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Author Topic: Book of Mormon
Stone_Wolf_
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I'm a fan of South Park...they are funny and relevant in a way that Family Guy could never touch, that is to say, each episode has a moral. They like to push the limits, and thus, sometimes they are over the line. I loved Team America, and Orgasmo and Cannibal the Musical, even Baseketball had it's moments.

Trey and Matt do a good job of making sure that everyone gets their fair share of palm to face, and I honestly believe that they have a soft place in their hearts for the goodness of the Mormons.

quote:
[addressing the damned]
Hell Director: Hello, newcomers and welcome. Can everybody hear me? Hello?
[taps microphone]
Hell Director: Can everybody... ok. Um, I am the Hell Director. Uh, it looks like we have 8,615 of you newbies today. And for those of you who were little confused: uh, you are dead; and this is Hell. So abbandon all hope and yadda-yadda-yadda. Uh, we are now going to start the orientation PROcess which will last about...
Protestant: Hey, wait a minute. I shouldn't be here, I was a totally strick and devout Protestant. I thought we went to heaven.
Hell Director: Yes, well, I'm afraid you are wrong.
Soldier: I was a practicing Jehovah's Witness.
Hell Director: Uh, you picked the wrong religion as well.
Man from Crowd: Well who was right? Who gets in to Heaven?
Hell Director: I'm afraid it was the MORmons. Yes, the MORmons were the correct answer.
The Damned: Awwww...


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katharina
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The musical is a minstrel show. *shrug* Nobody ever went broke making fun of people. I'm not surprised to find people delighted at the mockery. Minstrel shows were also very popular.
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TomDavidson
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You know, I've seen a minstrel show. Have you? Because I perceive several differences.
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katharina
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Considering your approval of the musical's mockery, your opinion on the matter is not significant.
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kmbboots
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Eh. Just the tip of the iceberg.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Do_Black_Patent_Leather_Shoes_Really_Reflect_Up%3F

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Late_Nite_Catechism

http://northhollywood.patch.com/articles/theater-review-the-catholic-girls-guide-to-losing-your-virginity

http://www.oobr.com/top/volTen/fourteen/1116catholic.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Once_a_Catholic

http://www.lajollalight.com/2011/04/08/north-coast-repertory-theatre-rolls-out-the-comedy-hit-%E2%80%98king-o%E2%80%99-the-moon%E2%80%99-penned-by-the-catholic-neil-simon/

Honestly, if Catholics were going to get their knickers all twisted about theatre poking fun at us, we wouldn't be able to walk.

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SenojRetep
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But how many of those were written and/or produced by people who were (nominally) Catholic? My guess is most or all. That makes a difference.

I'm of no particular opinion w.r.t. the Book of Mormon musical. But being made fun of, even in a gentle way, is different than making fun of yourself.

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kmbboots
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There is so much of it that it is hard to say. Plenty of both, I am sure. Are you counting Catholics that have left the Church?
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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
There is so much of it that it is hard to say. Plenty of both, I am sure. Are you counting Catholics that have left the Church?

I'm not sure what "left the church" means w.r.t. Catholics (or Mormons, for that matter). But I'd be interested in the reaction to something written by people who were never, in any way, part of the Catholic church. That would be analogous to Parker and Stone's various LDS-themed satires.

I think it would probably be unacceptable. Certainly I can't imagine a similar satire not being pretty roundly decried if the protagonists were gay or Jewish or Muslim (when written by people not affiliated with the group being mocked). I would attribute that to the relative recentness (in some cases ongoing) real persecution of those groups. I'm less sure for other groups (like Catholics) who have been the subject of persecution in the more remote past.

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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by DSH:
"Batty" Tom?

All of us?

That would probably depend on the definition of 'batty'.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
I'd be interested in the reaction to something written by people who were never, in any way, part of the Catholic church.
Speaker for the Dead

Of course, it's not satire.

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TomDavidson
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Paul Rudnick, a gay Jew, wrote Sister Act. And no one on the writing team of The Sound of Music had any affiliation with the Catholic church (although of course it's based on a book written by a former nun.)

