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The Flawed Conceit of "The Book of Mormon" Musical

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I'm reminded of the situation with Mormons.  This past week, the whole of our GD class went in on describing those who leave as those who get offended, or are lazy.  It didn't ring true to me either because the night before we got together with a few friends who had left the Church.  None were offended and none are lazy.  When I spoke up in class objecting to the central conceit of the class members, as they created caricatures of loved ones which in the end imagined their loved ones out of existence; they did little more than shrug and continued in the central conceit.

I haven't seen the musical, but I imagine you probably have a point.  Luckily for them it is just for comedy or drama.  Most who see it realize it's intended caricaturizing for the sake of the show.  On the other hand, the typical LDS conceit is applied to real life people. 

Thanks for the post.

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8 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

I'm reminded of the situation with Mormons.  This past week, the whole of our GD class went in on describing those who leave as those who get offended, or are lazy.  It didn't ring true to me either because the night before we got together with a few friends who had left the Church.  None were offended and none are lazy.  When I spoke up in class objecting to the central conceit of the class members, as they created caricatures of loved ones which in the end imagined their loved ones out of existence; they did little more than shrug and continued in the central conceit.

Yes, that conceit is not systematic.  There is a broad spectrum of reasons why people become less active in or leave the Church.  

8 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

I haven't seen the musical, but I imagine you probably have a point.  Luckily for them it is just for comedy or drama.  Most who see it realize it's intended caricaturizing for the sake of the show.  On the other hand, the typical LDS conceit is applied to real life people. 

Both conceits are being applied "to real life people."  Both conceits are substantive inaccurate as applied to the subject group.

Thanks,

-Smac

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28 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Both conceits are being applied "to real life people."  Both conceits are substantive inaccurate as applied to the subject group.

Thanks,

-Smac

 

I'm not a fan of The Book of Mormon musical and so this shouldn't be taken as a defense of it in principle.  But I'll just point out that its depiction of missionaries as zealous rubes and bumpkins has root in LDS culture itself, most prominently shown in the popular 1970's stage play/early 90's video/ mid-2010s movie "Saturday's Warrior".  I've seen the play a few times with presumably predominantly LDS audiences, and I assure you people are laughing and enjoying the portrayal of the missionaries. 

So while there may be a myriad of reasons to criticize the musical, I don't know if indignation over not treating missionaries with the respect they deserve is one that will ring true.  In fact, if you watch the clip below, I would bet dollars to donuts that the creators of The Book of Mormon musical were actually influenced by this portrayal of the missionary companions when creating their characters.  Physically, they are similar, and the dynamic is similar.  The only difference is that the stories veer in drastically different directions...  

 

 

Edited by cinepro

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10 minutes ago, cinepro said:

I'm not a fan of The Book of Mormon musical and so this shouldn't be taken as a defense of it in principle.  But I'll just point out that its depiction of missionaries as zealous rubes and bumpkins has root in LDS culture itself, most prominently shown in the popular 1970's stage play/early 90's video/ mid-2010s movie "Saturday's Warrior". 

I can't help but wonder if Parker/Stone cribbed from Saturday's Warrior when developing The Book of Mormon musical.  The overlapping characterizations of the missionaries in both shows seems rather obvious (main missionary is tall, handsome, idealistic, naive, and companion is shorter, chubby, nerdy).

Quote

I've seen the play a few times with presumably predominantly LDS audiences, and I assure you people are laughing and enjoying the portrayal of the missionaries. 

Same here (though I haven't seen it in quite a while).  But the goofiness of the missionaries in SW is a trivial side bit, not a central conceit of the overall narrative.

Quote

So while there may be a myriad of reasons to criticize the musical, I don't know if indignation over not treating missionaries with the respect they deserve is one that will ring true:

It's not indignation.  It's not about the lack of respect.  it's about the central conceit being false, as not ringing true.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97

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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

First, let me explain what I mean by "conceit":

By way of example, consider Star Trek: The Next Generation, one of my favorite childhood TV shows, which involved future spacefaring humans who traveled to the far reaches of the galaxy and regularly interacted with other species who were usually remarkably similar in form and appearance to humans, and also spoke English.  These two "conceits" were pretty much standard fare throughout the TV series.  These were necessary, I think, for the production of a weekly TV show.  Budgetary constraints probably limited the producers in terms of developing alien species that were, in their appearance, singular and non-humanoid.  So they'd usually put some weird clothes on these aliens-of-the-week, perhaps a few prosthetic embellishments on their noses or eyes or foreheads, and call it good.  The same goes for the boy-it-sure-is-handy-that-nearly-everyone-Captain-Picard-runs-into-speaks-perfect-English conceit.  The Enterprise crew made occasional reference to some sort of technology called the "Universal Translator," but by and large they interacted with alien species by using good ol' American English (except for Captain Picard, the French guy sporting a British accent).

