Friday, December 23, 2011

I recently went back to the Discovery Museum's Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit to view the oldest surviving parchment copy of the Ten Commandments. Totally awesome. Don't miss it.
--Lauren Yarger

The oldest and best preserved parchment manuscript of the Ten Commandments – the rules that are the pillars of morality and law in the Western world and which 3,500 years later were written into the civil and criminal codes of 12 of the original 13 US colonies – will be exhibited in New York City for the first time during the holiday season. 

Written in Hebrew around 50 BCE on a parchment that measuresjust over 18 inches by 3 inches, the Ten Commandments Scroll will be on view in the exhibition Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Biblical Times at Discovery Times Square through Jan. 2 (the rest of the exhibit continues through continues through April 15 in New York, then moves to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia).  The narrow strip of  parchment encapsulates and defines how men and women should work and live with each other and their faith in a civil and collaborative society. 

The scroll contains text from Deuteronomy 5 and is among the trove of early documents known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, a group ofapproximately 900 manuscripts discovered in a series of caves in the Judeandesert in the late 1940s and 1950s. 

The 15-day exhibition period of the Ten Commandments scroll is the longest that the Israel Antiquities Authority has allowed outside Israel because of the scroll’s immeasurable importance, its fragility, and its age.  Following the exhibition, the Ten Commandments scroll will be returned to Israel. 

Discovery Times Square (DTS) is New York City’s first large-scale exhibition center presenting visitors with limited-run, educational and immersive exhibit experiences It is located at 226 West 44th Street (between Broadway and 8th Avenue).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Book Notes December 2011: Good Reads from Bob Hamer, Rory Noland, Richard Paul Evans, Eric Metaxas

Here are some books you might be interested in:

Targets Down
By Bob Hamer
From the publisher:
"Targets Down" is the follow-up to retired FBI agent Bob Hamer's "Enemies Among Us," which Publishers Weekly hailed as "a page-turning roller coaster that feels like Jack Bauer’s 24 without sailing over the top."
When an FBI wife is critically wounded and two people are found dead on a mountain pass, special agent Matt Hogan is tasked with identifying those responsible. The undercover assignment takes him into the shadow world of Russian organized crime, neo-Nazis, and the sex-slave industry. Matt's cover is almost blown twice—once by accident, once by incompetence within the FBI ranks—making violence appear to be his only solution. As he confronts evil, Hogan relies not only on the strength of his wife's faith but his own quest to find God. He also finds terror and terrorism on this heart-pounding journey.
Note: I have read this book and found it an enjoyable read. I also have read Hamer's nonfiction book "The Last Undercover," which is an account of his time in the FBI where for 26 years, he was an undercover agent where he posed as a drug dealer, pedophile and contract killer among other things to bring some of the toughest criminals to justice. I never walk by a certain store in New York City without remembering his account and saying a prayer for the victims.
-- Lauren Yarger
Visit http://www.bobhamer.net/ for more information and to order.
Worship on Earth as It Is in Heaven: Exploring Worship as a Spiritual DisciplineBy Rory Noland
From the publisher:
Rory Noland addresses the challenges of Christian worship head-on, offering practical suggestions gleaned from Scripture on understanding and experiencing vibrant worship.

The first half of Worship on Earth as It Is in Heaven explores what it means to grow as a private worshiper. The practices of the psalmist David provide insight to help people worship God on their own. Second, Noland discusses corporate worship by exploring the glorious gatherings in heaven, as described in the book of Revelation. He presents immediately applicable ideas for becoming a better corporate worshiper.

 This book includes:
• Slice-of-church-life scenarios. Every chapter begins with a brief scenario that presents a worship-related issue or a conflict corresponding to the chapter topic.
• Group discussion questions. Based on the opening scenario, these questions help readers think about and discuss worship-related topics from different perspectives.
• Issue-by-issue practical guidance from a biblical perspective.
• “Ponder and Apply” application questions. Each chapter ends with a series of discussion questions and action steps to help readers identify key insights and make personal applications.

More information and purchase at http://www.zondervan.com/Cultures/en-US/Product/ProductDetail.htm?ProdID=com.zondervan.9780310426257&QuerySiteString=Zondervan&QueryStringSite=Zondervan
Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25
By Richard Paul Evans
Parents, teachers and community leaders concerned with the dark and violent content in today's popular young adult novels are enthusiastically embracing the new best-selling book, Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25. With its highly entertaining and morally uplifting themes, the book quickly landed on the NY Times Best Seller list and is already in its 6th printing.
Michael Vey tells a story of an unlikely teen hero who, despite struggling with Tourette Syndrome, has special gifts and powers that help him overcome evil forces threatening to take over the world. The book's "good story, good values" approach has both adults and youth applauding.
"The message of Michael Vey is one every parent, teacher and administrator will want their children to read," said Ann Harkins, CEO of the National Crime Prevention Council.
"Our students went nuts over Michael Vey. I'm not exaggerating to say that Michael Vey is the most popular reading we've ever assigned," said Bill Glisson, principal of Miami Valley Middle School in Dayton, Ohio.
Michael Vey is the first in a new series by best-selling author Richard Paul Evans (The Christmas Box), published by Simon and Schuster in partnership with Mercury Radio Arts, a multi-media production company started by popular talk show host Glenn Beck.

WEBSITE: Visit the official site to watch the trailer, sign up for updates and download a discussion guide at: http://www.michaelvey.com.
BUY THE BOOK: At Amazon (http://amzn.to/michaelveyamazon) or Barnes and Noble (http://bit.ly/barnesandnoblemichaelvey).

