Teaching as an Act of Faith: Theory and Practice in Church-Related Higher Education

By Arlin C. Migliazzo | Go to book overview

8
"I Love to Tell the Story:"
Teaching Theater at a
Church-Related College

John Steven Paul


To CONNECT THEATER AND GOD

As PART OF MY WORK at Valparaiso University, I direct a liturgical drama troupe called Soul Purpose. During the past ten years, Soul Purpose companies have traveled thousands of miles to churches across the country performing plays based on Bible stories in worship services. In addition to performing, the student-actors meet with members of congregations in their Bible classes or coffee hours where they talk about the process by which they create, rehearse, and present plays. They often speak about why they give so much of their time from which they earn neither money nor academic credit. On one of these occasions, Courtney, a very talented actor and the most advanced student in our theater department said matter-of-factly, "Before I came to Valparaiso University, I had never seen a way to connect theater and God. Soul Purpose has shown me how to make that connection."

As a theater person raised in the Lutheran Church, I have learned to look for connections between what Martin Luther declared to be God's two kingdoms. The heavenly kingdom, according to Luther, is the one in which God reveals and fulfills the divine plan for the redemption of the world. The second or earthly kingdom, sometimes called the "secular" world, is preserved and protected by God through such agencies as gov-

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