Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I don't know how to love him

Wow! Last night I went to a performance of Jesus Christ Superstar jointly staged by two local schools (Christ's College and Rangi Ruru). It was excellent and sustained a uniformly high standard of singing, acting and dancing all the way through to a standing ovation at the end. The lighting and sound were excellent too. The storyline of Superstar is mostly familiar (of course!) but also different in various ways to the gospels. Personally I found the performance emotionally moving, not least in presenting the raw humanity of Jesus. It is just about impossible for orthodox Christians to engage fully with the ordinary humanity of Jesus, but Superstar offers a doorway through which the audience can go to meet the human Jesus.

In other news, I note, sadly, the death of Walter Wink, a renowned theologian and biblical exegete, who offered another way to engage with the human Jesus - the Jesus of non-violent resistance to the powers of darkness.

A correspondent has alerted me to two staff redundancies at Ridley College Melbourne, but reading the announcement about this, I notice another item of news, the name of the new principal of Ridley who will succeed the recently retired and long-serving principal, Peter Adams. Brian Rosner will take over in July. He is a widely published NT scholar, currently teaching at Moore College. ADDITIONALLY: John Woodhouse is retiring as Principal of Moore College in early 2013 after ten years in the role.

I may (or may not) post later on the interesting motion on sexuality which the General Synod of the Church of Ireland agreed to at the weekend. Interesting because it represents a church acting both catholically and creatively on a testing matter which concerns the pastoral life as well as the unity of the church. Thinking Anglicans has a full report on what happened here. Catholicity and Covenant has good commentary on the significance of the motion here.

How do we love Jesus as best we know how with all our human limitations? We can keep pressing into know him ... dig deep into the gospels and live them ... support great training and education for ministry in Jesus' name ... and work hard to be the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church under Christ's lordship.


Father Ron Smith said...

This sounds a bit like Moore College (wealthy) riding in on a charger to resuscitate Ridley (not so wealthy). Perhaps these two institutes should combine - they seem to have the same provenance.

Apropos - 'Jesus Christ, Superstar' - I know of at least 1 person being converted as a result of this play.(No, it wasn't me; although I was personally affected by the London performance in the 1970s).

Anonymous said...

Cool! Jesus Christ Superstar was my first introduction in a non-christian home to Jesus. Loved the performance and my parents had the original version on vinyl at home. Never thought till now though that it may have influenced how I view Jesus. hmmm..interesting!

Anonymous said...

sorry forgot to say it was Ben commenting on that last comment about JC superstar

carl jacobs said...

"Jesus Christ, Superstar" was an attempt of an Agnostic to confront the historical Jesus while denying the divine nature of the Christ. That's why the story ends with a question mark instead of the resurrection. Andrew Lloyd Webber ultimately couldn't answer his own question. The 'raw humanity' that Webber presents is the humanity of Christ ripped from the hypostatic union. There is no eternal value here. No more value than in the Gnostic scriptures that litter the ground around the early church. You will find a better example of Jesus' humanity in the wilderness.

My brother took me to see "Superstar" back in the early 70's when it was first produced. I remember the performance pretty well, and I can still sing portions of most of the songs. But my enduring memory of that evening comes not from the production but rather from an event that happened on the sidewalk just after we arrived. There was a man handing out flyers explaining the difference between the Christ of 'Superstar' and the Christ of Scripture. I really wish I still had that flyer.


S Mackay said...

Father Ron Smith, can I suggest that your uninformed speculation about Moore/Ridley is not a recipe for love and mutual understanding. Your comments are unfair, especially towards the individuals involved.

As a matter of fact, I'm told that Ridley is in a much better financial situation than it has been in the past. In addition, Dr. Rosner has taken the position quite freely and of his own accord. To suggest this was a conspiracy of Moore College shows absolutely no knowledge of the situation, or of Dr. Rosner himself.

I recall that love 'bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things'. I'm not sure I see much of that in your frequent comments about evangelicals on this blog.

Andrew Reid said...

Dear Fr Ron,
You are completely off the mark with your assertion about Moore resuscitating Ridley. There is no financial component to this appointment at all. The Ridley board simply felt Brian Rosner was the best candidate. It is highly unlikely Moore and Ridley will combine in any way. Not only are they 1000km apart, but they have different curricula - Ridley uses the Australian College of Theology curriculum while Moore uses its own.
Ridley has in fact gone through a rather painful sell-off of some of its land and buildings in order to establish a fund to ensure the future financial stability of the College. So, Ridley is resuscitating itself rather than relying on anyone else. I would also make the point that Moore delayed a major building program due to the impact of the GFC a few years back, so they are a bit busy caring for their own finances at the moment.

Peter, just a quick typo fix. It's Peter Adam rather than Adams.

Re Jesus Christ Superstar, I'm always in two minds about it. It has some great scenes and helpful insights, esp. the plotting of the High Priests and the clearing of the Temple. And it's good that it at least asks the question "Who is Jesus?" even if it doesn't answer it. What I find unhelpful is the general wimpy portrayal of Jesus - Judas usually comes off as the strong one. Also, there is a strong suggestion, although not explicitly made, that Mary Magdalene and Jesus have a romantic relationship. The Last Supper comes across as a boozy, let's drown our sorrows kind of event, rather than the climactic meal full of fear, expectation and betrayal we see in the Gospels. Always worth seeing, but I'm not sure I would encourage a church to put it on.

Andrew Reid said...

Seems it is the season for departure announcements from Australian theological it's John Woodhouse from Moore College. Melbourne School of Theology (formerly BCV) also appointed a new principal, Tim Meyers, recently.