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Sunday, March 21, 2004
SORRY BLOGGING HAS BEEN LIGHT...

...but I'm just back today from gallavanting on the East coast for a few days. I took a 6am flight out of DC which meant me getting up at 1am L.A. time. I am just typing here to keep myself awake for the 5pm Mass at St. Charles and then I am going to slither home and collapse. No Alias tonight for sure. A few tid-bits from my trip...

- I had the honor again on Friday of being in the presence of the man whom I will hereafter refer to as Our Chairman, Dana Gioia. Dana is the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, and is doing amazing things there for the whole country. Again, the man has one of those brains that you might encounter two or three times in a lifetime. He has amazing things to say about the role of the arts in a free society, and specifically how the Nat'l Endowment should serve the broad population of Americans. He actually remembered Act One and asked me for an update about the program and what the program is currently working on. Amazing man. I'm not a joiner, but I would feel pretty comfortable following Mr. Gioia's lead in pretty much any direction. Anyway, in addition to giving us a quick run-down of the agency's impressive list of projects for the coming year, he recited some of his poetry for us, and in honor of the Endowment's new Shakespeare project, also recited the great speech "Sweet are the Uses of Adversity" from As You Like It. You gotta love a fellow who can spontaneously reel off 60 lines of Shakespeare. I know I do.

- The Healing the Sexual Revolution seminar day was fascinating and exhausting. So much information for one day. Being in L.A. for seven years now, I am a bit out of practice as far as spending fourteen hours in intense theorizing and the digestion of the multiplicity of statistics. Artists tend to spend one hour on theory and then thirteen hours on the emotions that a particular theory has stirred in them.... I always come away from these meetings with the Christians who work on Capital Hill feeling really good about the Church which is in Washington. The day was a very, very smart and prayerful consideration on how the culture got where it is in terms of becoming sex-centered, and how it might be led back to a more authentically human emphasis.

- My friend Laura and her group ARS in DC, organized a "little speech" opportunity for me and Fr. Jack Riley on The Passion of the Christ on Saturday at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center. (Thanks to everyone who brought it off so fast! Yeoman's labor!) I thought maybe ten or fifteen people would show up. Astoundingly, somewhere around 160 showed up! Maybe more, it was hard to tell. Clearly, the sheep are not done with this film. They want to talk about it -- why it moved them, what it has done for them spiritually. So impressive to have people tell their stories of the film. EARTH TO CATHOLIC CLERGY. COME IN CATHOLIC CLERGY. There is still time to be late on this one....

- After the Passion event, a group of us sat at a Thai restaurant for three hours, talking strategy about how to serve artists so they can better fulfill their role as mediators of God's ongoing creativity. Everybody is on board with the idea of a center for the arts (I insist on it being here in Hollywood) that would have a Chapel that would be a place of pilgrimage for artists and families of artists. We can decorate with all the great artists and saints of faith - Gregory the Great Chant Guy! Hildegarde the Composer nun! Bernard the Honeysweet Poet! Canvas Man, Fra Angelico! Dante the Comedian! Francis the Canticleer! Cecilia the Martyr Musician! Flannery the Great! (Anybody I left out?)

The center would also offer religious instruction, spiritual direction, family and career counseling, ethical formation and practical mentorships and training.

Oh, and a huge, cool theater to host and premiere films -- and, I think, to house the next generation Actors Co-op productions.

This place will be at the center of what God is doing in Hollywood.

Face it, He's doing something with or without us. If we get on board, we can save some years off His new thing, and maybe find some more salvation for ourselves too....