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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Changing the Laws of Nature?

This cartoon points out that there are certain natural laws and moral laws that we as people and as a nation cannot and should not change. Back in 79 AD, the city of Pompeii may or may not have had this attitude, but today in America we arrogantly act as if we are immune to these laws.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hollywood and Violence

I created this movie poster to sum up Hollywood's handling of the tragic shootings in 2012. After the shooting at the elementary school in Newtown, I saw several articles about movie producers and actors who were talking about being more responsible with the content that goes into their movies, but it turned out to be nothing but hot air. The images used in this poster are each taken from a film that came out in January of 2013.

Monday, June 4, 2012

"It's just something, a gift that I want to give to my husband. But please understand, this journey has been hard. If there's virgins out there, I'm going to let them know, it's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life—harder than training for the Olympics, harder than graduating from college has been to stay a virgin before marriage."

—29-year-old Olympic track and field hopeful Lori "Lolo" Jones, in an interview on HBO's Real Sports [, 5/24/12;, 5/31/12]

What a great stand for a world class athelete to make. She's already being ridiculed in the media for something as natural and normal as beign a "virgin". I hope the Lord blesses her with success at the Olympics. Even more so, I pray that she will be blessed with a wonderful husband and marriage in her future that glorifies God.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Kirk Cameron on CNN

Kirk Cameron was on CNN yesterday and he was asked to state his beliefs on homosexuality. His reply was very humble and right on the mark. He stood up for biblical values and did not try to whitewash his answer in order to keep from offending anyone. Now GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defimation) has started a campaign against Cameron in an effort to get him to apologize to the Gay community. I don't think he'll give in because Kirk is on the side of the truth and he knows it. Below is a link to the interview.
GLAAD made a statement saying that Kirk is out of "step with the growing majority of Americans with an increasing number of states recognizing marriage equality." I find it very sad that this group and many Americans now look to public opinion polls and politics for their standard of right and wrong. It is a standard that will change with time going up an down according the whims and fancies of our fickle society. Kirk's opinion is based on the one true standard that doesn't change with the times. It's a standard that was written by the God of the universe. I agree with this standard as do true Christians all over the world. 
Why does GLAAD get so offended when Cameron simply states what he believes and teaches to his kids? He is completely on the defensive in this interview, very humble and not at all trying to push his beliefs on the interviewer or anyone else. GLAAD acts as if Kirk Cameron blatantly attacked Gays & Lesbians everywhere. On the contrary. It is GLAAD that is now attacking Kirk Cameron and anyone else with guts to speak a belief contrary to their own. I feel for Kirk and his family because I know the attack from GLAAD and the liberal media and Hollywood will be brutal. I doubt he'll ever read this blog but if I could say anything to Kirk I'd say "Hold firm Kirk. You are in the right. In the end all will be revealed and everyone on all sides will know that God's word is right and just, and it is the only standard of right and wrong."

Friday, June 10, 2011

Super 8 Review

Super 8 is a fun, roller coaster ride of a movie that hearkens back to the great Spielberg movies of the 1980’s like ET, Jurassic Park, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Although Steven Spielberg only produced Super 8 and it was written and directed by J.J. Abrams, it still has Spielberg’s mark all over it. It's as if Abrams was trying to make a Spielberg movie out of reverence and respect. If that's the case, then he was successful. In the process, J.J. Abrams put his own mark of suspense driven story-telling told through the eyes of characters we can relate to.
What I Liked about Super 8:  The film is set in 1979, a year I remember well having been 16 at the time. I felt Super 8 did a remarkable job at presenting that time in American culture. Not only did he give us the clothes, the cars, even the neighborhoods, but he also gives us an accurate portrait of middle-class, middle school aged kids during that time period. The characters were refreshingly real and I could easily remember scenes from my own teenage years that were remarkably similar, minus the train wreck, the monster and all of the exciting stuff, of course. But, if I had gone through any of the catastrophic events that happen in this movie, I think me and my friends would have reacted and behaved much like the kids in Super 8. My point is they were real-life, not your usual Hollywood cut-out characters. The title Super 8 refers to a low budget zombie movie the kids are making throughout the movie. As superficial and amateurish as their ill-fated movie is, it’s all they care about and it defines their friendship, just like real kids tend to do with whatever they’re into. The budding romance between Joe and Alice was subtle and sweet and expertly acted by Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning.
I also liked that the monster isn’t shown clearly until close to the end. We get just enough glimpses and human reaction shots to keep us begging for more. Producers of horror movies should take note. The kind of restraint shown in Super 8 and Jaws and Close Encounters is what keeps the suspense alive and makes it all the more satisfying when we do see the monster in all of it's glory.

