Browsing articles in "Faith"

Take the Name

Nov 25, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Career, Creative Discontent, Faith, School, Theatre  //  No Comments

I can’t think of that ninth commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor,” without my mind jumping to “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain.” Two separate commandments, but they go hand in hand, to me.

More than just an admonition against swearing, particularly blasphemous utterances, that third commandment is a reminder that, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, we literally take the name. Whether it’s identifying as God’s Chosen People or as Christians, something about our very identity invokes God’s presence. Read more >>

A story with dubious source material

Nov 4, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Career, Creative Discontent, Faith, Television  //  2 Comments

I work with a lot of really talented people.

I have classmates, colleagues, and peers (and organizations, for that matter) with impressive lists of accomplishments and accolades. I could make a very long list of people who have received awards and honors; been the first whatever-it-is in their school, field, or industry; participated in world premieres; been accepted to prestigious programs — and the list could go on.

Which has gotten me to thinking lately about humility, pride, false humility, and arrogance.

It can be a little unnerving to listen to someone spout off a list of accomplishments, or to hear someone say, point-blank, “I am the best in my field.” It can be uncomfortable to listen to someone speak of their own achievements, especially without a self-deprecating tone or a “humble,” aw-shucks overtone to the information.

And yet… Read more >>

Five years later

Oct 16, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Ministry, Real Life, School, The Arts  //  1 Comment

The one “real” class that I’m taking this semester is an Entrepreneurship class, which is really kind of a goal-setting and career-planning class — you know, the kind that almost every school offers in the last year or semester before graduation. In some programs, it’s a mandatory class; this one isn’t, but it’s a great class anyway.

This week’s assignment is to outline goals, starting with long-term, and then breaking it down into 5- and 10-year steps. Now, in my opinion, setting goals like this is good for two things. One is, of course, the (stated) intended purpose: to be able to look ahead at where I want to be, and then to figure out how to get there and what the steps are along the way. Break it down into manageable steps that are, in a sense, accomplishments in themselves, as well as being milestones along the way to a larger goal.

The second is having a record to look back at and see how life changes. The best thing about setting goals is being able to watch them shift and fluctuate as life changes, watching priorities and important moments change along with them. Read more >>

First of many steps

Oct 13, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Career, Creative Discontent, Ministry, Theatre  //  No Comments

I got my start in the arts in church. I sang in the kids’ choir (which my mom directed), got my first speaking parts in musicals, and did special music on Sunday mornings, all starting from the time I was 5 years old. My first full-length script was produced there; I started directing plays when I was in high school; I did shows where I simultaneously wore the hats of director, producer, production manager, and designer; and I even got my first taste of arts administration and producing in the church. I wouldn’t have called it that at the time, but I instinctively knew that something had to make the show go. Someone needed to create the infrastructure for the work to happen, and there was no one else doing it, so I did.

I’ve gone on and done a lot of work outside of a church environment, of course, and I’ve never wanted to build my entire career within the church, but I’ve always had a very clear view of its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the arts. I know how important the arts are within the church. I know the kind of growth and support that a church can give to an arts program. I also know how incredibly frustrating it can be at times to work primarily with volunteers, or to work in an organization whose mandate is not, first and foremost, arts-centered — where the arts fit into the fabric of the rest of the community, and not the other way around.

However. Read more >>

Gray

Sep 30, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Faith, Ministry, Real Life  //  2 Comments

Colin and I live in a strange gray area when it comes to our relationship. Really, it boils down to the fact that we’re not “normal” according to anyone’s standards. Some people wonder why we’re not married yet, after 2 1/2 years; others wonder why we’re not at least living together, after 2 1/2 years.

We’re not single. Our decisions are made together, and in all of those ways, we think like a married couple, even though we’re not yet. We’re completely financially interdependent, and have been for most of our relationship (our first major purchase together was a car at 5 months). We’ve known since 6 weeks into our relationship that we were going to get married, and our major life decisions since then have all been made jointly, including everything to do with my schooling.

