The Nephite Who Knew Too Much | Deep End | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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News » Deep End

The Nephite Who Knew Too Much

Best advice: Don't say a damned thing about the Book of Mormon musical.


It was a slow day in the Special Projects Division at church headquarters on Temple Square. But then at 3 o’clock, all hell broke loose when news came in that the South Park guys were going to stage a musical on Broadway called The Book of Mormon. My supervisor, Elder H. Woodruff “Woody” Pratt, came bursting into my office (actually, it’s a more of a cubicle, but I do have a nice view of the City Creek).

“Elder Sorensen, we need to get all hands on board on this Broadway musical deal. You’ve got to talk with Aha and get him debriefed ASAP. The Brethren are all in a tizzy and want to make a statement before this blows up in our face.”

Agent Aha is more commonly known as the Third Nephite, who, along with the First and Second Nephite, was granted immortality back in the days when Jesus visited Zarahemla in the Book of Mormon. Aha has been a valuable source of info during the Restoration, widely recognized for his institutional memory. From time to time, I get together with Aha and pick his brain, which, despite the wear and tear over the past 20 centuries or so, is still in tip-top shape.

I hurried down to Gilgal Garden and left a note, coded in Reformed Egyptian, for Aha to meet me ASAP at Dick N’ Dixie’s over on Third South. (Our “drop” is a small crevice near the tail of the Joseph Smith sphinx sculpture.) I wasn’t really surprised when I found Aha already ensconced at a corner table, sipping a Bud Light.

“How did you get here so fast?” I asked.

“I have my ways,” he said, mysteriously.

“Still drinking that piss water?” I liked to kid Aha about his taste in beer.

“Hey, not as young as I used to be. Tastes great and fewer calories.” Aha has, for as long as I’ve known him, been a stickler for good grammar.

“Been reading about this Mormon musical coming to Broadway?”

“I thought that’s what you wanted to chew the fat about,” said Aha, suppressing a burp. “My advice is not to say a damned thing about it. Anything they say is gonna come off as touchy, even if they try to take the so-called high road and call it trivial entertainment, blah blah blah. I read some columnist in the D-News going on in the same way, but you could tell he was protesting too much; he couldn’t help himself, referring to how the Church is always vilified and persecuted. Stuck in his craw, you could tell.”

“But don’t you think we have to defend the truth of the Gospel and not let our Heavenly Father be dragged through the mud?”

“Let me tell you something. Elohim, or Jehovah, or Adam, or whatever name you want to call our Father in Heaven, can take care of himself. As for everyone always poking fun at the Book of Mormon, well, I’m living proof that ancient Hebrews sailed to America, split into warring tribes and spent hundreds of years killing each other by the millions up and down the countryside. I fought right next to Mormon at the last big battle in New York at the Hill Cumorah, which by the sheerest coincidence was close to where Joseph Smith grew up.

“It was mighty lonely, I can tell you that, waiting for the Gospel to be restored. When Jesus promised that me and the other two Nephites, Zeezrom and Wally, wouldn’t taste death until he, namely Jesus, returned to earth in all his glory, well, I thought he was talking about a few years, not over 2,000—”

I had heard this many times before and interrupted my old friend before he launched into one of his lengthy narratives about his long sojourn on the planet Earth.

“So, I should tell the Brethren to just keep their pie holes shut with regard to The Book of Mormon musical.”

“I remember how Joseph Smith used to handle Mormon bashing. He would totally ignore it, and if it continued, he’d go behind the scenes and offer some really juicy tidbits to the basher. People were nonplussed. I remember when that guy named Melville wrote a book about the Mormons, which was originally called Mormon Dick. Well, the Prophet got him to change the name in exchange for some secret information about a Lamanite called Queequeg, and also—”

I was already out the door. Aha was still talking, lost in memories.