Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Where's the line?

I've been doing something dangerous lately.

When I say dangerous it's simply relative. As a lesbian woman who deeply desires to follow Jesus I've been attending a non-affirming, non-accepting, just flat out NON-LGBT church(s). I used to attend a predominantly "gay church" where I wouldn't even bat an eye when it came to being gay and feeling accepted. Now, I have to think twice about what I'm going to wear and what I'm going to say and how I lean in - I can't come off too masculine lest the know. Lest the hear it in my voice. Lest they find me out.

Part of me, doesn't really care if they find out that I'm gay. Or so...that's what I say to myself. The other part of me wants to scream and yell and defend what I think is quite frankly, one of the best parts about who I am, and to stop them from saying things that could really hurt someone not as strong as me.

This whole situation  is dangerous because I can already feel myself questioning everything. And not in a good way that brings about life and more questions and a deeper understanding like the way I question creation and the inerrancy of scripture and the doctrine of God's providence. Thinking about those things and really digging through them brings life! And faith. It always strengthens my faith. But questioning my sexuality makes me feel down. Very down. It makes me feel damned - not like I'm going to hell but like I should hate myself.


Why would I put myself through this, you say? Because I want to learn. Because I want to grown. When these closed minded folks are not shooting down everything they don't understand, they are feeding me spiritual steak and potatoes with their expository preaching and glorious systematic theology. And I believe that God is calling the gay community not to simply segregate ourselves into our little corners but to do the hard work of wrestling with people in their error and helping them to see the light (and darkness) in their thinking.

Because I would want the same done for me.

And the "gay church" isn't that strong. They aren't teaching the deep spiritual truths of purity and the sanctity of scripture and dignity of human life the way, ironically, the other folks are. Mostly because we (the gay community) are still licking our wounds and patching up scabs of where we've been hurt by the Church.

So each week I sit in a folded aluminum chair grateful to God for the grace to hear the words of the blessed preacher and take incredible notes of truths knowing they are actual seeds in the soil of my heart. And I sit there and listen and know that I have no reason to be afraid. More than any other commandment in the Bible God says "Do not fear." And so I sit there knowing He is blessing my time and my efforts and planting His word deep into my heart and He has a reason for making me a lesbian who cannot, repeat cannot turn away from Him. Meditating on this has made me more relaxed - reaching for my polos and combing my hair (MY HAIR) the way Ashley Roque truthfully does her hair, in all her butch majesty :)

Because what I'm doing isn't really that dangerous. What is more dangerous is not following Him when He calls me.

If they kick me out - that will be the line. And even then, I'll be safe in my Father's arms.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Dear White People

My only issue with this film is that in the end, she (the lead character) had nothing else to say. It finished with a "never mind." What is that? How does that happen? How can the first film in a long time to come around, that is centered on giving voice to African Americans strictly to white folks, end with apathy? Is that how you would define my generation? With apathy?

The insufficiency of shame resilience

There is this Brene Brown craze, as you would, among not necessarily our top intellectual thinkers but I think, some of the best people I know. People whom I know to be deeply kind and loving and loyal, - people who are known for giving their lives for the public service of others, are into her books and excited about her psychology research. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown is a good book for good people.

It is not, however, for everyone. Why? Probably because as I was reading it, I didn't think it was for me too... 

1) Brene Brown operates upon the assumption that we are afraid to tell our stories and reveal our "shame" because we don't think we'll be met with unconditional love, or acceptance and it's when we do open up about what we are so ashamed of, that we begin to be released from the bondage of shame.

The problem with that is, she's right. We don't think we'll be met with unconditional love because most people don't give that, much less expect to receive that from others. That kind of love is quite selfless - a modern day miracle. Furthermore, even though one might desire that kind of commitment from another, people don't often know how to find it or create it in a relationship with other people. It's just a fact. And it's terribly sad. In a world where we celebrate our choices and freedom, we have lost the experience of loyalty and deep love.

2) Secondly, confession isn't enough. Brown makes this point on certain pages where she illustrates that it can be traumatizing to confess, or reveal what we are so ashamed of. Even if you confess to a loved one, you will more times than not, be met with confusion, derision and possibly denial. Confession is hard and can be quite powerful and it does not ever guarantee freedom. There has to be more than that.

