The Best News Story Ever

This story is – by far – the best thing I’ve read on the internet in a long, long, long, long time.

Police respond to woman screaming in apartment, find man inside afraid of a spider
By Will Heilpern, CNN – Posted Nov 26th, 2015

(CNN) – “Come on, mate, what have you done to her?”

Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 11.13.59 AMPolice were questioning a “flushed” and “out of breath” man who had answered the door to a flat in Wollstonecraft, a small harbor side suburb of Sydney, Australia.

The booming sounds of a man shouting “I’m going to kill you” and a “woman screaming hysterically” had earlier echoed through the apartment block, sometime before 2:00 a.m., Saturday November 21. The commotion disturbed neighbors, who were quick to alert the local police force.

“Where’s your wife?” asked one of the policemen.

“I don’t have one,” the homeowner responded, after inhaling some air.

“Where’s your girlfriend?” the officer continued.

“I don’t have one,” he said.

Unsatisfied, the same policeman pressed: “We had a report of a domestic and a women screaming, where is she?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I live alone,” the man protested.

The officers then told the man that neighbors had heard death threats, screams and the crash of furniture being flung around the apartment.

“It was a spider,” the man tentatively explained.

“A really big one.”

Incredulous, the policeman asked: “What about the women screaming?”

“Yeah sorry that was me,” he said. “I really, really hate spiders.”

A new theory had emerged — the man was indeed alone in the apartment, he was responsible for both the “womanly” screams and the threats to kill. They were not aimed at a woman, but an eight-legged arachnid.

Read the rest here.

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The Lord’s Prayer and Star Wars

Let’s take back our theaters!  Let’s take back Star Wars!


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Nanowrimo • You Are The Hero Of This Story

This is a pep talk I wrote for the 2015 Nanowrimo Young Writer’s Program. It was originally published on the Young Writer’s Program website.
You’re staring at the blinking cursor on your screen, doubtful that you will make your daily word-count goal.


“Why did I ever decide to do this?” you mutter under your breath. “This month was destined to end in failure!”

The cursor keeps on blinking.

Mocking you.

It’s that sentence. The Worst Sentence Ever Written. The sentence you’ve been monkeying around with for the past hour. You need to change it, but taking the time to change won’t help you reach your goal, and you’re already far behind in your daily word-count.

Your story is going nowhere. The characters are all one dimensional caricatures. The plot’s a dud, and the themes are non-existent, and…

…why did you think you could ever write a novel in the first place?

You slam your laptop shut and cry out in misery, “The mountain’s too tall, the forces arrayed against me too strong, and all hope is lost!”

But wait.

This sounds familiar, doesn’t it? You’ve seen this before, somewhere…

frodosammtdoomFrodo and Sam, emotionally and physically spent, edging their way up the rocky slope of Mt. Doom, the top of the mountain visible but unreachable under the burden of the ring…

Harry Potter, trapped in the besieged halls of Hogwarts, surrounded by the dark forces of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, desperate to figure out the location of the final Horcrux…

Lucy and Susan, holding onto one another in the bitter pre-dawn coldness, crying over the dead body of the great lion, knowing that all of their hopes died with him…

And then, it hits you. This is your dark night of the soul.

NaNoWriMo is your hero’s journey, you are the hero, and this is your point of decision. Do you turn back in defeat, or do you press ahead?

But it’s not just that. You’re also the writer, which means that this is your story.

You control the valiant champions fighting for good and the shadowy forces of evil. One side will win or lose at your beck and call.

This is your story.

It doesn’t matter if it makes sense, if your dialogue is believable, or even if it is well-written. What matters is that you finish.

And Hero, you are almost there.

With that knowledge, you are free to re-open your laptop and write, because this is your story.

And you are the only one who can tell it.

Thimblerig's Ark Cover ArtNate’s novel, Thimblerig’s Ark, is available for a free Kindle download from November 19 until November 23 (PST) in celebration of NaNoWriMo. Go download and enjoy!

