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Louie Crew
377 S. Harrison Street, 12D
East Orange, NJ 07018

Phone: 973-395-1068 h


LGBT Christian
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Louie & Ernest Clay-Crew
Married February 2, 1974


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Re: [HoB/D] Professional Standards: A Test Drive

  • To: bishopsdeputies@hobd.org
  • Subject: Re: [HoB/D] Professional Standards: A Test Drive
  • From: Louie Crew <>
  • Date: Sun, 08 Nov 2009 17:57:48 -0500

I spent the summers of 1968 and 1969 as a professional actor in UNTO THESE
HILLS on the Cherokee reservation in North Carolina.   For several years I
had leads also in collegiate amateur productions -- as Shylock, Polonius,
Falstaff, Aston (in Pinter's CARETAKER), The Baron de Charlus (in Tennessee
Williams'  CAMINO REAL)....

While Pnchwife in Wycherley's demanding COUNTRY WIFE, one evening in the run
I was so ill that I vomited throughout the performance -- but always off
stage.  That was no easy feat,.  Frequently I had to improvise a way to 
leave the stage for a moment and then show up again in full comic vitality.

The audience came to see a great comedy, not a sick actor.

"How very professional" a colleague said when it was over.   I heard that
only later.  When he first said it, I had collapsed offstage after the final
applause, no longer fit even for praise.


A stranger came up to me a few years later when I was giving a poetry
reading at Callenwolde in Atlanta in 1974.  "You are the reason I am an
English teacher!" he said with a wry and accusing smile.

I looked closer and recognized the adult whom I had taught in prep school 12
years earlier.

"Tom!" I exclaimed, "how good to see you!   But I thought you were a lawyer
working for Emory."

"I was," he said, "but I was unhappy with lawyering.   So I reviewed the
many people whom I had known, asking, 'Who is happiest in her or his chosen

"Then I remembered your 11th-grade class.  One day after reading a poem to
us, you jumped flat-footed from the floor to the top of the desk, and said,
'I wish I had written that!'

"I wanted to spend my life doing what would bring me  a huge portion of such


Now almost 73 and with more pounds than I am willing to weigh, I realize
that Tom's memory exaggerated my prowess.  I have never been able to jump
flat-footed that high.

But these two stories encapsulate for me two contrasting notions -- both
very important -- of how I understand
'professional.'    My students, like my theater audience, deserve the very
best performance I can give them regardless of how I feel personally, day in
and day out, year in and year out.

They also deserve exposure to my spontaneous imagination -- which ceases to
be spontaneous if I program it.

You cannot be Pinchwife convincingly while sick if you have not worked hard
to be Pinchwife expertly when you have been well.    The professional actor
studies closely what works and what doesn't and tries to provide what works
best in a way predictable to all the other actors who depend on those cues.

I am following the discussion on "professional standards" with much interest
-- often glad, I admit, that I am not a professional Christian.  I greatly
respect many who are, especially those who are able to transcend their own
immediate needs and feelings to put the needs and feelings of others front
and center.

They can do that well only if the "professional" Christian offline, in
moving through the world more privately, nurtures her or his spontaneity,
vulnerable before God and friends.  Prayer is enormously import.   So is
active intellectual engagement.  So are close personal friendships off

The opposite of "professional Christian" is not "amateur Christian."     We
are sister/fellow disciples of Jesus, indeed "friends" of Jesus..

Nor should we lay persons think of ourselves as clients of the
professionals.    One of the worst things that can happen to a Christian is
to be a passive client of the professionals.   That was not how Jesus saw
the widow and her mite in today's gospel.   She was jumping into the
spiritual fullness flat footed from the floor to the entrance of paradise,
spontaneous and completely vulnerable.

The church will survey our income and stewardship of it.   Less often will
the institution survey our talent.  Few parishes put talents on the rolodex
or computer records.   Yet when  we lay disciples of Jesus begin to
inventory our talents on our own and collectively, we honor our own
priesthood after the order of Melchizedek.  Sometimes the realm of God

Louie, L1 Newark

Louie Crew, 377 S. Harrison St., 12D, East Orange, NJ 07018 973-395-1068
http://queereye4lectionary.blogspot.com/  Queer Eye for the Lectionary