Thursday, December 27, 2007

Brandon Scott Thomas

Last Sunday, my good friend BST announced that he was resigning as the worship leader Otter Creek effective immediately. I've had a little bit longer than that to process this news but I can honestly say that it doesn't feel any better now than it did when I first found out.

I remember very clearly 12 years ago when Brandon came to OC. Buddy Arnold had just resigned after 37 years of leading worship there and in comes this 26 year old guy to take his place. I was both leery and excited. Leery because Buddy had been a surrogate grandfather to me and it was difficult to imagine anyone else leading worship. Excited because I knew from his tryouts that Brandon would continue in Buddy's footsteps by leading us on into new frontiers of worship. And he did. From the first praise team being on the first two rows of the congregation to instrumental worship on Saturday nights occasionally to the monthly Celebration worship services every third Sunday night. And that doesn't even include the ground breaking work at Zoe.

You know the interesting thing to me about Zoe has always been how much of an oasis it is for so many around the country. At Otter Creek, I think we take for granted the freedoms we have in worship whereas so many others look forward to the Zoe weekends as that time when they can break out of their shells. Anyway...

For the first 7 years of Brandon's work at OC, he and I were acquaintances. We would say hi to each other and had done some work with each other, but when I came on board 5 years ago as the tech director, our relationship started to grow. By necessity, a worship leader and tech director should work pretty closely, on lyrics and presentation and sound checks and running sound. Over the years, I've been able to distinguish little motions that BST makes to know what he's asking for, whether to turn himself up in the monitor or turn a specific person down. I know how he likes things run from a sound perspective and I know that the lyric changes on MediaShout need to be about a half-line to a line early because there's no guarantee that he'll remember what the next screen is, especially if it's another verse or new song. Professionally he and I have clicked.

And personally we have too. It's very easy if you just watch him in worship to think that he's a performer. And in some ways, he is. Because that's a part of who he is, but even moreso he's a worship leader. And to write him off as a performer is to degrade him and the work he's done for the last dozen years. I've learned his heart, both from his blog and conversations we've had. I know his heart for worship and leading other people into worship. And that's something that can't be faked.

Brandon's not perfect. He can be picky, he can get into a snit at times, and sometimes he doesn't answer email :-). Seriously, though, he has his quirks and can seem aloof at times, as I'm sure I can, when I'm in the middle of trying to get things done. He's not God's gift to worship ministry, but he is a tool that God has used to bring Otter Creek to what is is today. I trust that God will continue to have us in His Hands as we look to the next person to step into Buddy Arnold's and Brandon Scott Thomas' shoes. But it's weird having gone through this 12 years ago and I now have the same feelings that I did back then. It's going to be very weird to see someone besides BST on that stage. I hope God continues to bless Brandon and Sheryl and the kids (and mom, too) and I know that our relationships won't be ending with him not being OC's worship leader any longer.

I thank God for bringing him to Otter Creek and I thank Brandon for being such a good friend and co-worker over these last five years. Blessings, bro.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Word Is Alive

If you're going to be at Otter Creek tomorrow, here is the preservice video you'll see. If you won't, I guess you can watch it too.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Winter Solstice

Well, I was going to this great post about the Winter Solstice and how the Celts view it at new birth and new beginnings, and how early Christianity adapted some of these ideas and applied them to Jesus' birth, even to the point of celebrating that birth then... But I didn't have time to research it and didn't want to sound too much like an idiot (or at least more than normal).

But since all that didn't work out, I just want to wish everyone a very happy Christmas. I'll only be blogging once next week, and you'll understand that when you see it next Friday, so I wish you and all of yours a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful start to 2008. Thanks for reading and taking the time out of your day read a little bit about my crazy life and thoughts.

Pax Vobiscum.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

YouTube Thursday: 12 Days Straight No Chaser

One of the distinctives of the Churches of Christ is acapella music (without instruments). On one hand, it's easy to dismiss this dedication to a hermeneutic of fear as passe. But congregational acapella worship can be one of the most beautiful things you can hear.

And then there's the times when acapella music can simply kick butt, like in today's YouTube clip from 1998 where Straight No Chaser, the Indiana University Men's Chorus, sings the 12 Days of Christmas. Kind of.

If that embedded video isn't working, you can view it here...

Update 12/2008: Straight No Chaser released a Christmas CD in 2008. Check it out!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Otter Creek Christmas Concert

Here are some of the pics from the Otter Creek Christmas Concert Sunday night.

Brandon addressing the troops beforehand.

The whole shebang.

Sheryl Thomas and George Rowe duet-ing.

Michael Lusk doing a great guitar solo.

The Rest of the Band.

Jeff Berry and Amanda Vickers duet-ing.

Never thought you'd see interpretive dance at a Church of Christ? Wrong.

My brother Reco just killing it during his solo. Man, I miss hearing him at church regularly.

Closing it out.

If you want to view the rest of the pictures I took, you can view them at

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Winter Dance Recital

Kinsey's Winter Dance Recital was Sunday, amidst the craziness of the rest of the weekend. But here are some pictures.

Getting ready

Starting off.

Looking for some direction from the teacher.

Starting the pinwheel (which they did amazing at)

The close.

Must make the proper exit.

With Uncle Gary and Aunt Donna.

With some of her flowers.

Two beautiful ladies.
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Monday, December 17, 2007


Wow. Long, long weekend. Friday wasn't too bad. Ran around a little that night.

Saturday. Y at 8. To church at 10 to start setting up for the "He Is the King" Christmas show for the rehearsal at 1. At church until 4:45. Managed to get out and get Sheryl her Christmas gift, which because I'm awful at keeping secrets, I went ahead and gave her. It's a Nikon D40 and we've needed to get a new camera for a little while and something happened on Sunday that we wanted one for.

Saturday night. Sheryl and her mom went out and did some Christmas shopping. And Connor had come down with a fever. Sheryl's mom, being a saint, offered to take Connor home to spend Sunday with her.

Sunday. Church at 8:15. Home for a couple hours. Then out to Kinsey's winter dance recital at 3, which is why we wanted the new camera (for blur-less pictures). Sheryl's mom watching Connor meant she missed the recital, which was a major sacrifice for her and Dad. I rushed from the recital and managed to get to church at 4 (slightly late for the 3pm rehearsal). At church until the show at 6 and then breaking down all the stuff we'd set up on Saturday. Left at 8:45. Home to collapse before getting up for work...

Friday, December 14, 2007


An adaptation of Mark 9:24 which is where I am these days.

"Lord, I want to believe. Help me in my unbelief."

Addendum: If you're wondering what this is about, a good reflection would be Mike Cope's blog and the following comments in the post titled, Philemon. Both the post and the comments sum up very nicely the issues that I've been having.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

YouTube Thursday: Prince Caspian

The first trailer for the next book in the Narnia series: Prince Caspian is out. And I'm officially excited.

So here's a fun question: What's your favorite Narnia book? And why?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What Time is the Dentist's Favorite?


Ok, a bad joke to lead into the real news. Kinsey lost her first tooth yesterday. Yay! and Aw, man... at the same time.

For those interested, check back for pictures late, late, late tonight. Like after church late.

Pics added:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Pictures 2007

Pictures from Breakfast with Santa or Family Christmas Breakfast or whatever it was called this year.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Here's why I'm torn on nonviolence.

Most of you have probably seen the stories about the two shootings in Colorado churches yesterday. The shootings were stopped by a security guard shooting the gunman, most likely preventing the further loss of life.

So the question is: Does act of preventative violence justify the death of a man who most likely would have killed many people at that church? And if the death of one man that prevented the deaths of dozens is ok, is the death of thousands to prevent the deaths of millions morally acceptable?

Or should Christians simply accept that the world is a violent place and attempt to non-violently react in the best way possible? And what about Christians in America who are protected on a daily basis by the violent acts of police men and women?

This is why I'm torn.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Help a Brother Out

Over the last couple of years, I've gotten to know Scott Freeman online. I'm not sure when we met or if it was through my blog or his, but be that as it may, he and I have had many conversations over IM about a variety of topics from politics to theology to Justin Mundie. I've walked with him through frustrations with his former congregation where he ministered to being let go from there to his new one. And even though we've never met in person, I feel close to him.

The reason I bring Scott up is because of his blog post yesterday, called The Whole Truth. It tells the story of his brother, who was wrongly accused and convicted and put in jail 11 years ago, and his continued attempts to be freed of this unjust imprisonment. It tangentially relates to the presidential election because Mike Huckabee was the governor of Arkansas while Scott's family was seeking his freedom. Scott tells the whole story at his blog.

After reading it, I was extremely touched and wondered if there was something that possibly we as the blog community (and especially the Christians in the blog community) could do. Here's what I would ask:

1. Read Scott's post. Whatever your feelings on Huckabee as a candidate whether positive or negative, I would still ask you to read it.

2. In an effort to garner more publicity, I've posted his blog post on at If you're a member at Digg and are so inclined it would be great if you could Digg it up and have your friends do it as well. If you know other ways of publicizing it, that would be great as well.

3. If you were as touched and outraged at this story as I was, consider posting on your blog about it. Perhaps if some measure of public pressure could be put on the current governor of Arkansas, it might help Scott's brother.

4. Pray. I'd ask you to pray right now that Scott's brother Steve would continue to have strength and perseverance in this time. And that other Christians would give him the support and strength in these times.

I guess the reason this story touched me is that I know Scott and I can only imagine how tough it must have been to write that post. I hope that maybe some measure of relief for Steve can happen and perhaps we can all be apart of that.


Thursday, December 06, 2007

YouTube Thursday: Nickel Creek at the Ryman

So... last Thursday was Nickel Creek's final show of the Farewell (For Now) tour at the Ryman. And while I'll admit that I haven't been to a real concert in longer than I can remember, this one is still the best concert I have ever seen. It was fun, and raucous (yes, guy in the back, we know you think Sarah is hot; we got the message after the 4th time you yelled it), and joyous and just plain fun. I got to hear the Lighthouse's Tale and got to watch Chris Thile look like he was having seizures while doing amazing things on mandolins.

And someone recorded parts of it. Rex Hammock, another prolific Nashville blogger, was also at the show and recorded two songs and put the clips on the web.

And he did one of the final songs of the encore, Why Should the Fire Die?

And while I was looking at this, I found someone who put the whole concert on YouTube, mpupik. Including the cover of the Jackson 5's I Want You Back.

AND Bela Fleck playing with them on The Lighthouse's Tale.

Just amazing stuff and the next time Sheryl and I get a chance to see them, you can bet we will.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Heroes Wednesday: Powerless

On the two entertainment websites I frequent, I've read about several people who have said they're done. That this finale is what has finally pushed them to a point where they can't watch Heroes anymore.

I'm not there myself, but even I couldn't stop myself from asking questions that didn't seem to have good answers (why hasn't Peter just read Adam's mind to find out the truth?). And the final section of the show where Nathan gets assassinated holds almost no resonance or fear of Nathan's death. Why is that? Well, the creators have totally undermined any death that happens on the show with Claire's blood. In the last two shows, we've had two people get shot, only to come back to life fairly quickly. So why should I believe that Nathan will be any different?

It's almost like the creators came up with all of these cool ideas for powers without thinking through the ramifications of each one. Or maybe that they can't put themselves properly into the heads of the characters themselves. Peter has all these amazing powers, but he appears as dumb as a post. Does he lose brain cells each time he goes shirtless? Mohinder IS a genius, but he's also as dumb as a box of pet rocks. So much of the plot of the show has depended on the characters acting in fairly stupid ways and so that takes the audience out of the plot and thinking, "Well, that's dumb. Why not fly after the assassin, or stop time to get him (or her)?" And it's not just that. It's some of the dumb writing. Sylar's "I'm ba-a-ack" was just lame. We know you're back. We just saw you telekinetically grab a can of spinach. Stop with the mustache twirling.

Now, I didn't completely hate the show. I thought that Hiro's plot line was very well done. I like Hiro being kind of gray and his solution for taking care of Adam was very clever. I thought that the scene in Mohinder's apartment with Sylar was well played and one of the better ones in the episode. Those two actors play well off each other.

I'm not done with the show yet. I'm giving it the rest of the season (whenever that happens, due to the writers' strike). But I'm not going to do what I did with Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which should have ended after Season 3). I'm not going to watch just to see what happens to the characters. If after this season, I don't think it's worth my time, I'll just stop watching. And I think there are quite a few people who are already on that train.

My score: C-

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Baby Picture Pictures

Over the last week or so, Sheryl and I worked on getting up on the wall the 12 month panels for Kinsey and Connor as well as their newborn pictures. Here's what we came up with...

It was kind of weird looking at the pictures, because I'm kind of flabbergasted at how different Kinsey and Connor look in general. I know I see them everyday and all, but there are brothers and sisters that you look at and know they're related. I'm not sure people could look at them and know that they're brother and sister.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Otter Creek Church of Christ History

Right now, Otter Creek is in the middle of series on time right now and as a part of a creative planning team, we've been trying to come up with some alternative ways of presentation. We've had a drama. We've had some readings. Yesterday we had the song "Seasons of Love" from the musical Rent. Yesterday, our topic was based in Ecclesiastes 3 and so, Brandon asked me to think about a video that could go along with the classic Byrd's tune, "Turn, Turn, Turn," basically taken from that passage. We scoured YouTube and tried to think about where it's been used in movies and just couldn't come with anything.

Now, two years ago, when Otter Creek was moving from our Granny White location to Franklin Road, we were encouraged to bring in pictures from the history of Otter Creek and we hung them on a wall. My thought was to do a video using those pictures so that's what I did. The video was shown as people were walking into church about 5 minutes before the actual service started, so I'm sure most people didn't see it. And I would think that most people who watched it had no idea what church the orange and brown one was (it was the way the building was configured before renovation in 1983) or even who some of the people were in the pictures. At any rate, it was fun for me to do and a nice way to pay tribute to the history of Otter Creek. Enjoy.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Worship Continued

Two weeks back, I answered a question from my brother Father Thomas McKenzie about worship. Thomas has answered back, so I'm going to respond.

I can't say that I disagree with much of what Thomas said. The one area of contention I might have is about worship transcending our reality. I don't think it's an either or issue. I believe that worship can both open our eyes to how God is working in our reality (and should do that), but can also remind us that this reality is not the only one.

My other point of contention would be here:
When I worship, my question should not be "did I have a good experience, did I enjoy it?" Rather, I should ask "was it faithful, was it true, was God blessed?" And, if it is then God has been worshiped and I have the opportunity to be satisfied with that.
I would think that these two don't HAVE to be mutually exclusive, although they can be. I don't think it's wrong to ask the question of experience or enjoy-ment, but if that is our only criteria for worship, that's wrong. But I also don't think that it's a question we shouldn't ever ask or be aware of.

