Episode 143: Book of Mormon Musical Criticism

Heather is joined by Randy, Matt, and Dustin to discuss media criticism of the Book of Mormon musical.

Mormon Times: Is the ‘Book of Mormon’ musical accurate satire?
The Washington Post: Amos and Andy and The Book of Mormon
SLC Tribune: ‘Book of Mormon’ musical can inspire doubters to stay
Penn Point: Penn Jilette’s Review of the ‘Book of Mormon’ musical

Episode 143

46 comments on “Episode 143: Book of Mormon Musical Criticism”

  1. Megan Reply

    I have a quick question about the claim that ‘the human mind evolved to believe in God.’ As someone who has never believed – or felt a need to believe in god, does that make me less evolved, more evolved, or somehow less human?

    I am just a bit surprised to see this introduced as a proven fact without discussion… okay, yes, a discussion would have been WAY off topic, but it really did just strike me because my own experience contradicts the idea. Maybe a really simple word shift from ‘TO believe in God’ to ‘WITH A belief in God’ which is possibly a more interesting idea or, if that’s too drastic, maybe just ‘to often have a tendency to believe in gods.’

    Oh, and yet another not-the-main-point comment, I was interested with the little side discussion about whether a simple belief in ‘silly stories’ is dangerous, or whether that’s harmless and it’s the acceptance/belief in top-down imposed dogma that is the problem. Doesn’t it seem that the problem isn’t necessarily in the belief in a silly story, but that it’s the mindset that makes such belief not only possible, but actually desirable? Unquestioning faith can, it seems to me, retard intellectual development because critical thought and analysis is not only not taught, it’s discouraged.

    Sorry – commenting only on the off-topic stuff doesn’t exactly add to the core discussion does it! So… I thought the discussion on the discomfort Mormons have with ANY external discussion of their beliefs was excellent, particularly with the point that so much effort has gone into main-streaming Mormonism.

    • Randy Snyder Reply

      Megan, it means you are a horrible mutant.  😉

      The question to evolutionary biologists and psychologists (I’m not an expert but I have read a lot on this stuff) is not whether or not the human brain evolved with a predisposition to believe in the supernatural (not specifically monotheism because remember that’s a relatively recent innovation by the Hebrews), but there is some controversy as to how.  If you accept the overwhelming evidence that evolution is in fact the origin of all species after life originated, you have to explain why before the age of reason virtually every human being believed in the supernatural (that’s what makes Korihor and Sherem so anachronistic and such hilarious characters in the Book of Mormon).  
      One thing to always keep in mind in evolution is that changes occur over very long periods of time so that basically, the brain we have now is not much different from the brain we had during the Pleistocene in Africa.  There are two parts of the brain at work here that evolved by 12,000 years ago.  We developed a higher cognitive center, the frontal cortex, and then the primitive brain.  One thought is that our ancestors who were more likely to have a primitive brain reaction to a rustling in the bushes were selected for because making a false positive makes you run away unnecessarily but you are alive, but a false negative can get you eaten.  This may have been a selective force that resulted in highly credulous primitive brains in our species.

      Other things at work are the fact that we are capable of abstract thought and when we see a loved one endowed with a ton of abstract qualities like loves, passions, dreams, etc and then they are a lump of meat the very next day with a heart attack, there is a serious reaction in areas of our brain that we can’t even consciously access and our brain has a tendency to resolve that dissonance with using our imagination of a soul that does continue on with those abstract attributes.  Another aspect may be because we evolved a moral intuition as being a social species, we couldn’t possibly understand where this came from so some of the earliest known cultures invented ancestors or gods as the origins and executors of this moral code.  We also have an innate tendency to personify inanimate objects endowing them with intentions or even wills, like nature.  It’s why even now, I as a naturalist, will bang my head on the hatch of my Suburban and in that moment, endow it with malicious intent and band the hell out of it to teach it a lesson.

      I could go on but the point is, I don’t think there is much doubt we evolved a believing brain.  But we are not a homogenous population in every attribute and especially not with an organ so remarkably complex as the brain.  The fact that you never had a disposition to believe could very well just mean you have a well developed skeptic center in the pre-frontal cortex.  But is there nothing irrational and superstitious you do like knock on wood or cross your fingers or wear a rally hat when your team is losing?

      • Megan Reply

        Oh hurrah! Do I get to choose my super power?

