Casserole Myth: Religious Motif and Inclusivity in Angels in America

angels_in_americaby John-Charles Duffy

My paper is a response to Michael Evenden’s review of Angels in Americapublished in the September 1994 issue of Sunstone. Evenden’s review was my first exposure to the play and remains to my knowledge the only substantial analysis of the play produced by a Mormon to date (a critical neglect which today’s session, of course, helps to rectify)1. Evenden believes that Kushner represents Mormonism “as an irrelevant joke, a sinkhole of dead values” (56). The play’s use of Mormon motifs constitutes, in Evenden’s view, a “comic undercutting” of Mormon belief, an “unsympathetic reading” of the faith (59), an “elaborate, obscene burlesque,” “comic blasphemy” (60), and “mockery” (62). Kushner also, Evenden claims, excludes believing, practicing Mormons from the utopic space which the play offers in its final scene. The play thus fails to practice the inclusivity it appears to preach: “as it happens,” Evenden writes, “this poignant epilogue, like the play it follows, is considerably less inclusive than many have taken it to be–in fact, it may be just as exclusive as Kushner has implicitly accused the LDS church of being” (61).

I believe Evenden has misread this play on two counts. First, what Evenden reads as mockery, obscene burlesque, comic blasphemy, etc., is in fact, I argue, a fundamentally serious treatment of religious motifs. While it is true that Kushner treats these motifs as metaphors, not literal realities, and while it is true that Kushner levels major criticisms at traditional religious systems, including Mormonism, it is also true that Kushner uses religious motifs to express ideas which within this play are deadly serious. In short, the religious motifs are not mocked.

Second, while I agree with Evenden that Kushner’s utopic vision is problematic, I maintain that that vision is indeed inclusive of Mormons, as well as believers from other religious traditions. The use of religious motifs in Angels in America itself exemplifies the inclusivity which the play preaches in its closing scene; the play becomes a space in which religious motifs from a variety of traditions meet to create what I term a “casserole myth,” an inclusive understanding of the world worked out by diverse individuals who come together to help each other make sense of their experiences. That this myth includes Mormon motifs is, I argue, a highly significant, highly admirable gesture of inclusivity on the part of an individual whom we as Mormons continue to exclude from our own utopia.

Why do I believe that the play’s use of religious motifs is fundamentally serious?

For starters, Kushner himself insists that the religious motifs are to be treated seriously. In the description of the Taped Voice which accompanies the cast of characters for Perestroika, Kushner writes that the “taped intros [to the Mormon Visitors Center presentation and the Council in Heaven] should sound alike: not parodic but beautiful and serious, the way the unseen Angel sounds inMillennium” (5). And in the playwright’s notes to Perestroika, Kushner states emphatically that the play is not a farce. . . . The angel, the scenes in Heaven, Prior’s prophet scenes are not lapses into some sort of elbow-in-the-ribs playing style. The angel is immensely august, serious, and dangerously powerful always, and Prior is running for his life, sick, scared, and alone. Every moment must be played for its reality, the terms always life and death. . . . Particularly in the final act [i.e., the scenes in Heaven] . . . the problems the characters face are finally among the hardest problems–how to let go of the past, how to change and lose with grace, how to keep going in the face of overwhelming suffering. (8-9)

It is to poetically represent these “hardest problems” that Kushner incorporates religious motifs into the play, and it is for that reason that the motifs must be taken fundamentally seriously. I say “fundamentally” because Kushner does spice the religious motifs with comic relief for the sake of defusing scenes which might otherwise wax sentimental. (In his playwright’s notes, Kushner orders directors and actors to “eschew sentiment” [Perestroika 8].) An example of this defusion occurs after Prior wrestles with the Angel in his hospital bed–a serious scene, the stage directions inform us: “the wrestling should begin in earnest and rapidly become furious, deadly” (Perestroika 119). The Angel declares, echoing the story of Jacob’s wrestling the angel in Genesis 32, “I have torn a muscle in my thigh.” Prior retorts, “Big deal, my leg’s been hurting for months” (Perestroika 120). The humor relieves the tension created by the preceding wrestling match. It does not turn the scene into a mockery of the Biblical motif here invoked (Jacob’s wrestling the angel); on the contrary, the fact that Kushner feels the need to defuse the scene with comic relief is evidence that he regards the scene, with its religious motif, seriously and expects his audience to do the same. And it is easy to see why this particular motif should be taken seriously: during this portion of the play, Prior makes the climactic decision to refuse to give up, despite having no reason to expect hope from the future. Prior here undergoes what Kushner identifies in the playwright’s notes as the struggle to “keep going in the face of overwhelming suffering” (Perestroika 9). Wrestling the Angel–who appears in this scene as the Angel of Death, dressed in black–symbolizes that struggle, with all its intensity. And since Joe has already, in Millennium Approaches, identified wrestling an angel as an impossible struggle (“How could anyone human win, what kind of fight is that?” [49-50]), Prior’s victory is all the more significant: in winning the wrestling match, he has accomplished the impossible. If Kushner can be accused of anything at this point, it is not mockery, but a fervently earnest romanticism, an optimism of religious proportions.