I didn't care about these conceits when I watched TNG as a teenager, and I don't care about them now.  Storytelling necessarily requires them.  Conceits are part of the suspension of disbelief.  When I watch To Kill a Mockingbird with Gregory Peck or Twelve Angry Men with Peter Fonda or It's a Wonderful Life with James Stewart, I suspend my disbelief.  I know that Peck and Fonda and Stewart were just actors.  I know that Peck was not a lawyer, that Fonda was not a jury member, and that Stewart was not the director of a barely-surviving building & loan company.  The same goes for when I see a good production at Hale Center Theatre.  I just don't care.  The escapism, indulging the conceits necessary to telling these stories, is part of the ride.  I want to suspend disbelief.  I want to think of James Stewart as George Bailey.  I want to be immersed, for a few short hours, in George's life, his ambitions, his innate decency and self-sacrifice in giving his college money to his little brother and postponing/abandoning his dreams of travelling the world, his conflicted courting of Mary, his frustrations with living in a small town, and so on.  For about two hours, I am totally okay with the various conceits and contrivances necessary for me to suspend my disbelief and be drawn into the world of Bedford Falls.  Or into the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama circa the 1930s.  Or on a starship with Captain Picard and DeAnna Troi (I mention her because my wife looks like a hybrid of her and Princess Leia). 

Listening to stories has, for me, become more that just a way to pass the time or to be entertained.  I usually want to learn something.  I want to come away from listening to or watching or reading a story with some part of me more enriched than it was before.  To that end, conceits are both necessary and beneficial.  

However, there are times when conceits become an impediment to the story.  For example, Birth of a Nation has, as its central conceit, the notion that the Ku Klux Klan was a good and benevolent force in society.  I cannot really enjoy that movie because of this flawed conceit, nor can I really justify watching it in the first place because of this conceit (particularly given how little free time I have).  Similarly, I am not inclined to watch films like The Cider House Rules and Vera Drake, which portray abortion "as a noble social good removing the chains of ignorance and oppression from women."  Films like The Count of Monte Christo (2002 version), Frida and Brokeback Mountain include as centralized conceits the justification/rationalization of adultery.  Me Before You is a film about a paralyzed young man who commits suicide, and in which "{n}ot only is death portrayed as better than living with a disability, but the ultimate act of love, for a person who lives with a disability, is his or her own death," and which "perpetuates the idea that death is better –even nobler– than living with a disability."

I have problems with these movies because they have centralized conceits that overcome the merits of the story, or can even undermine the story altogether.  

This all brings me to the point of this thread, namely, the flawed conceit that is central to The Book of Mormon musical.  One of the central conceits of this show is portraying Mormon missionaries as provincial rubes, as "goofy, clueless young men whose pants don’t reach their shoes."  The audience is invited, expected, to join in laughing at and ridiculing the ignorant fools who go out and spend two years of their lives living in very spartan, backwater conditions (compared to America, that is).  

To me, this conceit rings false.  Very false.  To-the-point-of-undermining-the-story false.  Nicholas Christof made the following observation a few years ago:

I look at my family and acquaintances and find that this description rings true.  

My father spent three years in his youth as a missionary in Argentina.  He and my mother then spent two years as missionaries in Samoa and a tiny little town in Texas.  They are presently serving another (and likely final) mission in Zimbabwe.  My in-laws are also serving a mission, in San Antonio.  My brother spent about 13 years living in the South Pacific working on various projects for the Church.  He presently continues to travel all around the world working on the Church's various international initiatives (clean water, gardening, micro-credit, etc.).  My brother-in-law and his wife (my sister) are preparing to leave the U.S. and spend a few years in the South Pacific, where my BIL (a doctor) will providing humanitarian medical care.  These are all in addition to the regular amounts of service various family members give while serving in various callings in the Church.

