The 2016 MOVIEGUIDE® Awards Nominations

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With some sort of activity happening tomorrow in the far right side of the country, you may have missed a little announcement from the far left side of the country from a right-leaning entertainment organization.

Yes, over the past couple of weeks, MOVIEGUIDE® has been slowly (and strangely – not sure why they’ve been doing it piecemeal) revealing the nominees for their annual awards show. And as is our tradition at Thimblerig’s Ark (well, starting last year), we present the nearly complete list of MOVIEGUIDE® awards nominees for your pleasure.

The 2016 MOVIEGUIDE® Awards Nominations 

Epiphany Prize to the Most Inspiring Movie of 2016

Ben-Hur

God’s Not Dead 2

Hacksaw Ridge

Hail, Caesar

Miracles from Heaven

Risen

Silence

The Young Messiah

Epiphany Prize to the Most Inspiring Television Program of 2016

Agents of Shield: Season 3: Episodes 20-22

The Bridge Part 2

Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors

Operation Christmas

The Passion: New Orleans

Pocahontas: Dove of Peace

A Time To Dance

Bradley Foundation Faith & Freedom Award for Movies

The Faith & Freedom Awards for Promoting Positive American Values are awarded for entertainment value, for craftsmanship, and for creating programming that is uplifting, moral, insightful, compassionate, and that shows America and its people in a positive light.

Captain America: Civil War

God’s Not Dead 2

Hacksaw Ridge

Hail, Caesar!

Queen of Katwe

Sing

Sully

Best Movie for Families

Finding Dory

The Jungle Book

Miracles from Heaven

Pete’s Dragon

Queen of Katwe

The Secret Life of Pets

Sing

Trolls

The Young Messiah

Zootopia

Best Movie for Mature Audiences

Ben Hur

Captain America: Civil War

Eddie the Eagle

The Finest Hours

God’s Not Dead 2

Hacksaw Ridge

Hail, Caesar!

Risen

Silence

Sully

Grace Award for Most Inspiring Performance for Movies

Awarded annually to an actor or actress in a motion picture or television program who exemplifies God’s grace and mercy toward us as human beings through their outstanding performance.

Rodrigo Santoro, Ben-Hur

David A.R. White, God’s Not Dead 2

Melissa Joan Hart, God’s Not Dead 2

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

Josh Brolin, Hail, Caesar!

Rober Pike Daniel, Hail, Caesar!

Jennifer Garner, Miracles from Heaven

Kylie Rogers, Miracles from Heaven

Cliff Curtis, Risen

Joseph Fiennes, Risen

Adam Greaves-Neal, The Young Messiah

Grace Award for Most Inspiring Performance for TV

Natalia Cordova-Buckley, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

Faith Ford, The Bridge

Ted McGinley, The Bridge

Alyvia Alyn Lind, Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors

Gerald McRaney, Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors

Dolly Parton, Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors

Tyler Perry, The Passion: New Orleans

Devielle Johnson, A Time to Dance


The MOVIEGUIDE® Awards are scheduled for February 10, 2017 at the Universal Hilton Hotel. It’s usually televised a couple of weeks later, but right now that information is not available.

And if anyone from MOVIEGUIDE® happens to read this, I’d love to find out a couple of things from you: first, what is the process for selecting the nominees? Second, why don’t you air the show live?

Finally, for kicks and giggles, here is a picture of Thimblerig’s Ark author Nate Fleming with Dr. Ted Baehr himself. Taken last year at the Variety Faith and Family Summit in Hollywood.

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American Cultural Christianity Roundup • the film edition • January 11, 2017

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There have been several notable stories in the world of Christian-made film these past few days, and I wanted to summarize a few of them (and comment, of course) for my faithful readers.

1. The Case for Christ

Deadline ran a story this week about the upcoming PureFlix film, The Case for Christ, based on the successful apologetics book by Lee Strobel. The website ran the story with the provocative title, “‘The Case For Christ’ Teaser: Athiest Vs. Believers, From ‘God’s Not Dead’ Filmmakers

Three interesting points about this story.

First, the teaser trailer was actually released several months ago, but Deadline presented it as if it happened in the past week.

Second, while the title of the story is essentially correct, it does seem like Deadline’s editors are trying to stoke some sort of fires through the headline.

