Friday, April 06, 2007

An Easter Vigil

OK, this story from AlterNet reminded me why Trey Parker and Matt Stone are such comic geniuses. I don't really watch South Park religiously (ha!) anymore, but this reminded me that the show still has its bite (link includes three clips from the episode).

This comic makes me wonder about the episode's conclusion, though.

On a related note, I came across this posting via The News Blog:

Coming to the US my biggest shock was how seriously people took religion. It was a form of religious intensity that I had never encountered. In Saudi I had endured a totalitarian theocracy (is there another kind?) but I had never seen the man on the street be so wrapped up in their religion. I had never met people who defined themselves, first and foremost, on the basis of their religion.

Which is all the more interesting considering how ignorant many Americans are about their religion:

The United States is the most religious nation in the developed world, if religiosity is measured by belief in all things supernatural -- from God and the Virgin Birth to the humbler workings of angels and demons. Americans are also the most religiously ignorant people in the Western world. Fewer than half of us can identify Genesis as the first book of the Bible, and only one third know that Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount...

...Approximately 75 percent of adults, according to polls cited by Prothero, mistakenly believe the Bible teaches that "God helps those who help themselves." More than 10 percent think that Noah's wife was Joan of Arc. Only half can name even one of the four Gospels, and -- a finding that will surprise many -- evangelical Christians are only slightly more knowledgeable than their non-evangelical counterparts.

I wish I could say I was surprised, but then I regularly have arguments with family members who know very little about what their Catholic faith is actually about.

Well, I for one will be spending Easter in my annual ritual of watching Jesus Christ Superstar (Norman Jewison version, of course).

"Heaven on Their Minds" (JUDAS)

The first song after the overture. Featuring a fantastic performance by Judas (Carl Anderson) and one awesome guitar riff! One of my favourite pieces. I wish Webber could have kept writing like this.

Listen Jesus I don't like what I see
All I ask is that you listen to me
And remember I've been your right-hand man all along

You have set them all on fire
They think they've found the new Messiah
And they'll hurt you when they find they're wrong


High Priest Caiaphas and his brother-in-law Annas convince the Sanhedrin that Jesus is a threat to their power and must be eliminated. Excellent contrast between Caiaphas's (Bob Bingham) deep bass and Annas's (Kurt Yaghjian) falsetto.

What then to do about This Jesus-mania?
Now how do we deal with the Carpenter King?
Where do we start with a man who is bigger

Than John was when he did his baptism thing?

Fools you have no perception!
The stakes we are gambling are frighteningly high
We must crush him completely
So like John before him, this Jesus must die

"The Last Supper" (JESUS, JUDAS, APOSTLES)

Jesus (Ted Neely) confronts Judas about his forthcoming betrayal. The confrontation scene is one of my favourites.

Peter will deny me in just a few hours
Three times will deny me - and that's not all I see
One of you here dining, one of my twelve chosen
Will leave to betray me -

Cut out the dramatics! You know very well who -
Why don't you go do it?
You want me to do it!
Hurry they are waiting
If you knew why I do it . . .
I don't care why you do it!
To think I admired you
For now I despise you
You liar - you Judas
You wanted me to do it!
What if I just stayed here
And ruined your ambition?
Christ you deserve it!

Hurry you fool, hurry and go,
Save me your speeches
I don't want to know - Go! Go!

"I Only Want to Say (Gethsemane)" (JESUS)

Jesus's solo piece where he pleads with God to spare him the coming pain and suffering. Neely's most passionate performance.

Why, why should I die?
Oh, why should I die?
Can you show me now
That I would not be killed in vain?
Show me just a little
Of your omnipresent brain
Show me there's a reason
For your wanting me to die
You're far too keen on where and how
But not so hot on why

"Trial Before Pilate (including The 39 Lashes)" (JESUS, PILATE, CAIAPHAS, CROWD)

Pilate (Barry Dennen) is one of my favourite characters.

You have nothing in your hands
Any power you have
Comes to you from far beyond
Everything is fixed
And you can't change it

You're a fool, Jesus Christ
How can I help you?

Crucify him! Crucify him!
Remember Caesar
You have a duty
To keep the peace
So crucify him!
You'll be demoted
You'll be deported
So crucify him!

"Superstar" (JUDAS, ANGELS)

Speaking from heaven, Judas questions the whole enterprise.

Every time I look at you
I don't understand
Why you let the things you did
Get so out of hand
You'd have managed better
If you'd had it planned
Now why'd you choose such a backward time
And such a strange land?

If you'd come today
You could have reached the whole nation
Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication