It’s always been pretty clear to me that I look at movies from a different perspective. Really, I look at the entire world differently than many I’ve known. So I would like to start writing a short pearl dig (name in progress) on each movie that comes to my mind. If anyone wants to get involved, I would love to include some of your favorites. I have become especially excited, as is often the case, with Disney movies. But I want to include everything, and hey if a discussion starts because of it, that’ll be awesome.

These days I work in an electronics department and I essentially peddle movies and organize them. Honestly, I’m living the dream. This is the kind of thing I had always hoped to experience. Movies are always on my mind. The animated things this year have been incredible. I’d love to talk about them. First on my mind is Trolls, Storks, Moana. I am just so impressed with the stories coming out these days. This will be fun. I wanted to write about it before I forgot about it. 🙂

Defy a Little Gravity: How Wicked Changed my Life, Even Though I’ve Never Seen It

 

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I have never seen the acclaimed musical Wicked but it has shaped my life nonetheless. Defying Gravity was my anthem as I made my decision to leave ministry college. Something in the magical and empowering song gave me permission to begin to question, probe and grow from my experience. Something had indeed changed within me, nothing was the same. I was truly through with playing by the rules of someone else’s game. I realized that I had never believed in the way it was expected of me and I followed a beautiful epiphany that God would love me no matter what I believed. He would and did love anyone no matter their background or belief system, it was an immovable beauty that changed my heart forever. Continue reading

Renewed Fervor for Media!

When I started this blog, I did not start it to grapple with my own issues and background as much as for recognizing the good in media. It is so frustrating sometimes to listen to the tidal wave of hate against Hollywood, calling movies a ‘cash grab’ or a ‘quick buck’. Everyday people doing their jobs to make money just like we do, except, often, what they do for work affects how we see the world. Hollywood, the way I see it, has always striven for a better standard of behavior, especially as far as treating people. Personal actor problems such as: parties, drugs, and feuds aside, the primary message of the fictions played out for us by Hollywood stars seem to be tolerance, kindness, integration. Continue reading

Analyzing the Cult that I Lived Part 1- First Church and the New Youth Pastors

I haven’t published a post in a while and the reason is that because I’m not sure who reads my blog, I am afraid of who I might deeply offend and hurt. But, it has occurred to me that whoever reads my blog should know that it is in fact my blog. My thoughts are in it. So I say this: Whoever you are, if my blog is causing you concern for my spiritual life, don’t worry about me. If my blog is boring you or you’re irritated by various grammatical errors, I do apologize, I would love your feedback. But until I get someone who speaks up about my blog to me, I shall simply write what I wish and see what happens.

I’ve recently experienced an onslaught of past memories especially with regards to religion and the kinds of wonderful things I refused to let into my life by virtue of my Christian faith. In experiencing this onslaught, I began to really think upon and explore what Christian means to other people who are Christian.

It does not seem to be the same upbringing that I experienced.

Continue reading

Trying to Grapple with political tragedy and the Windpocalypse

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Attack on the Two Towers 09/11/2001

The attack on the two towers is a painful memory for many. I, having no connection to news and living in a small town at eight years old, heard the terrible news days after 9/11 itself. I was at daycare, a place soaked through with blissful ignorant innocence and then that ugly truth came into my young life. People can hate each other so much that they will blow each other up. A giant building, protecting thousands of people, will no longer retain its security when determined people seek to bomb it from the sky. The thing that affected me so much as a young child was knowing that people were so volatile. Growing up in a small town without satellite TV, I was always learning about world events when they were in the worst condition possible. This has also been the case for the recent attacks on Paris.

I’m still not sure I understand what exactly happened with the attacks, nor certainly why, but I know that living an effective existence requires that I recognize the hardships of the rest of the world rather than retreating into my bubble of finding happiness no matter what. Sometimes, to have the joy, we need to experience the hardship.

Continue reading

The Color of Creativity is Worth the Risk

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When I was in ministry school, I had this epiphany that had been building up inside of me for quite some time. Hollywood, like anything else  is made up of people who have dreams, hurts and pasts that drive them forward. It occurred to me that every creative effort, no matter how small or uninspiring had some merit to its founder. Continue reading

The World We Call Such a Mess

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In all things seek beauty. Find the light in every dark place.
See the story in each young or wrinkled face.
Dig for pearls in endless seas of sand,
Search out a reason to understand.

Consider others as greater than you.
Recognize some things they think are true.
We don’t hold a monopoly, some patent on truth.
We’re no better than the seemingly uncouth.

