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Pastor's Message - February 2024

And the Oscar goes to... not “Barbie.”

I saw “Barbie.” I liked it, thought it clever, and it certainly spoke powerful truths about patriarchy, which despite the periodic obituaries, is not dead.

But to be honest, I hadn't given much though to whether or not it was an Oscar- worthy film. I'm sure that a large part of that is the association with a toy, in the same way that I would never think about a Transformers movie as a piece of art, or for that matter, think of a film drawn from a comic book franchise or a science fiction series as great cinema, despite the fact that many of those films are great cinema. The late Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker was a work of art. But somewhere in the back of my mind, it can't be popular culture and profitable and win awards.

Nutty, right?

In the end, however, the real reason I didn't think about “Barbie” and the Academy Awards is that I don't think about the Academy Awards, for the same reason I generally don't like movies about making movies or novels about writing novels.

When I was still directing community theatre, I had little patience with the amateur actors who learned “method” acting in high school and became insufferable as they “got into character.” The play was not about the cast and crew. It was about the person sitting in the back of the house who had a wretched week, and for a few moments had a chance to check out of their own head and be a part of a great story unfolding under the spotlights.

All too often, church life can become about church life. And that is a death sentence for a congregation. Living churches are not internally focused. They are always looking out, always thinking about the folks who are hurting, who are wandering in what the United Church of Christ Statement of Faith calls “aimlessness and sin,” who are just plain old hungry or scared.

The award goes to the church that doesn't care about awards... the one that crosses over, like Barbie, into the real world.

May we remain that church.



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