apologize for seeming to imply that you might have any sort of mental issue. I don’t believe that to be true, and I’m sorry my words made it seem like I might.

          • Katie says:

            It’s okay Ben. I got a good chuckle at your post. When I decide I’m right I do become a bit “crazy.”

            and you are right, I’m probably not your brother.

  34. Allie says:

    Katie,
    You have sort of made a fool of yourself on this entire comment board.

    • Katie says:

      Allie,
      I’m right.

      Thanks,
      Katie

    • Claire Burgin says:

      Katie,

      You did not make a fool of yourself. That statement was personal and uncalled for. What purpose did it serve to say that? What was gainful or constructive about that comment?

      I think you brought up some very good points and you backed up your opinions well. I didn’t like seeing you get ganged up on, whether or not I agreed with what you said.

      I think many people I see today have become afraid of being labeled negatively, and as a result they want to appear to “tolerate” things that are intollerable or inconsistent with their religious tenets (whatever those may be.) I think Katie did a really good job of stating her beliefs and why she has them, even when she got negative publicity for it. Whether or not I share Katie’s beliefs, I admire her willingness to take a stand,

      *according to her conscience,*

      whether she was received well or not. That is the kind of fundamental lesson I have tried to teach to my children.

  35. Allison says:

    Emily, I read your review when you first posted it and thought it was nice to hear an honest review of the play from someone I knew and from a fellow Mormon. I just went back and read it again and skimmed through the comments. I am not surprised by people’s (who don’t know you) reactions to your review. Its easy for them to try to tear you down without knowing your whole story and all that you are doing to help the gospel move forward. I have watched just what you’ve publicized on Facebook over the past few years and would say that you are much more than a “pretty average Mormon”.

  36. Shane A. says:

    Emily, you write very well! Admittedly when I was New York and I came across the musical’s billboard, I felt a bit discouraged in the Mormon faith. As a recent convert I guess my original zeal was/is still vulnerable to non-convert propaganda — especially because I recognize that to say that anything is the “one true, truth” is certainly a big claim.

    To that affect, I actually like what the character Gary, who played the Mormon kid in the South Park episode, said:

    “Maybe Mormons do believe in crazy stories that absolutely make no sense. And maybe Joseph Smith did make it all up! But I have a great life and a great family; and I have the Book of Mormon to thank for that. The truth is, I don’t care if Joseph Smith made it all up because what the church teaches now is loving your family, being nice and helping people.”

    • Paul, the convert says:

      I too am a convert. I had good life before I joined the church as a Catholic. I have a better life as a Mormon.

      If you are closed minded and assume there is no god, as the play does, then the only explanation is the one the play offers. We have a better story.

      Whereas if you are open minded and actually test the hypothesis via the Book of Mormon, then there is enough data to conclude there is a God, He does intervene in the affairs of our world, and Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet.

      The play makes fun of African’s intelligence, creedal Christian effectiveness and our LDS beliefs. OK, what do the atheists offer that is better? They have no answers.

  37. Eve says:

    Nice review. I admire you for not being afraid of hearing and facing others’ opinions about something that is so sensitive to many of us-our religious beliefs. I think that shows a lot of level-headedness and intelligence to be able to do so without being defensive.

  38. Michelle says:

    Well done, lady.

  39. Rachel says:

    Emily your response to criticism has been full of love and open-mindedness. Thanks for being a great example of a member of the church and a loving person.

  40. Natalie says:

    Well folks, it appears we’ve reached a stalemate. I think one of the nicest parts about having the freedom to choose (free agency) is that we can all believe what we want to believe. I feel everyone has stated what they would choose for themselves and we can’t keep going round and round these circles.

    As an author on this blog, I can tell you that we try to write every post with love and respect for all of God’s children, regardless of the choices they make. I’m a bit sad the comments here have spun into accusations and finger-pointing in all directions. My plea is that each of us examine how we feel about what’s being said is affecting our own feelings, beliefs and ideas, internalize it and then attempt to see how someone else might view the same situation. And then let it go.

    If we continue to fight with each other, how will we ever get along with the rest of the world?

  41. Katie says:

    Ok guys…I’m out. I’ll admit it. I was wrong. I like to argue…a little too much…or a lot too much. Emily is a good person (not that you need my affirmation of that…but I’m pretty sure she is.)

    • Love says:

      Katie- when Christ was resurrected… the first thing he did was not go ex-communicated all those who betrayed him. If you don’t know the parable “he who is without sin cast the first stone” then you’re not focused on the main principals of the gospel. Self-righteous and judgemental perspectives are what divide people- not unite them.
      This play- although irreverant- will raise a lot of curiosity about the gospel. These men actually have a lot of respect for Mormons- they make fun of every religion. But because of the LDS people they have met in their lives that were kind and of service, their impression has been good. Cuss words and crude humor do not offend me either, as an LDS member. Spend more time on service- not condemning those you think “misrepresent”. Or else negativity will consume you. God and Christ is LOVE.

  42. Someone... says:

    As I read all these comments from many of you, while I understand the intent behind what everyone is trying to say, I shake my head in wonderment. The bottom line to this whole discussion, esspecially when talking about Mormons, the Mormon Church, what is right, what is wrong, the main question for everyone should be simply “What would the Savior do?”

    On one hand, can anyone on this blog truthfully say that if you were talking to Him face to face that he would condone any degree of lewdness, sacriledge or lightmindedness? Secondly, could any of you say that the Savior would condone the judgemental attitudes of some of you that have responded?

    Despite everyone’s divergent opinions, the fact is that there is one truth and that truth lies within the Savior. It maybe pride that would keep some of you from seeing the simple truth in that statement, but FACT that is. None of us are perfect but the golden question for all of us should always be “What would the Savior do?” No one can go astray with that in mind.

    • Anonymous says:

      Someone: It is obviously hard to conjecture what the Savior would do and then try to emulate Him. The problem with such ‘extrapolation’ is that it turns into NOT what the Savior would do but what we perceive the Savior would do. Two very different answers. If you study the New Testament, you could categorize Savior’s actions into TWO segments: those that are intuitive to the believers and those that are not intuitive to the believers. It is very clear that the believers will be saved through the atonement of Jesus Christ. But, what’s crazy is that non-believers as well as those last minute converts who may not had ANY intention of converting until the last minute may receive the EXACT SAME glory and blessings as those who believed in Him all along. For every story in the New Testament that talks about how the obedient will be blessed, there is a counter story of how the Last Shall Be the First and Prodigal Sons will be received with open arms.

      So, it is very possible that the Savior does not turn away from lewd, sacrilegious, and filth! That DOES NOT mean we have the right to follow His footsteps and do the same thing! None of us is at the level of the Savior, and His boundaries for actions is much larger than our boundaries.

      So, you COULD ask, “What would the Savior want us to do?” That’s a good question, but again, the answer could be varied greatly! It is clear that the Savior would want us to keep the commandments. But, the Mormon doctrine makes it VERY clear that we are not robots controled by local and general authorities of the church. We are all independent beings with personal agencies, as in we are free to choose!

      There is a term that the church bestows upon all bishops, stake presidents, mission presidents and general authorities. That term is ‘Judge of Israel.’ That is NOT just a fancy term that the church and its members give to men of high ranks. It is a very functional term.

      We as members of the church often overstep the boundaries of our duties as members and become preachy, self righteous, and prescriptive in our statements, comments, and opinions. Well, it is HARD not to do that when we feel we are fairly well informed of the Gospel. However, such authority/power is only given to us to teach our children, and THAT’s it! Until you become a bishop, a stake president, a mission president or a general authority. Those individuals are specifically called to be teachers and judges. They have the keys to judge each of our actions in the name of Jesus Christ. The Church Handbook of Instructions ALSO states that the judges of Israel SHOULD NOT investigate an individual and their suspicious behaviors. Everything about repentance is via confession unless the individual is CAUGHT in public, making his/her action known to others.

      What does all this mean? Very confusing, but essentially it means that NONE of us has the right to tell another member or non-member that whatever that person is doing is wrong, sinful, or anything like it. That responsibility resides with our bishops only. HOWEVER, all of us can express our understanding of the Gospel, Standards of the Church, and INVITE others to join us in practicing those principles. We do not tell non-members that they are going to Hell if they are not baptized into the church. We just keep inviting until they die, and then we baptize them via proxy in hopes that they accept the Gospel in the Spirit World.

      I imagine (this is just me, but the scriptures imply some of this already) that many of us who have felt that we have been very faithful will get our socks knocked off in the last days when our peers who may be the dirtiest, nastiest, most scandalous and filthiest may ‘come out ahead’ of us in their glory. And many of us could be really mad that such ‘injustice’ is possible. So, I think Christ would ask us, “My brother/sister, what does your conscience say to you? Is what you are doing keeping the commandments of God?” And if one can answer those questions truthfully, I wonder whether Christ will care! He’s not a Pharasee!

      By the way, lest we start thinking Christ is free for all, let’s make sure that breaking commandments is NOT ok, as God shall not be mocked! And those commandments are well documented in the scriptures as well as in the church handbooks of instructions (for modern day commandments).

  43. Keoki says:

    To everyone who in their comments states the following in one form or another: “I have not seen the show but…” needs to stop and rewind. Seriously, just shut it. This play has nothing to do with mocking belief in god, it just does all it can to show people that many religions including this one are absurd. If you were not born and raised and told by everyone around you that your religion is true than you might look at like you look at other issues. Is it probable that Joseph smith used magic rocks in a hat to convert gold tablets from an ancient Jews who sailed over thousands of years ago? Try logic and clear reasonable thinking. It’s odd trying to communicate with brainwashed people. No matter how absurd the thinking and brainwashing they still cannot see. No one in this musical is saying that the teachings of any “prophet or religious leader from any faith has bad things to say. To the contrary. Most things Christ, Mohammad, buddah, and many philosophers and teachers through time have said is exactly right. To give a human superpower and believe the obviously absurd is an entirely different matter.

    • Paul, the convert says:

      Keoki:

      I simply disagree. The play specifically mocks belief in God. It specifically mocks many religions. It mocks African’s intelligence. The play is a satire.

      I have not been brainwashed into this religion. Rather, I have determined based on a lengthy, rational investigation, that Joseph Smith indeed did communicate with God.

      Atheists tear down our beliefs and offer nothing but cartoon thinking.

      Far and away Mormon are the longest lived well defined demographic (10 years longer than average white American), because we follow God’s teachings. We send 10,000’s of missionaries out to teach others how they can share these types of blessings. These cartoon thinking atheists do indeed mock our missionaries and mock our God. They offer nothing in their place.

    • Emily L. says:

      Keoki,

      I’m not quite sure what in my review led you to believe that I’m a brain washed individual. I was raised LDS, but have spent a fair amount of time speaking with others about their beliefs and reading religious texts such as the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Quran, the Apocrypha, etc. If you’re implying that I have not done my homework on my religious beliefs, you have misunderstood something I have said. Some of my closest friends are not members of my religion, but are Atheist, Baha’i, Muslim, Jewish or members of other Christian sects. I have never once felt like it was appropriate to attack them for their belief systems. We all have our reasons to believe what we believe, so I would hope you’d respect everyone, even if their choices are not the same as your own.

      As members of the LDS Church we believe Jesus when he said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”

      We believe the Book of Mormon to be another testament of Jesus Christ. I don’t know if you’ve read it, but I would encourage you to do so if you have any interest in finding out if Joseph Smith is who he claims to be and to have translated an inspired book. In Luke we read, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
      Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit…Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

      • non-mormon Christian girl says:

        Dear Emily L.,
        I want to know your reasoning behind why you believe Joseph Smith. I am a Christian who has been raised within the church, and has studied the Bible and the Book of Mormon thoroughly and I am curious as to why you put your salvation within one book that has no historical and archeological accuracy. It is interesting that you should mention Luke 7, for when I read about this I instantly think of Joseph Smith.

        • Anonymous says:

          non-Mormon Christian girl: There is a major misunderstanding in the world that Mormons ONLY believe in Book of Mormon, or as you put it, “….why you put your salvation in one book!” Mormons read and believe the Bible just as much as the rest of the Christianity. Because people ask about Book of Mormon, it appears that we only talk about that, but it is a MAJOR misperception.

          On historical accuracy: It is always intriguing to hear that believers want scientific evidence, as if they can’t believe without evidence. If everything could be proven, it would no longer be faith but science, wouldn’t it? Having said that, Book of Mormon has been around only for 200 years. It’s way too early to claim, “there is NO archelological evidence!”

          I think you should read the Book of Mormon and ask, “who would write something like this and why?”