In my immediate family (my parents, siblings and in-laws), we have people who have served missions or otherwise lived abroad in Argentina, Brasil, New Zealand, Russia, China, Venezuela, Romania, the Philippines, Taiwan, Samoa, and Vanuatu, as well as less "exotic" places like the Fairbanks, Alaska, the Navajo Reservation and inner-city St. Louis.  Languages spoken (and/or heavily studied) by my family members include Spanish, French, Latin, Portuguese,  Italian, Russian, Mandarin, Samoan, Tagalog, Cebuano, Romanian, Navajo, ASL and Bislama. 

I have a Hawaiian sister (who married a Filipino), a Tahitian brother, and a Samoan sister-in-law.  My brother and his wife are fostering two refugee boys from Afghanistan (in addition two their two sons and their adopted Samoan daughter).  My family lived in Hawai'i for ten years.  My dad's parents grew up in Colonia Juarez in Mexico. 

My extended family's Thanksgiving dinners often include eclectic offerings in addition to the standard fare, such as Kailua pork, Tamales, roasted chilis (from Hatch, NM, of course) and taro root. 

Three of us have served in the military. 

Two have been exchange students (my daughter is currently in Italy).

My mom spent nearly 20 years creating and running the "Hope of America" program, which involves thousands of kids performing in the Marriott Center at BYU each year.

Both my parents have bachelor degrees.  My father has two master's degrees.  My oldest brother has a master's and a JD, and his wife has a BS.  My other older brother as a master's and a PhD in psychology, and his wife has a master's in clinical nutrition.  My sister has a BS in elementary education, and also a master's degree.  Her husband is a pediatrician.  I also have a sister-in-law with a master's degree theatrical directing from the University of London, and her husband as an MS in theatrical lighting and design.  I have another brother with a degree in engineering who has successfully started several different businesses.  I also have brothers-in-law with bachelor's degrees in film production, graphic design, and English.  I have a JD, and my wife has a BS and is considering pursuing a master's degree.

I live in a neighborhood near BYU in Provo.  About 1/3rd of our ward is comprised of young married couples where one or both spouses is/are pursuing a formal education, quite often including advanced degrees (or they move out of our ward to somewhere else to pursue advanced degrees).  We have various ethnicities in our ward, and who knows how many people who speak second (and third) languages.  Our stake also has a Japanese ward and a Spanish ward.

My parents have 31 grandchildren, and my in-laws have 23.  Altogether my children have 42 cousins.  Most of us struggle financially to one extent or another (kids are expensive, after all), but none of us are on welfare or in subsidized housing.  

I have a brother who spent several years in prison on drug-related charges.  While in prison he kicked his habit.  He completed his term of incarceration, has re-joined the family (we were estranged for a long time), and has started up a successful business.

My family is not perfect by any means, but in the main we work hard, take care of our children and each other, hold down jobs, and otherwise contribute meaningfully to society.  My family members are well-educated, well-traveled, speak various languages, have various skill sets, are devoted to their families, and spend lots of time in serving other people.  I attribute much (most) of this to the teachings of the LDS Church.  My parents and my in-laws have raised their children in the Church, and have taught them the principles of hard work, getting an education, honesty, the importance of marriage and family, service to others, faith, and so on.

I think Nichola Kristof is right.  Utah probably is one of the most "cosmopolitan" states in the U.S., largely because of the Mormons living there.  And there are plenty of Mormons outside of Utah who are similarly situated and accomplished.  

This is why I think the central conceit of The Book of Mormon musical is so flawed.  It paints Mormons as provincial ignoramuses, when in reality we are as "cosmopolitan" as the rest of society, and in some ways even more so.  How many audience members laughing at the buffoons in The Book of Mormon musical have spent 18-24 months as a volunteer overseas (or otherwise away from home)?  How many have spent huge amounts of time learning first-hand about other languages, customs, cultures, etc.?

I've been thinking about seeing The Book of Mormon when it next comes to Utah, but I don't think I will.  The tickets are expensive, and I'd rather spend the money on a production at the new Hale Center Theatre in Sandy.  It's also incredibly profane.  But more than that, its central conceit rings false.  The Cider House Rules and Vera Drake and Frida and Brokeback Mountain are all films that I have chosen not to see for various reasons, including their flawed conceits (rationalizing abortion and adultery).  I have seen The Count of Monte Christo (2002 version) and Me Before You.  I initially enjoyed the former, but came to be bothered enough by its flawed conceit (its justification of adultery) that I felt further viewings would be inappropriate.  I watched Me Before You without knowing what it was about, and was rather irritated to find it to be, in essence, an extended apologetic for suicide, so I won't be watching it again.

