Today, I come not to bury the Book of Mormon Musical creators Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Robert Lopez, but to announce that they have been named the 2011 Boggs-Doniphan Gentiles of the Year. To the extent that an award half-named for the man who tried to have us all killed, and half-named for a valued ally, can be considered an honor, I say to them: Congratulations!
Nominations are now closed, and voting begins. Who do you think was the non-Mormon with the biggest impact on Mormons or Mormonism this year? Voting will only be open for a few days, so vote now!
During the Reformation, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs was chained together with the Bible in protestant churches. One of the tenets of Christianity has long been that believers are persecuted. Persecution somehow proves one is righteous. Today some churches still use stories from the martyrs in sermons, and Christian media outlets run news updates about the persecution of Christians worldwide.
I think we can agree that we, as Mormons, sometimes display a persecution complex. Like sects that cling to Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, we routinely use Our Heritage and stories from our history to illustrate times of persecution and the sacrifices made in behalf of our faith. I don’t think this is a bad thing, it is our history. One of the things it does for good and bad, is tie us together in the common cause of defending our faith against persecutors. But some members of the Church are always on the defense, with arrows aimed for any slight against Mormonism, firing often when no shot was fired at them.
The Book of Mormon Musical has been heralded by some as good publicity for us (which I believe in the end it will be); while in contrast, seen by others as a gross misrepresentation of our faith as a whole. Is making fun of us okay if it’s good for us in the end? Does it set a bad precedent in a cultural landscape where religious tolerance is supposed to be the rule? Is mockery an expression of intolerance, and is intolerance synonymous with persecution? When should we ignore, or even laugh along at ourselves, and when should we take a stand?