3) Lastly, Brene also writes under the assumption that we always feel shame for our "weaknesses" which we don't. We don't always feel shame for sin, either. There are plenty of people who binge, cheat, lie, hit, steal, kill, and do worse and worse every day without shame. Maybe that's why I concluded that this is a good book for good people.

Many will be able to read her work and find comfort in her assertions in the value of vulnerability and safe spaces and wholeheartedness, all of which I can see too. But I feel like her outlook only scratches the surface of the issue.

All of her writing points to a person (unconditional love), a power (shame resilience) and a longing for connection (communion) that she provides little clarity on, thus making her psychology insufficient. In other words, she is pointing to Jesus - not the Church and not Christianity, but the man. The god-man who died for the propitiation of our sins. His atoning sacrifice is enough. It will always be enough. Nothing we can do can separate us from his fierce affection for our happiness and our souls and our sanctification - a word divinely rooted in salvation. We fight sin, we fight guilt, we fight everything that threatens God's best for us by his grace. Never by what we can do, have done, will do. Self-determinism has no space in the Gospel. Personal will fails - every time. There is not enough grit in the human race to pull us out o four sin. Thus Jesus. His presence alone is sufficient. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

"Interstellar" (2014)

My first impression of "Interstellar" (2014) was confusion. I didn't understand anything about "time folding" and "black wholes" and "singularities." And I didn't need to. For some reason, it all sort of fit into this massive idea that didn't fit into my brain. In other words, the suspension of disbelief worked for me in the most magical of ways. It made me wonder and think and deeply consider all that God had created - the mysteries of his character. I came to learn that there are so many things God created before the seventh day that we have no concept of and that is a blessing.

I will say, however, that I balled like a baby when I saw Matthew McConaughey watch his children on the video monitor. I mean, literally watching him watch them brought me to tears. A few observations:

1) You need to be a specific kind of person to understand that kind of responsibility and pain. Primarily a parent. But not just a parent. Someone who holds a deep selfless place in their heart for their children. 

2) You need to be of a specific maturity to allow that kind of pain in your heart. Sadly, I know plenty of actors (and non-actors) who will do anything to avoid that kind of suffering. 

3) I understand that kind of pain.

For the last 10 years, my whole life has been about children. Yes, I chased my dream and studied and went to school and directed films, but my day in and day out wringing out was with them. When I first saw "Interstellar" (2014) I couldn't understand why I had such a strong reaction to see him watch his children on the screen. I couldn't understand the immidiate grief it brought me. I literally hunched over a cried my eyes out, not only in the theater but when I saw it again last night.

But now I understand. I've moved three times in the last ten years, and saying good bye to people (including children) has been an experience for me.

Thus, when I see his face and see his tears I know. I try not to run away from it. I try to see it as a gift. A reminder that I have been loved by my community and deeply love them in return.

Couple more notes:

If you haven't seen this film, watch it on HULU with subtitles. Try not to look for the logic in it. Look more at the reasons WHY they go into space and make specific decisions. Also, look for the theme of love. It's essentially a father daughter story and a story about a father's personal journey in his own happiness. There is a line in the film where Matthew tells Murph (his daughter) that he has to go out and explore. Because that's what humans were made to do. He quickly regrets having left his children, seeing glimpses of their grief in the videos he watches. But by the end, his initial convictions were affirmed and that is indeed, what this film is about. 

So watch it. Enjoy it. And bring tissues <3

Monday, July 25, 2016

"Clowns in Spring" (2016)

I directed a short film!! "Clowns in Spring" was my first production in Los Angeles and I have to say it was worth the wait! These two were good on camera together and a lot of fun to work with. I am always humbled by actors who have a deeper understanding and connection to the story than I do - which these two rightfully did and it was awesome.

I got a specific critique from a trusted mentor about my work simply from these pictures. He said that I have a "sensitive and delicate" vision. Which seriously puzzles me because I pride myself on being so strong and yet here I am moving heaven and hell to create something deeply intimate and indeed "delicate."

This will be my first "experimental" film and my first "Spanish" film. The voice over is done in Spanish. There is no audio apart from that - perhaps an insert here and there of ambient noise and soundtrack but no dialogue. Just out of order images that hopefully make some sense. I'm meeting with actresses tonight to begin working on "Hadlee's Hymn" - hopefully my second experimental short film.

Lord willing, this will be the start of a new creative journey for me.