Archive for religion

The Sun’ll Come Out….Tomorrow.

Posted in ACTING ONSTAGE, LIFE IN GENERAL / RANDOM RAMBLINGS with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2009 by erikball123

“Bring on tomorrow. Let it shine. Like the sun coming up on a beautiful day, it’s yours and mine. We can make a difference. It’s not too late. Bring on tomorrow…I can’t wait.”

Fame has never been my favorite musical. Sure, it has redeeming qualities…but I’m not overflowing with excitement about the piece. This song, however is from the show. I started with ANNIE’s: “The sun’ll come out, tomorrow…” but figured readers would drop off the site quickly due to it’s overexposure!

I like the lyric. Anytime a piece of music reminds me that a brighter future waits around the corner, I am immediately attached to the piece. You see, all too often I wind up with a gray cloud around my head. Someone will say something hurtful…sometimes a class will test my patience…sometimes my patience will test my endurance…sometimes my endurance will test my faith…sometimes people just mess with my corn flakes! Whatever the reason for the change in weather, I, like many other overly paranoid, highly emotional, sensitive and strong, yet fashionable drama teachers, have a hard time resting my head on my pillow at night. How does one not tire of (what they believe to be) their calling?

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Prayer. “Simple solution, sir.” Say it, don’t spray it! Okay, okay….so prayer is what Pastor Steve tells you to do every Sunday. Prayer is what happiness when you remember to fold your hands at night. Prayer is what happens when you are all alone. Prayer is what happens, when you need a solution, and it’s convenient. Prayer is not a stronghold investment in your faith, and I’m simply talking from MY point of view: an ignorant Lutheran with a whole lotta sin on my heart. I’m a terrible example of a Christian and prayer NEEDS to happen because it is the solution…not because it might be the solution…if it’s convenient…if I remember….if I care.

So, what does this have to do with a brighter tomorrow? I’ll tell you: President Barack Obama. (Whoa! Didn’t see that one coming, did you!) It’s true. Yesterday I had the pleasure of watching the 44th President being sworn in, elbow to elbow with hundreds of my students in the brand new chapel/theater auditorium. The streaming video connection wasn’t the best…and it paused every so often, only to jump forward a few seconds, and I’ll admit, that made it a smidge distracting, but the overall experience is nothing less that historical.

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I sat there among my students…some sleeping…some joking…some rolling their eyes….some crying…watching history. Over 400 years ago, Abraham Lincoln challenged an important piece of parchment called the Declaration of Independence. He freed the slaves. Some people were not too happy. Years later, women were given the right to vote. Later, African-Americans attended public schools side by side with Caucasian students in an effort to bring us closer together. Not merely in arrangement in the back end of the everyday, stuffy bus…but more so in heart, mind, and soul. These are momentous occasions, as they draw us closer to a promise of a free country for all who desire, work and pray for it.

I asked my students, “why should you care about this day? Why is it significant?” They responded, “Well, it’s the first black President.” I prodded, “Okay. Well…what does that mean?” My beautiful, white-collar, 100% Caucasian class stared back at me as if I was setting some sort of political “you outta know” trap. I shifted my approach.

“How many of you have auditioned for a play or musical here at Faith Lutheran?” (About 20 hands.) “How did it work out for you?” (No response!) I explained that very rarely does an audition turn out exactly as you envision. I can look them in the eye and promise until I’m blue in the face that no matter who they are, what their experience is, and how vigorously they’ve prepared…when they walk through that audition door, they have the EXACT same shot at getting the leading role, as their peer that has earned that opportunity. I can SAY it’s based solely on the audition…even to myself, in my heart…but how can I ever PROVE that? Can I? I haven’t found out a way yet.

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I reference Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech: ” I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the treu meaning of it’s creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'” I love that speech. All men a created equal in the eyes of God…and should be seen that way in the eyes of man. Have we had the opportunity to prove that? Not until yesterday. Yesterday, the people of this country put into office the first African-American President. Republican or Democrat, black or white…Christian or otherwise…this is the new tomorrow. This is the beam of light in the cloud that darkens. This is the “something to look forward to.”

I watch as my property value goes down. (I counted five foreclosures in my subdivision, last time I walked the dog.) Gas prices have come down…but will they stay there? We’re a country at war where lives are lost daily. In my own backyard, I watch as our school cuts out those navy blue, itchy faculty polos to make room in the yearly expense report for primary spending. It’s a tough time.

But the sun’ll come out tomorrow. Is Barack Obama the solution to our problems? Who can tell. Maybe…maybe not. All I know is that we as Americans took a giant step yesterday in proving to every citizen that this is truly the land of the free, where everyone has the opportunity for a leading role.

