Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Top 12 Movies I'm looking forward to in 2012

In the order they will come out this year...

1. The Hunger Games
Release Date: March 23
Why? The hype from the books makes me think it's gonna be a really cool story. (Hopefully I can read the books before this comes out).

2. Blue Like Jazz
Release Date: April 13
Why? Because I liked the book and this adaptation looks surprisingly good.

3. Moonrise Kingdom
Release Date: May 16
Why? Because it's directed by Wes Anderson and he makes great movies.

4. The Dark Knight Rises
Release Date: July 20
Why? If you've seen The Dark Knight, this requires no explanation. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Liam Neeson are also new cast members.

5. The Bourne Legacy
Release Date: August 3
Why? Because the Bourne trilogy is one of my favorite trilogies

6. Dog Fight
Release Date: August 10
Why? Because Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis are rival congressional candidates from South Carolina. This can't not be funny.

7. The Master
Release Date: Fall
Why? Because it's loosely based on the life of L. Ron Hubbard (founder of Scientology), Paul Thomas Anderson is an incredible director, and Philip Seymour Hoffman is playing Mr. Hubbard.

8. Skyfall
Release Date: November 9
Why? It's a new Bond movie starring Daniel Craig (who has been doing well with this series)

9. Lincoln
Release Date: December
Why? Because Daniel Day-Lewis's portrayal of Lincoln will probably win him the best actor award at the Oscars next year. It's also a plus that Steven Spielberg is directing it.

10. Les Miserables
Release Date: December 7
Why? Because it's probably my favorite novel of all time.

11. The Hobbit
Release Date: December 14
Why? Because the story is awesome and apparently Peter Jackson knows a thing or two about adapting Tolkien stories.

12. The Great Gatsby
Release Date: December 25
Why? I just re-read the book several weeks ago and am interested to see DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby.

(taken from Paste Magazine's 30 Most Anticipated Movies of 2012)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Awesome ping pong tricks

Dustin Beggs is a high school senior that I've gotten to know over the last 2 1/2 years. He is extremely talented in many ways, including doing awesome things with ping pong balls. Check it out:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Some Unhealthy Ways to Think About Tim Tebow

Some Facebook posts I've read, especially this last weekend, have shown me that there are some really unhealthy ways to think about the Tim Tebow craze currently sweeping the nation, particularly the way Christians think about him. I recently ran across a blog post by Nathan Busenitz that I resonated with. In it he gives five reasons he likes Tebow and five concerns he has. I wanted to highlight the concerns because I believe they are spot on.
Five Concerns I Have about Tebow-Mania

1. The Perception That God Gives Tebow Special Help to Win. The media has turned Tebow-Mania into the NFL’s version of the Prosperity Gospel—making it sound as if spiritual blessing and divine favor come in the form of touchdown passes, division titles, and postseason play. Tebow-Mania has turned Denver’s QB into “God’s Quarterback,” and the Broncos into Heaven’s favorite team. (They are, after all, a mile closer to Heaven in Denver.)

But what about the players on the other side of the ball — the ones who lose the game, including Christians on the other team? Is God not helping them? What about other professing Christian quarterbacks in the NFL (such as Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rogers)? Some of them have had success on the field this year, others not so much. Maybe most importantly, what about the games that the Broncos have lost with Tebow under center? Was God’s power insufficient in those contests? Obviously not.

Because of Tebow’s unexpected success, non-Christians have understandably taken notice. But, like the unbelieving crowds in Jesus’ day, their superficial interest in spiritual things will fade as soon as the “miracles” cease. The reality is that crediting God for specific touchdown scores and football wins can actually become an obstacle for the gospel when a team starts to lose. (It can also lead to taking well-known Bible verses out of context.)

Insofar as Tebow-Mania is responsible for this misperception, I think it is doing more harm than good.

2. The Perception That Tebow’s Statistics Have Supernatural Significance. This last week, I have repeatedly cringed to see the hoopla made about Tebow’s 316 passing yards — as if it were a divine pointer to John 3:16. Don’t get me wrong, John 3:16 is a marvelous verse. The more attention that is drawn to it, the better.

But, fellow Christian, please don’t apply the mystical techniques of misguided numerologists (like the Bible code folks) to Tim Tebow’s stats column. It is bad hermeneutics on every level.

As ESPN’s D. J. Gallo sarcastically quipped:

Yes, even a coincidental stat has become evidence of Tebow’s heavenly favor. And 316 yards is specifically a reference to John 3:16, of course, not any of the 3:16s in the other 66 books of the Bible, such as Leviticus 3:16. … Nope. Totally John 3:16.

Gallo was trying to be funny. But in all seriousness, he made a valid point.

3. The Perception That “Tebowing” Is a Good Thing. I think it’s wonderful that Tebow is committed to public prayer. But I cringe over the fact that his iconic prayer position is now the object of mockery and scorn from the watching world.

