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Showing posts from March, 2012

Upcoming Releases — April

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With March quickly fading away, we have just one month before summer films roll into theaters. Here's a look at the major releases coming soon to a theater near you!
Friday, April 6: Titanic 3D — (April 4) Here the Best Picture winner from 1997 gets a re-release. This is happening for three reasons. 1 — this year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ship. 2 — James Cameron has added 3D to this film. 3 — studios never miss a chance to make more money. That being said, while I'm not wild about the 3D re-releases, "Titanic" was a well-made film and there is a certain excitement to it being re-released for the 100th anniversary.
American Reunion — The fourth of the "American Pie" films, this one reunites all the favorite players from the original film. This film probably resonates with a certain group of people who are around the same age as the characters. Since the characters graduated from high school the same year I did, it makes me feel old. This…

Duality

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"I know what it's like to feel unequal of the task required of you. To feel incapable. I'll never be the man I was, but I've come to embrace those parts of my mind that are peculiar, broken. I understand now, that's what makes my mind special. I wish you could see yourself the way I see you. You have no idea how how extraordinary you are. If you would embrace that, there is no end to what you can do." — Walter Bishop, "Fringe"
We live in an interesting time for TV when it comes to thinking about choices, duality, and the road not taken. We all know that life is a series of decisions — some small and some monumental — that all shape the people we are, the path we travel, and how we view the world. Some of the choices are our own, others are choices made by those that have influence in our lives. It is all those choices, both big and small, both our own and those made by others, that help shape the fabric of our lives.
But what if different choices were…

Now Playing

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Here's a look at the newest blockbuster film, "The Hunger Games."
The Hunger Games Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harelson, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, and Wes Bentley Synopsis: Bloodlust as entertainment is hardly a new concept in human history. The Roman Empire famously led undesirables — slaves, enemies, and Christians — to gruesome deaths on the arena floor, all in the name of entertainment. In the modern era, we have more mainstream forms of bloodsport, such as boxing and ultimate fighting. We have fake combat — such as professional wrestling — and we have the voyeuristic pleasure of unending amounts of reality TV. “The Hunger Games” isn’t the first film to suppose that our desire to mix the two — bloodsport and voyeurism — would eventually change the entertainment landscape. When such ideas were fronted in decades past, it seemed far removed. However, in 2012, given the landscape of our televis…

New Look Broncos

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"I don't consider it much of a risk, knowing Peyton Manning. I asked him, 'Is there any doubt in your mind that you can't get back to the Peyton Manning we know of?' And he said, 'There's no doubt in my mind.'" — John Elway
"I'm not where I want to be. I want to be where I was before I was injured. There's a lot of work to do to get where we want to be from a health standpoint." — Peyton Manning.
Peyton Manning is the quarterback of the Denver Broncos. As hard as it was for me to write that Tim Tebow is a New York Jet, it's even harder to acknowledge that Manning is the quarterback for the Denver Broncos. As I said on Facebook a week ago, the quarterback I love is with a team I loathe and the quarterback I hate is with the team I love. It is a difficult paradox to consider.
But it is a reality. That's where those stages of grief come in, I guess. I am at acceptance, but that doesn't mean that I have to like it or blindly…

Moving On

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Tim Tebow is a New York Jet. It's taken me a week to be able to write that without wincing. As most people know, I am a passionate Denver Broncos fan and a passionate Tim Tebow fan. So the events of the last seven days have been a blow. I wanted to write about it a few times, sometimes from a place of anger and sometimes from a place of depression. But I waited. Today and tomorrow, I will look at this event from what I hope is a more mature, rational perspective.
Today, it's all about Tebow.
I have been a fan of Tebow since his days at Florida. I love the Florida Gators, and I loved watching Tebow play. He won a pair of national championships, a Heisman Trophy, and a ton of games. But that wasn't the only reason I loved him. I loved the way he carried himself and what he stood for. That is a feeling that only grew as I read his book, "Through My Eyes." Tebow is an inspiring example as a Christian. We should all be so lucky as to carry ourselves with that level of c…

