Ted Haggard shamed in gay sex/meth scandal. James Dobson gives up his throne.
These are just a few of the headlines that have come from the little town of Colorado Springs in the past couple of years.
How did this sleepy, conservative town become an evangelical Mecca?
"This Beautiful City", a brilliantly executed and engaging play, answers this question. It takes you back to the 1980's when Colorado Springs tried to attract new businesses through tax breaks. Focus on the Family moved from Southern California and dozens of evangelical organizations followed, transforming the town. Ted Haggard's New Life Church was formed with the goal of revival in Colorado Springs.
I went to see the production in New York City's Vinyard Theatre (108 East 15th Street) this week. I give it two thumps up (too bad I don't have a third hand) and highly recommend it. This Beautiful City was timely, terrific and thought provoking.
To write the script, The Civilians, a New York theater group, actually ventured to Colorado Springs to interview locals. This resulted in writers Steven Cosson and Jim Lewis (music) presenting realistic, eye-opening dialogue and songs. The acting was superb and led to a boisterous standing ovation.
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A weird thing is that "The Springs" is home to Colorado College, one of the most progressive (and expensive) campuses in the country. But the town has always been rather conservative. I worked a temp city government job there during the summer of 1968. Religion was not much a factor then but the area bristled with military installations--the largest being Ft. Carson, but there was also Peterson AFB, the Air Force Academy a dozen miles north, and of course NORAD under Cheyenne Mountain.
The city became enthralled by dopily over-optimistic real estate and chamber of commerce boosterism. There was a gigantic development boom and subsequent housing inventory overhang, bankruptcy of some major developers, etc. I suspect that's when they sought their "realty salvation" by inviting the fundie masses to come on in. After that the town went from being conservative to a bizarre caricature of the concept.
posted by Cacau, at
2/28/2009 10:57 PM