Tonight, my husband and I went to a play. I don't remember the playwright, so I will not divulge the name of the play, either. The theme on freedom came out loud and clear to me, but it was interesting to hear comments about the play's meaning from others during the after-talk. Everyone had grasped different aspects of the play. Sometimes, I wonder if faith is not like this, too.
The play was set in Zion, Indiana. The main character of the play was a boy, who suffered a grave fear of water, due to his mother's drowning. She had died, while saving him. The boy's fear was directly impacted by a wandering ex-preacher, who had come to his town. The preacher be-friended the town and the town's characters were contrasted against his presence.
The theme to me was that this preacher's freedom from religion gave him the freedom to touch many in that town. He became human and put down his "duty" to preach the "gospel" and truly met some needs in the process.
His freedom was contrasted most to me by a lady named Norma. She was the epitome of a religious person, who had "prayed for a preacher to come to town"...'perhaps, a revival was in store", she just knew that the "Lord had sent him", etc. At the same time, her prudish fears, and her superstitious interpretations were truly amazing, but very true to life. She was bound by a narrow view of life and how God "works". Hers was a world of religious conversion and believing that conversion was the most important aspect to life.
In Norma's zealousness, she missed by not seeing, by being blinded to what she wanted to see. She missed the boy's need to be freed from his fear of water and his need to be physically healed from ring-worm. The ex-preacher had eyes to see and sought to aleviate the boy's handicaps.
In the end, the boy dies, while Norma give "praise to Jesus" that he had "been baptized". The others are stuck by the sadness of a life that has ended. She could only see her religious conviction. Her zeal had made her detached from life and the tragedy that had struck everyone else.
One does not have to be a Christian, in fact, being a Christian, was a hinderance in this play. At least, a "traditional Christian". I think that life is far too complex to simply believe that "if people only believe the "gospel" everything will work out. This view, unfortunately, was one that I grew up with...
I remember one of my family members quoting Romans 8;28 to me after my engagement was broken. It just seems that Scripture leaves one cold when the waters are too deep to swim. Scriptures have been useful in such hands to knock down, take out, suppress, repress, oppress, dominate, discriminate, badger, hinder, minimize tragedy, judge, condemn, ostricize, exclude, prohibit, and anything else that one would choose to do independently from those in "power".
So, this play had a meaning of freedom from religion. A freedom to be human and that being human was a way to touch and make a differenc in another human's life. Humans are what life is about, not religion, not conversion and not some supernatural text of religion. No, life is about life and should be embraced alongside others of like kind (although they may be different from oneself).