Saturday, February 28, 2009

Here's Grace and a Cod-piece

Don't let today's warm weather fool you -- we've still got a while to go before its Shakespeare in the Park season. But that doesn't mean you have to be deprived of Shakespeare. Today and tomorrow you can catch King Lear at the National Black Theatre:

Take Wing And Soar Productions proudly presents Shakespeare's KING LEAR, at the National Black Theatre, from February 20th - March 1st. Directed by Shakespearean actor & director Timothy D. Stickney, KING LEAR stars Tony Award winning actress Trezana Beverley.

KING LEAR tells a poignant tale of tragedy, murder, greed, power, madness & ungrateful children! Can a man of power, give away that which makes him powerful & still rule? Join the TWAS Classical Actors of Color as they share the stage with Tony Award winning actress Trezana Beverley* as she takes on the role of a King gone mad, in one of the greatest plays in world drama.

Joining Ms. Beverley in starring roles are Leon Addison Brown*, Jim DeMonic & Bryan Webster*. Featured in the cast are James Edward Becton*, Freeman Borden, Alvin Chan, Matthew Cohn, Lawrence Floyd*, Robin LeMon*, Jennifer Le Blanc*, Anja Lee*, Marcus Lorenzo, Tom Martin, Morgan McGuire, Khemali Murray, Declan Sammon, Tovah Suttle*, Chris Triana, Armand Valdes, Kari Nicole Washington* & Mary Hodges* as Lear's Fool.

Dramaturgy is by Dr. Mark Ringer, Scenic Design by Pavlo Bosyy, Costume Design by Ali Turns, Lighting Design by Joyce Liao & Sound Design by David D. Wright. Production Stage Manager is Norman Small.

Artistic Director & Producer of KING LEAR is Debra Ann Byrd, Producer is Flora Gillard & Associate Producer is David Weaver.

TICKETS for this LIMITED ENGAGEMENT are now available at SMARTTIX.COM | $18.00 Call 212.868.4444 | GROUP SALES & INFO 212.696.6572 | visit us online at

Wednesday - Saturday at 8pm; Saturday at 2pm; Sunday at 3pm | Opening Night Gala - Tuesday, February 24th | Gala Seats: $50; General Admission: $18 Adults; $15 Students and Seniors; TDF Vouchers accepted.

The play is based on the mythological Leir of Britain.

Friday, February 27, 2009

TG Announces New Sermon Series: Jesus' 7 Woes

Trinity Grace is starting a new sermon series this Sunday that is based on Jesus' seven woes:
We are beginning a new sermon series on Jesus' seven woes to the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23), searching our hearts for our own hypocrisy and finding Christ's call of freedom during this season of repentance.
There are three different services and locations you can choose from:

UWS, Emily Dickinson School, 96th and West End, 10.30am. Full kids' program.

East Side, Zion St Mark's Church, 84th between 1st and 2nd, 5pm. Full kids' program.
Chelsea, St Paul's German Church, 22nd between 8th and 9th, 7pm.

At the Upper West Side location, breakfast will be available at 9:45 AM.

Brightmoor's CD Release Party at Arlene's Grocery

Brightmoor will hold its CD release party at Arlene's Grocery (95 Stanton Street) tomorrow at 9:00 PM. Tickets are $10.

The indie band with emo tendencies counts such bands as MeWithoutYou and HelloGoodbye as influences.

Brightmoor consists of Scott Abbott (guitar, keys, lead vocals), Joe Learman (guitar), Dan Maier (drums) and Chris Pratt (bass, vocals). The band name comes from the words "bright," meaning "full of promises," and "moor," meaning "wide open wasteland."

Open-Mic Night at St. Paul's Houses

St. Paul's House (335 West 51st St., at 8th Ave.) is hosting a free open-mic night tomorrow, February 28, at 8 PM. Musicians are encouraged to share their talents and connect with other Christian musicians. The youth fellowship of St. Paul's House will be in attendance.

A "multifaceted ministry," St. Paul's is "an independent rescue mission and a member of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions. It has been at the crossroads of America for over 60 years and is at the crossroads of many peoples lives."

Sing at the Ebony Ecumenical Ensemble's 30th Anniversary Concert

The Ebony Ecumenical Ensemble will celebrate its 30th anniversary on Saturday, February 28, at 7:30 PM at the Rose Theater at Lincoln Center:

Add your voice to the joyous finale of Black History Month observances – rejoice in the togetherness of our nation. Join The Ebony Ecumenical Ensemble at its 30th anniversary celebration of music of the African-American experience, under the direction of Bettye F. Forbes.

There will be a singalong in which all are encouraged to join their voices to sing "I Need You To Survive." The lyrics are located here.

Running of the Brides

Bride Wars


Confessions of a Shopaholic


Running of the Brides

In other words, avoid the Filene's Basement in Union Square today at all costs.

The Proverbial Poseur

One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.
~ Proverbs 13:7

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Social Networking with You

We gave into peer pressure. We're on Facebook. (...Next thing you know we'll be tweeting on Twitter or whatever's the Next Big Thing.)

The Proverbial Guard of Righteousness

Righteousness guards the man of integrity,
but wickedness overthrows the sinner.
~ Proverbs 13:6

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"No, Dear" Poetry Open Mic at Stain

Would the world be a better place if your poetry flowed through the air? "No, Dear" -- the name of a new hand-bound print poetry journal; not the answer to that question -- will be hosting an open mic at Stain (766 Grand St., Brooklyn). Sign up at 6:00; readings start just fifteen minutes later.

Get Your Tickets This Friday and Rock Out All Spring and Summer

A buncha tix are going on sale this Friday that'll keep you rockin' when the weather finally warms up.
  • Band of Horses ::: June 11 @ Carnegie Hall ::: on sale Friday at 11 AM
  • Mogwai ::: April 27, 28, and 29 @ Music Hall of Williamsburg ::: on sale Friday at noon
  • The Thermals ::: May 8 and 9 @ Bowery Ballroom ::: on sale Friday at noon
  • TV on the Radio ::: June 5 @ Central Park SummerStage ::: on sale Friday at noon

For more information and tickets, go here.

You might also like this previous article.

The Proverbial Falsehood

The righteous hate what is false,
but the wicked bring shame and disgrace.
~ Proverbs 13:5

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Church Hop Your Way to Celebrating Mardi Gras

Oh yeah... today is Mardi Gras. Take a virtual trip to New Orleans to visit America's oldest Catholic cathedral and see "Touchdown Jesus."

["Touchdown Jesus"]

Then tell us, where's your favorite place to celebrate Mardi Gras here in New York?

