Top 10 Reasons Why This Mormon is Excited About the South Park “Book of Mormon” Broadway Musical

April 23, 2010
By


Yep.  Those wacky, irreverent South Park guys (Trey Parker and Matt Stone) are up to their old shenanigans.  They’re bringing down the irreverence anvil once again with a mighty blow to the head of organized religion — and (yet again) Mormons are the target.  As if this and this and this and this were not enough Mormon mischief, Parker and Stone have announced the pending release of their newly penned Broadway musical to be titled: “The Book of Mormon” (LDS Church lawyers permitting, of course).  As we read from the New York Post:

“The Book of Mormon” will juxtapose a tale of two young Mormon missionaries with the story of Joseph Smith, who founded Mormonism in the 19th century.”

Uh oh.  Freakin’ flippin fetch, even.

Well, believe it or not, count this Mormon as one who is actually EXCITED about the musical.  Crazy you say?  Well….let me explain a few reasons why:

  1. Trey Parker writes some HILARIOUSLY FUNNY songs.  Just ask the Canadians.  Seriously.  Great stuff.  So unless your Mormon funny bone has been completely amputated,  you have to be at least a teeny bit giddy with anticipation for what he might do with the veritable cornucopia that is Mormon history and culture…and especially with traditional Book of Mormon stories.  Can you imagine what these guys will do theatrically with songs like “Ammon’s Arms of Outstretched Love”, “Stuck in a Barge with the Jar…e…dites”, or “Where did all the Lamanites go (A DNA love story)?”.   I know that we LDS Church members are typically serious about our beliefs — but could it be that sometimes we take ourselves a bit too seriously?  Can’t we learn to laugh at ourselves just a little bit?  Personally, I think it would do us some good.  Well….now’s our chance!
  2. Believe it or not, these guys really are thoughtful.  Fart jokes aside, as Stone recently said in the article linked above, “We learned a long time ago that if something is cynical just for the sake of being cynical, it won’t last too long.”   I doubt they’re going to pull any punches, mind you, but my guess is that fair minds will be somewhat surprised at the level of respect that they ultimately show to us Mormons….just like they did at the end of their “All About the Mormons” episode.  (You gotta admit…that episode has a seriously sweet ending…for Mormons, anyway…except for that “s$#% my b@$&#” line at the end, of course.  Still…..we actually win in the end!!!!)
  3. Count this as the final testament to the fact that Mormons have “arrived”: I believe that I’m somewhat typical in the sense that I have always had a bit of an insecurity complex about my Mormonism.  I grew up in the Bible Belt, and in my home town (Katy, Texas), Mormons were always ostracized as strange….out of the Christian mainstream….peripheral….. almost cult-like, if you will.  Well….with Harry Reid running the U.S. Senate, Mitt Romney running for president, Glen Beck manhandling both cable t.v. AND the airwaves, Donny and Marie owning Vegas, random Mormons dominating reality TV shows (including American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance), and Stephenie Meyer topping both the NY Times Bestseller list AND the silver screen — Broadway is pretty much the “last frontier” to seal the deal on complete and total global Mormon domination. Well…consider it done. Our dominion is now complete.  We have finally arrived….thanks to Matt and Trey, that is.  Most importantly, how can they call us a cult once we’re headlining 52nd Street?  The Jews got “Fiddler”.   The Catholics got “The Sound of Music” AND  “Doubt“.  Now it’s our time to shine.  Start spreading the news….Mormons meet Manhattan.
  4. Four Words — Mitt Romney for President!: If my timing estimates are correct, “The Book of Mormon” will be released just as the 2012 elections are really starting to heat up, with Mitt Romney looking to be the Republican front-runner.  If Mitt thinks that the polygamy and “Missouri” questions were tough during the last campaign — I wonder what the questions will be like once this musical is released.  Regardless of your political party — you gotta admit that it’s likely gonna be entertaining to see the Governor do his own Broadway song and dance routine on Meet the Press, no?  Add Sarah Palin to the mix, and I’m seriously grabbin’ the popcorn.
  5. You also gotta admit….as bad as we might get it….the Scientologists got it way worse.  Ouch!
  6. In all seriousness — it’s time for Mormons to become less insecure and less defensive.  Let’s face it.  Thanks to the Internet, our rich, colored, courageous, challenging and  splendid history can no longer be swept under the rug or denied.  Our history, warts and all, is now and forever globally available for full public scrutiny.  Our once secret/sacred temple ceremony is now public domain (don’t believe me?  Just Google or Youtube it)….so it may still be sacred, but it sure ain’t secret any more….and HBO is spreading the (Big) Love.  Now, more than ever, it’s time to face the facts: we are who we are.  We are a clean cut, lovable, somewhat defensive, and always “30 years behind the times” group of non-traditional Christians…with a somewhat wacky historical past.  As Trey and Matt say, and if we’re really honest with ourselves we will admit — that we kinda DO embody Disneyland (in church and cultural form…sorry Walt), with all of the cuteness, corporateness, schmaltz, and disfunction that this comparison entails.  But instead of running from all this….instead of whining about it….instead of acting like the wimpy kid at school who keeps getting picked on….isn’t it time for us to stand up, with our chests out, and actually OWN who we are?  I, for one, think it is. It’s time for all of us to stand up, and proudly proclaim: “Mormons kick a$%, d@%$ it!”  Ooops…there’s the Cartman in me coming out.  :)
  7. At Least SOMEONE knows accurate LDS History. I think it’s high time for us run-of-the-mill Mormons to actually study and publicly own our history.  I certainly never heard a peep about peep stones, Fanny Alger, polyandry or Mountain Meadows in my 40 years of Primary/Sunday School.  And personally, I’m kinda tired of learning accurate Mormon history from Larry King Live, 60 minutes, and the Daily Show (vs. the whitewashed stuff we usually get at church).  In my view– it’s time for us LDS Church members to actually LEARN our history…in an accurate way…something that many of us have yet to do.  Once our “dirty laundry” is fully aired….maybe we can stop being so defensive…as if we have something to hide. Maybe less LDS church members will leave the church, feeling betrayed by the HUGE chasm that exists between the history we are taught in church, and the actual historical record. To be honest, I might be a little worried if Parker and Stone had a history of inaccurate portrayals of Mormonism.  But using their portrayal of the Book of Mormon translation process as an example (again from the “All About the Mormons” episode, pictured to the right), this portrayal is actually more accurate than anything I’ve ever seen in 40 years of regular LDS Church attendance.  No joke!  To this day, I’ve never seen an LDS Church-published picture of Joseph Smith translating the Book of Mormon golden plates using the method we now know he used…by looking at a peep stone inside of a hat.   Maybe the South Park guys will actually motivate church leaders to portray our history accurately (again….warts and all)…which I would see as a huge bonus for Mormons in the medium to long run.  For me, Parker sort of threw down the gauntlet when he said, “We’re bigger authorities on The Book of Mormon than most Mormons.” As hard as it might be for some of us to admit this…chances are that he will probably prove himself to be right.  These guys really do do their homework.  Maybe it’s time for us to do ours.  Even if it requires coming to grips with messy Book of Mormon issues like DNA, unsettling anthropological evidence, and anachronisms.
  8. More importantly, doesn’t it seem likely that once the sordid details of our past are common public knowledge, these once titillating and scandalous factoids will no longer haunt our presidential candidates, nor cause us to be the subjects of regular mockery and  ridicule on late night TV…BECAUSE THEY WILL NO LONGER BE EITHER FUNNY OR INTERESTING!!!! At some point, it will become old news…kinda like the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation is today.  The Jews got theirs (in terms of mocking/ridicule) back in the day. The Catholics got theirs as well (not done yet, apparently).  Now it’s our turn (along w/ the Scientologists, of course).  If we can wait it out with grace…if we can rip the band aid off quickly, so to speak…I believe that the pain and embarrassment will eventually subside…and we can get much of this unpleasantness finally behind us as a people, and as a church.
  9. Prop 8 – Let’s be honest.  Didn’t we kind of earn some of this public scrutiny w/ our own series of shenanegans in California?  As they say…if you can’ stand the heat….
  10. And finally…we must take consolation in the fact that It Could be MUCH Worse!!! At least they didn’t title the musical, “Joseph Smith and His 33 wives: The musical!” Then again…that might have been even funnier.  :)

