Everybody (including myself) seems to be using the new musical The Book of Mormon as an excuse to write about the LDS Church. One of the most interesting is an article by Ken Jennings in of all places . . . the NY Daily News (7 Apr 2011). For those of you who don’t remember, Jennings (who calls himself both a practicing Mormon and a fan of musical theater) made a name for himself on Jeopardy, and recently returned to the game show take on an IBM computer named Watson (he lost).
The hook to Jennings’ article is the hypothesis that “Parker and Stone’s Book echo(es) the book published in 1830 by LDS founder Joseph Smith” in some “surprising ways.” I will mention only one here:
You’ve probably heard that “The Book of Mormon” musical winds up betraying a strange affection for the believers of all faiths that it skewers. . . . Parker and Stone seem content to judge religions not by their truth claims–which as atheists, they find ludicrous–but by the sense of hope and especially the good works religion can inspire.
This is an easy message to find in the pages of the “Book of Mormon” as well. In the fourth chapter of the book of Mosiah, a king named Benjamin gathers his people together for a farewell address, in which he tells them the meaning of true Christianity: giving to the poor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and visiting the sick, humbly and without judgment. I think Parker and Stone might also find much to like in Alma chapter 32, a sermon in which faith is compared to a seed, and the believers are told to judge it by the fruit it bears.