Reveal’s Valentine’s Day Ultimate Makeover

I've been known to tear up watching people get made over on Jenny Jones. There's just something so life affirming about seeing people who thought they were ugly realize that they're not -- that they're actually beautiful people who were hiding behind baggy clothes and unkempt hair. Although we all know that what's on the inside is more important that what's on the outside, the truth of the matter is it helps to be happy with the outside too. That's the idea behind Reveal.

On Valentine's Day more than 120 volunteers gave makeovers to women who were "recovering from abuse and sex trafficking." There is something so powerful about giving women who were sexually and physically abused a sense of beauty instead of shame and hatred toward their bodies.

Another way you can help:
If you are interested in providing clothes or food for the homeless, FOS is collecting goods and seeking volunteers for a Midnight Run.

Celestial Highlights: Star Nests of Orion

As part of its Celestial Highlights series, the American Museum of Natural History will host "Star Nests of Orion" ($15) tonight at 6:30 in Hayden Planetarium. Calling it a "tour of the heavens," the presentation uses the Zeiss Mark IX Star Projector to show the splendors of the universe and teach about the way in which stars form and evolve.

Nerdy or magnificent? You decide.

The Proverbial Sluggard

The sluggard craves and gets nothing,
but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.
~ Proverbs 13:4

Monday, February 23, 2009

You've Got a Bit of Ash on Your Forehead

Churches across the city will be holding Ash Wednesday services today. In addition to the religious significance of the holiday, it is a visual reminder that there is a unity among believers that transcends what church you attend.

Below is a small sampling. Please use the comments section to add your church's Ash Wednesday services.

Trinity Grace:::
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the time of preparation before Easter. We will meet together as a citywide church family for a liturgical service---more somber than our usual gatherings, there may be ashes, it will be beautiful and meaningful as we meet Christ in his sufferings.

Join us on Wed Feb 25, St Paul's German Church, 22nd between 8th and 9th, 7pm.
This Wednesday, we’re celebrating the first day of lent by taking a bunch of ashes and…. making them into soap! Ha, that’s not what you were expecting me to say, was it?

In any case, in the grand tradition of Fight Club, we’ll be making soap as a penitential act (although we’ll be using goatsmilk, honey, and palm oil rather than animal fat). We’ll be providing burnables (paper, palm leaves, etc), but you’re welcome to bring things of your own that might having meaning to you - just be sure that anything you bring to burn is free from chemicals, plastic, etc. Through the course of the evening, we’ll turn our confessions, transgressions, and deconstructions into a cleansing, frothy, ritual bar which we can use for the next forty days. Seriously, it’s hard to find time in our busy days for prayer and meditation, and shower time seems as good a time as any.

Last Day to Register Online for Encounter '09

Today is the last day to register online for Encounter '09. Purchase tickets here.

Previous entries for Encounter '09 on Asphalt Eden:
Early Bird Catches the Art
Susan Isaacs on IAM and Encounter

Curator Ari Millner Goes "Into the Heart" at The Haven Tonight

Curator Ari Millner will speak tonight on the topic of "Into the Heart" at The Haven, as part of the artistic fellowship's "Winter's Song" series. The free talk will be from 7 to 9 at Calvary Episcopal Church (61 Gramercy Park North at Park Avenue).

The Haven's mission is to "empower artists to reflect Christ in the culture."

Family-Friendly Voting

There is less than a week to get your votes in for the 2008 Crystal Dove Seal awards. The Dove Foundation created the Crystal Dove Seals to honor the best family-friendly movies of the year.

The Dove Foundation says that "
Somehow Hollywood insiders continually seem to dismiss the family audience when choosing their favorite films each year." Dove goes on to list this year's Oscar nominees for Best Picture -- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, MILK, The Reader, and Slumdog Millionaire -- apparently as examples of movies that are offensive to family values.

Dove says "
There are plenty of wholesome alternatives to the adult-oriented fare that industry insiders favor." Breaking films out into six categories -- Best Adventure, Best Animated, Best Comedy, Best Documentary, Best Drama, Best Limited, and Best Musical -- they give the family the chance to vote on Dove's selection of family-friendly movies.

Among such gems are Journey to the Center of the Earth, Space Chimps, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Has anyone seen these movies? What would you vote for for best family-friendly movie?

Also, do you think that the Oscars are anti-family?

The Proverbial Lip Guarder

He who guards his lips guards his life,
but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.
~ Proverbs 13:3

Friday, February 20, 2009

Noah and the Whale: Concert and Contest

Noah and the Whale is playing the Music Hall of Williamsburg tomorrow at 9.

These folksters don't know their Bible, one might think. Noah was the one with the arc; Jonah was the one with the whale. As it turns out, the name of the band is actually a combination of director Noah Baumbach's name and the title of his film The Squid and the Whale. True story.

The movie buffs are currently accepting submissions of short films to play on their Club Silencio Tour.

Connect Newcomers Lunch at North Brooklyn Vineyard

A church in a bar in Williamsburg? North Brooklyn Vineyard must raise a few pierced eyebrows by holding its church services at Trash Bar. To the conservatively churched, the notion of holding a worship service anywhere without pews might seem heretical; and to those who have been hurt by Christianity, a church in the safety of a familiar hang out might seem fishy. Whichever side of the fence you're on, North Brooklyn Vineyard invites the curious out to its Connect newcomers lunch this Sunday, February 22, at 1:30 pm. The church says:
Connect isn't a membership class, it's an hour and a half new comers' orientation with no strings attached. We'll talk about how we got here, who we are, where we're going & answer any questions you may have.
The lunch will take place in the church office, located at 485 Lorimer Street. Find out more and RSVP here.

Today's Secret Word: Mondegreen

So you're out at Rock Star Karaoke. This dude is rockin' it hard. The whole crowd is cheering him on. He's got his Scott Weiland to such perfection he could steal STP's '93 Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance for "Plush."

"Where ya going for tomorrow?" he sings.

And you feeeeeel it. And you feeeel it. And he does too. This is his jam. He looks away from the words and sings from memory:

"Where you going with the master plan?"

Part of the crowd is still feeling it. They're hoping he'll do "Vaseline" next and show off his German dance moves.

The rest of the crowd knows better. The actual line is:

"Where ya going with that mask I found?"

The word for misunderstanding a phrase is "mondegreen." In the nineties, when mumbling reigned on high thanks to alternative and grunge music, it was pretty easy to misinterpret lyrics. The word "mondegreen" was actually coined a few decades before that, though. According to, the word comes from mishearing "laid him on the green" for "Lady Mondegreen" in a line from a Scottish ballad.

There are actually whole websites devoted to listing out commonly misheard song lyrics, including this one, which points out goofs on Christian lyrics.

"Mondegreen." Aaaaahhhh!

Get R.I.C.H.

The release party for Richie Righteous' latest album, R.I.C.H., is tomorrow night at 7:00 at New Greater Bethel, located at 215-32 Jamaica Avenue in Queens. Admission is free.