Thimblerig’s Ark 2: The Ark Heist, is being written this month during NaNoWriMo, and will be published in Spring 2016.

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Why I Grieve For The French

statue of liberty

Guest article by Philip Porter

We have a tricky relationship, don’t we – we and the French? To hear us most of the time, you’d think we were adolescent siblings. “Rude, snail-eating, smelly, effeminate, debauched, arrogant French!” “Loud, overweight, can’t-dress, gun-happy, prudish, ignorant Americans!” Strange, isn’t it, that it was the French who declared after 9/11, “Today, we are all Americans.” Odd that the French flag can be found all over our pages on social media in America today.

And it’s almost as though we Americans don’t understand the empathy we feel for the tragedy in Paris. It reminds me of the awkward solidarity my two middle sons share on those occasions when one is really hurting. Most of their lives each has considered the other their arch-nemesis, but when the chips are down, something rises up that overrides the jealousies and offenses of the past. They can’t put their finger on it yet, and they would be horrified if mom and dad made them express the sentiment openly.

It’s going to be suggested that our grief for the French isn’t egalitarian enough, that we should be feeling the same pain for tragedies wherever they are happening. (Where’s the Iraqi flag, the Syrian flag, the Palestinian flag on our posts?) We shouldn’t be ashamed of our feelings, though, because there are very good reasons for them.

America’s first and oldest ally is France. In our revolution against the powerful British Empire, we needed aid, and the French were there. In 1778 they allied themselves with us and declared war on Britain, sending money, supplies, an army and a navy to our nation. Even before their formal entry into our war, French citizens had sailed to America and volunteered in the Continental Army. French blood was mingled with ours on American soil at the birth of our nation.

Six years after the ratification (in Paris) of America’s independence from England, the French National Assembly published the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen,” the foundational document of the French Revolution. It was drafted by the Marquis de Lafayette, one of the French volunteers in the American Revolution, with help from his good friend, Thomas Jefferson. It was modelled after our own Declaration of Independence and looked to the same philosophers to help articulate its truths.

In the 1860’s, as the centennial anniversary of the Declaration of Independence approached, the French decided they should participate in the celebration. So they conceived, commissioned and financed the Statue of Liberty. It was crafted in Paris and stands in New York Harbor, America’s most iconic emblem – a gift of the French people.

On D Day, 73,000 Americans landed on Normandy beaches to liberate France from Nazi Germany. On that one day alone, 6,600 soldiers of our Greatest Generation spilled their blood on French soil for French freedom. The French never forgot that sacrifice – to this day they receive American visitors along the coast with welcome, and our veterans with veneration. Monuments and memorials stand throughout France dedicated by the French people to the American and allied forces who liberated them. Thousands of American graves there continue to be maintained and honored by the French.

In 2011, 67 years after D Day, Thom Cartledge of Massachusetts was finally able to visit the grave of his uncle in the American cemetery at Normandy. As he planted small French and American flags by the grave, his guide, a young French girl, used a bucket of sand and a damp sponge to scrub the white cross clean. He asked her how long he could stay there and was stunned by her answer: “Your uncle gave his life so that we can be free. You can stay as long as you want.”

France is the brother in your family that joined a different political party. You fought and bickered growing up and no one can stand to be in the same room with you when you argue at Christmas. But when tragedy strikes, you don’t remember the time he hit you, stole your girlfriend or made fun of your haircut. You remember the common blood and core values that you share. What other people have, for one another’s freedom, shed more blood on our soil, and have received more of our blood on theirs? That’s why their pain today is ours.

philipPhilip is a husband and father of four from Charlotte, North Carolina.

You can reach Philip by email at or Facebook /philip.s.porter

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5 Reasons Why You Should Read This Blog Post

This is probably my final blog post.

Once the information I disclose on this post goes out, it is quite likely that the forces arrayed against me will stop at nothing to destroy me. My reputation will be smothered under a feather pillow, my finances will be encased in carbonite, and my life will be harshly wiped out like a first grader aggressively obliterating his misspelling of “spaghetti” with one of those giant pink erasers.

b0ByrCyIn short, I am going to be the escape goat, because I dared speak the truth.

