Phantom of the Opera Goes to Church

the-phantom-goes-to-churchSince Donna Griggs and I began writing the “Ten Boom” project, friends have been great to recommend certain venues to contact. They named various churches, Christian universities, and theater groups. Also,  community playhouses they thought would “love to present Corrie ten Boom’s powerful story, especially with the music.”

However, as we began making contacts, we discovered something different.

 

Many church drama ministries preferred to present some better-known Broadway musicals as a way of “reaching out to unbelievers.” Some quoted 1 Corinthians 9:22, as to the “WHY” of their theatrical ministries. It seems, they just hope to “get them in the door first.”

A few thought presenting original plays (like ours) might be “Too Jesus-y.” After all, they explained, “Some people come to church just needing encouragement.”

Paul wrote that 1 Corinthians 9:22 verse… “I have become all things to all people that by all means I might save some.”  But, of course, his whole heart was, that all people should come to saving faith in Christ Jesus. He told of the peace and hope found in Him, not just a momentary distraction.

Montage of Broadway Musicals

A few years ago, a friend suggested we contact a certain music director at a large area church here. We were enthusiastically invited to see a special montage of Broadway musicals they were presenting.  We were curious and accepted the invitation.  After all, we also love good theater!

When we arrived, the church was nearly filled to capacity, and the spirited fellowship seemed to hint at a revival of sorts. The Broadway “montage” unfolded with scenes from four entertaining (if not really faith-lifting) musicals.  Finally, a scene from the fifth musical began. Lights were dimmed in the large auditorium, as probably the most familiar of all overtures began, dramatically. Loud gasps mixed with cheers, especially from the young people there, filled the auditorium.

Suddenly, our host, the music director, took to the stage dressed in black, masked in the role of The Phantom of the Opera.  The church erupted!  To be sure, he had the voice, and did a convincing job of portraying the dark Phantom. Entertaining, yes… but a purveyor of peace and hope!?

After the performance, the young director told us he had “always wanted to play that lead role.”  He “loved the music” and now was able to “kill two birds with one stone.”  After all, shouldn’t becoming all things to all people that by all means I might save some apply here, too? Hmm!

Let me think…

The Phantom character is an unforgiving, vengeful, enraged, hate-filled figure. He goes to great lengths to seduce a young virgin girl, confusing and twisting her mind through dark, lustful deception. He hopes to share his dank, be-candled underground world, and together find love, peace and even joy. Happily ever after, right?  By the way, he also terrorized and murdered several people in his pursuit of her. Most notably, causing a massive chandelier to plummet down on many!

Yes, I’ve seen the Broadway touring performance, even the spectacularly-produced film, at one point.  But, one thing I’ve noted about “The Phantom of the Opera” that would seem to disqualify it from a Church outreach program. It has a mesmerizing appeal to many theater goers. Certain young women are captivated by the tragic (“he just needs love and I can fix that”) character. Many think it a romantic story, as the Phantom beguiles the leading lady (and, in this case, much of the church). Surely such lyrics as, “You can’t resist, the Phantom of the opera is there inside your mind,” give way to some kind of ministry!? Uh… maybe NOT!

As the talented, no doubt well-meaning, young music director finished singing the Phantom’s sad, seductive song… the (mostly) young girls in the church screamed and cheered.  Captivated… enraptured!?

What Are We Teaching Our Youth?

Is this what we want for our youth, or ourselves?  Do we not get way too much of that from our more and more secular culture now?  Proverbs 14:12 says,“There is a way that seems right to a [person], but the end is destruction.”.

When someone has been sifted by whatever life has thrown at them, even of their own doing, and they finally walk into a church seeking truth they haven’t found in the world… as they come needing peace and hope, not just another ‘Band-aid’… isn’t it our Commission as the Church to help them find that hope in Christ Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life… the One we say we believe?

Donna and I wrote “Ten Boom the Musical” to share the life-inspiring, true story of an extraordinary woman who found victory for herself and others despite the darkness of the Nazi Holocaust.  Who would argue that evil is alive and thriving in this world?  It seemed to us, the example of a real-life hero, someone with deep faith, personal integrity and courage is a more compelling outreach for our youth or anyone else.

But, lest we forget the Phantom…

Should even the darkest of “phantoms” (and there are many of those out there these days) become weary of their ways, and come to the Church to find that peace, hope and genuine concern for their lives… what will we offer them that will prove to make the difference?

We would love to hear from you as you consider presenting this uplifting, musical telling of Corrie ten Boom’s powerful true story, “Ten Boom the Musical.” She overcame the real phantom, even through the Nazi Holocaust.

… Susan Beyer

 

Gramma Jama | Corrie’s Work With Youth

gramma-jamma-party“Gramma Jama” parties… a great way to make lasting memories with your family!

