I bought the soundtrack for The Book of Mormon on Broadway and listened to it at least twenty times before I was able to see the show. Despite my intimate knowledge of the songs, I was not prepared for the totality and spectacle of it. I knew The Book of Mormon would be funny, but I didn’t realize how subversive and intelligent it would be.
For those who don’t know, at 19 years old (or so), young Mormon men are sent as missionaries across the globe for a two year mission to create more Mormons. The musical follows two particular missionaries as they are dispatched to Uganda. “Elder” Price is the good looking, slim white boy while “Elder” Cunningham is an odd, not-up-to-par Mormon. Yes, in real life the Mormon Church labels adolescents as “elders.” The culture of Mormonism is as much a star of the show as the lead actors.
The musical’s opening number is set in clean, homogenous Salt Lake City but quickly moves to a violent and dangerous territory of Uganda. Once there, the two lead characters meet with other missionaries who are all working to convert the locals.
It’s a simplified plot, leaving plenty of room to explore poverty, homosexuality, and faith. At the center of the missionaries struggle is a debilitating kind of naïveté. Continue reading
Posted in Edwin Lyngar
Tagged Broadway, Edwin Lyngar, Hasa Diga Eebowai, Juxtaposition, LDS, Mormon, musicals, New York, Religion, reviews, The Book of Mormon
Bleed, the literary blog at Jaded Ibis Press, picked up my craft piece about creative nonfiction. I am very pleased with this one. Go check it out:
“If we knew you were going to be a writer, we’d have been better parents.” Parents say this to a young woman in a comic strip punch line.
In creative nonfiction, just like in life, the best advice is don’t hold back. Sit at the keyboard and let it all go, the hate, rage, self doubt and frustration. Sometimes lust works too. Pound it all into the keyboard from the flaming ends of your fingertips, and tie it all together with some self reflection. Then for god’s sake spend some time revising the damn thing — Read the Entire piece
Here at the end of 2013, I have to examine what has been a pretty prolific writing year for me, topped off with an article I wrote for Salon. That piece has gone viral and continues to dominate my time. I didn’t see it coming, but it’s a great finish to the year.
The lesson I put in play this year is that writing should not be some self-congratulatory, yank fest (aside from this blog post). Rather, writing should be about giving the reader something. Sure you can’t even start the process if you don’t have some need or reason to do it, but you also can’t just write for yourself—and hope to publish. Continue reading
It seems like Christmas is a great time to examine family culture. Just about every December 25, I get inspired to talk about it. This piece ran on the Good Men Project go check it out there.
A Christmas Cluster
Before my divorce, I had a long line of Christmas musts: Right tree, plenty of gifts, fireplace stockings and nothing could be missed. But Christmas would never be the same for me after my first wife left in 2003, and I’m so much better off for it.
I had custody of my kids after the divorce, but we shared Christmas, on a year-on, year-off basis. I spent several sad years in a dark house, unshaven and feeling sorry for myself, drinking eggnog or cheep beer. Depression was my Christmas staple when I didn’t have the kids.
Then I remarried, and my second wife, Joy, put a hard stop to the despair-filled rooms. We spent our first Christmas together without kids at a Reno casino, playing blackjack and eating a ten-dollar prime rib dinner. It was the best Christmas I can ever remember as an adult, and it was the first moment for me in a long process of rethinking the holiday … Read the whole thing here …
I got a lot of great feedback on this piece, posted to the Good Men Project just a few weeks ago. Totally worth re-posting here.
A Call to Feminist Dudes
In the years before I embraced feminism, I called myself a “masculinist,” mostly because I was pissed off about an unpleasant divorce. About six or seven years ago I adopted the feminist label, and now that I’ve been part of the club a while, I’ve started to feel lonely.
Feminism can and should be a big tent, but it’s been derided and reduced to a caricature. I suspect that some men feel feminism doesn’t square with the masculine “personality.” It’s a shame. I know lots of men who would never claim to be feminist but yet still believe in sexual equality, equal pay for equal work, and equal opportunity for our daughters, wives, and mothers. I never realized I was a feminist until my current wife pointed it out in passing … Read the Whole Piece Here.
