Praying the Hours
A panel of thoughtful minds from Biola University, California State Los Angeles, and Fuller Theological Seminary are joined by film director Lauralee Farrer to discuss her film, “None,” the premier installment in her project, “Praying the Hours.” The panel discusses how the film successfully drew its audience into a prayerful time of reflection that matched the spirit of the hour of None.
Welcome to the Thursday evening of Torrey Conference. [audience cheers] It’s been an amazing conference so far. I know you guys have loved hearing from, Skye Jethani, from Ruth Haley Barton, from our own Betsy Barber, and Phil Vischer. [audience cheers] Who in here grew up with Vegetales? [audience cheers] Who’s just got this aching in their soul for Larry the Cucumber? [audience cheers]
It’s my honor to invite you and welcome you to the kickoff event of Thoughtful Cinema. This is a new event series here at Biola, where we’re gonna be looking at and thinking about, and talking about movies. My name is Evan Rosa. I’m the communications coordinator for the Center for Christian Thought. Thoughtful cinema is a co-sponsored initiative between the Center for Christian Thought, the Center for Christianity Culture and the Arts, and the cinema and media arts program here at Biola.
And I want to just take a moment to thank Gary Fisher, and Greg TenElshof, and Barry Krammes for their support, for this event series. [audience cheers] Now, I don’t know about you, but when I go to the movies, I’m faced with this deep, existential crisis. I’m given a dilemma. I’ve got two options here. I can go hot tamales. I can go buttered popcorn. And it’s a dilemma because I know if I go hot tamales, I’m looking at a night of digestive vengeance. And if I go hot buttered popcorn, three cubic feet, I’m gonna be asleep before the opening credits run. So, why do we go to the movies anyway?
It’s not for the hot buttered popcorn. It’s not for the hot tamales. We go to the movies because something about the combination, of moving pictures and synchronized sound speaks into our souls. Right? There’s something about the medium of film, that is transcendent. It approximates the human experience, in a way that a book can’t. Right? And I’m a lover of books. But when I read a book, I know that I’m reading a book, unless it’s a really good one. Maybe Flannery O’Connor, or George Macdonald or something like that.
But when I see a movie, I am immediately brought in to the space of experience, that is so like my own every day experience, that I’m invited to think about what’s going on in a new way, in a way that only an image and sound, can do. And given that strength, the power of this medium, all the more we should feel responsible to approach it rightly, to think about it, to feel about it rightly. The transcendent in film. Just think about the power of videos gone viral.
About a YouTube clip that might have changed your life. That sounds kinda strange. That a three minute YouTube clip, of a guy dancing, might infiltrate your psyche so much that you’re dreaming about him. But movies are powerful, and so we must think about them rightly. Some examples. [audience cheers] There are these moments in film, that speak something deep to us. This one’s friendship, and you know if you’ve read this book or seen this movie, there’s something deep about the meaning of friendship that comes through. Or if you’ve seen this movie. [ audience cheers] There’s something awful and gut wrenching about the betrayal of the good and the capacity for persons to encounter depravity. Or maybe you’ve seen this movie, Babette’s Feast. I’m not expecting all of you to have seen it, but I’m expecting all of you to now go and Red Box it. Babette’s Feast is this beautiful slow-pace movie that speaks to our souls, of the good and the true and the beautiful. Or maybe you’ve seen this movie. [audience cheers]
I don’t know how to describe this except with two words. It’s sheer awesomeness. This scene spoke to me. It spoke to me. Or this movie. [audience cheers] And it’s amazing that I can show an image to you, a split frame of a movie to you, and you know immediately what hat movie is and you can cycle back to the feeling that you had during that movie and during that moment when redemption came. That’s the power of film. And so, to think about it rightly, is all the more important. Now, why are we looking at it?
Why are we doing thoughtful cinema at Torrey? Well it has a lot to do with the film that we’re gonna show tonight. Praying the Hours is a film project about the office of divine prayer, the divine hours an ancient tradition that Christians have practiced, Not just Christians, but all sorts of faiths have practiced. We learn this from the Jews, where Daniel, three times daily would seek God and prayer.
And as the early church evolved and developed a way of communing with the risen Lord, they needed a rule they needed a way to do that. A rule is not about stricture, in this case. A rule was about freedom, a rule of life developed by Saint Benedict. And he developed this rich and robust rule of life, that was about being with God. Prayer wasn’t about, being confined to specific moments. It was exactly the opposite.
It was about encountering the Lord in every moment of your day, unceasingly. And so to pray the hours was to pray the minutes, was to pray seconds, was to pray those fake and indeterminate moments, that capture us. And so Praying the Hours is this beautiful film project, by Lauralee Farrer and her team who are here with us tonight, and we’re about to show a trailer for that film, to give you some context, and afterward I’m gonna invite a producer, Tamara Mcmahon, to come up and set a little bit more context. But this is what I want you to keep in mind as you encounter this film tonight.
Remember the word, of this conference. With. In what way can you be with God in the viewing of this film. In what way do you encounter God in the viewing of any film or the encountering of any ideas, and how can this be a step into, the loving presence of God? So I’ll give you Praying the Hours, the trailer. [applause] And before we get into the film itself, I asked a friend of mine to be with us this evening, to give us little bit more perspective on what it is to engage film. What it is to create film. What it is to think about it.
And to experience film from a cultural perspective. So Steve Klossen is a professor of film and television and media studies at Cal State, Los Angeles. And he has spent a long time thinking about the presence of film in human culture. And I first met Steve, at an occasion where he was talking about just that. And so, I’ve only ever known Steve as a very thoughtful man about film and so I’d like to invite him up now and would you join me. [applause] Can I get you-
A music stand?
Yeah. Thank you Evan. As a Biola alum, I’m especially happy to be back and invited to this wonderful event tonight. [audience cheers] Yes Biola alumni do exist. [audience laughs] And I met one of the film crew who went to Cal State LA, and is now working on projects like this. So it’s wonderful to see Christians in this sphere of what I call, and others call, culture making. I want to just pull back from a very small focus, if you will, on a particular medium, on film or television or video, and talk for just five minutes about the larger concept, that encompasses these activities, these practices in human life.
It’s one of the most complicated words in the English language. Some scholars say it’s one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language. And the word is, culture. What is it? How do we define it?
And what’s a Christian perspective on culture? How should we be thinking about it? British poet and critic, Matthew Arnold, way back in the late nineteenth century, said that culture was to be a normative standard. It was to be a part of ones intellectual and spiritual development. Culture, in Arnold’s words, was the very best that was known and the best that was said in the world. Culture was something that was brought from the educated, to the uneducated. It was something that was to benefit people, to nourish and grow the individual.
Culture in this sense, was really to be the embodiment of a higher standard, Higher standards that would be used to indite and criticize popular expression and popular civilization for being too shallow, too coarse, too incomplete. So this was really, in many ways, a minority undertaking, in the sense that culture was defined and managed by a few, by the educated and gifted, who were to act as guardians for society.