But the truth must be known, regardless of the impact it has on my life or my blog, because the implications of what is happening are bigger than any simple blogger.

As Skipper told Dusty in Planes, a movie that was not a cash grab at all…

Volo Pro Veritas”.

Or in this case, Blog Pro Veritas.

I Blog for Truth.

And so, regardless of the consequences, it is time to pull back the veil on a phantomy group of menacing people – a phantom menace, if you will – and let everyone into their dark world once and for all.

The Blogschild Family Meeting

There are no known photographs of the actual retreat center - because it's just that secret - but it looks kind of like this, but more shrouded in mystery.

There are no known photographs of the actual retreat center – because it’s just that secret – but it looks kind of like this, only more shrouded in mystery.

Every summer, high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, at a secluded retreat center far away from the eyes of the rest of the world, a secret meeting of bloggers takes place.

This meeting – which is being exposed here for the first time – is called The Blogschild Family Meeting.

The retreat center where The Blogschild Family Meeting takes place has multiple layers of protection to keep out the meddlesome fingers of the mainstream media or the smart phone cameras of youtube video stars who can’t tell the difference between blogging and vlogging.

Bond-style armed guards man the gates; roving packs of hungry shihtzu puppies are released onto the grounds during meetings; laser-guided heat-seeking hard-soled shoetraps are scattered throughout the surrounding forest, and those shoes really hurt if you get smacked by them.

And make no mistake, if you try to come uninvited, you will get smacked.

The meeting is virtually impenetrable and only a small, tightknit siblinghood of bloggers are welcome.

At these meetings, the bloggers update their dastardly plans to control the world, vote on the blogs with the nicest layouts, and strategize what misleading and outright false stories they will be creating in the coming months to up their hit counts and increase their fortunes.

What the original Blogschild meeting probably looked like, if these guys were more like bloggers, but with insidious-looking twisty moustaches.

What the original Blogschild Family Meeting probably looked like, if these guys were more like bloggers, but with insidious-looking twisty moustaches.

There’s also an ever-flowing chocolate fountain and mounds of fresh strawberries, which make it quite a nice affair, unless you complain non-stop about how much you dislike strawberries and why can’t they have cherries, like that guy with the Star Wars blog that won’t stop complaining about midichlorians.

Just eat a stinking strawberry, Boba-TK421!

“But what does this have to do with me?” you ask. “Who cares about a bunch of loser bloggers getting together? They do that at Comic-Con in front of everyone, and nobody thinks twice about it.”

This has everything to do with you.

And maybe nobody cares, but everyone should.

And hopefully everyone will.

Why? Because this secret meeting is the reason why your social media feeds are filled with stories like this:


And this…


And most recently, this…


That’s right. These are all a part of the Grand Design of the Bloggers of the Blogschild Family Meeting, wherein they find or create non-stories and build them into huge stories that will be passed around from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to Pinterest to MySpace to Google+ to AOL, and then set about doing what they do best:

Blog about it.

Stir the pot.

Enrage the masses.

The more extreme they can be in their blog responses, the better, because the more extreme blogs will always get shared.

Every time.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 12.33.55 PMYou’ve seen it before, haven’t you? A story starts to go viral, and multiple bloggers come out in force to respond to the story. Then, like sheep running over a cliff, readers knock each other down in their hurry to share the half-read article, and then the cycle continues once more.

Share, blog, share, reblog, reshare, rereblog, rereshare, and on and on it goes until the story burns itself out. Then we get a new story and start the machine back up again.

It’s insidious. And elegant. And subversive. And cute, in a way. It’s The Ultimate Mind-Control Weapon™ that the bloggers of Blogschild have been developing for years. Some say this technique goes back to psychological warfare techniques developed during the Cold War to keep the masses believing that they were really cold.

And social media is their most helpful tool, because for the user, it gives you the feeling that you are actually the one in control, that you are sharing that rage-inducing story by choice, when in actuality, it is all by design.