And yet, we’re not married, either (in fact, we’re not even engaged, since we don’t like the idea of being engaged indefinitely, so we’re waiting for the ring until we know we can set the date). We don’t pretend to be, and we don’t try to get around it or “play house” with our lives. We believe in not having sex before marriage, and we’re waiting until we’re married to build a household and a home together. The “gray area” in which we live is a different kind of gray than the morally ambiguous gray areas of couples who are living together or sleeping together before marriage. We’re in a gray area that still falls into obedience to God’s call on our lives and his plan for marriage. We use the label “betrothed,” but that doesn’t even begin to cover the nuances within a one-word description.

There are people who have a difficult time understanding this sometimes. We’ve had many conversations trying to explain this state of being together but not married; not married but also not single; and in all of it, not being disobedient to God’s will.

I think that sometimes there’s that same sort of confusion as it relates to the arts within the church — or work done by Christians outside of a specifically “church” setting. Either the work is “Christian” or it’s not. Either the artist is proclaiming the Gospel (clearly and without ambiguity), or he’s not. People sometimes have a hard time understanding — and accepting — the fact that not all work that glorifies God is specifically about the cross or the manger. Read more >>

More than Sunday School

Sep 13, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Faith, Ministry  //  1 Comment

I think that most people who grow up in a particular church and remain there as adults can relate to the process of breaking away from the image of the kid in Sunday School and starting to be seen as an adult. It can be even more pronounced when a) your family is involved in ministry and/or leadership throughout your life, and b) you end up in leadership roles within the church yourself. It may be the worst for PKs (Pastors’ Kids), but even for those of us whose families are in lay ministry, it gets kind of complicated at times.

That process is something that I’ve gone through, with varying degrees of angst, since I was in high school. There are people there who remember when my mom was pregnant with me, and there have been times, when I’ve been in a leadership role over certain people, that have been kind of difficult, but it’s part of the life cycle of ministry, and we all work through it in one way or another. We find our place, and in 20 years or so, the cycle will repeat itself.

Read more >>

Tasting heaven

Aug 13, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, Faith  //  No Comments

Colin pointed out to me last night that I’m “not a small-church kind of girl.”

No, really?

Heh. I’ve been saying that for years. Just like I’m not a small-town kind of girl, I’m also not a small-church kind of girl. The thing is, though, it’s not about being big for the sake of being big; it’s about having the capacity to use so many more people’s gifts and to serve more people in varied and high-quality ways.

I’ve been involved in small churches, and there are things about them that are pretty great, but when it comes down to it, I’m a big-church girl. Foothills, with somewhere around 2000 people who call it their church home, is a church that’s on the small side of big. It’s not a huge mega-church, but it’s a fairly large church, and its size and commitment to growth is one of the things I love about it.

Strange, then, that while this was on my mind, I came across this today: The Fruit of a Large/High-Impact Church. It’s a good read—7 things that are significant about the large church.

So… go read it.

Yeah, that’s it. I just wanted to point you in that direction. I don’t really have a commentary on it—except to say that his point #7 is a fantastic counterpoint to this post about creativity and the city. Big churches and big cities: Both of them preparing us for and giving us a taste of heaven. I think that deserves some more thought and contemplation.

Creative Discontent: The Explanation

Aug 11, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Faith, Real Life  //  No Comments

A few weeks ago, I changed the title of my blog from “Thoughts on Art and Faith” to “Creative Discontent”. “Thoughts on Art and Faith” was never intended to be the permanent title—I mean, come on, it’s a little too obviously descriptive, and while that may be what the blog is intended to be about, I’ve never wanted to make it that unimaginative. If this thing ever starts getting serious traffic (and if, somewhere down the line, I make the jump to being a professional blogger), I don’t want that to be the title I’m saddled with.

My favorite titles are short, sweet, and come from quotes or have some sort of non-obvious significance. They reflect something of the writer by being something other than “This is a Blog About My Life.”

The title I’ve used for my personal blog for several years has been “commas and ampersands,” and my blogroll/friends page title has been “they are like emeralds”. Both of those come from the song “I Hear the Bells” by Mike Doughty, and they both grabbed my imagination in very specific ways. I like the idea of describing the events of my life and the thoughts I’m mulling over as the “commas and ampersands” of my day-to-day life. It’s a way of punctuating life—finding the moments that both separate things and join them, and realizing some of the big before-and-after effects in retrospect. As for “they are like emeralds,” the phrase brings to mind the snowflake/individuality image (at least, to my mind), as well as the priceless/diamond image.

