Ben Stein’s “Expelled”

Yesterday I watched Ben Stein’s Expelled.  It was pretty interesting, although I have to admit it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped and expected.

There wasn’t a whole lot of discussion about the debate between subscribers to Intelligent Design and believers in evolution.  Instead, it was a discussion about the discussion about the debate between subscribers to Intelligent Design and believers in evolution.

Not to knock the film, but the camera work drove me crazy.  It seems like one of the trendy things in cinema these days is to intentionally have shoddy camera work.  I understand that YouTube is in and reality TV is all the rage, but Hollywood, please take note: When we watch a movie, we don’t want to get motion sick.  We expect homemade quality from YouTube.  We expect professional quality when we go to a movie theater.  I think I missed about 15 minutes of Expelled from having to look away from the screen so I wouldn’t puke.

Some of the old movie clips that were spliced in were really well done.  Honestly, though, I think they were thrown in there as much to keep the film from being too boring as much as to create an effect.

The best part of the work, in my opinion, is the part where devout atheist Richard Dawkins suggests that life on earth originated from seeds left here by aliens from outer space.  That was the most entertaining moment.  (At least he doesn’t believe in anything weird, like, for example, God.)  I only wish Stein had asked Dawkins where those aliens came from.  But maybe he’s saving that for the sequel.

Expelled is worth watching, but you’d be just as well off waiting for it to come out on DVD.  It’s different, amusing, and even informative; however, be aware that it’s not about the discussion between proponents of ID and evolution–it’s about the politics of that discussion.

Published in: on April 30, 2008 at 12:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Yankee Stadium

Yesterday I got tickets for a game at Yankee Stadium in July.  Believe it or not, this was actually Carolyn’s idea!  She knew it was the last season the Yankees were playing in the House that Ruth built, and she knew it would be meaningful for me to make it there before the end of the season.  I can’t wait!!!

Next stop: Fenway….

Published in: on April 30, 2008 at 5:27 am  Leave a Comment  

So What’s Growing In Your Office?

Cool things happen to a used coffee filter when you leave it sitting in the coffee maker for about three weeks.  The proof is in the pudding, or whatever this substance is:

It looks kind of like a galaxy or something.  I guess the Coffee Galaxy would probably go nicely with the Milky Way Galaxy.

This picture was taken from the coffee maker in my office, which I don’t use that often… as you can see.  If you look closely enough, it looks like some of the ground coffee has reformed into whole coffee beans!

I wonder what it would’ve tasted like if I’d poured in some water and brewed it through this stuff.  Unfortunately I’ve already tossed it so it’s too late to find out.  Might’ve been the next big thang at Starbucks.

Published in: on April 29, 2008 at 10:07 am  Comments (2)  

Top 10 Ways to Escape from Little Kids Trying to Throw You in the Train Jail

Sike. There are actually 12. But who ever heard of a Top 12 list?

On the playground at the Training Station is a large wooden train that the children love playing on. One of the things they like about it is that to them it’s not only a train—it’s what they call the “train jail.” Every time I’m out there, they chase me all over the playground until they catch me. Then they haul me off to the train jail, where they put me inside and even guard me.

Fortunately, I’ve discovered several ways to escape from this particular form of incarceration. It helps that these little people are only between two and four years old, and I’m much bigger, faster, stronger, and—to this point at least—a little bit smarter. Not to brag or anything. So in case you ever get snagged by some little children who want to lock you up in the train jail, here’s my list of the Top 12 Ways to Escape from Little Kids Trying to Throw You in the Train Jail (each method of escape has been personally tried and found to be effective):

(12) The old pointing and shouting “Hey, what’s that?!?” trick still works with this age group. These kids are still pretty new, so the old classic tricks like this one still work. When the kids grab you, just point across the playground, yell, “Look! What’s that?” and when they’re sufficiently distracted, just run away.

(11) Again, these kids are small and have tiny hands. If they grab you but don’t have a good grip, just slip away.

(10) Climb out the side of the train jail.

(9) When the kids catch on to trick #10, just add a new twist: Climb out the side, then climb back in and escape from the front.

