The Book of Mormon, Matt Stone and Trey Parker's Broadway Musical (TL;DR: it rules)

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29 Responses to “The Book of Mormon, Matt Stone and Trey Parker's Broadway Musical (TL;DR: it rules)”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Is what follows religious? I think not, but it’s ultimately up to you to decide.

    I think extraterrestrials keep us from extinguishing ourselves, and the rest of the life on this planet (but they don’t engage in “mind control;” they still respect our limited freedom on this planet); for example, nuclear weapon disablement before the warheads actually get used for very large scale destruction. (And there’s reports of this happening, by the way. Just search “nuclear weapons disablement”, probably without the quotes.) Thus, I’m not really worried that a crazy nut-job will use warheads, as the weapons will just get disabled before they can be fired. But small-scale destruction still happens, of course (like murders), because those don’t lead to the whole planet falling dead.

    In a way, this is similar to the religious idea that “You’re being watched,” but it’s more like “Humanity is being watched and carefully managed; every single individual human, though, isn’t forcibly controlled 24/7.” The difference, of course, is that this idea could, one day, be proven, one way or the other. There is no scientific experiment that could prove a deity’s existence. (The easy proof that I’m wrong, of course, is global nuclear war starting up, and continuing until we all bomb ourselves into extinction. And, strange as it might sound, I think this happened with Mars, or some other “Stupidity killed everything” sort of thing, or the planet never had life at all, or any number of other crazy theories.)

    And about the warheads used in WWII against Japan: Those were explicitly permitted, to give an example of just how horrible those kinds of weapons are, so we’d decide for ourselves to not use those weapons again. (And not have to have the warheads repeatedly disabled until we “get it.”) But we don’t get to use those weapons again for anything but tightly controlled, nobody-gets-hurt bomb drop tests.

    And one last, especially crazy theory: We’re currently being prevented from engaging in much more serious, very practical space travel because the majority of us are just too ignorant to leave our planet and behave peacefully wherever we go out there, and the few of us that are aren’t connected to any space organizations well enough to get things happening in that direction. Essentially, the extraterrestrials won’t let us engage in relentless, careless profit grabs out in the universe, but colonizing and subsequent nativization would be allowed, if done in a constructive, cooperative, respect-for-the-environment sort of way; while nature might not “abhor a vacuum,” I think she does “abhor complete sterility.”

  2. Anonymous says:

    Why do you always bring 2 Mormons fishing? If you bring one he’ll drink all your beer…

  3. Fray says:

    I was amused and a little surprised by the Church’s official response to this musical, which I had expected to be a little more disapproving, or at least longer than one sentence: “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’m a faithful Mormon, and while I obviously take exception to the claim by an earlier comment that the theological foundations of the religion is “demonstrably false”, I can say that I have enjoyed Parker and Stone’s work in the past, and they do genuinely seem to have some affection for Mormons, (or at least a preoccupation) although some of us might wish they’d tone it down a bit…

    • Anonymous says:

      Ok, so you’re a Mormon, are you American? Because maybe only someone who’s both can tell us why Mitt Romney does so poorly.

      Republicans prefer crazy?

    • Anonymous says:

      The church tries not to create attention by denouncing things – it will only make people curious. That is a clever release, though.

      Parker and Stone are ex-Mormons, so I can see why they love to use the LDS faith as inspiration.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I do think the south park guys have pro mormon bias. No problem doing an episode on all the stupid secrets of scientology or catholic pedophiles, but in the mormon episode there was no mention of the mormons funniest aspect, their magic underwear.

  5. shakeyquant says:

    For many exmormons like myself it didn’t take much investigation to determine the dubious historicity of The Book of Mormon but like my Jewish friend that loves baby back ribs, even though I don’t hold on to my familial religious superstitions doesn’t mean I hate it. Like their well made All About Mormon Southpark episode they walk the like well between ridiculing a horny confidence man starting a religion and good people with strange beliefs.

    Cheers!

    Jake D.

  6. Anonymous says:

    There is a special Heaven for those that have a good sense of humor. Having a good sense of humor causes people who might be critical, to maybe, relax, and laugh.

    I think LDS people recognize that. Believe it or not, Mormons like to laugh just like anyone else.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Question for savvy Musical-goer: I notice many plays go on tour after debuting in New York. Any idea if this will make its rounds to the major cities? I’d like to see it. Probably based on revenue? TBD? Thanks

  8. schr0559 says:

    Caught this last week. It is absolutely hilarious. Their take on Mormons is much like the South Park episode on the same topic: it’s a goofy religion with well-meaning, but brainwashed and naive adherents. The satire is sharp without being mean, but it has plenty of juvenile humor too.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Personally, I’m willing to believe that it’s completely funny and fair-minded. OTOH, I have NO idea how you can do a show about Mormons and leave out the part about the church acting as a tax-exempt PAC that works tirelessly to interfere with the basic civil rights of Blacks, women and gay Americans.

