Category Archives: tv/movies

link fest

Millennials’ Judgments About Recent Trends Not So Different
report on new pew research

a tease:

As might be expected, members of the Millennial generation are enthusiastic about the technological and communication advances of the past decade. They are also highly accepting of societal changes such as the greater availability of green products and more racial and ethnic diversity. What may be less expected is that, in many cases, they are not much different from the age groups that precede them. And on at least one issue — the advent of reality TV shows — their views differ not at all from those of the oldest Americans.

(ht to bob carlton, via email)


interesting commentary on christians influencing hollywood
i have zero interest in the “christian film industry”. however, i’m very intrigued by stories of faith leaking into hollywood. this commentary is particularly about the success of the blindside, and came out prior to the book of eli. but i find it especially interesting in light of the fact that many of the mixed or negative review i’ve seen of eli (some reviewers loved it, but certainly not all) had to do with the movie being “too christian” (ironic, since no one connected to it, other than denzel, would consider themselves overtly christian).


one in eight million
wow, beautiful first-person storytelling and black-and-white photography of new yorkers. i could listen to these stories for hours.
(ht to kevin o’brien, via email)


david crowder and mike hogan’s amazing book, everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die, has been re-written, revised, re-edited, and re-released by a new publisher. i’m happy to say i had a tiny hand in helping this fantastic book see the light of day again. if you haven’t read it, now’s the time. (my review of the old version)


really thoughtful post by josh griffin about the correlation between a relational approach to youth ministry and student participation.


been meaning to post about this for awhile, and this will have to do: eugene cho has started a very cool “organization” (really, more of a movement) called one day’s wages, as a practical, achievable global poverty initiative. really worth checking out.


as a reader who loved chap clark’s book, hurt, tony jones’ book, postmodern youth ministry, and christian smith’s book, soul searching, i have struggled to understand how they might fit together, when they sometimes seem to have messages that are at odds with each other. tony jones has an interesting post about this, and suggests a bell-curve approach to their compatibility.


a fascinating study on teenagers and sleep, showing a correlation between lack of sleep and depression. important reading for youth workers and parents.

a snippet:

Results show that adolescents with parental set bedtimes of midnight or later were 24 percent more likely to suffer from depression (odds ratio = 1.24) and 20 percent more likely to have suicidal ideation (OR=1.20) than adolescents with parental set bedtimes of 10 p.m. or earlier. This association was appreciably attenuated by self-reported sleep duration and the perception of getting enough sleep. Adolescents who reported that they usually sleep for five or fewer hours per night were 71 percent more likely to suffer from depression (OR=1.71) and 48 percent more likely to think about committing suicide (OR=1.48) than those who reported getting eight hours of nightly sleep. Participants who reported that they “usually get enough sleep” were significantly less likely to suffer from depression (OR=0.35) and suicidal ideation (OR=0.71).


interesting commentary (on time magazine’s website, no less!) on whether or not the hit tv show “glee” has anti-christian themes. i’m not sure that one hypocritical christian character makes a whole show “anti-christian” – but it’s interesting reading nonetheless.

(ht to ypulse)

radio interview about “the book of eli”

sunday morning, i did a short radio interview with doug pagitt about “the book of eli”. he didn’t like it, i loved it. we both talk about why we responded the way we did.

check it out here (i think it’s about 20 minutes into this section of doug’s show, and is 10 minutes long).

doug’s show broadcasts live online, and on am950 in minneapolis, on sunday mornings from 10am – noon. all the shows are available online as podcasts after broadcast. doug refers to his show as “religious radio that’s not quite right”.

the book of eli

i had the very cool experience, the other day, of getting to see an early screening of the book of eli, the new film starring denzel washington, gary oldman, and mila kunis, and directed by the hughes brothers. and, to make the whole thing even more surreal, i had a chance to sit in with a small group of “religious press” (about 8 of us — how i qualified is still a bit beyond me) who met one-at-a-time with each of those three stars, and alan hughes.

