The Book of Mormon: The Musical! Soundtrack – Act 2

BoM:The Musical OBCR is now available on iTunes and at Amazon.com.

“Hello! I would like to share this book about Jewish Naval Indians with you!”

Lights flashing, time to get back in our seats. (Did you miss Act 1?)  There’s a song in this act that absolutely and completely changed how I feel about my old religion.  Long-time readers know that I’m no longer Mormon and have written extensively about why.  My family is still devout, I have good friends that are still devout, but I held a lot of what the church stands for in contempt.  Well, I still do as far as the leadership is concerned (and some of their hate speech couched as the “loving word of God” – see: Prop 8 for starters) but bless the member’s hearts who just want to be good people.

First, let’s break down some of the crazy and some of the awesome.

 

Making Things Up Again “Christ never said nothing about no clitoris!”

Elder Cunningham, the dorky nerd, finally gets a chance to preach to the Africans. Problem: he hasn’t actually read the Book of Mormon (because it’s so boring. And that’s true. Fun fact, Mark Twain once said that “It was such a pretentious affair and yet so slow, so sleepy, such an insipid mess of inspiration. It is chloroform in print.”) Because Elder Cunningham doesn’t really know what’s in the BoM, he makes up doctrine to get the people to stop doing things he doesn’t like. You know, like raping babies to rid themselves of AIDS.

More fun facts, the vast majority of LDS practices aren’t even in the Book of Mormon. They’re things that Joe Smith came up with on the fly as he built his religion. What sort of things? Oh, here’s a partial list:

  • Baptisms for the Dead
  • Laying on of Hands for blessings
  • All temple ceremonies, including the Freemasony-based Endowment sessions
  • Paying tithing
  • Polygamy
  • The Mormon Heavenly Caste System (the biggest motivator in the Church)
  • The Law of Consecration
  • How to cast out demons
  • The structure of the church and its leaders
  • How to select a prophet
  • The Word of Wisdom (this is why Mormons don’t drink, smoke, etc.)
  • The Mormon understanding that God was a man like you and I and became a God (and you can, too!)

This song is reeeaaally clever, because it mocks this kid trying to do good by these people, I mean, can you get mad at some 19 year old boy trying to make people not want to perform female circumcision or raping infants? I mean, that’s the Greater Good, right? Oh, I see what you’re doing there, Matt and Trey, and I love you for it. Also, they worked Boba Fett and the hobbits into doctrine. And Yoda-voice: “Up again making things you are!” I mean… that’s aces.

 

Spooky Mormon Hell Dream “I can’t believe Jesus called me a dick!”

I sat with my mouth open for the majority of this song the first time I heard it. I’m not the only one that had the spooky Mormon hell dream? Oh, how comforting that is! Now I get that all religions have a guilt thing working for them, obviously. Mormonism has a special layer to their guilt because Mormons are commanded to be perfect. Not try to be perfect, not strive for perfection, but to be perfect. Right now. And if you’re not perfect, well, you’re not going to the Celestial Kingdom (this is the penthouse level of heaven – the upper tier in the caste system) and you could be cast into Mormon Hell, Outer Darkness.

No lie, I had the scary hell dream for two solid months when I was 14. Every single night I dreamed of the end of the world, my family being destroyed (or translated, which is when they’re whisked away to heaven without having to die – a special Mormon-version of being beamed up) and me facing eternal hell. And why? Oh, I shoplifted some Sweet Valley High books. Also, I was questioning some of the doctrines that didn’t add up. I couldn’t get my head around the fact that the Book of Mormon (and Bible) talk about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit being one in power and purpose, like a Hydra, yet the church said that they were clearly 3 separate and distinct beings. Such a stupid thing to get hung up on (mostly because now I don’t believe in any of it) but it made me so filled with guilt and fear to not just believe what I was being told.

Also, this song has Jesus calling Elder Price, who is having fever dreams due to his leaving his companion, thereby breaking Mormon Mission rule #72, a dick. With a hellishly angelic choir singing, “Jesus hates you this we know. For Jesus just told you so!” I hope that this is the song that’s performed at the Tony’s. I bet it has awesome production values.  I want to see Johnny Cochran in hell, I can’t be the only one.

How absurd is it that Price equates the breaking of Rule 72 with Genghis Khan and Jeffrey Dahmer (“I slaughtered the Chinese” and “I stabbed a guy and fucked his corpse!” respectively, although Khan may have done the same, I wouldn’t put it past him) and then going a step further, “You think that’s bad, I broke rule 72, I left my companion I’m way worse than you!” But then, how absurd is it that I cried myself to sleep for two months because of a freaking continuity error by Joseph Smith?

