"I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet." Third Tuesday A Journey of Hope
Los Angeles -- In the age old desire to succeed many of us, myself included, have taken liberty, the path of least resistance, to attain immortality through the misguided idolatry of money and the narcissism that fame tends to bring, especially when you work in a business environment whose mission statement isn't about quality but the influence of affluence. And so it is in LA LA land where boulevards of broken dreams out number the very vehicles that carry the dreamers. Whose dreams are tossed in the myriad of fabricated fables from the spin doctors and coked up producers, whose sense of reality, is a CGI SFX manufactured virtual world, lost somewhere between the spiraling demands of self narcissism, if you can call it that, and the insatiable addictive enterprise that exploits an already overly consumptive public appetite, for the titillation of our carnal lust, that entertainment seems to have exclusively evolved into, this perversion and subversion of our moral compass, for the superlative superficiality called decadence.
Which brings me to this. It is a safe bet that the header tag, one might say, pretty much summarizes the attitude many of us, who toil in the pit of the glamour jungle, that Hollywood is and always has been, in its cultural iconoclastic display of wanton idolatry and ravenous greed. It is nothing short of one feeling sorry for ones self. Yet in spite and despite the sodomy of the soul on the alter of a self aggrandized egocentric spectacle, in this terse tense highly charged environment, comes a pastor from a place as polemically opposed and diametrically separate, as the North Pole is to the South Pole, in order to nurture the fellowship of a Galilean from the tiny hamlet of Nazareth whose unconditional love became the benchmark by which we all have striven and continue to strive to emulate in our life long quest to seek the true meaning and real value of our life. And you thought the Grimm Brothers had the monopoly on fairy tale endings?
Third Tuesday, the brainchild of Pastor Jeff Perry of the St. Louis based Family Church, is one such example of this kind unconditional love that today is such a rarity that when you do encounter it, you pause albeit for a moment and maybe, just maybe pinch your skin for added insurance, "Hey man your not dreaming. Their are people out there who do care and don't want anything from you other than to share the love of the Golden Rule: 'Do to others as you would like others do to you.'"
OK heard that done that. You may even be asking by now what is the point? We get it. It is a Christian Evangelical Ministry to Hollywood wannabees and mid-level media managers. Wrong. What it is and I will refer to the Greek since I am a Greek American "Praxis". Faith in action.
For starters it happens on the third Tuesday of each month. Pastor Jeff and his wife along with key church personnel travel from St. Louise to Beverly Hills. They reserve the Writers Guild Theater in downtown Beverly Hills. Why the Writers Guild? Because every great production begins first and foremost with a good story. Without a story you have nothing. Then as those of you who happen to visit or live in the greater Los Angeles metropolitan region, traffic is a nightmare and parking is an expensive enterprise. So the parking is free. Then there is the food. You got to feed people. Events like this usually don't have a cover charge but ask for a good will offering and throw in some canned drinks and snacks. I call it the peanut gallery. No not Pastor Jeff. They go all out by recruiting some of the town's best catering services to cater not only a full meal but a host bar (Non-Alcoholic) and a bank of light deserts afterwards. So let's do a quick check list...free parking, free food, free event, no good will offering and free quality fellowship.
Yeah if you are thinking what I am thinking...who pays? Who do you think? But like everything else nothing is really free. There is a cost. The cost is underwritten by Pastor Jeff's ministry. To set the record straight. I have never asked nor will I ask who is paying for it. It is assumed that his ministry either through individual donations or corporate sponsorship covers the cost.
The only criteria is that those who attend are working professionals in the industry, that is media and entertainment, in whatever capacity: production, distribution, broadcasting, etc. And it is by invitation only through word of mouth. And they are very studious in the pursuit to verify the authenticity of your credentials. You learn quickly in this town that there are more producers than there are productions and everyone has just finished a project. You can imagine that is a lot of projects, yet only a small percentile, around the single digit range have a contractual distribution "first look" deal. So you have producers and your have Producers. Let's leave it at that for now.
You might say that Third Tuesday is the fulfillment of Pastor Jeff Perry's own mission summarized in four words, "HONOR GOD, HELP PEOPLE". Honor God because in so doing you provide the hope you have so desperately sought and yearned for. Let us not kid ourselves. Those of us who work in the entertainment industry work in one of the most cruelly rewarding businesses on Earth. The ability to separate rejection from ones own persona becomes harrowing if not suicidal. The gender based egocentric business models that generate the mega-bucks can either quickly catapult you to the pinnacle of success or meteorically send you in a free fall with no end in sight. Honor God whether you are spiritual or not, and folks I count myself among the least, honors your faith in the hope of your destiny and not someone else's game plan. You honor God by helping people, putting into service your faith, Praxis.
Relax you are not getting a sermon out of me. But what you are getting is a testimonial because when I walked in that first Third Tuesday in May, I was filled with apprehension, uncertainty and a faltering faith in my ability to do what is needed. I like you is searching. Searching for meaning. Searching for direction. And that direction can be summarized into just a few words. What we are really searching for is not fame and fortune but to be valued and loved. Through honoring God and helping people I am finding this in the business of show business. And like the man who felt sorry for himself for having no shoes until he met a man who had no feet...I too have stopped feeling sorry for myself for working at jobs that I have felt I was over qualified for when I met a man who hadn't work since the Great Recession started in 2007. Is it over? They say it is. I don't see it but what I see is hope that only comes when we honor God instead of honoring ourselves. Praxis my friends, keep that in mind when you go about your daily chores. For without it we have no validated self-worth.
Here is the May 2013 sermon of Pastor Jeff Perry recorded live at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills. May your journey be one of discovery through service in honor to God.
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