Wednesday, October 31, 2007

lost...then found

There's this DVD called 36 Parables that I checked out of our Conference Media Center.

I checked out 36 Parables Yellow (containing three 'wisual' parables of Jesus) for one purpose: to show the clip called FOUND (a clip where this old homeless man finds a necklace with sentimental value that he had lost) for a youth worship service. I've had the DVD on my desk for two months almost. i was gonna use it last month - but i changed the schedule... so alas - this Sunday was/is the Sunday i was/am going to use it. Our theme for the Breakfast Club (our monthly youth worship service) this month is FOUND ( and i will be sharing about the Lost Coin and the Lost Sheep.)

so today - I went to play it again - to get it refreshed in my mind - and i couldn't find the DVD anywhere... literally since 9am this morning i have been looking for it. While looking, i thought, I might as well clean my office. I thought that by cleaning it - the DVD would show up. I cleaned our drawers that haven't been gone through in years. I organized things that were in desparate need of orgainzation. i looked in cupborards, amongst books, other DVD's, notebooks, folders & three - ring binders. Nothing... i found nothing.

Now right beside my computer - to the right of it, i keep two notebooks... one for note taking, the other for brainstorming and creative expression. They were stacked on top of each other. I must have lifted the top notebook 10 times. In my mind, I'm thinking 'the notebook on the bottom is a really thin notebook. Nothing could possibly be under it.'

About 10 minutes ago, i prayed that God would give me the eyes to see. Certain scriptures began to run through my mind...

Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don't you remember?

Mark 8:18

Apparently i didn't have eyes to see and no, i didn't remember. I felt like the blind man in Mark 10 vs. 50-52.

"Rabbi, I want to see."

Alas - i lifted up that thin second notebook filled with creative ideas... and low and behold, 36 Parables - Yellow was right there. Matthew 24:2 talks of no stone being left unturned. It took me to clean my entire office... and when i overturned the last 'stone' i found the DVD.

the irony, of course is that the DVD contains the parable of the Lost Coin...symbolic of how much Christ looks for the lost - just like the lost sheep - wanting to find them and bring them home. And then there is rejoicing.

So I think this happened for a reason - if for nothing else - to make the parable more real to me... and to give me a personal sermon illustration that i can share after showing Found sunday morning.

other scriptures that came to mind:

Mark 4:12

Ecclesiastes 11:7

Thursday, October 25, 2007

into the wild (book & movie review)

Into The Wild
By Tim Beck
Published: October 24, 2007

Christopher Johnson McCandless needed something more. Maybe it was a quest for adventure or some sort of obligation to seek and overcome any and all obstacles. Maybe it was that manly desire to embrace challenge head on. Or maybe it was an act of rebellion and a desire to be anything but ‘normal.’ Regardless, He wasted no time after graduating from Emory University in 1990 to embark on a journey of self-discovery with nothing more than the clothes on his back, but little did he know that his journey would lead to the discovery of something greater… the slow, painful demise of his humanity… and thus he greeted death in the Alaskan wilderness two years later.

The story of McCandless was first documented in an article for Outside Magazine and later developed into a national best selling book titled Into the Wild by author Jon Krakauer. Now it has been made into a major motion picture, directed by Sean Penn. Into the Wild (in theatres nationwide October 19th) tells the mysterious story of McCandless and his two year cross-country voyage that took him from Emory’s campus in Atlanta to Houston, down the Detrital Wash into Mexico, back north to Grand Junction, Colorado and Carthage, South Dakota, south and west to the Salton Sea in California and up the Pacific coastline to Washington state and into Canada. He eventually wound up in a place that has drawn many a man as he followed a blind pursuit to conquer the great outdoors in the massive Alaskan outback. The tragedy of his death is nothing short of mysterious, surrounded by clouds of ignorance and innocence meshed with intelligence and candor making his story very compelling and worthy of one’s time.

A few months ago, a friend sent me a link to the trailer to Into the Wild, starring Emile Hirsch (The Girl Next Door, Lords of Dogtown). It was persuasive enough to make me curious. Then, about a month ago, I began to hear and read more about the movie and the book that it was based upon. When I saw that Eddie Vedder was recording the music for the soundtrack, I thought I needed to investigate further. This led me into a furious pursuit to find anything and everything that had to do with Christopher McCandless and his puzzling story. Of all things, I came home from work one day and Oprah was on the TV. It showed clips for the next days show. Penn, Krakauer, Hirsch and the McCandless family were to be featured. I DVR’d the show, watched it and immediately set out to buy the book. From the opening paragraph, I was hooked.

