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News » Deep End

Book and Lyrics

Bob Bennett approaches scripture from a new perspective: Broadway musicals.



Here is what Sen. Bob Bennett has to say about his new book on why the Book of Mormon is true, and I kid you not: “I approached it as if it were an American musical play in which the actors constantly interrupt the plot by bursting into song and dance.”

If you think this is too preposterous for words, I urge you to get on your computer and go immediately to the Deseret Book Website and click on Leap of Faith: Confronting the Origins of the Book of Mormon, by Senator Robert Bennett. There you will be able to read the veteran lawmaker’s rationale for approaching Mormon holy scripture as a toe-tapping song and dance.

I’m with you, Senator Bob! Join Lehi in singing about his voyage in 600 B.C. from the Arabian Peninsula to somewhere in America (Guatemala? Puget Sound? Aruba?): “I could have rowed all night, I could have rowed all night, and still have rowed some more.” Or, thrill to the mournful lament of King Mosiah: “Why can’t a Lamanite be more like a Nephite?” Or, clap along with the audience as they join in a rollicking version of “Zaaara- hemlah, where the Mulekites come marching down the plain.”

And what about Nephi’s show-stopping number as he psyches himself up for a senseless act of violence: “I’m gonna cut Laban’s head right off of his neck, and send it home to Dad.” Of course, there’s the always popular chorus rendition of “I feel righteous, oh so righteous and pious and gay—not!” OK, everybody, join right in, “There’s no book like our book, like no book I know!”

I don’t think the Brethren are all that happy about Brother Bennett’s latest venture. For a long time now, ever since the age of modern scholarship, the Brethren would prefer to keep the Book of Mormon up there on the dimly lit shelf and not under the bright glare of a desk lamp, even it belongs to a self-confessed believer like Bob. And they certainly can’t be happy that Bob proudly announces that he is examining the Book of Mormon as if it were a forgery.

One assumes, of course, that the Book of Mormon, which an angel delivered to Joseph Smith in the form of golden plates— irrefutable proof as far as I am concerned that it is true—will pass the stickler senator’s tests with flying colors. Nevertheless, one has to be just a little uneasy about what conclusions he will come to, since, as he boasts, he honed his skills as a forgery detector by proving not only that Clifford Irving’s biography of Howard Hughes was a hoax but also that Melvin Dummar’s “Mormon Will” was phony.

Bob, let me ask you. Do you really want to put Joseph Smith Jr., in the same examining room with hoaxsters Irving and Dummar?

According to Bob, he subjects the Book of Mormon to four key questions to find out if it is a forgery. One, is it consistent? Two, is there corroborating evidence? Three, is there a motive for fakery? And four, is it relevant to our time? (Take a few seconds and see what you come up proof-wise as regards those questions and the Book of Mormon). As far as I can tell, Bob pretty much comes up empty on those questions and falls back on the predictable “leap of faith” solution. Perhaps he would have been better off sticking with the usual proofs of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon: Is it printed on that thin tissue-like Bible paper? Is it printed in columns with impressive footnotes at the bottom of the page? When you read it, do you feel a burning in your bosom? Most important, do you feel your eyelids getting heavier and heavier?

So, it’s hard to know just exactly what Brother Bennett is up to in putting pen to paper (Leap of Faith is, for good or ill, his own work: no ghostwriter could have come up with the Book of Mormon/ Broadway musical analogy). It’s been suggested by political opponents that the senator is using his book to strengthen his re-election bid. This is the familiar “My belief is bigger than your belief” ploy, and leaves Brother Shurtleff and Brother Bridgewater scrambling to out-Mormon Brother Bennett.

My advice to them is to let the senator dig his own hole. Keep your mouths shut, or, if that is not possible, pucker up and whistle show tunes whenever you see Broadway Bob dancing down the avenue.