The 10 Most Redeeming Films of 2006

From Christianity Today.
What do we mean by "redeeming" films? They're all stories of redemption—sometimes blatantly, sometimes less so. Several of them literally have a character that represents a redeemer; one even includes the Redeemer... Some are "feel-good" movies that leave a smile on your face; some might leave you uncomfortable, even disturbed, and asking, "How should I process that?" But you won't be able to shake it from your memory, either.
Here are the most redeeming movies that CT selected:
10. Children of Men
9. Akeelah and the Bee
8. The Three Burials of Mequiades Estrada
7. Tsotsi
6. Charlotte's Web
5. The Second Chance
4. Joyeux Noel
3. Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
2. The New World
1. The Nativity Story

Get more information about their picks here.
I have to admit that I only saw the #1 pick. Have you all seen any of these? Do you have any 2006 movie recommendations?

Letters from Iwo Jima

Matt posted about this movie on his blog.

Here are a few of Matt's comments:
This was one of the better films that I've seen in quite some time, with magnificent acting, a very compelling story ... and a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack written by Kyle Eastwood.
I've seen many war movies over the years, where stories are told from the American perspective -- films where we know the history and, while we know that things are going tough for our boys, there's a light at the end of the tunnel. It was quite an emotional experience for me to see a film from the perspective of the other side, where the outcome is -- to us and to the characters -- quite hopeless, and yet where the characters continue to search for that light at the end of the tunnel.
In short, however, I will say that this deserves to be on your "must see" list, and the accolades the film has earned are very appropriate.
I am not much for subtitles so I will probably wait until it comes to video so I can pause it to read them. Please read more of Matt's review here.

Sacred Spaces

My blog friend Bill got this book on his birthday. View a slide preview of it here.

Christianity, Community & Homosexuality

The article below was written by fellow Kansas Citian Andy Comiskey who is the founder and leader of Desert Stream Ministries, a ministry dedicated to helping people pursuing sexual purity. This article was published recently in the Kansas City Star and was met with varied response from the KC community.
Christian community can transform homosexuals
Andrew Comiskey

In the ongoing debate over homosexuality and the church — stoked by Haggard-like scandals and sustained by denominations caught between orthodoxy and “cultural relevance” — let me cast my vote. The church can and should offer transformation for homosexuals.

I entered into the faith as a practicing homosexual and discovered through the community of faith a clear and loving track of redemption on which I matured into the capacity for heterosexual marriage and family. Like most gays, I struggled early on with gender shame and inferiority, as well as a yearning for men sexually. I concluded as a young adult that my true self was homosexual.

My faith and the community around me challenged that assumption. Freedom came from understanding my same-sex attraction as an unmet need for love from men. Taking that need seriously meant healing from profound early wounds and a strategy for how to relate normally to men as friends. My church helped me with both.

In this process, marked by failure and halting progress, heterosexual desire began to stir within me and prompted me to engage with women, including the one I married. Together we worked out our commitment to wholeness in the community. I faced residual temptations with the help of friends there, as did she for her issues of fear and control. That’s where we discovered the power of real Christian community — disclosure of brokenness and need that invites grace and truth — the opportunity for transformation.

Faithful and grateful after 25 years of marriage, with four young adults later, my wife and I love nothing more than equipping the only community on earth that actually possesses the goods necessary to transform lives beset by homosexual desires: the body of Christ.

It’s time for the churches of Kansas City to do their jobs. We can do better than brace ourselves for another sex scandal or plan another round of dialogue. Let’s manifest Jesus, full of grace and truth, by becoming communities of healing for the homosexual.

Responses to Andy's newspaper article included a Maya Angelou poem, disagreement with the politics of fundamentalists and right-wingers and other feedback from people in the homosexual community. I'd be interested to know what your response to the article is.

Spellnig Cuonts?

From one of the teenagers at church ...

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg.

The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch atCmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in awrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the fri st and lsat ltteer bein the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raedit wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed erveylteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Amzanig huh? yaeh and Iawlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

Of course, if you cannot read this you may need the gift of interpretation :)

Author Unknown

Ever hear a great quote and find that no one knows who said it? Here are a few for your perusal:
After all is said and done, a lot more will be said than done.

God put me on Earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I'm so far behind I will never die!

Fools rush in where fools have been before.

Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.

The wages of sin are unreported.

What if this weren't a hypothetical question?

The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground....

Practice Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Beauty.

Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.
Know any others by the famous "Author Unknown"?

M&M Dude

Make your own

M&M Dude or Dudette


"Can you hear Me now?"

"Can you hear Me now?" -- Therese Z

Vista vs Mac OS

Saw a Vista cartoon joke at Robin's place. It got me to wondering how many of you all are followers of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs operating systems. My laptop uses Windows XP Profesional. What OS drives your PC? What caused you to make the buy what you bought and do you think that you will one day soon Vista? Or will you go to the Dark Side (i.e. Apple)?

Roy Orbison

When I was just a teen in Junior High I discovered Roy Orbison when he released Oh, Pretty Woman. His voice is so unique ... I just wanted to share one of his songs with you.

Women and the Kingdom

01/27PM Update: If you read nothing else please read (in the comments section)Barbara's experiences working for Campus Crusade for Christ. I believe it is at the heart of this issue of Women in Ministry. Read between the lines of her comments. Do you not understand a bit more about this issue. What do you think about male "team leaders" who rely so heavily on female team members. Is it sometimes about getting undeserved credit? Please don't dismiss Barbara's comments or the ones (about a dismissed university professor) rasied in iMonks posts.
01/27AM Update: Excerpts from Internet Monk's
10 Questions for Complementarians:

1. Do you believe that Christian women should only work in the lowest of entry level positions, lest they inadvertently find themselves in authority over a Christian man? Or perhaps Christian women should only work in “women only” organizations? Or perhaps you think that women should not work outside the home at all?

