Category Archives: Media

I am Malala

Little ones are infamous for their love of repetition.  I swear my three-year-old daughter could watch the same episode of Daniel Tiger on repeat all morning and be happy. I cannot tell you how many times she has said to me, immediately after finishing a book, “Again. Read it again Daddy.”

Most of the time, the repetition can be a little tedious. Well, I found a video that Lucy wants to watch over and over, and I’m totally okay with that. Watch this video, baby. Watch it again. Watch it as you go to preschool. Watch it on my lap and don’t worry about the tears rolling down my cheek.  Watch it when you start middle school, even if you don’t want me to walk with you to school any more. Watch it in high school, and before you go on your first date. Watch it when you go to college, and know who and whose you are. Watch it when you feel discouraged. Watch it when some one tries to tell you that you do not count. Watch it when you feel like you cannot make a difference.

You are Malala. You are infinite hope.  Hear these words.  Hold onto these words.  Watch it over and over and know that as long as I have strength to stand, it will be by your side.

“It is time for you to decide. Would you choose to fight for what you believed in? Would you do what is right? If I need you, would you stand tall with me, right here by my side? Be the change you want to see. Take a look through my eyes.”

Inspired by Malala Yousafzai’s incredible courage, this video was created by Girls of the World to support the Malala Fund.  I found it here on Upworthy.  Go to Malalafund.org to learn more about supporting education for girls.  Follow The Malala Fund on Facebook.

Follow The Fat Pastor on Facebook
Follow @FatPastor on Twitter

Leave a comment

November 8, 2013 · 10:57 am

Michael Jackson’s “Liberian Girl” video is a stroll down 80s memory lane.

The fourth track on Michael Jackson’s 1987 blockbuster album Bad, the song “Liberian Girl” is not one of the King of Pop’s most popular.  When the video was shared on Facebook by a West African friend of mine the other day, I watched it.  Liberia holds a special place in my heart, so I was intrigued by the song title.  It is a simple, beautiful song, but it was never released as a single in the US.  The video however, is memorable.

It is veritable “Who’s who” of 1980s pop culture. See if you can name all the stars that appear in this video.

There’s Malcom Jamal Warner, Danny Glover, John Travolta, Olivia Newton John, Suzanne Summers, Whitley from “Another World,” one of the Coreys, Apollo Creed, the Hulk, Lando, that monkey, and many, many more. For a fun party game, play the video and see how many you can name.  Check this wikipedia page here for the full cast.  Perhaps most surprising of all is the absence of Eddie Murphy. Given that he and Michael together made the worst video of all time, maybe that’s a good thing.

Follow The Fat Pastor on Facebook
Follow @FatPastor on Twitter

Leave a comment

November 8, 2013 · 10:06 am

The 10 Commandments of Jesus

This is not comprehensive.  What are some commandments that you would add?

This is not comprehensive. What are some commandments that you would add?

There are a lot of people that clamor to put the Ten Commandments in public places.  I believe too firmly in the separation of Church and State to want to see that happen.  Yet sometimes I wonder why no one seems to want to put the sermon on the mount in the courthouse lobby?  Jesus said, “When they wish to haul you to court and take your shirt, let them have your coat too.”  How would that go over?  After we put the sermon on the mount at the courthouse, could we put Luke’s sermon on the plain on Wall Street?  How would that fit?  He said to “lend expecting nothing in return” (Luke 6:35 in the sermon on the plain).  What would that do to our economic system?  

Really, I can’t help but wonder if there is any way to reconcile a realistic society with Jesus’ teaching.  Does our justice system of punishment and retribution have anything to do with the grace and peace that Jesus taught?  Could our society function on the premise of turning the other cheek?  Could our economic structures survive Jesus’ teaching about money?  Jesus places some pretty big demands on his followers.  It is hard to imagine how it would even work.

But then, do the systems we have in place now work? I’m not sure a society can function under the rules Jesus laid out, but I’m also pretty sure no society has really tried.

“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” – Gilbert K. Chesterton

Follow the Fat Pastor on Facebook

Follow @FatPastor on Twitter

1 Comment

Filed under Christianity, Media

Hear them roar

Katy Perry has done it again.  Firework is one of my favorite songs.  Granted, its not entirely her doing.  Firework was one of the first song selections for my church’s Dramatic Worship team, which is a liturgical dance group.  One the dancers is my daughter, so now I cannot hear that song without thinking of her and her best friend singing it out loud with all their heart.

