In My Back Yard
The view out the back door
A (Low) Tech Perspective


From a journal entry a couple years ago ....

"My wife and I were wandering in San Francisco last Saturday night and found ourselves outside of an old Episcopal church ten minutes before their Latin Chant Mass began. We decided to join them for worship. It was pretty cool: nice old building, plenty of aromatic smoke (I heard an apology from the man who forgot to open the window in the back), and mysterious liturgy. Three great things that go great together.

"Afterwords, we sipped prosecco in a small room next to the church and visited. One gentleman said to me, with a kind of grin, "I think of this service like a kind of magic."

I asked, does he mean "'magic' like C.S. Lewis describes of Narnia: Deep Magic from Before the Dawn of Time?"

"Like a hidden goodness?"

"Like an exciting promise of things turning out unexpectedly good?"

"No. He meant, he said, 'Like theater.' Like, pretend. A trick."

I remember that when I finished my undergraduate work in the theater--which I took very seriously--and decided to attend four years of seminary, that I got a lot of blank stares. Most of those stares resolved into a knowing look. "Oh," people would say, "Makes sense. Church is a lot like theater." And by that they meant, at best, make believe. At worst, they meant hypocrisy, which is the way Jesus referred to the theater of his day, where the actors merely pretended to live lives of meaning on stage. (Jesus might have some words for our teary prime-time televangelists.) My friends would go on to suggest that my theater training would come in handy in the pulpit. I always tried to explain that I thought it was the other way around, that I thought my faith came in handy on stage. I tried to manifest the truth in my acting, and any less, any hypocrisy, made for crappy theater.

I kind of hate it when people compare church to the theater, because I know that 99% of the time they mean to say that church (like theater) is a pretty lie. The other 1% of the comparisons are when I do it, and I tend to hate it then too, because I get the same blank stares when I say that theater (like church) is meant to be a powerful truth.


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