As Kushner uses the Jewish (Old Testament) motif of Jacob’s wrestling the angel as a fundamentally serious symbolic representation of one of the play’s messages (i.e., that human beings can find the strength to go on in the face of overwhelming suffering, to secure the blessing of “More Life” despite an apparent absence of hope), so Kushner uses Mormon motifs as fundamentally serious symbolic representations of themes in the play. Consider, for example, the scene in the Mormon Visitors Center. Evenden reads this scene as a “comic undercutting of visitors’ center dioramas” which he says has produced in him a feeling of “mortified hilarity” for the dioramas (58-59). He does not specify those elements in the scene which have produced in him this feeling, but likely candidates include the dummies’ artificial, melodramatic script and Harper’s mocking commentary.

I am convinced, however, that Kushner does not intend his audience to respond to this scene with mockery or mortified hilarity. Anyone who’s experienced Legacy or the Manti Temple pageant can testify that Kushner’s artificial, melodramatic script simply constitutes verisimilitude. And while it is true that Harper undercuts the diorama presentation, it is also true that Harper is an unlikable, unreliable character at this point in the play, which makes me wary of assuming that Kushner intends to undercut the presentation. On the contrary, I have already cited Kushner’s insistence that the taped introduction to the diorama presentation is not parodic; presumably the same can be said of the entire presentation.

More importantly, the motif of the Mormon pioneer trek, portrayed in the diorama, images the impulse to move on in spite of devastation and suffering, an impulse which in this play is supremely heroic; it is the same impulse which leads Prior to demand More Life in spite of the Angel’s insistence that he should give up, stop moving. Later in the play, the Mormon pioneer trek becomes explicitly instructive. It is from the Mormon pioneer mother that Harper learns to change, to move on, to go on with her life in spite of pain. And Harper fairly clearly alludes to the Mormon pioneers when she tells Prior, “I’ve finally found the secret of all that Mormon energy. Devastation. That’s what makes people migrate, build things. Heartbroken people do it, people who have lost love” (Perestroika 122). Depressing as I find Harper’s reflections, the idea of moving on in spite of (or rather, because of) devastation is a variation on Prior’s assertion of his will to live in spite of the apparent absence of hope–again, the play’s heroic ideal. And if the Mormon pioneer trek, as portrayed in the diorama, is another representation of that heroic ideal, it hardly makes sense for Kushner to comically undercut it. The pioneer motif must, therefore, be taken seriously.2

This is not to say that the diorama scene reflects Kushner’s undying admiration of Mormons. The artificiality of the diorama script may be intended to indicate that contemporary Mormons have lost touch with their roots; secure in our insular, institutionalized Zion (in which Salt Lake replaces the New Jerusalem as capital city), we no longer understand, and therefore cannot believably portray, the suffering of those who preceded us. In addition, Harper makes a piercing, and dismally accurate, comment on Mormonism’s institutional sexism when she complains, “They don’t have any lines, the sister and the mother. . . . That’s not really fair” (Perestroika65). As I will demonstrate later, Kushner heartily disapproves of the Mormon claim, articulated by the pioneer father, that there can “only be One True Church. All else darkness . . .” (66). I also suspect that the father’s description of Joseph Smith as “a strapping lad” (66) is meant to subversively introduce–or expose–homoeroticism in the founding myth of a church that eschews homosexuality. Kushner clearly has bones to pick with the Mormon church, and he manipulates the pioneer motif in order to pick some of them. But these criticisms are peripheral to the core purpose of the pioneer motif in this play, i.e., to represent one of the play’s most serious messages, the heroic ideal of moving on in the face of suffering and devastation. Criticisms of Mormonism notwithstanding, the incorporation of the motif into this scene is still fundamentally serious.

