This beautifully-written retelling of Zechariah’s encounter with the angel Gabriel while serving in the Temple is the creation of Celia Williamson, who traveled the country forty years ago with me and four other twenty-somethings, one of which became her future husband. We called ourselves “His Players” and performed Jesus-centered drama for churches, schools, camps, prisons, etc. Celia sent me a note last Christmas season offering this special story for me to record, and I couldn’t turn it down. You can read more of Celia’s writings at her blog. Check it out. You’ll thank me later.
Share and EnjoyPosted on December 4th, 2016 by boydbarrett | No Comments »
For some reason, I just don’t get around to posting as often as I would like on my main website. Too many other things get in the way. Since I last posted, I’ve been involved in two fantastic musicals. I portrayed King Triton in “The Little Mermaid” and Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks in”Annie”. Both have positive messages, but I think my main takeaway from investing that much time into performances during the course of one year is that being involved with a group of people creating something larger than myself is ALWAYS worth it. That’s one of the things that brings me life and keeps me going as I get older.
During rehearsals for “The Little Mermaid”, I got the disturbing news that I had a brain tumor and several tumors on my thyroid. They all turned out to be benign, but there was a waiting time before I found that out. I truly believe the time concentrating on that production helped me through a period when I didn’t need to just be home thinking about what might be.
Being around so many little girls (and some wonderful teenagers and adults) during “Annie” also brought a renewed since of joy and purpose. I got to play a major role in what will always be a special memory for me and the entire cast.
So I don’t see a day coming anytime soon when I won’t be excited about a production I’m in or one I hope to be in. Now that Roswell has three active theatre companies, the roles should continue to be plentiful!
Share and EnjoyPosted on September 21st, 2016 by boydbarrett | No Comments »
I’ve been so consumed with getting Roswell B.C. off the ground that I haven’t posted anything on this site since July. Here’s a little minute and a half cautionary tale:
Share and EnjoyPosted on December 11th, 2015 by boydbarrett | No Comments »
For the past three or four months, I’ve been part of pre-production of “Les Miserables” by a recently-formed company here in Roswell called “Way Way Off Broadway”. Several people with whom I’ve performed in the past were involved, so I decided to audition and help wherever I could. Also, I’ve always loved the message behind this incredible musical and wanted to be part of proclaiming it. It’s a message of the triumph of grace over law and mercy over punishment. And we open next weekend!
My part of this adventure has turned out to be a unique one because of the roles I’m privileged to play. The story is set up as Jean Valjean, a recently released convict, takes advantage of a Bishop’s hospitality by stealing a silver cup and fleeing. He is apprehended by the authorities and brought before the Bishop. When the Bishop hears that Valjean claims he was given the silver, he agrees with this claim and states before the authorities that Valjean forgot to take some silver candlesticks which were given as well. When he is alone with Valjean, he speaks not only forgiveness but also destiny into his life, telling Valjean he has been “raised out of darkness” and the silver has “bought your soul for God”. It was this simple act of mercy that radically changed Valjean into the man you see in the rest of the musical. For four of the performances, I get to play the role of the Bishop, and I love attempting to bring some gravitas to that foundational scene.
But that’s not all. I was asked to also be the understudy for the role of Javert, the rigid and legalistic inspector, who ends up chasing Valjean for years and being offered the same kind of mercy the Bishop once extended to Valjean. When Valjean has a chance to kill Javert, he refuses and frees him with, as he says, “no conditions”. However, the act of forgiveness which radically transforms Valjean’s life does the opposite to Javert. He can never accept the truth that a person can change because of love and forgiveness. For him there is no such thing as restorative justice; retributive justice alone makes the world work. So…when he encounters a man so obviously changed by grace instead of law, he can’t handle the dissonance and kills himself in order “to escape the world of Jean Valjean”. As the understudy, I have the wonderful opportunity to portray Javert for one performance.
I look around today and find this same tension constantly at work in the people I encounter, the television media I watch, and the social media channels of which I’m a participant. The Javerts of the world don’t believe in change, so they cry out for punishment and revenge. And their view of a vengeful God looking to bless only lawkeepers matches their belief system. The Bishops of the world know that grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness create the only true path to change, and they cry out for us all to see a God whose very identity is love. And the Valjeans of the world…well, that’s all of us, and we get to choose which worldview we want to believe.