Third, I’m quite fascinated by the current trend in Christian-made filmmaking to take a popular book (even a nonfiction, largely non-narrative one like The Case for Christ) or song (see the other stories discussed in this post) and turn them into narrative movies. This seems like a studio mindset sort of thing to do, because it’s safe. Existing properties and familiar names are always the safer bet for box office returns, but doing this with songs seems to be a throwback to the 70’s and 80’s when it was done with some frequency in secular films (Coal Miner’s Daughter, Convoy, Take This Job And Shove It, Harper Valley PTA, Ode To Billy Jo, etc). But it’s something that has fallen out of fashion in recent years.

And while turning narrative books into movies is nothing new, examples of non-narrative books (like A Case For Christ) being turned into narrative movies are a bit harder to find. How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying did it in the late 1960’s, Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex* (But Were Afraid to Ask) in the early 70’s, and more recently, He’s Just Not That Into You.

The Case for Christ is a bit different in that the book does contain narrative elements, but the bulk of the book examines the arguments for and against the Christian faith. It’ll be interesting to see how this material is handled in a narrative film.

Meanwhile, if it is successful, maybe we’ll see faith-based filmmaking pick up this trend and make narrative films for other hit non-narrative books like The Prayer of Jabez or Mere Christianity.

2. I Can Only Imagine

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Speaking of turning songs into movies, the über-successful Christian song I Can Only Imagine is being turned into a motion picture starring Dennis Quaid, Trace Atkins, and Cloris Leachman.

 

For those who live on Mars, or outside the Christian bubble, I Can Only Imagine is a song that was originally released by the Christian supergroup MercyMe in 2001. The song imagines a person encountering heaven for the first time and being overwhelmed by the reality of being with God and loved ones for eternity. While I’ve enjoyed the song from time to time (even if it is arguably one of the most over-played songs in Christian music) I never dreamed that anyone would consider turning the song into a major motion picture.

I Can Only Imagine has a shelf life that other songs can only dream of. Here we are, over fifteen years after the song was initially released, and it remains in the iTunes top 10 Gospel and Christian song list.  The song has also been named the most played single in Christian radio history.

No wonder someone decided to make it into a movie.

To get an idea of where they will be taking this film (which apparently will tell the story of the writing of the song) you can read this article from Christian Post. That article details Bart Millard’s journey to write the song, and the film will undoubtedly explore that time of his life.

While I’m not terribly keen on the idea of turning a hit Christian song into a film, I’ve generally liked the work of the Erwin brothers in the past. So, I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve seen the final product, which is due to hit theaters in Spring 2018.

Now I just need to start working on that treatment for Lord, I Lift Your Name On High: The Film

[By the way, if any of my readers are in Oklahoma City, they are filming the last scene of the movie this Friday at the Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall, and they’re looking for extras. Read more here.]

3. God Bless The Broken Road

The Hollywood Reporter recently posted a story about former NFL running back LaDainian Tomlinson taking a role in another upcoming movie based on a popular song.

God Bless The Broken Road is also an interesting song-to-movie project, maybe even moreso than I Can Only Imagine, for a number of reasons.

First of all, the song is not a “Christian song”, but a country music song that is being turned into a film that falls into the “faith-based” genre.

Second, the original song (first recorded by the Nitty Gritty Dirt band, and more recently by Rascall Flatts) was called “Bless the Broken Road”, but the filmmakers added “God” to the title. A small adjustment to increase the appeal to the Big Christian Audience or a more complete title, considering the song lyric is “God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you”?

Third, the film is being brought to us by various members of the God’s Not Dead team – director Harold Cronk, actress Robin Givens, producers Troy Duhon and Dustin Solomon, distributed by PureFlix. A filmgoer’s anticipation for this film might be directly impacted by that knowledge – in a good or a bad way – depending on their opinion of the GND movies. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing what this team does with a non-GND property.

Fourth, the description of the film in IMDB ends by saying “…the film combines elements of faith, country music, and stock car racing while paying tribute to those who serve in the United States Military.”

Do these categories represent the new four quadrants in American Christian-targeted filmmaking?

4. The Ark Encounter

Finally, in a non-film related note, this past summer I was able to attend the grand opening of The Ark Encounter in Kentucky. I detailed that visit in a review of my experience which you can read here.

However, the folks at the Ark Encounter recently tweeted an announcement about a new display which will be opening soon.

