Monday, July 20, 2009


Spring of 1973 the Jesus House went to see Godspell. A touring production of the musical played at the Schubert Theater in downtown Cincinnati so the entire Jesus House staff (with dates and/or spouses) plus Alan Sipple (Methodist pastor extraordinaire!) and "Bud" & Cathy Downs (Pastor from Highview Christian Church) plus others whom I do not remember, trooped down to an evening performance. It was a great celebration, a great evening, and, for at least one unnamed couple, a really great first date!

The innocence of spirit of the production was inspiring. The songs, the method of presenting Jesus' parables, and the joyfulness of the cast infected us in a way that lasted till the summer, when the movie was released! I loved that John the Baptist used a bucket and sponge to baptize everyone. Occasionally we had baptism wars at the House (sprinkling vs. immersion) and, even though I fully participated in those zealous discussions (arguments?) I laughed when I saw the bucket and sponge. I turned to Alan and said, "He isn't using anyone's method!"

The following summer, when the movie was released, we endorsed it, encouraged people to go see it, and took groups whenever possible. I do not remember how many times I saw the movie that summer, but it wasn't till Star Wars in 1977 that I spent so much money on tickets to see the same movie over and over. adamsfishyodor ripped off some of the skits to use in our concerts, especially on our famed trip to Eden, North Carolina!

Part of the appeal of Godspell was that the play & movie captured a style of Jesus and style of Christianity for which we hungered. In many ways, the Jesus House, including the staff and those attending, were trying to define Christianity in a way that was pure, honest, Biblical and free of the stuffiness and traditional trappings that we observed in churches. Godspell, even though it was conceived outside the church, captured the simplicity and joyfulness of the gospel. It was not and still is not very deep, but for the time it was perfect. (Historical note: According to the JH calendar, there was a production of Godspell presented at the Greenhills High School Auditorium July 28 - 31, 1976 which we promoted. Do not remember who put together the production but tickets were only $2.00!)

Recently I watched the movie again, this time with my children, ages 23 & 16. They were not impressed. I tried to help them understand why it had an impact on me but could also see the cultural limitations within the movie that made it difficult for them to embrace and enjoy. I guess it's one of those things that fit a certain time and place.

This Week in History: Artists Who Performed the Third & Fourth Weeks of July

The Third Week of July
1972 - Steve Baxtor, John Chaney, Jerry Keever
1973 - Kevin Boys
1974 - Soul Purpose
1975 - Not sure who played because I was in Springfield promoting Conglomerate.
1976 - Rich Mullins
1977 - John Gould
1978 - Randy & Kent
1979 - Rick Roberts
1980 - Larry Bubb
1981 - Willoughby-Wilson Band
1982 - Wild Olive Branch Band
1983 - Bobby Maupin, Sharon Cook

The Fourth Week of July
1972 - Marc O'Hara & Linda Daniels
1973 - Rich Davis
1974 - Eighty people came to see someone, but the date is blank!
1975 - Jon Owens, Grant Edwards showed up from the One Way House in Springfield to promote Conglomerate!
1976 - Harvest, Grant Edwards (Promoting Conglomerate!)
1977 - Madison Gettman Jr. (A one-man band!)
1978 - Prodigal
1979 - Jim Bankowski
1980 - Prodigal, Grant Edwards
1981 - Lester & Marcus
1982 - Willoughby-Wilson Band, Grant Edwards
1983 - Ted Brickler

Artists Who Willingly Showed Up For The Occasional Fifth Saturday in July:
1972 - Rich Davis
1976 - Rising Hope
1977 - Kent & Randy
1978 - Windfall
1982 - Nori Kelly

Monday, July 13, 2009


The Jesus House was not a place for the King James Bible.
Even though it is a beautiful translation, in 1971 it was not for us.
I was not sure what "begat" meant nor "divers" nor "taketh" and all the Thee's & Thou's were for a different time.
When I did read aloud from the KJB I translated as I went and substituted words I thought were better or just left some words out.
For those of you who love the KJB, bless you, but it was not for a group of teenagers and young adults in spring of 1971.
For other translations, though, our options were limited. We had Good News for Modern Man and The Living Bible. A few people discovered Philips (one of my personal favorites) or the Amplified (too many words).
Good News became our staple in those early years. After all, there were drawings! The first book of the Bible that I read was Acts, a very exciting book for a young Christian who knew little or nothing about the Bible or Christianity. I was ready to be the next Stephen!

A man from Highview Christian Church once tried to convince me to use the KJV, his reasoning being that all those "young people" will eventually begin reading it so start them young. I told him I could not agree and even if Good News had some literary deficiencies, I was going to continue using it until something better surfaced. Admittedly I was young, immature and belligerent, but I think I knew something about my audience that he did not. We wanted the teenagers and young adults at the House to read and understand the Bible. Music and the Bible were our two big issues after making sure a person knew Jesus.

After a few years, we graduated to New American Standard, an incredible translation even though it lacks the poetic flow of the KJV. Once the New International Version was released, first the New Testament, then the complete Bible, the Jesus House became NIV central. We gave away inexpensive versions of the New Testament, then sold leather bound copies of the whole Bible. Of course we were excited because our own Dr. Foster helped translate it.

I still teach & preach mostly from the NIV although I really like the New Revised Standard Version and Philips. It has been amazing to see how American Christianity has moved away from KJV and embraced the NIV as well as many of the other contemporary translations released in the past 25 years. NIV is the biggest selling translation followed by the KJV.

I'm aware, though shocked, that there are still translation wars over the Bible. A few years ago I interviewed with a church that was contemporary in style but embraced the tired King James Only dogma. Perhaps heaven will contain a Hall of Fame for the Worst Christian Convictions of all time. If so, I believe the KJV-Only dogma will be prominently displayed, but that's only my opinion. As Larry Norman used to say, Curb Your Dogma.

This Week in History: Artists Who Performed at the Jesus House the First & Second Weeks of July

The First Week of July
1972 - Restoration
1973 - Christian Runion and her Dad! This may have been the first time a parent performed at the Jesus House. I'm pretty sure it is the only time a father/daughter duo played.
1974 - Jim Bankowski
1975 - Rick Roberts
1976 - Ed Gutfrennd (The only Catholic Priest to perform. Some of his best friends called him Father!)
1977 - Terry Fisher - Just after I graduated from college and just before a left for an extended trip to California.
1978 - Deny Brigance
1979 - Hymn
1980 - Rising Hope
1981 - Ice Cream - I'm pretty sure this is not the name of a group. It was the 4th of July so I believe we had an ice cream party instead of a musical guest then probably sent people away to find fireworks.
1982 - Ice Cream - We did it again! Only 30 people showed up for our ice cream so it must not have been very good!!
1983 - Share Night

The Second Week of July
1972 - Kent Odor
1973 - John & Sandy
1974 - John & Grant
1975 - Bob Clarke with Steve & Barb Steffens
1976 - Carolin Randall, Steve Young
1977 - Kevin Boys
1978 - Terry Fisher
1979 - One Lane Road
1980 - Zion
1981 - Pete Leighton
1982 - Variety Night
1983 - Phil Parchal

Close to Finished!
You've probably noticed that since the Reunion, I've dropped the entries back to every two weeks. This is primarily due to my schedule. I am planning to finish this blog by the end of August. If there are any questions about the Jesus House or topics you want me to cover, make your requests known and I will respond!