You’re Killing Me, Jabari

basketballBYU basketball fans got their hearts ripped out yesterday when Chicago high-school phenom — and devout Latter-day Saint — Jabari Parker announced that he will be going to Duke next year.  

I’m not a Mormon or a big BYU basketball fan, but I know apostasy when I see it. Seriously, Jabari, Duke? Not cool, man, not cool. In fact, recent biblical scholarship suggests that when Jesus said “the first shall be last,” he was actually talking to a small, weary band of Virginia basketball fans about Duke. And the best modern research on Joseph Smith has revealed that his searing hatred of Duke — he called it Babylon — prepared him to receive heavenly wisdom about the dangers of tobacco. 

I know I’m not supposed to judge, Jabari, but really, I have to ask: will all the NCAA and NBA titles — the world-class education and all the joy, money, and fame — really be worth it? Did not a wise man once say, “what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” It’s not too late to a choose a path of righteousness. It doesn’t have to lead to Provo, just anywhere, anywhere but Durham.

About Tom Simpson

Tom Simpson teaches religion, ethics, philosophy, and human rights at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH. He is the author of *American Universities and the Birth of Modern Mormonism, 1867-1940* (University of North Carolina Press, 2016) and nonfiction essays about Bosnia for the Canadian literary magazine *Numero Cinq*. Born in 1975 in Olean, NY, he earned the Ph.D. in religious studies from the University of Virginia, where he specialized in American religious history. He writes, teaches, and lectures about religion in America, popular culture, Mormonism, and Bosnia. He lives in Exeter with his partner, Alexis Simpson, and their two children.
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