Well, Katy’s song Roar is a similarly awesome song about conviction, courage, and strength.  It is one I want my daughters to know and sing along to.  I had heard it once or twice, and enjoyed it.  Then I saw the video below, shared by a friend on FB through Upworthy on Tatiana Danger’s blog.  It contained a crying warning label, but I’m okay with a few tears every now and then.  I wasn’t expecting what came next.  Tears.  Then sobs.  My heart was at the same time broken and strengthened.  I was saddened beyond words, and yet inspired.  The video is apparently a fundraising effort for Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock.  I don’t know if it will help them, but I will never hear this song again and not think of the courage in that building, and all Children’s Hospitals.

And by the way, the girl in the purple tie-dye is an awesome performer

Follow The Fat Pastor on Facebook

Follow @FatPastor on Twitter

In a video full of inspiration and awesomeness, this girl stole the show for me.

In a video full of inspiration and awesomeness, this girl stole the show for me.

3 Comments

Filed under Media, Personal Reflection

A beautiful story in a three minute commercial

I’m not sure what product this commercial is selling. I don’t think I’m one of their intended customers.  It, however, tells a beautiful story.  A story that is ancient and timeless.  It is a story of giving.  What does it mean to give and expect nothing in return?  This seems to be the heart of generosity, and the heart of the Gospel.

Jesus told stories like this.  He told a story of a father that gave a huge party when his wasteful son returned home.  He told a story of workers that were paid the same even though they did not seem to earn it.  He told a story of a wedding feast where all the invited guests didn’t come, so he brought in the people off the streets.

And he told a story about a man, beaten, robbed, and left for dead.  The man was passed by time and again until finally a foreigner found him.  This man took the beaten man, gave him medicine, brought him to an inn, and gave him a chance to live.  It’s funny, Jesus’ story that we know as The Good Samaritan didn’t have a neat little happy ending like the video above.  I’m not sure Jesus would have made a great marketing director.

Instead, Jesus gave us the greatest ending of all.

Follow The Fat Pastor on Facebook

Follow @FatPastor on Twitter

4 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Media

Dedication, Loyalty, Friendship. The beer commercial I watched while chopping onions.

Not much to say here other then, “Watch this.” It is only a minute long, but it left me a little perklempt.

Follow The Fat Pastor on Facebook

Follow @FatPastor on Twitter

2 Comments

September 7, 2013 · 4:33 pm

To love another person is to see the face of God

Les-MiserablesI have seen Les Mis live four times, including yesterday afternoon. The first three times were on grand stages in Peoria, Saint Louis, and Chicago with touring Broadway casts. It is a story of grace and salvation that needs to be told, and it is a story that my heart longs to hear over and over.  Seeing Les Mis is a sacramental experience for me.  It at the same time convicts and uplifts me.  It reminds me of the stark cruelty of the world and of the sublime beauty that lies within us. The music, the power, the triumph, and emotion of it is something I crave like a cold glass of milk after an oreo.

Every time I see it, I have to resist the urge to sing along for the sake of those sitting next to me.    Every time I see it,  I laugh at the Thenardiers raunchy jokes.  Every time I see it, I shed a tear for the plight of Fantine and bristle at the cruelty of the world.  Every time Is see it, I am inspired by Valjean’s integrity, and lament Javert’s misplaced idea of duty. The tears have come every time that Gabrach is shot, and I ache for Eponine as she sings “On My Own,” as I remember the unrequited loves of my own youth.  They come again when Eponine dies, and I hang on the director’s decision to let them kiss before her last breath or not.  Since having daughters of my own, the tears have found new outlets, like when young Cosette begs to not go into the dark.  They come strongest now when Valjean sings “She was never mine to keep,” as he sees Cosette and Marius wed.