The evening will be hosted by comedian Chris Williams, with special guest God Given.

The Proverbial Craving

From the fruit of his lips a man enjoys good things,
but the unfaithful have a craving for violence.
~ Proverbs 13:2

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep Are the New Him + Her

First, there was "his and her" towels.

Then, there was She & Him, the indie pop collaboration of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward.

Today, there is Him + Her, a video installation by Candice Breitz:
The exhibition features two seven-channel installations: Him (1968-2008) montages together a conversation between 23 Jack Nicholsons extracted from films made over a period of 40 years, while Her (1978 – 2008) places 28 Meryl Streeps – drawn out of 30 years’ worth of films – into dialogue with one another.
There will be an opening reception for Him + Her from 6 to 8 tonight at Yvon Lambert (550 West 21st Street). The exhibit will be on view until March 21.

It's getting harder and harder to keep these pronouns in check.

New Kerouac Novel about the Sea

The muse of everyone from Ben Gibbard to Craig Finn, Jack Kerouac has a new book coming out. In a deal reported by Publishers Marketplace Harper will publish the reluctant King of the Beat Generation's The Sea Is My Brother: The Lost Novel.

Just as last week's sermon at City Grace discussed the theme of water in the Bible, Kerouac had an interesting relationship with both the sea and religion. He joined the US Merchant Marines in 1942 and the US Navy in 1943. The Sea Is My Brother is based on his time serving in the galley on the Dorchester, according to Too Beautiful, the Blog. Kerouac was discharged on psychiatric grounds during World War II. His travels on the mainland, however, are what he's known for today: in 1951, his cross-country adventure On the Road changed the world forever.

Throughout his semi-autobiographical novels, Kerouac often touched upon the topic of religion. He was raised Catholic and turned to Buddhism before returning to Catholicism, many biographies report.

Kerouac's actual brother, Gérard, died from rheumatic fever when Kerouac was four and Gérard was nine years old.

The Sea Is My Brother will include "correspondence and commentary illuminating his development as a young writer, including correspondence with his friend, the poet Sebastian Sampas," according to Publishers Marketplace. It will be edited by Dawn Ward.

The Proverbial Wise Son

A wise son heeds his father's instruction,
but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.
~ Proverbs 13:1

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"If You Can Dodge A Wrench, You Can Dodge a Ball"

The red, rubbery ball with the distinct sounding bounce that's caused many a childhood trauma is making a comeback in the Big Apple this winter. If you're interested in joining a sports league in New York City, and prefer that it be more social than competitive, then the New York City Social Sports Club might fit the bill. Pickup games are held on Wednesdays after the end of the league's regular season (3/25/2009). The cost is $15.00 per week.

Where? Find the Super Secret, Hush-Hush, Confidential, Undisclosed, 'This Message Will Self-Destruct in 5 Seconds' location here:

As the website says: "Playing the game is good, but going to the bar with your team afterwards is better!"

Bad Apples in the Big Apple, If You Know Where That Is

Tonight's musical performance at Chelsea Mind Games is The Bad Apples. They'll go on at 6:30 and then at 7:30 comedian/encyclopedia editor team Jen and Meg will host a geography bee.

The problem with geography is that the facts we learned in elementary school may not be relevant any longer. Like, did you know there are now 5 oceans instead of 4? And that Zaire no longer exists? Check this out.

Got what it takes to compete? Head on over to 75 Ninth Avenue. It's free, and there are "prizes, refreshments, erudite merriment, booze available!"

The Proverbial Path

In the way of righteousness there is life;
along that path is immortality.
~ Proverbs 12:28

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Time and Place Set for Pillow Fight ... But Not Without Controversy

[image from Newmindspace]

The next Pillow Fight has just been announced as taking place Saturday, April 4, in Union Square. This, however, came as somewhat of a shock to Newmindspace, the event organizer. According to an email we received from Newmindspace:
Before we were able to secure a location for the pillow fight, the creator of the Facebook event, Nikki M. Sparks, removed me as an admin and wrote the location as Union Square.

She says that Union Square is the true home of the event. I have tried to reason with her, to wait until a permit is granted, but she has acted alone by having created the event before we got a chance to.

There is already far too much momentum to try to start an opposing Facebook event with a different location, so I suppose we have no other option but to promote her event, permit or not.

The pillow fight this year is in Union Square on Saturay [sic] April 4th. Tell everybody.

Okay, we're telling everybody.

April 4 is World Pillow Fight Day. Different organizations are planning Pillow Fights everywhere from Cape Town to Sydney, Paris to Caracus, and Budapest to Portland. Find your city here.

Wikipedia noted that last year on Worldwide Pillow Fight Day, twenty-five cities across the world took part in the event and, according to a report put out by The Wall Street Journal, 5,000 people participated in New York.

Newmindspace is also organizing a Pillow Fight in Toronto on March 21.

Newmindspace is run by Lori Kufner and Kevin Bracken. They organize "free, fun, all-ages events like parties on subway cars, public pillow fights, giant games of capture the flag on city streets, massive bubble battles, public art installations and much more. Newmindspace is committed to reclaiming public space, inventing new ways of having fun, and creating community."

Technicolor Dreams of Coney Island

Yesteryear's Coney Island is but a blip in our minds. The Municipal Art Society of New York (MASNYC) is trying to put the spirit back into "the world's playground" with its ImagineConey Public Program. One of the most intriguing talks in the series is taking place tonight. At 6:30 PM at their headquarters (457 Madison Ave.), MASNYC will present "Imagining Coney: Bold Ideas, Technicolor Dreams, and Fanciful Concepts." At this free event (RSVP required) the more than 300 ideas for the future of Coney Island submitted by designers and laymen will be reviewed.

Some of these ideas are on display in the gallery at the MASNYC headquarters. They will be on exhibit until March 11. The gallery is open Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri, and Sat: 11 am – 5 pm. Closed Thurs and Sun.

On January 14, MASNYC gave a presentation on some of the ImagineConey ideas at Our Lady of Solace Church, which used part of the timbers from one of the original rides in Coney Island in its belfry. You can download the presentation here.

New Documentary Examines Christians' Obligation to Sustain Nature

Although in the recent past Christians have been criticized for being more destructive toward the environment than being stewards of God's creation, there are many who are strong leaders in environmental issues. A documentary by producer Jim Becket and featuring Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will be released soon that examines our role in nature. According to Greek Orthodox Archdiocese:
Documentary producer Jim Becket has released several films that document the Symposium on Religion, Science and the Environment - a series of gatherings that follow from a initiative from the Ecumenical Patriarch to bring together experts from the field of ecological sciences, social sciences and world religions together to discuss the impact of human life on the environment and explore our obligations as people of faith to sustain the created world. Join our waiting lists to be notified when these products are available for sale.
More information here.

