Around Town: The Christians, Douglas Todd, Jacob’s Well, Blind Boys . . .

“We’ve never said we do ‘Christian’ theatre. That word is a bad adjective but a good noun. I readily say I’m a Christian, but we don’t do Christian theatre. We do plays that explore spiritual questions honestly from a Christian perspective.”

So said Pacific Theatre artistic director Ron Reed during an interview with Jason Byassee a couple of years ago. Those words might be good to keep in mind during a play that is called The Christians and which the theatre company describes in this way:

With one sentence Paul overturns one of the most sacred tenets of his church’s beliefs, sending his congregation reeling towards schism. As they grapple with the mysteries of faith, certainty and what happens after we die, they must also face the reality of loving those whose beliefs have made them into sudden strangers.

How do we maintain dialogue when we stand on opposite sides of a controversial void?

Pictured: Mariam Barry, Erin Ormond, Ron Reed, Tré Cotten, and Allen Morgan. Photo by Emily Cooper.

An interview with playwright Lucas Hnath in The New York Times a couple of years ago offered some useful insights regarding his background, if not his exact views on the issues he raised:

Mr. Hnath . . . [believes] that audiences need to decide for themselves how to respond to a play that depicts a typical American megachurch fractured by a dispute over salvation and damnation.

[He] is happy to talk about his upbringing – he went to Christian elementary and middle schools, helped out with youth ministry, tagged along with his mother to seminary classes – but his religious life after high school is off limits, leaving it to theatregoers to ponder whether The Christians is fundamentally sympathetic to, or critical of, the kind of community it depicts.

An appreciative review of the play during its New York run in Christianity Today said “Lucas Hnath’s The Christians gets complicated human and church life right.” Alissa Wilkinson concluded:

The Christians is a serious play, with serious craft and serious aspirations. It doesn’t have a “message” or a point of view on salvation to proclaim. It’s a harrowing dig through our hearts, a play about our deepest and, often, most noble desires and motivations and yearnings – it just also happens to take place in a place many Americans frequent every week and believe in deeply. One can only hope there’s a lot more of this to come.

Ron Reed will be fully involved in The Christians, portraying Pastor Paul, the man at the centre of the church conflict. For an interview with Mariam Barry, who plays Jenny, a vulnerable young woman in the midst of the turmoil, by Keri Vermeulen in The Light Magazine go here.

The play runs September 15 – October 7.

Douglas Todd awarded, again

Douglas Todd has received more than 40 journalism awards over the years, including The Templeton Religion Reporter of the Year Award, a National Newspaper Award and many Jack Webster Foundation awards. And he has just received another one – first prize for commentary from the Religious News Association.

Here is what his employer, The Vancouver Sun, said:

Todd received the award for three columns from 2016: A Canadian perspective on priestly sex abuse as highlighted in the Academy-awarding-winning movie, Spotlight; a probe of atheist clergywoman Gretta Vosper’s understanding of theology and a reflection on academia’s blind spot in regards to spiritual matters. . . .

Runners-up for this year’s commentary award were from the Washington Post and Sojourners Magazine. Winners in other categories were published in outlets such as The Atlantic Magazine, New York Times, Religion News Service and CNN.

Todd has been a reliable voice (in my view, increasingly reliable) for many years on religious issues, but also on immigration, ethics, race, urban living and much more. Congratulations Doug!

Jacob’s Well, moved

Jacob’s Well has found a new home.

When Jacob’s Well received notice earlier this year that it was to be evicted from its long-time home at 239 Main Street (just north of Hastings), it looked like they might not continue. But when they put out an appeal for support, money and pledges poured in, to the tune of $90,000 or so.

They found a new spot at 543 Powell Street and hope to have completed clean-up and opened their doors by September 20.

Jacob’s Well describes itself as:

a faith-based community located in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. We seek mutually transformative friendship with people on the margins of society and equip others to do the same in their own context.

For more background on Jacob’s Well go here and here.

Blind Boys / Ben Heppner

The Blind Boys of Alabama are a sight for sore eyes, and ears, and they will be in Vancouver next week (September 23). They will be joined at the Chan Centre by BC-born opera star and CBC radio host Ben Heppner.

Here is what to expect:

Since the original members of The Blind Boys of Alabama met in the late 1930s, this historic ensemble has been innovating and thriving. Recognized as a significant musical force of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, the group’s sizable and far-reaching career also includes five GRAMMY Awards, including one for Lifetime Achievement; hip collaborations with the likes of Tom Waits, Peter Gabriel and Willie Nelson; and invitations to perform for three U.S. presidents.

