International Arts Movement 2008 Encounter

Beginning on February 28, an estimated 500 artists and creative catalysts from over 30 states and eight nations will gather at Tribeca Performing Arts Center (Borough of Manhattan Community College) for International Arts Movement's 2008 Encounter, Generative Creativity: Transforming the Cultural River. IAM's annual encounter has become a high point for many members of the global community who are interested in exploring the deep questions of art, faith and humanity.  The IAM Encounter goes through March 1.

Programming for the three-day encounter includes a juried exhibit, topical workships, and vibrant inter-disciplinary artistic collaborations aimed at inspiring the creative community to engage the culture that is and create the world that ought to be.

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What a Girl Wants

Have you ever watched HGTV’s House Hunters?

The premise is simple: People are looking for a home. The show opens with us meeting this family (or retired couple or single person or sisters or newlyweds–turns out all different kinds of people need to find a new home for all different kinds of reasons) and hearing about the home they currently live in and the home they hope to find. We hear their Wish List for their next home: 2 bathrooms, a walk-in master closet, close to work, 4 bedrooms, easy to maintain, etc. And we meet their Realtor, who is "going to find Sally and Bob that perfect home!"

For the rest of the show, we watch the family tour three homes. As they walk through the houses, we see what they like (It has a pool!) and what they don’t (Those bedrooms are kind of small). We quickly discover if they have an affinity for crown molding, a love of wood floors, a desire for a fireplace. At the end of the three tours and before the show goes to its last commercial break, the host (the ever-positive Suzanne Whang) reviews the choices and asks us, the viewing audience, "Which one did they choose?"

I have to admit, it’s kind of fun to try to guess during the commercial break which house they bought. On House # 1, she loved the kitchen but he thought the street the house was on was too busy. On House # 2, they both fell in love with the view but it stretched their budget to the max. On House # 3, the upgrades were beautiful but it fell one bedroom short of what they were hoping for.

I also have to admit I’m often surprised by the choice. "What?!" I’ll think upon the revelation. "They hated those closets in that house! And he said he didn’t want a large yard to maintain! And she swore she’d never live in another 2-story home again!"

At the close of the show, we get a chance to visit with the family after they’ve lived in their home for several weeks. And they’re ecstatic. They talk about how much they’re enjoying their new house, how they’re putting their personal touches on the place, how they couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

"What?!" I’ll think again. "They hated those closets in that house! And he said he didn’t want a large yard to maintain! And she swore she’d never live in another 2-story home again!"

And then it hits me: You don’t have to get everything you want to be happy.

You really, really don’t.

These families never find the perfect home--there is no perfect home. But that doesn't stop them from smiling when they talk about their place because they look at what they do have. And that makes them happy.

I’m old enough now to understand that there are going to be some things in life I want that I will get. There are going to be some things in life I want that I will never, ever get. But I can most definitely choose to look at what I do have...and talk about that with a smile.

And that makes me happy.

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The 80th Oscars: Another Pontification

The 80th Oscars are nearly upon us, and as the posters have started to spring up in the subways (sporting what I think is a cheeky reference to Jon Stewart's last hosting stint two years ago), I'm becoming cautiously optimistic that they'll go on despite the strike. I normally wouldn't care, but watching Jon Stewart skewer the industry and prolong the east-coast-west-coast battle is just too fun.

Firstly, let me preface this by saying that I haven't seen a handful of these movies - "Atonement" "In the Valley of Elah", "Elizabeth", "Surf's Up", and so on, so I reserve the right to be wrong (though I suspect these aren't the better movies of the bunch anyhow).

But here are my Oscar predictions/picks, and a few musings.

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Tags | Film


What a strange confluence of the calendar! The biggest day for primary elections in American political history coincided with Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday–the biggest blowout on the liturgical calendar. A day of hubbub and speeches and speculation is thus followed by a day of penitence and reflection. What type of repentance should follow our Super Tuesday voting? Should we give up political speculation for Lent?

Ash Wednesday kicks off forty days of reflection prior to Easter. It is time of cutting back, slowing down, rediscovering how to pray. As the song says, “Let every heart prepare Him room.” The conflicting signs swirling around our presidential election may correspond to the conflict embedded in our souls. The American public knows we have lost our way. We see rising gas prices and home loans defaulting and recognize how our overconsumption has cost us. In the Season of Lent, we’re called to step back, to stop gorging ourselves. We recognize the folly of continuing to fight a war in Iraq long after their strongman Hussein has been bound. We repent of continuing to kill others to avenge the lives we lost on 9/11.

