Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Mission

Heather had a present for me when I returned from India, something I've wanted for a long time: Ennio Morricone's soundtrack for the film "The Mission". "Gabriel's Oboe" is an all time favorite. If you havent heard it, you can buy the song for a buck on itunes. well worth the dollar.

Back to my journal entries from India

Today a church dedication in the most rural setting to date. Farmers out threshing and winnowing the rice crop in the field, the same way they have for thousands of years. The church we are visiting is made of Indian Gypsies. They have vibrant costumes, and are known for being charismatic followers of Jesus. When we arrived they processed us in with trumpet, drum, clarinet and folk dancing, showering us with flower petals all the way. The Pastor is known as a faith healer. Not sure what to think though, he wanted to show me his abilities by laying his hand on a young boy who seemed to swoon backwards in an almost rehearsed way, then fell to the ground, then the boy rose to his feet to repeat the gesture. Then the Pastor slapped the boy across the face as he swooned backwards, lifted him to his feet by his hair and repeated this again. I grimaced, tried to embrace the boy which probably confused everyone. I was confused and found myself getting angry and a bit of an attitude toward the pastor.

Ended the day with another church dedication outside of Khammam. Here over 200 people waited till dark for our arrival. The Pastor was moved to tears expressing his gratitude to God for sustaining him through two heart attacks, one year of Bible College and the construction of his small church. Amazing service, amazing people. Mosquitoes bout killed me.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Email from Mako Fujimura

I just recieved this email from Mako Fujimora, the founder of IAM (International Arts Movement). I'm looking forward to the upcoming conference in New York. Listen to what is on Mako's heart
"I have a fifty year vision for the church that I will be sharing with artists at the conference. Today, if you interview anyone on the street with a question: "What do you think of when you think of the Christian church?" you can imagine what the answer would be...

"political extremism..."
"It's where I find the most segregated group of people..."
"It's where people boycott stuff they don't agree with..."

Or maybe for a few...

"It's where I found salvation..."

I am praying for that in fifty years, people would say:

"It's the source of my creativity, and it's where I experience beauty both in art and in my life." and for the blessed, "and I found the True and only Life through her in Jesus."

Now, my eldest son is 17, and in fifty years he will be 67 (and I will be,if I am still around, 95)! So this is certainly beyond our immediate influence. Which is why I like praying for something beyond our time. This means that we will have to train future leaders to think and teach this way,and that their off spring will be the one to see it happen. Would you join me in praying for that to happen? Yes, this is certainly God sized and we will not be able to make this happen except for God's power. Let us know what you decided to do, or how we can serve you in any way.

And, while you are at it,...pray for our 500 year vision! I'll be sending our more about that in the future...

Blessings upon your faithful service,"

Mako Fujimura

Saturday, January 28, 2006

How Do Actors Remember Their Lines? or "I could have told you that"

This is an article I pulled off of boingboing. Interesting and well...obvious really.

How do actors remember pages and pages of lines? Apparently, it's usually not through rote memorization. Cognitive psychologist Helga Noice (Elmhurst College) and her actor/director husband Tony Noice (Indiana State University) have spent twenty years studying the psychology of actors and their techniques. What they found could potentially be used by elderly individuals whose cognitive abilities are declining. The Noices report their latest results in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science. From an Association for Psychological Science news release:

According to the researchers, the secret of actors' memories is, well, acting. An actor acquires lines readily by focusing not on the words of the script, but on those words' meaning -- the moment-to-moment motivations of the character saying them -- as well as on the physical and emotional dimensions of their performance.

To get inside the character, an actor will break a script down into a series of logically connected "beats" or intentions. Good actors don't think about their lines, but feel their character's intention in reaction to what the other actors do, causing their lines to come spontaneously and naturally. The researchers quote the great British actor Michael Caine: "You must be able to stand there not thinking of that line. You take it off the other actor's face."

The key, the researchers have found, is a process called active experiencing, which they say uses "all physical, mental, and emotional channels to communicate the meaning of material to another person." It is a principle that can be applied off-stage as well as on. For example, students who studied material by imagining conveying its meaning to somebody else who needed the information showed higher retention than those who tried to memorize the material by rote.

Tree at My Window -- Robert Frost

The tullip tree out my window, the girls refer to it as "Godzilla".
this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, January 27, 2006

Jan 2nd

Started things off with a visit to a school our Church funds, About 150 kids all together at the school all very thrilled and appreciative to have us there. After this we went to a day school for children with special needs, mostly mental, some with physical needs too. Then at about 4pm. The big event…driving back to Hyderabad to pick up Gladwyn who was arriving late, from the airport. This involved another hair raising ride, for four plus hours, IN THE DARK! The roads truly are treacherous here. Carcasses of vehicles litter the road all the way back. I prayed, then after a few minutes assumed a kind of strange fatalism toward the whole thing, began wondering how they would get my dead body back to the states, would they freeze me in a sitting position and purchase a seat for me on an airline, ship me back on ice in the cargo hold, or just cremate me here and send my ashes. Well the trip was thankfully uneventful, and my driver Ravi and I had a bit of an English class along the way. We arrived back in Khammam at around 3:00am. Roads all but empty as we hit the town, lots of dust, people sitting by open fires along the road, monkeys scavenging. Good to have Gladwyne with us.