More recently this view of culture has been challenged. This view of culture is a standard of perfection, as something that should be preserved behind the velvet ropes at museums. And now, we have notions of standard, culture, that are much more expansive. Much more inclusive. As Raymond William writes, “Culture now can be thought of “as very much a part of the every day.” And I really welcome this refocus of the concept of culture. Because rather than fighting battles over what constitutes real culture, or cheap culture, what’s culture and what is not culture, now we have productively encouraged people to think bout the many activities that human beings undertake, to make sense of, to make meaning of our world, and our experience. So I embrace this conceptual emphasis, in thinking about culture. It’s one that says, to put it simply, “Culture is what we make of the world”.
Culture is about many things, but at the very center of it, the central activity of culture, is meaning-making. And if you remember nothing else from the comments I make tonight, please remember that. Culture is about meaning-making. We make sense of the world by making something of the world. And we do this in poetry. We do this in writing. We do this in all forms of human expression. We certainly do it in the visual arts such as film. Andy Crouch, who is a terrific Christian writer, and has written about Christian engagement with culture, has written a book called Culture Making.
Has anybody read this book? It should be required, I think, in the Biola curriculum. It’s a book I really highly recommend. And in this book, in Culture Making, he makes the argument that I would just like to underline to you tonight. That we are made in the image of God, the creator. We are created to be creators. Culture making is a role for all human beings. Not some. Not just the super talented. Crouch writes, “The beginning of culture “and the beginning of humanity are one and the same, “because culture is what we were made to do. “Not just artists, “not just the elite, “not just the educated with sublime talents, “all of us.”
As Christians, I think we too often substitute criticism of culture, or withdrawal from culture, for creative engagement. I think this is a mistake. But this can easily… is a dead-end that we can remedy. As Crouch argues, the way to change culture, is to create more of it. So censorship and criticism at times, are certainly appropriate responses to what we see around us in culture. Christians should be criticizing pornography, for example. But the problem is, that these gestures of criticism and withdrawal, become far too routine, and far too familiar.
We complain, and criticize very quickly, But too quickly step around our role as creators. Crouch asks the question that I put to you tonight then, which is, what are we as Christians known for outside of our churches? Are we known as critics? As consumers? As condemners of culture? I’m afraid very often, that is how we’re known. Why aren’t we known as cultivators? As people who nourish and tend kingdom views, of a fallen world and all of it’s messiness?
Why aren’t we known as creators? Now let me quickly add in closing, that I think that, that is happening, in some places. And I’m really encouraged that here at Biola, and here at events like this, that we see the building of visual and arts programs, that talk about this important endeavor, of meaning-making.
Of culture-making. Film engages God given senses, sight and hearing, to move us in very, very powerful ways, as Evan was talking about. Film and Television are among the most powerful and popular of contemporary media, and thus, they have to be taken seriously. Not only by Christian critics, but by Christian creators. The way to change culture, is to create more of it. Thank you. [applause]
Good evening. On behalf of Burning Heart Productions, I want to thank Biola, Thoughtful Cinema, and Evan for having us. We’re really happy to be here with you guys tonight, and especially in front of a large audience like this. This is great. Evan kinda set the tone before, when he was speaking, where Praying the Hours, which was written by Lauralee Farrer, and directed as well, borrows from the Abrahamic phase, which was Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and ours specifically from the Benedictine tradition, that follows the eight hours of prayer, in which they stopped to pray during eight hours or seasons of the day.
And if you consider the different times of your prayer, let’s say three in the afternoon, it’s gonna take on a very different feelings than if you say, wake up and pray at three in the morning when things are haunting and more surreal. In the feature, it follows a character we call Traveling Man who, during a 24 hour period where he is dying, before he leaves this world and goes to eternity, he stops and visits eight characters in his community. And these characters are actually personifications of the hours of prayer. And some of them may sound familiar to you. They’re Vigils, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline.
The hour that we’re going to watch this evening is the hour of None, the prayer of the mournful songwriter. And that hour, which typically is around three-o-clock in the afternoon, if you think of that time frame, it’s when shadows lengthen. It’s when things are a little bit more melancholy. When shadows lengthen and you realize there’s not enough daylight to finish all the work you have left to do. So as I said, It’s kind of twinged melancholy, remorse, maybe even regret. And before we start tonight, I just want to say again, thank you, and this is actually at Biola, that world premiere of anything Praying the Hours related. So this is fun. Thank you. [applause]
Let’s take a minute to just stand up and what I want you to do, we’re just gonna take a really fast stretch break. And during this stretch break, I want you to just think, turn to your neighbor. Think about a word. A word or two words, that describes just your response, right now, just your gut response to what just happened. So stand up. Don’t go anywhere. 15, 30 seconds. Stretch it out. We’re gonna start thinking in a moment. Let’s bring it back everyone. Find your seat again. We’re now moving into the part of our evening, and this will be what you can expect at every Thoughtful Cinema event, that after the film, at that moment when your mind would start to go numb. No, that’s now when we’re turning it on right?
And so, take a sip of water, just get ready. I’m gonna invite the panel up now, and we’re gonna hear from three commentators about the film. You guys can start making your way up. With some responses of their own. So we’re gonna give them about five minutes to make some observations. And then we’re gonna give the films director, Lauralee Ferrer, and opportunity to respond to those observations. And importantly, we’re gonna give you all, an opportunity to respond.
And so tonight, if you can bring up the official tweet handle. If you’re a tweeter, you can tweet your questions to the panel @biolacct with a hashtag Praying the Hours. And so we’re gonna start with Kutter Calloway, who is the director of church relations as well as an affiliate professor of film and theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. And then we’re gonna hear from our own Todd Pickett, dean of spiritual development here at Biola. [audience cheers] Followed by Steve Klassen, who I’ve introduced. And then we’re gonna give Lauralee an opportunity to respond. So Kutter the floor is yours, with an opportunity to respond.
Well thanks Evan. I’m dissapointed Todd got hoots and not me. Come on folks. Lauralee pointed that out so she did a good job of making me feel bad.
Oh thank you. So I was asked to respond to Lauralee’s work, and I actually quite liked None, and I called it none for a long time, until I was told that that was incorrect. So if I say none, I really mean None, just so you know. I found this film particularly interesting because it’s a really particular film. Right? It’s about one day in the life of one guy, who’s dealing with a very particular set of circumstances in a very unique series of joys and losses and griefs and triumphs and so forth and so on, and yet, every time I’ve seen it, this is the third time now I’ve watched it.
And every single time at the end of the movie, when the credits start rolling, I sit there and I say, “There it is. “That’s my story. “How did she do that?” And to me that’s a fascinating thought because I’m probably not the only one that thinks that way about this film, about films in general. And what’s fascinating about it isn’t just that it’s unsurprising that we identify with the film, but that we all do with the same very particular film. So for instance, we can just take a poll, I can barely see you because of the lights, but who here would say, if they has any choice in life, and could spend the rest of their life making music, you would make music? I’m raising my hand. Okay, keep ’em up.