Socrates in the City: Conversations on 'Life, God, and Other Small Topics'
By Eric Metaxas
From the publisher:
Following the extraordinary success of the New York Times bestseller "Bonhoeffer," Eric Metaxas's latest book offers inspirational and intellectually rigorous thought about the great questions surrounding us all today.

The Greek philosopher Socrates famously said that "the unexamined life is not worth living." Taking this as a starting point, Eric Metaxas founded a speaking series that encouraged busy and successful professionals to attend forums and think actively about the bigger questions in life. Thus Socrates in the City: Conversations on "Life, God, and Other Small Topics" was born.

This book is for the seeker in all of us, the collector of wisdom, and the person who asks "What if?" Within this collection of original essays that were first given to standing-room-only crowds in New York City are serious thinkers taking on Life, God, Evil, Redemption, and other small topics.

Luminaries such as Dr. Francis Collins, Sir John Polkinghorne, Charles Colson, N.T. Wright, Os Guinness, Peter Kreeft, and Jean Bethke Elshatin have written about extraordinary topics vital to both secular and Christian thinking, such as "Making Sense Out of Suffering," "How Good Confronts Evil," and "Belief in God in an Age of Science." No question is too big-in fact, the bigger, the harder, the more complex, the better. These essays are both thought-provoking and entertaining, because nowhere is it written that finding answers to life's biggest questions shouldn't be exciting and even, perhaps, fun.

For information and to purchase, visit http://www.ericmetaxas.com/blog/order-the-new-socrates-in-the-city-book-here/.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Recharging at the Women of Faith Conference in Hartford

A Reminder of How Arts are an Important Part of FaithBy Lauren Yarger
I enjoyed a nice break from the routine last weekend with a stop in at the Women of Faith Imagine Conference at the XL Center in Hartford. Speakers Sheila Walsh, Henry Cloud, Luci Swindoll and others gave women an opportunity to "escape from the everyday and be refreshed, encouraged and inspired."

The Friday night session brought home to me how the arts play a vital part in ministry. It's not that I don't know that. I head a Christian performing arts ministry and write for and about theater while encouraging those who minister in the arts everyday. Having others in the arts minister to me at the conference just confirmed how vital these media can be in conveying God's message -- especially when we're tired.

I had just returned home that day, at about 2:30 am after two weeks of being displaced. First a freak October snow storm robbed us of power for 10 days. Then, prior ministry commitments took me away for about 10 days. And somewhere along the way I had managed to lose my keys. I was exhausted, but the reward of getting to spend time with my friend and author/speaker Lucinda Secrest McDowell motivated me to drive over to the XL Center instead of to dive under the covers. I'm so glad I did,

First, Nicole Johnson entertained us with a talk about the many different roles played every day by women. It was accompanied with humorous costume pieces and dramatic elements to bring home the message. How effective drama is, I thought. A speech about the many aspects of a woman's life and all of the people depending on her for different things might have expressed the same sentiments, but the dramatic elements used by Johnson -- a little song, a construction hat, a chef's hat, a boa -- said so much more and stuck in the brain longer than a bunch of words could have.

Then we laughed, until we hurt, as comedian Ken Davis recounted experiences going through airport security, disciplining children and of all things, losing keys (boy, could I relate). God was able to use a servant's gifting as a storyteller to bring home a message about experiencing joy in the Lord. I know women got that message regardless of whether they knew God personally yet or not.

Then we were treated to the vocal talents of Natalie Grant who gave a concert and led worship.

It was the perfect battery charge for this servant who had been zapped of energy (both literally and figuratively) and a confirmation that the work I do is of vital importance.

The tour continues in 2012 with "Celebrate." To find out if it is coming to a city near you, visit http://www.womenoffaith.com/events/.

Christian Arts News Briefs Week of Nov. 14

  • Two $1,000 scholarships will be offered to the best male and female performer at the Christians in Theatre ARts (CITA) Secondary School Theatre Festival Jan. 27-28, 2012 in Greenville, SC. Representatives from Anderson University, Rocky Mountain College, Asbury College, Abilene Christian University, Lee University, North Greenville University and more will be attending. The festival is an opportunity for students who share their common faith and passion for theater to connect with one another during a weekend of workshops, professional performances and student performances for ajudication. For more information visiit the website. Updates also are available via Facebook.
  • Check out the latest thoughts on arts ministry in the church from storyteller/actor Chuck Neighbors at http://www.mastersimage.com/2011/11/09/plant-those-feet/.
  • Christian Theatre Scripts is celebrating two years of ministry. For the resources offered by Sandy Boikian, visit http://christiantheatrescripts.webs.com.
  • The Board of Directors of Christian Leadership Alliance (CLA) has named Tami Heim as CLA's new president and CEO. She will begin in this role on Jan. 1, 2012. Heim brings extensive leadership experience to this role including her service as president of Borders Inc., and as executive vice president and chief publishing officer of Thomas Nelson Inc.
  • Comedian Allen Edge is available for bookings. Transitions Edge Productions 312-458-9399 or email allen_dennis_edge@yahoo.com to book "The Edge of Sanity" for your special event.
  • The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) announced today that cash charitable giving to ECFA members continues to be very strong, totaling $9.38 billion last year, a 5.8 percent increase from the 2009 level of $8.87 billion. -- Religion Press Release Services
  • The Stoop Concert Series' upcoming concert this Saturday, Nov. 19 presents Paul Phillips Band (8 pm), Jeannine Hebb (9 pm), and Mary Bragg (10 pm). The event will be emceed by Chris MacIntosh (aka “Grandfather Rock”) of WCWP Radio. Doors open at 7:30 pm., and showtime is at 8pm. While the concert is free, The Stoop will be accepting suggested donations of $12. Receive a free gift with the full suggested cover. All drinks and concessions including beer and wine are inexpensively priced under $4. The Stoop venue and concert series is presented by Music Forum of Church For All Nations, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. Church for All Nations is sponsoring the series in providing the landmark venue as a contribution to the cultural and spiritual life of Hell's Kitchen.

