Browsing articles tagged with " Faith"

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 >>

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.

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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:
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Culture at critical mass

Jun 2, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Books, Creative Discontent, Culture, Faith  //  2 Comments

I love the city. By which I mean both “The City,” as in any of the cities that I have lived in and many that I have visited; and “the city,” as opposed to “the small town” or “the country.” (But not “The City” as a spinoff of “The Hills.” Can’t say that I’ve ever watched either show.) I just don’t thrive in a small town, and Calgary (at a million people) is just about the smallest place that Colin and I can see ourselves living.

I grew up on a farm, went to school in a small town, and had most of my social life in the city, and the city was where I have always connected and resonated best. Of course, I have a connection to both the farm and the small town, and there are things about both that were very influential during my formative years, but when it comes down to it, cities have always been my personal preference. (In fact, I can remember a family vacation when I was about 14 where I begged my dad not to take the back highways that avoided the cities, because I needed to see a few skyscrapers along the way.)

There’s just something about the convergence of nature, culture, the arts, creativity, technology, innovation, business, busy-ness, vibrancy, dynamism, and diversity that’s exciting and energizing. If God’s greatest creation is mankind, and if our greatest fulfillment and achievements happen when we work in the image of the Creator, then it makes sense that we see God’s creativity and beauty so clearly in the places where it’s shown through the creativity of people. I see God’s fingerprints as much in architecture as I do in mountains. A gorgeous building, an active crowd, street art, a bustling city — these are all things that reinforce my awareness of God’s creativity and greatness, just as much as seeing the majesty of the natural world.
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When “good enough” isn’t good enough

May 9, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Books, Creative Discontent, Faith, Reviews  //  4 Comments

One of my primary goals when I was working with the drama ministry at the church was to see it become as professional and high-quality as possible, because what’s the point of putting on shoddy work? Too often, I think that the attitude within the church is, “Whatever we give God, he’ll do something good with, so I don’t have to give my best.” And yes, while it’s true that God makes beauty out of our brokenness, it doesn’t give us the excuse to be lazy or to give less than our best–not only the best of what we currently are, but the best of what we can be, through training, practice, and honing our skills.

(And if I ever end up back in a position of leading the drama ministry at Foothills, one of my goals is to make it a place of training, mentoring, and growth for the team members themselves, as well as a place to use theatre as a ministry to the church and community.)

Mom and Dad gave Colin and I the movie Fireproof for Valentine’s Day. We haven’t watched it yet, but despite not having seen it, I’ve been pretty vocal with my disappointment in it (and maybe I’ll post a review of the movie itself once I’ve seen it, but this isn’t a review of the movie; it’s a discussion of the reactions I’ve heard). I’ve read reviews from sources that I trust, and everything I’ve heard indicates that it’s a pretty formulaic “Christian” movie: overly expository writing, not-so-great acting, less-than-subtle conveyance of its message, and mediocre production value.

Even the opinions of people who liked it have been mixed. They thought it was a good story, but the acting wasn’t the best they’ve ever seen; or they thought the message was good, but it could have been told better.

My argument against it from the beginning has been this: Why put something out there on a stage where it can’t possibly compete with the best that’s it’s up against? Why create something–with a God-honoring message, and with the best intentions in the world–to a standard of mediocrity, where even the people who like it only like it with reservations?

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If there’s no room for you, where is there room for me?

Mar 20, 2009   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, Faith, School, Theatre  //  1 Comment

It’s the responsibility of any artist to champion the creation of art that he or she disagrees with, doesn’t understand, or is offended by.

This is a theory that I’ve been mulling over for a while–about a year now, I guess–and I think that I can fairly confidently boil it down to that statement.

I subconsciously became aware of it when I was considering CalArts, but I actually put it into words last spring, when I was deciding whether I was going to take the job with the Calgary Fringe Festival for the summer. In that case, it wasn’t about whether I was artistically opposed to anything, but it was the fact that a lot of the work I’d have been associated with and working on would be work that I was morally, ideologically, religiously, and politically offended by.

Could I put my name on that kind of work professionally? Well, in a sense, I do it every day, simply by being at CalArts. A lot of what comes across my path is work that I don’t find very aesthetically pleasing, work that is in direct contradiction to my beliefs and the way I live my life, and even work that mocks the things I build my life around.

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Thees ees… a thesis?

Nov 8, 2008   //   by Alida   //   Creative Discontent, School  //  No Comments

So… thesis. Let’s discuss, shall we?

Because this is CalArts and we tend not to do things the “normal” way, there’s no prescribed format for my thesis. I’m not writing a traditional research-based thesis with a dissertation defense and all that stuff… I get to choose my project’s format and do what works for me.

Some disciplines have more prescribed theses: MFA3 directors, for instance, do a thesis project, which is one of the shows in the season. MFA3 playwrights also have a show fully produced in the season. MFA3 and BFA4 actors do their grad showcase in New York and L.A. as a showcase for agents and managers. Producers, though, get to do whatever we want. Kind of.

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