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Heyborne in the age of purity
By Orson Scott Card June 19, 2008

I am so thrilled to be alive during this new Golden Age of righteousness and purity in the Mormon Church.

I wrote an essay a few weeks ago about how we all had to find our own place to draw the line between what the world asks of us and what we believe is consistent with being a good Latter-day Saint.

After all, the world has all the money and bestows it according to its own corrupt rules. Yet we must support ourselves and our families, and try to get in a position to make the world a better place.

So I figured we had to make some accommodation with the world, while trying to maintain righteousness and spirituality in our lives.

But now I see that I was wrong.

I've learned my lesson from what happened to Kirby Heyborne.

I had a chance to direct him in a play a few years ago, and found him to be extraordinarily talented, disciplined, reliable, and generous, both as an actor and as a man.

I was glad to think of him representing the Church and gospel on movie sets throughout Hollywood.

But then he faced the temptation to work in a beer commercial. Enough pay for his family to live for half a year. A chance to be seen by Hollywood bigwigs. Not actually drinking beer or even pretending to drink beer. Fully clothed.

Me, I would have thought only a crazy man would turn that down. Apparently, he thought so, too.

But from the storm of condemnation Kirby has had dumped on him, I realize now that the Church is far more pure than I had supposed. Good Mormons don't make such compromises!

We are in a golden age of righteousness!

That is why Mormons are resigning from any advertising agency that handles alcohol advertising, or creates ads that use seductive models or that entice people to spend beyond their means.

Mormons who work at TV and radio stations and for networks that accept advertising that in any way violates Church standards are also quitting their jobs.

The Marriotts are ceasing to serve alcoholic beverages in their hotels; their own wine label is being shut down, and the current stock is being destroyed.

Mormons who own or work for convenience stores and restaurants and airports and broadcasters and, in short, any business that requires any employee to work on the Sabbath are now going to resign.

Not only that, but Mormons who teach at universities where atheism and anti-religious beliefs are taught by anyone are resigning their positions rather than lend their support, by implication, to such anti-Christian activities.

Mormons in government office, elective or appointive or merely hired, will all resign in protest whenever their branch of government passes a law or enforces a policy that is contrary to the teachings of the gospel.

In California, every Mormon in state government is writing a letter of resignation right now, rather than be part of a government that has, by judicial fiat, corrupted the meaning of marriage.

And no Mormon will remain in office in any state that runs a lottery or has legalized gambling.

Mormon lawyers will cease to represent any client whose actions might not have been righteous at all times.

Mormon businessmen will refuse to buy from suppliers or sell to customers or work in partnership with anyone who does not conduct their business according to the principles outlined in the Doctrine & Covenants -- which includes management according to Section 121 and accounting by the Law of Consecration.

Mormon writers will now refuse to depict or mention any act of violence or other sin of any kind. We will show only good people doing good, in a world of perfect goodness, where nothing thwarts or distracts people in their pursuit of righteousness.

Furthermore, the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Pearl of Great Price are being revised to eliminate all reference to sin, making the scriptures so brief that now we can expect Primary children to memorize them in their entirety.

And, above all, because of Kirby Heyborne's tragically bad example, all Mormon actors will refuse to play any role where someone does something bad.

No Mormon will play Goneril or Regan or Edmund in King Lear, or Macbeth, or Othello, or Iago; the current temple films are being withdrawn, so that the character of Satan can be eliminated, lest some actor be required to portray him.

The temple ceremony will also be vastly shortened, since Adam and Eve now remain in the Garden forever.

In all this new purity in the Church, there is no redemption for Kirby Heyborne. Despite his years of being the only thing worth watching in Mormon comedies, he not only helped sell Miller Lite to beer drinkers, but also, in his brilliant performance in Saints and Soldiers, he played a character who smoked incessantly.

Yes, a lighted cigarette was in his mouth. There was no excuse for this. Plus, his character did and said things that weren't nice.

Never mind that in the story as a whole, the cigarette was a pivotal symbol used for profound moral teaching. Kirby, how could you?

You should have played only Glinda the Good Witch -- oh, wait, that would be cross-dressing.

OK, you should have waited for the chance to play Peter in a film about the life of Christ, and -- oh, wait, he denies Christ three times, and young Mormons might follow your example.

No, Kirby, you are forever condemned. Meanwhile, the rest of us, who are all living lives of perfect purity, are looking for manna from heaven so we can feed our children, since we will certainly not get any money from the world.

I don't mean to be sarcastic here, but.... Oh, wait. Yes I do.

Actors portray characters who do things that the actors themselves would not do. They take part in films in which there are scenes that don't meet Church standards. The audience is supposed to understand that the actor did not actually do those things. That's why actors are not prosecuted for murder after playing Macbeth.

That is why actors playing characters in commercials are not considered to be endorsing the product being sold.

Mormon actors do exercise their own judgment and refuse to take part in productions that require them to violate their personal standards. A naked actor is as naked as the character. But that's a private decision, even if theirs is a public art.

Likewise, to the Mormon lady who wrote to me that she was sure I must not have been a Mormon when I wrote Ender's Game, because of the "graphic violence" in the book: I was a Mormon then, and am a Mormon now, and would hand that book to the Savior if the occasion arose, because I'm proud of the complex moral reasoning in that story. I believe that those who read it with understanding are changed for the better by the experience.

Will anyone be changed for the better by Kirby Heyborne's appearance in a beer ad?

I doubt it. But because his career as an actor has been prolonged by another half year, he may be available to play a life-changing role when it comes along. Meanwhile, he has done no harm to anyone.

I just have one question. Now that I've resolved to write only pure books, how long will my family go hungry before the manna starts showing up in the morning?

Copyright © 2008 by Orson Scott Card

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