So Matt and Trey — this Mormon says “Bring it on!”  We Mormons have wanted to enter the mainstream for almost two centuries now.  Well…here we are.  We’ve arrived.  Consequently, it’s time for us to get comfortable being in the spotlight…for better AND for worse.  Most importantly, it’s time for us to grow a sense of humor.

Finally, a special message to Trey and Mat: If ya’ll ever decide to grant an interview to a Mormon audience about your new musical, this Mormon is ready and waiting.

With much respect for your “authoritah“,

John Dehlin
Mormon Stories Podcast
mormonstories@gmail.com

P.S.  OK.  Apparently not ALL Mormons lack a sense of humor about these things…..   :)

Tags: , , , , , ,

80 Responses to Top 10 Reasons Why This Mormon is Excited About the South Park “Book of Mormon” Broadway Musical

  1. April 16, 2010 at 6:06 am

    I’m already planning my road trip to NYC for this one! They got the Mormon story more right with their 22-minute episode than most Mormons get with a lifetime of correlated indoctrination so I’m sure they’ll get a lot of this right too — while having a helluva lot of fun.

  2. April 16, 2010 at 6:23 am

    Well, got to admit it will probably be more authentic and less mean spirited than Angels was, and that had a heavy LDS sub-theme to it.

  3. April 16, 2010 at 6:26 am

    Got to love this quote from the article you linked to:

    There’s a lot of Mormon stuff in our work because Matt and I both grew up around a lot of Mormons,” says Parker. “I’ve never met a Mormon I didn’t like. They’re really nice people. They’re so Disney. They’re so Rodgers and Hammerstein.”

    Lopez, it turns out, is fascinated by Mormons, too. At Yale, one of his teachers, Harold Bloom, told him that “The Lord of the Rings” is very similar to The Book of Mormon.

    “I picked up a copy and read as much as I could,” he says. “It’s hard to get through the whole thing.”

    Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/theater/just_park_it_here_zfM27J1BeGqKGiPoJyHU7I#ixzz0lGW7c7cs

  4. Jeff Spector
    April 16, 2010 at 6:34 am

    We’ll see how long it lasts. People get tired of us pretty quick. Might actually be worth a trip to NYC!

    Of course, given how upset many many members were about “The Mormons,” which was mostly positive, they really will get worked up about this!

  5. scw
    April 16, 2010 at 6:48 am

    I’m glad I live close enough to NYC to make it a quick drive. I plan on attending.

  6. April 16, 2010 at 7:23 am

    I’m a big fan of South Park, and I can’t wait for this.

  7. Dave P.
    April 16, 2010 at 7:41 am

    I’m afraid I have to disagree on #5 being a good thing. That’s all I’ll say.

  8. April 16, 2010 at 7:41 am

    This is just more proof that Broadway is part of the liberal anti-Mormon agenda.

    I am starting a Boycott of all of Broadway. You can read more about it here: http://loydo38.blogspot.com/2010/04/mormons-against-broadway-south-park-duo.html

    If you are like me and many Mormons, and are quick to judge anything that isn’t by us to obviously be anti-Mormon trash, I suggest you join the boycott. There is a link to the facebook group I set up on my blog post.

    Boycott Broadway! We have had enough!

  9. jmb275
    April 16, 2010 at 8:10 am

    Re #8 the narrator
    Dude, you’re awesome! I’m joining right away. I’m sick of the liberal broadway crowd spreading their trash! You are sooooooo right!

  10. April
    April 16, 2010 at 8:16 am

    Sooooo want to go, doubt I will be able to, but I can dream right?

  11. Kevin Barney
    April 16, 2010 at 8:21 am

    I love me some South Park.

  12. Mike S
    April 16, 2010 at 8:52 am

    I like the point about actually owning our history. It reminds me of the classic scene at the end of 8 Mile where Eminem basically comes out and doesn’t thump his chest with bravado but points out all the warts and flaws in his own life. It completely deflates his opponent and leaves him nothing to rag on. If we did the same, I think a lot of the church’s critics would lose their traction.

  13. Dave P.
    April 16, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Not only that, Mike S., but several members would no longer be surprised when they learn about such things that had basically been hidden from them their entire lives. I know of people who have lost their faith because they felt like they’d been lied to this whole time.

  14. idwtr
    April 16, 2010 at 10:12 am

    I will think of your logic of #9 when I speak to my child who is being bullied.
    “Sorry son, you earned being bullied by standing up for what you THOUGHT was right?”

    I’ve never actually enjoyed South Park. It’s one of those shows that my brothers would sit around laughing about. Like Beavis and Butthead….where I actually felt “dumber” after watching it. Maybe I just haven’t seen their best episodes.

  15. Ray
    April 16, 2010 at 10:34 am

    “Uh oh. Freakin’ flippin fetch, even.”

    Best line in a great post. John.

  16. Thomas
    April 16, 2010 at 11:14 am

    #15 — Oh, I dunno. I thought “Believe it or not, these guys really are thoughtful. Fart jokes aside….” was the best line.

  17. Terry
    April 16, 2010 at 11:30 am

    I understand this will be opening on Broadway next spring, about the same time as the “Phantom of the Opera” sequel. Can’t wait to see them face off at the Tony Awards!