In April of 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter…

This compelling story can be discovered further through multiple means. Allow me to elaborate and perhaps you’ll be drawn in as well.


Krakauer went to great lengths to tell McCandless’ story, and from the start it is a difficult story to tell. The greatest challenge with Into the Wild is telling a story about a traveling vagabond who disappeared for upwards of two years, ridding himself of any and all identification (burning his social security card, cutting up his credit cards, abandoning his car, etc.) But Krakauer investigates deeply into the people and places where Christopher left his mark. The author seems to have done his homework and shies away from speculation, unless necessary. He digs deeper and deeper and carefully unwraps the many layers that is Christopher Johnson McCandless. Although a shroud of mystery still remains, Chris seemed to have left his mark in many places, mainly because his persona was attractive. He was drawn to people and they were drawn to him. I found it interesting that everywhere he went, whether cross country or cross continent, Chris made it a point to reach out, thank and communicate with those who had helped him along on his journey, mostly through letters or postcards.

It is revealed quickly that McCandless was leaving behind more than just family, lifestyle and the possibility of a successful career, Chris was leaving behind his identity. Thus he commissioned himself a new name: Alexander Supertramp. Krakauer unpeeled one thick layer that may have led to Chris/Alex’s decision to escape to a new, alternate reality. A few years before his final journey began, he took a summer trip to California. While there he met up with some of his extended family. In the process, he discovered ugly truths about his parents and his childhood, truths that painted a different picture… truths that brought about pain, resentment and near hatred for his parents. Chris kept that knowledge a secret (only sharing it with his sister) which left his parents even more perplexed over years of coldness leading to his eventual disappearance.

Many chapters reveal meaningful relationships that ‘Alex’ shared with rubber tramps Jan and Rainey (hippies living in the wrong decade), Wayne Westerburg (who worked the grain fields, harvesting wheat and barley in South Dakota), Ron Franz (an elderly gentleman who took him under his wing and cared for him so much that he wanted to adopt him as a son) and Jim Gallein (who drove him halfway into the Alaskan outback and was the last person to see him alive) as well as countless others. Ironically, Alex was on a journey that was leading to seclusion. Perhaps he didn’t realize how important people were to him. Perhaps his distrust of his parents had led to those feelings. We’ll never know for sure – but we do know that one of the last things recorded, written in capital letters in the margin of his journal went something like this: HAPPINESS ONLY REAL IF SHARED WITH OTHERS. Maybe in his time of dying, McCandless had an epiphany of sorts. And thus his journey of self-discovery was completed… albeit tragically. He died of starvation days later curled up in the sleeping bag his mother made him, on a mattress in the back of an abandoned bus that had become his shelter, his escape… his home.


The movie doesn’t stray far from the book, however from the opening sequence captured on film I realized that it would be very difficult to summarize the essence of such a complex and yet mystifying story. The biggest challenge for director Sean Penn appeared to be what to do with a story that has the main character alone for three months in Alaska as the crutch, a la Tom Hanks stranded on an island in Cast Away. The second biggest challenge was condensing all the happenings of McCandless (a.k.a. Alexander Supertramp) into two plus hours – and still making a cohesive, true-to-the-book film. But as the movie progressed I became more and more intrigued.

According to Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch did most of his own stunts and braved the sometimes treacherous filming conditions with honor. In fact, Penn and the Wild film crew shot reels of film in all 35 known spots from which McCandless tramped across the country. Rough waters, hot deserts and snow covered arctic regions seemed to be greeted warmly by Hirsch, who on screen appears to channel McCandless’ spirit as if the story was his own.

Final chapter scenes between McCandless and Ron Franz (played brilliantly by Hal Holbrook) make the film worth-while. Catherine Keener is a gem as Jan Burres, but Vince Vaughn is underused as close friend Wayne Westerburg. Westerburg seemed to have more of a prominent role in the book. Alex sent his last post card to Wayne, mailed from Fairbanks, Alaska, in which he shared that he was about to go ‘into the wild’ and feared he might not make it out alive, but was pressing on to achieve his goal.


Eddie Vedder’s first attempt at a solo album is a nice addition to his mighty fine catalog of music, although one listen will remind you more of Pete Seeger or Bob Dylan rather than Pearl Jam. This sometimes folksy album is easy to swallow mostly because of the raw emotion that lies within. Riddled with acoustic guitars, ukuleles, banjos and the like, the motion picture soundtrack of Into the Wild is special because of the sentiment and connection Vedder brings forth. The music is sometimes inspiring, sometimes chilling and sometimes haunting. Brooding vocals threaten to lead the listener to that lonely bus north of Mt. McKinley in the middle of Alaska. Hard Sun is the key track and features Sleeter-Kinney vocalist Corin Tucker. Society could be the swan song of McCandless, unnerving to the core, and means more after reading the book and seeing the movie. With lyrics that sing ‘Society, have mercy on me. Hope you’re not angry if I disagree. Society, crazy in deed, hope you’re not lonely without me.’

