I went to see a live theater production today put on by some students. It was all about Alberta, Canada. It reminded me of some of the art films that have come out of China that portray life during the Mao Tse-tung era. All the kids and students doing plays and parades and singing songs that were all about the political ideology of the time. Sickening! It was all propaganda! All of it. And if you didn't clap and cheer, then you were a party-pooper. Worse, you were a traitor! I felt the same mood at this afternoon's theater production. Poor kids, really. They mean well, but it is all soaked through with propaganda, what is politically proper to say. I found it boring, unexciting and completely predictable. In spite of their excellent singing and exuberant performance. After the theater my friend and I were walking back to our car when I said, "Everything's a commercial!" "What do you mean?" he asked. I said that almost everything we say and everything we do is self-promotion, and at the very least self-protecting. Almost everything that comes out of my mouth and almost everything I do either protects or promotes myself. Which leads me to discuss the church. How much of what we do as churches is all about self-protection or self-promotion? I mean, that seems to me to be just about all we do. We are not concerned about or even slightly interested in the cross and what that literally means for us because that necessarily means the end of us. Even if we do exhibit some interest in the cross, that's all it is... an exhibition! We're either staking our claim on the geography of religion or culture or whatever, OR we're selling something. I know this sounds grim, but think about it. By the way, I'm having a wonderful vacation! Thanks. The fine art photograph is the creation of my friend Mark Hemmings, and is from his mannequin series. Appropriate, don't you think?