Will the inauguration effect my drama students immediately? Yes. I remember being their age and watching the Challenger explode. I recall the smell of burned coffee in the air, and the look on the Rebel Yell secretary’s face when I walked into my office at UNLV the day the twin towers collapsed. They are vivid recollections. These students…when they are my age…will remember sitting in the Chapel / Performing Arts Center watching a hiccuping screen as our President was sworn in. That promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for ALL was cemented in a huge foundation block yesterday. And while the immediate ramifications couldn’t compete with the wonderfully comfortable auditorium seats and the sleepy-headiness of some…the long term ramifications woke up a nation nodding off.

It is my prayer that somehow, someday…I will be able to prove to my students that hope is always around the corner. There is a new tomorrow, and it will shine.

“We can make a difference, it’s not too late. Bring on tomorrow. I can’t wait.”

Whose Broad Stripes and Bright Stars? I dunno.

Posted in FAITH, FAMILY and FUN, LIFE IN GENERAL / RANDOM RAMBLINGS with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2008 by erikball123

First and foremost…I’m no political scholar. I don’t even pretend to know what the “ins” and “outs” of a Presidential campaign race involves. But, I do know this, I’m a human being who likes to think he’s incredibly aware of characterization, commitment and drama. That combined with a genuine, luke warm overall understanding of the economy, mixed with love of THE DAILY SHOW and the COLBERT REPORT re-runs….let’s talk politics.

I was raised Presbyterian, I lived in Michigan in a two-story white house with red shutters…my family was Conservative, and Republican. I know all of these things because my parents told me so. We lived the wonderfully passive 1/4 acre backyard, picket fence, sunshine and lollipops life. We didn’t smoke…we didn’t drink (except for the dreadfully sinful shot of Kahlua in mother’s coffee)…and we watched the news like everyone else did. We kinda didn’t care about stuff. You know…political stuff.

Fast forward about 25 years or so. I’m a red-blooded High School teacher, a total drama geek, whose goal in life is to offer all that I can with my talents and passions on this earth as a God-fearing man. No picket fence…lots of sunshine, few lollipops, and I don’t smoke. I love Jesus, and the occasional glass of wine is not uncommon. I’m Lutheran. While a few things have changed, and I argue that my childhood was passive enough for me to refer to it as “largely swept under the real-life rug,” I have taken an active stand in relocating my personal position on many, many things including politics.

I think Republican and Democrats are funny. It’s like the Red Sox and the Yankees. They both play baseball, don’t they? While they both want their team to win…they all get a pay check at the end of the day, and they wake up the next morning doing what they love. I never understood why so much was invested in that particular label. Am I Republican? Does it matter? If your answer is yes…then why? Does that immediately mean I look forward to voting for McCain? I argue “no.”

These two candidates are really something, aren’t they? It never fails. Every heated Presidential race pits two wild and crazy guys against each other. Wild and crazy because we end up finding out ALL about them…and in some case more than we would ever want to know about them.

I think Barack is very charismatic. I think he could sell an igloo to an Eskimo. I also think he has some great ideas. (After all…I love change. My classroom is in a constant state of flux.) I think he’s sharp, poignant, and could certainly win the Presidency on theatrics alone. Do I think he’s the right man for the job?…..ummm. Maybe. Maybe not.

McCain is forceful, strong and he’s got the POW card goin’ for him. (There are a lot of registered veterans out there.) I think his experience in the military is a bonus. There is a lot of talk about his health. I don’t even think about that. Until he starts mumbling and drooling at the podium, I think that should be off the table. No one talked about Michale Jordan’s worth as a ball player when he was injured. They just wanted to know when he was going to get back in the game.  Is McCain the Michael Jordan of Presidential candidats, though? I don’t know.

This particular political race has got me cornered. I know that whatever happens, history will be made. We’ll either have the first African-American President in office, or the first women Vice-President in office. (Ha ha, Hillary….silly. Married to Bill……heh. Hill and Bill. What a sideshow they are!) So…this is a biggie.

Due in part because there is so much about the everyday political world that I don’t like to pretend that I know a lot about, (budget, medicare, welfare, environment, etc.) I’ve decided to look at their religious backgrounds, and their stand with regards to the church. (Another topic I don’t like to pretend I know a lot about…but is closest to my heart. Hey, give me a break…neither candidate is an actor, right?)

It doesn’t seem that either candidate has firm beliefs. Or do they? They both claim to be Christians and attend church. Both have gone on record to say they “pray everyday.” McCain says that he doesn’t attend church as often as he would like, but many, including his own pastor, attest that he is a devout man. Obama was raised by a mother who exposed him to numerous religions and he is very quick to point out his father, a “one-time Muslim” was a self-proclaimed atheist at the time of Obama’s birth. Navigating through both of the candidates websites, I found numerous resources that will convince me that each party is sincerely the lesser of the two evils…because we all sin.

