Little Shop of Horrors was originally an Indie/Horror film produced in 1960. It was adopted to the stage as a musical in 1982 by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. And the musical was re-adopted to film in 1986 directed by Frank Oz and screenplay done by Howard Ashman.
Little Shop of Horrors’ dark and disturbing humor has layers of meaning. Each layer addresses a different social issue that was pressing during the time of the original film. The some of issues addressed were abusive relationships, poverty, class distinction, and murder, as mentioned in a note from the director of Concordia’s production, Jan Puffer, in the program. I read the directors note after seeing the show and it changed the way I thought about the show. I still think the show was well preformed and very funny, but now I appreciate and understand it on a deeper level.
Knowing through the way of Imagination, specifically theater and film, have a unique way of addressing social issues. Rather than trying to explain social issues using reason and logic or trying to justify them emotionally, theater and film often use humor when addressing major social issues. By using humor, the heaviness of these topics is lightened up. The importance and seriousness of these social issues is still able to be communicated to the audience in a manner that is not going to make the audience feel extremely uncomfortable by making them laugh. Being able to laugh at something makes it less intimidating. Little Shop of Horrors was able to do just that from the time it first came out in 1960 to now in 2018.
Robert Farrar Capon was born in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York in 1925 and passed away on September 5, 2013. During his life time he wrote twenty books, including An Offering of Uncles, The Third Peacock, and Hunting the Divine Fox. While being a successful, Capon’s main profession was a full-time Episcopal priest. He devoted his life to theology, to better understand the gospel, and the help others understand his perspectives. Hunting the Divine Fox was written to explain theological language and how it is not as straight forward as we often assume it to be.
He begins the book like it was a fairy tale, with the words “Once upon a time…” (Capon p. 243) and tells the story of an oyster, a starfish, and a ballerina. What seems to be a silly story is used to explain human’s relationship with God, that is oysters are to ballerinas and humans are to God. There is really no comparison, it is like apples to oranges. Capon explains that oysters know just as much about ballerinas as humans know about God, so we really do know much about God at all.
In the next few chapters, Capon discusses how we must be carful with the kind of language and words we use when talking about God. All theological language is all analogies, nothing is “straight” speech it is all “bent” speech (Capon p. 265). Capon explains this by using love. Our human definition of love is far from Gods definition of love, so we must not use earthly concepts with to try to explain God. If we cannot use earthy concepts to explain God, then we most certainly cannot know the will of God. But we have concluded that God wants us, he desires, thus God’s will is for use to be His.
Not being able to describe God leads us to not humanizing Jesus. We focus too much on the God-side of Jesus and forget that he was “merely human” (Capon p.313). Jesus was not an all-powerful supper human here to save all humanity, He was simply the son of man sent by his farther to pay for our sins. Capon wraps up the book in the last couple of chapters by bringing things back to humans. That there is nothing us humans can do earn Gods grace, that Christianity is not a gift and not a transaction. And finally, there is no magic to Christianity, it is simply how we choose the accept the mystery of God. No questions asked just blind faith.
The Bartling Lecture was given by Jaylani Hussein this year, 2018. He addressed the social issues related to Islamophobia and how they can be resolved. Jaylani Hussein came to Minnesota in 1993 from Egypt when he was a young boy and henceforth is a true Minnesotan.
Jaylani explained that Islamophobia is the irrational fear of Muslims due to a lack of understanding their culture. There are two ways of knowing that are exhibited in Islamophobia, emotion and reason. Emotion is seen in the fear part, obviously. The fear of Muslims is an emotional response to the Islamic culture. This fear is strongly influenced by society. For, the media’s portrayal of Muslims shows them to be a savage group of people and only focuses on the extremist. The media’s negative portrayal of Muslims evokes society to have a fear of the Islamic culture because of the extremist groups. The way of knowing through reason and the way of knowing through emotion collide in Islamophobia. For, society does not see the fear as irrational because an emotional response is being evoked and rationalized by media, so society is using emotion as information. However, when the reason of the fear is analyzed it soon becomes clear there is no rationalized reason behind the fear. As in, the fear is not due to personal experience but due to a socially accepted response.
Understanding that Islamophobia is an irrational fear is important because it is a cause of many social issues regarding the Islamic people. The social issues include job discrimination, social injustices, and hate crimes. We can understand Islamophobia and cure it by educating ourselves on the Islamic culture, and advocate against injustice. If you see something say something, do not just let it happen. Expose, bring the issues to light by speaking up, and empower, do not be dismayed when your efforts fail, but find strength by knowing you may be the voice of the voiceless.