Darren Aronofsky’s Noah

randomlychad  —  November 14, 2013 — 5 Comments

Darren Aronofsky is the auteur known for such mind bending films as Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, and Black Swan. Now he’s at the helm of biblical epic Noah, starring Russell Crowe. The film, though it has yet to see release, has been at the center of a storm of controversy. Some have read early versions of the script, and claim the movie is an unmitigated disaster.

I wouldn’t know. I prefer to reserve judgment until the movie actually comes out. Based on the sheer amount of talent in the movie alone (besides Crowe, it stars Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, and Emma Watson), I expect much scenery to be–literally, and figuratively–chewed. Let me put it this way: with a story as epic as Noah’s, one needs an epic cast. In pop culture terms, this means we have a film where Maximus Decimus Meridius plays Noah, Hulk’s girlfriend is playing his wife, Hermione plays their daughter-in-law(?), and Odin is playing a wise old man. Now Aronofsky is widely regarded as a visionary (he even made sourpuss Mickey Rourke look good in The Wrestler). I think we can trust him to wrest the best performances from the cast assembled. That said, and as with any Hollywood adaptation, certain latitudes will be taken with the source material.

The challenge becomes one balancing one’s respect for the source material with the need to tell a visually compelling story. Creative liberties will be taken. They have to be. As we know, the story of Noah as  presented in the Bible is just a few chapters. How does one go about adapting that scant material into a feature-length film? Just as certain novelists have imagined the life of Judas, or ruminated on the lost years of Christ, things will be added.

This is as it should be, for story at its most basic is about a character who wants something and must undergo conflict to get it. Thus from the trailer I get the sense that those who in Scripture merely mocked Noah are now openly antagonistic–hostile-to him. I also get the sense that we are going to get more of the interior life of Noah, e.g., just what it’s like for a sane man to hear the voice of God. (Hint: this is more than a little disruptive).

Those are my impressions. Watch the trailer, and let me know what you think:

(To watch it in full HD on YouTube, click here).

Are you going to see Noah when it releases next Spring?

A Soft Place to Fall

randomlychad  —  November 11, 2013 — 4 Comments

Widely regarded as the best film in the franchise, Raiders of the Lost Ark is replete with iconic lines. Lines such as:

“It’s not the years, it’s the mileage,” and

“I’m making this up as I go.”

This is true of me, too: my life has (if not similar adventures, or dangers) been a process of making it up as I go. Not having examples, or mentors, I’ve had to figure out how to be a husband and dad. And I thought coming to Christ would fill my life with meaning and purpose; in a sense, it has.

However, at forty-four, I’m still not sure what I’m supposed to do, or who I’m supposed to be. I have a great job, which had become a career, that I fell into. (Looking back, I believe it was God guiding me). The job provides for my family and I, but it’s not fulfilling in the deepest sense. In fact, I can’t point to any one thing which has fulfilled me.

That, I think, is my problem–the crux of the matter. I’m still, at forty-four, looking to things outside of myself to define me. It’s a never-ending quest, a fruitless pursuit. The Constitution guarantees me the right to pursue happiness, but never defines just what that happiness is.

Don’t get me wrong: I have a wonderful wife, two great kids who adore me, and more blessings than I know what to do with. Everything I’ve looked to give me purpose and meaning has turned to dust and ashes. Victories which tasted sweet in my mouth turned sour in my belly.

Even this blog. I came to blogging in earnest when some real life friendships came to their different ends. The hard truth here is that friends are not friends forever (no matter what Michael W. Smith sings). The things I previously discussed with friends needed an outlet.

So I came here.

And mostly you (collectively) have been most kind, welcoming me with open arms. For this I’m very thankful.

But I would like to also apologize for placing upon you a burden you were never meant to carry; namely, I’m sorry for trying to elicit from you tacit statements that I matter. (“Please love me”).

My heart is a needy beast.

Everything I’ve done, if it’s been about anything, it’s about that: wanting to know that I matter. Because I grew up in a story where I didn’t. My dad was too lost in his own woundedness to pay any attention. And my mom was too busy trying to bridge gap.