Is that enough? As I walk to my classroom tomorrow…worried about making it to payday Friday, wondering if I should make a dentist appointment, anticipating the dedication of the school’s new theater, wondering if I’ll get all my grading done, hoping the new Advanced Drama lesson is effective….needing, worrying, hoping, mourning, trying…I look forward to a combined effort in all of my planned and unplanned future happenings. I need the support of my Lord to get through things.

I try hard not to stand on my Bible so that others can see my face or hear my voice…but instead, I try to understand WHY the Bible talks to me in the way it does and then share it with others. (Which is hard for me to do sometimes. No one said it was going to be easy.)

The “WHY”….not the “WHAT.” That’s what is missing from both candidates. I don’t want to know what they believe. I don’t want to know that they are Christians, and here’s the proof. I don’t need to have that info. I would rather they exemplify the Christian walk. I’d rather them demonstrate Christ-like behavior instead of bookmark the perfect, motivational speech and “wow” a crowd with their charisma. I’d rather them demonstrate their relationship with the Lord, after the trials of a lifetime of trying to find Him.

Arrrgh. This is why I hate politics. I tell my acting students this all the time. Politics is drama. Courtrooms are stages. Debates and speeches are scenes and monologues. It’s ALL farce. We all nominate and vote for actors. It make me almost not care. It’s a similar feeling the second after the Best Actor or Actress wins an Oscar…whoever wins, everyone moves on. Where’s my invested interest in it? (Which is a very dangers thing to say.) Where do they stand? How can anyone ever know? It’s mor than a drop-down menu on a website or a political sound bite. The media will squeeze every last drop of truth out of each candidate and twist them in to whatever shape they like.

Well…pretty soon the horse and pony show will be over and we’ll go about our days either content or grumbling. Either way, we’ll all go about our day. You know what…that’s the thing…either way, we go about our day.  When Jesus died on the cross…I wonder if the crowd of people who witnessed the crucifixion simply went about their days afterward.  Seems unlikely. Even for the unbeliever at that time. While this year’s election should probably not be compared to the crucifixion (depending on who you ask)…I do think that Jesus died for both Obama and McCain. I do believe that the Lord wants both men in heaven with Him. I’m just not convinced yet that both candidates know that.

Politics and religion…sometimes are viewed as oil and vinegar. But, I can’t help but think that the leader of the free world should be a strong, confident, vocal, God-fearing sinner who doesn’t offer long-winded explinations as to why he was raised the way he was. It shouldn’t be a man who sits behind the youth choir during church because it provide an easy escape route after the service so they can remain largely unnoticed. I think our President should lead worship. They should quote scripture instead of talking about it, as if it were a WWJD bumper sticker. I look at this position as the HEAD…the EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR….the NUMBER ONE MAIN DUDE in charge of everything in America. This includes religion. They should be the SPIRITUAL LEADER of this country. I’ve yet to see either man with a Bible in his hand.

I pray for this and every Presidential race. Not because I don’t believe in the candidates. But, because I believe Jesus Christ is my savior. And if either of the candidates is twisting…even slightly…their personal walks with the Lord, for the sake of garnishing that one extra vote, then I might just have to stay home that day. I suppose it’s the principal of the thing. I don’t want either candidate to sacrifice their own souls for the sake of a vote. No mere job is worth that, no matter how big and white the house is.

Each candidate will tell you everything about them. Where they were born, how they were raised. I’m pretty  confident neither will offer their stand on Kahula in coffee, but I know they will be able to tell you, in fancy-dancy words, how they live their lifes in great detail.

But I’ve yet to hear a candidate say what they are doing so that they can prepare for their death and the life in the world to come.

So, here’s where I’m at: I’m praying about it. I like Palin’s glasses…I’m still trying to get to know, Binden. (Although I can’t help but see Jason Robards when I look at him!)

I guess I’ll have to wait until election day. I’ll put “voting” on my list of things to do that day. If that’s passive, so be it. But, until a candidate offers me more than a mere PDF document containing quotes and positions on Faith, I’ll have to say that Democrat or Republican…Conservative or Liberal…black or white…grande or Venti….I’m just a guy who loves the Lord, and I don’t think a bad thing to want to vote for a dude that feels the same way. I wonder what George W. Bush’s church-going schedules will be like the days after the elections. I hope he doesn’t chalk up his position as SPIRITUAL LEADER as a “swept under the real-life rug” kinda thing.

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