As for The Book of Mormon, its central conceit does not ring true. 

Thanks,

-Smac

 

I totally agree with you about the LDS being cosmopolitan! After they've gone out into the world like they do, and their clean living enables much to be done, and their drive to serve others. There is so much good to say about them. Recently came back from vacation to Mexico with my very TBM relatives. It was pretty funny the looks we'd get when we would say no alcohol at the fine dining places we chose to eat. It was an all inclusive restaurant. But we made many friends at these establishments, my inlaws are kidders and are lots of fun for the most part. The waiters would kid us about not drinking, but all in fun. My in laws have large families and most have served missions all over the world, know several languages also. I think we were the only group out in public that would get together and play games in the lobby or eleswhere that you could see. Most were at the disco or somewhere drinking all the free alcohol. But I don't disparage drinkers at all. Hope those that drink don't think that. I just could see we were an anomaly. Luckily my in laws weren't too judgemental, but they aren't purely innocent of this, sometimes they say a few things that bug me. I haven't seen the BoM play either, and probably won't ever. I don't like hearing how they portray LDS either. 

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36 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I can't help but wonder if Parker/Stone cribbed from Saturday's Warrior when developing The Book of Mormon musical.  The overlapping characterizations of the missionaries in both shows seems rather obvious (main missionary is tall, handsome, idealistic, naive, and companion is shorter, chubby, nerdy).

Same here (though I haven't seen it in quite a while).  But the goofiness of the missionaries in SW is a trivial side bit, not a central conceit of the overall narrative.

It's not indignation.  It's not about the lack of respect.  it's about the central conceit being false, as not ringing true.

Thanks,

-Smac

I agree with you, and have always been mystified that my not being impressed with the musical seems to put me in the small, small minority of LDS critics.  I've only listened to the soundtrack and watched a bootleg of it, so perhaps seeing it live in the theater is the operative condition. 

While I find parts of it to be witty and entertaining, like you, I just can't get "into" it.  But it's not because of the caricature of the missionaries.  

Edited by cinepro

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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

First, let me explain what I mean by "conceit":

By way of example, consider Star Trek: The Next Generation, one of my favorite childhood TV shows, which involved future spacefaring humans who traveled to the far reaches of the galaxy and regularly interacted with other species who were usually remarkably similar in form and appearance to humans, and also spoke English.  These two "conceits" were pretty much standard fare throughout the TV series.  These were necessary, I think, for the production of a weekly TV show.  Budgetary constraints probably limited the producers in terms of developing alien species that were, in their appearance, singular and non-humanoid.  So they'd usually put some weird clothes on these aliens-of-the-week, perhaps a few prosthetic embellishments on their noses or eyes or foreheads, and call it good.  The same goes for the boy-it-sure-is-handy-that-nearly-everyone-Captain-Picard-runs-into-speaks-perfect-English conceit.  The Enterprise crew made occasional reference to some sort of technology called the "Universal Translator," but by and large they interacted with alien species by using good ol' American English (except for Captain Picard, the French guy sporting a British accent).

Yes, and in the BBC version of "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," Picard played the part of KGB head Karla, but never had to say a word.

Quote

I didn't care about these conceits when I watched TNG as a teenager, and I don't care about them now.  Storytelling necessarily requires them.  Conceits are part of the suspension of disbelief.  When I watch To Kill a Mockingbird with Gregory Peck or Twelve Angry Men with Peter Fonda or It's a Wonderful Life with James Stewart, I suspend my disbelief.  I know that Peck and Fonda and Stewart were just actors.  I know that Peck was not a lawyer, that Fonda was not a jury member, and that Stewart was not the director of a barely-surviving building & loan company.  The same goes for when I see a good production at Hale Center Theatre.  I just don't care.  The escapism, indulging the conceits necessary to telling these stories, is part of the ride.  I want to suspend disbelief.  I want to think of James Stewart as George Bailey.  I want to be immersed, for a few short hours, in George's life, his ambitions, his innate decency and self-sacrifice in giving his college money to his little brother and postponing/abandoning his dreams of travelling the world, his conflicted courting of Mary, his frustrations with living in a small town, and so on.  For about two hours, I am totally okay with the various conceits and contrivances necessary for me to suspend my disbelief and be drawn into the world of Bedford Falls.  Or into the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama circa the 1930s.  Or on a starship with Captain Picard and DeAnna Troi (I mention her because my wife looks like a hybrid of her and Princess Leia). 