As Christians shouldn’t we be
less demanding of some cosmic fee,
Some terrible terror to fear and avoid,
No wonder we make the world so annoyed!

We take away freedom of life and of choice,
We steal their power, we hold captive their voice.
And we give an ultimatum, make it about life or death,
Forgetting that regardless of conversion, God grants every breath.

People are his chosen and final creature
Molded from dust and taught to endure
Trial and joy, pain and happiness,
It’s become this world we call such a mess.

We each have our struggles,
Raging within our tight little bubbles,
But, think about it
Shouldn’t we more than just sit?

Within our strife and grief and worry,
Us world-changers always in such a hurry
Preoccupied with them or thinking of us,
Either way, it’s often the wrong focus.

We’re always down on them or up on us
Judging them for every little cuss.
And each of their sins,
Forgetting that we are supposed to hold some kind of light within.

But with each flippant word,
Spoken idly of others
We ostracize someone from the herd,
Cast away our brothers.

Nobody wants to hear that world is done,
condemned forever for trying to have some fun.
And I think that’s good, healthy and right.
To stand up for the world in the middle of its fight.

To think that such drastic punishment seems very wrong,
To consider that the world sings a desperate and lonely heartsong.
One we should hear and never boycott
Abstinence from everything can’t be why His pain was wrought.

But to bring hope to those who can hope no more
Who’ve shut the gates and barred the door,
Claiming there is no purpose for life on this earth,
Giving the God concept a very wide berth.

And that’s where they are.
Maybe someday they’ll look up at the first star
And see his likeness shining through
But their salvation and conviction will never depend on you.

So relax my friends, try being kinder.
Stop tallying sins and needs in your little prayer binder.
I’ve been there too
Seeing the light is a hard thing to do

It’s uncomfortable and bright,
disheartening admitting you sometimes stumble in the night.
But it changes hearts when you are honest with a stranger.
Confessing that sometimes you’ve feared your own soul in danger.

We’re human just as they are,
It’s okay to finally admit.
For salvation or for friendship, we won’t get very far
If we continue to approach the world by throwing our perpetual Christian fit.

Mining The First Pearl- (Moulin Rouge: Dirty to Beautiful)

 

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It’s become a bit of a clichĂ© to mention but the truth is that as you grow older, you change. Your opinions, dreams, friendships they morph and mutate until, sometimes, they’re unrecognizable. I know that growing up, life for me was frustrating. I suppose I had a lot of the same core that I have found in myself today. I was generally kind, enjoyed coloring, and was especially obsessive over movies. But judgment was never far from my mind. I found a reason to look down on each and every person I ever sought to build up. And, knowing my own hypocrisy kept me from really becoming a truly real person.  It was when I first felt the idea for PVX Pearls taking root in my mind, that I sought impartiality. Prior to that moment, I had actually been taught that tolerance was a poison spreading throughout society as an affront to Christian values. Kinda backwards thinking about it now.

It was through this attitude that I viewed absolutely everything with eyes of judgment at first glance. And then, upon reflection and consistency, I learned to fall completely in love with everything I at first despised. That is the deep truth written within my heart, the pearl within a thousand oysters, starting with the movie Moulin Rouge.

I remember the day my friend had me listen to the music. I was so disgusted by the plotline. He falls for a “courtesan” (that’s just a fancy prostitute!)

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It’s interesting to realize that we somehow deem certain kinds of people unworthy or too dirty for love. First off, a story of a man who treats a prostitute with kindness and falls in love with her is not too far from an allegorical interpretation of the biblical book of Hosea. Secondly, it is incredibly pompous to suggest that certain people should not be allowed to experience love, by virtue of their circumstances. But, these were not lessons I had thus far learned.

Instead, I was appalled by the rauchiness of the club where the woman Satine worked as a courtesan (a high-class prostitute), confused by the random side plots and disgusted by the idea that a man could ever fall in love with someone who was so… well dirty.

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Weeks went by, and try I might, I couldn’t get the songs to stop playing hauntingly in my mind. Then, I watched Moulin Rouge and I felt the pain of living as a prostitute, the romance of protective jealousy, and discovered the beautiful randomness that is life.

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It was letting that first movie in that helped me to overcome my automatic attitude of judgment and indifference. It was allowing Moulin Rouge to speak that started my heart on this journey towards finding pearls in everything always.

Soon, I was viewing all media from this perspective. And I saw that each and every media expression is the product of hard work and incredible vulnerability from every single person involved. We all are imbued with a dream in our hearts and a story to tell. Movies especially capture that beauty so that we can see other views from a positive perspective. Many of us are wary and incredulous about any views that differ from our own. Hollywood provides a forum through which to discuss those uncomfortable things we all struggle to understand.

