Noah – Movie Review

Yesterday I finally rented the movie Noah by Darren Aranofsky to see what all the fuss was about. Before I get into my brief review of the movie, here is the trailer:

“Noah” the movie was released in March of this year. In the lead up to the movie, as well as immediately after, many religious folks were incredibly upset about it.  So, I figured I would probably like it. I did like the movie. But, I wasn’t jumping up and down or moved to tears over it.

I can, actually, understand my more conservative friends being upset with the movie. We like Noah. Christian culture raises us as children to see a light-blue cloaked cartoon character with white hair and white beard standing next to a happy pair of lions, a dove on his shoulder, and happy Mr. & Mrs. Giraffe heads poking out of the ark’s sun-roof. At least that’s the image I remember as a kid. We like our cartoon Noah.

We tend to forget the part about him being drunk and naked (mentioned in the Bible) after the flood. We like the idea of a kindly man taking care of a floating zoo where all the animals smile as they take an End of The World cruise with a rainbow finale.

When Was The Last Time You Passed Out On Top Of A Bus?

So, When Was The Last Time You Passed

They were Fresno Grannies. I am sure they have probably been friends since grade school. They had that vibe. One was dressed in earth tones with salt and pepper hair pulled up into a loose bun. Her friend looked like Mrs. Claus (you know Santa’s wife) but in all blue and white. Her minimalist color scheme matched her eyes and hair respectively. She was very prim and put together. She also had her hair up in a tight bun. Earth-tone Grandma was talkative while Mrs. Claus had left the permafrost of the North pole and instead adopted a perma-grin.

Never stopped smiling … the same smile. She was so cute and while permagrins tend to be unnerving, her’s wasn’t.

We were at a conference put together by my former employer Exodus International and Focus on the Family called Love Won Out. It was a controversial conference that presented views concerning homosexuality and Christianity (many of those views have changed for me over the years). Regardless, I was there as an employee. I went to over 30 of these over the years, and all kinds of folks attended these events. To see a pair of older women walk through the doors was not uncommon. It was also not uncommon for people to ask me questions; my name tag let them know I worked with the conference.

Party Barge & Car Surfing In Daytona Beach (Memoir)

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It was 1986. I was a senior in High School, and somehow I ended up with a group of guys at school sanding down an old short school bus. Two of them (brothers) had gotten the bus as a Spring Break present from their Dad. We gutted the thing, painted it black, and I painted, “Party Barge” on the sides. I also painted “Party Barge” on the little flip-out stop sign. It was no longer the iconic red and white flashing stop sign; it was now the solid black with gold Def Leppard-esque lettering “Party Barge” on it.

SO cool.

Surprisingly, my parents said I could go. However, like all the times before when I really wanted to do something, the night before they said I couldn’t go. They got mad because the boy’s father wanted them to sign a liability waiver for me to be in the Party Barge during spring break.

I don’t remember having a fit, but I do remember being incredibly angry. My parents relented at the last-minute (there is a lot to be written about that at a later date) and the next day the “Party Barge” crew headed to Pensacola.

Pensacola was boring. We thought MTV was there. They weren’t. However, we quickly traveled a million more miles to Daytona Beach where the MTV Spring Fest was actually happening.

It was wild.

I will never forget pulling up on the beach where there were practically naked young adults and crazy old people … EVERYWHERE! I was mesmerized.

My parents weren’t. I called them … eventually … to tell them we left Pensacola and were now in Daytona. To describe them as “not happy” is an understatement.

Chased, Caught

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This post was published on Dr. Kathy’s blog back in June. She wrote this as an introduction:

Today I’ve invited Randy Thomas to blog for me. He begins with a beautiful illustration from friends and contrasts their father-son relationship with his own. You may be able to relate to Randy’s sadness and grief. But, keep reading, because Randy writes about God becoming his new Father and that changes everything. Everything. He writes about the chase and I love how it ends. I wonder if you’re familiar with it. Read to find out. – Kathy

Four-year-old Isaac, with a flash of his bright eyes and curly blond hair, could pretty much convince you to do just about anything. That boy is a handful and all you can do is smile as you pull him off the next piece of furniture.

The staff were all gathered together for lunch one day when Isaac came by the office, along with his mother and sister, to visit his dad. After the meal was over, Isaac ran around the conference table taunting his father, “Catch me Daddy!” Every time he passed one of the guys that had gathered around for lunch, we would growl and try to hook him with our arms. He giggled that 4-year-old sunshine of a giggle, eluding our scary traps as he playfully derided us, “I passed you!”

“Lately, he likes to be chased and get caught,” his dad later explained to me.

Exciting New Book Projects (Updates and Personal Announcement)

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Lately I have helped other friends with their books and that has sparked a new personal book project! I have been so excited it has been hard to sleep the past couple of nights. :)

If you are someone I am connected with on social media, you might have seen various posts lately about how I have the honor of working with Dr. Kathy Koch as she writes her new book “Screens And Teens: Connecting With Our Kids In A Wireless World.” So far I have done background research and given feedback on what she is writing as she writes it.

So fun.

This comes on the heels of doing the same type of content/writing feedback for another friend’s memoir, Jennifer Allison (aka The Rambunctious Kid.)

Seriously, I am loving these kind of projects.  While I haven’t been a part of his writing process, I am of course very excited for Alan Chambers who has worked very hard on his new book that is due out next year.

