Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

I’m a bit of a Narnia Fanboy.  I’ll admit it; I love reading the novels and am currently going through the series…again.  As some of you may know, the next installment of Narnia is in production right now.  20th Century Fox is now filming (or possibly editing) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  You have no idea how excited I am.  First off, this is one of my two favorites from the book (the other being The Last Battle).  So to say I’m excited is a bit of an understatement.

The buzz around the interwebs seems to be a little lackluster.  I’m kind of bummed about this.  I know the Narnia movies weren’t the blockbuster successes that the Lord of the Rings trilogy was.  But in all reality, they are excellent adaptations.  I do think that the LOTR’s success kind of trumped Narnia and set it up for less than stellar ticket sales.  If you look at how the two films were presented, LOTR was shown for the adult world, Narnia was for the family.  You can clearly see this when comparing the battle scenes between LOTR’s The Return of the King, and Narnia’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  LOTR’s was dirty, gritty, in your face.  Narnia’s was like a nice shiny tag match in the playground.  But film critics shouldn’t see this as a negative.  It’s actually more true to the books being that they were shot that way.  LOTR was written more as an adult fantasy land, Narnia was written for younger audiences.  Either way, I still really enjoyed both Narnia movies and the LOTR trilogy.

So, some quick information, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is slated to be released December 10, 2010 (just after my birthday for those wondering).  It has the same actors playing Lucy, Edmund, and Prince Caspian as previously in the series.  I assume they’ll stay on for The Silver Chair to finish out the Caspian triad. 

Now all over the internet there are nay-sayers claiming they probably won’t make all the Narnia movies because they aren’t making them in order.  Also, they claim that the children will be too old to keep playing Lucy, Edmund, Peter, and Susan in future movies, therefore they’ll have to replace them and it’ll suck.  Well, first off, they ARE making them in order.  They are making them in the order that they were written.  It was only in the 80’s that the publisher decided to “re-order” the series to be more chronologically correct.  Second point, since they are making them in literary order, the ages of the actors will not matter because after The Silver Chair, when the children are seen in The Boy and His Horse and The Last Battle they are adults.  So when they finally get to making these movies, the children will probably be the correct age.

So, after this long barrage of nerd-dom what should we do?  GO…SEE…THIS…MOVIE.  Even if you don’t care about this, I want to share Narnia with my kids via books AND movies.  So for the sake of my children, buy tickets to this movie.  You don’t even have to go to the movie, just buy tickets.

So you might be thinking, where is this coming from?  I thought KaGe was a level-headed thinker that has deep thoughts that are sometimes crazy and incorrect.  Well, my nerdiness is just another layer in the onion my friends.  Next time I get in a nerdtastic mood we’ll discuss Star Wars, how the entire series is about Vader, and how it’s a perfect tale of redemption.

My 2¢.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

National News Propaganda and the Destruction of the USA

I don’t like to play politics.  In fact I hate political banter.  Sure if friends of mine start laying it on thick to a view that I oppose, I’ll state my opinion.  And on occasion my friends and I have had some fairly heated discussions about certain hot topic government decisions.  But all in all, I hate politics.  I’m sure you’ve heard the joke, “What’s the true meaning of ‘Politics’?  Well, Poly means many, and ticks are blood sucking insects.  So there you go, Politics: Many blood sucking insects.  Honestly there are times when I wonder.  So when all is said I have my views, you have yours, let’s not discuss them because it’s going to end in tears.

But this isn’t about politics and my distain for them.  Rather this is about how we, as a country, have let the political punditry of national news networks like Fox News, CNN, et al, systematically divide and create the great chasm between us.

