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Meaning – 2/3/11

So, I have a confession.  Embarrassing as it is, I must speak.

I actually really like “Firework” by Katy Perry.

Despite the fact that I don’t really think too highly of some of her decisions or most of her music or the fact that she shoots fireworks from her.. chest… I have to say, the song hits me right where it’s supposed to hit.


A lot of people got up in arms a few years ago because a professor decided that the reason that his students were acting selfish or self-entitled was because, back in the day when they were in diapers or kindergarten, a certain someone told them they were special: Mister Rogers.  It got to the point that one news channel were questioning if we could even describe him as evil.

Now, while I don’t like people who are proud, self-centered, or think they deserve anything and everything, often I would prefer that to the opposite possibility: people living lives without a sense of meaning, uniqueness, and identity.

Maybe it’s because it’s because of my past.  I felt very alone and lost my identity after a tough move in middle school.  But after a life-changing experience at camp, I found my life in the life of Jesus.

Maybe it’s because of my present.  For the past few months I’ve been dealing with some depression, anxiety, and other stuff that clouds up the mind.  There are days when I need a reminder that my life has meaning.

Maybe it’s because of my past, present, and future.  I have been, am, and will be involved in ministry, probably for the rest of my life.  Specifically younger people, children and youth.  I have a calling to them because, I believe, they are ones at the crossroads of life, vulnerable and hurting.  Of course, all people are hurting, but children and youth are still forming their identity and I would love to help them.

But we are all searching for some meaning, whether it’s in religion or philosophy, literature or science, family or friends or love or war or nation or nature, we all want life to mean more than the day to day.  We want to believe that we matter more than just a handful of dust.  And while we are just that, we are so much more.

I believe that God sees each person as a unique creation, an individual work of art.  He loves and cares about each person he has made and wants them to know how special they are to Him.  Now, we are not God’s gods.  He does not worship us- we are still to be reflections of his glory.  But just as a painter loves a picture of a flower for the glory of the real existing flower found on a canvas, God loves us and loves the image that He has placed within us: the image of God.

When I speak to kids or youth or, well, anyone, I hope (and it is hope, because I fail every time I know) to tell them they are unique and special and loved.  Specifically in the eyes of God, but honestly sometimes I’d rather a person simply find joy in being unique even out of the context of faith.  I know, I shouldn’t.  I too believe the that life lived outside of serving God is not a full, abundant life.  But all life outside is not feeble and pale.  People can find true joy in being loved by family, true happiness in their ability to play a sport or make art, true identity in the context of community.  Sure, the family or community or sport or art or whatever is giving them joy may not be properly directed towards the Maker of all things, but nevertheless, He is the Maker of all things.  Including joy, meaning, acceptance.  Satan can try to twist and pervert and change those good graces, but that’s all.  He can’t manufacture them himself.  So when a youth is accepted into a clique, is that a good thing?  Maybe acceptance is, but that situation isn’t.  When two people of the same gender enter into a relationship, is that a good thing?  Maybe love is, but that loving relationship isn’t.  When a parent showers down affection upon their child even though the kid is a brat and will grow up with an ego the size of Montana, is that a good thing?  Maybe affection is, but the actions aren’t.  I don’t know.  These are just my thoughts.  They are fueled by the faith in the Maker and Maintainer of Good, but I can’t completely speak for Him.

So, baby, you’re a firework.  Come on let your colors burn.  Make ‘em go “Ah, Ah, Ah!” You’re going to leave them all in awe.

“You don’t have to feel like a waste of space”
”You’re original, cannot be replaced”
”Maybe your reason why all the doors are closed so you can open one that leads you to the perfect road”

Are these things that we are teaching our kids, telling our friends?  Are we believing it ourselves?  Sometimes this is why I have trouble with the idea of absolute depravity.  I feel that even though we sinned and made a mess of this world, it’s still not our world.  God is still Creator and Redeemer, and while he saved us at the cross, He saved us forever before that and forever after.  Incarnation.  Image of God.  Omnipresence.  “I will be with you, even to the end of the age.” God has come and made his home among us.  And though we perverted ourselves like picklers pervert cucumbers, at the core, we are still creations of God, just like a pickle is still a cucumber in nature.  (Yet I still hate pickles.)

Anyway, to end off this soapbox ramble, let me just say three things.

