The play stopped being a play and started to feel real. The crowd began to participate. Some cheered on the soldiers. Others were shocked to see the flogged Jesus covered in pig’s blood. The crown of thorns were real and cut into the actor’s forehead. The wrists and ankles were tied quickly and efficiently to the crosses and raised up against the setting sun. The storyline faded and the ritual of religion remained. Jesus represents humankind’s suffering and these people have been through a lot. The villagers throw all their afflictions, sins, and prayers upon Him.
On the front panels of the Mathais Grunwald’s Isenheim Altarpiece is a rendering of the crucifixion. The triptych is one of the more gruesome depictions of the event. Jesus hangs from the cross at the moment of death. His body is poxed with sores and stiff from rigor mortis. A rag is tied around His legs.
The altarpiece was created for a hospital chapel at the time of the plague and the scene was grotesquely familiar to the church’s congregation. It was also a reminder to adhere to Christian values in times of Hell. The Revealed Truth shares this message. Jesus sat on a cross in the playground in Kiwangala, Uganda that day and reflected the plight of the vilage’s people. He hung emaciated and naked in a town ravaged by war and disease.
Art tailors its content to attract an audience. The past and its traditions can enlighten our present conditions. Today’s martyr in the geopolitical world is Africa. Its people and environment have been exploited and left impoverished by countries thousands of miles away. The atrocities that occur in Africa are forgotten and ignored by the Western media. Only when Angelina Jolie comes for the afternoon to save Darfur or adopt a new Namibian does the world pay attention.
As the camera pans from cavalry to the audience, two white teenage boys with a camcorder gleefully wave from the back of the crowd. They are volunteers from the UK on their gap year abroad. The boys taught math, english, and science at my school to students who were older than they were They stick out on the screen like a page from Where’s Waldo. Their presence in the movie is like a surprise sasquatch sighting. They are the latest manifestation of British involvement in Uganda. They’ve come to Uganda more for their personal developmet than to follow in the footsteps of their missionary grandfathers.
The boys had just turned eighteen and this was their first experience away from home. It was as if they had been magically transported from the safety of their parents into the Lord of the Flies. Before they left, their microwave skills were competent at best. In Uganda they were given a pile of charcoal, matches, and little direction. Yet, as ambassadors of the newest generation they provide a glimmer of hope. They, and the thousands of other voluntourists like them, came back from their experience in Uganda with stories to tell the friends and family who never left. The horizon is broadened. The West becomes more conscious about how its choices effect the balancing act of sustaining the planet. Africa still has difficulty feeding, clothing, and vaccinating itself. However, as it becomes more accessible to visitors, global ignorance towards the continent will to break down. It still needs a miracle, but that’s a start.
The Revealed Truth Blog Series
This post is the eighth of a nine part series that takes an in-depth look at the The Revealed Truth and how rural Ugandan culture influenced the making of the film. The movie is about an hour long but I’ve broken it down into 5 to 10 minute blog-size episodes. The final post will feature the Resurrection.
The previous post was The Revealed Truth Part 6: Mob Justice.