Listening to stories has, for me, become more that just a way to pass the time or to be entertained.  I usually want to learn something.  I want to come away from listening to or watching or reading a story with some part of me more enriched than it was before.  To that end, conceits are both necessary and beneficial.  

However, there are times when conceits become an impediment to the story.  For example, Birth of a Nation has, as its central conceit, the notion that the Ku Klux Klan was a good and benevolent force in society.  I cannot really enjoy that movie because of this flawed conceit, nor can I really justify watching it in the first place because of this conceit (particularly given how little free time I have).  Similarly, I am not inclined to watch films like The Cider House Rules and Vera Drake, which portray abortion "as a noble social good removing the chains of ignorance and oppression from women."  Films like The Count of Monte Christo (2002 version), Frida and Brokeback Mountain include as centralized conceits the justification/rationalization of adultery.  Me Before You is a film about a paralyzed young man who commits suicide, and in which "{n}ot only is death portrayed as better than living with a disability, but the ultimate act of love, for a person who lives with a disability, is his or her own death," and which "perpetuates the idea that death is better –even nobler– than living with a disability."

I have problems with these movies because they have centralized conceits that overcome the merits of the story, or can even undermine the story altogether.  

This all brings me to the point of this thread, namely, the flawed conceit that is central to The Book of Mormon musical.  One of the central conceits of this show is portraying Mormon missionaries as provincial rubes, as "goofy, clueless young men whose pants don’t reach their shoes."  The audience is invited, expected, to join in laughing at and ridiculing the ignorant fools who go out and spend two years of their lives living in very spartan, backwater conditions (compared to America, that is).  

To me, this conceit rings false.  Very false.  To-the-point-of-undermining-the-story false.  Nicholas Christof made the following observation a few years ago:

Christof is correct, and that is not a new observation.  Years ago, when any given bunkhouse on a ranch in Mormon country included several returned missionaries, the conversation tended to be very cosmopolitan, and quite unlike anything conceived in Hollyweird.

Quote

......................................

Three of us have served in the military. 

Two have been exchange students (my daughter is currently in Italy).

My mom spent nearly 20 years creating and running the "Hope of America" program, which involves thousands of kids performing in the Marriott Center at BYU each year.

Both my parents have bachelor degrees.  My father has two master's degrees.  My oldest brother has a master's and a JD, and his wife has a BS.  My other older brother as a master's and a PhD in psychology, and his wife has a master's in clinical nutrition.  My sister has a BS in elementary education, and also a master's degree.  Her husband is a pediatrician.  I also have a sister-in-law with a master's degree theatrical directing from the University of London, and her husband as an MS in theatrical lighting and design.  I have another brother with a degree in engineering who has successfully started several different businesses.  I also have brothers-in-law with bachelor's degrees in film production, graphic design, and English.  I have a JD, and my wife has a BS and is considering pursuing a master's degree.

I live in a neighborhood near BYU in Provo.  About 1/3rd of our ward is comprised of young married couples where one or both spouses is/are pursuing a formal education, quite often including advanced degrees (or they move out of our ward to somewhere else to pursue advanced degrees).  We have various ethnicities in our ward, and who knows how many people who speak second (and third) languages.  Our stake also has a Japanese ward and a Spanish ward.

My parents have 31 grandchildren, and my in-laws have 23.  Altogether my children have 42 cousins.  Most of us struggle financially to one extent or another (kids are expensive, after all), but none of us are on welfare or in subsidized housing.  

I have a brother who spent several years in prison on drug-related charges.  While in prison he kicked his habit.  He completed his term of incarceration, has re-joined the family (we were estranged for a long time), and has started up a successful business.

