Zacchaeus & the Rattlesnake Church
MINISTER JOINS FORCES WITH BLUES MUSICIANS TO TRANSFORM SERMONS INTO GRIPPING PERFORMANCE ART WITH A SPIRITUAL MESSAGE The result of their efforts -- Zacchaeus and the Rattlesnake Church News Release Sermons that motivate people to change their lives are rare. And when they do occur, more often than not, few folks are paying much attention. That's why Reverend Roger Coleman, director of Pilgrim Center in Kansas City, Missouri began experimenting with creative ways of communicating with his congregation, which he describes as the Kansas City community and beyond. His most recent effort -- Zacchaeus and the Rattlesnake Church -- turns preaching into performance art enhanced by rousing gospel songs. Coleman developed Zacchaeus and the Rattlesnake Church in conjunction with two musicians -- KC blues icon Danny Cox and popular piano and sax player Joe Miquelon -- committed to using their music as tools for social change. Zacchaeus relates, via Coleman's mesmerizing oral presentation, the humorous story of a ministerial student who is invited to preach at a church that, unbeknownst to him, practices snake handling. The naive young man spends hours preparing his first sermon - a message about Zacchaeus, the greedy tax collector of biblical fame who was inspired by Jesus to give much of his wealth to the poor. On the appointed Sunday, the neophyte preacher struggles to finish his sermon. He is unnerved by the snake handling, fundamentalist believers who were approaching his pulpit. At least one urges him to demonstrate his faith by holding a hissing rattlesnake because 'as long as he was in faith,' the snake would not harm him. As the heart-stopping story progresses, the minister and his Jewish roommate, who is there under protest, try to figure out how they are going to survive. The hilarious details of their survival are documented in Zacchaeus. Fast forward to the present. Now when the seasoned minister recalls that memorable day, he explains that faith is not about 'snake handling' or other rigid fundamentalist rituals and rules. Just as Zacchaeus came to understand, true faith is about responding to the call to be loving caretakers of our brothers and sisters, caretakers of this earth. Zacchaeus is Coleman's second collaboration with Cox and Miquelon to combine music with other art forms to bring attention to pressing social issues. Last year, the three worked on the release of Danny Cox's Troost Avenue Blues, a riveting blues song portraying in graphic detail the hopelessness that pervades a growing portion of urban America. In 2004, Coleman and Miquelon teamed up to produce Silent the Night, a soulful rendition of Josef Mohr's Christmas classic, but with caustic lyrics that highlight the escalating violence at home and abroad. Zacchaeus and the Rattlesnake Church Fact Sheet · Zacchaeus and the Rattlesnake Church is the humorous story, enhanced by rousing gospel music, of a ministerial student and his Jewish roommate who make an allegorical journey into the darkness of a church that practices snake handling. According to fundamentalist interpretations of the bible, handling snakes without harm is considered to be a sign of faith in God. Being bitten is a clear indication that one's faith is wavering. · The message of Zacchaeus -- that true faith means responding to the call to be loving caretakers to our brothers and sisters -- is meant to be an antidote for much of the rigid and myopic fundamentalist doctrine promoted by many churches today. · The idea for Zacchaeus came from Reverend Roger Coleman, director of Pilgrim Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Coleman has long been a collector of humorous church stories and southern gospel songs. · Zacchaeus and the Rattlesnake Church was adapted by Coleman from Wendy Bagwell's Here Come the Rattlesnakes and Albert Brumley's I'll Meet You by the River. · The 23-minute CD was recorded live at the Swope Parkway United Christian Church and Cypher Sound Studios in Kansas City, Missouri. Joe Miquelon (The Elders) arranged the music, and Danny Cox and the Cox family choir, known as the Heavenly Hosts, provided the vocals. Musicians include James Albright, bass; Max Berry, guitar; Roger Coleman, alto sax; Scottie McBee, drums; and Joe Miquelon, organ, piano and alto sax. Studio engineer for the project was George Hunt. Aaron Connor of Cypher Sound handled the CD mixing and mastering. Muller & Co. Of Kansas City provided the CD design. · Coleman developed Zacchaeus and the Rattlesnake Church in conjunction with Cox and Miquelon, two local musicians committed to using their music to influence social change. This is the second production involving the Coleman/Miquelon/Cox team. Last year, they collaborated on the production of Danny Cox's Troost Avenue Blues, a three-part blues odyssey through the urban corridors that seem to arbitrarily separate the haves from the have-nots. For more information, contact Roger Coleman at 816/753-6719 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. March 2007.