Being a junior member of this secret society for the past couple of years, I’ve reached a point where I can no longer sit idly by and let it happen. I’m overwhelmed with feelings of guilt, seeing the way we manipulate everyone to produce such anger and vitriol, whether it’s about a kid building a clock in Texas, a mall replacing a pagan Christmas tree with a pagan glacier, or theories why Luke isn’t in the trailer for Episode VII. It’s such a vile misuse of the gifts that we’ve been given.

And it must stop.

So now, I am going to do the unthinkable, and breach the trust I was given when I signed an oath in V8 juice while wearing a horse-head mask in a secret ceremony in the secret upstairs bathroom of the secret retreat center that July night two years ago.

I’m going to set you free. With the truth. Because truth has a way of doing that, if you let it.

Thimblerig’s Five Ways To Fight The Blogschild Bloggers And Their Attempts To Take Over The Minds Of The World With Their Incessant Blogging About Controversial Topics That Nobody Would Ever Care About Otherwise…

1) Don’t Click Clickbait

Titles with numbers, titles that are incomplete followed by an ellipses…, stories with pictures of sexy ladies or gentlemen, titles that include the words “You won’t believe!” or “Shocker!”, titles that shout about some sort of injustice…

The Blogschilds have spent years perfecting these sorts of titles, and rewiring the clicking part of your brain to make you feel like you must click on them. The first way to take their power is by refusing their manipulative tricks!

2)  Read The Entire Article

Another thing that the Blogschilds count on is that you will not read all of anything they publish, so they frontload their article with all sorts of provocation, and then leave all the common sense tacked on the end (if, indeed, including any common sense at all), because they know you’ll never read to the end anyway.

3)  Don’t Share Immediately

Yes, I know that you want to be the first to share the sensational new story with the rest of the world, but fight the urge! If the story deserves to be around more than 48 hours, it will still be there in two days. It’s not like you get paid for providing content for your friends. Actually, you are often helping someone else get paid by providing clickbait for your friends, and you’re doing it for free!

4)  If You Break #3, Avoid Taking A Position

You can’t help yourself, the story is just too juicy to not share, so you do so immediately. Okay, but if the story is that fresh, there are probably many details you don’t know. So avoid taking a position. Share it, ask your friends their thoughts, and leave it at that.  The Blogschilds love when people reply emotionally on the spur of the moment, because then other people will immediately click to see what you’re so riled up about.

And each click = $$$ for a Blogschild blog.

And finally, the last dirty little tip that the Blogschilds really don’t want you to consider.

Well, not just the Blogschilds, but also Facebook and Google and Amazon and Netflix and Twitter and Instagram and Microsoft and Apple and IBM and Verizon and Comcast and just about everyone else (maybe even the Rothschilds themselves) – none of them want you to consider this as an option.

5)  Get Off The Internet. Just Get Off It!

This is going to make me sound like a grumpy old man, but do you realize that just a few short years ago, there was no such thing as an internet?  People read books, and wrote books, and played games, and took walks, and slept, and talked, and, and, and…

…and they survived. They were fine. They were happy sometimes, and sad sometimes, and didn’t feel the urge to tell everyone how they felt, or what they ate, or what they thought about every possible subject under the stars and moon and sky.

It’ll be really hard at first, because that’s what the Blogschild bloggers want it to be, but eventually, you might even come to enjoy not being under their control.

My hope is that this expose will go viral, and that everyone will share it with all of their friends and followers on all of their different social media outlets, and that when it reaches the point of returning to my fellow bloggers, it will have a different effect.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 3.01.10 PMRather than blowing things out of proportion again, and giving their blown-out-of-proportion articles provocative click-bait titles like, “5 Reasons Why The Thimblerig Blog Will Ruin Your Pet’s Sex Life,” that they will stop…

…and take a look in the mirror…

…and see their consciences looking back, rather than the power and outrageous fortunes that they are amassing as they slowly take over the world.