        I suppose I was really responding to the way the claim was phrased – ie that humans had evolved to (iow evolution had shaped them specifically for) a belief in god (singular). I totally agree that a far better description is your ‘supernatural’ or what I’ve taken lately to calling ‘numinous.’

        I read the theory about an evolutionary advantage coming from a ‘false positive’ – although I think it could be shown that such an advantage becomes a hindrance if the acuity of belief is too strong, and if it is not countered with that other evolutionary development in people – the rational, analytical mind. In other words, if you’re going to respond to every rustle in the grass without ever learning to differentiate between stalking-lion-rustle or gust-of-wind rustle, you’re going to waste a lot of resources (producing adrenaline, increasing heartbeat and respiration, running away) and at the same time lose valuable feeding time.

        Doesn’t it seem that the two characteristics – rationality and belief – are complementary, even necessary to each other? Belief allows creativity, rationality forms and channels it.

        And isn’t it also possible that the ‘believing brain’ is not necessarily hard-wired to have to believe in the supernatural, but instead could just as easily mean the smaller leap of belief, more in the ‘the sun rose yesterday, I reckon it’ll rise today’ and less in the ‘the sun rose yesterday, probably because a ginormous great beetle rolled it across the sky, so I’d better find me something alive and make it really dead just to make sure that beetle keeps on rolling.’ It seems to me that the evolutionary bit – the belief capability in the brain – is quite small, while other factors maybe take advantage of that capability and spin it into something that is far greater and that isn’t necessarily an advantage if one were still at the primitive-human stage. Is it possible that the more radical belief – belief in god/gods – is a development from social evolution rather than biological (ie it provides tribal advantages rather than individual or even family ones)?

        Interesting stuff! And… still… way off topic. Sigh.

        • Fred W. Anson Reply

          It appears that your “special mutant power” is the ability to create and expand interesting discussion threads! 

          Please use your power for good not evil Megan!!!

          😉 

          • Megan

            Dang. Somehow I can’t quite see super power getting me into the Justice League.

            … perhaps the Evil League of Evil though…

          • Fred W. Anson

            Just tell them that you can generate ill-tempted discussion threads with freakin’ laser beams on their heads! 

            You’ll be “in” in a flash! 
            An EVIL flash. 

            😉

        • Fred W. Anson Reply

          It appears that your “special mutant power” is the ability to create and expand interesting discussion threads! 

          Please use your power for good not evil Megan!!!

          😉 

        • Randy Snyder Reply

          I agree Megan that there has to be a balance between the primitive brain and the rational part of the brain that evolved and gave us the ability to reason and manipulate or exploit the natural world like no other species.  The paranoid idiot ancestors that ran at every rustling were probably selected out but I think so were the hard core skeptics like us.  🙂

          As to your last paragraph, yes, social evolution plays a huge part in religion and dogmas but the predisposition to belief is still there.  The God Delusion talks about this a lot (evolution of social memes).  I highly recommend reading any papers or books on this topic by Pascal Boyer.  I find his arguments of why belief in the supernatural to be the most compelling.  As for the balance between the rational and primitive brain, according to a Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast 2 weeks ago, neurologist Steven Novella basically said there is a little believer inside even the most avid skeptics out there (I’m sure to varying degrees of strength, yours being very weak) but the rational part of the brain requires a ton of energy so it actually takes some work to suppress it and consider the more rational and logical explanation.  So in times when our guard is down or we are low on energy, we are more susceptible to irrational superstitious acts like knocking on wood to get a bad feeling about some possible bad outcome to go away.

          This is waaay off topic but I find the brain so fascinating.

          • Megan

            Oh brilliant – thanks for the book rec. I’ll need to re-read my God Delusion too.

            My reading list just expanded enormously – I suppose I’ll have to stop being lazy and just re-reading Terry Pratchett at the end of the day!

          • Tyson Jacobsen

            Or just read chapter 4 of Shermer’s new book “The Believing Brain” to rehash these ideas once again….

