Theatre dispute

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Cancellation welcomed

We in Reformation Ireland welcome the cancellation of the performance ‘The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) which was due at Mossley Mill Theatre.

We commend the action of the Mayor, Fraser Agnew, who used his influence to persuade the council’s Artistic Committee to have this cancelled, and especially fellow councillors Billy and Audrey Ball, who originally flagged this up to our community as a mockery and an insult upon our Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel.

We have encouraged citizens who are ratepayers to email and write to their councillor, asking the question: ‘Is nothing sacred and would similar attacks on Islam be tolerated here?’

Our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ encouraged His followers in Matthew ch5 v13 - 16 to be ‘Salt and Light’ in society, indeed to prevent further decay and rot in our society. We are thankful to God that this has happened.

Churches throughout the borough have been actively praying on this and not one person even from within ‘the liberal elite’ inside the council can stop the power of prayer which has gone up.

As the local paper we are grateful that you have addressed this.

Raymond Stewart

Reformation Ireland

Comedy has a place in faith

An open letter to those who opposed the RSC production ‘The Bible’...

I remember years ago being brought by my mum and some friends to see the Reduced Shakespeare Company play of The Bible in Belfast. I must have been about 12 or 13.

I love comedy and I love God. Sometimes we think that the two are incompatible. That for some reason God calls us to complete reverence when it comes to Him and certainly when it comes to the Bible itself.

I would love to ask you what about the play, when you saw it, upset you so much? I am assuming you have seen it .

Because if you had done I am not sure why you would have held the view that you did? I am not sure why you are so afraid?

In the Bible there is a lot that is not funny. Whole nations are wiped out on a whim, countries are trafficked by whole other countries and children are slaughtered by kings. Aren’t these the things that we should find more offensive?

And what about all the sex, profanity and cheating that goes on? And I’m not talking about Stormont.

There is however, a lot that is funny. How about when Jesus uses absurd hyperbolic language intentionally to make a point, or slapstick when Peter falls into the Sea of Galilee.

Then of course there is the time when Jesus was crucified. The time He was taken and beaten for doing nothing wrong and sacrificed for the world. There is nothing funny about this and yet, when performing a comedy play on the Bible, surely there will be question marks on how this is handled.

Will they make fun of Jesus, will they mock his pain?

When I saw the play all those years ago that part of the Bible narrative was probably the most well done. For the whole play there was laughter from everyone, yet when it came to the part of Jesus death and resurrection it was conducted in such reverence and respect.

There was complete silence. Everyone’s attention was caught. It was, without exaggerating, a profound religious experience.

I remember even at the young age that I was, being hit by the importance of it. Perhaps it was the contrast of the comedy to seriousness that struck me, but it had a profound impact on me.

It also showed me that comedy can have a place in faith. That we can laugh at ourselves and that we don’t need to be afraid. That when Sarah in Genesis says “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me,” we don’t need to be afraid of humour and should maybe even consider it as a gift from God. Or in Proverbs when the writer says “Even in laughter the heart may ache”, we can hold seriousness and pain and joy and laughter in harmonious tension.

I walked out of the theatre, at the end, with my faith still in tact and even strengthened.

We do not need to be afraid of our faith being ridiculed. What kind of faith is it that if at the slightest joke we are offended? What kind of fear is that to live in? How good and powerful can a God that can’t take some gentle ribbing really be?

I fear that by the mere fact that the play was cancelled at the Mill many people, who otherwise do not go to church on a Sunday, will have missed the opportunity to hear a story that could have opened their eyes to a Christian culture sadly more well known for what we stand against than what we stand for.

Have you helped shut out the good news to people who otherwise may never hear it?

Have you pushed people further away from a faith more commonly defined by fear and hatred than freedom and love?

Paul Robinson

Detroit, via email