At best, “tebowing” has become Denver’s version of Pittsburgh’s “terrible towel” or Green Bay’s cheese-wedge-hats. At worst, it has spawned a blasphemous cult following on the part of fans who are more interested in imitating a celebrity-quarterback’s prayer posture than they are in actually addressing God in heartfelt petition. That may sound harsh, but I personally think the “Tebowing” craze is an absolute travesty that turns prayer into a joke and greatly dishonors the Lord.

Having said that, is it Tim’s fault that non-Christians mock his prayer position? No.

But could he do more to put a stop to it? I think he could.

Even something as simple as temporarily using a different prayer posture before games (like standing or sitting) would probably put an end to what’s quickly become a sacrilegious fad.

4. The Perception That Christianity Needs Celebrities to Be Relevant. When it comes to Tebow-Mania, I wonder if evangelicalism is once again falling into the trap of “celebrity Christianity.” It feels great to have an evangelical Christian at the height of athletic popularity in our nation. It feels even better when he wins; because — in some small way — it feels as though evangelicalism is winning through him.

Epidemic in the American evangelical psyche is the idea that celebrity status is essential to reaching our society for the sake of the kingdom. We can be tempted to think that the more superstars we have on our side (whether from sports or politics or Hollywood), the better equipped we will be to advance God’s work — as though cultural popularity were the key to effective gospel proclamation.

Again, I don’t lay the blame for this celebrity-mindset at Tim Tebow’s feet. His celebrity status has been thrust upon him by the media. Moreover, I applaud his desire to use the platform he’s been given to exalt Christ.

However, insofar as Tebow-Mania contributes to evangelicalism’s infatuation with the cult of celebrity or the myth of influence, I do not believe it is helpful.

5. The Perception That Christianity Consists of Clichés. Walk into just about any Christian bookstore and you’ll quickly see that popular American evangelicalism loves clichés: pithy little slogans of feel-good spirituality. They are printed on t-shirts, bumper stickers, and motivational posters. They litter the pages of bestselling Christian books and are permanently etched into trinkets like key-chains and money clips. The roadside marquis of the average evangelical church contains new editions of these short little sayings every week — from messages like “Need a Faith Lift?” to “C H _ _ C H. What’s Missing? U R.”

I fear Tebow-Mania highlights this sappy side of mainstream evangelicalism more than it showcases the arresting truth of the biblical gospel. When discussing the Tebow phenomenon, media outlets often talk about faith in a cheesy “just-believe-in-yourself-and-make-your-dreams-come-true” kind of way. Numerous pundits have suggested that the Broncos’ sudden success should be made into a movie. One article joked that, if it were a screen play, the Tebow story would be too sentimental even for Disney.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

We are drunk on Disney

My NT professor last quarter, Tommy Givens, said this during a lecture on 1 Corinthians 7. He was talking about how much of the Church has bought into the lies of our culture today concerning marriage and love. We are taught from birth that we are all supposed to have a fairy tale relationship. This expectation shapes the way we relate to one another and is wrongly centered on personal fulfillment.

An excerpt from Tim Keller's new book, The Meaning of Marriage, surfaced recently at Relevant Magazine. The piece tackles this very issue of misunderstanding what marriage is all about. Keller quotes Stanley Hauerwas, a Duke ethics professor (who Givens' studied under), who basically says that we always marry the wrong person:
Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become "whole" and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person.

We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary challenge of marriage is learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.
I love how Keller finishes this thought:
Hauerwas gives us the first reason that no two people are compatible for marriage, namely, that marriage profoundly changes us. But there is another reason. Any two people who enter into marriage are spiritually broken by sin, which among other things means to be self-centered—living life incurvatus in se. As author Denis de Rougemont said, “Why should neurotic, selfish, immature people suddenly become angels when they fall in love ... ?” That is why a good marriage is more painfully hard to achieve than athletic or artistic prowess. Raw, natural talent does not enable you to play baseball as a pro or write great literature without enduring discipline and enormous work. Why would it be easy to live lovingly and well with another human being in light of what is profoundly wrong within our human nature? Indeed, many people who have mastered athletics and art have failed miserably at marriage. So the biblical doctrine of sin explains why marriage—more than anything else that is good and important in this fallen world—is so painful and hard.

The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the Gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The Gospel is—we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared to believe, and at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. This is the only kind of relationship that will really transform us. Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace.

The hard times of marriage drive us to experience more of this transforming love of God. But a good marriage will also be a place where we experience more of this kind of transforming love at a human level.
As someone who isn't married yet, I find these thoughts very refreshing and comforting. The pressure of the perfect relationship is pushed further away and I'm drawn to what seems to be a more healthy expectation. However, I am curious what those of you who have good marriages think about this. Please share.