Monday, December 08, 2003

Another Generalized Sort of Post

Here we are, at the end of another business day. Coming at you Live, with "Dave--After Hours." Sounds a bit suspect, doesn't it?

My weekend was okay. I made spaghetti. First solo-production of the spaghetti. Turned out very well, in case you're curious (as I know so many are). Matter of fact, I am gonna polish off the leftovers for supper tonight. So that's entertaining.

What else, what else... Oh, for those of you who are in the Houston area, or are close enough to drive here from say, College Station, or Waco (*cough* ahem, hint hint *cough*), need to get your ever-loving selves down here on Friday to see my man Seth Woods perform. Details are sketchy at this point, but what I've pieced together is that he's playing at Ecclesia's Taft Rd. arts building. I'll keep you posted when I find out more. But yeah, if you are in the area or can hop in a car and be here in a couple of hours, you need to check this guy out because he is awesome.

Saw A Christmas Carol at Alley Theatre this weekend. It was fun. A mixed bag, as far as production values goes. Josh and I would have probably picked it apart. But I tried to restrain my critical/directorial mind and just enjoy the show. Which i was finally able to do, and it wasn't that bad. Proof is playing there in January. If I weren't saving my pennies for Jekyll and Hyde, I'd probably go.

Voting is still going on for the "Walking on the Razor's Edge" poll question. If you haven't made your voice heard, be sure to do so while there's still time.

The impromptu trivia question contest is closed. The winner will be announced.

We here at "Perfect Blue Buildings" would like to welcome visitors from the CCCS Class of 1998 for stopping by, and we hope you will be regular readers here at "PBB." Thank you, and enjoy your stay.


For those who may not have heard, HBO has produced and is airing a film based on Tony Kushner's controversial and award-winning play "Angels In America: Millenium Approaches." If you are unfamiliar or unaware of this work, here's your primer: this play is about being gay in America in the eighties. And all that it entails. It is unflinching, it is raw, it is in some ways perverse. I'm bringing this up--even though part of me is saying to delete this paragraph and move on--because this piece is representative of a major cultural shift that the church has chosen to ignore by-and-large.

I believe that art has many roles. Art can imitate life. Art can expose life. Art can transcend life. It can make us sad, ashamed, inspired, elated. God is the ultimate Artist, the Creator, Sculptor, Writer whose work is the world, whose canvas is reality, and whose masterpiece is not the fallen earth, but the redeemed soul. As an artist, I see art as an opportunity to both worship God and elicit emotion from man. So when major cultural/artistic events occur, I take notice. Because, as Dr. Cole would say, art saves lives. But art also can also debase lives.

I feel I have to choose my words judiciously at this point. Not because I'm afraid of what you'd think. More because I'm afraid of what I'd write. You see, I have spent several years breaking the habit of making snap judgements about things, especially artistic things. I hesitate (as I have mentioned many times) to label something as morally good or bad, because often this is based on personal conviction. (Do not misread me to mean that I employ situational ethics, but as in many cases, such as R-rated movies and the like, it's really between the viewer and God.) So in a situation like this, concerning this film/play, I find myself being very hesitant to speak out. But I think I should.

My feeling about it is that Kushner was writing from a place and time (early-to-mid-eighties) where he felt that his group was ignored by media and marginalized. Out of this feeling came "Angels in America" (which I believe is part of a trilogy) that viciously attacks the viewer with the playwright's point-of-view/ideology/agenda. This play, like many modern works, tries to shock the viewer into thinking about life from the other perspective--in this case, from the perspective of the gay community. Often, Kushner seems heavy-handed in his approach. "Heavy-handed" may be too politik a term. But this is where he's coming from.

I don't agree with him. I don't agree with homosexuality; I think it is a sinful lifestyle and is a wrong choice with sometimes dangerous consequences. I could hit you with the "love the sinner, hate the sin" jive, but the fact is, most churches don't put feet on this cliche. Which is why it has become cliche. Five years ago, I wouldn't have been able to love the sinner at all, thinking that some sinners who commit certain sins are just unlovable. But I see that differently now. I understand grace better, I think.

Anyway, when I encounter a creative work like "Angels in America", I try to stifle my immediate repulsion. And this play can be extremely repellant. But I try to understand why it is, what it comes from. And this is my makeshift understanding.

Kushner tries to shock the viewer into submission, with his message that gay people are unfairly treated, oppressed, tortured souls who just want to be accepted like everyone else. Kushner seems to say that all who don't think homosexuality is okay are nothing more than hateful neanderthals akin to Nazis and all the other horrible wicked murderous tribes who've been around. You don't dare disagree with the gay heroes, because that means you side with the bigots and oppressors. And no one wants to be linked to the bad guys.

And Kushner does this because, like many people trying to promote homosexuality, he doesn't seem to allow for any disagreement. For many like this, it's all or nothing. You must accept everything they do, approve of it, endorse it if need be, because you don't want to be considered a horrible mean person, do you? We shouldn't be surprised by this. This has been happening more and more. People are trying to justify their choices through cultural acceptance, and if the culture doesn't accept, by golly we'll MAKE them accept it.

The reason I bring all this up (I've been meandering toward a point, I promise you) is not because I think we should boycott HBO and Al Pacino and everyone else involved. Christians do too many boycotts, and that's not what Jesus was about (the one human thing he was mainly enraged about was the self-righteousness and interpersonal "boycotts" of the church, but that's a whole 'nother deal). And I don't think we should all watch the film. I am choosing not to, because I feel it's just too debasing for me. I wouldn't recommend anyone watching the film version, though I admit I haven't seen it. But what I think we as Christians should do is try to understand why it exists, what it really means for this culture.

Our culture is growing sickly, overgorged on its own decadence and lack of limits. We see it every day. And Christians have two choices: be repulsed and withdraw, or recognize it and engage it. We cannot abandon our participation in the Great Debate, over a little queasiness. Instead, we need to understand what the state of things is in this country, in this culture, in this present generation, and be ready with answers. I've seen and heard too many Christians jump all over people for what they watch, listen to, read. "I can't believe you'd participate in *that*--that's just awful!" Maybe we should start providing some answers instead of dishing out indignation. Just a thought.

So there it is. This movie is on HBO, and is being called the biggest television event in years, by some critics. And it is an event, to be sure. It is the latest example of a culture that is diseased buy knows no cure, because no one is willing to go near it and provide an alternative.

(This should have been a post by itself, I think.)

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