And by the way, to the other bloggers of the Blogschild Family Meeting, before you consider coming after me, you should know that I have video from the little “musical number” that our leaders put on at last year’s meeting.

Trust me. You want that video to stay hidden.






My apologies for the large number of Star Wars references in this blog post, but I hope Boba-TK421 got the message.

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Brennan – the full length trailer

Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard ### FREE Community Edition ### on 2015-05-18 16:56:38Z | |

Since I seem to be on a trailer kick this week, I’d like to share this one that just dropped.

By David Leo Schultz, the maker of Ragamuffin, the biopic of singer Rich Mullins, Brennan is film about Brennan Manning, the author of The Ragamuffin Gospel, the book that had a profound impact on Rich Mullins, and by extension – on all of us who loved Rich Mullins.

While I wasn’t a huge fan of Ragamuffin, I appreciated what the filmmakers were trying to do, and appreciated that they created a renewed interest in the life and work of Rich Mullins. I look forward to seeing where they take the story of Brennan, who was at least as compelling a person as Rich – maybe even more.

Also, I’m glad to see that Brennan is going to have some humor in it, which was one thing that I felt Ragamuffin lacked.

My review of Ragamuffin, in case anyone is interested.

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God’s Not Dead 2 – Thimblerig’s Trailer Over-Analysis

A few weeks ago, Disney released the trailer to Star Wars Episode VII, and it nearly melted the internet.  Over the next day, article after blog after youtube video appeared dissecting the trailer, and giving the audience the opportunity to respond with excitement and anticipation about the upcoming sure-to-be-blockbuster.

In the world of Christian-made films, we don’t have blockbusters in the traditional sense of the word, but we do have the films of the Kendricks brothers and Pureflix Studio. They are the Big Boys of Christian-made film, and they make our blockbusters, the movies that the Big Christian Audience eats up the way twelve year old boys eat up Transformers movies.

And yesterday, the internet melted for the Big Christian Audience as the trailer God’s Not Dead 2 was released. For those who many not know, this upcoming film is the sequel to 2014’s surprise megahit (over $90,000,000 made from a $2,000,000 filming budget), God’s Not Dead.

Well, the trailer only had about 9,000 views when I started writing this, so “melted” is probably not quite accurate, but “the internet blipped” just doesn’t have the same pizzazz.

Either way, this is a movie based on a successful pre-existing property, and so it’s worth noting that the first full bit of information has been released.

One thing about Christians and pop culture that you should know, we like to do things that other people do, but we do it about three years later, and we don’t do it quite as well.

And so, in that spirit, modeling the secular tradition of over-analyzing movie trailers, I give you…


Opening Scene: The movie opens with an old man in his pajamas making an important sounding statement about belief while we see a montage of Little Rock, Arkansas, the old man praying, and Martin – the Chinese student from GND (it is a sequel, isn’t it?) – reading the Bible in a church.

Pajama man says:

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 11.12.40 AM

“In this day and age, people seem to forget that the most basic human right of all is the right to believe.”

And… I’m starting the trailer feeling confused.

Someone is trying to take away someone else’s right to believe, and someone else is forgetting it? How can you take away a right to believe? Belief isn’t an action, like voting or eating anchovies, it’s something that you have inside of you. Even in the most difficult of situations and under the most intense persecution, people can still believe, even if they have no rights of religious freedom.

But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from observing American Christian culture over the past couple of years, it’s that we hate the idea of people taking away our rights, even it’s not happening as much as we like to think it is. See, what’s really going on (in a nutshell) is that the rights of other people are being strengthened in an attempt to find a balance. But when you have been on the stronger team all of your life and you find your team not holding the power that it once held, the cry goes out of PERSECUTION!

Even though it is not persecution, by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just a loss of influence and power.

This reminds me of a particular person in history… a guy who had all the power in the universe and he purposefully gave it all up, emptied himself of all the power, and became nothing – for the sake of everyone else.

Hmm… I’ll have to think about that one.