Canadian dramatic tenor Ben Heppner began singing hymns and gospel songs in church in Dawson Creek, BC. The UBC alumnus moved on to become a leading Wagnerian tenor, a celebrated champion of new opera, and an accomplished recitalist. Coming full circle, 20 years after performing in the Chan Centre’s 1997 inaugural season, Heppner returns for a rare and truly special onstage appearance.

September 14, 2017

Catholic Health Association of BC 2017 AGM & Conference – September 14, 2017 at 8:00 am - 4:30 pm

September 15, 2017

Freedom Session: Live Training Intensive – September 15, 2017 - September 16, 2017 at All Day
The Smith Fraser Duo – September 15, 2017 at 8:00 am - 11:00 am
MCC Festival for World Relief – September 15, 2017 - September 16, 2017 at 5:00 pm - 2:00 pm
The Marriage Course – September 15, 2017 at 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

September 16, 2017

Spartan Summer Slam – September 16, 2017 - September 17, 2017 at All Day
Beth Moore Living Proof Simulcast – September 16, 2017 at 9:00 am - 4:30 pm
Beth Moore Living Proof Simulcast – September 16, 2017 at 9:30 am - 4:00 pm
Compassionate Care for the Sick and Dying: A Catholic Response to Assisted Suicide – September 16, 2017 at 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Gibson & Gretsch – September 16, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Notes of Interest: A Choral Concert – September 16, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm

September 17, 2017

Jazz Vespers: JV 25th Anniversary Celebration – September 17, 2017 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

September 18, 2017

Transhumanism? – September 18, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

September 19, 2017

Presentation on Recent Restoration of Christ Church Cathedral – September 19, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

September 20, 2017

Tandgible (with Hugh Halter) – September 20, 2017 at 10:00 am - 3:30 pm
Book Launch: Matthew Etherington - What Teachers Need to Know: Topics in Diversity & Inclusion – September 20, 2017 at 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Jazz Evensong: Sharon Minemoto & Friends – September 20, 2017 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

September 21, 2017

Alister McGrath & Michael Shermer / TWU Faculty Panel: Is God a Figment of Our Imagination? – September 21, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Colonialism & Indigenous-Settler Relations – September 21, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Dr. William Willimon: Continual Conversion in a Collapsed Christendom – September 21, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

September 22, 2017

Embracing a Culture of Encounter with the Poor – September 22, 2017 at 9:00 am - 1:15 pm

September 23, 2017

Stephen Muir: Why Do They Stay?: Lay Church Leaders and the Demands of Institutional Change – September 23, 2017 at 10:00 am - 11:30 am
The Gift of Disappointment – September 23, 2017 at 10:00 am - 2:30 pm
Vancouver Urban Ministries Walk for the Children – September 23, 2017 at 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Walk the Wall 2017 – September 23, 2017 at 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Light Up the Choirs – September 23, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
The Blind Boys of Alabama with Ben Heppner – September 23, 2017 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

September 24, 2017

Walk for Reconciliation – September 24, 2017 at 9:30 am - 3:00 pm
Light Up the Choirs – September 24, 2017 at 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Jazz Vespers: Anita Eccleston – September 24, 2017 at 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Jazz Vespers: Kristian Braaten Quartet with Laura Crema – September 24, 2017 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Movie: Is Genesis History?, presented by Dr. Del Tackett – September 24, 2017 at 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Light Up the Choirs – September 24, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
The Elevation Project 10th Anniversary – September 24, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

September 25, 2017

Building Leaders Who Build Churches – September 25, 2017 - September 27, 2017 at All Day
Roy Henry Vickers: Reconciliation & the Four Directions of Stewardship – September 25, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

September 26, 2017

Book Launch: Ross Hastings - Echoes of Coinherence – September 26, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 8:00 pm

September 27, 2017

Angel Gospel Music Competition: Audition – September 27, 2017 at 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Cultivating Caring Children: The Roots of Social Responsibility by Deborah McNamara – September 27, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Jazz Evenson: Glenda Rae & Brett Wade – September 27, 2017 at 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

September 28, 2017

Reformation! Change Your Mind, Transform Your Life – September 28, 2017 - October 1, 2017 at All Day
Verge Conference – September 28, 2017 - September 29, 2017 at All Day
Gender Cafe: Mama Rwanda & Panel Discussion – September 28, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

September 29, 2017

Drive Out Addiction Golf Tourney – September 29, 2017 at All Day
Talks with Tom: Facing and Transcending Retirement – September 29, 2017 at 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Family Matters Conference – September 29, 2017 - September 30, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 5:30 pm
St. James' Music Series presents Donald Hunt, Organ – September 29, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