    Parker and Stone may find the Mormons of their acquaintance “nice” but “nice” people don’t actively use the law to repress others. Simple as that.

  10. EeyoreX says:

    As long as we’re sitting around theorizing about what Tray&Matt’s general motives and religious afflictions are, and weather or not that makes them evil, why not toss in a few sound bites from the boys themselves:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHQOyto6LFQ&NR=1
    and
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_n7HiZ266TE

    Also, speaking as a card-carrying pope of Discordia, something that never ceases to amuse me is the amazing sense of entitlement that some self-defined “atheists” like to display whenever someone is talking about religion from another wiewpoint than their own.

    Atheism may not be a religion, but you can’t deny that there is something downright religious about how that special type of atheists always like to divide the world into black or white, apologist or truthspeaker, with no middle ground.
    And I think Tray&Matt are also aware of the hilarity of that, and somtimes do stuff precisely to wind those people up. Their main goal is comedy, after all.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Any religious or superstitious person mocking Mormons should at least be aware of their own glaring hypocrisy.

    For us atheists, it might as well be called “Straw-Men: the Musical” or “Low-Hanging Fruit”.

  12. Nadreck says:

    All of the LDS people I know love a good Mormon joke and know all the best ones. Although the theological foundations are, even if one is religious, demonstratively bunk via Joseph Smith’s paper trail, they do walk the talk to a greater degree than most religions.

    Few things scarier than the Mormon offshoot groups though. Eg. the guys in Culver City.

  13. Tim says:

    When I first heard about this show being written I didn’t know what to think. On one hand, I think South Park has some of the best cultural commentary outside of The Daily Show on a lot of things. On the other, I can only take so many religious/Mormon jokes before it just gets tiring and monotonous.

    It’s good to hear the show was enjoyable. I’ll have to check out the soundtrack when it comes out; I doubt I’ll be in NYC anytime soon to actually see the show itself.

    • Anonymous says:

      For the sake of musical theatre geek accuracy, Broadway shows don’t have “soundtracks”, movies do…because it comes from an actual sound track in the film. Broadway shows don’t have tracks, obviously. So their recordings are referred to as “Original Cast Recording”.

  14. Anonymous says:

    In this article from 2006 Trey indicates that they’re not atheists:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/Entertainment/Story?id=2479197&page=2

    • Anonymous says:

      seems to me that maybe they just hadn’t worked out all their thoughts on the matter at the time of that interview.

  15. Lenoxus says:

    As a gnu atheist, I’m deeply offended by anything which fails to outright skewer religion. Just-kidding-sort-of…

    While I’m sure this show is quite good, I’ve always been frustrated by South Park’s halfheartedness when it comes to delivering the “Aesop” of the story. No matter what issue an episode addresses, it always turns out that this side has good points and that side has good points and maybe the truth lies in the middle!

    I guess what I’m saying is, going by the reviews, this show does look very fun… but hasn’t religion received enough love notes by now? Yes, even (or especially) from atheists?

    By “skewer” I mean striking the core (eg, attacking the very idea that faith is a wonderful thing), not just name-calling/poop jokes that are easily dismissed. (Or personal attacks on specific theists, which this musical seems thankfully bereft of, what with its sympathetic Mormons.)

    South Park has pulled off at least one excellent satire of theism I can think of, and it does involve Mormonism, but not like you might expect.

    • Tim says:

      I don’t think religion receives quite the welcome in intellectual circles that you might think. Dr. Richard Dawkins, Dr. Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens have all written rather extensively and, from a certain standpoint, aggressively against religion.

      Of course I’m biased on this matter, but I do believe there is a lot of good that can come from religion. I have my personal disagreements with things of various faiths, but in general it’s hard to disagree with “Treat others as you would be treated”. Similarly, sociological/psychological studies have found that people do behave better when they are told they’re being watched, so for some people the idea that God is always watching would be a good thing. Is it ideal that people have to have a record being kept of all their actions in order to behave? Of course not. It’s the reason I hold many atheists I know in very high regard–in my mind they are truly good people because they’re good and honest solely for the sake of being good and honest, not because of some anticipated reward. But not everyone is like that; a lot of people aren’t. For those who don’t have that internal motivation to be good, honest and charitable, religion can provide some guidance.

      • SamSam says:

        Actually, Lenoxus said that South Park is too even-handed with both sides of many arguments, and said nothing about “intellectual circles.”

        I’m not sure that’s true though. South Park generally seems to have no-tolerance for things that are just dumb, like Scientology. From what little I’ve seen of their reaction to Mormons, they don’t think that Mormonism is particularly dumb, per se, but they find most of their origin story pretty dumb (which may or may not amount to the same thing).

