IVP - Strangely Dim - The End and the Beginning

March 19, 2010

The End and the Beginning

Today's post is bittersweet: with it we bid farewell to guest-blogger and editorial intern Christina Jasko. Today she takes us into some of the weirder artifacts of a Christian college in order to uncover the beginning embedded in a sometimes too-familiar ending. Once you've finished reading today's post, you might enjoy rereading her post from Monday; in some respects they might be considered a bonded pair.

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One of the peculiarities of a Christian college, one of which I attend, is the movie selection in the school library. It tends to be rather strange. We do have secular picks--and of a greater variety than one might expect--but we also have a stunning array of the most random movies on religion you've ever seen. On a slow weekend, my roommate and I like to pick out some of the weirder ones and watch them.

This week, we had the pleasure of watching the 1973 musical Godspell, perhaps the most psychedelic portrayal of the Gospel of Matthew in history.
Pretty much the whole movie consists of Jesus leading his disciples around New York City as they sing catchy songs and clownishly act out parables. It may be a little unorthodox to show in your Bible study, but when the creative liberties work, they really work.

Jesus (sporting an afro, a Superman shirt and face paint) is encouraging, silly, childlike--but when he needs to be, still deeply serious. He's a far cry from the stoic Jesus of most passion plays, and it surprised me how very endearing he was (which makes it disturbing to realize that the actor also played the sketchy professor in Legally Blonde. The inevitable crucifixion scene, accompanied by the disciples' screams and a shrill electric guitar, is heart-wrenching.

I hope you don't mind if I spoil the ending for you, because I'm going to, in order to draw attention to the film's big problem: Godspell has no resurrection. The film ends as the disciples take down Jesus' body and carry it through the streets, singing, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." If you're like me, you keep expecting Jesus to sit up and smile at any moment, but no, the disciples just keep dancing around, parading that corpse. It's horrible theology, but it's also a supremely lame way to end a movie: to quote my poor roommate as the credits rolled, "You can't stop it there! Bring back Jesus!"

I find myself feeling like that a lot during Lent. Easter recalls what actually happened: Jesus rose again. But in awaiting Easter, we're doing much more than looking forward to the remembrance of the resurrection. We also remember that we're always anticipating our own resurrections.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. (Romans 8:22-24)

The end of Jesus' earthly life was just the beginning of our new lives. For now we still wait to receive these in fullness.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at March 19, 2010 8:48 AM Bookmark and Share

Comments

That's me!!!! I'm the roommate! Great article- I feel the same way about lent... when is it over? Easter needs to happen; Jesus needs to rise again!

Comment by: Ginny at March 20, 2010 1:06 AM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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