What’s It All About?
Part Two of my Review/Defense of Jesus Christ Superstar.
This movie was not well received by devout religious types. Given the state of things in the 1970s, that is hardly surprising. The hippie drug/love/rock milieu was something that was emerging from counter-culture status into the mainstream, and so anything associated with it was viewed with dread and suspicion by the “establishment.” Given the driving music, the VERY 70s clothing style, the dancing featuring rhythmic pelvic thrusting – it was no surprise that it was viewed as disrespectful at best and downright sacrilegious at worst.
Especially disturbing at that time was the possible implication that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were doing the horizontal hokey-pokey. Most people simply assumed that was the meaning of such verses as “I don’t know how to love him” – since love and sex had become synonymous – and “…And I’ve had so many
Men before, In very many ways, He’s just one more…” implying that he was simply one more John.But, if you watch the YouTube I have thoughtfully embedded, I think you may find the intervening years have removed some of the shock value and this particular scene can be revisited to our advantage.
Let’s look at some lyrics.
I don’t know how to love him
What to do, how to move him
I’ve been changed, yes really changed
In these past few days
When I’ve seen myself
I seem like someone else
These are not the words of some worldly-wise hooker trying to figure out what turns on this new customer. Something is different. In the next verse she comments that he’s just a man, and she’s had so many men before and ends with “He’s just one more.” But that clearly is not true – else she would not have this reaction:
Should I bring him down
Should I scream and shout
Should I speak of love
Let my feelings out?
I never thought I’d come to this
What’s it all about?
What’s it all about? Clearly, and Yvonne Elliman beautifully puts the emotions on display, clearly her world has been thoroughly rocked. She does not know what to do. In defense of self, should she destroy him? Or, should she surrender herself and declare her love, maybe destroying herself, losing herself into him? What is it all about? That’s the question we all ask ourselves at some point or another in our lives, isn’t it?
In the next verse she reflects on how she was always so calm and in control in previous relationships –
So calm so cool
No lover’s fool
Running every show
This reflection on how she usually is the one holding the cards, the person with the power, who, after all, has what others want, what others are willing to pay for, ends suddenly in complete honesty –
He scares me so
And that is what it’s all about. Fear of The Lord.
Now, Fear of The Lord is a phrase many people don’t like. It is also a phrase I suspect many people simply don’t understand. “Why should I be afraid of a supposedly kind and loving merciful God?” Why indeed?
Simply, fear is the correct word to describe the emotion one would experience when coming face to face with something wholly other and which completely surpasses you. The reverence and awe you would experience in your very marrow would bring you to your knees. It is an experience most people don’t really want to have – and yet, we are drawn. The last verse of this song is simply beautiful in its honesty. So, I will not copy the lyrics here, and hope that you will instead watch the embedded video. This is a magnificent expression of someone trying to understand their encounter with God.
- The Fear of the Lord (lnger.wordpress.com)
- On Repressing the Fear of the Lord (deaconjohn1987.wordpress.com)
- The Fear of the Lord and the Conquering of Sin. (ephraimgoff.wordpress.com)