Chelsea Handler on “Mormonism”

Chelsea Handler on “Mormonism” February 11, 2020


Either the Russell family or NOT the Russell family.
This exclusive photograph shows what may be the last remaining inhabitants of Utah.  Presumably, since they appear to have children, they’re recent converts.
(Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph)


We’re just back from a performance of the Jeff Hamilton Trio in the Concert Hall of the Noorda at Utah Valley University (Jeff Hamilton on drums, Tamir Hendelman on piano, and Jon Hamar — whose appearance curiously reminded me, just a bit, of the young Clayton Christensen — on bass).


Of late, our neighborhood has been improving in remarkable ways:

  • The Noorda is even closer to us — considerably so — than are BYU’s theaters and concert venues.
  • The Hale Center Theater, already not far away, will soon be moving even closer, into a much better facility, at University Place.
  • Utah Valley University’s new art museum will soon be just around the corner from our home.
  • The Orem Utah Temple will be constructed within the boundaries of our Utah-Valley-small stake.




On a very different note:


Chelsea Handler, it seems, is a comedian.  Who knew?


Anyway, she recently opened up about her childhood and her relationship to religious faith:


“I grew up as a Jew and a Mormon,” she explained.  “My mom was Jewish and my dad was Mormon.”  Having learned a little bit about both religions, though, she opted for her mother’s faith: “I chose Jewish obviously.  Mormonism is so ridiculous.”


I can’t help but think of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice:  “For what do we live,” says Mr. Bennet, “but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?”


A Yahoo News article about Ms. Handler’s theological reflections says that


It’s not the first time Handler has spoken out about Mormonism. In a contentious 2012 interview on Real Time With Bill Maher, the comedian pushed back on a CNN contributor who said that the religion has “improved millions of peoples’ lives” and created “flourishing” institutions. “But they can’t even drink alcohol,” Handler countered. “They can’t have sex, they can’t have caffeine, they can’t have alcohol … Unless you accept Jesus Christ as your savior in the Mormon church, you go to hell.”


And, really, how can anybody have a decent life or create flourishing institutions without alcohol?  The very idea is ridiculous on its face.


Moreover, plainly, Latter-day Saints can’t have sex.  That’s why Utah’s population has steadily declined since the first Mormon pioneers arrived in the Great Basin in 1847.


No caffeine?  That’s news to me.  I find myself wondering, though, what form of Judaism Ms. Handler adopted.  I’m guessing that it’s not the kind that requires her to abstain from pork and shellfish, to avoid mixing meat and dairy, and to keep a strictly kosher kitchen where no fires can be kindled and no switches switched on the Sabbath.  If it were, I would expect her to find LDS rules about coffee, tea, booze, and tobacco absolutely libertine and licentious by contrast.


As for going to Hell unless you accept Jesus as your Savior, Ms. Handler may not realize that the notion that Jesus is the Redeemer of all humankind, that “there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12), is not entirely peculiar to the Latter-day Saints.  And, despite her obviously deep doctrinal research, Ms. Handler may not know that Latter-day Saints really don’t believe in Hell as traditionally conceived.  And she may be unaware of the Latter-day Saint belief in the redemption of the dead, whereby those who failed to receive the Gospel in this life still have an opportunity to do so in the life to come.


Indeed, “For what do we live but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?”



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