Fools for Christ is a composition for saxophone quartet, voice, and electronics setting some of Apostle Paul's more intense words, primarily from his letter to the Corinthians. It is part of the larger theatrical production, Project Paul.
Fools for Christ
I care very little if I am judged. (1 Corinthians 4:3)
“Everything is permissible”—but not everything beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but I will not be mastered— (1 Cor 6:12)
Festus shouts, “You are out of your mind, Paul!” “Your great learning is driving you insane.” (Acts 26:24)
“Everything is permissible” but I will not be mastered by anything! (1 Cor. 10:23)
So I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I have not yet taken hold of it. (Phil 3:12)
Be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each you night and day with tears! (Acts 20:31)
Do not put out the Spirit’s fire. (1 Thes. 5:19)
By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people. (Romans 16:18)
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Eph 6:12)
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, (Gal 3:13)
I plead with you brothers, become like me, for I became like you. What has happened to all your joy? If you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? (Gal. 4:12-16)
You were running a good race. (Gal 5:7)
Who cut in on you?
Who has bewitched you? (Gal 3:1)
You bite and devour each other. You bite and devour each other and serve your own appetite. (Gal 5:15)
Where are we without God?
The most powerful man will one day be dust.
The highest mountain beneath the torrent ocean.
The highest mountain beneath the torrent ocean.
The highest mountain beneath the torrent ocean. (Christy Bagasao)
Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings—and that without us!
How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you! For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of a procession like men condemned to die in the arena…like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ!
We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.
I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me, for this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus.
Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip… or in love and with a gentle spirit? (1 Corinthians 4:8-21)
Voice (Apostle Paul)
1 Corinthians 4:8–21
8 Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you. 9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. 11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; 12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: 13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. 14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you . 15 For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. 17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church. 18 Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. 21 What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?
1 Corinthians 4:3
3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.
1 Corinthians 6:12
12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
1 Thessalonians 5:19
19 Quench not the Spirit.
12 Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am ; for I am as ye are : ye have not injured me at all. 13 Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. 14 And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. 15 Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me. 16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?
15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
Fools for Christ was originally composed for saxophone quartet and voice, setting part of the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. It was then reworked through electronic processing as part of my multimedia theater piece Project Paul.
In his travels Paul used a variety of methods to speak to different groups of people depending on what he thought they needed to hear. Sometimes he used kind words of encouragement, other times sarcasm and humor. In the case of “Fools for Christ”, he spoke with intensity, frustration, discipline and even anger. It’s important to remember that at the root of all is his words is love. He loved the Corinthians and was trying to reach them in any way possible with the hope and love of Jesus that had been shown to him.
The piece begins with a montage of Paul’s more intense words. The driving sounds accompanying the first half of the piece are a combination of sampled instruments, vocal effects, toys and one guinea pig named Delilah. Excerpts from a choral setting of Psalm 46, a jazz ensemble version of the hymn “Oh, Sacred Head Now Wounded”, and some of my other compositions are woven together in this collage.
The soundtrack of the second half of the piece features a recording of saxophone quartet (playing the original live concert version of “Fools for Christ”) that has been distorted. As Paul’s stern message warms in love, so the saxophones’ distortion is stripped away revealing pure tones.
Jonathon Roberts is a composer and sound designer for games, film, theatre, and ensembles. His style grew out of classical and jazz training, and evolved through quality life adventures: touring the country in an RV with a one person theater piece on the Apostle Paul, living in Brooklyn with an improv music ensemble, performing in a downtown NYC absurdist comedy band, and a long stint writing music for the renowned slot machine company, High 5 Games. He has released four albums including the latest, Cities a song cycle personifying biblical cities. He created the popular podcast/web series ComposerDad Vs. Bible, in which ComposerDad accepts intense compositional challenges from a mysterious Bible while out with his kids. He frequently collaborates on music and theater projects with his wife, actor Emily Clare Zempel. They live in Beacon, NY, with their two boys and a tangled box of electrical cords. www.jonathonroberts.com