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Friday, November 30, 2007

My Take on The Golden Compass

There has been a lot of talk about the upcoming movie, The Golden Compass, and the book(s) it is based on by author Philip Pullman.

In a recent MTV.com article, Jennifer Vineyard writes:
Thought Harry Potter was blasphemous? That was kids' stuff compared to the "His Dark Materials" trilogy, in which God is an imposter, angels are sexually ambiguous and the Church kidnaps, tortures and assassinates to achieve its goals, one of which is stealing children's souls.
I have been the recipient of numerous e-mails calling for a boycott of the movie, warning me against the evils of the book, and informing me that author Pullman is an atheist who's goal is to turn children away from God.

In an effort to be fair, I spent the last week reading the trilogy and here is what I found.
  1. There are three books that are a part of the His Dark Materials series. "His Dark Materials" is from a line in John Milton's Paradise Lost. Pullman said he was inspired by Paradise Lost:
    Paradise Lost is the great epic poem of the English language, a tale of immense drama and excitement, of rebellion and treachery, of innocence pitted against corruption, in which God and Satan fight a bitter battle for control of mankind's destiny. The struggle ranges across heaven, hell, and earth, as Satan and his band of rebel angels conspire against God. At the center of the conflict are Adam and Eve, motivated by all too human temptations, but whose ultimate downfall is unyielding love. (description from Barnes and Noble)
    The original quote from Paradise Lost (in context) is:
    …Into this wilde Abyss,
    The Womb of nature and perhaps her Grave,
    Of neither Sea, nor Shore, nor Air, nor Fire,
    But all these in thir pregnant causes mix't
    Confus'dly, and which thus must ever fight,
    Unless th' Almighty Maker them ordain
    His dark materials to create more Worlds,
    Into this wilde Abyss the warie fiend
    Stood on the brink of Hell and look'd a while,
    Pondering his Voyage...
  2. The books are based on the quantum theory that there exists a multitude of parallel universes. Some of those universes are similar to our own. For an in-depth look at the idea, check out a series by NOVA HERE, or read Michael Crichton's book, Timeline (good book, lousy movie).
  3. Pullman has issues with organized religion - and it shows in his books, (much in th same way that Dan Brown went out of his way to denigrate "The Church" is his books, Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code).
  4. Pullman's "God" is really no God at all (in fact, there is no God). This "god" is a liar - he came into being before anything and then said that he was the creator of everything. Therefore the original rebellion by the angels was a good thing and one of the main plot lines is the attempt to kill this so-called "Almighty" (referred to in the story as the Authority).
The books are definitely written for junior high and above. I think younger children would struggle with both the length and the vocabulary of the novels. The story is entertaining, just as Angels and Demons was entertaining. I just struggled with Pullman's take on theology and organized religion - especially since his issue seemed to be primarily with Christianity in specific, not organized religion in general.

I have seen a lot of quotes about Phillip Pullman saying that he wants these books to be anti-Narnia and that he wants the stories to turn children from God. Unfortunately, try though I might, I could never find where the original quotes came from or their context. Now, I don't doubt that Pullman is going to bring his world view into his writing - every author does. I just can't speak to Pullman's intentions. Did he write books that he hoped had a good story and happened to reflect his view on God and religion? Likely. Did he do all that with the intention of killing God in the hearts of children? Only God and Phillip Pullman knows the answer to that question.

What I did find was from Pullman himself on his website:
I don't know whether there's a God or not. Nobody does, no matter what they say. I think it's perfectly possible to explain how the universe came about without bringing God into it, but I don't know everything, and there may well be a God somewhere, hiding away.

Actually, if he is keeping out of sight, it's because he's ashamed of his followers and all the cruelty and ignorance they're responsible for promoting in his name. If I were him, I'd want nothing to do with them.
This is the typical response I would expect from someone who doesn't really believe in God. However, I think it is good to remember that while a lot of good has been done in "the name of God," a lot of bad, stupid things have been done in His name, too.

Later, when asked whether he writes for children or adults, Pullman says:
If the story I write turns out to be the sort of thing that children enjoy reading, then well and good. But I don't write for children: I write books that children read. Some clever adults read them too.
My recommendation about the movie would probably be similar to what Barbara Nicolosi recommended for The DaVinci Code... an othercott:
Some suggest that we simply ignore the movie. But the problem with this option is that the box office is a ballot box. The only people whose votes are counted are those who buy tickets; if you stay home, you have thrown your vote away, and you do nothing to shape the Hollywood decision-making process regarding what movies will make it to the big screen...

But I'd like to offer another option.

On... opening weekend... you should go to the movies. Just go to another movie. That's your way of casting your vote, the only vote Hollywood recognizes: The power of cold hard cash laid down on a box office window on opening weekend.

Use your vote. Don't throw it away. Vote for a movie other than [The Golden Compass]. If enough people do it, the powers that be will notice.
By the way... check out Barbara's blog, Church of the Masses - it's great!