So then, this is “the hook”, a purposefully provocative statement meant to rile up the Big Chrisitan Audience out the gate. It will certainly be clarified as we proceed through the trailer.

And so we continue.

Next Scene: We shift from pajama man to a long shot of a government building with a large crowd of demonstrators chanting something that took me a couple of viewings to comprehend: “Teach don’t preach!”

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 12.11.55 PMAh, and the pieces fall a bit more into place.

The angry protestors want teachers to be teaching and not preaching, so apparently someone has been preaching in the classroom.

But, wait, don’t they want a good thing? Sure, it’s nice to have preaching in schools if everyone in the school has the same belief, ala private religious schools, but what if the school is public? What about the kids who have different beliefs? What if the preaching is something from a religion that you don’t subscribe to? As a Christian, I don’t want a Buddhist teacher preaching the importance of being a Buddhist in school.

Seems like extending that same courtesy is the Christian thing to do.

But I digress from my over-analyzation.

Next Scene: This scene is a quick bit of foreshadowing as we shift to a school and Robin Givens talking on the phone. We have scenes of school buses, Melissa Joan Hart walking down a school hallway smiling at the students, and Givens reciting an ominous list of things that apparently can’t happen in the school:

“No prayers, no moments of silence, nothing!”

Sidebar: We’re starting to see where some of that massive GND profit has gone (besides the purchase of an online Christian film streaming service) – Pureflix has hired actors we actually know. We first saw this in their GND followup, Do You Believe?, a film that also had a bevy of familiar actors. Will it help GND2 be a better film than GND, which was a critical failure, even if it was a financial success?

Only April will tell, and she’s not talking.

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 1.08.44 PMNext Scene: A title card, “They denied God’s existence”…

Wait. What? Who denied God’s existence? Who is this they they are talking about? I’m started to feel a little frightened… the filmmakers couldn’t be trying to frighten us, could they?

Of course not, because as Christians, we believe that God is sovereign, fear isn’t real, and anxiety is not a Fruit of the Spirit.


Next Scene: A quick two-shot montage of clean-cut students watching intently in school (it is a movie, after all), and then we find out who they are, these evil people denying God’s existence.

“Think of the other children out there, who are subjected to their repressive belief system…”

Note: you have to put a dramatic pause between “their” and “repressive”, and over-emphasize “repressive.” Like this:

“…subjected to their… REPRESSIVE belief system…”

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 12Ah, so that’s the way it’s going to be, is it? Instead of having the evil, moustache-twisting atheist professor as we had in GND, we’re going to have an evil, moustache-twisting atheist bad guy from Robocop.

Actually, I do know that this actor played Leon Nash, one of the bad guys in Robocop, I’m just not sure who he is supposed to be playing in GND2 yet.

Next Scene: Another montage, this time with a voiceover by the face of Pureflix, David A.R. White. The montage is Martin walking, Martin standing up in church as David A.R. White enters, David A.R. White praying, and David A.R. White speechifying to a group of concerned looking individuals.

“If we sit by and do nothing, the pressure that we’re feeling today will be persecution tomorrow. We’re at war!”

And there it is. Those three words are undoubtedly the theme of this film, and the place from whence (along with potential box office receipts) every idea in this film is coming.


Forget all that stuff about the sovereignty of God. Just be afraid, because if we don’t do something, PERSECUTION will result.

Actually, the thought just occurred to me that it’s quite likely that persecution could come, and be the result of the attitude of antagonistic Christians in the “culture wars”, as well as a by-product of Christian-made movies like God’s Not Dead (1 & 2) that seem to revel in being insulting and belittling to people who believe differently than we do, or who don’t believe at all.

Wouldn’t that be ironic in a strange and sad way?

Next Scene: Another title card.

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 3.19.53 PM

Ah, so first they denied God’s existence, and now they want to silence His message.

“They”, again, being Leon Nash from Robocop, and his evil sidekick who dared to wear a Robocop helmet.

The nerve.