The same can be said of the Angel’s appearance to Prior, which Evenden pronounces (59) an “elaborate, obscene burlesque of the First Vision and Moroni’s subsequent visits” (which Kushner, like many non-Mormons, erroneously conflates). I can certainly see why Evenden responds this way. Prior and the Angel experience a mutual orgasm onstage. The Angel stumbles through her script. Prior puts up a humorous resistance to the Angel’s demands (“No fucking way! The ceiling’s bad enough. I’ll lose the lease, I’ll lose my security deposit, I’ll wake the downstairs neighbors, their hysterical dog . . .” [Perestroika 45]). And Prior’s appearing in Charlton Heston’s Moses drag to reject the Book could at first glance seem, as Evenden judges it, “ludicrou[s]” and “ridiculous” (60).

Recall, however, that Kushner himself insists, in his playwright’s notes, that he does not intend these scenes to be read as Evenden reads them (“Prior’s prophet scenes are not lapses into some sort of elbow-in-the-ribs playing style” [Perestroika 8]). Kushner attempts to neither recreate nor ridicule the motif of Moroni’s visitations to Joseph Smith; rather, he adapts the motif to create a Mormonized version of the motif of Jacob’s wrestling the angel. When Prior returns the Anti-Migratory Epistle to Heaven, he is performing within the framework of Mormon religious motif the same symbolic act he performs within the framework of Jewish religious motif when he wrestles the Angel in his hospital bed and demands More Life. By rejecting the Angel’s Book–with its message to give up, stop moving–Prior again heroically asserts his will to live, his determination to go on in the face of overwhelming suffering.

Such, it seems clear to me, is the message Kushner intends to convey with his adaptation of the angelic visitation motif. And if the motif is to convey the message Kushner intends, the Angel must be seriously regarded as a symbol of heavenly authority; her message must be seen as compelling if Prior’s rejection of the message is to be recognized as a heroic effort, just as the wrestling match between Prior and the Angel must be “furious, deadly” if Prior’s victory there is to be recognized as a heroic effort.3 Which is to say that the Angel must be, as Kushner insists she is meant to be, “immensely august, serious, and dangerously powerful always” (Perestroika 8), not the center of some “elaborate, obscene burlesque” (Evenden 59).

How then can we account for the apparent lapses into the obscene and ridiculous–the mutual orgasm, for instance, or the Charlton Heston drag? First of all, I think we need to keep in mind that neither Kushner nor his intended audience adheres to the sort of morality that proscribes R-rated movies. Kushner writes for an audience who has no qualms about watching a man strip onstage or witnessing two men simulate anal intercourse–which is to say that Kushner does not write for most Mormons. So if most Mormons take offense at Kushner’s play, they do so where no offense is intended. Indeed, in Angels in America, sex is treated not as something obscene, but as a symbol of positive values: health, life, continuance.4 Note that Belize regards the nocturnal emission which accompanies the Angel’s first visit to Prior as a healthy sign, something long overdue: “Well about time. Miss Thing has been abstemious” (Perestroika 23). Prior’s abrupt–miraculous–recovery after the Council in Heaven is accompanied by another nocturnal emission. Sex, then, goes hand in hand with health.

Furthermore, Kushner’s intensely sexual Angel is part of an attempt to provide an alternative to the mechanistic, ergo lifeless, concept of the universe typical of post-Cartesian science; in the worldview propounded by the Angel, the universe is organic, full of life, and therefore full of sex: “Not Physics But Ecstatics Makes the Engine Run” (Perestroika 47). In this universe, entropy does not swallow up all things in death; rather, there is ceaseless copulation, endless reproduction, eternal life in a sense. Prior’s erections and the mutual orgasm identify the Angel as a representative of this organic, sexual universe, as an emissary of Life and Health and therefore Hope for the dying Prior. That the emissary of Life comes preaching Immobility is, of course, supremely ironic, and that irony both foreshadows and validates Prior’s eventual rejection of the Angel’s message. As knowing participants in an organic universe, the Angels ought to know better than to try to impose Stasis.