2. Should Christian men avoid working in organizations where somewhere in the organizational hierarchy over them, there might be a Christian woman?

3. If you are pulled over by a female police officer whom you know to be a Christian, how do you make her understand that she has no authority over you (assuming you are male)?

Read more of iMonk's questions here.
12/11/06 Adrian Warnock has a very interesting dialog going about "Women in Ministry" in the comments section of Wayne Grudem Replies to a Critic. Suzanne McCarthy has a connecting post titled Suzanne is Elsewhere. Here is the way that I responded to another blogger last week on this hot topic:
Our discussion began with my question around your view that the role of women in society is different from the role of women in church. Having dialoged with you a bit I have to say that I still have a concern with that view because it presents the church and the kingdom as a sub-culture of society. I think that society is a sub-culture of the kingdom and principles of the kingdom apply to society as a whole. Separating the sacred from the secular is the way that men in past (and present) ages have gained religious power and setup rules to their advantage.

I think that it is a bit more consistent to say that women should not hold leadership positions in society for the same reasons that they should not hold them in church. I think that many church leaders actually believe this to be true but don’t say it because it would expose what they really think about women. For me, I am comfortable knowing that kingdom principles are applicable in society. Whatever God calls a man or woman to is a sacred calling in the kingdom and I don’t think that we need rules about roles to determine if His calling is genuine or not.
And, so as not to confuse anyone, I think that a kingdom calling can either be to a church, a corporation, overseas or at the local McDonalds.

Formula Movies

Chad's post about Will Ferrel's movies caused me to think about other movies that are formula based. Most notably are the 007 Movies ... all begin with a the single shot and blood, move to the prequel, the theme song, mission assignment, gadgets with Q, a bunch of action, Bond girls and triumphs over the bad guys. Other formula movies I can think of are the Indiana Jones and the Back to the Future ones. On TV CSI (all of them), Columbo and lawyer shows definitely have a formula. And for both genres you have the Mission Impossible shows/movies. I know there are more that I am not remembering. Any that stand out in your mind?

Catch and Release

Review by Carolyn Arends (Christianity Today)

Catch and Release is the sort of movie I'd rather not have to review. Not because I didn't enjoy it—on the contrary, I laughed and almost-cried and rooted for the romance, heartily. It's just that the review process forces the analysis of pesky details like consistent character and plot development. But Catch and Release is best enjoyed on the surface—a big-hearted light-headed story that isn't as deep as it wants to be, but still manages to entertain.
Nonetheless, Catch and Release has at least two laugh-out-loud moments, one decent plot surprise, and a romance that mostly makes up for its questionable timing with the winsomeness of its participants. It insists on an optimism about people—their ability to grow and change, and to bear a certain nobility even when deeply flawed—that is kind of refreshing. Even if it doesn't always make sense, it leaves you feeling pretty good. Read more here.

Serena Back on Top

When is comes to tennis I am an All-American kind of guy. I felt bad when American Andy Roddick was destroyed this week by Switzerland's Roger Federer in the Australian Open. But I was elated when I heard that American Serena Williams, ranked 81, beat Maria Sharapova in the championship match of that same open. Read more about Serena's win here.

Blank Save the Queen

'God' mistakenly bleeped out of in-flight showings of 'The Queen'
By GIOVANNA DELL'ORTO Associated Press Writer

So much for God and country, at least during some in-flight showings of the Oscar-nominated movie "The Queen." All mentions of God are bleeped out of a version of the film distributed to Delta and some other airlines.
Airline passengers watching the movie hear "(Bleep) bless you, ma'am," as one character speaks to the queen. In all, the word "God" is bleeped seven times. (At no time in the original movie is "God save the queen" uttered.) Read more here.

Super Advertising

Super Bowl ads run as high as $2.6M
By SETH SUTEL, AP Business Writer

NEW YORK - There's one place where you can find both FedEx, the overnight package delivery service, and "Fed-Ex," or Kevin Federline, the future ex-husband of pop diva Britney Spears. Both will be making appearances in Super Bowl ads, the highest-profile advertising event of the year. Advertisers want to get the most out of the huge cost of an ad in the big game, which is running as high as $2.6 million this year, up slightly from $2.5 million last year.Read more here.My favorite super ad from years gone by has to be this EDS Herding Cats one ... I worked for EDS at the time and got a sneak peek before time. Do you remember a past favorite Super Bowl ad?

Schiavo Redux

Jason over at Antioch Road offers a book review of Fighting for Dear Life: The Untold Story of Terri Schiavo and What It Means for All of Us. It has been a while since I have thought about this. Jason is an Iowa attorney who had some insightful thoughts about the Schiavo case. He and Brian had some great debates in the comments about Terri Schiavo. I chimed in a few times. I still feel (though not as strongly as I did then) that these pro-life issues have a tendancy to redivert attention from saving preborn babies. What do you think?

The Garbage Dispensor

Yesterday Barbara commented on my State of the Heroes post saying "I feel like I am missing out cause I don't watch Heroes!!!!". That got me to thinking. I have to admit that I watch a bit more than I used to. I didn't used to have it on during supper but sometimes do now - I am a Seinfeldaholic. What do you all think about the Tube? If you watch, do you have any boundaries or guidelines about when or what you watch?

