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Sunday, May 24, 2015

My Personal and Company Creed in the Film Arts


I have been in the film industry in some shape or form since I was about 10 years old. My father, a local Southern Baptist pastor, was supportive of the talent that seemed to come to me at a very early age.  My first experience working with professional actors was in the play South Pacific, produced by the Community Theater in Vallejo, California. I played the Filipino boy, Jerome. That play included the actor Bill Granger, who had recently starred in the Disney movie Inky The Crow. My parents would drop me off at rehearsal and the performances. When the play closed, my parents let me ride to the cast party with one of the cast members. At the cast party, held at one of the cast member's house, there was drinking and dancing. For years I wondered about the thought process of my parents in allowing me to attend, at such an early age, what they might deem a worldly event. Perhaps my parents knew that even a 10-year-old boy must learn that we are called to "Be in the world, but not of it". A defining moment happened to me during that event. As I looked around at these people, I had one thought- I loved them and I knew that God loved them. I was in their world, but I knew, that I was not of that world. That solidifying moment would guide me through many similar events, in plays, films sets and cast parties, both in high school, college and professionally. At times, I stood out like a sore thumb. with the more worldly types. They knew I had an uncompromising, moral Christan center. However, I had influence because the words of Christ were written on my soul, "For I did not come into the word to condemn the world, for the world was already condemned."  My heart was to love as Christ loved so that I might win a few.

I remember one encounter with a fellow actor who was living in a homosexual relationship. We were chatting as were were in the make-up room. I was civilly sharing with him my spiritual view of such a lifestyle, when I realized that he had often been subject to condemnation and unloving confrontations by Christians- ignorant dogmatists who failed to love as Christ loved. I was able to put my arms around the man and tell him, "I don't know if I have the right to do this, but please let me tell you...I am so sorry and I apologize for how others have treated you. I love you." Did he see Christ in this? I can only hope.

Christ was questioned, for hanging with the wrong crowd.

"And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them. But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

Through the years there have been many voices from well-meaning and some not-so-well-meaning critics of Christians who are involved the film and acting industries. It took me many years to define the moral parameters of Christians in the arts- my moral parameters. I was influenced by the book, Addicted to Mediocrity-20th Century Christians and the Arts, by Franky Schaeffer, an Orthodox filmmaker and the son of theologian Francis Shaeffer. The most important thing I gleaned from his writings was the definition as to what art a Christian filmmaker/actor should or should not be attached. I formed this concise mantra: 

"If it makes something holy appear as unholy, 
or makes something unholy appear as holy, then avoid it all costs."

What some critics do not accept is the idea that just because an actor, writer, producer, acts, writes, or produces a project where there are ungodly characters, it does not mean they are endorsing ungodly conduct. Does a painter paint only scenes of churches and domes? No. Christian actors, writers, and producers also have liberty to portray humanity in all of its colors, good and bad, righteous and evil. I have written and directed a film about child abduction and slavery. Is depicting such evil inherently evil in itself?  No. Shaeffer proposes that it is arbitrary and intellectual paralyzing to suggest that art should be divided between the spiritual and secular world. He proposes that there is but one world and Christian artists are called to be in that world. To abdicate that role is to allow only godless people to create. He also suggests that creativity such as films do not have to serve some utilitarian purpose. Just the very act of creation is a reflection of the Creator and He is pleased.

Thus, I have played the role of a Native American who rebelled against the encroaching white man. I have played the role of a young man who fights Count Dracula. I have played the role of young rebellious teen who goes to a bar and reads books that are considered  risque. I have played the role of a Baptist Preacher who performs funeral. I have played the role of a hick womanizer who goes to get a reading from a Psychic. I have played the role of a redneck father who abandoned his son and is redeemed to his son only after his death. I have played the role of a loving father who has a heart attack. I have played the role of  a satirical character in a Star Wars spoof. I have played the role of an ex-sheriff terrified by the demonic evil that has entered a town and shoots himself. This month I will play the role of a mountain man trying to survive in an apocalyptic age. I have not played some roles offered to me---why?--because they did not meet the criteria as stated above. Some of the characters I played were ugly, godless, foul mouthed. I am not an evil man, but I may play one on T.V.. Actors must field the offers that come their way. This week I auditioned for the role of  Hippie Bus Driver in a Robert De Nero film. Hippies smoke dope and cuss. I don't, but the character does. Some critics do not understand the craft of acting. "How dare a Christian cuss!" They are not able to distinguish the difference between a matter of the heart and the craft of acting. Should a painter paint only churches? Should and actor play only Christian characters? If so, then who would play Judas Iscariot, the Roman soldiers, a harlot?