Ask-It Basket: Should I Attend A Pride Event Honoring Elderly LGBT People?

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askit basketA new reader to the blog contacted me privately with the following. It is edited slightly to maintain confidentiality and for readability:

I have a quick question to ask and would appreciate your advice. My company was invited to attend a(n) :::edit::: event to honor LGBT older adults during pride month. Everyone is going but I’m not sure if I should attend. My friends are saying if I attend, it means I’m endorsing their lifestyle, politics, propaganda, etc. Perhaps but I don’t think so and don’t mind attending. I just want to listen and I’m also curious since I used to keep my distance from these things. So what do you think? My friends are saying talking to a LGBT person is very different from attending an organized event (true). They say I should only go if I’m going to hand out tracts or share the gospel which I don’t think is appropriate. It gets complicated when all my co-workers who aren’t Christians are attending but my friends say that’s fine.

Thank you so much for your message and question.

Regardless of the purpose of an event, attending specifically themed events will always be a matter of personal conscience. I will assume that your company isn’t making this mandatory so the exercise of personal conscience won’t have as dramatic (but probably still impactful) effect. That said, the relational aspect with your co-workers could be greatly blessed when they see you’re interest, humility, and willingness to listen.

It’s A Gay Pride Time of Year

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Today I am seeing a lot of pictures from my gay friends on social media of various gay pride events they are attending. Gay pride events happen throughout the year but June is kind of the launch of the yearly gay pride season (please correct me if I am wrong.) Anyway, seeing all those pictures reminded me of an article I wrote on my old blog that I want to share with you again today. I hope you find it worth the read. It’s been slightly edited from its original version.

It’s A Gay Pride Time of Year

It’s that time of year again, drag queens strolling down main street, the activists groups chanting their slogans, and gogo dancers causing parade float designers nightmares (they just won’t stand still!) Then there is the other 90% of parade people like your neighbor Sarah, or cousin Bill and his partner walking along hand in hand. They commit to completing a long parade route to show solidarity with the LGBT community and/or cause represented within that sphere of influence. Common + Unity = Community. Everyone belongs to one (a community), or several (communities), because we are wired to want to be known by others and to know others.

I Want To Be A White Blood Cell

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When I was a new Christian, an older Christian was trying to help me find my “place” in the Body of Christ. She went with the common practice of using the “body” as an analogy since that is directly from the scriptures.

Randy, some of us are the heart of the Body of Christ; we have passion, love, feeling … Others of us are the hands of the Body of Christ; we serve, have the gift of hospitality … Jesus is of course our Head as the scripture states but others Believers are part of the brain of the Body of Christ; helping to teach …

I interrupted and asked, “I don’t think I rate being compared to a whole organ.” She looked confused. I continued, “For example, there are billions of Christians throughout time past, present, and future. What if we as an individual in this Great Big Beautiful Body are simply a red blood cell? A nephron? Capillary? A nose hair? I actually would LOVE to be a Neuron (nerve cell) or a Leukocyte (white blood cell)!”

She looked at me quizzically. I think she was amused. I was having fun, but I was also serious.

White blood cells rock. They look like little monster blob thingys. Like mutant superheroes, they kind of do their own specialized “mission.” See, when something foreign enters the body, or hurts the body, dun Dun … DUNNNN… white blood cells rush to the scene to defeat the enemy, clean up the mess, and help with the healing process.

Embrace The Imperfect Student – A “No More Perfect Kids” Reflection (Cross-posted)

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Here is the full text of my guest blog post on Dr. Kathy’s blog not too long ago. I am so honored to be guest blogging over there!

I am honored to be blogging here today! Lately, I have been reading No More Perfect Kids by Dr. Kathy Koch and Jill Savage. The story below tumbled out and onto the screen after reading the first chapter of their excellent book. I hope you will see the value of how a teacher can embrace an imperfect student, help affirm their innate gifts, and set them on a positive course. Mrs. Pierson has always been a personal hero of mine. I am sure you will see why.

Mrs. Pierson had this completely ’80′s longish bob hairdo thing going on. This was of course completely appropriate because the scene I am going to describe happened in 1984. She also dressed like a college professor (in my mind) even though she was my 9th grade civics teacher. I wouldn’t say she was overly gregarious, but she always seemed super-smart, confident, and calm. For many reasons, I loved her and that class. In all of my school years, civics was one of the very few classes I felt eager to attend. I never hesitated to raise my hand and answer the questions she would ask.

I loved the subject and I loved seeing her eyes light up in recognition of my eagerness.

Even when Tip, the kid in front of me, would blow spit bubbles randomly in the air, I was always focussed and enjoyed that class. Tip was cool too.

Good Friday 2014 Meditation

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Next month I will celebrate 22 years as a Christian. Each Good Friday has always carried with it a heaviness. It’s as if a melancholic air covers the Body of Christ (His church) as we remember and honor Jesus specifically for the crucifixion.

As believers, we can and should celebrate His resurrection every day. That said, many times Christians are uncomfortable with spending time thinking about the crucifixion; the specifics of the events and specifically how it applies personally. I honestly don’t blame them. It’s incredibly difficult to consider the depth of horror our Beloved, our Savior, experienced. Yet, that is what Good Friday invites us to do; remember, take it personally, and allow His love to speak to us through His sacrifice.