The Adjustment Bureau

One of my pet peeves about contemporary media is the tendency of movie trailers to give away major plot points.  After seeing some trailers, I suspect I no longer need to see the whole film.

Having said that, I watched “The Adjustment Bureau” tonight, and it diverged from my expectations of it more than any other film I can remember seeing.  It was a good movie experience.  I am home alone tonight, with the rest of the family at the Ronald McDonald House at Children’s Memorial Hospital, and the movie made me think about how grateful I am for my family.

But I won’t say much more than that about the film, in case you haven’t seen it.  I thought it was a science-fiction movie, and it is.  At the same time, I think that it was a more personal and emotional brand of science-fiction than I am used to.  I suspect that there are a lot of people who assumed they would have no interest who would, in fact, enjoy it very much.

Make Your Own Tradition

Fireworks on the 4th of July haven’t quite worked out right for us in recent years. Zach loves fireworks, and isn’t bothered in the least by the sound. Josh loves the visuals, but the booming audio is unbearable for him.
For several years, we would sit out on our front sidewalk, where we could see the shows from several neighboring towns, and barely hear the crashes. Still, it was too much for Josh, so he would sit in the house, watching through the front windows and yelling out to us that he could still feel the booms.
Well, and entire summer at Disney World seems to have slightly loosened Josh up; in fact, when we were there again in April, Josh even endured being out in the park during a fireworks show one night.
So how did we watch fireworks this time?
Everyone curled up on our king-sized bed, watching out the bedroom windows. And as we did, Josh hummed “The Star-Spangled Banner”. He was determined to make his musical addition end with the show, so he kept looping back into the song as he neared the end. At one point, he switched to “Yankee Doodle Dandy” for a while, and I coaxed him into a little bit of “1812 Overture”. Still, we ended up back at “Star Spangled Banner”, and as the finale filled our window view, Josh broke out into full-throated joy: “O’er the land of the free/and the home of the brave!”
It was magic.

More Thoughts on Family and Church

It is hard to blog on vacation, as the days tend to run until they crash, and there is little time for solitude.  I had half of an idea typed out, then a family crisis (threat level: powder blue)* happened, and when I returned to it, it was gone. However, I’ve finished the book Think Orange, and it certainly continued to push my thinking about how church and family intersect.

*My own Family Crisis Threat Level scale features the following colors, in order of ascending threat: Pink, Powder Blue, Violet, Black. There is little significance to any of this.

The key that catches my attention as I think about the ideas the author (Reggie Joiner) proposes is this: I have pastored for almost 15 years, and I have never thought about children’s and youth ministry in terms of equipping parents to do what they have been charged to do. And now that the idea has been laid before me, it feels as if there can be no going back. This is going to have to mean change.

For members of St. Paul Church who may be wondering, “Oh no,what does this mean?” – well, I don’t know. How much change it will mean depends on how much others will be willing to follow this trail. But I won’t be able to do the things I do in the same way. The whole thesis feels like one of those things that should have been obvious but wasn’t.

Away we go!

Still Remembering Gene

One of the people who helped change my mind in an irrevocable way is named Gene Eugene.  He died 11 years ago today, and I wanted to take this place to celebrate him for the way he changed my mind.  Gene was a musician, the lead singer and lyricist and guitar player for a band named Adam Again, which later led to him being a part of other bands (Swirling Eddies, Lost Dogs).  He was also a music producer.  What Gene and several other musicians did for me while I was in my late teens and early 20’s was make Christian music  that was not derivative* of what was happening in “Secular” culture.  It was music that was earnest and authentic, an expression of art and heart and spirit that also spoke the language of the world around it (and me).  The music of Gene Eugene (and others) was simultaneously timely and true.

*Of course, virtually all music is derivative in some way – it’s almost impossible to use instruments and voices to do something that hasn’t been done before on some level.  That’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about the tendency of Christian “culture” when I was a teen in the late 80’s (and sadly, still today) to take something from popular, “secular” culture and imitate it for Christian consumption, implicitly with all of the “secularity” scooped out and replaced with Jesus.  As in (to borrow an actual comparison guide that is about 3 and half years old): “If your kids want to listen to Lenny Kravitz, Stevie Wonder, and Red Hot Chili Peppers, then they’ll love Hyper Static Union!”  It happens with music, books, film, performance art – pretty much any form of cultural expression that can be copied.  And it has all the power and depth of a Wayans brothers spoof film.  Which makes me wonder who will be the Christian who comes up with a “Christianized” version of Charlie Sheen’s twitter feed?  (apologies to Joe Posnanski for blatantly borrowing his footnoting technique, which is utterly sensible to me)

And that experience I had of modern music by Christians that stood on its own merits dropped a rock so large into the pond of my soul that it is sending off ripples still.  Simply put, Christians should be the best culture makers, because we are children of the Maker of true culture.  Gene Eugene was one of the first people to help me come to that thought.  Thanks, Gene (and Charlie Peacock, and Michael Roe, and Steve Hindalong and Derri Daugherty, and Terry Scott Taylor, and Mike Knott, to name a few).

Trouble with Lies (lyric by Gene Eugene, 1988)

They unveil their latest crusade
It’s some moral outrage they’re stopping
Worldwide, religious arcade
It means their income was dropping
The host looks sincere
Irrelevant facts aren’t a part of his career

The trouble with lies
When you tell them you still got to sell them
With the look in your eyes
Oh, that’s the trouble with lies
As far as I’m concerned
With the lessons I’ve learned
I’m determined to try and survive
Without lies

This time it’s her out ’til two
He hears the car in the driveway
He wonders what story she’ll use
Did she get lost on the highway
He knows what it’s like
He had to come up with a good one last night

The trouble with lies
When you tell them you still got to sell them
With the look in your eyes
Oh, that’s the trouble with lies
As far as I’m concerned
With the lessons I’ve learned
I’m determined to try and survive
Without lies

I wish you could just tell the truth
I hear your voice getting nearer
It brings back the crimes of your youth
Avoid your eyes in the mirror
The trouble with lies
Is that you start to forget where the real man hides

The trouble with lies
When you tell them you still got to sell them
With the look in your eyes
Oh, that’s the trouble with lies
As far as I’m concerned
With the lessons I’ve learned
I’m determined to try and survive
Without lies