--------

quote:
Considering your approval of the musical's mockery, your opinion on the matter is not significant.
This seems to me to be an insupportable argument. If the question at hand is whether the musical's mockery is gentle or excessive, it would seem that excluding the opinions and supporting arguments of people who believe it is gentle would rather unfairly prejudice your conclusion. Don't you agree?

[ June 21, 2011, 12:05 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Paul Rudnick, a gay Jew, wrote Sister Act. And no one on the writing team of The Sound of Music had any affiliation with the Catholic church (although of course it's based on a book written by a former nun.)

It was also significantly changed from his original script (so much so that he requested the credit be given psuedonomously). I would hazard that was done to tone down any satirical elements that might have potentially given offense. Certainly my impression of the show* is that it didn't actually portray the Catholic faith (and particularly Catholic doctrine) as anything like the endearing but nutty LDS faith portrayed by Parker and Stone.

*I haven't seen the movie or the follow-on musical. My opinion is based off synopses and vague recollection of marketing material.

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Speed
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I've talked to plenty of LDS people about this play, and have heard a wide range of opinions. One of the most common, and most puzzling, is the statement that "if this were done to any other religion, there would be protests." This is a statement being made by people who consider themselves the prime target of this play's discrimination. In a country with federally protected free speech, and widely available supplies of magic markers and cardboard, why do so many people sit around idly complaining about a lack of protests?

I could understand that statement if it were made as a point of pride. As in, "most other religions would protest a play like this. But our organization and its members are beyond being bothered by some people poking harmless fun at us." That's a statement I could get behind. But when I hear members talking about a lack of protests, it's more like, "This is an outrage! Why has no one formed a picket line on my behalf?"

This isn't a response to any specific post on this thread or in this forum. Just a general observation I've made.

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Stone_Wolf_
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quote:
In a country with federally protected free speech, and widely available supplies of magic markers and cardboard, why do so many people sit around idly complaining about a lack of protests?
[ROFL]
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Shanna
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Just watched the musical. A recording, not the live show.

I'm still trying to decide how I feel about it. Personally, I wasn't all that interested in the subject material or the fame of its creators, but a show with so many Tony wins makes me stand-up and take notice. Its connection to Avenue Q is actually the biggest reason I wanted to see the show.

As a musical, its entertaining. I'd say that about half of the songs are very solid and there were three or four standouts. There were a few slow spots with some awkward pacing. And one of the main characters is a Jack Black/Zach Galifanakis type which I found more annoying than entertaining. I would have preferred fewer songs and some more dialogue, but honestly, its not that kind of musical. Its cute and fun, with bouncy dance numbers and jokes that make pre-teen boys snicker.

As for its treatment of Mormons...I feel like there are worst things than being the "religion of nice guys." And the show really does focus on the missionary aspect of the Church as opposed to the rest of life of as a Mormon. In my area, Mormons are very much in the minority. I actually have quite a few Mormon coworkers but they NEVER talk about it, even in passing. So for me, the boys in the ties on the bicycles are the face of Mormonism. And honestly? I want to shake the higher-ups in the Church and ask them if there isn't a less weird, less creepy "the clones are descending" way of introducing people to their faith.

The evil NYC, atheist, liberal members of the audience will recognize that it isn't just Mormonism's "fringe beliefs" being used for a joke. There isn't a religion in the world that wouldn't be hilarious with a few word substitutions and the right comedic tone of voice. But for the more bitter, anti-faith members of the audience its a nice reminder that religion, even for all its crazy stories about blue people and zombie messiahs, can be useful as a tool for comforting people faced with the nonsense that is life.

I found the show's ending to be very sweet and insightful, which was very unexpected since I am very anti-missionary or conversion faiths.

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advice for robots
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quote:
Originally posted by Shanna:

So for me, the boys in the ties on the bicycles are the face of Mormonism. And honestly? I want to shake the higher-ups in the Church and ask them if there isn't a less weird, less creepy "the clones are descending" way of introducing people to their faith.