Joseph was afraid to return to Israel even after an angel appeared to him in Egypt telling him to return. Hearing that Archelaus, Herod's son was now the king, he instead went to Nazareth. God even uses our fear for his purposes, the Gospel of Matthew tells us that the move to Nazareth was a fulfillment of prophecy "he will be from Nazareth.."

Jan 1st 2006

Had water buffalo milk with my cornflakes this morning. then made a two hr. drive to a little church outside of Khammmam in a rural village. Monkeys, mongoose, water buffalo, rice patties, cotton, palm trees and harvest time filled our windows on the way out. 400 people sat on the ground outside the Church under a colorful cabana, listening to their children recite scripture and sing. The ladies all arrived in their most colorful saris, it looked like a beautiful quilt, something Heather would love to see and make.

Driving in India

I thought Taiwan and Mexico City would be good preparation for driving in India, both are frightful in their own right, but nothing can really compare, India tops them all. 5hrs. of white knuckle, nail biting, on the verge of disaster driving. Our drivers seemed to enjoy this immensely. We arrived in Khammam around 2:30 in the afternoon, we were served a meal then taken to our first visit to a leprosy colony. Nothing prepares you for this, even if we had been given some rest from our trip (which we had not). Around 100 were sitting when we arrived; they were waiting patiently on the ground outside. With apprehension I reached out and touched them, thinking all the while of one of my favorite stories in Mark, "Jesus full of compassion reached out and touched" the leper.
Azariah had each of us say a few words. I tried to convey part of this passage to them. I mentioned my girls inability to keep a secret from their mother at Christmas, and what a joy it is to watch them try and yet fail to keep that secret, and wondered whether Jesus felt the same way, the same joy, when he asked this leper who had just received healing from Jesus, NOT to "tell any anyone about this", and instead he "went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news!
Never a new years like this!

New Years Day India 2006

Arrived in Hyderabad yesterday morning after over 24hrs of travel from London. Our route took us over Baghdad, Afghanistan and Iran to Delhi, from there we flew to Bombay, now officially referred to as Mumbai. We had a 5hr lay over before catching our last flight to Hyderabad. While wainting in Mumbai, I finally got the courage to ask a man who was part of an enormous group of (Muslim) pilgrims, all dressed in white, traveling together where they were going. A gentleman about my age, he politely told me that he and his family were making a "haj" to Mecca & Medina. They asked me where I was from and I had a brief moment of hesitation before I told them America. There was a noticeable hesitation in this man's face, but the simplicity of the gesture, two travelers simply curious about one another’s destination, quickly overtook our apprehensions, and we shook hands and wished each other well.
Arrived in Hyderabad around 9am. Moved from a small baggage claim area directly on to the streets where you are summarily overwrought with people moving in and on you; first the noise, then the heat, then the beggars; children, women draped in black, filthy, reaching out, "sir, please sir" placing their bony fingers to their mouths, a gesture of their need for food. The children riding on the hips of their mothers or sisters, seemed thrilled, enjoying a kind of game it seemed. Tom almost immediacy stepped in to a pile of human excrement. The beggars followed us to our car continuing their plea for money. I knew that the moment I offered one child money I'd be overwhelmed from all of them. My plans was to empty my pockets right before we left. Things work slower in India however, even things as simple as driving away, so after I pulled the money from my pockets, we had to endure the interminable tapping of our rolled up windows of women holding children, pleading for more. We were all still dressed for London, sweaters etc. noise, heat, smog, filth, excrement, beggars tapping...sealed up in our oven like car waiting to get out of there. welcome to India!

Retro Blog (Dec 29th)

I'm trying to go back to my written journal of my recent trip to England and India and enter it here. Here goes:
Today went Downtown London, enjoyed the sights, dined in the West End at an Opera themed restaurant off of Covent Garden. Had Lamb for Diner. Rode the "London Eye", amazing vistas of the city, can't believe I was on and above the Thames today. Found the Cormorant fishing from above the river as magnificent as the city skyline below. I've heard the Chinese will domesticate these birds, tying a string around their throats, so they cant swallow, then sending them down to go fish, when they surface back to the boats they pull the fish out of their mouth. Smart way to fish! We walked by the Museum at County Hall, where Salvatore Dali is on display. Took a few photos of some larger sculpture on the river Thames, accessorized the skyline in quite a dreamy way. Was asked to perform parts of Mark's Gospel in the little old Chapel in Hendon, what a treat, the space is an old Anglican monastery which our church has owned since the 1930's. We leave for India tomorrow at 5:30 am.

Birches - Robert Frost

A few years ago a student friend of mine Josva Halseide read this poem for me, and it kneaded it's way into my imagination.
this is an audio post - click to play

Wednesday, January 25, 2006