Monday, March 31, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel (not the Bible version)

I went to see the "Grand Budapest Hotel" and while it did not follow scripture, I have it on good authority that it may be as close to scripture than say "Noah".

This movie IS an acciquired taste.  It is a film by Wes Anderson who also made the recent "Moonrise Kingdom".  It even has many of the cast from Moonrise.  Anderson's movies are not  laugh out loud comedies. They are over-the-top fast paced silly stories that are acted out with great skill.  Like "Moonrise Kingdom" I had a smile on my face from beginning to end, but rarely laughed out loud.

At times it seems like an old fashioned melodrama and then suddenly I was caught totally off guard.

It is the story of a imagined European Luxury Hotel in the 1930's in an imaginary country just before a war.  It is almost like a Marx Brother's movie but the cast: Ralph Fiennes, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman and F. Murray Abraham.  Ralph Fiennes stars as the Hotel operator who has affairs with rich old ladies.  The story centers around one such lady who dies and leaves her famous possession (a famous painting) the him.  He is accused of murder and the chase is on.

It is are for F-words and old people nudity.  Not much of either.

I liked it because it was very creative and made me smile for two hours.

I give it ***1/2 stars. 2014 movie #13

Comments anyone?

I rarely get comments to my posts emailed to me by real people.  However, I get 50 emails a day from spam asking me to read another post. Yeah, right. So I have had to filter all comments. if you desire to send one, I will read it after I filter out the junk.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Head Duck

Also at the Tulsa Workshop was the Head Duck, Phil Robertson.  He was met by a thrilled audience of admirers. AS for myself, I bought the CD.  You know by now that I am NOT A FAN.

He was across between Fox News and that guy in your church that his smarter than anyone (because he said so.)  He believes that all the information you need is this:  Read the Bible, the dictionary and an encyclopedia, vote Republican, get Baptized and work hard. 

He proudly stated that he is proof that you can be a multi-millionaire without a computer or cell phone.  He stands on everything that he learned about the Bible in the 1950's. At least he reminded me of the Church of the 1950's.

He talked down to us clean shaven and was warmly greeted for doing so.

I realized that both he and Jimmy Carter may be from the South, but there are no other things in common.  

Just Sayin

My worlds collide this week: Women in the Church

Recently , on a personal level, I considered a vision for the Church that I attend. As I began to think, I was surprised by the direction that I was pulled.  

I have wondered for a while about the current crop of Christians age 25-40.  They do NOT respond to the things that hooked me at that age.  They don't want to hear still another talk or sermon, they want to experience it.  I have always been a "Can do" person, but not like this group.  I have also noticed that the women in that bracket are more invested than most of the guys. This is a generational thing.  My age group accepted equality. This group practices it.

I started investigating it last year by reading blogs by Richard Beck and my reading of the book, "the Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight.  

So, in my vision, I saw a church community that empowered the above age group to LEAD us to the future.  This will require both men and WOMEN.  Yes, I am talking about Women Leaders and Teachers. Women Deacons.  I could even accept Women Elders.  After I wrote it down, I reflected that I am in the minority traditionally.  I am not in the minority theologically.  I am at the same place I was in the 1960's when I was taught that Blacks and Whites were equal.  Funny how the Scriptures magically changed before my eyes.

I went to the Tulsa Workshop last week and listened to the talk of Ken Cukrowski, Head of the Bible Department at Abilene Christian, speak on the subject: "A Fly on the wall: What Elders are thinking at gender-inclusive Churches".  It was the first of three parts (I had to order the rest), but it was the BIBLE part. I realized that  People ARE talking about this!

Then two nights ago I listened to an interview with Jimmy Carter about his new book, "A Call To Action - Women, Religion,Violence  and Power".   (reading it now.)

He discusses the problems that the world has created by seeing women as not equal to men.  Yes, he does discuss women's role in the Church.  His independent Baptist Church in Georgia has 50% women Deacons including the Chair.

So when I look at the future of the Church, I believe Gender equality as a key to reach this generation.  AND we don't have the rewrite the BIBLE to do it.  We just have to read the REST of it.

Yes, You can teach an old dog.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Take the jump!

Went to see an advanced showing of the movie "Divergent" tonight.  Yes, it follows the book even though it is abridged.  Read my post of the book. Great cast. Great photography and effects. 

I give it ***1/2 stars.  2014 movie #12.

Friday, March 14, 2014

RoboCop and Popcorn

I put off seeing this for a long time. BUT we have gone a week without a good movie so the walls were closing in.  Having seen the 1987 version, the new  version was a surprising treat.  Super heroes that can't fly but give him a Batman type cycle and he almost does.  Great mindless fun with popcorn and Goobers.  Samuel L. Jackson uses his grating personality to his advantage as he supplies "fun for Republicans" with a Fox News type show that weaves into the story.  Like I said: This is a Good vs. Evil Story with action for us popcorn lovers.

It is PG13, so the one F-word is almost missed.

This is the 1987 poster.  Notice the new Robo Cop looks a lot like the new Batman except Robo is out in Daylight too.

I give it **1/2 stars.  2014 Movie 11

Sunday, March 9, 2014

screens: little and big

In 1985 I designed Tulsa's Garnett Church of Christ Worship Center.  It was a large octagon shape where the seating filled 7 of the eight sections, not totally in the round but the balcony was.  The Building seats 3,500 people with no seat more than 70 feet from the speaker's stand.  The idea was to get Christians in large numbers to gather together in a group where we could see and share with each other.  It is a literal interpretation of "singing to one another".  This was before video screens changed everything.

