Monthly Archives: June 2013

Learning Honesty from Autism

I just had the privilege of watching “Snow Cake” with Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver, and Carrie Ann Moss. It is a beautiful film, threading delicate connecting lines between a grieving Rickman and Weaver, who plays a woman with high functioning autism. Watching Weaver’s performance gave me the same rush as the first time I saw Jodie Foster in “Nell”. Her physicality is exquisite. Every gesture, sound, and choice brings her character to life.

 

I have been watching films about autism as research for an artistic venture I’m considering. So far I’ve watched Adam, Ben X, Snow Cake, and Mozart & The Whale. It is complex and I’m trying to wrap my head and heart around how someone with autism experiences the world.

 

There are many aspects of autism that seem counter-intuitive to the human experience of “neuro-typicals.” Social interactions can be intensely stressful. People with Asperger’s Syndrome (a form of high functioning autism) have difficulty reading the emotions, gestures, facial expressions of others. They take what you say literally. Can you imagine if the entire world was like that? It reminds me of the movie “The Invention of Lying.” With no grid for sorting out fact from fiction, the characters take your word as…. your word. No masks. No illusions. If you want someone with autism to understand what you mean, you have to be completely straight forward. I can’t say, “I’m fine” and expect someone with autism to see that I’m actually sad from my tone of voice or that I’m subtly withdrawing.

 

This clip from Invention of Lying is hilarious!!!

 

 

People with Asperger’s also blurt out exactly what they are thinking, without filters. Nevermind social appropriateness. It’s a startling reboot to the way we usually operate in life. Can you imagine saying aloud everything you think? I recently read a story about a girl with autism named Kim who is sensitive to loud noises. After a church service, a soloist asked Kim if she enjoyed the music. Kim, who is non-verbal, signed to her mother “It’s dumb.” Her mother then had a choice about whether to pass on the authentic message, or to sugar coat it, explain away, apologize, etc. Apparently, she didn’t try to placate the woman. She simply said, “It’s dumb.” Wow.

 

Cover of "Mozart & The Whale (Widescreen)...

Cover of Mozart & The Whale (Widescreen)

 

How many times a day do I avoid saying what I’m really thinking? I lie to people, because to do otherwise might reveal my judgments and prejudices. Or maybe I’m too cowardly to give someone honest feedback in love—I’d rather have him or her like me. Managing my image takes up a lot of time and energy. Other people also bear the cost of my dishonesty and this “split” self. One blunt, honest word has more potential to change a life than a thousand false flatteries… and a lot of the time, I care about saving my own precious skin more than I care about other people flourishing.

 

Sometimes I hide because it might reveal how much I care. I keep that under wraps because it feels too vulnerable to express forthrightly. It’s easier to feign indifference or detachment, especially if I’m afraid of being abandoned. Just yesterday, I was struggling to let a friend see my heart. The friend and I had hurt each other very badly and the pain was so intense I didn’t have words. I didn’t want to cry. I didn’t want to open the wound. And yet, to show the honest-to-God pain would’ve been an act of reconciliation and forgiveness. It would’ve been an offering of vulnerability that said, “This hurts so badly because you mean so much to me and I want our friendship to continue.”

 

I tried to find a way to express my emotions, but the only image that would come to mind was from another movie about autism:

 

In “Ben X” a teenage boy with autism is horribly bullied at school. In one awful scene, after being tormented by a gang of students, Ben stands alone, tense, rocking back and forth, inhaling quickly. He is staring out the window and cannot speak. He seems braced against the world. The torment, fear, and anguish bottle up until he simply breaks. Suddenly, he grabs a chair and hurls it through the window. Later, he is triggered again and goes ballistic, completely trashing his room, unable to verbalize his agony.

 

I wished for a moment that I could lose control like that, because I couldn’t think of another way to express the pain. To put a polite face on it seemed inauthentic. At the same time, I’m socialized to control my feelings and anger—to keep a lid on it. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have the social responsibility of being “normal,” or that my “normal” was so full of emotional cowardice and lies.

 

How would the world be if we had fewer filters? Leaving out the ones we use because we’re afraid of being rejected—keeping only the filters we have because we love others. With whom have you been inauthentic lately? What would you say, if you didn’t have to worry about being rejected? What have you been holding back? Leave a comment and let us know…

 

 

 

 

 

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Sexy Men Who Don’t Watch Porn

Thanks to Adam Graham of Men 4 Treasures for submitting this great article on the role of men in the fight against the exploitation of women. His heart echoes Patrick Stewart and his 1 Million Men, 1 Million Promises campaign that to end violence against women, men must lend their strength to help, protect, educate and heal. These are not “women’s issues”– they are human issues.  We simply cannot create effective, long-lasting change without men and women taking a stand, together. 

Men, the Sex Industry, and Our Role in the Fight for Freedom by Adam Graham

Men are the biggest contributors to the sex industry.

40 million Americans view pornography daily.

14% of American men visit strip clubs regularly.

11 million Americans have a sexual addiction.

