Nothing is new underneath the sun. I sometimes long to retrieve my days. I want to make better choices. I just listened to a choir piece I was part of almost 18 years ago now...my song played for me here in my living room...my voice of 18 years ago streamed to me this morning. I tried to feel like me back then. I tried. What I knew then exists only in shadows of ghosts. Still, I want to change some choices--and yet by them imagine what I know now?
I watched a play at the Civic Center called Spring Awakening. It's a "coming of age" play about a teenager's yearning to experience and learn, to ask questions and experience what life offers. It's also about a parent's and teacher's yearning to control information, hoping that a simple "You can't do this!" or "You should do this!" sufficiently moralizes and emboldens a child's life growth pattern. The play was written in the 1800's. It plays between a group of students taught at a strict school and between sons, daughters and their parents. Christianity stands at it's heart.
I thought I'd feel persecuted. I didn't--no in fact I felt more resolute than ever before. A young girl asks her mother about where babies come from. The answer she gave was that babies come from loving her husband very very very much...
Parents are often so tepid about sensitive information and their children. So many of them won't even do their children the favor of dreading they day they enter the "real world." I don't blame them. So much can go wrong.
But the girl thought that having babies was about loving her husband. She tried sex and couldn't believe she had become pregnant...it wasn't how her mom had described. Another failed a class at school...actually he was failed because he was "different..." kind of an artist, a wild-haired playboy--someone who had the insight to know that there was more to life than school--he wanted the part of life that was hidden from him. His parents felt that nothing was more important than his education, ignoring that all of life was an education. When he failed his coursework his father said "What will I tell the people at the bank? What does your mom say at Church? That my son is a failure?" He reached for a sweet woman who encouraged him by saying "There are many successful businessmen who did badly in school..." But his parents couldn't change their "plan" and turned their backs on their son...he commits suicide. The parents of the pregnant girl did everything they could possibly do so that their lives would remain the same...would follow the plan...would look right in church. They forced her to "deal" with the child and took her to someone that would help her get rid "of the sin that was committed". A playwright from the 1800's tells a story that includes abortion. Another young lady is beaten every night but she doesn't mind...it's not so bad she says...it's the part of her day that isn't "rote", that allows her to feel something.
I didn't feel persecuted. I felt resolute. The play doesn't bash Christianity. It does expose the type of Christianity so many have practiced over the years. We've pursued Holiness as if God is playing a trite game of cat and mouse with us. We pursue righteousness for us and for our children as if we don't already have it...as if we're playing a trite game of cat and mouse with our children, our church families, and others around us. While the story tells every tragic tale imaginable in the 1800's, I found the parallels to 2009 stark and clear.
And so I intend not to live a stoic life. I intend to tell you what you need to know when you need to know it. I don't make righteousness succumb to my plan. It wells up within me and explores life while I change. Two stories from the bible. The story of the five loaves and two fish--can you imagine the insurmountable surprise at every full basket made from five loaves and two fish? Holiness builds and explodes joyfully throughout the world. The other story comes from Mark 3. Jesus is preaching and people are calling him crazy, out of his mind...even that he was the servant of Beelzebub. Mark writes that Jesus' family were calling for him...imagine why for a moment...people are saying He's nuts, crazy. Imagine that that rumor spreads through the crowds, including the places were Jesus' family stood. Isn't it plausible that they were embarrassed and wanted to get Him out of there? Don't you think they might've thought he was in great danger? Jesus' is told they're looking for him and He says "Who are my brothers and my family...all of you in this group are my brothers and sisters!" This was new information...good information...information they and we all need to know. Jesus would not be pulled from a potentially embarrassing situation. His family might've simply wanted everything to go back to normal. Why do things have to change?
Change and glory go together. It's interesting to note that the parents and the teachers were played by the same people, while all the teenagers were played by different people. In the adult world everything stays the same...but it shouldn't. Ignorance isn't bliss. Forced ignorance means we deprive our children of untold benefit and issue the potential of untold harm. I'm not saying that information comes in a flood. There's a certain day you'll have to tell your children about money, about stress. And eventually you'll tell them about about love, about sex, finances and about accountability. You're not going to enjoy the conversation you must have with your son or daughter about sex. But you're really not going to enjoy the day when they engaged in behavior they really knew nothing about. Teaching them finances remains a difficult proposition. But the day they go bankrupt is the day you'll wish you'd taught them financial responsibility. There's something called the "snowball effect" and I'm telling you a child engaging in an act you never told them about will snowball down a steep and dangerous hill. Eventually your children leave your home and they'll need to know things. They're going to fail and they should know from experience that you have their back. They're going to try new things and you're going to have to have instructed them about new things. They're going to question God and you're going to have to be ready with a loving answer, lest you become a worthless gong or clanging cymbal.
A noteworthy element--35 audience members were allowed to sit and watch the play from the stage itself...I realized halfway that the 35 became part of the set, further enhancing the exploitation, vulnerability and exposure of the teens. The audience was never acknowledged giving the idea that these kids had no idea they were there. Those same thirty-five spectators are watching your children too...I'd rather your children know they're there.
So much can go wrong. But I'm grateful my parents hoped knowledge would do me good. It did. I dealt with knowledge badly sometimes...I really did. But it was better than being blind-sided without it. They didn't know everything, and thus neither did I. But they gave me what they knew.
You were not given a spirit of fear and timidity, but one of courage and power. But then why are there so many parallels between 1811 and now?
Nothing changes under the sun. Everything changes under the Son.