  18. Stewee
    April 16, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    Celebrating mockery, ehh? It really undermines the accomplishments of other LDS to say that its all “thanks to Matt and Trey”. BTW, how did you like Orgazmo, John?

  19. April 16, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    I loved Orgazmo.

  20. Cowboy
    April 16, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    I too was surprised about the accuracy maintained in the “All About the Mormons” episode. There were some technical facts that could be sqauabbled over, but what I think really turned some people off (and I assume what will turn people of about the Broadway production) is not the accuracy, just the fact that the caricature’s were intended to be a “mockery” in and of themselves. I think the greatest misrepresentation was the exaggerated family trying to sell Mormonism to their neighbors, being represented as a “typical” Mormon family.

  21. April 16, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    lol. awesome post, John.

  22. tks
    April 16, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    the narrator – i just had to say…lol. I say next we boycott that darn anti-mormon DNA…

  23. Ah Q
    April 16, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    @ Cowboy (#20),

    I think the greatest misrepresentation was the exaggerated family trying to sell Mormonism to their neighbors, being represented as a “typical” Mormon family.

    Was it really that exaggerated?

  24. tks
    April 16, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    23 – I have been asked no less than 15 times throughout my life to write down the names of friend or neighbors who would be interested in the LDS church and come up with a plan of action to introduce them to mormonism. I have been forced to write my testimony in the front of several BOMs and give them out within a certain time-period and i have been challenged on numerous occasions to provide a list of non-member friends that the missionaries could visit…I would say its not too far off as my family wasnt even crazy active…

  25. April 16, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    May be, the Southpark musical will replace the Gospel Essentials curriculum.

  26. Cowboy
    April 16, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Wow TKS! You were “forced” to do those things huh? I have been a member of the Church my entire life, and I can’t say that I have been “forced” to do much of anything in the Church. And bear in mind, my parents had strict rules about Church/YM attendance, etc.

    For clarifications sake, what was exaggerated about the family was not their missionary zeal, but rather their Ned Flanders style “Gee Golly” we’re the happiest family on earth, caricature of Mormon families. Overall I have found Mormon families to be about on par with many others.

  27. Dave P.
    April 16, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Would this be a good time to chime in and say that Utah Mormon mothers are the most depressed group of people in the country?

  28. April 16, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    The line “The Jews got theirs back in the day” makes me quite uncomfortable.

    Other than that, this was an interesting read.

  29. willard
    April 16, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    Maybe they will finally explain what LDSinc cannot. Joseph Smiths Magic Peepstone?

  30. Bexter
    April 16, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Hey, great job, John. I’m a devout Mormon mother who’s raised her children to be South Park addicts. I hope the Broadway musical version includes the “Ode to Lucy Harris–’smart smart smart smart smart.’”
    “The Jews got theirs back in the day” refers to Matt and Trey’s mocking the Jews, not the Holocaust or Inquisition.
    And sure, there are plenty of cringe-worthy moments in the Mo-related SP episodes, but they nearly always conclude by showing Mormons to be good, sincere and kind. The irony is delicious to the taste….

  31. April 16, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    John,

    You supplied 10 reasons why you’re looking forward to the Book of Mormon, the church, and its members being on the receiving end of, “Those wacky, irreverent South Park guys…bringing down the irreverence anvil once again with a mighty blow to the head of organized religion — and (yet again) Mormons are the target”.

    Please forgive my lack of enthusiasm.

    If “Those wacky, irreverent South Park guys (Trey Parker and Matt Stone)” leveled their wacky whit…say at your family, would you be as excited?

    I can say for sure, I wouldn’t be excited.

    I look at the church and its members like family.

    Yes, there are many things that Trey and Matt can hold up to ridicule about the church (and our families) that may be true, but that’s not the point–is it?

  32. April 16, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    Jared,

    Mormonism is an intellectual tradition by which a large body of people make sense of the world. In fact, it is an *aggressive* tradition that globally proselytizes in order to gain new members. No other such tradition is exempted from criticism or parody (those parts of the world where the comics can be silenced by force of law notwithstanding). Whether political, ethnic, religious, or philosophical, all have had to develop both the ability to laugh at themselves and the willingness to be laughed at. I’d argue, in fact, that criticism and parody have made most of the world’s intellectual traditions stronger and more self-aware. John is also probably right that criticism and parody are part of the mainstreaming process by which a tradition gains acceptance from the culture.

    So… do I think that for the creators of South Park to personally lampoon your family members would be acceptable? Not unless your family members are public figures, no. But do I think a public and activist intellectual tradition that happens to be comprised of people you consider family is fair game for lampooning? Absolutely.

    If you can’t handle it, I’d suggest either growing a thicker skin or encouraging your “family members” to disassociate themselves from public traditions and activities that invite criticism.

    JMO. Peace,

    -Chris

  33. April 16, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Jared:

    If “Those wacky, irreverent South Park guys (Trey Parker and Matt Stone)” leveled their wacky whit…say at your family, would you be as excited?

    Uhh, YES. It would be so flattering to have a South Park episode or musical about my family, even if it’s with “wacky wit.” Since South Park does a way better and more accurate portrayal of things than the great majority of people who try to address certain subjects, I wouldn’t worry too much about what possibly could be said about my family.

  34. April 17, 2010 at 10:07 am

    #33 Christopher said: “No…tradition is exempted from criticism or parody…Whether political, ethnic, religious, or philosophical, all have had to develop both the ability to laugh at themselves and the willingness to be laughed at.”
    ____________________________________

    I agree with this general statement. I think constructive criticism and a healthy sense of humor is wholesome. However, degrading and ridiculing a tradition that enriches the lives of it followers is not useful.

    Additionally, as covenant members of the Lord’s church we walk a fine line in what we put our stamp of approval on. We’re wise to walk a fine line in this fallen world to protect ourselves and “others” from losing the Spirit of the Lord.

    The apostle Paul effectively touched on this issue when he addressed church members in Corinth. The issue at that time was idol meat. In the following verses substitute Trey and Matt’s “wacky whit” about Mormonism with idol meat:

    8Now food [itself] will not cause our acceptance by God nor commend us to Him. Eating [food offered to idols] gives us no advantage; neither do we come short or become any worse if we do not eat [it].

    9Only be careful that this power of choice (this permission and liberty to do as you please) which is yours, does not [somehow] become a hindrance (cause of stumbling) to the weak or overscrupulous [giving them an impulse to sin].

    10For suppose someone sees you, a man having knowledge [of God, with an intelligent view of this subject and] reclining at table in an idol’s temple, might he not be encouraged and emboldened [to violate his own conscientious scruples] if he is weak and uncertain, and eat what [to him] is for the purpose of idol worship?

