Saturday, June 30, 2007

Why Aaron Sorkin is [Not] My Hero

6/30/07 Update:

The series finale of Studio 60 aired this last Thursday. With the return of the show on May 24th, I'd hoped that though the show was canceled, it would still go out with the excitement it came in with.

With the exception of the heart-breaking performance of Nathan Corddry in the final four episodes, nearly everything about the way this showed ended irritated me. I was particularly confused about how the K&R shows suddenly turned into West Wing episodes. Gone was the funny, quirky fast-paced dialog and along came the ham-fisted treatment of the pre and post- 9/11 climate and the completely unrealistic courtship of Danny and Jordan. (And the manufacturing of dramatic plots completely unnecessary of a once-smart show.) And don't even get me started on how Harriet handled Danny's question about why God doesn't fix the bad things that happen to us.

So far this year I've not come out ahead. I started the season a regular watcher of Studio 60, The Nine, Veronica Mars, Gilmore Girls, and Grey's Anatomy. All but one of those shows was canceled and I won't watch Grey's anymore after this season. I'm glad I discovered The Office back in October.

2/19/07 Update:


NBC has just announced that they will be pulling Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip one week earlier than previously planned. The Black Donnellys will begin on February 26th at 10pm instead of March 5th.

The schedule change comes as the result of Monday night's poor showing in the ratings. The "Friday Night Slaughter" episode of Studio 60 attracted its lowest ratings to date, under five million viewers. Insiders say that the peacock network hasn't made a final decision on Studio 60's future and that the schedule change was made to give The Black Donnellys a strong launch in sweeps (which is getting a lot of promotion and will likely garner big numbers). No return date for Studio 60 has been set.

I heard a while back that due to the low ratings the show's focus was shifting to the romance side of the story, which was more of the "B" story up until the last show before Christmas. Since the show's return in January, my love of the show has waned, with wit lacking in the script and the more interesting behind-the-scenes part of the show becoming very secondary.

But it's still better than most of what's on TV. I guess all I can do is enjoy it while I can.

... and why big network execs may once again ruin a good thing.

I tend to bat pretty close to zero on television shows. The shows I adore always get canceled to soon (My So-Called Life, Sports Night, Arrested Development, Gideon's Crossing, The soon-to-be-cancelled The Nine, Joan of Arcadia, Freaks and Geeks, Ed, 2 Guys and a Girl) and the shows I'm iffy about hang on well past their due date (Alias, Different World, Ally McBeal, Dharma and Greg, Family Ties) and the ones I hate just keep showing up (7th Heaven, Dancing with the Stars (the world cannot contain my hate for this show), Survivor, Big Brother, Hope and Faith). So either my taste is out of sync with the rest of the world or everyone else is just crazy. But Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is brilliant.

I'm aware of when I'm being manipulated emotionally. And Sorkin does it so well that I don't care. The writing is sharp, the acting (and casting) is superb, the production value is excellent and dang it, I love the show. For once Christians are not portrayed as wackos and I find it refreshing.

It's officially picked up for the rest of the season, but ratings are sad. So I'm afraid the execs will kick it to the curb. And Charmed stayed on the air for 8 seasons? That is depressing.

The show returns tomorrow night. Watch it. You won't be sorry.

Evan Almighty

I had a wonderful evening last night - dinner, movie and coffee with a couple of friends. One is leaving for 4 weeks on a short-term mission trip to Denmark so we had a little goodbye for her before she leaves.

I enjoy Steve Carell - obviously since I put Little Miss Sunshine on my best of '06 list and The Office is just about the funniest show to me ever. You add Lauren Graham and I'm intrigued - Morgan Freeman and I'm happy.

While the movie isn't all that funny, (I expected many more laugh-out-loud moments than I got. There was maybe 6 or 7.) a moment in the movie will stay with me for a very long time. It's not a spoiler, but it is a nice defining moment - so read no further if you're dying to go and don't want to be spoiled in any way shape for form.

