Owl Post 4-18-14

Owl Post

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If All Religions Are True, Then God Is Cruel:

world-religionsThe short film Most made its way onto the big screen more than 10 years ago. A brilliantly moving piece of cinema, the film tells the story of a single father who lives with his son in the Czech Republic. The pair share simple yet content lives together. The father works as a bridge engineer—he is responsible for raising and lowering a massive draw-bridge that allows ships and trains to pass at scheduled times. One day, the boy happened to be at the bridge with his father. As he’s playing outside, he notices a train rapidly approaching the station.

Why How I Met Your Mother’s Marshall and Lily Were TV’s Best Sitcom Couple:

tumblr_l7vaf65RMu1qdsisgo1_500For many casual fans of How I Met Your Mother, the treacly plot of Ted seeking out “the Mother” grew unbearably manipulative, right up through the twists and turns of last night’s final episode. And yet, our nostalgic flame will burn on for many aspects of HIMYM, among them the awesomeness of Lily and Marshall. The married college sweethearts, played by comedy heavyweights Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan, provided a model for happy but rarely boring coupledom, even as the show’s other characters fumbled romantically. For every obnoxious rom-com gesture that Ted attempted, Lily and Marshall were there to point out that the real thing is as messy as it is sweet.

Hollywood tries to win Christians’ faith:

1Randall Wallace didn’t expect a rock-star reception when he went on the road to promote his faith-based drama “Heaven Is for Real” ahead of its Easter-weekend release.

Yet at the First Assembly of God Church in Phoenix, 9,000 congregants greeted the filmmaker with a standing ovation. A few days later, 11,000 boisterous students packed a convocation in the sports arena at Liberty University, a Christian college in Lynchburg, Va., where Wallace, best known for writing the 1995 battle biopic “Braveheart” and directing the equestrian drama “Secretariat,” spoke about “Heaven Is for Real.”

Literary City, Bookstore Desert:

storewindownight_0When Sarah McNally, the owner of McNally Jackson bookstore in Lower Manhattan, set out to open a second location, she went to a neighborhood with a sterling literary reputation, the home turf of writers from Edgar Allan Poe to Nora Ephron: the Upper West Side.

She was stopped by the skyscraper-high rents.

The Underrated, Universal Appeal of Science Fiction:

science-fictionWhen I’m introduced to someone as a writer, a now familiar pattern of events often follows.

“Oh, really! How interesting!” the someone—let’s call her Jane—says, sounding quite enthusiastic. “What do you write?”

“Science fiction,” I say.

Jane instantly glazes over. “I’m afraid I never read science fiction.”


Noah – Review

noah-movie-poster-castNoah is the new movie loosely based on the biblical narrative found in Genesis from director Darren Aronofsky. This movie has faced controversy since even before it’s release, with Christians worried about how a proclaimed atheist would portray something they take seriously. As a film it has great acting, fantastic effects and a story that might be more interesting if it was not based on something so many see as sacred.

The Good:

There are a few things that Aronofsky does well in this film. One, he shows clearly the reasons why “The Creator” (What God is called all throughout the movie) wants to destroy humanity. The depravity seen is rampant and disturbing. People are shown trading teenage girls for food, there is murder, chaos and misuse of creation in every way possible. This is humanity at is basest, with it’s evil core completely exposed. Sin has infected everyone. Secondly, the idea of sin in all people is reenforced when Noah himself realizes that he and his family are not righteous. There is a clear representation of the biblical refrain, “none is righteous, no not one”.  These are powerful reminders of the impact that sin has had on the world since Adam and Eve took life into their own hands and chose themselves over God.

The Bad:

A friend of mine said about Noah, “Even in the truth, it is twisted somehow”. There are quite a few examples of this. Tubal Cain, a descendant of Cain and the main antagonist in the film, uses the truth of God’s command to Adam and Eve,  “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” and yet twists it for his own advantage. He uses it for justification to curse “The Creator” and do as he damn well pleases (a paraphrase of his own words). He subjugates people as well as strip mines the earth, caring for nothing but himself; a pattern that all the peoples of the earth follow except for line of Seth (Which Noah is the last of). Tubal Cain also uses the fact that man is made in God’s image to his benefit. To him, it gives man the place of God on earth and therefore he can rule and reign as he sees fit.

Each of these things has a part of the truth in them. Man was called, by God to subdue the earth, to be his representation and care for all that God had created. This meant respect for all God had created, beast, environment and people. God also had created only man in his image and therefore set them apart from all other created things. Again this great power came with immense responsibility. We were not indented to destroy this world and others for our benefit, but to nurture creation, caring for it as our very own as well as following God by creating ourselves. Sadly Aronofsky so misrepresents the truth that it becomes unrecognizable and seen as evil.

