One Faith, Many Paths: Vincent Deroucher

vincent

This week, I interview autistic puppeteer Vincent Deroucher!

1. How did you become a Christian?

How did I become  a Christian? That is indeed a very good question. I grew up in a household that was strongly divided by both a strong Pentecostal faith on my mother’s side and a very secular intellectual influence on my father’s. So it was sort of a tug of war on me. I stopped going to church when I was quite young, I would say probably around 9 but I don’t think it was, I didn’t believe there was a God. Sunday in my house was a very uncomfortable thing, you had to wear a suit which I always hated. It was itchy and uncomfortable, then the church I went to was a large church, so when it let out there were too many people and it was always too loud by the end of everything I was drained. So I stopped going. Then one day when I was 16 years old, I was going through a rough time socially. I was somewhat a target of a lot of abuse those days and I was quite an angry teenager, and I was tired of it all, life I mean, and I just had enough. As I was walking to school that day, I stopped and remembering every Sunday School lesson I was taught, I cried out to God for peace, I cried out to God for salvation. And at the end of that day, I went up to my room, laid on my bed and recited the salvation prayer. That Sunday, I attended church with my mom and never looked back.

2. What was your childhood like?

My childhood is something I don’t really like to dwell on too much, mainly because it wasn’t the happiest time of my life. I was usually bullied and/or pitied, with few of this, it led to a very rich fantasy life, where I would write stories and draw comics, build things that were exactly to blueprint–anything just tinkered, come to think of it. I don’t really recall any kid of happiness of sorts until I tool up puppetry. Home life was constantly pulling of one’s faith and beliefs. My parents were always arguing, and my mother always seemed upset. I just could never figure out whether it was with me or someone else.

3. How did you decide you wanted to be a puppeteer?

This is a very common question I am asked. I didn’t take up puppetry until I was in my 30’s. Up until that time my main objective was to become a professional animator, in which I severely stunk at. I was floundering to which path I should take professionally. When my aunts talked me into the puppets for Sunday School, I reluctantly agreed to do it and the following I set out to making my first puppets and writing my very first skit. I nervously performed the skit voices and at the end of the skit I got applause. I had never gotten any applause for anything really. So I went on doing it, eventually I got to do my shows in front of the congregation, and I eventually took it outside the walls of the Church. Now I just put my stuff to film, with the self-made promise that I will post them. Sometimes I do going to start something that more along with comic strips that I draw to a possible FB page.

4. What kind of puppets have you made? Are they different kinds? What are their names?

I mainly make hand puppets. As far as the number of puppets, I have made dozens. As far as the puppets I use, I use about five of them. The cast consists of Haggis McFife, Bosworth Beagle, Raba Cadabra, Gomer Groundhog, and King Wordsworth. All these designs are copywritten in my name and are my property, including my names.

5. How do you go about getting gigs?

I do a lot of e-mailing, usually libraries, churches, coffee houses, the occasional festival, a lot of searching on the web.

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It’s Our Planet Too

Greta

I’m not normally a fan of environmental activists. It’s not that I don’t agree with the issue. Actually, I do agree that the environment needs protection. It’s part of what I’m supposed to do as a Catholic: be a good steward of God’s creation. We have species that are endangered because we are terrible, selfish people.

So why am I not a fan? Because so many activists don’t practice what they preach. Al Gore, for instance, drives around in a gas-guzzling car and flies a jumbo jet. But now someone comes on the scene who changes all that: Greta Thunberg. She’s from Sweden, and she’s been going all around the world for her cause of environmental awareness. And unlike the fakers, she doesn’t use a gas-guzzling car or a jumbo jet. She travels by solar-powered sailboat and Arnold Schwarzenegger gave her a Tesla.  She has a vegetarian diet. And she’s only 16 years old, and autistic. That’s amazing.

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The Fictional Spectrum: Ensign Sylvia Tilly (Star Trek: Discovery)

ensigntilly

When Star Trek turned 50 years old, CBS introduced a new series in the franchise,  Star Trek: Discovery, for its new CBS All-Access streaming service. From the moment I started watching  Discovery, I realized how different it was.

The biggest difference is in the show’s main character, Commander Michael Burnham, a human woman raised by Vulcans. She is not a captain of a starship nor a space station, as previous protagonists were. Instead, Michael commits mutiny against her captain because she will not take her suggestion, and then her captain is killed when she usurps her command. She eventually finds herself onboard the experimental starship  Discovery. It is here that we are introduced to our subject, Ensign Sylvia Tilly, played by Mary Wiseman.