    11And so by your enlightenment (your knowledge of spiritual things), this weak man is ruined (is lost and perishes)–the brother for whom Christ (the Messiah) died!

    12And when you sin against your brethren in this way, wounding and damaging their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.

    13Therefore, if [my eating a] food is a cause of my brother’s falling or of hindering [his spiritual advancement], I will not eat [such] flesh forever, lest I cause my brother to be tripped up and fall and to be offended.

    1 Corinthians 8:8-13 Amplified Bible

  35. jmb275
    April 17, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Re #35 Jared

    I agree with this general statement. I think constructive criticism and a healthy sense of humor is wholesome. However, degrading and ridiculing a tradition that enriches the lives of it followers is not useful.

    Jared, having admitted this, all we can conclude is that your definition of what is “degrading and ridiculing” vs. “constructive criticism and a healthy sense of humor” is different than others. And this is not surprising since we all obviously have different thresholds.

    Additionally, it is a fact of life that we are going to be more sensitive about that which we hold dear. This is good reason for us to avoid belittling others’ political ideologies, moral ideologies, religions, etc.

    But this is the very gist of the post – that we might consider changing our threshold and not take offense at what is portrayed – no matter what is portrayed.

    Besides Jared, you haven’t even seen the show yet and you’ve already set yourself up to take offense. In the words of Elder Bednar

    However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.

  36. April 17, 2010 at 10:25 am

    #34 Andrew S–

    I’m not an expert on South Park humor, though, what little I’ve seen made me laugh. I’m all for a healthy sense of humor. In fact, one of our GA had an interesting experience with it while a missionary in Germany was in the grip of an evil spirit. Here

  37. April 17, 2010 at 10:35 am

    #36 jmb275–

    My problem is that when I was young I had a tenancy for rank humor. It took me years to bring that into line. I’m not interesting in revisiting that part of my fallen nature. In the language of the scripture: “like a dog to his vomit”.

  38. NormalMorman
    April 17, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    “I certainly never heard a peep about peep stones, Fanny Alger, polyandry or Mountain Meadows in my 40 years of Primary/Sunday School.”

    Being a mere 28 years old, I have to say that I’ve heard of all these things in one form or another multiple times – so often, in fact, that I don’t recall when I first learned about them. Did you ever do any of this research you encourage us to do? It is not as though we are discouraged from learning what you term the “warts” of our religion (in reality, the human errors). All of the information is available. Whether the faculties exist to process the information is another inquiry altogether.

    Isn’t there enough about our own frailties to work on to not spend our time on things that won’t be of the greatest value to our hearts, and eventually our souls? (This rhetorical question is aimed more at answering the implied allegation that the Church buries/hides “unsavory” facts – I’m not addressing at all the proposed Broadway play here.)

  39. Cowboy
    April 17, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    I have just recently watched the “all About the Mormons” episode again, along with the episode about Scientology. What is interesting about these episodes, and what they are really mocking is not the generally accepted beliefs of these groups, but rather they expose those elements of each faiths history and theology that institutionally have been swept under the rug. It is not common knowledge that Joseph Smith, for example, translated the plates by looking at his seer stones within his hat. Yet, by our best understanding this is how it happened. Regarding the Scientology episode, I thought the writers were just embellishing when portrayed the Intergalactic Confederation as using aeroplanes like the DC-8, but was absolutely surprised when I found out that this was an actual part of the narrative per L. Ron Hubbard. So, perhaps it is mockery, but is it really wrong morally and ethically to point out embarrassing but obligatory elements of our religious narratives? Bear in mind, the South Park episode about the Mormons would have of necessity been much different had our corporate telling of The Book of Mormon translation been more forthright.

  40. jks
    April 17, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    I hate Southpark. I have found many of the jokes to be in such poor taste (rape or child molestation is never funny to me) I at some point refused to have it on in my presence (so my husband had to watch without me). However, I thought the episode of the telling of how Joseph Smith found the Book of Mormon pretty decent and surprisingly accurate, and nothing to object to. My husband was actually the one who got upset since they sang “Dumb, dumb, dumb” the whole time during the telling.

  41. Cowboy
    April 17, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    jks:

    You might recall that when Lucy Harris hid the original manuscript (116 pages of “Lehi”) in order to see if Joseph Smith could re-translate the same thing, they sang “smart, smart, smart”.

    Regarding the tastelessness of many of South Parks jokes, I agree with you. A great deal of what they pass off as humor is absolutely disgusting. I think I would be a regular viewer if it wasn’t for the extremely crude and graphic instances frequently depicted on the show. That would include any attempt to make comedy of rape or child molestation.

  42. Benji
    April 18, 2010 at 2:30 am

    Mormons are definitely making big strides in being more well known and maybe even accepted as Christians one day! But I would avoid mentioning Glenn Beck’s name when speaking of Mormons getting your name out there. For your own sake.

  43. P.A.
    April 18, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    By your standards, I guess God needs to lighten up and get a sense of humor…

    2 Chr. 36: 16 But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy.

    Gal. 6: 7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked…

    Alma 5
    30 And again I say unto you, is there one among you that doth make a mock of his brother, or that heapeth upon him persecutions?
    31 Wo unto such an one, for he is not prepared, and the time is at hand that he must repent or he cannot be saved!

    Ether 12:26 And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn;

    Hel 4
    11 Now this great loss of the Nephites, and the great slaughter which was among them, would not have happened had it not been for their wickedness and their abomination which was among them; yea, and it was among those also who professed to belong to the church of God.
    12 And it was because of the pride of their hearts, because of their exceeding riches, yea, it was because of their oppression to the poor, withholding their food from the hungry, withholding their clothing from the naked, and smiting their humble brethren upon the cheek, making a mock of that which was sacred

  44. Ray
    April 18, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    P.A., fwiw, I think God already has a great sense of humor. I think we need to develop more charity and compassion and better senses of humor. I think we need to not take offense so easily – and that laughing at ourselves can break down some barriers that preaching can’t touch.

  45. P.A.
    April 18, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    In reply to each of your points:

    1. So what if the song is ‘funny’. Just because the natural man finds something enjoyable doesn’t make it right or good.

    2. If by ‘thoughful’ you mean they put a great deal of effort and creative talent into their efforts to mock Mormonism, yeah, but that hardly makes what they produce of any redeeming value. Also, I fail to see how portraying Mormons as a bunch of nice people who stick their head in the sand and ignore the ‘proof’ that their religions is childish fraud counts as a postive ending for the church or it’s members.

    3. The church is not hear to gain worldly status, it is here to establish Zion in preparation for the second coming.

    4. You find the prospect of anti-Mormon accusation made in the form of satire and ‘humor’ being validated and spread through the national media that way entertaining? That is what I would expect an anti-mormon to say.

