Friday, January 23, 2009

Flotsam & Jetsam

The weird story of Amy Grant suing Dr. Strange

Obama-ize thyself

Bishop Will Willimon sticks it to antitheist Bart Ehrman

Why Disney dumped the Narnia series...I hope they can find another distributor, at least long enough to make The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. More Reepicheep!

Freaking awesome guitar-shaped boat for sale

The bioethics of prenatal cancer gene screening

How marketing affects (read: controls) moviemaking

Monday, January 19, 2009


I'm cautiously excited about a new series NBC has coming out. It's called "Kings" and it appears to be a modern-day retelling of the story of David and Saul. You can learn about the show here. You can read the story of David here.

I've often thought that the Samuel/Kings/Chronicles narrative would make a fabulous movie or TV series (or comic book, or something). Film versions of Bible stories tend to be centered around either Exodus or Easter or the Christmas story (all of which are great, mind you) and tend to be depressingly traditional. Everybody wears bathrobes, like they stepped off a flannel-graph display, and everyone speaks in stilted, grand cadences. And until fairly recently, all the Jewish characters (Moses, Jesus, etc.) were suspiciously Norwegian-looking.

But so many more interesting things could be done with the stories. Make Jesus black in the South during Jim Crow, and make the Roman Empire into the KKK. Make Moses the adopted son of a factory owner at the height of the Industrial Revolution, leading his people out of unfair working conditions. Or zoom in a little bit. Tell the story from Peter's perspective. Or Pilate's. Or Judas'. Mel Gibson did this a little bit with The Passion of the Christ, in that the film is really just about Jesus' crucifixion (I wish he'd done more than this, actually; the flashback scenes between Jesus and Mary were the best in the film, but I give him credit for trying).

And the story of David and Saul is absolutely ripe for this kind of artistic interpretation. It's epic. It's tragic. It's full of Shakespearean intrigue. It is not a pious Sunday school story. Sex! Violence! Betrayal! Hundreds of foreskins! Revenge! Impotence!

You really could make a show about this that could last for years. David's rise from small-town shepherd boy, to new king favored by God, to arrogant rapist/murderer, to repentant yet inevitably declining monarch...he's a tragic hero the Greeks wish they'd thought of. Plus he's the rock star of the ancient world. Ooh, that would be interesting...David as young wannabe to Saul's aging rock god...

What biblical story do you think is unjustly ignored, and deserves a good retelling? How would you tell it?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Flotsam & Jetsam

<--I have no idea who this woman is, but she's my hero

-Does this spin, or are the wheels just for effect?

-Get ready for action

-I don't usually say things like, "What's the world coming to?", but...what's the world coming to?

Cities are too gridlike. Let's just throw buildings around randomly.

As a former video editor, I thought this was just really charming

Bars & Tones from André F. Chocron on Vimeo.

Monday, January 12, 2009


No matter your opinion of President (for another week, anyway) Bush, he is not a great orator. Here's my favorite of his mangled phrases:

"There's an old saying in Tennessee—I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, fool me once, shame on—shame on you. Fool me—you can't get fooled again."
—Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

I like the way he gives up halfway through the saying and just sums it up.

What's your favorite Bush quote or made-up word? "Misunderestimated"? "Strategery"?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


N.T. Wright on hell

(See also this book by him. And this one, by that other British Anglican guy. And this podcast for a different perspective, which you can find free on iTunes, but I don't know how to link to that.)

What do you think? Since adolescence I've discovered the Bible isn't nearly so clear about heaven, hell, and the afterlife as I thought it was. It's clear enough (whatever hell or judgment or separation from God mean, you don't want it), but the Bible does not usually speak in ways that lend themselves to tidy diagrams and charts.

I know this isn't a fun conversation to have, but I think it's one we need to have.

Monday, January 5, 2009

With a Capital "P"

Scot McKnight is complaining about informal pastor web pages.

"What annoyed me about these sites was the utter absence of a sense of the sacred in pastoring, of the overwhelming sense of God's call upon a life that reaches so deep that everything becomes holy, of the profound respect and privilege of the call to lead God's people, and of the total lack of order."

I normally think he's right on, but not today. I don't like the argument that the priesthood of all believers means the pastor's calling isn't "better, just different", when that "just different" calling comes with special titles and decorum and pomp and circumstance and seats of honor and special access to God. I don't like the implication that God's call that makes everything holy is reserved for a select few. There is none not called (Yoder said that somewhere).

If this is a problem at all (I'm quite dubious), it's a problem of the celebritization of pastors. Scot cites the fact that some pastors' websites list what's on their iPod or what they're reading. It is a little self-absorbed to think that everyone will want to know what your favorite music is. But then again, I have a blog, and so does Scot, so how can we judge?

Now, he's right that the priesthood of all believers doesn't mean hyper-individualistic rejection of authority. It doesn't mean "no one can tell me what to do" or "I can find God on my own". It means the opposite of that, actually. The priesthood of believers is a call to incredible mutual interdependence. But it also doesn't mean the outsourcing of our spiritual life to a special class of religious professionals.

What do you think? Does your church's website have pastor bios with tidbits of info? Do we treat pastors too informally? Too formally? Should we have a clergy/laity distinction at all, or is the biblical image of the body of Christ much more complex than that?

How I Spent My Winter Vacation

I didn't seem to blog at all over Christmas. I guess it's because we were bouncing around all over Florida, with inconsistent internet access and plenty to do. Or maybe I only blog when I'm avoiding work.

Somehow over a week and a half Amy and I managed to see lots of folks on our list of People To See. People in our lives are now roughly divided into 5 categories: Family (Amy's, mine), Tampa (mostly Amy's friends), Polk County (mostly my friends), Orlando (our friends from college and Wesley), and now North Carolina. We saw the fam (we had 4 separate Christmases, of course). And New Year's was fun, and made more exciting by the announcement of Amy's sister Monica's engagement to her longtime beau, Louis. Due to a well-timed wedding (congratulations, you two) we managed to see many Orlando friends we hadn't seen in awhile, albeit far too briefly.

I always love going home, and I'm always equally ready to come home. (Yes, you can have more than one home).

Apropos of nothing, did you know bubbles can freeze?