On the whole, I greatly agree with Thomas' thoughts. Church of Christ worship services are much less "physical" in the sense that Thomas uses it. But in a lot of ways, I appreciate that aspect of simplicity. And I think a lot of my thoughts on worship come from being in a tradition that puts a lot of importance on the forms of worship, i.e. the five acts that I mentioned before, and making sure they are done properly, and I'm obviously influenced by being a part of that movement that's moving away from such "legalism" and adherence to form over function.

And not to make this a mutual admiration society, I have loved getting to know Thomas over the last few years, both with Church of the Redeemer meeting at Otter Creek's old building and through the Emergent Cohort. He's become a good friend and one that gives me a different perspective of Christianity and faith and orthodoxy that I greatly appreciate.

btw, just as a fun addendum, back when Church of the Redeemer was meeting in Otter Creek's old building, I helped out with some technical things to get them started and did two posts on what I thought about their services.

My thoughts on Church of the Redeemer Worship Service
What made me "uncomfortable" about the Church of the Redeemer Worship Service

Interesting for me anyway to look back at that. Especially with regard to this conversation.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

YouTube Thursday: More Lighthouse

Am I aware that just 2 months ago I posted a very similar video? Yes. But tonight, I'm going to be at the Ryman with Sheryl and some friends and watching Nickel Creek in the final performance of the Farewell (for now) tour. Depending on when you read this, we might be there right now. And if I don't hear this song, there will be blood.

Can't. Wait.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Heroes Wednesday: Truth & Consequences

Image from HeroesWiki

I've learned to stop asking some questions.

For instance, what kind of babysitter would let someone in that he or she had never seen before and leave them with a sleeping child? Or why doesn't Peter just read Adam's mind and find out the truth about why he wants the virus? Or... Or...

Well, anyway, I've stopped asking those nagging questions of character and plot continuity.

All of the heroes are starting to get reconnected in the plot lines. Sylar fulfills one of his apparent requirements for being back on the show and knocks off Alejandro while almost completely corrupting Maya. He's still being a little over the top for my tastes, but there you have it. And beyond the whole worst-babysitter-in-the-world scenario, having him in Mohinder's apartment with Molly was pretty creepy.

I really liked how Hiro was using his power in this ep. He obviously learned from his time in Japan that messing with history could have dire consequences (although couldn't one argue that messing with history made it happen the way it was supposed to happen?) as well as from his father. Using the power to observe rather than affect is pretty cool, as well as the call back to last season where time stops everyone except Peter.

Hayden Pantierre is a great actress, but even she couldn't sell the awful lines about how losing her dad hurts more than falling from 20 stories. And how much time passed between the end of the last episode and this one? Wouldn't Claire or her mom have questioned how Bob got the body cremated so quickly? But again, there's those darn questions that I'm not asking anymore!

The deal with Micah and his cousin is interesting just for the fact of seeing a hero dress up in a "costume" to do good deeds, but seriously, Monica didn't KNOW that Superman wore glasses to have a secret identity. Firstly, the glasses are about the worst disguise ever, but there are people that don't know about Superman/Clark Kent?

Peter/Adam/Victoria was pretty interesting too, except for Peter's not looking into Adam's head. Obviously we're getting set up for something big there in Odessa.

Next week should be interesting and I hope we get to see Nathan and Parkman back in the mix again. Nathan's been in Ireland for too long and I want to see the ramifications of Matt going into Mama Petrelli's head.

This week's score: B- Too many characters had to act stupid to move the plot along and that's just dumb.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Kinsey and the Bad Saturday Night

Well, we had a great plan. Kinsey had been up kind of late on Friday, just due to stuff going on, so we thought that we'd get her into bed before 8 to get some good long sleep before church on Sunday.

Oh my.

7:30, she's in bed. Sheryl and I are cleaning up the kid detritus from the day and we hear her feet come padding out of bed. "I want to be with you guys." Well, it's kind of early for her, so we let her stay up for a few minutes, and then we take her back to our bed and she and I watch The Incredibles for a little bit before I take her back to her bed.

8:00, she's in bed. I'm turning on her Twila Paris CD and she starts getting weepy. "Why are you crying, sweetie?" "Twila's voice is so beautiful!" Um, oooh-kay. "Do you want me to turn it off?" "No." "Ok. Good night." "NO DADDY. DON'T LEAVE ME!" And so starts a whole thing about how she's scared even though the child has about 50 nightlights in the room (well, 3, but that's still a lot). She's afraid of bad dreams. And she gets herself so worked up that she thinks she's going to throw up. So into the bathroom we go. I hold her hair up. No puke. She uses the bathroom. Back to the room. "NO DADDY! Don't leave." "Kinsey, it's getting late. You have to get some sleep."

