LDS scholar Richard Lyman Bushman talks ‘Mormon’ musical

Published: Sunday, Aug. 28 2011 11:00 a.m. MDT

Richard Lyman Bushman, a noted LDS scholar and the author of "Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling," weighed in on "The Book of Mormon" musical during a CNN interview yesterday.

"Based on what I have heard, and the lyrics of Elder Price's song ('I Believe'), the musical gets a lot of laughs, but it is not meant to explain Mormon beliefs," Bushman said. "Mormons experience the show like looking at themselves in a fun-house mirror. The reflection is hilarious but not really you. The nose is yours but swollen out of proportion."

Bushman also discussed the increased attention the LDS church has received.

"Is all the attention embarrassing for Mormons?" Bushman asked. "I am one who is pleased to have Mormonism in the spotlight. I don't mind the ribbing we get, or the attacks from skeptics, or the evangelicals' objections to Mormon presidential candidates. I like the feeling that we are all in this together, trying to reconcile religious belief, politics, and our conflicted views of policy. … Wouldn't it be wonderful if through this funny and outrageous show we got to know one another better?"

Bushman's interview comes as various scholars, both LDS and non-LDS, have weighed in on the musical. According to a Deseret News article titled, "'Mormon musical: Pride in prejudice?" several scholars have been quite critical of the Broadway hit.

According to that piece, "no fewer than 11 of the contributors to the Washington Post's On Faith blog" have also weighed in on the show.

Bushman is now one of at least three LDS scholars who have publically discussed the Broadway hit, inculding James Faulconer, a philosophy professor at Brigham Young University, and Clayton Christensen, a Harvard business professor.

Read Bushman's full interview here.

Read James Faulconer's piece here.

Read Clayton Christensen's brief take here.

Read the Washington Post's discussion on the musical here.

Email: hboyd@desnews.com

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