I got a lot of heat over the article (below) from a lot of men who think that child support is “unfair.” I’ll have to address this question again, I think, but one thing is for sure, men feel mistreated in family court (I know I did). The bottom line seems to be that divorce ALWAYS sucks, especially when you have kids. Read the whole article at the Good Men Project:
The Problem of “Men’s Rights” and Child Support
When I first got divorced in 2003, I looked for support from many traditional men’s rights groups. You can find them with a simple web search, and there are dozens that focus on the problems of men and family court. Even a cursory glance will give you a good idea of the common themes, issues like shared parenting, parental alienation syndrome and visitation after divorce. I am extremely sympathetic to many of the issues listed, but one of the biggest complaints of “traditional” men’s groups I think is nonsense: The issue of child support.
Divorce forums are full of men complaining about child support. I understand that it’s a burden. The debt can’t be discharged and you can get thrown in the slammer if you don’t pay, and losing a job is a big problem. However, it’s more troubling that so many children live in poverty following divorce. According to the latest census report, 29% of children living with a single parent lived in poverty (versus 19% of from all other households) — Read the whole piece!
As featured on the Good Men Project:
As an atheist father of five I have some perspective on raising secular kids. In my small circle of secular friends, I’m an oddity with my oversized family. I’m often confused for a Mormon in my mountain west community, overrun as it is with members of the LDS religion. The idea that atheists or secular Americans should—or even can—raise children religiously “neutral” ignores the raging tempest of religious compulsion that is everyday America.
Contrary to what critics might think, I avoid talking about religion as much as possible with my young children. I would rather they were not confronted with such complex and emotional topics until they are a little older, but I’m completely unable to shield them Read entire article at Good Men Project.
Why the hell is day care so expensive? The cost is more than my mortgage. I’m happy my kids are getting older and going into school, but I often wonder how most people do it. Here’s a long article I wrote for Role/Reboot on this subject:
Many organizations with the word “family” in the name are filled with bigots, misogynists, and homophobes (for example: American Family Association, Focus on the Family). The favorite talking point of these groups is the “breakdown of the American Family,” a talking point that is so old and oft repeated that it’s lost all meaning. The real breakdown in the American family is that no one can afford to have kids anymore. Read the whole article.
The day after the George Zimmerman trial came to an end, I sat down and wrote this. I sent it to the Good Men Project who were kind enough to post and share. I was surprised by the many comments I received in response. I have a child about as old as Trayvon Martin would be, and he will experience race much differently than my child will. The continuing reaction to this story fascinates me. Here is my take, courtesy of the Good Men Project:
I Could Get Away With Murder
I could shoot a black kid in the street and get away with it.
I’m not proud of this, and I might have never put it into words, except for the sad, horrid feeling I got watching the George Zimmerman trial. George shot a black kid and walked. I know I could too, and with much less trouble than George Zimmerman had. I’m 40 years old, white and educated. I’m a chubby, pale taxpayer. I have no tattoos and have never been arrested and I walk around with the assumption that the police are actually here to serve me.
I could drive through a part of town known for housing people of color. I could get out of my car, walk down the street and find the first kid that looked “street.” I could insult or provoke him, perhaps by calling him a horrid racial name. The moment he responded with any kind of violence or intimidation, I could pull out my Beretta 9mm and shoot him dead. No jury would convict me … Read the Entire Piece at the Good Men Project.
Posted in Edwin Lyngar
Tagged Edwin Lyngar, Fatherhood, george zimmerman, Good Men Project, Kids, murder, Parenting, race relations, Sons, Teenagers, trayvon martin
I don’t write about politics much on this site, but I am particularly proud of this article posted on the Good Men Project. It is mostly an attempt to explain my leftward drift to those many Republicans in my life that I still know and love. Well worth the read!
The Soundtrack of My Republican Life
I spent most of my adult life as a registered Republican, consuming a ceaseless flow of rightwing political commentary from books, radio and television. The sounds of Rush, Hannity and Ingram have ever filled my morning commute with advice on what to think and whom to hate. Although I haven’t given up those the soundtrack of conservative opinions in my daily life, I don’t believe one word of it anymore.
Some people claim to change their minds about party and ideology, but in my experience few people move very far. I have. I protested the recount after the 2000 election, determined to protect George Bush’s 537-vote victory in Florida. I was a delegate to my state Republican convention in 2008, and I was also an enthusiastic supporter of the Iraq War, a position for which I am most ashamed. — Read the whole story on the Good Men Project