Yes, it is a viscious dinosaur being released into an arena filled with excited fans, like Gladiator meets Jurassic Park. See my review of The Dinosaur Kingdom II for similar displays.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Are Christian Filmmakers Being Tapped To Direct Future Star Wars Stand-Alone Films?

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A long time ago in galaxy close, close by…

The church had abandoned Hollywood. Then, THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST struck box office gold, studios created FAITH-BASED DIVISIONS, and little Christian films made BUCKETS OF MONEY. Now Christian films have earned over a BILLION DOLLARS for investors and studios over the past thirteen years.

With the recent successes of Dr. Strange, directed by Christian filmmaker SCOTT DERRICKSON and Rogue One, the first Star Wars standalone film, are the forces behind Star Wars hopping on the faith-based bandwagon? Are budding Christian filmmakers being considered as the new hope for the venerable space-based franchise?

Only time will tell….

“The Erwin brothers, Harold Cronk, Kirk Cameron, they’ve all been discussed, especially for a movie about Yoda, which would involve all kinds of spiritual mumbo-jumbo,” an anonymous source told us. But this source, who met with us in a nearby Starbucks dressed in a stormtrooper costume and calling himself “TR-3R”, went on to say that the Christian filmmakers who have risen to the top are veteran brother team, Alex and Stephen Kendrick, creators of the Christian film hits Facing the Giants, Courageous, Fireproof, and 2015’s War Room.

tr3r“The big dogs at Lucasfilm like the Kendrick’s grass-roots style of filmmaking, as well as their overt handling of spiritual issues,” TR-3R said. “They think the Kendricks could take a Yoda standalone to some really interesting places, exploring the spiritual aspects of the Force, maybe telling about how Yoda became converted to the light side in the first place. Me? I imagine it happening in a golden field with lots of sunlight. The Kendricks like to do that. It’s their lens flare.”

Considering the Kendrick’s focus on family issues such as parenting and marriage, we asked the source the odds that a Kendrick-directed standalone film would also explore something of Yoda’s homelife.

“They never tell me the odds, but this is something fans have been clamoring for,” TR-3R said enthusiastically, trying unsuccessfully to sip his coffee through his stormtrooper helmet. “They’ve seen Yoda living as a crotchety old single dude, but was he a good husband? A good dad? He helped train all those force-sensitive kids, but what about his own kids? The big dogs think that the Kendricks could really explore a domestic side of Yoda that we haven’t seen before.”

The source went on to say that a successful Kendrick-directed Star Wars film would also open the door for other filmmakers of faith to step in, as the studio hopes to release a new Star Wars film every year from now until the apocalypse.

When we pressed TR-3R for more details, he grew noticeably agitated and began muttering something about seeing the new VT-16. Then, saying he had to get back to the office, TR-3R quickly slid a folded piece of paper across the table and bolted outside without another word. He jumped into a black 1976 Corvette and drove away.

Incidentally, the Corvette’s license plate read THX-1138.

Unfolding the paper, the first thing we noticed was that it was written on Lucasfilm stationary. It had been stamped multiple times with “TOP SECRET” in bright red letters, and the paper had the heading: “Potential Future Faith-Based Star Wars Projects.”

Then, the following items were listed:

forceThe Force’s Not Dead – set between Episode 3 and 4, a young Luke Skywalker attends Mos Eisley Agricultural College only to find that his moisture farming professor doesn’t believe in the Force. Luke stands up to him, determined to prove that the Force is real. The film ends with an extended Figrin D’an and the Modal Newsboys concert in the cantina while the professor gets run over and killed by a landspeeder outside. Potential director: Harold Cronk. Potential producer: David A.R. White. Release date: December 2019.

Ben Hutt – set in the time between Episodes 3 and 4, Ben Kenobi, masquerading as a Hutt prince, is falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother (a clone soldier in the Republic Clone Army). After spending years exiled in space, Ben returns to Tatooine to seek revenge, but ultimately finds redemption. Possible roles for Ewan MacGregor and Morgan Freeman. Potential producers: Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. Release date: May 2020.

I’ve Got A Bad Feeling I’ve Been Left Behind – also set in the time between Episodes 3 and 4, this film would explore the chaos and mayhem resulting when the Jedi vanish in an instant, leaving behind smoking piles of clothes and lightsabers. Possible starring role for Nicolas Cage as a force-sensitive sceptic. Potential director: Paul LaLonde. Release date May 2021.