The Strength of the Lord

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"I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." — Philippians 4:13
Paul has a lot of nuggets in his letter to the Philippians, but few stand out like the exhortation in Philippians 4:13. Paul spends the last chapter of Philippians talking about how we should approach life, what we should focus on, and, lastly, how that can bring us comfort in tough times.
We all go through hard times. We go through times of struggle. Paul understood this, and he sought to offer a word of encouragement and comfort to the Philippians in his letter. It's a word of comfort that comes through to us as well.
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." — Philippians 4:12-13.
What's amazing about that text isn't just the words, but considering what was happen…

Focused on things from above

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"Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:9.
Paul knew that it was important for us to be focused on the right things in this life. That is what he tried to model during his ministry, and what he exhorted all believers to focus on. One of his final messages in the book of Philippians has to do with our earthly focus.
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." — Philippians 4:8-9.
Paul knew that, to reach our potential to stay on a godly path, we needed to focus on the good things, the things of God. We live in a world that isn't focused on such things. It values w…

The Joy of the Lord

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"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! " — Philippians 4:4
We conclude the H2O series with a look at Philippians, chapter 4. Like so many texts in this book, the final chapter is inspiring and challenging. And Paul doesn't take long to get to it. He offers the exhortation for us to rejoice in verse four. It was so important to him, he referenced it twice.
That is part of a larger theme Paul offers on being joyful and leaning on God in all circumstances. Consider this exhortation: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." — Philippians 4:4-7.
It's hard to find a section of Scripture simpler, more inspiring, and more challenging …

Bounty-ful Punishment

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"It goes way beyond the rules of any sporting contest, at least team contest, to intentionally inflict harm on another person for a financial reward." — Senator Dick Durbin.
Aside from the Peyton Manning drama, the fun of free agency, and possible rule changes, one story has dominated the NFL headlines the past month — the bounty scandal involving the New Orleans Saints. On Wednesday the NFL doled out punishment to the franchise, coaches, and administrators involved. And what a punishment it was.
Saints' head coach Sean Payton was suspended, without pay, for a year. Gregg Williams, former defensive coordinator, was suspended indefinitely. Micky Loomis, Saints' general manager, was suspended for eight games. And Joe Vitt, assistant head coach, was suspended for six games. In addition, the Saints will lose second round draft picks each of the next two years and $500,000. It's a stiff penalty, and the player penalties haven't even been announced yet.
Understandably…

Now Playing

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Here's a look at the new movie from this week, a clever re-make in "21 Jump Street"
21 Jump Street Starring: Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Rob Riggle, Ice Cube, Dave Franco, and Brie Larson Synopsis: In the late 1980s, the TV show “21 Jump Street” hit the air. The idea was that it featured a squad of young looking officers that could pass as high school and college students to go under cover. Looking back now that may not seem the most plausible plot, but it worked and had a niche following during its run from 1987-1991. The show was probably most notable for the star whose career it jump-started — Johnny Depp. That has only added somewhat to the mystique surrounding the show. And, in this era where everything old is new again, it makes sense for Hollywood to revisit this show. For said re-makes to work, they have to take the right approach. Treat the source material with too much reverence, and you could end up turning off fans. Not enough reverence and you can draw criticis…

Be Careful What You Wish For

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Today I had the privilege of leading Bible Study. The chapter, as it always does, presented an interesting opportunity to reflect on the larger principles that apply to our lives.
Today's text came from 1 Samuel 8. In the chapter, Samuel, the prophet, tries to pass the power down to his sons as he gets older. His sons, in turn, fall prey to wickedness and corruption, leading to an outcry from the people. This is a repeat of the pattern earlier, with Eli and his sons. There, God moved to replace the house of Eli with Samuel. Likely the same pattern would have followed with Samuel's descendants, but the people of Israel didn't let it get that far.
The people cried out for a king to lead them, a king just like all the other nations. This grieved Samuel as it went against the plan of the Lord. He turned to God in prayer. God, too, was grieved, as the people were not rejecting Samuel's leadership, but rather God's leadership as their king. Despite that, he told Samuel to …

