Saturday, March 23, 2013


Ahhh, spring is here and with it comes thoughts of wandering the back roads and highways, experiencing the grandeur of nature, and enjoying the warmth of sunshine and family, new growth, and the melodious call of creation's splendor.

But those thoughts will have to wait for another day.

Today (Saturday), we went on a picnic to Union Creek Campground, just north of Prospect.

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While it's hardly a backroad, Highway 62 snakes through tall, majestic pines

We drove a little ways up the road and parked in front of Farewell Bend Snow Park. As you can see, the ground was not filled with fresh green, but packed snow
Finally, the Union Creek Campground.  Or, more accurately, the Union Creek Day Use Area.  Well, technically, the parking area. Campground closed, although if you want to trudge through the snow to the picnic areas, go for it.  We chose to eat in the van.
If you look very carefully, this sock and scarf left on a post looks like a grumpy face.
There's a little foot bridge at the day use area.  Snow wasn't bad getting to the bridge, so I decided to get a picture of the little island sitting in the creek. Anyone for a swim?
Fortunately, the parking lot was plowed, making a rather large barrier to access the rest of the camping and picnicing and putting a slight chill in the air. But that's okay, because I have the INCM long sleeved black t CORE shirt from CPC11 (product placement from a kidmin..whoot!).
And thus our first official spring outing was done.  I'm grateful for the laughter and the chance to just enjoy the day.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


The third installment of The Bible mini-series has just aired. Jesus has been born, tempted, and calling disciples, even as John the Baptist is being beheaded (oops, sorry, spoiler alert!).

Some "off the grid" folks wanted me to give them a bottom line, thumbs up-or-down evaluation of the mini-series. Apparently, my previous review confused them.  Did I like it or not?  And as I re-read my review of part one, and as I monitor the countless comments and reviews on Facebook and other sources, then yes, there is a mixed reaction, a confusing set of approvals and disapprovals, sometimes in the same post!

So why the confusion? Let me share my gut feeling.

There are really two "Bibles" here (before you take up stones to stone me, let me explain!). As a Christian, I believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible, authoritative Word of the Living God, sufficient in all matters of faith and practice. But to others, the Bible is a collection of morality tales. A producer can easily portray the latter, but will never be able to accurately portray the former.

Media transfers are difficult. I ended my previous post with the phrase "The Book is better;" that is, I find the source material far more superior than most derivatives. This actually holds true for most publications that have been adapted into a movie or TV show. A movie maker has maybe 30 seconds to show a scene that took up 12 pages in a novel. Even the most "faithful" of adaptations take certain liberties. So when people say The Bible series is not like the Bible, they're right.

But furthermore, no matter how well intentioned a producer may be, they're not going to get it all down. One of the critical reviewers was upset because, not only does the series leave out a lot of material, but it does not explain how the events of the Old Testament tie in to God's redemptive plan revealed in the New. In other words, "why can't The Bible be more of a complete expositional message?" When I think of the many hours spent in Bible survey and introduction classes in college, the answer is obvious: it's not realistic to have a 45 hour mini-series!  With all due respect to those who wonder why The Bible isn't more like the Bible; well, what did you expect?

But I also believe that the positioning of this mini-series was off.  "Positioning" is a marketing term referring to the image or identity of a product in the minds of the consumers. The Bible was pushed and promoted as a way to introduce people to the Book of Books so they might read and study it more. There were whole curriculum packages made so churches could ride this wave. I haven't seen the materials, but I suspect that, in the end, if Bible studies were launched, they were focused more on correcting the unfortunate portrayals in the mini-series and filling in the expository blanks.

The Bible mini-series is what it is: an adaptation of stories from the Bible. Marketing aside, it is entertaining and well produced.  But in the end, it's not that different than dozens of other adaptations of stories from the Bible. If people are drawn to the Scriptures because of what they saw, I'm okay with that. My hope is that they follow up in a good, Bible-teaching church. Not only will they discover the real Bible, but they will also get to personally know the Author of the Book.