Lauralee: Tell them to hoot.
And hoot. Yeah you gotta hoot. And tweet. At the same time. Broaden it a little bit. If you could just create something. Anything. It could be cookies. It could be… And if that’s you please talk to me afterwards. [audience laughs] It could be cookies. It could be a movie. It could be music. It could be laws. If you could create something, anything you wanted for the rest of your life, would you create that thing? Yeah. Yeah. It’s amazing right? All of a sudden, we’ve got this film about this one person doing this one thing in this one day, struggling with these very particular circumstances, and we start latching onto it as if it’s our story.
That story becomes my story. Some weird fusion thing happens and all of a sudden it becomes a part of me. And I thought I’d just share a couple things of why I think it connects with me, since this is sort of a off the cuff response. I think a lot about sound and music. Not the sound of music, but sound and music, although sometimes I think about the sound of music. But to me, one of the reasons that None is successful, the reason that it works, the reason that it grabs you and takes hold of you, and tracks your identification with it, is because of the way that Lauralee and her team use the power of sounds.
Sound really, just in technical terms in film, sort of fleshes out the three dimensional space of the movie. This is all 2D, unless you brought your glasses. It was only 2D. But if you recall the trailer, everybody around me when the trailer came in, and that rush of wind overwhelmed the soundtrack, everyone was like, “Oh.” They gasped. It was this physical, visceral, sensual thing that we all felt deep within us, because the sound was fleshing out this space. It was opening up this space that we actually feel ourselves into.
So sound functions sort of as this way of creating space, which I find pretty interesting. But sound also, and this includes music and dialogue, it includes the sort of sound effects that you hear, also works symbolically, at least for me, as I’m interacting with a film. And None does this, and Lauralee’s team does this, I think intentionally, maybe you can say if it’s totally unintentional.
Depends on how smart I’m gonna look.
Okay, okay. This is gonna make you seem really smart I guess.
Yes it was intentional. Absolutely.
But you do this amazing thing where you’re blurring the lines between the world of the characters and their story and our world as an audience. And you’re kinda like, “What on earth does that mean?” Well a couple examples. If you think about the songs. Anybody like the songs? We got folk fans in the audience? [audience cheers] Yeah that is some pretty good stuff. I have four of those song on a loop in my office now. But those songs, sometimes we think they’re actually being played.
Other times we think, maybe it’s the soundtrack right? The underscoring. Other times we can tell that someone in the scene, the character’s playing. Other times it’s only something we’re hearing, something that the protagonist is hearing maybe in his inner psyche or something. And all of a sudden, these lines between our world and their world become blurred. A bridge is sort of built. At other times, you think about the dialogue, the questions of, “Where is God?” God’s distant. God’s elusive. We can’t tell if that’s a narration, if that’s voiceover, if that’s internal dialogue, if that’s just some random thought floating in the heavens.
And it’s really fascinating because, as you start paying attention to how the sound works, it starts creating this ambiguity, this mystery, this openness, that doesn’t explain itself. It’s just there. And it’s an ambiguity and a mystery that we feel deep within ourselves, within our bodies, because we can’t hear it without our bodies. And I think that, for me anyway, that’s why I connect with the film. Because the sound creates this bridge, this fusion, that really it opens up this affective or emotional space where I can see and feel and hear, the whole of my life under a new set of metaphors. Metaphors that the film actually supplies for me.
And it’s just me talking, but I think all good art does that somehow. It doesn’t give us advice. It doesn’t give us answers to our burning questions. It nudges us. It urges us. It invites us to see the world with new eyes. The hear the world with new ears. And I think now I see the world differently because of that film. And that’s my response.
Todd Pickett. What were your thoughts on the film?
Yeah you know, where do you grab a film that you like? How do you talk about? Where do you start talking about it? I think for me, when I see a film that I like, I guess I know it’s a good film, cause I just start going all kinds of directions. So I kinda have to figure out how to start thinking about it. So I was, you know my training is in literature, and so I sometimes find my way into figuring out why I like something through some kind of metaphor or motif. That’s kinda the thin edge of my thinking, as I try and leverage some understanding of why it affected me. And I think what was powerful for me, is this metaphor of frames. The mournful songwriter works at a framing shop.
And at a commercial level, why do we ask people to frame things? Well I suppose we’re trying to draw our attention to a person, or to some time in our life, like the Parson Red Heads were framed in his office. Or maybe even someone we lost. The girl who comes in as her boyfriends father who died. So a part of why we frame something, is an attempt to kinda preserve something that was important to us. To celebrate it. But when you frame something, you put a boundary on it. Right? You actually put a physical boundary on it. And so, a frame kind of… It’s both a celebration but there’s a little bit of grieving there, isn’t it? Because you know that all those experiences, they can’t last. These people don’t ultimately last.
They have a boundary on them. And so, I think the film is melancholy and bittersweet because the whole idea of framing is both the celebration of life, but it’s also acknowledged that life has boundaries. And I think we partly grieve our own lives, not just the lives of others. As humans, we’re finite, and time is always passing.
We can’t do everything at the same time. We can’t live multiple versions of our lives. We always have to choose one road and not another road. We always have to be with some people and not other people. Choose one calling and not another. And of course, the mournful songwriter, that’s part of the tension we feel in the film. He chose this life, and not that life. So we all have kind of frames around us. We all know that there’s… And the problem is, we have infinite imaginations, right? We can imagine ourselves doing this or doing that.
And I even wish, I wish I could be with all the people of my life, all the time. I wish I could move them all into my neighborhood. All the people from the past. And of course, I think that’s what the mournful songwriter feels. The song he’s working on, is a song about loneliness. The lyrics are, “Loneliness is how the spirit grows.” [chuckles] So there’s a loneliness. He sees the Parson Red Heads and he wants them to be a part of his life. But his wife and his child, they’re a part of his life. But he knows his life has a frame. He’s not God. He can’t be omnipresent. He can’t be infinite.
And I guess for me, this kind of brings me to the actual hour that this film represents. This hour of None, which is three-o-clock in the afternoon. You know, there’s a writer names Kathleen Norris. She’s a poet and a non-fiction writer. She wrote a book called Acedia and Me. And Acedia is a kind of sin or experience that’s kind of among, it used to be the eight deadly sins, or eight deadly thoughts. And it was that thought that, that sudden feeling of the meaningless of life. The kind of depression, maybe a kind of boredom, a kind of listlessness, the kind of apathy that comes over us sometimes. When we settle into a particular place. We’re doing the same thing day after day. Life gets routine.