(8) Say, “Hey everyone, I have a great game we can play! Everyone close your eyes and count to 10.” When the children close their eyes and start counting, it’s your chance to sneak out.

(7) When the kids put you into the train jail, explain to them that you have a legal right to make a phone call. Then tell them that the phone is located just outside the jail. When they back up to let you go out to the phone, run off.

(6) Sometimes the kids will be proud of the “grippers” on their gloves. This is especially true of little boys with Spider-Man gloves. When they show you the “grippers” on their gloves and explain that’s why you can’t get away, ask them to show you how tightly they can grip the post on the train jail. When they let go of you to grip the post, run for it.

(5) When the kids are dragging you off to the train jail, say, “I know, let’s all do jumping jacks!” Three-year-olds are very proud of their perceived ability to do jumping jacks, so they can’t resist this invitation. Once they let go of you and start doing jumping jacks, slip through the crowd and take off.

(4) Sometimes a whole mob of kids will haul you off to the train jail, but once you get there, only one adult at a time can fit through the opening. When the “guard” tries to guide you through the entrance, politely offer to let the guard go first. Once he or she is inside, run for it.

(3) This technique only works if just one kid has a grip on you, which is rare, but it’s very effective in that situation. If you have a free hand, look for a toy within reach on the ground nearby. Grab the toy, hand it to the child, and ask them to hold it for you. Since they’re such tiny people, it will require both of their hands to hold the toy. Once they take it, you’re free to escape.

(2) As you pass by another child, tell all your captors to wave at him or her. Then tell them, “Great job! Now let’s all wave with both hands!” The kids will all wave with two hands, letting go of you in the process. Once they’re all happily waving, make your getaway.

(1) Challenge the kids who have captured you: “You’re so fast, I bet I can’t catch you!” Appealing to their pride is always effective. When they accept your challenge and run off, just go the other way.

A word of warning: Small children who have observed your various methods of escape might eventually catch on and begin trying to trick you. Once when a group of preschoolers was chasing me, a four-year-old boy who had repeatedly studied my tactics decided to try to trick me. He said, “Hey Pastor Nathan, jump seven times!” I looked at him blankly and said, “What?” He smiled and grabbed my arm and said, “Tricked you!”

When it comes to escaping from small children who want to throw you in the train jail, I guess the bottom line is this: It’s easy to trick them, but they usually don’t fall for the same stunt twice, so you need to be creative and vary your approach.

Published in: on April 29, 2008 at 5:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Who Is God? He Is Holy

Yesterday at CrossWay we started a new series called “Who Is God?”  The first message was “He Is Holy.”  In this series we’re looking at three attributes of God, beginning yesterday with holiness.

When considering God’s attributes, it’s helpful to remember a couple things.  First of all, He never changes.  If He is something, then He has always been and always will be that something.  Second, He possesses all of His attributes to an infinite degree.  For example, He is infinitely loving.  He is infinitely generous.  He is infinitely just.  He is infinitely merciful.  He is not “kind of” anything.

Holiness is hard to define.  Even the original Hebrew word is difficult because it’s really a composite of several different words, conveying more of an idea or impression rather than a sharply defined word.  One way to understand holiness is separateness, purity, wholeness.

God is pure, totally unstained by sin.  He is completely separate from sin.  And He is whole, complete.  Since He is holy, He wants us also to be holy.  What does this mean?

It means that we can be separated from our sin.  Like a Teflon pan that nothing sticks to, Jesus makes us new so that our sins don’t stick to us.  The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  Because God is completely holy, He is completely separate from sin.  But when Jesus, the holy Son of God, was on the cross, He literally became our sin.  At first it looked like sin crushed Him, but when He rose from the dead three days later He proved that He triumphed over sin–yours and mine.  Jesus traded in His holiness for our sin so we could trade in our sin for His holiness.

To be holy does not mean to try to be good.  It does not mean being prideful.  It doesn’t mean we’re better than anyone else.  It just means that we’ve accepted Jesus’ gift of being removed from our sins.

Because God is holy, we can be holy.  Holiness is who He is, and because of Jesus, it can be who we are, too.