8:30. She's in bed, but not for long. She comes out again, crying for us and weeping, and oh my gosh, if she doesn't fall asleep, I might have to give her Nyquil or Benedryl or whiskey! I carry her back to her room and decide that what I can do is read her some more of her book, By the Shores of Silver Lake. And I read, and I read, and I read. Four more chapters. And each time I think she's asleep because her eyes are closed and she's breathing deeply, I stop, and she says, "No, Daddy, keep going please." Sigh. So finally, it's getting late and I need to get some stuff done down in the basement. So I decide that the best way for her to fall asleep is for her to stay with me and watch football while I'm working.

9:30, she's downstairs in a chair. She curls up and about 9:45, she's asleep. I leave her there until 11 while I'm working and I carry her gently up the stairs and lay her in bed. Relieved that my plan finally worked.

12:30, she's in my bed. Having completed all my stuff (work, watching SportsCenter, playing Xbox), I head upstairs. And Kinsey is sleeping with Sheryl in my bed. As I come in to get ready for bed, I notice this and she looks up at me and just gives me the most cherubic smile and I give up.

Which is how Kinsey ended up in my bed Saturday night and I ended up in hers. Thankfully, the last two nights have been back to normal and hopefully next time we'll lay the law down a little harder.

Yay Parenting!


Also, you really need to read and see the post by Sam Davidson today called Mean What You Say about the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty which might not be all we think it is. Very strong stuff.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Book Review: Scarlet by Stephen Lawhead

On our non-kids weekend last weekend, I was able to sit and read the book Scarlet by Stephen Lawhead. I've been a fan of Lawhead for about 16 or 17 years now, from his Song of Albion series.

Scarlet is the second book in a trilogy called the Raven King based on the Robin Hood legend. However, there are a couple of significant differences. 1) The historical setting has changed from the time of King Richard Coeur de Leon (The Lion-Hearted) to the time just after the Norman invasion of England, 1080-1100. This is not the first Robin Hood book that I've read that did this. Sherwood by Parke Godwin did this as well and pretty well too. 2) Lawhead also changes the setting from Nottingham to Wales. Lawhead is well known for his love of most things Celtic and so this fits well into his story.

Lawhead also employs one of his other literary trademarks, which is a limited first person perspective (not to go all English teacher on y'all). The first book, Hood, was told from Bran's perspective (Bran is Rhi Bran y Hud or the Raven King AKA Robin Hood), with occasionally jaunts into the Norman/French halls of power to see the political machinations behind the choices that kill his father and force him to live as a brigand woodsman. Scarlet does something similar, which serves to introduce the readers anew to Bran and his group, while also giving the perspective of how a member of his own group of woodsmen see him. I won't say much about the plot, but it's basically Bran and his groups involvement in their wood trade, but how that also intersects with the political and religious plots of the day, of which there were many.

I really really enjoyed it and if you're a fan of the Robin Hood legend, I'd recommend both this series, as well as Sherwood. What's interesting to me about all of this is that for close to 700 years Robin Hood has been such an archetype that he's constantly being re-visioned in books and movies and tv shows. I wonder if the struggle against unjust oppressors or the re-distribution of wealth or living in the woods off the land or any of those other pieces of the legend are what keeps it going for so many years.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

This year, I was privileged again to help organize the 45th annual Thanksgiving service at Otter Creek Church of Christ. In previous years, I spoke myself and this year I decided that 1) I was tired of hearing myself talk and 2) because of that other people probably were too.

So I asked some others to talk and tell what Thanksgiving means to them. John Rucker was first. He's 90 something years old and has been at Otter Creek for many, many years. He talked about the first Thanksgiving and how much he is thankful for in his long life. It was great to have his perspective on things.

Next was Tiffany Fox a great friend of ours. She talked about the people that she is thankful for. It's been a year with some struggles, but she did a great job talking about how the people around her have been not just the hands and feet of Jesus, but the arms that hug and the tears that cry with her. It was a powerful time.

Just as powerful was Trina Frierson. Trina runs Mending Hearts, which I've talked about before. And she didn't just testify, she didn't just witness. She preached. She talked about how the work of Doug Sanders has helped them so much, not just in their physical needs, but also spiritual, and to show the women that there are good men in the world, not just the ones that have abused or taken advantage of them. It was incredible.

Last was my own sweet Kinsey. And honestly, this went much better in rehearsal than it did in practice. But Kinsey put her own stamp on things and acted like a very typical six year old.

All in all, I thought it was a good morning and I hope that we can keep doing the testimony kind of thing for future Thanksgiving services. Thanks to all of you who were there yesterday.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Heroes Wednesday: Cautionary Tales

Image from HeroesWiki

Well, here's where the fun starts. All in all, a very good episode. Lots of fun with some "OMG! I can't believe they just did that!" moments, and then there were moments where I think the continuity fairy was taking a smoke break.

Easy stuff first:

Parkman: This is where it seems like Matt is becoming both like his father and the morally dark character in Five Years Gone. It's obvious that he stripped the name of the woman in the picture from Angela Petrelli, even though she begged him not to. I'll be interested in how this develops out.

