Mormons in the media: Interfaith nights, Passover, proposals, service and musicals

Published: Friday, April 15 2011 11:00 a.m. MDT

He lists "10 things everyone should know about the Book of Mormon," including Joseph Smith as the translator, geography vagueness, scriptural language, the basic narrative of a family and praying to know it's true. He also lists a few sections to get started on reading (and no, they don't include 1 Nephi).

Over on The Washington Post's "On Faith" forum, John Mark Reynolds gives an interesting response in his post titled "When faith is mocked, who responds?"

The original question was about Pastor Terry Jones and his Quran-burning antics, but Reynolds, a professor of philosophy for Biola University, points out that in the case of the Book of Mormon musical, "evidently mocking a thing your neighbor loves is acceptable in the name of art, but horrific in the name of religion."

And he pokes fun at the junior-high bully who picks on those who won't fight back and applauds members of the LDS Church.

"The Broadway writers have revealed the Mormons who respond with patience and peaceful protest, and even weary humor, to yet another mocking of their beliefs," he writes. "We must oppose the violence and applaud the civility."

And he concludes: "This weekend I will go to a good play, attend a loving church, and try to better understand my Mormon neighbor and my Islamic friends."

Michael Otterson, the head of the LDS Church's public affairs, last night posted "Why I won't be seeing the Book of Mormon musical" on the Washington Post's On Faith forum.

"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 naiveté," he writes. He also lists the church humanitarian efforts in Africa as the musical's producers were crafting the show.

He also notes that there hasn't been a huge public outcry from Mormons. Why? In his opinion, it's because many see things like this in pop culture are irrelevant, members of the LDS Church have been admonished to seek things that are "of good report or praiseworthy" and the Christian teachings of turning the other cheek.

And there is always a danger in satire and parody.

"Of course, parody isn’t reality, and it’s the very distortion that makes it appealing and often funny. The danger is not when people laugh but when they take it seriously – if they leave a theater believing that Mormons really do live in some kind of a surreal world of self-deception and illusion," he writes.

Otterson also penned this post on "What Mormon equality looks like" and shares the thoughts of three women on their role in the LDS Church.

Huffington Post

It was a pleasant surprise to see an essay by Salt Lake poet Emma Lou Thayne on HuffingtonPost.com. She writes in "On Learning to Go Away: Reflections of a Mormon Poet," that her "spiritual life withers in too much togetherness, just as it thrives in quiet. Alone I find my link to the vertical, the divine: I meditate and pray and walk and dream and write by the hour anything long."

She concludes: "But I could never be content without also being connected to the horizontal, my people. Because I know I'll get to occupy both worlds, I'm content in either, with the heavenly balance of both."

Also on Huffington Post this week, Brook Wilensky-Lanford wrote about what Mormons believe about the Garden of Eden, including "Exactly how literal a place is 'Zion' or 'Eden' really? That's a matter of personal belief. But if it's going to be anywhere, it might as well be Jackson County."

She also treats the LDS belief of Adam and Eve leaving the garden with fairness. (Brook does note that she isn't Mormon but has "spent the past four years writing a book about people who search for the Garden of Eden on earth.")

Email: rappleye@desnews.com

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