Of course I'm liberal, I believe in liberty.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Jesus Christ Superstar

My wife and I finally got my daughter to watch Jesus Christ Superstar and it was an interesting experience. Now, you may be wondering what "finally got my daughter to watch" really means. You see, my attempts to raise an open-minded or at least agnostic child capable of making her own decisions about religion as she grows older have so far failed; I seem to be raising a little atheist. In the past, any attempt to talk about the various religions in the world have been met with a somewhat fearful reaction as if we were going to try to convert her or brain wash her or something.

I think this reaction started back when she was four and in school. Apparently, one of her classmates tried to convert her and she didn't take it very well. Eventually this ended up with her getting into an argument with the entire class, with my daughter claiming there was no God and every other student taking the other side. Imagine, the lone four year old, grade skipped from the pre-school a month into the school year, taking on a class of gifted five and six year olds. (That year only went so well. The following year went much better, mostly due to a kindred spirit in the class, and we've been homeschooling ever since.)

The strange thing is my daughter is no unimaginative literalist; in fact, quite the opposite. At that point in her life I was somewhat afraid she was going to get completely sucked down into her own imaginative world. This is a girl who fully believed that Pooh Bear was real and would later develop an elaborate mythology based on the Sprite of Spring where the Sprite's deaths and rebirths directly corresponded to evolutionary epochs. (She also believed it was the Sprite's fault the volcano erupted for she ignored the Elk's warning -- my daughter's own little original sin story.)

But I could never get her interested in the religions of the world. Even Greek mythology wasn't interesting to her, so she said. And any talk of God or Christianity was met with much resistance. Basically, what little she knew she gathered from Little House on the Prairie episodes.

But we have been getting into musicals lately. She likes Moulin Rouge and we recently watched Hair!. But it was the recent viewing of Once More With Feeling, the musical episode from Buffy the Vampire Slayer that opened her to the idea of watching Jesus Christ Superstar. (I wonder how often that has happened? I'm guessing not often.)

So anyway, here we are watching Jesus Christ Superstar with someone who's into the movie but doesn't know how it ends. That's a unique experience. Ok, she figures out that Jesus is probably going to die and we warn her that she's right. But how? Why? She wonders if the whipping killed him. No, we tell her, they kill him some other way. How?? We think you'll recognize the instrument of death when you see it. And wouldn't he really be upset if he knew he was going to die the next day? Well yes, that's what this song is about right here.

When we told her this story (well, actually the resurrection a few days later) was what Easter celebrated, she instantly asked what this story had to do with bunnies and eggs. Tempting as it was, I spared her the Eddie Izzard1 routine.

I'm not sure many have watched a passion play completely unaware of the basic story arc or how the play would end. As I said, a unique experience. Now she knows, even if it does include a bit more sympathy for Judas than conventionally granted.

1Bonus somewhat related Eddie Izzard quote:
Umm, so they murdered him. And kids eat chocolate eggs, because of the color of the chocolate, and the color of the…wood on the cross.

Well, you tell me! It’s got nothing to do with it, has it! You know, people going, uhh, “Remember kids,” the kids who’re eating the chocolate eggs, uhh, “Jesus died for your sins.” “Yeah, I know, it’s great! No, no no, it’s bad, it’s bad! No, it’s bad! It’s very bad. It’s terrible! Whatever you want, I mean – just keep giving me these eggs."

And the bunny rabbits! Where do they come into the crucifixion? There were no bunny rabbits up on the hill going, “Hey – you – what, are you going to put those crosses in our – bur – warrens? We live below this hill, all right?” Bunny rabbits are for shagging, eggs are for fertility. It’s a festival – it’s the spring festival!