        Personally, this heathen doesn’t see why believing that American Indians are a lost tribe of Jews is any dumber than believing that… well… you know I can pick on any religious fable I like.

        • WizarDru says:

          Personally, this heathen doesn’t see why believing that American Indians are a lost tribe of Jews is any dumber than believing that… well… you know I can pick on any religious fable I like.

          Be that as it may, most religions don’t have back-stories that directly violate recorded history and the existing historical record. A lot of the Bible is arguably political assassination of their enemies (For example, the Hittites), but doesn’t blatantly violate the historical record.

          Now, if you mean that a dude being told by an angel where some golden tablets with scriptures on them is no more ridiculous than believing that a dude talking to a burning bush, turning a staff into a snake or any similar claim from any other relgiion…well, there, I agree with you.

          • SamSam says:

            Be that as it may, most religions don’t have back-stories that directly violate recorded history and the existing historical record.

            Is believing that Native Americans are a lost tribe of Jews really that different than believing than the first people on Earth were Jewish, as all the Religions of the Book claim, in terms of violating recorded history?

            That said, it’s possible that LDS-followers have a greater percentage of literalists in their ranks than other Book-followers. I don’t know — most Christians that I talk to are fine with cavemen, but I haven’t asked many Mormons.

          • enishmarati says:

            “Is believing that Native Americans are a lost tribe of Jews really that different than believing than the first people on Earth were Jewish, as all the Religions of the Book claim, in terms of violating recorded history?”

            Curious what you’re referring to here. Adam and Eve, the first people, are not “Jews.” There are no Jews in the sense that you mean until god calls Abram to leave his homeland and go to Israel and later orders him to circumcise his family, if even then (as it can be said that they are not Jews until god gives the law to Moses).

          • Anonymous says:

            A lot of the Bible is arguably political assassination of their enemies (For example, the Hittites), but doesn’t blatantly violate the historical record.

            Except the creation, exodus, and stuff like that.

      • Lenoxus says:

        I don’t think religion receives quite the welcome in intellectual circles that you might think. Dr. Richard Dawkins, Dr. Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens have all written rather extensively and, from a certain standpoint, aggressively against religion.

        Well, I’m not talking about academia, but even if I were, the “Four Horsemen” are not representative anyway. The primary academic/intellectual consensus is a definite reverence for most forms of faith, except fundamentalism (whatever that may be).

        If it’s “spiritual”, it gets a free pass in discourse and isn’t expected to defend its claims. The claims could very well be true, but they don’t have the chance to prove themselves either way, because they’re “personal”.

        I have my personal disagreements with things of various faiths, but in general it’s hard to disagree with “Treat others as you would be treated”.

        Even though that statement is a part of Christianity, there’s nothing religious about it. And the way in which religion gets to claim basic compassion is yet another annoying tendency on its part. Not to mention the way in which Christianity has made itself equal to “religion” in the public mind, to other religions’ detriment.

        This means that well-meaning people will say “All religions, despite their superficial differences, really have the same basic message of loving your neighbor” and no one will bat an eye — or point out the distinctions between that and, for example, the Buddhist message of detachment from the self, or the Muslim message of exalted submission to the Divine. (Or even the immense disagreement between Christian sects on some rather important questions.)

        For those who don’t have that internal motivation to be good, honest and charitable, religion can provide some guidance.

        This is condescending and I’ll have none of it. Besides, religion doesn’t do as advertised there anyway, because it keeps making up extra rules that people feel obliged to enforce. If your basis of principles for not stealing or lying is also a basis for discriminating against gay people, then you’re going to act on that second part, too, and you’re going to point to the first part as a very reasonable-sounding justification.

        “So what about moderates who don’t do believe all that bad stuff?” Well, apart from secular ethics, just how can one possibly sort out “the good parts” from the bad? Euthyphro dissected that particular justification long ago; either the reasons to be good are derived from something other than the gods, or they are arbitrary. In other words, the only way to determine if you’re on the right track is to go by something other than religion, and that’s not a terribly religious way to operate, given that faith and God are supposed to connect us to profound, ultimate truths.

        I should clarify that I intend far more venom towards religion than its followers. My arguments are meant for the more abstract questions of “How should we figure out what is true, or what is good?”, not “Are religious people ‘better/worse/smarter/dumber’ than non-religious?”

        • EeyoreX says:

          “…This is condescending and I’ll have none of it…

          Like I said earlier in the thread: amazing sense of entitlement.

          It´s always nice when somebody steps up to illustrate your point down to the letter.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Matt and Trey were brilliant on Letterman a couple of weeks ago, in case you missed it. They were totally Sheen-ing out:
    http://gtcha.me/gBHHTX

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