short movie summary (you can read more on the website): denzel plays eli, a man living in a post-apocalyptic america, carrying a bible on a “mission from god” (ht: blues brothers) to a destination and result he doesn’t know. gary oldman plays carnagie, a despot with complexity (aren’t the best despots always 3-dimensional?) who lords over a small town and a compulsion to find a bible. mila kunis plays solara, carnagie’s innocent step-daughter, who has never known another world, but finds hope for something more. eli has learned, through his 30 year trek, to defend himself and survive an almost-impossible life alone in this world that does not have room for loners. he’s a one-man machine when it comes to defending his precious cargo, and refuses anything (including companionship, at first) that even offers a hint of distraction or failure in his pilgrimage.

it’s an r-rated, bleak world, with some pretty stunning fight scenes.

but the themes the movie teases out are rich. both eli and carnagie are passionate about the bible, but for very different reasons. carnagie sees it as a weapon, a tool with which to control others, while eli sees it as the only option for redemption in his brutal world. there are a handful of surprises and turns that make the story rich, including one that found me choked up with tears.

when we asked denzel about the change in his character, as he wrestled with whether or not to let solara play a role in his life and quest, he responded, “sometimes we get so focused, in god’s name, and” (i’m paraphrasing here) we need an innocent to stop us in our tracks and re-evaluate. man, that had a ring of youth ministry to me, or christian ministry in general. i know there have been many times in my life when a teenager has been used by god to bring me re-focus on my own pilgrimage.

i loved alan hughes’ response when he was asked why he chose the bible, and not just a non-descript sacred book. he simply said, “it had to be the bible! it’s the bible, man!” he went on to say, “the bible is in the movie, but it’s not a movie about the bible. it’s about one man’s faith, and one could use the bible to enslave, and another to set free.” gah. that’s some rich stuff for hollywood.

the thought i was left with the most, as jeannie and i talked about the movie for hours, was how all of us have the potential to “use” the bible to our own ends. we find what we want in scripture, to support our own desires — good and evil, conscious and subconscious. we all do this, even the best-intentioned. eli makes a comment, late in the film, about his own shift. i don’t have the exact wording; but it was something along the lines of how he’d been protecting the bible for so long that he’d lost sight of allowing it’s message to guide him. man, that’s a sermon worth preaching, and worth hearing.

monday morning update, may 11, 2009

ysk_logo3the weekend that was: i’m in seoul, korea, for our yskorea event. got here friday evening, and the event didn’t start ’til monday morning. so it was a weekend of great food and jet lag. we had varying forms of korean barbecue every night (fri, sat, sun), and other wonderful stuff along the way. ralph winter (producer of all the x-men movies, fantastic 4 movies, and so many other) and his wife judy, arrived saturday morning, so we’ve spent much of our time with them. they’re wonderful people, and we’ve had great conversations about film, faith, church and everything else under the sun. henneyone of the stars of wolverine is a young korean-american actor named daniel henney (originally from michigan!), who lives here now. he hosted a dinner for us saturday night (because of the connection with ralph). i sat next to him, and it was fun to get to know him a little bit. really, really nice guy, and surprisingly normal and unjaded by huge fame. people say he’s the “brad pitt of korea”, which was fairly obvious as our dinner was regularly interrupted by people taking photos and asking for autographs (which he graciously gave).

where i am at the moment: yup, in seoul. it’s actually monday afternoon as i write this in korea, but sunday night back in cali. our event started this morning, and i was the speaker for the opening main session. i was a little concerned, because i’d taken a strong sleeping pill last night (i’d not slept well saturday or sunday nights), and was still feeling really groggy and disoriented this morning. but the fog lifted, and i had a good interpreter, and i think it went well. our attendance isn’t what we’d hoped, but the word is many people were going to start coming tonite.

on my to-do list this week: i’ll be in korea until friday, so that’s most of my week!

procrastinating about: at the moment, i’m seriously procrastinating about getting ready for the full-day critical concerns course i co-lead on thursday. not ready in the slightest bit! i also have to do the final checks on the middle school ministry book this week, and write a magazine column.

