“She looked for love, and then…” – New Web Clip

In a place where young people aren’t allowed to meet face-to-face; relationships can be risky.

In a place where young people aren’t allowed to meet face-to-face, relationships can be risky. I just finished this new web clip for Arab World Media. It’s a light-hearted, cautionary tale about ‘phone dating.’

Here’s a link to one of the Arabic-language pages where it’s embedded at Maarifa.org

Or, you can watch the English version here:

“She looked for love, and then…” — English version from Tom Khazoyan on Vimeo.

Zero Dark Thirty: A Tale of Bias and Burqas

What can we, as storytellers, do to avoid biased and inaccurate (perhaps offensive) portrayals of others in our films? As much as I may intellectually value other voices, it is exceedingly difficult for me to recognize the impact of my own inner biases when I am creating stories.

As a filmmaker passionate to cross-cultural stories and also dedicated to crafting authentic stories that present accurate depictions of culture, this article is a great caution for me. While I think of myself as one who values other voices and hates simple stereotypes, I’m sure I am guilty of falling into the same traps. I am, after all, tremendously influenced by my own culture, religion, and upbringing. As much as I may intellectually value other voices, it is exceedingly difficult for me to recognize the impact of my own inner biases when I am creating stories. I may really be committed to presenting authentic points of view, but I have to acknowledge that I often can’t see the impact of my biases.

Here’s what this author says about the portrayal of Muslim women in two Oscar celebrated American films.

Zero Dark Thirty and Argo have twelve Oscar nods between them. There has been much heated discussion on their portrayal of Muslims and how much of it ought to be excused do to artistic message. In the end, though, their many accolades serve as one more example of anti-Muslim women dialogues in Western society being fervently rewarded.

Read the whole article here, from Patheos: Zero Dark Thirty: A Tale of Bias and Burqas.

What can we, as storytellers, do to avoid biased and inaccurate (perhaps offensive) portrayals of others in our films?

The Proper Posture for Mentoring

I try to shift my own thinking and self-perception when I’m in a situation where I’ve been brought in as the ‘expert’, especially if I’m foreigner.

It’s nice to come into a situation where you’re the expert–often treated with honor. It feels good. But I try to shift my own thinking and self-perception when I’m in a situation where I’ve been brought in as the ‘expert’, especially if I’m foreigner.

It may be true that I have special experience and gifting that separates me from the group in a significant way. However, my goal is that, by the end of our time together, we will have bonded together in such a way and I will have shared what I bring in such a way as to have broken down many of the invisible walls.

In the words of John Perkins, pioneer of Christian community development…

Go to the people.

Live among them.

Learn from them.

Love them.

Start with what they know.

Build on what they have.

But of the best leaders,

when their task is accomplished,

when their work is done . . .

the people will remark:

“We have done it ourselves.”

Poorer, Poorer. Slower, Slower. Smaller, Smaller.

“As my extended family gathered around the Thanksgiving dinner table before the market crash in 2008, conversation with cousins flowed about friends making big money with technology start-ups: “more, more; faster, faster; bigger, bigger.”

A hail of laughter greeted me when I quietly muttered that my ambition was, “poorer, poorer; slower, slower; smaller, smaller.” – Bob Sabath [quoted from an post on Sojo.net]

Click here to read: Poorer, Poorer. Slower, Slower. Smaller, Smaller. – Bob Sabath | Gods Politics Blog.

I don’t find it embarassing, nor do I feel it’s a lack of faith in God’s provision and power, to say that I’ve become more enamoured with smaller, slower things. I would not even chalk it up to age – now that I am turning 50 in April.

It’s mainly that I have lived through enough initiatives, organizations, programs, movements, and projects to have discovered that my particular gifts are best expressed in what might be described as ‘smaller’ and ‘slower’ and ‘poorer.’ And, actually, I believe this hard-earned insight can be found in much of God’s work throughout history. Certainly we know that Jesus worked in a way that was tremendously counter-cultural, and would certainly be in our day. He came to serve. He was born in a backwater town. His kingdom is not founded on any of the power systems or cranked-up business models of his day or ours.

Can I encourage you in this? Even we who are or have been leaders and servants in organizations, businesses, and churches need to be constantly reminded of the power of slow, poor, and small.

Here’s why I’m thinking of this as I write; I’m on my way to a conference in Europe. I am leading a team of media trainers for a multi-day video production training session. The students will come from all over Eurasia. We have people from Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, and other countries that are very closed to the gospel. They want to learn how to visually communicate the good news of Jesus in effective ways to many people groups who have never heard it before.

This conference will never compete with the great public events of our day. It doesn’t even make a blip on the evangelical Christian news screens or blogs. But, I believe what will happen there will prove our faith and will bear fruit for the Kingdom of God in its own peculiar kingdom way. I have been exchanging e-mails with a group of participants in the training – a couple dozen people. When I read their e-mails, where they are working, their desire to learn, and the opportunities they have, I have a strong sense that God is doing it again. He is taking the weak things, the despised things, the things that are not (1 Cor 1:28) and using them for His glory.

Cost-Effective Compassion: The 10 Most Popular Strategies for Helping the Poor

What I find interesting, and telling, is that none of these strategies are really incarnational. That is, they don’t involve us getting too close, too involved, too personally invested, in the people we are trying to help.

My family talks about this stuff often, and we desire to become more and more effective at doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).

Here’s an interesting article about some of the ways we (typically middle-class Christians in North America) try to help the poor and oppressed. Most importantly, some folks tried to analyze the real impact of these popular ways we try to help. [Click the link below for the article.]

Cost-Effective Compassion: The 10 Most Popular Strategies for Helping the Poor | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.

My family pursues a few of these strategies, hoping it will make a real difference. What I find interesting, and telling, is that none of these strategies are really incarnational. That is, they don’t involve us getting too close, too involved, too personally invested, in the people we are trying to help. The gospel, as communicated in the Bible, is inherently incarnational. Could not God have just ‘written a check?’ Perhaps not. So, Christ chose to renounce his privilege and position and distance from the people with the problem – us.

In my family’s discussion of all this, we are finding ourselves more and more drawn to what we know to be the truth; while some help can be offered from a distance, true understanding and true transformation most often requires us to come alongside those we desire to help. This article shows how complex some of these situations really are. Unless we are part of the context, we will almost certainly miss that complexity and come up with a solution that is only partially effective, or one that even makes problems worse!

We are thinking about how we can free ourselves from our self-centeredness, our need for security, approval, or just our stuff – to become free to incarnate in a more fully Christlike way among those who Jesus came to serve and save.