Monday, July 31, 2006

I Believe In . . .

I have recently felt myself drawn to ancient aspects of our faith, and I have decided to spend time meditating on the great statement of Christian belief, the Apostle's Creed. There is so much depth in each phrase of this that I imagine this project will take some time. To remind you of the core of historical, orthodox Christian belief, here is an English version of the Creed:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord;
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried;
He descened into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven, sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
From where He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe inthe Holy Spirit,
The Holy catholic church, the communion of saints,
The forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.

There is power in those words.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Movie Review

GONE (2002)

First things first, this is not a bad flick, and not just "for a Christian movie," which unfortunately is still a legitimate thing to say. Different take on the Rapture, not an "epic" on the scale of Left Behind or Omega Code. This is a smaller, more personal take, and I prefer that myself, not being totally on-board with the LaHaye-style "Timetable" approach to the Last Things. Decent production values, nice locations, great final scene, all the things you want to see in an independent film, except for . . . . the acting.

Why do Christian filmmakers think C-level (or worse) celebrities bring more to a production than actual, professional, talented unknowns? This movie falls squarely into that category, and it is even worse than Stephen Baldwin, Kirk Cameron, or Gary Busey. This movie "stars" Joel Klug and Dirk Been . . . yes, from "Survivor." That's what I said: "Survivor."

In the commentary on the DVD, the director seemed like a serious guy, but I can't believe he had a casting call, had auditions and screen tests, and decided that these two guys were the best "actors" for the job. My proof: In the four years since, the 2 men have appeared in a total of one other film. What was this guy thinking?

There are plenty of struggling, talented, hard-working, Christian actors out there, right? There have to be. Or did the minimal amount of "celebrity" these two bring to the movie improve its chances of being made and seen in the Christian marketplace? I would like to think better of my family than that, but . . . {sigh} . . . I don't know.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Book Report

Body Piercing Saved My Life, Andrew Beaujou. Beaujou is a secular journalist who spent more than a year in the Christian rock scene, attending GMA week, some festivals, talking to Christian rock journalists, performers, executives, etc . . . and ended up producing an intersting, often sympathetic portrayal of an industry balancing ministry and profits, creativity and lyrical purity, passion and quality.

He hits the key points in the history of Chrsitian rock: Larry Norman to Keith Green to Amy Grant to Stryper to DC Talk to Switchfoot. The lack of even a mention of Undercover or The Choir is a shame, especially as both of these artists had "run-ins" with the industry and could have added to the book.

If you like an outsider's view of these things and think that there are some problems with Christian industry, I would recommend this. If you are in the evangelical subculture and don't like being challenged or criticized, you should probably let this one pass.

Among the intersting points and/or quotes, some of which I may write about soon:
* The absolute excising (whitewashing?) from the history of the movement/industry of people who have fallen out of favor.

* "Christian bookstores are the gatekeepers of the industry."

* " . . . passion over quality" and "a distinct lack of self-editing."

* The state of worship music . . . . Deadheads . . . . "Jesus is my girlfriend"

* Controversy has a negative effect on album sales.

* Sex does not sell.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Hello Linden-Villians!

Glad to be a part of the ring! Looks like a fine bunch of peeps I am associating with.

If you found me through the Ring, welcome and glad to have you. Please read, and feel free to comment.

The Church and Art

The story goes of the young Protestant and Catholic boys who became friends. One day, the Protestant is showing his Catholic friend around his church. When they walk into the sanctuary, the Catholic exclaims, "Oh, no! You've been robbed!" Seeing no stained glass, no statues, no art of any kind on the walls, what else was he to think?

In the United States, the Protestant movement traces its history to Luther, but in reality our roots are grounded instead in Plymouth. We are not at all European in our view of art and the arts, but are strict Puritans. The bare white walls, the plain sanctuary, the complete suspicion of any nonconformist artistic expression all reveal a severe loss for us. The young Catholic boy was right. As Protestants, we have been robbed.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Am I Jealous?

I really don't sense that in myself, but we are always the last to notice these things in ourselves, right? Specks and Logs.

A writer friend of mine, through a serendipitous series of events, has made contact with an agent who is preparing to offer her a contract of some kind next month. I am worried for her, because I don't know the agent, his experience is more in sports than literary representation, and . . . . {here's the hard one to say} . . . . I don't think her work is ready for publication.

I mean, my work is closer to being ready, right? So shouldn't I have an agent first?

I don't think I'm totally jealous . . . maybe just MOSTLY jealous . . .

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


I am intrigued by what happens to us after death. The New Testament seems to view the afterlife a particular way, different that the Old Testament, and the differences between the two are worth noting. The concept that has my attention now is that of Sheol, which is often translated as "Hell," but which has a fundamentally different meaning than the word that means "Hell" in the New Testament.

Sheol is "the place of the dead," and there is this notion that it is a waiting place. This is different from the image one has of death in the New Testament, where "first there is death, then comes the judgment." There is no place for waiting in the New Testament view, although Jesus refers to Sheol in its Old Testament sense in the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

God is outside of time, so the notion of a chronology, either here or in death, is a construct that is essentially man-made. The wonderful thing about God is that "His ways are not ours," and His thoughts are as far above ours "as the Heavens are above the Earth." That is quite a distance. We are not even close. But God gave us minds and wants us to understand Him, so it is worth pondering these hard questions.I am thinking about this a lot, and expect to write more about it soon.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Book Report: "Emerging" and "Revolution"

These are the hot topics among those of us who think about church. I take it that Barna's "Revolution," which I have not read, is about the growing tendency of people who are hurt in/by church to either leave altogether and take a "just me and God, no need for church" attitude, or to start new hierarchy-less, home-based groups.

"Emerging Churches," which I have read, is a semi-academic study of 50 of these communities in the UK and US. I wish the book questioned these folk a little more, instead of just presenting "their side," but that is also one of the stregnths: it uses a lot of the ir own words, from their blogs and websites, in addition to author interviews, to give us insight into what is going on.

Now I do need to admit my inherent bias. My particular denomination is mentioned quite often in the book, often negatively, mostly inaccurately -- or at least in an out of date manner. One of the leading sources in the book is a man who was high up in my denomination and left, so he has an ax or two to grind. Just so you know where I'm coming from.

I doubt these churches will ever become a major force, but the questions they raise about the hierarchical, professional church are legitimate.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Another Cornerstone I Missed!

This makes about 20 Cornerstones that I have not attended -- I am counting every one that has happened since I heard of Cornerstone. The grand-daddy of Christian festivals, Cornerstone is an important event that gives place to Christian performers and artists and "just people" of all kinds. All the glorious, crazy, insane, bizarre diversity of the Body is on display here -- all except me.

Maybe next year?