 

I Believe “I’m a Mormon, and a Mormon just believes.”

This is the one. This is the song that finally broke through my frustration, anger, and disgust with the Mormon Church, and that is not hyperbole. There may or may not have been tears at my end. Oh, the earnestness! All Price wants is to be a good Mormon, like he’s been commanded. He doesn’t want to have to question, to feel guilt for having done so, he just wants to be a part of the community that is the church, to get an “atta boy!” from God (and the church leaders) and to make a difference.

Man, I get it. Sure they believe wackadoo stuff, but hey, it’s all in the name of service to fellow men, right? Well, kinda. But on an individual level, that’s exactly it. And on another level, how crazy is it, really? A teenage girl miraculously becomes pregnant with a deity? Everything in the known and unknown universe was cooked up by a god in six days, and he was so worn out that he took a day to chill? A guy, pissed at God, gets swallowed up by a massive catfish, sits in its guts for three days, and comes out undissolved by stomach acid? Jews made submarine-style boats and sailed to America? OK, that last one is crazy.

Crazier Beliefs (That the LDS Church Says Are 100% True. Still.)

  • God has a plan for each and every single human that ever lived or will live. (That’s a lot of plans. I bet he has a Franklin-Covey DayPlanner.)
  • If you follow that plan to the letter, you will get your own planet of which you will be its God.
  • God was a schlep, just like you, and he followed his planet’s God’s plan and became a God. (And you can, too!)
  • Our planet’s God lives on his own planet, Kolob. (Fun fact: in Battlestar Galactica, which is based on Mormon Doctrine – did you know? – the Origin Planet is Kobol. Hurr.)
  • God and Jesus aren’t the same, so Jesus has his own planet as well. (You getting an idea of how big the universe is? And how many Gods?)
  • The prophet speaks directly to God. Like talks to God and God talks back. (“Whatcha thinkin’ about?” “Iunno, God-stuffs.”)
  • If you ask Jesus a question, in faith, he will always answer you. (Oh, he hasn’t directly answered you? Hmm, guess you weren’t faithful enough.)
  • Black people are the literal descendants of Cain. You know, the first murderer ever?
  • The Garden of Eden was in the American Midwest.

Pre-1978 the LDS Church said blacks were inferior to whites; they had been on the wrong side of the war in heaven. But black people had paid their dues by September, 1978 and they could finally become priesthood holders. (Incidentally, this is also the year that a very expensive temple was built in Brazil and no one could use it because…. people in Brazil are black. Or have “black blood” because the rule was that a drop of blood would be enough to align you with the Bad People. Wow. By the way, the locals themselves were required to pay for 1/3 of the total construction costs.  For the building they couldn’t use.)

The Garden of Eden was real, and it was in Daviess County, Missouri in a town now called “Adam-ondi-Ahman.” Before it was just called Wight’s Ferry. Jackson County, as the song incorrectly uses as the site, was where the Mormons were before they got kicked out for shenanigans. Oh, and when Jesus comes again, this is where he’ll go to gather the righteous. Pretty sweet if you’re in St. Louis, that’s a short commute.

And I’m not gonna lie. When Elder Price walks into the Warlord’s camp and tells him with such conviction that he believes Satan has a hold on him (the Warlord) and then bears his testimony of all of this crazy stuff… It chokes me up. I remember that simplicity of thought, that deep desire to connect, to help, and to testify with the hope that I could inspire change. What a dope. What an awesome, awesome, song.

 

Baptize Me “I”m about to do it for the first time, and I’m gonna do it with a girl!”

Ha, this one cracks me up. It’s not accurate to how baptisms work, but that’s not the point; it’s a great double entendre for ‘doing it.’ I’m not immune to the sweetness of what baptism means to people, regardless of faith. Clean of sin, newly born and pure; that’s nice. But the after should be considered, too: now you have responsibilities, rules, a job… Tithing, don’t forget that now you have to pay 10% (net, not gross!) or God will be mad at you and you’ll have the spooky Mormon hell dream.

But really, this song is hilarious with the whole, “And then I’m gonna lower you down..” Her breathless, “Uh huh?” Ha ha. First time sex is pretty funny, let’s all admit that. “I’m gonna make her burn for more!”

