Browsing All posts tagged under »church of today«

The Screwtape Letters (The Paramount Theatre)

March 14, 2012


When the word reached me that Max McLean would be in town for one day, doing two performances of “The Screwtape Letters” at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Seattle, I knew that I had to be in attendance. “The Screwtape Letters” was adapted by Jeffrey Fiske and Max McLean from the book of the same name written by C.S. Lewis. It stars Max McLean, who also co-directs with Fisk. McLean has been performing the play since the opening run in New York, Chicago and D.C.; having successfully completed well over 700 performances of TSL.

As a longtime admirer of C.S. Lewis and his writings, I was skeptical that one could effectively convey the nuances of the book on stage, as it’s not your typical fare. It was hard enough for some to read the relatively short book completely through. The book records the mail correspondence between Screwtape, a demon of the highest order, and his fledgling tempter nephew, Wormwood. In their exchanges, Wormwood, a recent graduate of the “Tempters' Training College” describes his first assignment with a human affectionately referred to as the “Patient”. It is Wormwood’s mission to ensure that the Patient is tempted off of the narrow path. In return, good ol’ Uncle Screwtape, reminiscent of an unholy ‘Dear Abby’ or ‘Dr. Phil’ manner, dispenses his malevolent wisdom and insights concerning Christianity, faith and the human condition, in hopes of guiding Wormwood into nefarious maturity and bringing about the eternal damnation of the Patient.

My momentary uneasiness was allayed by the choice of music played while waiting for the curtains to open. My attention was initially seized by Bob Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody” and The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” and I am delighted to say that the performance to follow was wickedly riveting, entertaining and thought-provoking. Max McLean, dressed up like Alistair Cooke’s evil cousin doing a Masterpiece Theatre vignette, held me spellbound throughout. The show, unlike Wormwood, does not disappoint in the end.

Asleep in the Light

March 12, 2012


One observation about life I have discovered is that that you can receive inspiration and insight from anyone, anything and at any time; assuming that you are open to it. The challenge for me has been that by the time I am home and can log the insight, I find that the memory of whatever nugget of truth which surfaced during my day is no longer accessible. The memory of what it was has since drifted from my mind, like a vaporous dream quickly dispersing upon awakening. Life it seems is equally capable of providing to us as it is in snatching back the insights from us.

With that awareness in mind, I have taken to carrying a small notepad with me. The goal of which was to record any observations, insights or newfound awareness’s which strikes me throughout my day before life has the opportunity to snatch the awareness from me. On a more practical note, it also has proven helpful in reminding me of the myriad of commitments, milestone deadlines and the occasional milk purchase required on the way home from work.

Yesterday, I had the need to pull out the notebook and record some thoughts at church. For many perhaps that might be a strange place to take actual notes, but I found myself agitated and disturbed and wanted to capture the thought. The sermon itself was honest, well-thought out and a source of encouragement to me. I much appreciated it, but something else was occurring during the service which distracted me. Three rows ahead of me sat a family. Well, mostly they were seated; all but the son. He must have been around eight to ten years of age. Instead of sitting up like his family and the others which had gathered that Sunday morning, he decided that it was appropriate to lay sprawled out across four chairs. He appeared to be attempting to sleep, as at a regular cadence he would shift and turn over.

Now, let us ignore for the moment, the parents sitting next to the boy which apparently condoned this behavior, as hard as that might be to do right now. I found myself thinking, what message is it sending to that boy that he alone of all humanity could recline such? What message was being sent to the speaker? What influence might it have on other children who witnessed this ill-mannered behavior? What was that boy learning that morning at church? I think it strikes at the heart of matter, which is why do any of us get up early on Sunday mornings and attend church in the first place? I wanted to get up, move over to where the boy reclined, push his feet out of the way and sit down next to him and ask him why he goes to church.

Modern Christianity: All Take and No Give

September 16, 2011


As human beings we all carry within ourselves a myriad of past experiences; some joyful and others painful, each uniquely shaping the way that we make sense of the world around us. All of our life experiences change us. Sometimes the effects are subtle almost imperceptible, while other times the influences are significant and life changing. We are changed, regardless of whether or not we are consciously aware of the impact or not. We live each day, we are altered and frequently, we are forced to develop more and more complex coping skills. These skill are employed on the hope that they can heighten our experiences of joy and lessen our experiences of pain.

Have We Have Become Comfortably Numb?

August 29, 2011


Comfortable. The most dangerous place for people (especially the Church) to be is when we allow ourselves to become comfortable…comfortable not just in our physical living conditions but in an attitude of acceptance or resignation that the tragedies occurring around us are just normal everyday things which will never go away. We become calloused; deaf to the plight and pain of others. How else could we ever become comfortable enjoying our ‘stuff’ unless we were able to quiet the voice of conscience within us?