What movie should you see? Well, if you ask me, you won't find a more enchanting movie (pun intended) than Enchanted. It's classic old-school Disney. In fact, as soon as you're done reading this, go the the Enchanted web-site and watch the clips, "How Does She Know" and "The Happy Working Song."

As for letting your kids read the books - that's really up to you as a parent. Read the books and decide for yourself.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Most people don't really care about price...

At least according to Seth Godin:
Of course, you've heard the objection. "It just costs too much."

Today's Times reports that 411 accounts for more than a billion calls a year - at just one provider. That's more than a billion dollars a year being spent for a service that is truly a commodity - you want the number, here it is, bye.

And yet, Easy411 provides precisely the same service to callers for half the price. Why doesn't everyone use them? Because it's not just the price. It's the hassle and the set up and the "I didn't get around to it" nature of saving a few bucks.

Example 2: check out the parking lot at Costco. Lots of $40,000 or more cars and SUVs in the lot, people who wasted a few shekels worth of gas to drive out of their way to invest an hour of time to save a dollar on a big jar of pickles. These are the same people who will spend an extra $100 on an airplane ticket to save a few minutes in getting home after a meeting.

My point, and I do have one, is that price is a signal, a story, a situational decision that is never absolute. It's just part of what goes into making a decision, no matter what we're buying.
What do you think? Does price matter?

Or is quality remembered long after price is forgotten?

HT: Seth Godin

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Street Wars

***DISCLAIMER: While Two Blonde Boys likes a good game, it does not condone actual assassinations where someone really dies. Post no flames (unless, like Arnold said in True Lies: "Yeah, but they were all bad").***

When I was in college, we used to play an assassination game with dart guns. Get assigned your target. Shoot them. Inherit their target. Shoot them. And so on, until you were either killed, or you won the game. Did I mention I went to a Bible College?

Street Wars has taken it to a whole new level.

StreetWars is a 3 week long, 24/7, watergun assassination tournament that has already taken place in New York City, Vancouver, Vienna, San Francisco, Los Angeles and was just in Paris in September.

At the start of the game you will receive a manila envelope containing the following:
  • A picture of your intended target(s)
  • The home address of your intended target(s)
  • The work address of your intended target(s)
  • The name of your intended target(s)
  • Contact information of your intended target(s)
Upon receipt of these items, your (or your team's) mission is to find and kill (by way of water gun, water balloon or super soaker) your target(s).

You can hunt your target down any way you see fit; you can pose as a delivery person and jack them when they open the door, disguise yourself and take them out on the street, etc.

If you are successful in your assassination attempt, the person you killed will give you their envelope and the person they were supposed to kill becomes your new target. This continues until you work yourself through all the players and retrieve the envelope with your (or your team's) picture(s) and name(s). Then you win. Cash…but first live in fear.

If the oldest blonde boy was on his own (or if I were single), I would definitely play this game!

Read all about it HERE.

***One more DISCLAIMER (in case you missed it the first time): While Two Blonde Boys likes a good game, it does not condone actual assassinations where someone really dies.***

HT: Ethos

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I am thankful for my great family - my beautiful wife and my strong sons: thank you for your love and support (boys... thanks for the gray hair).

I am thankful for my extended family - my mom and dad and Mrs. Two Blonde Boys' mom and dad: thanks for always being there.

I am thankful for my church family at at NewCov: thanks for letting me be me and for letting me do my thing.

I am thankful to my God: thank you for loving me and saving me and for all the blessing you give me each day.

And I am thankful for my TBB readers: thanks for coming back again today.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mindless Turkey fun

There's nothing quite like a Turkey Fling. My best score was 89,269.

What's yours?

Monday, November 19, 2007

I Elfed Myself

And so can you at www.elfyourself.com.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday Set List

In the near future, I want to jump on the "Worship Confessional"bandwagon that Los started and many others are doing.

But until then, here's our set list for yesterday (very short because we had a lot of "stuff" going on):

"Let the Praises Ring"
"Give Us Clean Hands"
"No Other Gods"

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Late Veteran's Day Post

I meant to post this on Veteran's Day, but I think it is appropriate every day... Enjoy Red Skelton's great commentary on the Pledge of Allegiance HERE.

Thank you to our fighting men and women for continuing to fight for freedom.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


It was a whirlwind of a weekend... I did worship at a men's retreat for our church at Redwood Christian Park in Boulder Creek, CA (near Santa Cruz). Then it was back in the saddle with the race to Christmas. If my posting becomes spotty, you'll know why.

In the mean time, check out these great video bumpers for church Thanksgiving services (HERE and HERE).

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Stuff You Don't Want To See This Thanksgiving...

I like watching Andrew Zimmern (check out his blog) on the Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods. I also like to watch Anthony Bourdain, host of No Reservations and occasional contributer to ruhlman.com, Michael Ruhlman's blog (dang... was that enough links in a row?).