          • non-mormon Christian girl says:

            The reason I say you put your faith in one book isn’t that you don’t believe the Bible but that you morph, and have changed the meaning of scriptures. The fact that Mormons believe in a “restoration” leads me to believe your inability in trusting God and Jesus, but believing more so in a ordinary man like Joseph Smith.
            I have taken classes on cults and world religions, and in that same class we had two Mormon elders come in and discuss what their beliefs are. I have read the Book of Mormon all the way through five times, I have thoroughly studied this topic.
            My issue with The Book of Mormon is that it lacks things the Bible has: archeological evidence, the fact that scientists have proven that Native Americans were not decedents of the Jewish people who came to America. Where are these ancient cities that are mentioned in the Book of Mormon? I know science can not prove everything, but the fact that their is nothing in the way historical evidence is alarming. The Bible is supported by so many evidences that the Book of Mormon lacks, if God surly spoke through Joseph Smith, I feel that he wouldn’t change the level of evidence.
            Thank you for answering my question.

          • SH says:

            Dear NMCG,
            Thank you for your response to the blog! Feedback, whether positive, negative, inquisitive, or declarative, challenging or encouraging, has value to improve the blog. It is great to see you are taking classes on world religions to broaden your knowledge of the world, its peoples, and their beliefs.

            I find the subject of your response interesting because I studied archaeology at Harvard University. In addition to my thesis, I continue to do much writing in the field.

            Your response touched lightly on a few subjects, and I will try to address all of them for you, although I cannot do so in depth because if I go on too long, we might all lose some sleep! haha.

            1. You say, “The reason I say you put your faith in one book isn’t that you don’t believe the Bible but that you morph, and have changed the meaning of the scriptures.”

            You are right, Latter-day Saints do believe in the Bible. However, the meaning of the scriptures has not changed. The Book of Mormon actually supports what the Bible says. It is meant to strengthen ‘absolute truth’ and make it more firm and understandable to those who read it in the Bible or learn it elsewhere. The Book of Mormon is yet another testimony of Jesus Christ and of Heavenly Father and does not ever morph God’s teachings. Latter-day Saints have not changed anything about the gospel as Adam the first man learned it, and have not changed the gospel since Jesus Christ established His church in the meridian of time.

            2. “The fact that Mormons believe in a ‘restoration’ leads me to believe your inability in trusting God and Jesus, but believing more so in an ordinary man like Joseph Smith.”

            Aww, that sounded kind of harsh. Yes, a lot of people hear and believe rumors that Latter-day Saints placed an inordinate amount of attention and focus and worship on Joseph Smith. However, the rumors are not true. We tell the story of Joseph Smith and talk of him because he brought a true knowledge of God to millions of people. Really, the focus is on God and His Son Jesus Christ. For goodness sake, the name of our church is The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints. Even Joseph Smith said that the central belief of our religion is “Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended to heaven; all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.121).

            Our belief in a restoration of the church to its form when Jesus Christ established his church – this belief shows actually more trust in God than any other religion, because it shows Latter-day Saints seek to establish the church the way Jesus did, trusting His ways are better than man’s ways. Other religions find other ways to set up their churches, saying that God is not here to direct religion anymore, and they cannot trust that the way he set it up will work for them.

            3. “I have taken classes on cults and world religions, and in that same class we had two Mormon elders come in and discuss what their beliefs are.”

            Cool!

            4. “I have read the Book of Mormon all the way through five times, I have thoroughly studied this topic.”

            Also cool! Have you asked God directly (have you prayed to HIm) and asked Him to confirm to you that it is true? He will. If you truly trust God loves you, trust that He will answer your prayers.

            5. “My issue with The Book of Mormon is that it lacks things the Bible has: archaeological evidence”

            This might sound harsh, so bear with me, but your statement is incorrect. The Book of Mormon has archaeological evidence: so much, in fact, that there are databases full of scholastic reports and findings. FARMS is one such database, full of international articles. In fact, I particularly enjoy reading one article that will answer this question: Hugh W. Nibley’s essay, published in Concilium: An International Review of Theology 10 (December 1967): http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/jbms/?vol=19&num=1&id=510

            There are many evidences I can think of for The Book of Mormon: Literary devices never used in 1800s America (not only that, these devices weren’t known nor named by linguists until the 1900s), such as the colophon in the first book, antithetical parallelism, quasida, merismus, chiasmus, aphorisms, other idioms, and even schemes such as anadiplosis, tmesis, apposition, and tropes such as exergasia, polysyndeton, etc.

            I studied Ancient Near Eastern linguistics as well while at Harvard. One case study that a friend pointed out to me is the use of the word Sheum in the Book of Mormon, which is the correct Akkadian usage (of which the Hebrew peoples would have been aware, given that part of Judah was part of the greater Persian Empire close to the time of one of my favorite periods – the Achaemenid). Akkadian was not known by modern linguists at the time the Book of Mormon was published; yet the term was correctly used in the book. Interesting. I can pass on the cool essays on this if you want (compiled by my friend Alex).

            Archaeology includes the study of linguistics, of course, but novices sometimes think it’s just about the ‘stuff’ – artifacts, sherds, objects. In that case, just look at the stories told in any of the Mesoamerican bas reliefs and you’ll see stories of the Book of Mormon played out. I doubt Joseph Smith went down and created some old Mayan reliefs, haha.

            Anyway, there is so much more to say in the way of archaeological evidence. Brigham Young University specializes in archaeological evidence of the Book of Mormon, having completed many digs and such in Central America.

            6. “…the fact that scientists have proven that Native Americans were not descendents of Jewish people who came to America.”

            I don’t really know what is being stated here… I’m sure there are scientists that do genetic research and can prove both ways to be right. This has often been a cause of contention in the scientific community. Scientists of world renown have found that Native Americans can and can’t be descendents of the ancient Hebrew peoples. I don’t think there’s a strong case here either way.

            7. “…but the fact that their is nothing in the way historical evidence is alarming”

            There is much evidence for the fact that the ancient cities mentioned in the Book of Mormon did exist… if you have found there was “nothing” – look harder, there is much scholastic research for this – in fact, your word “alarming” would better describe how much research there is! One thing I might mention is that the cities mentioned in the Book of Mormon will not be known by their same names today because of the Spanish conquest and also resulting from other colonization of the Americas. See this essay: “Archaeological Evidence and the Book of Mormon” http://www.fairlds.org/Book_of_Mormon/Archaeological_Evidence_and_the_Book_of_Mormon.html

            8. “The Bible is supported by so many evidences that the Book of Mormon lacks, if God surely spoke through Joseph Smith, I feel that he wouldn’t change the level of evidence.”

            Actually, the Bible has much “evidence” that still stands on unfirm ground. The Bible hasn’t been confirmed true by archaeological evidence either. Much of the world still isn’t convinced the evidence isn’t enough, or isn’t sure enough. Scholars still today search to prove much of the Bible through archaeological methods.

            The point is, neither holy book, nor any other holy book will have the “sufficient evidence” to prove its historicity. God doesn’t give archaeological evidence. We look for it with all our energies. He wants us to trust that it is true, and instead of trusting in the mortal scholarship of man, instead go straight to the source and ask God if it is true. Why not try? If you believe in God, you should believe that he has not changed and still answers humble people’s prayers – even your prayers – the same way he answered Elizabeth’s prayers (in the New Testament) for a son, the same way he answered Elijah’s prayer (Old Testament) to call down fire from heaven, the way he answered my prayers when I asked to know if the Book of Mormon were true.

            You raise some great questions. I will raise one more issue, not to be argumentative, but just to point out that, as a scholar of Near Eastern linguistics, one claim is incorrect: “any 21 year old” could not have written the Book of Mormon – the intricacy and complexity of its literary forms is incredibly subtle. On first, second, even fifth read it seems like anyone could write it, but consider this: ancient Hebrew literary devices were employed and the history of a whole civilization was laid out, and the whole text was written out in only months’ time. That is definitely an inhuman task only made possible through divine means.

            I love your inquisitive nature – and I enjoy the comments! Good discussion is great because it helps all of us grow!

            Best,
            Harvard Mormon

          • The article you reference is very poor scholarship by normal standards.

          • Frakis has Faith says:

            NMCG: Its funny that you are so set on basing you faith on science. Have you ever asked where are the tablets that Moses had on Mt. Siani? Or where is Jesus tomb, you could ask a million questions and never have a solid answer. The Book of Mormon is the same way and so is Joseph Smith. The entire point is that we don’t believe in the Book and Prophet because of evidence. We believe in it because of faith. 1 corthians chapter 2 verse 5 “faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” the Book of Mormon says “if you have faith ye hope for things wich are not seen wich are true.” (Alma 32:21) If I wanted a religion that had archeological proof that they were correct than I would probably end up an atheist.
            You asked why a restoration was important, well how many churches are on the earth that are all based on the eternal truth that is the bible. Hundreds. Jesus built ONE church. He even told peter upon this rock I build my church. So after the death of the apostles we have hundreds of religions springing up all who have conflicting doctrine. Methodists and Catholics use the same bible but dont get along very well. In fact I’m sure Catholics have the most relics and archeological evidence. But thats not what Jesus built his church on. He built it on prophets and apostles (Ephesians 2:20) Anyway sometimes its hard for people to believe in the latter Day saints if they try and prove their way into believing it. But if your openminded and really read the book it will bring you closer to the savior plain and simple. If you read it the book is always speaking of Jesus. If you don’t agree with the book then thats your right and respect your belief. But for me it brought me closer to the savior.

            And about the play i think this scripture sums it up
            Ephesians chapter 5
            “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

        • Emily L. says:

          Thanks for your questions and comments. I perceive your questions to be sincere and I applaud you for your earnest endeavor to find truth. It is no easy task to understand things from another time, of people you do not personally know and of things that require faith.
          To answer your questions, I’d first like to clarify that we believe the Book of Mormon to be another testament of Jesus Christ—working together with the Bible to prove the divinity of Jesus Christ. We study both books and believe much truth can be found in them.

          As I’m sure you know from studying the Bible, we learn when asking for “proof” of things which we are required to have faith, it’s important that we DON’T become as the Pharisees found in the New Testament.
          When asking for “proof” of Jesus Christ, one of the Pharisees asked, “Master, we would see a sign from thee.” And Jesus answered, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign.”

          In James we read that in order to have faith, we must act.

          For you to understand if Joseph Smith was a true prophet, my recommendation is to read the Book of Mormon. Cover to cover. Praying continually to God that as you do so, you will have the Holy Spirit with you and that he will reveal to you the truth and divinity of this book. Have an open mind and an open heart and I promise you will receive such a confirmation. That is how I learned.

          The LDS Church recently released a short video following a recent convert in the Czech Republic. I think you may enjoy it and it might help to further answer some of your questions. https://lds.org/youth/video/the-first-step?lang=eng

          The LDS Church also has a video regarding the Book of Mormon that you may find helpful: http://mormon.org/book-of-mormon/

          If I have not clearly answered your question or you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

          • non-mormon Christian girl says:

            I am not looking to be converted into the mormon theology. I am a solid Christian who is mainly wondering why so many people believe one man’s proclamation of another testament. Now you mention faith, faith is something very precious to me and has been a part of my life for so many years. I have taken the life verse of Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” I love having faith is a huge part of Christianity, but it seems that most of the answers I am receiving are EXCLUSIVELY and ONLY ” You need more faith”. I think faith should be based on something like historical evidence, something that the Bible has, and that the Book of Mormon lacks.

          • Natalie says:

            NMCG — I really appreciate your comments here. I like to think this blog offers us all an opportunity to discuss what we believe in a respectful manner. I for one, am always interested in hearing what other Christians believe and why; I think people of faith have more in common with each other than not. It’s clear you love Jesus and are no doubt trying to be like Him. Well the good news is, so am I as a Mormon. 🙂

            I’ll let someone else answer your questions about the Book of Mormon and Bible, but I have a question for you about how you think about faith. The way I’m interpreting what you said might be wrong, so feel free to redirect my questioning. If all faith were to be based on historical evidence, as you mention, doesn’t that water down faith to history books? Do I have faith because historical data proves World War I happened? If faith (as described in Hebrews 11:1) is “things hoped for but not seen”, how and why do you need historical evidence to back it up?

  44. Emily L. says:

    How do you know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God? There is no historical evidence of that. We have proof that he was on earth, and that he made such claims, but how do you know He speaks the truth?

    I’m just trying to understand you a little better. I would love an honest answer.

