Tuesday, August 21, 2012

John Green is SO Right

“You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking how you'll escape one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.” 

“We need never be hopeless because we can never be irreperably broken.” 

“The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we'd done were less real and important than they had been hours before.” 

"You like someone who can't like you back because unrequited love can be survived in a way that once-requited love cannot."

"You can love someone so much...But you can never love people as much as you miss them."

"'Some people don't understand the promises they're making when they make them,' I said.

'Right, of course. But you keep the promise anyway. That's what love is. Love is keeping the promise anyway.'"

"I fell in love the way you fall asleep-slowly, then all at once."

"My love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful."

"My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations."

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Stream of Consciousness Discussion of the Nature of "Christian Artists" by Genre

(Mid-way edit: This is becoming a bit of a train of thought, stream of conscious discussion, so bear with me.)

I've been pondering the nature of being a Christian artist but not a "Christian artist" by genre for a few weeks. (I've thought about it before, but I've been mulling around this particular train of thought for a few weeks)

This has come to a climax this evening when I watched the movie Godspell for the second time within a week. There are few "Christian" movies that minister to me the way Godspell does. The only one that comes even close is Bella, and even that movie isn't quite "Christian" by genre.

If you'll allow me to digress a moment, I'll go to an interview of Andy Hunter, my favorite trance artist who is also a Christian, who says, "I think what I find frustrating is there are so many talented people within the church that are just not given room to express their gift in worship.  So it’s always the same format and songs. On a weekly basis where’s the poetry, painting, dance, sculptures, different genres of music?"

Bringing this back to Godspell, I connect more to that show/movie/music than I do to most contemporary Christian music. I'm trying to figure out whether it's because I'm a theater actor myself, and as such that genre ministers better to me than the Christian music genre. Or, I've wondered whether it ministers better to me because the church environment I've been influenced by for the past seven or eight years takes things so dreadfully serious all the time and I think God has a better sense of humor than they do.

Watching the movie more than once recently, I was struck with something that I love. The movie portrays Jesus (played by Victor Garbor, who is fast becoming one of my favorite actors) as our teacher and master, yes, but also living WITH us--as symbolized by his dancing in the background in other characters' solos. He's the God of the Universe, but He doesn't have every solo. He clearly values every disciple's artistic contribution.

This brings me to another section of this overall "Christian artist" discussion--- Owl City is becoming one of my favorite artists these days as well. He is another artist who is Christian but is not a "Christian artist" by genre. I was touched by his music before I ever found out he was a Christian. 

Here's an excerpt from that interview: 

"Q: When you write, do you ever consciously think, "This will work well with the Christian market; that will work well with the mainstream"? Or do the songs just fall where they may?
A: In a manner of speaking, my music has an extraordinary way of writing itself, and I'm usually just "the guy at the desk"—and the same goes for lyrics. I never consciously think about what specific line or lyric will resonate with what audience. I merely try to push all that aside and write sincerely from the heart, as if myself and God will be the only ones ever to hear it. In that way, I believe it keeps my music very pure and uncontaminated by whatever preconceived notions I might start injecting into the writing process. I just sit down to write a song as if it's the first and last piece of art I'll ever have the privilege of working on. And a privilege it is."

The "preconceived notions" he mentions is something I wonder if Christian fiction writers (by genre) struggle with. One of the problems I have with Christian fiction is the fact that they can kind of be god themselves when writing whatever situations their characters get into. The one they use the most that also annoys me the most is the typical Christian character who doesn't think they "evangelize enough" but then when they least expect it, some other character they had no idea had any interest in religion is touched by their (the main character's) life and ASKS the main character about Christianity and boom! The secondary character hears about Christ and is saved then and there.

Now, I'm not saying God doesn't use situations like that. But they're not exactly the norm unless I'm very much mistaken.

Whenever I've considered becoming a "ministry actor" by trade (meaning I only perform in Christian plays for the purpose of devoted ministry or evangelization) I've resisted the idea, partially because I don't like a lot of Christian-by-genre movies for those trope-y reasons. I had a fleeting thought because of that once that maybe I was wasting my talent on secular entertainment, but I don't think I am.

As spiritual and thinking beings, we don't have merely physical desires. We also have desires to be challenged mentally, to laugh, and to FEEL. If I can make someone laugh who has had a bad day in a farcical role, then I've made a positive impact in the world. It doesn't matter if I'll never write a play or portray a Tony award winning role in New York. What matters is that in my own little corner of the theater world, I've made a positive impact. 
If people have the same emotional response to the song "Fireflies" that I did, then Adam Young has made a positive mark on the world, not with a "Christian song," but with a song written for the glory of God. Likewise, my stage performances don't have to be only of historical Bible epics and Christian contemporary cliche stories to be to the glory of God and to have a positive impact. Paul didn't say "Do all exclusively Christian things to the glory of God;" he said "Whether you eat, drink, or WHATEVER YOU DO, DO ALL for the glory of God." 

And so I'm gonna keep playing my drunks, whores, and comedic villains to the glory of God.