Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Up to his Oobleck

I was babysitting this evening and the little boy I was taking care of wanted to read "Bartholomew and the Oobleck", by Dr. Suess. In the story, King Derwin of Didd makes a very bad mistake, which has resulted in his kingdom being covered in a gooey green slime called "Oobleck." However, the King refuses to take the blame for his mistake until finally his page boy, Bartholomew Cubbins confronts him. "You may be a mighty king...but you're sitting in oobleck up to your chin. And so is everyone else in your land. And if you won't even say you're sorry, you're no kind of king at all!" Well, it seems to me that George W. Bush is up to his chin in oobleck dealing with the mess in Iraq, but unfortunately he doesn't seem to understand that he needs to accept the blame for his mistake. It's pretty simple, though. Even the 6 year old that I was reading the story to understood it.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Flyers for Jesus

Summer in New York is unusual. Lots of NYC residents (the wealthy ones anyway) skip town and head to the Hamptons or Connecticut or take vacations to Europe. Even those who are not wealthy find reasons to get out of the city for the long, humid days where the city becomes like a concrete oven. Lots of performers book work at summer theatres and various out-of-town festivals. People visit family in places with more green space. While many New Yorkers leave, many visitors find summer an ideal time to visit New York. Along with your average tourist minding their own business, you also start to see these groups of young white teenagers in matching T-shirts handing out flyers on street corners. They are "missionaries." And their youth groups have apparently chosen New York City as their mission field. They stand there, looking wide-eyed and innocent, so proud of themselves for having the courage to "take Jesus to the city." I really resent these young people in suburbia thinking that they are doing we city-dwellers a big favor by coming here to "save" us. Part of the reason that I resent it so much is probably because when I was a teenager I did something like that myself. I went to El Salvador, specifically San Salvador (the capitol) to save people. I was so proud of my group for "preaching the word of God" in El Salvador's largest city. But when I look back on it now, it wasn't so much courageous as patronizing. One of the things that bothers me the most about my visit to El Salvador as a teenager was that we didn't actually help people in any concrete way. Some church groups go to places and build houses or hand out supplies. All we did was waste a lot of time and money asking people who didn't even have a home if they wanted help...finding Jesus. I would welcome these youth groups coming to the city if they were helping feed the homelesss or helping renovate low-income housing or something, but to just come here and hand out flyers on the street corner so they can feel good about themselves when they head back to Michigan? No thanks. It kind of makes me want to find a reason to head out of town. Thankfully I am headed to Scotland next week for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. And I am sure that there, amidst all of the people handing out flyers for their shows, there will probably be a group of teenagers in matching shirts, handing out flyers for Jesus.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Whilst Surfing the Web

I am busy sending out press releases and getting everything in order for the Edinburgh Fringe in Scotland, which I head to on July 28th. The other day I noticed that a website called "Broadway Baby" has posted a preview of the show along with others that are going to be in the Edinburgh Fringe. The site is British and I found it amusing how they worded the description of the show. They wrote that it's "A comedy about speaking in tongues whilst trying to speak to God..." Isn't that great? Just add a "whilst" and the show suddenly sounds British. I'm going to have to put a few more "whilsts" into the show, just so it resonates with the UK audience - something like, "Whilst talking to Jesus one day..." To see the preview, visit http://www.broadwaybaby.com/edinburgh/fringe/previews/pentecostalwisconsin

Sheep, Robots and Jesus

I was wasting time flipping through the infomercials and "paid programming" early this morning and I came across a broadcast of preacher giving a sermon. Sometimes I like to watch these things just to sort of revisit my youth in the church and also because I often find it funny, though it usually isn't long before I have to change the channel in disgust. So this preacher is preaching a sermon about giving up "worldly desires" and "crucifying the flesh." Then she says, "Jesus said 'if you love me, you'll obey me,'" and it struck me that that sounds like something an abusive spouse would say to his or her partner. "Everything will be fine if you just do what I say. I don't want to send you to hell, but you leave me no choice." Last week I walked by this evangelical church in Queens and I could see that they had a painting of Jesus leading a group of sheep to pasture. This is a common image in Christianity - Jesus as the "good sheperd." I don't know why this hasn't hit me before, but I realized what a perfect image that is, but not for the reason it is intended. What could better express the blind faith and ignorance of so many followers of the religious right than sheep blindly following Jesus simply because they have been told they must. "Well, why are you following him?" one might ask. To which the response might be, "Because he said we should." "But why should I believe that he is the one to follow?" I want to ask. "Well, because it says so in the bible. That's how we know it's true!" As for Jesus as the GOOD sheperd, I am not so sure. What kind of a sheperd would say "Follow me, little sheep, or I'll send you straight to hell." That sounds like an abusive sheperd to me. Another thing that the preacher on TV said was that God didn't want a bunch of robots who just do what they are told. Of course he doesn't want robots. He wants sheep. After all, robots are smarter than sheep.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Oh, Ottawa

I recently returned to New York from the Ottawa Fringe Festival. Ottawa gets a bum rap in Canada. Since it is the capitol, people think of it as the place where a lot happens politically, but not so much night-life wise. It's definitely true that there is not as much going on as there is in Montreal, but I think Ottawa is just as beautiful. New York Magazine often runs ads that must be paid for by the Ottawa Tourist Board or some such organization. The ads say something like, "Ottawa - a bit of London, a dash of Paris and only an hour from New York." Well, that is probably going too far, but it is a lovely city. And the parliament buildings feel are so charming. The Peace Tower, the centerpiece of Parliament Hill, reminded me of a miniature Big Ben. It was just as beautiful as I had hoped. Finally, I have to say that I was thrilled with the support the Fringe Festival receives in Ottawa. This festival is on the rise and I definitely want to go back. I arrived from Montreal on a Sunday night at 8:00pm and just had time to drop off my things at the place I was staying before handing out a few postcards to get people to the show at 11pm that night. 11 pm on a Sunday night is not what I would consider a "prime slot," especially in Ottawa. Nonetheless, when the curtain went up at 11:00 pm and I stepped onstage, I saw that the house was nearly half full. I was amazed and grateful. I even got an award at the end of the festival for "Outstanding Solo Performance." So here's to Ottawa - it may seem a little quiet, but just when you think there is no one around, they start crawling out of the woodwork at 11pm on a Sunday night. Now, if they could just run Stephen Harper out of town.