  45. non-mormon Christian girl says:

    I am answering both Emily L. and Natalie’s question at the same time, mainly because I think these talks are really great, but I am running late for lunch, so I will make it brief.
    I believe a book that is considered a historical account to have at least some historical proofs (I am wrong that you consider it history?). I don’t require everything to be back up, for which the Bible is: half historical account, the other a historically accurate faith based account of the life of Christ. It is really great that God left enough room with in the Bible for his believers to have faith, especially around Jesus’s claim to be the Son of God. My proof of this comes from his fulfillment of prophecy for which many theologians have stated that the abundance of prophecies are overwhelming.
    But it is a whole different story for the Book of Mormon, for which no evidence exists other than Joseph Smith’s writings. Yes, it has only been 200 years since the book was written, which I find is plenty of time to have had some evidence found of battles or cities, for which none have been found yet.

    • Emily L. says:

      Several years ago I visited a city in Mexico called Chitza Netza. Many historians believe these Mayan cities may validate the Book of Mormon. There you can also find stories of a light skinned man with light hair visiting the people. Many believe this may be Jesus Christ. I’m no expert on this subject, but that may lead you to the proof you so desire.

    • Anonymous says:

      NMCG: I mentioned above that you need more time for Book of Mormon’s historical veracity to form because that is exactly how the Bible (both Old and New Testament) came to be proven true, i.e. time.

      Because we live in 2011, we may take the Bible to be historicaly accurate, but if you read the historical accounts on the Bible, there were many many questions, not only the books themselves but also the actual existence of Jesus (you can read more about this by just googling Jesus). The New Testament itself has a bunch of issues on historical accuracy as the books were written 50-300 years AFTER Christ was crucified, raising the questions regarding whether the authors, particularly Matt, Mark, Luke, and John were the actual authors of the books, etc. Generally Paul is considered to have written the letters he wrote, but Paul’s conversion stroy is just as crazy as Joseph Smith’s story, if not crazier.

      So, the collection of the books written between 70 AD and 300 AD are now believed to be historically accurate about the ministry of an individual because the records include names of the cities and geographical locations that had been existence for the previous 5,000 years. However, the actual stories of the book (here I am referring to the New Testament) and the characters of these stories, including Jesus’s identity and his existence, were pretty much in question for the first 300-500 years of the existence of Christianity.

      It took the next 1,000 years of the Dark Ages, Middle Ages, the Renaissance, etc, for the people on earth to craft this very sketchy story into a well established story that almost makes some of the basic assumptions to be facts. That’s the Christianity we are part of.

      So, now we arrive in the 1830s and a set of records is published claiming that these are the records of the Israelites discovered and translated. Unfortunately, the records have been taken away, so we have to read the book and find out for ourselves whether the record is of God or of man.

      Wouldn’t you think that if God wanted to restart the Church of Christ that he would take such a drastic measure? No church up to that point was claiming that the truth and authority of God had died within the Catholic Church. So, the story HAD TO restart, and the story fits the bill!

      So, we come to the Book of Mormon. You are concerned about its historical accuracy, and I can assure you if the Mormon Church is around for the next 1,000 years, our posterity WILL BELIEVE most of the book to be factual!!! The American Continent had been around in the history of the mankind for merely 500-600 years! You don’t know what we could dig up in the next 500, 1000, 1,500 years, and by the time Book of Mormon turns 2,000 years old, you think people would go, “unreliable manipulation of a man or men?” I hardly doubt that.

      So, as you may have done already with the Bible, you should also read the Book of Mormon in the absence of time. If you elimiate time, history, the context of the book (even Joseph Smith’s involvement in the book), you will find it is an extremely interesting book that actually focuses MORE on the divinity of Jesus Christ than the New Testament itself. Once you come to that realization, then you begin bringing in the context of the book, including Joseph Smith, and then you will likely to be conflicted as you may not know what to do with the book.

      Then, you can talk to the missionaries of the church! This is how all the early members of the LDS church, e.g. Brigham Young, joined the church, and this is why the Mormon chuch today gives away the Book of Mormon to anyone who will want one. The book IS VERY IMPRESSIVE!

    • Dmac says:

      I’ll repeat this here:
      Your looking for facts in religion. It’s isn’t going to happen. You claim you are Christian yet what *proof* do you have that god exists. Go find a proof. In ten minutes, either I will find the flaw or I will find you the article that points out the logical flaws.
      I’m not advocating that Mormonism is in anyway correct but perhaps if you are demanding facts you should turn a critical eye towards your own faith. Treat the bible as pure fact and its loaded with problems. You wont even get out of the first chapter of Genesis.

      Clearly you are here to attack Mormonism but on a basis of rational thought and that should be considered but its also valid of all Christianity. Try the Descartes method of doubt, assume nothing, the underlying principle of the scientific method, and build for me any form of religion. Its not going to work.

      Mormonism is not a cult or evil or bad. The people are not deluded. It is simply what they believe just like anyone else.
      To quote the episode of South Park “Maybe us Mormons do believe in crazy stories that make absolutely no sense, and maybe Joseph Smith did make it all up, but I have a great life and a great family and I have the Book of Mormon to thank for that. The truth is I don’t care if Joseph Smith made it all up… but your so high and mighty you couldn’t look past my religion.”

      If your going to have faith, might as well give up the rational basis, then whats left: the emotional argument. Mormons have a great one.

      • Paul, the convert says:

        I actually think the rational argument for Mormonism is far more compelling than the emotional one. Of course, I prefer Aquinas’ understanding. Whether or not Descarte thought matter not a wit to whether he existed.

        Objective reality does exist. It is not a function or dependent in any way on my observation or existence.

  46. Anonymous says:

    I just stumbled across this review, one I liked I might add 🙂 found this whole debate that has gone down rather interesting. Thought I should say Matt stone and trey Parker aren’t in fact Atheists. Not that I think it matter either way, On a lighter note found parts of the production hilarious, ah hate typing on my phone!

  47. I did my mission in brazil in 1975 and taught blacks that they could join the church but not hold the priesthood because they were the direct descendants of Cain, punished forever to be excluded from Heavenly Father’s presence because of that original murder. I participated in the old temple ritual which included performing the self-murder ritual acts of disembowelment and cutting one’s own throat as signs of the penalties for breaking your temple covenants. I didn’t make up these ideas, they were taught to me as truth. My soul was brutalized by religious thinking and religious acts. At the same time I loved my brothers and sisters and never once believed they did not love me. What I learned from this is that love exists outside of religion: and that one basic truth saved me from the despair of faithlessness. I will always believe in the inherent goodness of man, but not in what man believes about his god or gods. Of that I have been saved.

    • Ben, Newnan says:

      Wow, that’s powerful, and touches on a couple of those “too sensitive to ask” questions many people have. Though brought up Christian myself, I too have found religion an unnecessary component for living a good, purposeful life. I don’t have the bruising you have suffered, but I just don’t seem to have the hole in me that religion fills, or haven’t found that void in the first half century of my life. I try not to rule out any possibility, though, so I gues it could happen. I’m greatful for the comfort and guidance it gives to so many, as well as all the good that’s done in the name of G-d around the world, but I…never mind, I’ll end that thought there.

      I’m glad you’ve found peace, with or without the church.

  48. when I read this blog and see how much judgment is enshrined in religious thinking I am only grateful that I survived religion long enough to have learned how to love my brother without it. Peace to all.

  49. Love says:

    Katie- when Christ was resurrected… the first thing he did was not go ex-communicated all those who betrayed him. If you don’t know the parable “he who is without sin cast the first stone” then you’re not focused on the main principals of the gospel. Self-righteous and judgemental perspectives are what divide people- not unite them.
    This play- although irreverant- will raise a lot of curiosity about the gospel. These men actually have a lot of respect for Mormons- they make fun of every religion. But because of the LDS people they have met in their lives that were kind and of service, their impression has been good. Cuss words and crude humor do not offend me either, as an LDS member. Spend more time on service- not condemning those you think “misrepresent”. Or else negativity will consume you. God and Christ is LOVE.

  50. Teppo says:

    Many of you might be interested to know that tomorrow Emily L. will be on NPR talking about the question “Is this the Mormons’ Moment?”

    For the details and eventually a recording of the panel discussion, see:
    http://www.knpr.org/son/archive/detail2.cfm?SegmentID=7957&ProgramID=2260

    Hopefully, we’ll continue to have a lively discussion on the blog about this and other questions. However, please refrain from any personal attacks. We really should show respect and love for everyone even if we strongly disagree with them. That’s what Jesus would want us to do.

  51. Teppo says:

    Since extra long comment threads are unwieldy and this one is already very long, lets try to focus ourselves on the Book of Mormon Musical. There are many related questions that deserve to be brought up and my goal here is not to stop you from discussing them. Instead, I would ask that we continue those discussions in the comment threads of the following posts:

    Historicity of the Book of Mormon:
    http://www.reallifeanswers.org/2011/02/19/a-skeptics-experience-with-the-book-of-mormon/

    Faith and evidence:
    http://www.reallifeanswers.org/2011/02/05/the-scientific-method/

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  55. Brian says:

    Although I’m not a Mormon nor am I from a liberal bastion from the coasts, as a Baptist from the heartland after seeing BOM I’m more appreciative of what religion is all about. From seeing this production, which albeit uses Mormonism as an example of organized religion, I recognize that religion is a basis for belief and no matter what your religion, tbere are things about it that you do not readliy observe. The need to believe in some higher being, however, is important, especially if you feel wronged by the world and God in particular. Without faith & belief in something better, the world would be a sadder place. Thanks to those involved in helping open my eyes to acceptance in belief rather than “religion bashing.” Your belief is YOURS, no one else’s – don’t let anyone take that away!

  56. Steve Perry says:

    The musical is very well done. The main purpose of this musical is not to bash Mormons but to shed light on the silliness of religious beliefs as a whole. They just happened to choose the Mormon church as the example. What they’re saying is that religions belief some really silly things (believing that a man parted the Red Sea, that the Garden of Eden is in Missouri, God lives on a planet called Kolob, etc) but that if believing in those silly things make you a better person, then so be it and more power to you and that religion in which you believe in. So whether you believe in the Book of Mormon or the Book of Arnold, it should make no difference to the non-believers, as long as it makes you a better person.

    • herb says:

      my opinion, the reason the Mormon religion was selected is because it to save target. It is not embedded in the Hollywood culture it is not embedded in literature generally in the United States and it certainly is not in the eastern establishment of cultural experience.where this play about the Jewish or Catholic face demonstrations would have taken place. We read about the Musl I suspected the theatre would have been bombed. It’s an extremely well done production but I am deeply disturbed by the lack of tolerance which is Frank leave you to be un-american.

  57. Ellen says:

    Just popping in to thank you for going to see it, and explain how it affected me, an atheist from the midwest with a couple of Mormon friends and a decent knowledge of the insanity that is the FLDS.

    I’ve always been of the opinion that, just as long as people don’t hurt anyone, I have to right to tell anyone what to believe, or to judge. But after reading about some of Mormon history, mostly the parts in ‘Banner of Heaven’ by Krakauer, its pretty easy to have the same queasiness I have with Scientology.

    Till this musical reminded me of the friends I had in high school who were Mormon, and totally cool and open. The ‘Joseph Smith American Moses’ song, as insane as it is, kind of shows the feeling that non believers have. I’ll be honest, the golden plates are kind of odd to me, same with the Israelis coming to America. But it really doesn’t matter, because Mormons are generally super nice and polite people who really care about being good, upstanding people. And if a religion that teaches that Native Americans descend from ancient Israelis produces the kind of cool Mormons that I’ve met, then how is it any different from Catholics eating metaphorical flesh and blood of Jesus?

    The point of the play is that, just as long as the religion encourages people to be good (i.e. not raping babies, not circumsizing women, staying kind and nice during oppression) it’s a good thing. They’ve said that ‘The Book of Mormon’ is their atheist love letter to religion, and you have to look at the musical with that mindset.

    • Paul, the convert says:

      This is an atheist “love letter”. but unfortunately written with a poison pen. You can’t have the results without the belief and they trash the belief.

      Our missionaries give up two years of their lives to share this life enhancing, life transforming message, and that effort is ridiculed and satirized with toilet humor.

      As an atheist, have you actually examined the Book of Mormon and the method it describes on how to discern the “TRUTH”, or do you just look at the anti-Mormon literature, because it agrees with your “No God” view.

      • Teppo says:

        Paul, I’m a devout Mormon but I must disagree that the Book of Mormon Musical is written with a poison pen. Of course, I would hope that the producers and writers believed in God and in the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith. However, even if someone thinks our beliefs are crazy – and they are quite peculiar from a secular point of view – I would much rather have them at least admire the fruits of the faith rather than be all out negative.

