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Monday, July 26, 2010

The Book of Eli, a review

I watched "Book of Eli" last night and thought I would share a review. I might make a few enemies, but this was not a good movie. There are two groups of people who love this movie: Denzel fans (of which I am not), and Christians who will ignore the obvious flaws of this turd of a movie because they think it redeems itself with its theological and Bible-loving persepective.

It was poorly written and poorly paced. The dialogue left much to be desired. The characters were not effectively developed enough to have any emotional connection to them. However poorly written the movie is, Gary Oldman's character, Carnegie, has the one line of the movie that made sense. "this is not just a book, it's a weapon aimed at the hearts and minds of the weak and desperate. It will give us control." This perspective has been taken throughout history when it comes to religion and this movie nailed that on the head.

Overall, the movie was too ambitious for the skill level of the writers. It didn't know if it wanted to be preachy, cheesy, or just a B-movie. IT was part western, part apocalyptic sci-fi. It desperately wanted to be both Mad Max and The Road, and it didn't live up to either. Visually, it looked good, and the fight choreography was decent. There is one scene that really stands out for cinematography: the gun fight at the old cannibals' house.

If you watch this movie, pay attention to that scene. The camera doesn't cut for quite a long time (one of my favorite filming trends). It shifts from the protagonists to the antagonists, from inside the house to outside the house, without a cut for editing. And it looks good doing it!

However, one scene does not a fine piece of film make. I haven'tmade my contempt for Denzel a secret, so believe me when I say this: He is the best thing about this movie. If I had to give this flick a grade, it would be a C+ at best. If you want a better movie with more emotion and better characters, rent The Road. You'll thank me later.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Post #130 A year like no other

So I started this year hoping to make one post for every day of the year. It went pretty well for a few months, but I quickly realized that it was not going to be as easy as I initially thought. About 3-4 months in, I started doing generic picture postings and postings of links I found. Eventually, I got completely sidetracked and more or less gave up on the goal of 365. In fact, I haven't posted anything since my trip to G-Rap for a conference presented by Rob Bell and Mars Hill Bible Church.

So, what has Mike been doing all this time?

Well, let me tell you. First, I was asked to join the staff of our church as the "Groups Development Director." It is a fancy way of saying that I am now the small groups guy. My first task was to create, organize, and lead a church wide adult small groups program called thePLUNGE. It basically breaks down like this: the Sunday morning message starts the conversation; for a 6-week series, the small groups meet to dive deeper into the message presented on Sunday using discussion guides that I wrote. The goal was to create conversational interaction and to grow as a community through dialogue.

From the feedback I received and the encouragement of the pastors and staff, I would say that it was a huge success. We had 13 groups with about 100 participants. I am hoping for 20 groups when we launch it again in February!

The second, and most life-changing thing to occupy my time has been the decision Michelle and I made to adopt. We met with an agency earlier in the year and after doing the home-study and the training hours we submitted a profile book to the agency. The profile book is basically a scrapbook that tells your story. It is used by birthmothers to decide which potential adoptive parents they would like to meet.

After submitting the profile book, we were told that a birthmother would like to meet with us! On October 4, we met our birthmother. We all knew there was a good connection right from the start. At the end of the meeting, it was clear that she was going to choose us as the adoptive parents of her child.

We continued to meet with her nearly every week since then and have developed an incredible relationship with her. We began taking her to doctor appointments and were able to see the ultrasound and hear the baby's heartbeat!

Yesterday, we took her to one of her weekly doctor appointments and found out that she is 2 centimeters dilated! The original due date was January 11. But we are hoping she will deliver sometime in the next week and a half!

So, although I did intend to do a posting for every day of the year, it didn't happen. Instead, I was able to pursue ministry as a staff member of a great church, and we began an incredible journey of adoption. 2010 will definitely be like no other year for Michelle and I. Thank you for your encouragement, thoughts, and prayers this year. Please continue to do so!

Have a great Christmas and a wonderful new year!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Post #129 Poets, Prophets & Preachers: Day 3, Session 4

Day 3, Session 4
Rob Bell
"The one thing I've never heard someone talk about that has changed everything for me."

When you are in leadership, you will be given many backhanded compliments and hurtful suggestions. These, Rob explains, are "chocolate covered turds."

We tend to focus on the one negative comment even if we have heard nine positive ones.

Rumors, gossip, and lies will happen. In Acts 21:37-39 a soldier asks Paul, "aren't yo the Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists out into the wilderness some time ago?"

There will be someone who belongs to the "official committee for doctrinal purity, orthodox rhetoric, and general theological correctness."
- These people are usually self-apponted
- THey always seem to hit you when it hurts the most.

