I went to see Dolly Parton on Friday night! She was amazing, particularly when you consider she is 68 years old and she was on stage and singing for 3 hours, during which time she played a guitar, a banjo, a slide guitar, a tin-whistle, a violin, an organ, a saxophone, a harmonica and numerous other instruments – one talented lady!
One thing that was surprising was how religious the concert was. She openly talked about her Christian faith and was unapologetic about her beliefs stating, "I believe there is only one God" and "When you're having troubles in your life, the only one who can really help you is the Lord" and, my personal favourite, "No one wants to die, but everyone sure wants to go to heaven, so you better get praying because we are all gonna die at some stage!"
It was quite endearing at one point she said, "I've heard there are such things as atheists" as if this was something quite foreign to her. She went on to say that she felt that was really sad because we all have to believe in something.
The night was part concert, part Dolly telling stories from her life. Lots of the stories included God and her faith and she did a short set of Gospel songs.
During intermission I mentioned to my Mum and Dad that I thought she was pretty brave mentioning all of that "God stuff" in NZ and that maybe she didn't know what a secular country this has become. Sure enough, the review on Stuff the next day read "They were hardcore fans and had come from far and wide. She didn't disappoint, despite veering perhaps a touch too far towards the evangelical at times."
You could actually see it on some of the audience's faces – their looks of discomfort every time she mentioned God or Jesus or faith. We're just not used to that in NZ anymore… when did that change? How has it happened that we have to keep quiet about our faith? It's like faith, particularly Christian faith, has become something for people to laugh about and certainly not something to share and talk about openly. Such a shame.
So, I say good on you Dolly! (I'm sure she's a regular reader of Being Frank). Maybe something she said will touch the heart of someone in the audience.