McKnight on the Emerging Church

Often friends ask me about the Emerging / Emergent church movement. The below excerpts from Scot McKnight's article in Christianity Today should help to give a thumbnail sketch of the movement.
Five Streams of the Emerging Church
Key elements of the most controversial and misunderstood movement in the church today.
Scot McKnight

Emerging churches are communities that practice the way of Jesus within postmodern cultures. This definition encompasses nine practices. Emerging churches (1) identify with the life of Jesus, (2) transform the secular realm, and (3) live highly communal lives. Because of these three activities, they (4) welcome the stranger, (5) serve with generosity, (6) participate as producers, (7) create as created beings, (8) lead as a body, and (9) take part in spiritual activities.
Emerging catches into one term the global reshaping of how to "do church" in postmodern culture. It has no central offices, and it is as varied as evangelicalism itself.
Following are five themes that characterize the emerging movement. I see them as streams flowing into the emerging lake. No one says the emerging movement is the only group of Christians doing these things, but together they crystallize into the emerging movement.
Prophetic (or at least provocative)
One of the streams flowing into the emerging lake is prophetic rhetoric. The emerging movement is consciously and deliberately provocative. Emerging Christians believe the church needs to change, and they are beginning to live as if that change had already occurred.
Mark Twain said the mistake God made was in not forbidding Adam to eat the serpent. Had God forbidden the serpent, Adam would certainly have eaten him. When the evangelical world prohibited postmodernity, as if it were fruit from the forbidden tree, the postmodern "fallen" among us—like F. LeRon Shults, Jamie Smith, Kevin Vanhoozer, John Franke, and Peter Rollins—chose to eat it to see what it might taste like. We found that it tasted good, even if at times we found ourselves spitting out hard chunks of nonsense. A second stream of emerging water is postmodernism.
The emerging movement's connection to postmodernity may grab attention and garner criticism, but what most characterizes emerging is the stream best called praxis—how the faith is lived out. At its core, the emerging movement is an attempt to fashion a new ecclesiology (doctrine of the church). Its distinctive emphases can be seen in its worship, its concern with orthopraxy, and its missional orientation.
A fourth stream flowing into the emerging lake is characterized by the term post-evangelical. The emerging movement is a protest against much of evangelicalism as currently practiced. It is post-evangelical in the way that neo-evangelicalism (in the 1950s) was post-fundamentalist. It would not be unfair to call it postmodern evangelicalism. This stream flows from the conviction that the church must always be reforming itself.
A final stream flowing into the emerging lake is politics. Tony Jones is regularly told that the emerging movement is a latte-drinking, backpack-lugging, Birkenstock-wearing group of 21st-century, left-wing, hippie wannabes. Put directly, they are Democrats. And that spells "post" for conservative-evangelical-politics-as-usual.
All in all, it is unlikely that the emerging movement will disappear anytime soon. If I were a prophet, I'd say that it will influence most of evangelicalism in its chastened epistemology (if it hasn't already), its emphasis on praxis, and its missional orientation. I see the emerging movement much like the Jesus and charismatic movements of the 1960s, which undoubtedly have found a place in the quilt called evangelicalism.

These are some pretty cryptic excerpts. If you are interested you can read the entire article here.

The State of the Heroes

Once upon a time I zealously watched each January as the president du jour spoke to the nation about our past, present and future. It weirdly seemed to energize. Sadly, last night I watched a recorded version of

Heroes instead of the State of the Union address. I guess it speaks more to the state of Kansas Bob than it does to the state of our nation. How about you? If you watched the tube, what did you watch? If you viewed the address, what did you think of it?

...and from our good friend MTR at From the Morning:

Without discussing politics, and I certainly have my opinions, I could only think of one thing when watching all of the politicians stand and sit and clap and stand and sit and smile and frown during last night's State of the Union Address:

What the hell do any of these rich people know about the struggles faced by your average middle class family? Read more here.

Hooch for Your Pooch?

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) -- After a long day hunting, there's nothing like wrapping your paw around a cold bottle of beer. So Terrie Berenden, a pet shop owner in the southern Dutch town of Zelhem, created a beer for her Weimaraners made from beef extract and malt. Read more here.
...and in a related story ...
Washington lawmaker: bars shouldn't bar dogs
By RACHEL LA CORTE, Associated Press Writer

OLYMPIA, Wash. - If dog-loving lawmakers prevail, Fido could soon be sidling up to bar stools around Washington state under a measure that would allow well-behaved, leashed canines to join their human companions as they down their favorite microbrews. Read more here.

Dryer Lint

With KA out of commission this week KB had to handle dryer lint yesterday. This cartoon reminded me of all the little chores (like cleaning dryer lint) that, if we forget to do, can create quite a mess if we let them. Can anyone relate to dishes overflowing the kitchen sink, blocked access to laundry rooms or unwalkable kids' rooms?

About Schmidt

Barbara recently posted about this movie and I thought that she had some excellent points. Here are a few excerpts from her post:
Jack Nicholson sure did a great job with his character, Warren Schmidt. It was not a typical Jack N. role. You could SEE the emptiness in Warren you could practically feel his weariness. His life was probably typical of millions of people all over the world that live their life to pay the bills and then retire and say “What the hell did I just do for the last 60 years?.” He didn’t like what he saw when he looked back – it was pretty devoid of meaning. He even realized at one point that he’d pretty much taken his wife and daughter for granted.

The end of the movie left me wondering if he used the remainder of his life to “make a difference” or if he just kept doing the same old routine till his time was up.

I confess, I actually feel envious sometimes of people I know that go through life not caring whether or not they make a difference, or how they influence those around them. They seem perfectly content cruising through life on auto pilot accumulating “stuff” and having a pleasant existence. I wish I didn’t care so much about things that I have no control over – like what can I do to stop injustice, violence, poverty, and all the things that create needy, hurt and oppressed people?
Check out the rest of Barbara's post here.

U-Pick-Ur-Own-Umbrella Reenactment

I couldn't decide so I am declaring a tie:

This way to Bob's "U-Pick-Ur-Own-Umbrella" farm! See actual umbrella bushes! Fun 4 the kidz!" -- ThereseZ

Umbrella of Our Forefathers reenactment. -- Anonymous

Sanctimonious Bob

It snowed yesterday in KC and I stayed in out of the wet and cold - so I had some time to spend out in blogworld. I had an interesting chat with Bruce, Geo and Steve at YBMT? The chat was about Bruce's assertation that fear is the lifeblood of the church. My counter to his assertation is that love, not fear, is the lifeblood and much of the church does acts of love for the poor. You can catch the converstion here. I'd be interested in your feedback and whether Geo was correct when he called me a sanctimonious ass ... he could be right in the context of that discussion.