God in Nature

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One of the interesting things that came out of the building conversations the past few weeks has been a discussion of where we all feel closest to God. Pastor Graham began each of the sessions by having people share places where they've felt closest to God, and a real pattern began to emerge — many people talked about feeling close to God in nature.
I've never been a big nature person. My idea of camping is a hotel room. I'm not a big beach person, nor have I been a runner or a hiker, so while I was fascinated by the repeated response, I wasn't sure what to make of it.
But I've been thinking about that, and continued thinking about it as I watched a new program on the Discovery channel called "Frozen Planet." Basically, "Frozen Planet" looks at life in the arctic and antarctic. It's full of beautiful images, and an interesting picture of the harsh conditions in both areas, as well as the plants and animals that call the regions at the extreme …

Out of Luck

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Last week, HBO's show, "Luck," ran into some trouble. As production began on the second season, a third horse suffered an accident and had to be euthanized. This caused an uproar, an investigation, and suspension of filming. Just a few hours later, HBO pulled the plug, canceling the show.
It seemed like a big move, and a surprising move considering the show had been renewed and was working on the second season. One critic noted that the decision likely costs HBO millions of dollars which had already been spent on pre-production, scripts, and actor costs for a show that will never air.
What's even stranger is, while all this is swirling off screen, "Luck" is in the run up to its first season finale. The eighth episode aired Sunday night and the first season finale will air Sunday night. It's a strange juxtaposition as the network, on-air, tries to promote a show airing, while behind the scenes it's fallen apart.
It is hard to deny the creative credentia…

Focusing on What's Ahead

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"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 3:12-14
The above phrase, found in the middle of chapter 3, serves not only as an exhortation, but an inspiration and a reminder of how we should lives our lives and where our focus should be. The moment of our salvation is not the end, but the beginning of a new journey, one that we should strain for all of our lives.
It's inspiring to hear Paul talk about this. Paul, a great teacher and preacher near the end of his ministry and his life, talks about not having yet attained his goal. It's something he will strive for until he reaches the prize to…

March Madness

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Two full days of the NCAA Tournament have passed. How's your bracket? Of course there have been plenty of upsets, but they haven't been the ones many people expected.
If you picked the Duke Bluedevils deep into the tournament, sorry. They fell in a 2-15 matchup to Lehigh. Then there's Missouri, who many people (myself included) got suckered into thinking were a Final Four team. They, of course, went down in another 2-15 matchup to Norfolk State. NORFOK STATE!
Others that were supposed to be frauds, like Georgetown falling to Belmont, never materialized. While the scrappy bunch from Virginia Commonwealth University again advanced in the tournament despite being marginalized as a 12 seed.
That's the madness of March. That's what makes this tournament so fun. And that's what makes the end of the men's college basketball season more satisfying than the end of the college football season.
So with the fourth and fifth round games today and tomorrow, the field will na…

One of Paul's favorite symbols

This week we continue our expository look at Philippians with chapter 3. There, Paul uses one of his favorite metaphors again, circumcision. That's not the first time he talked about it, in fact it's a big part of the book of Romans as well.
The rite of circumcision was important in the Jewish culture, of which Paul was a member. But Paul often referred to it for what it was — an outward symbol. What is far more important is what's inside.
Consider this passage from Romans 2:25-59, "“Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. If those who are not circumcised keep the law's requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker. A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outwar…