God asks Evan's wife: "Do you think that God gives us patience when we pray for it, or does he give us opportunities to be patient? And when we ask for courage, does he give us courage or give us opportunities to be courageous?"

There is more to the mini-speech he gives, but that's all I will share. The point is made in the most simplified, beautiful way that I'd never expect from Hollywood. What a lovely way to remind us all that it's not about what God gives us, but about what we do with what we already given. It's not the ultimate point the movie makes (which is a fairly good one, yet nothing we haven't heard from Hollywood before) yet that moment between Morgan Freeman and Lauren Graham made the $7.25 I spent worth it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Matthew 6:19

Priced at 98 million dollars, this piece of contemporary art is an actual human skull encrusted with more than 1,000 carats of diamonds.

This piece, titled "For the Love of God" went on display in London back in February. Denying that was an expensive gimmick, the artist (Damien Hirst) said that he wanted it to represent hope, "wealth against death" and "the ultimate victory over death".

If you ask me, this is the ultimate expression of "you can't take it with you", no?

You can read more about the piece here.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Thursday, June 14, 2007


**No I am not impersonating Dwight when I say "question".**


Is it better to not confront a person you've already forgiven, that has recently come back into your life after a long period of absence, and has never acknowledged or apologized for the hurt they caused? Especially when said person hates confrontation and probably doesn't think they did anything wrong?

Or should I try to clear the air?

(Because even if it's not on their mind, it is on mine. But I don't want to do this for selfish reasons, either.)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Invisible Children

One of the beautiful things about the electronic age is the ease it's given us in contact our Senators and Representatives. Today I received an email from World Vision:

Did you know that an estimated 250,000 children are exploited in armed conflicts worldwide? These "child soldiers" are forced to serve as combatants, spies, human mine detectors and sex slaves.

You can do something to help end this horrific practice. Join us as we speak out and say "no child soldiers."

The Child Soldier Prevention Act of 2007

Stopping the use of child soldiers begins at home. The United States currently provides military assistance to eight of the nine countries that are reportedly implicated in child soldier usage:

  • Burundi
  • Chad
  • Colombia
  • Cote d'Ivoire
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Uganda
However, a bill recently introduced in the U.S. Senate would put restrictions on U.S. military assistance for governments that use child soldiers.

The Child Soldier Prevention Act of 2007 (S.1175) would curtail U.S. military assistance to governments that fail to take steps to demobilize and stop forcing/recruiting children into the armed forces or government-supported militias. Countries that do take steps to disarm, demobilize and rehabilitate child soldiers would be eligible for certain forms of assistance to help professionalize their forces and ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars are not used to finance the exploitation of children in armed conflict.

Ask your Members of Congress to support the Child Soldier Prevention Act of 2007. American tax dollars should not be used to support the exploitation of children as soldiers, and American weapons should not end up in the hands of children.

Thank you for partnering with us as we advocate for children around the world.

God bless,

Rich Stearns
President, World Vision U.S.

If you haven't heard of Invisible Children, I urge you to visit their site, watch the movie and donate what you can to their cause. And please, send the message to your reps in Washington. It only takes about 2 minutes.

Friday, June 08, 2007


This? Just made my day.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Failing in Solitude

Word's gotten around at church about my application to seminary.

Last week two people mentioned it, then this week four did. I imagine the senior pastor brought it up at the last board meeting, in order to discuss what they would do if I left - whether to look for someone within the church, or to hire outside the congregation. Those that mentioned it to me were excited and positive, but each time someone brought it up, my heart sank. And I've had to stop and ask myself why my reaction was what it was.

I'm not trying to keep it a secret. I told the pastor and the ministry committee last fall it could be a possibility. But I really didn't want anyone to know - and I am remembering now as I type that I did the same thing when I picked up the guitar. I told my dad and four months later I stood in front of the congregation to lead worship with it and everyone was surprised. And I know exactly why I kept the guitar a secret - just like I'm certain of why I didn't want anyone but the two people I need recommendations from to know about my choice to apply to seminary.

It's easier to go through failure alone.

