Browsing All posts tagged under »spiritual principles«

Godspell (Studio East)

August 14, 2012

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On Friday, August 10th Studio East followed up its smash summer musical, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” with an opening night sellout of “Godspell” over at the Studio East Mainstage Theater in Kirkland. Boasting a cast of over twenty children and teens, Studio East joyfully takes on one of Stephen Schwartz and Broadways’ most successfully but challenging musicals and succeeds in conveying the heart of the show to an engaged and delighted audience. Clearly Studio East does not shy away from controversial, sensitive or demanding productions.

Before attending the performance, I was familiar with Victor Garber’s performance in “Godspell” the movie but was unsure of what to expect from a live production performed by a cast with an average age of twelve. Studio East surprised me right out of the gate, by the provocative decision to cast a young lady (Jordan Williams) in the role of Jesus. Did I mention that they were not afraid to be controversial? I wisely determined to withhold judgment and give the performance a chance, as by the time the curtain closed, I found myself curiously moved by the production. I will speak to this later in the review.

If We Are the Sum of the Roles We Play in Life; Who Are We When We Are Not Playing a Role?

April 23, 2012

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How does one define their identity and their worth? Is it the roles that they play during this life, their level of activity, whether or not they are in charge or serving in some capacity? What does it say about a person who is very comfortable when placed in charge of something or similarly at ease when serving behind the scenes BUT is clearly ill-at-ease when asked to just be part of something without being asked to be in charge of it or even serving in any capacity?

In a meeting over lunch, I was challenged by the observation of a friend who pointed out that he's noticed that behavior in me. This began my meditation and mental wrestling with why I am like that and what that says about my personal assessment of my own value and worth. If all of life’s a stage, what does that say about us when we don't have an active role to play during a scene? Do we transpose this evaluation framework on other people; assessing their value based on what they do or what they might be able to do for us?

If you have ever wrestled with something similar, I encourage you to read on and hopefully share your experience(s) with me.

Perspective Makes the Difference

March 27, 2012

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Have you ever noticed that in life, perspective can make all the difference on how you act, react or judge a situation or person? I’ve recently rediscovered this principle at work in my life. I am not proud of the fact but when I see someone do something which I would not do or ‘not do’ something which I believe they should do; I have begun catching myself as my first inclination is to judge that action in such a way as to ascribe a negative motivation for the action or inaction.

The reason is that whether or not we consciously acknowledge it, we all have an internal barometer or scale which we use to assess ourselves and others against. The fact that all have such an internal measure guide is not wrong in of itself. The main problem with using our own scale to evaluate actions or inactions is that our scale is fundamentally flawed. There are two primary flaws with using our own scales to evaluate ourselves and others against.

  1. Our scale is flawed in that it is biased in favor of us and biased against others.
  2. Our scale uses the wrong measurement criteria.


Let me explain.

The Screwtape Letters (The Paramount Theatre)

March 14, 2012

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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

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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.

I Will Give You the Treasures of Darkness (Tanzania Part VII)

January 13, 2012

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My first experience of Nairobi was the evening ride from the Nairobi Airport to our hotel. My travel companion and I were exhausted after a day spent traveling; confined to our cramped airplane seats for twenty+ hours, waiting at security screenings and the boarding areas in Seattle, Amsterdam and Nairobi. While physically and mentally fatigued, another long slumbering part of me seemed to quicken and come to life, as I described in Part VI.

The heat of the day had dissipated only slightly, so I relished leaning my head out my open window. Catching even a warm humid breeze was a welcome relief from the stagnant air of the Nairobi airport. Our driver Muhammad engaged us in conversation, telling us about the Nairobi National Park and other notable items as we passed by them, as he deftly navigated his way through a challenging obstacle of people, cars, motorcycles, pot holes, bumps and debris in the road. I marveled as he seemed to know every crack, dip, or bump in the road, slowing for them well in advance. I imagined that he had driven this route many times before.

I Will Give You the Treasures of Darkness (Tanzania Part IV)

December 31, 2011

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The experience of preparing to go to Africa and my time in Africa was revealing to me that the importance we place on our actions is a misleading one. The motions that we externally go through in this life are less meaningful than our reasons and driving motivation for doing them. It is our attitude and the condition of our heart that moves us to action which is the single most crucial aspect of walking out our faith. God is concerned first and foremost about the condition of our soul more than our vain human attempts to deceive others into believing that we are better than we actually are. Is it not from out of the abundance, the overflow of our heart that the mouth speaks? Doing the right things for the wrong reasons earn us nothing except perhaps the deception of others and their misguided praise.

I am reminded of Jesus’ admonition to remember Lot’s Wife. She heard the message of warning from the angels to leave the city before it was destroyed. She acted upon that knowledge and left the city with her family. She was with people being saved, BUT she looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. What’s up with that? It’s not like she didn’t do anything; she at least made an attempt, she went through the motions, she was with others getting saved but in the end she is lost, turned into a pillar of salt. How different is she from the countless folks who dutifully take their seats in the pews of churches each Sunday morning and go through the motions and the rituals of religion without the understanding the spirit behind the actions? They are hearing the message and with others getting saved yet I can’t help but wonder if their fate will be any different than that of Lot’s wife.