Besides the fact that Bourdain is an interesting character (or would that be a rascal?), they both engage in eating some really weird stuff. Take for instance a a recent episode where Zimmern went to Ecuador and ate that nation's main protein: hamster. Weird... but I think I would eat it. And who cold forget Bourdain eating warthog anus with the bush people of Namibia. That I would not eat (and if you haven't seen that show... it's a classic!).

Well, in keeping with the theme of the world of strange and bizarre foods, I bring you THIS ARTICLE from Wired about the the most curious canned goods found online. Here's what you're gonna find:
  • Huitlacoche - A dish from Mexico that is the product of a corn disease, caused by a plant parasite that attacks crops. The pathogen causes kernels to swell as much as 10 times in size, distort, and darken in color as they bloat with spores from the infectious fungus.
  • Surströmming - Soured herring from Sweden. How do you know when your surströmming is ready to be devoured? When the cans bulge around the middle, an effect caused by a gassy, bacterial byproduct of its lengthy fermenting process. Locals recommend opening the can under water whenever possible to contain the tantalizing odor of rotten egg, rancid butter and vinegar that results from the fermentation process.
  • Bottled balut - A popular Filipino street snack, balut is a boiled three-week-old fertilized duck egg, eaten straight out of the shell. A well-aged balut lacks feathers, beak and claws (all the tasty bits), and instead provides a palatable rich embryonic broth, the creamy yolk (and of course, the fetus), sure to satisfy even the most ambitious appetite.
  • Jellied eels - Caught from the murky depths of the Thames River estuary, boiled with salt and pimentos, set in gelatin and then served with a dash of chili vinegar, each bite is a gooey challenge for the average palate.
  • Reindeer pate - Here's the upside to snacking on Santa's Little Helper -- because the reindeer are farm-raised by Sami herdsmen in Sweden on a simple diet of moss and lichen, your dinner delicacy is delightfully hormone-free. Not to mention, this other red meat is incredibly lean, clocking in at a mere 2 percent fat content, making it one of the least-fatty meats in your cart. As an added bonus, there's no such thing as mad reindeer disease.
  • Haggis - Classic Scottish haggis has several variations, but a common cooking method involves stuffing oatmeal, onions, seasonings and a mixture of minced organ meats (think heart, liver, lungs) into the stomach of a sheep. That succulent sausage concoction is then simmered in water for several hours to produce the traditional treat.
Now that's some good eats!

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Another great thought...

From FamilyLife:

You've fed them... bathed them... read to them... and tucked them in.

Now your most crucial parenting (or grandparenting) job begins...

Pray for them!

Dennis Rainey says, "As parents of SIX, Barbara and I realized long ago that we would have no ultimate control over whether our children chose the narrow gate that leads to life (Matthew 7:14, NASB) or the wide gate that leads to destruction.

But we discovered what we could control... the way we pray for our children as they prepare for, and enter, adolescence."

As it says in Lamentations 2:19,

Arise, cry aloud in the night at the beginning of the night watches; Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord; Lift up your hands to Him for the life of your little ones.

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Quote of the Day

I will admit that of my list, this is the one [compensation based on education] that would be disagreed with by some of my colleagues. So let me make it personal, I hold advanced degrees that I could personally benefit from but would never think of engaging the system for this reason. It is not my education that earns my paycheck, it is my value to the team and my overall contribution to the mission of the local church I serve. A degree will often get a resume read, and probably play a big roll in a person getting a job, but after that, it's all about what they can do, not what books they read.

This article is used by permission from Dr. Dan Reiland's free monthly e-newsletter "The Pastor's Coach" available at www.INJOY.com.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

What do you think of my brochure?

Here's a great article from the archives of Seth Godin... Great for all of us who design print material:

Q: What do you think of my brochure?

A: The thing you must remember about just about every corporate or organizational brochure is this: People won't read it.

I didn't say it wasn't important. I just said it wasn't going to get read.

People will consider its heft. They might glance at the photos. They will certainly notice the layout. And, if you're lucky, they'll read a few captions or testimonials.

At its best, a brochure is begging for someone to judge you. It says, "assume that because we could hire really good printers and photographers and designers and writers, we are talented [surgeons, real estate developers, whatever]" And more often than not, people do just that.

At its worst, a brochure solves a prospect's problem (the problem of: what should I do about this opportunity?) by giving them an easy way to say "no." "No," she thinks, "I don't need to talk with you... I've reviewed the brochure."

So, the strategies of your brochure might be:
  • overinvest in paper and design. Spend twice or even ten times more than you planned. If you can't afford to do that, don't have a brochure. Especially if your competition does.
  • use less copy. Half as much.
  • use testimonials. With photos. Short captions. It's hard to have too many of the good ones.
  • make it funny enough or interesting enough or, hey, remarkable enough that people will want to show it to their friends.
  • show, don't tell. Don't say you have a tranquil setting... I won't believe you.
  • and most important, make sure you leave several obvious things out... so that people need to talk to you.

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