Droid’s Night Out – set in the time between Episodes 4 and 5, R2D2 decides to take C3PO out on a night on the town, leaving Luke, Han, and Chewie to take on all of the etiquette and protocol responsibilities at the rebel base. Of course, mistaken identities and disastrously hilarious mayhem results. Potential director: The Erwin Brothers. Release Date: December 2022.

Lumpawarrump’s Saving Life Day – set in the time between Episodes 5 and 6, Lumpawarrump is enjoying the annual Life Day extravaganza thrown by his sister until he realizes he needs to help out his visiting father, Chewbacca, who blames himself for Han Solo’s abduction by Boba Fett. Lumpy’s fresh look at Life Day provides Chewbacca the chance to see that the universe is bigger than his little problems, and that he needs to pull up his Wookie panties and go save his friend from the clutches of the vile gangster, Jabba the Hutt. The film ends with an extended wookie dance-off. Potential director: Kirk Cameron. Release Date: Life Day 2023, or perhaps Festivus.

star-war-roomStar War Room – set in the time between Episodes 6 and 7, Han Solo and Princess Leia’s marriage is in trouble, and it will take the efforts of the strange, wizened old Miss Maz to help Leia learn to tap into the force and save her marriage. The film ends with an extended force-enabled jump rope competition. Possible roles for Sadie Robertson as a young Leia and Alden Ehrenreich to continue playing young Han. Potential director: The Kendrick Brothers (if the Yoda movie is a success). Release Date: December 2024.

 

Sleep Isn’t Coming Easily This Christmas Eve

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It starts with Mohammed, the Somali refugee who drives for Uber to make ends meet. Mohammed, a father of four, drove us to our big fancy downtown Seattle hotel after the Christmas Eve worship service we attended at the fancy urban contemporary church. Mohammed, we discovered as we rode, has trouble getting work because of his status, and his wife also works to help support the family. He talked about living for eleven years in a refugee camp in Kenya before being shipped off to America, which he never asked to happen. And now, he drives Uber for eight to ten hours a day. It gets tiring, he says. And he looks tired, resting his head on the driving wheel when we get to a stop light.

After Mohammed dropped us off, we took a family photo by the Christmas tree in the fancy downtown Seattle hotel’s lobby and then went up to our room to watch A Christmas Carol and get the kids ready for bed.

And then there’s the fancy urban contemporary church we visited. This church is running a textbook operation. They had a flawless contemporary Christmas eve production with an extremely talented worship band and a funny and inspiring message from a hip young pastor.

But here’s the thing: nobody said anything to our family as we entered the church. No one said anything to us as we found a seat, and no one said anything to us as we put on our coats, made our way through the lobby, and then stood outside the church waiting to be picked up by Mohammed the Uber driver.

It was like we were never there. Like we were not a part of the production.

And then I think about the little country Methodist church we attended last weekend. This little mountain church was filled with so much blue hair that sitting in the sanctuary was almost like being blinded by the sky. The little church was the definition of unhip, with a definitively unslick musical production, an excruciatingly dull message about something blah-blah-Old Testament-blah from a 60-something pastor in 90’s era khakis, and a group of people who embraced us as if we were a part of the community.

Our kids were the only children in the church, but the childcare lady loved on all three of our children from the moment she saw us until the moment we dragged them away from her. Another family invited us to sled on their hill and eat some dinner, and a retired dentist/pilot invited us for a single-engine airplane ride the next day. Why? Because he loves showing people the area.

We were strangers, but not to these folks.

Finally, this Christmas Eve, I’m thinking about the manger. It always seems to come back to the manger, doesn’t it?

This started yesterday as I walked through the lobby of our fancy hotel, looking at all the elegant decorations, listening to the classic Christmas music, and considering all of the well-dressed shiny happy people sitting in lounge and lobby ordering $35 hors d’oeuvres and $100 bottles of Didier Dagueneau Silex.

As I looked at all of the comfort, wealth, and contentment, I couldn’t help but think about that blasted manger. Why couldn’t I just focus on “White Christmas” and “Santa Baby”? But I kept returning to that wandering Jewish family just looking for a place to shelter. Probably hungry, possibly thirsty, undoubtedly wondering where they could rest, and where they could have their baby.

They had to settle on a barn.

Suddenly, I’m back to thinking about that body of simple believers in the mountains who were more warm and welcoming than they should have been to a wandering family of strangers. They would have given us the clothes from their backs if we’d asked.