Although I’m looking very forward to portraying Javert for that one performance, I definitely choose the worldview of the Bishop for my own life, because I used to operate under a legalistic system, but for over forty years now I’ve known the grace and mercy of God as the force for change in my life. Thanks to “Way Way Off Broadway” for giving me the opportunity to help tell this beautiful story from both sides.
Share and EnjoyPosted on June 7th, 2015 by boydbarrett | No Comments »
My friend for more than four decades, Curt Cloninger, helped me record this imagined phone call between two estranged brothers. I think you’ll hear some echoes of a story once told by our favorite storyteller, and maybe you can catch the message of that story one more time. If you want to know more about Curt, who travels around the world sharing his gifts, check out his website.
Share and EnjoyPosted on April 12th, 2015 by boydbarrett | No Comments »
The recent shoreline scene of orange-clad followers of Jesus kneeling before the severing power of metal still haunts me.The pure horror of that line of sword-wielding terrorists rips at the fabric of my faith. Where is justice? There must be vengeance! But as I think those thoughts, a question comes as if out of nowhere and at the same time as if out of everywhere. These are followers of Jesus. Who would Jesus behead if He had the chance?
But then I pause long enough to realize how absurd the picture becomes when the terrorists are replaced in my imagination with a vengeful Jesus grabbing one of their swords. As my emotions are still demanding “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” and “hate your enemy”, Jesus dramatically drops the sword and speaks, “That’s what you’ve always heard. That’s what you’ve always thought. But I say to you…”
Then I hear His next words…the words that turn everything inside out. “Do not resist the one who is evil. Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” Surely not in this scenario. He couldn’t mean these evil ones…these enemies!
And then I watch as this imagined Jesus bends down to pick the sword back up – only this time the sword has morphed from metal into spirit laced with the power of words. And this Jesus turns his gaze away from the necks of flesh-bound terrorists and stares straight into the eyes of the one entity he’s determined to behead.
Every dualistic thought separating human beings through the centuries, every division of “us versus them”, every empire or political system built on levels, every religion reduced to a violent fundamentalism, all of it now formed into one hideous head stares back at the God-man. And without hesitation, Jesus (now far from being imagined) uses the transformed sword to decapitate the monster we’ve become…and because I’ve bought into the lie, the monster I’ve become.
One more thing. I now can see blood on the sword. But it’s not the blood of terrorists, and it’s not some spiritualized metaphor. No…it is real human blood…the very real blood of orange-clad martyrs mixed with the even more real blood of a revolutionary prophet from Galilee.
Share and EnjoyPosted on February 19th, 2015 by boydbarrett | No Comments »
Ever since Hozier’s “Take Me To Church” exploded on the music scene in 2013, it seems I haven’t been able to turn around without hearing its haunting and powerful chorus one more time. I see LeBron James working out with it blaring in his Beats by Dre. It’s part of the music bed in the ads for the new television show, “Empire”. And it still ranks as one of the most played songs out there.
I believe there are some very good reasons for the song’s omnipresence and popularity. The lyrics are wonderfully-crafted, and the music is incredibly seductive. But I think there is something far more substantive at work than literary and musical excellence. The title itself is the first hint with its repeated request in the chorus to “take me to church”. Those words, I’m sure, evoke different images and emotions for different people, but they grow from the same seed. The very idea of church in the western world is powerful and provocative.
Of course, anyone listening closely to the lyrics will tell you the song is not about church – at least not primarily about church in the normal sense of the word, because the church being desired is the beauty of a sexual relationship. The concept of being “taken to church” is used as a metaphor for the physical pleasures of that relationship. That is clear from the lyrics.
However, while expressing worship of the object of that physical desire, Hozier makes some comments about the religious form of church as well:
Every Sunday’s getting more bleak
A fresh poison every week.
“We were born sick,” you heard them say it
That’s a fine-looking high horse
What you got in the stable?