The Proverbial Roasted Game

The lazy man does not roast his game,
but the diligent man prizes his possessions.
~ Proverbs 12:27

Monday, February 16, 2009

Screening and Q&A for The J2 Project

"If Jesus Christ were cloned, would the clone meet with as much opposition and controversy as did his genetic ancestor?" That's the question posed by The J2 Project, a twelve-minute mockumentary showing tonight as part of Terraza 7 Train's cinemondays (40-19 Gleane St., Elmhurst, NY). After the film, Director Alex Horwitz will take questions on the controversial comedy.

The J2 Project stars Peter Cambor, William Francisco, F.D. Reeve, William Johnston, and Gabe Dabrowski.

Coming up next week... The Confession, a short film in which "a religiously devout young Spanish woman is torn between tradition and temptation."

Orthodox Podcasts on Lent

If you can't make it out to church, you can still prepare for Lent with radiocasts and podcasts. Fordham University scholars and Orthodox priests will present on a variety of topics that will air on New York radio and be available for download. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese reports:

Fr. Chris meets with Fordham scholars Dr. Aristotle Papanikolaou and Dr. George Democopoulos to discuss Blessed Augustine: his life, his teachings and his legacy. There will also be a short ASK segment with Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou.

Other programs on our Internet radio stations: On "Special Moments in Orthodoxy," Metropolitan Jonah will continue his presentation on how to prepare for Great Lent. On "Theologically Thinking", Fr. Stanley Harakas will present a program called "The Hand that Blesses." A new episode of "Worship in Spirit and Truth" will discuss Emmanuel, He who comes in the name of the Lord.

Look for new podcasts through OCN's partnership with Axion Estin and NY radio station Cosmos and a new series on the Apocalypse by Dr. Jeannie Constantinou.

All programs available on Internet Radio, Podcast and OnDemand at

Brooklyn Songwriters Exchange Meets Tonight @ Union Hall

The community support in north Brooklyn is inspiring. Everyone out there seems to be encouraging each other's talents. In 2005 Rebecca Pronsky founded the Brooklyn Songwriters Exchange "to encourage community and support among songwriters in the borough of Brooklyn and around New York City."

Because of Pronsky's drive to unite creative individuals and build up the community, the Brooklyn Songwriters Exchange has gone on to become a much-talked about monthly series. Everyone from Time Out NY to NY Daily News has covered the group's events, which in turn promotes the individuals who have participated.

The Brooklyn Songwriters's next event is 7:30 tonight at the very cool Union Hall (702 Union St., Brooklyn). The free performance will feature Curtis Eller, Rachel Loshak, and Trevor Exter.

The Proverbial Fast Friend

A righteous man is cautious in friendship,
but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
~ Proverbs 12:26

Friday, February 13, 2009

No Running Actually Involved

When someone mentions a "Homeless Run" it's only natural to think that means either running to raise money for the homeless (a sportier version of the AIDS Walk) or making the homeless run, right? Right?? The latter sounds kinda cruel, but Paul did say to run the good race....

FOS (Forum on Orthodox Spirituality) is participating in Midnight Run on March 10. There's no running actually involved. Rather, as will be explained at the organizational meeting next Tuesday, volunteers are collecting second-hand clothes and money for food and toiletries that they will then distribute (again, not running; via car) to those who live on the streets. Although the so-called "run" will take place in the evening, it will start quite some time before midnight.

All who are interested in participating are invited to attend the organizational meeting on Tuesday, February 17, at 7:00 PM, at Holy Trinity Cathedral, located at 319 E. 74th St.

The Journey Confesses to Watching Shopaholic

Girls just wanna have fun. The "ladies of The Journey" invite fellow women out to a screening of Confessions of a Shopaholic in Times Square tonight at 7 PM. "And, after the movie we'll grab a bite to eat!" Details here, girls.

Confessions of a Shopaholic is a Jerry Bruckheimer Production based on the novel by Sophie Kinsella. It's a cutesy comedy about a woman that loves to shop so much that she ends up in major debt. ...Sounds like there's a little debt seminar she needs to go to.

Naples = Gomorrah

Gomorrah opens today at IFC to critical praise.

Matteo Garrone's latest film depicts Naples as a modern-day Gomorrah. Through the lives of five separate characters, he shows how the Italian city is so ridden with organized crime, drugs, greed, and environmental abuse (read: sin) that it is destroying itself. No fire and brimstone necessary from God when man is so bent on self-destruction.

Showtimes for Fri Feb 13 - Tue Feb 18:
10:45am, 1:10pm, 3:40, 6:30*, 7:30, 9:20, 10:15pm, plus Fri-Sun: 12:05am
*No 6:30 Tue

IFC is located at 323 Sixth Avenue.

ALL ABOARD FUTURE @ Secret Project Robot

Williamsburg's cutest gallery is having a record release party and art opening tonight. That's right, Secret Project Robot (210 Kent Ave., Brooklyn) will be hosting ALL ABOARD FUTURE. The fun on Monster island begins at 8:00. Here are the details:

Secret Project Robot is pleased to present:
a rejection of fear of the future // a celebration of community and music. Curated by Brooklyn/Chicago band These Are Powers (Dead Oceans) for the concurrent release of their album ALL ABOARD FUTURE..

Featuring works by:
Hisham Bharoocha, Cody Critcheloe, Fay Davis-Jeffers, Bea Fremderman,
Jessica Hopper, Cody Hudson, Tyler Larson, Brendan J. Missett, Pooper,
Shouwang, Holly Stevenson, Alex Valentine, Sarah Wilmer
And many more friends

Artists were asked to interpret the concept for ALL ABOARD FUTURE-the
possibility, potential and rising of a positive and dynamic New Age, in a medium of their choosing. The result is a diverse and exciting showing of emerging talent from around the world.

Works featured in the artwork for the recorded album will be on display in addition to a larger body of contemporary pieces commissioned for the show, unique to the opening will be an installation which the band will perform in, created by Brendan J. Missett.

Use Me, Use Us

After our little debate about whether short-term missions = Christian tourism, it's interesting to see North Brooklyn Vineyard say:
I challenged everyone to band together and pray the “Use me, use us” prayer that will transform us from being a crowd of individuals doing our own thing into a community on a mission, tools in God’s hand as he remakes our broken world. We asked God to begin making us aware of opportunities to be used each day, in the midst of daily comings and goings. I also mentioned that there are opportunities right within our church where you can be used to help us carry out our mission.
In their email of February 3, North Brooklyn Vineyard went on to list 18 ways its own congregation can get involved within the community. Among the needs were musicians, greeters and promoters for the Trash Bar service, card distribution in the neighborhood, and graphic artists. It's really cool to see a church looking for such a diverse group of volunteers and encouraging its congregation to be used as the hands and feet of God. If you want to get involved, you can contact them here.

