Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I'm Excited! Whoo!

Wow! I am excited!

I just came back from Lifeway’s Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina where I attended a Festival of Marriage with my lovely wife. I must say that in thirteen years of marriage, I don’t believe I have felt as close to my wife as I do now and I am excited to be able to grow with her as we work on making our marriage as God intended. The keynote speakers were Bill and Pam Farrel. (I will share more about them at a later date.) I would strongly recommend attending a Festival of Marriage given the opportunity.

I also finished the project I mentioned last week. Although I am still not at liberty to put forth information, I must say the process allowed me to try new things and I am a better builder today because of it. I hope to be able to share soon.

I am almost finished with A Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. The first time I attempted to read it as part of a “40 Days of Purpose” promotion at my church, Satan slammed me pretty hard and I did not finish the book. Praise God I’ve had the opportunity to try again. In reading the book, I realized a few things about my ministry and about my previous posts on Christian puppetry. I hope to be sharing these insights in future blog posting.

I want to thank you all for your continued support and prayers. I pray that God will bless you greatly.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Bump In The Night

I am finishing a custom puppet on which I have been working feverishly. I will post photos and information on the project as permitted by the owner. I've had the opportunity to try new ideas and techiques that will allow me to offer better puppets in the future.

I came across these pictures while cleaning out myhard drive. This is my first puppet-Wally. I created him after reading The Foam Book : An Easy Guide to Building Polyfoam Puppets. Back then I called my puppets "Bump in the Night" puppets. (I would like to think I take better pictures now, too.)

The Foam Book is also available on DVD or 2 VHS cassettes.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ventriloquism Anyone?

I received an e-mail the other day asking for help with some information pertaining to ventriloquism as a ministry. I have an interest in vent and have started learning, however I have not practiced enough to perform. Since the question came up however, I thought I would share a few places on the web to get started. Keep in mind there are hundreds of great vent sites on the web. I list these to introduce you some basic ideas and hopefully inspire you to investigate further.

The text of my response is below:

I've been researching ventriloquism for a few months now and I have a few suggestions. First sign up for the ChristianVents group on yahoo. There are many wonderful ventriloquists that share not only the art of ventriloquism but also the desire to share the gospel of Christ. They are full of helpful tips and are willing to share in all aspects of ministry. The people on
ChristianVents also recommend, bar-none, the
Maher Home Study Course. Maher also has an online newsletter/blog. Steve Axtell has a good site also. He is a frequent poster to ChristianVents.

I read the book "Ventriloquism Made Easy" by Paul Stadelman. It's easy to understand and I thought would be a first step in trying vent out before investing in the Maher Course. I have an Amazon link on my recommended
reading list. (at the bottom of the page)

Another Yahoo group to look at is WorldVents

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Whole Can of Worms…

Boy, I opened a whole can of worms with my last blog entry. Andrew at PuppetVision highlighted my thoughts and opened discussions at MuppetCentral and PuppetsandStuff. The response has been passionate. The consensus is the lack of skills can obscure the message and not all people have puppetry talent.

I am reminded that I am not Michelangelo, but I still enjoy drawing. I sound like a squirrel stuck in a vise when I sing, yet I sing. I’m no Jim Henson, but here I am doing what I love. God gave us our creative talent to use. Some received more in some areas than others but God takes joy in us when we use our talents for good. I believe using our creativity actually gives us better understanding of God as Creator.

I love what Benjamin Franklin said—Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What’s a sun-dial in the shade? (They talked that way back then…sort of like Yoda. )

There are good insights in these discussions and I suggest you read them. Remember please that many of these people are not Christians and their points are valid (these are the people we are trying to reach). Don’t be offended by someone’s opinion.

This being said, my initial challenge was for everyone in puppetry to “get better” than they are now, but isn’t that how we should live our lives? As a Christian, we should be more Christ-like each day. As a puppeteer we should improve our skills each day. As a person, we should contribute more to the lives of those around us each day.

I feel sort of hypocritical, though. I am not the best puppeteer in the world. I’m not even the best puppeteer in my group. I guess I should remove the log from my own eye before I try to remove the splinter from my brother’s eye.

The point I want to make is (to borrow from Bill and Ted): Be Excellent…to each other, to yourself and in your efforts both Christian and secular (a Christian can really separate the two). God bless you all.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Problem With "Christian" Puppetry...

I have a friend who has maintained the problem with “Christian” puppetry is that it isn’t good. He’s not talking about the message. He’s talking about the material and the mechanics. To be honest, when he first said this I was insulted, but I should have been thanking him. He is absolutely correct in his assertion.

First, there is no excuse for sloppy manipulation. The concepts are simple and good execution takes practice. Am I the best in the world? No. Do I practice enough? No., but Jesus died for me, the least I can do is develop good puppetry skills if that is how I choose to serve Him.

Second, most “Christian” skits are dry. A lot of authors just sprinkle humor into the message but it is disconnected from the skit. I am guilty of this. I depended on hackneyed jokes, loud noises, sight gags and Simpson’s rip-offs to make my skits funny. There is a balancing act between too “preachy” and too “funny”. I have a tendency to go one extreme to the other, but I’m working on it…

Look! Knowing Jesus IS exciting. God gave us the capacity to enjoy humor and fun. We (I) need to tap into this ability when we approach puppetry. The wonderful part of puppet ministry is that it contains in its very nature the ability to be entertaining AND teach about Jesus’ love and mercy.

I have found two new puppetry blogs and although they are not ministry sites, they are informative in their nature.
Puppet Buzz
Puppeteers Unite