Project Dance Announces 2012 World Tour

Courtesy of Project Dance
2012 CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Click on the city to register.


HOUSTON MARCH 16-18
Event Producer: Randall Flinn
houston@projectdance.com


ORLANDO APRIL 13-15
Event Producer: Debra Poole
orlando@projectdance.com


NEW YORK CITY APRIL 20-22
Event Producer: Cheryl Cutlip
newyork@projectdance.com


LONDON JULY 13-15
Event Producer: Lara Bianca Pilcher
london@projectdance.com


KANSAS CITY SEPTEMBER 21-23
Event Producer: Jeremiah Enna
kansascity@projectdance.com


ATLANTA OCTOBER 5-7
Event Producer: Autumn Morgenstern
atlanta@projectdance.com


SYDNEY OCTOBER 5-7
Event Producer: Lara Bianca Pilcher
sydney@projectdance.com


HONG KONG OCTOBER 12-14
Event Producer: Jackie Choi
hongkong@projectdance.com


PHOENIX NOVEMBER 9-11
Event Producer: Erin Lovrien
phoenix@projectdance.com

WHAT IS PROJECT DANCE?
Dance is visual. Learn about the heart and soul of Project Dance by watching their promo video.

WHO CAN PARTICIPATE IN PROJECT DANCE?
Project Dance has a vision to unite dancers who desire to “PERFORM WITH INTEGRITY TO INSPIRE”. Whether you are a professional dancer, student, teacher or choreographer, a company of dancers, a studio, or college ensemble, Project Dance has a place for you.

WHY SHOULD I ATTEND PROJECT DANCE?
Dancers who attend Project Dance believe that their dance makes a difference. Dance has purpose beyond the steps and is an ever growing and changing form of expression within them. They also desire to network with other dancers who are like-minded and seek to build community among dancers worldwide. These dancers have a strong desire to train their bodies to their fullest potential. One of the other defining characteristics of dancers who attend Project Dance is the hunger to positively impact culture through artistic integrity. This movement of dancers seeks to bring hope and healing to others through the universal language of dance.

HOW DO I REGISTER?
Click on the city of choice above and follow the registration instructions online. All payments will be accepted online in 2012. All registrations are due one month prior to each event. Registration fee does not include transportation, food, or accommodation. Payment method for London, Sydney and Hong Kong will be credit card only.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Christian Arts News Briefs

  • Online registration for The 2012 Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI (April 19-21) is now open by visiting http://festival.calvin.edu/festival-2012/registration. The conference that brings together writers, editors, publishers, musicians, artists and readers for three days of discussing and celebrating insightful writing that explores, in some significant way, issues of faith. Presenters, include Marilynne Robinson, Jonathan Safran Foer, Shane Claiborne, Craig Thompson, Gary Schmidt, Luci Shaw, Li-Young Lee and Clare Vanderpool.

  • The Episcopal Actors' Guild presents its YO PRO Variety Show Thursday, Nov. 3 at Guild Hall, 1 east 29th St., NYC. Happy hour is at 6:30; First act at 7:30 pm. $10 suggested donation benefits Emergency Aid & Relief Program. RSVP: 212-685-2927 or matt@actorsguild.org. Also Helen Glickman is presenting a classic variety-style evening of entertainment, featuring acts of all types. Featured as a performer is EAG President Elowyn Castle. The show is this Friday, Oct. 28, in Guild Hall at 7 and 8:40 pm. Tickets are $12 at the door.

  • "The Mighty Macs," G-rated, inspiring story of finding the courage to chase your dreams. debuted last weekend, drawing praise from critics and audiences alike. Based on the true story of Hall of Fame coach Cathy Rush (CARLA GUGINO), "The Mmighty Macs" charts the rise of a team of over-achieving young women from Immaculata College as they claimed the first US women's collegiate basketball crown. It premieres as the highest-grossing independent film in the country. Visit the movie site at http://themightymacs.com/ -- Religion Press Release Services
  • Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Dead Sea Scrolls, Stone from the Western Wall on Display in Times Square

    
    Discovery Exhibition Premieres Largest Collection of Holy Land Artifacts Featuring 10 Dead Sea Scrolls,  Biblical Era Items
    By Lauren Yarger
    Psalms
    Just previewed the most fascinating exhibit opening this Friday at Discovery Times Square: Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Biblical Times.

    Take in hundreds of artifacts, watch videos, touch a part of the Western Wall in Jerusalem and be amazed at some of the earliest surviving copies of scripture.

    The exhibit, made possible with the cooperation of The Israeli Antiquities Authority, which shares some of the nation's treasures, is comprehensive and contains something of interest for everyone.