1. You are so very unique and special and loved.

2. Tell the people around you how much they mean to you

3. Remind yourself of 1 and 2 every day

Oh yeah, and Jesus loves you.

Extra Credit:

Look at the songs that GLEE has done and see how many of them speak of hope, identity, finding meaning and joy.  It’s such a common issue we all struggle with, especially those in high school.  We all need a reminder here and there.










Stepping Up- (No, not Step Up) – 2/5/11

I saw a variety of movies recently.  Well, maybe not variety, as they were all a similar type.  First I watched The Taking of Pelham 123 on Netflix.  Next I watched The Next Three Days at the Dollar Theater, and I finished up the triad with Unstoppable also at the Dollar Theater.  I noticed quite a few similarities between the movies.  Well, obviously, 1 and 3 involve trains.  2 and 3 had some similar actors, while 1 and 3 both star Denzel Washington.  1 and 2 deal with people dealing with charges they might be wrongly charged.  But all three involve a striking similarity.  Well maybe not as striking as trains, but crucial upon reflection.

In Pelham, Denzel plays a subway train dispatcher who has to confront some hijackers and save the day.

In Days, Russell Crowe plays a college professor who has to figure out a plan to break his wife out of jail and save the day.

In Unstoppable, Denzel and Chris Pine play train engineer and conductor who have to stop a runaway train from wrecking havoc and save the day.

No men in tights and flowing capes.  No geniuses inventing away in their lab.  No super spies with guns and explosions.  Well, there are guns and explosions.  But these guys aren’t the experts.  At least, not experts in saving the day.  But here is point number 1 of todays’ post: Everyone is an expert in something.  Maybe expert is not the best word, but everyone knows something about something.  You prepare and live your life and learn and grow and work and become the person you are.  Everyone has a place, a sweet spot, a comfort zone, if you will.

They know their craft.  They have studied their line of work, like subway trains or literature or, well, trains.  They are good at what they do.  (Although, this disclaimer: Crowe’s John Brennan is seen less as a professor character and more as a father/husband character.  Which is even more of a lifestyle than simply a job.)  And something happens in their situation.  Whether it’s hijackers stealing a train and interrupting the schedule, murder accusations breaking up a family, or a series of goof choices by a couple of goofs causing a train to run amuck and charge onto the characters’ train line, it’s always something in their neck of the woods.  So, there’s point number 2 of today’s post: Trouble always finds its way home.  Not home as in origin, but home as in HOME- your home, my home.  Whether it’s weather or war or pain or rain, something is always coming or has already come.  It’s going to hurt and it’s going to smart, but it’s life, and you have to get used to it.

So trouble comes and what do they do?  They try to pass off the responsibility to someone else.  But that won’t stay or satisfy.  They try to pass the blame off on someone else.  But that won’t stick.  They try to live as if nothing happens, but that can’t sustain them in such troubling times.  Eventually, they can’t stand it anymore and are either called to step up, try to step up, or simply step up and do something about it.  Meet the hijackers.  Plan an escape.  Chase the train.  And there’s point 3 of today’s post: Sometimes, it’s you who has to step up and do something.  Sometimes.  Sometimes it’s the police or firefighters or politicians or philosophers or teachers or parents or trial lawyers.  But sometimes it’s you.  Sometimes.  And when it comes down to you—when the hijackers want you to come to them or the lawyers give up or the higher-ups keep goofing up and cause more mayhem—you have to do something.  And it’s going to be something out of your zone.  You’re going to leave your home, leave your sweet spot, leave what you know, or at least move beyond just knowing.  Crowe’s John Brennan is not prepared to kill or steal or break in or hide from the cops—but he ends up doing it, because he believes it has to get done.  Denzel’s characters are experts in the train systems, but not in running with a gun or atop a train or confronting killers, but it gets done because it has to get done.  They choose to sacrifice themselves for others, because– you want to know why?  Because they do it every day.

All three heroes (even Chris Pine’s character, who seems to fade in the shadow of Denzel’s Frank Barnes) are fathers.  They know what it is like to give up freedoms, personal feelings, lifestyles for their children.  They are heroic figures in these adventures because they are heroic figures in the everyday.  And even more, they aren’t perfect.  One is accused of taking bribes, another is making immoral choices to save his love, another is… well, Barnes is pretty much awesome.  (I guess he disobeys commands, but…)  But they all have something to fight for.  More than just their job or their workplace or the status quo- they are fighting for those who are the victims of trouble—a train full of hostages, a motherless child, towns of unsuspecting citizens.  In the end, the heroes fight the people.

