“And it’s cool, and the ointment’s sweet
For the fire in your head and feet.
Close your eyes, close your eyes
And relax, think of nothing tonight.”
It’s that season. I looked around the house yesterday for the CD, the Original London Concept Recording of Jesus Christ Superstar. We play it in the car, and we sing along with the songs, and we laugh at some of the orchestrations.
Earlier LP sat at the piano playing Mary Magdalene’s other famous song, the one I used to play and sing when I was just a little older, sitting on the same bench, touching the same keys.
I had the sheet music for “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.” I first heard someone playing it at summer camp. Because my Southern Baptist grandmother had declared both JCS and Godspell blasphemous, and because my dear mother feared upsetting her, I had to keep my knowledge of the musicals secret. When my high school chorus sang selections from Godspell in a concert, my mother wouldn’t tell my grandmother I was IN a concert!
At my house we don’t fear art. We talk about it, play it, sing it, learn from it, critique it and appreciate it.
It’s so long ago, and the question of blasphemy seems almost quaint, but I wonder what my grandmother thought she knew about Jesus Christ Superstar?
Because of watching it and listening to it, we’ve had long discussions about Pilate (#1 Son loves the song about his dream) and Judas, who we are not so quick to consign to the role of thief as in John’s gospel or demon-possessed, since we don’t understand the world that way. Watching and listening to JCS has gotten us talking about the comprehension of the disciples, the role of the religious leaders and their relationship to the Romans and to the royal family as represented by Herod. It’s gotten us talking about the way creative people pick and choose from the gospels and tradition to paint their own pictures of Jesus.
I don’t see how this can be a bad thing, no matter what my grandmother might have thought. After all, it’s not what goes in that matters. It’s what comes out. And I like what springs from my children, their thoughtfulness and their depth on matters artistic and theological and personal. Everything’s alright.