    I enjoyed viewing in person the scrolls, which during my studies after having been an atheist who scoffed at Christianity and the bible, were a part of what helped show me the truth of God's word. Other interesting artifacts, like a kitchen pantry, a bath tub, glass items, jewelry and coins prove that the ancient times don't seem all that different from today. There's even an ancient official's stamp with the name of Netanyahu, which sat on the desk of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before being included in the Discovery display.
    Very moving, also, is a three-ton stone from the Western Wall (left). Visitors are encouraged to leave notes of prayer which will be sent to the actual wall in Jerusalem, which can be viewed in live time on a video screen nearby.

    The scrolls themselves are displayed on a circular kind of table. They are enclosed in a climate controlled viewing area with information, a translation and high-resolution photos providing better detail displayed on the surface. Audio tours also are available.

    Highlights include:
    • --The earliest known copy of Psalms (this scroll is the most substantial, including as many as 51 psalms. The text names King David as author of the Psalms)
    --A scroll with portions of the last six chapters of Leviticus, including the precepts commanding observance of the New Year Festival (Rosh Hashanah) and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).
    --Scroll fragments containing a portion of Deuteronomy 32 known as the "Song of Moses," a poem Moses recites on the eve of his death. Some 32 copies, representing nearly every chapter of the book, were discovered in total.
    --A Pottery Four-Horned Altar from Hazar (around 10 CE) with ash spots remaining from incense burned in it. (The exhibit uses CE for Common Era instead of the less politically correct Before Christ/After Christ BC/AD designations).
    For the kids, there is an interactive scroll with the Ten Commandments (as well as plenty of video stimulation. They will enjoy watching restorers trying to remove Scotch Tape, incredibly used to hold the scroll fragments together after they first were discovered). Exhibition areas also offer quotes from non-biblical ancient texts, displays of Judaic and Islamic art and artifacts and the six ossuaries, found in a tomb in Jerusalem, possibly inscribed with the names "Jesus," "Mary," "Joseph" which got so much media attention when they were discovered recently.

    The exhibit, opens Friday at Discovery Times Square, 226 West 44th St., NYC. and continues through April 15. It then  moves to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia in May. Tickets are $25 for adults, $22.50 for seniors and $19.50 for children. Hours are 10 am to 8 pm, with the last entry 60 minutes prior to closing. For more information, visit http://www.discoverytsx.com/exhibitions/dead-sea-scrolls.

    Discovery Times Square  is New York City’s first large-scale exhibition center presenting visitors with limited-run, educational and immersive exhibit experiences while exploring the world’s defining cultures, art, history and events. More than a museum, DTS has featured a renowned line-up of exhibitions including Titanic:The Artifact Exhibition, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Workshop, King Tut,Pompeii The Exhibit, and Harry Potter: The Exhibition.

    This exhibition is created by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) from the collections of the Israel National Treasures and produced by Discovery Times Square and The Franklin Institute. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Risa Levitt Kohn (Professor at San Diego State University) and Debora Ben Ami (Iron Age collection curator at the IAA). Planning and design by Ralph Appelbaum Associates, New York, NY and consultation by noted Dead Sea Scrolls expert, Dr. Lawrence Schiffman (Vice-Provost of Undergraduate Education, Yeshiva University).
    Some Frequently Asked Questions About the Dead Sea Scrolls

    What are the Dead Sea Scrolls?
    Ancient manuscripts that were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in 11 caves near Khirbet Qumran, on the northwestern shores of the Dead Sea in Israel.

    How many scrolls were found?

    Over 100,000 fragments of text were discovered, and scholars have pieced these together into over 900 separate documents.

    What is the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls?

    The Dead Sea Scrolls are widely acknowledged to be among the greatest archaeological treasures linking us to the ancient Middle East, and to the formative years of Judaism and Christianity. Over 200 biblical manuscripts are more than a thousand years older than any previously known copies of the Hebrew Bible. In addition, there are scrolls that appear to represent a distinct form of Judaism that did not survive the Roman destruction of the second Temple in 70 CE. These "sectarian scrolls" reveal a fascinating stage of transition between the ancient religion of the Bible and Rabbinic Judaism, as well as the faith that would become the world's largest, Christianity.
      
    What material are Dead Sea Scrolls made of?

    The majority of the scrolls are written on leather parchment, but there are also some texts written on papyrus (reed paper). One scroll, known as the Copper Scroll is inscribed upon copper.

    In what languages have the Dead Sea Scrolls been written?



    Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?

    Many, but by no means all scholars believe the scrolls were created by the Essene sect, a group of Jews who broke away from mainstream Judaism to live a communal life in the desert. When the Romans invaded their community around 68 CE, the Essenes hid the manuscripts in nearby caves. The ruins of Qumran, near the base of the caves, are believed by many to be the communal quarters of the Essenes. However, some scholars believe the Essenes were not the only authors of the scrolls; they assume that some of the manuscripts were written in Jerusalem and later deposited in the caves at Qumran when the Romans threatened Jerusalem.

    What kind of texts are the Dead Sea Scrolls?

    The manuscripts fall into three major categories: biblical, apocryphal, and sectarian. The biblical manuscripts comprise some 200 copies of biblical books, representing the earliest evidence for the biblical text in the world. Among the apocryphal manuscripts (works that were not included in the biblical canon) are works that had previously been known only in translation, or that had not been known at all. The sectarian manuscripts reflect a wide variety of literary genres: biblical commentary, religious legal writings, liturgical (prayer) texts, and compositions that predict a coming apocalypse.

    Where are the Dead Sea Scrolls now?

    The majority of the scrolls are housed in Israel under the care and custody of the Israel Antiquities Authority (eight manuscripts at the Shrine of the Book and all others at the IAA State Collections). There are also some scrolls in Jordan and in Europe.