And so, where are you in these stories?  Do you take the easy way out?  Do you cause terrible situations?  Do you let trouble come home?  Do you stay out of the way?  Or do you step up and do something?  We all have our areas of expertise, whether work or art or passion or just our own lives.  Trouble always comes.  But you have been prepared, trained, readied in your sweet spot to rise above it, rise above yourself, and become the hero.  If it’s your time.  But that should never be the excuse—“It’s not my fight.”  If trouble comes to your home, you need to pull out the shotgun and fight—(although it can often be done without violence)—for the ones that you love.  If it’s your place and time, it’s time to step up and save the day.

Is it your time?



Beautiful or Beastly? – 2/5/11

This is a theme for yesterday and today, from TV and Internet browsing and thoughts running around in the fields of my mind.

First, I took a look at http://www.totalcreeper.com/ after a redirect from some comedy site (BTW- IT’S NOT PORN or anything dangerous or such.  Just sad.  Might be bad language)  It reminded me a lot of the horrors of http://www.peopleofwalmart.com/ (IT’S JUST LIKE ABOVE, but definitely bad language.)  Sad words, sad thoughts.

Next, I have been watching the Glee marathon on Oxygen.  Yeah, I know.  But the episode I just watched was partly about the character of Beist and her challenge to see herself as beautiful.  And Kurt trying to find his voice and identity.

Finally, the ad for a new movie showed during the commercial break: Beastly.  http://www.beastlythemovie.com/  Either it’s good planning by the people over at Oxygen to run the commercial during the “Beist” episode, or a God thing.  Or both.

The other day, we were sharing our pet peeves, and I thought about what I wanted to say.  People who clap out of time.  That used to be my old standby, but I actually like it now.  Eggs?  No.  Two and a Half Men?  That’s just obvious.  People who like Two and a Half Men?  That’s just cruel.

So I said something along these lines: “I can’t stand people who refuse to open their minds and look beyond their area of understanding.”  That is awkwardly phrased, and it was probably more awkward than that.  But it was such.

It is a pet peeve of mine.  Learned in elementary school where I got to know people of different cultures, relearned when I saw myself being a cruel little kid to the “less cool” kids in school, empathized when I became one of the “less cool” kids from middle school to high school and generally understood over my life as an outsider, an oddball.  Not just that I can’t stand it when people look at me and don’t understand who I really am, but even more when people see my friends or others and can’t look beyond simple appearances.

We are a culture of image.  We try to imitate the beautiful, successful ones, whether we realize it or not.  Even our idea of “perfected bodies” or “angels”- we typically think of bright glowing skin (usually white) and youthful, thin, unblemished appearance.  What if we spent forever in eternity as chubby individuals with potmarked faces for every sin we committed on earth?  Now, I’m not putting out a theological view—simply dreaming a “What If?”

People are beautiful.  All people.  And not just some on the outside, some on the inside.  It’s both.  Because as they say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  But you’ll argue, “Does that mean beauty is subjective?  Are there any standards of truth, goodness, beauty?  Yes.  External.  Because the beholder is God.  And we are his art.  Yes, we are sinful and fallen, much like a painting that has been destroyed over the ages.  But God is the painter.  He sees the original as well as the present condition as well as the redeemed possibility.  And when He looks at us, He sees “the image of God” within us all.

The difference is the person who refuses to see the beauty in others.  Like a wire coiling around itself, all they can see is things from their perspective, their eyes, their standards.  And so they look at others and see them as nothing but animals and creatures.  Such is the case with the websites above.  They throw around insults and tear down other people that they forget it’s supposed to be humor.  Sure, maybe you can laugh at someone’s awkward clothing or bad hair day.  But it just gets twisted and perverted and turns wrong—such as seen before.  If you say, “But it’s just a joke.”  I say “Fine.”  But the words we say and the words we read are like air we breathe.  If we breathe out foul air, there’s probably something foul underneath.  If we breathe in foul air, it’s gonna get at us eventually.  Now, yes, those people are loved by God and beautiful as well.  Heck, I’m sure their wit is God given. And I’m not better than them.  This is just a personal thought of what is going on over there.