The Angel’s struggle to follow her script is a variation on this irony. In their desire for Stasis, their desire to contain the otherwise unpredictable flow of human history, the Angels attempt to create a codified text–their script–by which to govern or determine both their actions and human history. Again, they ought to know better. In a mechanical, Law-based universe, it would be possible to create a text or theory that eliminates indeterminacy; not so in an organic universe. As Hannah, Belize, and Louis reflect in Perestroika‘s closing scene, the “sprawl of life” cannot be contained in a single codified, totalizing theory (146). And so the Angel discovers that reality will not be contained by her script; things do not happen “according to Plan” (Perestroika 118). The Angel thus represents all systems, religious or political, which attempt to totalize human experience, which insist on the existence of One True Church or One True Theory. By the same token, the Book which the Angel gives Prior represents all Sacred Texts or Codices of Procedure which profess closure, as the Angel professes closure by concluding her visitation to Prior with the words, “The END” (Perestroika 54). Like codified religious and political systems, the Angel claims to have the last word, the true theory, the solution to humanity’s struggles. In rejecting the Book, Prior rejects the claim to closure as well, as Evenden correctly observes (60). In Kushner’s view, there can be no last word, no theory or belief system to eliminate indeterminacy and the unknown.

Which brings me to the concept of “casserole myth.” Having rejected codified, totalizing theories or belief systems, Kushner turns instead to an organic, open-ended worldview. He describes the process by which this worldview comes into being in the afterword toPerestroika:

I have been blessed with remarkable friends, colleagues, comrades, collaborators: Together we organize the world for ourselves, or at least we organize our understanding of it; we reflect it, refract it, criticize it, grieve over its savagery; and we help each other to discern, amidst the gathering dark, paths of resistance, pockets of peace, and places from whence hope may be plausibly expected. (158)

It is this process of organizing for themselves their understanding of the world in which we see Prior, Louis, Belize, and Hannah engaged in the play’s closing scene. Drawing from Jewish, Christian, and Mormon sacred stories, they create together a new Story, a new myth, the myth of their future cleansing and Prior’s healing in the restored fountain of Bethesda.5 Note that this Story is not a theory; it is not codified, nor does it attempt to totalize human experience. Louis hastens to assure the audience that he and the other characters regard the myth as a metaphor, not a literal prophecy (“Not literally in Jerusalem, I mean we don’t want this to have sort of Zionist implications” [148]). But its metaphorical nature does not lessen the myth’s importance as a space in which a variety of belief systems come together in a mutual expression of hope for the future.

It is this space which I call a casserole myth. I borrow the term “casserole” from my Latin American studies: unlike North Americans, who have traditionally regarded their culture as a melting pot, Latin Americans describe their culture as a casserole (cazuela), i.e., as a combination of elements from a variety of cultures–Native American, Spanish, African, etc.–each of which has retained its identity rather than being assimilated into a mainstream culture. To borrow a phrase from Angels in America, Latin Americans regard their culture as a “melting pot where nothing melted” (Millennium 10). Similarly, what I term a casserole myth is a combination of beliefs, these beliefs not being assimilated or reconciled into some new totalizing religious system, but rather retaining their own identity in what becomes a non-codified, non-totalizing understanding of the world which expresses itself through a diversity of religious motifs and symbols.

Such is the myth created by Prior and company in the final scene of Angels in America. And indeed, Angels in America itself is a casserole myth. The cosmos in which this play is set is a hodge-podge of elements drawn from a variety of religious and quasi-religious sources. The wrestling-the-angel motif, the flaming Alephs, the ladder on which Prior ascends into Heaven, and the Kaddish for Roy Cohn are drawn from Judaism. The angelic-visitation motif, the peepstones, and the Restoration rhetoric (“A marvelous work and a wonder we undertake. . . . The Great Work begins” [Millennium 62, 119]) are drawn from Mormonism. The prominent role of sex in the workings of the cosmos, the hermaphroditic Angel, and the Angel’s multiple Emanations–Fluor, Phosphor, Lumen, Candle–are elements of Gnosticism (which Kushner may have encountered through the writings of Harold Bloom, who calls himself a Jewish Gnostic). The Charlton Heston Moses drag is drawn, obviously, from The Ten Commandments; since, as I have already shown, Kushner insists that the drag is not a lapse into an elbow-in-the-ribs playing style, I presume that the drag is employed as an widely-recognized symbol of the prophetic vocation. (Personally, I think it’s pathetic that Americans’ concept of the prophetic vocation has been determined by Hollywood, but c’est la vie.) The play even incorporates several allusions to the film The Wizard of Oz, which, as a ubiquitous and at least vestigially archetypal story of the fantastic, is the closest thing to a mythic community text to be found within gay culture. Allusions to the film include the lines, “People come and go so quickly here” (Millennium 34), “If you [c]annot find your [h]eart’s desire in your own backyard, you never lost it to begin with” (Perestroika 53), and several lines following Prior’s return from Heaven (“. . . but all the same I kept saying I want to go home. And they sent me home” [Perestroika 140]).