My family is not perfect by any means, but in the main we work hard, take care of our children and each other, hold down jobs, and otherwise contribute meaningfully to society.  My family members are well-educated, well-traveled, speak various languages, have various skill sets, are devoted to their families, and spend lots of time in serving other people.  I attribute much (most) of this to the teachings of the LDS Church.  My parents and my in-laws have raised their children in the Church, and have taught them the principles of hard work, getting an education, honesty, the importance of marriage and family, service to others, faith, and so on............................................

Does this mean that the MacDonalds are conceited?

Edited by Robert F. Smith

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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

I've been thinking about seeing The Book of Mormon when it next comes to Utah, but I don't think I will.  The tickets are expensive, and I'd rather spend the money on a production at the new Hale Center Theatre in Sandy.  It's also incredibly profane.  But more than that, its central conceit rings false.  The Cider House Rules and Vera Drake and Frida and Brokeback Mountain are all films that I have chosen not to see for various reasons, including their flawed conceits (rationalizing abortion and adultery).  I have seen The Count of Monte Christo (2002 version) and Me Before You.  I initially enjoyed the former, but came to be bothered enough by its flawed conceit (its justification of adultery) that I felt further viewings would be inappropriate.  I watched Me Before You without knowing what it was about, and was rather irritated to find it to be, in essence, an extended apologetic for suicide, so I won't be watching it again.

I think its smart that you're setting boundaries for yourself and what media you're comfortable consuming and know you will likely enjoy.  I love SciFi genre, but if something pushes the boundaries of believably too far, then it really can ruin the experience for me because I end up focusing on the flaws more than enjoying the experience.  I think this is a personal preference thing, as others I talk to often enjoy one of these same movies that annoyed me so much.  Its not about flawed conceits in an objective sense, I think its about subjectively what you know works best for you and your personality.  

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I have no desire to see it at all. Not out of curiosity or any other reason. I despise vulgarity and profanity, and don't find anything funny or endearing in it. 

Nevertheless, I think things like this are of great value for Mormons and the missionaries, because of our personal relationships and spheres of influence. People who see and know good Mormons and good missionaries can see, plain as day, that this "conceit" is false, and this adds to the curiosity and wonder about us. It's when Mormons and missionaries miss opportunities because of their lack of commitment that it is a tragedy, but for many, many Mormons and missionaries, their personal lives and influence speak louder than words. 

And this musical is an amplifying bullhorn, and effective foil that makes us stand out even more. In a good way.

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3 hours ago, smac97 said:

This all brings me to the point of this thread, namely, the flawed conceit that is central to The Book of Mormon musical.  One of the central conceits of this show is portraying Mormon missionaries as provincial rubes, as "goofy, clueless young men whose pants don’t reach their shoes."  The audience is invited, expected, to join in laughing at and ridiculing the ignorant fools who go out and spend two years of their lives living in very spartan, backwater conditions (compared to America, that is).  

To the extent that goofy and clueless are the satirist’s way of taking innocence and naiveté to the extreme, then that seems like a fairly understandable way of portraying young, pre-mission Mormons (especially those hailing from Utah / Idaho). I knew plenty of missionaries on my mission who fit that stereotype.

I agree that the Mormon population at large is much more cosmopolitan than we are generally given credit for, but that knowledge of the world is largely a result of having so many members who have served missions – something that obviously has yet to occur for our young, outgoing proselytizing missionaries. 

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5 hours ago, smac97 said:

 How many audience members laughing at the buffoons in The Book of Mormon musical have spent 18-24 months as a volunteer overseas (or otherwise away from home)?  How many have spent huge amounts of time learning first-hand about other languages, customs, cultures, etc.?

I completely understand and respect that this musical is NOT going to appeal to devout members of the LDS Faith.  I would never, ever recommend devout, Orthodox members of said church go see it--it deals with issues that most would find so objectionable they'd walk out of it within the first 15 min or so. 

However, in answer to your question above, Smac:   Yes.  Many of those of us who were laughing throughout The Book of Mormon musical spent 24 months as volunteers overseas... and many of us have spent huge amounts of time learning first-hand about other languages, customs, cultures, etc.  Because The Book of Mormon: The Musical is actually the story of FORMER members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many of us who served missions ourselves, and can both identify and find humor in aspects of our own spiritual journey that parallel the events on stage.  Mormons themselves acknowledge that missionaries are the "small and simple" things that bring to pass that which is a "marvelous work and a wonder."  What you decry as a false conceit, many of us remember with a wistful fondness--not as the "buffoons" you lament, but in marveling at the naivety we feel we once possessed in believing we knew better than most. 