What I Did Not Like About Super 8:  Sadly, J.J. Abrams felt the need to pepper the dialogue with many curse words, most coming from the mouths of the kids. Sure, many teens use fowl language, but not all do, especially not back then. Realistic or not, this movie wouldn’t have suffered at all if the language had been toned down. There are also a few references to drug use by one of the older teen characters.

Who Should See it?  I don’t recommend this movie for younger kids. For once, I’ll agree with the PG-13 rating. 13 and up might be a good rule for most families when it comes to Super 8. Besides the bad language I’ve already mentioned, this movie also has some very scary moments. In this sense, it’s much like Jurassic Park with it’s All-American characters getting chased by something extremely scary. Many scenes had me jumping out of my seat. Plus, the monster is quite large, slimy and disgusting, perfect nightmare material for little kids.
Super 8 shows very little real blood and the gore is minimal. As far as modern monster movies go, this movie is actually tame. Thankfully, Abrams has bypassed the gross-out scenes and worked hard at scaring us silly with old fashioned suspense, off-camera action, and jarring music.

In Summary:  With the exception of the bad language, Super 8 is the first great movie of the summer of 2011. Although the movie trailers emphasize the mysterious monster and the action that follows, this movie is first and foremost about a group of young teens trying to deal with the ups and downs of life. Their world is literally turned upside down in this movie, but they never cease to be the relatable characters that we care about 10 minutes after the opening scene. J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg have hit a home run by giving us a truly great movie like Super 8 in a year filled with Hollywood's usual big-budget movies that have predictable, worn out plots. I just hope next time they'll go for the grand slam and leave out the profanity.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Lady Gaga

A Christian Parent's Reaction

I’ve been reading headlines about Lady Gaga for at least two years, but I have to admit that I hadn’t heard her music until recently. I was in a bowling alley with my wife and kids and I found myself playing around, moving to the beat of a really catchy song that was playing from a jukebox in the back of the room. My young girls were also having fun dancing to the beat. We couldn't hear the lyrics very clearly. It was mostly just the catchy music that got us going. I asked my 8 year old daughter if she’d ever heard the song before and she immediately said, “That’s Lady Gaga.” I was floored, first because my daughter knew anything at all about Lady Gaga and secondly because I really liked the song. Two more of her songs came on before we left that day and I liked those songs too. My daughter, when questioned further, told me she heard Lady Gaga on her friend's ipod while riding the bus to school.
So, now I find myself in the uncomfortable position of liking the music of an artist who’s music and lifestyle go against everything I believe is morally right. This is an all too familiar dilemma for me or anyone whose been around long enough to see the long list of moral boundary pushers before Gaga showed up. That list includes notable names like Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osborne, Madonna, Marilyn Manson, Britany Speers and many more. The comparison that I hear the most about Lady Gaga is to Madonna, and for good reason. Both, in their day, have or had catchy, well-produced music that’s the hottest thing on the charts. Both embrace their sexuality as a tool to sell their music and gain superstardom. Both, also use religious symbolism and controversy to their benefit, again as a means of propelling themselves to the top.

The question I’m dealing with here is how should we parents handle Lady Gaga’s music and the artist herself when it involves our kids. There is no easy solution and ultimately each parent will have to approach their own children based on the maturity of their child and the relationship the parent and child have together. I do have a few suggestions, however, that might help.

Keep The Proper Perspective
Remember, Lady Gaga is not a sign that the world is coming to an end. Her star will rise a little longer and then it will begin to fall. Her decline could be fast like Brittany Speers or Lindsay Lohan, or it could be a slow, steady decline like Madonna’s. Either way, somebody will come along eventually that will replace her as the king of shock and she won't be such a big deal anymore.

Set Ground Rules For Your Kids
If you don’t want Lady Gaga in your home, then set a rule for your kids like No Buying Lady Gaga Songs or Albums, and No Copying Them From Your Friend’s Ipod. It's hard to control what happens at school, but your house is your domain. We don’t have cable tv so watching Lady Gaga videos is not a problem for us. But if we had cable it still wouldn't be a problem because MTV would be banned from my home from day one. You are the parent. You have a right to set rules. You say what’s allowed, not your kids.