book i’m in the midst of: making progress on what would google do?, and re-started “stuck in the middle” (a collection of cartoons about the middle school years).

bluegrassworshipmusic that seemed to catch my attention this past week: haven’t had much chance to listen to music, but i’m listening to a very fun album called “bluegrass worship” as i write this, and it’s cracking me up.

next trip: i get home friday noon from korea, and am home a couple days. then sunday night, i drive up to oceanside (the very north edge of san diego county) for a ys leadership team retreat, through next thursday night. it’ll be a bummer to leave my family again, but i’m really looking forward to this strategic time with the ys leadership team.

how i’m feeling about this week: pretty good, though i’ll feel better when i get some plans in place for the critical concerns course i’m teaching on thursday.

monday morning update, may 4, 2009

the weekend that was: man, i can’t believe it’s may already. may, 2009. crazy. everyone says time seems to go faster when you’re older; so i must be getting older! i had a full, good weekend. friday night, we had a bit of a chillaxed family night (though liesl worked on homework). we got carry-out and rented the original terminator movie. could hardly believe that thing is 25 years old (not that it didn’t look that old — because it did — but because it doesn’t seem like more than half of my life ago that it came out!).

saturday, i had a great day with my kids. max and i ran a bunch of errands mid-day saturday; and while we were at the mall, decided to catch wolverine together (which we really enjoyed). i’m going to korea this week, and will be hosting ralph winter, the producer; so it was fun to see the movie before being with him. then, saturday afternoon, liesl and i stopped by my office. in prep for our office move, i’m getting rid of all my cds (and i have 100s, maybe 1000s, there). i let her raid my cds for her and her boyfriend. she took an entire box. matisyahu1then we picked up her boyfriend and the three of us went to the elemental experience, a day-long concert event fundraiser to build a homeless youth shelter in san diego. a friend of mine scored me free tix, which made it extra cool, since we had $65 vip tickets. we didn’t show up for the first four or five bands, but saw the last three: pinback (a san diego-based modern rock group), bassnectar (an extremely cool dj), and matisyahu. if you’re not familiar with matisyahu, he’s a hasidic jew who does reggae with a rock edge to it. very, very cool. and very trippy to see this fully-decked-out orthodox jew (complete with black hat, long beard, long temple curls, black jacket, and hanging tassels (tzitzit), singing about jerusalem, while pot smoke drifted through the swaying crowd. anyhow, liesl and her boyfriend dug it (as did i), and i scored some major “my dad isn’t as much of a dork as i thought” points. the highlight of the day was in the car on the way home from dropping off her boyfriend, when liesl said, “that was really fun; thank you, daddy!”

sunday was a blisteringly full day. i taught twice in my church’s middle school group sunday morning. had a great time, and love the opportunity to do that. i had one of those great moments in middle school ministry where i had to think and adjust on the fly. i was teaching on how we can see/find god; and at one point, i passed out a balloon to every kid, had them blow them up, then talked about how we can’t see the air, but we see the effect of the air (and how the same is true in how we “see” god). i knew i would have a hard time finishing my teaching if they all had balloons, so i’d planned on having them all sit on them and pop them at once. but when i told them that and quickly counted to three, only three kids (out of about 100) actually popped theirs. all the rest started complaining about how they didn’t want to pop them. and when i said they could keep them if they didn’t play with them, the ones who’d popped them started complaining that they wanted one too! ah, good times in middle school ministry.

sunday afternoon, we babysat for my co-worker dave palmer, watching his 3 and 5 year-old kids. they’re awesome kids, but their 3 year-old son has more non-stop energy than just about any human in the history of the world. so by the time they left at 5pm, we were spent. our home church came over, and i had dinner with them, before max and i took off to drive to orange county (next section).

where i am at the moment: in orange county for the day. all the southern california waldorf schools (the kind of school my kids go to) have a greek pentathlon to culminate their study of greek history, arts and literature. so max will be, today, throwing a discus and javelin (!), greek wrestling, and running a 40 (yard? meter?) dash and a relay. i’ll be baking in the sun, occasionally rooting him on, and mostly waiting. we drive home tonite.