September 30, 2017

Ride for Refuge – September 30, 2017 at All Day
Prepared to Answer: Where Faith & Culture Collide (Simulcast) – September 30, 2017 at 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Our Stories Shape Us: History, Faith & Practice of the Indigenous Church in Canada – September 30, 2017 at 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Technology & My Child: iPads, Laptops and the School Year – Parenting in a Digital World – September 30, 2017 at 9:00 am - 12:30 pm
Missions Fest: Sponsoring Church Representative Orientation – September 30, 2017 at 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Luther Movie and Soup – September 30, 2017 at 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Documentary Screening: 19 Days – September 30, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
BT & Worship Invasion 20 Year Reunion 1997 - 2017 – September 30, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm

October 1, 2017

LEGACY Hymn Sing – October 1, 2017 at 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm
Ecumenical Prayer Service for Unity – October 1, 2017 at 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Vancouver Life Chain – October 1, 2017 at 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Jazz Vespers: Soultrax – October 1, 2017 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

October 3, 2017

Intelligent Love Course: Ending Sex Trafficking By Addressing Root Causes (Tuesdays) – October 3, 2017 at All Day

October 4, 2017

Mully: Theatre Opening – October 4, 2017 at All Day
Vancouver Pastors Prayer Fellowship – October 4, 2017 at 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
Business By the Book: Tara Teng – October 4, 2017 at 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

October 5, 2017

James Nesbitt: Faith & Shadows in the Land of Promise – October 5, 2017 - October 12, 2017 at All Day
The Christians by Lucas Hnath – October 5, 2017 - October 7, 2017 at All Day
Evan Kreider: Reformation – October 5, 2017 at 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

October 7, 2017

Brian Doerksen CD Release Event – October 7, 2017 at 10:00 am - 11:30 am
A Rocha: Harvest Celebration – October 7, 2017 at 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

October 8, 2017

Jazz Vespers: Laura Crema – October 8, 2017 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Jazz Vespers: Thanksgiving – October 8, 2017 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

October 10, 2017

Surrey Aglow Luncheon: Celebrating Aglow 50th Anniversary – October 10, 2017 at 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

October 11, 2017

Evening of Worship & Justice – October 11, 2017 at 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
ARPA Canada Fall Tour: Who is Sovereign? – October 11, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

October 12, 2017

Mully: Theatre Opening – October 12, 2017 at All Day
Barth Netterfield: Back to the Very Beginning – Probing Cosmic Origins – October 12, 2017 at 9:25 am - 10:40 am
An Evening with Kelley Nikondeha – October 12, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
April Yamasaki: Stories of Life – October 12, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Kairos Course (Thursday evenings) – October 12, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Barth Netterfield: Back to the Very Beginning – Probing Cosmic Origins – October 12, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

October 13, 2017

The Annual Health & Wellness Fair: Lifelong Learning – October 13, 2017 at 8:30 am - 3:30 pm
Spark – October 13, 2017 - October 14, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Tim & the Glory Boys: The Hootenanny Tour! – October 13, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Spike Psarris: What You Aren't Being Told About Astronomy – Distant Starlight – October 13, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

October 14, 2017

AWANA NextGen Conference – October 14, 2017 at 9:00 am - 3:30 pm
Peer Support Facilitator Training (Living Room & Family Room) – October 14, 2017 at 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Book Launch: "Under Siberian Skies" by David Funk – October 14, 2017 at 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
No One Leaves Alone: M2/W2 Gala – October 14, 2017 at 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm

October 15, 2017

Jazz Vespers: Jamie Croll Group – October 15, 2017 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
ICR Concert: Royal Heirs / Tass Saada Testimony – October 15, 2017 at 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

October 16, 2017

C2C Banquet – October 16, 2017 at 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Buyers Beware: Ending Commercial Sexual Exploitation – October 16, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Book Launch for Dr. Bob Ekblad: The Beautiful Gate – Enter Jesus' Global Liberation Movement – October 16, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

October 17, 2017

TWU Dead Sea Scrolls Institute Guest Lectures – October 17, 2017 at 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Back to Basics: 500 Years of the Reformation – October 17, 2017 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

October 18, 2017

Missions Fest: Mission Pastors' Roundtable – October 18, 2017 at 10:00 am - 11:30 am
From Congregation to Protest March – October 18, 2017 at 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Jessica Graieg-Morrison: Dwelling – Opening Reception – October 18, 2017 at 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Evelyn Underhill & C.S. Lewis: Literary & Contemplative Affinities – October 18, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

October 19, 2017

Eyes and Wings Prophetic Conference, with Bill Johnson – October 19, 2017 - October 21, 2017 at 12:00 am
Global Leadership Summit – October 19, 2017 - October 20, 2017 at All Day

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