Eric Recommends: ‘The Mormon Tabernacle Enquirer’

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About five years ago, some Mormon writers banded together to create The Sugar Beet, an LDS-culture version of The Onion, featuring satirical fake news stories. I was one of the writers in that first crew, but then I wandered off after a few months to pursue other interests. The project continued, both as a Web site and briefly as a print publication.

Some of the best material from The Sugar Beet’s entire run has now been collected in a book, “The Mormon Tabernacle Enquirer,” available at fine retailers such as or directly from the distributor, Zarahemla Books.

I got my copy in the mail today, and it’s very funny. Anyone with an LDS background (and especially those who have lived in Utah) who also has a sense of humor should find it highly amusing, dancing right on the edge of light-heartedness and light-mindedness.

Some of the articles don’t entirely work because they’re not written in the style of real news stories, and some of the ideas are kinda lame to begin with. But the other 90 percent of the book is a hoot, with headlines like these:

“Area Man’s Mission Years Really Were His Best”
“Cereal and Cheddar Fish Miracle Occurs in Nursery”
“Missionary Now Curses with Near-Native Proficiency”
“BYU-Idaho Students Relieved Austin Powers Movies Aren’t R-Rated”
“Man’s Addiction to Wife Destroying Relationship with Porn”
“Poll Reveals Majority of Men ‘Highly Satisfied’ with Patriarchy”
“Inner Child Found, Baptized”

For me, some of the most laugh-out-loud stuff is in the form of Onion-style “man on the street” interviews and statistical charts. For example:

What phrases do you not want to hear in a patriarchal blessing?

“Morning of the third resurrection”
“Lazy, shiftless rat-bastard”
“Unfortunate series of events”

Or this:

Brigham Young University has renewed its emphasis against bare midriffs. What do you think?

“It’s a woman’s responsibility not to tempt men, while being sexy enough to make me want to marry her and have babies.”

“I think we should just start pretending that none of us have any naked parts, ever, anywhere.”

“If the girls all cover up, who are we going to blame for our impure thoughts and actions?”

“Well, it makes more sense than the rule against beards. After all, Brigham Young never appeared in public with a bare midriff.”

My one contribution to the book appears on page 72: “Name Withheld Takes Own Life,” in which it is imagined that those inspirational Ensign articles written by “Name Withheld” are the work of the same person, whose name really is Name Withheld, and that all the personal traumas she wrote about finally cracked her. I’m told The Sugar Beet got angry letters as the result of this article when it was first printed, which makes me happy.

So go buy the book. Approximately 1/330th of it was written by me, so I think that means I get royalties. For occasional updates and more samples, visit The Sugar Beet’s blog.