on my to-do list this week: i only have two days in the office this week, and will have lots to get done. ys has a new vp of finance starting today, so i’ll be spending some time with her. there’s the ongoing ys office move stuff. and i have a bunch of prep for our youth workers event in korea.

procrastinating about: i’m seriously procrastinating about losing 20 pounds and getting back into an exercise routine.

book i’m in the midst of: still plodding through what would google do? not making much progress.

cockburnmusic that seemed to catch my attention this past week: i downloaded bruce cockburn‘s live acoustic double album, slice o’ life, and have been totally loving it this week. i know most of the songs (have been a fan of cockburn’s since college), and these solo acoustic versions are just fantastic. seriously, even if you’ve never heard of cockburn, i recommend giving this thing a shot. he has amazing lyrics, and is a brilliant guitar player.

ysk_logo1next trip: thursday of this week, i fly to seoul, korea for 8 days. it’s our first ever yskorea convention (called “the next wave convention“). general session speakers are len sweet, brian mclaren, dave gibbons, mike pilivachi, ralph winter, and myself. all the seminars are being done by koreans. we really don’t know how many are coming (since most will just show up), but are hoping for somewhere between 1000 and 1800. tic long is coming with me, and i’m really looking forward to spending this time with him. since he’s leaving ys in late july, i think this will likely be the last time he and i have a good long trip like this with just the two of us; and i’m sure it will be bittersweet.

how i’m feeling about this week: a little stressed about how much i have to get done before leaving for korea!

monday morning update, april 27, 2009

kendallthe weekend that was: another mostly relaxing weekend at home. jeannie was taking a class in somatic experiencing, so it was mostly me and the kids (jeannie was home in the evenings). so we slept in, ate junk, and went to movies! max and i saw earth on saturday (which was really disappointing and boring), and both kids and me saw the soloist sunday afternoon (which was great). kendall payne led worship and sang some of her stuff at my church sunday morning, and that was fun.

where i am at the moment: i’m traveling to grand rapids, michigan, for my monthly trip to the mothership. as usual, it’s a quick one-nighter, and i’m home in san diego tuesday night.

on my to-do list this week: after i get back to sd, i’ll have more stuff to do for the ys office move, an article to write, prep for our korea event, and other administrative stuff. i have a physical on wednesday also – my first one in 6 years (i’m way overdue!).

procrastinating about: apparently, i’ve been procrastinating about getting a physical!

book i’m in the midst of: finished the richard rohr cd series on the enneagram (i think i’m an 8 with a 7 wing, though many have told me they think i’m a 7 with an 8 wing), and i’m still only about 1/3 the way through what would google do? (which is not as good as i’d hoped).

raconteursmusic that seemed to catch my attention this past week: man, i’ve gotten some great new music recently. this time around, i’ll mention the raconteurs cd (consolers of the lonely) and conoroberstconor oberst’s self-titled cd. i hadn’t realized either were out (they both came out last year), and i’m totally digging both of them.

next trip: other than an overnight in OC with max, as a chaperon on a school trip, my next flight is to korea, on may 7.

how i’m feeling about this week: pretty good. nothin’ major — hopefully no big surprises!

monday morning update, april 20, 2009

the weekend that was: my whole family was still struggling with jet lag from our spring break trips, so the weekend was pretty low key. we got caught up on some tv recorded while we were gone, did the laundry, and hung out. saturday night, jeannie, max and i went to see 17 again, which was predictable (shoot, it’s even predictable to say it was predictable), but cute enough. sunday was church, then i took a nap while my family went to an earth day thing in san diego (i was going to go also, but have a massive head cold setting in, and needed some sleep). and sunday night was our home church. pretty low key, all in all.

where i am at the moment: at my desk at ys. i’m here for three days this week, before heading to orange county to check out some of catalyst west coast.

on my to-do list this week: we’re in the final stages of nailing down details on ys’s move, and there are lots of details to cross off the list this week.

procrastinating about: cleaning up my office. and with the approaching ys move, i’m going to have to get rid of a good 50% of the crap in my office — major purge ahead.