Denny Doherty Dies at 66

Denny Doherty, one-quarter of the 1960s folk-rock group the Mamas and the Papas, known for their soaring harmony on hits like "California Dreamin'" and "Monday, Monday," died Friday at 66. Read more here.

The Mamas and the Papas were one of my favorite singing groups when I was a teenager. I had many of their albums. This clip from Hullabaloo is a great reminder of their musical innovation and talent. Blessings of comfort and courage to Denny's family.

Gas Prices

This is a picture of South Carolina gas prices. I noticed yesterday that unleaded regular in Kansas City is $1.89. Seems that it was $2.89 last summer - hmmm.

What does gas cost where you live?


Looks like my corporate alma mater (I retired in 1998) is slowly undoing what Judge Green did 22 years ago (January 1, 1984). TV Week reports that AT&T's merger with Bell South has gone through. It is deja vu all over again - I think. Stephen Colbert explains it so well :)

It Takes a Village

During World War II, in and around one village in Nazi-occupied France, 5,000 Jews were sheltered—by 5,000 Christians!

Le Chambon-sur-Lignon was a tiny Protestant farming village in the mountains of south-central France. Defying the Nazis and the French government that was collaborating with the Nazis, the villagers of the area of Le Chambon provided a safe haven throughout the war for whoever knocked on their door.

Most of the villagers were proud descendants of the Huguenots, first Protestants in Catholic France. They remembered their own history of persecution, and it mattered to them. They also read the Bible, and tried to heed the admonition to love your neighbor as yourself.

“The responsibility of Christians,” their pastor, André Trocmé, had reminded them the day after France surrendered to Nazi Germany, “is to resist the violence that will be brought to bear on their consciences through the weapons of the spirit.” Read more here.

Comment-less Blogs

From Wikipedia:
A blog is a user-generated website where entries are made in journal style and displayed in a reverse chronological order.

Blogs often provide commentary or news on a particular subject, such as food, politics, or local news; some function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual although some focus on photographs (photoblog), sketchblog, videos (vlog), or audio (podcasting), and are part of a wider network of social media.

The term "blog" is derived from "Web log." "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.
I have recently ran across a few "Teaching Blogs" where comments are either moderated-to-the-max or not allowed. I wonder why these people write online and why they call their sites "blogs". Anyone have any thoughts on this?

You Cut These Guys Loose

01/17 Update: An attorney for the leader of a group of U.S. Marines accused of murdering 24 civilians in Haditha, Iraq, said on Wednesday that Pentagon officials intentionally misled or deceived the public about the case. Mark Zaid, attorney for Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, said the original 2006 investigation report, obtained by Reuters, fully cleared his client and other Marines of wrongdoing. Read more here.
NPR has reported on another way that wounded combat veterans are cut loose.
US Marines 'will blame senior officers' over Haditha
Monday December 25, 2006 By Andrew Gumbel

LOS ANGELES - Lawyers for eight Marines charged with involvement in the massacre of Iraqi civilians in Haditha 13 months ago have warned that they will point the finger much further up the chain of command if it means preventing their clients from being scapegoated.

"We're going to drag every single, two-star and full-bird colonel and general into this thing," said Kevin McDermott, a California-based lawyer representing Captain Lucas McConnell, the commander of Kilo Company, which carried out the Haditha killings. The defence lawyers say their clients were following official policy on the rules of engagement. ...

Responding to the charges against his client, Mr McDermott said the top brass was well aware of what had happened, but condemned it only after it became glaringly public.

"A lot of lieutenant colonels and colonels and generals knew what happened that day, and nobody said, 'let's do a thorough investigation of what happened'," he said. "By the end of the day, [my client's] superiors recognised the situation was so significant that they brought in air support.

"There were Harriers dropping 500lb bombs on buildings. If they're dropping 500lb bombs without knocking on the door first, how can you argue the troops on the ground did anything wrong?" Read more here.
I find this situation to be reminiscent of the gutless Colonel Jessup in the movie "A Few Good Men". That guy played so great by Jack Nicholson had hung a corporal and a private out to dry when things got rough. I smell that same stench in this situation in Haditha. I guess time will tell.

17 Glorious Minutes

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."
Here is how Martin wanted to be remembered!

Bride and Prejudice | ★★★★★★★

The announcement of former Miss World and Bollywood starlet Aishwarya Rai's impending nuptials reminded me of one of the movies that she starred in. Ann and I viewed it in HD last spring and then rewatched with friends over the summer. It is a take-off on Jane Austen's "Pride and Predjudice" and is quite entertaining. I recommend watching it if you are in the mood for some nonsensical enjoyment. I especially liked the musical numbers and the incorporation of dance into the script. You can catch a synopsis of the plot at

On a scale of 10 I give this movie ★★★★★★★

Catch my other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

Sharper Image of Leadership

From Michelle Leder at
When Sharper Image CEO Richard Thalheimer "departed" the company in late September, he took the 7-foot-tall Superman statue that used to stand in his office. In his separation agreement, filed on Dec. 29, Thalheimer agreed to pay half-price for the $5,000 Man of Steel statue and for a $15,000 statue of Star Wars' robot C-3PO—though few would argue that his leadership at the San Francisco-based retailer was superheroic. (Same-store sales were down sharply for much of last year, the stock declined by more than 40 percent in 2004 and 2005, and the company plans to restate earnings for the past three years because of questions about backdated options.) Despite this, Thalheimer will still be eligible for a 50 percent discount on all Sharper Image merchandise for the rest of his life. That's in addition to $5.7 million in severance and retirement pay.
Does Richard really need a 50 percent discount? With all that money couldn't he just pay full price?

