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About Realistic Living

staffRealistic Living is a 501-C-3 nonprofit organization incorporated in the state of Texas, USA in 1984.  The mission of Realistic Living is to clarify the essential Christian heritage and to promote and inspire its practice through small groups.  This mission is carried out by conducting  research into the core challenges of our times; by writing essays, books, journals, newsletters, and manuals; and by organizing training events and small circles which meet weekly.  We are involved in interreligious dialogue, solitary religious practice, innovative leadership & educational methods, bioregional organizing, and progressive social change.  We view religion as an essential process in every society that can corrupt or enrich every other social process.  We emphasize experimentation with the solitary and communal expressions of a Next Christianity which includes both personal healing and ethical implications for neighborhoods and the planet as a whole.


The Faculty of Realistic Living

gene marshallGene Marshall has a long history of participation in Christian renewal and interreligious dialogue. In 1952 he made a decision to leave a mathematics career and attend seminary at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, Texas. In 1962 he joined a religious order of families, the Order:Ecumenical, and became a teacher and lecturer of Spirit topics, traveling across the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe and Asia. These trips included a study of world cultures and religions and efforts to witness to the Christian breakthrough in the medium of these various cultures. In 1983 he began publishing books and essays.



joyce head shotJoyce Marshall did her university training in music and education with a deep passion for literature and feminine values. She is an avid reader of fiction and nonfiction books, and she reviews the best of them for the Realistic Living Journal which is published semiannually. She has been teaching theology and religious methods since 1974, as well as attending numerous religious workshops and retreats. She is one of the few living teachers of an innovative drama method called EcoTheater. She uses her drama and musical skills to lead a theater troupe in local performances.



Alan RichardAlan Richard has 20 years of experience as an activist and community organizer, 15 years of experience as a published behavioral health researcher, and 10 years of experience managing large behavioral health programs.  He holds a doctorate in Religion from Syracuse University, has designed and taught courses in religion for lay people on topics such as existential Christianity and new monasticism, and founded a Christian Resurgence Circle “house church” in Houston, Texas.  He is a contributor to the Journal of Cultural and Religious Theory and continues to participate actively in academic and lay conferences on theology and ethics.  He joined the faculty of Realistic Living in 2010.



The Founders of Realistic Living

geneJoycepictureJoyce and Gene Marshall were already accomplished teachers of religion and ethics when they married in Chicago in 1977. They lived in Los Angeles four years doing intensive psychological training and then founded Realistic Living in Dallas in 1984.

Since that time they have written numerous books, Realistic Living Journals, Newsletters, and resourses for small group nurture. The Marshalls are also social activists: organizers of the bioregional movement; playwright/
directors of a local community method called Ecotheater; trainers in local community leadership methods; and writers of essays on feminism, ecology, economics, education, interreligious dialogue, and other causes.

Gene brings to this team an education in mathematics, physics, and theology. Joyce brings her teaching experience and university training in music and education with a deep passion for literature, feminine values, interreligious dialogue, and meditation. Both have done advanced studies in Christian theology, non-Christian religions, history, the philosophy of social change, psychology, male/female relations, ecology, and economics. They have extensively researched and developed facility with leadership methods for small group religious nurture. They are now developing a focus on training in leadership skills for local cells of Christian resurgence. The Marshalls live in the woods on the Red River Flats of North Texas in a straw-bale house which they designed and participated in building. This home is both their residence and a meeting place for the activities of Realistic Living. See photo gallery of the straw-bale house

The Boards of Realistic Living

Our local board is responsible for our non-profit 501-C3 corporation and is also an active working board. The members are:

        Marsha Buck -- Juneau, Alaska
        Richard Corl -- Spring, Texas
        Nate Custer -- Houston, Texas
        John Latham -- San Mateo, California
        Jeanne Marie Manning -- Santa Rosa, California
        Houston Markley -- Portland, Oregon
        Gene Marshall -- Bonham, Texas
        Joyce Marshall -- Bonham, Texas
        Alan Richard -- Bonham, Texas
        Edwin Waters ­ -- Clayton, Illinois

Our International Advisory Board includes the following members:

Sara MacFarlane Allen -- Gilford, New Hampshire
Willie Anderson -- Juneau, Alaska
Robert & Deborah Armstrong -- Lexington, Mass.
Ben Ball -- Sugar Land, Texas
Frank Bremner -- Somerton Park, S.A., Australia
Jon & Annetta Ezelle -- Seattle, Washington
Ken Fisher -- Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Pat Fisher -- Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Ellen Gentry ­ -- Hillsboro, Oregon
Irma Hudson ­ -- Kansas City, Missouri  
Ken Kreutziger ­ -- Lexington, Massachusetts
Joshua Lawrence -- Denver, Colorado
David Marshall -- Moraga, California
Kathleen Marshall -- Veneta, Oregon
Teresa Marshall -- Eureka, California
Wayne Marshall -- Santa Barbara, California
Michael May­ Bloomington, Indiana
Marilyn McCord -- Bayfield, Colorado
Julie Miesen -- Highgate Hill, Queensland, Australia
Rita Newton -- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Marilyn O¹Boyle -- Albuquerque, New Mexico
Mary Klepser Priem -- Portland, Oregon
Gordon & Patsy Roe -- Lewisville, Texas
Don & Lee Sax -- Banning, California
Harold Slater -- Midland, Michigan
Finley Schaef ­ -- Saugerties, New York
Diana Stokes -- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Jim Stovall -- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
John Stowell ­ -- West Easton, Pennsylvania
Jaime Vergara -- Saipan
Pat Webb -- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
John Webster -- Rogers, Arkansas
Terry Weygandt -- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


The faculty of Realitic Living have been involved in EcoTheater performances in local Bonham, Texas restaurants. Joyce is an experienced playwright/director using these methods.

The fundamental role of EcoTheater is to encourage the development and performance of original theater created by local people. We assume that theater is a natural, simple and universal ability and that the telling of your own story has a powerful and life changing impact.

1. EcoTheater is committed to a theater stripped down to its essentials, to what is basic and real. This means it does not try to imitate the gloss and polish of professional productions. It is a theater from the bottom up, which can operate on low budget or no budget.

2. EcoTheater is committed to bringing theater back home, honoring local speech and idiom. This means trusting the power of that local voice which does not “talk down” to its audience.

3. EcoTheater is committed to protecting the authenticity of its productions by not using them to “grind axes,” “further a cause,” or as a tool of propaganda. This means that EcoTheater is art--a purposeful concentrated communication that reveals the mystery of our connectedness.

4. EcoTheater is committed to the role of playwright/director who cocreates scenes with the performers. This means the necessity of learning to take authority as a whole and to “flip” authority to others. Authority is not cut up in little pieces and shared. A seasoned company will, to the untutored eye, flip authority back and forth so rapidly it cannot be seen. This means that the scripts are made to fit the performers, not the other way around.

5. EcoTheater is committed to actors who do not want to act, playwrightdirectors help people not to act, and audiences that welcome the above. This means the removal, not the adoption, of roles on stage.

Review of Prairie Home Theater
(by Dr. Gary N. Sisson)

For a number of years, I have seen advertisements for Prairie Home Theater, a troupe of actors in Bonham, performing skits about everyday life. A “seasoned” actor myself, I was naturally curious but had not taken the time to attend one of their performances. I recently availed myself of the opportunity, having purchased tickets and attended the dinner theater event at Cappy’s Café on Saturday evening, March 15th, 2014. I was not disappointed. The troupe of actors had a broad mix of theatrical training and experience, from one actor making her stage debut to a trained actor with several decades of experience. The vignette format of the performance was not a complete surprise, but the content was refreshingly family friendly, evoking a range of emotions. The director, Joyce Marshall, promised something in the dozen skits to which each audience member could relate. I found this to be true. “Grandmother”, with Paula Brennecke, depicting a woman’s visit to her departed grandmother’s house, was poignant and well performed. “I Know”, with Alan Richard and Gene Marshall, was cleverly written and brilliantly executed. The final skit, “Bananas”, featuring the Marshalls as a married couple (they seem to have a good deal of experience in that area), was particularly hilarious to me, as I am often guilty of eating the last banana in my own home! Most in the audience were familiar with at least one of the songs performed between skits. Several of the singers had natural talent and obvious experience, inspiring many audience members to sing along and tap our feet. Being a bass myself, I was especially fond of Mr. Marshall’s excellent booming bass voice. There were many laughs, and the troupe kept things lively and fun.

(Click image below for the larger version)



Twentieth Anniversary Report - November 2004

While we will celebrate our thirtieth anniversary in 2014, much of our history and ongoing work is well described in the twentieth anniversary report that follows.

Twenty years ago on December 6, 1984, the Realistic Living application for nonprofit status was signed and notarized.  The signees were Gene Marshall, Joyce Marshall, and Marilyn McCord.  We had worked toward this throughout 1984, and in November of that year we published our first Realistic Living Journal. 

With this report we celebrate with you our twentieth anniversary, sharing highlights from the story of these two decades.

Click on the sections of this report you want to read:

Table of Contents for the 20-Year Report

1. The Antecedents and Beginnings of Realistic Living

2. Our Christian Resurgence Focus

3. Bioregionalism and the Endangered Planet

4. EcoTheater and Community Awakenment

5. Interreligious Research and Christian Theology

6. Written, Recorded, and Electronic Resources

7. A House for our Home, Offices, and Meeting Place


Joyce's Reflections

Roger Alexander’s Report of a New CRC

John Stowell’s Report of the Sojourn