Matthew D. Miller Archives

Mecha Moses

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I honestly don’t know why there is a Mecha Moses on this Ain’t It Cool News poster from 2008, but I like it:

Mecha Moses

What other Old Testament figures would you like to see mechanized? Steam Punk Abraham? Cyber Joseph?

Spirit Flapjack

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Dwight Schrute Rainn Wilson, best known as Dwight Schrute on The Office, launched a website called SoulPancake in March 2009. The site’s motto is “Chew on Life’s Big Questions” and its intention is to engage young people in spiritual and philosophical discussions.

Wilson is a member of the Bahá’í Faith. Similar to Islam, Bahá’í sees the religious leaders who have come before (such as Abraham and Jesus) as prophets. Except, instead of Muhammad, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh are the most recent prophets. Founded in the nineteenth century, the 166-year-old faith is a young religion compared to Christianity (2,000 years old), Judaism (much, much older), and even Islam (1,600 years old). Bahá’í is younger than the United States!

I’m unable to tell from the website the extent of Wilson’s involvement. He may do nothing more than lend the weight of his celebrity to attract visitors. The website asks questions like, “If you were homeless, what would you write on your sign?” and “Are traditional churches obsolete?”

Designing through the Bible

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Many people read through the Bible. One writer blogged through the Bible. Now Jim LePage, a creative graphic designer, is designing through the Bible:

Exodus

Ezekiel

Hosea

Check out the rest of the beautiful designs on LePage’s website. Have you ever read through the Bible in a year? Besides blogging and designing through the Bible, what other through-the-Bible-’s can you think of?

The New Paraphrase on the Block

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The Bible in Rhyme Cover

The Message is so yesterday. There’s a new paraphrase on the block, The Bible in Rhyme. Here’s Psalm 68 as a taste:

May God arise and scatter his foes.
The wicked will perish as everyone knows.
Sing to the Lord who rides on a cloud.
Extol your praises, crying aloud.
A father to orphans, the widow’s defender;
He honors believers and cuts down pretenders.
We marched through the desert with You as our guide
and gained our inheritance, though we were tried.
Great was the glory of those who announced
God and His name, but those who denounced
His honor were struck down, peasant and king.
But all who have seen His power now sing.
God sends one thousand chariots out
and crushes His enemies. Now who will doubt?!
The twelve tribes have come proclaiming a song.
Egypt and Cush will submit to the throng.
Announce that He’s come across all the earth.
All who know Him know what He is worth.
Wherever we tread and wherever we trod,
He will be with us. Praise be to God!

Last week we saw an attempt to update Jesus by putting a baseball cap on him. This week we have an attempt to update the Bible by making it rhyme. Do you think we need another Bible translation/paraphrase? What version(s) of the Bible do you use?

Lacking the Necessary Vocabulary or What Would the Amish Think of Transformers

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In my lifetime, I’ve only watched five silent films. Sadly, that is probably more than most people have seen. In chronological order of release, they are:

I watched The Docks of New York (beautiful screenshot below) a few nights ago. It was directed by Josef von Sternberg, who is considered one of the first auteurs, and is considered a masterpiece.

The Docks of New York Still

While watching it, it occurred to me: Although I know it is considered a masterpiece by film historians, what basis do I have for determining whether it is a masterpiece or not?

We have a cinematic vocabulary with which to evaluate movies. Americans grow up watching movies. We start watching movies before we can speak. I don’t know if anyone’s ever researched how many movies the average American has watched by the age of twelve, but I’m sure it’s in the thousands.

When we watch The Lord of the Rings or Transformers then, we have a cinematic vocabulary with which to evaluate whether they are good or bad films. If an Amish boy who had never seen a movie before watched Transformers, would he have anyway of knowing whether the film was trash or a masterpiece?

I’ve watched 374 movies that were released between 2000 and 2009. But does that prepare me to evaluate silent films? Silent films seem to have a cinematic vocabulary of their own. Before I can determine for myself why The Docks of New York is a great film (in contrast to just accepting what I’m told), I need to watch a lot more silent films.