We’ve a lot of starving faithful
It’s obvious that Hozier’s view of the institutional church is not extremely positive. But these not so subtle pokes at religion are accompanied by very religious language used in a positive way to describe a sexual relationship:
If the heavens ever did speak
She is the last true mouthpiece
My church offers no absolution
She tells me ‘worship in the bedroom’
The only heaven I’ll be sent to
Is when I’m alone with you
I was born sick, but I love it
Command me to be well
Amen. Amen. Amen
Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life
No masters or kings when the ritual begins
There is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin
In the madness and soil of that sad earthly scene
Only then I am human
Only then I am clean
Amen. Amen. Amen
It’s my contention that the power of these lyrics is co-opted power or stolen power. The words would have absolutely no weight if were not for the reality on which they’re based. I believe the true story of God and creation can be described most beautifully through the picture of a pure, romantic human relationship. The Bible’s overarching story images this God as a lover willing to sacrifice himself to secure that relationship. Of course, the biblical texts do not speak with one voice in describing God. It’s more of a debate, with one side describing a vindictive, violent, legalistic, and punitive God, and the other side painting the picture of a God of love desiring to share that love. That debate came to a head with the arrival of Jesus, who is the ultimate picture of what God is like. He taught about a loving, forgiving God and lived it out to the maximum by giving his own life instead of returning hate for hate.
Paul summed up this view of God in Ephesians after quoting Genesis, “…and the two will become one flesh”. His commentary about what is obviously describing the physical union of a man and woman is startling:
“This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church.” Eph. 5:32
Paul could see the intense connection between the physical intimacy of a human couple and the spiritual core of the Creator of the universe. It’s the culmination of the biblical story, and it should be the foundation for those who follow Jesus, a group of people otherwise known as the church. So “take me to church” should mean experiencing the spiritual ecstasy of a relationship with a love-filled Creator God. That’s its highest sense. While at church, I’ve experienced times of corporate worship and the revelation of deep truth which would fall in that category.
However, I’ve also experienced the other side of “church”, which sadly takes up the old negative picture of God as a judgmental and jealous deity who is ready to punish his creatures for any missteps. Being a follower of Jesus gets morphed into a set of rules or laws that you better not break. A kinder version, though only slightly less destructive, is the church that transforms the revolutionary love-soaked lifestyle of Jesus into a list of principles to make your life better. And there’s the all too common “pray the sinner’s prayer and get a ticket to Heaven”, which is just as far from the real story as the others.
All of these versions of “church” fall so far wide of the mark that when those who are outside come in to experience “church”, what they find doesn’t even come close to what was intended. The passion and excitement which should be part of a group of people in love with the Love at the core of all reality is sorely missing.
So…Hozier may be one of those who got hurt by a form of church devoid of its original power and yet somehow connects with the reality of its language and symbols. He certainly does that in his lyrics.
Sinead O’Connor released a song of the same title this past year, and her lyrics say it even better:
Take me to church
But not the ones that hurt
‘Cause that ain’t the truth
And that’s not what it’s for
The poets and artists of the world see clearly that something is wrong with truth that gets dialed back down to religion. May the church wake up in time to give those who want to be “taken to church” what they’re really asking for.
Because I want to be part of the solution, I wrote, performed, and produced a project called KABOD, which centers on the offer of sharing the love which started it all. You can find it at CD Baby, iTunes, or Amazon You can find out more by listening to the podcasts on this website.
Share and EnjoyPosted on January 11th, 2015 by boydbarrett | No Comments »
Share and EnjoyPosted on December 28th, 2014 by boydbarrett | No Comments »
During the 1980s and 1990s, I performed one-man shows for schools, churches, libraries, civic clubs, conventions, or any place or group that needed a program. I did several different shows, but the one for which I became best known was “Trouble in Lincoln County”, which told the story of the Lincoln County War and the last days of Billy the Kid. I was commissioned by the Lincoln County Heritage Trust to write and produce it as an educational outreach for Lincoln, New Mexico. I performed it over a thousand times before stopping about 20 years ago. I even had the privilege of performing it at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.
I still run into lots of people who saw the show during those years, many of them when they were in school, and they can usually sing the song for me. We put together a video treatment of the show back in 1990, and I’m making it available now in the new world of digital streaming and downloads. So…if you were one of those kids who saw me do this show when you were 8 to 18 years old, you probably have kids that age now. Wouldn’t you love to share that memory with them? You can do just that by watching this with them.
Or.. you may not have known me back in those days, but you love history or the old west or just a good little indie film. Check out this video, and let me know what you think.
By the way, I was honored to have the late Richard Farnsworth interview me for some footage included before and after the film. He was a fine actor but also a gentle and good man.