Thursday, September 25, 2008

Celebration Arts Make Me Cringe

Okay, before any HATE comments are posted, or I am in anyway criticized by an Evangelical for poking fun at 'Sacred Art' (dripping sarcasm) I want to make a point that most people make when they are believers and are about to skewer other believers... I happen to be a Christian, and have been one for longer than I can remember. I have also worked in the Church. I have been an associate youth pastor, I have done theater arts for churches, I've been on mission trips, I even rode a bike for Jesus in my youth. So, if anyone has the credentials to criticize the Christian Church (or the Christian Ghetto, as an old Professor at APU used to call it) for their poor forays into 'celebration arts', It is me. Below is a heavy selection of videos, that indicate what I find wrong with how a large number of Churches approach the concept of melding Pop Culture influences with the gospel message... the result as you can see is... not so great.

The first example is a video of a band (or program, I can't tell) called "SonSeed". The song they are singing is called, "Jesus is my Friend". I have no problem with the message. I have no problem with the title of the group or song. I do have a problem when 8 honkeys (hey that's racist) rip off ska music and do not have the common courtesy to get tatooed up and shave their heads and bleach there hair blonde ala "Sublime". I would like to point out the awesome bass solo in this video as well as the balding man in the back up singers, who is either falling asleep or hates the fact he was forced to wear a polyester vest. This is a case of what I like to call pop culture bastardization that the Church loves to take part in. We cannot just enjoy Ska music for the fact it makes us happy. We feel guilty this music does not contain a Christian message, SOOO I know! Let's make Christian Ska music. But since we know nothing about it, it will probably suck, but don't worry, we're righteous because we were able to say the word Jesus 73 times in the song, so everyone has to like it. Enjoy!

Our second example comes from a video called "The Renewed Mind". Apparently that is the name of this song. The church group is called "The Way". Once again like our previous example, the whitest of the white people have decided to use a little dash of hip hop to spice up the worship presentation. What more they also commit cardinal sin # 2 for bad 'celebration arts', the incorporation of Dance into a Church service. This is never a good idea. There are some choirs who can pull this off on occasion with some coordinated swaying, but when actual dance routines are placed into a portion of the service it just makes everyone uncomfortable. I was once involved in a church where an associate pastor wanted to use Dance in the services on a regular basis. So, they tried it and a woman was asked to come up with a routine for some hymn. She performed it. However, the problem here was she wore a tight fitting leotard. Common wear for a ballet trained dancer. Of course high lighting the female form can risk lighting the loins of parishoners. This lead to a complaint from some of the older members of the church, so a new rule was put in place. She had to dance in a choir robe. I want to point out that Dance is about watching the human form move and appreciating how we can do amazing things with our bodies. That's hard to do, when you put the human form in what amounts to a really pretty sack. The folks in the video below do not have that problem, but none the less their execution of their HIP HOP version of "The Renewed Mind" is less than acceptable. Like, me you may watch this and ask, why do the women have hand held microphones, and the man has a head set microphone... my response to you is... watch and find out!

Example number 3 is one of my favorites. It not so much about poorly executing the arts, but another favorite of the Church. Using a celebrity to add validation to the point of the pastor. It's like coming up with a great argument for why Faith Based Organizations should receive some Federal Support when they engage in activities to better society, like poverty or health care, then having Brad Pitt walk out and say, "I agree whole heartedly." However, in the case of the video below, we're trying to poke holes in the logic of aetheism vs creationsim by using a Banana to depict intelligent design (WTF) and to prove the validity of our point, we've asked 80's teen heart throb Kirk Cameron to sit in a chair next to us. Awesome!

Another example of Bad Celebration Arts can be found below. It pretty much speaks for itself, just give it a watch. If you can make it all the way through without your brain oozing out of your ears, you are more man than I am. This is an example of a very common mistake. Thinking that someone's passion for Christ translates into an ability to sing. It does not.

Okay, Okay, What is my point? It's really simple. If you can't do something right, or more importantly with any semblance of proficiency and that something has to do with music, dance, theater or anything where the word arts can be attached... don't do it at all! It does not enlighten the congregation or bring them closer to the Lord. It distracts them and makes them wonder why they are missing the Packers Game to come see this. Then when the donation plate is passed around, they put away the check book and reach for the spare change in their pocket.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Art and Obama

So, let's mix Art and Politics, shall we?

I was perusing the old Interweb today and I thought... I wonder what the current presidential nominees think about art. I wondered... what kind of paintings do they have in their home... or have they even discussed the fact that while other countries subsidize the arts our social programs for the arts are all corporate or privately funded. I wondered, what they thought the role of governments should be as it pertains to Art.

