Friday, October 31, 2008

Hannah Dabba Doo

Three posts in one day -- but this was too rich to pass up, and too timely to wait.

My friend Jennifer sums up her son's school Halloween dress-up. Worth the visit.

Just my thoughts,


Halloween Sacred

With this being All Hallow’s Eve and all, the old debate for good ol’ Christians is back: is it appropriate to celebrate this American past time?

Is dressing up our kiddies in Frankenstein costumes a show of “mocking the devil,” and thus pro-faith? Or is it just asking for Faustian size trouble?

Are Fall Festivals a solution, or just a lame way to assuage guilt of depriving kids from the fun of Halloween, while avoiding the guilt of allowing kids the fun of Halloween?

More importantly, can we watch Charlie Brown collect his rocks with a clear conscience?

I am put in mind of my favorite Christian response to the holiday, from the too-good-to-stay-on-television series, NOTHING SACRED.

The show revolved around the life of a struggling inner-city church. Their Halloween episode, like most of their episodes, made one wonder where the heck (and was it to heck?) they were going with their story lines.

The C plot involved the atheist accountant for the church renting the sanctuary to a movie company to film a horror movie. The B plot was about Sister Mo dealing with a parishioner who stopped attending mass after being assaulted on the way home from church a year prior.

And the main plot: Father Ray leading the church through an all day traditional celebration of Halloween.

Reading ghost stories. Dressing as demons and monsters. If memory serves, they even had a haunted house.

All inside the church.

At this point, you may be wondering (as I was) – are these Hollywood writers clueless about what is sacred?

Turns out they were clue-full.

The C story line has the atheist accountant realizing that some things are sacred, and he foregoes the rent money and kicks out the movie company (a moment of incredible character growth).

The B story finished with a Davidian rant to G-d, of the “Why hast thou forsaken me?” variety, marking the start (just the start) of healing for the victim.

And the main story?

The annual tradition includes a day of conventional Halloweening; and ends in the parking lot for a bon fire.

Where Father Ray tells the congregants why this is his mentor’s favorite tradition:

We spent the day showing you everything that the devil has to throw against us, he says. Now let’s compare that to the power of G-d.

And such a comparison shows: the prince of this world has nothing on the Prince of Peace.

Those gathered then throw into the fire a symbol of whatever they fear, giving it up to the Lord, as the pastor recites a variant of St. Patrick’s Breastplate:

“Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ within me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ at my right,
Christ at my left.”

Take that, Halloween.

Just my thoughts,


It's Not the End of The World As We Know It

A view from up north (thanks, Dave).

Favorite line is his wrap up: "Set aside the stereotypes and labels that guide our thinking and it becomes obvious that while important changes are coming, the foundations -- liberal democracy and regulated markets -- are unchallenged. That's good news for everyone but excitable ideologues."

Just my thoughts,


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Be in a BADD video - TONIGHT!

Greetings friends from Bel Air and around...
Not doing anything yet tonight????
BADD is shooting a big fun music video tonight and needs a partially full sanctuary for it.
Can you help us out? All ages, all types needed. A great way to see how crazy BADD really is!!
Sean & I will be there in the audience too. Come play alongside us.
See below for details.

PS: Feel free to spread the word.


You know their faces. You see their video magic week after week on the Presbytron. Now is your chance to join in on the fun!

BADD needs as many extras as they can get for a video shoot THIS Saturday (TONIGHT!). Bring your family, bring your friends, bring your neighbors! We challenge you to fill the sanctuary! Details are as follows:

When: This Saturday, October 25th
Call Time: 6:30PM (expect to shoot for 2 hours, but once you've wrapped you're more than welcome to stick around and watch us work!)
Where: Bel Air Presbyterian Sanctuary
What to Wear: What you would normally wear to church on Sunday morning!

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm Ga-Ga for this Guy

Scoot on over to John Medina's blog for this cool experiment.
I have to admit, I da-da'd, then changed my mind. Ears.
No, mind.
Just my thoughts (I think),

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Heart Surgery

I recently read up on St. Teresa of Avila, so the word of the day is: transverberation.

For some reason, my spell check doesn’t know that word. Okay, I admit that I didn’t either.

Transverberation is described as, “a mystical grace wherein the Saint’s heart was pierced by a dart of love by an angel.” (Click here for more)

It caught my attention not only because of the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious nature of the word (by the way, my spell check does recognize Mary Poppins’ word), but also because my small group had been discussing heart piercings recently.

