The Theatrical Musical about Assisted Suicide

A Lesson on Impacting Culture through Entertainment

One of the reasons the Christian community continues to be marginalized in the culture is that we’re not engaging well in the area of arts and entertainment. We prefer to hold debates, apologetics conferences, create media for Christians, and other in-house projects that may be good, but only reach a small minority of people. Meanwhile, secular prime time TV, feature films, Broadway shows, and other projects too often ridicule or drown out Christian perspectives.

But now, enter the musical for the London stage called: “Assisted Suicide: The Musical.” It’s getting rave reviews and standing ovations, despite it’s dark theme. And before you assume it’s critical of the pro-life perspective, listen up: The creator of the musical – Liz Carr – suffers from a genetic disorder that prevents her from extending her muscles, as well as other limitations. But in spite of her physical challenges, she became so frustrated with the culture’s aggressive attitude promoting assisted suicide, she decided to write a musical to offer another perspective.

Interviewed in the Wall Street Journal, Ms. Carr mocked all the cliches you find on typical documentary films pushing the assisted suicide agenda: “Music is always used very manipulatively. The music feeds the emotional journey. It tells you, ‘This is a tragedy. This has one way to go.’ The aim is to normalize a choice that was unthinkable a generation ago, with the result that people like her are impelled to conclude: “You know what, my life isn’t worth living.”

So rather than host a debate, write an article, or go on the speaking circuit, she decided to create a musical that exposed the hypocrisy and tragedy of the assisted suicide movement. She particularly pushes back against the idea of “death with dignity,” because it’s just not all that dignified. The Journal reports a doctor at a Dutch nursing home last year asked family members to hold an octogenarian patient down while she administered the lethal dose. The patient had signed up for assisted suicide earlier, but she woke up during the procedure and began resisting. Authorities in January cleared the physician of any wrongdoing after concluding that she had acted “in good faith.”

Liz Carr isn’t a Christian, but her decision to engage the debate in the arena of popular culture is something Christians could learn from. On this particular issue, “Euthanasia will likely be on the legislative agenda in Australia, Finland, Portugal and Sweden this year. In jurisdictions where medically assisted suicide is already permitted—Belgium, Canada, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland and six U.S. states among them—the definition of who qualifies keeps expanding.”

The Journal continues: “Holland and Belgium have the world’s most permissive laws. In November, a doctor in the Netherlands euthanized a 41-year-old father of two who had struggled with alcoholism; the Dutch government is considering a draft law to legalize euthanasia for perfectly healthy people who hold “a well-considered opinion that their life is complete.” Belgium in 2014 removed the minimum age for euthanasia, and in September a terminally ill 17-year-old became the first minor to take advantage of the change. Both countries routinely euthanize patients with dementia and depression.”

Living in today’s culture of death, Liz Carr has taken the discussion about life to an arena where thousands are watching her story and applauding. She’s engaging the debate in an entertaining, winsome, and even humorous way that takes audiences by surprise – and the critics love it.

If Christians became patrons of the arts and focused on raising up the next generation of theatrical, artistic, musical, filmmaking, and other creative leaders, who knows what impact we could make on this and other issues facing the culture today?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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  • Maryjo Petersen Castro

    This is truly inspiring… and what an impact she’s made without creating divisiveness and conflict. I love it! We need more of this kind of creative thinking in the church. Thanks for sharing this story!

  • Rob Sheild

    Super, super idea. Who was it that said (paraphrased) ‘philosophy downstream arrives in arts & culture’? Francis Schaeffer? If i were only younger than 62, I’d consider a job change!

  • John B. MacDonald

    Thank you for this perspective, together with the call and encouragement for counter-cultural (dare I say, Christian) “creatives.”

  • Martha Cotton

    This is a great idea – Christians engaging the culture in meaningful ways. Lots of people try to do that. The biggest problem – $$$. Investors want the ‘tried and true’ Christian films, because they want to know for their $3, they will make $5 back. Investing in a truly authentic and challenging piece of material usually doesn’t carry the same sorts of guarantees. Many investors don’t want to do that, and finding funding for those same projects in ‘the world’ is a challenge indeed.

  • Simon Dillon

    Sounds hilarious, brilliant and thought provoking. Perhaps an abortion musical will be up next… Can you imagine “Get me to the clinic on time” instead of “Get me to the church on time”?

  • Extremely challenging post, Phil Cooke! Thank you for wirting this and challenging us to engage.

  • This is definitely an area where Christian producers should be excelling – using stories to address issues related to the culture and the Christian worldview. This is exactly what Jesus did – using stories (parables) to convey a worldview message.

    However, Martha makes a good point – it takes money to produce films, but it seems that it is difficult within the Christian community to raise funds for more evangelistic films (aimed at people outside of the church) while more church-focused films do not reach the unreached. I don’t have a problem with films like God’s Not Dead and Warroom, but they seem aimed at an audience that is already going to church – not an audience that needs to hear the message.

    There is a fantastic drama called “Beyond the Farthest Star” that tells a compelling Christian message without hitting the audience over the head with the Bible – but they cannot find distribution because secular distributors say it is too preachy while christian distributors say that is it too secular – it’s a terrible catch 22 situation to be in.

    How do we balance telling excellent stories from a Christian worldview with the intent of evangelism while getting the needed support from the church (who used to be THE patron of the arts)?

  • leilanihaywood

    Yessss!!!! We’re quick to jump on anti-blah blah campaigns because of some insignificant issue. Case in point is the latest anti-Beauty & the Beast crusade mounted by some Christians. These crusades and campaigns make us look ridiculous, judgmental and self-righteous. Instead of mounting another anti-blah blah campaign, go make a movie, write a song, or send money to someone trying to make a movie or produce music that’s breaking down walls.

    One of my sons was a lead singer in a local rock band so he could meet teenagers OUTSIDE of the church. The band filled up coffee houses and other venues. He recognized early on that if you want to connect with other teens, you need to play music they like to hear and sing songs that relate to them.

    I wish more Christians would creatively produce music, movies, etc. to engage the culture with excellence instead of crusading and campaigning against something.