Call it "The Year of the Mormon."
Once relegated to polygamy jokes and vague comparisons to the Amish, Mormons and Mormonism are quickly becoming a cultural force to be reckoned with in 2011 -- fulfilling any number of scriptural prophecies about the religion rolling forth like a stone, cut without hands, that gathereth no moss or some such.
Oh, sure, the polygamy jokes and Amish comparisons are still there. But now there's so much more. We Mormons have finally arrived.
So then, what makes me think this year is "our year"? Consider the harmonic convergence of these latter-day events in 2011 ...
Event No. 1: Earlier this spring, March Madness developed a secondary infection of Jimmer Fever, as Brigham Young University hoop star Jimmer Fredette turned the annual NCAA tournament into one great big church basketball game.
Certainly, many of us grew tired of the all-Jimmer-all-the-time chatter from the sports channels. And yes, there was some blowback in the media -- most notably columnist Rick Reilly and his comparison of the BYU basketball team to pizza-delivery dudes. (Ah, Rick Reilly. The man who puts the "anal" in "sports analyst.")
Why, even on the hallowed campus of Brigham Young University, a few Fredette-weary Mormons equated the hype to the worshipping of false idols.
Maybe so, but when was the last time Baal scored 52 points in a game?
Yeah. He didn't. Ever. I looked that one up.
Event No. 2: How many religions can say they've won a Tony Award?
The new musical "The Book of Mormon" has taken Broadway by storm, recently winning a whopping nine Tonys -- including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Adaptation of a Religious Tract, Pamphlet and/or Book of Scripture.
OK, while the creators of "The Book of Mormon" musical are clearly NOT members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, co-creator Trey Parker did give credit where it was due, offering a shout out to Joseph Smith in his Tony Award acceptance speech.
Personally, I can't wait until later this year, when the church starts printing a special-edition Book of Mormon that features a "WINNER 2011 TONY AWARD!" medallion on the cover.
Event No. 3: Who knew? Not one, but TWO Latter-day Saints in the running for the U.S. presidency. Arguably, the top two Republican contenders, Mitt "Mitt" Romney and Jon "Jackmormon" Huntsman Jr., are both LDS.
This is generating untold fear and loathing among the evangelical Christian right, who are claiming that Mormons are unfit to serve in office because of their outlandish beliefs.
So, lemme see if I've got this straight ... A group of people who swear by tales of virgin births and people rising from the dead are bagging on another religion for its equally fantastic stories of golden plates and Jesus visiting ancient Jewish-Americans?
What's wrong with THAT picture?
Ah, but the best part of this being The Year of the Mormon? With a full six months still left in 2011, there's no telling what other Mormon marketing miracles might occur to further cement our newly prominent place in society. Stuff like ...
* Sensing the political advantage in a change, President Barack Obama disavows his Muslim faith and converts to Mormonism -- and is immediately called to be Elders Quorum president in his ward. (First item of business: Mobilize the quorum to help the Huntsman family move out.) An offshoot of the "birthers" group, led by presidential hopeful Donald Trump, claims Obama's certificate of baptism is a fake.
* Knowing a good thing when they milk it, "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone set to work on their next big-budget Broadway musical, "The Pearl of Great Price."
* To great fanfare, the Osmond family announces the birth of its one millionth offspring. The lucky baby receives two sets of Onesies (the one emblazoned with "I'm a little bit country," the other "I'm a little bit rock 'n' roll") and a pair of tickets to see Uncle Donny and Aunt Marie at The Flamingo in Las Vegas (a $218 value).
* Mormon author Stephenie Meyer announces her next round of books, a series about predominantly white male Mormon vampires who suck all of the fun out of life. She's tentatively calling it "The Utah Legislature."
* Wanting to avoid the very appearance of evil, Mormon activists found a new movement they call the Herbal Tea Party.
* And finally, in what is considered the best thing to happen to the LDS faithful since capri pants for men, conservative talk radio personality Glenn Beck leaves the LDS church for Scientology. Moderate Mormons everywhere heave a huge sigh of relief.
Tom Cruise and John Travolta, meanwhile, defect to the Methodists.
Contact Mark Saal, who's up for a Tony Award for his new musical "Brigham Young Frankenstein," at 801-625-4272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.