In Glee, we see people trying to find their identity, find their own meaning in life.  I’ve posted about it before.  Probably a lot of the same thoughts are coming up again.  But with Beist, we see a person who is so unlike others, so foreign to the norm.  It’s almost impossible to find a person that can say she is lovable.  But Will steps up and does that.  And he seems honest.  Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t, but can we do the same?  Speak love and beauty into the lives of others?

In this movie, we see a guy who is all wrapped up in himself and he looks down on others, so he is changed to be ugly in the eyes of the people who once loved him, and he has to find someone to love him as he is.  Okay, yes, I just told you the plot of Beauty and the Beast.  It’s a take off of that story.  But relevant all the same.  When we turn to the point of seeing all others as beasts compared to our own beauty, we turn into beasts ourselves.

So who do you look down on?  Who do you “feel sorry for”?  Who do you pity?  Who do you ignore?  Who do you hate?  Who are you disgusted by?  Who can you not stand?  Who irritates you?  Who is awkward beyond all belief?  Who is ugly and gross and weird and just wrong?


They are the beautiful artwork of Creator God, Incarnate One, Redeemer and Lover of the soul.

So love them.  Love him. Love her.  Love them like you love yourself and maybe you will see the beauty of the “beast”.


I will try to do the same.  I have no handle on this.  I fail as well.  But now that I am aware of it, I can try.  Try.  Yoda was wrong.  There is try.  But you try by doing.  So do.  Try.  Love.


Home – 1/18/11

Home is not where you live, but where they understand you”- Christian Morganstern

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.”- Maya Angelou

“Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.”- Charles Dickens

“Home is an invention on which no one has yet improved.”- Ann Douglas

“There is a magic in that little world, home; it is a mystic circle that surrounds comforts and virtues never known beyond its hallowed limits”- Robert Southey

“Home is the most popular, and will be the most enduring of all earthly establishments”- Channing Pollack

“Home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserved; it is life’s undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room, from which we go forth to more careful and guarded intercourse, leaving behind…cast-off and everyday clothing.”- Harriet Beecher Stowe

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.- Maya Angelou

Nothing can bring a real sense of security into the home except true love.- Billy Graham

Home is where one starts from.- TS Eliot

Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.- Oliver Wendell Holmes

I really don’t have much to say after all these wise words.

But I was in four homes this weekend.

One was a home of living.  A place where I reside and eat my meals and go through daily activities.

One was a home of friends.  A place where I visit from time to time and interact with a family’s life.

One was a home of family.  An old home that is ever new, that I get to come back to on occasion.

One was a home of faith.  A place where I serve, and participate in ministry and worship.

At one place I was welcomed by perhaps two people, which consisted of asking about Christmas break.  Other than that, I was left alone.

At one place I was welcomed and hugged and inquired about details of my life and things of the future.  I was given a place that was my very own and felt loved.

At another place I was greeted by no one, given a hello or two and thrown the occasional question about life.  This was all very polite and seemed to be going through the motions.

And at another place I was engaged in conversation, taken out for food and entertainment, loved on with time and attention, words and actions.  It was a brief stay, but it was a true home.

I will not say which is which.  But I will say this: There’s no place like home.



Torchwood: Children of Earth- 1/16/11

Watching through these episodes of Torchwood Season 3 alone and with my family helped me realize how significant this show (specifically this season) is—politically, philosophically, relationally, and more.  They touch on the issues of significance, meaning, fear, motivation, negotiation, purpose, family, sacrifice, honor and more.

And now that I have hyped up the show far beyond than what I can deliver, go watch it.  On Netflix or elsewhere.

But since I know you won’t, forgive my feeble attempts to make sense of my senseless thoughts.

The show Torchwood is devoted to the Torchwood team, who defend the Earth from extraterrestrial attack (that is, when The Doctor isn’t around.)   Thus, it is filled with action and adventure and romance (and sometimes sex—often sex, too much, really).  While Doctor Who is about the human in the realm of the alien, Torchwood is about the humans in the influence of the alien.  People band together, become empowered, are tested beyond their abilities, and find themselves in community.  However, in Season Three, we have lost two crucial members of the team, and the other three are still dealing with the pain of searing loss.