I will admit, at one point in time, I was a Fox News-aholic.  It’s how I was brought up; it’s where I got my news.  In recent years I have started watching CNN more.  And up until probably the last three months, I don’t watch either.  It’s not that I don’t want to be informed.  In fact I believe that knowing what’s going on in the world is vital to being a Christian.  How are we supposed to know where we are needed if we don’t know what’s going on in the world?  If we didn’t watch the news, would we have known about the earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, and Turkey?  Would we have been able to be so swift in the assisting of digging out and rebuilding these countries?  Would millions of people still donate millions of dollars to the efforts?  Probably not.  In fact I think that without being informed and knowing what’s going on in the world, the Christian aid organizations would have a very minimal impact on the world compared to what they’re doing today.

All that said I still don’t watch the news.  Here’s why.  Let me ask you a question: What are Fox News’, CNN’s and other new networks’ main goal?  Is it informing the world?  No.  Is it painting an accurate picture of what’s going on?  No.  Does it have ANYTHING to do with ANY sort of information education?  Absolutely not.  The ONLY goal of national news networks is to…drum roll please…sell advertising time.  That’s right; you may think that CNN and Fox News have noble intentions on reporting.  But in fact they are selling advertising space.  Why else do you think that two bit hacks like Glen Beck and Keith Olbermann (although Olbermann was HILARIOUS on Sportscenter) have air time?  Fox News is known to be more conservative in their reporting.  So they’re going to draw the conservative crowds to watch.  CNN is more the liberal side.  It has nothing to do with news.  Both of these networks play their political cards all under the veil of honest, news reporting.  I remember during the last election, CNN ran the tagline, “CNN is Politics”.  Wow, I didn’t know.  So if CNN is politics, then Fox News must not be.  But then Fox News was (and still is) billed as, “Fox News: Fair and Balanced”.  Really?  So that must mean that CNN isn’t fair OR balanced.  But quite often these two networks report completely different news.  While President Bush was in office, the poor guy couldn’t get a thing right according to CNN.  According to CNN his entire two terms were faux pas.  But according to Fox News he was doing alright.  The things he was promoting and pushing forward might seem risky, but eventually will benefit our country and the world.  But now with President Obama in office, it seems that the roles have switched.  Fox News reports that President Obama is running this country into the ground, but CNN seems to paint a different, more optimistic view of the president.  So who’s right?  Neither.  Both “report” the news with a heavy handed traditional or southpaw slant to it.  The only news that they actually report is usually found in the headlines that come up as graphics on the bottom of the page, “So and so did such and such”.  That’s all the actual news they report.  Then they take 30-60 minutes of everyone’s time explaining how it’s a terrible or a great addition to our country.  Both of these news networks have taken the credibility from the early days when they’d actually report news, and have drug it through the political hog trough to form the current news networks we call Fox News and CNN.  All in the name of ratings; and the higher the ratings, the more companies will want to buy advertising time.

So what can we do with this mess?  Where can we get our news?  Well, I’ve devised a formula that can guide anyone through the political muck.  It’s simply this: take the number of letters in the U.S.-based news network name (CNN would be 16, Cable News Network, Fox News Channel would be 14), multiply that by the year the network was founded (CNN:1980, FNC:1996), taken to the power of how many political pundits they employ (I don’t know this number, but I’m guessing it’s high), all divided by the number of minutes  during the day they report opinion instead of news (there are only 1440 minutes in a day, but I’m guess both of these channels hover right around the 1300 range, maybe a little more for MSNBC).  Take that total, write it on a piece of paper, crumple it up and throw it in a fire.  Then turn the television to the BBC to get your news…or better yet watch the local news at 6 and 10 and mute it if there’s any political punditry.

So what can we do?  How can we mend the chasm that Network News propaganda has cut?  In the words of the late Johnny Cash from his song The One on the Right is on the Left, “Now this should be a lesson if you plan to start a folk group, Don’t go mixing politics with the folk songs of our land, Just work on harmony and diction, Play your banjo well, And if you have political convictions keep them to yourself.”

My 2¢.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What I Learned...

