God’s Fools

Plays of Mitigated Conscience


Fires of the Mind, by Robert Elliot, is the best single play yet written about Mormon experience. But the best Mormon playwright, on the evidence of cumulative, consistent achievement, is Tom Rogers. The scripts of his four best plays, Huebener, Fire in the Bones, Reunion, and Journey to Golgotha, are now available through the generous efforts of Thomas Taylor, the young BYU student preparing to be a professional small press director who prepared the first edition, and Signature Books, which has republished that edition.

Rogers is ambitious. His plays fearlessly address two of the most troubling tragedies in Mormon history: the Mountain Meadows Massacre (and subsequent scapegoating and execution of John D. Lee) and the excommunication and execution of the young anti-Nazi Helmuth Huebener. Rogers also takes on two of the most devastating contemporary dilemmas: the breakdown of communication and forgiveness in a “religious” Latter-day Saint family, and the torture and corruption of citizens by their own governments. In addition, all four of these plays are patterned thematically on the perennial tragic struggle between the generations, a struggle that has energized our greatest literature in Western culture, specifically the Oedipal struggle of estranged sons with tyrannical fathers or mentors. And Rogers does not hesitate to take a firm and clear position on this dilemma: only through responding to Christ’s example and demand on us—that we as sons cease licking our wounds and “return our fathers’ enmity with understanding and forgiveness” and that we as fathers cease exercising unrighteous dominion—can we “break the curse that would have us perpetuate the same misery in our offspring” (ix).


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