He’s just a dummy — but he sells tickets

In case you’ve been in the dark, Mel Gibson is putting together a movie about the final days of Jesus Christ called The Passion. It’s not exactly gearing up to be a commercial smash, what with the use of two dead languages (Latin and Aramaic), but it is shaping up to be an incredibly powerful film. In of the rare interviews Gibson gave, he made some pretty deep statements about his faith and the life of Jesus.

Stupid TV, be more honest

Last night the WB’s Everwood explored the subject of abortion. It’s such a don’t-go-there topic that advertisers dropped that episode of the show leaving the WB scrambling to replace them. But for all the fear and hype, the show was amazing.

Rather than take one extremist slant or the other, the show faithfully explored both sides of the issue. They actually engaged in an honest and valuable discussion about one of the most controversial topics in the last 40 years.

The decidedly liberal Dr. Brown was approached and asked to perform a quiet abortion for an 18-year-old girl in the small Colorado town of Everwood. Brown talks with the girl and encourages her to explore her options before making a decision. He stresses that it’s her choice, but that it’s a traumatic decision. He urges her to talk with a counselor.

Throughout the show, Brown goes through a transition, at first grudgingly willing to perform the abortion, but then deciding against it. He presents both the pro-choice views he and his late wife once supported, and the pro-life view that he finds himself leaning towards. In the end he decides that he cannot personally perform the abortion. The girl is referred to another doctor and goes through with the abortion, though it’s not portrayed as an easy choice.

There’s even more twists to the story that make it more intriguing, but I found myself amazed at how delicately and honestly they approached the issue. They may not have had the adamant pro-life stance some Christians would hope for, but they didn’t just spew left-wing rhetoric either. They wrestled with the issue in a way no one seems willing to do today. They admitted the pros and cons of both arguments and acknowledged the shitty situation for what it is, no matter how things turn out.

The sub-plot to the abortion issue involved Delia, Brown’s 8-year-old daughter, discovering a porn magazine, forcing Brown to broach the issue of sexuality with his innocent daughter. The maturing of his daughter made for a nice foil to the abortion story (OK, that’s the writer in me), but I was more impressed at the honest portrayal of real parenting. Brown sat his daughter down at the table to talk about the magazine. Imagine trying to talk to an 8-year-old who just saw Penthouse for the first time. A sitcom would play it up for laughs. 7th Heaven would make it an easy and cheesy discussion, wrapped up nicely in a minute and half. A lesser drama would have rushed the scene, ending it with parental failure.

But Everwood stretched the scene out, forcing you through Brown’s embarrassed agony as he tried to find words to talk to his own daughter about pornography. The scene dragged on, and Brown didn’t have a well-rehearsed speech to give his daughter. He stumbled with his words, he stopped and started, he didn’t get very far. Welcome to real parenting.

I wish he would have had a better answer for his daughter, would have taken a stronger stance about the exploitation that is the heart and soul of pornography. But I respect the honesty of showing what parenting is really like. How would you explain pornography to your 8-year-old? Would you? Or would you avoid the issue like so many do. Skeletons in the closet, or buried at the bottom of the drawer, as the case may be.

Who says TV is entirely stupid?

We don’t have a prayer

“One of the arguments I keep hearing from those who know that their church and pastoral ministry is at odds with what they say Jesus is calling me to is that they say, their church will fire them and they have obligations to their families. I think back to Christ’s call to leave our families behind which is really saying that we need to trust God to provide for us. I think the issue is that we trust the church or denomination to take care of us instead of Jesus.” (from JordonCooper.com)

Sometimes I wonder if Christianity has become too focused on the family. Is that even possible? But Jesus did call us to leave our families behind. How do we reconcile that with the modern notion of undying devotion to the family? Everyone makes a big point of God first, family second, work third, etc. But does God really want to be first? Or does he want it all? If God is first, he negates second, third, fourth and on down the line until he claims every part of your being. Maybe that’s what following God is really about. So much for the noble calling of I need to look out for my family.

We both made bullets for the Nazis, but mine worked!

Modern warfare creates immediate feedback. An Iraqi teen kept a diary of war and it’s now available online. They’re not easy words to read. If you’re like me, you’ll follow the link read a few lines and think you know the gist of it. It’s less painful that way. But you can act like you know what Amal experienced. It’s harder to write things off when you know the face.

Then there’s Stuart, the journalist who lost his foot and his colleague to a landmine. His blog continues with only a few days lost, and now you can see how Stuart gets used to life with “Mr. Stumpy,” as he calls his amputated foot.

War sucks. That’s always part of the equation, but the reality is somehow harder to face. I could also display atrocity after atrocity committed by Saddam Hussein. Then we could compare heartbreak to heartbreak, bloodshed to bloodshed, gruesome image to gruesome image and see who wins. War or peace? I think everybody loses, no matter how you roll the dice.

Don’t worry head, the computer will do our thinking now!

So I’ve revamped the ol’ thoughts. Given everything a bit of a face-lift. Every few years you need to do that. I was beginning to feel blog-envy at everyone else’s cooler-looking-than-mine blogs. So I’ve added some sidebar link action (so you can consume all the same entertainment I do!) and added some funky graphics across the top there. Hopefully I’ll be changing those out every now and then so they don’t get old. I also hope to go through the archives and add some old pictures there for a little variety. But don’t expect that any time soon.

Billy Graham’s Bible Blasters

I saw an employee screening of Last Flight Out today, the latest movie from World Wide Pictures, the motion picture arm of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. I’m not usually a fan of Christian movies, so my expectations weren’t exactly high for this movie. I was expecting intensely mediocre. Instead, it was dreadful. Absolutely dreadful.

What saddens me about this movie is that some people will think it’s amazing. The very fact that it was produced says somebody liked the idea. But as the movie is released there’s that certain type of person that will love this movie. They’ll be touched, and they’ll be pushing it like Citizen Kane, when sadly, it’s not even in the same galaxy. Somehow when you blatantly shoehorn the gospel into something it becomes top notch. Apparently quality doesn’t really matter to some people. Or maybe it’s just that the gospel is a trump card for any measure of quality. As long as you quote John 3:16 and explain salvation in painful, awkward detail, nothing else matters.

But what truly disturbs me is that God doesn’t seem to care. People will still be saved watching a pathetic movie. I don’t know how that works. I guess I should take solace in the fact that God doesn’t need an Oscar to change hearts.

Stupid bug! You go squish now!

Last night I had a glimpse of the future. We were watching the hockey game in a sports bar that had a TV everywhere you looked (we actually had our own TV on our table). Unfortunately, by some mystery of the satellite gods, not all the TVs were in sync. Some of the TVs were broadcasting the game with a few seconds delay from other TVs. At times, the delay was up to five seconds. Of course our TV was behind, and the table next to us had the current version.

You’d think this wouldn’t be a big deal. But we’re not watching Oprah. This is hockey. When the home team scores, the place goes nuts. So we’re watching and suddenly the guy in the table next to us starts cheering. I look up from potato skin to my five-second delayed TV and see a perfect pass, shot, and goal. Exactly five seconds after the first cheer, another cheer erupts across the bar. Then we all exchange odd glances at what just happened. It’s a cheap way to travel in time.

So while we were watching hockey last night, we effectively saw the future. We knew when the Wild would score before they actually scored. In overtime we knew when it was over before it was actually over. I wouldn’t say knowing the outcome ruined the game, but it certainly changed the dynamic. You end up not waiting for life to happen, but waiting for what you know to come to pass. It’s a bit disconcerting.