Archive for February, 2007

productivity guru + passionate thoughts = church body

February 16, 2007

It’s very cool to see productivity guru Merlin Mann of 43 Folders is contributing to the conversation about blogging and the church. He posts about being asked to write and essay for Brian Bailey’s book The Blogging Church.

I avidly follow Merin’s blog and more recently video and pod casts with Mac-Break Weekly about GTD (Getting Things Done) and overall workflow. He’s found his niche in sharing his gifts and passions of productivity to the rest of us – and he’s good at it! He’s a clear voice in the noisy blogosphere that has done for my desk what Real Simple has done for my housework: streamline and simplify.

I haven’t seen the essay or even this book, but I’d be eager to get my hands on it. But really, its more exciting (at least to me) to see someone like Merlin Mann contributing his own passions and expertise about this technology in relation to the church and the resulting ‘passionate thoughts’. We need this type of input to flesh out what Church (yes, capital ‘C’) looks like today, especially online. By bringing these conversations to others in different spheres of life, like productivity, we embody the (missional) church body. That’s exciting!

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Black Snake Moan Review

February 11, 2007

[note: this is part of my film journal for class, and I’m posting it on our class site as well.]

Black Snake MoanBlack Snake Moan movie is up for release in theaters March 2nd. If you’re ok with rated R movies – I’d say go see it. I was a bit nervous walking into it at Sundance after seeing the poster, yet it was one of the most powerful experiences of the week.

It’s a movie about sin, and the only thing more powerful: unconditional love. Christina Ricci plays a southern girl, Rae, with a sex addition who’s left alone as her boyfriend Ronnie (Justin Timberlake) leaves for the army. Lazurus (Samuel L. Jackson) is a well-respected blues musician in their southern small town who finds Rae on the side of the road beat up after a rough night of partying and promiscuity. He takes her in to tend to her physical wounds and ends up mending the emotional and spiritual wounds as well, albeit in a very unconventional way: a chain around Ricci’s wait.

It’s an incredible story that dares to look at Ricci’s out of control and taboo sin, and then poses the question of healing and care. While there’s danger in the chain being taken as exploitive, there is more depth to the film as you see Rae start to cling to the chain and her relationship with Lazurus. Finally with healthy boundaries and safety from her past abuse and developed patterns, Rae finds respite.

Now, what could that chain be a metaphor for?

In the Q&A after the film, director Craig Brewer (Hustle and Flow, 2000) actually said he almost wanted to put a church bell clang behind the chain clank. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He openly talked about the bible and asked how God must have felt about Adam and Eve’s sin. What do you do when you’re filled with sin?

Ricci said it best when asked if she thought her character needed to be fixed. I will never forget her answer: no, she didn’t need to be fixed but, “needed someone to show her appropriate love; unconditional love.”

Bingo.

p.s. I don’t know much about music or the blues, but the soundtrack on this is going to be killer.

Let’s talk about sex…

February 11, 2007

I just got back from seeing Because I said so with Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore. I figured it’s your typical chick flick, good answer to fill in “lets do something” of a spontaneous girls night out. I’m still working through my Sundance film journal, and heaven’s knows I’ve seen enough heavy films lately and could balance with some lighthearted fun.

The story is a feel good mother daughter journey that I feel I’ve been on before. Start with a mother projecting insecurity and clumsy relationship skills on her daughter(s), then mix in comedy, conflict and climax and wa-la: they both learn, grow and find love.

Ironically, I walked out disturbed from this light-hearted comedy.

I saw a lot of sex on screen at Sundance, and it didn’t bother me too much. I knew what i was walking into, and in many movies like Save Me and Black Snake Moan, its use on screen was taken seriously and helped further the messages of these films (sin, redemption, unconditional love). Yet as Moore and Keaton explore their relationship skills in this flick, sex was thrown around like having dinner or making chocolate soufflés

Now, please don’t get me wrong – sex is great and I’m not saying it should be removed from the filmmaker’s tool box. But on the other hand, I don’t think it’s such a light hearted matter to be assumed. Just a thought that struck me…

Forget church, just head to Starbucks

February 9, 2007

starbucks quote on cup
The Sundance class TA, Michelle, passed this quote on from her Starbucks disposable Venti coffee cup…

“Many people lack a spiritual belief system and fill that void with obsessions about celebrities. The celebrities are raised to the rank of gods, and these earthly gods will always fail the expectations the masses have set for them. The cycle runs thusly: adoration turns to obsession, obsession turns to disappointment, and from disappointment it is just a short emotional jump to contempt.”
Donna Phillips
Freelance Writer. She lives in Claremont, California.

