What you see tonight took 41 years to create. It took a young girl raised in the high Episcopal church tradition, loving the lord Jesus mightily. It took her realizing she loved him so much, it was killing her. She was trying too hard to be perfect, as He demanded of her. She needed to walk away from Him. And she did. Beginning her journey anew, without Him. And she found the glory and abundance and diversity of life, and how to know it through Science.
It’s taken me almost 2 decades to not recoil from religion and the religious, but I knew that was the right place to be, so I worked at it. I’ve been reconciled now (with God, if not his followers), and am comfortable with the religious, and even nostalgic for the grand awe I felt, and the community my church engendered. When I saw how acrimonious the evolution debate was, I realized I was in a very good position to be a diplomat. I’ve been on both sides, if you will (if you must). I wanted to create an evening that showed people honestly struggling with their differences and trying to figure things out.
The original title of the show was G.O.D. Generation of Diversity: Suspend Your Disbelief.
(I like puns and wordplay, as you’ll soon discover.) Theatre and Religion both require suspension of disbelief. And both require it so that they can tell you a story. We humans need to tell stories; it is our stories that tell us how to act (or not act). Without stories as a framework for how to live our lives, we are lost. (I of course use “story” in the broadest sense possible – religion is story, science is story, governing documents are stories.)
I wanted to create a place of integration and reconciliation. A place to honor both religion and science in our lives. A place where no question is forbidden, and no question or answer is too scary – yet. So I went back to the place where “All you need to know, you learned in ….”. My historical research showed me we are using the exact same arguments against evolution that we did back when it was first proposed. So similar, in fact, that thanks to my sloppy notekeeping, I often couldn’t tell if the quote I’d pulled was from 150 years ago, or last year. This is still a new story. And this is a frightening story to many of us. So is the Christ story. The first words of that story are the angel telling us “Be not afraid. I’ve got a huge, scary story to tell you” (or something like that). I think every story, from Beowolf and Homer on down, should all begin with that: “Be not afraid. Rosy fingered dawn lifted her veil…” “Be not afraid. Once, in a galaxy far, far away…” “Be not afraid. It was the best of times…” “Be not afraid. When on board H.M.S. Beagle…” “Be not afraid. We the People, in order to form a more perfect union…”
What you see tonight is not perfect, and I revel in that. Tonight is a product of messy creation. A dozen human minds and hearts coming together and creating a story out of nothing, ex nil. I thank everyone that came in contact with this show – they breathed life into it out of the mud of my mind.
I revel in what it means to be human, and all the different ways we answer that question. I hope seeing this show makes you ask a question you never have before, and be not afraid asking it.