Over the course of Lent, I decided to do an “Internet as entertainment” fast.  I decided that over the course of Lent I was going to give up the internet for all forms of entertainment.  This meant that I didn’t do any sort of Facebook, blogging, forums, YouTube, etc.  It was an interesting time to say the least, but it was good.

The first week of Lent I was in Costa Rica on a short term mission trip.  I did blog about each day on the trip, so the fast wasn’t fully in place.  But I felt it was necessary to use the internet here because it was the main form of communication with some people that donated to the trip.  I do think it was a little easier starting the fast coming back to business as usual being that I had very minimal internet access for two weeks before. 

The first week back in my office after Costa Rica was an interesting time.  It was pretty easy to leave Facebook and the forums alone.  Not blogging was a little tougher to handle, although I did write a bit during this time.  There will be a few posts that I have written over Lent that you will see in the coming weeks.  But the first week was good.  The first thing I noticed was that all of a sudden I had an hour at the end of the day that was free.  Now you may be thinking, “An hour?  Really?!?!  Holy crap man, you’re addicted!”   Well, I don’t really think so.  If you do the math, that’s only 12 short 5 minute stops at Facebook throughout the day.  It adds up.  As I’m in and out of my office, I would often sit and open Facebook quick, check a couple things, post a silly status, make a funny comment on a friend’s status, all of a sudden….BAM, five minutes gone.  So in the absence of these little five minute spurts, all of a sudden I have an hour to do…whatever!  As I said in a previous post, I was going to spend this time in prayer and Bible reading, etc.  I first started to catch up on my Bible reading.  I cruised through Exodus and started Deuteronomy.  I also picked up my guitar for the first time in months and played through some worship songs in my office.  I had small, intimate worship times in my office, alone.  It was a great time to reflect, especially since it’s Lent, on what Christ did for us. 

On top of my new found hour at the end of the day, I was motivated to get back into the gym.  I didn’t want to lose what the work in Costa Rica did to my body.  So I decided to take an hour at lunch and hit the gym.  Those that know me know that I’m not in any sort of Men’s Health shape.  I’ve been a big guy my whole life and I’ve decided it’s time to not be.  The idea of getting back into the gym was partially trying to get healthy, but also (with all the open time/reading I’ve been doing) I needed to get out of my office more. 

The really cool thing that I experienced through Lent was a deeper understanding of the Passion.  I’ve been a church kid my whole life, I’ve heard the Passion story A LOT!  The issue we run into when we hear something over and over again is that it begins to feel stale.  But this year it seemed fresh.  I think it was because of my extra time in the Word, worship, and with God.  Also, on top of this, I’ve been taking my Middle Schoolers through a great curriculum called Old Skool Jesus (youth pastors, find it HERE).  It’s a 12 week study on the person of Jesus.  It’s been great because it leads middle schoolers into deep conversations about who Jesus was, what he did, was he fully God, was he fully human, how does Jesus’ claim of salvation compare to other religions, etc.  The week before Holy Week we went through the physical effects of crucifixion on a person’s body and then talked about our physical, emotional, and spiritual reactions to this.  It was very impacting and for the first time in years and years, reading the Passion story, alone in my office, brought me to tears.  And somehow this silly little experiment we call fasting for Lent made total sense.  It’s not supposed to be a time of suffering.  Lent and fasting are supposed to be preparation times that we put away something that keeps us from seeing the true meaning of the season.  It’s a form of repentance, a type of turning away from the comforts we have placed in our lives and turning towards Jesus.  It’s not legalism, it’s not feel-good Jesus, it’s simply and purely relationship.  It’s this relationship that makes it all real, makes it all true.  It’s this relationship and the absence of it that makes Christianity unbelievable to the unbeliever.  It’s this relationship that cannot be fully known by reading the Bible, going to church on Sundays and youth group on Wednesdays.  It’s this relationship that has to be experienced by the believer, trusted in during the dry times, and rejoiced in during the high times.  As the late and great Johnny Cash sings, “Your own…personal…Jesus…”

My 2¢.