        • Randy Snyder Reply

          I agree Megan that there has to be a balance between the primitive brain and the rational part of the brain that evolved and gave us the ability to reason and manipulate or exploit the natural world like no other species.  The paranoid idiot ancestors that ran at every rustling were probably selected out but I think so were the hard core skeptics like us.  🙂

          As to your last paragraph, yes, social evolution plays a huge part in religion and dogmas but the predisposition to belief is still there.  The God Delusion talks about this a lot (evolution of social memes).  I highly recommend reading any papers or books on this topic by Pascal Boyer.  I find his arguments of why belief in the supernatural to be the most compelling.  As for the balance between the rational and primitive brain, according to a Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast 2 weeks ago, neurologist Steven Novella basically said there is a little believer inside even the most avid skeptics out there (I’m sure to varying degrees of strength, yours being very weak) but the rational part of the brain requires a ton of energy so it actually takes some work to suppress it and consider the more rational and logical explanation.  So in times when our guard is down or we are low on energy, we are more susceptible to irrational superstitious acts like knocking on wood to get a bad feeling about some possible bad outcome to go away.

          This is waaay off topic but I find the brain so fascinating.

      • KC Reply

        “before the age of reason virtually every human being believed in the supernatural (that’s what makes Korihor and Sherem so anachronistic and such hilarious characters in the Book of Mormon)”

        Randy,
        Can you expound on this more, Ive never heard of this being another anachronism, but its interesting  What is the source for virtually all humans believed in supernatural, are there no examples of non-believers during this timeframe? When did the age of reason begin?

        • Randy Snyder Reply

          KC, I can send you a chapter of a book by Taner Edis that expounds on the history of science and disbelief much better than I can.  I just don’t know how without an email address and I don’t know how to privately exchange that info other than you can friend request me (Randall John Snyder) on Facebook if you want to.  But basically, 500+ years BCE (Sherem) and 100 BCE (Korihor), for atheists to be around is completely anachronistic.  In fact, the early Christians were referred to as atheists by the Roman Empire simply because they believed in the wrong gods, not because they believed in no god.  The age of Enlightenment is what I was referring to as the age of reason.  When people started to look outside religion to see how the world works.

    • Randy Snyder Reply

      Oh and as to your other point Megan, yes I completely agree with your point that the mindset that tends to take mythology literally is the real danger and why I think this musical is a little bit naive in its message.  But make no mistake, this musical is the most amazing thing I have ever experienced in entertainment.  There’s a line in Family Guy where Peter takes Jesus who just returned as the record store cashier in Quahog.  Peter decides to take Jesus to a George Bush press conference where Bush claims that his decisions come from Jesus and Jesus chews him out at the press conference.  Peter then turns to the camera and says, “Wouldn’t it be great if life worked like this?”  That’s how I felt about this musical.  I wished life worked like that.  But maybe this musical will help us go in that direction.

      • Megan Reply

        I saw that the full book for the musical will be available soon – hopefully meaning more than just the lyrics. What I got from this podcast was a real sense of just how much was missing if you only got to listen to the soundtrack.

        Mind you, I enjoy the soundtrack enormously! But even just watching the Tony performance of ‘I Believe’ showed how much nuance there is with the staging – I knew the elder went to the war lord’s camp (thanks to the previous ME review), but I missed the wonderful bit where it honestly looks, just for a moment, as though that shining, confident faith is going to work as the gun-toting warlord is totally baffled and amazed. I imagine it’s even better then when the poor elder doesn’t pull of his miracle.

        I hope I can see this staged sometime soon – I hear tickets are practically impossible to get your hands on though, and of course there’s the question of when/if it’ll be anywhere near me…

        As to the naivete of the musical, as was mentioned in the pod-cast, the nature of this kind of thing is to exaggerate and to simplify and that, inevitably, means there has to be some naivete, some sort of far-too-easy feeling to the core message. However, from what I gather, I think there was that important nuance there that it ISN’T necessarily a good thing to have faith, but that the belief system has to be questioned and examined and adapted. What I see the message as, at least in part, is that a belief system is meant to serve the people, and that the problems we have with religions in our modern age is that they have, often, totally reversed this ideal.

      • MJL Reply

        “this musical is the most amazing thing I have ever experienced in entertainment.”

        Don’t get out much do ya Randy.

          • Tyson Jacobsen

            Did MJL just accuse you of not getting out much right after your second trip to NYC?  I thought I had a full life until Sam and I learned we had to wait till September to hang out with you again.  MJL, there’s a line from The BOM Musical that Jesus says to Elder Price I am tempted to quote….

