All That I Cannot Myself Say

A couple of months ago, I started a blog post in order to just kinda spill the way I was feeling in work within the thoughts about church. I've been unsuccessful at finishing that post, because every time I tried to add to it or edit, it never really communicated what I wanted to say. It always seemed to come out too harsh, sarcastic, understated, unfair, selfish, or what have you.

So today I just grabbed a book off my shelf in my office that I've been meaning to read for a while but just haven't had the chance. So on a whim I grabbed the book and went to...well...the reading room. It was there that I read the paragraph that probably best describes my heart at this point in time. The excerpt is from the preface of the book Organic Church by Neil Cole. I can neither recommend or review the book as I have not yet read it, but based on the preface I am pretty excited....and somewhat afraid that given my present disposition. Perhaps I shouldn't read this book.

Anyway, on to the excerpt. Here is my heart wrapped up in a few short sentences.

"Many people are longing for a greater cause. They are no longer content with 'church as usual.' They read of the church in the New Testament, and their curiosity is piqued. The New Testament accounts are far removed from their experience every week. They hear contemporary stories of the church expanding rapidly in parts of China and India, and their hearts soar. Dare they dream for something more? 'Can I experience the same power?' they ask. 'Can God work here, in this place? Will the Kingdom of God unleash itself on an unsuspecting society such as the United States?'

I'd like to add to that, and clarify it...but I can't as yet.

What do you think?

New Music Review

So apparently I am in a blog-all-things-entertainment mood. I was just thinking that I've got three or four new records in the last couple of months and I have always felt an obligation to share in good music whenever I come across some. So I'd like to share briefly with you some good music you should buy.

The first record I'd like to recommend is the new The Myriad record entitled "With Arrows With Poise". If you ever run across MTV (why I do not know) then you've probably seen The Myriad. They are getting some commercial time from them, and rightfully so. I got the first The Myriad record and was really unimpressed. In fact I am not sure what drove me to pick up this sophomore release, but I am ever glad that I did. The album's music is unique, very well executed, and just a little bit dark. There are some definite nods to RadioHead and Coldplay (what band doesn't sound like Coldplay right.......more on that in a moment). The lyrics really shine on this record, as they are really thought-provoking, serious, and in a word -- redemptive. I'd like to think that if Christian music has to be a genre, then this album would be the benchmark for quality of lyrics and integrity of message and artistic integrity of the music!

I picked up the new Coldplay record, Viva La Vida, a couple of weeks ago. In so many ways this album is a typical Coldplay record while at the same time it is so not the typical Coldplay record. I would almost venture to say that Coldplay, realizing that now everybody sounds like Coldplay, attempted to, themselves, not sound like Coldplay. Of course in trying not to sound like themselves, they at times sound just like themselves, while at other times they only sound like themselves trying not to sound like themselves. There are 3-4 standout songs, but for the most part it moves a bit slow. I was kinda excited with the lyrical content, and still think there are some great lines, questions and ponderings. They seem to have a fascination with God, death, and the spiritual. However, Rolling Stone magazine spoiled the lyrics with there interview of lead singer Chris Martin, who doesn't yet know the God of the Bible unfortunately...may he come to know him soon!

My newest purchase was a band called Colour Revolt. I've just been exposed to them over the last couple of months and I am rather impressed, especially considering that these guys are from Mississippi! Plunder, Beg, and Curse is a quirky, loud, roller coaster of a record, going from quiet pretty melodies, to loud, distorted and repetitive screams...and not clean pseudo-metal type screaming, but primitive, visceral's refreshing in a weird way. They are extremely artistic, and like The Myriad seemingly a bit dark, with more than just hints of redemption and salvation. Lyrically they are tops...really unique, creative, unusual, thought-provoking, and even humorous at times. They don't really sound like Coldplay that much, so that is nice!

I was going to review Hillsong United's record I Heart Revolution, but I am thinking perhaps I will not. I will recommend it, because it is a good worship record. I have my thoughts about some of the writing but I will spare you....other than to say there are several Coldplay comparisons that could be made.

Summer Movie Review: Part 1

As promised, I want to review a few movies (both in the theater and on DVD) that I have viewed over the first half of the summer. This post is labeled part 1, as there are a few other movies that I want to see in the near future, so perhaps by the end of the summer I will be able to post Part 2.

Now, before I begin my reviews, I would like to give you the criteria by which I will review the movies. My reason for this is because I often visit a christian movie review site called pluggedinonline. It is a decent site that kinda helps me decide whether or not to view particular movies. My only problem with the site is that if I took the advice of the pluggedin reviewers, I would never see a movie. Basically they use about 10-12 paragraphs to give their review, and only one of those paragraphs (and it's usually really short) is devoted to anything positive about the movie. They spend the other 9-11 paragraphs with profanity counts, body counts, and any other negative and oft-times snide comments about the movie. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate knowing the amount of profanity in a movie before I see it, but I also think there is more to a movie than the language used. I could go on and on, but I say all this to say that I would like my reviews to be more thorough and fair than that (hmmm...we could call it a thorough-fair review HA!). I view movies through the eyes of my faith, so I want take the good with the bad, and try to apply what I see to the depravity and redemption that is at war in our real world.