        In my opinion, respecting the results of Mormonism goes a long way towards understanding. I have personally gained a conviction of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon by studying and praying about it. This brings a lot of joy and purpose to my life. But we also need to be respectful of the views of those who don’t share the same conviction. I think most of them don’t mean to attack us, even if they poke fun at us.

        • Paul, the convert says:

          Teppo:
          I certainly do not mean to attack or disrespect others opinions or positions (except of course the producers and writers of the play.) I do believe they are quite intelligent and do mean to attack our belief.

          I would disagree with you. The belief precedes the fruits and it is the foundation. Mormon life is hard and demanding. Without the belief, it is easier to fall away.

          And it is the least of our brethren that really have my concern. Other near Mormon faiths are less resilient. What the propagandists do to the Catholics is far worse.

      • Katie, the free. says:

        I know that this is about a year late, but I only just stumbled upon this comment and couldn’t help but say something.

        You stated that “you can’t have results without belief.”
        Excuse me? She was saying that the Mormon folk that she knows are good people. Are you telling me that you can’t be a good person if religion doesn’t guide you there?

        Why folks like you believe that, I’ll never understand. I sat next to, and chatted with, a man on an hour plane ride who was a devout Jehovah’s Witness. It wasn’t until near the end of the flight that it was brought up that I was an atheist (yes, there, I said it. You may judge me now). His response was a somewhat shocked expression, and a statement along the lines of “wow, you have extremely good morals [even though you’re an atheist].”
        My mother taught me right from wrong. She taught me how to be a good person. I CARE about being a good person, to my family, to my friends, and to strangers. “Treat others as you would have them treat you” is not a religious statement, it’s a life statement. I don’t strive to be a good person because it will get me anywhere in the afterlife, or even anywhere in this life. I strive to be the best person I can be, because it just matters to me. I don’t need a god for that.

        And I think what she was saying is that, if religion helps you be that good person, than who is anybody to judge? Even if certain things about your religion don’t make sense to other people (just like other peoples’ specific religious beliefs might not make sense to you), who cares, as long as you’re a overall good person?

        And, you know what (and I know that this won’t get me anywhere, but there is anger here)?
        Pull that giant stick out of your rear.
        Matt and Trey make fun of everything and everyone except for Libertarians.
        Religions make fun of other religions (and non-religious folks). Scientists slander other scientists (even in their own field – and especially in others. See XKCD – cuttlefish [it’s a harmless webcomic, promise]). If you don’t like what they’re saying, then don’t listen. It’s not that big of a deal. You’re not even stuck on a subway, where you have no choice. You’re on the internet. Don’t like it? Don’t look for it!

        You’re the one being extremely judgmental here. Get over yourself.

        Dumdumdumdumdum!

    • jones says:

      as a member of the Church, I really appreciate what you’ve said.

      Just so it’s clear, the FLDS church and the LDS church are two entirely separate things. 🙂 The LDS church, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, reads and follows the Bible, The Book of Mormon, and do not practice polygamy , have compounds, or dress from the 19th century. FLDS members chose to follow certain aspects of a lifestyle that the true LDS church would not condone, and therefore became its own church entirely.

      I’m just doing my duty as a member of the Church to make our beliefs clear. I do agree with a lot you said. 🙂

  58. Ben, Newnan says:

    There’s anti-Mormon literature? Why?

    And for what it’s worth, although I don’t consider myself a candidate for conversion, I have learned more about the LDS faith and beliefs over the last few months as a result of this show than I ever imagined, and I’m sure I’m not alone. I would imagine more than a few souls will be won over as a result of Parker and Stone’s production.

    Emily, great job on the radio program the other day, and thank you Teppo for letting us know about it.

    • Paul, the convert says:

      Ben, I’m glad for your spiritual progress. I hope you are younger than when I started my spiritual trek.

      My concern is for our youth, especially the young men with raging hormones that seem to have an affinity for bathroom humor & short term thinking. If you go to one of these singles wards, you’ll see a plethora of wonderful, beautiful women. You won’t see a comparable number of men.

      I suspect they’ll make a lot of money on this show. The money and fame might be a motivation. People can have personal reasons for writing anti-Mormon literature. Gays in California might be ticked off by the church’s opposition. There’s any number of reasons people would chose to write or produce anti-Mormon literature.

      • poisonsting says:

        Paul, the convert,

        Oh, i get it. the gays in california wrote a 9 tony award winning broadway musical because they were mad about mormon’s support of the gay marriage ban. You mo mo’s were just the little push they needed to get that inspiration out of those fairies!

  59. Gail D says:

    Emily, I enjoyed your review and also your thoughtful and kind responses throughout this spirited discussion. I have listened to the soundtrack many times (I hope to get tickets to the show) and what I took away from that was the respect (yes, respect!) that the show’s writers have for LDS beliefs that they don’t understand–but that produce such positive results in the lives of believers.

    I’m not LDS: I’m a mainline Protestant who teaches biblical studies and the history of Christianity at a local community college. You asked, “Do you think the general public’s perceptions of Mormons will change based on the musical or its success?”

    Like you, I live in a diverse, urban area. I think that some of the people seeing the musical will be intrigued enough by the overall positive message of the musical to seek out more information about Latter-day Saint beliefs.

  60. Deb says:

    I am a practicing Christian and have no interest in seeing another faith-bashing “creative” enterprise because I think it gives credence to the “artist.” Tired stereotypes are hardly the stuff of creativity anyway, whether making caricatures of Mormons, Christians, military personnel, Blacks, etc. What would be REALLY original would be showing people of faith triumphing over human frailty.

  61. Gabo says:

    I am glad that Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Robert Lopez wrote this musical! The beauty of satire and parody is that it brings a mirror to ourselves, and it shows us how our belief system is perceived by others. There are those who look in the mirror but cannot see. These will get offended by other’s perception of oneself.
    I am a former member of the Church, and the only thing that I regret is that as Rannell’s character I allowed my inner doubts to be overwhelmed by warnings of other members that my lack of faith in many tenets of Mormonism and religion as a whole were a sign of weakness, disloyalty, unworthiness, and instead decided to “believe”, and proclaim that “I knew…” when I didn’t.
    There is something worthy of satire in Mormonism…and in religion in general…I agree with Maher that it is a pernicious development of mankind, but every atheist must come to this conclusion by him/herself. But know that if you are a Mormon and you state to Stone, Parker and Lopez, and others that look at reality in a different way than you, that if you talk about a deity with a physical body, of the presence of Adan Ondi Aman in Jackson, Missouri, or of the “historicity” of the Book of Mormon that you cannot expect your audience to keep a straight face.
    As a matter of fact, look at yourself in the mirror and state those “truths” to yourself, to your face, and you have only two choices, you could either ask yourself, “Really? Is this what I believe? Is my subjective evidence from the so called “burning sensation” true knowledge or a wishful thinking that will match my behavior to my peers in the Church?” or you will disregard doubt and like the musical character, decide that you are a Mormon and Mormons, “dang it” believe?
    The musical highlights the good intentions of the Mormon missionaries, they mean well to their Ugandan prospects, but it lightly shows also the marketing techniques used by missionaries to do missionary work, you have a script for crying out loud! No different than Herbal life, or New York Life, or a pyramid scheme to increase proselytes – I call them clients, since 10% of one’s income is no small accomplishment, even a life insurance product sold today doesn’t have that proportion of cost per income in a recurring purchase from a customer. Your hosts are defined by your missionaries as “prospects”!!! Of course you cannot see what’s the big deal…And that’s the reason why people love this musical or jokes about Mitt Romney on the Daily Show.
    Even though I would have to be African American to validate this statement -which I am not- you expect the African nations not to feel offended by the fact that early church history viewed Africans and their descendants in a condescending way? Like a member told me while I was doing a home teaching visit long time ago, “to deprive of the full benefits of the priesthood to anyone because of the color of their skin is immoral it doesn’t matter what doctrinal explanation you have for it!”. I agree.
    I know that there are many members who are African Americans or Africans who have decided to join your ranks, yet this doesn’t mean that history is on your side, it only means that the power of delusion and of your representation of reality is such that they can’t even question the inner truth of the presence of racism in your doctrines and dogmas…And why would you question your theology when you are threatened with ex-communication or not passing your annual certification on your temple worthiness?
    The musical needs that level of shock value because any belief system needs that defibrillator quality of a cartoon -like in the danish Mohamed cartoons- or Cartman’s intolerance towards Jews, homosexuals, immigrants, in South Park to reveal the darker side of the “well intended”citizen. It is why Jon Stewart jokes about McCain’s statement on immigrants causing Arizona blazes works…Such is the power of satire!
    It is my hope that as the growing realities facing mankind such as climate change, the progress of science, the dissemination of knowledge, the inequalities in wealth and social justice, that satire will become less relevant to show us what really is “truth”. Because it is then that we can really see ourselves as we really are, with no arrogance, like Lennon stated “no hell below us and above us, only sky”.

    • Paul, the convert says:

      Gabo, just put it better than I ever could. The point of the musical is to undermine belief.

      “It is my hope that as the growing realities facing mankind such as climate change, the progress of science, the dissemination of knowledge, the inequalities in wealth and social justice, that satire will become less relevant to show us what really is “truth”.”

      What?

      If not Jesus, I ask the atheist, what is truth? This is the atheists’ mother lode of argument. Tear down belief and offer nothing in its place. I’ll take the ten years of increased longevity as empirical evidence the “church” is the best blend of true science and true religion.

      • Eric M says:

        Some atheists DO have answers. You may or may not like the answers, but we do have them, and they don’t require faith, or that we “just believe.”

        Objectivism is a philosophy to help guide our thought toward the truth, rather than a dogma to be taken on faith.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cW-xUEYaBnU
        http://www.aynrand.org
        http://aynrandlexicon.com/
        When you say that a statement is “true,” this means that the statement corresponds to reality, which is the world that you perceive with your five senses. A sense is, by definition, that which enables one to perceive the world. What is perceived directly by the senses is self-evident, and on this basis human beings build up concepts to enable us to think and understand the world in a broader way. (Beyond what is given in any immediate perception.)
        Faith is the belief in something despite it’s incompatibility with reason and logic, which are ultimately based in the self-evidence of the senses. Faith is allowing the beliefs of others to be stamped on your mind without checking them against your own perceptions through a process of thought. Thus, a belief is a matter of faith insofar as you *don’t think about it.*

        • ethan davidson says:

          I am not a Chirstian, but I fin Ann Rand more intolerable than the mormons, nd not because they are atheists.

          • ethan davidson says:

            I mant to say: U am not a Christian, but I find the followers of Ann Rand (objectivists) more problomtic than Mormons, and not because they are atheists.

        • Scott B says:

          I don’t know…Eric M makes a lot of sense to me. I don’t buy houses on faith. I didn’t choose what college to attend on faith. I didn’t marry my wife on faith. I guess just about every major decision in my life has been based on real experiences (by me or others) and full use of my reasonable and logical faculties. I suppose I’ve utilized “faith” at times some could say…but I would prefer to say that I made the best guess I could with what evidence I had on hand. To me the word faith has always been interchangeable with the word gullibility.

          • Emily L. says:

            Hey Scott,

            Thanks for your comment. It reminded me of a conversation I had recently with one of my good friends who is an atheist. We were discussing faith and how that plays into decision-making. His thoughts were similar to your own. I told him that I agree that we are to use our mind/intuition/senses when making choices, and in ALL cases I do, but I depend on God and faith to help inspire me to make the best decision, especially when I’m having a hard time reasoning my way through a situation.

            One such experience was when I was deciding if I wanted to attend Northwestern’s journalism program. I had wanted to attend the program for years, had been accepted and had gone and visited the school. After hours of thought and discussion I couldn’t decide if this was the step I should take. Attending seemed like a great choice for my personal development, but I was nervous about the future of the news industry. I prayed and prayed. At the time I worked at MIT and during my lunch break had been walking around campus and saw a flyer that Tom Brokaw (of all people) was coming to campus to discuss technology and the media. In the 4-5 years I had worked there, I had never seen a journalist come to campus. I decided to attend and prayed he would say something to help me make up my mind. He spoke for about an hour, said nothing relevant to my decision and then opened it up for questions. I didn’t have the nerve to ask him about my decision, but someone asked a question (I don’t remember what) and his answer was music to my ears. He talked about being at Columbia’s journalism program the week before and looking out into the audience and thinking, “What are these kids going to do? The news industry is shrinking faster than anyone expected and the job outlook is bleak” (something Northwestern wouldn’t admit). It was an answer to my prayers. He said absolutely what I needed to hear to make my decision. I honestly believe God helped me to be in that room at that time to hear that comment.

