David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, writes in "Creed or Chaos" about moral absolutism, a subject I addressed a short while ago. The incentive for his subject comes from seeing the Broadway play, The Book of Mormon.
He addresses Mormons specifically in this statement and illustrates how effective our Word of Wisdom can ultimately be. This is something most Mormons couldn't normally articulate this well.
Rigorous codes of conduct allow people to build their character. Changes in behavior change the mind, so small acts of ritual reinforce networks in the brain. A Mormon denying herself coffee may seem like a silly thing, but regular acts of discipline can lay the foundation for extraordinary acts of self-control when it counts the most.He punctuates this with what he personally observed in a visit:
I was once in an AIDS-ravaged village in southern Africa. The vague humanism of the outside do-gooders didn’t do much to get people to alter their risky behavior. The blunt theological talk of the church ladies — right and wrong, salvation and damnation — seemed to have a better effect.I doubt David Brooks knows much about Mormons or our beliefs. If most of his information has come from this play, then I'm certain he has a distorted understanding of us. Nevertheless, I do think his ideas in this column back up our fundamental belief structure of moral absolutism.
The only problem with “The Book of Mormon” (you realize when thinking about it later) is that its theme is not quite true. Vague, uplifting, nondoctrinal religiosity doesn’t actually last. The religions that grow, succor and motivate people to perform heroic acts of service are usually theologically rigorous, arduous in practice and definite in their convictions about what is True and False.He continues:
The religions that thrive have exactly what “The Book of Mormon” ridicules: communal theologies, doctrines and codes of conduct rooted in claims of absolute truth.Absolute truth. Thank you David.