Every time I see it, I leave emotionally exhausted.  Yesterday afternoon was no exception.  The performance I witnessed was not as polished or grand as the others that I have seen.  The actors were not Broadway stars, and the stage and set was not in a world class theater.  It was in a re-purposed building, with simple costumes, a sparse set, and young actors.  Yes, young actors.  The oldest performers were 16.

centerI saw Les Mis at the Center For Living Arts.  It was directed by Dino and Tina Hayz.  The cast had three weeks from their first rehearsal to their first showtime.  In those three weeks, the rehearsed five days a week for 8 hours a day.  The youth at The Center are talented, but the show was not great because they blew me away with their singing.  The show was great because they poured themselves into it.  They captured the emotion and the passion that is needed to pull off a show as big as Les Mis.

Though I cringed a few times because of the adult-oriented themes, like when the brilliant Madame and Master  Thenardier sang their raunchy songs, or when the cast of young teenagers sang “Lovely Ladies,” there was something about their raw youth that made it even more real.  The performance of “I Dreamed a Dream,” by a very young Fantine was one of the best performances of that song I have ever seen.  I realized that the young girl singing was probably about the same age as a “real” Fantine would have been.  The harsh truth is that many of the sexual slaves of the era – and even today – are but young teenagers.  The youthful exuberance of the students in the taverns, willing to die for their cause took on a higher level of tragedy.  The love story of Cosette and Marius seemed more authentic than usual, as I’ve always felt the love-at-first-sight story seemed a little contrived when it was adults playing the roles.  Eponine’s “On My Own,” was as emotional as any I’ve witnessed as it was sung with a forlorn wistfulness than only a teenager can make believable.

By the time the whole cast came out to sing the finale, I was ready to stand and join them beyond the barricade.  The final vision, which is the Kingdom of God where even Javert can find the redemption he was never able to offer, is one that puts goosebumps on my arms and fills me with hope.   As I watched the group of young people stand and sing, I was filled with awe.

I have worked with Dino and Tina before.  I have witnessed what they can do with people with willing hearts.  All I can say about them is that they work magic.  Absolute magic.

Les Mis has long been my favorite musical.  Miss Saigon has always been my second-favorite.  I heard that the Center is considering it for next summer.  It will be an even taller task than Les Mis, but I can already see the Master of the House as The Engineer.  If anyone can pull it off, it is Dino and Tina.

Follow The Fat Pastor on Facebook

Follow @FatPastor on Twitter

Leave a comment

Filed under Media

You are the light of the world.

Part Two of my story of Godspell. Read part one here.

Click here to go to the full sermon, where I talk about our experience with Godspell, called “You are the Light of the World.”  From 11:30-20:00, I talk more extensively about the salt and the light as found in Matthew 5:13-14.

Our Riverside UMC "Godspell" cast

Our Riverside UMC “Godspell” cast

“You are the light of the world,” I sang. And then I went home and reflected on the amazing thing we had just done. Godspell had forever changed me, but in the hours after the show I don’t think I had any idea just how much.

“You are the light of the world,” we all sang. Dino Hayz, director of the Center for Living Arts and our Jesus, went out into the audience. He grabbed someone and had them stand up so we could all sing to that one particular person, “You are the salt of the earth.” Then quickly to another man he dashed. He got him to stand up so we could point to him and sing, “You are the city of God.” Finally, he found one last woman. She was sitting near the back, and we sang one more time, “You are the light of the world.”

It was the last song before intermission. We left the sanctuary rocking. We were half way home, and we all sensed that things were going well. None of our rehearsals suggested that the show would go as smoothly as it had been. At the end of the show, after singing the beautiful refrain “We can build a beautiful city, yes we can. Yes we can. We can build a beautiful city. Not a city of angels, but finally a city of man,” I felt a great sense of accomplishment.

After the show a woman approached me. She told me that she had a great time. She loved the music, and she was so glad she could come. For years, she told me, she had a Playbill from the original Broadway production. She also had an album she had never played. For years she had kind of wondered what Godspell was, and when she saw us in the paper, she decided on a whim to come check it out. I told her how happy I was that she was there, and invited her to come again to worship with us.

The next day I was talking to our head usher about what a great experience the show was. We were marveling at the amount of people that came, and how many people came that were not a part of our church. I told him about the woman I talked to after the show, and he quickly realized that he knew who I was talking about.

“Yeah, I was talking to her at intermission. She seemed like she was looking for something, and I wanted to help her. I saw her and said, ‘You are the light of the world,’ she was one of the people that you guys sang to when Dino got her to stand up.'”
She kind of laughed when I said that,” Tom told me. “And then she said, ‘No one has ever called me that before.'”