As in Acts, when the hearers of Peter’s Pentecost sermon were “cut to the heart.” Our group was mostly focused on the language – which did better justice to the sentiment?

King James: “pricked in the heart” – sounds like a junior high prank.

Contemporary English: “they were upset” -- don’t get me started.

New American Standard: “pierced to the heart” – very poetic, but we still preferred the NIV:

“Cut to the heart.”

Many ways to be cut to the heart – by reason, by conscience, by compassion.

The shock and awe of coming face to face with the “moreness” of the universe.

The look in a friend’s eye, as we both realized I betrayed him.

Watching a child try to comfort a mourning adult.

They are big moments, those heart exposers, when perspective comes in clarity. Always painful – but sometimes that is a good thing. Not in the “hurt so good” way of the song, where the pain itself is looked to for pleasure.

But rather in the stripping away of that which would prevent the positive – prevent the reason, or the compassion, or the growth.

Or for Teresa, the love. The direct infusion of love straight into the core of her being.

I imagine that kind of love would be painful enough to leave a scar. (It did, by the way.)

Don’t feel bad if you’ve never experienced transverberation – very few individuals in the history of mankind have. I haven’t come close.

But hold dear to any cuts to the heart that you have had – they are rare gifts. Even in the pain.

And to keep from being maudlin, I leave you with a song that always cuts to the heart – the beautiful, haunting and mournful, Danny Boy.

Oh boy, oh boy.

Just my thoughts,


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

If Only John & Barack Shared a Drink Tonight...

In honor of the last presidential debate, I bring you a little perspective from our friends to the North.

David posted this in response to an earlier journal entry:

The American founding fathers sure said a lot of profound things. Compare that to our first Canadian PM, Sir John A Macdonald.

His most quoted one-liner?

At an outdoor debate he was waiting for his opponent to end his speech. The guy went on and on, so Sir John started sipping from his water glass, which was actually stocked with gin.

The combination of strong sun and strong gin made poor Sir John rather green in the gills. When he finally stepped to the podium for his rebuttal, he threw up. He calmly wiped his mouth and stared seriously at the shocked crowd.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the speech given by my opponent has made me sick!"

Thunderous applause.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


For anyone wondering what it is like to be in rewrite mode on a script -- or any other writing for that matter -- I think Cory says it best here.

Just my thoughts,


Monday, October 13, 2008

Cyn City

I have a bone to pick with Jeffrey Overstreet.

Sure, you all know him as a nice guy, and the author of AURALIA'S COLORS.

You may also know that the next chapter in the Auralia Thread series is out, CYNDERE'S MIDNIGHT. And that's where Jeff and I have a problem.

You see, my wife and I just went to Vegas for a weekend getaway. Just me, her and...

Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here's our travelogue.

That's the Flamingo, our hotel.

Here we are playing the slots.

And we got some time in at the blackjack table. The dealer got distracted.

We went down the strip for a bit. Uh, Cath, our stop is coming up.

Here we are at KA, the Cirque d' Soleil show. The show was so exciting, Cath even looked up from her book to see some of it.


Cath got to share some culture with a cast member.

This is from the Luxor hotel. Notice all the beautiful things around you, Cath?

Even the polar bears can't put the book down.

And at the end of the day, the conversation was all about how unfair life is that book three hasn't been finished yet.

Thanks, Jeff. Only Rowling has given me this much trouble.

Friends, let me warn you -- Overstreet's books are addictive. Apparently even more so than Vegas.

Just my thoughts,


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Three Founding Fathers Walk Into a Bar...

In this season of taking things out of context for political spin, I thought I would direct you to 200 years of taking things out of context.

As y'all are aware, there are those that would have us to believe that all the founders of this country were conservative Evangelical Christians. (Ain't so.)

And there are those that would lead us to believe that the Christian faith had no influence on our founding. (Ain't so.)

Below is from a discussion over at Art & Faith, commenting on quotes used, in this case, by Bill Maher in his new movie to prove that founders hated religion.