Pray for Lady Gaga...No Seriously. I'm Not Joking
Pray with your kids for Lady Gaga. She is, after all, just a human being who was once a little girl too. Somewhere along the way, she got confused about what’s right and what’s wrong. She’s only seeking acceptance and love like the rest of us. Somehow, she’s believed the lie that the only way she can get these things is to be sexy and weird and to oppose Christianity. If she ever grabs hold of the truth, she could do amazing things for God. Teach your kids that no one is out of the reach of the Holy Spirit. The classic example is the Apostle Paul. Read on for a more relevant example.
Remember Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper was the original king of shock art. His lyrics, makeup, and stage show shocked everyone in the 70's and early 80's. I was just a kid but I knew there were was quite a fuss over him and his music from parents and Christian leaders at the time. In fact, it's safe to say the complaints against Alice were louder and more in unison from all directions than anything that we're hearing today about Lady Gaga. Alice was the first and he upset everyone but the kids. Eventually, Alice's popularity faded and along the way, he had a couple of nervous breakdowns. God used all of that to get Alice's attention and sometime in the mid 80’s Alice Cooper had a true conversion and became a born again Christian. He’s still singing his brand of pop metal today, but now his lyrics and stage show are cleaner and purpose driven. Today, he has a heart for reaching out to kids and having a positive influence on them. You can read it all in Alice Cooper’s autobiography Alice Cooper, Golf Monster: A Rock 'n' Roller's Life and 12 Steps To Becoming a Golf Addict. It’s fascinating if you can get through the boring stuff about golf.
I have to confess, I was a big Alice Cooper fan in the late 70's. In fact, I liked his music so much that I remember praying for him to be saved. I swear I'm not making this up. I can't remember praying for any other artist as a teenager. Only Alice. It must have been because everyone around me was saying how evil he was, while I knew his music was so good. Since the bowling alley, I've heard more of Lady Gaga's music on the internet. Everything I hear of her music tells me very little has changed. She is very talented and very controversial. She needs the Lord just as much as Alice Cooper did. Not that she and Alice Cooper need the Lord any more than the rest of us. Sin is sin. Just because some people put their sin on display for everyone to see doesn't make their sin any worse than everyone elses.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The New Three Stooges Movie

Believe it or not, a new Three Stooges movie is in production, set to be released next year. Unfortunately, the original stooges are not available to reprise their roles in this new venture. If they were still alive today they’d be 108 (Curly), 109 (Larry), and 114 (Moe). This new, modern day take on the Stooges will star Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe, Sean Hayes as Larry, and Will Sasso as Curly. It will be directed by the Farrelly brothers. Are you excited yet? Neither am I.
First, let's look at the positive side. If the Farrelly brothers give us a true salute to the Stooges that respects and captures their comedic genius, and they avoid the kind of over-the-top sexual humor they're known for, then I'll become their biggest fan. If they do this thing right I'll go see the movie and tell all my friends to see it.
It's just that I'm a little nervous about any movie made by the Farrelly brothers. Do they have some funny movies? Yes. Dumb and Dumber is a favorite of mine. However, their list also includes There's Something About Mary, Me Myself & Irene, Shallow Hal, Stuck On You, and their most recent Hall Pass. The common thread in all of their movies is sexualized humor meant to be shocking and funny at the same time. My point is not to put down the Farrelly brothers, but to question whether or not they can produce a movie that honors it's subject matter without sinking into the well of sick and depraved humor that they've visited time and time again. There is no need to go there with the Three Stooges. They were funny on their own. They don't need to be modernized for today's audiences, as is the excuse given for many modern remakes of old classics. This should be a movie that is funny simply because it showcases funny people.
Let's hope that Bobby & Peter Ferrelly are approaching the new Three Stooges movie as a way of redeeming themselves in the movie industry. Maybe they'll produce a respectful, clean, honest look at the Stooges that's also incredibly funny. Doing that would be great for their careers, making them accessible to lots of folks who currently avoid their movies. It would also introduce the original Three Stooges to a legion of new fans.

