A-HA…TAKE ON ME

Here is the video by A-HA called TAKE ON ME.  This song/video really captures the imagery of entering the story by a very good artist!  Enjoy!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djV11Xbc914

ps…I first saw this video on MTV in Honolulu, Hawaii in October 1985.  Gail and I were on our honeymoon.  I am so glad she took on me!  🙂

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Enter His Story

We just met with a film screen-writer named Chad DeMiguel and some friends last night and my head is spinning with Story.  Chad talked to us about how our stories are in God’s Story.  His gospel Story is really the ultimate story in all of history and all good stories follow the components of the gospel story.  The parts of story are a beginning, the middle and the end.  The bible starts in the garden, then the Fall, and then God sends Christ to redeem us.

All great stories have these elements in them.  Chad pointed out that the character has an “inciting incident” that puts him on a quest or journey.  Peter Parker gets bitten by a spider.  Frodo finds a ring.  Lucy goes into a closet that leads to Narnia.  You get the point.

The inciting incident forces the character to make a choice and in that decision we see the plot unfold with some kind of a “belly of the whale” moment, where the character is in the bleakest time of his life.  Jesus in the garden and then on the cross.  Frodo getting injured on his journey.  Indiana Jones getting caught by the Nazis.  Spiderman getting beat up by Green Goblin.

But then there is the resurrection climax!  Jesus is raised from the dead and has victory over sin and death and redeems us.  Spiderman beats the Green Goblin.  Batman is victorious over the Joker and liberates Gotham City.  Eric Liddel wins his race and holds to his conviction of honoring the Sabbath.

Eugene Peterson says in his book, Eat this Book, Story is the primary verbal means of bringing God’s word to us….Story doesn’t just tell us something and leave it there, it invites our participation.  A good storyteller gathers us into the story.  We feel the emotions, get caught up in the drama, identify with the characters, see into nooks and crannies of life that we had overlooked, realize that there is more to this business of being human than we had yet explored.  If the storyteller is good, doors and windows open.  …They bring us into the spacious world in which God creates and saves and blesses.  First through our imaginations and then through faith- imagination and faith are close kin here- they offer us a place in the story, invite us into this large story that takes place under the broad skies of God’s purposes, in contrast to the gossipy anecdotes that we cook up on a hot plate in the stuffy closet of the self.”

I like how Peterson emphasizes the biblical story inviting us in as participants into something larger than our sinful selves.  We join the story as part of God’s huge novel and we are characters in it.  Much like Joseph who is thrown into a well by his brothers and left for dead, and then he ends up being the prime minister of Egypt.  He is able to redeem his brothers because the Redeemer is writing the Story and the Author takes our puny stories and brings us into the Grand Narrative.

How cool is it, that the Author of Life writes us into His Novel.  As Paul writes to the Corinthians, he refers to them as Living Letters, “written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God…to be known and read by all”.

How is your story?  Are you participating with the Author of Life in the Great Story?  Let’s be great storytellers.  Because we know the Righteous Writer.

 

True Grit & Grace

Last Sunday I woke up at about 2am in a cold sweat.  I really thought that Rooster Cogburn and Texas Ranger LaBoeuf were chasing me with rifles on horses.  It took me a while to gather my senses and realize that I was in bed and my lovely wife was sawing lumber.

The movie True Grit directed by the Coen Brothers is so engaging and biblical, I actualy got emotionally caught up in it and shed a few tears.

I love this movie!  It opens up with the beautiful music of Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, and the camera focuses on the words from Proverbs 28:1: “The wicked flee when none pursueth.”  This movie explores justice and grace as gritty Mattie Ross (Hailie Steinfeld) seeks justice by chasing down Tom Chance (Josh Brolin), the man who killed her father.  Mattie hires Rooster Cogburn (Jeff bridges) and along the way they befriend Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon).  Mattie wants to honor her father by pursuing justice.

The chase is incredible!  Lots of shooting, bad guys, and beautiful Western landscape.  And the dialogue is Shakespearian as the characters interact with a sense of dignity.

One of my favorite scenes (SPOILER ALERT) is when Mattie gets saved by Rooster Cogburn from a snake pit.  Mattie gets bit by a rattler and she will surely die without medical attention.  Rooster blasts the snakes with his Colt .45 and takes the little girl in his arms (cue the “Everlasting Arms” music…played by orchestra).  Then he puts her on the horse.  As they ride all night to safety, the panoramic camera shot of the horizon with the silhouette of Rooster embracing Mattie while galloping home is breath-taking.  The horse ends up dying, so Rooster has to carry Mattie in his arms and run her to the cabin to save her life.  This scene is even more exhilarating.  As Rooster embraces little Mattie, my thoughts reflect on Jesus’ tender everlasting arms and how we can lean on Him safe and secure from all alarms…leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

What a beautiful Savior who condescends to us and picks up our “snake-bitten” bodies as He crushes the rattler with His heel.  He then carries us to the safety of His home.

He is a Savior who demonstrates True Grit and True Grace as He loves us enough to go to the cross.

“What have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms?”–(Elisha A. Hoffman, pub. 1887)

Diaper Warriors!