    5. I don’t accept that as accurate, but even if it was, it is irrelevent. You made covenants, if you put on a play like that I think it would be a violation of those covenants. How is applauding, encouraging, or funding (by ticket purchase) the same thing any different?

    6. Treating the sacred with reverence and respect is not insecurity or devensiveness. Making a mock of the sacred is lightmindedness, or worse. I’ve already posted some of the scriptures where God expresses his disaproval of mocking the sacred.

    7. You think Larry King Live, 60 minutes, and the Daily Show are feeding you an accurate view of LDS history? The topics you list, while they may be interesting to the natural man, are not that relevant to one’s salvation. If you really want to know about them, there are plenty of scholarly works look into those things and you might want to look to those sources. For example: Joseph Smith used a seer stone, not ‘peep stone’ and he only used it for part of the time in the translation. As he translated he came to know the language enough and develop his spiritual talents enough that it was not requried. You’ll find references to seer stones in BRM’s book Mormon Doctrine and other places. If you search lds.org, you’ll find mulitple refference to it. Also, they were not striving for historical accuracy on that South Park episode, they were only setting up an insulting joke.

    8. After more than 100 years we still get polygamy jokes aimed at us, and you expect one Broadway play
    (short lived I expcet) to put a bunch of smiliar things to rest forever? Dream on, it just pours gass on the fire.

    9. Shenanegans? You think somehow that we deserve to treated like that for standing up at God’s command for what is true and right and good?

    10. The ‘it could be worse’ argument is irrelevenat. It admits it is bad, and if it’s bad, why be glad about it?

  46. April 18, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    P.A.–

    I think you make some good points. The scripture you cite are given for the very purpose you made of them.

    I would add, we can’t condemn others who haven’t had the opportunity of hearing the gospel. In my opinion, some of the people who will participate in the coming production would make great followers of Christ if they had the opportunity to be properly taught the message of the restoration (D&C 123:12).

  47. Cowboy
    April 18, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    “For example: Joseph Smith used a seer stone, not ‘peep stone’ and he only used it for part of the time in the translation. As he translated he came to know the language enough and develop his spiritual talents enough that it was not requried. You’ll find references to seer stones in BRM’s book Mormon Doctrine and other places. If you search lds.org, you’ll find mulitple refference to it.”

    P.A. – a “peep” stone is a seer stone, in that it was an spiritual medium for divining the dead in order to search for treasures. Joseph Smith used his to hire out as a gold digger prior to using it for translating The Book of Mormon. Your story about Joseph Smith spiritually maturing to a point where he no longer required the use of an instrument for revelation did not occur while translating The Book of Mormon, but was an alleged experience while he was working on his translation of the Bible. As for Mormon Doctrine and LDS.org, find me an example from any of those sources where it is acknowledged that Joseph Smith found the Seer Stone while digging a well for his neighbor – which he then used to look for treasure while collecting a wage by running small groups around the woods conjuring spirits, and then which he used to locate and translate the Gold Plates.

  48. P.A.
    April 18, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Ray: I think God already has a great sense of humor. I think we need to develop more charity and compassion and better senses of humor. I think we need to not take offense so easily – and that laughing at ourselves can break down some barriers that preaching can’t touch.

    I have no problem with that, but when the sacred is mocked and profaned it is not virtuous to laugh along, and certainly nothing to be happy about.

  49. Jeff Spector
    April 18, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    I watched the “All about the Mormons” episode and thought it was funny. It is the first and only South Park episode I’ve watched. I thought the language was unnecessary but overall funny. But it is typical in its portrayal of truth and stereotype as parody and resembled the Godmakers in that department.

    I suppose the dum, dum part was the writer’s editorial comment. And the facts were not 100% accurate. I can take that kind of stuff without a problem.

    Others have gotten it much worse than that.

  50. P.A.
    April 18, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Cowboy, ‘peep stone’ is a derogatory term for a seer stone the same as ‘gold digger’ is a derogatory term for a miner. I fail to see how finding a seer stone while digging a well is any better or worse than finding one by the side of the road while walking along so I really don’t know why that is so important to you. I seek divine help in providing for my family when I pray that my work will be noticed and valued by my employer, that I’ll get the promotion or raise I seek. I likewise seek divine help in performing my daily job activities. Are you going to denounce me for using personal revelation in a bid to make money because I do those things?

  51. Marshall Bond
    April 18, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Bravo, John!

  52. GBSmith
    April 19, 2010 at 6:54 am

    RE: #51

    Actually a “gold digger” is a woman who marries or enters a relationship for money. And as regards an earlier reference the urim and thummim may have been used for the original 116 pages but the best evidence is that the stone and hat was used for the rest of the time. The plates evidently remained covered and at times were not even in the same room.

    When what you feel is sacred and is being mocked, sometimes the best thing is to just walk away. The more you get upset and rail against it the more attention is paid and the more upset you get. It really is a no win situation. It’s like winning an e-mail argument, you can’t.

  53. Cowboy
    April 19, 2010 at 10:08 am

    PA – As I understand it in Joseph Smith’s time in the New York region, the term “gold/money digger” specifically referred to a person who would employ divination/spirit conjuring to locate treasures. That requires some distinction from just a ‘miner’.

    My point about how the stone was found is to point out that the instrument most closely associated with the Book of Mormon translation, per the witnesses, was a common scrying device used to carry out superstitious endeavors. In short, I don’t believe that Joseph Smith could actually summon dead spirits or in any way interact with the supernatural to locate treasure. I might have been able to stomach this past behavior by writing it off as one of his alleged “foibles”, except that same seer stone then managed to translate The Book of Mormon. That’s why I find the discovery of the seer stone in a well problematic – after all it’s not the same as God preparing the breast plate of the Urimm and Thummim which were supposedly deposited with the plates.

  54. P.A.
    April 19, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    My point was that when anti’s call Joseph Smith a gold-digger, they are using that phrase as a slur against his character. Mormons shouldn’t legitimize it by using it too, nor should Mormons jump to the conclusion that because somebody who lived back then said X about Joseph, that X is in fact accurate and true. Should I take it from your use of ‘supposedly’ that you are not Mormon though?

    As for finding the seer stone while digging that well, God knew it was there, how it got there, and how Joseph would find it. I see no reason for it to make any difference which seer stone was used for what. While the U&T is no longer in possession of the church, at least one of Joseph’s seer stones is, and perhaps that is why God arranged for there to be more than just the U&T.

  55. P.A.
    April 19, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Don’t worry, I know getting upset with Parker and Stone for mocking the sacred is as pointless as getting upset at a bird for flying. My only beef is with Mormons who think it something to be happy or excited about. It’s like somebody seeing his wife get groped and going ‘See, that proves I have a very attractive wife!’