Have you watched any silent films? Which ones were your favorites?

Drive-thru Church

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Speedometer I presented an after-school Bible club program at a local church. The presentation included a three minute video. The pastor said he could spare 60 seconds for me to speak in addition to the video. He explained he would love to dedicate an entire service to the ministry, but he did not have time. He had another missionary sharing, and the service was already rushed. I had 60 seconds to effectively present the program.

How do you reach a busy world with the Gospel? Talk faster? Alter the message? To reach an energy drink-driven, drive-thru world, you must offer them an alternative to the non-stop pace of everyday life. Church is not another activity tacked onto an already busy week. It is a place that welcomes you to rest—God’s rest.

Energy drinks sport flashy designs to catch your attention as you browse the grocery store. Many churches employ slick graphics to advertise new activities. Creative graphics can be used as tools to minister, but the message needs to be more than a quick energy drink boost; it needs to be spiritual milk helping the church grow. The teaching must have more substance than a fast food burger; it needs to be life-sustaining bread. By looking at Hebrews 4, we can discover several ways to minister by offering rest from the world’s breakneck pace.

Unfortunately the church often makes us busier. A Bible study this morning, a program this evening, a retreat this weekend. Hebrews 4 begins, “since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.” If we are too busy, we might miss out on God’s rest!

Family Praying “For those who enter God’s rest also rest from their own work, just as God did from his” (Hebrews 4:10). A church could periodically dedicate an entire service as a prayer service. The pastor could lead the congregation in prayer for things going on in the community and church and then dismiss. Even if a church did this only once a year, think of how much that one day would contrast with the rest of the congregation’s busy week. The church I grew up in had several family days each year where instead of having an evening service, they encouraged families to stay home and spend time with each other. Even a nursery or mother’s day out program can prove to be more of an invaluable ministry than you might think.

It is important to make God’s rest available at church. Hebrews 4:11 encourages us to “make every effort to enter that rest.” How do we know what God’s rest looks like? God’s definition of rest flies in the face of the traditional definition of staying in bed past noon and eating corn chips while watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There is a difference between resting and being lazy. God’s rest is an active rest.

Entertainment (or rather the overabundance of) is making us lazy. I’m a huge fan of entertainment, but I get so tied up in keeping up with my favorite TV series, checking out the newest comics, reading my RSS feeds, and downloading audio dramas to my iPod that I go weeks without producing anything creative myself. Actively resting means getting up and doing something. Maybe actively resting for you is writing a blog entry. Maybe it is getting a group of friends together to write a script for a sketch. Maybe it is riding your bike.

Also, actively resting means studying God’s Word. The writer of Hebrews compares God’s Word to a “double-edged sword” (4:12). Being equipped to live our daily lives requires an active study of Scripture. The reason verse 11 encouraged us to strive for God’s rest was “so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” You cannot incorporate Biblical principles into sketches you write unless you know Biblical principles.

Fast Car It is especially important for leaders to take time to rest. If you lead a small group in your home, whenever you do get time to study the Bible, you probably spend it preparing for your next small group meeting. Leadership expert Tim Elmore states, “Because leaders spend themselves more than the average person, they need to refuel more often than most people do” (Habitudes #1: The Art of Self-Leadership, 33.) You can’t show others how to rest unless you know how to rest yourself.

The way the King James phrases Exodus 24:12 contains a poignant insight for those striving for God’s rest: “And the Lord said unto Moses, ‘Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.’” God says to Moses, “Hey, come here…and just be here.” To me that sounds redundant. God already asked Moses to come there. Why did he also need to tell Moses to be there?

Have you ever heard somebody say “I’m here in body but not in spirit”? Maybe you’ve been sitting in class on a Monday: You stayed up late during the weekend, and although you are sitting in your desk, you aren’t all there. God wanted Moses to be there.

