Reviews of “The Book of Mormon” musical have been all over the entertainment media in the past few weeks. According to the reviews, the play sketches the journey of two Mormon missionaries from their sheltered life in Salt Lake City to Uganda, where their training and life experience proves wholly inadequate to the realities of a continent plagued by poverty, AIDS, genital mutilation and other horrors. While extolling the musical for its originality, most reviewers also make reference to the play’s over-the-top blasphemous and offensive language.
Dealing with parody and satire is always a tricky thing for churches. We can easily appear thin-skinned or defensive, and churches sometimes are. A few members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have seen this musical and blogged about it seem to have gone out of their way to show how they can take it. That’s their choice. There’s always room for different perspectives, and we can all decide what to do with our free time.
But I’m not buying what I’m reading in the reviews. Specifically, I’m not willing to spend $200 for a ticket to be sold the idea that religion moves along oblivious to real-world problems in a kind of blissful naiveté.