The threat is an alien force called the “456”.  The truth is, we don’t know their name, and when things are nameless, they are more potent in fear.  And like the show title says (By the way, there are SPOILERS here, so sorry if you don’t want them) the Children of Earth are being used by the 456.  First they cause children to stop what they’re doing, all over the world.  Creepy.  Then they cause every child on earth to scream in unison.  Creepy beyond all other creepiness.  Then they begin to speak as one.  And whenever they stop, they wake up with no memory of the occasion.  Way creepy.

The thing is, this show deals with the Children of Earth.  (If you couldn’t get that already.)  While many shows have adults or teens or children facing monsters and aliens (most shows in this scifi adventure genre), they often do it by choice.  They choose to fight.  In this season of Torchwood, the children are the victims.  They used.  They are brought into the fray by no force of will.

You see, the 456 hit us where it hurts.  They attack earth using our children.

Not killing them or stealing them (well, there was that one time… and yet) but simply by controlling them.  We try to create worlds where children are safe and protected: locked homes, gated communities, surveillance in schools and protection at our borders.  But the aliens simply send out a signal and BAM! they stop.

But its something different.  In Doctor Who, some aliens control humans (yes, including children) using their blood type.  And its more unsettling, as they cause the humans to travel to the top of rooftops, as if they are all to commit suicide.  But no.  Things turn out okay.  But in this case, the children were a part of the crowds, not the sole victims.  When children are singled out and victimized, it is something worse.  Much worse.

Fortunately, Torchwood doesn’t pretend the children are innocent or perfect.  They portray real, authentic children.  And that makes it worse.  If the children were little angels, our cynicism could rise up and say, “Oh, just kill off the little buggers already.”  But no.  they portral realistic human children, with their faults and qualities.  And they are defenseless and beyond saving.

We get protective around children.  I know I do.  When an adult suffers harm, we are saddened; but when a child suffers harm, we mourn and grieve and are angered, righteous anger.  When Gavroche dies in Les Mis, that’s when I tear up.  It’s such an unjust world that we live in.

And so in Torchwood we look into the courts of justice, behind closed doors, into the inner sanctum of British government.  We see how they deal with the alien threat.  You see, the aliens are demanding, on threat of destroying the world, 10% of the world’s population of children.  Yeah.  Not ten children or a hundred.  Thousands upon thousands upon millions.

Does that make it worse? Or easier to bear?

The politicians must now decide.  And face the questions:

– Can we sacrifice the 10% of our children to save everyone else?

– Do we have the right to make that decision?

– How do we decide who gets taken?

– How can we make this appear beneficial to the public?

Questions of serious implications.  Political.  Psychological.  Philosophical.  Religious even.  What would you do?

The deliberations are painful.  Painful.  Utterly and dreadfully painful.  But what would you do?  What could you do?

The show gets a little preachy near this point, and they comment on how numbers of children die every day.  Disease. War. Accidents. Abuse.  And we accept it.

And though it’s a little contrived, it’s true.  We do accept death for the survival of our survival.  Death of soldiers and firemen, workers and politicians.  We allow it to happen, accept that it’s a reality for maintaining our world.

But children…

They don’t choose to fight in our world’s battles or participate in our violence.  They are beyond that.  They are the victims.

Which is why I love any and every person who works to protect our children.  Help our children.  Save our children.  Teachers. Soldiers. Doctors.  Because they are making the ultimate sacrifice.  They don’t sacrifice the child for self-preservation, as the politicians ultimately do in Torchwood.  They sacrifice the self for the child.  They give of themselves and give and give to provide a way for the children of earth.

Now, I apologize for the past 5 or so paragraphs.  They are a little preachy.  And I don’t want to deliver a sermon.  I just want to raise the questions.

– What would you do in their shoes?

– Is sacrifice of the minority acceptable for the survival of the majority?

– Can we even judge those who must make those decisions?

– What else could be done?

– Why are children so important?


It’s okay to answer “I Don’t Know” sometimes.  But we must still face the questions and see what rises in our minds and settles in our spirits.  So.  What do you think?



The King’s Speech – 1/16/11

A man has trouble talking.


That’s it.

That is the problem of the movie.

In a time of coming war and political issues, this is the central topic of The King’s Speech.

And thank God.

We need the personal.  (Or at least I do.)  (However, the royals prefer not to talk about personal matters, thank you very much.)

But in stories of war and battle and oppression and abdication and debate and hate (sorry, I couldn’t resist the rhymes) we need the focus point.