Now Playing

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Here's a look at the new movies I saw this week.
Game Change Starring: Julianne Moore, Ed Harris, and Woody Harrelson Synopsis: "Game Change" is an HBO biopic that looks at the selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as a running mate for Sen. John McCain during the 2008 Presidential election. The film follows the closing months of the McCain-Palin campaign, the challenges that followed the selection of Palin, and tries to provide some insight into what went wrong. The film is a mixture of fictionalized docu-drama, based in part on the book from Mark Halperin, and file footage from the campaign. With this type of movie, you can never be sure what is accurate and what is exaggerated. Palin, and her team, have decried the movie for it's unfair representation of her. That's possibly true. But when evaluating a movie for entertainment, message, and quality, those arguments about the historical representation are secondary. So I will address this movie based on its artistic merit,…

The Confounding Case of NBC

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"When someone you love dies, you don't lose them all at once. You lose them in pieces over time..." — Joe Wentworth, "Simon Birch"
When I was growing up, NBC was my favorite network. It had the best shows and it was the most popular channel. By the time I got to college, when I was studying mass media and got to do analysis projects, NBC was hurting. When I was a junior in college, I wrote a report on the network. I identified some large vulnerabilities (along with my group) that could cause the network problems if something wasn't done to correct it.
It's been nine years since I graduated college, a decade since that project, and NBC hasn't changed course. It's gone from the No. 1 network in the 1990s to a distant fourth among the big four networks in 2012. The questions are how has that happened, and can it be fixed?
In the 1990s, NBC became the No. 1 network thanks to broad appeal shows. It was a populist network with a strong identity. "Mu…

Faith Skewered

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There aren't a lot of positive portrayals of Christianity on TV. That's something believers have come to expect. Most of the time Christian characters are marginalized or the butt of a joke. But ABC has taken this a step further with it's new show, "GCB."
Of course the show is based on a book by Kim Gatlin called "Good Christian.... (well it starts with a B and rhymes with hitches)." Hence the "GCB" moniker. It was developed for TV by Darren Star ("Beverly Hills 90210," "Sex in the City") and serves as a prime-time soap opera. It's set in the ultra religious area of Texas, so you expect some passing references to church and the Christian faith. You also get all that you'd expect from this kind of soap opera.
But it's the way that church and Christianity is portrayed that is the most frustrating and unsettling. In the world of "GCB," church isn't a place to gather to worship God. It's a place to g…

The Announcement

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The true measure of a man comes not when he is going through good times, but the way he responds when trials begin. That's what makes the book of Job so fascinating. That's what makes Jesus' example so powerful.
Earvin "Magic" Johnson is one of the greatest basketball players in history. They way he played the game was incredible. In a decade, he won five championships as defined the "Showtime" era for the Los Angeles Lakers. For a franchise that has been one of the league's best since its existence, Johnson is arguably the greatest player to have put on a Laker uniform.
But it wasn't his play on the court or his championship rings that defined the end of his career, it was what happened as a result of the way he lived off the court. Twenty years ago, Johnson stepped to the podium at the Great Western Forum and announced to the world that he had HIV. It was 1991, and HIV/Aids education wasn't what it was today. It seemed like a shock. It seeme…

The Humility of Christ

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"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!" — Philippians 2:5-8
Philippians is a wonderful and a challenging book to go through. Those that have been here for the H2O series are starting to get that. Last week, the challenge was to spread the Gospel, and the challenge in chapter two is about the attitude we're supposed to convey.
Paul starts that call early in the second chapter. What he's talking about is an attitude of humility.
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the othe…

Time Change

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Is there anything worse than being tired? Probably not. I still don't understand how our concept of time and calendars works, but this year is especially screwy. Not only do we have to endure the loss of an hour tonight/tomorrow, we got a whole extra day this year just to throw things off.
And in the fall, don't worry, we'll get that hour back. Is this how banks feel? Probably not, I don't recall getting any interest when we fall back... However, we've just got to do it. So, for the next week, if you can't figure out what time it is — you're not alone.
And, as I said last Sunday, consider this hour part of your Lent sacrifice! It won't help with the fatigue, but you'll feel better about losing an hour.