I wrote a poem and produced this animated recitation of it. It is for the ignorant, condemning critics of Christians in the film industry. The last statement is somewhat abrasive and is intentionally directed at Orthodox Christians who callously cast dispersion from their ivory temples. They send up prayers as incense to the Lord while discouraging Christians artists who are called to a unique mission field. They should be praying for the Christian artist!



I am grateful that my Bishop knows my heart, discerns between the heart and the craft and blesses me in this career. He knows that the opportunities I have to rub elbows with people of all cultures and spiritual states, allows me to do as Christ did- to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. So does my Christian Talent Agent, who knows there are roles I will not play and projects in which I will not participate. By the way, it is only "Christian Critics" who have a problem with Christian actors. It seems that a Christian actor's witness is only ruined on their behalf. The lost, the ones Christ sent us to reach, respect the craft and respect even more a Christian with principles and love in their hearts.

On the producing side: I do not produce Christian films. I produce films. Rocky Top Pictures is not a Christian film company. It is a film company owned by an Orthodox Christian. Through this company, I am producing a film about an autistic white boy and his friendship with a black boy from the other side of the tracks. I am producing a period piece about a gunslinger who leaves his wife and hides out in the mountains for 20 years finding salvation with the help of an itinerant preacher. I am producing a film about the life of Saint Moses the Black. I am producing a pro-life film exposing the true nature of the abortion industry. I have just co-written a T.V. pilot in which the main family is Orthodox. It may be the first exposure to Orthodoxy for millions who see it. But critics would say "stop!"  Thank God I am not the only Orthodox Christian in the industry who ignores such critics.



We will not stop! We will go as Christ commands. Pray for us as we do.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Living in the Delusion

"The church is living in the delusion that it is entitled to everlasting eternal security free from any possibility of the wrath of Jesus Christ. This is partly due to the self-entitled generation we find ourselves living in and partly due to the error-filled Once Saved Always Saved ideology. If we no longer get excited about Jesus, so much so that we must tell people about how awesome He is, if we do not repent of this, then our light shall be taken away from us. We will no longer be light in the darkness. If we tolerate sexual sin and allow a false, idolatrous version of Jesus into our churches, then we will face the sword of His mouth, unless we repent. If we allow those into our churches that corrupt and lure others away with lies about who Jesus is then we face tribulation, unless we repent. If our church has a great reputation, applauded by the community, but does nothing in the light of true kingdom work (caring for the sick and needy, administering justice, preaching the Gospel to lost people, etc.) then the Lord will come upon us as a thief in the night. If we feel content in our churches and think we are pleasing to God according to our own efforts, then we are lukewarm and He will spew us out of His mouth. We must be faithful unto death and hold fast to what we have." (Rex H.)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Low Attitude Leads to High Altitude

As spoken by Saint Symeon the New Theologian:

"There are  times when I, without willing it, mount to the height of contemplation; with my will I am drawn down from it because of the limitations of human nature and find safety in abasement. I know many things that are unknown to most men, yet I am more ignorant than all others. I rejoice because Christ, "whom I have believed", has bestowed on me an eternal and unshakable kingdom, yet I constantly weep as one who is unworthy of that which is above, and I cease not. I dare not open my mouth and ask forgiveness for my actions; yet for the sake of others I speak boldly out of love and, to speak foolishly, people listen to me! I stand before Him as a son, 

yet my attitude is that of a stranger who dares not speak. 