Next Scene: Back to the school, where we find Melissa Joan Hart lecturing on non-violence with a picture of Martin Luther King Jr on the screen behind her. And we proceed through several different scenes, held together by dialogue.

MJH: “What makes non-violence so radical is it’s unwavering commitment to a non-violent approach.”

Student: “Isn’t that sort of like what Jesus meant when he said that we should love our enemies?”

MJH: “Yes. You have heard it said, love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 4.24.01 PMQuick shot to a kid pulling out his cell phone and then cut to Robin Givens walking with MJH in the hallway:

RG: “One of your students sent a text to their parents. Did this happen?”

MJH: “If you’re asking if I responded to a student’s question, then yes.”

Cut to serious man in a suit in a serious looking meeting room looking all serious.

SM: “And your answer incorporated the words of Jesus.”

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 4.20.35 PMCut to woman with the first actual southern accent we’ve heard so far, in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Little Rock, Arkansas.

Southern Accent: “What were you thinkin’, Grace?”

(Ah, Melissa Joan Hart’s name is Grace. I wonder why they chose that name?)

Next Scene: Cut to Grace sitting in a living room with ruggedly handsome lawyer, Tom Endler.

Endler: “The Thawleys are asking that you be fired, Grace, plus revocation of your teaching certificate.”

The stakes have never been higher.

But hold on one second… don’t teachers have the right under federal law to discuss their religious beliefs as long as they do so in an objective manner? In the scene they showed, Grace looked to be pretty darned objective, but of course, it was only a quick clip. Maybe she does cross the line and openly preach? If so, of course she will get in trouble. If not, I don’t understand why the school throws her under the bus, because she’s well within her rights.

But again, only April will tell.

Next Scene: Cut back to serious man, having another serious conversation with other serious people.

SM: “How do we make this go away and not get blood on our hands?”

Wait a minute. That sounds familiar. Where have I heard that sort of phrasing?


Ah, that’s right.

And the answer to the serious guy’s question, given in hushed, conspiratorial tones…

“We’ll let the ACLU do it.”


Next scene: Cut to Leon Nash, who has apparently quit working for Clarence and has taken up with that bastion of evil and ne’er-do-wellingness, the ACLU.

“We’re going to prove once and for all… that God is dead.”

(Okay, read that sentence again, but then hit play on the youtube video right after reading it.)

End of over-analysis part 1.

That took a LOT longer than I thought it would take, and I’m not sure if it’s worth it to take the time to write the second half of my over-analysis. I’m not paid anything to do this, and I’m trying to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, and so, I might just let it go.

However, if you’d like me to continue, then leave me a message here, and if enough people are actually interested, I’ll continue. Otherwise, you can just watch the trailer and imagine what I might have said about the rest of it.

A hint, the rest of the analysis would have answered questions like this:

What book is ruggedly handsome Tom Endler reading so intently?

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 6.18.42 AM

What is the quite original song that the trailer shows the Newsboys singing?

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And finally, the question on everyone’s mind…

Do the Robertsons make an appearance in GND2?



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The Peanuts Movie • Most Faithful Reboot Ever?

A year ago, when the Peanuts trailer was first released, I wrote some thoughts about what I hoped the filmmakers would do, and what they would avoid. I’m so pleased to hear that we seemed to have been on the same page about what a film like this should be, as the consistent reports about the movie indicate that the movie is a love letter to Charles Schultz, and not simply a crass attempt to cash in on the reboot craze.

The movie open here in China this weekend, so I hope to take my kids to see it, and help the producers bump up their international box office by a few yen.  Meanwhile, I thought I’d repost what I wrote a year ago.

November 20, 2014


This one is really, really interesting to me.  Like a gazillion other folks out there my age, I amassed stacks of Peanuts books growing up, and read them over and over and over again.  As a somewhat shy kid with self-confidence issues, I identified with Charlie Brown and the problems he faced.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if I could have become a part of any children’s literature at the time, I would have grown a round head and jumped into the panels of Charles Schultz’s world.