The statistics are staggering. Whether a woman enters the sex industry by choice or by force, fraud, or coercion, as in the case of trafficking, overwhelming research indicates:

  • More women are employed by the sex industry than any other time in history. Conservative estimates put the number at 18.9 million women worldwide.
  • There are more strip club in the United States than any other nation in the world. A recent U.S. News & World report found that upward of 4,000 strip clubs are currently operating in the U.S.
  • Strip clubs make about 20% of the total money spent in adult entertainment business per year. $3.1 billion in 2010.
  • Between 66-90% of women in the sex industry were abused as children.
  • $3 billion is generated by child porn annually.
  • The average of entry into prostitution is 12-14 years.
  • 73% of women in prostitution have been raped more than five times.
  • Trafficking in women is the second largest global organized crime today, generating approximately $12 billion a year.
  • There are 1.39 million victims of commercial sexual servitude worldwide.
  • 89% of women in the sex industry want to escape, but feel they have no other means of survival.

 

Who is taking a stand for these atrocities? Where are the men? Where are the men of the church? How can good men… Godly men, stand idly by while women in our very own communities remain enslaved?

Women in the sex industry are real people with real needs; even the ones dancing in your local strip club or whose images wait only a few searches and mere clicks away from your private computer screen. In the internet-age, it is easy for men to passively engage in sexual activity and remain seemingly unattached. They don’t even need to even reach beyond a screen to receive some kind of gratification. But that’s the problem with the sex industry, isn’t it? It only offers illusion. It never fully satisfies. Not the way sex according to God’s plan is intended to. It leaves men hollow… empty.

The honest reality is, men that view pornography or visit strip clubs thinking that it is “harmless” or that “everybody does it” are not only contributing to a breakdown of their own healthy and holy sexuality, but are in fact facilitating the continued abuse and destruction in the lives of women working in the industry.

So what can you, as a man do?

  1. Get healthy. If you have a sexual addiction, get help. Join a support group such as Celebrate Recovery to get free of sexual addiction. Install software (I recommend xxxchurch.com) on your electronic devices to protect yourself from temptation. Surround yourself with other like-minded men who want to get and stay free of sexual sin like you do. Get plugged into a local church.
  2. Pray. The most powerful weapon we have is the power of prayer. Pray for the women struggling to get out of the industry. Pray for God to stir in the hearts of men – that they would see these women not as objects, but as loved, valued, and purposed human beings.
  3. Get involved with an organization on the front lines. Treasures (iamatreasure.com), The A21 Campaign (thea21campaign.org), and XXXChurch (xxxchurch.com) are all great sources of information and places to start getting involved. Give financially. Offer your time. Provide your talent. Find a way to contribute.
  4. Spread the word. Educate yourself on the facts and talk about it – especially with other men. Let’s get the word out! Say NO when you get asked to go to a strip club (and you will) and tell them why. Tell them why you’re not looking at porn. Tell them why you don’t masturbate! Hold for the gasp… and then be bold and open up about your own quest for sexual purity.

It’s time for men to stand up. It’s time for good men to take action. It is time for Godly men to say enough is enough. Dare to be different and watch how the world might change in just one conversation.

Adam Graham – Men 4 Treasures Director

www.iamatreasure.com

Adam is a young professional in the entertainment industry (actor, writer, producer) who began serving with Treasures in 2011.  He founded and currently directs Men 4 Treasures, a team of men unlike any other found in the U.S. “M4T” serve the efforts of the Treasures Ministry, with a vision to shatter cultural standards of sexual exploitation and objectification of women. Their mission is to model what it means to be a Godly man that is honoring, courageous, pure, compassionate, bold, and steadfast.

 

 

 

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Sing to the Moon

lauramvula

Hey there you, shattered in a thousand pieces
Weeping in the darkest nights
Hey there you, try to stand up on your own two feet
And stumble into the sky

When the lights go out and you’re on your own
How you’re gonna make it through till the morning sun’

Sing to the moon and the stars will shine
Over you, lead you to the other side
Sing to the moon and the stars will shine
Over you, heaven’s gonna turn the time

Hey there you, looking for a brighter season
Need to lay your burden down
Hey there you, drowning in a hopeless feeling
Buried under deeper ground

When the lights go out it’s a waiting game
Never gonna see a day when your world will change

Sing to the moon and the stars will shine
Over you, lead you to the other side
Sing to the moon and the stars will shine
Over you, heaven’s gonna turn the time

Sing to the moon and the stars will shine
Over you, lead you to the other side
Sing to the moon and the stars will shine
Over you, heaven’s gonna turn the time

I recently fell in love with this rendition of Laura Mvula‘s song “Sing to the Moon.” The strings are just gorgeous. When I initially listened to it, I thought she was singing, “Heaven’s gonna turn the tide,” which I much prefer to the actual line “Heaven’s gonna turn the time.”

The first Aurora Crossing song Ana and I co-wrote is called “Lay Your Head Down.” It’s an invitation back into relationship, an offer of forgiveness, really. I imagined two people who had really wounded one another coming together in this vulnerable, naked moment of grace.

I wrote the lyrics out for Ana, including the chorus “We’ve all broken promises.” She misread my upside down handwriting and we ended up with my favorite line, “We’re all broken promises.” BAM. I wish I could take credit for that accidental poetic genius, but no. That was a God moment.

Sometimes I feel like the creative process is an exhilarating fumbling forward, searching for that one perfect metaphor. I start out the journey in wardrobe full of old coats that other people have worn. Sometimes I end up being magically transported to Narnia… and sometimes it’s just a wardrobe full of yesterday’s old musty furs.

Here’s a sneak peek of our first of two demos of Lay Your Head Down:

Can you think of a time you’ve misinterpreted something, but it’s turned out for the better?

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