And we just kind of fall into this depressive groove. And if you’re a monk, you’re doing the same thing every day. The same place every day. And they talk about this temptation of, you want to have another life. You want to have a different life. You want to have that persons life, or that persons life. Not your own life, not in the same place. And they said this temptation particularly comes on in the afternoon, for some reason. The sun is hot. It’s high. The land is still. And suddenly, whatever your doing seems irrelevant. And you want that life. You want that life. So the fact that his kind of longings, his desire to have all thing present, and this whole question of maybe it…
And of course, you have that ghost of that person, that apparently is never filmed saying, “You are the most talented one. “What did you do with your life?” And he has this longings that he’s kind of experiencing that noon day temptation like, “I could’ve done that. “I could’ve done that.” And who does he have to forgive? Remember? He remembers his dad says, “Forgive everyone.” Does he forgive himself? Does he need to forgive his family for holding him back? Does he need to forgive the Parson Red Heads, for leaving him behind? Well it just speaks to me. It’s a powerful film, because I think it represents some of the tensions, some of the longings. I love the song, “Find us just a little more time.”
Yeah, Infinite time would be nice. To bring all these sayings. But I think the question is ultimately asked. The lyric is, “There’s gotta be a way to live this life more easily.” And I think he’s asking, “How can I be in the place that I’m at, “Be fully present to it, “Celebrate the past. “Grieve it. “How can I make a life now? “There’s gotta be a way to do this, “in the finitude and still celebrate it.” So it’s a meaningful film to me. Thanks Lauralee.
Thanks Todd. [applause] Thanks. As I see the tweets roll in, we’re gonna go to Steve.
This is a beautiful film visually.
Oh thank God. There may be one hold out. [laughs] No.
No it is. Is Jordan still here? The cinematographer.
He’s right there.
Stand up. Jordan was a student of mine. Give him a hand. Jordan was a student of mine at Cal State LA. He was reminding me of our long past history before the event tonight and it just warms the heart of old professors, to see young artists who are working in mediums like this, in such creative and powerful ways.
So congratulations Jordan and Lauralee for this wonderful project. I also have a question, which is, is facial hair a prerequisite for male entrance into the arts these days? [audience laughs] I think you have to have a beard to be a serious male artist these days, or a baseball player. You must have facial hair. So maybe it’s coming back around.
Yup, yeah. Get with the time.
Or maybe not.
Or maybe not. Maybe we missed the loop. No, I think that my quick take on this is that, the visuals and the music really drive this film for me. And that’s a really good thing. Too many movies are too talky. They rely entirely too much on people talking to each other, rather than using the power of the medium, which really is what you see.
And I really thank you for a film and a project that’s so thoughtfully visual, and that is so driven, as both of the previous commentators have said, by the music, by the sound. It’s so carries this film, and it’s such an essential part of the meaning of the film. And so, I love that. Some of my favorite directors are directors that sometimes are accused of experimenting too much with film. Like Terrance Malick. I don’t know if there’s any other fans of Malick out there, but he tries to write film in a way that, at times, is almost worthless.
And people watch his films and sometimes walk out saying, “What?” But other of us, even if we consider the film not entirely a success, really appreciate the ambition of a Malick film, and the efforts to make this medium speak through the visual image, and not to rely on the spoken word. So you have a wonderful mix of these things, but your reliance on strong visuals, really is such a beautiful component in this film. And I love that you set it in an urban area. I love that the spiritual encounters here are not in some kind of removed, pristine, sanitized place. But really in the lived world that is Los Angeles. I love the setting of the film. I loved where you placed it. I do think this film is very much about, distraction.
What distracts us, as you said, and whether those distractions are in many ways constructive and positive distractions. What is it distracting us from? And I think this film poses that question. Does whatever we’re doing distract us from a greater vision and a presence in the moment, that is rich and fulfilling? I’m a father, and so the scene in this film that grips me is, as he leaves the house, and meanders before he leaves. He can’t quite take himself away from that house. And again, no words have to be spoken.
You just show the father walking outside the house, emotionally torn, because he’s leaving his baby, and he really, really doesn’t want to do that. I know that story. I’ve lived that story, and it really speaks to, again, how living in a moment becomes a very difficult thing to do, Because we have the professional priorities, and the other priorities that we know we have to go to. But at the same time, I just want to be with my baby.
And again, you don’t have to speak that love. Every time that actor is with the child, love is communicated very very clearly in the visuals. The other thing that just came to me was, again this idea of our individualistic goals and ambitions, versus our loyalties to a greater good, or greater community.
And I think that’s very much the monastic life, that you give up the individual, to be part of a greater good. A greater community, your loyalties are to it. This is a trivial example, but when I was a Biola student, I was looking at different churches, and I got involved in a church, fairly committed to it for over a year. And then I discovered there was another new church, with a lot of cute girls. And I decided I should go to that church. And one of my friends came up to me and he said, “Steve. “Why are you going to this new church?”
And I said, “Duh. “Cause there’s a lot of cute girls there.” He says, “But Steve, “your commitment is to your church community “you’ve been engaged with.” And at the time I didn’t listen to him. The cute girls won out. I went and attended that other church for a while. But that stuck with me, and it has shaped my later life, where I realized that a momentary distraction, distracted me from the greater community that I had made a commitment to. And I think this film underscores, that type of tension that we feel in our lives, and what might distract us from those loyalties in the end. So thank you. [applause]
Thanks. Well before we hear from —
Can I just say something real quick? Steve, whatever you just described what it felt like to leave your baby and how hard that is and it obviously it moved you a second, I looked down at the guy who plays that character and he did this, cause he’s feeling exactly the same thing. So, anyway. That’s nice.
And speaking of, we do have, before Lauralee gets an opportunity to respond, we’ve got a special group of guests tonight. The production team of the film, as well as its lead actor. And so I’m gonna invite you guys to come up just so that everyone can put some faces behind the production team. Come on up. [applause] And, Lauralee, if you wanna just introduce the team. This is a special opportunity that we take seriously, to think well about the film, you just get this… It’s so much better to be connected to the people that created it. You have this special opportunity. So Lauralee, if you can introduce everybody.
Hi. Praying the Hours is a huge project and as you noticed when you watched the credits go by, there are lots and lots and lots of names. But the majority of the core film makers happen to be here tonight. And one of the reasons for that is because we’ve been working on this for years, and it so happens, that tonight’s installment is the first time, for showing of anything, as was mentioned earlier. So for us, it’s a big deal.
Tamara McMahon as you know, this is my partner in Burning Heart Productions and she’s also one of the producers on this project. Erin Paul Ballard, who plays the character of None, whom you know and love already. [applause] What the heck right? Is my nephew also. That’s independent film making at it’s best right there. Patrick Duff, who is our senior editor and also one of our co-producers who, I have to say, just in this last week of time, to get it ready for tonight has, his three children have watched him sit at, probably the same table when they’d gone to bed at night, and up in the morning. And so, he’s done a yeoman’s job in that. [applause] Don’t let me fall of the stairs.
Jordan McMahon who hates this kind of thing so I’m gonna be quick, is one of the major cinematographers for the entire project. So one of the best cinematographers I’ve ever worked with, and Tamara’s husband. [applause] Robert Bethke, Matt Webb, Ron Allchin, are three of our core, well I can’t say, our is our. Whenever we say, “Our film” this is who we’re talking about.
