Saturday, March 5, 2011


Leave it to the creators of South Park to bring The Book of Mormon to Broadway!!  Of course, this production is obviously causing all kinds of consternation amongst the "Big 15" in SLC - and I'm sure there are a lot of Mormons who are appropriately shocked.  But at this point in my "apostate" life, what the suits in SLC or Mormons in general think is the last thing on my mind.  Actually, I find the whole thing extremely amusing.  Having watched some clips from the BoM musical, as well as reading a number of articles, it is clear that this musical lives up to the hype of being not only controversial, but also irreverent and blasphemous.  Vogue Magazine called the show "the filthiest, most offensive, and - surprise - sweetest thing you’ll see on Broadway this year, and quite possibly the funniest musical ever."

If anybody had told me when I was growing up that one day there would be a musical on Broadway about the Book of Mormon, I would have told them they were NUTS!!  But here it is in 2011... and isn't it GREAT!!!

From Trey Parker and Matt Stone, four-time Emmy Award-winning creators of South Park comes this hilarious Broadway musical about a pair of mismatched Mormon boys sent on a mission to a place that’s about as far from Salt Lake City as you can get. The Book of Mormon is written in collaboration with Robert Lopez, the Tony Award-winning writer of Avenue Q, and co-directed by Mr. Parker and three-time Tony nominee Casey Nicholaw (Spamalot, The Drowsy Chaperone). Previews begin at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on February 24, 2011.

Contains explicit language.   



Of course, a lot of controversy about the Book of Mormon precedes this musical.  Back in the 1800's, when Mormonism made its debut in upstate New York, and then made its trek from New York to Ohio to Missouri to Illinois and then to Utah, Mark Twain (1835-1910) made some very interesting comments about Mormonism. 

The following is an excerpt from "Roughing It - A Personal Narrative," written by Mark Twain after a two-day stopover in Salt Lake City on his way to silver mines in Nevada.
All men have heard of the Mormon Bible, but few, except the elect have seen it or at least taken the trouble to read it. I brought away a copy from Salt Lake. The book is a curiosity to me. It is such a pretentious affair and yet so slow, so sleepy, such an insipid mess of inspiration. It is chloroform in print.
If Joseph Smith composed this book, the act was a miracle. Keeping awake while he did it, was at any rate. If he, according to tradtion, merely translated it from certain ancient and myteriously engraved plates of copper, which he declares he found under a stone, in an out of the way locality, the work of translating it was equally a miracle for the same reason.
I love the "chloroform in print" comment.  Classic.

In another part of that article, Mark Twain went on to say:
Some people have to have a world of evidence before they can come anywhere in the neighborhood of believing anything, but for me when a man tells me that he has seen the engravings which are upon the plates and not only that, but an angel was there at the time and saw them see him and probably took his receipt for it, I am very far on the road to conviction no matter whether I have ever heard of that man before or not, and even if I do not know the name of the angel or his nationality either.
One of Mark Twain's final comments from the end of this section is as follows:
The Mormon Bible is rather stupid and tiresome to read. But there is nothing vicious in its teachings. Its code of morals is unobjectionable. It's smooched from the New Testament and no credit given.
Reading all his thoughts on Mormonism and the Book of Mormon (or the "Mormon Bible" as he calls it) makes me wonder what Mark Twain would think about this musical.  I would love to hear his comments today.  I'm sure what he would have to say would be CLASSIC!!

Of course, the Mormon Church released a statement about the Book of Mormon musical saying, "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."  Interesting.  Of course, since I believe that the Book of Mormon is not scripture, and is in fact plagiarized from other writings of the time (like View of the Hebrews by Ethan Smith and manucripts written by Solomon Spalding), and that Joseph Smith wrote (not translated) the Book of Mormon with the help of Sydney Rigdon, the likelihood of it changing people's lives by bringing them closer to Christ is a fraudulent statement.  The Book of Mormon, after all, is a complete farce, as is the rest of Mormonism.

But at least Joseph Smith has provided us with the basis for some great entertainment.  And we can thank him for that.

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