  2. Hermes Reply

    The Ugandans are portrayed badly because they swear.  Good grief.  The Ugandans are portrayed badly because (despite the best efforts of some government officials) they are living with old tribal customs, some of them really nasty.  Good grief: have you visited Colorado City lately (heck, you might even spend some time in Salt Lake; African blacks aren’t the only ones with outdated tribal customs).  Sometimes, it is OK to laugh at problems.  Sometimes, laughter is actually the best medicine.  I think the humor in the play is appropriate, i.e. it laughs without mocking and makes some really valid points in a genuinely entertaining way.  

    • Anonymous Reply

      When I read the bit about the Ugandans swearing I thought to myself, “It’s a play about fresh faced Mormon missionaries serving in Uganda.  It’s only the missionaries and the Ugandans.  Who else could have done the swearing?!” 

      (Yeah, yeah, I know the response would be, “Nobody should be swearing.” )

      • Hermes Reply

        Maybe if the play were nothing but a bunch of expletives, I too would have a problem with it.  But as is, the swearing is actually an important part (well, at least most of the time) of the play’s message, which is at once interesting and thoughtful.  Dismissing a good lesson because your teacher swears is stupid.

        • Anonymous Reply

          Agreed.  It goes back to what Randy was saying.  Religious folk (not just Mormons, I don’t think) want the world to be Disney.  And that’s fine.  I don’t begrudge people the desire to stay away from profanity.  I just don’t buy it as a reasonable criticism.  It’s a part of the real world.  And we’re talking about the bleepin’ South Park creators.  It should be expected.

  3. Hermes Reply

    I really agree with Dustin’s critique of the ridiculous “minstrel show” comments by Reynolds.  I appreciate the concern he expresses that we Mormons remain enfranchised members of society, but I’ll pass on the patronization.  Leave us the freedom to laugh at ourselves, for Christ’s sake!

    • Anonymous Reply

      I can appreciate a non-member taking up the Mormon cause…. I just wish it weren’t such a poor choice of causes.  haha.  I also wouldn’t have been so bugged by it if he hadn’t made the ridiculous claim at the end of the article about people like me begging for crumbs of respectability.

    • Anonymous Reply

      I can appreciate a non-member taking up the Mormon cause…. I just wish it weren’t such a poor choice of causes.  haha.  I also wouldn’t have been so bugged by it if he hadn’t made the ridiculous claim at the end of the article about people like me begging for crumbs of respectability.

    • Anonymous Reply

      Yes it was technically the first time I’ve hosted. But, I’ve already interviewed a couple people with Glenn. So I had a little bit of practice before this. Thanks, though!  🙂 

      No, we didn’t go over the religious dispatches article, though, I have read it.  I’ve updated the page above to reflect the reviews we focused on.

  4. Glenn Reply

    Nice job guys.  Sorry I couldn’t join you for this one, but I enjoyed listening.  Matt and Dustin were awesome — very insightful.  I hope to hear from more of you two in the future — good stuff!  Next project — re-create the musical with sock puppets and upload it to youtube.  Get on that, will you Randy?

    • Randy Snyder Reply

      Sock puppets?  I love it.  I’m on it!  

      I’m not creative enough to come up with something original like the BoM musical, but I do have the ability to appreciate it in every way imaginable…

  5. Tyson Jacobsen Reply

    I just finished listening to about 45 min of the episode and one bit of comment I thought could be discussed in the forum was the question of whether or not the musical is suitable for children.  I heard Heather and one other comment that they would not take their kids, and I heard Randy say he would.  I’m probably in the same camp as Randy on this one, but I’d like to hear each side of the argument.

    • Randy Snyder Reply

      I wouldn’t take my 3 and 4 year old simply because they wouldn’t understand or appreciate it enough to enjoy it but I would take my 13 year old in a heartbeat.  I’d probably limit the age to only their ability to sit through a 2 hour musical.

      As for the content that would keep most religious parents from taking their kids to it, I think the first thing at work here is the religious mind tending to endow certain words with magical powers.  F*ck is just a word to me.  The ethical part of words for me is if we use them to do harm.  I could use any words that could be used in sacrament meeting and combine them into the most cruel and abusive attacks on my wife or kids.  So the morality isn’t some magical power of evil arbitrarily endowed to a word on its face, it’s how the words are used so all the f*cking f*ck words don’t matter to me at all.
      The other part that might keep a religious person from taking their kids to it is the “blasphemy” particularly in the Hasa Diga Eebowai song.  Since, like Brian Dalton said on this very Mormon Expression, the special place religion has held by using that term “blasphemy” is unwarranted.  Seeing this play could allow me to have a very interesting and productive discussion with my kid about human suffering, accountability, respect to people over ideas, etc.Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have my kids freely using the f-bomb around the house.  We simply don’t allow that because we want them to also realize they have to assimilate in a society where over 70% believe Jesus is god and would not look kindly to that kind of language.  But we also don’t shield them fastidiously from being exposed to it either.

