Tag: culture

Off Camera . . . with Louis Henry Mitchell

An intriguing conversation with Dan Rupple and Louis Henry Mitchell, Creative Director of Character Design at Sesame Street Workshop. They discuss how Louis’ love for the Lord and his love for people come together in the workplace.

DAN: Your love for the Lord just radiates from you, Louis. Tell us about how you see your role and why you believe God put you at Sesame Street.

LOUIS: I know that [Sesame Street] is the backdrop for what He actually has me doing. Sesame Street has a big vision, but the bigger vision—my vision—is reaching out to touch people’s hearts.

Years ago, I was called “the pastor of Sesame Street.” People will say, “Louis, can I talk to you?” “Sure, what’s going on?” (I’m thinking it’s about work) One co-worker said, “I know you really love kids, right? I’m having trouble with my son.” He told me about the situation and after a while he said to me, “Would you mind speaking to him?” “Not at all if you feel like it would help.”

When I mention I’m at Sesame Street people’s hearts open up, and it’s the perfect opportunity to talk with them on a deeper level. Generally I just start sharing about the love of God. I love my work, but I love the people where I work even more than the work itself.

DAN: I know how sincere you are in your love for these wonderful people you’ve built relationships with. How do your conversations transition into the moment when it’s right to share the gospel?

LOUIS: Eventually people start asking me things like “What’s your life like outside of Sesame?” It’s not me trying to shove it down their throat; I just share with them in love and they ask, “Tell me more about you. Why do you love this so much? What’s going on?” After a while I say to them . . . “Do you really want to know?”

At that point God has prepared their hearts to receive whatever He’s going to give to me to share. It’s fun. That’s the best part of my job—co-workers asking me so I can lead to why I’m here and who I belong to.

DAN: What role does a Christian community of media professionals like Mastermedia or others have in your life?

LOUIS: The more I’m involved, the more encouraged I am because I don’t have a lot of believers around me. It’s been a blessing to engage with other brothers and to come back to work knowing that in a couple of weeks I’ll be able to be with them again.

It’s a ministry at Sesame Street, and that ultimately makes it worth it, even during the most difficult times. I don’t have to worry because it’s not me, it’s God at work in me. So I rest on that. It makes it fun, actually.

DAN: Louis, it’s always a pleasure to talk with you. Thank you so much for giving us a glimpse of how you walk out your faith as you fulfill your career calling within the entertainment industry. Blessings my friend!

Outtakes . . .

An excerpt from Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for Our Common Life

Author Makoto Fujimura, Director of Fuller’s Brehm Center, is an artist, writer, and speaker recognized worldwide as a cultural shaper.

As newlyweds, Makoto and his wife, Judy, were struggling to make ends meet. One evening Judy came home with a bouquet of flowers and Mako was upset that she had spent money on flowers when there was rent to pay. She simply said, “We need to feed our souls, too.” Mako reflects on this experience:

Bringing home a small bouquet of flowers created a genesis moment for me. Judy’s small act fed my soul. It renewed my conviction as an artist. It gave me new perspective. It challenged me to deliberately focus on endeavors in which I could truly be an artist of the soul. That moment engendered many more genesis moments in the years that followed, contributing to  decisions small and large that have redefined my life and provided inspiration for myself, my family, and my communities. 

Genesis moments like this often include elements of the great story told in the beginning of the biblical book of Genesis: creativity, growth—and failure. Two of these elements are common in discussions about arts and culture. God creates and calls his creatures to fruitfulness. Adam exercised his own creativity in naming what has been created. But the story also runs into failure and finitude. 

Generative thinking often starts out with a failure, like my failure to think and act like an artist. I have discovered that something is awakened through failure, tragedy, and disappointment. It is a place of learning and potential creativity. 

In such moments you can get lost in despair and denial, or you can recognize the failure and run toward the hope of something new . . . . 

Creativity applied in a moment of weakness and vulnerability can turn failure into enduring conversation, opening new vistas of inspiration and carnation. 

To remember what Judy did, to speak of it to others, to value her care—all this is generative . . . leading to the birth of ideas and actions, artifacts and relationships that would not otherwise have been.

Storyboard: All Power is Given!

by Dan Rupple

Recently, accusations began to surface of the long history of sexual harassment and assaults perpetrated by film mogul Harvey Weinstein. Soon, he was joined by a growing number of other entertainers, journalists, and media executives who are fielding similar prior and on-going allegations.

As the scandal grew I was asked by a television interviewer, “What are we learning from these accusations?”

I responded with, “The first thing we need to understand is that all power is given; it’s a gift. When unrestrained power is bestowed upon a person, they have a choice to make. Do they use the power given them for good or for evil?”

I then explained that in the media world this evil use of power through sexual harassment, assault or sexual leveraging brings with it some added dynamics . . .

Power over individual lives.
The entertainment industry, a business overflowing with rejection and insecurity, cultivates a climate extremely susceptible to the fear and desperation of “this job could be your last.” One role can launch an entire career, just as fast as the loss of a role can place you in the “where-are-they-now” file. This culture can leave aspiring talent vulnerable to unintentionally being in harm’s way or, in the aftermath of an assault, maintaining a cloak of silence . . . especially when they’ve heard those threatening words, “You’ll never work in this town again!”

Power over the culture.
The immoral values, unethical actions, and hedonistic lifestyles of many of the fictional characters illuminated across our screens, can have a devastating and destructive impact on individuals and society at large when actually lived out behind the closed doors of real life. Characters who seek instant gratification at any cost, a life governed by an “if it feels good, do it” philosophy, the mockery of celibacy, monogamy and traditional marriage; all of these and more can have an eroding effect upon our entire culture.

Power over the abuser.
A final observation . . . it’s ironic that as these accounts of harassment within the media world dominate the global headlines, God is using the very medium through which these powerbrokers acquired their wealth and dominion to shine a light on their grievous personal sin. 

“Pilate said, ‘Don’t you realize I have power . . . ?’ Jesus answered, ‘You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.’” (John 19:10-11)

To close with a note of hope, an encouraging number of the talented artists I’ve had the pleasure to work with and executives I’ve had the honor to meet with, are wonderful, kindhearted, well-intentioned men and women who are trying to walk humbly and do good with the power, talents, and platforms they have been given. Furthermore, I would be remiss not to acknowledge the many stories emanating out of the studios and networks that inspire viewers with tales of heroism, courage, self-sacrifice, family, kindness, love, and good triumphing over evil.

Many of the discussions that Mastermedia is privileged to have with the world’s media leaders, are fueled by dialogue about the transformational power of the Spirit of God to live a good life and to impact culture with uplifting, values-based films.

In order for the media world’s good to triumph over the evil perpetrated by a small number of corrupt individuals, God would first have His people pray!

PRAY that God in His abundant love would bring healing and mend the brokenness in the shattered lives of the many victims of these devastating assaults.

PRAY that God would bring all the perpetrators to justice and repentance, and that they ultimately would find forgiveness and wholeness in God’s unfailing mercy and grace.

PRAY that this devastating season in media will lead to its greatest spiritual and ethical revival, ultimately impacting all of humankind . . . for good.

And as we pray, we would do well to also examine our own hearts and actions.

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)