An old joke asserts that you can’t satirize BYU because BYU is its own satire. The gag presumes a reality already so incredible that deliberate caricature would be mistaken for factual report. But of course the joke exaggerates the truth. A wonderful piece of cartoon satire appeared in the Daily Universe less than two years ago: a beautiful young woman stands at the pulpit in a BYU ward, her yards of blonde tresses cascading out around her. The caption reads, “My hair is so full today that I just had to stand . . .”
Nevertheless, there is enough truth in the joke to merit thought. Satire does not flourish in the Mormon culture, and with good reason—it is dangerous. The only thing more dangerous than satire is its absence. The appearance of Neal Chandler’s book Benediction, therefore, is cause for celebration, a healthy vital sign, an indication that the patient may recover.