It’s a simple album that stands alone as a solo effort – but means more as a backdrop to a peculiar story and a wonderful film.

After all the reading, watching, listening and investigating, the story of Christopher Johnson McCandless is still a puzzle, only not all the pieces are there. Thus the complete story will never be known. Maybe that is what draws many to him. After all, we have the freedom to fill in the blanks and to speculate. None the less, he has been immortalized by so many because of one simple thing: he lived free. He lived in the wild… sometimes amidst concrete and asphalt, other times in dry and desolate lands. But he did what he wanted to do. He lived life and was bound by nothing other than the laws of nature. Maybe deep down inside of us all there is a person yearning for the simplicity discovered in McCandless. The book and the movie just might inspire us to live our dreams and to be liberated from the things that bind us. Or if nothing else, it may just provide us a momentary escape from the mundane. Who knows where that escape might lead?

Into the Wild

I recently read Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer in record time... it took me about a week. I am a very slow reader - so this was a big accomplishment. The book made me want to go see the movie, and thus last weekend, Jen and I went. I thoroughly enjoyed both. Oh, in the mean time, I picked up the soundtrack, by Eddie Vedder. Also a nice piece of work.

So for the past month (since reading the book), I've been infatuated with the story of Christopher McCandless. I've googled everything there is to know about him and his journey. I've read all the articles and things related to him and about how he wound up in Alaska.

Over at Circle Six Magazine, i wrote a review of the book, movie and soundtrack. Check it out. Let me know what you think. You can read the article HERE. It's a fascinating story, and I think, if you are willing, it just might captivate you. I'd love to have dialogue about the book. I could tell you more about McCandless and his story - but I'd give too much away. Check out the book. Read my review. And then we'll talk about it. If you please.

Check out the official movie web site as well.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


exactly 2 weeks ago - like many others - i went to Radiohead's website to download their latest album In Rainbows. As of right now - they are distributing it themselves, via their website. you can download the 10 song album of mp3's for whatever you want to pay for it. i paid two or three pounds, which now is like 5 or 6 bucks.

at first, i liked it, but wasn't head over heals about it. then i listened to it again. it grew on me... and again and again, it grew and grew.

A friend of mine blogged about it last week and that got me to want to listen to Rainbows again. I haven't stopped since. Almost literally. I've listened to nothing but Rainbows since. My iTunes play count is nearing 20 for most of the songs.

it's a beautiful, melodic, orchestral and sometimes haunting album. worth what ever you want to pay for it.


my In Rainbows 'i get chills' moments

@ 2:20 - 3:10 of 15 Step
"It's the 21st Century, It is the 21st century" part of Bodysnatchers
the Arpeggi part (3:40-end of song) of Wierd Fishes/Arpeggi
Thom Yorke's haunting vocals on All I Need (which builds to a beautiful crescendo of instrumentation with eerie lyrics repeated "It's all wrong, It's all right, It's all wrong" from 2:45 til the end of the song)
the simplicity of House of Cards
2:54 - end of song of Jigsaw Falling into Place


A breakdown of each song can be found HERE. lyrics (and some insight into songs such as Wierd Fishes/Arpeggi) can be found HERE.

A breakdown of instruments played on this album (and other previous albums) by Jonny Greenwood can be found HERE.

go and download Rainbows now. It'll be worth your money. How could it not be. You pay what you want for it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Psalm 63

A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.
1 O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.

3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.

4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.

5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.

7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.

8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

9 They who seek my life will be destroyed;
they will go down to the depths of the earth.

10 They will be given over to the sword
and become food for jackals.

11 But the king will rejoice in God;
all who swear by God's name will praise him,
while the mouths of liars will be silenced.

Now playing: Decoder Ring - Closing Titles from Jewboy
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Created to Create

Are you creative?
Are you unique? How so?


FACT IS: You were made creative beings!

“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” {Genesis 1:27}

We don’t always understand our creative nature or where it comes from.

Psst. It comes from GOD! We spend a lot of time SEARCHING... for proof... for answers.
Do we SEE Him?

WE WERE MADE TO WORSHIP. From the beginning - we’ve worshiped... Cain & Able anyone? {Genesis 4:2-4} But like Cain, we are easily distracted. Look at our society - we worship many things: fancy cars, big homes, material things, sports teams, celebrities, etc.

but we were made to worship GOD!