The creation of this hodge-podge, this casserole, of religious and quasi-religious motifs becomes for Kushner an exercise in inclusivity. The creation of a casserole myth implicitly acknowledges that one’s own belief system is insufficient, that one can and must learn from the belief systems of others. By making Angels in America a casserole myth, Kushner invites his audience to learn from a variety of sources: Judaism, Mormonism, Gnosticism, even The Wizard of Oz. I emphasize the inclusion of Mormonism in that list. By including Mormon motifs in his casserole myth, Kushner invites his audience to learn from Mormonism–even as he criticizes Mormonism as an institution for its condemnation of homosexuality and for its claim to totalization and closure. Which is to say that Mormons are included in the common space created by Kushner’s play. Mormons are part of the “we” who, Kushner says, come together to “organize our understanding of [the world].” We as Mormons are, in a sense, among Kushner’s “comrades and collaborators.” We are part of the net of souls from which societies, the social world, human life, and this play have sprung (Perestroika 158).

Granted, the inclusion of Mormons in Kushner’s myth-making space is problematic. For one thing, Kushner insists on treating as metaphorical motifs which believers regard as literal. When Hannah tells Prior that Joseph Smith’s prayer “made an angel,” one has to wonder how literally she believes, in spite of her declaration that “the angel was real” (Perestroika 103). She waxes explicitly metaphorical when she tells Prior, “An angel is just a belief, with wings and arms that can carry you. . . . If it lets you down, reject it. Seek for something new” (105). This is hardly the standard Mormon understanding of Moroni’s visitations, a fact which lays Kushner open to the criticism that he allows not Mormonism but his own adaptation of Mormonism into his myth-making space.6 Kushner’s attempt to include Mormons in his utopia is also problematic because, as Evenden notes, Kushner insists that Mormons accept homosexuality as a legitimate option for relationships. Which is to say that Kushner excludes from his supposedly inclusive space all Mormons who adhere to current Church doctrine regarding the immorality of homosexual relations. Even so, Kushner has made a highly significant and highly admirable attempt at inclusivity–an attempt not to be readily expected from a gay activist. I myself am gay, as well as a believing Mormon, and as I’ve come out to the gay community, I’ve been disturbed by the ridicule and anger directed by many gays towards the LDS and other churches. I am therefore extremely impressed that Kushner would draw on religious traditions, including Mormonism, in the creation of his play’s casserole myth. That he seriously employs our sacred stories and symbols into his sign system instead of simply ridiculing them, as so many others do, must be acknowledged as an inclusive gesture. A problematic gesture, true, but still an important first step towards reconciliation and community.

To conclude on a political note–and this play definitely invites political considerations–I am frustrated that we as Mormons are not reciprocating Kushner’s attempt at inclusivity. Near the beginning of Millennium Approaches, Harper tells Prior, “In my church we don’t believe in homosexuals” (32). When I first read this line in 1994, I read it as a poetic expression of the fact that Mormons believe homosexuality is immoral. I did not read the line literally, i.e., I did not take it to mean that Mormons deny the existence of homosexuals. Since then, however, Harper’s statement has become literally true. Mormons do not believe that there is such a thing as “a homosexual”; it is doctrinally incorrect, we are told, to use the word “homosexual” as a noun. Which greatly hinders, if not eliminates, the possibility of Mormons and homosexuals meeting in some inclusive space to help each other understand the world. And that I judge a loss for both parties.

I am excited by what Kushner has attempted in this play. The casserole myth-making process which Angels in America both advocates and exemplifies is the process in which I am now engaged as I struggle to work out my identity as a gay Mormon. I hope eventually to create my own Bethesda fountain, a space in which I can sit in community with fellow Mormons, fellow gays, my family, my lover. It will no doubt be a long time before such a space exists; but depending on the response it receives, Angels in Americacould help pave the way.

The Great Work begins.

Endnotes

1. At the time I wrote this paper, I was unaware of David Pace’s fine review of Angels in America for Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27 (Winter 1994): 191-197.