What do those of you active in the North Brooklyn Vineyard community have to say about your volunteer work?

Are there other church leaders out there who would like to come up with a list of their own?

Maybe this gives us all pause to consider how God can use us wherever we our in our daily lives.

Why Remarks Made on Swedish TV Matter in New York

Pope Benedict XVI recently lifted the excommunication of four bishops who belong to the Society of St. Pius X. Among these individuals was Bishop Richard Williamson, who denies the Holocaust existed.

Journal News Columnist Gary Stern wrote an interesting article on this, in which he interviewed Father James Masssa, a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn who is executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the Bishops Conference in Washington, and took a scary look at the beliefs listed on the website of the Society of St. Pius X.

It is clear from Stern's article that statements made on Swedish television by a 68-year-old Englishman (Williamson) have far-reaching effects. Considering there are an estimated 1,412,000 Jewish people living in New York, according to the 2002 Jewish Community Study of New York, and that "Brooklyn has the largest number of Holocaust survivors in America," according to Gideon Taylor, executive vice president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, it is no wonder that any news of Holocaust denial would not be taken lightly in New York.

Pope Pius XII and the Jews is an interesting resource for headlines relevant to the controversy of how the pope handled Nazi Germany.

The Proverbial Kind Word

An anxious heart weighs a man down,
but a kind word cheers him up.
~ Proverbs 12:25

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lincoln Turns 200

Today marks the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth. The sixteenth president of the United States, he was America's first Republican president and the first US president to be assassinated. His actions led to the abolition of slavery.

There is much debate as to whether Lincoln was a Christian or not. In fact, there is a whole Wikipedia entry devoted to the topic.

"When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion," Lincoln once said.

Registration Deadline: National Young Adult Pilgrimage to Russia

Registration for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese's National Young Adult Pilgrimage to Russia ends tomorrow. Here is the essential info:

Space is limited to 35 young adults and will be on a first-come, first-served basis. The registration package price of $3025.00 (plus $225.00 air taxes) includes round trip international airfare to/from New York's JFK Airport to Moscow, train from Moscow to St. Petersburg, airfare from St. Petersburg to Moscow, six full days of sightseeing, all bus trips, transfers, entrance fees, hotels (double occupancy), and daily breakfasts and lunches. Deposit must be received by February 13, 2009! For more information please visit or contact us at 646-519-6180.

Join other young adults from across the country in this unique spiritual and educational journey! Stroll down timeless roads and explore ancient locales of Russia, land of striking beauty, diversity, and magnificent capitals. The journey begins with the historic city of Moscow, the heartland of former Imperial Russia, ancient Russian churches and the beautiful Kremlin, and continues on to St. Petersburg, the most European of all Russian cities, today one of the most important cultural, scientific, and industrial cities in Russia. Today Russia is a nation of diversity and tremendous vitality. Cultural traditions of a great country have re-awakened with a newfound strength. Ancient architectural monuments and cathedrals neglected and ruined in Soviet times are being rebuilt and restored. Come and see what this incredible country has to offer!

Steve Mays Brings "Light" to Harvest Christian Fellowship Tonight

Steve Mays will be guest speaking at Harvest Christian Fellowship (130 West 56th St.) tonight at 7:30. Steve Mays is the popular conference speaker whose radio show "Light of the World" is heard across the country. He is Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel South Bay, CA.

Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Gala Concert

The Riverside Church will host an Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Gala Concert tonight at 8:00. This impressive event will feature Earl Robinson's The Lonesome Train. The cantata has not be performed in its entirety for more than fifty years.

The prestigious list of performers includes:

The Riverside Inspirational Choir
The New York City Labor Chorus
The Chorus & Orchestra of the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College
Maestro Maurice Peress, conductor
Ruby Dee, narrator
David Amram, square dance caller
Michael Mark, balladeer
Eric Weissberg, banjo soloist
Richard Bourg, Abraham Lincoln
Tyrone Aiken, gospel preacher

Interesting side fact: in 1959, David Amram made the incidental music for The Rivalry, a play about Abraham Lincoln that took place at the Bijou Theater.

Tickets are $10-15 and available at the door. Proceeds will go toward The Riverside Food Pantry.

The Proverbial Prudent Man

A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself,
but the heart of fools blurts out folly.
~ Proverbs 12:23

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Juiced" For Spring Training?

Did you know?...

The patron saint of baseball is considered to be St Rita of Cascia

Did you also know....?

The same patron saint of baseball is also the patron saint of lost causes.

Christian Book Expo Not in Publishing World's Epicenter

The first-ever Christian Book Expo is about a month away. Slated for March 19-22, the expo is at least two years in the making, as evidenced by the fact that Publishers Weekly reported on its conception way back in 2007. Although New York has long been the US epicenter of the publishing industry, the Christian Book Expo will premiere in Dallas, Texas.

The location of the Christian Book Expo may seem like a minute detail, but it is in fact very telling as to the relationship of Christianity to both the publishing industry and New York. By creating their own book expo and holding it in Dallas, the organizers -- headed by Mark Kuyper of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association -- are setting Christian publishing apart from mainstream publishing.

It should be noted, however, that this is more of a reflection of where Christian industries are actually located than of the ECPA's agenda. Most of Christian publishers are located in Illinois, Michigan, Colorado, Miami, Tennessee, and, yes, Texas. Only 1 of the 66 exhibitors for the Christian Book Expo is located in New York. That exhibitor is GoBible, which is not even a traditional book publisher but rather an electronic device similar to an iPod that allows users to listen to the Bible. Some of the exhibitors are affiliated with major New York publishers, but their Christian divisions are located elsewhere: Howard Books was bought by Simon & Schuster in 2006 but remained in West Monroe, Louisiana; and Zondervan became part of HarperCollinsPublishers in 1988 but remains in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The Christian publishing industry in general and the Christian Book Expo in particular being located outside of the US's main publishing hub is problematic on several levels:

1. Christian publishing may be a step behind secular publishing by virtue of its seclusion. New York is, arguably, the epicenter of culture and new ideas in America.

2. There is less access to major resources elsewhere; New York abounds in cultural (see #1) and physical resources. Major secular publishers, authors, advertisers, printing press reps, etc., are in New York or come through New York.

3. In New York you get the best of the best because there is choice. People in the publishing industry move from company to company in New York, but you can't do that in Christian publishing because there is usually only one or two publishing houses in the smaller cities. That means, it's harder to get people to move for the job.

How many of you are Christians working in a publishing house in New York? Is it a Christian or secular house? Would you ever move outside of New York to take a job with a Christian publisher?

Anyone plan on attending the Christian Book Expo in Dallas?
Anyone plan on attending BEA in New York?

