Contemporary American Christian culture has become quite a theatrical production specifically within the last thirty years. The distinguishing characteristics between what Christians define as ‘worship’ and a secular rock concert have become very gray. Similarly an Evangelical Church’s Christmas production of the birth of Christ, for example, seems to carry as much weight and impact on some congregations as a community theatres production of, Oklahoma (AKA everyone tries to stay awake out of respect because it’s a classic). Groups such as Hillsong United, The David Crowder Band, and various artists from the IHOP (International House of Prayer) beg the question: What is the difference between worship and performance? In a world that is progressively exposed to visual media, Christian culture has becoming increasing obsessed with the appearance of worship rather than the authentic act of worship, to the degree that Sunday mornings feel more like a Sunday matinée at the theatre.
Questions on my mind…
What is the difference between worshiping God, and performing a Christian song?
What is the distinction between performing a monologue and preaching a sermon?
Is a church service a show?
Could a theatrical performance be used as a portal to experience the presence of God?
If you ask anyone who is close to me they will tell you these kinds of questions have been consuming me for the last few years. As a follower of Christ who has a passion for the performing arts this particular topic is very tender in my heart, the subject of which has recently ignited great conversations and debates amongst my family and friends (which was actually my hope). The ebb and flow of these questions in my thoughts have uncovered some deep seeded truths. I have felt great conviction on the simplest levels of defining what is means to be genuine, open, and sincere to everyone I meet. As my relationship with the Lord grows and my understanding of the theories, practices and art of theatrical performance expands I hope to be changed from the inside out. My hearts desire is to worship Him as He deserves to be worshiped and to create performances which do the same.
‘Why is my user name practicingpadawan’ you ask? Oh, well, practicing according to Dictionary.com means: “actively working at a profession, especially medicine or law.” I’m not convinced about that “especially medicine or law” business, but truth be told, I hate practicing. It’s true. I shared a little revelation I got my with my mom the other day about practicing: I think I have been living most of my life in denial about achieving goals and the forward motion of life. I’ve basically been feeding myself a lie about hard work and what it means to practice your art. The lie is, your raw talent, connections and the grace of God will get you your dreams. The truth is, those things I mentioned are true but with out active steps of faith, practicing to the best of your abilities and a healthy humility those other things will not build the momentum of excellence to move the world. I have to learn to love to practice and practice well. Padawan, according to Wookieepedia.com referse to a Force-sensitive adolescent who has begun one-on-one instruction with a Jedi Master. Having passed the Initiate trials and ascended in rank from an Initiate, Padawans are given more responsibilities within the Jedi Order but are still subject to the demands of their master. In my imagination I like to think of the Force as the Holy Spirit. Thus you have practicingpadawan – that’s me! Yes, I am a nerd. Yes, I love Jesus. Yes, I love theatre. This is the moment you must decided if you are going to continue to follow this blog. THE POINT OF NO RETURN. ; )
May the Force be with you.
Related Clips: (one of my favs)