The Book of Mormon Kansas City

H and I have been wanting to watch The Book of Mormon for a while. Let’s start with a little context. H grew up in and around the church. Mormonism to her is not just a religion but friends, family and in some ways part of her culture. It is very similar to what Catholicism is to me. Neither of us are currently part of any particular church but we are both very respectful of what others believe. That said, we both have a crude sense of humor when we talk about religion to each other. We are both very frank people with each other about what we find hilarious but we don’t ever try to offend others with our views or ridiculing their views.

I have been in New York in recent years and I was tempted to go see the play while there, but opted to wait until we could see it together. We actually had plans to see it in Chicago but it did not pan out. We were fortunate enough to have a friend that had fantastic seats but was not going to attend so we bought the tickets from him. All that said we did have a close Mormon friend tell us not to go. It did cause some pause for me.

Before being married to a non practicing Mormon my knowledge of the religion was being visited at one point by missionaries down in Colombia. My Mom had a strict rule about other religions just not entering our household. I did have a grandfather that was agnostic most of his life but ended his days following Hinduism. I can be open minded and I did the whole American protestant churches tour. Mormons are a lot different than other protestants I have encountered. They are by far some of the most warm and welcoming people I have ever encountered.

SouthPark creators had previously taken on Mormonism with one of their episodes. Surprisingly that show only made me more interested about the religions and I have since watched it more than once and think it is really positive. It highlights the values that I really love about that religion, the emphasis on family. Mormonism is not for me because I really love coffee and my brain breaks the illusion of religion when it comes to food. Same reason I could not be a Muslim, I can stop eating bacon because it will give me a hear-attack but not because a book tells me so. I also stopped practicing Catholicism seriously when I realized that I forget lent and eat meat on Fridays… I did it for a couple of years without even noticing. I don’t like feeling guilty because of something I consume without thinking.

Before going to watch the show I looked for content about it and found a song that really made me a little uneasy. One of the best songs really highlights some of the reasons that Mormonism would quickly lose me as a member. The chorus “A Mormon just believes” is pretty tough for me. I have no problem with satire and Catholic altar boy jokes, however this song could potentially ridicule some of the doctrine.

The book of Mormon would not affect a devout Mormon at all. However, if you are a Mormon that has doubts or thinks there are things that don’t make sense, this play will probably highlight most of them in a way that might make you think it is pretty ridiculous for you to believe on them. Without giving away the whole play, I am certain that the creators of SouthPark were not trying to get members away from the church but simply make everyone laugh.

Day of the Holy Innocent

Today Colombia celebrates April Fools, but it is called “Dia de los Santos Inocentes.” It is similar to April fools because of the pranks that people play on each other today. The roots of celebrating the days actually have to do with the bible and King Herod and the massacre of the innocents. Basically the magi coming to visit Jesus are alerted by an angel and return home via a different route hoodwinking Herod. I already find the magi amusing because who does not love pronouncing Balthazar.

Another amusing fact is that one of the precursor of April Fools day is the Feast of Fools a medieval tradition that was held, you guessed it, on December 28.

Ambushed by religion

Even though my wife lived in Canada for 8 years and got a little taste of North America, she is still getting used to the things that are very different here in the U.S. Even though Kansas City is much more slower paced that Chicago, it is still an American city and it moves at a good pace. When she is surprised by something here it makes us both laugh and reminds us how cool it is to have a similar background, a similar understanding of life. Actually we spend quite a bit of time laughing, from our little inside jokes to just getting each other’s sense of humor we spend quite a bit of time chuckling.

Religion is one of the things we have in common, and funny enough we ventured outside of the Catholic faith during our younger years. I think I did a little more venturing than her, but we both agree that we like going to mass and get something out of it. We don’t have a policy in religion for our friends and respect their beliefs or atheism. We are actually quite open to discussing the subject and explain what is the whole deal with the Virgin Mary or Rosaries or whatever it is that people from other faiths just don’t get. However we do not evangelize or try to convert people with words and arguments.

This week my wife was ambushed by religion. On this particular denomination I happen to have a lot more knowledge because someone in my family is a Jehova’s witness… I think this was the first time she encountered the no birthday policy they have. She asked a coworker if she wanted to sign a birthday card and was met by a very short “We don’t celebrate birthdays.” from a person she likes and appreciates already.

That right there is my problem with some institutions. The moment where you have to take a “we” stand… the moment where you stop being yourself and become just a piece of the big puzzle. Then when an unsuspecting person approaches you and touches the “I have been told I cannot do that” button, they are met with an uncharacteristic programmed response.

