Enter the Slave Garden

photo by Tulay Palaz
photo by Tulay Palaz

Living Hope Community Church meets at Ironwood Elementary School, and to enter, you must pass through a small gated courtyard before you reach the doors to the worship space.
Every Sunday we are able to come to our church space, pass through the gates, enter through the door, and participate in the worship service. There are no requirements, no check points, no guards at the door who require you to prove your worthiness to enter. You are not restricted by your age, your gender, your education, your finances or your past. You aren’t stopped because of who your parents are or were. You don’t have to present papers, or pay to enter. You are welcomed in freely.
But what if that weren’t the case? What if you showed up and there were chains on the gate? What if, suddenly, you were made to enter though a side door, and wait for the chance that you might (or might not) be allowed to enter? What if someone or something owned you, and you weren’t free to worship how or where or when you wanted, because the one who owned you had forbidden it?

Continue reading “Enter the Slave Garden”

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The battle lines have been drawn

the-somme-5-1315328.jpg
photo by Matt Cockbain

Do you feel that you are a woman of strength? Are you powerful? Strong? Equipped? Do you feel prepared to face the battles that may come your way? Are you angry? Hurt? Burdened? At war?

Do you know what “Victory in Christ” is?  I wonder if any of us truly do, because it seems clear that very few of us are living victoriously. The saving work of Jesus and his Gospel is an ongoing event in your life.  It predates the moment when you accepted Christ and submitted to him—because he was working toward this goal before you knew it—and continues every day after.  Salvation in Christ is MORE than simply acknowledging him as God and your Savior.  The work that Jesus does in the life of every believer is a continual process that includes saving, healing, equipping, instructing, and sanctification. Continue reading “The battle lines have been drawn”

What happened to Hospitality?

Perhaps this has always been the case, and I just missed it by years of attending the same church, but I can’t help to feel that the church has all but abandoned the concept of hospitality. In the last couple of years, as I moved to a new city, completed grad-school, and relocated (again), I have had the opportunity to visit many churches.  The most overwhelmingly common characteristic of the seven churches I’ve attended in the last three years? A cold, unwelcome, or insincere feeling.

Continue reading “What happened to Hospitality?”

Sundance Pick: Another Earth

When writers Brit Marling and Mike Cahill began working on ideas for a screenplay, they started with a simple question, what would it be like to meet yourself?  They But while the idea was intriguing, it wasn’t enough to build a film.  They pushed further:  What is the one thing that you would want from that encounter with your other self?  They answer they came up with is perhaps the hardest thing:  Forgiveness.

Although categorized as science fiction, Another Earth refrains from excessive special effects or plot lines that test one’s tolerance of the fantastic.  Instead, it is the simple story of a young girl who has to face the consequences of a devastatingly simple mistake.  Continue reading “Sundance Pick: Another Earth”

What the H*ll Do I Know? (Confession 5)

I have a friend going through a bit of a faith-crisis at the moment, and it really is one of those things that can make you feel completely impotent.  Not only is nearly impossible to know what to say or do, it is pretty much certain that anything you say or do will probably only make matters worse. So you’re just there for them. Let them vent if they want to, or ramble, or whatever non/verbal processing they might tend toward. And maybe, if the situation calls for it, you share what you actually know.

But what do you actually know?

And what do I actually know? So, where do I get off telling anyone else what their faith should be?

But, do I just leave it there? Let a friend languish? I have a hard time swallowing that pill.  I think we should have a hard time with it.  And I think how we handle it is key–and I think the place where we really go wrong is where we start offering up loads of junk that we don’t personally know, in favor of churchy things we think sound right. Continue reading “What the H*ll Do I Know? (Confession 5)”

Some thoughts

Sitting in our morning lecture, and I have a whole train of thoughts competing with, and in response to, what Todd Johnson has to share this morning.
I got to thinking about what kind of theatre I might want to do and I returned again to the idea of shows with questions, ideas and topics that stir people up into conversation and even to action.  Seeing theatre as a potential catalyst for the community, for the church. And then I heard the naysayer in my head.  “Bleeding heart” Continue reading “Some thoughts”

Questions from NYC ala Brehm Center

You may remember a few months ago I posted some questions for your consideration.  This week, as we went around the group to introduce ourselves to one another, I couldn’t help but really stand on that leg for a moment.  I want to know what the questions are, specifically for people who are in my position, or positions similar to mine.  What are we dealing with?  Struggling with? What have we learned the hard way, and what were we graced to know without having to pay a costly price to learn? Continue reading “Questions from NYC ala Brehm Center”