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Book Notes: Latest from Paula K. Parker, Torry Martin, Cecil Murphey, Eric Metaxas, Bruce Wilkinson, Rory Noland

    Here are some recent books that might be of interest to Christians in the arts:
    Shameless Self Promotion and Networking for Christian Creatives

    By Paula K. Parker, Mike Parker and Torry Martin
    Info from the publisher:
    Signed or indie; beginner or seasoned pro; whether you are an artist, author, actor, promoter, or even a church hosting an event - you have something, or someone, that needs to be promoted.
    That someone might even by you. Whether your platform is national or local, chances are the lion's share of the promotional activity will be on your shoulders. In today's ultra-competitive marketplace, Christian creatives must be heavily involved in in promoting themselves and their works.
    You CAN build your business and develop your career...without selling your soul. The authors tell you how in "Shameless Self Promotion: and Networking for Christian Creatives" (WordCrafts Press, Oct. 11, 2011).
    Purchase it by clicking here.

    The Spirit of Christmas

    By Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson
    with a forward by Debbie Macomber
    Info from the publisher:
    At Christmastime, it’s hard not to get caught up in the shopping, the decorating, the party planning and the family drama—and too we often to lose sight of the true meaning of the season. But sometimes, through God’s grace or a simple twist of fate, we’re able to step back and understand what the holiday is truly about.

    "The Spirit of Christmas" (St. Martin's Press, Oct. 25, 2011)  is an inspiring collection of true stories from real-life people who have experienced such moments where the meaning of the season becomes clear and touches their hearts. A man mailing gifts at the post office witnesses a moving scene that changes his life forever. An unhappy couple are drifting further apart…until a special Christmas gift allows them to renew their love and mend their fractured marriage. And a father tries to keep the spirit of Christmas alive for his son with a grand gesture--a gesture that will be remembered by his family and many others for years to come.

    Filled with magic, wonder and deep meaning, it’s impossible for these stories not to touch your heart—and fill you with "The Spirit of Christmas."
    Purchase it by clicking here.

    Socrates in the City: Conversations on "Life, God and Other Small Topics"

    By Eric Metaxas
    Info from the  publisher:
    Following the extraordinary success of the New York Times bestseller Bonhoeffer, Eric Metaxas's latest book offers inspirational and intellectually rigorous thought about the great questions surrounding us all today.

    The Greek philosopher Socrates famously said that "the unexamined life is not worth living." Taking this as a starting point, Eric Metaxas founded a speaking series that encouraged busy and successful professionals to attend forums and think actively about the bigger questions in life. Thus Socrates in the City: Conversations on "Life, God, and Other Small Topics"  (Dutton Adult, Oct. 13, 2011) was born.

    This collection of original essays were first given to standing-room-only crowds in New York City as serious thinkers take on Life, God, Evil, Redemption, and other small topics. Luminaries such as Dr. Francis Collins, Sir John Polkinghorne, Charles Colson, N.T. Wright, Os Guinness, Peter Kreeft, and Jean Bethke Elshatin have written about extraordinary topics vital to both secular and Christian thinking, such as "Making Sense Out of Suffering," "How Good Confronts Evil," and "Belief in God in an Age of Science."

    No question is too big-in fact, the bigger, the harder, the more complex, the better. These essays are both thought-provoking and entertaining, because nowhere is it written that finding answers to life's biggest questions shouldn't be exciting and even, perhaps, fun.
    Purchase it by clicking here.

    The God Pocket

    By Bruce Wilkinson
    Info from the publisher:
    From the author of "The Prayer of Jabez" comes a powerful vision of how you can partner with God to provide a financial miracle for somebody in need. Expanding on the most talked-about chapter in "You Were Born for This," Wilkinson shows how to recognize a "miracle in the making"---and act on heaven's invitation in "The God Pocket" (Multnomah Books, 2011).
    Purchase it by clicking here.

    Praying the News

    By Wendy Griffith and Craig Von Buseck
    Info from the publisher:
    Wars, earthquakes, financial crises, devastating storms . . . sometimes it seems the headlines can't get worse. But Christian Broadcasting Network staffers Griffth and Von Buseck show that bad news is no match for the good news of God's kingdom. "Praying the News: Your Prayers are More Powerful than You Know," (Regal, 2011) is a practical guide to candidly assess the media---and provide a comprehensive biblical plan for world-changing prayer.
    Purchase it by clicking here.

    Worship on Earth as it is in Heaven

    By Rory Noland

    Info from the publisher:
    Exploring the psalms of David and the Book of Revelation, Noland's encouraging study "Worship on Earth as it is in Heaven" (Zondervan, 2011) combines real-life church scenarios, practical guidance, biblical insight, group discussion questions, and personal applications to help you grow as an individual and corporate worshiper. 208 pages, softcover from Zondervan.
    Purchase by clicking here.

    Kids Learn to Find Biblical Truths in Adventure DVDs



    This DVD series combines the fun adventure of a "Young Raiders of the Lost Ark," the high-tech gadgetry of "Mission Impossible" and the scriptural conviction of "Bibleman" in "Samuel L. Collins and The Search for Biblical Truths," a new product line designed to reach Christian children and tweens.
    In each half-hour episode created by Linda Vista Pictures, 13-year-old Samuel pursues top-secret clues to solve encrypted cipher codes which reveal biblical truths. The young viewer becomes actively engaged as he’s invited to find clues hidden throughout the show and in the special features section. In the process, he will "own" the same, just-revealed biblical truth.