  56. Latter-day Guy
    April 19, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    “At least they didn’t call it, “Joseph Smith and His 33 wives: The musical!” Then again…that might have been even funnier.”

    You know, I’ve been tempted to submit some drafts/suggestions to the Church for new annual pageants. The two on the top of my list are tentatively entitled The Mountain Meadows Musical, and The Ballad of Fanny Alger.

  57. Ray
    April 19, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    A guy checked out my wife when she walked by in a restaurant once. We still tease her about it – and I was more gratified than offended. Now if he’s groped her, that would be different. Which leads me to:

    P.A. – I think you are missing John’s point in the post. He never said he is happy or excited about having sacred things mocked. Re-read the post: That simply isn’t in it anywhere – not once.

  58. Cowboy
    April 20, 2010 at 9:30 am

    P.A. – Fair enough. Because you asked, I am a life long Mormon who does not believe that the Church is true – and interestingly enough, the facts surrounding the seer stone and treasure seeking were what initially caused me to begin raising suspicion over Joseph Smith’s claims. First we should note that the persons who said X about Joseph Smith were people like Lucy Mack Smith or Emma Smith, the three witnesses, Joseph Smith, The People of New York vs. Joseph Smith the Glass Looker, etc. Frankly I just cannot get my head wrapped around the idea that somehow God, in addition to preparing the Urimm and Thummim, also “prepared” the seer stone. By all accounts it was a casual find, and remember what it was used for, ie, to magically try and find hidden money. In order for your justification to work you need to believe that not only was Joseph able to look into the stone for “inspiration” on these various digging expeditions, but it was God who provided it. And that is if you out of hand just dismiss every second hand witness, of those who participated in the diggs, which indicate that Joseph wasn’t speak to Angels or the Savior, but to dead Indians and Spaniards. You have to bear in mind, Joseph wouldn’t have been hired by Stoal at a salary three times higher than a ‘normal’ day’s wage, if Joseph wasn’t looking into a stone and claiming to have recieved info from the “spirits”.

    A second and more subtle point should be addressed here. If God truly provided the seer stone as you say, why doesn’t the Church support that. If this isn’t just an embarrassing bit of exposure on Joseph Smith, then why has the Church scrubbed the history of all direct references to money digging with the seer stone. I find it odd that we so often taught the “law of witnesses” by pointing to the two entries contained in The Book of Mormon prefaces, and yet ignore each man’s individual witness regarding the translation process – which paints a much different image than the Church’s version of the endeavor. Why don’t we use seer stones today, and or at least talk about it – Joseph Smith wore his seer stone on his belt. We don’t even talk about supposed seer stone doctrine any more, but given it’s casual use in the past I find it hard to argue that it would be too sacred to discuss. These are all complex questions not even remotely satisfied by the ‘it was all part of God’s plan’ dismissal.

  59. Jeff Spector
    April 20, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Cowboy, #59

    “(New Testament | Revelation 2:17)
    17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”

    I say, leave no stone unturned….

    “If God truly provided the seer stone as you say, why doesn’t the Church support that.”

    Elder Nelson, “A Treasured Testament,” Ensign, July 1993, 61

    It’s in a Church magazine.

  60. Cowboy
    April 20, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Jeff:

    I’m well acquainted with Revelation 2:17, and it’s reference to the white stone. How does that relate to Joseph Smith’s practice of treasure seeking? In section 131 of the Doctrine & Covenants, a Q&A with Joseph Smith during a session with the elders in the School of the Prophets, Joseph Smith expands upon this verse by stating the following:

    “Then the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17, will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known; And a white stone is given to each of those who come into the celestial kingdom, whereon is a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it. The new name is the key word.” D&C 130:10-11

    Even according to Joseph Smith this white stone is not a seer stone for conjuring spirits and combing the beach for loose change, but has Celestial implications per the New Name. It was no doubt a revelatory device according to Smith, but his explanation, again, does not jive with treasure seeking activities.

    I have read some biblical commentary which validates Joseph’s connection with the stone mentioned in revelation to the breastplate of the Urimm and Thummim. Part of why this is unique is because you will recall that on the breastplate worn by the priests of ancient Israel was envgraved twelve unique classes of stone, each representing a single tribe. You will also recall the covenant made with Jacob which would be perpetuated through his seed, symbolized by the issuance of a new name (Israel – One who prevails with God). The symbol of the new name mentioned in revelation, being paired with a stone, would be a distinct reminder of those same covenants for those familiar with the Jewish traditions. In other words, a scripture which would seem to be Mormon validation is nothing more than a continuing element of Jewish symbolism – which in and of itself says nothing objectively about Mormonism. Coincidentally, as I understand it there is some debate as to whether they Urimm & Thummin were seen as oracles for the purposes of divination. Notwithstanding the Old Testament story of where Saul visited the witch of Endor to try and conjure a deceased Samuel the Prophet.

  61. Cowboy
    April 20, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    “Elder Nelson, “A Treasured Testament,” Ensign, July 1993, 61″

    I’ve read the talk before, and will concede that, yes, Elder Nelson does mention without subtlety the rock in the hat. Though I would still debate that this is a serious exception to the rule, particularly seeing as how this talk is nearly 17 years old (early 90′s too, the period academic criticism). I stand by the argument that the subject is currently, and historically been carefully avoided more consistently.

  62. P.A.
    April 20, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    I think there is a world of difference between seeking personal revelation to assist in providing for your needs and the needs of those who rely on you, and trying to make a lot of easy money so you can avoid work. Joseph did the former, not the latter. I have no problem with it, and it makes no difference to me if personal revelation comes as a result of prayer or as a result of a seer stone or whatever. The ancient Joseph (coat of many colors Joseph) also had a tool of divination, his silver cup (see Gen 44:5) and he rose to be the virtual Pharaoh of all Egypt specifically because of his revelatory abilities. God didn’t seem to have a problem with that.

    I don’t buy the idea that because an object casually found that God had nothing to do with it. I don’t buy the idea that a seer stone is ‘magic’ or that cherry picking things said about Joseph Smith will result in an accurate picture of what he was like. In many cases there are conflicting accounts about an event, and yes, even a close friend can unintentionally get something wrong, especially when their account is recorded long after the event.

    But even if you take the view that Joseph mis-used a seer stone, it would still be an issue between him and God. By the time he got the golden plates, he had earned God’s trust that he would receive them with no other desire than to bring forth the Book of Mormon, and if he had to do some growing and repenting to reach that point, so what, and why any of that be your business? Any objective measure of his whole life shows a man who was not obsessed with riches, not afraid of hard work, pain or suffering, and who was very willing to sacrifice for others and for his church, even to the ending of his life for it.

  63. Cowboy
    April 20, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    “Any objective measure of his whole life shows a man who was not obsessed with riches, not afraid of hard work, pain or suffering, and who was very willing to sacrifice for others and for his church, even to the ending of his life for it.”