Perhaps the biggest misrepresentation in the film comes from the silence of “The Creator”. Noah is left much to his own devices because the visions and dreams that he gets from “The Creator” are sufficiently vague to leave him in the dark as to want he is suppose to do. He gets enough to know that he should build an ark and that the animals will be saved through this vessel. What is not explained to him is that God is also saving his family. Noah comes to believe that because of his inherent wickedness as well as his family’s, that they should be the last humans. The earth will be left to care for itself. He has absolutely no understanding of being made in God’s image and that, that makes humanity something God would want to save. All the drama in the film comes from ignoring the source material. In the movie God might be vague, but in Scripture, God could not be clearer.

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him. (Genesis 6:11-22 ESV)

God is so clear to Noah, not only is he told to why the flood is coming, he is told exactly how to build the boat as well as why he and his family will be saved. It is not from Noah’s righteousness, it is because God is making a covenant with him.

It is amazing the difference between a God who speaks and one who is mostly silent. In the movie, Noah is left to try interpret God’s wishes. Noah is told that God chose him and gave him the decision as to whether humanity continued or not. In the end, the movie is about a vengeful God’s wrath and the mercy of a human. When in reality, the true story was about God and his grace towards Noah, because even in Noah’s obedience, the same sin courses through his very being. Francis Schaeffer said about God, he is there and he is not silent. Thank God we do not live in a world like that portrayed by Aronofsky, with a god who speaks in vague generalities leaving us to our own devises. Genesis says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… And God said…”. He has spoken, the question is, do we want to listen to what he has to say or make our own way. It is the same choice Adam and Eve had; what will you choose? 

Owl Post 3-21-14

Owl Post: 2-3-2012

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Veronica Roth: About the End of Allegiant (SPOILERS)

allegiant-book-cover-high-resSo, I am back from tour….

All week, people who had read Allegiant were asking me the same question, and people on the Internet were asking, too. I answered it very briefly in a spoilery MTV interview that went up today, but I wanted to post a longer answer that goes a little deeper for those of you who are interested. I’m trying to be very careful about marking spoilers, so hopefully all this works

Is It Harder to Write About Happiness Than Its Opposite?

Each week in Bookends, two writers take on questions about the world of books. This week, Leslie Jamison and Adam Kirsch discuss the difficulties in writing about happiness.

Outrage Porn and the Christian Reader

FileItem-210937-outrageOutrage sells. It’s plain as day. If eyeballs on articles are the currency of new media, there are few things that attract those eyeballs more effectively than outrage. In the wider cultural context of new media there is always lots to work with: Alec Baldwin’s homophobia, Steve Martin’s racism, Patton Oswalt’s insensitivity. It goes on and on. There is always someone saying something dumb or unwise, and new media’s response is immediate, fiery indignation.

Has failure become a virtue?

tumblr_n081pkNxNB1r0ue2zo1_400“Christian, you cannot obey the Law. Your certain failure is a means to show forth the grace of God when you repent.”
 “We don’t need more lists of how to be a better spouse/parent/Christian. We need more grace.”
 “My life strategy for today: fail, repent, repeat.”
The End of The Clone Wars
Here are a Couple of great articles talking about different aspects of The Clone Wars series.


Infographic: How Many Calories Are In A Drink From Starbucks

To encourage people to make healthier drink choices, Seattle-based Japanese coffee lover Ryoko Itawa of I Love Coffee created a revealing infographic.

Titled ‘How many calories are in a drink from Starbucks’, the infographic points out the calories in popular Starbucks drinks and equates it to various junk food.

According to infographic, a Grande Green Tea Latte has 350 calories, which is equivalent to a medium packet of fries from McDonalds, while a Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino has 500 calories, which amounts to 120 Skittles.

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Will the Real Saint Patrick Please Stand Up

With St. Patrick’s Day coming on Monday, this video explains who the real man was. Like most of history, the real story is more exciting than the myth. (One correction. The video say that Patrick is not a saint, but he is listed in the official list of Catholic saints).

Owl Post 2-28-14

Owl Post 2-17-12


Exclusive Licensing Agreement with The Disney/ABC Television Group Brings Star Wars Content to Netflix Streaming Members for the First Time

The Galactic Republic, Disney/ABC Television Group, Lucasfilm, and Netflix Inc. today announced the highly anticipated debut of the sixth and final season of the Emmy(r) Award-winning series Star Wars: The Clone Wars exclusively to Netflix members in the US and Canada on Friday, March 7. Accompanying the 13-episode new season dubbed “The Lost Missions” will be the entire Star Wars: The Clone Wars saga, which includes several director’s cut episodes never seen on TV as well as the feature film. This multi-year agreement also makes Netflix the exclusive subscription service for the entire Star Wars: The Clone Wars series.

The Economics of Sex:

One of the most interesting and thought provoking videos I have seen in a long time.

Everything Is Awesome: Grace in The LEGO Movie:

hr_The_LEGO_Movie_10I would write a review of this movie, but this says it so much better that I ever could.

Some thoughts on grace and the new LEGO movie come from Michael Belote, author of the wonderful reboot:Christianity blog and author of Rise of the Time Lords, doubtless the best (review here) geeky intro to Christian doctrine available.

Something weird is happening in Hollywood. Just four months ago, the world was introduced to Frozen, a children’s movie chock-full of theological nuance. As I wrote at the time, I felt like this was the best theological movie in years, and figured it would be quite a while until I saw something similar.