      • Anonymous Reply

        The potty humor would keep me from taking my kids (if I actually had them).  Basically I wouldn’t want parents constantly calling me and telling me, “Do you know what your son taught my son!?!?!”  haha.  But I think I’d take teenagers to see it.  I think my rule of thumb would be, “Are they old enough to watch South Park”?  If so, I’d take them.  If not, I wouldn’t.

  6. tom Reply

    This matt fellow did a fantastic job, He seems to be full of knowledge. I dare say he is an up and coming pod cast superstar!!!!  Im on team Matt

  7. MJL Reply

    Oh boy!  Trey Parker and Matt Stone.  Aren’t they the most brilliant humorists to come along since….oh so sleepy…zzzzz…

    Coming from someone who has seen every single South Park episode to date and almost everything else these libertarians and their frat-boy sense of humor have produced I have say I find them tiresome.  Their humor is occasionally clever and sometimes witty but I find it to be mostly predictable, obvious, routine, and lazy.  And judging from the reviews I have read it seems I can expect more of the same with the musical which is why I have no interest in seeing it.  It seems to me the Book of Mormon Musical is just an episode of South Park masquerading as Broadway theater.

    I think much of the praise for the musical is coming from the choir Parker and Stone are preaching to.  For those of us familiar with Stone and Parker it sounds to me like one big yawn, nothing to see here folks, move along.  I do admit that they have shown satirical brilliance on occasion but their style of humor is more fitting to half hour programming and the walls of bathroom stalls.  When given extended treatment I find the humor runs dry around the end of the first act with the next two trying to up the gross-out ante mostly to recapture the viewers strayed attention so that they don’t realize that there really isn’t anything funny about a ten year old defecating on the U.S. constitution while shouting every expletive imaginable in every language.

    • Fred W. Anson Reply

      Oops!  You forgot to add the coup de grace for your puerile dissertation . . . 

      And on top of all that . . . “You Momma!” 

      (no need to thank me – I’m just glad I could help out here!)

    • Randy Snyder Reply

      “Judging from reviews I have read…”

      Exactly. You don’t know what you are talking about. Sure Southpark is hit and miss and filled w their politics. Hell, Orgazmo is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. If u asked me after watching that “do u think these guys can do a funny musical about Mormons?” I’d of said no way. But u yourself said they show satirical brilliance at times. Is it not possible after seven years of writing it, and combining w the talent of award winning Bobby Lopez, the product was brilliant?

      But, you just go ahead w your smug certainty in the face of ignorance and making puerile (to borrow from Fred) statements like “you don’t get out much do ya Randy.”

    • Sean Leavitt Reply

      MJL, I have to ask you… As a person who views Parker and Stone in such an overwhelmingly negative light, and finds their humor so tiresome, and so sleep inducing… so “predictable, obvious, routine, and lazy”…

      Why then have you “seen every single South Park episode to date”?

      Why? Are you just a glutton for punishment? Do you have that much time on your hands, that you feel you must waste it on entertainment that you hate?

      You’ve made some rather judgmental comments about a play you’ve never seen and the people who liked it. You’ve also admitted to having no intention of seeing of seeing the play. I have to wonder if you’ve actually watched “every single South Park episode to date”, as you state. Or if… maybe… you like throwing around judgments of things you really haven’t experienced.

  8. Anonymous Reply

    I haven’t seen the Book of Mormon Musical, and it is unlikely that I will have both the means and the opportunity to see it in the foreseeable future.  I find the commentary on it to be quite interesting, though, and I will be very interested to see how long it runs, and whether it changes changes very many people’s minds about the credibility of Mormonism.  I have a sneaking hunch that a disappointingly high proportion of both Mormons and non-Mormons who see it will claim that the Musical only tended to reinforce their already existing positions on Mormonism.

  9. Anonymous Reply

    Great podcast. I haven’t seen the musical but bought the soundtrack and will likely see the musical when it tours.