You see, when you are teaching a person to dance, and they must do spins, a method to keeping them from losing balance and staying on task is to look at a specific point on the wall, like a clock or a sign or a mark, and look at that point for every turn.  Spin and look.  Spin and look.  Spin and look.  It usually works.  (But as for me, I’m just a bad dancer, so it didn’t help much.)

But it sure helps in movies and art.

We need that personal connection, that human key, that focus point to keep us from getting dizzy.  That’s why we don’t have a story about the Montagues and the Capulets- we have Romeo and Juliet.  That’s why we don’t only have shots of numerous starships travel across space in Star Wars– we see the stories of Solo and Skywalker, Vader and Chewie.  Sometimes it’s just a little focus point in a dizzy world at war.  Sometimes it’s a couple examples in a larger story.  And sometimes, it’s about the people themselves.

Such is true in The King’s Speech.

The story begins.  And the Duke of York must make a speech.  And he does.  But each stammer, each stutter, each “uh” and “eh” and “k” and “da” and utterance echoes through Wimbley Stadium and through our theater.  And you feel his pain.  You feel his agony and embarrassment and shame and guilt and uncomfortable feelings.  It’s something that Colin Firth – and the royals and British in general—are good at, simply because they are so respectful and honorable and proper and right.  When they have to be improper or seemingly rude or wrong, they hate it.  And the Duke hates his stammer.  But he feels its just a part of him and he must deal with it.

– What problem do you have that you have resigned to?  Why have you given up?

Fortunately, his wife is his advocate.  She still believes.  She fights for her husband, and finds Lionel.  Odd, lovely Lionel.  They go to great lengths to show how ridiculous Lionel is.  He even admits his ridiculousness.  But he has passion, that is sure.

He tries to create a focus point.  He provides friendship to the Duke, so that he doesn’t have to worry about his brother’s (literal) affairs, or the King’s disapproval, or the millions of his subjects.  He helps the Duke by calling him Bertie and having him call him Lionel and saying vowels at the top of his lungs and doing calisthenics and singing his feelings and bribing him with toy planes and glue.  He grounds him.  He becomes a friend, because the Duke has never had one.

– What can a friend do that no one else can?

But of course, the problems arise.  Lionel crosses lines, as friends often do.  The Duke, or Bertie, belittles Lionel, as friends shouldn’t do.  And the two separate, as is human and normal.  But will they come together?  Can they be friends?  Should they?  It finally comes up (SPOILER) that Lionel is no doctor or professional—His methods are based on experience and though they have been effective, he has no credentials or degrees or letters after his name.  But does it matter?  Does it?

The King’s Speech is a brilliant picture of a man’s struggle, with his identity and failings and position and family—and friend.  Beautiful shots and stimulating soundtrack create stunning scenes with awe-inducing performances.  It must be seen.  See it.  In theaters if you can, but its okay if you wait.  But just telling you, Firth will probably win the Academy Award for this role.  So—watch it.  Now.

Final Question:

– What is your focus point?  What grounds you?  What makes the big picture real and intimate?  If you don’t know, find one.  Now.



The Deathly Hallows and Community – 1/10/11

I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 for the 3rd time yesterday.  And I enjoyed it once more (though I fell asleep a couple times, caused more to jetlag than anything else).

From beginning to end (well, maybe middle, as this is only Part 1) the movie argues for the need of community.

This is the first movie to feature the three friends (Harry, Ron, Hermione) at the very beginning, within the first five minutes. While the saga is about Harry, this movie shows the importance that each person plays in eachother’s lives.  It is not just about Harry, it is about Harry and Ron, Ron and Hermione, Hermione and Ron, Ron and Harry.  There’s an amazing plot and great effects, but it is the characters that we follow, love, and cheer.

The Order of the Phoenix is a prime example of community in action.  I wonder if there are actual groups that function like the ones we extol in movies.  Each member of the community puts his or her life at stake for the one.  All for one and one for all.  They don’t just do it for Harry, but at the same time, they do.  Would this happen in your family?  Your friend group? Your workplace?  Your church?

But the community of Ron and Hermione and Harry, that is a beautiful community at work.  For though they fight and argue and run away and come back, they love each other.  They are there for each other.  They are one.

So often, we isolate and alienate and believe the lies.  The lies of the locket.

