How religious people react to humor is often far more damning to the religion than the humor itself.Herb Silverman presented the above quote in a Washington Post article entitled, "Humor is in the eye of the beholder."
There are plenty of stuffy Mormons who can't take a joke. There are plenty of Mormons who take humor way too far. I'm not going to comment on where Robert Kirby falls on the continuum but I will say that I often enjoy his humor.
There are plenty of Mormons worked up into a religious lather over The Book of Mormon on Broadway. I won't see the play and I'm not recommending that you do. But, I do find the Church's reactions to the play amusing. First, the official statement and now the official advertising response. From "Also playing on Broadway: new Mormon ad" in the Salt Lake Tribune:
The Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has now launched a million-dollar ad campaign in the Big Apple, with a Times Square looping video staring down at tourists and ticket-holders around the corner from the Eugene O’Neill Theater, where the raunchy “Book of Mormon” satire about LDS missionaries in Uganda has been playing to wildly applauding audiences.Why the add campaign?
The 14 million-member faith also bought ad space on 200 of the city’s cabs, in a spot known as “taxi-toppers,” as well as for a video clip on the screen inside the cabs. This week, the church put up posters inside subway cars and on bus shelter boards. Next week, it plans to add a second, static poster in Times Square, at a right angle to the digital one.
LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter said Tuesday. “We included New York City in this round because of conversations about the church happening there."(Also see: “I’m a Mormon” campaign arrives in New York City)
Clayton Christensen makes a distinction between laughing at God and laughing at Mormons' quirks in his Washington Post blog.
In Istanbul for The Washington Post, John Mark Reynolds condemns the play, likening it to Amos and Andy, while championing Mormons though he isn't one:
I am no Mormon, but I have witnessed bigotry and ignorance directed against this American community. . . Mormons have a history of being persecuted. They have been exiled in their own land, but have returned unfailing devotion to our Constitution.
This new play will pander to our prejudices and treat our Mormon neighbors as we would never wish to be treated. Some Americans will allow it to confirm unthinking prejudice, while cowardly Mormons will applaud it hoping for crumbs of respectability.
Meanwhile the actual Mormons in our midst will keep paying taxes, making strong families with children, and dying to protect the rights of a decayed and decadent theater “elite.”
I stand in solidarity with my Mormon neighbors.Reynolds is worth reading in detail. I wish his writings were the last word on this matter, though I'm certain it won't be. I just wish I could figure out what Alexandra Petri is really saying.
Pease is right. No matter what happens, the President will not apologize to us.