Official Langauge of Kansas

Measure calls for English as state’s official language
Topeka, Kansas

English would become the state’s official language under a bill House Republicans began to push Friday. Under the bill, state agencies and political and taxing entities would be barred from issuing written materials in any language other than English. Exceptions would allow use of other languages to protect public health, to protect people’s rights in criminal or civil proceedings, to provide instruction to people learning English, to promote international commerce or to use phrases from other languages. Since 1986, state legislators have introduced 10 other proposals to designate English as either the state’s official or “common” language. Only one, in 1996, emerged from committee in the Senate, but senators never voted on it.
I wonder if other states struggles with this one? Spanish speaking people seems to be the target of this legislation but I may not understand.

Absolutely NO Returns

Thanks to Bruce:

Absolutely NO returns.
In store credit only.
As is, no warranty.


Centrist Bob?

I took the quiz and, 10 questions later, was anointed "Centrist Bob". This is how they define the term:
Centrists espouse a "middle ground" regarding government control of the economy and personal behavior. Depending on the issue, they sometimes favor government intervention and sometimes support individual freedom of choice. Centrists pride themselves on keeping an open mind, tend to oppose "political extremes," and emphasize what they describe as "practical" solutions to problems.
Here are the quiz questions and my selections:

I find it very interesting how we can reduce each other to this or that with 10 questions. Ironically, even though I am a personal conservative, I am somewhat of a political centrist - but I haven't always been one ... guess I just got tired of being 'right' :)

Read here for more about my centrist leanings. I wonder if any of you can relate to my journey from the far right to the middle ... albeit middle-right :)

Kansas Weather

It is icy in my neck of the woods :(

Spartacus | ★★★★★★★

It must be my time to see those old movies that I have never gotten around to ... recently I viewed the Mag 7 and today I watched Spartacus ... the 1960s version Braveheart and Gladiator. The movie is yet another epic classic that probably played better 40 years ago when Kirk Douglas was young and Technicolor was new. I enjoyed much of the movie but found it's 3+ hours to be much too long for me. Spartacus is the telling of a gladiator-slave's escape to freedom and his passion to free others enslaved by Rome. Here are a few memorable quotes:
And maybe there's no peace in this world, for us or for anyone else, I don't know. But I do know that, as long as we live, we must remain true to ourselves.

When a free man dies, he loses the pleasure of life. A slave loses his pain. Death is the only freedom a slave knows. That's why he's not afraid of it. That's why we'll win.
On a scale of 10 I give this movie ★★★★★★★

An Influential Kansan Christian

The Church Report has recently announced their list of the 50 Most Influential Christians in America.

41st on their list is Kansas Senator Sam Brownback. Here is their write-up on Sam:
Sam Brownback is a U.S. Senator from Kansas. He is currently focused on defending and promoting traditional marriage, building market- and consumer-based solutions to health care reform, and meaningful tax reform including an optional flat tax. He has worked hard to ensure that we confirm judges who will interpret the law and not legislate from the bench.
I voted for Sam and hope that his influence spreads in Kansas and in our country.

Top 10 Myths About Christians

Stephanie at come what may has two good posts titled Top 10 Myths About Christians.

You can check them out here and here. My favorite myth is "Myth #6 Christians don't question God". Of this myth she says:
I don't know that anyone understands God, and he thinks no less of us when we wonder if he really knows what he's doing. Personally, I would never believe in anything that didn't let me question it. It is one of life's great gifts.
Check out Stephanie's posts and vote for your favorite myth.

Star Trek XI

From the starlog of William Shatner:
Yes, we know the story is based on young Kirk. I met with J.J., and they told me they would like me to be part of their film, but they have to write the role. They need to figure out how to put the dead captain in with the young captain. It's a very complex, technical problem of how to write the character in, and I'm not sure how they will solve it.
Read more here.


Sen. Kennedy Seeks Universal Health Plan
By Kevin Freking
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The federal government should join the state of Massachusetts in enacting universal health coverage (UHC), said Sen. Edward Kennedy, the new chairman of the Senate committee with jurisdiction over numerous health issues.

Kennedy's home state is the first to require everyone to have health insurance, just as drivers must have automobile coverage.

Kennedy has his own version of what universal health coverage would look like. He wants to extend Medicare to all. In his first hearing Wednesday as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, the Massachusetts Democrat called on 10 witnesses from all over the country to talk about how to make health care more affordable. Read more here.
Once upon a time I was adamantly against UHC. I no longer hold that position because, in ministry, I am confronted on a regular basis with poor people who do not have health insurance. Now I just have more questions than answers. Any answers out there?

Congressional Smokeout

Pelosi Bans Smoking Near House Floor
By Erica Werner
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Smokers may be one minority in Congress with even fewer rights than newly demoted Republicans. Now they are losing one of their last, cherished prerogatives - a smoke break in the ornate Speaker's Lobby just off the House floor.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced a ban Wednesday, effective immediately.

"The days of smoke-filled rooms in the United States Capitol are over," Pelosi said. "Medical science has unquestionably established the dangerous effects of secondhand smoke, including an increased risk of cancer and respiratory diseases. I am a firm believer that Congress should lead by example." Read more here.

I have never smoked and don't like to be in a smoke-filled room but was surprised to hear this news. Mainly because I thought that smoking was banned long ago. Any opinions on this one?

The Magnificent Seven | ★★★★★★★

47 years after it's release in 1960 I finally watched The Mag 7 for the first time ... kind of anticlimactic. One of the problems with ratings is that an iconic movie like this one has no place to go but down. That said I have to say that the movie was pretty good ... the problem was that it wasn't great. I thought that the movie was a bit long and a bit campy. It started strong with the gathering of the Seven, moved a bit slow in the middle and never really gathered back the steam it started with. It paled compared with The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, my all-time favorite western. Eli Wallach was in both movies ... his role in this movie paled against Ugly Tuco in the other movie. Here are a few good quotes from the movie:
"Only the dead are without fear." - One of the men of the village responding to one of the Seven who had a bad dream.

