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  • Writer's pictureGined Lopez Ganem

A Practical Theogony of Ramon Cue's My Broken Christ

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

Our hand-held interruption machines, with their meddlesome attempts at trafficking in our attention, have recently been abuzz with pangs of what seem to be religious revivalist streaks here in the US. In a country whose most prized domestic output has relied heavily on creativity as a major pillar and with the historical tolerance that has protected this creativity in modern times, there must be reasons for these signals in a time where secularism in both private and public life has become the norm.

the artists interpreting My Broken Christ in front of the Corpus Christi church altar
Actor Marcos Casanova and guitarist Alberto Puerto preparing My Broken Christ at Corpus Christi church in Miami, FL

In fact, most of us aren’t even comfortable discussing religious issues. Can't we just have a soundbite for that? We are complicit in social media keyboard wars while we aspire to set the tone in global affairs. Influential minds like biologist Denis Noble remind us that the last 20 years of “bottom up” scientific research have brought us untold abilities to decode and even manipulate our own genes at will and yet we are no closer to offering major health applications that would benefit our aging population in the developed world.

As Noble mentions in The Music of Life, as we discover more details and more possible interactions in our human biological system, our total human functioning can be imagined as more of a “musical score” than a series of discrete output codes, with complexities of interaction so enormous that the role of their “interpretation” may be more important than the processes themselves.

Our scientific tradition assumes self-agency, an entity's innate ability to simply catch and carry randomness, an almost immunological approach to creativity itself without need of an outside orchestrator other than the physical environment. As we look at analogous explorations in the cultural sphere, it seems to lie harmonically within our human tendencies and interdependent cultural environs, to seek meaning “from the top down” when the “bottom up” explanations continue to astound. And yet historically, cultures rely on revelation and reason as equivalents in this search, and so the pings of traditional orchestration, of religious tradition and of jungian collectives naturally clamor for our awareness along the informational traffic jam of our times.

Not surprisingly then, we found ourselves in one of these dimensions of cultural inquiry, in the revival of Jesuit scholar Ramon Cue’s parable Mi Cristo Roto ( My Broken Christ ) adapted by actor Marcos Casanova for the 2023 season. Simple and self-referential, the monologue reenacts the experiences of a 20th century priest living in Spain who collects religious fine art and happens upon a badly damaged representation of the crucifixion of Jesus that he acquires for his collection.

The actor and musician perform the monologue in front of the altar at Corpus Christi Church in Miami
Performance of My Broken Christ at Corpus Christi church in Miami, FL

Rather than moralizing or preaching in a tiresome manner, the audience is brought to moral and social Judeo-Christian ethical teaching through the self-reflection and inner revelation experiences of the main character, who makes himself an example of the importance of living the truths of the tradition. Marcos and Alberto chose to enhance the potency of these reflections by adding the solo guitar to the piece, with Alberto interpreting two works by Francisco Tárrega, Teardrop and Arabic Caprice, along with Debussy's Clair de Lune.

guitarist in the process of playing music in front of altar at church
Guitarist Alberto Puerto performs in My Broken Christ

Through the work of Ramon Cue, we are brought to marvel at the collective value of tradition through a distinctly Christian lens, to steep in the mystery of revelation in the midst of mechanistic contrivances. Like today's researchers, we are brought back to the complexity of interpretation, and some may add ourselves to the collective reach toward the "invisible hand" of an orchestrator. Leaving the burden of direct explanation to scientists and theologians, we as artists must inhabit the space of these crossroads with intuition as a guiding force. We must bravely sift through emotional galaxies in the tiny space between Adam's finger and God's.

We'd like to thank Marti Productions and actor Marcos Casanova for inviting Alberto Puerto to this project.

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