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Bigger Than Hollywood

By March 5, 2014Work it Out

I love watching the Academy Awards. The dresses, the shoes, the glitz, the glamour… It all looks so surreal that it is easy to forget why those folks are at the pinnacle of their craft. They work really hard. They are respected by their peers. They created something this year (a script, a costume, a performance) that went above and beyond, for which they are now being recognized.

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One of the starlets (I regret that I did not catch her name) was asked about the “red carpet experience” and she replied that it was amazing because so much of the normal creative process is made up of rejection. Dreams unfulfilled, casting calls unreturned, films that never get produced, and life under a microscope that subjects you to both public accolade and public shame. As I sat on my couch with my popcorn and Red Vines, I (however briefly) acknowledged that these lives are not all about limos and style consultants. The successes are celebrated grandly because they contrast the many failures and unfulfilled promises of daily life in Hollywood. The stories that make it to the Oscars are dreams that were realized despite the odds against them. They mean something to the people who created them and that passion translated to the viewing public. Hopefully, we shine some light on the kind of art that changes people– and our culture. For example, I really do hope that Steve McQueen is able to parlay the success of 12 Years a Slave into continued awareness of modern day slavery (a huge issue in our own community). Passion for the message of that film drove them to shoot the film in 35 days of Louisiana heat.

So, what about my daily 9 to 5? I work in finance and its hard to drum up a lot of excitement about weekly reports. Plus, nobody in my office (that I know of) is walking around handing out awards for PowerPoint presentations that put a dent in global injustice. Sure, there are people across our city who directly and tirelessly chip away at these issues everyday, and I applaud their efforts. Without that platform, am I exempt from creative pressure and social good? No way. We all still need to create, to elevate ideas, and to bring dignity to whatever the thing is that we do. Bringing “12 Years” to the screen took hundreds of people, from studio execs, accountants, researchers, advertising consultants, caterers, cinematographers, and location scouts. Everyone played a part and allowed the story to grow and continue. Similarly, each of us play a roll in a larger story.

“When you engage with Jesus He’s gonna unearth things in you, He’ll cause an earthquake in your life that is sometimes really uncomfortable, and sometimes really annoying. … Things that you wanted to lay dormant or you forgot were even there. … God awakens these things in you. If you’re a dancer, or a writer, or a producer, or a doctor, or a mother, or an engineer, or a lawyer– you are in a spiritual business. You are in a spiritual business of utilizing all that God has entrusted you with and bringing them into existence for all of the people in your life. The way it works is that God engages with your spirit and awakens things that were dormant within you.” (Hank Fortener, The Spiritual Power of Creativity sermon, Mosaic, February 2014)

As followers of Christ, we are in partnership with a creative God. A God that dignifies the work of creating all goods and services. Making spreadsheets, making lunches, or making houses, we are engaging in a process that has both successes and failures, critical wins, and occasional recognition. The important thing is that we keep doing it with the mindfulness that our efforts are being viewed, used, and consumed by people that are of value. One day, we might have the opportunity to do something that rises above. Maybe one day our work WILL directly impact global good, or be acknowledged for a great outcome on a global stage. Maybe one of us will receive an achievement award, end hunger, cure cancer, or pop into a selfie that crashes Twitter. Regardless of those victories, we will be called to give account for taking all that is within us and using it to glorify God.


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Blue is a two-day ​event​ designed to engage people thoughtfully in difficult conversations through curated talks​ (think Ted Talks). Together we’ll explore the ideas shaping our culture and ​explore how​ to find answers in a changing culture​ and embody the gospel in this moment.​ ​ I think you’ll enjoy the conference so I already purchased a ticket for you. Here is a sample of the topics and speakers:

· Sexual Brokenness and the Hope of the Gospel // Steve Arterburn
· Race, Faith and Hope for America // Dr. Michael Waters
· Rediscovering God: Reconciling Faith and Science // Mike McHargue
· The Science of Feeding the World // Dr. Hongda Chen
· Parenting in a Digital Age // Dr. Steven Argue
· Q & A – Refugees and Politics

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