Listen: I know I matter to my Heavenly Father. I know what’s true. But knowing and feeling are often two very different things. And it’s all too easy to lose sight of what one knows in the trenches of life. The voices tell me I don’t matter, but what’s true is that I’m loved by my Heavenly Father, that I’m a husband of almost twenty-three years, and a dad to two wonderful, precocious, sometimes frustrating, but always awesome kids.

No matter what else I do in life–if I never publish a book, or never do anything other than resolve technical issues
–no one can take that away from me.

I only hope that my kids aren’t as hobbled coming out of the gate. That they know their parents love them. That they know Jesus loves them.

That no matter what life throws at them they know that they are loved, and have a soft place to fall.

How about you? Who was your soft place growing up? Who’s your soft place now? Are you a soft place for someone?

It’s late, and I’m rambling. Please don’t forget about the Church Hopper giveaway here: Church Hoppers to the Rescue Click through to enter. Thanks!

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Time was, church hopping was deemed a bad thing. Reflective of much else in our American culture, it represents a consumeristic approach to church. The idea being that if the service at church A was too long, church B was right down the street. And if that didn’t work out, well there’s always the tried-and-true-blue Methodists.

Or no church at all.

In fact (sorry, I’m not going to back this up with statistics. If you want stats, read Kinnaman, or Barna), more are indeed leaving the church now than ever before. It’s deemed boring,  irrelevant, or folks are just too busy to bother. FOOTBALL!

Three guys from North  Carolina aim to put a stop to that by flipping the script on what church hopping is. In fact, that’s what they call themselves, the Church Hoppers. Because that’s what they do: hop from struggling church to struggling church to help them reach souls for Christ by shoring up their foundations.

Who are the Church Hoppers? Kevin “Rev Kev” Annas, Larry “Doc” Bentley, and Anthony “Gladamere” Lockhart. Between the three of them, these gentleman bring decades of both ministerial, and business, experience to the table. Their focus is three-fold:

Systems

Business

Sales/Marketing

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Can you guess which is Rev Kev, Doc, or Gladamere?

In other words, in Star Wars terms, they bring balance to the force. Because it’s their contention that a church out of balance in any of these key areas is like a two-legged stool: bound to fall. In this way, they’re like the A-Team. If yours is a struggling church, if no one else can help, and if you can find them… I kid. All a church has to do is call. (But seriously, don’t you think “Hannibal,” “Murdock,”and “Faceman” would be better nicknames than “Rev Kev,” “Doc,” and “Gladamere?” To me, Rev Kev sounds like a moniker that either a DJ, or longhaul trucker, would use. And Doc? He was Snow White’s dwarf buddy. Don’t get me started on Gladamere. Is this a concatenation of “Vladimir” and “glad?” If so, Maxwell Smart says, “Missed it by that much.” Gladamere… It just kind of prances off the tongue).

I of course kid, but as marketing experts, one would think that they could come up with better nicknames. All of that aside, and in consideration of the age old question:

Does the world really need another reality show?

The answer is a resounding no. The world doesn’t need another reality show. It never needed any in the first place. That said, does Church Rescue deliver the goods? The answer, my friends, is a resounding “Yes!” These dudes, despite their problem nicknames, put the real in reality! How do I mean? Let me put it this way: have you ever seen a headstrong, take-no-prisoners, my-way-or-the-highway pastor own up to his junk baggage on national T.V.? If you watch this show, you will. You’ll see that, and more.

What you’ll see is three guys who help a church become more relevant without compromising the message. And that, Regis, is my final answer.

So tune at 10 PM EST/PST tomorrow night, Monday, November 11th to the National Geographic channel and see for yourself.

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Hymns are beautiful. Beautiful expressions of faith, truth, doctrine.

Hymns are also usually only heard in church.

Yet there are other places, unexpected places, where hymns have been heard.

Abide With Me is great. But hearing it in a graveyard. Not so much.

Breathe On Me is wonderful at church. But when your dentist is bent over your face extracting a tooth? Whew! (“Dirty mouth? Get Orbit).

And He Touched Me takes on an entirely new meaning when overheard at the proctologist’s office!

Where are some weird places you’ve heard hymns?