Hiro: First it wasn't a surprise that Kenzei/Munroe was Kaito Nakamura's killer. I thought possible West because of the flying or even Nathan, but with his vengeance to be exacted against Hiro and no body being found on the ground that all made sense. I also like how we're starting to see a more mature Hiro who accepts his powers, as well as the necessary limitations. I think the line that Kaito said, that they have the powers of gods, but that doesn't mean they can play God is the defining line between his ideology and the Company's.

HRG/Claire and everyone else, including stupid, pretty Mohinder:
Man, was this whole storyline fun. But it's also where the continuity fairy took her smoke break. For instance, why didn't HRG and West not keep Elle wet when they were handing her off? She could have escaped at any point. I guess the looking-good-at-the-beach fairy won that street fight. And secondly, the painting of Mohinder showed the gun smoking and it wasn't in the fulfillment. Plus, when did Isaac paint these? After he met HRG? Before? Wouldn't he have mentioned them? Oh wait, I'm thinking too much about the show...

Anyway, I thought everything about HRG was really bad ass in this episode. I really thought he would have shot Mohinder if West hadn't been there and would have shot Bob if Mohinder hadn't shot him. I'll admit I was caught completely off guard by that. I didn't expect it to happen right then and I sure as heck didn't expect HRG to be resurrected. Now, we could say that on one hand, it cheapens HRG's death because he got brought back, but that is thinking too deeply about it. On one hand, it's just cool that he got the Holy Sh-- moment like Claire did last season. For another thing, it raises some interesting questions, like where is he? Who brought him back?

Here are the three theories I have:

1) At the Company; Bob resurrected him with Claire's blood.
2) Somewhere else (it looked awfully dirty and not company like) because Mohinder took him there and resurrected him as he and Bennett had always planned to do.

3) somewhere else because Munroe/Kenzei resurrected him as another ally against the Company. I think that one is the least likely.

Oh and just for good measure, a cool pic of HRG...

With all that said, I'm going to have to give this episode an A. It was very good, kept me on the edge of my seat and had a great great ending. Looking forward to next week as well...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

How Old is He?

Connor is reaching that age for me where monthly increments no longer work. It's weird how we tell people kids' ages. For about the first 2 weeks, days are the norm. After that, for about 3 months, it becomes weeks; and then at 3 months, it becomes months. And then, at about 12 months, I personally break it into 3 months intervals (12, 15, 18), and after that, I'm all about the six month interval (18, 24), and then it's years.

Sheryl and I talked a little about this on our trip and she still likes doing monthly increments up to 24 because they still change so much developmentally in that time. My thought is that it's too freaking hard to remember where we are in the month in relation to the birthday and then how long ago he was born. Too much brain power.

So if you ask me today how old Connor is, I'll say "almost 18 months." After Friday, "18 months." And then I'll possibly go to the "He'll be 2 at the end of May."

For those of you with kids around this age, how do you tell people how old they are?

Monday, November 19, 2007

R and R

On Friday, I took a half day from work and Sheryl and I headed down to North Georgia. This was a no kids weekend. Her parents watched the kids for us. We took some movies, we took some books, and we took off.

And it was wonderful.

Obviously we love our kids, as almost every parent does. But there are times that we just have to get away and instead of being Kinsey and Connor's mommy and daddy, we have to get back to being Phil and Sheryl. It was so therapeutic. We slept in both days and Sheryl cooked a great breakfast. We spent all day Saturday reading or napping (or me in the van listening to the end of the Vandy-UT game). We watched Ocean's 13 and Evan Almighty and True Lies (great, not as good as the first one, but better than the second; good, not as many laughs as Bruce; very funny but slightly misogynistic as well, respectively). I read Stephen Lawhead's new book Scarlet (wonderful, and I'm sad I have to wait for 2009 for the next installment; I might write some more about this series later) and we ate at a little cafe called Shoebooties in Murphy, NC. It was basically a mini-retreat for us and we thoroughly enjoyed it. And while we're always happy to get back to our family and our house, it's this kind of thing that re-invigorates you for the wonderful work of parenting.

Friday, November 16, 2007


A couple of weeks ago, Thomas+ and I got into a little bit of a conversation about worship and I decided to bring it out overall. A point I made in the post was that I didn't think churches should be worship centers, but centers for discipleship. Thomas said that the most important thing his church does is gather for worship and I expressed that because of the time I spend in the tech booth, I don't get to worship very often.

Here's what I mean by worship. To me, worship is the ability to step away from ourselves and to focus completely on God and the wondrousness of His presence. In traditional Church of Christ theology, there are five acts of worship: teaching, giving, singing, praying, and communion. And if you only count those, I do get to experience those every Sunday, but I'm not able to focus exclusively on them. If you step away from that and get into a less "finger-based" approach (tiny joke there) that thinks in a wider view of worship and experiencing God in a more experiential way, I don't get to participate in that very often either.

Am I happy to be helping in the booth? Of course. It's a talent that I have and one I'm grateful to share with the body, and one that I know facilitates worship in others. But because I have to be so focused on making sure that there aren't mistakes in what we do which would distract others from worship.

