Howard, Son of God

Well, we are one day away from launching The Catch on BlogTalkRadio, an online radio show you can tune into live on Tuesday nights at 6:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (soon to become Standard Time — don’t forget to fall back this weekend).

Craig McNair Wilson

Craig McNair Wilson

In an intriguing list of guests that already includes an actor, a former victim of sex trafficking and a ministry to Internet gamers, Craig McNair Wilson leads out tomorrow as an expert on creativity through his work as a playwright, actor and idea man with Disney Imagineering.

We first met Craig (though he has since taken to calling himself by his middle name which is still hard for us to do) through his work with Youth Specialties, the Wittenburg Door magazine and through his brilliant one man play “The Fifth Gospel” which he has performed hundreds of times all over the world. “The Fifth Gospel” is what it sounds like, a retelling of the gospel, but this time it’s according to McNair, which as he explains at the outset is a blend of truth and imagination without a little sign pointing out “The following ain’t true but it sure am funny!”

In this retelling, in which McNair acts out 34 different characters from the life of Christ with only a trunk and a broom for props, a young Jesus does his household chores with the snap of a finger, wonders who he’s going to take to the temple bazaar dance, and struggles with his first adolescent feelings for women while watching Elizabeth bathe down by the river. My favorite scene with his disciples is the water fight in the Jordan River — which, by the way, Matthew wins (after mistakenly hitting the Son of God in the face with a mud ball).

At a time before Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar, it was the first encounter many of us raised as evangelicals had ever had with a truly human Jesus. In one of it’s most brilliant and daring experiments, McNair changes Christ’s name from Jesus to Howard, announcing, at the outset, that this is the story of Howard: the Son of God. His reason for this is to get his audience to cast off any stereotypes of how they have thought about Jesus so far, that they might consider with fresh eyes and ears, the incarnation, that God truly did become a man like any one of us.

By far our most memorable experience with “The Fifth Gospel” was having Craig perform it in our home for an invited group of inflight supervisors with United Airlines, Marti’s employment at the time. Craig held these people, many of whom were not Christians, riveted for 90 minutes followed by a lively question and answer session. Later that night, in the privacy of our bedroom, one of Marti’s coworkers prayed with Marti and I to receive Howard into her heart.

Yes … Howard, the Son of God. You see, she realized she had so many wrong things attached to the name “Jesus” that she asked if it might be okay to pray to Howard. We figured Jesus wouldn’t mind since in her spirit she was responding to the truth about Christ whatever she wanted to call him. I’m sure by now she’s gotten the names straight.

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9 Responses to Howard, Son of God

  1. Mark S. says:

    Jumped 4 joy after reading this: “…one of Marti’s coworkers prayed with Marti and I to receive Howard into her heart.” That’s sooooo cool! 🙂

  2. Tom says:

    “In one of it’s most brilliant and daring experiments, McNair changes Christ’s name from Jesus to Howard…”

    Well, it’s not the first time THAT’S happened, is it? We can thank the Greeks and Romans for that — right, Yeshua? 🙂 (Ah, the things we invent that keep us from God!)

  3. Kathy says:

    Our local High School put on both Jesus Christ Super Star and Godspel – we are a very small town – only one stop light. What got me is that three of the local churches, that are supposed to be Christian, boycotted the production.. As they say in England, I was gobsmacked. Both productions were incredible. They made Jesus more human therefore more believable. Seeing the boycotting going on, told me that this type of religion I don’t want- What a put off – and so I continue to search. I loved your Post John! A rose is a rose is a rose no matter the name…

  4. Ralph Gaily says:

    The name above all names …. is not Howard !

  5. Kathy says:

    It’s not the name – it’s the MESSAGE!

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