Three of our main producers, and it is my great privilege to know them. Good men all and I will out them on this one thing. Whenever we have watched, back to you Steve, whenever we have watched the screenings of rough cuts of this, these guys all have little ones and each one of them have little girls, and every time, just crying like babies.
And I’ll say, “You know, “really these scenes with Beatrix, “I don’t think they’re working. “Oh, shut up, Lauralee.” Because they’re just crying through the whole thing. Anyway, so it’s our pleasure to be here, and my pleasure to have them on these days, and all the rest that we have spent.
Let’s thank them again. [applause] So, I’m gonna give Lauralee an opportunity to respond, and then we will jump into some of the many tweets that have come in, with some really excellent questions.
Well I’m also thinking about, what you said earlier, Todd, that there’s, when something hits you, there are so many ways in to comment about that. And I think I’ll just say something about what our intention was with making the film, this project, series of films, the way we are making it. So just to kind of make the setting for that, Praying the Hours project is a two hour, dramatic feature that tells the story of the Traveling Man, whom you saw briefly in this film. And as Tamara outlined earlier.
And then there are eight short films, most of which will be about this length, and each one of them is about an hour, of the day, I mean yes, an hour of prayer. What our intention is, is to identify the fact that, to stop eight times a day and acknowledge the presence of God, is something that is so core in us, made in the image of God, that it’s our belief that just to try to tell that story as simply and uncomplicatedly as possible, it will resonate with audience members just the way Kutter mentioned it would or it might, because we believe that we are all made and tuned to the same presence of God in the world.
So we really did want to do something that didn’t, that wasn’t overly talky. We’re trying not to tell people what to think or what to believe. We really just wanted to, as I mentioned to Todd earlier today, we wanted to, see what the hour, when we were filming it, see what the hour gave us. So we started out with a script. We started out with a story line. But our team is very used to me saying that there are place holders in the script, meaning the script may call for something, but when we are actually shooting, we may see something totally different, that fits the hour. And one of the reasons that’s important to us, we’ve made some really specific shooting and filmmaking choices here.
What we have done is we are entering what is primarily documentary circumstances and we’re taking a narrative and we’re putting it in the center of those circumstances and telling the narrative in that space. So that means that all the cars you see, and all the shops you see. Those are all real shops. They’re all in business. The artwork framing shop is, is a real shop. It continued to be in business while we were shooting there, and it is owned by my nephew, Erin. So we intentionally, as I say, took a narrative, set it in to the middle of a documentary circumstance because we wanted to allow the true life of that circumstance to give us, it’s own personality, if that makes sense.
So that may sound easy. It’s actually very complicated to do. And as, I’ve heard it said before, that you make a film three times. You make film when you write it, you make a film when you shoot it, and you make a film when you edit it. And that’s a very specifically appropriate for this filmmaking process, for us. And what the requires, is that we are really familiar with the hours of the day, what those hours feel like, what they mean.
So everybody is on the ka-veev, all the time, thinking, looking for what is the hour telling us, what is the light look like at this time of day. And nothing thrills me more than to hear one our cinematographers say, “Oh, look at the light outside right now. “It’s perfect Vespers light.” Or, “Look at the light outside right now. “It’s perfect Prime.”
And if all that happened out of this production was that the, gosh how many camera people do we have involved, Matt? I dunno, hundreds of people now, who have been involved in this project. If all that came of it, was that those hundred people were able to say, “Ah, look at the light right now. “This is perfect light for Turse.” That would be very rewarding. I’ll tell you a story that I told Todd before and he’s over there, throwing the vibe at me.
I’ll give you an example of how that worked in this particular hour. In the script, we had written the idea, we wanted him to be constantly interrupted by jobs, which is good. It’s his frame shop. He wants it to go well. We wanted the phone to always be ringing. And everything taking him away from the possibility of him doing his music. So in the script, we had written this idea, that just when he gets into his shop early enough to be thinking about his music, a woman knocks on the window and she has a framing emergency.
Now, what exactly is a framing emergency? I don’t know. So we were really burning on what was that going to be. So we thought, “I know what we’ll do. “It’ll be her boyfriends birthday, “and she’ll be giving him a party that night, “and she’ll bring in a vintage rock ‘n roll poster “to ask him to frame. “She has to have it right away, “and could you please do it for me now.” And that would be awesome, because his heart is in music and here he is, we get to see him framing this poster, this vintage rock ‘n roll poster.
Well the woman who was going to play this character, the night before we started shooting, called me and she said, “I’m really sorry, “but I got a paying gig “and I can’t make it, “and do you have any other options?” I said, “Sure don’t worry about it, “I’ll work somethin’ out.” And the image that came to my mind was a friend of mine, a friend of ours, Michele Steffes, who is a director. Then I, communicated with her on the book of faces, and I said, “Michelle. ” Are you open tomorrow? “I just lost an actress. “Would you be willing to come?” And she wrote back and she said, “Are you asking me to do it, “or asking me refer actresses?” I said, “No, “I keep seeing you in my mind, “playing this character.”
So she said, “Well, sure. “I would love to do that.” And imagine just, first of all, the generosity of somebody who would say, a professional who would say, “Yes I will come, “and I will spend the whole day with you tomorrow. “and do whatever you need for me to do.” She said, “All that I need to do is, “I have one chore that I have to do during the day, “so I may have to break away during the day, “to get that done.” So I said, “Cool.”
So I gave her the location. She has no idea what the story is about or anything. She shows up and the one chore that she has to get done, is she has to have a photograph framed. And the reason the she has to have a photograph framed, is because her boyfriends father died two days earlier and the memorial service is for him the next day. Right. So I said, “Can we contact your boyfriend “and ask him…” Now I know him, Joey, “Do you think he would feel okay, if we actually filmed the framing of this photo?”
Unbeknownst to her, what I know about the hour of None, is that it is the hour when the monks go into their cells alone, and they pray for a holy death. So here we are, we have this character framing the photograph of a man who has just died, and he literally is looking at eternity, right here. And to harken back to your beautiful observation, putting a frame on this persons life. So she called Joey, and he said he would be honored.
And so the whole movie just shifted from that moment, over to the direction of Erin, or the character of None, framing this picture for a memorial service the following day. That’s what I mean by saying that we’re trying to always be atuned, I mean, that one just came up and slapped us in the face, but always be atuned to what is the hour telling us about itself?
And essentially, I hope this doesn’t feel too meta layery, but what we’re trying to do, is be in the moment of shooting that hour, as filmmakers, we are like monks, stopping eight times a day and trying the acknowledge the presence of God. And trying then, to capture that presence in a way that is simple and uncomplicated on screen, so that viewers can see something, can resonate in someplace in themselves.