    I can accept that some will hold this view of Joseph Smith’s life, but let’s not get carried away by saying objective analysis behooves concensus on your opinion.

    “I think there is a world of difference between seeking personal revelation to assist in providing for your needs and the needs of those who rely on you, and trying to make a lot of easy money so you can avoid work. Joseph did the former, not the latter.”

    You misunderstand my objection. I couldn’t care less about whether Joseph Smith was digging for Gold for quick money, or just as a humble means of employment. The desire for riches isn’t the problem, it’s the employment of superstition and occultic devices. Let us be clear, we have no basis to assume that Joseph was seeking personal revelation, as you say, in a Christian context. He was scrying! Google it, this not debatable. He was employing a divination technique not far off from palm reading or astrology. I don’t believe in that garbage, so I can’t swallow this reinvention of seer stones into some quasi judeo-christian extrapolation about the Urimm and Thummim, particularly with the cross-culture overlapp, ie, scrying. You are taking unwarranted liberties in suggesting that he was seeking Christian ‘revelation’ in his treasure seeking. You should also note that one of the prevailing justifications as per pro-Mormon scholars such as Bushman is that scrying was just a common practice. So most apologists don’t even debate this point, they just play it down by saying it was no big deal.

    “The ancient Joseph (coat of many colors Joseph) also had a tool of divination, his silver cup (see Gen 44:5) and he rose to be the virtual Pharaoh of all Egypt specifically because of his revelatory abilities. God didn’t seem to have a problem with that.”

    Do you really believe this is how the world works – appealing to ancient cultures isn’t exactly a compelling case. I don’t think we have any unaminimity on what God thinks about any of this. Suffice it to say, I don’t it very seriously, and neither does the modern Church.

    As for your cherry picking argument, you might explain where I have done this. I have referred to the first hand witnesses of those who are universally known to have participated in the translation process, a documented court case, and the alleged Prophets mother. What have I missed?

    “By the time he got the golden plates, he had earned God’s trust that he would receive them with no other desire than to bring forth the Book of Mormon, and if he had to do some growing and repenting to reach that point, so what, and why any of that be your business?”

    The answer should be self-evident, but the simple answer is because he founded the Church which makes exclusive claims to authority and the key’s of Salvation. So matters which challenge his credibility are paramount.

    You may have the last word if you wish, we clearly have a difference of opinion. I would caution you to reconsider your historical liberties however – you are free to believe what you want, but much of what you state as matter of fact requires a leap of faith to break convention, ie, scrying = seeking revelation.

  64. GBSmith
    April 20, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    “I think there is a world of difference between seeking personal revelation to assist in providing for your needs and the needs of those who rely on you, and trying to make a lot of easy money so you can avoid work. Joseph did the former, not the latter.”

    Actually you can make a case for the latter. I never understood why Joseph Smith tried to sell the copyright or patent to the Book of Mormon in Canada other than to make money. The original efforts at consecration placed a considerable amount of wealth at his disposal. His participation in the Kirtland Bank is of concern and there are repeated references in the D&C to supporting Joseph Smith financially and building him a house/hotel. The interpretation given to his actions is wholly dependent on one’s point of view. The “facts” aren’t that unambiguous, I’m afraid.

    I have to agree with Cowboy about the business of seer stones and it’s causing me to start wondering. Things are supposed to make sense and ring true and sometimes they just can’t be explained away.

  65. P.A.
    April 22, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    “it’s the employment of superstition and occultic devices … you are taking unwarranted liberties in suggesting that he was seeking Christian ‘revelation’ in his treasure seeking…Do you really believe this is how the world works – appealing to ancient cultures isn’t exactly a compelling case”

    The point is that the Bible shows a handful of examples of physical objects (such as Joseph’s cup) being used as a means of divination for legitimate revelation, with no rebuke from God for doing so. And has been pointed out, the statements in Revelation about all the exalted ones getting a seer stone of their own. The fact that orthodox Christianity denounces all such things as all being occult only shows another effect of the apostacy. The use of seer stones is not contrary to God, and Joseph actions do not fall outside the boundaries of what Biblical prophets have done. Yes, Satan has his oculist counterfeits, and in fact the D&C records how Satan attempted to mislead members by such means, but that doesn’t remove the existence or legitimacy of there being physical objects capable of providing or assisting in revelation.

    “As for your cherry picking argument, you might explain where I have done this.”

    As I understand it, there are multiple conflicting accounts of what took place at the hearing (not trial) regarding Joseph’s employer. How can you tell what account(s) to put your trust in?

    “The answer should be self-evident, but the simple answer is because he founded the Church which makes exclusive claims to authority and the key’s of Salvation. So matters which challenge his credibility are paramount. ”

    And at long last we get to the real kernel of the matter; How do you know if Joseph Smith really was a prophet. You are choosing to rely on your own intelligence to make the call, but how do you know for sure what statements in the historical record are true and accurate, which ones are unintentionally misleading, said in sarcasm or in jest, half-truths, second hand information stated as if it was first hand, incorrectly recorded, resulting for a poor memory, half, true, deliberate lies etc. etc. How do you really know that your analysis is valid, that your assumptions about the heart and mind of God and who he would and would not call as a prophet is accurate? How do you know there isn’t addition information critical to making a correct evaluation, but unavailable to anybody at this time? You can try to navigate all those challenges and hope you get to the right answer, but I suggest you find out directly from God. God will tell you that you are making a mountain our of molehill, being distracted from the truths you need to embrace for the sake of your own exaltation, and that even though Joseph Smith was an imperfect mortal like the rest of us, that he was called of God to restore the fullness of the Gospel and God is well pleased with the work he has done.

    When God tells you that, the only way you fall away from the church is to fall into sin to the extent that you lose the spirit of the Lord in your life, or choose to rebel against God.

  66. P.A.
    April 22, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    GBSmith, the church was in a great deal of financial need, that was the motive, not some desire for riches on Joseph’s part. For more details on it all see http://en.fairmormon.org/Book_of_Mormon/Attempt_to_sell_copyright

    If Joseph was after money, there are hundreds of way he could have abused the respect the faithful members gave him and fleece them, yet he didn’t, he sacrificed for them.

  67. P.A.
    April 22, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    It’s been fun, but I have many other things to attend to.

    Bye, all.

  68. Cowboy
    April 23, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Fair enough P.A., we disagree.

  69. Once Active
    April 23, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Can we agree to just do what Jesus said and Love One Another, even those who attack, who thrust a spear into your side, who place a crown of thorns on your head, or throw you up on a cross? I do believe that was the example.