Boy was I wrong.

5 Sure-Fire Ways to Motivate Your Son to Use Pornography:

unhappy-wifeBefore I get into five sure-fire ways to motivate your son to use pornography, let me establish two important points. First, no parents want their child to become involved in porn. We all can agree. The problem for many of us is we don’t understand the insidious allurement of pornography and how our behavior, though unintentional, can help shape a child to crave something that can lead him into a lifetime of slavery.

Pascal’s Method for Presenting the Christian Faith:

blaise-pascalMen despise religion. They hate it and are afraid it may be true. The cure for this is first to show that religion is not contrary to reason, but worthy of reverence and respect. Next make it attractive, make good men wish it were true, and then show that it is.”

Blaise Pascal was a brilliant 17th-century French mathematician and physicist who had a dramatic Christian conversion experience and thereafter devoted much of his thought to Christianity and philosophy. He began to assemble notes and fragments he hoped would be woven into a book called The Defense of the Christian Religion, but he died just two months after his 39th birthday and it was never written. Those fragments, however, were published as Pensees (“Thoughts”), and it has become one of the most famous Christian books in history.

Shackles of My Own Making

shacklesThe young adults Bible study at my church is studying Philippians. Growing up in a Christian home and then attending Bible college as well as seminary, it’s a book that I am well familiar with. Strange thing about the Bible, you can read the same passage a million times and something new can hit you every time. This is the very thing that happened last week as I prepared for the Tuesday night study.

In the first chapter of Philippians the word “gospel” is used five times. I believe that Paul is trying to lay the foundation for what we will mention later in chapter one and in the beginning of chapter two. Paul says, “…it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” and that we should, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” So how is this possible? I mean, neither humility nor suffering are not two things that human beings tend to excel at. The answer has already been provided, the gospel. In it, we already have everything we could ever need. There is no need to worry or think about ourselves excessively, because God has already supplied the proof that he will provided for everything we need (even before we’ve realized were in need).

The ugly truth is, when I am wrapped up in myself, I only become an expert in the things I don’t have, instead of the things I do. I become shackled  to my own desires, trying to satiate a never ending hunger for more……. just more. But when I know the gospel, the depth of God’s provision for me at the cost of his own son, I am free. I am free to put others before myself since God has my back and nothing can take that away. I am able to let go of my plans as well as the idols of this world because God’s given me everything in Christ. Through him there is encouragement, comfort in his love, participation in the Spirit and abundant affection and sympathy, all from a High Priest who understands our weakness and loves us, even in our most disgusting moments.

Diving into the deep end of the gospel enables me to let go of myself and love others, just as Christ has loved me. I don’t have to do it alone, God has given me all the tools needed through him and therefore that I can,

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8, ESV)

Protectors – Review

51gcPN47wnLOriginally posted at Trek.fm

“Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light; I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”

-Sarah Williams, English poet

When we last left Voyager and the Full Circle fleet, Kathryn Janeway had returned from the dead and helped defeat the Omega Continuum, but at a very high cost. Protectors  picks up right after the events of The Eternal Tide and thrusts Janeway and the fleet into uncharted territory, both emotionally and physically. Beyer, with her usual deftness, weaves a much-needed story forVoyager while never losing sight of who the characters are. Her work here is outstanding, leaving every fan on the edge of their command chairs anticipating the next book in this trilogy.


One of Beyer’s strengths in writing Voyager is an inherent knowledge of the characters and their potential. She used the previous four books to create vivid characters that jump off the page, making the reader exclaim, “I always knew the show could have been like this!” This book is no exception. The character of Janeway is brought to the forefront of the story as she is recalled to the Alpha Quadrant to face a battery of tests and evaluations in light of her resurrection. Beyer uses this to her full advantage, stripping Janeway to the bone and rectifying years of inconstencies. Counselor Cambridge says it best when he tells Janeway, “You could try to avoid this work for the rest of your life, Kathryn. But do that and I promise, eventually, it will bring you to your knees.” Janeway is forced to look at her life, her choices, and comes to terms with them.

What works so well here is the illustration of self-examination. Beyer uses Janeway’s personal and professional reckoning, as well as Tom Paris facing his past decisions, to show the ways in which our pasts can be something to fear but also prepare us for the future. We all have things in our lives that we are not proud of or wish we could take back. Gretchen Janeway tells Kathryn, “Just remember, regrets are powerful, but they are also lousy companions.” The past should teach and instruct — not cripple — and Beyer uses these characters to remind us of this important lesson.


Protectors is a slower book than The Eternal Tide, but the pace is needed. Janeway becomes a fully-realized character who will now be known for her depth rather than her inconsistencies. She has finally become the character fans always knew she could be, but never was on screen. Characters from Voyager that were so under-utilized, like Harry Kim and Chakotay, are given many shining moments and have become more than their one-note selves from the show. Beyer has also created a fascinating new Delta Quadrant group known as the Confederacy of the First Worlds, which is sure to be a foil for the Full Circle fleet.