Wonderful. [applause] Yeah, thank you. I wanna first give the panel an opportunity to sort of, if they had picked up on anything that someone else said. But I wanna mention, that I’m really resonating with the resonation of lentil soup that’s going on in the tweet. So whoever did the lentil soup tweet, [clicks tongue] I’m with you. So, an opportunity though.
It was really lentil soup. In the script we had written… No, I’m joking.
So any engagement? Any points that you wanted to pick up on?
Yeah I thought I was interesting, the Malick reference, especially for the trailer, it feels, ambitious like a Malick film. And it’d be interesting to hear how frustrated your actors would or wouldn’t get with you, in terms of their positioning and your shots and things.
Well he’s leaving right now, so that tells you how frustrated.
That really upset him. But you had said that people like Malick, not they don’t waste the film… something like it’s a waste, I think, is what you had said. Even though they’re trying for something ambitious. But it actually strikes me that, the sort of liturgical expressions, the prayer, if you really think about it, in terms of the worlds economy, prayer, worship, any of that, is a complete and absolute waste of time. And that is exactly why it’s beautiful.
Because it’s detached from this sort of, commercial exchange, and it’s saying, there’s this other time. And I don’t know if that, if you can comment on that, or think about. What kind of space is, especially since you’re always pressed for time, and you got this shot and you’ve got to do it now, and you’ve got one hour to get everything done. How do you balance that, in terms of what you’re trying to produce, and how you actually go about doing it?
Our engagement, our relationship with time on this production, is a really unusual one, because it’s kind of an ethic for us at Burning Heart Productions, that we, we want people, we work with people who have full time jobs, so we often shoot on weekends and evenings. We also know that everybody has families. So aside from what happened to Patrick Duff this last week, we try always to put families first and if you’ve ever made a film, then you know how really complicated a choice that is.
The reason people pay a lot of money to make sure that they own everybody for those days, is because it is monumentally chaotic if you try to make accommodation for everybody and their lives and what’s going on for them. So just the feeling of trying to move in time in a way that you would pick up your feet and move with a river. And trust that it will happen. And trust that you will get what we need. And trust that if we make a choice that we feel is the sacred choice, that it will come back to us later, and that we’ll end up with telling the story that we meant to tell.
There are a couple places in the film where we had originally written dialogue or voiceover. And we did specifically shoot it in such way. Every time we shoot a scene that has dialogue, we shoot the dialogue, and then we shoot the entire scene with no dialogue, because we may wanna let it play out that way. We also may want to let it play out that you see someone, you hear someone talking, but you don’t see their lips moving.
All of that’s intentional on our part. And it’s intentional, because what we want to do is fracture those moments just enough, so that you’re engaged, you’re not sure if you’re hearing inside somebody’s head. You made a comment about that earlier. But there’s a section in this film in particular, where None is making the frame for his customer, and it’s just silence. It’s just him making the frame and the Traveling Man is there.
The Traveling Man, of course, represents a true person in his life. But he is also crossing over from this life to the next. So he sees things from the perspective of eternity. So he sees Nones life in a completely different way than he would’ve seen it before. And those quiet moments of them making the frame together, it’s not the kind of thing that you would normally, it’s the kind of stuff you’d normally cut from a film. It’s languid, it’s long, it’s easy to, you’re gonna start looking at your watch, and checking your mail, or whatever, or maybe, how long is it gonna take you to make a frame, “Maybe I have time to jump up “and go to the bathroom and come back “and not miss anything.”
But all of that happens at the hour of None between the two of them, and that is the prayerful hour. So it is the hour of stopping long enough. One of the tenants, as you would know, of the Benedictine hours of prayer, is the idea of putting your tools down, of stopping long enough to acknowledge the presence of God. So even though we got very lovely and helpful feedback from other filmmaker friends, which is always, always required, if there are any filmmakers in the audience.
Building up your community of friends so that they speak into your work, is just crucially important. There were many of them who said, “You know that whole long section “where he’s pasting up posters? “Or that whole long section “where they’re making the frames, “you can probably cut that down by half.” And there were times when we knew that they were right, and times when knew, “No, “this is what we’re trying to do. “Is to tell a story that allows you to engage “in the time of it.”
I’m gonna interject with a tweet from Samantha Plump. “Is this film more about the sadness of giving up dreams, “or the happiness of appreciating family overall?” And I had a similar question about, is this really about a mournful hour, or is there some joy in that final moment of completing the song for his family?
I am not gonna answer that question. [laughs]
Maybe one of you guys would answer the question.
I was gonna ask you a question that you answered, which is, how did you decide to basically script, these inner dialogues within the main characters? And this idea that you shot with dialogue, and then shot without, is very interesting.
Yeah, and then recorded voiceover as well. I don’t mean to throw off Samantha, Samantha wasn’t it?
It was Samantha, yeah. And Steve, we’ll come back to you
The reason I said, I’m not gonna answer that question is, I’m sort of joking when I say that, I feel like the film is our answer to that question. That the hour of None is an hour, when you are melancholy, because you see that there are only a couple hours left to the day. And you know that there’s no way you can complete all that you had in mind. And if you haven’t intuited this by now, in the sense of the hours, the arch of a day is like the arch of a life, and it’s like the arch of a year, and then also of a life.
So you could actually say, I’m in the None season of my life, so to speak, and it would hold all the way down to this unit. So the hour of None is both of those things. It is the hour of melancholy, not moving from one to the other, but holding both of them at the same time.
So the answer to both is yes. It is an hour of melancholy, yes, and it is an hour yes… From my perspective, and I’m 56 years old, so I see the hour of None in a completely different way than I did when I was in the center of it. But from my perspective, this character has everything. He has music, he has his friends, he has his work, he loves his work, he’s got this family and he’s got this lovely little child.
And I don’t know if this is noticeable to you, but one of the ways that we made a choice that would be a normal filmmaker choice, when he is at the gig, the Deadery, as the place is called, when he’s there and he’s answering his phone, and he’s thinking in his mind, images of his little girl who is waiting for him, we show this image of his daughter standing in the window, waiting for him. And that image was shot a year later. So she is a year older in that image, that she is anywhere else in the film.
That was one of those things that was given to us. We didn’t do that on purpose. We went back a year later to shoot more b-roll, cause we didn’t have enough, and at one point, we weren’t sure whether or not it would be okay to use that photo. And in our minds, it felt like the perfect moment of saying, “That is what is passing right there.” He looked in the window and she was one, and he looked in the window and she was two. So… So I have no idea what the question was. Oh, that’s right. Back to Samantha.
Evan: That’s great.
So the answer is yes to both, and I’m glad that’s her question, cause that means she got the film.
There were plenty of questions about scripting, and so I think Steve’s question is a relevant one. Steve, maybe you could just rephrase that so we can catch up with that.
Well I think she’s addressed it. But could you talk a little bit more about scripting Traveling Man? Because clearly this is a figure that, I sense you want to use with some reserve.
You don’t want him to be, framing too much of the films narrative. You want him to be passing through these scenes.