For your consideration

An interesting video I stumbled across this morning.  Perhaps even an interesting lead-in for the discussion we’ll be having today in my Theology and Culture class about Body.

http://www.youtbe.com/v/zl6hNj1uOkY&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&color1=0x5d1719&color2=0xcd311b

Something I don’t usually share: a playlist for your consideration

****I made several attempts to get the playlist to embed into the post, but it wouldn’t work, and I had to give up.  So if you’re interested, take a listen here.*****

 It has become my habit, for various reasons, to create a playlist for myself when I am cast in a show.  The songs I select are usually ones I already own–although it isn’t unheard of for me to purchase a song or two for my playlist–that address the character I am playing in some fashion or another.  The music I select may or may not be songs that the character herself would listen to.  I can often be found updating the playlist, adding or removing music as I find my way through the rehearsal process; but I rarely mess with it once the show has opened.

The playlist, as you may imagine, is for me and not something I openly share with friends or cast-mates; at least until the end of closing night. It’s not that my playlists are super-private or personal. I don’t think they’re too revealing about who I am as a person or anything.  They’re just something I do.  Compling the music I use backstage for my personal script time, and warm-up time, greenroom time, and whatever-time, has become a useful tool.

You may find my selections trite, and predictable.  I’m not sharing this sample playlist to impress you or anything.  I just was mulling over the thought that our culture is attached to popular music in a very interesting way–specifically since the modern occurrence of soundtracks that accompany one of our most popular means of storytelling: film.   The way we relate to music these days is a significant part of what drives me to create these playlists for myself.  Perhaps one song helps me access a mood that my character shares.  Perhaps this song deals with the play’s subtext (or actual plot).  Whatever it is, it is an behavior that we all engage in; some more deliberately than others.  I simply put it to use for the plays that I act in–and I’m certainly not the first actor to do this. 

I am excited to share that I have been cast in the upcoming production of the newly formed Fuller Company, in two of the one-act plays that will be offered.  I thought it may be interesting to do something that I’ve never done before: make my playlist public before a show, should anyone happen to be interested. So, you will find part of the playlist I have compiled–as it stands tonight–for one of those two shows, below.

If you happen to be in the Los Angeles area on March 5th and 6th, we will be performing in Fuller Theological Seminary’s Travis auditorium.

I only ask one thing of you:  This playlist is provided for your enjoyment, and perhaps some masochistic need to expose myself to criticism.   This playlist is not intended to be representative of the plays themselves, are not the approved soundtrack of a director, nor should be considered in any way a teaser for what you should expect of the performance.  They are simply the songs I’m listening to while I do my script work, and may be the ones I listen to at some point before I go on stage.  So my request is this:  enjoy the music for now; and forget about it when you come see the show.

The Paradox of the Mourning Christian

Tomorrow, the Fuller community will gather together to mourn. Over the Christmas break Ruth Vuong,  Dean of Students, suddenly passed away. 

There are many people on campus who knew Dean Vuong personally, and many who did not. Personally, I only had the privilege of meeting her on a couple of occasions.  Yet even to someone who did not really know her personally, her loss is nearly tangible on campus, as the community collectively mourns.  I do not need to have been in personal relationship with her to know how this feels.  We all have experienced loss, haven’t we?

Loss and mourning are strange creatures, especially for Christians. At times, it seems wrong to be sad, to mourn, to feel the pain of loss over another Christian.  After all, no matter the specifics of our theology of Heaven, we all basically understand that death isn’t the end, right? Don’t we know, somehow, that if she goes to heaven, and we go to heaven then that means we’ll be together again? Isn’t that what we believe? And if it is, then why are we sad?  Afterall, haven’t we all heard the saying, “it’s not good bye, it’s see you later”? So why do we still mourn?  Does it betray us, showing what little faith we actually have? Or is it something else?

This gets me to thinking about Lazarus; well more specifically about Jesus and Lazarus. Jesus stood at the tomb, knew what he was about to do, and how did he respond? He wept. Jesus wept knowing he was about to restore Lazarus. 

I don’t think our mourning betrays our faith. We have lost years of opportunity for relationship with Ruth Vuong. Opportunities to create memories, to benefit from her wisdom, to have shared experiences, to get to know her.  It is our loss, and it is right to acknowlege it. We are created for relationship and community, and a measure of it is taken from us when someone dies.  Jesus knew this, and felt the very real pain of that loss before he restored Lazarus.

There is the paradox of the mourning Christian.  We weep over a temporary loss, that in our finite understanding feels so eternal.  But this is, in a sense, good.  If we can mourn, despite our understanding of the afterlife, it reveals the value we have for relationship.  And there, the God of relationship can and does minister to us.