For my birthday gift Leif decided to buy us season tickets to the Broadway Bozeman series. I was familiar with three of the four shows, but not the first, which was RENT. After reading a summary online I was pretty sure I would not enjoy it much, but would go anyway and look forward to the other three. For those who are not familiar with RENT, it is the story of a group of people in NY dealing with drugs, AIDS, relationships (both hetero- and homosexual), and how to pay their rent.
Being raised in the Bible Belt of East Texas, I have this ingrained idea that if a production has swearing, immorality, drugs, etc, it has no place in a Christian's life. Yet when I read scripture, I find immorality, unbelief, idolatry... How does it all fit? As an exercise in reading (or in this case watching) with a purpose, I attempted to find out how this particular musical fit with the metanarrative of scripture. I have to say that I was amazed at what I found.
First off I have to realize that there are people who live lives very similar to the lives depicted in this show. So my first response was thankfulness for where and how I grew up and all that I have not had to deal with. As I watched the events of the storyline unfold, I realized that, twisted and bizzare as the story was, this was a redemption story. It was about building family where none existed and learning to love eachother despite differences. One of the main characters (conveniently named Angel) had to die before his/her message to love eachother really got into the hearts of the other characters.
I find it amazing that a non-Christian author can write a play that is about hope in the midst of despair (sidenote - in Latin hope is spero and despair is despero, literally "down from hope"), and the answer for hope that he comes to is love and relationships. He's got the wrong kind of relationships, and a contorted view of love, but the idea of redemption through sacrifice and love was in his heart. Where did that come from? God has placed his truth in the hearts of men. If they do not recognize His redemption, His love for us, His power to save us, then they must find redepmtion elsewhere. Without knowing it, without meaning to, the writer of RENT demonstrated that God has placed his truth in the hearts of men, whether they understand and accept it or not.
Would I recommend RENT to others? No. It was pretty filthy. But amidst the filth was God's truth from the viewpoint of a twisted and depraved mind. We would do well to remember that without God's grace and forgiveness, that is what we all are.