The evil NYC, atheist, liberal members of the audience will recognize that it isn't just Mormonism's "fringe beliefs" being used for a joke. There isn't a religion in the world that wouldn't be hilarious with a few word substitutions and the right comedic tone of voice. But for the more bitter, anti-faith members of the audience its a nice reminder that religion, even for all its crazy stories about blue people and zombie messiahs, can be useful as a tool for comforting people faced with the nonsense that is life.

They do look like clones, I guess. Maybe even like Stepford Wives with their smiles and prepared message. However, having been one of them, I try to keep in mind the wide variety of backgrounds they are coming from and the dedication it takes to live the monk-like lifestyle they live for 2 years--as well as get along with another guy they are thrown together with and can't be out of eyesight of for days on end. To merely look presentable in the same white shirt, tie, and trousers they've been wearing every day for the last year. Trust me, if the missionaries do show up on your doorstep, you're seeing two young men who have overcome much of the natural inclinations of 19-year-old boys and have managed to cooperate enough with each other to actually get out of their apartment and start knocking on the doors of strangers to talk about their religion. That's a miracle in itself. It might still bug the crap out of you that they're there. But you've got to appreciate the sheer unlikeliness of their existence. [Smile]

I'm glad the Book of Mormon show ended with a warm feeling for you. I've heard so many opinions on it as well, and haven't personally given it much credence. The few nuggets of truth buried in the songs haven't overcome the somewhat lifeless facsimile of the church I find in them. I'll give them another listen--one of my coworkers has them on iTunes--and try to get past that.

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Samprimary
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quote:
And honestly? I want to shake the higher-ups in the Church and ask them if there isn't a less weird, less creepy "the clones are descending" way of introducing people to their faith.
It's because they look and feel (yes I'm groping them) like walking anachronisms, as if they were trained dutifully via a program/system that hasn't changed notably since before my mom was born. Children of the mst3k shorts, maybe. Lovable little scamps.
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Emreecheek
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Disclaimer: I speak with the authority of somebody who has never watched or heard the musical, apart from some youtube uploads.


The more I hear about the musical, however, the more the "positives" seem to irk me. It seems rather condescending, and that the condescention is so approved and esteemed seems worrisome. Some elements of "I believe" were perterbing. I think it was the line "Mormons just believe." As though there's no rationale at all for believing what they believe. I kept reading into it what it would mean for a broader Christian lyric, where "Christians just believe."

Argue the validity of the statement considering the sheer number of Christians to which it may apply all you want, but not *all* Christians just believe. Some of us have actually read and/or thought about our religon. Some of us actually modified our religious views too, afterwards. Mormon, Christian, whichever, I think it's unfair to make such a sweeping statement about them. I realize it's satire, but I get the feeling (In my vast ignorance) that the message of the musical is "Yup, religion makes no sense, and they're all crazy, but aren't they nice and cute? They do good things sometimes." It's not the satire that bothers me, it's the sincerity of the condenscention.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I realize it's satire, but I get the feeling (In my vast ignorance) that the message of the musical is "Yup, religion makes no sense, and they're all crazy, but aren't they nice and cute? They do good things sometimes."
That is the message of the musical. It's actually quite explicit about advocating the value of belief in something, even if that belief is ultimately false.
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Samprimary
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It's what it essentially boils down to! honestly, mormonism is really, really weird. If it encourages even mormons to look at their own religion from an outsider's perspective, ('ha ha, well, i mean, yeah, that does come off as totally bizzare, yeah? the magic underwear and all the rest of that?') without missing the fact that it doesn't turn you all into horrible evil cultists and that most of you are nice people who try to do good by the world, then all the better.
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TomDavidson
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In fairness, I don't think it's making a comment specific to Mormonism; the LDS church is featured here because those fresh-faced boys in uniform are instantly recognizable, iconic, and easily stereotyped in a way that, say, nuns are, without having already been done to death in other media. But part of the point of the central plot is that pretty much all religions are built on a doctrine that, at the end of the day, is pure craziness; that's the whole target of the "Brigham Young came down from the Starship Enterprise" bit, after all: the idea that from the point of view of the living, the doctrine of a church is ultimately meaningless compared to the lifestyle it inspires in its members. (That said, it wouldn't've had any teeth if he'd used a religion whose doctrine was already familiar or believed by the majority, since making the point that "magic underwear" is not appreciably sillier than "virgin birth" is harder if your audience doesn't realize "virgin birth" is a silly doctrine.)