The last two weeks I've made everyone decision with the thought of leaving Nebraska, while it's quickly chased by the reminder that I may not get accepted.

The last seven years I've spent in ministry were nothing but a roller coaster. I've not had one break from doing what I do and that realization's taken a toll on me. When I first told my pastor about the possibility of attending seminary, he gave me a book called The Leadership Baton and he asked me to think about who could take my place. So I've had months to think about it, and I've tested some potential people and this much I know: ministry is hard. It's not for everyone, but there are few things more rewarding.

Failing to get into seminary is a possibility, and I'm trying to brace myself for it. It took several years for me to work up the courage to take this step and I'm scared to death if I get to take the next one. But I don't know what I'll do next if I fail.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Nothing Left to Lose

This is how I feel tonight.

Something's in the air tonight
The sky's alive with a burning light
You can mark my words something's about to break
And I found myself in a bitter fight
While you've held my hand through the darkest night
Don't know where you're coming from but you're coming soon

To a kid from Oregon by way of California
All of this is more than I've ever known or seen

Come on and we'll sing, like we were free
Push the pedal down watch the world around fly by us
Come on and we'll try, one last time
I'm off the floor one more time to find you
And here we go there's nothing left to choose
And here we go there's nothing left to lose

So I packed my car and I headed east
Where I felt your fire and a sweet release
There's a fire in these hills that's coming down
And I don't know much but I found you here
And I can not wait another year

Don't know where you're coming from but you're coming soon
To a kid from Oregon by way of California
All of this is more than I've ever known or seen

Come on and we'll sing, like we were free
Push the pedal down watch the world around fly by us
Come on and we'll try, one last time
I'm off the floor one more time to find you
And here we go there's nothing left to choose
And here we go there's nothing left to lose

I can still hear the trains out my window
From Hobart Street to here in Nashville
I can still smell the pomegranates grow
And I don't know how hard this wind will blow
Or where we'll go

Come on and we'll sing, like we were free
Push the pedal down watch the world around fly by us
Come on and we'll try, one last time
I'm off the floor one more time to find you
And here we go there's nothing left to choose
And here we go there's nothing left to lose

-Mat Kearney

Here is Mat's testimony:

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Pick-a-little, talk-a-little

I was shopping at Target earlier and walking towards the check-out I spotted two women, probably in their earlier 40s. They were impeccably dressed and adorned with nice jewelry, both had the latest style of haircut; the epitome of a woman secure and happy with herself. They were standing in the children's clothing division chatting. And while I didn't hear anything they said, I knew what they were doing. They weren't just chatting, they were gossiping.

I was struck by how their eyebrows were arched, the faces animated in disbelief, their hands gestures exaggerated. But mostly I was stuck by what looked to me like judgment in their eyes. I saw one shake her head- it seemed in disappointment - while the other one continued to share what she knew.

Why do I knew these two women were gossiping? Because I've been there. I've done it countless times before. I've spoke with animation on my face and judgment in my eyes and voice as I shared a juicy piece of gossip about a mutual acquaintance. I mostly do it at work - where I have no strong Christian influence to keep me in check. (That is no excuse.) Thankfully I don't work with too many people, so there isn't much to gossip about.

The thing is, I know why gossip is often so tempting to us. It's because we are constantly comparing ourselves to others, and when someone slips up when we haven't, it feels good. It makes us feel better about ourselves - it's almost about justifying our existence. If she's busy doing that, then I'm good. I haven't done anything near as awful.

One of the great things about being an adult - and a child of God - is that we've learned who we are. Many of us learn from our immature behavior and don't do it again. We grow out of it. There are many others that don't, of course, and these are the ones who who allow these thoughts to plague them, and fool themselves into thinking the only way to feel better is by picking and talking about someone else. But it doesn't work that way. Never seek happiness in others, because you will always end up unhappy. You can only find happiness and a true sense of who you are in one thing - Christ.

I must remember to not discount my tongue as being just a "small" part of me - but a part of me that affects the rest of my soul, mind and spirit - and effects so many others around me.

Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man,but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.
-James 3: 5-10