We can spend our whole lives trying to satisfy the one insatiable part of our being, our soul craving. - Erwin McManus

That CRAVING can only be found in the fingerprint of God.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19)

Through Christ we become NEW CREATIONS. (2 Cor. 5:17)

Our genetic make up shows that we are made to have relationship with a Higher Power... God... and thus all that we are made to do comes full circle.

Be who you were created to be.
Do what you were created to do.

Embrace God along the way.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


MADE to Worship
MADE to have Relationship
MADE to Create
MADE to Crave purpose + destiny

What were you made to do?
[click + respond]

Now playing: The Appleseed Cast - Convict
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Left Brain vs Right Brain

Which way is the dancer spinning?

click --->WATCH

post your answer in the comments below.


The Right Brain vs Left Brain test ... do you see the dancer turning clockwise or anti-clockwise?

If clockwise, then you use more of the right side of the brain and vice versa.

Most of us would see the dancer turning anti-clockwise though you can try to focus and change the direction; see if you can do it.


uses logic
detail oriented
facts rule
words and language
present and past
math and science
can comprehend
order/pattern perception
knows object name
reality based
forms strategies


uses feeling
"big picture" oriented
imagination rules
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy & religion
can "get it" (i.e. meaning)
spatial perception
knows object function
fantasy based
presents possibilities
risk taking


Saturday, October 06, 2007

restless souls of youth: enjoy Superman?

A few weeks ago I watched Superman Returns for the first time... didn't really have a desire to see it - but i really enjoyed it... i think i enjoyed it so much because it brought back memories of my father and i going to see Superman: the movie and Superman II in this theatre nicknamed the 'rat palace'* in Mt Gilead, Ohio back in the day. Returns wasn't up to the same par as Batman Begins, and it had a ton of plot holes - but in my mind, that was forgiven. i look forward now to Man of Steel in 2009.

funny thing, my 4 year old and 2 year old loved Superman Returns. that compelled me to pick up this: Super Friends - The Legendary Super Powers Show. Anybody remember that cartoon from the 70's + 80's? now we are all enjoying that.

I've now discovered Superman: The Animated Series on ToonDisney and have DVR'd a few of those now. The first episode is much like Superman: The Movie... with Superman as a baby on Krypton... before it explodes... and he is then sent to earth. Addison (my 2 year old) loved watching 'baby Superman'. It brings me pure joy to watch them enjoy something that was a big part of my childhood as well. I think it's time to introduce them to Star Wars next.

*ironically, my first ever date was at that same 'rat palace' in Mt. Gilead... her name was Jenny Shroyer... I was 11. We went to see Supergirl.

Now playing: Squarepusher - Tommib

Thursday, October 04, 2007

75 Minutes

i loath it.
loading the pop machine.
hate it.
despise it.
no like it.

but i gotta do it. 'bout once a month... if i'm keeping it full.
the youth group has a pop machine... sort of a fundraiser for us... we usually can make about .20 - .25 cents per can. we sell the pop for .50 cents. not in it to rip people off so we keep it cheap.

so in order to keep it filled i gotta do the following:
1. watch the sale ads for our local grocery chain (Giant Eagle)
2. go down to said store and buy the pop (or soda for you easterners).
3. since they usually limit the amount of pop you can buy, return to said grocery store and/or take your wife to the grocery store and buy more pop.
4. repeat step 2 & 3 as needed.
5. load pop into van.
6. unload pop out of van.
7. carry pop down the long hall, up the stairs (either two 24-packs or four 12-packs at a time) to the pop machine. our church doesn't have an elevator... so tough luck to any handicapped people (or those who have to carry 10-20 cases of pop upstairs... not that my plight is more challenging than someone who might be handicapped. to think so would be selfish and stupid. right? right.)
8. unlock pop machine - empty money and begin to load pop machine.
9. take cardboard from the pop boxes and dispose of properly.
10. cycle quarters through machine, making sure that each of the six flavors of pop (Pepsi, Mt. Dew, Diet Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Minute Made Lemonade Light, Sierra Mist) vend properly.
11. inevitably there will be either a leak or a spraying of some sort of pop. clean up pop-like syrup from leaky can.
12. figure out which type of pop is leaking.
13. cycle through that brand of pop until you find the can with the crack, leak or hole. dispose of that can and re-reload that brand of pop again.
14. 75 minutes later, sit down and enjoy complimentary can of pop.

I am ready to call the Pepsi man and have them put in one of their machines... we'll make less money - but hey - I wouldn't complain.

p.s. why did i blog this? i don't know... but then again, it's not like i blogged about THIS (bryan!1!11!)

love peace chicken grease