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My Favorite Saints: St. Augustine of Hippo

augustine

Over and over, I often hear people say “I could never be a saint. They’re so perfect.”

Really? is that what you think? Well, then let me introduce to you someone who was the furthest thing from perfect, but became a saint. St. Augustine of Hippo.

Augustine was born in what is now Souk Ahras, Algeria in 354 AD. His mother would become St. Monica, the patron saint of mothers and victims of domestic abuse. His father, on the other hand, was a pagan who did not convert until he was on his deathbed.

Augustine went to school at the age of 11, and was exposed to both Roman Catholic and Pagan beliefs. In his Confessions, he said he had come to love his fallen nature. He loved the idea of sin. “It was foul, and I loved it. I loved my own error—not that for which I erred, but the error itself.” At the age of 17, he had an affair with a young woman in Carthage, despite the objections of his mother. That affair led to a son who was born out of wedlock. He was a brilliant man, mastering several languages. The sole language he could not master, try as he might, was Greek. Yet throughout this, he reveled in debauchery and heresy, to the point where he made his mother weep in her prayers one night in church. A bishop came to her and said “A son of such tears will not be lost.”

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My response to Fr. James Martin

A couple weeks ago, on the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, Fr. James Martin, a Jesuit priest from New York, tweeted a controversial statement on Twitter. He said that the time is right for women to become priests and invoked the name of St. Mary Magdalene, using her as an example of a woman who was sort of like an apostle. In fact, we Catholics often call her the “apostle to the apostles”. This got him under the ire not only of his fellow clergymen, but also many laypeople who disagreed with him. This is not the first time he’s caused this kid of fervor, but I’m not here to discuss those other times. Let’s just focus on this one.

I disagree with this notion. Now, in a way the Christian religion was indeed started by a woman. When Mary said yes to God and yes to becoming a mother to Jesus, she became, in essence, the first Christian. Mary Magdalene was the first to see Jesus resurrected after he died on Good Friday. Jesus appointed 12 apostles, all men. If he had wanted to use women, he naturally would’ve appointed either his own mother or Mary Magdalene, as they were both worthy candidates considering their status as models for His followers. But they never were appointed. And it’s not like Jesus didn’t treat women differently from the way Jewish people of his time did. He would address them as he would anyone else, as illustrated when he did not admonish Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, when she sat at his feet when He visited their house. It was considered against Jewish culture for a woman to do such a thing, and yet Jesus did not admonish her.

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My thoughts on God Friended Me

godfriended

CBS has a great show on Sundays after 60 minutes called God Friended Me. The show is created by Greg Berlanti, best know for producing all of the DC Comics TV shows on WB. Since it just got renewed for another season, I’ll give my thoughts on it so far.

First of all, let’s look at the premise. Our protagonist is Miles Fine, a podcaster out of NYC with a show called “The Millennial Prophet”. Despite the title, Miles is actually an atheist. His father, Rev. Andrew Finer, is an Episcopalian priest, and they’ve had an estranged relationship ever since his mother died when he was very young. One day, he receives a friend request from an anonymous source claiming to be God. He thinks it’s a prank at first, but decides to check it out and meets a journalist named Cara, who’s begging for a big break. He decides to help her out, and this starts the show’s mystery. Every week, the anonymous account sends Miles a new person, and he and Cara help that person with whatever crisis he/she is facing. Another character he meets later on is Rakesh Singh, a hacker who tries to discover the account and helps them get past firewalls and such.

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My Favorite Saints: St. Francis of Assisi

francis“Go Francis, and repair my house, which you see is falling into ruin.”–Those were the words St. Francis heard one day while praying in St. Damian’s chapel in Assisi. Words that would inspire him to become the founder of what we know today as the Franciscan Order of friars.

St. Francis was born in Assisi Italy in the late 12th Century (the exact year is unknown, but it is believed to be either 1181 or 1182.) He died there forty-four years later. He was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant. Although he would later denounce it, he lived a rather lavish lifestyle off his father’s status.

When he turned twenty, he fought the Perugians and was taken prisoner. This was when he received a dream that inspired him to take a different path, returning home in 1205. He gave away all his money to a leper and said he was taking “Lady Poverty” as his wife. He gave his clothes to a merchant and fasted among the beggars. His father heard of his actions and thought that he had become a madman. He had him dragged home and beaten, bound and locked in a dark closet. His mother freed him and he sought sanctuary with a priest.  His father searched and found him. He told his father he had denounced his wealthy origin and was now in service to his Heavenly Father. He stripped his garments and gave them to his father, walking away naked. This was to show that he didn’t want to own anything, not even the clothes on his back!

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