Moulin Rouge was a standout for me because the characters are very vulnerable and so, in my opinion is the story itself. No one is made to seem spotless, it’s a story of love that hurdles the obstacles come what may.

Labels and Love to Combat Them: Written long ago to form my views in 2014

Believe it or not, this was written prior to the blog launch or even the blog plan. At this stage, PVX was just a thought about how I wanted to write more, I had ideas, but never stepped out and did it! (A theory posited in 2013 that set the groundwork for my decisions in 2014.)

When I look out at the world, I see brokenness. And constant attempts to figure things out. The world itself is not hostile. Hollywood is not strictly a tool of the devil. Though the devil does use it, he uses Christians too, including myself. Hollywood is a label we created, I believe, just like the world created “fetus” and “slave” to dehumanize people. We think it’s good to bash Hollywood because of its embrasive life sermon. We think that Hollywood is evil because it’s ideas do not line up with the Bible’s.

Sorry, but I’ve got news. We live in the world. The world doesn’t know Jesus, so why would it accurately portray Him? Here’s my point: Since the world doesn’t know Jesus, we shouldn’t be so offended when the world does it wrong. Hollywood and even “the world” is made of flawed, broken human beings just like you and me. The only thing that makes us different is our levels of life experience. But we ALL are human. Knowing that, I believe we can stop being so easily offended and quit being so defensive as well. Jesus can defend Himself. We do a pretty bang up job when we take that upon ourselves. I know from experience.

IF I HAVE THE TRUTH, WHY KEEP IT TO MYSELF AND HATE OTHER PEOPLE FOR SEARCHING? The searchers are the harvest. If we stopped condemning people for cussing, drinking, sex in any way… I think Jesus’ message may have spread a little further.

His message? Not just love. I’m not saying that. Because He was and is more than just a fuzzy lovey feeling. He was radical and engaged in the culture of the day. He talked to people who no one else would, especially the (self) righteous. He was more than a teacher, more than a healer, more than an empty god idol. He was and is constant, present, real, good, true, honest, gentle, understanding.

Kindness. What about labels is kind? Hollywood, immoral people, slave, fetus, atheists, agnostics, gays, pastafarians, whatever. It’s all an excuse to dehumanize groups, cut down individuals so that we can talk about them as statistics and not consider each person. If we live by the Spirit, kindness should be a fruit in our lives.

It’s like we think since Hollywood actors, actresses, etc, live also in make believe worlds, that we can hate them. God is love, His fruits are Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Long-Suffering (akin to patience) and self control. We don’t get to take a break from fruit and start judging everyone just because they live in the make believe.

When I decide I won’t do it, that’s discernment. When I label, when I gossip, When I hate, that’s judgment.

When I think of kindness, I remember watching Moby Dick in Mrs. Page’s class. That woman knew what it meant to believe in a culture of unbelief. But in Moby Dick, there’s this quote by Ishmael. The main character.

“You Pagans could teach us Christians the art of kindness.”

I was at first a little offended. I thought it was yet another anti-Christian propaganda piece. But I believe God allowed that quote to grow me. This was not something to be offended by, this was a quote that portrayed how people view Christians. It is not wrong. Many who call themselves Christians are unkind, I know I have been. This showed me the spiritual terrain at the time, if you will… The environment many nonChristians have suffered over the years. We can’t ignore history, nor can we hide hypocrisy. I believe that until we talk about our history, we’ll be stuck being judged by our past. Until we can talk about the hypocrisy of those who were caught as well as our own indiscretions, people will think us hypocrites.

Eventually, I embraced that quote so much that I wrote it down and posted it on my bedroom wall. It reminded me that as a Christian, I need to be kinder. That’s what misportrayals of Jesus and Christianity should be. A challenge, an invitation, a reminder to try harder. I think we get so hung up on the concept of Grace that we make excuses to be lazy ass Christians. In the world, that means more than just lazy. That just means we are constantly saying, God gives me Grace, so I don’t have to try, I can just lean back on His everlasting arms.

Now, those things have their place. Jesus is a rejuvenator. Without Him, life certainly gets gray and dull. But if we’re constantly leaning on His everlasting arms, resting in His blessed assurance, and never getting out and being kind, we aren’t getting it. It’s not a free card to an all expense paid lifelong spa meditation seminar. How silly that we sit in churches on Sundays for hours talking about God but few of us ever apply what we hear.