In any case, that’s the kind of thought process that goes into my blog titles, and “Thoughts on Art and Faith” was absolutely not right for me. It’s the kind of blog title that I’d skim over. I needed something else.

So I went digging for quotes. Partly, I was looking for some more to add to the quote rotator on the right-hand sidebar, but partly, I was looking for a phrase that stuck out to me. Something descriptive and enigmatic, all at the same time.

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What we do best

Jul 6, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Culture, Faith, School  //  3 Comments

Ever feel like there’s a message that keeps hitting you over the head, getting more and more obvious?

John Cosper, a Christian playwright and filmmaker, posted a manifesto about “Christian films,” particularly talking about what needs to change. It’s a great read, and I wholeheartedly agree — and if you’ve ever heard me talking about many, many Christian scripts, you’ll have heard the same concepts as they relate to very specific pieces that I’ve worked on.

However, the broad meaning of his manifesto isn’t what struck me most today. Instead, it was the following paragraph:

Seek out the best teacher or mentor you can. Don’t go to a Christian teacher just because they’re a Christian. Go somewhere that you can learn from a true artist, one who is a master of the craft in their own right. In other words don’t seek to be the best Christian writer/actor/director you can be. Seek to be the best writer/actor/director you can be.

A few hours later, a very different entry popped up on my RSS reader. Cole Matson, a theatre artist and C.S. Lewis scholar, is writing a series of posts on his transition from the Protestant church to the Catholic church, and it’s a fascinating and deeply personal story. Today, part of his entry talked about the decision to go to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, rather than Wheaton College, for his undergrad:

I had loved Wheaton, and had been in awe of its existence as an intentional Christian community of scholars “for Christ and His Kingdom,” as Wheaton’s motto goes. However, I also wanted to study to become a professional actor, and Wheaton did not have a theatre major, much less a professional training program. As a matter of fact, there did not seem to exist a Christian college of Wheaton’s faithfulness and academic caliber that also provided professional arts training. (This gap is one I hope the C.S. Lewis Foundation’s C.S. Lewis College can fill.) The other school to which I had been accepted was NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, which has one of the top undergraduate theatre programs in the country. I asked my dad, who I knew was pleased that I had fallen in love with his alma mater, for his advice. He said:

“What do you want to do?”

“Become an actor.”

“Then go where they do that best. In this case, that’s not Wheaton.”

Twice, in very different contexts, the concept of choosing a school or other training for its quality rather than for its theology.

Two things strike me as I think about that.

Read more >>

It’s a dance

Jun 18, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Faith, Ministry, Real Life  //  3 Comments

Man, it’s been quite the week around here. Changes, opportunities, losses, gains, answered prayers, an inconsistent internet connection at home (putting at least three entries on hold while I contemplated throwing my laptop across the room to see if that would speed things up), and a fainting spell on the train, and it’s not even the weekend yet! There’ll be a post coming about all of that eventually (except the fainting; that was just a Monday morning anomaly), but in the meantime, it’s been on the forefront of my mind.

There are few posts coming down the line that relate to it in some way, but for the moment, I want to re-post something that was on my other blog a few months ago. For reasons that are related to everything I mentioned above (except maybe the internet connection), I’ve been thinking about the way that Colin and I work together, and the fact that in the very early months of our relationship, we each placed ourselves in situations where we were under the artistic direction and ministry leadership of the other.

That decision has set the tone for our professional relationship, but it also allowed each of us a glimpse into the other’s character as a leader, which was so important when we were making those early decisions in our relationship.

This post isn’t as much about the arts as most of this blog is and will be, but it’s one of the foundational ways that my faith has manifested itself in the way I work and live, and because of that, it impacts my art and the choices I make. If nothing else, it’s something that still makes me think — and I wrote it! Seriously, though, this is something that I live in the midst of every day, and it’s on my mind right now, so if you don’t mind a re-run (if you happen to be one of those who reads my other blog), here it goes:
Read more >>

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