Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: January 2006

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Just Incredible

I received an email from a "Christian" venue tonight asking the band to come and perform for them in Alabama. After going into how their goal is to meet the needs of the youth and be a Godly influence in their life, the fine print at the bottom of the email said this:

"We have no budget and have no money to pay any bands. We are looking for bands who trust God to provide them with money."

For 6 years now, I have been booking JF into Christian clubs and venues, and this kind of response is becoming more and more common. This is disturbing for multiple reasons. Here is two.

1. Why don't they apply their own advise to themselves? In essence, they are telling bands to avoid planning for their trips with performance fees and just let God provide them the means from show to show. Instead of that, how about they actually pay the bands who are traveling hundreds of miles to perform for them, and let God provide their means from week to week. It's because they don't really believe that. I do believe that God will sustain and provide all we need, but to say that proper planning and being a good steward with our money is equal to a lack of faith in God to provide is not only Biblically weak, but it's just stupid.

2. It cheapens living for God. Being a Christian is tough. Trying to survive in a Christian band is tough. To think that the goal of being a Christian, or playing in a band, is to allow God to just do His thing and give us everything is missing the point of the Christian life. The unmerited blessings from God are a wonderful by-product of the Christian faith, but they should not be the purpose or focus.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Beast excited about a new beast

I am looking forward to this:

Click Here.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Awesome Lines from Cheesy Movies

Motivated by a recent phone conversation, I am listing some of the greatest movie lines from some of the cheesiest movies. These are off the top of my head, so feel free to add your own.

1. Pain don't hurt. (Roadhouse)
2. You can't say? Well, can you say "Oh my God there's a man in my office with a flame thrower?" (Caddyshack 2)
3. Hey, maybe you are smarter than me. But can you do this? (Real genius)
4. You'll stay here till you rot! Well, you're free to go! (Dracula, Dead and Loving It)
5. I think that pretty much covers the fly-bys. (Top Gun)
6. You're the disease, I'm the cure. (Cobra)
7. Are your men on the right pills? (Flash Gordon)
8. Flash Gordon, quarterback, New York Jets. (Flash Gordon)
9. Unless I'm wrong, and I'm never wrong. (The Princess Bride)
10. I'm Emil Muzz, and I'm a Pagan. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. (Dragnet)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

What Does America Really Need From Christians?

I have found myself lately acquiring a increased interest in the world of the American government and how Christians are to fulfill their destiny of living a Christ-filled life in that arena. As a general rule, I hate politics. I have always stayed a step away from all the name calling, dirt throwing, debate inducing world of the political sphere. But, through a few recent issues that were called to my attention, I have paid more attention to the political climate than normal.

In doing that, I am faced with an interesting dilemma. I have been in church all my life. I have been in full time church ministry for 7 years. Without fail, whenever the nation is faced with a heated issue that threatens the way Christians, in particular Southern Baptists for me, understand their view of what this country should be, I hear the same sermon. It has been preached at least a million times. It goes something like this: We Christians must take the charge as an army of God to turn America back to God, to return to the roots of our ancestors and founding fathers, and to secure Christianity as the religion of the United States of America.

Now, personally, that sounds great to me. I have no problem with any of that. But, it seems that I might be taking too great of a leap to place my religious faith as the standard, or sanction for the entire country. To do so threatens the very freedom that allows me to worship Christ.

A former religion professor of mine, Dr. Mike Ruffin, has recently published an article in which he addresses these concerns. He writes, "I believe that no thinking person could possibly be serious about wanting our nation to officially endorse or sanction religious practice from any perspective. Such efforts have never gone well. God is God and God will help any people who turn to him, but people who attempt to speak for God are not always careful enough about guarding their hearts and remembering that they are fallible sinners. I believe that there is a difference between guarding against state-sponsored religion on the one hand and attempting to remove God from the public sphere on the other. Perhaps our courts are too willing to attempt to remove God from the public sphere; perhaps some other folks are too willing to try out a state-sponsored religion."

So, therein lies the problem. Where does the faithful Christian find the proper balance? I believe with all my heart that we should not merely sit on the sidelines and let other people decided the moral and spiritual climate of the country. On the other hand, we face a danger of moving too far in the other direction by becoming comfortable, or even believing that the USA should become narrowly linked to solely the Christian faith. So what do we do? First of all, we should vote. I have zero sympathy for any Christian who rants about the condition of the country who is not an active, registered voter. But secondly, and more importantly, we should act like Christians. We should be excited about our salvation in Christ Jesus in a way that is contagious. We should work on our relationships and increase our love and patience with one another. We should place ourselves in service to God in a way that paints a picture with beautiful colors to the nation, rather than a picture of hate and contempt. What does America need from Christians? This country needs us to live every day, even the seemingly most unimportant days, with a zeal for the example, compassion and love of Jesus Christ.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Beast Reviews: The Devil's Rejects

In the world of gore and explicit imagery, the question that goes hand in hand with films of this nature is whether the over-the-top images tell a story that would fall short without them. For most people, they can never see the purpose, and that is understandable.

I will admit, the first hour of The Devil's Rejects had me thinking, "this is just Rob Zombie attempting to disgust as many people as possible." I am a huge fan of his first film, "House of 1000 corpses", granted, it is Texas Chainsaw Massacre rip off. But, it is a good rip off.