It’s tricky, because with the Traveling Man, who is played by the wonderful Chris Fuhrman, you’ll hear directors say that so much in the film is about casting. And in this particular case, the character of the Traveling Man is based on someone who was a member of our community, who was hit by a car and killed.
And the last time I saw him, he asked me, “When are we gonna start shooting Praying the Hours?” So it was intentional that he was going to be part of this project. When he died, it became clear to me that the way he was going to become part of the project, was that he would literally be the glue, he’d be the, oh I forget the screenplay, name of it. But anyway, the traveling hero, so to speak.
So we knew that this would be the character who would be observing all of these community members from the perspective of eternity. But that can be really heavy handed. So every time we would have him talk, it’d be like it’d come out like Yoda, and it would feel so heavy and intense. On the other hand, we didn’t want a character that was constantly just pondering, you know? That’s what we’re gonna do in eternity, is ponder all the time.
So it was something between those two things, and again, this idea of shooting three ways. Of shooting the voiceover, shooting the people, giving the dialogue, and then shooting them without any dialogue at all, gives us the opportunity to make choices for how much we use and how much we need and how much we don’t need. And we found, specifically Patrick and I, found that as we were cutting together Traveling Man, we cut out more and more and more of his dialogue, because it just wasn’t necessary. And that’s a lovely thing to have happen. Unless you cut so much of it, that you end up making it so obscure that people don’t understand what you’re talking about.
Yeah, I’m anxious to see the other hours.
So am I. [laughs] We’re not even through shooting by the way.
I think you’re more anxious than I am, but I am anxious too. Cause the traveling man in this part, and that’s why I want to see how he is in other bits, because I couldn’t tell what, what he was playing. I mean, sometimes he was, that is to say, I feel like he was playing both sides of the mournful songwriters emotions.
On the one hand he’s saying, “Hey, “you are the most talented. “Why didn’t you do something with your life?” And so there is kind of the, “Wow, “he’s pulling him back toward the past. “The Parson Red Heads.” Making them feel that grief. But then later on, when his family calls, he slides the phone over to him.
And now he’s playing that family, he says, “No, “this is your life.” So I’m curious if he’s gonna play, if he’s gonna represent the tensions, all the way through the hours. You don’t have to answer that.
It’d be my pleasure to answer it. It’s our desire, in every case with the stories, that the Traveling Man, again he’s crossing over from one life to the next. So that the Traveling Man has an epiphany at the same moment that the character has an epiphany, and that they actually engage each other. So when the Traveling Man has an epiphany, that, “oh aha” he hasn’t left his music behind. Here he is writing this song, this lovely song about loneliness and further more, he has come to the conclusion that loneliness is how the spirit grows.
Evan: That’s a beautiful line.
So, Traveling Man has this, “Aha. “I see his life is full.” And the family is a very important part of that. So it’s a change for him, whenever he pushes the phone over to None, and that’s right in the center of None, writing a song about loneliness, picking up his phone and seeing his daughter, and dropping all of that and going to see her. So our hope is, that in each one of the hours, we have this epiphanal moment, for both of them, that Traveling Man can actually, in our minds as we’re writing, it’s Traveling Man, he helps to facilitate the epiphany of the character, and then his work is done. That’s why he’s gone the next time you see the rooftop.
It’s like the Greek chorus.
Yeah. I hope we can pull it off. But yes, that’s our intention.
Here’s a comment from Ashley Fox. “We frame things to preserve, “mourn, “and celebrate memories, “that we cannot get back.” And that’s related to another comment from CJ Clarke, who’s asking about the actual practice of the divine hours. And it’s related insofar as, when we frame a memory that we can’t get back, we’ve seen None in the hour and in certain moments, sort of face to face with the images of those memories.
Face to face with the image of the Traveling Man, his friend. And we all face these sort of things. That’s the source of a lot of mourning and suffering. So for the panel, how do we get into this particular hour with certain practices? What practices, spiritually speaking, and practically speaking, can we engage to grow, to be distant from God, in a way that we become closer to him and present with him? Open to the panel.
Well I love, Lauralee, right before we came up, you told me that anecdote about, well you told me that information, that I didn’t remember, about the hour of None being a time in which one imagines their death. I think one kinda has to die, to their desire to be infinite. To have all things. To be all places. To measure our value by our ascent. Could he have ascended musically? Could he have become great?
That’s how we’re taught to feel about ourselves, is if I become great in some very conspicuous way. And I think part of accepting your value as God’s child, is having to die a little bit, to demanding the value from your performance. And I almost feel like there’s a little bit of freedom when he leaves, what’s the name of the performance place?
Oh, the Deadery.
Yeah the Deadery. When he’s walking back, there’s almost a little, in his step, a little bit of freedom. Well he appreciated that time with the Parson Red Heads, he’s dying a little bit, to that as the measure of his identity. And he’s going back to an audience of two, his wife and his child, instead of the audience of a thousand, or a hundred. And so I think, and when he says, “Loneliness makes the spirit grow.” I think loneliness is kind of, having come face to face with giving up, being celebrated.
And solitude therefore, is a kind of spiritual practice, that is occasionally good for us so we can die to the dreams of our huge self.
And say, “God, “do you actually enjoy me?” So I don’t know. I think there’s a depth in that film. I think there is this issue of loneliness. And I think that loneliness and relative solitude with his wife and his daughter, that’s kind of the spiritual practice of asking God, “Am I of value right now, “in this limited space, “with this limited, eisle to work with?”
My only thought is not appropriate. [laughs]
But that’s not gonna stop you from saying it.
No, I’m trying to phrase it.
You don’t work here. Go for it.
That’s right I don’t work, I can say what I want. I’m tying to find the applicable thing to say, but the first thought was, “Become apparent.” So don’t. But there’s something… How do you universalize that of, I have three year old and a one year old, both daughters. And sound and music, yes. But the truth of the matter is, I am a guitar playing singer, songwriter, who once aspired to do nothing but play music.
And when my first daughter came along, something in me died. And I didn’t know what to do with that, because every other dad that I ever knew, spoke of their first daughter as the most transcendent moment of their life. And I felt like something was robbed from me as a dad, because of this other thing. And for basically, the first two years of her life, I was wrestling with, “How do I forgive myself for being a dad, “who wanted to play music.” And I didn’t realize, and this is where it gets back to the joy and pain and loss thing, they’re always already the same. That every joy is in spite of something in life.
And I would have never been able to articulate that until I had these two little girls and last week, our one year old now, so instead of playing music by myself, I play with music with them. And we’ve got a little piano and I got my three year old a ukulele. And so we’re rockin’ out to Jingle Bells, with the one year old on the piano, and I’ve got my Parson Red Heads trio.
