What do Australian Mormons think of musical?
THE Book of Mormon continues to shock and dazzle thousands of Australians — the church’s community says it is taking it all on the chin.
The critically-acclaimed show, written by the creators of South Park, has been labelled “the best musical of the century” by the New York Times and has been lauded for it’s razor-sharp humour.
A senior member of the church in Australia, who works alongside leaders and teachers of the faith, says there has even been a spike in interest in the religion.
But she hasn’t seen the funny side of the musical.
Emily Kwok, who is the Director of Public Affairs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Sydney, said she was warned about the production’s colourful language but decided to plunge into the musical’s script to see what it was all about.
“When I was going through the script, I could definitely see the entertainment aspect of it,” she said.
“But also I picked up a lot of inaccuracies in terms of its portrayal of the missionaries, our beliefs and the church.
“But, I can see how other people might find it funny,” she said. “It was a pretty well-written script apart from the inaccuracies.”
One of the “inaccuracies” that really bugged her and some of the other Aussies Mormons she spoke to was the musical’s portrayal of the “naive and ignorant young male missionaries”.
The story follows two young men, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, who serve as Latter-day Saint missionaries in Uganda after their training.
The production paints them as bumbling, ignorant Americans in a foreign culture. For example, Cunningham continuously mispronounces the name of one of the play’s main characters, Nabulungi, as Nintendo or Nasi Goreng. And, he includes storylines from Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings when relating the Book or Mormon to Ugandan villagers.
However, Ms Kwok says Mormon missionaries are “articulate, intelligent, selfless and humble young people”.
“Many have put on hold their studies, scholarships and careers for up to two years to dedicate themselves to service,” she said.
Ms Kwok said the musical misrepresented the way Mormons follow their faith and made out they were all “brainwashed”.
However, she said the church’s community in Australia have taken the musical “pretty well”.
“It’s been around in other countries for a few years now, so most of us are aware of the content of it and nobody I have spoken to in Australia is particularly shocked by it,” she said.
In fact, she said the community has reacted to the “false and often confronting depictions” of their faith responded with a lively and good-natured campaign that “told people who Mormons really are”.
In fact, she said the production has actually resulted in a spike of interest in Mormonism in Australia.
Church members have been handing out books across Sydney in recent weeks and handed out tens of thousands of free books.
In Parramatta and Liverpool alone, they had 162 “referrals” — which is when somebody expresses an interest and arranges to meet a missionary.
Ms Kwok said there are now more than 150,000 members, 10,000 more than this time last years, and 309 congregations across Australia.
Both Ms Kwok’s parents were Mormons and she decided she would join the church when she was eight years old — which latter-day saints call the “age of accountability”.
“This is the age where a child can take in information and choose for themselves whether they want to get baptised,” she said. “And, so I was baptised when I was eight years old in Australia.”
She admitted there were a couple of cultural challenges for some Mormons in Australia.
One of these is due to the church’s “health code” which has recommendations for food which is “good for the body” and things which are “bad for the body.”
“Mormons are taught to abstain from alcohol, drugs and harmful products — which includes tea and coffee,” she said.
Ms Kwong’s family is from China, where tea is a huge part of daily life, and she said explaining aspects of her religion to relatives can be a challenge.
“In Sydney, everybody walks around with coffees, but I walk around with water,” she said.
“But, we are very lucky to be in Australia because it is a very multicultural and multi-faith country, so it’s easy to be a Mormon here.”
However, she said there are still a number of misconceptions about Mormons in Australia.
“Sometimes we are not viewed as Christians because of the way we see the godhead or the trinity, but we do consider ourselves Christian because Christ is right at the centre of our faith.
“Another misconception is that we don’t use the Bible, we do.”
She added that polygamy, which is commonly associated with the church, has been banned within the religion for 125 years and no current members are engaged in the practice.
Source link – http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/mind/aussie-mormons-reacting-pretty-well-to-hit-musical/news-story/fd49f120bac4aaa984834cb861c6185d