Some of the closest friends I made during my time in Michigan were from a very fundamentalist church. This was my second time trying a very strict protestant church. I respected most of their beliefs and helped out quite a bit around the church. I hanged out with them all the time and they became my support structure. It all ended when I refused to believe that they had a prophet that actually knew when rapture was going to happen.

I have seen this tactic before first hand and both times it involved money. The more you gave and sacrificed, the more “grace” you were going to receive. Furthermore, if things were not going well in your life, you were not giving enough. It was run like a business and they were selling salvation and in some extreme cases healing. The preacher would drive around on a brand new jag and had a brand new Harley while everyone else in the congregation could barely afford the Sunday clothes.

Like the time before when I had been ambushed by religion, they had a sit down with me telling me that I either believed what they said without challenge or I could not attend church anymore. In one conversation with someone I though was my friend my support structure was completely removed. I was very close with a couple that attended the church and we kept contact after the whole incident, but it was very clear that hanging around with me was going to cause them problem so I am waiting until the time where the world was supposed to end to give them a call. Actually it might have already passed so maybe I should call them to see if now that the prophet failed to predict everyone’s demise we are allowed to hang out… maybe there was an extension to get every last cent from their pockets.

Halloween is EVIL

Wait… what? Why do we need an alternative to Halloween? When did it become the Devil’s holiday? Why aren’t Satan’s follower’s up in arms about defamation of character?

USA Today has an interesting article about a play called Hell Houses. Apparently Evangelical churches are now performing lobotomies along with their services. Who in their right mind would want to be saved out of fear? Did we forget that fear and guilt are NOT from God? Where do churches get off trying to scare people into turning to God?

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

I do not see the point of a church using fear to evangelize. If evangelists differentiate themselves from the Catholic faith and concentration on spreading the message, which last time I checked was about love and not fear or guilt, then why are they trying to scare people straight?

2 Timothy 1:7

God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Some people that claim to follow not just the bible but most importantly the new testament forget a fundamental thing, it is all about love. Accepting and embracing other is the real message that Jesus tried to spread. When did that change in to demonizing everything under the sun?

Halloween is actually a holiday that was originated by the Celts and it was just about the end of summer. Sure it has become commercialized just as much as Christmas has but that does not make it evil. If spreading the message involves injecting fear on people to convert them to the right path I feel that religion will fail.

Just like the shock created by a horror movie, it might get the adrenaline pumping, it might actually not let you sleep for a week, but eventually you are going to go back to normal and act on your own set of rules. True faith, true change and true belief come from our own personal relationship with whatever God we worship. Doing things are of fear works only as long as we are afraid.

Some Jesus with your Party?

Bible ThumperDON`T WAIT till Judgement Day To Believe the BIBLE BELIEVE & OBEY NOW!

This was the scene this past weekend when I was hanging out with some friends at the party area full of sinners. Once I saw the sign, actually first the other side that said, you are all going to hell, I told my GF to take a picture. The dude took this as an invitation to SAVE me.

I am allergic to crazy, and I was not going to have this dude hand me his little pamphlet. I said, no thanks dude I already GOT JESUS! he insisted on telling me how much of a sinner I was for being there. My patience for crazy was used up a while ago so I insisted on saying, no thanks man. Then he struck a cord, go ahead and get drunk and sin. I turned around and told him, dude Jesus turned water into wine, and even though he could have came back with the whole it was a wedding, he decided to say that back in Jesus day, wine was more like grape juice. Then to add insult to injury he starts telling me about the drunks from the Bible. I was not drunk, neither was anyone in my group. We had just been in the museum all afternoon at the happy hour on the sculpture terrace and went to Westport for just some food, a single drink for some, and actually cookies and milk.

So I guess going outside of my house to anywhere but a church is consider sinning, actually not just that I am going to hell. How dare I consume alcohol or walk around in a place of sin? I personally think the biggest sinner was the dude holding the sign who obviously believes in a very fundamentalist way and its looking at all the girls dressed in very provocative clothes… what a sinner.

The guy embodies my issues with religion. Pushy people that have higher standards than me and therefore are living messengers of God telling me, dude you are not one of the 4400. Almost like Nelson from the Simpsons laughing at me saying, you are not worthy!

The winner of the Logtar award for cleverness and hilarity goes to the dude holding the other sign with my favorite punctuation sign (…ellipses…) , which read… Holding a sign got me NOWHERE…