But I’m also back to thinking about that body of well-coifed and professionally prolific believers in the city, who were undoubtedly well-intentioned, but who didn’t seem to notice or care that they had a wandering family in their midst, even as they sang “Away in a Manger”.

I’m back to thinking about my family, taking a picture by the well-decked Christmas tree in the lobby of our fancy hotel. I think of my three children who are – even now – nestled sound asleep in their beds, with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads.

And I’m back to thinking about Mohammad, the refugee Uber driver, busting his butt to make ends meet and provide bread for his wife and four children. A man who wishes more than anything that he could just go back home where life made some sense.

Yes, this Christmas Eve, I can’t stop thinking.

And sleep isn’t coming easily.

Five Things The Media Is Not Allowed To Do, Post-Election

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Dear Media,

Regarding the recent election, you guys really yosted the poodle, didn’t you?

Sorry to be crass, but seriously, media? You gave away billions of dollars worth of free advertising to Donald Trump because you thought he was a big joke, and in the end, the joke was on you. And the irony is that even you couldn’t believe it.

Thanks so much, Media. The 52.8% of the country that didn’t vote for Trump really appreciates that you basically installed him in the office.

[edit: thanks to gilliebean, who corrected me on this: “…there were actually 251,107,000 people in the USA who were eligible to register to vote on Nov 8. Only 24.2% of those people voted for Trump. Only 24.6% of those people voted for Clinton. 51.5% did not vote. So technically, it was 75.8% of the country that did not vote for Trump (not 52.8%). And in all fairness, 75.4% of the country didn’t vote for Clinton.]

The good thing is that you know this, you’ve acknowledged it, and you’ve owned it. We can see examples of this in The New RepublicUSA Today, and MSNBC. But you can find it all over the place – stunned media elites, bemoaning the results, and recognizing their culpability in this scenario that the 52.8% [edit: 75.8%] considers to be nightmarish.

But Media, you must understand that owning it is not enough, not by a long shot. No, media, you also need to make atonement.

That’s right. Atonement. In the form of five things we are taking away from you during the next four to eight years of the Trump Administration.

You might want to sit down for this, Media. Because it’s going to hurt.

  1. No TrumpGate.

Ever since Nixon, you guys have not been able stop putting “-gate” at the end of whatever scandal might crop up. We’ve had BillyGate, DebateGate, IranGate, CableGate, FileGate, HairGate, MonicaGate, EmailGate, IntelGate, and even a GateGate! The list goes on and on and on, and Media, it’s time for you to let it go.

We get it! Gates are terrible things! But as your first act of atonement, you will avoid the temptation to label Trump scandals with names like WallGate, MelaniaGate, NepotismGate, Alt-RightGate, PutinGate, or – God forbid – P*ssyGate.

It’s time for some originality, Media.

But that’s only the beginning.

2. No Trumponomics.

I’m amazed that people complain about the lack of originality in Hollywood, but continue to give the fourth estate a free pass to be as unoriginal as you can be. It all started with Reagonomics, then we had Clintonomics, the Bushonomics, and – silliest sounding of all – Obamanomics.

The madness stops here. As your second act of atonement, you must never refer to the economic policies of Donald Trump as Trumpanomics.

That being said, if you want to use “Trumped-up Trickle Down Economics”, feel free. I don’t think anyone is using it at the moment.

3. No Trumpcare.

untitledYou tried to get this off the ground with Hillary Clinton back in 1993 with Hillarycare, but her healthcare plan flopped. Then, when President Obama announced he was going to push universal healthcare, you quickly grabbed the old nickname and applied it to Obama, and you gave us Obamacare.

And it stops there. Media, after your Election 2016 screwup, you’ve lost the ability to continue this with Trump. John Oliver has already snuck one of these past, but that’s as far as it goes.

As your third act of atonement, you will refrain from dubbing Trump’s new healthcare plan “Trumpcare.” You can call it TrumpHealth, or TrumpMeds, or even InsuriTrump,

But no riffing off Obamacare. You’ve forfeited your right.

4. No “You’re Fired!”

Over the course of these upcoming four years, people will undoubtedly come and go from the Trump administration. As your fourth act of atonement, you will refrain from reporting on that story with headlines like, “Bannon, You’re Fired!”