Friday, March 15, 2013


One of my dim memories from my elementary school days was the Wacky Races fundraiser. The classes competed against each other to raise money for a special project. And there, on the giant bulletin board in the hallway, were several straight racetracks, each one marked with a graduated dollar amount. And on each track was a cartoony race car and driving crew from Hannah-Barbara's hit children's program Wacky Races (sigh, I'm dating myself). The campaign was a hit. Kids got excited as they followed their cars' progress, seeing the characters they knew on Saturday morning come to life in their environment. Even parents and teachers got in the act. I don't remember a lot from my elementary school days, but I remember that fundraising theme, because my mom came up with it.

I don't know what her exact role was on the committee, but I do remember her asking me once what my friends and I liked watching on Saturday mornings. And one of the hit shows at the time was Wacky Races, featuring an around-the-world competition among several colorful cartoon characters. So she bought a few Wacky Races coloring books and carefully colored and cut out each car and crew. Making the tracks was easy and before you could say, "start your engines," the fundraiser was off and running.

Naturally, this was a secular environment, but my mom understood something that seems so basic now to children's ministries: to reach kids, you have to understand a kids' culture. For six days, children are immersed in a maze of pop music, video games, the internet, and, partially thanks to cable, day by day cartoons and other children's programming. Then they go to church and are exposed to grown ups who live in an adult world, walls that appeal to adult aesthetics, and technology that seems dated and drab. This sheer disconnected irrelevance communicates that the safe Jesus is a great part of Sunday mornings, but not ultimately integral to the rest of the week.

There is a lot more to this, of course. We are in the world, but not of the world, after all. But just as a general, broad principle, I believe we need to do what my mom did: ask the kids about their world. Then maybe we need to go out and get a couple of coloring books, video games, or action figures. Log on to some children-oriented sites and watch a little Nickelodeon. It's a cliche' but it's applicable: be a kid at heart!


Monday, March 04, 2013


This is a review of The Bible mini-seies, part 1.  It contains details and plot points about the show. If you have not seen it yet and/or you do not want details about it, don't read any further.

Last night (March 3), the History Channel rolled out The Bible, a mini-series brought to us by Mark Burnett (Survivor) and Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel).

First of all, I applaud the effort to increase Biblical literacy. Mark Burnett and Roma Downey have been very public about wanting more people to get into the Scripture. In this day and age of increasing hostility to Christian ideas and values, this is a good thing. I also liked the production values.  Although not necessarily epic in its depictions, it does show life in the desert as dirty and sweaty and man's relationship with God as sometimes challenging.

Most of the instances of "creative license" can be overlooked.  For example, the Bible doesn't depict Sarah figuring out that Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac, whereupon she dashes up the mountain to stop him. On the other hand, it doesn't say she didn't do that and the scene does not change the event itself.  The announcement to Sarah that she would have a child was a little eerie to my mind, with a shadowy figure whisping through the tent and disappearing while talking to Sarah. But that doesn't ultimately hurt the Biblical text either.

But the part that got me was (wait for it!)...the Ninja Angels! In Genesis, we read that the men of Sodom were struck blind, so that they grew weary trying to find the door. whereupon the two angels led Lot and his family out of the city.  But in The Bible version, the two angels cast off their cloaks to reveal armored warriors (okay so far).  They then strike the men at the door with some painful condition (I always imagined a bright light, but okay...struck it!).  And then the angels pull out their swords (no problem necessarily, since the Bible does speak of some angels having swords) and then engage in an extended, martial arts style fight sequence with the armed men of Sodom as they lead Lot out of the city.  It was a neat scene, it was an exciting scene, but one that made me both laugh and shake my head at the same time.

Again, I do not want to disparage any sincere effort to introduce people to the Book of Books. Even the inaccuracies can prompt teachers and students to dig in the Scripture and say, "Hey, this is what the Bible really says...". But ultimately, for me, there's nothing really new here. There have been dozens of dramatizations of Biblical events over the years. Some are high budget, epic depictions (The Ten Commandments), some are evangelistically motivated (Jesus), and yes, there are a few that were so inaccurate and awful that I have to wonder what drug the producers were using at the time (NBC's Noah's Ark). But as good and positive as The Bible mini-series is; frankly, I've seen it all before.

The Bible mini-series is sincerely motivated, respectful in it subject matter, and better than most made-for-television productions. I have not seen any of the accompanying resource material (study guides, curriculum, and so on), but it is being pushed heavily within the evangelical world. But for me, the shortest summary is the one that holds true to a host of adaptations from literature:

"The Book is better."