Oh, because I brought it up, here’s what’s incorrect, in case you need to be armed to challenge a Mormon or something. Baptisms happen with both Elders present, there’s a prayer that’s very specific, someone enters you into the official ledger of Who’s Who In The Mormon Church, and then you have the laying on of hands, confirming you as a member and giving you the gift of the Holy Ghost. Sometimes that last part is done the next day in Church, it just depends.  Now you can finally win Trivial Pursuit, you’re welcome.

“I’m wet with salvation!” I’ve mentioned how much of a crush I have on Matt and Trey, right? Just checking.

 

I Am Africa “We are the tears of Nelson Mandela, we’re the lost boys of the Sudan.”

I want to see these skinny-necked white boys from Beaver, Utah singing about how they are the winds of the Serengeti, the sweat of the jungle man. With their Zulu spears they run barefoot through the sand.

Really? They wouldn’t go to ZCMI to get running shoes? (That’s the Mormon-owned department store.) Is there anything funnier than white people appropriating other people’s culture to make themselves feel spiritual?

“A tribal woman who doesn’t wear a bra… Africans are Africans but we are Africa!”

 

Joseph Smith American Moses “We shall fight oppression by being nice to everyone!”

Oh holy Jeebus. In real life this would have been shut down at the first “I am Joseph Smith, and I’m going to fuck this baby!” Because he fucked a 14 year old, not a baby, tchuh. Well, that we know of.  (Joe got around, is what I’m saying.)  All of the crazy doctrine the tribal people sing about is so very funny, but really, the music here is stellar. I kinda can’t believe some white boys from Colorado wrote it, even though they are just that talented. (And they got help from Robert Lopez, yes, but still: he ain’t Africa either.)  It’s almost like a parody of “African” songs in musicals like The Lion King. But yet it isn’t.  That’s just how good these guys are, y’all.  They walk that line.

I keep flashing to Shug Avery racing along the fence line trying to stop Miss Celie from cutting Mister – remember that montage with her sister Nettie and Celie’s children going through their tribal rituals? Then Nabalungi (Jonbonjovi, etc.) sings about Brigham Young fucking a frog and having a clit for a nose and Quincy Jones goes far, far away. Not that it’s a bad thing.

Again, the music, the pacing, the excitement of it is just outstanding. “Oh no Joseph! Don’t fuck the baby!” “Brigham Young: his nose is a clitoris. What will you do Joseph? Will you fight the clitoris man?” “Mormons fuck all the time here in Salt Lake City land!” I don’t think this one will get performed in roadshows, just a thought.

 

Tomorrow Is A Latter Day “What happens when we’re dead? We shouldn’t think that far ahead!”

“Latter Day” refers to the afterlife in Mormon lore. It can also be shorthand for the last days on earth. That caste system in heaven… that’s the big push for Mormons. Who wouldn’t want their own planet, right? I mean, you could have your own Jesus who dies for your planet people’s sins, just like our Heavenly Father! Because they’re so focused on the “finish line” other things get pushed to the side. Like your sister dying of cancer. I mean, you’re going to see her in the eternities, what’s five minutes here compared to that? Big deal.

Um, maybe you should focus on tomorrow, that’s a “latter day” too, right? Let’s live in the now, in other words. Duh. On the surface this is a typical “wrap it up” finale-style song. Then there’s a line like:

“Americans already found the cure for AIDS but they’re saving it for a latter day!” Ha.

Chord and time change and we flash to what the future holds for this group of newly minted Mormons in Africa: a reworking of Hello! It’s awesome.

“Hello! My name is Elder Buttfucking Naked!” I bet that line brings the house down every night. “And if you’ll just put down the gun I’ll show you- oh, okay I’ll leave!” I love that they take the concept of the Book of Mormon being an addition to the Bible and make an addition to that.

I have got to see this performed. I think you’re picking up what I’m putting down here.

 

Finale

This is really just a song to bring people out from the curtain for a bow, but the very end with the African doctor letting everyone know that he still has maggots in his scrotum pretty much says everything I feel about white people preaching about another white man that can take their problems away. You know, once they’re dead. Some latter day.

Brilliant, bravo, this has utterly cemented my love for these guys. More importantly, it put everything in a perspective for me to be able to really laugh at myself in a good natured way, to remember the earnestness of these beliefs without having to bring the missionaries into my house. We’re all just looking towards tomorrow, you know?

…but that planet shit is still crazy.