Shawn Smart and I just finished ‘2 Creations’, and I must say it truly was a spiritual experience… The production tested some wills, had it’s own fair share of trials, almost made some folks sin their souls, and at the end the entire play came down to faith. We had never done a full run of the play, had no idea of some of the cues, never even had a real dress rehearsal. But at the end of the day, when the lights were on and showtime began, it was a blast.
That’s the first lesson I’ve learned from directing – have faith. Do what you have to do, and trust that everyone else is doing their job. Trust that you can do yours, and that your team can pick up the slack if they need to. It’s a team, and everyone wants this to be a success just like everyone else.
That’s the easiest lesson I learned…
Working on a Christian play always meant more to me than I think my producer and co-director noticed. I wanted to tell a story of faith, with spiritual elements from a faith I didn’t ascribe to, so I could identify my own faith as not anti-Christian, but rather a faith in all things faith. The fact that the play worked, and really worked, despite the fact that one of the writers and directors was an atheist for 10 years and was studying Buddhism when he wrote the thing means that the story truly transcends the faith it seems directly tied to. It’s a story of staying faithful to what you know has been there for you through it all, and to stand against the people who try to undermine that faith.
And I’ve learned that lesson all too well, in the face of people who have attempted to ‘bind the demons of Buddhism’ that live inside me. It’s incredibly ironic that, while working on a play meant to build other’s faiths, the process involved some people actively testing mine. In the past four months, I’ve been told I have no good reason to stop believing in a Christian God, that Buddhism is demonic, and that I was meant to return to Christianity before the end of this year. The fact that I am studying Buddhism has even been a reason to undermine my role as co-director of the play…even though I wrote the thing that they ultimately saw and were well pleased with.
I can’t say that I don’t get it, though. I have my own, very different interpretations of God and Satan (a relationship I actually want to discover even more), which would be difficult to grasp for people who’ve learned about these two characters in a particular way. And the play was about evangelism in a major way for the producer. It was for me as well, though – I wanted to send the message to people watching, regardless of faith, to be a person that fosters greater faith. Not religion, but faith.
My experience as an atheist has taught me not that everyone’s spiritual experiences were wrong, but that all were right. People have reasons for the spiritual decisions they make around their life, even atheists. When I started into Buddhism, that belief stayed with me (in keeping with Buddhist philosophy, interestingly enough), so I never tried to tell people that Buddha was the hottest thing since sliced bread. Instead, I looked at their faith with even newer eyes, beginning to understand them no differently than I understand my own faith. And that’s how Shawn and I approached writing ‘2 Creations’ – by not writing a play for just Christians, but a play for every faith using Christian characters. Often times, though, we approach faith with the view that everyone must believe just like we do. We become no better than Satan that way, creeping into their spiritual consciousness to tell them that those experiences that they have and benefits they get from their faith do not exist, and that they need to abandon it to feel safe and whole.
When people ask me if I think Buddhism is better than other religions, I tell them you don’t need to believe what I believe. Your belief just has to call you to do good by yourself and others, and you have to believe it with your whole heart. So, before you start telling the Hindu, Muslim or even the atheist that what they believe in will get them nowhere in this life, remember that there is an evil force that tries to undermine faith every day. If we are to defeat that devil, we need to encourage faith in all its forms, not destroy it…