    I’ve been reading the reviews of the BoM online and have been commented where possible. My take on most them was “How can those who have not seen it critique the BoM.”  Also I realize that for most really orthodox LDS anything short of a musical correlated by the Church and performed in the conference center would be good enough.

    My few thoughts on LDS reaction the BoM musical— (sorry for basically restating the podcast):

    Most Mormons need their stories to be true because the way the religion is set up …it’s all true or it’s false— as Hinckley said. I think as the writer Randy quoted said there is little actual substance in Mormonism w/o all of the myth. Even Terryl Given identifies the actual BoM as important as evidence of Joseph Smith’s prophetic role and far less as a source of unique doctrine. So it is pretty hard currently for believing LDS to view the stories as merely metaphor.

    Great points on either the Church owning or rejecting now controversial points of doctrine. I think though that LDS still hold onto a ‘pearls before swine’ and ‘milk before meat’ view of things. They believe in many thing that they think are not only real but are also too sacred and misunderstood by Gentiles to either reject or completely own. Lying for the Lord has a long history in the Church and I think it still is functioning to degree. In the case of the BoM musical I think the church knows that becoming a god and getting your own planet will be seen as weird so they distance themselves from these ideas but can’t quite bring themselves to reject them out right.

    Like with polygamy there will be a sort of a public denial of these ‘weird beliefs’ while internally they are still viewed as doctrine until they eventually fall completely out of favor in the Church as well and die off.

  10. Sam Reply

    I have an observation.  I’m 40, and while I am a bit adrift belief-wise and while I am moderately disaffected, I still engage and participate.  Given an opportunity, I would go see the BOM musical in a heartbeat.

    I work in an office of about 50 people, mostly LDS folks here in UT.  My general anecdotal sense from conversations with my coworkers is this:  even the active, believing and participating ones would also go see the musical if given the chance…. *provided* they are about 45 years old or less. 

    However, virtually ever member I know that is over 50 finds the notion scandalous and they are somewhat confused by the slightly younger crowd being willing to go.  Its like they can’t understand how these active people could go and not feel like it was wrong.

    I see this in my own family.  My older siblings, while still of my generation, are WAY more conservative and literalistic and zenophobic than I am.

    Does this jive with everyone else’s observations?  If so, why?  What exactly happened between the 50+ crowd and the <40 crowd that has made their outlooks so different? 

    I also see this difference amongst members on topics not necessarily directly church related.  For example, simple topics like attending rock concerts, going to church while on vacation, etc etc.

    I have a theory.  I think one possible explanation is the advent of cable TV in the 1980s.  It just seems to me that Mormons like my older siblings who were teenagers in the 1970s (before cable TV was common) grew up in an isolated UT environment that was not much different from the sheltered upbringing of their parents in the 1940s or 1950s.  Whereas people who were teens in the 1980s had access to CNN, MTV and gasp, HBO.  I think this broke down their and my aversion to difference, and the exposure was toxic to intolerance and suspicion. 

    While I didn't grow up on SouthPark, I did grow up on MTV, Headbangers Ball, The Ellen Degeneres sitcom, Roseanne, and Grease!  And as an 20 something adult, NYPD Blue, SouthPark and Will and Grace.  My sister and brothers grew up on Fonzie and Brady Bunch. 

    Thoughts?  Is there an age thing going on here with people's reactions to the musical?

     

  11. Sam Reply

    I have an observation.  I’m 40, and while I am a bit adrift belief-wise and while I am moderately disaffected, I still engage and participate.  Given an opportunity, I would go see the BOM musical in a heartbeat.

    I work in an office of about 50 people, mostly LDS folks here in UT.  My general anecdotal sense from conversations with my coworkers is this:  even the active, believing and participating ones would also go see the musical if given the chance…. *provided* they are about 45 years old or less. 

    However, virtually ever member I know that is over 50 finds the notion scandalous and they are somewhat confused by the slightly younger crowd being willing to go.  Its like they can’t understand how these active people could go and not feel like it was wrong.

    I see this in my own family.  My older siblings, while still of my generation, are WAY more conservative and literalistic and zenophobic than I am.

    Does this jive with everyone else’s observations?  If so, why?  What exactly happened between the 50+ crowd and the <40 crowd that has made their outlooks so different? 