What a Twit

New York's Twitterati are stepping beyond their PDAs to meet up IRL. New York US Twestival 2009 will take place tomorrow at 7:30 at M:2 (530 West 28th Street). Get your tix fast, though: the first 400 were just $20 but now the tix are going up, up, up by Jacksons. They're $40 today and will be $60 tomorrow.

The proceeds go to a good cause though, charity:water.

There's also an open bar from 7:30 to 9. You know, so the socially inept have something to do with their hands other than type.
And in case you have nothing to say to all your social-networking friends F2F, there will be performances by Electric Method and DJ Get Live.

FOUND Magazine's Founder Curates Films about Love

We heart Davy Rothbart. His FOUND Magazine lets us peer into the secret lives of others to discover we're not alone in our tendency to write strange little love notes and to-do lists. Now, he's curated a film series that shows us we're not all that different from say sword swallowers or Captain Sulu when it comes to love.

Tonight is the opening reception for Davy Rothbart-curated film series called "Kick My Heart's Ass: Short Films About Love." The lovefest begins at 6 PM and is presented by Apexart (291 Church Street). The films will run through March 21.

Here's the low-down:

Featuring films by Akay, Kyle Alvarez, damali ayo, Rachel Dengiz, Shaina Feinberg, Chelsea Hodson, Marc Israel, Sarah Locke & Ghostshrimp, Brett Loudermilk, Chris K, David Meiklejohn, Carson Mell, Amber Morris, Kel O'Neill & Eline Jongsma, Scott Patterson, Jessica Sanders, Dan Tice, Nicky Verdoodt, AJ Wilhelm & Jason Orfanon, Lev Yilmaz, Jenny Owen Youngs

If the secrets to finding true love are often elusive, well, so are the secrets to making films about love. How do you inject humor into a film about heartbreak? How do you portray a happy romance without being too saccharine and oversentimental? Author and filmmaker Davy Rothbart, at work on a personal documentary called My Heart Is An Idiot, has asked a collection of talented and eclectic friends to explore these and other challenges by producing short, love-related films of their own.

Academy Award-nominated director Jessica Sanders profiles the relationship between actor George Takei (Star Trek's Captain Sulu) and his husband and lifelong partner by chatting with them in bed on a Sunday morning. Singer/songwriter Jenny Owen Youngs interviews fellow musicians about the practice of injecting stories of their own romances into their songs. Brett Loudermilk, sideshow phenom, discusses love with a pair of death-defying sword swallowers, while legendary photographer AJ Wilhelm investigates the cures for a broken heart. Carson Mell and Lev Yilmaz contribute striking animations, punk rock wanderer Chris K bumps into the newly-in-love at an American Idol audition, and documentary filmmaker David Meiklejohn hits the road in search of tales of love from strangers. These and a dozen other short films will be featured in a peepshow gallery as part of the show Kick My Heart’s Ass.

For more information visit

Women Invited to the Boys' Club for a Talk on Debt

"Ladies are welcome to join this special event," announced the email for the NYC Business & Professional Men's Ministry's event to be held tonight at 7 pm at Harvest Christian Fellowship (3rd Floor Fellowship Hall at 130 W. 56th St.). This so-called "special event" hinges on the topic of "A Biblical View of Debt." In other words, women, listen up: debt pertains to you.

Among the NYC Business & Professional Ministry's vision statements are:
God created every person for a very specific time and a distinct work.

The Business & Professional Ministry equips men to fulfill their God-given calling.

There is certainly nothing wrong with a men's ministry or a women's ministry, as single-sex ministries allow for focus and honest discussion on topics that pertain mainly to their gender. However, the vision statement of the NYC Business & Professional Ministry seems to imply that men's God-given calling pertains to business, and women have a "distinct work" separate from anything professional.

If one believes that a woman's place is in the home and that a man should be the bread winner, then one must also take into account that a woman will have to spend a man's money, be it her father's when she is single or her husband's when she is married. If a man is truly in charge of the family finances, women will not have the opportunity get into debt because she will not have full, unlimited access to money.

However, many women -- both single and married -- are, in fact, engaged in the business and professional world. And some men, conversly, choose to be the stay-at-home parent. Should a business and professional ministry be geared only toward men, then?

And is there validity to the notion that women are bad with money, as seems to be implied by their invitation to a talk on debt?

Janet Bodnar, Deputy Editor of Kiplinger's Personal Finance, says:
Within a household, women are more likely than men to pay the bills (60%), balance the checkbook (67%), and maintain the family budget (54%). But only 25% of women -- versus 44% of men -- are responsible for buying and selling stocks, bonds and mutual funds.
Matthew Kirdahy reports in the Los Angeles Times that "it’s not a question of better, just different."

Lily Fang, Assistant Professor of Finance at Instead, the Business School of the World, concludes, "Research evidence shows that as a partnership, women and men together make better [financial] decisions."

The Proverbial Insult

A fool shows his annoyance at once,
but a prudent man overlooks an insult.
~ Proverbs 12:16

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Metro NY Synod Gets a Makeover

The Metro NY Synod got a bit of a facelift recently. Now they look just like the everyone else. The synod has taken on the emblem of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

The decision to conform to the ELCA was made to create unity:
This change was not made lightly. Our move to a new look reflects the fact that the synod is not a stand-alone organization but part of a wider church. When the ELCA took on the new “God’s work, our hands” tagline, it encouraged all synods, schools, institutions, and agencies of the church to adopt the same brand mark. It is an effort to strengthen the bond we all share as ELCA Lutherans. Instead of having 65 synods each with a different logo and tagline, why not reflect that we are all part of the same church family? We take on this unifying graphic identity as a visual reminder to ourselves and to the outside world that we are one church.
You can read more about the signficance of the "God's work, our hands" tagline here.

Yes We Can Make the CCM Awards Aware of NYC

This year's presidential election was riveting. But now that it's over, are you feeling a bit bummed with the lack of things to vote for? Unsure of what to do with all the free time on your hands? Never fear, CCM's Reader Choice Awards are here! You can vote for your favorite musicians and make history. Now is the time for change! Sure we love Natalie Grant and Chris Tomlin, but isn't it time for someone new to win? Maybe a New Yorker? Vote here but duke it out in the comments section below so we know what the TriState thinks.

Silent Film Series Starts Tonight

New Sound Live’s Silent Film Series kicks off its free three-day event tonight at 7:00 at the World Financial Center’s Winter Garden (220 Vesey Street). This evening’s olde timey picture-show event centers around three surrealist shorts: Entr’acte, Ballet Mecanique, and The Cameraman’s Revenge. Gary Lucas will provide the soundtrack to the silent films with his haunting guitar melodies. For more information, visit WNYC.