The locket intensifies the fears and the beliefs that Ron has about Harry and Hermione.  He feels useless, neglected, unloved.  But with Harry’s help, after he helps Harry, a wonderful give and take relationship, Ron defeats the locket.

And so we too, must defeat the locket and Voldemort and our own demons and fears and problems.  But not alone.  With our friends by our side and our powers as one.  Yes, I know, this sounds very Captain Planet-y, but it’s true.  We are better together.

Ron: You don’t know how it feels! Your parents are dead! You have no family!

Harry has no parents nor family, in the blood sense, but his family is his friends.

Scrimgeour: These are dark times, there is no denying. Our world has perhaps faced no greater threat than it does today. But I say this to our citizenry: We, ever your servants, will continue to defend your liberty and repel the forces that seek to take it from you! Your Ministry remains, strong.

The Ministry falls.  It is not institutions that can save the day, but the people themselves.  And when the days are dark, people show their worst- and their best.

The Deathly Hallows in themselves are a community.  They work best as one.  Meanwhile, the Horcruxes function through the splitting of a soul.  Gathering or Splintering, Community or Isolation, Together or Apart.

So that question must be asked.  Together or Apart?  Will you live life together or apart? Together with friends or apart and alone?  Community or Isolation?  Gather Together or Splinter Apart?  Choose.


These are just some of my thoughts.  For a much more in-depth analysis and story, check out Greg Garrett’s One Fine Potion.  Here’s an interview with the author:http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Deeper-Magic-Deeper-Meanings-in-Harry-Potter?offset=0&max=1 and here’s the Amazon page for the bookhttp://www.amazon.com/One-Fine-Potion-Literary-Potter/dp/1602581983/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1294619475&sr=8-1

Names – 1/10/11

A few months ago, I spoke at Elementary Chapel at Cypress Christian School, as I do occasionally.  I spoke about Names.


What does your name mean?

My name is Evan Christopher Weppler.

Evan means Young Warrior / God is Gracious (or Young Warrior of God’s Grace, as I like to see it)

Christopher means Christ-Bearer.

Weppler means Weapon/Shield Bearer.

So I am a Young Warrior of God’s Grace, Christ Inside, Shield at my Side.

Mister Rogers, on the other hand…

Well, Mister Rogers has become a hero of mine lately.  Involved in television and children and fantasy and more, all as his ministry to families everywhere.  I noticed some similarities between our names a while back.

Fred McFeely Rogers.

Fred comes from Frederick or Alfred.  Frederick means Peaceful Ruler.  Alfred means Wise Counsel.  So, Peaceful Ruler of Wise Counsel.

McFeely means Chess Player (or Chess Player’s son, really.)

Rogers means Famous Spear.

So his name is Peaceful Ruler of Wise Counsel, Chess Player, Famous Spear Bearer.  My name is Young Warrior of God’s Grace, Christ Bearer, Shield Bearer.


Grace/Peace.  Old/Young.  Ruler/Warrior.  Spear/Shield.

Anyway, all of this doesn’t really have anything to do with my point.

But Names are amazing, aren’t they?  You hear your name in a crowd and jump to attention.  The name of a good friend brings a smile to the face.  Everyone has a different name (Well, yes, there are many many many many John Smiths and more in the world, but still with all the combinations of First, Middle, and Last names, there is a wide variety.)

And so now to the reason I’m blogging about names today.  In both of my classes, we spent a considerate amount of time hearing each other’s names.  And not just their names, but their stories as well.  For the two go hand in hand.  Who can think of the name Barack Obama and not picture the whole drama of his rise to Presidency?  Who can hear Shakespeare and not instantly think of “to be or not to be” and “a rose by any other name” (although that rose quote kind of goes against my thoughts)?  Name and Story, like Chips and Salsa, a dish that must be consumed bit by bit, bite by bite.  That is why we get to know people first by name, then by story, then more and more as we go.

I have been in classes where I just can’t remember people, even if we are close and have had great conversations.  But it gets to the point that you can’t ask for their name.  Seriously, we need a word for those people: people who we know very well but cannot remember their name.  It’s like eating the Salsa without the Chip—it’s just not as good.

But how great it is to know another person’s name.  We connect to each other through knowing each other’s names.  It’s like a doorway into their life.  (Yes, a Name is a Chip and a Doorway.  And a Magnet and a Jewel and… and so on and so forth march the metaphors.