            As for faith in spiritual things, I think the important message is that faith is a temporary state until it is replaced with knowledge. I talk about this process in another post: http://www.mormonperspectives.com/2011/10/01/does-god-exist/. It discusses how I know there is a God.

            In the Book of Mormon we learn how we are to use faith to come to knowledge. If you’re interested you should read Alma 32 starting with verse 26 http://lds.org/scriptures/bofm/alma/32?lang=eng

          • Ben, Newnan says:

            I completely get what you’re saying, but I disagree on Eric M’s definition of faith. I don’t claim to be religious at all, but to me faith seems to be whatever it is that allows you to follow through with something even though you have no empirical proof it’ll work out the way you want it to, and yours seem to be particularly good examples of times when regular people just have to gather as much information as they can and trust that things will work out for the best. Or go on faith, as they say.

            There are no guarantees when we buy a house. That’s why we buy insurance–for the things we don’t expect, or couldn’t have predicted would happen even with our best guess. We do all the research we can, get all the inspections we can, and then just go for it. That’s faith.

            Same with marraige. You may know more about the person you marry than any other person, living or dead, has ever known about the person they would marry, but unless you have the unique ability to see into the future with complete accuracy, you’re just trusting that your hunch is correct. I don’t consider it gullible love somebody so much that you want to spend the rest of your life with them. My partner and I have been together for 26 years (married for 3), and I still don’t have any guarantee that it’ll last through the end of today. I just have faith that it will, based on our compatibility and history together. I don’t feel gullible.

            We all have faith–faith that when we go to bed we’ll wake up the next morning; faith that the chair we’re sitting in will hold us; faith that the car we’re driving won’t malfunction and explode. Faith is not a bad thing. It’s necessary. I just don’t like it when people substitute faith for responsibility.

            Religious people have a kind of faith that I don’t understand, but it doesn’t mean their faith in God isn’t just as real as my faith that my chair will hold me. Just because I don’t get it doesn’t mean it isn’t so, and that’s where Eric M and I disagree. He seems to be saying that unless he can prove something, it doesn’t exist.

            I’ve never really understood why somebody who doesn’t believe in God would even care whether others do or not, as long as it’s not affecting their personal liberty. I guess there’s a lot I don’t get.

  62. faithW/Oworks_is_Fred says:

    I posted something here before I was happy to express, but don’t see it here.

    anyway… What I like about the theory of this play is its transparency. There are some absolutely fantastic and internally progressive ontologies taught in the LDS faith that prove (aside from their absorption into the collectively contrived social conditioning of member cliques) amazing leaps in the realm of western religion and reform to the abominated contemporary christian model. Albeit these great pieces of information were aloud to breed among much more superfluous and hysterical statements that do little or nothing for aiding human consciousness or tangible social concerns. The desire to show it all as a fact-driven parody enterprise…showing both the good and bad together is a testament to Trey and Matts desire to distribute a personally valuable story to an audience that would not hear about it otherwise. You will not find such integrity in State written historical literature. They have spent years learning how to get peoples attention, and their revisitation of this subject is no accident.

    • Paul, the convert says:

      “There are some absolutely fantastic and internally progressive ontologies taught in the LDS faith that prove (aside from their absorption into the collectively contrived social conditioning of member cliques) amazing leaps in the realm of western religion and reform to the abominated contemporary christian model. ”

      Isn’t vastly sharper, to use the Razor, to say, “Joseph Smith was a prophet.”

  63. Matt says:

    “The resolution at the end appears to be that religion is a nice story we tell each other to give ourselves hope—a pretty narrow and flawed conclusion of something that has SO much more potential.”

    I agree that the resolution at the end wasn’t really sensible and, quite frankly and sadly, the only thing about the musical that wasn’t smart. They actually already featured this idea in the South Park episode “All About Mormons.” I disagreed with it then and I disagree with it now. The truth about existence any religion attests to be true forms the premise for the way of life it promotes.

    • ethan davidson says:

      I disagree.
      Just as Eraly Mormon teachings against alcohol and tobaco and cafeine helped it’s mebers live better healthyer lives (at least in some ways( so Arnolds mythology stopped people from commitiing rape, clitorectomys, and taught them how to prevent the spread of disentary, though none of it was true.
      Concusion: it is the results of a belife, not the belief itself. by which a relidion should be judged.
      As Jesus said “by theire fruits you shall know them.”

  64. Lori says:

    Those LDS members judging Emily remind me of the members of my ward that tried to have me released as a Sunday School teacher bc I told my class of high school seniors that I had seen “The Passion Of Christ”, which is rated R. I was flabbergasted that other members would be so offended that I saw a movie about Christ that was rated R due to the violence done to him. There are plenty of parts of the bible and Book of Mormon that would be rated R if portrayed in the movies. Whatever Emily’s reasoning for seeing this play is between her and God and not for others to judge. Jesus said we will know his disciples by how well they show love to others.
    As far as the play goes, I know that it is vulgar and crude, but I truly believe that “all things work together for the good of those that love God”. I think that overall, it will have a positive effect for the church as opposed to all the rubbish the anti’s spew about our church being a satanic cult. I think that this will create an interest that will actual be to the church’s benefit. And if not, then “bless them that curse you and do good to them that despitefully use you and persecute you”. Take a few deep breaths and relax. God is in charge, and He knows what He’s doing. 😉

  65. medievalist says:

    Thanks for this thoughtful review. I’m a Catholic academic and I searched specifically for Mormon reviews of the Book of Mormon. I have only seen clips of the musical on Youtube, including the “I Believe” song.

    That said, I’m a bit surprised at the complacent take on the musical. So the musical acknowledges that Mormons do lots of good in the world . . . that seems fairly insidious to me, when it also effectively lampoons central points of Mormon doctrine.

    Granted, the case for the good Mormons do in the world is a very strong case, and the LSD’s Head of Public Affairs Michael Otterson puts it well in his Washington Post Op-Ed:

    “Meanwhile, what of those thousands of remarkable and selfless Mormon missionaries who opted to pay their own expenses during the past seven years to serve in Africa while their peers were focused on careers or getting on with life? They have returned home, bringing with them a connection with the African people that will last a lifetime. Many will keep up their Swahili language or their Igbo dialect. They will keep in their bedrooms the flags of the nations where they served. They will look up every time they hear Africa mentioned on the evening news. Their associations with the people whose lives they touched will become lifetime friendships. And in a hundred ways they will become unofficial ambassadors for the nations they served.”

    Otterson brings up a point to which Pope Benedict XVI has repeatedly turned: that the Christian faith transforms and elevates our lives, making of it a great challenge and adventure:

    “There does need to be a new realization that being human is something great, a great challenge, to which the banality of just drifting along doesn’t do justice. Any more than the attitude that comfort is the best way to live, that feeling healthy is the sum and substance of happiness. There needs to be a new sense that being human is subject to a higher set of standards, indeed, that it is precisely these demands that make a greater happiness possible in the first place. There needs to be a sense that being human is like a mountain climbing expedition that includes some arduous slopes. But it is by them that we reach the summit and are able to experience for the first time how beautiful it is to be.” (from the very readable book of interviews, _Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times_)

    But does the musical really give this sense, or does it make the heroic Mormon missionaries out to be just like the rest of us comfortable educated Western liberals, namely people who do good, however the New York Times is defining it these days?

    My guess is that most people, including people of serious faith like myself, will see the musical and find its message comforting: “these Mormons are just like the rest of us, just trying to do some good, even though they’re confused about life and what they believe.”

    The “I Believe” song is especially insidious, since it forefronts some of the least understood (at least by non-Mormons) doctrines and holds them up as pure nonsense. My guess is that Mormon believers have very good explanations for all of these things. But these are the most controversial doctrines and Mormons have rightly marginalized them in the ecumenical dialogues in the last few decades. I think this musical will severely set back by decades Mormon efforts to get the conversation on neutral ground.

    My last point: look at Catholicism, which has continuously been the brunt of such satire from time immemorial. In the twentieth century a branch of Catholicism sold itself purely on its social justice achievements and teachings, backing down on doctrine and personal morality. That branch has hemorrhaged parishioners, especially as kids become teens, and yielded very little fruit in priestly vocations and conversions (you see the same thing writ larger in mainline Protestantism). The reason? There are so many other, less complicated ways to “be good.”

    Sounds to me like this musical should be a wake-up call to Mormons that they have to get beyond the message of “We’re just like everybody else but do more good,” and start articulating the distinctive goods of their doctrines and ways of life–even if it means alienating certain segments of mainstream culture. (Alasdair MacIntyre’s _Three Rival Versions of Moral Inquiry_ could be a good place to start thinking about this.)

    • medievalist says:

      By the way, I realize that you point in the same direction as my critique in your last paragraph.

      And I think Gail D.’s comment is immediately indicative of the kind of response I think the musical promotes.

    • Emily L. says:

      Medievalist,

      Your comment is quite timely. I was thinking just today that I need to write a follow-up and address some of the topics discussed in the “I Believe” song. Not only would it be helpful, as you suggest, for Mormons to explain some of their history and doctrines, but also some of the information is just false (e.g., we have accounts of 11 other individuals who saw the plates that were translated into the Book of Mormon. The song says Joseph Smith showed the plates to no one). Let me know if you have specific points you’d like me or anyone else to address since listening to parts of the show.

      As for the point about members of the Mormon Church being viewed as “just like everybody else but do more good,” my favorite post about this theme is by NYT columnist David Brooks. He says,

      “The only problem with “The Book of Mormon” (you realize when thinking about it later) is that its theme is not quite true. Vague, uplifting, nondoctrinal religiosity doesn’t actually last. The religions that grow, succor and motivate people to perform heroic acts of service are usually theologically rigorous, arduous in practice and definite in their convictions about what is True and False.

      That’s because people are not gods. No matter how special some individuals may think they are, they don’t have the ability to understand the world on their own, establish rules of good conduct on their own, impose the highest standards of conduct on their own or avoid the temptations of laziness on their own.

      The religions that thrive have exactly what “The Book of Mormon” ridicules: communal theologies, doctrines and codes of conduct rooted in claims of absolute truth.”

      • Eric M says:

        Emily L. wrote, “I was thinking just today that I need to write a follow-up and address some of the topics discussed in the “I Believe” song. Not only would it be helpful, as you suggest, for Mormons to explain some of their history and doctrines, but also some of the information is just false […] Let me know if you have specific points you’d like me or anyone else to address since listening to parts of the show.”

        In the “I Believe” song, Elder Price mentions that “in 1978, God changed his mind about black people.” But, it appears that, if Brigham Young is to be believed when he was apparently speaking on behalf of God, a Mormon doesn’t simply have to believe that God “changed his mind,” but that, in 1978, God retroactively wiped out the ancestery of blacks and replaced it. (Brigham Young in JD 10;110: “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.” Here–and in other quotes– it is clear that Brigham Young equates the African race with the “seed of Cain.”)

        So, perhaps you might address this point, in order to remove confusions that might arise from Brigham Young’s quotes.

        Best wishes.
        Eric

        • Emily L. says:

          I’m no expert on Church history regarding blacks, but just this week I read several blog posts by Margaret Young – an active member of the LDS Church who has done considerable research on the history of African Americans and Mormonism. I would recommend anyone read her insights on the issue. It is a three-part series:

          http://bycommonconsent.com/2011/07/22/all-god%E2%80%99s-critters-some-thoughts-on-the-priesthood-restriction-and-differing-opinions/

          As for polygamy, I think I’ve heard several reasons why this had to be — restoration of all things, it was a trial of their faith, etc. It is something I will never fully understand. However, just this week I’ve spent time in Palmyra (birthplace of the Mormon Church) and Kirtland, OH (home of the first Mormon temple) learning about the early leaders and history of the Church. As I’ve read excerpts from their journals, walked through their homes and places of business, it’s been interesting to learn of all the miracles that happened during this time. We have countless records of people seeing heavenly beings and the Gold Plates.