book i’m in the midst of: same two.

burakamusic that seemed to catch my attention this past week: got two great, but very different albums from amiestreet this week…

black diamond, by buraka som sistema. this portugese group sounds a lot like MIA, and is a mixture of pop, club, electronic, hip hop and world beat. whatever it is, it’s just so pickin’ cool. i listened to it for days.

theheavygreat vengeance and furious fire, by the heavy. i’d downloaded a couple ep’s by the heavy before, and was stoked to see they had a full-length album on amiestreet. they’re a groove-heavy rock, funk and soul band, that sounds like they could have been making urban soul in the 70s (funny, they’re british). an album review i read says, “They combine Isaac Hayes with Gnarls Barkley, Curtis Mayfield with Jimi Hendrix, Mike Skinner’s elastic delivery with Prince’s falsetto vocals.” yeah, baby, that’s what i’m talkin’ about. (caution: some of the tracks are not “radio versions”).

next trip: driving up to OC thurs and fri for a taste of catalyst west coast, then fly to grand rapids for a one-night trip to the mothership next monday/tuesday.

how i’m feeling about this week: fine, if it weren’t for this head cold, which is just KICKING MY TAIL.

monday morning update, april 6, 2009

the weekend that was: nice weekend of family stuff. friday night, jeannie and max and i got carry out and watched twilight. saturday, i got to sleep in a bit, then bumped around the house most of the morning. in the afternoon, i performed the wedding for the daughter of one of my closest friends (really, i was like doing the wedding for a niece). nice simple wedding, and a relaxing reception in the backyard of a beautiful home with a gorgeous view. i stayed up late that night at home, and watched pineapple express (which started slow, but got funnier as it went). sunday i went to church, then drove up to orange county to have dinner with my new leadership coaching team.

where i am at the moment: in orange county today. i’m stoked to be part of a year-long leadership coaching program that john townsend leads. there are 10 of us in the group, and we’ll meet one monday a month for 12 months. i’m sure i’ll post much more about this in the months to come, but the group i’ll be traveling with is very diverse, with people from all over the country and all kinds of different roles (from business leaders to a psychologist to a middle school administrator). i’ll drive home later this evening.

on my to-do list this week: after getting home tonite, i’ll have two days in the office before i go on vacation for a week. lots to do in those two days!

procrastinating about: now i’m back to procrastinating about the final re-writes on the middle school ministry book. it’s due right after i return from my vacation, so i need to get crackin’ on it.

book i’m in the midst of: same three i was in the midst of last week:
– i’m still listening to richard rohr’s cd series on the enneagram, called “the enneagram: the discernment of the spirits
– i’m reading the manuscript for pete gall’s next book, “learning my name
– and i’ve just started “what would google do” on my kindle

screammusic that seemed to catch my attention this past week: what caught my attention, musically, this week was actually a total disappointment. sometimes i get in the mood for some good, hook-filled hard rock, and chris cornell has provided some tasty music for those moods over the years (especially in his audioslave and solo stuff). so i was stoked to get an email from itunes that he had a new album out, and downloaded it immediately. and it totally and completely sucks. it’s like chris cornell fronting brittany spears band, or at least, like chris cornell produced by brittany spears’ producer. full of the kind of music that just does not work with his voice. i listened to it for a few days, hoping it would grow on me. but i could just hear simon cowell in my head the whole time lecturing him about how he’d chosen the wrong song.

437279next trip: woo-hoo! for christmas, we cashed in a bunch of airline miles and got some (free) flights. i gave jeannie and max a trip to london, and jeannie gave me and liesl a trip to paris. we all leave thursday and return the following wednesday. liesl and i will get to paris on good friday, and have that afternoon, plus the next four full days. we plan on doing all the things a tourist should do in paris, including the cathedrals, the eiffel tower, the museums, a trip to versailles, and other good stuff. i’m really looking forward to having this extended time with my daughter (who’s 15, by the way, and has a dream of living in france someday).

how i’m feeling about this week: can’t wait to get to paris!