Every Thirty-Three Years… March 15, 2013

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Ideas require patience and truth takes time. Yet no mere mortal is ever prepared for the longevity involved in taking a creative notion and seeing it come to fruition. It is a painstaking process full of pitfalls–and certainly rife with opposers.

In America, I think it takes about thirty-three years for a common piece of justice, kindness and goodness to make its way through the digestive system of the culture and be assimilated into the nutrients of our thinking.

The year was 1980–exactly thirty-three years ago. I was a young man who had already done a big sack-full of stuff and was energized on much of my own juices and ego. I had a good idea. I wanted to take the Sermon on the Mount, set it to music, put it in a Broadway-style format, select a cast, take it on the road into auditoriums in twenty-five cities,  and produce a fresh concept, both theatrically and spiritually.

I immediately received rave reviews on the music from those who were inclined to that sort of tinkling and tunefulness. I easily signed up five investors, who threw an amazing ten thousand dollars my way to bring the vision to reality. And then it was time to take it off the drawing boards, create a prototype and launch it into the atmosphere of America. I ran into some problems.

1980 America was not ready for my vision.

First of all, my play had dancing in it. Most religious people thought dancing was “of the devil.”

Secondly, the music ranged from a classical-style overture to rock and roll, in an era when diversity in music was considered to be a negative rather than a plus.

Some people were concerned that I had women in the cast. They didn’t understand how a musical on the Sermon on the Mount would require female characters. (Of course, if they’d ever read the Bible, they would have discovered that women were an intricate part of Jesus’ ministry, even footing the bill for many of his projects. –Luke the 8th Chapter)

Some folks became upset because they discovered that one of my investors was a homosexual. (That was in 1980, when you refered to people as “homos” instead of “gay.”)

Several of the venues in the south contacted me because they were “merely wondering” whether there were any black people in the entourage.

Universally, there was the constant question of whether my musical had a “conservative” agenda or a more “liberal” bend.

I was not even out of rehearsal camp and already I was dealing with issues of dancing, homosexuality, race relations, music prejudice, misogyny and the battle between liberals and conservatives.

On top of that, I caught two of the members of my cast smoking grass between rehearsals. They were shocked that I disapproved of their actions, since marijuana was universally known to be the “elixir of creativity.”

I was too young, unprepared, too cranked and much too ill-tempered to handle all this foolishness. I took one afternoon to get off by myself and think it through.

Was there anything wrong with dancing? It’s in the Bible. David danced before the Lord.

Does Jesus care if people are black? To the shock and horror of Southern Baptists, Jesus himself might have had a cocoa complexion.

How about music? Psalm 150 describes a musical combo organized for praise and worship that could have been describing Earth, Wind and Fire, live on stage, with a background of Blood, Sweat and Tears.

Is it wrong to have women in a cast of a play about Jesus? Actually, it would be evil to do anything else.

What would Jesus do with gay people? Well, I guess I think Jesus would take their money for an investment, let them come along for the ride, and see where the message took things.

Was Jesus conservative or liberal? In areas of personal responsibility, he was conservative. In areas of forgiving human beings, he was liberal.

I went on the road. It was a fabulous tour. I did not change America permanently. Matter of fact, it has taken thirty-three years for many of these issues to finally start blooming with common sense instead of common rage.

It reminds me of an idea that was birthed in a barn two thousand years ago. Although praised by a few wise men, it was scared away by the king in control and ended up exiled for a season. It snuck back in and grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. One day, when things were ready, it immersed itself in the work of sharing the message that the kingdom of God is very near.

This idea brought compassion.

This idea brought humanity to the concept of divinity.

This idea changed the world.

For a brief weekend, it was attacked by renegade religionists who tried to snuff it out, but by Sunday morning, at the end of thirty-three years, it raised from the dead and has never stopped.

I will not see the end of my present the thirty-three years. I am taking new tolerance, new peace of mind, new openness, new joy and new celebration into the barn and birthing it. Other wise men and women will have to come and lavish their gifts, to use this infant dream to ultimately raise the dead.

And the dead will need to be raised–because every thirty-three years, having tried to kill the truth, God has to breathe life into it one more time.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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