She wanted us to think about how this related to our experience as people of faith in the film community. I think the quote covers it pretty well – failed hopes, emotions going wild and void that remains empty. While I was at Sundance, I was jolted to be eating pizza on Main Street just looking out the window at the paparazzi swarming around people like Antiono Bandaras, Mandy Moore, and Tara Reid one after the other. What’s that about? I wish there was that much frenzy around love, justice and mercy…

Going back to Marshall McLuhan in true “the medium is the message” style: perhaps the message is really Starbucks (or the coffee experience). This is the second faith/spritually related example from someone going to Starbucks that I’ve heard this week.

Home as Santuary

The other was my professor John Draine, who teaches my Theology and Culture class. He picked up this In a Spiritual Style: Home as Sanctuary coffee table book and mentioned it in the ‘State of the Culture’ lecture yesterday as an example of where people are finding their spirituality: at home.

Even more, here are two examples from the last week of people encountering spiritually while they picked up coffee at their local Starbucks. I know there has been some writing on this already, and I’m kidding in my post title, but I think there’s something going on here we need to do more about than keep in on the radar…

Vegas to Symphony

February 7, 2007

In the past week, I’ve sung the national anthem twice.

1. Before the Superbowl at the Hofbrauhaus in Las Vegas.
Yes, Las Vegas. I finally made good on my word to visit a friend from Chico, Matt Lee, and took another friend from Chico along with me, Katie Raley. I’d never been to Vegas before, and it was all I’d thought it would be. Lights, more lights, and the abilty to easily do just about anything you wanted…if you have money. It was also a lot of fun to have a good dinner, see a show (we saw some blue men – so fun!), and take in the superbowl game in the Hofbrauhaus beer garden shoulder to shoulder with about 10 brits on vacation (In fact, if you know Katie – ask her about Bruce).

I tried my hand at lady luck, but she must not like me – I lost $5 on the slots in about 3 minutes. It’s not really too bad, but I didn’t want to try much more. We did walk by an older guy playing casino war who supposedly came to the table with one $100 chip, and by the time we left had $45,000 on the table and was still playing. We walked away from the gathering crowd stunned. Vegas baby, Vegas! Pics are here.

2. At the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles before the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra performance.
I’m starting to realize being connected to the arts and Fuller comes with huge perks. A local Rabbi donated tickets to different faith organizations and schools such as Fuller in a good will gesture for an innerfaith experience. My friend Michelle’s fiancee was too swamped with work, so she invited me along. The tickets were in the third row of the front orchestra with a face value of $135 each. I could see the passion on the faces of the musicians (and the snapped bow strings!) and the conductor Lorin Maazel as they fell into the music. The building (which is like walking around in one of Frank Gerhy’s loose pen sketches – incredible!) is supposed to have the best acoustics anywhere in the US. All I know is I fell into the music myself. It was not only a cultural experience, but intensely spiritual as well. Watching all the different instruments work together, and create this amazing and moving sound – there aren’t words for it.

After we were invited to a gala reception with great food and migling. One of the ladies from Fuller and I talked to a few Jewish guys studying to be Rabbi’s: it’s a six year programs that’s heavy on the Hebrew!

Anyway, welcome to my life lately: Vegas to the symphony. I’ve been all over the place, and still haven’t had down time to process all that’s happened. Not to mention the 32 page magazine we’re about to go to press with at Avant, and my two new classes I started this week. I’m begining to wonder what’s up with this many waves recently, but I’ll ride them out as long as I can.

de-prune

February 1, 2007

I admit it … I traded my last movie ticket for a beer.

I just got to the point where I couldn’t watch anymore movies. I was numb to the humanity I was seeing on screen since I’d been soaking in it all week, and my fingers (i.e. soul) were quite prune-like.

Now that I’m back in LA, I’m trying to get my head back into working on the Avant magazine again, not to mention that school starts next week and I have a literal library of books I need to be reading. The deep wrinkles are starting to fade, and it’s almost as jolting. Who thought re-entry from a film festival could be so intense?

There is so much more I want to post, at least on the themes I saw coming out from the festival, and some of the theological insight from our class sessions (general vs. special revelation, etc). I might need to un-soak more a bit. Stay tuned, I don’t think I’m done yet.