One Giant Step … Many More to Go

After working for two years to design a Masters of Fine Arts degree in writing for screen and television at Pepperdine, we finally received the approval of the academic committee yesterday that allows us to begin the process of recruiting and fundraising for the program. We hope to have the degree program begin in the fall of 2008.

This was a great gift upon my return to Pepperdine after my lengthy trip. I have worked with Nancy Dodd and Humanities Chair Maire Mullins, as well as many industry leaders, to design the degree curriculum as well as about 6 new classes. If properly funded, I believe we have created a degree that is among the best, if not the best, screenwriting program in the country. Of course we have somewhat different goals than the programs at USC, UCLA or NYU. We seek to create screenplays for film and television that are images of beauty and truth, as well as agents of cultural transformation. We believe screenwriters are cultural leaders, and I have never been more convinced of this than after my trip where I saw the pervasiveness of Hollywood media and culture. The opportunity to shape the message of this media is an opportunity to change the world. That’s why I am excited about this first but important step that we took yesterday.

My friend Barbara Nicolosi at ACT ONE in Hollywood shares this on her blog about the arts and its relationship to the church, and it seeems appropriate on this day:

And on the last day, the Son of Man will be seated in judgment of the various generations of men. And the People of God from the age of technology will also appear before Him.

And He will turn to those on His Right, who were Lampstands in the culture, with their laptops and microphones and scripts and notebooks radiant and transfigured. Suddenly, just beyond them will appear millions of souls, the saved from the age of technology. And they will plead for the Lampstands whose stories and songs are engraved in the individual books of the saved.

And the Judge will turn his eyes to the writers who told stories, and He will say to them, “Enter into joy. For I was cynical and unmotivated, but you gave me a hero to enthrall me.”

And He will turn to musicians and singers and say, “Enter into joy. For my heart was hard and dead, but you sang me stirring melodies.”

And He will find actors and say to them, “Enter into joy. For when I was obtuse and couldn’t see myself you became a saving mirror for me.”

And He will turn to journalists and say to them, “Enter into joy. For when I was uncertain and ignorant, you sought out the Truth for me.”

And He will turn to the makers of images and say, “Enter into joy. For when I was blind, your paradoxes compelled me to see.”

And He will wave in those who wrote mediocre CBA novels and sentimental Christian movies and ‘the Painter of Light’ saying, “And even you all come in. Because at least you tried. (But not the ladies who danced in leotards and red sashes at Catholic Churches. You can’t come in.)”

And he will turn to those who just made entertainment. And He will say, “Come, Blessed of my Father and enter into your joy. For when I thought I was alone, you were my friend. When I was depressed you made me laugh. When I was pitiless, you gave me tears. When I was bored, you gave me the joy of life again. When I was empty, you inspired me.”

And the Lampstands will say to Him, “Lord, when did we tell you stories or sing to you? When did we teach you or inspire you or make you laugh and be your friend?”

And the Judge will say to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, any time you spent hours practicing scales for an audience, or delving into a character for a producer, or auditioning for a cold director, or submitting an article to an editor. You did it for me. Now, inherit the Kingdom that has been prepared for you.”

And then, the Judge will turn to one of the angels of the apocalypse and say, “And where are those who are supposed to be on my left?

And the angel will reply with more than a hint of frustration, they are waiting for You in their caves. They have spent their age in personality wars and fighting over which of them is really a Christian.

And the Judge will have His angels flush the Cave Dwellers out and He will say to them, “Depart from me, you who have sent no souls ahead of you.”

And the Cave Dwellers will say, “Oh, but Lord. We did send some souls. See! Here are a few members of our families and also several of the folks in our church small group. (Sadly a lot of them were, you know, seduced by the evil media and lost. That damn Hollywood!)

And the Judge will stare at them in utter disbelief for what will seem like a few centuries and then say, “Depart from me, you slothful, fearful, worthless disciples. You not only did not read the Signs of your Times, but you took pride in ignoring them.

“For I was a poet who was supposed to give words to the fears and longing of my times, but you told me to get a real job.”

“For I was a composer who had an anthem that would have rallied the world to communion, but you cut my budget.

“For I was a novelist, with a story that would have brought insight to millions, but you grew impatient with my first efforts.

“For I was an actor who was bent under rejection, and you told me to just quit.

“For I was a radio host who gave you company and comfort many days when you would alone in your car, but you never found a way to support me.

“For I was a director with a prophetic vision, but you just shrugged and said, ‘Movies are all garbage.’

“For I was the global audience, that was desperately in need of meaning and encouragement and communion. That needed to be persuaded to choose life and not death. And to know that they are not alone.

And the Cave-Dwellers will turn to Him and say, “Lord, when did we see you needing meaning, out of work, or rejected or alone?”

And the Judge will say, “Whenever you failed to embrace the arts and media, you failed to embrace millions of souls. And you failed to embrace me. Away with you to wail and gnash your teeth and watch lame reality show reruns for all eternity.”

And the Cave-Dwellers will be led away to languish forever in sloth and fear, but the Lampstands into the joy of unbridled and perfect creativity.


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