I hear Him say, "Well done, faithful servant" and the rest, yet in reality I find I have not kept even one talent of those that were given to me. It seems to me that I reach the very summit of blessings, yet I am a prisoner down in the abyss of my sins, engulfed in despair. It is when I am abased below all others that I am lifted up above the heavens and am once more united in love to Christ our God. Before Him I hope to stand, once I am rid of the burden of this earthy flesh, and even closer to Him, and in addition be yet more clearly 

initiated into the eternal joy and exhalation of the love that is on high."

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

30 Traits of a Jezebel

1. Refuses to admit guilt or wrong
2. Takes credit for everything
3. Uses people to accomplish its agenda
4. Withholds information
5. Talks in confusion
6. Volunteers for anything
7. Lies
8. Ignores people
9. Never gives credit or shows gratitude
10. Criticizes everyone
11. Oneupmanship
12. Sequesters information
13. Uses information
14. Talks incessantly
15. Spiritualizes everything
16. Is insubordinate
17. Is pushy and domineering
18. Is clairvoyant
19. Uses the element of surprise
20. Sows seeds of discord
21. Commands attention
22. Is vengeful
23. Attempts to make you look like you’re the Jezebel
24. Insinuates disapproval
25. Knows it all
26. Is ambitious
27. Gift giving
28. Is independent
29. Is religious
30. Hides

For a complete explantion of the list, see 30 Consistant Traits of the Jezebel Spirit

Monday, April 27, 2015

How To Take A Stand

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God..." (Ephesians 6: 10-17)

PARTS OF ARMOR NEEDED TO STAND

Truth
The gospel, and the entire system of Christian belief developed from it and embodied in the Holy Scriptures.

Righteousness
Conformity to the claims of a higher authority. The opposite of lawlessness. The state commanded by God and standing the test of His judgement.

Gospel of Peace
Proclaiming of the good news of the kingdom of God and salvation through Christ that brings deliverance and freedom from all the distresses that are experienced as a result of sin.

Faith
Embracing the gospel through obedience.

Salvation
Help, deliverance, victory from the guilt and punishment of sin.

Word of God
A spoken prophetic statement uttered by the living God as written in the Scriptures.

NOTE: Definitions are a composite of the original Greek and Hebrew definitions from Kohkenberger's Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek dictionaries.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Character of Kirill

"This brings us back to Kirill/Mikhailov. In 2006 Archbishop Kirill’s personal wealth was estimated at $4 billion by the Moscow News. No wonder. In the mid-1990s, the Russian Orthodox Church’s Department for External Church Relations, managed by Kirill, was granted the privilege of duty-free importation of cigarettes as reward for his loyalty to the KGB. It did not take long for him to become the largest supplier of foreign cigarettes in Russia."

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/417383/secret-roots-liberation-theology-ion-mihai-pacepa

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Wait On The Lord!

Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked came against me
To eat up my flesh,
My enemies and foes,
They stumbled and fell.

Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident.

One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.

For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.

 And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”

Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.

When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the Lord will take care of me.

Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.

Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Christ Is Risen! Enjoy The Feast!

TO BE READ ALOUD...

"If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived thereof. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.

And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.

Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions. It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen." Saint John Chrysostom

Friday, April 10, 2015

He Is Near Who Justifies Me

“The Lord God has given Me
The tongue of the learned,
That I should know how to speak
A word in season to him who is weary.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear
To hear as the learned.

The Lord God has opened My ear;
And I was not rebellious,
Nor did I turn away.

 I gave My back to those who struck Me,
And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;
I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.

“For the Lord God will help Me;
Therefore I will not be disgraced;
Therefore I have set My face like a flint,
And I know that I will not be ashamed.

 He is near who justifies Me;
Who will contend with Me?
Let us stand together.
Who is My adversary?
Let him come near Me.

 Surely the Lord God will help Me;
Who is he who will condemn Me?
Indeed they will all grow old like a garment;
The moth will eat them up.

 “Who among you fears the Lord?
Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
Who walks in darkness
And has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord
And rely upon his God.

 Look, all you who kindle a fire,
Who encircle yourselves with sparks:
Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled—
This you shall have from My hand:
You shall lie down in torment."