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I was sitting at a Pete’s Coffee recently, sipping on a delicious latte and flipping through the latest edition of Christianity Today. An article under the umbrella of Human Rights caught my attention and I began to read Caste Down: Commission’s decision imperils benefits for Christian Dalits (Feb. 2008 edition, pp. 17, 18).

To be honest, I don’t know a lot about the caste system that holds so many in India in oppression. But I do know that the Dalits are considered even lower than the lowest people group in India’s over 2500 people groups. In fact, Indians refer to them as the “untouchables.” (For more on people groups and statistics in India go to ( If you’ve read the blog titled No-Names for Jesus, you won’t be surprised to hear that, despite their persecution, the Dalits also make up one of the largest Christian groups in India.
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So I was quite pleasantly surpised when I friend forwarded me RELEVANT MAGAZINE’s list of the MOST ANTICIPATED books, movies, and albums of 2008. 

Alongside WILL FERRELL in Semi-Tough and JACK BLACK in Be Kind Rewind is my next book, INTO THE DARK: Screening the Sacred in the Top Films of the 21st Century. Thanks, Relevant!

What a fun and humbling honor to be listed with the next books from Shane Claiborne and Jim Wallis as well. (Jim Wallis is in Southern California this week, speaking at Fuller Seminary tonite and at All Saints Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills on Thursday evening.)   
Tags | Film

Thou Churlish Onion-Eyed Malt-Worm ...

The next time you find yourself in a smack-down of Shakespearean proportions, you may want to consult the Shakespeare Insult Kit. I promise you will find this resource inexhaustibly valuable. To my friend Roy, who directed me to it ... I can no other answer make, but thanks/ And thanks, and ever thanks.

I would blog something here about the way even a glance at Shakespearean vernacular highlights the diminished state of the English language in the 21st century, but I'd sound like a gleeking flat-mouthed clack-dish. And really, who wants that?

McCain: The Purple Conservative?

Will Republicans really nominate the maverick candidate John McCain for president?  What a surprising choice in an unpredictable year!   Just a few months ago, McCain’s campaign was suffering a cash shortage and a crisis of confidence.   His candidacy appeared over before the primaries began.  But with more voters interested in independent-minded politicians, McCain became the closest choice to “other”.

McCain has often bucked the traditional Republican party leadership.  In the Senate, he crossed party lines, working with Democrat Russ Feingold to champion campaign finance reform.  In representing Arizona, McCain sensitivity’s to border issues and immigration reform puts him at odds with most Republicans.   He has also taken heat from conservative for sponsoring gun-control legislation.

Strengthen Your Brothers

A year ago, if you were to ask me what I’d be doing right now, I wouldn’t have believed you. I couldn’t have foreseen it in my boldest dreams.  If I shut my eyes and you were to tell me, I could not have possibly imagined what I would be feeling, experiencing, or doing.  
I have never had a heart for people beyond our borders.  I’ve always felt a calling into ministry – however much I repressed it or kept it hidden away in a shoebox in my mind - but I’ve always felt called to work among the American church.  Perhaps its because I was one for the majority of the time I’ve been a Christian, but I've always felt that there were enough lukewarm Christians in our churches that needed to be woken up and corrected.  

Aside from feeling that I communicated best within our culture, I think my main reason was that I thought that if we could transform the American church and harness and direct it we could do great things not only on our own soil but in lands whose pain and suffering we romanticize about alleviating before we’re truly exposed to it.  I looked at America as the home base, a corporation, a bank, a secondary end and primary means.  I thought that if we could change it and organize it, we could implement change like a battle plan drawn up in bustling, dark rooms on glass maps with thick dry-erase markers.  
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So Very Lost

I didn’t watch Lost on Thursday night.

Now, I’m a huge fan of the show–have been since the moment Jack opened his eyes on that creepy, crazy tropical island. And I was beyond happy that 8 new episodes were in the can before the writers’ strike. But I didn’t watch it on Thursday because I was on a business trip and didn’t make it to a television in time. Sad, sad day.

I know–watching a tv show when it’s actually broadcast is so passe. With DVRs, downloads, and online viewing options, the number of people actually watching a show during its scheduled time slot on its scheduled day is diminishing. But in the same way that I’m a Luddite about some things, I’m a traditionalist about others–I like to watch a show when it’s broadcast. I really like the idea that I’m watching something at the same time millions of others are watching it. I like walking into work the next morning and saying to fellow fans, "Oh my gosh! Can you believe what happened...?" That perks me up more than a cup of coffee ever could.

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