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Time Management and Shakespeare, Tempests and such

August 2, 2012

Well, hello friends, and hello, my dusty blog. Is it finally time to chime in here again? What great theological insight, what important cultural event has occurred to finally get me back on the bloghorse?

Well, uh, I’m in a play.

After more than twenty years, I am finally getting to do some more Shakespeare, and it’s not a light re-entry. I’ve been cast as Prospero in the Tempest.

Acting pastors are part of a time-honored tradition here at the Federated Church, and, as I cast around, it seems there are a lot of clergy involved in community theater. You cannot beat the flexibility of a pastoral schedule. I don’t chafe at paying self-employment tax, because you truly do make your own hours. They always seem to add up to well over forty (sometimes well over sixty for some of my more self-abusive colleagues), but you can take pockets of time pretty much whenever you need them.

Self-employment is project-oriented. If you are moving forward on all your projects, and if you still have time, then you can add other things in as they fit. If you’re staying on top of worship, and staying on top of the missions of the church, and if you’re staying on top of visitations (most clergy are not anyway) then you probably do have a lot of time for other pursuits.

You’ll notice I didn’t say “if you’re staying on top of your meetings.” I think a lot of my comrades in ministry spend a lot of time making mountains…out of mole hills. I know several folks who are arch-involved in this denominational sub-committee or that, who serve on boards that issue Very Important Statements that People Really Need to Hear and Read, but who feel completely disconnected from their congregation.

Or do they? I’m not sure they DO feel that disconnected. I’ve heard colleagues say, “Now with e-mail, and social media, I’m more connected to my people than ever before.”

Well…connected, in a digital sense, maybe. But no. That is not connected, in a human sense. You know when they design cars that they are very careful about how they put the grill and headlight arrangement together, right? Essentially, it forms a “face.” This article in the Wall Street Journal, though not too recent, notes a trend from “happy-go-lucky” to “edgy.” See, people are looking to everything to find where it’s “face” is.

Because that is how we relate. Face to face.

I urge my colleagues to re-embrace the practice of “putting their eyes on” their congregants. Face to face meetings build bridges and make everything else you do matter more. Furthermore, encouraging non-church-time contact between congregants helps enhance their connections as well.

So, all that said, I am in a play, and it has been quite a journey. I have about 115 lines, that average several sentences each, all in iambic pentameter. I’ve had several people ask me, including members of the cast, how I memorized so much and how I keep it all straight and “in my head” while the show is going on. Certainly, you make sacrifices, but I have several tips and tactics that I will share in my next post, when the dust settles on all this and I can breathe again.

For now, if you came out to the show, thanks so much. There’s more theater from the Franklin Performing Arts Company the week that I’m posting this: Thursday, August 2nd and Saturday August 4th at 8pm you can see The Pirates of Penzance on the Gazebo stage of the Franklin Common. Then August 3rd at 8 pm we’ll be back on the high street side for our farewell performance of The Tempest. Also, Saturday August 4th at 3 pm at the Franklin School of Performing Arts (38 Main St.) you can catch my wife (!) and others in a series of One Acts. It’s all part of the Whatever Theater Festival, and I’m grateful to be a part of it.

All shows this week are free, though you are welcome to make a donation! Thanks for supporting real, live local theater!

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