Undesirable Interloper

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Today, Peyton Manning is visiting the Denver Broncos. Manning is, without a doubt, one of the greatest quarterbacks to play in the NFL. He has great statistics and has been a machine on the field. If he's healthy, he will be a difference maker for some team.
I was blown away by his press conference Wednesday. I thought it was a classy exit for a guy who was a really the man for that franchise. He made the Indianapolis Colts relevant. He is an incredible competitor. The Colts will not be the same.
And now he's a free agent, out to make the difference for some team. I'm sure he will. I understand he's the most desirable free agent on the market. I understand everyone wants him. I don't.
I spent his entire career rooting against Peyton Manning. I plan on continuing that until he retires. I respect his talent. I think he's a great player. I hope he loses every important game. I can't reconcile those feelings with him in a Broncos uniform. That means for the second…

Now Playing

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Here's a look at the new movies that I saw this week.
The Lorax Starring the voices of: Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Ed Helms, Betty White, and Danny DeVito Synopsis: For years, the stories of Dr. Seuss have been entertaining generations of young people. The stories have been turned into TV specials, animated features, and live-action film adaptations. Typically, you know what to expect from a Dr. Seuss tale. There will be bright, colorful sets and characters, it will be kid friendly, and there will be some memorable rhyme schemes. This is somewhat true for the latest adaptation, “The Lorax,” though it’s clearly been adapted for a modern audience. And then there’s the seemingly heavy-handed environmentalism message that pervades the entire 86-minute run time. The film ends with a direct quote from Dr. Seuss, and from “The Lorax.” The quote eludes to the idea that if someone doesn’t stand up and advocate a change, things will keep getting worse. This was the point of the Seuss book when i…

Working Out Our Salvation

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"Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose." — Philippians 2:12-13.
That verse has always been a curiosity to me. It's an interesting turn of phrase, and it is also a verse that is prone to misinterpretation. One of the most challenging places I've seen it is at the end of the film "The Exorcism of Emily Rose." In the film, Emily Rose is supposedly possessed by a demon as a means of sharing faith with the world. On her tombstone, Father Moore, the priest that tried, unsuccessfully, to exorcise the demons placed that verse. I thought it was a curious choice, reflective of the curios statement being made by the filmmakers.
Some look at that verse and feel like it's an example of an exhortation that we have to work to earn our salvation. But tha…

A Bounty on the Field

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In early 2011, following an epic season on the field, the New Orleans Saints walked away as the NFL Champions. They defeated a host of good NFC teams — including Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals and Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings — to get to the Super Bowl, where they bested Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. It was a crowning achievement for the team, for its players, and for a city that had endured so much heartache.
A little more than two years later, it's hard not to see that shinning moment of glory as tainted. It's not tainted because they won, but rather because of the goals, practices, and standards put in place by coaches and those within the organization. The Saints, in short, played dirty, and the revelation of that dirty play can't help but color the way you look at those games and that success.
That is what I have come to believe after nearly a week of listening to the story of the Saints' bounty for hits and injuries that has been discus…

Walking From Civiliazation

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I don't know if there are any people that watch "The Walking Dead." I don't know if those that watch it — and like it — pick up on any of the deeper themes in the show, but I have been totally fascinated by the whole thing. So, though I wrote about it a couple weeks ago, I'm probably going to keep writing about those themes until the season ends.
Not only do I think this is one of the rare pieces of media entertainment that says a lot about humanity, and a certain view of the world, I think this show is a fascinating juxtaposition to the series we just started. We're looking at hope. This show is about a world without hope. We're preparing to remember the sacrifice of our Savior. This show is about a world that is, arguably, beyond saving. And both these thought journeys are occurring at the same time. Sure, I'm a TV/movie nerd, but sometimes it's worth thinking about these things.
"The Walking Dead" is a show that is, arguably, going nowh…