Tuesday, March 29, 2016


If you haven’t guessed it by now, I’m not the most religious of people. If you are, that’s fine…as long as your beliefs aren’t hurting yourself or anyone else, have at it, my fine friend. Please understand that what follows here is not meant to challenge, or offend, anyone.

My personal beliefs are an echo of the Agnostic axiom, “I know that I don’t know.” I don’t believe in chaos as most Atheists do. To me, there seems to be a rhyme or reason to how things work in the universe, but I cannot say with any certainty what sets it all in motion. Unfortunately, I just don’t think that ANY religion and/or belief system truly answers the big questions most intelligent men and women have. 

I was raised Catholic and even went to 12 years of Catholic school. But, the whole “Catholic” vibe just never stuck; I always found all the pomp and circumstance just a bit absurd. Beyond the fact that there’s a great deal of fantastic moral philosophy in the words of Jesus found in the New Testament, the majority of what’s written in the Bible confounds me. Therefore, I view the Bible as more of a historical document than a document of faith or belief. Period.

Epic poster is epic
Even as a lad, I recall thinking on many occasions while twiddling my thumbs in church or in one of my many religion/theology classes, “Well, this just doesn’t make any goddamn sense!”  It wasn’t until I saw the film version of “Jesus Christ Superstar” in 8th grade that a “real” perspective of Jesus finally clicked in my teenage mind. He wasn’t the water-walking miracle man that I was raised to believe in, he was just a guy, trying to figure out what the hell he was doing and that he and one of his best friends disagreed on some important issues. And that disagreement cost them both of their lives. That’s a sad reality of course, but something about Jesus finally had substance…and that was pretty cool in and of itself.

The complex, tempestuous relationship between Jesus and Judas is the crux of “Superstar.” (It also puts forth a rather interesting, and forward thinking, depiction of the Jesus and Mary Magdalene “situation.” Really listen to the lyrics of “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” and I dare you to tell me that’s a song written for a friend and not a lover.) Every Easter I watch the film (in lieu of going to actual Mass), and I still get chills during the second part of “The Last Supper” song when Judas and Jesus really lay into each other, Judas condemning Jesus calling him “a sad, pathetic man” and uttering the classic line: “Every time I look at you I don’t understand, how you let things you did get so out of hand. You’d have managed better if you had it planned!”  There are many wonderful lyrics (courtesy of Grammy, Tony and Academy Award winner Tim Rice) throughout the musical, but that one always seemed the most…insightful…to me.

Jesus and Judas throw down with some slap fight action...
In the early 90’s, I was lucky enough to see a stage production of JCS at the Merriam Theater in Philadelphia. Both Ted Neely and Carl Anderson reprised their roles as Jesus and Judas respectively. It was, in word, magical. I was transfixed for those two hours…it is a night that I will never, ever forget.

Oh, and I met Garry Maddox (sans mega afro), the ex-Phillies center-fielder on the great 70’s and 80’s teams, out on Broad Street afterwards. It seems he and his wife took in the show as well. So there’s that.

You rock on with your bad self, Garry Lee...
Since Easter just passed, do yourself a favor and check out some version of “Jesus Christ Superstar” (I highly recommend the 1973 film version). I can’t say that it will have the profound impact on you that it had on me, but it’s still well worth a viewing be you a Jew, Christian, Wiccan or Muslim because, religious nonsense aside, it tells the powerful story of two friends who clearly care for each other, but just cannot see eye to eye...and that failure costs them both dearly. That kind of pathos is something we can all relate to, I think.

And maybe someday I’ll get to do the remake I’ve been planning since the mid-90’s that would star Chris Cornell as Jesus, Prince as Judas, Tori Amos as Mary Magdalene, Howard Stern as Herod and Kevin Spacey as Pilate.

That right there is a license to print money, I tell ya…

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