2. I am not the first to read the diorama scene in this way. In a response to Evenden’s review published in the Sunstone Readers’ Forum, David Callahan notes that the diorama scene is “comic, but beneath the humor is something profound and inspiring. It is here that Prior is exposed to the idea of migration in response to affliction. It is the idea he takes to heaven” (6). In turn, Evenden responds to Callahan by citing an American Theater review in which, he says, Kushner “briskly dismisses Mormon theology, symbols, and ritual as ‘so dumb'” (Callahan 7). This is a highly clipped quote, for which I would like to see the context; but even if Kushner does indeed dismiss Mormon belief as “so dumb,” this dismissal does not undermine my interpretation of the play. Kushner is not, after all, Mormon and therefore might well be expected to find belief in a literal angelic visitation “dumb.” Hence he uses Mormon motifs purely as metaphor; but as metaphor, the motifs are still employed seriously in the play. I am willing to concede Evenden’s argument that “Kushner depicts Mormonism as a failure, and ultimately an enemy to a healthy, progressive community” (Callahan 7), since for Kushner all codified belief systems, religious or political, are failures and enemies to community. However, as I will argue later, Kushner’s serious use of Mormon motifs is an attempt to open up the possibility of Mormonism’s becoming a contributor to the utopic community foreseen in the play’s closing scene.

3. It should be noted that the Angels are not altogether rejected anyway. It is they who finally bestow on Prior the blessing of More Life; and the final scene is acted out at the feet of the Bethesda angel, whom Prior refers to as a symbol of aspiration and hope (“they [angels] suggest a world without dying . . . . [T]hey are engines and instruments of flight”) and of the reconciliation of difference (“they commemorate death but they suggest a world without dying. They are made of the heaviest things on earth . . . but they’re winged, . . . instruments of flight” [Perestroika 147]). The angel’s presence in the final scene leaves open a space for religion, or at least for religious motifs seriously employed. And since Mormonism is characterized in this play by belief in angelic visitation, the angel’s presence in the final scene seems to reserve a space especially for Mormonism.

4. The sex between Louis and the would-be leatherman in Central Park is an obvious exception; in this scene, sex is associated with domination and pain, becoming an occasion for Louis to punish himself for his sin of abandoning Prior. In the scenes involving the Angel, however, my claim that sex functions as a signifier for positive values holds true.

5. By way of elaboration: the Jewish contribution to the new Story is the legend of the creation of Bethesda fountain by the angel’s descent into the Temple square. It is entirely appropriate that Louis, the Jewish character in this scene, relate this portion of the Story. The Christian contribution to the Story is the legend about the fountain’s healing powers, as recorded in John 5. Belize tells this portion of the Story–appropriately, as the play provides hints that Belize is, at least by upbringing, Christian. A black man with a Hispanic surname (Arriaga), Belize probably hails from a Caribbean country such as Cuba or the Dominican Republic–note that inMillennium Approaches, Belize brings Prior voodoo cream from “some little black Cubana witch in Miami” (59). With a Latin background, Belize was likely raised Catholic. Furthermore, Prior refers to Belize at one point as “a Christian martyr” (Millennium 61). Hannah, naturally, provides the Mormon contribution to the Story, the prophecy of the fountain’s restoration during the Millennium. Evenden believes that this prophecy is “certainly . . . very foreign to Mormon tradition” (64 n. 8). On the contrary: as an adolescent fascinated by Mormon lore about the Second Coming, I encountered this very prophecy, which is drawn from Ezekiel 47. The characters’ new Story, then, is a combination of Jewish, Christian, and Mormon elements, used to support a gay man with AIDS in his suffering. An unlikely or bizarre combination, perhaps, but definitely a powerful one.

6. This charge does not greatly concern me, however, because such adaptation strikes me as unavoidable when one is creating a casserole myth. For example: in my own worldview, the writings of C. S. Lewis have been influential. However, because Lewis subscribes to a neo-Platonic version of Christianity which, as a Mormon, I believe to be an apostate version of Christianity, I must adapt Lewis’ ideas, or take them metaphorically (where he intends them to be taken literally–or at least as literally as a neo-Platonic Christianity can be taken) in order to incorporate them into my fundamentally Mormon worldview. Kushner, I propose, faces the same challenge incorporating Mormon motifs into what Evenden identifies as a probably agnostic worldview (59).

Works Cited

Callahan, David. “Angles on Angels.” Sunstone 18.2 (Aug. 1995): 5-7.

Evenden, Michael. “Angels in a Mormon Gaze.” Sunstone 17.2 (Sept. 1994): 55-64.

Kushner, Tony. Angels in America.Part One: Millennium Approaches. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1993.

——-. Angels in America. Part Two: Perestroika. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1994.

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