Everything you can do, I can do better!

Brian Johnstonevangelicals, Happiness, history, Mormon, music 9 Comments

I’ve had this song stuck in my mind for a week or so now. Don’t you hate that? To make matters worse, I keep picturing a 19th century cast of early Church leaders singing this song on a vaudeville stage. You know, the kind with oil lantern stage lights on the floor shaped like clam shells. It would also need a warped plank or two on the stage. It would be full of smoke, the audience would be drinking pints of ale while whooping and yelling — a boisterous crowd representing the world.

Just take a moment to listen to a little bit of the song. You don’t have to listen to it all, just enough to get the flavor of the idea.


Sometimes it seems like Mormonism developed like this. Sure, we had Christianity for almost two thousand years. Mormonism was going to do everything better!

Joseph Smith sings: “You’ve got the Bible, but I found more scriptures. I can do anything better than you!”

Protestant World: “No you can’t”

JS: “Yes, I can.”
PW: “No you can’t”
JS: “Yes I can. Yes I can. Yes I can.”

They had heaven and hell. We took that and added three kingdoms of glory. The windows of heaven were closed. We had prophecy and miracles. They had churches. We built temples. They offered a harp and a choir gown in paradise. We offered thrones and godhood.

Valoel Sings: “We can do anything better you.”

The Evangelical imperative is to send people on a quest for salvation. We have to accept Jesus Christ as our savior or face DOOOOOOOOOM. Awesome idea! OK, then what?

Valoel Sings: “No you can’t”

It seems the biggest criticism I know of, since Mormons accept Jesus Christ as their savior, is that somehow we are worshiping the wrong Jesus! GASP! We picked the wrong name from the phone book? DOH! [Homer Simpson voice] Luckily a lot of members have #10 cans in their basement with marshmallows to roast. Wouldn’t want to put that lake of fire to waste.

I’m not sure where this post is going. You’re suffering my mental ramblings. I’m pretty sure I can irritate both my evangelical friends and my literalistic Mormon family members all with this one post.

Valoel Sings: “Yes I can. Yes I can. Yes I can.”

Come on! It’s fun. Everyone sing! When you are at Church today and see the paintings of Joseph Smith, standing there with that glow, and that twinkle in his eye, just let this song run through your head. Picture him standing on that stage singing this song with his buddies Oliver, Sidney, Brigham and the whole gang. It’s fun. Have a laugh. Everyone have a good hearty laugh at themselves today. The world of religion is such a quirky, somber place so often.  Everyone is trying so hard to be right.  The stakes are high.  Smile today and hum this song at Church.

Comments 9

  1. Frankly, that’s how I see much of Monson’s anti-gay fervor. “What? You gotta slap those homos around in order to be called a Christian? Well, I’ll show you! We’ll slap those damn faggots around better than you ever thought of doing it! Maybe then you’ll respect me on the Jesus playground!”

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  3. Nick,

    No slapping involved. From the outside looking in, it seems that the Church just wants the definition of marriage to remain as it has been since the founding of the United States. I haven’t heard Mr Monson ever call homosexuals, “damn faggots”, either. In fact I don’t think he’s anti-gay as much as he’s anti-gay marriage.

    But I’m no expert.

    Back to the OT, I do see a lot of “everything you can do I can do better” mentality in the modern church. My observations have been more about the membership than the leaders though. Ever since I was a child I watched members (myself included) battling with people of other faith on who can be more extreme or peculiar. My cousin was lavished in praise at a family reunion because she told us the story of how she walked out of her classroom when a song by Michael Jackson was being played on the stereo. She told everybody there that in the Mormon Church we do not support artists who rub their privates in public. Everyone in the extended family then began to share similar stories of how they stood up for what they believe and set a “good example” for the gentiles.

  4. Nazenail, the problem with that rhetoric is that the Supreme Court of California didn’t change the “definition of marriage” one iota. Ironically, it’s the supporters of Proposition 8 who want to “redefine” civil marriage, making it a hetero-exclusive term in the California state constitution for the first time. Since Prop 8 supporters “officially” have no problem with “civil unions” for same-sex couples, their loudly-proclaimed “love” for gays and lesbians rings hollow. The only logical conclusion of their battle cry of “protecting the sanctity of marriage” is that they believe gays and lesbians are inherently inferior to heterosexuals, and undeserving of that honored label. The proposition is unavoidably anti-gay, no matter how much lip service is paid otherwise.

    As for Monson, he has a history of antagonism toward homosexuals. The parents of Stuart Matis, when they participated in writing In Quiet Desperation, had to speak with several general authorities. They found Boyd K. Packer, of all people, remarkably warm and sincerely desiring to gain a better understanding of the topic. Monson, on the other hand, adamantly refused to hear anything they had to say, notwithstanding his general conference image of “teddy bear who tells sweet bedtime stories.”

  5. #1 – Amen!

    #3 – Nick, I love you, but sometimes you exasperate me beyond words.

    I heard a “rejected state motto” list that really cracked my up. California’s was, “By 30, our women have more plastic than your Honda.” Connecticut’s was, “Like Massachusetts, but not owned by the Kennedy family.” North Carolina’s was, “Tobacco is a vegetable.”


    “Our Jesus is better than your Jesus.” 🙂

    I loved that list.

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