Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Summer Movie Madness

This summer I have seen more movies in the theater then I've seen in the previous 12 months. In fact usually I'm quite frugal when it comes to the theater. However the combination of hot days, summer blockbusters, and air conditioned theaters brought me repeatedly to the theater. So here is my brief opinion of the five.

1. X-Men First Class- Fantastic good time. I loved seeing charactors as they developed and matured into what they were in the former X-Men movies. I especially enjoyed Mystique.

2. Super 8- If you like Speilberg, this movie is a much see flick. I cut my early scifi teeth on the classic ET and never looked back. This movie was brilliant. A mix of classic and modern beauty.

3. Transformers- Of the list, this shall be my least favorite. However, it was still epic. Indeed when one adds Leonard Nimoy's voice to the action packed movie overflowing with flying transforming vehicles, one gets a movie that is quite enjoyable.

4. Captain America- Set during World War II, it deals with both with the heavy topic of eugenics and the upliftingidea of the triumph of the underdog. Captain America was bigger than life and full of classic comic book essence, while bringing to life the WWII era.

5. The Help... Ok I haven't seen it yet, and I know it's not epic or action packed, but the themes that the movie will present hold great potential. Check out this review.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Map Across Time by C S Lakin

I don't know how other people read, but quite often I have a stack of half read books beside my bed. Some are books I am perfectly content to read in small chunks. Others are books I began for some reason or another currently have no interest in reading. Usually sandwiched within the pile is a book or two who are waiting their turn to begin. I read based on my mood. Sometimes it's a non-fiction night. Other times I charge into a dense literary book like War and Peace. For the same reason I have difficulty taking a trip with fewer than 3 books. So when a book takes over the stack and all books get pushed aside until it's completion, that says a lot about my enjoyment of the book.

Recently I had the opportunity to read C.S. Lakin's The Map Across Time. It is part of her Gates of Heaven series. The fairy tale is the story of Princess Aletha and Prince Adin, who are twin heirs to the throne of  the Kingdom of Sherbourne. Their journey takes them beyond what they knew possible, and through it they learn about themselves, and the truth that stretches back to the beginning of time.They meet a Keeper of a Gate of Heaven, travel through time with the aide of a magical map, and try to rid their kingdom of an ancient curse.

The story was enchanting and engaging. I highly recommend the book to anyone who loves fairy tales. However, C.S. Lakin did more than just write a fairy tale. She infused the book with Biblical truth as the ancient wisdom shared throughout the book, were actual quotes or paraphrases from the Bible. Additionally Sherbourne's ancient language, the Law'az, was taken from the Hebrew language. As a scholar of the Hebrew language, the fictional language in her book resonated before I even knew Hebrew was her starting point for the language. There was something familiar about the Law'az.

This book is moving on to my fourth grade friend. He loves fantasy. His mom loves when his fantasy is appropriate for his age. This book will definately fit the bill.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Awareness comes at a Cost

Recently I have become more aware of reality around me. If you have not read my blog on the TED conferences, this may seem a bit out of the blue. So here is the dilemma. I love doing Operation Christmas Child. The gift of a present from one who loves giving gifts, has multiple levels of joy. Recently I have also been considering sponsoring a child, but have always wondered if that was the best the way to help. It's the same with mirco-loans. One person helping one person, multiplied by thousands seems potentially great.

So here is the problem, the awareness I've gained from reading a few blogs from my more aware friends, watching TED talks, reading about Free2work, and other venues have raised my awareness to a level where I now realise I have no idea how to actually help.

Example #1: Since I first read about TOM's I have wanted a pair. It seems great, buy a shoe and a needy child gets a shoe. However a friend posted an informative blog about TOM'sShoes and their day without shoes. Last year I gleefully participated, and I had planned to continue this year. Now my ignorance is gone, and my knewfound knowledge has led me to realise that I don;t want TOM's shoes. I wanted the idea of doing good.

Solution: Research. I do get the whole teach a person to fish analogy, help an economy improve, rather than providing them with handouts. So now I need to figure out where people are being assisted in a way that is beneficial in the long run, and then support it. So much better than handouts, I get it, and yet I still have no idea where to help. Things that seemed like a good idea, in reality may be fish handouts.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

TED: a discovery leads to a challenge

Have you discovered the TED website? If you have never heard of TED (and I was right there a few months ago), then you are in for some amazing discovery. What are you interested in? Technology, Culture, Economics, Business, Entertainment? All these and more are covered at the TED conferences. TED gives people from all areas of the world approximately 15 minutes to share their passion, past, story, hope, or dream.

Patricia Ryan had an amazing talk titled, "Don't insist on English."  Language is fused with culture.  I cannot even count the times I have heard someone unable to adequately translate something from one language into another. For instance, the Hebrew word "Shalom." One author took paragraphs to try and explain the concept, that does not neatly translate into English. So many terms are so intrinsically intertwined with the culture the language thrives within, that any other word fails to replace it. Yet another language dies every 14 days. Have you seen the statistics on the languages of the world? Check out what National Geographic has on Endangered World languages.    

Speaking of cultures, Wade Davis had an intriguing talk on Endangered Cultures.

Other Talks:

Hans Rosling and the Magic Washing Machine. (favorite quote, "If you have democracy, people will vote for washing machines.")

 Melinda French Gates What non profits can learn from Coca Cola. "At TEDxChange, Melinda Gates makes a provocative case for nonprofits taking a cue from corporations such as Coca-Cola, whose plugged-in, global network of marketers and distributors ensures that every remote village wants -- and can get -- a Coke. Why shouldn't this work for condoms, sanitation, vaccinations too?"

