The Book of Mormon musical probably didn't intend to be rich with meaning, but it was for me. I’ll try warn about spoil alerts.
There are two young men who are called to Uganda, Africa on their Mormon missions. One is full of himself and ready to change the world through the Mormon gospel. The other one knows his weaknesses and one of them is he loves to make up stories to fit in.
As they are confronted with a culture and environment that is starkly different than their own, they must face the realization that their naïve background has not prepared them for such realities they are facing in the world.
One of the things they must face is that we all have myths in our culture. Myths can work for us or against us. In the African culture, many of their myths work against them. In America, many of our myths work against us. One of these is a modern myth. The myth of the anti-vaccers. The myth that vaccines cause Autism, therefore it causes more harm to vaccine than it does good. This myth has worked against the herd immunity where those who are vaccinated protect those who cannot get immunized for health reasons.
Many cultures have myths that do good, for example; myths can teach children the danger of strangers, to love over hate, to forgive, etc. Many of these lessons are taught in such stories as Brothers Grimm or nursery rhymes, etc. Societies run into trouble when myth is taken for reality, such as the flood story or talking snakes, or Greek and Roman mythology.
How does taking these myth-stories as literal turn our lives upside down? Because we are told the Universe works one way, but when we begin to live life, it turns out to work another way. We become disillusioned, we lose hope in life.
If we believe them to be myths, we can seek out a different myth that works with our situation to help find an answer, rather than trying to fit our life situation with the myth/belief.
For example, when we are told that if we follow one path and do X, Y, and Z, then A,B and C will inevitably follow. What happens when A,B, and C do NOT follow? Our world is shattered, We do what we are told but the pieces to not fall into place. The problem isn't with us, its with the myth…we were following the wrong myth.
Take this for example. Let’s say that our life’s plan is to follow Hansel and Gretel. We go along the path, we eat the house, our brother eats the house, gets put in the oven, but rather than getting saved, he dies! That wasn't in the story! He was supposed to live! What happened? You followed the plot, you did what you were supposed to, but the end didn't turn out right. So you end up with a faith crisis. Nobody told you it wasn't REAL! Nobody told you to switch myths and to switch to the fairy tale about the infertile Queen and snake: Grief and the Snake and learn from her how to grieve loss.
Myths aren't real, but they are supposed to teach us life lessons. If we take them literally, then we get lost in life.
Some of my favorite myths are Winnie the Pooh. The author wrote them specifically to teach life lessons. We learn of friendship, love, acceptance and that life just doesn't work out the way we expect, but we move on anyway, we love people when they are cranky and depressed and make bad choices.
If the myth isn't fitting your life, change myths, don’t stick with the one that isn't working for you; that is how the Universe works.