A perfect night for all those hipsters with the vaudeville moustaches that ride the G train and NJ Transit bus 167 to Bergenfield.

The Proverbial Sinful Talker

An evil man is trapped by his sinful talk,
but a righteous man escapes trouble.
~ Proverbs 12:13

Monday, February 9, 2009

Three Treasures Retreat for Women

Harvest Christian Fellowship will be hosting a Women's Retreat the weekend of February 20-22. It offers a chance to escape from New York to the Tuscarora Inn at the foothills of the Poconos. There, guest speaker Gisela Yohannan will teach on "Three Treasures: Hope, Joy, and Peace," based on Romans 15:13. There will be a time of studying the Word, worship, and fellowship. Transporation will be provided if needed. See the website for more information.

The women's ministry of Harvest Christian Fellowship meets weekly on Thursday evenings at 6 PM on the third floor of their church, locatetd at 130 West 56th Street (between 6th and 7th Aves.).

7 Days of Sex? Not Quite

By now, the message of the pastor who urged his congregation to have sex has reached from Texas to New York. But what about if you're single? DustandPearls tackles the single's response to the pastor's sex sermon in an article just in time for Valentine's Day.

The Journey's Growth Groups Start Today

The Journey's Growth Groups begin today. There are a hundred groups ranging from worship arts, athletics, professional, college, to over 35 age range. You can sort by group type, location, and day of the week here. The groups run through April. Each group usually has about 15-18 people in it.

The Gospel Music Category of the Grammy Awards

Field 11 of the Grammy Awards is devoted to the category "gospel." The term is a bit of a misnomer today. It's about time the awards show thought about renaming the category.

The term "gospel music" implies to today's listeners music in the tradition of Southern gospel. However, the awards show lists all Christian music under this category, which is misleading since it includes not only traditional gospel music but also Christian rock and rap. Unfortunately, this devalues the rich musical and cultural heritage of gospel music.

It also undermines the complexity and diversity of Christian music. There are 7 categories in Field 4: Rock and 5 categories in Field 7: Rap. However, in field 11: Gospel, one category combines the two as "Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album."

It is no wonder that Christians sometimes have to come up with awards shows of their own, such as the Dove Awards.

[Image: The Blind Boys of Alabama won Best Traditional Gospel Album]

Nomination Season at Riverside Church

The Riverside Church is now accepting applications for nominations to its Church Council. There are 32 opportunities open for leadership.

To be eligible:
Persons nominated as candidates for Church Council must have been full members of the church for at least 2 years prior to the date on which they would begin serving. Persons nominated as candidates for any other elected office must have been full members of the church for at least 1 year prior to the date on which they would begin serving. All persons appointed to any office under these by-laws must be full members of the church.

Nominees for any elective office must have pledged their monetary support to the Church- and must have met those pledges- in each of the 2 years immediately prior to the date of their election or for such shorter period as the nominee has been a member of the Church. The Nominating Committee may grant exceptions from this requirement in cases of unforeseen financial hardship.


More details and a talent survey are available on the church website.

The Proverbial Gossip Girl

A gossip betrays a confidence,
but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.
~ Proverbs 10:13

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Shock, Scandal, Emotion, and an Unusual Pairing at the Grammy Awards

So the Grammy Awards were last night. You can get a full list of the winners here, but here's what you really need to know:

+ While the awards show was taking place, nominee Chris Brown was in police custody for alleged assault.

+ Also missing from the awards show was Rihanna. She was Brown's long-time girlfriend. Brown's alleged assault was to an unidentified woman. Hm....

+ Jennifer Hudson won her first Grammy (Best R&B Album), saying: "I first would like to thank God who has brought me through. I would like to thank my family in heaven and those who are with me today." Her mother, brother, and nephew were murdered this past October. She went on to emotionally sing "When I was drowning, when I was so confused, you, you pulled me through." As she sang the last note, she looked directly into the camera and dissolved into tears once again," the lyrics to the song "You Pulled Me Through."

+ Robert Plant and Alison Krauss were the year's big winners for their album "Raising Sand."

[image of MIA, who was nominated for Record of the Year (the win went to Robert Plant and Alison Krauss), by AP]

Film Nights at City Grace and Revolution

Some Christian churches and colleges frown upon anything secular and advise their followers to abstain from Hollywood movies. That outlook is starting to change these days, as more leaders are using film as a way to create dialogue. Today, two churches are showing two very different films for your viewing pleasure.

City Grace is showing the somewhat-dark comedy Little Miss Sunshine as part of their first-ever indie movie night. It will be at 7 PM at their usual church location of 219 Sullivan Street. There will be free food, and a discussion will follow.

Revolution will be showing the documentary Mountain Top Removal:
We here at Revolution continue to follow Jesus' prayer of "On earth, as it is in Heaven" not only in the work of human rights but also in the work of taking care of God's creation. This month, we will host another film screening educating us on environmental issues. The film is called Mountain Top Removal- it is a documentary about coal mining in the Appalachia Mountain region. Some of the negative impacts of coal mining on the environment are highlighted, including the geological changes that occur and result in flooding and pollution and the impact these practices have on the people living there. The screening will be at The Lazy Catfish (593 Lorimer St, Brooklyn, NY) on Sunday, February 8th at 7pm. Suggested donation is $10 (to benefit Revolution and Haw River Films). For more information please click here. Along these lines, we will start a new Bible study this month based on the newly published Green Bible, which has verses pertaining to the environment highlighted in green.

Please post below if you go to either of the screenings. It would be great to hear what was discussed at both of these film nights.

Trinity Grace East Siiiiiiide

Trinity Grace Church officially launched its Upper East Side service today. It was held at St. Mark's Church at 339 E. 84th Street, between 2nd and 1st Avenues. Worship began at 5 PM ... which means I missed it by 38 minutes. Anyone go? How was it?

Trinity Grace also has services on the West Side, Chelsea, and Brooklyn.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Today in Useless Sports History, or for abbreviation's sake: TUSH

[Ted Williams] vs. [Alex Rodriguez]

Making 'Sense' of the Ever-Bloating Sports Dollar.

2/6/1958 - Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams signs for $135,000, making him the highest paid athlete ever at the time. Currently, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez (no relation) has sports' biggest contract at $275M over 10 years. Assuming the $135,000 was for 2 years (he retired in 1960), and comparing it to the $55m A-Rod's set to get for two years of his 10-year total, let's put it in perspective:

>>Each dollar of Ted's contract in 1958 would = $407.41 of today's semolians.
>>Good Ol' Petrol was $.29 cents a gallon in '58. That's 465,517 gallons of Texas Tea.
Today, Alex could only get 31,428,571 gallons at the pump to fill the tank (at a generous $1.75/gallon)

>>A Chevrolet Corvette would yield you $3,631, or 37 cars. Jay Leno would be jealous.
>>Today's athlete can foot the bill for 2,200 cars, assuming a car would cost you $25,000.