Also, Trump is liable to send our military to fight somewhere, and you are not permitted to report on that story with headlines like, “ISIS, you’re fired!”

You can extrapolate this out to any situation, and apply the same rule.

untitledThe use of “You’re Fired” is now fired. Take this off your list of possible headlines. Atonement act #4.

5. No “trumps” puns.

The final act of atonement is to avoid the temptation, as great as it will be, to say that Trump has “trumped” things, or someone else has “trumped” him (with the aforementioned exception of Clinton’s brilliant and erudite “Trumped up trickle down.” That, you may use to your heart’s content). But you must not say things like this:

China Trumps Trump When It Comes to Infrastructure

Or this…

Trump Trumps Hate

However, headlines like this are acceptable:

Trump’s Trump Trumps Trump’s Trump

In conclusion, we want you to know, Media, that we realize that you’re hurting. We know that you are apprehensive about what the next four years holds for people in your line of work, and that things don’t bode well for a transparent Trump administration.

But if you do your job from now on: reporting truth rather than promoting sensationalism; putting aside your own personal convictions and reporting with impartially; and holding everyone’s feet to the fire – Republicans, Democrats, whatever, then we might just start listening to you again.

Atonement is, after all, about reconciliation.

Meanwhile, we hope you’ve learned your lesson from this. And every time you have to stop yourself from using one of the easy choices listed above, we hope that it hurts just a little bit. And we hope the little pain that you feel reminds you of how important it is for you to do your job well.

We’re counting on you, media. Don’t let us down again.

Reflections on an American Election

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To my friends who have been supporting Trump:

Congratulations on your victory. You worked hard, and you managed to pull off the upset of the century.

But I need to ask: are you prepared for the way things are about to change? After all, for the past eight years you’ve often claimed the role of victim and cried out about persecution. But with today’s victory, especially since it’s looking like the Republicans will sweep both houses as well, those days are over.

You used to be able to watch Star Wars and identify with the Rebellion, but now that you’ve won, you’ve assumed the role of the Empire. What will you do with all of those Star Destroyers and Tie Fighters?

This brings me to the million-dollar question: what will you do with your victory? Will you treat the other side the way you feel like they treated you these past years? Will you use this opportunity to build up and renew things for everyone, or will you use it to oppress and destroy those who are different than you? My hope is that you will turn the other cheek and approach your newfound position with humility and mercy, and maybe even with a smidge of empathy.

The ball’s in your guy’s court now, and I hope to heaven that you were right about Trump being good for this country. I just hope it’s not true only for a certain segment of the population.

Only time will tell.

But here’s the thing. A LOT of people are incredibly freaked out by the man you just elected, and they presume that Trump will do just what he promised to do, just as you were freaked out about what you thought Hillary would do if she won. And can you blame them? If you’re honest, now you have to acknowledge that over the course of this campaign, your guy said some pretty hateful things about a lot of people of a variety of backgrounds. And with your guy’s inability to demonstrate remorse or even step back from things, he’s opened the door for others to feel free to be hateful too, in his image.

And that’s got a lot of people nervous, whether you think that nervousness is justifiable or not.

The point is, your guy’s got a lot of self-inflicted damage to overcome before half the country will come close to being willing to see him as their president. And it would help if you – as the victors now – recognized and owned that truth, because what you do on a personal level could make a world of difference. I know that the majority of you are good and decent people who have been fed up with the way things have been going, but now you are in the position to make things better for everyone.

It’s on you.

To both sides:

We need to be gracious, both in victory and in defeat. There’s more at stake here than simply getting our party into power, or getting our platforms passed. Living in China these past four years, I can tell you from experience that the world is watching closely. Will this vaunted democracy survive this shocking result? We must show them that it will, and that it will thrive in spite of everything that’s gone on these past several months.

To those of you who feel like tonight was a disaster of epic proportions:

I get that. In fact, I’m having trouble accepting that a Donald Trump presidency is actually a reality that is going to happen. Even as a lifelong Republican supporter, I’ve not been able to get behind Trump during the campaign, and I can’t fathom getting behind him now as president.

But ultimately, I have to. We all do.

