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 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 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 -- 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
    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

    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 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:
    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
    --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

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Episcopal Actors' Guild Plans October events

    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.

     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

    - 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

    Daily Inspiration

    The Blind Side

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



    Read Matt Mungle's review of the movie at

    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 ( and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for

    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

    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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