"Only the farmers won. We lost. We always lose." - Yul Brynner's character lamenting the fate of hired guns.
On a scale of 10 I give this movie ★★★★★★★

The Food Channel

A few Questions about the Food Channel?
  1. Why do you watch it or not?
  2. What is your favorite show?
  3. Has it helped your cooking?

Here are my answers:

  1. I watch it occasionally (not as much as I used to) because it is educational in a practical way. I also like to hear Emeril say Bam! He is pretty entertaining.
  2. I guess Emeril is my favorite because he is fun to watch. I also like the BBQ shows.
  3. Yes. I can now flip omeletes, hash browns and fried eggs with the best of them. I think what it has done for me is to give me courage to try new things.

How about you?

New Speed Limit for Policemen

From Danny Kaye:

Police cruisers raced past as the
Krispy Kreme sign flashes


Anyone heard of this movie? Here is a synopsis of it:
Marc Blucas heads the cast as Kevin Parson, a seminary student stalked by a serial killer in the mode of Saw’s Jigsaw. The shadowy killer specializes in planting bombs on or near his victims. If his targets can’t answer one of the killer’s riddles, a fiery explosions ensues. As the imperiled Kevin, Blucas is either frowning or running. To put it kindly, it’s a narrow performance. Kevin draws the attention of a police psychologist whose brother was killed by the bomber. Justine Waddell co-stars as Jennifer Peters, a supposed law enforcement pro whose interest in Kevin turns downright creepy. Laura Jordan’s Samantha figures prominently in Kevin’s life, too, as the strangely calm childhood sweetheart who suddenly shows up to help him decipher the killer’s identity.
I'm always hopeful about faith-base movies but rarely happy with the one that I have viewed. Do you have any favorite faith movies? Were they produced (like this one released by FoxFaith Movies) under the banner of a "faith" movie?

Housework: Men Unqualified

Murtha Has His Chance

From The Nation: Murtha: No Surge For Bush

In the first really bold move of the new Congress, Jack Murtha told Arianna Huffington in an interview published today that he plans to block Bush's plan to escalate the war in Iraq by refusing to fund a so-called "surge" of additional troops.

From Arianna's interview:
When we asked about the likelihood of the president sending additional troops to Iraq, Murtha was adamant. "The only way you can have a troop surge," he told us, "is to extend the tours of people whose tours have already been extended, or to send back people who have just gotten back home." He explained at length how our military forces are already stretched to the breaking point, with our strategic reserve so depleted we are unprepared to face any additional threats to the country. So does that mean there will be no surge? Murtha offered us a "with Bush anything is possible" look, then said: "Money is the only way we can stop it for sure."
He says he wants to "fence the funding," denying the president the resources to escalate the war, instead using the money to take care of the soldiers as we bring them home from Iraq "as soon as we can."

As chairman of the powerful Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Murtha has power over the war purse. He's right: the only way to prevent a surge is to refuse to fund it. And the only surefire way to end the war starts with blocking the $100 billion supplemental bill President Bush plans to hand the Congress soon. Many Democrats have been reluctant to pursue such an approach. Maybe Murtha's latest statement--like his dramatic call for redeployment in November 2005--will wake up his party.

No Excuses

Email notes from friends can sometimes be encouraging.
The next time you feel like GOD can't use you, just remember...

Noah was a drunk
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Samson had long hair and was a womanizer
Rahab was a prostitute
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David had an affair and was a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Isaiah preached naked
Jonah ran from God
Naomi was a widow
Job went bankrupt
Peter denied Christ
The Disciples fell asleep while praying
Martha worried about everything
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once
Zaccheus was too small
Paul was too religious
Timothy had an ulcer..AND
Lazarus was dead!

Pitiful Playoff Performance

1/7 Update: In the aftermath of Kansas City’s 23-8 loss to the Colts, Coach Herm Edwards was asked to explain how one of the NFL’s worst defenses shut down an offense that had set records for five years under Coach Dick Vermeil.

“I have no idea,” Edwards said. “I’m puzzled, too, just like you. ... It’s the same plays. We didn’t change it.”

I guess I have to agree with Herm - He has no idea ... I hope he gets one before next season.
Well it happened and cynical KB is eating Humble Pie (what ever that is). Everything that needed to happen (see below) happened and the Chiefs are in the playoffs. All they have to do is beat the Colts - I would snicker and smurk but you see where that has got me :)


Here’s what must happen next week for the Chiefs to make the NFL playoffs: (1) Chiefs beat Jacksonville. (2) San Francisco beats Denver. (3) New England beats Tennessee. (4) Pittsburgh beats Cincinnati. The Chiefs would be one of the two wild-card teams because only Kansas City, Denver and the Jets would have a record of at least 9-7.

L.J. carries Chiefs past Raiders 20-9
By JOSH DUBOW, AP Sports Writer

OAKLAND, Calif. - Another victory over the Oakland Raiders took a little bit of the sting out of the Kansas City Chiefs' three-game losing streak. The Chiefs know they need a lot more help for that late-season skid not to derail their postseason chances.

Larry Johnson ran for 137 yards and a touchdown and the Chiefs kept their slim playoff hopes alive by becoming the first team to beat the Raiders eight straight times with a 20-9 victory Saturday night.

"All I care about is getting to 9-7," said defensive end Jared Allen, who recovered two fumbles. "Truthfully, do I think we're going to get in? No. A lot has to happen for us to get in at 9-7. If we do, it's a miracle." Read more here.