Having seen it three times, it's clear to me that it's creators did enough research into LDS culture that they knew that from incorporating the level of profanity alone would be enough evidence to demonstrate the play was never intended to be geared toward devout Mormons from the get go.  I understand that virtually everything I wrote in the proceeding paragraph won't resonate or appeal to devout Latter-day Saints; it entirely contradicts your worldview and the mantel that adherents believe falls upon the shoulders of young men going forth to serve.

But don't kid yourself that those of us who laugh and find joy and hope in the story of "The Book of Mormon" inherently hate Mormons or Mormonism.  I still stop and offer them a ride anywhere I see them on the street, or buy their groceries when I see them at Smith's.  I still chuckle as they stand on my doorway testifying that I surely must know the decisions I've made in my life are of the devil.  That's the kind of naïve assurance that Elder Price embodies.  And there's nothing wrong with having it, nor is there anything wrong with looking back on it and finding the humor in it.

Edited by Daniel2

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9 minutes ago, Daniel2 said:

But don't kid yourself that those of us who laugh and find joy and hope in the story of "The Book of Mormon" inherently hate Mormons or Mormonism.  I still stop and offer them a ride anywhere I see them on the street, or buy their groceries when I see them at Smith's.  I still chuckle as they stand on my doorway testifying that I surely must know the decisions I've made in my life are of the devil.

While I chuckle at the thought that anyone would believe that.

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6 hours ago, smac97 said:

roasted chilis (from Hatch, NM, of course)

Ahem, as someone who lives just down the road from Hatch, allow me to point out that it is spelled chile, not chili ;)

Also, make sure you are getting the authentic thing. It should be certified by the New Mexico Chile Association and have the certification logo.

There are companies that claim to use Hatch chile but do not. The most egregious of these is the Hatch Chile Company. They were sued by Hatch chile farmers and the appeals court ruled in the farmers favor. An interesting quote from the decision:

Quote

The Hatch Valley may be to chiles what the Napa Valley is to grapes. Whether it’s the soil, the desert’s dry heat, or the waters of the Rio Grande, the little town of Hatch, New Mexico, and its surroundings produce some of the world’s finest chile peppers. Just ask any of the 30,000 people who descend on the place every year for the chile festival.

The Hatch Chile Company is the most common that you see in stores outside of this area, unfortunately. It looks like this:

51JAUBejb3L._AC_UL320_SR286,320_.jpg

DON'T BUY THIS. The chiles are not from Hatch. It is just the name of the company. Most are poblanos from California, not the green chile varietals that are grown in Hatch.

Ok, back to your original thread topic. I know this was a derail but chiles are sacred in these parts :)

 

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1 hour ago, kiwi57 said:

While I chuckle at the thought that anyone would believe that.

Sorry, I don’t follow... that anyone would believe what....?

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The conceit is largely true. I live in the “mission  field”. I see missionaries fairly often. My comments refer to the male of the species. 

Missionaries in general, dress like the hicks you describe. 

Short sleeve shirts worn under a jacket. A guy in a suit wearing foam soled shoes, even black sneakers. Wrinkled shirts and unpressed slack and jackets are common.  I see this and more every Sunday. 

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I won’t get into how immature eighteen year olds are. At least at nineteen most of us had been away from home or at college or had a job to facilitate these things. 

Realistically, none of this can happen leaving for missions from high school.

i cringe when I recall some of the stupid things I said and did while on my mission.  I’ll be kind to myself, however. I was naive. Luckily, I did know how to dress. 

Edited by mrmarklin

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21 minutes ago, mrmarklin said:

I live in the “mission  field”...

Missionaries in general, dress like the hicks you describe. 

Short sleeve shirts worn under a jacket. A guy in a suit wearing foam soled shoes, even black sneakers. Wrinkled shirts and unpressed slack and jackets are common. 

I don't see this at all.

18 minutes ago, mrmarklin said:

I won’t get into how immature eighteen year olds are.

I also don't see this. One of our current Elders is 18 years old (and serving in his second area). He's easily my equal in maturity, and I'd trust him with my life. He's training a new companion who's 23 and far more immature. I don't think age has anything to do with it necessarily. Over the past few years, our 18-year-olds have been some of the most fantastic missionaries I've ever met.

