Dad smudging in 1965

This is a picture of Dad smudging (protecting the fruit from frost damage) four years before I was born. It's taken by Lloyd Smith, who's been a friend of the family since Dad was a boy. You can see all the shots he took that night by visiting his online gallery.

I helped smudge a handful of times once I was old enough, but Dad graciously let us have enough sleep to study well. It was just on the incredibly cold nights that my brother Bob and I needed to get up and help.

Ken Wales' latest book

I met with Ken Wales last week while I was in Southern California. He's agreed to be a master class instructor at the MasterWorks Festival! He signed a copy of his latest book, which he co-authored with his wife, Susan, and Ted Baehr. There are numerous photos from the film and a great shot of Wales and Ioan Gruffudd, who played William Wilberforce in Wales' film, Amazing Grace. The film opened on February 23 and is still in the top 25. Wales told me that because of the limited release its opening at 10th place doesn't point out that it was #2 in a per theatre breakdown. Wales said it won't be in theatres too much longer, so get out soon. To find out where it's playing, visit The book also includes a copy of the letter John Wesley wrote on his deathbed to Wilberforce. My friend Roger Nelson includes the letter in his one-man play The Man from Aldersgate, about Wesley. He performed the play alongside my Beyond the Chariots Off-Broadway last spring.
216734: The Amazing Grace of Freedom: The Inspiring Faith of   William Wilberforce, the Slaves' ChampionThe Amazing Grace of Freedom: The Inspiring Faith of William Wilberforce, the Slaves' Champion
By Ted Baehr, Susan Wales & Ken Wales, comps. / New Leaf Press

* Meet the man God used to eliminate slavery in England! This lavishly illustrated companion book to the motion picture celebrates the powerful legacy of Christian abolitionist William Wilberforce. Behind-the-scenes stories about the film's production plus in-depth essays from respected scholars demonstrate Wilberforce's far-reaching impact on his time---and ours. 140 pages, hardcover from New Leaf.

In the middle of everywhere

Our presentation this morning marked the 14th event in 8 states in 14 days: a personal record! I'll wait a few days before taking them down from The Lord was SO good to set up all these opportunities and to keep me strong the whole way through!

Watchin' the planes take off

I'm lying in the grass alongside the Patomic with my shirt & shoes off.


We just had an amazing Graceworks ( experience in the Poconos.

Ain't it grand?

En route from Chicago to San Diego we were well positioned to see the Grand Canyon.

Chattanooga to Chicago

I'm flying almost due north with a window facing east at sunrise. So much for a nap!

The diagonal line is the wing.

The Miracle

My friend David Sanborn, who produced, directed and starred in Judah Ben Hur, the musical in which I performed in Singapore in 2001-2002. He paid to change his ticket so as to leave a few days later for Asia (turns out we were there, in different countries, during the same time period) so he could help his folks on their new ministries. During those extra days he happened upon a casting call for a show in Pigeon Forge. He'd never heard of the place and went on about his business. Later his mom, Ellen Sanborn (another Judah Ben Hur producer, director and star), asked him if he'd seen the call. He said he wasn't interested, but she said, "David, did you read the breakdown? They're looking for you." He met with them and they cast him in the lead role of Jesus on a one year contract. He's rooming with the guy who plays Judas. They get along quite well.

I was passing through, so I caught a show. It was phenomenal. They've used their $15 million budget well. Not only do they have the expected donkeys and horses, they had three camels (which double for animal rides between shows). They also had massive sets, extensive video work and lots of flying angels. The wings pictured here actually articulate. Pretty cool.

If you're in the area, check it out: Get to town early. Traffic is almost as bad as New York. I turned the wrong way out of the parking lot, so I had to drive through town twice. It added an hour to my journey.

Chariots of Fire makes the top ten sporting moments in film reports that the scene in which Harold Abrahams beats the clock running around the square in Chariots of Fire was the fifth greatest moment in films about sports: sporting moment...

I'm in the South

If we could wait at our airports in white rockers I wonder if us Northerners could slow down. I'd better not or I'll miss my flight to Ashville!

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Greetings from Princeton University

We had the privilege of coaching future architects on their presentation skills. What potential!

Anniversary of Fire Off-Broadway

At our Easter dinner tonight one of our pastors made mention that last year John Wesley was with us. It was the eve of opening Fire Off-Broadway in which Roger Nelson (who portrays John Wesley) and I alternated performances at Theatre 315 in NYC. For some snapshots from that remarkable adventure click on April '06 in Archives.

Kenya and Israel

I have a good friend who's a professional photographer. He just got back from a trip for Open Arms International to Kenya and then Israel. The shots he just posted to his blog are breathtaking.

Welcome to the Upper Room

I was blown away just walking into the space our church created as the upper room, where Jesus at his last meal with his disciples. I got to play Jesus, and I had such fun welcoming people and greeting each person. The night started out light: "Celebrate!" I encouraged them. Later, I joked with Peter, before washing his feet, about not needing a whole bath since he'd had at least two or three in the past month. I even got to lead them in a song and dance (of sorts) with our host for the evening: Shoshanah (aka Pastor Linda Warren). As the night progressed the monologues became increasingly serious: "Stop arguing about who's the greatest." Simon, Satan has asked to sift you." By the time I told Judas to go and do quickly what he must do it was quite somber. Then our "servants" (close to 20, all dressed as they would have been in the original upper room) snuffed out the candles one by one. Mike Hood, who does too much at our church to give him a title, directed a piece he wrote. Pairs of people discussed the upcoming crucifixion: Romans, looking for the latest entertainment; zealots wondering why this guy is stealing the limelight from their hero Barabbas; true believers, of the religious leaders of their day, worried that stories of Jesus' miracles are turning too many heads away from the truth; followers of Christ, mixed about how to respond. Finally the Sadducees swing the crowd into chant: "Crucify him! Crucify him!" One by one each pair added their voice (except for one of his followers) and then our servants, now sprinkled throughout the room added their voices until it was a cacophony in the dark on every side.

Out of the ensuing silence I pounded a spike into a board.

I tend not to rely on method acting because I generally shift from one character to another without sufficient time to "get into character." Tonight, in the dark, I identified with his solitude and pain at a level I haven't experienced in my life. Afterward I had to be alone to cry for about twenty minutes, and even after that I was a mess. In the moment when the hammer fell I really was in an agony in every way but the flesh. After "It is finished!" there was silence...