Even Entertainment No Relief from Sex, Religion, Politics

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 13, 2012 | Go to article overview

Even Entertainment No Relief from Sex, Religion, Politics


If you're not offended, you're a well, who isn't offended these days?

Sex, politics and religion -- the three subjects people are not supposed to discuss in polite company -- are the only three things we talk about today. It's easy to hit the trifecta in a single sentence if you talk about today's Republican primary races among Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and whatever Rush Limbaugh has to say about them.

We need a distraction, something to take us away from this tricky trio of verbal trepidation. When Abe Lincoln needed some down time after the stress of the Civil War, he took in an evening of theater.

The hottest theater tickets in town for a Tony Award-winning show go on sale Monday to the general public. But "The Book of Mormon" isn't going to take us away from the squabbles of today. Just buying a ticket might make a statement.

The show, a collaboration by irreverent "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone with Robert Lopez (composer of "Avenue Q," which features puppets and a character named Lucy the Slut), offers a humorous look at two Mormon missionaries in Uganda. The New York Times review labeled the show "blasphemous, scurrilous and more foul-mouthed than David Mamet on a blue streak," and also "the best musical of this century."

So the show is highly acclaimed art that openly mocks a religion. Does that mean Mormons should be offended or just laugh it off? Does that mean that non-Mormons should consider the answer to that earlier question in making their own decisions?

"Dealing with parody and satire is always a tricky thing for churches. We can easily appear thin-skinned or defensive, and churches sometimes are," reads the official statement from Michael Otterson, director of public affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In a world where cartoons about Muhammad can inspire deadly violence among some religious sects, there has been no organized protest against "The Book of Mormon."

"A few members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have seen this musical and blogged about it seem to have gone out of their way to show how they can take it. That's their choice. There's always room for different perspectives, and we can all decide what to do with our free time," Otterson writes. "But I'm not buying what I'm reading in the reviews. Specifically, I'm not willing to spend $200 for a ticket to be sold the idea that religion moves along oblivious to real-world problems in a kind of blissful naivet.

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