Theatre and Theology, Part II: Nuns vs. Showgirls
"Theatre gave us showgirls, theology gave us nuns. On the one hand, you've got fun, bad women who offer sex -- and on the other hand, you've got mean, good women who withhold it."
So where does our enmity come from, anyway?
If ancient accounts can be trusted, theatre emerged from rituals devoted to Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and revelry -- there are scattered accounts of drunkenness, orgies, and scary rituals involving goats, so, uh, we were already kind of on the fringes of legitimate worship.
It also seems to me that the evolution of theatre as a separate discipline must have involved a higher regard for the form of worship, rather than its content, implying a kind of secular devotion right off the bat. Not that that's based on anything other than a kind of vague truthiness, as Stephen Colbert might put it. But the focus on more personal, psychological truths, as opposed to the grand, mythic ones, must have been a revelation not only in the world of art, but in the world of religion as well.
As for the developing hostilities -- well, it's not hard to see why people have a problem with organized religion. It is a universally accepted human truth that people are dicks. I don't believe that there's any greater proportion of dicks in religious institutions than in any other -- it's just that when you use your religion to justify being a dick, it's somehow that much more intolerable.
I don't believe that there's any human institution with greater capacity for good, or greater capacity for harm, than organized religion. On the one hand, I don't believe that the rise of democracy over the past three hundred years would have been possible without the spread of some of the more progressive philosophies of Jesus. On the other hand, the Church gave us crusades and inquisitions and some of the most brutal, senseless, ludicrous catastrophes in human history. So we've always got to be wary of it, if not actively resentful.
Meanwhile, the performing arts had become stigmatized as a kind of civilizational life-raft, a gathering place for the dregs of society who couldn't function as a healthy part of it. Honor being unattainable in a dishonorable profession, actors became known for pursuing lifestyles of revelry, hedonism, and generally having a hell of a lot more fun than everybody else. Puritans closed down theatres and we, um, wrote satires about them. But this is all tip-toeing around the big issue, right?
Theatre gave us showgirls, theology gave us nuns. On the one hand, you've got fun, bad women who offer sex -- and on the other hand, you've got mean, good women who withhold it. I mean, c'mon, what do you think is gonna sell more -- Watching Porn or Trans State?
Of course, surely that's an arbitrary division. After all, it's not as though the Bible doesn't have its share of hot hot hot steamy stuff.
So is there a way to reunite the two? Is that something we even want?