Okay so now it's your turn. Check out TED. Watch a few talks that peak your interest. It just might change your view on something.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ethiopian Coffee and a Reminder of the Simple Things

Yesterday I opened a bag of Ethiopian coffee from a friend. It is grown in Aleta Wondo. The smell of the fresh roasted beans was exquisite. Then I ground the beans while I put the kettle on for hot water. The aroma filled the kitchen. It was a touch of earth, a hint of cocoa, and something sweet I couldn't quite place. How long has it been since I savored coffee before I even brewed it. I have no idea, but too long indeed. My beans in the french press and my water at the perfect temperature, I poured the water into the french press and oh how they frothed. It was marvelous. I tasted that beautiful froth and knew this coffee was going to continue to be an amazing experience. I stirred the press and waited, stirred again, and waited. Finally the four minutes had passed. I pressed and got down my tiny cup. Pouring the rich coffee into the cup I noticed the opaque chocolate brown color and could hardly wait to taste, but first, the smell. It was smooth a velvet aroma, with cocoa tones. Finally a sipped the coffee. It lived up to the aroma. My roommate said just watching me savor the first sips was priceless.

In a world where packing our days is prized, and worth seems to be increasingly measured in accomplishments, I struggle to remember my worth is not found in humanity. My worth is more precious than jewels and more costly than silver. I am created in the image of God and treasured by the Creator of all. R. C. Sproul's The Holiniess of God reminds me that God created from nothing. Nothing. We cannot even thing of nothing, for if we think of something, it is no longer nothing. My mind was aching a bit from trying to wrap my thoughts around the implications of the very aspect of nothingness, when he continued. "The shaping and forming of paint, clay, notes on paper, or some other substance. In our experience we have not been able to find a painter who paints without paint, or a writer who writes without words, or a composer who composes without notes. Artists must start with something. What artists do is shape, form, or rearrange other materials, but they never start with nothing." (The Holiness of God. Audio book found in chapter 2) It is God who created from nothing, created by speaking the very word of creation bringing all into existence, who gives me worth. He finds me precious enough to send his Son down and die that I may then respond to his love and choose Him.

When I take time to go slow, I see beauty in the simplicity of an egg. I appreciate the rain, which brings life to the thirsty. I have been contemplating meditation as presented in Richard Foster's Celebration of Disciplines. I think I have finally begun to understand that I will never fully understand the practice of meditation. I can only practice it imperfectly and prepare my heart for encounters with a Holy God. Regular encounters with God both build my relationship with Him and free me from the forces that the world presses upon those who search for their fulfillment in worldly accolade. For it is when I attach my self more to God that I separate myself from the assessment of the world. I am beginning to understand why the disciplines are to be celebrated.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.

So today is day two of my personal challenge. I am particpating in my very own 30 days of Creativity. Stagnation be gone. New and vibrant come hither. Yesterday I kicked off the month with a a journal.

This is the lovely journal. I used an old chiildren's book.Firts I took out the pages inside and added my own blank pages. Then drilled holes through the cover and new pages. I wove gold thread through the holes, reinforced the corners with clear tape, and now have a unique journal.

Today is day two: Who knows what I shall create today. Stay tooned for updates throughout the month.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tsunami Night

I woke up at 2am. My phone twirped and I thought who is texting me in the middle of the night. It was not a text. It was a tsunam alert from the weather channel. I was wide awake almost instantly. I turned on the TV to both check how severe the tsunami warning was and where the earthquake had occured. I was floored by the devastation of the 8.9 quake in Japan. I saw that whatever tsunami would arrive on the Northern California Coast wouldn't arrive until after 7am so I went back to bed. For 45 minutes I tried to sleep. Sleep did not arrive. I was restless. My friends all over the world were tweeting and updating their facebook status' and yet there were thousands of people I didn't know in danger. I spent the rest of the night watching the weather channel, praying, and sleeping in fitful lengths. I know I slept a little because I dreamed I was caught in a tsunami as I was stuck in  a small beach town. I am continuing to pray for those affected by the quake and the results of the quake.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Transformers, Robots in Disguise.

Seminary was a crazy life changing experience. I spent 5 years of my life on a tiny campus in Northern California. I was amongst many others who were there to also obtain a degree. The common needs and difficulties bonded friendships in a way that college did not. Then I graduated and moved 10 miles north. Not so far, right? Yet it might as well been a thousand miles for all loneliness that ensued in the following two years. I spent the first year working two jobs, serving in two churches and knowing that there was more to life than what I was doing. By the second year I was down to one church and one job. However I had exited all semblance of a social life. I was serving in a church plant (read not a lot of people in my church). I was working in three different schools (read not a whole lot of time to build relationships with the other staff) I was lonely and living the life of an introvert. I knew the TV schedule from 3-10 pm on too many stations to count. I was discontented with my life.

 I know that only a fool repeats the same plan and expects a change in the results. Therefore over the summer I set out to make some changes in my life. Interestingly the theme for my computer curriculum was all about goals this year and I knew I needed to make many goals. I June, I began learning the piano. I know that seems like more alone time, but for me it was a step because it removed me from the couch. Then in August, I began changing my eating habits. I used the Food Pyramid website to track my intake and adjusted my diet to include more fruit, vegetables, and dairy. I was overloading on bread, grains, and meats. It took time to find the fruits and veggies I would gravitate toward. Then in early November I had an urge to go for a run. Now for those who don't know me, I do not like to run. It is strange now I usually run 3-4 times a week. I go about a mile and I still don't like running. However the post run feeling is worth every torturous step. I am healthier than I have been since high school. I used to say that exercise took to much time. It does not.

So here I am March 2011. Change is still in the air. I sense the stagnation that had settled over me as I adjusted to life after seminary is being peeled off layer by layer like an onion. My inner and outer self is being transformed into something beautiful (yes I meant to quote the song). There is something coming and my transformation is only the beginning.