Wednesday, September 1, 2010


The Merchant of Venice, Anthony Heald and Jonathan Haugen

Can I share something with you? Today I read something that really ticked me off. It was posted as a high school girl's status update.
Corinthians 6:14~Don't team up with those who are unbelievers. How can goodness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?
Give me a friggin' break.

I am so tired of some Christians' attitudes that they are better than anyone who is not a Christian. (Not to mention those who think they are better Christians than other Christians.) This particular phrasing the young woman employed has been used in many other places; a google search yielded over 600 hits.

We recently spent a glorious week down in Ashland (insert genuflection here) at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, seeing plays and attending discussions with actors and dramaturgs. I'll share more about the details in future posts, but I want to mention something specific here: my family's response to The Merchant of Venice. It was a brilliant production of a troubling play. Spoiler alert: Shylock, a Jewish moneylender in Venice, is forced to convert to Christianity in order to retain his property. Both kids were outraged at this turn of events. And they found it totally believable, given the intolerant, holier-than-thou attitudes of so many of their Christian peers.

I read a great piece about Anthony Heald, the actor who portrays Shylock. The first Jewish actor in the 75 year history of OSF to perform the role, Heald wrestled with many issues. I love his analysis:

"I think the biggest mistake is to present all the Christians as bigots and Shylock as noble. What that does is leave the suggestion that even noble Jews are capable of vicious acts. No -- Jewish people with psychological flaws, like Christians with psychological flaws, are capable of vicious acts."
Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor Anthony Heald has found a rewarding home in Ashland, where he's become a key member of the talented company. Director Bill Rauch describes him as "a brilliant craftsperson" and a "seeker of the truth" through his art. ~caption from Marty Hughley's Oregonian article
I'd encourage Christians to really consider these words:

Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means,
warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer
as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us,
do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.
If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility?
Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his
sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge.
The villainy you teach me, I will execute,
and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.
(Act III, scene I)

Right on, Will.

I am sick of sanctimonious schmucks.


Lemmy Caution said...

I would have pointed this young lady to Corinthians 14:34 as an example of howpicking out passages of the bible can cut both ways.

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.

Bee said...

In full agreement.
I actually find religious intolerance (and its bosom companion, sanctimoniousness) to be the worst problem facing the U.S. today.

Have we learned nothing since Elizabethan times? Clearly not.

One of these years I'd like to accompany the Fabulous Forrests on this week of Shakespearean goodness.

lisleman said...

FF you certainly take a serious tone on your blog. It's a good use of your blog. I believe there are enough blogs covering these issues that I don't need to join in with my blog. But I'll join in with comments and in my daily life I'll express my view.
After 9/11 I realized that religion has a dark side. Of course, religion has much good to offer too.
In the extreme I believe it's all about control of other people and the power that comes with it.
Did you happen to read the latest from Dr. Stephen Hawking?
He says God wasn't necessary for us to be here. Now that's really sticking a poker into the fire. I have an open mind on his thought. Really who knows the form of GOD?

secret agent woman said...

Amen. I get very weary of people who take a sanctimonious tone and are clueless about their own bigotry and small-mindedness.

Miss Healthypants said...

I couldn't agree with you more on this. Religious intolerance--like racial intolerance--is the worst.

Miss Healthypants said...

P.S. Thank you for your recent kind comment on my blog--that made my day! :)

Jason, as himself said...

Well said! Now if only there was something that could be done about this....let me know if you think of anything.

Fantastic Forrest said...

Jason - I've been wracking my brain. I just spotted a church sign board that I LOVE and whose message I intend to spread far and wide:

How you live matters more than what you believe.