I got goosebumps when he told me that, and I thanked Tom for telling me about their exchange. Then I went back into my office and was overwhelmed. Something washed over me that I can only describe as the Holy Spirit as I prayed “Thank you God.” Tears started to flow, and my efforts at standing became feeble. I literally fell to my knees in tears as I was struck at once with an overwhelming sense of awe, wonder, sadness, joy, and purpose. “No one has ever called me that before,” she said.

There were so many moments that made Godspell a memorable experience. If it were not for Tom’s story, I would have counted it as a great memory. I would have remembered the impromptu rehearsals in the kitchen with my wife and daughter as we sang and danced together. I would have remembered Molly gently nudging me into the right place so I was ready to be one of the priests in the Good Samaritan parable. I would have remembered the prayer we shared before the show. I would have remembered hugging Dino during the farewell song, and whispering to him. “Thank you, brother.” With or without that conversation with Tom I would have relished in the glow of accomplishing something as a team.

After hearing the story of the woman that had never been told that she was the light of the world though, I had something more.

“You are the light of the world,” is not just a catchy line in a pretty song in an upbeat musical.
“You are the light of the world,” are Jesus’ words to his followers. They are words from what we call The Sermon on the Mount as found in Matthew 5-6. It is a small part of Jesus’ dissertation about what it means to live in this world.

“You are the light of the world.” It is a claim on those that had gathered. It is an assurance of what Jesus’ followers are, and what they shall be.

“You are the light of the world,” Jesus said so long ago.

“You are the light of the world,” Jesus declares today. You.

So let your light so shine. There is a light that is within you that is good. There is a light within you that is of God. There is a light within you that needs to be seen. I think for a moment of the children in this world that have never been told that they are the light of anyone’s world, and it breaks my heart. I think for a moment of people stuck in abusive relationships, allowing their light to be crushed, and I want to scream. I think for a moment of youth that want only to hide and be as invisible as possible so as not to draw anyone’s attention, and it kills me to know that they have never been told, “You were created in the very image of God. The light that God created at the very moment of creation. That is in you. Hear Jesus crying to you, ‘You are the light of the world.'”

That little musical gave me a lot of things. It gave me memories. It gave me friendships. It gave me knowledge about myself. And it gave me a renewed sense of purpose. It gave me a way to think about my mission as a follower of Christ.
I will strive to never allow another man, woman, or child pass me by without letting them know, in no uncertain terms, that they are the light of the world.

Learn more about The Center For Living Arts

Follow the Fat Pastor on Facebook

Follow @FatPastor on Twitter

4 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Media

I love it when a plan comes together

PART ONE of my story about GODSPELL
My wife and I during rehearsal.  In the show, this became one of the little bits of magic onto which I will forever hold.  Every time we rehearsed this, 'Jesus' cuts in and stops us from dancing.  And I was supposed to say, "Yeah, but she's so, so..."  Every time in rehearsal, I said something different to end that line.  Nothing I tried ever felt right.  Then during the show, I looked at her and our eyes met, and my heart melted again, and I finished my line perfectly "she's an angel."

My wife and I during rehearsal. In the show, this became one of the little bits of magic which I will forever cherish. Every time we rehearsed this, ‘Jesus’ cuts in and stops us from dancing. And I was supposed to say, “Yeah, but she’s so, so…” Every time in rehearsal, I said something different to end that line. Nothing I tried ever felt right. Then during the show, I looked at her and our eyes met, and my heart melted again, and I finished my line perfectly “she’s an angel.”

I messed up my line every time in rehearsal.  I only had two lines, and mine was the first line of the song.  There was no warm-up.  No lead-in.  No chance to find my way in the song.  No chance to start slow and pick up momentum.  It was just cue music, grab mic, and sing.  Sing.

I’ve held a mic on “stage” before hundreds of times.  I’ve given sermons, speeches, toasts, and prayers in front of large crowds and small gatherings.  I’ve even sung in front of people before, but always as a member of a choir.  I had not been nervous in a church in years.  Yet I knew my line was coming.  From the moment the previous song started I was already thinking about it. My turn to clutch that mic and sing was coming.