Rob explains that it can feel like "death by papercuts." On their own, they hurt and irritate, but receiving one after another after another will cause us to bleed out. These tiny slices will eventually kill is.

In order to avoid all of these things, we do 3 kind of things:
- we hold back: we don't push, don't challenge, don't try like we used to
- we create lists and labels: we label those who hurt us, we put them on a specific list
- we get revenge: passive - purposely not giving our best
active - slander, anger, malice from the pulpit

The one thing that we need to hear:
You have to learn to forgive.
- you forgive people not institutions

Someone says something negative about you. The anger or pain we hear is actually because of our feelings of vulnerability, of being studied, or analyzed.

"Even sheep have teeth!"

Some people are toxic: Proverbs 26:11
They will return to their "vomit" again and again, and you do not need to be there when they do.
Some people need very strong boundaries!

Speaking of boundaries: Titus 3:10
-You are not an ecclesiatical punching bag, hired by the masses to take the punches. You are a precious resource, a gift to your community. It is ok to guard yourself.

Luke 12:13 "Man, that's not my job!"
There are areas of life that other people are actually better trained and better suited for. The pastor does not have to be the problem solver and life fixer for every issue in life.

Forgiveness relieves us from the pain and anger.
Forgiveness also relieves those who hurt us from our punishment.

Luke 23 "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

Tim Keller: "Forgiveness means refusing to make them pay for what they did..." it also saves us from the "life-long, living death of bitterness and cynicism."

The cross says, "The pain stops here."
"...absorbing pain instead of passing it on. Transforms pain from a destructive impulse into a creating power." - Parker Palmer

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Post #128 Poets, Prophets & Preachers: Day 3, Session 3

Day 3, Session 3
Shane Hipps
"You are the Medium"

Who you are, as a person, is the message.

-the rest of the iceburg
1. you have a body, do not underestimate the power of it.
a. There is a reason God utilized the form of a human when he came as Jesus.
2. You are more than just a body, you are actually three bodies
a. physical - 5 senses
b. energetic - emotion (love, anger, sadness, fear), thinking, presence, sexual energy
- sexual energy is connected to creativity, connection, and life. it is not necessarily about sexuality.
c. essential - our essence, that part of us that has always been part of us.
1. every cell that made you when you were 6 years old is gone, but that thing that makes you you is still there.
2. essence is unlimited and unchanging

There is nothing you can do to increase or change your essence, but you can change your consciousness to it and how you tap into it.

Romans 8:11 - Paul equates the Holy Spirit with essence.
John 17:22-23 - Jesus gives us "His Glory"
We are merely gestures of Spirit.

Jesus demonstrated mastery of the physical body, his energetic body, and his essential body.

Think of it like this: physical = land, energetic = ocean, essential = sky

When we are tapped into our essence it would be inevitable to live a changed life. We would have no desire but to forgive others, love others, give to others, etc.

1. Physical body is a conductor of the energetic body; like a hose is a conductor of water.
a. unkink the hose
- understanding our breath can open us to our energetic and essential bodies
- breathing can dissolve tension
- we can use our energetic body or misuse it.
2. We all have a "shadow" or a dark side. That part of us that hides in the darkness
a. in order to overcome it, we must...
- acknowledge it
- uncover it: examine ourself and those things that we despise about others.
- own it: "I don't see the monster, I am the monster."

3. The essence is something you must "eat and know" not just "read and believe."
a. Breath: physical, energy, and essential -> cultivate and experience

Breath and Spirit are the same words in Greek, Hebrew and almost every other ancient language. To understand something really special about God, contemplate the nature of "breath" throughout the Bible.

In our essence is a place of unending peace, wisdom, and compassion. It is our responsibility to taste and know it.

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Post #127 Poets, Prophets & Preachers: Day 3, Session 2

Day 3, Session 2
Peter Rollins
"For those with ears to hear: Parables and the lost art of provocation"

A system or an ideology is not what you see, it is the lens through which you see everything.

The question is not "Is Christianity true?" The question is "What does it mean when Christianity claims to be true?"

The importance of "name..."
Exodus 3 "What is your name? Who should I say has sent me?"

God cannot be truly known, not because there is a lack, but because there is so much.

Words are not sufficient when the infinite comes into contact with the finite.

When God reveals his name to Moses he actually says, "My name is Presence."

Revelation has 3 features:
comprehension - understand that we do not understand
bedazzlement - God shakes everything up
transformation - the presence of God changes us

When God reveals himself, we cannot remain the same.
- Jacob wrestles with God and God gives him a new name, a new identity
- Paul encounters Jesus on the road to Damascus and he is transformed so deeply that he embraces what he once fought against.

Everyone talks about how God will make our lives better. When I allowed God into my life, he wrecked everything. Nothing has been the same.

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