Ok, so I will rate the movie based on it's entertainment value (scale of 1 to 10, one being a snoozer and 10 being HOLY COW THAT WAS AWESOME), the quality of the various aspects of the movie (i.e. filming, graphics, script, character development, scale, just my thoughts), and I will give a recommendation value, based on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being a "must-see" and 1 being a "piece-of-hot-trash-never-to-be-seen". I am sure there will be other various and sundry items of consideration for the different movies. So without further ado, I give you SUMMER MOVIE REVIEW PART 1 ('s the echo in case you didn't catch it!)

1. Ironman - I officially started off the summer with this movie. It did not disappoint! I am a sucker for superhero movies to begin with, but this was a lot different than many other of those sometimes-unrealistic, based-in-comic-book-fantasy-world movies. It had a much more realistic plot...of course it was a bit far fetched, but it had the reality touch that some of these type movies miss. Good action, good plot, good music and I thought Robert Downey Jr. was superb (however, coincidentally, I always get him confused with Harry Conick Jr.) This movie had some good humor as well, brought by Downey Jr. (aka Tony Stark). All around, Iron Man was a great guy movie. There is already a release date set for Iron Man 2, so be sure to catch the first one.

Entertainment Rating - 8 -

Recommendation rating - 9

2. Batman Begins - I am a little behind in seeing this one, but better late than never for sure! This was a great movie, and I watched it to gear up for The Dark Knight due out next week. Again, they made Batman seem a little more realistic, a little more dark and conflicted, and a lot more Man this movie was really great, and Christian Bale was stellar! I am really pumped about the Dark Knight.

Entertainment Rating - 9

Recommendation Rating - 9

3. Hulk - I have mentioned a little about this movie in my last post, but I thought I'd give it a rating just for fun. The best part of this movie was the end, and Edward Norton, if you like him, which made the nearly 2 hours of the rest of the movie worth it. But all in all, it was probably a renter at best.

Entertainment Rating - 6

Recommendation Rating - 4

4. Jumper - Tasted great, but was definitely less filling. Jumper was all of the hype and special effects with hardly any plot whatsoever. I'll say the effects were cool, and I feel confident there will be a sequel, but the movie didn't make a whole lot of sense. The tiny back story in the movie had major holes, and the lead role, played by Hayden Christensen was dreadfully weak.

Entertainment Rating - 6

Recommendation Rating - 2

5. The Bucket List - Much different than what I expected from the previews, the Bucket List was an irreverent look at two guys who have just found out they have 6 months to a year to live. While participating in all kind of skydiving, rocky mountain climbing, 2.7 seconds on a bull name fu-man-choo, there is some pretty heavy dialogue about life, death, God, faith, and forgiveness. Don't look for the movie to give you the answers to life, and certainly don't look for it to line up with Jesus, but it does make one think. I really appreciated that about this movie, is that it forces the viewer to ponder a side of humanity that many of us rarely dedicate much time to (except for say at funerals or whatnot). As I said, you'll have to wade through a bit of irreverence, but this one is a humorous and thought-provoking little gem.

Entertainment Rating - 6

Recommendation Rating - 7

6. The Great Debaters - Set in the midst of the great depression, this movie chronicles just a portion of the African-American struggle to be treated equally in our country. This movie is really about a huge stain in America's history, and the story needs to be told. The Great Debaters has little-to-no action per se, but there are some suspenseful moments, and the plot is really unique. There are a couple of sub-par performances by the supporting cast (man did Forest Whitaker butcher a southern accent or what!), but Denzel, who is known for quality movies did his usual good job. (except for Training Day, I'm not sure Denzel makes bad movies!!) While this movie is about events in our history, I think it is still an important message for our culture today. We still have huge strides that need to be made when it comes to equality, racism, and seeing EVERYONE as Imago Dei.

Entertainment Rating - 7 (hard to say that such a part of history is entertaining, but I am referring to the actual story, not the historical setting here!)

Recommendation Rating - 8

7. Juno So this is the strangest movie I've seen since Napolean Dynamite. Juno is a pseudo-indie flick that is quite crass, crude, rude, and offensive, while at the same time being quite real, honest, and bare. The music that litters the flick is delightfully obnoxious (indie-folk music at its best....or worst). I think this movie is important for people to see, because I think it is a strongly accurate portrayal of this generation. The main character is like one big shinning example of today's youth sentiment, outlook, faith, and vocabulary. And amongst the weirdness, there are some important questions and commentaries about abortion, parenting, marital faithfulness, and adolescence. Again, if you're looking for all the answers, or for something that lines up with the teachings of the Bible, this isn't it, and I would scarce say that Hollywood has the moral or spiritual compass to produce any such work. But if you'll allow yourself to see this movie through the eyes of Christian faith in comparison to post-modern thought, it will be quite revealing. Too much for a movie you say...perhaps...but perhaps not.

Entertainment Rating - 4 (I wasn't really entertained due to the content)

Recommendation Rating - 8

So that is all for now. Stay tuned for Summer Movie Review Part 2 in the near future. Until then, what are some good movies you've seen lately. Any thoughts about the above reviewed movies?

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