Straight Pride

randomlychad  —  November 5, 2013 — 12 Comments

(If you wish, you may skip the first part of this post, as it deals mainly with my personal convictions and interpretation of the Scriptures. The story I wish to relate begins with “Earlier this year”).

Just to be clear: whether one believes homosexual practice to be sinful, or not, God loves everyone, and sent His Son to die for each and every person who has, or will, ever live.

We are all alike in our need for Him.

My personal understanding of the Scriptures is that while homosexual temptation (as with any temptation) is no sin, its practice is. I think of it being akin to fornication–sex outside of marriage.

That said, I’m not here to debate the Scriptures, or the variety of interpretations surrounding it. God knows I have enough trouble with my own sin. Who am I to tell another how to live?

That said, we must all live with a clear conscience before God. And I want to, if I can in anyway, point with my life to Jesus Christ. He is the way the truth, and the life.

The preliminaries out of the way, my cards metaphorically laid upon the table, I would like to now relate a story which in its particulars is distressing to me. It goes like this:

Earlier this year, my family and I were enjoying a much-needed rest in the cool pines of Flagstaff, Arizona. At an elevation of 7,000 feet, it’s much cooler, and provides a welcome respite from our home in the Valley of the Sun. It seems that our time there coincided with the annual Pride in the Pines festival.

This in and of itself isn’t surprising, right? Gay pride is the cause celebre, the cause du jour, in our society these days. People are tired of hiding who they are; so more and more are coming out of the closet. God bless them for their honesty, I say. Because all of us are only as sick as our secrets.

That said, and I’m not here suggesting that anyone should hop back into the closet, if I had my druthers gay pride would not be so loud, brash, and in-your-face. Consider Ghandi, for instance. Or the late Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. Both brought to the light the plight of the peoples they represented through nonviolence–through passive protest.

In so doing it was like heaping coals of fire on the heads of their oppressors.

I don’t see that in the gay rights movement. Instead, I see pride. I see brash, and even crass, displays. Such as:

During our time in Flagstaff, in walking the streets of its downtown area, we (my family and I) saw something we won’t soon forget: a man carrying what appeared to be a large, thick-veined phallus in his hand. Where he was going we don’t know; what happened next, we’ll never forget:

At first glance, what appeared to be a (let’s call it what it is) dildo turned out to be a water bottle. How do we know? The man took a sip from a straw which protruded form the urethral opening of his (very) anatomically correct water bottle. (This image is, unfortunately, indelibly burned into our memories. And how does one even begin to explain this to one’s children?)

I ask you: is that gay pride? Or rather something to be ashamed of? Whichever, and again I’m not asking anyone to go hide in their closets, it certainly displays a lack of discretion.

It’s vulgar. And the only thing I can surmise is that it was intended to shock. Why else would someone do that? Let’s look at this way: you wouldn’t see me, or any straight person I know, walking down the street anywhere with a, I don’t know, vulva-shaped drinking vessels. Or titty-shaped coffee mugs.

Likely, anyone doing so would be reproached, or possibly arrested. It would be labeled a crass, vulgar display of straight pride at best, and objectification at worst. The point being that, no matter which camp from which it arises, lewdness is lewdness. Whether you’re straight, gay, or otherwise.

That being the case, why do those in the gay rights movement get a free pass with such things? No one (that I saw) approached that man, asked him to put away his penis. Why is that? Because we’re afraid.

We’re afraid of the backlash. We’re afraid of coming under attack in this politically correct culture in which we live. The fact is that if we spoke up in support of “Straight Pride,” we would be laughed to scorn, derided, or compared to white supremacists.

Which is not a fair comparison at all. Gay rights activists, and those who support them, want to be treated with dignity and respect? Start acting like it. Stop carrying dildo drinking cups out in public. Respect is a two-way street: one has to give it to get it.

Hear me well: I believe everyone deserves, as the pinnacle of God’s creation, to be treated with dignity and decency. This does not mean that we have to agree; rather, that we afford one another respect. That we listen.

I hope that you, no matter which side you come down on, realize there really isn’t any us and them: it’s all us. There is one human family. And we, as I said above, all need Jesus.

I’ll do my level-headed best to not get in your way, okay? Can I expect the same of you?