    Ray Comfort, author of "Hell’s Best Kept Secret" and co-host of "The Way of the Master" with Kirk Cameron, has endorsed the 13-part series after watching the first episode, shot entirely in the exotic locale of Singapore, and which spotlights the Christian virtue of integrity, .

    Future shows will be filmed in Bali, Berlin, India, Egypt, the Grand Canyon, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. And Samuel will track down clues as he discovers the Biblical truth about self-control, leadership, the first and second commandments, being free in Christ, overcoming sibling rivalry, and creation.

    "As I looked throughout the Christian marketplace as a mother, I saw a gaping hole in the entertainment genre after the children grow out of Larry the Cucumber of 'Veggie Tales,'" said Kristi Collins, mom and writer with Linda Vista Pictures. "We thought it was time that 6- to 12 year olds could finally have a role model who was an actual boy from an actual family who dealt with real-life challenges from a biblical perspective."

    Whether the young viewer decodes the clue by learning how to use a cipher or participating in geocaching, there’s nothing passive about this new line of 13 DVDs. And when they’re actively engaged in learning, God will begin to transform them from the inside out, the producers say. 

    Beyond the fun of deciphering clues and solving puzzles in the DVD’s, the children and tweens will be invited to participate in separate contests at www.SearchForBiblicalTruths.com where they can qualify to win dozens of prizes like ciphers, t-shirts, hats, pens, and action figures as well as the $10,000 Grand Prize.
    "My greatest desire would be that children watching at home would learn that they can learn how to biblically reason and come to a godly conclusion," said 13-year-old Samuel Collins, the star of the series.

    Christian Movie News

    A Sherwood Pictures production "Courageous" is distributed by TriStar Pictures with marketing by Provident Films and AFFIRM Films. "Courageous" tells the story of four men with one calling: To serve and protect. As law enforcement officers, they are confident and focused, standing up to the worst the streets have to offer. Yet at the end of the day, they face a challenge that none of them are truly prepared to tackle: fatherhood.
    When tragedy strikes home, these men are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, their faith, and their fathering. Can a newfound urgency help these dads draw closer to God . . . and to their children? Protecting the streets is second nature. Raising their children in a God-honoring way? That takes courage.

    "Courageous"comes from Sherwood Pictures, the movie-making ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church that also made "Fireproof", the No. 1 independent film of 2008. "Fireproof" was a difference-making movie about restoring damaged marriages with faith and sacrificial love. "Courageous" aims for a similar positive impact on fathering and families. Statistics show children from fatherless homes are more likely to have health problems, underperform in school, face drug and alcohol issues, and become involved in crime. Learn more or buy tickets:
    CourageoustheMovie.com
    OCTOBER BABY — filmed in various locations across Alabama, opens in theaters Oct. 28 in Alabama and Mississippi in advance of its nationwide release spring 2012.
    A touching coming of age film, OCTOBER BABY tells the story of Hannah, a college freshman who discovers she was adopted after a failed abortion. In search of answers, she embarks on a road trip to Mobile, AL hoping to find her birth mother. The film features John Schneider ("Smallville"), Jasmine Guy ("The Vampire Diaries"), Jason Burkey ("For the Glory") and newcomer Rachel Hendrix as Hannah. To Learn More, Visit:October Baby OctoberBabyMovie.net.
    --Religion Press release Services

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    Women of Faith Conference Comes to Hartford


    I will be blogging from the Women of Faith Conference Nov. 11-12 at the XL Center here in Hartford. Sheila Walsh, Luci Swindoll and Natalie Grant are among those scheduled to appear in the four sessions.

    For information and to register, visit http://www.womenoffaith.com/events/2011-events/hartford/.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Episcopal Actors' Guild Plans October events

    BROADWAY AND BEYOND: A CELEBRATION OF SONG &
    IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK
    Sunday, Oct. 16 at 2 pm
    The Church of the Transfiguration
    1 E. 29th St.
    New York, NY 10016
    The Little Church opens its doors to all as part of this year's Open House New York. Events planned include special concerts by Claudia Dumschat and the Boy's Choir, as well as tours of the historic building. As part of the festivities, on SUNDAY, OCT. 16, at 2 p.m., EAG will present BROADWAY AND BEYOND: A CELEBRATION OF SONG, featuring some of the Guild's most talented voices. Scheduled to perform are Kay Arnold, Marc Baron, Bernadette Fiorella, Jennifer Fouché, Bill Gross, Zachary Ryan, Deborah Thomas Shull, and more. Accompaning these wonderful singers will be Claudia Dumschat, Musical Director for The Little Church.

    Following the concert, at 3 pm, will be a performance of If These Walls Could Talk: Past Voices of the Little Church's Theatrical Members and Friends. The play was written by Mart Hulswit, and will feature members Arthur Anderson, Elowyn Castle, Peter Von Berg, and Craig Wichman, who also directed and adapted the work for this special event. Music will be provided by Claudia Dumschat.
    Both of these events take place in The Little Church, and are FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
    For a complete schedule of Open House NY events in the Little Church, visit the Little Church online.

    AN EVENING WITH JOYCE RANDOLPH
     7 pm Thursday, Oct. 20 Guild Hall - 1 E. 29th St. - New York City
      To Benefit the Emergency Aid and Relief Program of The Episcopal Actors' Guild

    Only a few tickets remain for the upcoming benefit starring JOYCE RANDOLPH, best known as Trixie Norton from TV's The Honeymooners (to see Trixie in action, click here). An interesting conversation will take place between Ms. Randloph and Lee Pfieffer, editor-in-chief of Cinema Retro Magazine. Randolph will also show clips from her favorite Honeymooners episodes. This remarkable woman, once crowned "the most murdered woman on TV," brings to Guild Hall more than a story or two to share. You will not want to miss this event.
    Tickets are $20.00 (suggested donation) and can be reserved by calling (212) 685-2927 or through email at matt@actorsguild.org.