When we meet someone for the first time, one of our first questions is usually “What do you do for a living?” We are so concerned with doing, but God is concerned with being. We don’t feel like we’re serving God unless we’re doing something for God. God cares more about who we are on the inside. In our culture, busyness has become a virtue. How was your week? Well, you know, busy. I have so much to do. Sometime in the midst of your busy schedule, “make every effort to enter” God’s rest.

Credits: Speedometer: Nathan Eal / Creative Commons, Family Praying: Matthew Cua / Creative Commons, Fast Car: Ernest / Creative Commons

Matthew D. Miller is editor of Popsickle. He lives in Oklahoma City and enjoys reading, writing, and programming.

Jesus 2000

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I love this short video (found at Drawn!). I wish I knew some backstory on it, but I haven’t been able to find any:

Jesus 2000 imagines Jesus with a beard and baseball cap. If Jesus had been born today instead of 2000 years ago, how would you imagine him?

The (Awesome) See-through Comic

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The Awesome Ghost of Bailey Jones There are still some things you can do with paper that you can’t do on a screen. Yes, there’s a Flash version of “The Awesome Ghost of Bailey Jones,” but it is vastly inferior to the double-sided PDF you can download and print. (I found this comic on cartoonist Scott McCloud’s blog.)

Since it is double-sided, hold the printed comic up to the light, and a previously unseen element of the story is revealed. I want to print a comic on those overhead transparencies for inkjet printers (since they don’t have any other purpose any more now that everyone uses PowerPoint). You could stack two or three, and each one would reveal a new level of the story. I just haven’t thought of a story that would benefit from being told this way yet.

While the presentation of “The (Awesome) Ghost of Bailey Jones” is creative, the content is somewhat muddled. The title seems to infer that the comic is about ghosts, but both characters have wings making them look more like angels. Making it even more confusing, when the title character becomes a ghost/angel, he has horns. Is he a ghostly angelic demon? On top of that, the comic seems to make light of suicide.

Some art is all style on no substance. A see-through comic is pretty cool, but there’s not much substance here. Does a comic have to have a strong story or is it sometimes okay just to look really cool? What other cool ways of presenting a comic can you think of?

Decadent Miley, Boring Cyrus

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Miley Cyrus' Can't Be Tamed Album Cover Arsenio Orteza, World magazine’s music critic, reviewed Miley Cyrus’ latest album, Can’t Be Tamed, in the July 17, 2010 issue of World. The album’s cover shows Cyrus dressed like she’s trying to imitate Britney Spears or Jessica Simpson when they were teens a decade ago. In other words, provocatively.

Orteza begins his review, “Sometimes we conservatives inadvertently generate free publicity for what we oppose by criticizing as morally abhorrent something that’s really an aesthetic failure needing to be put out of its misery on artistic grounds (Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, most TV shows not on Fox News and a few that are).”

Later in the review he wrote:

[P]op artists and their artifacts can be can be decadent and boring at the same time. And when they are, the boring part is the bigger problem. It indicates that decadence has become so commonplace we take it for granted. It also means that the artist’s artifacts aren’t very good.

If an artist is talented, American culture is usually willing to overlook that artist’s notorious behavior. But increasingly pop culture is becoming enamored with artists who behave badly but whose talent is arguable if not nonexistent. In that case, is it the bad behavior instead of the talent (what there is of it) that we’re praising?

Is truly good art lessened when the artist makes a fool of herself? Can the artifact be admired separate from the artist?

Subscribe to this RSS Feed: The Odyssey Scoop

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The Odyssey Scoop Logo

On Monday I recounted how I rediscovered Adventures in Odyssey. Shortly after I began listening to Odyssey again, I discovered a website called The Odyssey Scoop. It is a great place to keep up with the latest Odyssey news and fun facts.

The Odyssey Scoop has republished “A Town Called Odyssey.” Check it out, and while you’re there, check out the rest of the website.

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