Real American heroes has to include Dandy Diaper Warriors dashing into toxic territory where no one else dares to go.  My hat is off to those soldiers of soiled pants.  I call them Captain Poopy Pants to the rescue!

I remember the days when I held the title of Captain Poopy Pants.  The true challenge was when my twin daughters were babies.  Double Diaper Doody Duty!  Many a night would see me like Michael Keaton in the movie Mr. Mom, wearing a full haz-mat suit, an air respirator, goggles, gloves and a pair of tongs.  I would slowly approach my daughters’ diapers with Ninja-like stealth.  Sometimes the room’s air was filled with toxicity just beckoning me and calling Captain Poopy Pants to save the day!

The best diaper to change is what I like to call…”The Golden Nugget“.  This is by far a parent’s dream.  Although the smell may be pungent, once you go to change the diaper, you are pleasantly surprised that it is only a “golden nugget” that you could just fling in the garbage or toilet.  No messiness at all.  captain Poopy Pants does not have to bring out any weapons on the “golden nugget” and you can almost save the diaper by simply positioning your baby upside down with a gentle shake as the nugget rolls out.

But the real battle for any diaper warrior is the “Double Knuckler“!  The “Double Knuckler” gets its name especially when travelling with small children in diapers.  You don’t really have a changing table and you might be in your car.  So, your method of inspection is reduced to the “dip-stick” style.  Yes, by simply putting your finger in the back of the diaper, one can gauge the level of toxic waste.

So, the “Double Knuckler” is a bit self-explanatory.  If the waste is up to your second knuckle, you must bring in the Navy Seals and Green Berets to attack.  Sometimes this battle will take an entire box of wipes.  Especially when, upon opening the diaper, you find “Full Nuclear Splatter“…(begin playing The Rolling Stones’ “Shattered“, but insert the word splattered”…shadooby…”splattered“).

The “Nuclear Bomb Splatter” is messy and it takes a certain bravery to go into hand to hand combat.  But a Dapper Diaper Warrior can really kick butt…err…I mean clean butts, if they have the tenacity (and Desitin).

There are many more Just War Diaper Theories and Battles that could be explained, but I just want to salute the moms and dads and even baby sitters and anyone who is a Soldier of Soiled Seats.  you are truly the Captain Poopy Pants of the world!  Thank you for “wiping” out the filthy enemy by using panache, persistence and pride.  Every baby salutes you from the bottom of their soggy bottoms!  Poopy pants can now be referred to as simply “droopy drawers“, and we can all sleep well tonight.  Thank you!

Slugs and Sluggishness…

My brothers and sister used to tease me and say, “Doug is as snug as a bug in a rug“.  But my brother Frank used to call me a slug in a rug.  So, I finally looked up slug and it has a lot of meanings.  Webster’s first defines a slug as a sluggard, which is an habitually lazy person.  I can definitely fit that description.  Certain days find me waking up very sluggy and sluggish.  I could just kick back and read a book and not really do much of anything.

But Mr. Webster also calls a slug– “to drink in gulps” or a slugger is “one who hits hard like a prize-fighter or a home-run hitter“.

I would love to imagine myself as a prize-fighter knocking out my worthy opponent or a baseball slugger, jacking out home runs in Wrigley Field.

But, there’s another definition that caught my eye.  “A strip of metal thicker than a printer’s lead.”  Although I am not sure exactly what that means, it reminds me of my dad who was a printer for the Chicago Tribune for 40 years.  My dad worked with words every day, and his title was a “composer” in the printing room.  He composed words for advertisements and articles, and stories.  Every day he would come home from work with a newspaper and he smelled like ink and paper.  I love that smell!

Even today when I smell ink and paper, I think of my father.  His hands always had some black goop on them and his finger nails would be darkened by the stain of letters and words that got into his skin and seemed to flow out of his finger tips.  I am thankful for my father that he gave me a love for words and reading.  He read every day.  And not just the newspaper.  I would see him drinking coffee and reading a novel quite frequently.  He loved Ian Fleming and the James Bond books.  But he also read Westerns and Mysteries.

Maybe my brother’s slug comment was that I was really a snail or a gastropod, but I like to be thought of as a piece of metal that a printer would use…maybe a printer’s tool.  It would be an honor to be used by my father as a tool for words that bring people joy and brighten their day.  Maybe that’s what our Father wants us to be?  Slugs to brighten our mugs.  Yes!  That’s it!  Thanks Dad! 😉

How to Read a Book…

Mortimer J. Adler wrote a book named, How to Read a Book, and it is so insightful.  Listen to some of his insights:

“There is a third part.  It is the most important.  In a democracy, we must discharge the responsibilities of free men.  Liberal education is here an indispensable means to this end.  It not only makes men of us by cultivating our minds, but it frees our minds by disciplining them.  Without free minds we cannot act like free men.  I shall try to show you that the art of reading well is intimately related to the art of thinking well-clearly, critically, freely….All books will become light in proportion as you find light in them.”

Adler really understands reading books, and I dare say we humans are Books to be read by each other.  Our stories need to be read by our friends.  We need to learn the art of reading our friends.  Some times that includes reading between the lines, but hopefully we shall find light in them and see the Author of all stories.