    I also see this difference amongst members on topics not necessarily directly church related.  For example, simple topics like attending rock concerts, going to church while on vacation, etc etc.

    I have a theory.  I think one possible explanation is the advent of cable TV in the 1980s.  It just seems to me that Mormons like my older siblings who were teenagers in the 1970s (before cable TV was common) grew up in an isolated UT environment that was not much different from the sheltered upbringing of their parents in the 1940s or 1950s.  Whereas people who were teens in the 1980s had access to CNN, MTV and gasp, HBO.  I think this broke down their and my aversion to difference, and the exposure was toxic to intolerance and suspicion. 

    While I didn't grow up on SouthPark, I did grow up on MTV, Headbangers Ball, The Ellen Degeneres sitcom, Roseanne, and Grease!  And as an 20 something adult, NYPD Blue, SouthPark and Will and Grace.  My sister and brothers grew up on Fonzie and Brady Bunch. 

    Thoughts?  Is there an age thing going on here with people's reactions to the musical?

     

    • Randy Snyder Reply

      Sam, I’m 37 so we r from same generation. However, I know plenty of young, conservative Beck loving Mormons that feel even mentioning the existence of the musical is an abomination. But, I think generally speaking, u r probably correct. This cultural, generational difference is also where my hope is for the church to change on the gay policy. Not cause I care about the church succeeding at all. But cause I care for every self-loathing gay Mormon suffering so unnecessarily. But that dogmatic, authoritative gerontocracy will be a tough nut to crack.

  12. Brian K Reply

    I really liked the episode. I totally agree that we need to work to not be so sensitive about our beliefs. I know someone who was talking about how they really liked Southpark, but when I brought up “The Book of Mormon”, they felt that it wasn’t a good thing to watch.  I don’t like South Park, but I loved the Musical.  I did have one comment. I think what puts Mormon’s on the defense when others say what they believe is that although they can be technically correct, they are not portraying the belief in the way that most believe it. For example saying that we believe that we will get our own planet. I have never heard someone in testimony say “I know that if I am good than I will get my own planet.” I do not believe most members would articulate it that way. Instead they would probably talk about how we have the potential to progress and gain many of the things that God has. I can’t see someone saying, although I am sure people have said it, that I believe that God changed his mind about black people. The explanation would probably be more nuanced than that, like I don’t understand why this happened but I believe God is all-knowing and all-loving and he is at the head of the church, and we will understand it later. (Dustin- Would you agree with me? In your most believing periods of life would you have said God changed his mind about black people? I can’t see a believer saying that.)  Again, what would you hear people say in a classic Mormon testimony? I know this is the one and true church, I know that Jesus Christ is my savior and redeemer; I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet who spoke to God. Etc.  I only say this because of the comment that the writers weren’t making jokes, but merely saying what Mormons believe. Those things that many will often pick on are not necessarily the aspects of the church that are really important to people.  With that said, I really liked it. I wish the play didn’t have so much profanity, and vulgar jokes, so I could show it to all of my friends and family in the church.

    • Randy Snyder Reply

      Brian, I get what u r saying. But that’s not the point of the musical, to get the verbiage and Mormon cultural colloquialisms just right. It was satire to show what these beliefs look like to an outsider when not spun and softened to make them sound less absurd. If the musical was written the way TBMs would have felt more comfortable with, it would have sucked spectacularly. But that gap is what we acknowledge in the podcast as insurmountable given the TBM mentality.

  13. Fred W. Anson Reply

    I apologize for being late to post on this podcast – and I hope that my comments don’t get bury underneath the wildly popular Masonic episodes that have set the board on fire!
    (is it just me or does it seem like the podcasts have been particularly good lately?) 

    Anyhow, I thought that the points made in this podcast were extremely insightful. And I thought that Heather did an absolutely stunning job – you never would have known that she was “flying solo” for the first time. 

    In fact, my current blog ( http://mormonexpression.com/blogs/2011/07/11/falsely-accused-my-life-as-an-anti/ ) was still a loose, sloppy, work in progress when I listened to this discussion. The comments about Mormons being too quick to play the “Anti” card gave me the inspiration that I needed to finish it up and get it published. So I guess y’all a BIG thank you for that – as well as provoking me to stretch and think deeply about some of the issues you addressed in your dialog. (especially the wild tangents I loved ’em!) 

    Thanks y’all, I really appreciate it!

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *