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THE SEED CATALOG / January, February and March, 2005

Double Feature Picture Shows


Having always been fascinated by improbable yet complementary cinema combinations, I often dream of ideal double feature shows, such as MARJOE and LEAP OF FAITH. A third and forth selection for a mini-festival of popular religion send-ups would include HEAVENS ABOVE (1963), with Peter Sellers at his best, and THE MIRACLE WOMAN (1931), with Barbara Stynwyk in one of her early, most radiant roles (BJ).




These are years of wonder, abundant with flights of fantasy and only a few bumpy bouts now and then with unpleasantness. That’s if you’re living in a part of the world that is characteristically opulent and optimistic. It’s a worldwide shopping bazaar out there! The larger, ultimate scene, of course, is far beyond our immediate control. And God may be watching, you know, but “from a distance.” So it looks as if we’re going to have to work out this human relations thing all by ourselves. We enjoy incredible freedom and the availability of almost anything we might wish to buy or become, and I think it should come as no surprise to enlightened people that we, the more privileged ones (the more spoiled ones), might well be the ones upon whom heaven is depending to save the world.



LEAP OF FAITH (1992, 108 min.)

The movie goes with hilarious precision to the very beating heart of religious emotionalism. It is a riot! Steve Martin blends superbly with the persona of a hotshot evangelistic, loaded with suave charisma and hi-tech, back-up support from sophisticated associate, Debra Winger. It's a convoy of trailer trucks and a tent full of fancy tricks, all backed up by the most wonderful black choral band that anyone could ever hope to encounter! With unerring intelligence, raw-edged comedic flair, and actual redeeming grace, LEAP OF FAITH is the "genuine article."

MARJOE (1972, 88 min.)

A documentary of former evangelist Marjoe Gortner's obscenely spectacular matriculation in the con games of religious rip-off artists, including having his head stuffed into a pillow by his parents until he memorized his spiel as a boy preacher. As a young adult, Marjoe really saw the light and decided to expose the sordid underpinnings of such a life. With a film crew, in on the scam to uncover the larger scam, he launches into a completely convincing, Pentecostal hell-fire and healing tour, explaining intermittently to the filmmakers (and to us) exactly how the whole diabolical scheme works. Surprisingly, it's not a mean-spirited condemnation, rather, a high-spirited send-up of evangelistic manipulation.


“I encourage laughter and a blue aura,” writes my dear friend Ron Stefanik from his “gardener’s home” in Cleveland, offering, as well, this bit of kind advice: “Be happy my friend – you have no idea what is across the river.” – Bill Joyner

Corita Art Center
Corita Art Center
5515 Franklin Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 466-2150

“Can God cure a religion addict?”

– Marjoe Gortner

“I go to church. It’s so pretty.” 

-- Andy Warhol

"When you get to the point

where you know you

don't have to have a religion at all, then it can be fun to have one." -- Allen Watts

I hesitate to suggest this, because it may imply that I am for the abolition of religion, which I am not – but, following Alan Watts’ suggestion, do we really need to have a religion as something we own and are owned by, something nailed down, unalterable and totally safe to hold onto? Faith is not clinging to what is safe and secure and unambiguously known. Real faith is opening up to reality, letting go of comfortable preconceptions, and relating to the unknown, not as a threat, but as a friend. I deeply admire and respect the work of those who, in all religions, are working to reform their respective faith traditions. Beyond reform, however, is the possibility of spiritual liberation to which Alan Watts referred when he advised the following: “When you get to the point where you know you don’t need to have a religion at all, then it can be fun to have one.”


So, yes, reform, reinterpretation, scholarly criticism – the more the better! In fact, exposure to such liberal currents of thought at Elon University and Duke Divinity School in the early sixties contributed greatly to my being saved from the rigid stultification of hysterical fundamentalism. Far from destroying my faith, such an education strengthened my commitment to a religious outlook that is all the more alive because it is capable of change. So, reform of archaic, counter-productive formulations of faith, of course, but always there is an even more excellent objective -- spiritual liberation. Once I was at a festival of offbeat religions in a park here in Florida when someone asked me, “Which path are you on?” “I guess I’m on my own path” was my automatic reply.“Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free” is a biblical encouragement of spiritual maturity that may well include liberation from religion itself. There will never be an absence of religion (don’t worry), and the social usefulness of religious community is an abiding positive reality. Our aspiration, therefore, is not for the abolition of religion but for a reinvigoration of faith through complete spiritual liberation.


     -- Bill Joyner


                                 “THE CELESTIAL CAROUSEL”


As you may recall, I announced in the last Seed Catalog that my book of thoughts, “THE CELESTIAL CAROUSEL, A Circus of Spiritual Discovery,” would soon appear, hopefully in time for St. Nick. This will be a volume of some 80 pages, lavishly illustrated by Chris Browne and with a cover painting by my daughter Kiki, of Naugatuck, Connecticut. There was no way I could bring this out before Christmas. It just wasn’t ready. But it soon will be, and for those who ordered copies, thank you so much, and please bear with me a little longer. At this point I am offering advance copies for a donation of $20 (including postage). Thanks also to two crucial, talented and (by choice) anonymous friends for their indispensable help in producing this book. – Bill Joyner





t’s just possible that natural sadness could be preferable to artificial gladness.-- BJ


J.B. Starker

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We are all a unity -- with ourselves, with each other, with divinity and reality. We are one and the same, yet completely unique.



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The Seed Catalog
William T. Joyner, Editor
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