In researching this article, I learned a few things about the Three Stooges. A common perception I hear these days is that Shemp was Curly's replacement. Not so. The original cast was Moe, Larry and Shemp (1930 - 32). In 1933, Shemp left to pursue his own career and Moe brought on his younger brother Jerry, renamed Curly. The stooges were Moe, Larry and Curly until 1949 when Curly left due to illness. Moe convinced his older brother Shemp to return. Shemp came back and did a fine job in the role. When Shemp died in 1955, they became Moe, Larry and Joe for a short time. Then later they were Moe, Larry and Curly Joe.
I don't know how much of their history, if any, will be on display in the new movie. I'm just hoping and praying the Ferrelly brothers do it right. You can do it guys. Do it for Howard, Howard, Howard, and Fine. They deserve it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The King Raven Trilogy

I read this series of books by Stephen Lawhead about a year ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's an action-packed, fun retelling of the Robin Hood stories. The first in the series is called Hood, the second is Scarlet, and the third book is Tuck; each after the key character in that particular book.
Lawhead has done his homework in researching the stories and songs of Robin Hood that trace back to the middle ages. He says no one knows if the stories were actually true or just folk tales of the day that have lived on in different forms throughout the centuries. He also says there are different opinions as to where in the Britons, the legend originated. Lawhead's Hood comes from the tales of the Welsh which seems very different from the Robin Hood that I've heard of in movies. There are still enough similarities, however, to make it feel like a Robin Hood story. This version is wrapped up in a work of historical fiction steeped in realistic detail that brings the Welsh countryside and people to life.
What you'll get in this series is a small group of desperate heroes, fighting the entire British army to save their family, homes and the Welsh way of life. They use their wits, fight with a new invention called a long bow, and pray to God in order to win. The characters are lovable and brave and there are many lighthearted moments that keep it from getting too suspenseful. The character that fills the role of Robin Hood is actually named Bran. The town folk call him Ri Bran Hood which means something in Welsh. The name doesn't really matter though, because in Bran we have a truly great hero to cheer for.
If you can only read one of the books, I highly recommend Hood. I couldn't put it down when I read it. The other two are good as well and really flesh out the full story of how this rag tag group defeated the English army and held onto their land. Hood is the story of how Bran was thrust into the battle and ended up as a Robin Hood type character that gave the people a hero and the will to fight.
Who's It For? This is definitely a series made for adults, but I see no reason why teens and even advanced younger readers shouldn't read this series. Boys especially will love these books. There's plenty of action and heroes that stand for the right things to cheer for. There are several battle scenes that include descriptions of soldiers being shot with arrows. That's the only thing that some parents may want to watch out for. But, I wouldn't hesitate to have my son read this when he was 12 and up.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Comedian Tim Hawkins

One message that I'm passionate about telling anyone who will listen is that comedy does not have to be dirty to be funny. I like to site Lucille Ball, Jerry Lewis, Carol Burnett and Bill Cosby as examples of successful comedians that had lifetime careers of making people laugh without using vulgar language, sexual innuendos, or potty humor. I'm adding a new name to my list; Tim Hawkins.
Tonight, my family and I watched "Full Range of Motion" a concert film starring Christian comedian Tim Hawkins. I haven't laughed that hard for that length of a time (around 90 minutes) for a long long time. I watched it with my wife and three daughters, ages 21, 8 and 6. All 5 of us enjoyed it immensely, laughing out loud the entire time. My little ones didn't get some of the jokes that were aimed at parents or were reminiscent of the 1970s or 80s, but they still had a great time watching Tim's crazy expressions and movements.

I hate to label Tim as a "Christian" comedian, but about a fourth of his routines were about things that happen in the church or to Christians. The term also fits because Tim's comedy is all clean and flat out funny.
He makes observations about the things we all do that are right on, along with hilarious voices, sounds, body language, and facial expressions. Occasionally he'll pull out his guitar and sing original songs for laughs or spoofs of famous songs that would make Weird Al Yankovich proud.

There wasn't a single serious moment in the entire video. No closing on a serious note as has come to be expected in the Christian world. Every Christian comedian I've ever seen has ended his or her routine with some sort of serious message. Sure, that's a great idea, sometimes, but there are other times we just want to laugh our socks off. Life is hard, even for Christians. Tim helps us laugh and have a good time and stop taking our petty problems so seriously.
I've attached a couple of clips from the movie to give you a taste of the comedy of Tim Hawkins. And these aren't all the good parts. It was actually really difficult to choose from all the good stuff.