Note, by the way, that I am not saying that I necessarily agree with this POV. I'm just pointing out that it is a POV that the musical explicitly and passionately advocates. It is also worth noting that every person who suggests that atheists like Richard Dawkins are just too confrontational and offensive is actually advocating this POV.

[ June 22, 2011, 09:49 AM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Samprimary
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No, it's not making a comment specific to mormonism, but it uses them because, as you say, they're perfect material to work on for the theme.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
It's not the satire that bothers me, it's the sincerity of the condenscention.
Well put.

quote:
It's because they look and feel (yes I'm groping them) like walking anachronisms, as if they were trained dutifully via a program/system that hasn't changed notably since before my mom was born.
:nod: That's not far off. [Smile]

I hope you don't mind if I steal that. Because I totally am.

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advice for robots
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The version of Mormonism presented in this work is definitely weird. That it backs up what the masses want to think about Mormonism is not surprising. If you think “magic underwear” when you think Mormonism, then this is the musical for you.
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Stone_Wolf_
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quote:
It's not the satire that bothers me, it's the sincerity of the condescension.
So you would be happier with insincere condescension?
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The Rabbit
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quote:
It is also worth noting that every person who suggests that atheists like Richard Dawkins are just too confrontational and offensive is actually advocating this POV.
Certainly not. Some may be, but there are many reasons to object to confrontational atheism that have nothing to do with advocating this POV. Dawkins is preaching to the choir. If you are concerned about irrational behavior among the devoutly religious, confrontational atheism is counter productive.

When people feel that what they hold sacred is under attack, they become more recalcitrant in their views, retreating to the most conservative, fundamentalist positions. Confrontational atheism doesn't provoke introspection among the devout. Just the opposite. It provokes the worst kind of irrational violent fundamentalist fervor.

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Emreecheek
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I meant sincerity in the fact that the condescension was not parody or satire. It was what was presented as truth, as a message to take away from the play, as something important.

There are many bits in the play where, judging by what I'm hearing (Again, let me emphasize how much second-hand knowledge there is for me), people walk away with thoughts like "It was all in good fun. Of course that's not what they really believe. South Park people were just being crazy." They acknowledge it's humor and not truth. I would likely laugh too, were it funny and well-written (I'm not saying the play is or isn't. There's no intentional implication there.)

The bits that bothered me did not further humor. Instead, they were the parts where the writers seemed to believe they had touched on a universal facet of life - That religons are ridiculous, but their people do good things, and are likable if you can divorce their actions from their beliefs. More audience members, I believe, walk away with this thinking about how the writers included an amelioration of their representation of faith; how they weren't vicious. How they, overall, seemed to like those crazies. They think about the message. This isn't parody, this is a presentation of an idea.

And it's an idea that goes against much I believe (Which wouldn't be a big deal ordinarily),with a presentation that actually bothers me. This is a "message" I wouldn't care about half so much in a play or musical that actually explored these issues. Instead, we're presented with a satire that presents an idea with a wink and the assumption that any idiot knows that it's true, without actually examining it. Perhaps the other bits are enough to make me enjoy the show and watch it. And it is a matter of personal preference; people holding beliefs that are more compatible with the ideas presented will, of course, not be as bothered, as will people who, regardless of their paradigm compatability, aren't as bothered by the presentation as I am. But, at the same time, I wonder how many people come into the play steeling themselves to not believe everything they hear, because the play is a parody, but leave believing the parody-free message unquestioningly.