     
    - ELLA ROSEWOOD will be center stage for 2nd SKIN, a new production of seven solo dances by Rosewood. Ella recently wowed audiences at the YO PRO Variety Show this summer, so this is sure to be treat for fans of dance. All seven solo dances will be performed back to back. Performances are Friday, Oct. 14, at 9 P.M., and Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 15 & 16, at 8 P.M. in the Merce Cunningham Studio (55 Bethune St., 11th Fl., New York, NY).

    - Several Guild members will take part in the 36th Annual (and FINAL) "Friends of Old Time Radio Convention," October 20-23 at the Ramada Plaza in Newark, NJ. Featured among the many special guests and stars will be members ARTHUR ANDERSON, CORINNE ORR, LYNNE ROGERS, lESLIE SHREVE, JAY STERN, and CRAIG WICHMAN. For complete information, visit here.

    Seeing God at Work; Work Re-envisioned at Conference

    Some 500 participants are expected for Redeemer's Gospel & Culture Conference Nov. 4-5 in New York City.

    The gospel brings a unique perspective and purpose to our daily lives, and this immersive, interactive conference will encourage participants to see that God is indeed actively involved in every inch of this great city.

    The Gospel & Culture Conference represents the culmination of more than eight years of the Center for Faith & Work's ministry targeted at equipping, connecting, and mobilizing Christians to engage the world from a gospel-centered foundation. It will includes dozens of speakers and artists, including Redeemer Pastor Timothy Keller.

    On Friday night, attendees will have opportunities to get a "Glimpse" of God's work in activities like taking  "A Walk Down Wall Street," enjoying "An Evening of Stargazing," attending Godspell on Broadway or enjoying the music of the Orion String Quartet at Lincoln Center, among others.

    For information and registration information, visit http://www.faithandwork.org/gc2011.

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011

    Early Peek at Broadway's Godspell Revival

    video
    I was invited to a press preview yesterday of a rehearsal for the upcoming Broadway revival of Godspell (scheduled to open Nov. 7 at Circle in the Square Theatre. Previews begin Oct. 13).

    Composer Stephen Schwartz, director Danile Goldstein (who helmed a production of Godspell at the Paper Mill Playhouse), choreographer Christopher Gattelli and the cast (featuring TV actor Hunter Parrish as Jesus) were on hand to present three numbers from the show (Schwartz was hearing them, and arrangements by Michael Holland for the first time).

    The young cast, selected from more than 700 auditions over six months, according to Goldstein, energetically presented "Bless the Lord," (video below featuring Lindsay Mendez) "All Good Gifts" (video above, featuring Telly Leung) and a new depiction of the telling of the Good Samaritan, (pictured below) which creatively uses a ladder, some newspaper and a drum. (This number actually was written by cast member Celisse Henderson as her audition piece for the musical.)

    Producer Ken Davenport was on hand and promised that you haven't seen Godspell until you have seen this production. Discounted tickets are available by cliking here for our Givenik affiliate.
    --Lauren Yarger

    Hunter Parrish
    Daniel Goldstein and Christopher Gattelli
    Stephen Schwartz
    The Good Samaritan

    video

    Christian Arts News Briefs

    Be in the Know!

    Registration for the Christians in Theatre Arts Secondary School Theatre Festival is now open. This event, Jan. 27-28 in Greenville, SC, will include competitions in several categories, interaction with hundreds of other Christian theatre artists, auditions and interviews with college theatre representatives, and workshops with renowned actors, dancers, composers, producers and more. www.cita.org

    Hollywood Prayer Network announces Oct. 6th is the first ever, collaborative friend/fund raiser with other ministries. http://www.hollywoodprayernetwork.org/

    Anita Renfroe has announced fall tour dates:


    Art House America 20th Anniversary Benefit Celebrations ($100/ticket) Friday, Oct. 28 and Saturday, Oct. 29, 7 to 10 pm at The Art House in Nashville. Choose one evening, as both nights are identical. Each benefit celebration will be hosted by Charlie Peacock and Andi Ashworth — featuring film, Art House stories, guest speakers, and music entertainment provided by Sara Groves, Charlie Peacock, Matthew Perryman Jones, Ruby Amanfu and special guests. Dessert and beverages will be served. http://www.eventbrite.com/event/2020945703

    Mark Price Ministries has a newly updated website. He is available for a limited number of presentations. http://www.markprice.com/Home.html.

    Friday, September 16, 2011

    Richard Maltby, Jr. Speaks at 15th Broadway Blessing

    Richard Maltby, Jr.
    By Lauren Yarger
    Those who are in the theater business are blessed, because they have an opportunity to discover what they have been put on the earth to do.