          My favorite account is from John Murdock. It reads,

          “During the winter that I boarded with Bro. Joseph, as just mentioned, we had a number of prayer meetings, in the prophet’s chamber, in which we obtained great blessings. In one of these meetings the prophet told us if we could humble ourselves before God, and exercise strong faith, we should see the face of the Lord. And about midday the visions of my mind were opened, and the eyes of my understanding were enlightened, and I saw the form of a man, most lovely, the visage of his face was sound and fair as the sun. His hair a bright silver grey, curled in most majestic form, His eyes a keen penetrating blue, and the skin of his neck a most beautiful white and he was covered from the neck to the feet with a loose garment, pure white, whiter than any garment I have ever before seen. His countenance was most penetrating, and yet most lovely. And while I was endeavoring to comprehend the whole personage from head to feet it slipped from me, and the vision was closed up. But it left on my mind the impression of love, for months, that I never felt before to that degree.”

          I have felt to some degree that same love of God through reading the Book of Mormon and worshiping in the temple — two things restored through Joesph Smith.

          While many may find fault with our history, the Mormon Church has no doctrine explaining that it or any of its members or leaders are infallible. What we do know is that we as an organization and as individuals learn “line upon line, precept upon precept.” If we have made mistakes in our past, forgive us, and let us work to use the atonement of Jesus Christ to help us become better disciples of His Gospel.

        • Paul, the convert says:

          Eric, I think your issues with priesthood and Blacks, or polygamy indicate a funedmental difference between the creedal vision of God and the LDS vision of God. When someone has a gun to your head & is threatening your survival as well as your family (the extemination order), then the ethics are different or in the LDS understanding, God’s will is different.

          When Brigham Young says “always”, he may have meant during the listener’s lifetime. The seed of Cain thing kept the Mormons out of the civil war. From our understanding it was God’s will that the religion survived. Our contribution to the anti-slavery effort was Joseph Smith’s assasination and the influence that had on Lincoln.

          • ethan davidson says:

            wait, what was that line about how Joseph Smith’s assasination ended slavery by effecting Abrahan Lincol?
            I must have skiped my history class that day.

        • Teppo says:

          Eric, I’ve edited your comment to keep it on topic. We want to keep our comment threads focused on the topic of the post. We appreciate the discussion we have here but we also want to keep it from drifting into long tangents.

          • Eric M says:

            “Eric, I’ve edited your comment to keep it on topic.”

            Uh-huh…Well, goodbye.

          • Ben, Newnan says:

            Eric, please don’t let that put you off. This particular thread is specifically about the Broadway musical The Book Of Mormon. If you read above you’ll see that Teppo directs comments that encompass other subjects to other blog entries on the site more suited to their particular subject.

            For what it’s worth, I appreciate your point of view very much. Your comments are intelligent and respectful, and I’d enjoy reading more from you.

          • Eric M says:

            Thank you, Ben, I appreciate the compliments.

            I don’t agree with Teppo that the second part of my comment was off topic, such that it warranted editing, but as the moderator here, Teppo’s decision is final. I won’t attempt to argue, and it is time for me to go elsewhere.

        • Scott B says:

          Continuing with Eric’s pointed, logical and justified questions: In one of the songs (I Believe?) its mentioned that ancient Israelites came to America and settled the land and, I assume, became the Native Americans. How does the LDS Church square that teaching with modern DNA tests that prove that Native Americans are decendents of Asia and not the Middle East, much less Hebrews?
          (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090428223836.htm)

      • ethan davidson says:

        Arnold’s religion had all those things. It just wasn’t ture.

    • Paul, the convert says:

      medievalist:

      Thank you. I have a son on a mission and this kind of ridicule breaks my heart. I’m so glad at last somebody is defending him.

      (As a former Catholic, it breaks my heart to see the ridicule that has been heaped on the Catholic church. FYI about 9% of our children are sexually abused in the public schools. You don’t hear many jokes about that on the late night comedy shows, do you? Or in the news?)

      Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Even from historical and organizational perspectives only(removing spiritual aspects for a moment), one of the most intriguing aspects about the founding of LDS church is that Joseph Smith essentially removed himself from the long-term equation of the doctrine by (1) bringing Book of Mormon, (2) re-establishing the concept of priesthood, and (3) emphasizing wo/man’s personal relationship with God.

        Non-believers of LDS church often utilize the equation ‘faults of LDS church leaders’ = ‘falsehood of the doctrine’ since leaders are ordained of God. But, the LDS doctrine and its key concepts TRANSCENDS individuals including Joseph Smith and all other historical figures of the church. It’s not the ‘sainthood’ of Joseph Smith that proves the Book of Mormon is a true, authentic scripture, but the veracity of the book proves that Joseph Smith was a prophet. In a similar fashion, the authority of the priesthood allows the all wo/men to make mistakes (including prophets) while the integrity of the doctrine of Christ continues on without error.

        So, for those of you who question existence of God, I’d recommend that you begin reading the Bible and pray whether God exists. For those of you who believe in God, I recommend that you read the Book of Mormon to see if it is also a Testament of Christ. If you come to the conclusion that God lives and the Book of Mormon is true, then a series of ‘if-then’ conclusion will lead you to conclude that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true Church of Christ.

        Otherwise, the discussion is a non-starter.

  66. Ben, Newnan says:

    I have enjoyed every single comment in this thread, and I’ve noticed something I feel might need clarified, particularly for the people who haven’t seen the play. This musical is purely comedic. As great as it is that the writers were able to throw a little history and theology in there, I don’t think it’s reasonable to think they’re there for any reason other than context, and to make sure the audience gets the jokes.

    Not being Mormon myself, I really appreciate the corrections, but I think that to say the writers got “this” wrong, or they mischaracterized “that” is a little on the silly side. The play is not meant to be educational, it’s meant to be funny. Whether or not it hits its mark is entirely subjective, but it makes about as much sense to criticize it factually as it does to pick apart a Monty Python movie based on its historical inaccuracies.

    The play is very sweet and very funny, in my opinion, and I don’t feel it maligns Mormans at all, but I didn’t see it with the same sensitivities as a Mormon would, so I can’t really speak to that. I just think the inaccuracies can be discussed without insinuating that the writers had any motive other than to entertain.

    • Natalie says:

      Ben, I have enjoyed every one of your comments on this thread. Thanks for continuing to be a voice on this thread–your perspective is fascinating and a much appreciated contributor to this conversation!

  67. Ben, Newnan says:

    Well, thankya Natalie. What a nice thing to say.

  68. Eric M says:

    “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” My comment has been awaiting moderation since July 8th. Who is the moderator, and why isn’t this person moderating?

    • Teppo says:

      Eric, my apologies. I am not sure why your comment was not published, I have now put it up. We really do try to be fair and not discriminate against points of view that differ from ours, especially when they are expressed as respectfully as yours. Sorry again and I hope you are still willing to participate in the discussion.

      • Eric M says:

        Thanks. Though, a more recent comment that I made, that was initially published, now says it is “awaiting moderation.” Strange.

  69. Pingback: Book of Mormon Musical Pushes Raunch, Sneaks in Satire - Occam's Knife

  70. Dolly says:

    First thought. Thanks for the well written review and for satisfying my urge to see the performance for myself. Your conclusions were my predictions from reading other reviews and you have a strength and talent that is a gift and no doubt something you have multiplied …. and some one has to do the dirty work. Just ask the soldiers.

    Second thought. To those that judge you for it. Anyone who is condemning someone else and telling them that it is wrong for them to use their free agency is forgetting a few critical elements of the Plan of Salvation.

    Let’s just agree that there is a political spectrum in all groups. Our Mormon group is no exception. Those that want to be carbon copies through out, are forgetting that the body needs the eye, the toe, the toenail, the nostril, the eyelash, etc…..

    Thanks for all of the deep thinking and helping others to scratch below the surface.

  71. LittleBird says:

    I am not a Mormon, nor do I play one on TV. Let’s call me Christian of another denomination. I have not read this entire thread of comments but I think that I am more impressed every day by Mormons.

    If you aren’t sure if you want to see the show or not that’s fine, and I have not seen it either. What I HAVE seen is the Tony Award performance of “I Believe” which says some funny and AMAZING things about Mormons. And seeing many of your comments above, I now know that this aspect of your lives is accurate; you believe. “You can’t just believe halfway, you have to believe in it all.” Sure, some may see this as quaint or cute or misguided. But the strength of your faith is inspirtational and impressive.

    The Book of Mormon may not be your cup of tea. But it’s giving Mormonism amazing exposure, and giving people like me tremendous admiration and respect for you all. I just thought some of you would want to know that.

    Peace!

  72. Major Van Harl says:

    PORTER ROCKWELL NEEDED AGAIN?

    Theo van Gogh the great grand-nephew of Vincent van Gogh produced the film Submission which was about the treatment of women in Islam. Well, Mohammed Bougeri, a Muslim, took offense, so he assassinated van Gogh. When a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the prophet Muhammad there were riots in the streets of Islam and people died. Enter Matt Stone and Trey Parker of South Park fame. They decided to do one of their cartoon stories where they had the prophet Muhammad locked in a U-Haul trailer and later hiding in a bear costume. Of course the Muslim world was not amused, and after subtle reminders by the Muslim press of what happened to van Gogh the boys from South Park backed down. I guess being killed and their bloody bodies left lying in the street like van Gogh was too much to offer for their art form. Of course Stone and Parker have continued to lampoon the religions of the world and do so without fear of reprisal as long as they leave guys named Muhammad alone. Before mass media most religions had their sort-of-open enforcers who were there to protect the church, the flock and the politics of a religion. Now there are too many cameras everywhere and instant communication to let the world know your religion is up to bad behavior, so is there enforce? I am a boring old Methodist, but to the best of my knowledge my religion has not had any secret society that swears a blood oath to defend our faith with the gun and the knife. That is not to say my church has not had its share of lying, cheating, stealing and killing, but no hit-squads that murder you in the street for publishing an unflattering article or cartoon about a Methodist Bishop. The Latter Day Saints Church or the Mormons as most people know this religion by, has in the past had its share of hard men, who did hard things in the defense of their religion and the people of that faith. People who were not only persecuted for their beliefs, but were driven out by local enforcement and sometimes murdered. When you see your family and fellow church members dead because of their religious beliefs in a land that is suppose to guarantee freedom of religion, you may find a pressing need for a little push back. Sometimes in the past, cold steel in the hands of hard men was the primary means of pushing back. Orin Porter Rockwell comes to mind when you think of a very hard man who stood-in-the-door to defend his religion and way of life. He was one of the earliest members of the LDS Church and he spent his entire life defending and protecting his religion and its members from alleged threats from within and outside the LDS Church. If even a fraction of the things Rockwell is given credit for are true, he dispensed his form of justice to the quick and the dead. Now back to the South Park boys. They have moved from cartoons to Broadway and their subject matter for this music extravaganza is the LDS Church. The Book of Mormon is a religious satire about two young Mormon men who are sent to Uganda on a two year Church mission. And of course the play does everything it can to make the LDS Church look like fools. I called a couple of LDS friends of mine, one a Bishop and the other a retired Air Force chaplain for their opinion. They were not amused by the musical, but both brought up the issue of LDS support to the people of sub-Saharan Africa. In the seven years it took Stone and Parker to develop the musical, tens of thousands of Africans have been helped by the LDS Church, through food supplied, medical support and education. What have the boys of South Park done for Uganda besides laugh at them? They would not dare to make a musical of Muslims dancing, singing and swearing at Allah in the name of being equal opportunity offenders. Of course not, they had already backed down in the name of their own safety when it comes to poking fun at Islam. When gay marriage was losing ground in California the LDS churches were protested, but when the votes were counted it was in fact the minority vote that had sealed the fate of gay marriage. Nobody ran out and protested at the Black or predominately Hispanic churches in California, possibly a personal safety issue? The Danites and Porter Rockwell the Destroying Angel, figures from the past. Hard times, hard people, hard decisions, don’t push.

    Major Van Harl USAF R

    • Teppo says:

      Major Van Harl,

      Mormons are very committed to freedom of speech. We may not always like what others say, write or sing but we believe they should be allowed to do so. There is no place for violence in suppressing criticism of any religion. Even when I differ with someone’s opinion, I can say with with Evelyn Hall: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.

      • ethan davidson says:

        Thank you. all this talk of hard men and hard steel and pushing back made me nervouse. Hard steel can do a lot of damage to soft flesh, and even hard men are made of soft flesh.
        The south Park creators made fun of lots of religions, Jews, Catholics, Scientologists, Muslims, as well as Atheists and even agnostics. They were thgreatened with lawsuits by scientologists and with Death by Muslims, and the more the red ands swarmed on them, the more they kept stirring up the same ant hill, It was the Comedy Network, not them, who finnaly backed down on the Mohmaed stuff, They wanted to keep pushing it. Clearly this goes beyond trying to get laughs. It is my opinion that although they don’t believe in much, they realy do believe in the remdemtive power of free speech.
        Now as regards Mormanism, they have made it clear on South Park, in the Musical, and in interviews that they actualy think that Mormons are amazingly nice people who believe things that make no sense to them. But they also have stated that if theire beliefs make them so nice, perhaps they serve a function, wheter or not they are true. This pragmatic aproach to religion is clearly not the perspective as those held by people of faith, but neither i it the perspective of those who condemn religion categoricaly.
        Have they contributed material aid to Africans? I don’t know. But makeing people laugh is a real contribution to the greater good, IMHO. Life is hard, and laughter is what helps us us get through the time period that comes between now and whatever comes next.