How silly that we believe in a Man who was also a God and died on the cross for our sins. Sure it’s offensive when people say it, but truth is, that part, it’s not logical. It seems silly. And we really, I think, get in the way of God working when we get defensive about Jesus and our faith. People are right and normal to think the Bible and God strange. Until they experience Him, they can’t know.

But, when they experience Him, as it has been for me, it’s not like what they talk about in movies, not at all, not like what they talk about on the Christian internet comments, not even what they talk about in church. The freedom is so all consuming, the truth so overwhelming that it changes you from the inside out and Jesus is not just a name to say loud in a contest or to scream out a window at passersby. Jesus is now the savior of your life. Funny thing, you didn’t even know you needed saving. But now, you get it. It all makes more sense now. Not full sense. You’re still confused, you’re still human, but you don’t just feel like you have to be kind to others. You feel like you want to! That’s true kindness, and that’s true relationship with Jesus, when He literally rubs off on you. And you start sprouting His fruits, in a way not humanly possible. So, as we are Christians, we should be kinder, more joyful, loving and peaceful, setting an example in all we do. And, I gotta say, that will take WORK. Work through Grace. No longer I but Christ in me. Amen.

Well, that was a blast from the past, some thoughts from California pre-ministry school Erin. Hope you enjoyed! I’ll post again soon!

PVX Parenting- Hollywood Changes Parenting Fun as a Single Mom

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I know many people who have disagreed with the way my mom raised me. Most of those people, I definitely think could raise their own children differently than their own approach. I was raised in church but always with the understanding that I could talk to Mom about anything. Because of this, Mom and I became like the Gilmore Girls, except I have a brother as well but it was the same basic dynamic. Mom was our closest friend. She knew all of our secrets and we knew most of hers. Her finances were no mystery to us, nor were here aspirations or personal convictions. She was (well still is) zany, ornery, fun, quirky, and almost instantly loveable. I can count the amount of people who dislike my mom on one hand. While this “Mom is our friend” understanding did cut into the respect aspect of the parent-child relationship, we are closer because of it, even after we’ve all gone our separate ways.

When I become a parent, I intend to exhibit kindness and patience, making life an adventure for my children rather than deciding it all for them or making them feel small for trying to follow their imaginations. I intend to use what I’ve learned from Mom, Hollywood and my own experience to make my child feel special and loved no matter what happens.

Now that I’ve shared a bit of my story, let’s talk about Hollywood. It’s interesting to me how people seem to blame the veritable epidemic of pregnancy that seems to have swept over teenagers and young adults, on Hollywood’s evil influence. (Sometimes, it may seem that I’m exaggerating when I say “evil” but that is what many people literally see it as.) And on top of that they say that so many of these girls are immature and not fit to raise a child. I will agree to some extent, it seems pretty impossible. But it happens that many young girls rise to the occasion when they have a baby, and that baby becomes their everything. As it is with Lorelai Gilmore.

Gilmore Girls- The Single Mom/ Best Friend

Lorelai Gilmore is essentially every girl’s dream mom. She gets giddy about eating candy while watching Willy Wonka, loves her coffee, is kind to everyone who needs it and is absolutely best friends with her daughter. Having been raised in a suffocating high-society family, Lorelai introduces her daughter Rory (whom she had at the age of 16) to everything she never got to experience. Living in a small town where literally everyone’s business is anybody’s business, Rory and Lorelai make fun of the silly arguments and simply live their lives as they enjoy them most. Lorelai does not let Rory run around all the time without consequence but what sticks out to me is that she takes into account her daughter’s attitude towards life and her temperament. She knows when discipline is needed and acts accordingly. That’s my  issue with many parenting stlyles today. The moment any sort of possibly negative energy is detected, they have charged forward to full out yelling, scolding and arguing. We could learn a lesson or two from Lorelai Gilmore on how to parent, especially kind, soft-spoken and academically driven children. I know I have learned from her and I don’t even have kids yet!

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Rory: Who cares if I’m pretty if I fail my finals? Lorelai: Okay, you have got this so completely backwards.

What do you think?

Did you have a single parent growing up? Did watching shows about single parents give you an understanding of their lives, an understanding that would have been difficult to find without those shows or movies? Any other ideas for the single parenting segment? I’d love a great idea for a single dad Hollywood discussion or any ideas for the expansion of this subject of single mom approaches to parenting. 🙂 Thanks for the feedback and keep searching through the grime to find those pearls, I think they’re closer to the surface than we think!