Just my thoughts,


The film offers three frequently quoted (or misquoted) lines attributed to founding fathers:

"Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man." -- Thomas Jefferson

"This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it." -- John Adams

"Lighthouses are more useful than churches." -- Benjamin Franklin

Jefferson and Franklin were deists (not agnostics or atheists) who praised Jesus as a moral teacher but were critical of Christian doctrine. Adams, though, was much more positive about Christianity and religion, and his line has been ripped bleeding out of context. Taken from an 1817 letter to Jefferson, the line represents a sentiment with which Adams rhetorically expressed some sympathy -- but explicitly rejected:

"Twenty times in the course of my late reading, have I been upon the point of breaking out, "this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!!!" But in this exclamation I should have been as fanatical as Bryant or Cleverly [figures from Adams's youth mentioned earlier in the letter]. Without religion this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite society, I mean hell."

FWIW, in an earlier letter to Jefferson, Adams specifically affirmed what Maher quotes him to debunk, that the founding fathers of the United States were united by "the general Principles of Christianity":

“The general Principles, on which the Fathers Achieved Independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite, and these Principles only could be intended by them in their Address, or by me in my Answer. And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all those Sects were united: And the general Principles of English and American Liberty, in which all those young Men United, and which had United all Parties in America, in Majorities sufficient to assert and maintain her Independence.

“Now I will avow, that I then believed, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God; and that those Principles of Liberty, are as unalterable as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System.”

Even the Jefferson line is also somewhat inaccurate, having been conflated to omit positive language about "Christian philosophy," which Jefferson describes as "the most sublime and benevolent, but the most perverted system that ever shone upon man."

(FWIW, this line was later cross-examined by Adams in another letter to Jefferson, in which Adams wrote: "That it is the most sublime and benevolent, I agree. But whether it has been more perverted than that of Moses, of Confucius, of Zoroaster … of Mahomet, of the Druids, of the Hindoos, etc., etc., I cannot as yet determine…")

As for the Franklin line, it is often quoted but never sourced that I've been able to find, so I have no clue whether Franklin said it (or something like it) at all.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

All It Needs Is Marian...

Since I was a kid, I always dreamed of having a house with a library.

And not just any library, but one that required sliding ladders, like where Henry Higgins taught Eliza how to say her 'atches.

I've outgrown that.

Now I want this one instead:

Thanks for the link, Jeff.

Just my thougths,


Monday, October 06, 2008

Not Around Good Behavior...

Another steal from friend Jeff:

Here's a blogpost I found especially interesting of late, as I fairly recently had to deal with some script notes along the lines that L.B. Graham warns against.

Here's a taste from his blog.

"Christianity is not about moralism, and Christian fiction shouldn’t be either. Christianity revolves, not around good behavior, but around God’s mercy shown to man in the death and resurrection of Christ. However, even though we know this to be theologically true, I think we struggle to remember this as we go about our daily lives, and one of the places where we really struggle to remember it is in our engagement with the arts in general, but as fiction is our topic, we’ll limit our reflection here to that."

Just my thoughts,


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Control Issues

Colleague Rob Kirbyson wrote and directed a short film that has garnered much attention, and deservedly so.

"Control Z" stars Tony Hale (who I keep thinking I know, because we have so many friends in common that I re-forget that we only met a few times) and Zach Levi (who I worked with on a reading, before he created the role of Chuck, for no other reason than to keep Catherine and I deliciously entertained – thanks, Zach!)

Once you’ve enjoyed the movie, come back for a few more thoughts.

See – it was fun, wasn’t it?

And not just fun, it also has a little bit (just a little, let’s not go crazy) of a bite.

Notice Tony’s character is given an opportunity to go back and correct any mistake he wants. Don’t we all wish for such a chance?

And notice that he doesn’t use it to go back and correct his mistakes.

Instead, he intentionally makes new mistakes (intentional mistakes? Get me a dictionary…), knowing he has a “get out of trouble free” card.

Hmmm… saying perhaps a tad about human and sin natures?

Poor Tony is forced to live with his choices – there really isn’t a “get out of trouble free” card, after all. Especially knowing, as the assistant points out, our choices form who we are.

Now I’m regretting typing “intentionally makes new mistakes.” Let’s see, control and, where’s that button…

Just my thoughts,


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Paul's Own

Teresa and I spent some time in the morning trying to figure out who among the current generation of stars was the equivalent to Paul Newman.

It was a fruitless conversation.

There is no equivalent.

Thanks to Jeff for posting this David Letterman clip remembering the great man.

Just my thoughts,