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

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