"(T)his is a loving, caring Jesus," is how the New York Times recently profiled a leading man in a play about abortion written by a Notre Dame grad.
The script dialogue includes a woman asking Christ: "Did you ever say, 'I'm Jesus, and I say that stupid girls who let guys talk them into going to the back seat of their cars have to have babies?' Did you say that ever?"
"No," Jesus replies.
"All you talk about is, be nice to each other!" the woman continues. "You never said nobody's allowed to have an abortion."
The fictional Jesus confirms her assertion.
"So can I? Can I? Can I?" she asks.
"Honestly, I -- I don't really have an issue with it," Jesus tells the girl in the play.
Honestly. Rather than uplift and challenge -- the hallmark of great art -- this just seems to bring Jesus down to our broken level. Where's the hope in that?
Recently, I spent a Saturday night in the heart of Washington, blocks away from the White House, with college kids who were too young to have seen much of the late John Paul II, but wanted to learn about him. At an event hosted by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students on campus at George Washington University, the pope's biographer, George Weigel, talked about the late pontiff's formation, his faith and his place in history.
What was most impressive about the event were the questions. They wanted to know what fed him, what made him who he was, what kept him faithful, where he found his courage. They wanted to know how to do it, too.
What made him so attractive to so many was his loving, caring courage. That he was able to bring Christ and His teachings to people in a loving, caring, rock-solid way. That he was able to stand before world leaders and admonish them, demonstrating a loving, caring concern in doing so. It was the same motivation that helped him to stand down the evil of Communism in his homeland and beyond.
I don't want to pick on the Notre Dame playwright. I'm more inclined to want to apologize. Who made her think that mercy is validating abortion? Was it in the education she received? Was it in the fallen witness she saw on campus, in the pro-life movement? In this way, in bringing these questions to mind, her play does inspire, it does challenge.