Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Jacques And Job

It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.

Herman Melville
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Years ago I played Jules in a production of "My Three Angels" in Florida. During the show I had to carry a live chicken across the stage. The hen was big and heavy but she was no trouble. She flapped her wings on cue. The only problem was with her name.

The crew person who handled her backstage kept referring to her as "Henrietta" and that's how she would be listed in the program. I objected. Every chicken who has ever appeared on a stage has been called HEN rietta. Couldn't people, for once, come up with a real name and not try to be cute. No. Henrietta she remained. I don't think she cared, but I did.

Another time I did a play in New England which was based on a short story that had been made into a famous film. The director wanted us to do the play exactly the way they did it in the film. He even hired actors who looked the same as those in the film. He would not listen to any alternative reading of a line or interpretation of the script. We were to reproduce the film on the stage. How boring.

I've known directors who have come straight out of a Drama Department somewhere who then try to produce a play just the way it was done back in school. How boring! How stupid!!

I have seen actors who try a Rex Harrison hair cut or Marlo Brando speech because they saw it in a movie. This sort of nonsense doesn't stop at the stage door.

Some thinker comes up with a theory about something. It sounds good. So people accept it as fact and then base their words and actions on it without ever challenging the basic premise. That can go on for decades, even centuries. How many different ways can one explain the theology that comes out of most seminaries? When you come right down to it the question "What's new?" has no answer.

Jacques Bolduc was a theologian who lived in the 16th - 17th Century in France. He was a Capuchin friar and a Hebrew scholar. After many years of research and study he published an account of the book of Job in which he claimed Job was the first book written, possibly by Job himself or one of his friends and possibly discovered by Moses and rewritten. He also put forth the idea that Judaism and hence Christianity are based on Natural Law and the 7 precepts of Noah's sons (Genesis 9).

Bolduc was basically ignored. But when he wasn't there were scathing criticisms of his books. Other theologians called them heretical, absurd, preposterous and sacrilegious. Why? Because they didn't conform to the traditional teaching of the church. Even today there is hardly any notice of Bolduc in modern theological study, and yet some are beginning to think that Job did predate Moses, though they don't give Bolduc credit for first thinking so.

He wasn't completely ignored however. Among the few who listened to him was Thomas Hobbes, the English philosopher, who used Job's term "Leviathan" as the title of his most important work, which then troubled the theological waters, like the healing angel of Bethesda, and began a world wide discussion of what that name Leviathan really means.

Look closely. The smiling parson with his arms outstretched in beneficial holiness may be preaching nonsense and not know it. But if so, be assured the nonsense doesn't stop at the last pew.

In science, education, economics, politics, sports and any major endeavor are those who hold on to the "tried and true" and don't listen to a different reading of it. It's easy to believe you're right when no one disagrees with you. It's hard to believe you're right when everyone disagrees with you But those who have the courage to step away from imitation, to practice original thinking and to stand tall and sturdy when the storm of mindless disagreement pelts and blows, just might be on to something.

DB - The Vagabond
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AUTUMN QUESTION

(This is not a contest.)

At what event of the past do you wish you could be present? Why?

8 responses so far.

dbdacoba@aol.com

Thank you.
DB
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1 comment:

Bonnie Bonsai said...

"It's easy to believe you're right when no one disagrees with you. It's hard to believe you're right when everyone disagrees with you But those who have the courage to step away from imitation, to practice original thinking and to stand tall and sturdy when the storm of mindless disagreement pelts and blows, just might be on to ..."

Good point DB. Personally, I will choose the kind of person I would apply your conclusive statement with. As there are also a lot of dumbbells who cannot take someone's rationale of the so-called original thinking - which is a Personal View or Opinion!