WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

Radical Loving

By Myke Johnson

“I don’t know how to love him….”
—a song by the same title by Yvonne Elliman, in "Jesus Christ Superstar"

My best friends Lori and Tom and I, in our first semester of college, were in love with Jesus and all he represented: a life radically beyond the ambition and greed of our society; beyond materialism, joy rooted in love for all. We often asked each other, How can we follow Jesus’s way in this day and age?

The cast of "Jesus Christ Superstar" on stage, at a moment where Jesus is kneeling with a woman and smiling.

The song “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” expressed the powerful confusion and desire in our hearts. "Jesus Christ Superstar" had debuted that year, and our Catholic professor brought it into our theology class. He said that "Jesus Christ Superstar" asked all the questions that people had been asking for centuries about Jesus—and that was what theology was all about. He encouraged us to ask all the questions. Lori later became a Franciscan sister, and Tom worked for the church. I found the Catholic Worker movement—the best example I knew of people trying to live the values of the gospel.

Finding feminism launched me on an even more radical journey. It brought me out of the Catholic church and into a spiritual movement with women becoming free. I came out as a lesbian, named myself a witch, and eventually became a Unitarian Universalist minister.

That idealistic and passionate young woman is still inside, however the years have transformed me. We had such hope for changing the world, back then. Where are the fruits of our labor now? A backlash threatens all our dreams. I don’t know if my own life has lived up to the hopes and dreams I held in those days. Did it all mean anything?

Yet the Jesus in "Superstar" asked those questions, too. And it’s complicated for me now, sorting out where Jesus fits into my life as a witch. But he hasn’t gone away. I remember him encouraging me as I set out on my feminist journey. I am still wondering how to love him. Still wondering about that radical way of living and loving. It brings tears to my eyes, even as an old tired woman.


Oh holy Mystery, the dreams you plant in our hearts truly change the world more than we can know. Despite failure, despite backlash, despite discouragement, let those dreams shine bright and find new life again and again.

About the Author

Myke Johnson

Rev. Myke Johnson (she/her) is the author of Finding Our Way Home: A Spiritual Journey into Earth Community, and also blogs on spirituality and ecology at Finding Our Way Home. She is a retired Unitarian Universalist minister in Portland, Maine.


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