That's what I mean by worship and why I'm not able to focus on it. So, Thomas, I'm interested in hearing your take, as well as anyone else's, of course. I'm going to be out of pocket after this morning and not able to respond until Monday, but I'll be very interested in reading the responses to this.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

YouTube Thursday: WGA Writers' Strike

I really hope the writers' strike doesn't continue, but if it does, I know why...

Of course the case can be made that digital can include a lot of things, but it also includes internet downloads, which is obviously being monetized through advertising.

Now what would be really interesting is if it does continue. Is America so addicted to TV that people would willingly watch reality shows, such as:
  • "Amne$ia" is a comedy game show in which contestants are challenged to answer questions from their own lives for money and prizes. Memories will be tested and blasts from the past will be revealed as contestants wrack their brains to answer some of the most challenging questions -- often with hilarious results. Dennis Miller is the host.
  • "My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad" is a competition series that will finally prove the familiar schoolyard boast -- "My dad is better than your dad!" Dads will be at the forefront of the action competing with their families in a series of unique stunt-driven challenges.
  • "Clash of the Choirs" takes celebrity artists back to their hometowns to assemble an amateur singing group made up of everyday people. Once the best have been selected and the choirs assembled, they will compete live.
  • "Baby Borrowers" is a new alternative series that asks five young couples -- ages 16 to 19 -- to set up a home and begin fast-tracking on parenthood by becoming caring parents first to a baby, then a toddler, pre-teen and grandparents -- all over the course of one month.
And that's just on NBC.

Addendum: Not the Daily Show...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Heroes Wednesday: Four Months Ago

Image courtesy of HeroesWiki

Well, for what this episode did, I thought it did it well, if you don't think about timing too much. I understood why this ep didn't have HRG and the Bennetts in it. We know where they were. I was disappointed that Mohinder and Matt weren't in it. How did Matt survive the bullets Sylar put in him? Why did Mohinder and Matt decide to play "My Two Dads" with Molly? But I also understand that there's a lot of plot to get into this one, including the twinzzzzzzzzzz.....

Anyway, I thought the explanation for why Peter couldn't fly when he was exploding was a good one, as well as that he regenerated quickly enough to get Nathan to the hospital. I actually enjoyed Kristen Bell as Elle this week as well. I thought she really played that sociopathic flirt (two words I don't think I've ever written together like that before) very well, with just a hint of pathos as well. Unless of course that was meant to manipulate Peter as well.

The plot with Monroe is very interesting too because we know about his past, but I wonder how much he told Peter and how much of it was true. It will be very interesting to see them work together over the next... 3 episodes I guess.

I thought the Niki/Jessica stuff was really well done, except for DL's death. I don't know if Kring is trying to show that even heroes can't escape random violence or what, but that just seemed really anticlimactic. I think Ali Larter is really showing herself to be a great actress in how easily she slipped from Niki to Gina and really embodied that personality. They also did a great job in portraying how someone would react to psychotropic drugs and going off them.

Maya and Alejandro? If I cared about them, this story line might have been interesting. But it's not.

So questions... we didn't really get an explanation about the irradiated version of himself that Nathan keeps seeing in the mirror. Is it a Niki like personality? Is it supposed to be a metaphor for the guilt he feels about Peter? If it's the latter, I really think the show has done a bad job of communicating that. Also, we didn't hear officially why Nathan resigned from Congress, as well as the Matt/Mohinder stuff from above. We also didn't find out how Sylar escaped from Kirby Plaza which really disappointed me.

My grade: B Not as good as last week's episode, but not bad like the earlier ones. The show appears to be getting its feet back underneath it, just in time for the writers' strike to kill it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Connor Feeding Himself

Well, it's more like getting the food in the general vicinity of his mouth.

And what would a momentous time like this be without video...

In other news, Kinsey has her first loose tooth. It wiggles around quite a bit and she's very impressed with it. I'll be VERY interested in her reaction when it comes out. I remember losing one of my first teeth in first grade. I bit into an apple and after I had swallowed, I realized the tooth was gone and I freaked out because I thought I had swallowed it. I was very upset at the possibility of losing the quarter I was sure to get that night as well as the possibility of the tooth growing in my stomach. Thankfully it was stuck in the apple and I got the quarter last night as well as no gastrointestinal enamel issues.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Anteater's Ball

Friday and Saturday I worked a show at church called the Anteater's Ball. It's a show put on by a club at Lipscomb University to raise funds for foreign charities in this case, a school in Haiti.

Whenever I go into things like this, I'm a little resentful to be honest. Yes, I'm helping out with my services and there's usually compensation for it, but it means that I'm away from my family and Sheryl's at home by herself with the kids. And I went into it with that attitude some this weekend.

Thankfully, I had a lot of fun doing the show. The rehearsal was fairly loose and people didn't get too uptight about things. I was able to joke with the kids about a variety of things and even the show went really well and was done in an hour and a half. I'll say that there were some fairly marginally talented people that performed and some exceptionally talented people as well. In fact, because of one of the performances, I downloaded (legally from iTunes) the song All These Things I Have Done by The Killers.