The only thing that will make this experiment in democracy continue to work, the only way that it’ll be able to survive, thrive, and have any sort of positive repercussions around the world, is if the world sees us making it work. In this case, it means putting our support behind the president-elect, because he is the president-elect. Not for the sake of Donald Trump, but for the sake of the office that he will now hold. And as big as Trump may think that he is, that office is much, much bigger.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that we need to give Trump some sort of free pass to do whatever he wants to do. We still need to hold his feet to the fire, while doing everything in our power to keep him from setting the whole place ablaze. But we need to be united behind the essentials that bind us together, not behind the man sitting in the oval office. We need to give him a chance to show that a good deal of what he promised to do will turn out to have been campaign bluster, and that if given the opportunity, he’ll actually attempt to govern.

Only time will tell.

To my fellow Christians, especially those of us who claim to believe in God’s sovereignty:

Do we truly believe that God is in control? Sovereignty says that Trump only wins if God permits it. That means that our job now, whether we were #nevertrump or #draintheswamp, is to pray for Donald Trump while continuing to work in our little corners of the world to build the kingdom of God. Or, as my friend Shane put it, to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with (our) God”.

Just like we should be doing no matter who wins any election.

Finally, a brief note to my fellow Christians who were strong and vocal supporters of Trump:

Reread 1 Samuel 8. Remind yourself that sometimes God gives us what we ask for, not what we need. Remember that it often exacts a high price when he does.

Only time will tell.

Sola Dei Gloria.

 

 

Embracing Beauty • Day 30 • Hong Kong

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screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-11-48-30-amFor the past three years, I’ve lived across the water from one of the world’s most vibrant, exciting, living cities. A city where East meets West in the truest sense of the expression. A city that is full of culture, and energy, and music, and the most amazing food (oh, yes. Food in Hong Kong…)…

She is a city that I have grown to love, even after only scratching the surface of who she really is, mostly from a distance. She is beautiful, she is exciting, she is mysterious, and I wish I didn’t just live across the water from her – but within her city limits where I could truly get to know her. I imagine long afternoons, searching for her secrets, teasing out her love, making her my own.

She is Hong Kong, and she is one of the beauties of the world. Would that I knew her better.

Thanks, Karina, for the vid. 😉

Stay tuned for more examples of embracing beauty (just one day left!) and please share this post with your friends! Let’s help spread beauty all over the internet.

Also, if you have an example of beauty that you want to share, drop me a line at info@thimblerigsark.com and I’ll be happy to include it!

Embracing Beauty • The First Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • The Second Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • Day 21 • The Third Week in Review

Embracing Beauty • Day 26 • Star Trek

Embracing Beauty • Day 28 • Appalachian Spring

Embracing Beauty • Day 29 • Song of the Sea

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Embracing Beauty • Day 29 • Song of the Sea

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screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-11-48-30-amMy morning routine is a lot like my father’s was when I was a boy.

A shower, a cup of Folgers, and the paper spread out before me.

Of course, because I live in 2016, the coffee is Starbucks and the morning paper is actually Facebook, but the shower is still the same.

One thing that my father didn’t have to deal with back in the late 1970’s was an election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. He didn’t have to deal with friends who support one or other of the candidates (but really, just one) taking it upon themselves to unleash all sorts of October Surprise attempts on Facebook over and over and over again for weeks at a time.

This morning, I had enough.

What set me off was one of the most disgusting stories I’d seen linked about either of the candidates during this entire process, and it finally drove me over the edge.

The story had been linked onto Facebook by an old friend, and I sat there, typing and erasing and typing and erasing a heated response in which I said that it was my strongest wish that my friend would get arrested by the Internet Police and locked away in the darkest part of the darkest secret Internet Police prison. And that they would not be allowed out until the election madness had passed.

If ever.

But then something happened that reminded me that i was supposed to be focusing on beauty this month.

While I was sitting there fuming, my coffee sitting beside me untouched, my three year old padded out to the living room from his bedroom in his footy pajamas, toused hair, and sleepy eyes, and he came and sat on my lap and gave me a big good morning hug.

song-of-the-sea-posterSo I shut down Facebook, and decided to share and enjoy some beauty with my wee tyke.

I turned on the television and played one of the most beautiful animated films – dare I say it – of all time:

The Song of the Sea.

And everything was better.

For the next ninety minutes or so, my little one and I were transported to a magical side of Ireland, where we watched a brother fight to save the sister that he’d started out resenting, and we learned how magic exists all around us, even as close as the rocks and the owls.

And so today, for my contribution of beauty, I give you the work of Tomm Moore (the “Miyazaki of the West” as my friend Amanda calls him) and his colleagues at Cartoon Saloon.