>>And finally, a modest house in 1958 was $12,750, or roughly 10 to 11 houses for the Tedster.
>>Assuming a shoebox of a house in Bergen County NJ goes for $300,000 today (if you're lucky), that's 1,833 houses a man in A-Rod's position can afford over two years worth of work.

Looking at the numbers on the surface, that sucks TUSH for the rest of us given the current climate :-)

The Proverbial Fantasy Chaser

He who works his land will have abundant food,
but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.
~ Proverbs 12:11

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Big Apple Decorations

Urban Outfitters has a few apple decorations for making your apartment Big Apple worthy.

This one is a container for $36.
And this one is a hook on sale for $9.99.

The Proverbial Animal Caretaker

A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal,
but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.
~ Proverbs 12:10


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I Can't Afford to <3 NY

The iconic New York tee-shirt gets an ironic makeover thanks to the economy. Get one here. [Via Thrillist]

The Proverbial Warped Mind

A man is praised according to his wisdom,
but men with warped minds are despised.
~ Proverbs 12:8

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Did You Propose with a Blurb Book?

With Valentine's Day coming up, proposals will be popped. Blurb is holding a contest open to people who have proposed using a Blurb book. [via Brooklyn Bride]

Do any of you dear readers have a good proposal story?

The Proverbial Gain Hoarder

People curse the man who hoards grain,
but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell.
~ Proverbs 11:26

Monday, February 2, 2009

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Found this necklace called "Not All Who Wander Are Lost" on Etsy. It's made by a self-proclaimed hippie named Hannah, who tagged it with words like "travel," "lost," "religious," Christian," and "camping." The nineteen-year-old claims "love" as one of the materials she used to make it. Awww!

The Proverbial Generous Man

A generous man will prosper;
he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
~ Proverbs 11:25

Dunkin' Donuts Offers You a Free Ride

All you bridge-and-tunnel kids coming in through Port Authority can pick up a free metro card on Dunkin' Donuts in the subway stations at 42nd Street - Times Square today. [Image and tip via FreeNYC]

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Susan Isaacs on IAM and Encounter

It's February, the month of IAM's Encounter '09. Hopefully you caught the early bird registration and now are curiously surfing the Web for any hint of what to expect. But, maybe you're on the fence about going. The economy's gone south and you're not sure it's worth the time and money. Asphalt Eden caught up with Susan Isaacs, one of the art conference's presenters, who gave us the inside scoop on how IAM has shaped her career and spiritual journey and what she hopes others will get out of the conference.

Just to give you a little background info, Susan Isaacs is kind of the Christian equivalent of Tina Fey -- smart, funny, and a wee bit cynical. She has appeared on Seinfeld and My Name Is Earl, and is friends with Arrested Development's Tony Hale. She is a regular contributor to Burnside Writers Collective, and her book Angry Conversations with God: A Snarky but Authentic Spiritual Memoir, which doesn't come out til March, has already gotten rave reviews.

Asphalt Eden: How did you get involved with IAM?
Susan Isaacs: I lived in New York City from 1998 to the end of 2003. I met Mako at the IAM Encounter in 1999, when I was attending Redeemer; and then when I started attending the Village Church. I knew Mako as a fellow churchgoer, and also as the leader of IAM. My first IAM conference was in February 1999!

Asphalt Eden: How has IAM shaped your career and spiritual life?
Susan Isaacs: I was impressed with that first conference in February 1999. It wasn't just a Jesusy conference with art thrown in; it was a legitimate forum to discuss art from a spiritual perspective. I remember they were showing slides of an artist's work. One of the pieces showed a nude couple, standing a la American Gothic. The projectionist passed it very quickly and Mako asked them to go back. Everybody laughed, but then we really looked at the painting: unglamorous, raw, honest, vulnerable. The moment made us examine not only the piece but our own thoughts about nudity and what we've done to it in our culture. I was very impressed with the way Mako handled the moment, but also the the whole conference itself.

Mako is a visual artist, so much of the 1999 conference was about visual art. But I attended (and performed at) the IAM Encounter in February 2006, after I had moved back to Los Angeles. I was workshopping a solo show (that later become my book). By then IAM had broadened its scope to include film, literature, acting performance, and music. And some really heavy hitter thinkers as well: Miroslav Wolf, Dana Goia and Nancy Pearcey. It was terrific! But art didn't take a back seat to faith or vice versa. IAM set such a high bar in terms of artistic quality and thought. It created open, inviting forum to bridge the worlds of art and faith.

I've attended several "Christian art" conferences in my day. Sometimes the artistic quality is lacking in the name of loving everyone. (Nothing wrong with that, it's important to encourage people wherever they're at artistically!) But those events aren't so challenging, they're more like your old school talent shows. Other conferences put artistic quality far ahead of anything else, and they became a kind of parade, like they're trying to be the Oscars or something, and Jesus is put in a corner. IAM is worshipful, respectful, and challenging. IAM sets a high bar in terms of quality, but it doens't shove Jesus into a corner either. I love the balance of IAM.

Asphalt Eden: What will you be presenting on at Encounter?
Susan Isaacs: My memoir is coming out in March. Angry Conversations With God started with ideas put forth in the book, The Sacred Romance -- that our relationship with God is like a marriage. At the time I read it I thought, "Well in that case God and I need to go to marriage counseling!" It's a spiritual memoir, so every chapter deals with a specific period in my life, and then God and I talk about it in counseling. Some of the sessions sound like: "What were you THINKING, God? And God answers, "What were YOU thinking?!" But of course we work through it all.

I'm going to present something between a talk and a solo show at IAM; kind of like Eddie Izzard's shows. My book actually began as a solo show which I began working on in 2004. I was right in the middle of a crisis of faith, so I was working on the show as a way to work through my crisis. When I presented material at IAM in 2006, I was still in the crisis of the Second Act. :) A couple years later (after I lived through that crisis) I finished the book, so I've come full circle and am adapting it back into a show.

Asphalt Eden: Why should someone attend Encounter?
Susan Isaacs: Personally, I got as much out of meeting other artists as I did from the content of the encounter itself. I mean, there'll be so much on hand, you won't be able to digest it all ... kind of like binge eating on Thanksgiving. Yes the exhibitions are fantastic, and so are the lectures and performances. But the energy in the rooms and the fellow artists are just as important as the content. You'll get into a conversation with someone in the hall, you'll go out for coffee or a meal and make new friends. You'll discover people out there just like you.

We often get bogged down, especially if our art is a solo venture like painting or writing. But the opportunity to connect with others can help us go back to our work in a new way. Those new friendships and experiences will challenge and encourage you as you go back out into the world and make your way as a Christian and an artist.