Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Amazing Grace - uncommon courage for the ages

William Wilberforce's uncommon courage is finally profiled for modern audiences in the major theatrical film production of "Amazing Grace." (official site) Named for the hymn written by repentant slave ship captain John Newton, this cinema-history offers a dramatic critique on politics and morality. Think modern day slavery, and the "life" issues of abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, euthanasia, etc.

This year Britain marks the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slave shipping. It took decades more for all the vestiges of the human slave trade to be removed His Majesty's Kingdom, and Wilberforce was doggedly faithful to his life's missions: to end slavery and to reform society for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Ioan Gruffudd stars as Wilberforce (Fantastic Four's Reed Richards), and that may bring sufficient star power to this biopic. It is hard for historical period pieces to draw audiences without shooting and fighting ("Master and Commander") or a romantic subtext. Maybe this is a date movie for history majors and other university types??

As usual, Christianity Today's Wilberforce page is exhaustive and well done.

Chuck Colson's radio commentary "Breakpoint" shares the mic with Prison Fellowship CEO Mark Earley and points to Wilberforce's enduring heroic qualities, and lessons for today's people of moral conviction.

Os Guinness found this quote from Wilberforce, lauding the benefits of Christian unity:
"Though I am an Episcopalian by birth, I yet feel such a oneness and sympathy with the cause of God at large, that nothing would be more delightful than communing once a year with every church that holds the Head, even Christ."
Other reading... One of the best collection of stories of political heroism to be John Kennedy's Pulitzer-winning Profiles in Courage.
There is a price to pay for pushing against any popular tide. Being "right" in history's judgment is small comfort during the lonely days of standing up in the company of cowards and conformists.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

The Wrong Stuff - fallen heroes

That's the title most bloggers are going with around the recent mental breakdown of astronaut Lisa Nowak. Since I've listed Philip Kaufman's 1983 "The Right Stuff" as one of my all time favorite films, maybe I'm more legit...

We make heroes because we need them so badly. Mired in our own myriad struggles, humankind is always looking upward for a leader, a prototype, a standard-bearer. That's legitimate (or at least "normal") societal behavior. Our celebrity-driven media is on a hyper-steroid dose of that drug.

We break heroes too, mostly because of the unrealistic expectations to which we held them in the first place. Among history's greatest of heroes, Israel's King David was a superstar of his time, and his scandal of adultery, conspiracy and murder (and kids who didn't all turn out just right) was epic.

Dr. Sanity's blog offers her analysis of the pressures of "spac-e-men:"
I'm sure it is shocking to find out that they have unhappy marriages; engage in affairs; have problems with their kids; act out in all sorts of inappropriate ways. Why, they even get depressed at times. Of course, you don't hear about this side of things too much. Nor should astronauts private lives be the subject of Hollywood gossip columns.Nevertheless, if you treat astronauts like Hollywood superstars; promote them to the public as if they were God's gift to humanity; cater to their narcissistic fantasies; and indulge them in all sorts of special ways, it is not too hard to predict that they will behave just like any other entitled superstar (or politician) whose ridiculous exploits the public follows with obsessive interest.

Perhaps NASA held on to its own 1960's self-image too long, or believed its own PR.

Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log scans the blogosphere for other commentary.

We need heroes, but don't make the pedestals too high. You could break your neck falling from up there.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Blogging the Bible from

A "faith" entry...
I first heard of this blog on NPR's "Weekend Edition" with Scott Simon. The author of this blog is David Plotz, who is Jewish, but does not consider himself even an "observant" Jew. What Mr. Plotz and I share is an almost giddy excitement for the sacred texts within the Bible. He comes at scripture ravenously, with a fresh appeal to the stories - get this - as if they actually happened. He covers only the Old Testament.

I have come to believe that the closer Christians get to the Scriptures and to the person of Jesus, the more "Jewish" they become (or at least, they understand more of Judaism). This blog helps in that migration/spiritual journey. Enjoy Blogging the Bible, on, now linked permanently from this blog.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Dangerous Man Day 2007 - notes (abridged)

I just got back from the "Dangerous Man" conference at a church in the South Denver area. Some 200 men, stone-faced and ready for a fight, gathered to explore what it means to be "dangerous for good." The conference was inspired by Al Larson's book The Making of a Dangerous Man. His website is

As written elsewhere, I love the smell of men in the morning. It smells like victory (bad paraphrase from "Apocalypse Now").

If you'd like my notes and sources from the workshop on "Fathering Teens: Game On," send an e-mail to For your benefit, an abridged version is below.

Remember, dads of teens, you have what it takes!


Among sources quoted from today:
Dr. Lafayette Scales, Rhema Christian Center, Columbus, Ohio

Craig Hill (Family Foundations, Littleton, CO,

THE BIG PICTURE: I Cor. 4:15 – 20
15 - For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
16 – Therefore I urge you, imitate me.
17 – For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.
18 – Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you.
19 – But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power.
20 – For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.

Kirk Franklin, Hero

The purpose of marriage (Malachi 2:14 – 15)
(the prophet Malachi is speaking God’s words on the “treachery of infidelity.”)
14 - Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, whith whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant.
15 – But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.

Offspring as weapons

Psalm 127: 3-5
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

James Ryle, “The making of an arrow,”

Children’s children are the crown of old men, but the glory of children is their fathers. (Prov. 17:6)

What teens believe and how they act

National Study on Youth and Religion (Dr. Christian Smith, Univ. of N. Carolina – Chapel Hill, 2005,

Sexual abstinence before marriage – 67% of Protestant teens agree, only 38% of unaffiliated teens agree (p. 56)

Sexual Intercourse – Almost 1/5 of Protestant teens reporting having sexual intercourse in the last year. (p. 57)

Close parent-child relationship improved the youth's ability to select prosocial friends, which was directly related to decreased involvement with violence.
Smith P, Flay BR, Bell CC, Weissberg RP.Department of Family and Consumer Studies, The University of Utah, Salt Lake City 84112, USA.

More than 80% of teens ages 14 to 17 think highly of their mothers, and a similar percentage think highly of their fathers
Moore KA, Guzman L, Hair E, Lippman L, Garrett S (2004). Parent-Teen Relationships and Interactions: Far More Positive Than Not. Child Trends Research Brief, Publication #2004-25. Washington, DC: Child Trends. Available at:



Prov. 24:10 – “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.”

– self control, mental exercises

Asking questions (inquire, dig deep, Prov. 20:5-6)
“Counsel in the heart of a man is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”

Ken Canfield, founder of the Natl. Center for Fathering suggests we get past men’s classic yes-no answers… which begins when we are boys…
A better approach might sound like this: “What’s one thing at school that went well today?”

Keep a photocopy of your child’s class schedule in your desk or even tucked in your planner. A generic question usually gets a generic answer. But if you get specific, they’re much more likely to open up.

- "Dating" your daughter – setting a high standard

Glamour Magazine profiles "Purity Ball" for dads and daughters
It’s like a wedding but with a twist: Young women exchange rings, take vows and enjoy a first dance…with their dads. “Purity balls” are the next big thing in the save-it-till-marriage movement. Smart or scary? By Jennifer Baumgardner

Resources for Dangerous Dads of Teens

Rites of Passage
Chuck Stecker’s ministry is called A Chosen Generation

National Center for Fathering
Articles, weekly e-mail, tips, techniques, and TONS MORE!!

Focus on the Family – Plugged In Magazine
Culture reviews (movies, TV, music, video games, miscellaneous media)

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