But how amazing it is to know God by name.  He told Moses his name- Yahweh.  Jehovah.  I AM.  And God came in the form of man.  Emmanuel.  And we came to know him—Jesus Christ.  And in the name of Jesus Christ, the mountains rise and demons fall.

And God knows us by name.  And not only by name, he knows the hairs on our head, the cells in our brain, the veins in our body.  He knows our heart, our soul, our self.  He knows our name.  He knows us.  He knows me.  He knows you.  And he wants you to know him too.

Do you know more than the name?  Of a friend or a God?  Have you stuck to the chips and not tasted the salsa?  It’s spicy, but oh so good.

Know the name.  Know the story.  Chips and Salsa.  Mmmm.



Person to Person – 1/7/11

The holidays are always wonderful, not just because we take a break from school and celebrate traditions and culture, but mainly because we spend time with the people we love. I went to London with my family and had a number of sweet memories. Before that I visited with friends and relaxed at home with my sister. And this past week, I’ve traveled around, meeting friends, playing games, having conversations, loving people, being loved.

I am a person person.
There are people people, but I’m not a people person. That stresses me out. When I arrived at the retreat for Forest Glen counselors, there were too many people around talking and greeting each other– I didn’t know who to talk to, who to hug, who to greet, so I just went over to the ping pong table and played with one of the kids. The one on one, I’m great at that. Even when it looks like I excel at talking to large groups of people, it’s just because I’m making a whole bunch of single connections. I was never good at “popcorn talking” where one person says something and another person says something and the conversations “pops” around to different things. I’m better at thinking about that one person at that one moment in time.
Mister Rogers was the exact same way. When he spoke on his show, speaking to millions of children around the country, he focused on speaking to that ONE child in front of the television screen.
We get that weird feeling, when we look at George Washington on the dollar bill or the Mona Lisa, when the eyes in a picture follow us around. It’s a little off putting, a little awkward, just like when a person actually looks at us when we’re talking to them. It’s right, but also feels wrong.
Now I’m not allowing the over-individualistic tendencies of Americans or modern day Christians to take over. No, speaking to the one is something that has transcended the years. Jesus spoke to Zaccheus in the tree, the woman who stole a healing touch, the children on his knee. He broke the rule of talking to everyone at once and no-one at all, the way we think we’re supposed to be when making speeches or sermons.
But when we talk to the one, we are connecting heart to heart, soul to soul. We are recreating the simplicity of two humans interacting, like Adam and Eve at the beginning of it all. There’s nothing like it. Nothing like it at all.
Then again, maybe I’m generalizing, and making my personality the norm. Maybe you’re a people person and can connect to thousands at once. Cool. I’m glad you can. I’m happy being a person person. We’re each just one person anyway. God has made us each different. Thank God.
Special Features
Read either Leo Tolstoy’s story, “The Three Questions” (if you need to be validated by reading a story by a famous author, or maybe you just like Tolstoy. No judment.) or the text to a children’s version by John Muth (with animals, so its fun.) What do you think? Do you agree?


Who are we supposed to end up with?

Who are we supposed to root for?

Who are we supposed to love?

Knives or Ramona?

And more.

In this movie, (SPOILER ALERT) towards the end, Scott flip flops back and forth between being a jerk and being brave, being smart and being foolish, choosing Ramona and choosing Knives and choosing neither.  And it’s amazing how my heart moved along with the film.

When he went with Knives, I thought “But what about Ramona?!”

When he went with Ramona, I thought “No! Knives!”

And so on.  And so forth.  And it seems that context just changed how he felt, and how I felt as well.

When he realized he had been a jerk to Knives, he went back to Knives.  When Knives encouraged him to go after Ramona, he thought that was best.  And so on and so forth.

At one point, Scott complains about how Ramona is so impulsive.  But Scott, you are.

And we are.

He makes his decisions based on that moment’s desire.  And that is usually either fight (for something we want to have) or flight (from what we once had).  Pushing for the future or running from the past.

And we are.

We must enjoy this moment in time.  Be present.  But know about the past and the future.  Do not hide or forget or pretend, but face up to reality and say, “Yeah, you’re big, you’re tough– so what.  I’m here and I’m happy.  So there.”

And we must.

For it is not only Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.  We too face the foe.