We’ll begin with the trailer for Song of the Sea.

Moore’s work has such unique and beautiful hand-drawn animation that makes you wonder how CGI ever became the dominant expression of animation. But perhaps one of the reasons why his films resonate so strongly with the audience is because they do fly in the face of convention, which says kids can’t handle movies unless they are loud, brash, full of pop-culture references, and end with the cast dancing to an upbeat pop song.

“We have a huge responsibility when we make movies aimed at kids to say something they need to know, instead of just distracting them with fart jokes and talking animals,” Moore said in an interview with CartoonBrew.com, and that integrity places his films heads and shoulders above most animated movies of our time.

And I don’t know about the rest of the world, but my three year old sat enraptured for the entire run time of the movie. And his dad alongside of him. So apparently his way of doing things works.

While Moore’s films do not have upbeat pop songs (which is part of the reason why I love them) and since the films are focused on Irish lore (which is another reason), the soundtrack (composed by Bruno Coulais) does so as well, and it compliments the animation and the storyline perfectly.

Take some time and listen to the soundtrack for the film. It’s just gorgeous.

And of course, if you are not up on the beautiful animated work of Tomm Moore and Cartoon Saloon, then you must check out his equally beautiful film, The Secret of the Kells, which has an equally beautiful soundtrack. This is the film that introduced most of us to their work.

And I think I speak for the rest of the movie loving world when I say that I hope Moore and company will continue making films for years to come.

Stay tuned for more examples of embracing beauty (just three days left!) and please share this post with your friends! Let’s help spread beauty all over the internet.

Also, if you have an example of beauty that you want to share, drop me a line at info@thimblerigsark.com and I’ll be happy to include it!

Embracing Beauty • The First Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • The Second Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • Day 21 • The Third Week in Review

Embracing Beauty • Day 26 • Star Trek

Embracing Beauty • Day 28 • Appalachian Spring

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Embracing Beauty • Day 28 • Appalachian Spring

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We’re getting to the end of my little experiment of embracing beauty, and it’s had its ups and downs. The main up has been the experience of being purposeful in seeking out beauty each day. As I wrote when I began this project, things had just become overwhelmingly ugly online – in large part thanks to the elections – and I had grown weary.

“Do not grow weary in well doing,” the Scriptures say, and so I decided to busy myself with some well-doing in the hopes that it would combat that weariness. And for the most part, it worked.

However, if there was a downer to this experience, it was that so few people joined me on it. I have quite a number of social media friends, and still, only a handful visited the blog over the course of the month. This is a bit of a bummer, not because I was hoping to become a viral sensation, but because I wanted to expose lots of people to beauty. Oh well, I can only hope that over time, people will find this series on their own, and that it will encourage and uplift the ones it is meant to encourage and uplift.

And if you are actually reading these words, then perhaps you will be encouraged and uplifted if you go back through these past few weeks and let the journey take you where it will.

And that brings us to today’s look at beauty. I decided to return to music today, as music plays such an important role in our lives, and a melody or lyric can have the unique power of transporting us across time and space. The piece of music that has that power over me, which I’m embracing today, is Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring.

martha_graham_erich_hawkins_ppalachian_springA little history – Copeland wrote Appalachian Spring in the mid 1940’s for Martha Graham’s dance company. It premiered as a ballet in 1944 at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. as a piece for a smaller chamber orchestra. Copeland went on to expand the piece for full orchestra the next year. In 1945, Copeland won the Pulitzer Prize for Music for the piece.

I first discovered Appalachian Spring when studying for a music degree at King College in Bristol, Tennessee – in the heart of the Appalachian mountains – and the music wound up serving as a soundtrack for many of those days and nights. Even now, when I listen to it, I’m carried back to the rolling hills of north-west Tennessee and some of the best years of my life.

And so, I’m pleased and feeling a bit nostalgic as I present today’s example of beauty. Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring, played by the New York Philharmonic, under the direction of Leonard Bernstein.

Stay tuned for more examples of embracing beauty, and please share this post with your friends! Let’s help spread beauty all over the internet.

Also, if you have an example of beauty that you want to share, drop me a line at info@thimblerigsark.com and I’ll be happy to include it!

Embracing Beauty • The First Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • The Second Week & Some New

Embracing Beauty • Day 21 • The Third Week in Review

Embracing Beauty • Day 26 • Star Trek

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