  73. Justine M says:

    Emily,

    I enjoyed your review. I’ve been interested in speaking to members of the LDS Church what they think of the show. I have a few Mormon frienads, but none of them have seen the show (because they don’t live in NY), so the best way for me to accomplish this is to read review such as yours… (I’ve been reading plenty…so love it, some hate it, some fall in the middle. Like with anything else…I don’ know why I expected to be able to generalize. Silly of me)

    Anyway, in full disclosure of my POV: 22, female, non-religious theist, incredibly liberal (people – especially my atheist friends – are surprised when they find out that I’m not atheistic. I wish spiritual beliefs weren’t so heavily correlated to politics…but no one can deny they are)

    I loved this musical. I’ve seen it twice already, and plan to see it more. ($27 standing room tickets – definitely worth the 8 hour wait in line on a day off, especially if you bring things with you to do). Not only (as you said) is the music amazing and the lyrics clever (not to mention that the show is presented in classical musical theatre format – which as a theatre nerd, I love), the energy and talent of the cast is what grabs me the most. The love exuding from them for what they do, and the amount of respect (yes, *respect*) for the work they’re doing, the characters they’re portraying, and even the faith they’re discussing… just blows me away. (I mean “I Believe” is practically a love letter to the faith. And the way Andrew Rannells performs it…It is just a most beautiful performance. And based on what I’ve heard him say in interviews and the few moments I discussed the show with him at the stage door, he seemed to agree with my assessment of respect and love put into that song and the show in general)

    Yes, the show is incredibly irreverent. I expected nothing less from Matt Stone and Trey Parker. I grew up watching South Park, so I knew what I was in store for. (They make fun of everything and everyone. Pretty much every belief/non-belief system, including atheism). But I also think that past that irreverence is a lot of heart.

    Which brings me to this: I disagree with your assessment of the message. You say that “the resolution at the end appears to be that religion is a nice story we tell each other to give ourselves hope,” but that’s not what I got. What I got was this: no matter what you believe or what other people believe, we’re all people deserving of love and respect. It doesn’t matter if you disagree with a person’s beliefs or if the beliefs seem seem weird or even crazy to you; *if they’re not hurting anyone else*, and their beliefs enhance them and make them better people, the more power to them and their beliefs.

    Yes, there are plenty of Mormons who have seen and will continue to see the show. But the majority of the audience isn’t Mormon, and ultimately, I think that is the message that will be taken away by most people who see the show. And I think it will help foster respect, and maybe even a sense of healthy curiosity about the Church of Latter Day Saints.

  74. Dolly Wright says:

    Nicely said, Justine. Your take away is pretty much right out of a line from an interview I saw with Trey or Matt. (Can’t remember which one.) He said that it’s basically a conclusion of live and let live. Or, why does there need to be any criticism of people who are good to have around just because they are unified? In other words, “So what if it’s a crazy premise for a belief system, if it makes people happy and good for the community at large… let it be and more power to them.” (These are my summaries from memory and not from an actual quote from either one of the writers and I think you nailed it as a member of the secular, based audience POV.)

    With regards to the take away from Emily, I think her point is more poignant if you are a Mormon and want to know if you are going to be satisfied with the conclusion. Many Mormons would not be active Mormons if the belief system were only as deep as the warm fuzzy compliment that comes from this performance. It would not be worth the effort. Being a Mormon, from it’s very roots in Palmyra, New York, has taken a deep conviction to withstand the persecutors and it is not because of an arbitrary notion such as, which Disney princess is your favorite or the best. …

    I think that from an insider POV (inside the belief system which is alined with divinity and purpose), Emily is also spot on. She speaks to an audience of Mormons who want to know if this musical, in its attempt to be friendly to Mormonism, really “gets it” or are they on another planet like the writers of “Big Love”. The answer is fairly obvious. If they did really “get it”, that this is a religion based on God’s plan (as revealed to the inhabitants of planet earth)… then they would also want to be “baptized” because of a deep spiritual conviction and love for God and obedience and such. I would not expect such an effort for most. It’s fairly inconvenient to secular ways of life and not really more than curiosity. But for a Mormon, on the other hand, who says yes… we know we are weird or distinctive….. we get it… but it comes from a very special place in our hearts. This is what the Mormon audience is looking for. Is there any treatment to this absolution? Why would Matt or Trey want to write it from that POV? It would not make any sense to them. They wrote it from their perspective and Emily is simply pointing out that conclusion to someone from “within” that paradigm. In this case, the paradigm is the testimony that the Book of Mormon is in fact what it claims to be. The only way to know that, is if you are able to read the whole book, with the

  75. Michel says:

    I remember years ago when Jesus Christ Superstar first hit Broadway. There were many who also claimed that it was blasphemous and would have a very short run. It was condemned by the Vatican and many other Christian leaders, but in reality it helped the cause of Christianity.

    I see the Book of Morman doing the same thing. By poking fun, in that it will open the eyes of people that have no idea of what Mormonism is about.

    I understand that Amazon Tickets Online still has some affordable, available tickets for most shows, even though they are advertised as sold out.

    I’m looking forward to actually seeing the show.

  76. Emily L. says:

    Thank you everyone for your thoughtful comments and responses.

    Talking about faith and belief systems is a sensitive matter. One of my favorite principles about interfaith dialogue I learned from Krister Stendahl, Dean of Divinity Emeritus at Harvard University, and a Lutheran bishop. He said, “when you are trying to understand another religion, you should ask the adherents of that religion and not its enemies.”

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints recently released a video highlighting one of it’s members and how the Book of Mormon came into his life and changed his perspective forever. It’s worth a watch.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dNYpXZIN_c&sns=fb

  77. Jamal Williams says:

    I would like to know your opinion on Big Love

    I have seen several articles of people complaining about how hurtful it is to the Mormons, but then again I saw the same for the Book of Mormon play. I know people can be hurtful sometimes but its becoming so common that people just don’t have any sense of humor when it comes to religion.

    • Emily L. says:

      Hi Jamal,

      I’ve never seen Big Love, so I don’t have an opinion of the show. From what I’ve heard about it, I think it’s a show that is more serious in nature and not necessarily funny. I think the offense some people feel is because it’s an inaccurate depiction of Mormons. We do not practice polygamy and the show’s creators have highlighted some of the more sacred practices in our temples. Not sure if that’s worthy of a laugh. It seems more inappropriate than anything.

      I think it’s important to be able to laugh at yourself, but there is a fine line of having a sense of humor and being sacrilegious. Religious bigotry or false representation is obviously something we don’t want to condone.

      I hope that was helpful and not too serious 🙂

      Take care,
      Emily

  78. Rick says:

    As an agnostic (some would say a wishy washy athiest), I find it commendable that Mormons are carrying out thoughtful, and meaningful discussions about this musical.
    I thought the musical was hilarious, but was somewhat uncomfortable about how it would make Mormons react. I can’t imagine what the reaction would be if Catholicism, Judaism, or Islam were the targets of this parody. Mormons should be proud of their thoughtfulnes. Matt and Trey were very astute to pick on Mormons and Mormons should take it as a compliment.

  79. thomas Wilson says:

    I invite you all the read and consider what the book of Mormon says and ask god if its true, and if you don’t believe in God, ask him if he exists and then ask him if its true. I promise that it is for I have received a witness that it is and everytime i try to imagine if it werent true, that witness just comes back to my mind, and i cant deny it, and the Book and our doctrine makes me extraordinarily happy.

    with love you servant and brother

    Thomas wilson

  80. Boof Of Mormon Fan says:

    I am so excited that Book Of Mormon is coming to London in 2013. I just booked a pair of tickets for the very first preview show at the Prince of Wales Theatre and now am counting the days!!

    Ticket info is at Book Of Mormon London but they only have limited numbers for the previews so act quickly if you want to go!!

  81. Magistus says:

    I am LDS. I love “South Park” and have a PhD. I have tried hard to be a good professor and deny the existence of God, but after looking in the mirror and confronting my bizarre theology, I still know Brother Joseph actually talked to God, and the Book of Mormon is true. God works through everyone in His own time and way. If you’re Mormon and you really believe, see the play – or not. We are a peculiar people but in the best possible way.

  82. Reacher Melendez says:

    I know I’m late and may not be read at all, but from what I saw, a couple things need to be cleared up (btw I am not mormon, I would say I’m christian while belonging to no denomination and really want nothing to do with organized religion as a whole)….
    the first is that this is not an atheist’s love letter, Matt Stone is an atheist, Trey Parker and Bobby Lopez believe in an Almighty in some form or other, and Trey seems to consider himself religious in his own way.
    Secondly, a message of the play that never is brought up for some reason: that when it comes to organized religion, geography and environment do not and more importantly CANNOT affect faith. How can we believe in a religion that says, as most of my Methodists friends do, that if you aren’t saved you are going to hell? It’s such a closed minded view, and when confronted with the question of what if they were born in Uganda and not America, would they be christians? And the answer is always the same: Even though it would be tougher to get to, yes.
    We can’t deny that atheism is growing, or like being gay (which I have no problem with), it is every day being completely acceptable and maybe a little ‘in’ to not believe in god now (case in point: in earlier interviews, Stone could not admit he was an atheist, now he does it proudly).
    Bottom line of this is obviously the message that’s positive is that we need to stop worrying about our belief structures and just have faith, sure, but the real deep and important message (and yes there is a few from the play) is that until religions take into consideration not only where a person lives but their day to day lives and struggles and limited view on the outside world, then it isnt a religion or god of the world, just your backyard.
    I personally loved the play, and am so very glad they chose Mormons, all religion is ripe for parody, even mine, but none moreso than Mormon, but that’s not why I’m glad, I’m glad because no other religion or church would handle it as well or as cool as Mormon’s do, I mean, this post for example. Mormon’s are going to see the show, and the creator’s of it have commented on how great they’ve been, how positive, yes some will hate it, but even they aren’t annoying, and what other religion would have atheists saying they can’t believe how great Mormon’s are when very few other cultures are as heavily ruled and oriented through said religion?
    Props to the play, and Mormons in general.

  83. Tan says:

    I’m LDS and have never seen the play. However, I was interested what exactly was portrayed in the musical about the Book of Mormon. This review helped me with the decision that I will not go to see this mousical. The only reason I don’t wish to see it is because I recieve enough judgement and stereotypical comments about me and my beliefs from my friends and the world that it would be a waste of my time. From what I’ve been reading, it seems to be the sort of musical for those who want to learn about the stereotypes of our beliefs and a brief overview of our Church history. If you really wish to know more, approach those weird guys dressed nice with name tags rather than spending money on a musical 🙂 it’ll save you some cash.

  84. Tim says:

    I was raised in the church and have done my best to adhere to the teachings and beleifs. No matter how hard I try life just seams to shit on me. I have lost my wife, children, and every materialistic assett I have ever had. My faith is severely weakened at this point. Why should I even bother to try anymore? I was taught that if I wasnt sealed to my wife, i couldnt be sealed to my children, hence when I die I will never be reunited with my children in the afterlife. I dont even know why I am bothering to post any of this, I am resigned to dying alone and hopefuly slipping into nothingness, hope the aetheists know more than what i was taught.

    • Abalyn says:

      Tim,
      I am so sorry that you feel this way.
      I have had a few moments in life when I was in deep pain and nothing seemed to be fair. The idea of having an eternal perspective or learning from my trials seemed repugnant and negating of my experience. The only thing that got me through was that some part of me knew was God loved me and he didn’t want me to be in pain either. I know he loves you too.
      I am sure that there is a way for you to be with your children again; so much that is completely not right in this life will be made right in the next. I know too that there can be hope for better things in this life too.
      Hold on! Don’t lose hope!

    • Jason says:

      Dear Tim,

      I’m so sorry to hear of your loss and difficulty. I wish I could say that I know how you feel. But, I haven’t experienced your challenges. I have my own. But, they aren’t the same, or appear to be as grave on the outside. I know that each of us will leave this life having been challenged to our limits if we let the Lord guide us. Like Job or Abraham or others that have sacrificed all, we will be stretched. I can only believe that you are in the Lord’s hands and he will not abandon you.