    Too often, people get caught up in serving as the implement of God’s wrath. Not our job. Love your neighbor for their strengths, love them for their weaknesses, and if they are wayward remember that all children are wayward in some way or another.

    For now, I am in agreement with the original post, for the most part. A lot of LDS members really…should…lighten up. The high presidency almost always deals gracefully with problems, but it’s the uproar of those following that makes their position harder to deal with in the first place.

  70. Martin
    April 23, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Why’d this post jump to the front again? Not that it wasn’t a good post, but I didn’t see anything new added to it.

  71. cadams
    April 23, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    I’m looking forward to the show! I heard, anecdotally, that wherever “The Godmakers” was shown baptisms went up.

    However the show goes, positive or negative, it reminds me of a great saying of Brigham Young. He explained that when anyone tries to attack us, you can only kick Mormonism upstairs; you can never kick it downstairs.

  72. Left Field
    April 23, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    My 2c worth:

    I don’t think the South Park version of church history is a bit more accurate than the “correlated” version. They left out what they wanted, put in what they wanted, and changed what they wanted to suit their satirical purpose. That’s fine for satire, but it doesn’t make for really good history. That we can find some elements of the South Park version that may be more accurate than those elements of the correlated version doesn’t make better history, it just means that the inaccuracies are in different areas.

    I remain baffled as to why using two stones to produce the Book of Mormon is the faith-promoting version of the story, but using just one stone is a horrible embarrassment that must be covered up.

    To my ear, the connotations of “seerstone” and “peepstone” are worlds apart. Growing up in the church, I absorbed a distinct undertone of venerability to a “seerstone,” while a “peepstone” brings to mind Isaiah 8:19. We don’t sustain a prophet, peeper, and revelator, after all. The distinct connotations of the two terms go back at least to Joseph Smith (see Rough Stone Rolling, p. 51), who consistently used the term seerstone, as did his contemporaries in the church, and as have all church sources since then. Consequently, the term “peepstone” always sets my teeth on edge, though I am confident that John is not intending the sneer that invariably accompanies that term when it goes into my ear canal. John does seem to rather consistently prefer the term peepstone. To my ear, it is as if one is consistently referring to the stake patriarch as the stake fortune-teller. Patriarch is the correct neutral title, and it’s just darn difficult to hear the term fortune-teller without imagining the derision that goes with it.

    I don’t find South Park either particularly offensive or particularly funny. But if I wanted to hear annoying, nearly unintelligible voices in a not-particularly funny show, I could always watch reruns of The Nanny.

    I very much agree with John’s #6. Let’s get over ourselves already.

  73. Cowboy
    April 23, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    “I remain baffled as to why using two stones to produce the Book of Mormon is the faith-promoting version of the story, but using just one stone is a horrible embarrassment that must be covered up.”

    This comment perhaps illustrates why and how so many of us can approach the same issue so differently. I have little doubt that LeftField understands that the number of stones used for revelation/divining (to please both crowds) is not the issue, but rather what these various instruments represent. To those like LeftField or P.A. the seer stone is just another medium, used perhaps in the vein of Bushman, to acclimate Joseph Smith to the Urimm & Thummim. For those who find objection to the different terms used in reference to the stones, the overlap between Urimm & Thummim and Seer Stone is bit oversimplified. P.A. for example had the following to say:

    ” I seek divine help in providing for my family when I pray that my work will be noticed and valued by my employer, that I’ll get the promotion or raise I seek. I likewise seek divine help in performing my daily job activities.”

    He used this comment to draw a parallel between his prayers that God will sustain him, and the treasure seeking enterprise of Stowell and company. In other words, in the case of the money digging venture, the use of the seer stone was on par with a family prayer or fast that Dad will get the promotion, etc. Because of some apologetics which challenge the consistency of some of the witnesses testimonies at the 1826 hearing, he is willing to dismiss arguments which throw a stick into the spokes of what I would call, for the sake of drawing a dichotomy, “Christian prayer”. The eyewitness accounts, along with a culture of scrying or “glass-looking” paint another picture, one steeped in the occult superstition and alchemy of John Dee and Edward Kelley. There is of course more to this argument on both sides, but the implications of these competing beliefs is what influences our choice of expression when we refer to either the “peep stone” or “seer stone”. On the one hand, it may seem disrespectful to the believers ears to hear others refer to the rocks (that is about is neutral as it can get) this way, but on the other hand this is a highly controversial subject with little defense outside of personal spiritual claims, as per P.A. Bushman, in his Mormon Stories interview with John Dehlin, was even inclined to say that in spite of all the area’s where history struggles to recreate Joseph Smith’s life, regarding his use of folk magic/peep stones, this is one area where “the facts are the facts”.

    A second point which should be noted I think, is that most of the controversy of seer/peep stones is directly related to the treasure digging activities, and not the notion of spiritual mediums for revelation. For lifelong members such as myself, we all grew up hearing the story of how The Brother of Jared saw the finger of the Lord touch the stones to generate light. We sat and stared at the primary art of Lehi and company arriving to find the Liahona mysteriously delivered to their door, and how it functioned based on their worthiness. We learned how God, mindful of his promises and aware of the forthcoming restoration, prepared Moroni by placing the Gold Plates in his charge along with the Urimm & Thummim, to be buried and consecrated for the restoration some 1400 years later. Finally, in the 1800′s Joseph Smith was given access to the Sacred instruments and record, where at candlelight and immense personal sacrifice he brings about God’s purposes through the translation and distribution of The Book of Mormon. The point is, most of us believed and accepted that premise just fine for a good part of our lives. Then of course, out of a desire to be committed to a cause as important as the Restored Church, we dedicated ourselves to the study of these circumstances in order to understand better and to teach, and serve. Of course, in this process we find out – “well, that super inspiring narrative isn’t exactly 100% correct. Oh and before the Urimm & Thummim there was this other stone…and before we were receiving revelation about Christianity, we were trying to find out where the Indian ghosts hid the loot before they spirit away with it.” Finally at this point, many of us end up with a satirical view not all that dissimilar from South Park. So was South Park more historical, vs. the Church? Again, we could argue for technicalities, but it probably has more to do with our perspectives in this light, than purely objective analysis. After all, we have make inferences about where God stands with all of this, so there will never be consensus. Even so the issue has more to do with the notion of folk magic and superstition, than it does with the notion of looking aids for revelation.

  74. April 23, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    John, you really need to organize a group to go and see this together. That would be awesome. Just don’t invite any Danites — Trey and Matt have enough to worry about these days from those other religious extremists.

  75. Bubba
    March 25, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Does the musical contain the language and sexual content of South Park?

    • Thomas Maxwell
      July 7, 2011 at 12:29 am

      There is swearing and sexual inuendo.   But this maybe the first real contact with LDS thought that some may have.  I saw the musical and friends who never asked about the church did so on the ride home.