However, about 2/3 through the film, a scene happens that turned the movie around for me. The leading police officer on the case, whose mind of revenge over the death of his brother finally takes him to the land of insanity, calls in the local leading movie critic to help the case with an explanation of Groucho Marx films, which helps the officer understand the methodology of the demented family. He came to discover that all the names of the family were taken from Groucho Marx characters. This particular film critic, such a huge fan of Groucho Marx, ends up turning his help with the case into a rant and rave on how the death of Marx was overshadowed by the fact that Elvis died just a few days previous. His passion and obsession with his love shines through in a big way, almost to the point of getting shot by the local, Elvis loving police officers.

It was then that I understood the direction of the film, at least for me. The Devil's Rejects offers the viewer an exploration into the possibility that each of us has our own idea of what needs to be paid more attention to. All the characters examined in the film were radically obsessed with their particular viewpoint on life, which ultimately led to ruin of each character. A revenge driven police officer, a movie critic whose favorite actor doesn't get enough credit, a psychotic family whose quest for the lust of life continues to bring them closer to death.

I suppose the explicit imagery says this to the viewer: Anything taken to excessive limits can turn into a very nasty, dirty, ugly portrait of our own destruction.

Have a nice day.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

End of an Era

I performed my last show with Chris Rosenstone last Friday. It was a terrific show with an excited and enthusiastic audience. It has been almost 10 years of making music together. He will be missed!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I'm actually reading something

I have never been a big fiction reader, and after 4 years of religion and Biblical languages study, I was definitely not picking up a book. The only things you will find me reading are as follows:

1. The Bible
2. John Stanley's Creature Features (the greatest horror review book)
3. Some kind of Bible reference.
4. Beverly Cleary's The Mouse and the Motorcycle.

That's pretty much it. I have never been a big fan of "spiritual help" books, even though I do acknowledge several authors who seem to be genuine and have something of worth to say, such as Henri Nowen, Frederick Buechner and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. (if anyone suggests I read Your Best Life Now, I am going to post a virtual puke session.)

However, since my marriage, I have been motivated to find something to read. Andi is a big reader, and since watching horror movies while she is around is completely out of the question, it seemed like a good idea.

After sorting through several possibilities, I finally decided to start reading the Sherlock Holmes stories. My brother has always been a Sherlock Holmes fan, and from what I have heard about the books, he seemed like a character I would really get into. (Sherlock Holmes that is, not my brother. Although my brother is a character. Anyway. . .) There are like 4 novels I think and then the rest are short stories. I read the very first story ever written, which was one of the novels called "A Study in Scarlet." What I found out quickly about Holmes is that he is brilliant, cocky, arrogant and knows that he is the best. I like him already.

Of course, what makes Holmes so amazing his incredible method of deduction. He can look at something and tell you anything about the scene, scenario, etc. I have just started the 2nd story, The Sign of Four, and early in the story Watson hands Holmes a pocket watch and asks him if he can tell anything about the person who owned it. (Watson was really just making fun of Holmes). Holmes turned around and said something to the extent that the person was a lazy guy who occasionally had moments of wealth and who died by drinking himself to death. All by looking at a watch! He then explains to Watson how he came up with that conclusion.

What I want to know is if it is really possible. Can you create a science of deduction that can draw even near to the astounding work of Sherlock Holmes. I don't think you can learn it. You just see it there when others don't see anything. Kind of like those posters that were popular in the early 90's where there was an image hidden in the chaos. Some people could see it, others couldn't. I think I will work on it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Book of Daniel

I'm not going to fly into the theological debate concerning this show, there are plenty of other blogs where you can read all about that.

But here is my thought: Do you think this show would have been made if instead of an Episcopal priest we had a prophet of Islam and instead of Jesus in the car we had Muhammad?

Uncle Philip and Bella

My sister had a doctors appointment, so Uncle Philip (me) was going to watch Bella (my niece), while she was in the doctor's office.

Watching Bella is easy, she is fun and never a problem. But, it is amazing to me how quickly something terrifying can happen. My sister is an incredible mom and Bella is blessed to have her. While Bella and I were playing, we were going up and down the stairs in the hallway. Up and down, up and down. Well, there were metal railing things that went up and down the hand rails, as supports, they were about 8 inches apart from one another.(notice picture below) I was about 6 feet from Bella when she said "Uncle Philip, I can look down the steps!" and she proceeded to stick her head through the black railings!! Of course, she was unable to pull her head back through. That is when the panic started for both of us.

There was no one in the hallway, and Bella began screaming in terror. I was trying to talk to her while working her head back through the railings. It wasn't easy. Finally, I was able to calm her enough to hold her head very still and slowly pull it back through. It was an awful moment, and I realized how scary raising a child is going to be. I can't wait for the opportunity one of these days, but for now, I'm glad to be just me and Andi!

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Persecution Complex

I recently read an insightful article concerning the "Christmas War" and the Christian's appropriate response. The article pointed out the danger of developing an "unbecoming persecution complex."

In The Beast's opinion, the name of Christ would shine in a radically different way if those of us who profess His name would spend more time doing the things of Christ rather than searching for potential society killers and throwing our hands up in disgust as to how the world and culture is persecuting us.

I am not suggesting that we simply ignore the dark areas in our world that need a light, but whining, complaining, fighting, acting like martyrs and being stupid does not shine much light. It removes it.

Instead, lets add the light of Christ by offering our lives to God daily. By sharing what God has done in our lives with another person. By loving our co-workers or neighbors. By joining God in His work around us.

You know, just be Christians.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Winter Retreat 2006

Tomorrow I leave with 26 students on our Winter Retreat 2006. We are going to Winterplace, WV to let the students ski, tube and enjoy being away for a couple of days. I will be out till Wednesday, so have a happy new year and be blessed!