Luckily, Senator Obama has spoken out about the fact that Art needs to be re-integrated into the school systems again in order to provide a well rounded education. I agree. Its funny how in the world of theater, successful regional theater and education go hand in hand. Anyway, you can see the Senator's remarks below. I tried to find a McCain 'rebuttal' video... but apparently he never talks about the arts.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Blogging Resumes next Week!

Sorry, another Family crisis has me temporarily out of the mind-set of blogging. Will return in a week or so.

Friday, September 5, 2008

800 People Arrested During 2008 RNC

It was interesting to watch the fall out of the Democratic National Convention last week. Some talking heads blathered on about Obama's lack of credentials. Joe Biden gave a speech, and so did Hillary, but the whole affair clearly had a 'business as usual' feel to it. Probably, because all of the rankling the Obama vs Clinton activities for the nominations really gave everyone an opportunity to vet out the angst. I don't know, but despite hearing some positive things, and a lot of party lines things, and hearing Obama call St. Louis, Kansas City on opening night... it was a fairly benign Convention.

Then there was the Republican National Convention started with a bang, when McCain elected some lady who won a beauty pagent and hunts Moose and has five kids one of which is knocked up out of wedlock. Yes, I wrote that sentance, because every part of what I wrote is true, and if you are offended, guess what, it's all just semantics. I could have written this to cater to your fluffy feelings, like this, "Then McCain elected Maverick Sarah Palin, who bravely weathered criticism lobbied at her poor daughter for an unfortunate set of circumstances, and was repeatedly berated for choices any red blooded American is free to participate in without retribution, like Beauty Pagents and Hunting." However, I choose not to, because I personally view the selection of this woman as a publicity stunt designed to capitalize on the ground laid by Hillary Clinton and sweep up any of her supporters (still miffed she did not get the nomination) in a desperate bid to make up groud on the Obama Freight Train. It's a Blog, I can be as bi-partisan as I want or not want.

However, with all the speeches and talks of winning fights and winning wars and winning an election... the real news happened outside the walls of the Convention Center in St. Paul, MN. Over 800 people were arrested for protesting this RNC. 400 people were arrested on the final day, when St. Paul Police brought in Riot Gear to control the protestors. I guess this means people really don't agree with the Republican agenda.

I say this, because I tried to find an article stating that there were equal numbers of protests violence at the DNC, but all I found was an article where a Protestor said the Denver police were very accomodating to the protestors at the RNC, and everyone pretty much prostested peacefully. So, I draw a few conclusions from this. Interest Groups from the "Left" must be real rabble rousers. Interest Grous from the "Right" must be bake sale fans who like holding hands and candles. Democratic Conventions create an air of harmony. Republican Conventions create an air of rioting and billy clubbing. Hmmm.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

John Stewart and Double Talk!

Okay, so here we go with all the Politics again, sorry, but when you see the clip below, you will probably thank me for blogging about it. As I have said before, I'm not here to pick on the republicans or tout Barrack Obama over John McCain, you make your own decision based on your own strong feelings (just please don't vote based of the issues of gay marriage or abortion).

I am a fan of the Daily Show. I have said this before. Please, watch it every night, you will be better off for it. What the Daily Show does so well is point out the flaws in the two faced bias of the major cable news network. People often complain about how 'divided' the country is down party lines. Could the reason for that be associated with the blatant bias that certain news outlets have for certain political parties?

Anyway, below is some awesome double talk put on display by Conservative Talking heads about the recently nominated Sarah Palin. Enjoy the insanity!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Art + Tech + Geek = Amazing

Okay, you've probably seen this video already, but I just had to blog about it. Now, I have to admit I'm not a super big fan of the folks at "Mythbusters" but from time to time I do watch it. So, when I saw that Jaime and Adam from the show had created a giant paintball gun that could re-create the Mona Lisa in 80 Mili-seconds, I had to see that for myself. Seeing how I was a big paintballer, I wanted to see how that technology would be applied to re-create one of the most well known images in human history. Below is the video in question, it starts out slow with a little demo of a robot that shoots paint balls, but then the BFG is unveiled and everything goes pretty insane after that.

I like this clip for several reasons. First, that it goes to show you how Art is such a major force in our consciousness. Jaime and Adam could have created a portrait of Master Chief from Halo or Angelina Jolie, but they chose this classic piece and kudos to them. Second, I love the theatricality to the event. It's like that moment before King Kong is unveiled. Third, lots and lots of paint-balls. Fourth, the slow mo shot at the end is amazing. Watch and enjoy!