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1 hour ago, mrmarklin said:

Short sleeve shirts worn under a jacket. A guy in a suit wearing foam soled shoes, even black sneakers. Wrinkled shirts and unpressed slack and jackets are common.  I see this and more every Sunday. 

Sorry, but this brought memories of a story my dad told from his mission in 1930. His comp got a suit dirty and, because he had no money for a pro cleaning, decided to wash his wool suit by hand and then lay it between the box spring and mattress of his bed to ' press ' it . Imagine the results. Mind you , the majority of missionaries in 1930 were rough hewn farm lads. What is today's crop's excuse?

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Mom or the local laundry doing the ironing or not caring.  

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15 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

Ahem, as someone who lives just down the road from Hatch, allow me to point out that it is spelled chile, not chili ;)

Also, make sure you are getting the authentic thing. It should be certified by the New Mexico Chile Association and have the certification logo.

There are companies that claim to use Hatch chile but do not. The most egregious of these is the Hatch Chile Company. They were sued by Hatch chile farmers and the appeals court ruled in the farmers favor. An interesting quote from the decision:

The Hatch Chile Company is the most common that you see in stores outside of this area, unfortunately. It looks like this:

51JAUBejb3L._AC_UL320_SR286,320_.jpg

DON'T BUY THIS. The chiles are not from Hatch. It is just the name of the company. Most are poblanos from California, not the green chile varietals that are grown in Hatch.

Ok, back to your original thread topic. I know this was a derail but chiles are sacred in these parts :)

 

But as all true New Mexicans know in their hearts, Chimayo chiles are the real gold standard.

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On 11/15/2017 at 7:50 AM, Robert F. Smith said:

Hugh Nibley, who had graduated from Los Angeles High School at age 16, was called on his mission at age 17.  He served in a rumpled suit in the Swiss-German Mission, often had no companion, and would have old fashioned oats in one of his suit pockets -- so he could nibble on them when he was hungry.

I have heard that Mary Fielding's son Joseph F. Smith went on his three-year mission to Hawaii at age 15.  He's the guy who became Church Pres, the father of Joseph Fielding Smith.

I have a notion that none of these guys were sharp dressers, but they had what mattered:  character.

I’m not questioning character. 

But most people in the Mormon corridor have no idea how to dress. 

When I went to my son’s wedding in Idaho many years ago, I wore a sharp pressed suit made of wool, a silk tie, a pressed all cotton shirt and leather soled dress shoes.   One cannot get this look any other way.  It’s not cheap  

My sons father in law wore a polyester wool blend suit not very well pressed, a wash and wear shirt with wilted collars, a cheap polyester tie and “dress” shoes with foam soles. 

The contrast was very obvious. 

After the wedding fil asked my son where I got my clothes. He then drove to SLC to get outfitted, since he couldn’t find comparable clothing in Idaho.  He is not a poor person, quite the opposite. He just didn’t know, since everyone around him dressed approximately the same. 

Edited by mrmarklin

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35 minutes ago, mrmarklin said:

I’m not questioning character. 

But most people in the Mormon corridor have no idea how to dress. 

When I went to my son’s wedding in Idaho many years ago, I wore a sharp pressed suit made of wool, a silk tie, a pressed all cotton shirt and leather soled dress shoes.   One cannot get this look any other way.  It’s not cheap  

My sons father in law wore a polyester wool blend suit not very well pressed, a wash and wear shirt with wilted collars, a cheap polyester tie and “dress” shoes with foam soles. 

The contrast was very obvious. 

After the wedding fil asked my son where I got my clothes. He then drove to SLC to get outfitted, since he couldn’t find comparable clothing in Idaho.  He is not a poor person, quite the opposite. He just didn’t know, since everyone around him dressed approximately the same. 

You are no doubt correct.  I can recall a world of natty spit-and-polish in which I looked great in my USMC dress blues, which is O.K. as long as the form is matched by substance.  Then too, women are very impressed by a well dressed man.  Hugh Nibley, of course, publicly questioned the need for grooming standards at BYU.  He once bragged to me that his cheap crepe-soled shoes seemed to last forever, and were also comfortable.  Hugh came from a rich family, raised with a silver spoon in his mouth, but cared not at all for such things.  Probably never in his life wore a tux.

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