The Worship Center where I now attend ( and also designed) has movable seating. So today 29 years later it was arranged in almost the same 7/8 s  section for a special Communion service.  The Video screens are set for all to face ONE direction. So though we faced each other, we did not make eye contact fore we were turning our heads to see the screens.

It was similar to those gatherings where we are all there but busy looking at our phones.  Together and separate at the same time.   The service was great but we are easily distracted "these days".

Hope we don't start sending the power points to our phones.  We will never see each other again.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


I read all the Harry Potter books before the movies.  I read the "Mockingjay" trilogy before the movies.  I DID NOT read "Ender's Game" trilogy before that first movie.  When I heard about the book, "Divergent" coming out as a movie, I raced to get ahead of this trilogy.  I am about finished with the book and eagerly wait the movie.

What is "Divergent"? you ask.  Well, take a bit of Harry Potter, add in some Ender's game, take a bit of "Mockingjay", and mix together in the Chicago of the future.  No, it is not a rip-off of the other stories but there are familiar ideas.   It is about the division of society into 5 different factions, the selection process where each 16 year old chooses their future, training and the other story.

Great Read. Like Harry Potter and Ender's Game the books were aimed at youth, but quickly discovered by adults.

I recommend.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Snow Days at Church

We had a snow day at Church today because of the winter storm.  We had about 41 people there and had a devotional service and actually went old school, singing from hymnals.  We sung the old favorite from back in the day. You know, when we did not consider praise songs superior to great songs. it was a great service.

It did remind me of my childhood.  Back then everyone came whether there was a storm or not.  Those that came were the "Faithful Christians".  Also because of the car conscience people, you didn't want anyone to know that your car or truck couldn't make it.  Now we do consider SAFETY.

What we did not do back in the day was - have donuts.

Today we had  41 one people and 144 donuts!


This year I have seen every Best Picture movie but one and a half movies. I did not see "Her" and last half of "Wolf".   I have seen all acting of Best Actor , Actress, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress.

These are my guesses and then who will likely win:

Best Picture:  My favorite is 12 Years a Slave.  It will be between it and American Hustle.

Best Actor:  My favorite is Mathew McConaughey.   He should take it.

Best Actress: My favorite is Meryl Streep.  Eyone says that Cate Blanchett will win and she is very good.

Best Supporting Actor: My Favorite is  Bradley Cooper or Jared Leto.  Leto will probably win.

Best Supporting Actress:  My favorite is Jennifer Lawrence.  Toss up

This is one of the best years for the Oscars. There is not a weak one in the group.

Great Year for movies.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Son of God Movie

No, this is not a review.

Several years ago when the New International Version of the Bible was published, my Dad got a copy and spent a day comparing it the the King James Version. It passed his test - barely.  The Revised Standard Version did not pass his test.

I tell this to say: As a Believer, I am not eager to see this movie.  I know this sounds unChristian but what is the point?   If I see it will I be grading it's story versus the story in my Bible.  It clearly will not reveal anything new to me.  ir may show special effects that weren't possible the last time around, but I did see the previews.  The actor playing Jesus looks identical to every black velvet Jesus and painting of Jesus in my life - a white guy, not a Jew.  For me the only challenging portrait of Christ, lately,  is the one the the fictional "The Shack".  That made he think for a long time.

But Mike you say:  What about those who don't know the Story of Jesus?  I think they SHOULD see it!

Let's not lose sight that we have to PAY to see this Jesus.  This movie is for profit. It is not a public service.  It is made because someone said, "Hey, this Duck Dynasty thing is a big market.  Lrt's tap into that.  All Christians will think they have to go." (fictional)

This is another case where I bet the book is better than the movie.

Sounds cynical I know. It just hits me wrong.   I think you should go though.

My Jesus does not need Hollywood.

Storytelling 2 - Alan Jackson

Got to see Alan Jackson in concert last night. As a singer/songwriter he is one of the ultimate storytellers.  When he presents his music, he is telling is life story.  He played songs like "Remember  When", "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning", "Here in the Real World," "Chattahoochee" and "Drive (for Daddy Gene)" and "Small Town Southern Man".   He plays honky-tonk songs as well, but his ballads are very emotional for him and the audience (especially me).

Here is a glimpse of a great story.  If you don't want to read to story, at least read the chorus.
Better still: Find Alan singing it on YOUTUBE.

Small Town Southern Man by Alan Jackson

Born the middle son of farmer
And a small town Southern man
Like his daddy's daddy before him
Brought up workin' on the land
Fell in love with a small town woman
And they married and settled down
Natural way of life if you're lucky
For a small town Southern man

First there came four pretty daughters
For this small town Southern man
Then a few years later came another
A boy, he wasn't planned
Seven people living all together
In a house built with his own hands
Little words with love and understanding'
From a small town Southern Man


And he bowed his head to Jesus
And he stood for Uncle Sam
And he only loved one woman
(He) was always proud of what he had
He said his greatest contribution
is the ones you leave behind
Raised on the ways and gentle kindness
Of a small town Southern Man

Callous hands told the story
For this small town Southern man
He gave it all to keep it all together
To keep his family on his land
Like his daddy, years wore out his body
Made it hard to walk and stand
But you can't break the spirit
Of a small town Southern man

(Repeat chorus)

Finally death came calling'
For this small town Southern man
He said its alright 'cause I see angels
And they got me by the hand
Don't you cry and don't you worry
I'm blessed and I know I am
"Cause GOD has a place in heaven 
For a small town Southern man.

(Repeat Chorus)