Published in: on April 28, 2008 at 5:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Painting & Podcasting

This afternoon I just didn’t feel up for painting, so during that time I edited and uploaded today’s podcast.  Record time!  It’s available through one of the links on the right.

Carolyn’s painting that she’s working on, a profile of a child whose parents are friends of ours, is coming along amazingly.  She doesn’t see it, though.  She says she’s an “accidental painter,” and explained that if she just keeps going over and over it, eventually it’ll look good on accident.  But so far it’s looking pretty good on purpose!

Published in: on April 27, 2008 at 6:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wolves, Pizza, Babies… Stuff Like That

Last weekend was very much a little kid weekend. On Saturday we took two girls, ages 9 & 5, to the zoo. It was pretty cool–the new wolf exhibit now actually has its wolves! (Okay, so it looks like a dog, but you kinda gotta go on faith here.)

Then we went out for pizza and headed to Coco’s Funhouse. Afterward we stopped at a nearby pet store, where the girls had as much fun as they did anywhere else we went that day. They fell in love with a little cocker spaniel and tried to convince Carolyn and me that we needed a dog. We topped off the day with Frosties from Wendy’s.

On Saturday afternoon we took baby twin girls to have their one-year-old pictures taken. They were so cute in their little frilly dresses and swimsuits! Here’s one of them smiling for the camera later that day:

One of the babies in the following picture is blurry, but this is just to prove that there were actually two of them:

After that weekend, Carolyn and I both slept soundly!

Published in: on April 27, 2008 at 5:13 am  Comments (2)  

Play Ball! Production Is Underway

This past week I spent a day and a half working with pastors from other churches to film video for a series we’re collaborating on in June.  The series is called “Play Ball!” and has a baseball theme.  It’s about getting in the game–moving from the bleachers to the bench to the ballfield.  Or in our context, moving from the community to the church to active ministry.

On Wednesday we went to the Shorebirds game in Salisbury.  It was Daryl, Kyle, and Jenna from SonRise, John from the Gathering Tree, Bryan from the Worship Center, and me.  Before the game we filmed some promotional videos, and during and after the game we filmed a short illustrative series.  In the process we all got scorched by the surprisingly hot April sun!

Thursday we spent a couple hours recording in front of the green screen at the SonRise office.  Jenna is going to take that footage and use it in a couple of the videos.  That’s the footage I’m most concerned about, because Jenna is an expert at recording people (especially yours truly, who seems to be one of her favorite victims) and creating embarrassing videos primarily for her own amusement.  Her amazing video talents can be both a blessing and a curse!   However, I have to admit that I’m looking forward to seeing the embarrassing footage she got of the other pastors.

Something that made yesterday’s recording time very much worth it was Bryan’s five-year-old daughter.  At one point we had a song from High School Musical 2 playing on the monitor and she jumped in front of the green screen and just started going at it–singing, dancing, the whole deal.  It was so cute!  It made me laugh so hard I’m surprised my contacts didn’t pop out.  Hopefully Jenna captured it all on film.

You know you have a cool job when a day at work can include hanging out with your friends at a baseball game.

Last year’s collaboration involved spending time at the beach and on a boat.  This year’s meant going to a baseball game.  I’m thinking maybe next year something with a Hawaii theme would be nice….

Published in: on April 26, 2008 at 5:29 am  Comments (4)  

Kindergarten One-Liners

This week one of the words that Carolyn’s students are learning is “ax.”  She asked one little girl to use the word in a sentence, and she said: “I need to ax to go to the bathroom.”

Another little feller was sitting at his desk pouting about something, and when Carolyn tried to talk with him about it, he said: “I’m just having a bad moment.”

Published in: on April 25, 2008 at 11:18 am  Comments (4)  

Blogging Irony

There’s an inherent irony to blogging: The busier you are, the more you have to blog about, but the less time you have to do it; the less busy you are, the more time you have to blog, but the less there is to say.

I’ll try to make a better effort at conquering this irony.

Published in: on April 23, 2008 at 5:06 pm  Leave a Comment