Every time in rehearsal I had messed it up.  I came in late.  Or I was way off key.  Or I botched the wording.  Up until the show I was ‘ofer.’  I should have been terrified.  It thought I was going to be terrified, but here’s the crazy thing, when it came time for my two-line solo, I wasn’t nervous.  I sang it.  “You are the light of the world,” I said as I pointed to one of the people in the audience.  And then the ensemble came in behind me  “You are the light of the world.”  I felt good, so I kept going.  I don’t know if I was off-key or not.  I knew at this point the only mistake I could make was to hold back.  “But if that light’s under a bushel, it’s lost something kind of crucial,” I sang. And for a moment, if only in my mind, I was Donnie Osmond as Joseph or Michael Crawford as the Phantom.  I was hooked.

A few months ago I sat in a coffee shop and met with the Director of the Center for Living Arts, Dino Hayz.  The Center is one of those little gems you find in old cities.  It is not a big theater, but it has a lot of heart.  Focusing mostly on youth theater, the Center specializes in doing quality shows quickly.  Before there was a Center though, there was Dino and his wife and friends that put together a company to do Godspell in churches.  They have been doing Godspell in churches for over ten years.  They consider it their life’s ministry to spread the message of love and community that is a part of Godspell to as many people as possible.  “It’s not so much a musical,” he explained to me, as it is an experience.  “I want people to experience Christ’s love through what is happening all around them.”

We sat together and talked about an idea.  It was an idea hatched by our children’s minister months (years?) before.  What if we did Godspell together at our church?  What could we create if we took a few of the experienced members of Dino’s company, and did Godspell with the talented and willing people from our church?  What if, instead of them doing Godspell at our church, we did it together with our church?

I left that lunch knowing that we were embarking on something good.  I had no idea just how magnificent it would become.

On the day of our placement auditions, I wondered who would come.  On the first night it was clear that we had created something special.  20 people came.  There were two kindergartners, a handful of junior high and senior high youth.  There were a couple of adults who had never been in a show before.  There were a few remarkably talented singers.  There was a senior member of our church choir, and regular singer from our praise band.  We ranged in age from 5-65(ish).  We were men and women, boys and girls.  Some brought members of their family in the journey with them, others came with friends.  Some came eagerly.  Some came only because they were dragged, almost literally, from other tasks.  We were scared, excited, and willing.

We supported each other.  As each person took turns singing a few lines a capella from a song of their choice  we cheered.  At least one youth simply had someone standing next to her for support, so she wouldn’t have to stand alone.  The truth was, none of us were alone.  On the very first night we were creating the community that Godspell is about.  From moment one, we were living the musical.  On that night, each one of us put a pebble in our shoe and called it “dare.”

They say live theater gets in your blood.  People talk about it in the same way they talk about addiction.  Intellectually, I accepted that it must be true, but until the word “crucial” left my lips, I had never experienced anything like it.  

Being a part of this production Godspell changed me.  I’m not even sure how exactly yet.  I know I want to be a in another musical.  I know that I want to have that 10-minutes-to-showtime excitement again.  I know that I want to have that it’s-almost-my-line sense of calm confidence again.   I want to look out into an audience and see their smiles, read their expressions, bask in their gripped silence.  I want to look into the eyes of a cast member in the midst of another show and whisper, “we’re really doing it,” with the same mix of fun and terror that I had last Saturday.  I want to put my arms around a group of friends after a show well done.  I want to crash into bed, emotionally spent, and dream about the songs I just sang.

When I think about the journey that started with a lunch in a coffee shop in October, and ended on a spring afternoon… Well, I have to stop myself.

This journey is going to keep going.  There are going to be more shows.   There are going to be more rehearsals.  There are going to be more chances to sing about love.  Nothing ended that night.  It turns out that something was sparked.  Relationships have been forged.  Dreams have been shared.  A vision has been caught.  There’s more to come.  The show will go on.

And if you’re looking for a ensemble to “do” Godspell in your church, I know just the group.

Learn more about The Center For Living Arts

Follow the Fat Pastor on Facebook

Follow @FatPastor on Twitter

3 Comments

Filed under Media, Personal Reflection

beets by dwight

beets by dwight

Leave a comment

December 12, 2012 · 5:04 pm