In response to the actualy inquiry about insincere condescention, Insincere condescension for me, within this particular context, would have been a parody as well. Where the audience laughs at themselves for judging a religon they don't know that much about. Or laughs at how they're comparing a carnival-mirror representation of a tradition to their world views and how presumptuous that is.

I don't know if I'd care to see a show with it, but overall I think I'd find it preferable to sincere condescention as I've presented it.

<EFG>

[ June 22, 2011, 01:35 PM: Message edited by: Emreecheek ]

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by advice for robots:
The version of Mormonism presented in this work is definitely weird. That it backs up what the masses want to think about Mormonism is not surprising. If you think “magic underwear” when you think Mormonism, then this is the musical for you.

The version of Mormonism presented in this work is playing up the weirdness of Mormonism for satirical purposes. I don't think magic underwear when I think Mormonism, but the Mormon faith still has magic underwear. [Smile]

I also think it's fine (and usually pretty useful) to acknowledge when something you do/believe in is extremely bizarre. I'm pretty forward about that on my end. I do some pretty weird stuff.

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Stone_Wolf_
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Emreecheek, thank you for your thoughtful reply.
quote:
That religons are ridiculous, but their people do good things, and are likable if you can divorce their actions from their beliefs.
I'd have to disagree about one small mater in the above quote. I'm sure that you are very close to what they (and I) believe, except for one small but crucial detail. Here is how I would say it:

That religons are ridiculous, but their people can do good things, and can be likable, although some do terrible things and are terrible people no matter what their beliefs are, but Mormons are some of the nicest people in the world.

I personally believe that it is the search for truth that is the key, not actually having one set truth. There have been a lot of atrocities brought on by the idea that "you must believe as we do", and it can be quite dangerous, and in the end, pretty much every religion that I know of has very strange and particular truths they hold sacred. But not all religions generate so many kind and moral, family oriented people who are genuinely interested in helping their fellow man as does the LDS church.

For those of us who believe that all organized religion is bunk, we judge by outcome, not by doctrine. Part of what I have always gotten from Parker and Stone (and share personally) is the sense of appreciation of the fact that Mormons are good people.

Is it a backhanded compliment...yes, but a compliment none the less.

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kmbboots
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And a rather naive compliment.
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Stone_Wolf_
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How is it naive boots?
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Amanecer
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quote:
For those of us who believe that all organized religion is bunk, we judge by outcome, not by doctrine.
This may be true for you, but it's hardly generalizable to all of us who think that organized religion is bunk.
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Stone_Wolf_
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Apologies Amanecer, I should only speak for myself.
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
How is it naive boots?

While they may be "nicer" I don't think that the LDS church (is that right?) is necessarily any more innocuous or benign than most religions are.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I am not sure (after the whole Prop 8 campaign) that the LDS Church is quite so benign. It may be good in a lot of ways, but it isn't harmless.

The Catholic Church was as involved as the LDS Church in that. Catholics who want to talk about the negative impact of organized religion ought to think more than twice before pointing a finger at anyone else.
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kmbboots
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Rabbit, when have I failed to acknowledge the sins of my own Church? Do you get the impression that I refrain from criticizing the Catholic Church?
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Stone_Wolf_
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
How is it naive boots?

While they may be "nicer" I don't think that the LDS church (is that right?) is necessarily any more innocuous or benign than most religions are.
That's the point I'm trying to illustrate. It isn't about the church itself, it's about the people, and in my (admittedly limited) experience with Mormons, they are just super nice people.

So, I don't think it is naive, as I wasn't saying what you thought I was.

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kmbboots
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I haven't found them to be kinder or better as individuals or as a group than people in general.
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Stone_Wolf_
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I have.
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kmbboots
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Ok. Perhaps we have different definitions of kind and better and nice. Or you may have run into different Mormons than I have.
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Stone_Wolf_
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Entirely possible on both counts.
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Emreecheek
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
That religons are ridiculous, but their people can do good things, and can be likable, although some do terrible things and are terrible people no matter what their beliefs are...

