I am always on the look-out for good articles, movies, or video clips that I can use in ministry to help people think or connect faith to everyday life and culture.
I recently saw the new Scorsese movie Silence with a friend of mine. While it has gotten some criticism and not done so hot at the box office, I was surprised how I much thoroughly enjoyed it. After the seeing movie, I spent a little time watching You Tube interviews with people who acted in the film. Some of them like Andrew Garfield, jumped both feet into studying and living the Jesuit spirituality.
The following interview clip is with Andrew Garfield and Stephen Colbert.
The first 3 minutes and last 3 are where its at.
I actually really love this interview.
Here you have this young, handsome actor; he is making big bucks and has been nominated for an Academy Award (I hope he wins for Hacksaw Ridge!). While not raised with any religious upbringing, Garfield shares his great surprise on what it meant to come to know and love Jesus Christ.
"What was really easy was falling in love with this person, was falling in love with Jesus Christ. That was the most surprising thing ... That was the most remarkable thing-falling in love, and how easy it was to fall in love with Jesus."
A personal encounter helped this successful millennial meet Jesus Christ for the first time in his life.
It all started with an encounter.
In this interview Andrew Garfield represents the face of a modern-day seeker. He represents a generation I am living in; people who aren't (always) necessarily opposed to God, faith, or spirituality, but often no one had told them about Jesus. No one has provided an opportunity for them to encounter Jesus in a personal way.
Garfield does not sound overtly against religion but he sounds relatively open to spiritual ideas and concepts. He had no one in his life that ever told him about Jesus from what it sounds like.
And then on a retreat studying and learning for a movie role, Jesus personally became real to him. Garfield was surprised, even caught off guard.
And I just love that raw honesty in how he describes that realization. I know in my own life too some of the most powerful experiences of God have been where I am totally caught off guard.
This interview clip reminds me that what wins over the hearts and minds of people is offering them an opportunity to encounter something more, Jesus. The power of that encounter is like spiritual dynamite.
People don't connect personally to the right doctrine or theology, but to a person.
And encounter always starts and ends with that same person.
In a world of seekers, I hope I can be that person to offer an opportunity, to extend an invitation to something, someone more.
Whatever it looks like in my life, I do not want to miss those opportunities...
There have been some really good documentaries on Netflix I have been watching over the last few weeks.
Here are three that I have found particularly eye-opening and have challenged me.
The True Cost
Over the last years, there has been much more talk on ethical fashion and what does it mean to make ethical choices for our clothing purchases. This documentary opens up the tragic reality of millions of people around the globe who work in sweat shops for low-cost high fashion for the western world.
It was helpful for me in understanding something I've heard about before but never have consciously looked into.
It is clear that in 2017 in the United States racism and racial injustice are still very much a problem and rampant sin.
This is one of the best documentaries I have seen. It was heartbreakingly sad and eye opening all in one.
The film takes an in-depth look at our nation's dark history of racial injustice and slavery. It also draws connections to our current criminal justice system, hugely over-crowded prisons, and out-of-balance drug laws that more often than not seem to target people of color.
It is unsettling and compelling. But watch it.
The Propaganda Game
This is a video-style 2015 documentary was created by a foreign filmmaker who visits North Korea and thoroughly examines the country's propaganda machine.
North Korea is the most secretive country in the world today. It gives such a compelling look into what life is like for the North Korea people. They really are living in a cult, it is mind blowing to think so man millions of people are living this way; with nor rights, freedom, or personal voice.
I am telling everybody to watch it (even the teens in youth ministry) because it is that good. By the end of the movie, for a minute I was questioning could life really be so bad? It looks not that bad...well that's good their propaganda machine is.
Do you have any good suggestions on films or documentaries to watch?
Have you ever watched any that changed your perspective or broadened your personal views?
All of life is sacred and precious. I hate that abortion exists.
This election cycle + a lot of reading has led me to a deeper sense of what it means to be pro-life.
