How to get our youth passionate about the BoM

I don’t know how I didn’t think of this before. The answer is simple.

Ban it.

Confiscate their personal copies. Remove it from Church libraries, from homes. Remove it from the curriculum. No more seminary or Sunday School lessons or FHEs devoted to it.

This plan of action came to me when reading in my morning paper about the policy directive of Chicago Public Schools to ban Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis. The original directive was to remove it from all school libraries and completely from the curriculum. When students went to social media to complain about the policy, it was partially reversed: ok for libraries and juniors, seniors and advanced placement classes; not ok for the existing 7th grade classes; still evaluating 8th through 10th grade classes’ use of the novel.

I was interested in the role of social media in all of this. A student journalist reached out to Satrapi’s literary agent, and then he e-mailed Satrapi herself. Satrapi, who now lives in Paris, responded two minutes later.

Apparently the thing that got this all started was a depiction of torture. But that was one frame, a black and white line drawing. Satrapi’s response was “I don’t think American kids of seventh grade have not seen any signs of violence. Seventh-graders have brains and they see all kinds of things on cinema and on the internet.”

Something that most kids were not that excited about because it was just another homework assignment quickly became a hot property. Copies flew off the library shelves, and students openly carried the books in the hallways between classes and engaged in private discussions about it. Kids were devouring it in an attempt to learn what was so dangerous about it. One teacher quipped that she was hoping Chicago Public Schools would ban her advanced placement psychology book with hopes students would do a better job reading that one, too.

There’s a certain irony in this book being banned, however briefly. Here’s a description of the book from GradeSaver:

One of the most important underlying themes of Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis is the censorship of artistic expression in Iran under the fundamentalist Islamic regime that took over power of the country after the 1979 Revolution. Satrapi’s novel is itself a product of, and reaction to, this censorship. As a graphic novel, it purposefully rejects the Islamic tenet that there should be no iconic representations of the faith. It boldly denounces the brutality of the regime and calls into question the legitimacy of its rule. The book challenges the legitimacy of the regime’s war with Iran [I assume they mean Iraq] as a move to keep control of its people by sending hundreds of thousands to die. For these reasons and others, Persepolis has been denounced by Iran’s religious leaders and banned in the country that it depicts.

The main story arc of the novel is how a young girl began to think for herself, and that is its main message to young people who read it: to view propaganda critically and to learn to think for oneself (a dangerous notion indeed).

There is plenty of warfare, brutality, and man’s inhumanity to man in the pages of the Book of Mormon. I’m drafting a letter now to the First Presidency with my proposal that we ban it from all youth curricula. Wish me luck!

Comments

  1. Rob Perkins says:

    If they hear that it’s somehow reverse psychology, it won’t work.

    But as a former school district curriculum steering committee member, I say it’s pretty tempting nonetheless.

  2. Ok, Kevin. Better hide your TR. (grin)

  3. Joshua B. says:

    Utter genious.

  4. Clearly this approach was worked in the past with sex, drugs, and rock and roll (to say nothing of dancing at the Lehi Roller Mills). Keep us informed if a public bonfire burning is in the works. I haven’t had s’mores in quite some time.

  5. “One teacher quipped that she was hoping Chicago Public Schools would ban her advanced placement psychology book with hopes students would do a better job reading that one, too.”

    Best teacher quote I’ve read in a long time.

    Yeah, the irony is rich – and the fact that it was “educators” who missed the irony is even richer.

  6. Kevin Barney says:

    Rob, you’re quite right it would backfire if the kids smelled reverse psychology. The church would have to be committed to it to make it work!

  7. Hasn’t worked with the Bible, and that has been banned by a lot of schools. On the other hand, the reasons haven’t been because of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

  8. JennyP1969 says:

    It’s not a kid book. Nothing about it is kid friendly. I loved it when I was in Seminary — had it my Junior year. But I was a total nerd in advanced classes. Most of the kids in our early morning class slept. We were all 4 years of HS combined. My friend used to ask me how I could stand it — that it was like eating oatmeal…yuk! He’d rather have Frosted Flakes, he used to say. Maybe if one of you geniuses made a video game out of it…bet that would help. Plenty of action, ghoulish mists of darkness, chopping Laban’s head off, Ammon’s arm whacking, etc. I can see so much potential there, especially with a great pride cycle subliminal theme. Throw in beautiful girls who swoon at a righteous man, and use some creative license that plenty of girls stand strong and true– maybe even wave that title of Liberty they learned to raise at girls camp, and make it rated M. The bloodier the better. It doesn’t have to have any proverbial rated M content, but get it rated it that anyway. Oh yeah, let the sneaking begin. They can play online, have tourney’s. Zarahemla under attack….river Sidon filled with dead bodies…. Okay, curbing enthusiasm now. Carry on.

  9. Kevin Barney says:

    JennyP1969, what a great idea for a video game!

  10. Love JennyP’s BoM video game as well. You could at least get kids very knowledgable about the stories, characters, timeline of events, etc. Although, my son says that there already is a Book of Mormon game (Helam) and it’s terrible!

    As to Persepolis, I loved that book and it’s sequel with a passion, but I can see why they wouldn’t want 7th graders reading it. Not for the small amount of torture, but there is some mature language and themes. I would say definitely for high school and up.

  11. Last Lemming says:

    This is a good idea except for its focus on getting the Church to remove the BoM from its own curriculum. A better plan would be to petition the state of Texas to remove all copies from its public libraries. Plenty of people in Texas would happily take up the cause, so there would be no whiff of reverse psychology. And Texas is notorious enough that the move would quickly get everyone’s attention (probably including the ACLU), so there would national spillover effects. Except that my strategy would probably be more successful at getting nonmember youth to read the BoM than member kids. Oh well, you can’t have everything.

  12. This is absurd. Persepolis is spectacular.

  13. They banned Satanic Verses so everyone went out and bought it, but nobody read it.

  14. JennyP1969 says:

    PS: and a thousand points each for knocking down sneaky pride devils!

  15. My husband has told me about his mission in Brazil, many years ago. He said that Brazilians always said, “Yes. Come in. Teach my family the gospel. Yes we’ll read the Book of Mormon.” At one point, the mission was running severely low on Books of Mormon. He and his companion went into a home to follow-up with a family about their reading assignment. When the family indicated that (for the second or third time) they had, again, not performed the reading, my husband replied, “well… then… can we have the Book back please? We have others that we would like to share the Book with and so we need your Book back.” At that point the family would hug the Book and promise to do the reading. This happened time and again. The prospect of loosing the Book made them want to keep it and follow through with the reading,

    Maybe with our youth, we could ask them to return the Books so we can send them to others who will read them. Not banning, just reallocating resources.

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