In 1999, when I drove to the Grand Canyon through the Arizona and New Mexico scrubland, I listened to Jesus Christ Superstar.
I had to pull over because I was crying at the end.
I’ve always known that there was something more powerful about this musical – and Kazantzakis’ book The Last Temptation of Christ – than a typical church service or sermon about the Gospels. Every year since then, I’ve played the music or watched the movie on Palm Sunday. Today is no different – I’m writing this as “The Last Supper” is playing. Before I turned it on, I tweeted this:
In Jesus Christ Superstar, nobody is evil.
Flawed, yes. Making huge mistakes, yes. But everyone’s trying to do what they think is best – for themselves, for “the poor”, for their nations and people. Neither Judas nor Pilate is a Snidely Whiplash and Jesus is more than Dudley Do-Right.
And that’s so much more than the oversimplified pap “religion” often sells us. Life is complicated, messy, and unclear. Different people trying to do the “right thing” can be at absolute loggerheads. We are confused, confusing creatures who strive to do good, and frequently fail despite our best intentions. We will fail Milgram’s test, despite what we think we’ll do beforehand. That is something we mere humans can relate to.
And that is the point of the divine becoming human.