Agreed. I almost added that caveat, but when I'm getting confused by my own commas, I figure it's time to take a break for a while. <Grin>

<ETA> That was a critique of my own comma-related eccentricities. That wasn't directed at you. You write well (I think. I haven't really paid attention. In any case, I always understand what you're saying, and don't have to read anything twice.) I'm rambling. In short, there's an implication there, but it wasn't intentional. There was only a face value meaning.

[ June 22, 2011, 01:52 PM: Message edited by: Emreecheek ]

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advice for robots
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by advice for robots:
The version of Mormonism presented in this work is definitely weird. That it backs up what the masses want to think about Mormonism is not surprising. If you think “magic underwear” when you think Mormonism, then this is the musical for you.

The version of Mormonism presented in this work is playing up the weirdness of Mormonism for satirical purposes. I don't think magic underwear when I think Mormonism, but the Mormon faith still has magic underwear. [Smile]

I also think it's fine (and usually pretty useful) to acknowledge when something you do/believe in is extremely bizarre. I'm pretty forward about that on my end. I do some pretty weird stuff.

Do you?

As a Mormon, I do some things that I guess atheists find fundamentally bizarre--like pray to God, sing hymns, go to church on Sunday, and believe in an afterlife. And many others.

I'm part of a religion that has bumps and protrusions that get encrusted with the bizarre notions of others. Magic underwear, for instance. Joe Smith's golden bible. Boys in suits. After enough satire accumulates, it starts looking really weird from the outside. When I look at it from that perspective, yeah, it's a weird church. (And even from inside the Christian world it's a weird church.) If that were the only context I had to think about the Mormons, I'd think they were pretty whacked out.

There are definitely some uncomfortable moments in the songs in this musical--"do we really do that?"--especially relating to vanilla-grade Utah Mormon and mission field culture. Some brilliant parody of Saturday's Warrior as well. Most of all, however, I found it pretty superficial. I actually thought the warm-hearted ending was a bit of a cop-out considering what Mormon missionaries actually teach is the end benefit of joining the church.

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Stone_Wolf_
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No worries my friend, I understood you, and thank you for the compliment.
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Stone_Wolf_
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What I keep seeing pop up in this discussion are two separate thoughts...and both sides seems to talk past the other.

Apple: These are our sacred beliefs and shouldn't be made lightly of, nor should we all be lumped into a "crazy but nice" category.

Orange: All religious are crazy, but Mormons are awful nice people.

I don't have a solution...just pointing it out.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by advice for robots:
... As a Mormon, I do some things that I guess atheists find fundamentally bizarre--like pray to God, sing hymns, go to church on Sunday, and believe in an afterlife ...

Personally, as an atheist, I wouldn't really find those things fundamentally bizarre (at least not more so than more mainstream Christians).
The things that make it more bizarre for me would be things like the account of ancient events taking place in the Americas (and another visit by Jesus), the posthumous baptism thing, that we are close enough (in time) to the founding of the religion to have a good idea of how things came about, etc.

This isn't to invite debate on whether these things are actually more bizarre than other religious practices, but just to explain what I find more fundamentally bizarre than a number of other religions.

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kmbboots
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Can my side be cherry, please? I like cherries and I am not on either of those sides.
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Stone_Wolf_
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I give the floor to the delegate from the cherry party...

...tap tap...testing testing one two three...

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by advice for robots:
If that were the only context I had to think about the Mormons, I'd think they were pretty whacked out.

In addition, when you sit someone with no prior estimations or specific knowledge of mormonism down and describe for them what mormonism is, what its history is, and what mormons believe and how they're supposed to live, right down to the funny little details about how the garden of eden turns out to have been in jackson county, MO, you get the same thing. You could do the same for a lot of other frankly bizarre movements. Like the ultra-orthodox jews. Or the pentecostal glossolaliacs. Or La Iglesia de la Santa Muerte. Or Freezone. Or the Unification Church.
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Stone_Wolf_
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Surely not the church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster though, right Samp?
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