In the 1950s and 1960s, the church president was David O. McKay, a former schoolteacher of Scottish ancestry who was famous for peppering his sermons with quotations from the canon of western literature, particularly the works of Robert Burns. President Monson's sermons have demonstrated a similar literary bent, with frequent quotations from Shakespeare, Alexander Pope, and a vast arsenal of poetry he is rumored to have committed to memory. But I have noticed another, less traditional, source of material President Monson uses to illustrate the themes of his sermons: Broadway musicals.
Now, some folks might find it a bit unsettling that a prominent religious leader finds inspiration so frequently in such, er, middlebrow entertainment. I find it refreshing. For one thing, Broadway shows have assumed a unique place in American culture--it's remarkable how many people who gripe about paying $9.50 to see a first-run film will gladly shell out upwards of $100 to go to a Broadway show. People seem to be utterly captivated by these productions, and I can't fault President Monson for (i) sharing that enthusiasm, and (ii) using the plot and characters from the stage to illustrate gospel principles to an audience that, by and large, can appreciate the comparison. Anyway, wasn't Shakespeare essentially the Andrew Lloyd Webber of his era?
So, in honor of President Monson, I present you the following quiz. Match the shows (1-10) with the excerpts (A-J) he has quoted in his sermons. I've indicated the date of at least one conference in which he's used the quotation, although several are favorites that he has used more than once. I've also edited a few of them for length. Granted, some are dead giveaways, but others might require a little head-scratching. Feel free, if you like, to leave your guesses in the comments. I'll post the answers in a few days.
|1. Fiddler on the Roof (Oct. 2004)||A. "If we don't try, we don't do; and if we don't do, why are we here?|
|2. Camelot (Apr. 2001)||B. "The difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she's treated."|
|3. The Sound of Music (Oct. 1987)||C. "I don't think any man has ever been as good as he could have been, but this one really tried."|
|4. The Music Man (Apr. 2003)||D. "Fight the unbeatable foe/ ...bear the unbearable sorrow/ ...run where the brave dare not go."|
|5. The King and I (Apr. 1999)||E. "God on high/ Hear my prayer/ In my need/ you have always been there"|
|6. Man of La Mancha (Jun. 1989*)||F. "Love isn't love till you give it away."|
|7. My Fair Lady (Oct. 1992)||G. "Violence is not strength, and compassion is not weakness."|
|8. Shenandoah (Apr. 1994)||H. "A sentimental song/ If it casts a magic spell/ They only hum along."|
|9. Monty Python's Spamalot (Apr. 2008**)||I. "You pile up enough tomorrows, and you'll find you've collected a lot of empty yesterdays."|
|10. Les Miserables (Oct. 2003)||J. "In Anatevka, ... everyone knows who he is and what God expects him to do."|
** A guy can dream, can't he?