Revival: A Monologue

How I Got Saved, Got Lost, and Failed to Overthrow the Imperialist Bourgeoisie is the subtitle of the monologue my uncle has been performing in Seattle the last couple of weekends, based on his upcoming book, Revival: A Memoir. This weekend is his last performance in this run, at the Capital Hill Arts Center in Seattle.

The flyer he sent me about it had this teaser: Andrew Himes traveled a postmodern trajectory through fundamentalist Christianity, fundamentalist Maoism, and fundamentalist Microsoft. Along the way, he assaulted an army of Nazi cows, rebelled against a granddad who helped invent the Religious Right, got himself arrested for illegal use of a bullhorn, and had a near-death experience aboard a bright green Kawasaki. He lived to tell the tale in this extemporaneous live performance.

For a small taste of what you’ll experience if you can make one of the performances, check out this recording from a panel he was on with Rob Bell during the Seeds of Compasssion event, “Andy Himes – Missionary to Evangelicals”.

The Seattle Times had a write up of his performance last week, “Revival!”: a fundamentalist upbringing shapes a seeker of truth. Here are a couple excerpts:

Andrew Himes is the brother, nephew, grandson and great-grandson of Baptist preachers.

That Himes did not grow up to be a Baptist preacher himself may or may not be surprising. Same goes for the fact that as a young man, he rejected the fundamentalism of his grandfather, John R. Rice, a prominent evangelist and co-founder of the Religious Right in America.

What is surprising is that Himes found a way to embrace his upbringing while rejecting its dogmatism and forging his own identity.

Now, as a Seattleite of deep social conscience (he’s the executive director of the Voices in Wartime Education Project), Himes is sharing his journey of spiritual rebirth in the form of “Revival!,” a memoir-as-monologue that bridges the gaps between his youthful Christianity, his young-adult passion for Maoist revolution and his maturity as a freethinking seeker of truth.

With subtle humor and a keen sense of irony, Himes relates a compelling chronology — accompanied by family photos, heirlooms and cheesy clips from an early-’70s fundamentalist film — that includes close encounters with Jerry Falwell, Bob Jones University and a genuinely terrifying concept of eternity.

The website for the Capital Hill Arts Center includes an interview with Andy where he is asked, “In composing Revival!, and addressing racism and social ills in America, what have been your greatest challenges?” He answered, “To tell the truth, as far as I am able, no matter where it takes me, and even when the truth reveals what a total and incomprehensible idiot I am. To express compassion and generosity of spirit toward people who terrify, annoy, offend, and crazify me. To learn how to stop preaching at others and just try to tell a damn good story.”

I love the excerpts I’ve heard so far from his monologue, and the different drafts of his memoir that I’ve read, so if you’re anywhere near where he will be performing I highly recommend checking it out. His blog is at andrewhimes.net if you want to find out more about it.

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