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Jim Croce, Communication, and Social Media

I will rarely ever get political on social media anymore. There is just so much to communication that gets lost between the transmitter and the receiver when the only medium for that which is being communicated is the printed word. I can type something with the intent of it meaning one thing, and you or anyone else could read something entirely different. It happens enough when I post something as trivial as a Seinfeld meme; I can only imagine how it much worse it would pan out if I tried to posit my unsolicited political opinion into the mix.

It’s because social media lacks the other, more qualifiable elements of communication. Elements like vocal intonation and body language and even the very pretextual relationship between the transmitter and the receiver – anything from barely being acquaintances all the way to being the best of friends for years – just aren’t there. And since those elements – the vessels of communication in general – are lacking, the true communication of the message is in jeopardy.

One time, I tried. I really did. It involved a blog post that I have since deleted, but I tried. I wrote one of those “open letters” that contained my unsolicited political voice to a certain group of people. I took it down for three reasons: one, because I did not know the full situation until after I had published my post; two, I was publicly shaming other fellow believers – something Jesus himself was totally against (heck, He was against publicly shaming people in general); and three, deep down, I just did it for the clicks.

Nowadays, I just stick to the finer things in life: family pictures, theological maxims, brief but pertinent social quips, movie reviews, podcasts, Seinfeld memes, and the occasional pun. Of course, I’ll also share any creative endeavor via this blog – like poetry, short stories, and what not – but not much else. Not much else intrigues me anyway, so.

It saddens me, though, to see others fighting on social media. Fathers and sons, husbands and wives, high-school friends (former and current), religious and non-religious, everyone is at odds with someone. I know it’s just the way things are; people are people, and “you do you” and all that, but it doesn’t excuse the maliciousness, vitriol, and disrespect on either side.

Then again, if there really is no moral arbiter, then who am I to say who’s right and who’s wrong? In both their messages and the words through which they send them?

Either way, here’s some Jim Croce.

 

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I Didn’t Understand the Need for Pop Culture—Until I Read the Bible

Christians who don’t want to engage in popular culture for fear of “conforming to the world” might want to read this (bearing in mind Paul’s advice in “becoming all things to all people so as to save some.”)

TIME

Brian Grasso, a freshman at Duke University, started a discussion this week when he published an op-ed in the Washington Post defending his decision to not read Fun Home, a critically acclaimed graphic novel included on the school’s recommended reading list for incoming freshman. One of several students who refused to read the novel, Grasso explains his decision by quoting the Bible:

Jesus forbids his followers from exposing themselves to anything pornographic. “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” he says in Matthew 5:28-29. “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.” This theme is reiterated by Paul who warns, “flee from sexual immorality.”

The problem with this argument is that it equates Fun Home, an award-winning novel written by Alison Bechdel, a MacArthur Genius Award recipient…

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Stories

Here’s a collection of my original stories (if you couldn’t guess that by the title).

The Parable of the Content Man

Written in a folktale style (and intended to be performed with a live audience), this story is about the lives of three men: one who is rich and wants everything, one who is poor and wants anything, and one who is content and needs nothing.

The Gray Lady

A newlywed couple has moved into a new house, but a past resident doesn’t want to share anything, especially a specific golden locket. (WINNER of an annual ghost story contest hosted by our newspaper the Shelbyville Times-Gazette.)

Hold Your Breath

Two kids explore a graveyard only to find that Old Lady Dour – buried days ago – isn’t staying down for long. (Submission to that same contest on another year…this one didn’t even place, but I think it’s okay.)

The Image We’re Made In


What good is a prophet when his words aren’t inspired
by the God that he wants us to know?
He tells us that, one day, we’ll burn in a fire
that roars in the caverns below.

But that’s not the image we’re made in,
the image of suffering and shame
’cause our God, He loves us, and wants us to claim Him
so one day, He’ll call us by name…
and one day, He’ll call us by name.

What good is a watchman when he loses his focus
on enemies approaching the door?
His thoughts are obsessed with the system that broke us
and not on the incoming war.

But that’s not the image we’re made in,
the image of worry and doubt;
our God knows the burden of all of our questions,
and with Him, we’ll figure them out…
and with Him, we’ll figure them out.

What good is a family when everyone only
cares for nobody else but themselves,
when brothers and sisters are cast out and lonely
and all they ever needed was our help?

But that’s not the image we’re made in
the image of being alone;
His death is the binder that brings us together,
and one day, He’ll call us back home…
Hallelujah, we’re going back home.

This is a picture from WOOLFIE by Sybil St. Claire as produced by the Fly Community Theater.

Proclaiming the Gospel Through Live Theater

This past weekend saw the opening and closing for the children’s play at the Fly Arts Center here in Shelbyville. On the whole, it was a great run complete with all the triumphs and hiccups – and all the drama on and off the stage – one can expect from children’s theater. The super-critical side of me is butting heads with my other side that believes it’s nothing a few more weeks of rehearsals couldn’t fix. But the audiences really got into it and the kids enjoyed themselves, and that’s really all I wanted in the first place.

I can’t help but to feel somewhat proud because this was also my first time serving as an assistant director, and that’s what’s really special for me with this production. I’ve enjoyed getting to learn the mechanics of working with a director who’s been there and done that professionally (and has even been paid for it). I essentially count it as a stepping stone that will bring me closer to a career of my own. Directing scenes in school definitely helped me out in understanding how a director should prepare (keyword should), and being able to finally use those skills in a public setting is great.

I also loved getting to work with such cool kids. Siblings abounded in the cast, and it was very interesting to see how family ties stood out in the crowd at first but then opened up to allow healthier bonds of teamwork. That’s where the real magic of theater is, I think: taking complete strangers and uniting them with a purpose.

Most importantly, however, I got to see first hand how art can be used to bring people closer to God. Consider this my testimony.

The Message In Woolfie

The Fly Community Theater’s children’s production was Woolfie by Sybil St. Claire. As the action starts, the reputedly “Big, Bad” Wolf – whose real name is Woolfie – is being prosecuted for crimes including, but not limited to, “impersonating grandmothers, blowing down other people’s houses, and gobbling up little girls.” As it turns out, Woolfie is not as “big” and “bad” as everyone believes he is. It’s essentially a morality play that proves that you can’t judge a book by its cover nor a wolf by his fur…and his big eyes…and his big arms…and his big teeth…

Ultimately, the play taps into the universal law of Truth and how everything works out when we cling to the Truth instead our own misled notions. Woolfie is sentenced to death and would have died had not the Truth been revealed and set him free from those chains. Sounds a lot like Jesus own words, right?

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Of course, we all like to let pretense get in the way of understanding the Truth because pretense is the path of least resistance. In other words, it’s a lot easier to believe a lie than it is to accept the truth. And one of Old Scratch’s favorite tricks is using our own momentum against us. But we can battle this by not being swayed by this or that and focusing on God’s Truth – that He loves us and wants us back home with him.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

Here’s looking to the next time this all happens again…either in this life or the next.