What did I, a Christian of 15 years, think about ‘The Book of Mormon‘? Should I have been there in the first place? Am I going to burn in hell? *wink*
Not offended, but challenged.
A few years ago a colleague at the marketing organisation I worked at *helpfully* warned me to never go and see ‘The Book of Mormon‘. He thought I would be way too offended as a “religious person”. For one, I hate the term “religious” (mmm, maybe for another post?) And two, I don’t like people presuming things about me based on an assumption. I swore one day I would go and see it and decide for myself.
Yesterday, thanks to some theatre ticket funds from my lovely ma-in-law, I got to go.
I’ve seen and love ‘Team America‘ so I was ready to laugh a lot (a friend even said go to the loo first!)…but I was not expecting to be choked to tears.
Disclaimer…A few show spoilers follow and some working musings in how I can be a better real-er Christian, read on or not…your choice.
Too good to be true?
In the show, Mormon Elders Kevin and Arnold get sent on mission to Uganda. They have been set targets to baptise souls but they find a community disillusioned with God because of Aids and poverty; they even sing them a *lovely* song about it. Their village is terrorised by a war lord who is threatening to circumcise the women. They don’t see what God can do for them.
Kevin and Arnold greenly tell the villagers the story of their Mormon faith and the promised land of Saltlake City (in the form of song…of course.)
As they finish, the War Lord turns up and shoots someone dead as a warning. I jumped out of my seat. I was not expecting that. Next, the scene that got me. A lady from the village sits alone and sings about Saltlake City, a place she hopes the villagers could go to to escape their living hell. She swears to listen to the Mormons to find out how she could go to this place.
Why? Well, she’d bought into a promise that the Mormons themselves weren’t even sure about. She heard a promise of a real place where they could escape. What hit me between the eyes is what good is sharing my faith unless it is backed up by action? These young Mormons are not paying for a plane ticket for the whole community to America, are they?
What good is my story of my belief in Jesus unless it makes a difference? I am here, as a Christian, to be God’s hands and feet, to do what Jesus did – champion underdogs, fight for justice, heal people in His name, overturn the corruption of the rich and heartless and be servant-hearted. Not, be like Kevin, proudly singing of “doing something incredible”, marking up baptisms on a chart and receiving medals!
The villagers go on to be baptised, believing this is their ticket out of Uganda and to a better life. They’ve been sold a pack of lies, made up by Elder Arnold. The Mormons sing triumphantly that the villagers may be African, but they are Africa. Just like a creepy sales person who gets overly hyped up over a sale and then their aftercare is atrocious.
Then when everything unravels and the truth comes out, the villagers realise there is no ticket to Saltlake City. The senior Mormons order all the missionaries to leave and declare the mission a failure, despite the requests of Kevin and Arnold to stay and help the villagers rebuild their lives. What the hell does that say to the villagers about God? How often can Christians treat people they meet as projects until it gets real and real work and sacrifice is required? I’m not going to try to answer the huge “Why does God allow suffering” question as I don’t want to give some trite answer here but I will say Christians are meant to be here to put right what is wrong in the world and certainly in this story context to help those in dire need caused by war or climate change.
The challenge…why should anyone believe me?
The show ends drawing the conclusion that religion is insincere, full of convenient lies, hypocritical and irrelevant. In my work, I tell my clients to try and think of their target market’s objections and barriers. Here are some right here to faith. How do I live out my faith and show God’s love without people dismissing me the same way? It has to be about what I do. It doesn’t matter what people say but their actions.
In the Bible, James, Jesus’ brother, says and I paraphrase, “When people ask you why you’re joyful, tell them why”. To put it another way, in the context of this story, “When you come to Uganda and build new schools, and people ask you why, tell them”. Not swan in like superstars, say some stuff, then leave.
I guess what I’m saying is that I can only share my faith with people I’ve lived alongside, heard their needs and tried to help. My business mission statement is, “Carry on being a game changer…changing people’s minds one person at a time.” People have their free choice and all I can do is *be* a witness, the best I can, where I am.
Well, that’s where I’ve got on this. Hope I haven’t offended anyone; these are purely my musings about what I can do. Please do comment below etc.