Cotton Patch Gospel Review

I’ve been blogging for over 10 years, and in those years I’ve never tread over the controversial line. My following is small, approximately 300 people, and most of them are just here because we are like minded. My posts are often recipes, patterns or personal reflections about life, and I didn’t see that ever changing, until yesterday. I’m not angry, but I think some things need to be said.

About a week ago, I received a forwarded mass-email from the coordinator of a home school association I belong to. It was an invite from Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario, to attend a showing of their production, “A Cotton Patch Gospel”. The premise seemed entertaining, and the tickets were free for that day only, so we turned it into a fun field trip.

I said the premise seemed entertaining. This is the promo, taken from their website (so there’s no confusion):

The Redeemer University College Theatre Arts Department presents Cotton Patch Gospel January 26-30, 2016.

Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, but what if he’d been born in another place, at another time? He’d still be the son of God, but how would the story of his birth, death and resurrection be different?

Cotton Patch Gospel is a musical written by Tom Key and Russell Treyz, and features the music of Harry Chapin (best-known for “Cat’s in the Cradle”). It uses the Gospels of Matthew and John to re-imagine the story of Christ in a small town in Georgia. With this new setting, great storytelling and charming, folksy music, the Gospel message is retold with energy, wonder, humour and humanity.

Directed by Raymond Louter, professor in Redeemer’s theatre arts department, and with music direction by Jeanine Noyes, Cotton Patch Gospel promises to be a memorable theatrical, and deeply spiritual, experience.

So we went to this. Yesterday morning, we picked up some children, and met others from our home school community down in Ancaster, all of us pretty excited to see a play and have a change from our regular schedules.

I would like to say that we enjoyed this, but the truth is, we left before intermission. I understand that this was an artistic re-imagining, but there are some things that should never have been changed. During the time we were there, Jesus was portrayed as a defiant and disrespectful child. He carried a short stick around with him on stage, which later was used in a wand-like manner. I think they intended this as a Character-tool, because Jesus was to be played by different actors during the performance, but to a bunch of school aged children, this is a wand. They represented Christ as being unsure of who He was. I saw a woman across the auditorium get up and leave with her son, coats in hand. We had already decided to leave during intermission, but then, during the course of the song, they turned the character of Jesus, into a woman.

Now I know it has long been debated on women serving in leadership in the church, and in our modern day, there are many women who Pastor churches. Where they crossed the line, was that they had so completely changed the very nature and character of Jesus Christ, so much so, that this play is a total mockery of His life and sacrifice. Change the setting, re-imagine what it would be like had He been born in modern day Georgia – I understand the artistic angle… but they do NOT have the right to re-imagine our Saviour as being disobedient, disrespectful, and unsure of Himself. Changing His character, and even His gender, only created a mythological field around Jesus, sending the message that no one really knows who He was or what He was like.

So we left, but I think what speaks more to the general feeling in the audience, was that a lot of other people left as the same time. One family followed us out of the auditorium, and as we went to the car, we saw many other families leaving as well.

I’m sure those in the theatrical department at Redeemer can be proud of many wonderful productions, sadly, I don’t think this should be one of them.




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