      Please forgive the long response. I want to speak comfort and hope and faith. The Spirit of the Lord can give comfort and encouragement to move forward. And as you live the gospel, you will be an asset to your children as you face your hardship and demonstrate an example of faith in Christ.

      I have two brothers that have gone through divorce. One divorce has dragged on for years and has gotten so ugly that now my brother’s children won’t speak with their father or any of his extended family. The well has been poisoned. And it has been very painful to see him wrongfully accused of awful behavior. Injustice is so hard to deal with, especially when we believe in a just God.

      I believe that God is just and merciful and that he loves all of his children. I believe that the justice and mercy of God allows for injustice during this mortal life. He allows us to be judged by a lifetime of behavior and experience. And he is merciful to give us the time to repent and heal. D&C 29 offers some great insights.

      39 And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet—

      40 Wherefore, it came to pass that the devil tempted Adam, and he partook of the forbidden fruit and transgressed the commandment, wherein he became subject to the will of the devil, because he yielded unto temptation.

      41 Wherefore, I, the Lord God, caused that he should be cast out from the Garden of Eden, from my presence, because of his transgression, wherein he became spiritually dead, which is the first death, even that same death which is the last death, which is spiritual, which shall be pronounced upon the wicked when I shall say: Depart, ye cursed.

      42 But, behold, I say unto you that I, the Lord God, gave unto Adam and unto his seed, that they should not die as to the temporal death, until I, the Lord God, should send forth angels to declare unto them repentance and redemption, through faith on the name of mine Only Begotten Son.

      43 And thus did I, the Lord God, appoint unto man the days of his probation—that by his natural death he might be raised in immortality unto eternal life, even as many as would believe;

      God provides us time to live, experience hardship and temptation, and repent as we walk through mortal life. It is a perfect plan designed to teach his children and provide us the necessary skills, experience, and developmental opportunities to fulfill our desired potential. But, it is so hard to look to the future when the present is so difficult to manage. When I am struggling, and I turn to the Lord, the challenges don’t always go away. In fact, typically, the Lord doesn’t want to remove the hardship as much as he wants us to develop capacity to overcome. A sort of “spiritual workout” that prepares us for the eternal ball field. Though the hardships don’t usually go away. They are put in context.

      When I was on a mission, I constantly felt that I was pushing against a wall. I was always pushing against my weaknesses. It wasn’t until I returned home from my mission that I realized how much I had grown. I believe that is how our experience will be when we leave this life.

      This life isn’t supposed to be like suffering in a torture chamber until we are released after our sentence is complete. All our trials are designed for our growth, not merely for suffering as an entrance fee to heaven. We are here to become stronger and more like God.

      Tim, as your brother, I encourage you to look forward in faith. I don’t want any of God’s children to be lost. And I know that Christ and our Father in Heaven doesn’t either.

      If I may share a couple of thoughts regarding your children. The atonement is available to all, whether living today, having left this life, or to those yet to be born. The gospel ordinances are for all. That is why we perform ordinances for the deceased in holy temples. The commandment to seal the human family is in effect until it is complete. That includes sealing of children to parents. At some point, all of God’s children will be sealed to each other. It is essential to the society of heaven where blessings are extended to all of God’s children through the sealing ordinances. Do all you can to live the gospel and to teach it by example and the occasional sermon. Your faithful living will encourage your children to do the same. Eventually, the sealing ordinances can be be performed, whether in this life or the next. The key is that we all live worthy of the blessings we desire. The Lord will not allow blessings to his faithful children to be withheld.

      God bless you, Tim. Look to the Lord and trust in him. Bless your family. There are great blessings ahead for you as you keep the commandments.

    • R.Finch says:

      Please see my post I wrote in response.

  85. elle cole says:

    Would this play have been made if Mitt Romney hadn’t been running for president?
    Would the writers have the guts to write the book of Mohamed mocking the Koran.

    Just asking.

  86. E. Chapman says:

    The Book of Mormon musical is moving to London! They open in just a few weeks too. As a current missionary in Boston who thinks that ‘any publicity is good publicity’, I think this is epic. I haven’t seen the musical, but from what I’ve read about it in blogs, I’m excited to see it grow and expand.

    http://www.thebookofmormonmusical.co.uk/a-guide-to-mormonism/

    Check out this other perspective from a British member about The Book of Mormon musical. While I assume the musical takes liberal pot shots at Mormon missionaries, I think its a great idea and another way to help spread the gospel.

  87. desertoasis says:

    I doubt I will spend money to see this. I will say that I’m a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as of almost 12 years ago at the age of 37. At first, I looked into the church’s teachings just to understand what a man I’d started dating believed so I could respect his views, though I had no intention of leaving Catholicism and thought that if our relationship progressed to marriage, we could perhaps take turns going to each others’ church. Initially I didn’t even want to date him because he was Mormon, that’s how much I had NO interest in the religion. I found that sources would intentionally lie, deceive, twist, etc. the truth. Many times, I would rather accusatorially (is that a word?!) ask my boyfriend a question, thinking at times I’d finally found something he couldn’t explain. He often referred me to certain scriptures to read and find out for myself. I developed a rule that if a source was wrong 3 times, I threw them out, figuring the lies, distortions, etc. were intention and they weren’t trustworthy. To that end, if this movie mocks, distorts (again, I haven’t seen it), then you can take the position that there are those that will be offended by things that are portrayed as false if/when they found out that’s the case. In any event, I do know that many people have been drawn to find out more about the church through these sorts of “negative” channels (such as when Romney ran for President in 2004 and the conservative attack dogs came out against him, making his religion an issue, etc.). I spent a good deal of life NOT a Mormon and I will just say that I find Mormons who act like they are “the bigger person” so they can “handle it” when people mock Mormons or whatever to be a kind of sell out, like trying to be accepted into the “cool” crowd. Maybe because I did NOT grow up Mormon, I don’t feel the need to act like that.

  88. LA says:

    I have seen many many Broadway musicals, this was the only one that was sickening to me! I realize that it is supposed to be ridiculous…but laughing and making a joke about Fu***ing a baby is beyond the low of disgust ..if you have to say any thing like this or laugh in the audience you are pretty sick yourself..it will just make People with character want to become a Mormon!

  89. Ndawg says:

    Two words for you all to consider: “Scientific”, “Evidence”… Stop lying to yourselves, use the brain you were born with by thinking critically, stop being afraid of the unknown and death, and above all else, don’t let anyone tell you that you are not in control of yourself nor what your worth. We are evolved, self aware, inteligent and adaptable human beings, and each of us contribute to our species in our own significant ways! That can’t be wasted arguing over ficticious storytelling! Trust Science! Not fairytale Gods!

  90. Nellie says:

    I am LDS and really have no desire to watch this play. I have heard mixed reviews of it both from non-members and members alike. If it’s vulgar like you say, I have no interest in seeing it. Pretty sad that it has won some awards too. The Book of Mormon has changed lives as it has mine! Thank you for your write up on the play.

  91. Art says:

    From an atheists’ perspective, I found the musical mildly funny at best. I summarize it as unintelligent attempts that come across as sophomoric. When writers must resort to vulgarities, use of foul language as their primary tool to extract laughter, then they’re not trying very hard or being very creative as writers. It bothered me as much as people who are only insightful enough to state the obvious.

  92. David says:

    Thanks for your review. After watching the show, I was curious about what someone Mormon would think of the production, and I think your article was very balanced and fair. Thanks for sharing.

  93. Ashley says:

    I’m also glad to read your review. I’m also a mormon and I’ve had an open-minded view of the musical, but have heard a lot of push-back by members and have wondered if I need to be more concerned about what it teaches about our church. I hope it peaks a few people’s curiosity about our religion and that they can find the hope available in religion is much deeper than what is casually taught. Thanks for offering our perspective in a positive, kind way!

  94. Kevin says:

    I attended the Boston show also. I knew it from the writers of South Park and it showed in the play. I thought it was a cute show but not worth the money at all. Definitely not worthy of the reviews it has received. . The actors did a nice job for what they had to work with. At the end of it all I would have to chalk this up as a hokie money maker. Sorry “Book of Mormon” thumbs down.

  95. Reacher Melendez says:

    longtime follower of this post for some reason (it wont leave my inbox alone! lol)…however i must say i’ve become highly disappointed with the original poster. when i first read it it seemed like an open minded view of a fantastic work of art, the play. But the more i read in the responses and re reading the post, the more it makes me a little bummed i still follow it.
    I am a christian in my own sense of the word, knowing pretty much that whatever sect i belong to is probably pretty ridiculous in it’s comforting beliefs. grew up catholic and lutheran, then methodist after moving to ohio, but always a jesus fan, and my best friends (twins) growing up were mormons.
    out of you lot (mormons), i expect MORE, which is unfair, because in southern ohio, racist county, usa, growing up a puerto rican most of my religious right friends were awful when it came to religion. Point of this rant, is mormons are supposed to be the nicest bunch right? morally good? well, wheres the TOLERANCE AND ACCEPTANCE? I can’t get down with all these rules and punishments mormons have.its bad enough the beliefs are out there and united states centric and not humankind centric, but dammit, wheres allowance for others to be OTHERS in this world?
    and thats the message, one of the many great ones, of the play.

  96. I am a Catholic, with several very close Mormon friends. I wonder if the folks who put together this vulgar little ditty would dare to do one on the Quran?

    • Adam says:

      They were pulled off the air for showing muhammed on south park. It was eventually aired. They have no fear of tackling any religious sect.

  97. Patricia Davis says:

    I have seen this play and plan on seeing it a couple more times. The way I rationalized the vulgarity is the culture of the Third World countries. The Uganda people had no hope felt God left them. They had AIDS, poverty, dealing with their wonen being given to a drug warlord. They Africa nations feel to F the baby is a way to cure AIDS!!!! They feel America is hiding back the cure of AIDS from blacks. These writers did a lot of research to understand the background of MORMONISM. I will say the way the Church picks your mission is not accurate. But for the sake of the play it gave a little more substance. The Mormon Church even takes adds out in the program. I am not Mormon though my hometown mostly is. The songs are in line with their beliefs. I do not take to the swearing but it is part of the culture element

  98. m.coulter says:

    I LOVED the show. Language and all.Excellent from beginning to end. I saw no harm in it.I get very irked by visits from annoying Mormons trying to push their so called religion onto me.

  99. Poogiebear says:

    I’m not a Mormon, I’ve never watched South Park; merely a guest at the production of the show in Tampa last evening. The message to me was a parody on organized religion, totalitarianism & social rejects. The show was just what it was: Vulgar, sad, humorous and entertaining . Great cast & crew. I walked away with the message As long as you can lead – they will follow. Hysterical comments – this parody could have been on any religious sect.

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  103. George Strum says:

    I admire the stoic attitude of LDS by not falling to pieces over this irreverent production by ignoring it as the best possible way of dealing with it. So far it has been running about four years not much compared to more successful shows like Phantom or Les Mis. Give it another year or two and it may fade away and be forgotten. I detested the song that curses God for allowing Aids to happened and I almost got up and walked out the theatre until I realize this was the frustration of the people who are devastated by disease and it became more sad than funny. Although not a Mormon and wish not to be I have a great respect for the LDS and always in awe of the beautiful Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I doubt if ever the choir will sing any of the songs and the play is really nothing and not worth wasting your time to see and isn’t worth getting upset over.

  104. Tim says:

    Nicely written article, but beware of anything put forward by the creators of southpark. When a “satire” concerning a huge institution is permitted to not only exist at all, but to win awards and enjoy global success, there must be a reason for it. And when considering who the authors of the musical are and how accurate the show is to much of the Mormon public persona, there must be some behind-the-scenes handshaking going on. For the musical to be as acceptable and inoffensive to most Mormons as the play has been choreographed to be…. let’s just say that there is an institutional hierarchy in our society that even the makers of southpark have no desire or interest to breach. I’m not saying that the play should have been made to be offensive, but these are the guys who supposedly know no boundaries. From what I’ve been reading from Mormons and others about this musical, it seems to me that these southpark “geeks” had more concerning them than simply entertaining their audience considering how relatively palatable the play evidently is.

    They did, however, perform one handy service to the audience by intimating the original meaning and purpose of the term ‘hello’.

    (from the first “number” in the play titled “hello”):

    This book will change-

    -So you won’t burn in-

    ELDER WHITE:
    Hell…O!

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