Unborn babies are very vulnerable. They have no voice and cannot stand up for themselves.
It is absolutely a Holocaust of innocent life.
Today there are many other holocaust's going on in our world; where groups of people have no voice, rights, and are treated as sub-human. The holocaust of refugees and migrants. The holocaust of women and children trafficked and sold into sexual slavery. The holocaust of the death penalty. The holocaust of children around the world who die from not having enough food to eat or basic sanitation and they die of diarrhea.
These are also people too, who in a similar way to victims of abortion have no voice and no rights.
I guess I feel frustrated to be honest.
I am frustrated that it seems (to me) political parties use abortion as a bargaining chip to win over a certain vote. It feels like the problem of abortion is treated as chess game with politicians sometimes.
I get angry when crazy voices say "You have to vote for Trump because he is pro-life and if you don't it is a mortal sin." And putting an aborted baby on the altar where the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is celebrated and honored? Don't even get me started.
Last time I checked, our job is not to judge people for how they vote but help others make an educated vote by the light of their own conscience.
I get frustrated when Christians (who have good intentions I do believe) only speak about abortion. It is all they talk about, all they focus on, especially in an election year. They understand and are passionate about the slaughter of millions of babies in abortion, but are they equally aware and educated about the children who suffer from malnutrition globally or sold into sexual slavery as young as six years old?
I'm really not trying to condemn people, I guess it is pent up frustration being verbally expressed. #yayblogging ;)
The issue of abortion is critical when it comes to our voting as believers. I am not saying it doesn't matter. It plays a huge role in voting responsibly, and is a primary issue. It mattered to me in how I personally voted in this crazy election. And I couldn't stomach either of the candidates.
I used to think being pro-life was just about abortion. But being pro-life is more than that to me now.
A pro-life ethic should carry and apply to all area's of culture, global issues, and people.
I want to be an advocate not just for the unborn, but for the overturning the death penalty too. I want to be an advocate for the dignity of women and children treated as if they had none. I want to understand the pain and suffering of refugees or undocumented workers fleeing their homes. I want to better understand why the world has enough food and resources to end world hunger, but we don't.
To be a pro-life Christian in 2017 looks different for me than it used too. To be pro-life as a Catholic Christian means to live and apply all the principles of Catholic Social Teaching. That is not a liberal or conservative attitude. It is what the Church teaches.
Now does the dignity of the human person trump the responsible care of the environment? Yes. But respect for the life and dignity of the human person I believe includes many, many people.
For me, it means to be educated and aware (as much as possible) of the many holocausts affecting a variety of people with no voice. And there are so many today.
And they all matter. They all need a voice, and they need us to be that voice.
Unborn lives matter so much. But so do, the other voices of people who cannot speak for themselves.
It doesn't matter how you voted in 2016 or what your political leanings are.
But maybe enhancing a pro-life view in this way can bridge greater unity and effectiveness in our Kingdom work?
Maybe it will help build greater dialogue with people across the aisle whom we may not agree with?
I like to think and hope it would help. And if that happens we make the world a little more just and less cold like Pope Francis has said.
And who wouldn't want a world where there is more mercy?
Last Friday I had lunch with my favorite professor from graduate school. Her classes were always the ones I learned a lot and was most challenged. She has become kind of a mentor to me and has stretched my faith in many different ways. She taught me how to wrestle with ideas and ask hard questions, you know the good kind that make you think.
Towards the end of our lunch meeting (our seminary has the BEST food!), she asked me what were my hopes and dreams for the next 5, 10 years. I told her: write a book, new opportunities in ministry, remarriage at some point, devote energy to causes I am passionate about, etc.
She just smiled at me and said, "Well Patty, don't be surprised if God wants to use all you've been through in each of those area's.
Over the weekend, I received a letter I have been waiting for. It was from our diocesan tribunal with an affirmative decision in regards to my marriage, meaning the annulment went through. No its not a "Catholic divorce" rather an investigation has shown it was never a sacramental marriage to begin with for many reasons.
