I walked into The Book of Mormon in New York City with a stomach full of brunch, expecting a delightfully inappropriate musical about Mormons in Africa. What I got was exactly that, and more: a change in perspective.
Here’s a quick summary for those of you who don’t know the story:
Despite his wishes to go to Orlando, Elder Price, the Mormon of all Mormons, is assigned to spread the word of Jesus Christ in Uganda. If that wasn’t enough to make him hot under the collar, he is partnered with the nerdy, compulsive liar Elder Cunningham who clings to him like a leech to the fresh, open wound of an amphibian. Through a series of twists and turns, Elders Price and Cunningham are able to baptize more Ugandans than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has ever seen.
And now, here are 5 of the most important lessons I learned from this Tony- and Grammy-winning show.
Lesson #1: Be open-minded.
Upon first meeting, the militant General Butt Fucking Naked steals Elders Price and Cunningham’s luggage, and he later holds Elder Price at gunpoint. However, against all odds, the partners are able to successfully bring him into the Church. “Hello, my name is Elder Butt Fucking Naked,” he says at the end of the show as he goes from door to door. Sounds legit to me.
Lesson #2: Suppression of self-doubt is a great coping mechanism.
If you’re ever a missionary in Uganda and you begin to think that attempting to impress a way of thinking and living upon a group of people who have not asked for it seems “wrong,” don’t worry about it. Push all those negative thoughts out of your head, and bam! No more doubts and you can carry on with your duty to the Church.
Elder McKinley, stationed in Uganda, proclaims:
“Turn it off, like a light switch,
Just go click!
It’s a cool little Mormon trick!
We do it all the time.
When you’re feeling certain feelings that just don’t feel right,
Treat those pesky feelings like a reading light,
And turn ‘em off.”
This mechanism allegedly works for avoiding homosexual urges as well. Thank God.
Lesson #3: Female circumcision is, in fact, bad.
General Butt Fucking Naked believes that all of the female villagers’ clitorises will “power up” and kill him, which is why he orders all the women to be circumcised. Get this: he’s sorely misinformed. This wild misconception and painful procedure offends the Ugandan villagers so deeply that they’ll turn to anything to counter this vicious oppression – even the teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.
Lesson #4: The cure for HIV/AIDS is closer than we think.
Many of the Ugandan villagers were under the impression that the only way to rid themselves of AIDS was to have sex with a virgin. They were wrong. Rather, one should have intercourse with a frog. (Colloquially, known as a “fuck frog.”) Joseph Smith did it, and it worked.
Lesson #5: If all else fails, throw your middle fingers to the sky and yell “Hasa diga eebowai!”
Translated, “Fuck you, God.”
For a commentary on the shortcomings of organized religion, please go elsewhere. The hell if I know.