Glory | ★★★★★★★★★★

Once in a long time a movie comes along that elevates you in a way that causes you to see the world a bit differently. This movie is one such movie. Ann and I watched the HD version of Glory last night ... it was a deeply moving experience. First I give you a synopsis of the story:
The movie is based on the letters of Colonel Robert G. Shaw. Shaw (played by Matthew Broderick) was an officer in the Federal Army during the American Civil War who volunteered to lead the first company of black soldiers. Shaw was forced to deal with the prejudices of both the enemy (who had orders to kill commanding officers of blacks), and of his own fellow officers. I found the personal development of Shaw to be an interesting one. He begins the movie appearing weak and afraid but finishes with an inspirational humble courage. Characters played by Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington and others were simply moving - they moved me at a deep emotional level. The movie helped me identify with the injustice of this period of our nation's evolution.
Secondly I want to share some memorable quotes from the movie:
Jupiter Sharts: [praying aloud from the clip above] Tommorrow we goes into battle, so Lordy, let me fight with the rifle in one hand, and the Good Book in the other. So that if I may die at the muzzle of the rifle... die on water, or on land, I may know that you blessed Jesus almighty are with me... and I have no fear.

Trip: I ain't fightin' this war for you, sir.
Colonel Shaw: I see.
Trip: I mean, what's the point? Ain't nobody gonna win. It's just gonna go on and on.
Colonel Shaw: Can't go on forever.
Trip: Yeah, but ain't nobody gonna win, sir.
Colonel Shaw: Somebody's gonna win.
Trip: Who? I mean, you get to go on back to Boston, big house and all that. What about us? What do we get?
Colonel Shaw: Well, you won't get anything if we lose.

Rawlins: And who are you? So full of hate that you have to fight everybody, because you've been whipped and chased by hounds. Well that might not be living, but it sure as hell ain't dying. And dying's been what these white boys have been doing for going on three years now, dying by the thousands, dying for you, fool. And all this time I keep askin' myself, when, O Lord, when gonna be our time? Gonna come a time when we all gonna hafta ante up and kick in like men, LIKE MEN! You watch who you callin' nigger! If there's any niggers around here, it's YOU, just a stupid-ass, swamp-runnin' nigger! And if you not careful, that's all you ever gonna be!

John Rawlins: That's right, Hines. Ain't no dream. We runaway slaves but we come back fightin' men. Go tell your folks how kingdom come in the year of jubilee!
I close giving you the final scene ... a scene of "glory" where men risk all and give all for freedom. It is a tough viewing but needful to those wanting to know what freedom is all about. It is the American version of Braveheart.

On a scale of 10 I give this movie ★★★★★★★★★★


SONIFIC gives this intro
on their website:
SongSpots™ are free music players / widgets that stream the song of your choice from almost any web page that you can edit yourself, such as blogs, social network profiles, photo sharing sites, or homepages. Just select one of our songs, click 'use', copy the player code, and drop it into any suitable input field on your site.
I added a SongSpot to my sidebar - check it out and if you like it add one to your blog.

Redneck Church

You Know You're in a Redneck Church if:
  • The finance committee refuses to provide funds for the purchase of a chandelier because none of the members knows how to play one.
  • People ask, when they learn that Jesus fed the 5000, whether the two fish were bass or catfish, and what bait was used to catch 'em.
  • The pastor says, "I'd like to ask Bubba to help take up the offering," and five guys and two women stand up.
  • Opening day of deer season is recognized as an official church holiday.
  • A member of the church requests to be buried in his 4-wheel-drive truck because "It ain't never been in a hole it couldn't get out of" (Love it!)
  • The choir is known as the "OK Chorale".
  • In a congregation of 500 members, there are only seven last names in the church directory.
  • People think "rapture" is what you get when you lift something too heavy.
  • The baptismal pool is a #2 galvanized "Wheeling" washtub.
  • The choir robes were donated by (and embroidered with the logo from) Billy Bob's Barbecue.
  • The collection plates are really hubcaps from a 56 Chevy.
  • Instead of a bell; you are called to service by a duck call.
  • The minister and his wife drive matching pickup trucks.
  • The communion wine is Boone's Farm "Tickled Pink".
  • "Thou shall not covet" applies to huntin' dogs, too.
  • The final words of the benediction are, "Y'all come back now, Ya heah".
God Bless and don't fergit ta say yer prayers!!! Ya all come back now!

Courtesy of the JibJab Joke Box.

Chariots of Fire | ★★★★★★★★★★

Today I would like to examine the legacy of another runner. Like Derek Redmond, Eric Liddell was an Olympic runner. I recently watched the HD version of his Olympic story (my all time favorite movie "Chariots of Fire") and wanted to share that experience with you. Some scenes from the movie are purely glorious film making. A scene from it traces Eric Liddell's resolve (to not run on Sunday) before the British Olympic Committee, to his reading of Isaiah 40 (in church that Sunday) and finishes with his Gold medal win at the 1924 Olympics ... it is so inspiring.

Here are few of great quotes from the movie:
"Then where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within." -- Eric Liddell

"I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure." -- Eric Liddell

"The "lad", as you call him, is a true man of principles and a true athlete. His speed is a mere extension of his life, its force. We sought to sever his running from himself." -- Duke of Sutherland (speaking of Eric)
In Eric we see a young man preparing to run a greater race ... the race to fulfill his life as a missionary in China. I find it amazing that a man so young understood so much. Real life and power comes from within ... and we feel His pleasure when we run a life from within. On a scale of 10 I give this movie ★★★★★★★★★★

Catch my other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

Church Websites

Dave Walker at Cartoon Church has some advice
about Church Websites. Read more here.
Here is the one that I designed.

Dreamgirls | ★★★★★★★★★

I saw this movie last night and thought it was one of the best movies I have seen in a while. It is a rags to riches story with a thoughtful storyline, strong acting, great music/songs, knock-yours-socks-off singing, pretty clean language (one or two out of character f-bombs) and no violence or nudity. The Dreams (singing group) reminded me a lot of the Supremes and Beyonce's character a lot like Diana Ross.

Eddie Murphy was surprisingly great as an R&B singer trying make the transition to R&R. But I have to say that onetime (2004) American Idol hopeful Jennifer Hudson stole the show with off-the-charts vocals and amazing acting - sure to get her a nod at Oscar time.