Did you know Corrie ten Boom spent many years organizing Boys and Girls Clubs, even clubs for young servicemen and women, during the worst days of World War 2?

Here was a single woman who gave much of her time and herself, encouraging and teaching young people in her hometown—Haarlem, Holland.

What an extraordinary person she was, who always surrounded herself with loving family and friends, making wonderful memories that, as she later said, “would hold us like an anchor in the storm when the time came for us to walk into hell itself!”

I believe it’s why Corrie ten Boom maintained a giving and joyful spirit, even as the Nazis took over her homeland, and she and her family were arrested for hiding 800 Jewish people who were being hunted for extermination then.  You wonder, could that happen again?  Could a powerful political force take over the lives of so many others like that again?

Corrie ten Boom never married, and never had children of her own, yet she took time to make memories for, and speak into the lives of many of them then, during the most important years of their lives and one of the scariest times in world history for people of any age.

Honestly, many of the memories I had made, raising my three children (having spent many of those years on the road performing and thinking I was affording a better life for us), were that I had not really been at home enough to make the most important impact on their lives.  Years later, coming to faith in Jesus Christ, it became a priority for me to be near my children, if they would want that now, and especially to get to know their children.  I wanted to make new memories that might carry me and any of them through the years ahead.  Maybe even through events like Corrie and her family had endured, if it ever came to that!

So here’s an idea, for those who have young people to love, that you want to impact positively:

“Gramma Suzna” (that’s what the first of many grandchildren had called me) was having trouble finding time to keep up with all of them.  Being a modern grandmother—working full-time with my business-owner husband; a busy writing schedule of my own, managing our home, and a seeming million other details needing attention—it seemed impossible to coordinate with other family members’ schedules!

But, I know now, more than ever, good family memories are SO very important!  Children grow up way too fast, and they’re gone.  So, years ago “Gramma Suzna” had to come up with a plan, while the children were smaller, not so mobile themselves, and still interested in what “Gramma” was about.

“YESSSSS! I know what I’ll do,” I thought.  “How about planning a wonderful time for ALL the grandchildren to come to the house and take part in a special day together… no, TWO days!”  Sisters, brothers and cousins all together for an overnight stay… what used to be called a pajama party.

“Yes, that’s IT!” We would call it a GRAMMA JAMA party, and make some memories together!  After all, how hard could it be to bring four, six… oh dear… how many of these little people could I handle by myself!?  What would Corrie do?

If you’re thinking to throw your own “Gramma Jama” parties, here’s how it went for me:

Now, let’s see… First, we need to coordinate everyone’s schedules for a specific weekend, and send out invitations to each child (in care of their parents, of course).   How about they come on a Friday, about 5:00 pm, for about 24 hours of fun together?

Planning “Gramma Jamma” – What to do?  Make a list… crafts, games, music, picnic, trip to zoo, aquarium, maybe the beach, a boat ride?  How about we bake and decorate cookies or candy or pumpkins?

How about FOOD!  Friday night:  Everyone loves Pizza, sodas, popcorn, junk food?  But, then I thought about healthier munchies their parents might approve:  maybe veggy burgers on wheat buns with yummy bean sprouts, slices of cucumber and tomatoes; sweet potato fries, and non-fat yogurt for dessert topped with slices of kiwi?  Sounds like something I would eat, alone, while my grandchildren rolled their eyes.  Nahhh!  It’s just for one or two nights, so…

Pizza AND frankfurters stuffed with mashed potatoes, topped with cheddar cheese, Nacho chips, salsa, and fudge brownies with ice cream.  Now we’re talking!  Saturday breakfast:  how about waffles with strawberry syrup and slices, ringed high with whipped cream smiley faces, with bacon and orange juice.  Later, picnic lunch somewhere… yep, more planning to do!  Just how much can you cram into a 24-hour “Gramma Jama” party?

What should they bring with them?  They’ll stay overnight, so do we have enough beds for them all?  No, that’s no fun… they’ll want to be together in one big room… so SLEEPING BAGS or blankets.  And PILLOWS. Yes, lots of pillows!  PILLOW FIGHT!!!”

I couldn’t wait then to send out special invitations to my grandchildren, to “COME, enjoy a special time with all your sisters, brothers and cousins!”  We made “Gramma Jama” memories for the next few years after that.

I think now about Corrie ten Boom and the boys and girls clubs she organized those years before the War.  Were they all just about food, family and fun fellowship?  That was probably a great part of it, but I know from reading Corrie’s heart in her books, that she also took quality time to read to them and teach them about the most important message she could speak into their lives… about the God who loves them SO much, the importance of getting to know and trust Him, and the power of prayer that would get them through the best and even the hardest events of their lives.

How about making your own “Gramma Jama” memories!?

[Pictured above: Tarah, Olivia, Autumn, Gramma, Amber, Rebekah and Ryan]