Monday, November 25, 2013

Do You Hear the People Sing? - Guest Post from Allan Long

[Longish: I haven't written anything for the blog in a while, amid the craziness of NaNoWriMo and school, so I thought I'd fill in the gaps with this wonderful Facebook post of my dad's.]

There are occasions that God provides us with glimpses of what heaven may look like. Or at least what it would feel like. Apparently music is a part of that. What a wonder music is. The Bible mentions it in passing and one is left to wonder what melodies Jesus may have hummed while scribbling in the sand or planted beside a campfire. I think of the angels and their heavenly hosts praising God upon bearing the good news of peace on earth, goodwill towards men. And David trying to sooth the savage Saul with music. 

For this moment, I will not get drawn into disparaging secular music. I am not so jaded as to say all secular music is unholy. That would be the same as saying all work – not in God’s direction – is unholy. God can make beautiful things out of dirt (or Garth Brooks... Cher? That may be a stretch). Our feeble attempts at praise are laughable. Like a child that sings "Twinkle Twinkle….”, not understanding the vastness of space, furious nuclear explosions of unimaginable extent and forces that the best of minds cannot fathom. Yet sing they do.

Which brings me to this video. It brings out great things in men. Unity in purpose. Passion. Excellence. And while this is not a hymn, it is a short jump to make the connection that were the focus or purpose of this performance to be God almighty – hearts would be broken. I love this video. Because it makes me think about heaven in a ridiculously hopeful and joyous way. Heaven will be a lot about praise in every tongue. It will be this kind of music (x1000^100 for those math junkies) in a spectacular way. We see now darkly – but then face to face. We will see Christ in His glory and begin to get an appreciation of our helpless estate and the sacrifice Christ made on our behalf. I look forward to heaven for many reasons and new music in dimensions unknown will be a part of that. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

And for the record, I’d like to see the Irish guy and the Norway dude go head to head. They don’t have voices. Those are weapons…

Allan Long

Friday, November 8, 2013

Thor: The Dark World - Review


In the beginning, there was darkness. 

Okay. A bit sketchy theologically, but I’ll buy it. 

And the darkness had no personality. Or character arc.

In short, it did not work as a bad guy.

First time I saw it, I didn’t like the prievious Thor movie. Then I grew up, watched it again, and thought, “Hey, this is a good movie. This transcends superhero movies.”

It had a number of things in its favor.

  1. It was directed by Kenneth Branagh.

  1. To offset its necessarily over-solemn Norse god feel, we spent a lot of time in a small town interacting with ordinary people. Utilizing this idea to far more effect than Iron Man 3, this link to the commonplace grounded the film firmly on, ha ha, Planet Earth. It didn’t take itself too seriously. Thor the god of thunder was spotted in a T-shirt. Thor the movie could’ve been corny as all get-out. Instead it was amusing, moving, and possibly even a little deep (for a superhero movie.) 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Children of Men - Review & Quotes

You return man to dust
and say, “Return, O children of man!”
For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night….
So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
(Psalm 90 ESV)

To those familiar with the mystery genre, P.D. James is a very prominent name. Her series, featuring poet detective Adam Dalgliesh, is among the best contributions in modern mystery. However, she has also written standalone books, among them the dystopian philosophical novel The Children of Men. After listening to clips from a 1992 interview with James on Mars Hill Audio, I decided I must investigate.

There are a lot of doomsayers out there, but one of the most compelling arguments I’ve heard is the idea that those countries with the greatest birth rates will rule the world, as described by Mark Steyn in his book America Alone. America, for instance, is scraping by at just above replacement rate, which means we'll soon have an enormous elderly population alongside a much smaller young generation - there's no chance one will counterbalance the other. It's already happening in Japan.

The Children of Men is an extreme realization of that possibility, and it's simply an amazing novel. (EDIT: Interestingly, Mark Steyn drew inspiration from the book, and is acquainted with its author.) While ultimately falling short of its potential, it touches on a huge variety of relevant themes: apathy, power, hypocrisy, hope, death, worship, love, and above all, the sanctity of life.