Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Review and commentary on Book of Mormon musical.

From the various reviews written by LDS who've seen the Book of Mormon Musical, my take-away is that most LDS church members will not want to see it based on its vulgarity and the blasphemous dialogue. It's as bad, or worse, than South Park, by the same writers/producers.

But the same reviewers go out of their way to point out that the musical is not an attack on the church or its members. It is not "anti-Mormon."

I think one should keep in mind that "there's no such thing as bad publicity", and Brigham Young's famous quote: "Every time you kick ‘Mormonism,’ you kick it up stairs: you never kick it down stairs." (Journal of Discourses 7:145; Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 351.)

Commenter "MCQ" wrote on a blog:
"In a general sense, we really should be happy about the fact that a musical like this has been made, whether or not we actually choose to see it. It shows that our faith is reaching a certain maturity and status among the population. It’s a compliment, of sorts, to be made fun of, and it will actually cause some serious inquiry among those who see the musical and those who only hear about it. To me, it seems to be all part of God’s plan, and a direct result of the efforts of the missionary program and the endless PR campaigns that the Church has undertaken over the years."

Michael Otterson wrote a commentary (blog post) in the "On Faith" section of the Washington Post web site about the Book of Mormon Musical now appearing on Broadway. It's not really a review since he didn't see it. Though the article is published by the Washington Post, not the church, he is the head of Public Affairs of the LDS church. I think his response is pretty good. But, he doesn't actually address the contents of the musical.

Otterson recaps many of the humanitarian efforts of the church in Africa.

Glen Nelson, a member of the church in New York did see the musical, and his review is here:

It's a rather long review, so here are a few key paragraphs. But read his entire review to get an idea of what's in the musical.

Start quote:
There’s a scene in which the Ugandan villagers are all in white clothing being baptized. Strangely enough, it’s quite moving. And I’m not the only one who thought so. The audience got very quiet at that point. The show ends on a Mormon-induced euphoria, an interesting mirror to the opening scene that introduces missionaries at the MTC. At the end of the show, I felt like it was “cool” to be Mormon in the eyes of the audience. I imagined that my friends and neighbors were going to ask me about the show, and I would say, “I was a missionary like that. They sent me to places like Uganda and I was over my head with issues of poverty, devastation, disease, and hopelessness. I didn’t know what to do either. I simply tried to make the world a tiny bit better, and I think the people I taught changed for the better.” And indeed, that is what has happened. My wife, who works in Sales, has been inundated with questions about the musical; it's all people can talk about when they hear she's LDS. Being able to talk about it knowledgeably has been invaluable. My guess is that if real Mormon missionaries were parked outside of the Eugene O’Neill theater every night, that they would have many great conversations with people who had otherwise never thought about the Church in a positive way. ...

The Church has absolutely nothing to fear from The Book of Mormon musical. That opinion is the base of why I’m writing this. I think that anything people of our faith write in the mainstream press at this point—those silly articles about how they haven’t seen the show, and won’t see it, and want to justify how the Church is helping the people of Africa—is unhelpful, maybe even damaging in the long run. It is a defense that follows no attack. If we are a major world religion, we could do a lot worse than this. Ever heard of Nunsense, one of the longest-running shows in history? This musical calls for no Church response.

Many times in the performance, I thought to myself, as an overview of Joseph Smith began, or when diorama figures from the real Book of Mormon popped up, Here we go. This is where it gets ugly. But you know what? The show never goes there. It easily could have. And at the same time, they get into serious theological, cosmological stuff, most of it flying over the heads of the audience. Doctrinal inaccuracies? There are almost none.

I’m glad I went. I might even purchase a couple of the songs from iTunes when the cast album comes out. Still, I can’t recommend the show to anybody. It’s just too much. I was frequently uncomfortable watching it. But that’s a different thing than saying the show is hurtful or willfully antagonistic to the Church. It simply isn’t.
End quote.

Another review (of the lyrics only, he listened to the musical numbers online, he didn't actually go to the musical) by dltayman, is here.

Jana Riess, who saw the musical, has a review here.


At 4/21/2011 09:15:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Satan never tries to beat us over the head with something that we know to be false. He steers us down the crooked path one small turn at a time. Never the less, I think it is interesting that he took the time to go see a musical and post to your blog.

At 4/21/2011 12:51:00 PM, Blogger Jettboy said...

Garbage is garbage no matter how much icing you put on it or the same if it is the icing. Life has too much to offer for spending any time or money watching something that contributes to the cesspool of modern culture.


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