Monday, May 30, 2011

The Theology of Broadway's The Book of Mormon: Introduction

The latest fixture of my iPod is the original cast recording of new Broadway musical The Book of Mormon. Obviously, I haven't seen it, but I've been enjoying the songs a lot, and that's why this week is Broadway's The Book of Mormon Week here at Gay Christian Geek!

I won't be talking about the show as a musical, because frankly there's nothing much to say. Lyrically and musically, it's about as complicated as A Very Potter Musical, and shares with that show an infectious pop sensibility that's far from Sondheim.

I will be talking about the show as a vehicle for its creators' philosophy of religion. Matt Stone and Trey Parker – best known for South Park, which is a little too preachy and a little too reliant on gross-out humor for my taste (though I admit that in small doses, e.g. highlight clips on YouTube, it can be absolutely hilarious) – have never shied away from mocking any faith group, even when legal threats were involved. Their fascination with Mormonism in particular is documented in a South Park episode and in the delightful, underrated Orgazmo. What do they have to say about it? What tone do they strike, and what points, valid or otherwise, do they make about organized religion?

I'll do my best to discuss all of this without getting too spoiler-y, for those of you holding out for the West End transfer (I admire your resilience, Michael!), but mild spoilers will be unavoidable. And, to give you fair warning, some of this stuff is incredibly offensive. If you have a problem with blasphemy, cuss words, or jokes lightyears beyond the boundaries of good taste, then this series of posts is probably not for you, and this musical is definitely not for you.

Disclaimers out the way, it's time to gird the loins of your mind (oh, how I love that phrase) and gear up for some serious overthinking. Check back tomorrow for Part One of Broadway's The Book of Mormon Week at Gay Christian Geek!

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