I recommend taking your sweetie to this one on date night.

On a scale of 10 I give this movie ★★★★★★★★★

Support Your Local Sheriff | ★★★★★★★★

My wife and I watched the HD version of this one last night. I think that I saw it at the theater when it first came and had forgotten how funny it was. A great family movie. James Gardner plays Jason McCullough a man who is "passing through on my way to Australia" when he takes a job in a gold rush town. After a startling display of marksmanship he immediately arrests the youngest son of the evil landowner (Danby). A battle of hired guns begins as McCullough continues to tame the town and defeat the gunslingers with a combination of skill and wit.

Gardner, in his typical deadpan style, plays the sheriff perfectly and Jack Elam (a perennial movie cowboy) plays off him as his faithful deputy. A lot of other great character actors (Joan Hackett, Walter Brennan, Harry Morgan, Bruce Dern) make this a must-see movie. You can probably record it off the TV - watch for it! On a scale of 10 I give this movie ★★★★★★★★

A Prediction from Our Crazy Uncle

All families seem to have that strange relative who regularly embarrasses the family by doing or saying something strange. For us Pat is a regular reminder of that phenomenon. We love him anyway because he is a part of our family :)
Pat Robertson Predicts 'Mass Killing'
By Associated Press

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- In what has become an annual tradition of prognostications, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson said Tuesday God has told him that a terrorist attack on the United States would result in "mass killing" late in 2007."I'm not necessarily saying it's going to be nuclear," he said during his news-and-talk television show "The 700 Club" on the Christian Broadcasting Network. "The Lord didn't say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that."

Robertson said God told him during a recent prayer retreat that major cities and possibly millions of people will be affected by the attack, which should take place sometime after September.Robertson said God also told him that the U.S. only feigns friendship with Israel and that U.S. policies are pushing Israel toward "national suicide." Read more here.
I did find it interesting that God didn't see fit to reveal any specifics to Pat. Kind of reminds me of the type of predictions that psychic Jeane Dixon used to make. The lack of precision in Pat's prediction is in contrast to biblical prophetic revelation. I wonder why so many people take him serious?

Three Stoic Eulogizers

This morning I watched the memorial service for President Ford. I was very impressed with former President Bush's eulogy. He led off the four eulogies with a very heartwarming and personal recounting of President Ford's life. The remaining three speakers came off in a way that made you wonder if they had ever met President Ford. They seemed to be totally unaware of their circumstances and showed little or no emotion at the loss of a great man.

It made me reflect and wonder if people are just plain uncomfortable with their emotions or if stoicism is still alive and well in our generation. What do you think? Are you afraid to show emotion in public? Are you concerned with being labeled "emotional"? Do you come across as a stoic?


In one of the best posts that I have ever read Milly says:
I found myself sitting on the edge of the bed knowing that it wasn’t about love so no one should say it. I remember him saying that he had a bad dream that he lost me. I almost laughed, lost me you never had me. Instead I snuggled up closer and waited for our relationship to end. It had to. How could I keep bedding down with this evil.

I had to stop I had to shut it all out and try to stop. So I walked around a Christian event hoping for a way to stop picking up those darn stones, they are heavy and at times they seemed almost to cover me making it impossible for me to breathe. I tried to drink them away, the deceiver likes that idea, I found myself tied to them dragging me into a bottle of vodka.
Read more here.

Desperate Old Housewives

I know that none of you watch Desperate Housewives but you might remember a few of these old housewives and their friends. Can you name all of the old sitcoms represented in the clip?

Starbucks Sells Doughnuts?

According to this article Starbucks sells doughnuts.
Ever seen a doughnut in a Starbucks?
Ever drink one of those Red Bull wannabe drinks at Starbucks?

Fool's Mate

I have been playing chess since sixth grade - you think I'd be better at it. One of my favorite openings involves something I used to think was called Fool's Mate. I checked today and found that it's correct name is Scholar's Mate. From Chess Corner:

Fool's Mate and Scholar's Mate are often tried on newcomers to the game.

Fool's Mate occurs when a player opens up his King to a fatal attack as shown in the following game:

1.f3 e5 2.g4 Qh4#

It is rarely a good idea to move the pawns on f2, g2 and h2 so early in the game as the King normally castles on this side and if the pawns have been moved, they can no longer offer him adequate protection.

The following game illustrates Scholar's Mate. This is a checkmate whereby the Bishop and Queen attack the weak f7 pawn. This pawn is weak because, in the starting position, it is only protected by the King.

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Bc5 3.Qh5 Nf6 4.Qxf7#

Scholar's Mate is the most common trap a beginner falls into.

7 for 07

I guess it is that time of year again. With 2007 here I thought that I might suggest seven resolutions. In the year 2007 I resolve:
  1. To love God … to know His will … to meditate on Him and His word … to yield to and not quench the Holy Spirit … to be pleasing to Him.
  2. To love people … to genuinely care … to listen more and speak less … to love my wife … to love my kids and grandkids … to love Christ’s body … to love those who hurt.
  3. To be me … to live from my guts and not brain … to have the courage to live from my heart … to not let our culture or other people define who I am.
  4. To be generous … to be a compassionate giver … to be a good steward of everything that God has blessed me with … to be content.
  5. To stretch … to leave my comfort zone … to do things that make me feel uneasy … to be around people who are not like me.
  6. To take care of myself … to exercise and eat healthier … to rest … to have boundaries … to live life and not manage it.
  7. To trust the Lord in me ... to believe in the ideas that God has put in me ... to be courageous and to go places I have never gone before.

In a sense these are prayer requests as I am incapable of bringing them to pass. I’d be interested in knowing what, if anything, you have resolved for this New Year. In either case have a blessed and joyous 2007.

McLawyer and McBailbondsman Needed

Kudos to Doug for the winning Caption!