I found myself going back to my professor's words over the lunch table on Friday as I re-read the letter, so grateful and relieved to finally close the chapter on that relationship.
Sometimes in Scripture childbirth is used as a metaphor for the suffering of God's people as they await delivery in hope. Trials and persecutions are spoken in terms of labor. The point of these analogies is that these sufferings result in new life being born from the old.
Labor from what I hear from my married friends is a lot of mental and physical suffering. But at the end, you have this beautiful, soft, cozy little one to snuggle with and love on.
Jesus never promised us ease or comfort. He told us life would be hard and that we would encounter and face suffering, of all kinds. But suffering is like the seasons, it is temporary...just like the labor of a Momma fiercely working to bring her baby into the world. Labor won't last forever, it is just for a time.
The temporary suffering will at some point give way to new life and joy. Like a woman in labor, birth pangs happen so new life can be birthed into existence.
Life is constant journey of birth, death, labor, and new beginnings. We all will experience them throughout our life, some easier and some much more painful than others.
New life always is born from the old life. New life comes out of the suffering and pain.
New life always comes out of our labor; whether physical, emotional, or spiritual.
Sometimes things have to die so that something stronger can be built.
I am not entirely sure yet what will be built stronger in me as a result of all of this.
But it is exciting to imagine and dream about.
I don't know what will be born in me from the last three years of my life, but I do know one of God's favorite acts is to take broken things and make them new again.
And I cannot wait to see how that unfolds in these new beginnings...
The week of Christmas and right after leading to New Year's is one of my most favorite times of the year. Extra vacation time plus holiday spirit are the best combination.
This year I was really looking forward to ringing in the New Year with a young adult conference, One Thing.
2016 has been a rough, messy, beautiful, growing year. While I can be grateful for what I am learning and how I've grown, it still has been a lot to absorb. And with all that has happened, praying my way into the New Year seemed the perfect note to end 2016 on.
My two girlfriends and I were attending a Catholic Ecumenical track of an evangelical conference associated with the International House of Prayer. I was excited but not sure what to expect.
The best way to describe it for me was a sacred disruption.
The first night we arrived we went to an opening talk and one of the speakers said something to the effect of being willing to be inconvenienced for Jesus. Something in that struck a deep chord with me. And as the conference progressed, that became the prayer on constant repeat in my mind, "Jesus I am willing to inconvenienced for you and your people for the rest of my life."
I didn't understand what exactly I meant, I just knew I really, really meant it deep down.
Several people shared and prayed prophetic words over my life. The times of corporate worship and praise were sacred and beautiful, a sneak peek into the throne room of Heaven. I loved the ecumenical spirit and sense of openness to Christians of other denominations. I loved learning the spiritual practice of antiphonal singing; a way of prayerfully singing and praying out Scripture (which is the way worship is led 24/7 in the prayer room).
All through the conference I would constantly pray that prayer in my heart.
Over the conference I met new people and heard a lot of talk on signs/wonder, healing, and prophetic gifts; both from Catholic and Protestant voices. I have always believed God still does miracles and heals people today.
But I never believed or understood that God wants to use me to do those things in the world today.
God wants to use Patty to spiritually and physically heal people. He wants to use me to do signs, wonders, and use prophetic gifts. God wants me to do those things in His world today.
As baptized Christians, those spiritual gifts are our birth right. The same authority Jesus gave the original 12 to do those things He gave to us.
That rocked me a lot. It might not sound a lot, and maybe I heard it before. But I never heard that with my heart. This was different.
Something feels different on the inside of me...and its kinda hard to explain.
No it is not emotionalism. It is not the conference or retreat high I always warn teenagers about when coming back from a great spiritual thing.
It is a sacred disruption.
I am still praying that prayer from the conference. I am constantly asking God to "pour out the prophetic gifts on me"... even though I don't fully understand what I am asking for yet.
But what I do know when we ask for more of God, that is a prayer He always will answer and bless...the rest is listening and see what the answer is.