    That was the message Monday from Broadway director/lyricist Richard Maltby, Jr. who spoke at the 15th annual Broadway Blessing held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. He encouraged those in the arts to take risks -- "it's the invention that it's all about," he said. "If you are not taking a chance, you're not doing anything worth doing."
    Natalie Toro, Daniel Beckwith conducting the choir.
    The award-winning Broadway veteran of Fosse, Miss Saigon and Ain't Misbehavin' among others, defined theater as "the human spirit reacting to life and creating a story," and urged those who are in the business to realize that they are living in a golden age.
    The inter-faith service also featured Natalie Toro (most recently of A Tale of Two Cities) singing "Where is it Written?" from Yentl, backed by the Broadway Blessing Choir, which also performed a medley of Broadway songs under the musical direction of Daniel Beckwith, assisting organist at St. John the Divine.
    Retta Blaney and Lauren Yarger,
    executive director of Masterwork Productions, Inc.
    Project Dance performed to "Amazing Grace" by Bel Air Presbyterian Worship Team with choreography by Amanda Brewster and Tony Haris performed "I'll Carry You" by Phil Hall (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Matthew Passion), a song he wrote to commemorate the Blessing's 15th anniversary.
    Rabbi Jill Hausman of the Actors' Temple sang "If I Can Stop My Heart from Breaking" (by Richard Hagemen with words by Emily Dickinson). She, the Very Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski, dean of the cathedral, and The Rev. Canon Thomas Miller, canon for liturgy and the arts at the cathedral, officiated at the service.

    Retta Blaney, producer of the event, also received a 2011 The Lights are Bright on Broadway Award, presented by Masterwork Productions., Inc. A reception featuring a variety of mouthwatering refreshments provided by the cathedral's Trustees and Society of Regents Members followed.

    9/11 Part Two -- In the City

    Going to the city to observe the 10th anniversary gave me closure. On Friday, I covered an event where Broadway casts gathered to sing "New York, New York." It was nice to see the flag flying in Times Square. Operatic Daniel Rodrigues sang a rousing rendition of "God Bless America."
    Bebe Neuwirth and Brian Stokes mitchell leads casts of Broadway shows in a rousing rendition of New York New York.
    Ben Vereen and some of New York's firefighters.
    Daniel Rodrigues, who sang "God Bless America."

    On Saturday, I participated in the Hand-in-Hand event, where thousands of people joined hands around the waterfront at Battery Park to remember those lost. I joined hands with a woman who had been working on wall Street 10 years ago and who had a front row seat to witness the planes striking the Twin Towers. The visions of people jumping to their deaths will haunt her forever. Looking out at the Statue of Liberty, we were able to share our grief and join hands for those who no longer can.

    Sunday, I joined crowds at Ground Zero while the official ceremonies took place. Pedestrian traffic was limited by barricades, and I was stopped for the presidential motorcades. I attended service at Trinity Wall Street, where the message was "Remember to Love," given by The Rev. Dr. James Herbert Cooper. Cooper, who had been pastoring in Florida during the attacks, shared a personal story about families there who were touched by the tragedy. One family lost a daughter in the towers and her remains still have not been recovered. Her mother told Cooper she was glad when Cooper was named rector of Trinity Wall Street, because she believes her daughters ashes rest in the church yard.
    The choir perfomed a very stirring renditon of "Amazing Grace." Isn't this hymn just perfect for every occasion, perhaps because of the simple truth of its message? When I left the service, the reading of the names was just concluding. The buildings going up at the site rise up from the pit and challenge us to look to the heavens, whence cometh our help.

    The world has changed a lot in the last 10 years. God remains the same.
    -- Lauren Yarger

    Friday, September 9, 2011

    9/11 Anniversary Part 1-- Getting into the City

    This is the first year since the attack on the World Trade Center that I will be in the city for Sept. 11. Many years, a river of tears and lots of healing, thanks to a gracious and loving God, have passed since that fateful day, and this is the first time I have felt that I might be able to deal emotionally with being here. It also happens to be the 10th anniversary, so there are lots of activities planned to commemorate the event.

    Just as I was heading into the city this morning officials announced they are investigating a credible terrorist threat against the city (and/or Washington, DC), possibly with a car bomb.

    I avoided areas flooding in Connecticut and bypassed the George Washington Bridge and the tunnels, where traffic was snarled. Increased police presence was being reported at the bridges and tunnels as well as the train stations. Honestly, there always is a police presence in New York. Since 9/11 New Yorkers all have a heightened sense that there still is a threat, but that's part of the reality of living and working in the world's number #1 city. Those who hate America and what it stands for target the cities which most exemplify the nation's ideals and success. So no one here appears to be any more concerned about safety today than any other day. We're always concerned about it.

    It is kind of fun watching the tourists stop and gape when they see a show of law enforcement. Those NY cops are impressive and reassuring (and truth be told, the biggest threat to my personal safety this morning came from tourists not watching where they were going.)

    Off this afternoon to cover a special concert by the Broadway community to mark the anniversary of the attacks. Stay tuned.
    --Lauren Yarger

    Daily Inspiration

    The Blind Side

    Read about the real life mom from "The Blind Side."

    Lifeway: http://www.lifeway.com/article/?id=169816

    Guideposts: http://www.guideposts.com/story/sandra-bullock-blind-side-football?page=0,1

    Read Matt Mungle's review of the movie at http://www.buddyhollywood.com/.

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    Lauren Yarger, Bio

    Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

    Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

    In 2008 she was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater with a Christian perspective for Reflections in the Light (http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/) and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com

    She also reviews books for Publisher's Weekly and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She formerly was Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp, a national theater web site bsed in New York and a reviewer for American Theater Web.

    She also served as Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

    She is a freelance writer and member of the Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and The CT Critics Circle.

    A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger lives with her husband in West Granby, CT and has two adult children.

    Copyright Notice

    All contents copyright © Lauren Yarger 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact masterworkproductions@yahoo.com.

    Scripture from THE MESSAGE Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

    Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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