Sunday, March 28, 2010

Texas' Terleton State University's Life Lesson: It's Easier to Burn than to Learn

     What would Jesus do if he were a Christian Republican in Texas and a student in a theatre class at a public university was doing a private class project composed of scenes from four plays, including the play Corpus Christi, that "tens and tens" of people were going to see?  Why he'd rile up the conservative masses, of course, to the point that rangers have to be called in to protect the students from angry, violence-threatening Christians, and he'd fan the flames of hatred until, for the safety of the students, the teacher cancels the class presentation. 

     This is the news coming from northern Texas and Terleton State University, where advanced directing student John Jordan Otte's choice to use a few scenes from the 1998 Terrence McNally play, Corpus Christi, in which, dog-forbid, Jesus and his disciples are portrayed as gay.  The private, in-class performance was canceled last night "after the school received a barrage of threatening calls and e-mails."

     The Star-Telegram reports the frightening level of hatred and threats that the school received:

     "Our department received calls of a threatening nature," he [drama professor Mark Holtorf] said. "I could not guarantee the security of my students. The administration was truly behind the academic exercise, but I could not justify the risk."  Officials announced Wednesday that the Corpus Christi performance would be moved from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. Saturday and staged before a restricted private audience. Campus police planned additional security.  But during the past three days, the threats "ratcheted up to such a degree, it made me nervous," Holtorf said, adding that the identities of those making the threats could not be determined. "One call was a fairly long rant of incredible expletives. It was a scary rant. It was actually frightening."
     So, once again, Christians threatening the sword, rather than offering the other cheek score another victory for their Gospel According to Hate and miss the opportunity to learn something that could have given them a deeper insight into their savior and the experience of those different than themselves.  No!  It's easier to burn than to learn. 

     Here are some politically powerful Texans' responses to the events at Terleton.

     "Every citizen is entitled to the freedom of speech, but no one should have the right to use government funds or institutions to portray acts that are morally reprehensible to the vast majority of Americans."
     Lt. Gov. Dave, does that mean that you support the use of public funding for abortion since the majority of Americans believe that abortion should be legal?  You must have supported the healthcare reform, since 77% of Americans supported a public option, which didn't get past thanks to lying Republicans (like you) and their myth of death panels.  Since the majority of Americans also are against the war in Iraq and want the troops removed, I'm sure you support that, too.  Also, a majority of Americans are against the use of torture, so I'm sure you don't support that.  And finally, the majority of Americans favor letting homosexuals serve openly in the military and they also don't think that consenting sex between two adults of the same sex is morally wrong, nor is it a moral issue.  You agree, right, or are you just a another conservative Republican Christian who doesn't practice what you preach?

     University President F. Dominic Dottavio published an opinion piece in the Star-Telegram in which he explained:
     Although the university had not endorsed the play, it had no legal basis for stopping it. But Dottavio made clear that he didn't like it.  "I see no artistic or redeeming quality in the work," he wrote. "I believe, as many have opined, that it is offensive, crude and irreverent."
     Way to stand by your students and faculty, while still fanning the conservative flames and egging on the threats to your students' safety, Dom!  You might want to recall the etymology of "university," which comes from the Latin universus, meaning "whole" or "entire."  A university education is meant to be whole, entire; universal.  The quest for true knowledge does not come by stifling freedom of speech, academic exploration, and artistic expression.  By fanning the flames of those attacking the universal education of your students, you do your "university" and your post a disservice. 

     Hillcrest Church of Christ Preacher David Harris stated the following in an interview with The 33 News in a segment titled "What would Jesus do?":
     "Evidently they've got an agenda and it's a readical homosexual agenda that is being promoted and I don't know whether Tarleton is gettin it or not but they are using them as a venue for it.  Just leave Christ alone that's all, just leave him alone and quit defaming him."
     Defaming Jesus?  What of the wars, hatred, murder, sexual abuse, slavery, rape, abuse of women, child abuse, and lies committed in Jesus' name? 

     Conservative religious people get mad when Jesus is portrayed as gay, but cultures all over the world have adapted Jesus to be like them. 

     How many different skin colors does Jesus come in?  How many different shaped faces does Jesus have?  How many different cultural styles of clothing does Jesus wear

     Artistic portrayals of Jesus are as diverse as the world's individual Christians.  So, why wouldn't homosexual Christians follow suit and portray Jesus as gay?  But, when that happens it's a sacrilege and blasphemous, "defaming" and "misrepresenting" the white, crystal-blue-eyed, northern European, Soloflex Jesus that so many fundamentalist Christians adore.

     Lost in the political posturing and religious condemnations was the student's reason for choosing Corpus Christi and what he was saying with the work.  In an on-air interview by Tarleton’s Texan News Service, student director Jon Otte said that:
     ...he picked the play because, as a gay Christian man, he could relate to it. He did not feel the script was blasphemous, but he said it was, in fact, tasteful. "Never did I choose this play to attack Christians." 
    He further stated:
     This play deals with [gay] subject matter, I believe in a tasteful way. ... I don't believe in a God who hates me for who I am.  Never did I choose this play to attack Christians. I am one. 
     Imagine what David Harris, David Dewhurst, and their conservative brood could have learned had they listened instead of demanding fagots and flames.

Image Credits:
Photos of police cars guarding the Terleton State event: Whitney Lee, of the Reporter-News
Photo of white Jesus with blue eyes, from the Roman Catholic Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.; photo from Notes of an Anesthesioboist


truthspew said...

What is more interesting is if Christ did actually exist, he existed as a Semitic Jew.

Probably look a lot like the Palestinians and Arabs.

Heretic Tom said...