When Blue Sky Studios (the guys behind the Ice Age and Rio movies) announced that they were going to be making a new Peanuts animated feature, with CGI, I was initially pretty skeptical.  You could wallpaper your house with the bad reviews of bad movies that decent filmmakers have made from fantastic properties that I grew up with:  Transformers 1,2,3 & 4, Scooby Doo, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, Smurfs, Smurfs 2, Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, Superman Returns,  Knight Rider, The A-Team, Charlie’s Angels, Get Smart, The Pink Panther, Robocop

…the depressing and continually growing list represents a non-stop assault by lazy Hollywood producers on the pop culture treasures of my childhood.

Given, there have been some successful reboots/reimaginings:  Battlestar GalacticaThe Muppets (edit: when I wrote this, I meant the Muppet movie reboots – not the current ABC Muppets show, which, while funny, is NOT the Muppets), Star Trek, Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, the recent Planet of the Apes movies, James Bond, to name a few.  And while they prove that it can be done, they are the exception to the rule.

And now we have Peanuts up next on the horizon.  And I have hope that it will be an exception.

The two things that gives me hope about this film are this:

A)  The studio

If you go to the Blue Sky Studios website and look at the films they have released, they are almost all good movies.  The one exception was the underwhelming Rio 2, which I forgot right after watching it.  However, they did well with the Ice Age franchise, and have several other good standalone movies under their belt.  Peanuts is in good hands with this studio.

2)  The Creative Team

Peanuts has a strong animation-experienced director in Steve Martino (Horton Hears a Who, Ice Age: Continental Drift) and Charles Schultz’s son and grandson are sharing screenwriting credits with newcomer Cornelius Uliano.  Also, I was totally stoked to see that Christophe Beck (one of my absolute favorite movie score composers) is doing the soundtrack.  Hopefully, this creative team will seek to stay true to the spirit of the original stories, and not try to reimagine Peanuts for a new generation to the point of getting rid of everything that made Peanuts special and timeless in the first place.

That leads me to the message I would communicate to the creative team if I had the opportunity:


Yes, I’m suggesting that they should keep the film in the 60’s – 70’s era.  No cell phones, no internet, no Facebook references, no hip lingo or jokes about celebrities, no setting in modern-looking neighborhoods.  Keep the music reminiscent of the jazzy style of Vince Guaraldi, as well as orchestral music – but no pop songs by One Direction or Christina Aguilera or some other teeny bopper music group that would plant the movie firmly in the 2014’s.

Go CGI all you want, and make it fun and funny for the kids!   But remember that the setting and the score are characters into themselves, and if they aren’t there, they will be missed as much as Linus or Schroeder.

At least by 40-something guys like me that grew up with Peanuts.

Now, I started all this saying that I was excited to find the release of the new Peanuts trailer, and so, without further ado…

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A Jesus Follower Manifesto

JFMIt’s time we make some changes.

It’s time that we are known for the things we are for rather than the things we’re against.

It’s time that we are known for standing with the persecuted rather than complaining that we are being persecuted.

It’s time that we are known for sitting quietly with those who suffer rather than judging the reasons why they might be suffering.

It’s time that we are known for who we are, or whose we are, rather than who we want people to think that we are.

It’s time we are known for promoting the One who died on the cross, and the least of these, and not for constantly promoting ourselves. We should be the least narcissistic people on the planet.

It’s time we are known for being servants within the culture, and not for holding desperately to the reins of culture.

It’s time we allow the Maker of Heaven and Earth to be the dominant force in the world, and stop worrying that we have to do it ourselves.

It’s time we are known for putting our faith in Jesus, and not putting our faith in fallible men or women – whether they stand in places of power, in the spotlight of celebrity, or even behind a pulpit on Sunday morning. The ground is level at the foot of the cross.

It’s time we stop measuring success in numbers, whether those numbers be votes, dollars, or decisions.

It’s time we remember that God is in control, fear isn’t real, and anxiety is not a fruit of the spirit.

It’s time to remind ourselves what Jesus answered when he was asked to identify the most important commandment.

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

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