So my dream of making music, is completely different than I had ever envisioned or imagined, but it’s so much better than having some sort of recognition or notoriety, or whatever it was that I had convolutedly drummed up in my mind. And so there is this dying to yourself, there is this, find ways and people that you can…
You’re forced to put them in front of your needs and desires. And that’s the only way I can even think about what it means to have a kid. That you have no other choice but to say, “They’re actually more important than me.” And so, It’s not intentional, but every day I get to practice that with her. And it’s also why you can’t watch him struggle to go leave and not, I can’t, well, I can’t talk about it. [laughs] I can talk about it, but I can’t talk about it.
Wow. I didn’t know all that Kutter.
I didn’t know I was gonna say all that.
We’ll do one more Twitter question, and then we’ll begin the close of the evening. This question is from Chris Rodriguez, and it’s for Lauralee. “Last time that you came, “and you did speak here a Biola once in the past, “you told us of your story, “your personal story.” And Chris is asking how your personal story inspired the making of this overall project, and maybe that’s a good way to, sort of, close out our time.
Okay. Thank you, Chris. I… Was anybody else in chapel? When was that? A year or so ago. You wouldn’t remember
It was a while ago.
Yes? Anybody? [audience cheers] Hello. The woot. Thank you. I get a woot from the corner, the amen corner. Is Andrew Hatling here?
I know, but he should be here. [audience laughing] All right. You tell him that I called him out, cause he said he wants to work on the film with us, and has he showed up? No. [audience laughing] Thank you.
Talk about the hour of lost potential.
However that was not my story. Well okay. So briefly, what brought this about was, I went through a season of time, of difficulty in my life when I discovered the hours of prayer, and I prayed them the way a person who is, for example, an alcoholic goes through the program of alcoholics anonymous.
If you’re familiar with that, it’s one day at a time. If one day at a time doesn’t work, one hour at a time. Well for me, I was in that kind of grief, and I discovered the hours of prayer by starting to pray them organically. I reached out to God in prayer every time I came to the end of being, able to be without God. And that started to catch a certain rhythm to the day. So I prayed in a way that felt very natural to me. When the sun came up in the morning, bout the mid morning, whenever I felt like I lost juice and I needed God again. When the sun was high in the sky in the early afternoon, like at the None hour. When the sun went down. And I found myself praying very similar prayers every day, and I got into this rhythm of that.
And so I started looking forward to this. And I came from a primarily non-liturgical background, so I had no idea. I had never heard of advent before, and I didn’t know what the hours were. The only thing, the closest thing, as I’ve said before, that we came to tradition, was lime jello at the potlucks. And I’m saying, like that was always there. So I knew that that was tradition. So I started this season of praying and I fell into a rhythm of praying every day, the same way.
I would wake up at three in the morning and pray, and I would pray at midnight. And then during that season of time, I discovered that monks still existed, and that there were monasteries, and I actually was near, I discovered, I was near a monastery, so I went there to stay for a brief period of time, and I found out that they prayed every day, a bunch of times. So I just followed. Whenever they went to pray, I went as well.
And I discovered they prayed at the same hours that I did, and after a while, I discovered they prayed the same prayers that I did. And that blew my mind, as Erin says. [exhales] I thought I had stumbled on some bizarre mystery. And looking back and deeper into it, it is of course, a mystery. But the mystery is not that the monks and I were praying the same prayers. The mystery is that those prayers are embedded in, they’re embedded in the earth, they’re embedded in the way that the sun and the moon move in the sky.
They’re embedded in the way we are made in the image of God, and we are tuned to do this. We are tuned to be reminded of God in the world around us, constantly like this. And when I discovered that, I thought, “Okay. “If that is true, “I’d like to have a little experiment. “I would like to take those personalities, “of the hours, “turn them into characters, “and write very simple stories about those characters, “without preaching to anybody about any of it, “and see if it resonates for other people. “Or will that be taking the idea too far away “from my own discovery.” If that makes sense.
And so that’s what we have done with this project, is an attempt to try to tap into something that is deeply connected to being made in the image of God in such a way, it’s my own personal belief that every human being is made in the image of God. So we are ambitiously, I guess you could say, trying to make a project that would resonate, if we do it well, with any human being. So, did I answer the question?
I went off on my own thing there, but thank you Chris, for remembering.
Well I think with that, we should give our panelists a hand.
Thank you. [applause]
And just before you go, I want to say bit about the Center for Christian Thought. We’ve got some events coming up the rest of this month, and we just want to explain a little bit behind why we chose this particular film. It was because it resonated, not only with the Torrey Conference, but with some of the subject matter that we’re dealing with during our year on psychology and spiritual formation.
It’s a deeply, rich year, where we’re going to speaking with all sorts of scholars, and inviting people to campus, to share from the Christian wisdom tradition about how, about how these sort of practices, the divine hours, the Benedictine rule of life, Christian contemplation, how modern psychology, has something to say about that. How some of these practices are being validated. About how we’re finding interesting things in the integration of psychology and spirituality. And to that end, we’ve got an event coming up with Rebekah Lyons.
I’m gonna skip ahead here real quick. Rebekah Lyons is a co-founder of Q Ideas, and her self has dealt with mental health issues. And she has become a leader in attempting to end the stigma around mental health, by really seeking the inner faiths between spirituality and psychology. And so we’ve invited her to engage with Liz Hall, who is a professor here in Rosemead, School of Psychology, as well as Eric Johnson, who is a CCT fellow this semester.
And they’re going to be having a conversation about free falling to fly, or flourishing in mind and spirit, from both a spiritual and a psychological perspective. And then before we go, we’re gonna show you one more clip. And it’s for our next Thoughtful Cinema event, featuring the film Blood Brother, which is a Sundance award winning film. We’ll again, be able to engage the director of this film, Steve Hoover. And I understand that we’ve got the trailer cued.
That’s November 7th, and I’m jut gonna say, after the trailer ends, you are free to go. And thanks for coming. [applause]
Rocky: Kids call me, Rocky anna. Anna basically means, “Big brother”. [children speaking] I was never intending to go the aids orphanage. That was never my plan. I didn’t really like kids, to be honest with you. Being there, seeing that they’re in despair, and they’re hopeless, and they’re kids. They’ve been seeing faces their whole lives, just people who are in and out.
Children: I was always beautiful.
I can’t take any of ’em out of that situation, but I can put myself into it. And then I made a decision. I was like, “Man, “like, “I need to move there.” I’m going to be suffering all the time. And I think that’s fair, to be afraid. I don’t wanna get close to anyone. I hate being close to people. There’s freedom in not being close to anyone, because you don’t get hurt. There’s like a sense a madness that comes with loving things that can come and go from your life. Especially when you lose people that you planned on loving long term.
Just crazy, that you could be trying to do something good and be met with so much opposition. I think every man or every woman, they want their life to count. Even when I was working at many of my different jobs that I’ve worked. At the end of the day I was like, “Man, “this is so meaningless.” I was making lots of money, but if I died, I wasn’t making an impact on anything. Really. That bothered me. I don’t know.
I feel like sometimes people just think I’m crazy. Times like that, I feel really alone. I mean, you stay together. You work together, you fight together, you cry together. Hopefully you die together. We all need love. [bright music]