14 May 2009

Fishers: The Comic Opera

Once again, I'm turning pages for my mom for the Methodist Church's "Music Sunday." Thankfully, Kim picks better songs than Robin did, so at least I don't hate any of the songs, music-wise. Lyric-wise? GAH. At least two songs had something about "God" as being unchanging, and how heaven would be a place of eternal contentment, and I can think of few things more hellish than those two sentiments. Seriously. Eternal contentment? I wouldn't be content with that. Where's the chance for growth? What's the point of reaching the Ultimate? Then there's no where left to go, nothing left to do, no more heights to climb (or depths to plumb, depending). I don't get it.

Anyway, I wanted to mention two songs specifically, as they are ones that I have sung. Battle Hymn of the Republic, despite being chockablock full of religious sentiment, didn't bother me at all. I think it's because I know it was written as a propaganda piece during the Civil War, to denigrate Christian churches that were using their bible in support of slavery. And I have to wonder how, exactly, a literalist can possibly justify not supporting slavery, but that's another story altogether.

The other song that I had sung is called "Fishers of Men." If it's on YouTube, I'm not finding it. It's a stirring gospel rendition about Jesus calling people to come help him catch souls instead of fish. The song depressed me at first, because I used to enjoy it. So, while I was turning pages, I started thinking about alternate interpretations. My first, vaguely Taoist, thought was, "Wait. We need those fish. People are hungry!" and "What? The nets are torn! You pick up that needle right now and keep fixing them!" That didn't quite do it. Then I thought, "What if they weren't any good at fishing in the first place?" Then it all clicked into place.

It's a comic opera. The fishers being called away are so bad that the townsfolk have banded together and begged Jesus to get them to do something else, anything else, and any time the soloist breaks in with "the blessed savior of mankind," the chorus of townsfolk would of course need to join in, with looks of fervent relief. Plus it explains the overly aggrandized lyrics, like "Cast your net in the sea of doubt, Catch a soul, cast the devil out" as being mere rhetoric to convince these lousy fishermen that they have a calling elsewhere. After that, I was able to enjoy the song once more. ^/^

Of course, then I started wondering how to turn the rest of the gospel story into a comic opera... For instance, the townspeople start regretting their little trick to stop the men from fishing when the whole "fishers of men" thing really starts to take off. I think it could be done. I wonder how many people it would offend...? *blinks innocently*

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