When The Show Is Over, What Remains?

We don’t go to the movies much. Our choice.

But I’d wanted to see The Greatest Showman because I’ve always had a fascination with P. T. Barnum and circuses, so we went with some friends.

It was worth it.

The storyline was beautiful and heart-wrenching all at once. They took the real story of Phineas Taylor Barnum and romanticized it, but who he was and what he did was celebrated through song, dance and relationships.

Hugh Jackman played the part of Barnum with flair and demonstrated the indomitable spirit of the man who dreamed big, who invented what we now know as the publicity campaign and who learned that being hoodwinked could be fun.

What I loved about the movie was how one man could change the perspective of many by celebrating different. Barnum had a knack for promoting, no doubt about it. But when he brought quirky and challenged to center stage, he took what was diverse out of the shadows and gave it a sense of honor. He created a family  of those who’d been hidden and gave them courage and a stage that they shared. He helped them value that they weren’t like everyone else–and paid them for it.

I questioned whether Barnum really had an audience with Queen Victoria–that seemed a little audacious. He did, and she was fascinated with General Tom Thumb. And even though he had a penchant for promoting the unusual and unexpected, one of his most successful undertakings was promoting Jenny Lind, the Swedish opera star.  He booked her for 150 shows in the U.S. and Canada, offering her $1,000 a performance, without ever hearing her sing. Unheard of back then. He actually made a profit of more than $500,000 on her tour.

What was inescapable in the movie was watching the enjoyment Barnum’s shows brought to people. And the diversity the people of that day refused to accept in real life (during the mid-1800’s) they embraced in his performances.

As a showman, Barnum promoted what was unusual, what had been ignored. He was a businessman. He made money for himself and for others. In his later years, he gave back to the community, serving several terms in the Connecticut legislature and finally getting elected to mayor of Bridgeport.

An incredible story of vision, effort and the refusal to give up.

He gave people what they wanted, even though they didn’t really need it.

Jesus gives people what they need, and often they don’t know they want it.

He wasn’t a showman. During His life, He didn’t become famous. He didn’t even own a home.

But He cared for all people. He embraced the disenfranchised, the ones everyone rejected. He had a vision for seeing people loved and forgiven by the One who made them. Redeemed and restored. The effort required of Him was death on a cross–and He refused to walk away from it.

I don’t always know what I want, but I’m growing in understanding of what I need.

Not a showman. Not a promoter.

I need a Savior.

That’s not show. That’s real.






2 responses to “When The Show Is Over, What Remains?”

  1. Well said. 🙂


    1. Coming from you, that means a lot!


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