I might have to check out some of the other things that they've done. At any rate, a pretty good weekend overall. Look for some fun pictures and a video of Connor tomorrow.

Friday, November 09, 2007

They Like Jesus But Not the Church: Final Thoughts

Over the last two weeks, I've discussed Dan Kimball's book They Like Jesus But Not the Church. This week, I just want to end with a couple of things. First one is a question. Kimball lists 6 perceptions/misperceptions that nonChristians have about church.
  1. The church is an organized religion with a political agenda.
  2. The church is judgmental and negative.
  3. The church is dominated by males and oppresses females.
  4. The church is homophobic.
  5. The church arrogantly claims all other religions are wrong.
  6. The church is full of fundamentalists who take the whole Bible literally.
Which of these do you think is off base? None of them? All of them? Should the church change to correct these perceptions or are they misconceptions that only should be corrected by properly educating people about what it means to be a Christian?

One last thing. In the comments of last week's post, one poster noted that she gets "a little weary of the criticism by the 20's and 30's." I can understand that, especially as negative/cynical younger people can be about the church. However, what I would point out is some simple historical points:
  • Martin Luther was 34 when he was supposed to have nailed the 95 Theses to the Wittenburg Door.
  • John Calvin was 26 when he wrote the Institutes of the Christian Religion.
  • Barton W. Stone was 32 when he helped author The Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery.
  • Jesus himself brought his message from the ages of 30 to 33.
Perhaps we might do well to listen to what 20 and 30 somethings say. Whether we agree or not.

Next week, I take up Father Thomas' idea and I'll talk about worship, and why, specifically for me, it's been hard to worship for the last couple of years.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Heroes Wednesday: Out of Time

Image from HeroesWiki

If you gave up on Heroes after last week, I couldn't really blame you. It was bad. But I'm afraid you gave up a week too early, because this one felt a lot like last seasons' best episodes. Was it as good as Five Years Gone or Company Man? No, not by a long shot, but it was easily the best of this lackluster season.

The good news? No twinzzzzzzzzz. Oh please let them die off screen and us just hear about it in passing. No Monica this week either and while I like her, I didn't mind it because we got some really good action and character work this week.

Parkman: Great job by Greg Grundberg in this role, working through all the daddy issues as he went up against Maury.

Nathan: I liked how Nathan really took some charge of the situation at the Company and put the screws to Bob to find out some information.

Claire and Noah Bennett: A little more movement on this plot line. I liked West finding out about HRG, but (and maybe it's because I'm not a high school girl) I found the scenes between West and Claire to be so schmoopy and tiresome, especially listening to music together. Is that what I have to look forward to in the future? Oh please no. I liked seeing all the painting and getting some payoff with them in that very episode. We're also set up for Mohinder with gun and the nose bandage which would seem to lead to HRG's death.

Mohinder: Dr. Suresh once again takes his stupidity pills that morning. Geez, at least he looks good, because he ain't smart at all. Telling Bob that he's actually working with HRG to bring the Company down? Seriously? I was so wishing at that point that when he told Bob he was doing that, Bob had shrugged and said, "Yes, we know."

Niki: Nice to see her back in action and also nice to see that she was very affected by DL's death, however that happens, which I guess we'll find out next week. Also, now that she has the (mutated) virus, things have become quite a bit more dire for her.

Hiro: I'm glad this storyline is over, but I'm also glad it got some residual poignancy by Kenzei becoming a villain because of Hiro. That will obviously have some play out at the end of this whole thing.

Peter: I was so glad they didn't spend the whole episode in deserted 2008 New York. I thought it was a nice touch how we went there occasionally. Christine Rose again did a great job as Angela Petrelli, now a little softer and those who were interested got shirtless, wet Peter. I'll be interested in how they resolve the Caitlyn being left in the future aspect of this. As well as now finding out what happened to Kenzei/Adam Munroe in the intervening 300 years, as well as why he was working with Peter, but yet was one of the original founders of the Company.

The bad: I can't find it right now, but I read an interview with Tim Kring explaining why the plot lines were so expanded this week, and the upshot of it made me worried for the season. He basically said that he thought people didn't mind it because even though they might not see their favorite character or storyline each week, they'd still come back the week after to see what had happened to them. And I'm sorry Tim, but that's just dumb. People don't want to come back after a "cliffhanger" or at least a significant unresolved plot point and not have it resolved the next week. Like I stated last year, that's why Heroes in Season 1 was different than Lost. It resolved plot points pretty quickly and then moved on. That's honestly one of the reasons Hiro in Japan seemed so listless. It didn't seem to have any relationship to the rest of the story. It seemed like just an excursion for Hiro in Japan for him to have fun with his childhood hero. Not bad in and of itself, but if we're interested in the overall plot, that stuff just takes away from it. Now, it better that we know that Kenzei does affect the overall plot, but still, I think that's one of the reasons Heroes had the lowest ratings of the season on Monday night. People had/have given up on it. Monday felt like a step in the right direction, but if this is philosophy of the season, especially with the twinzzzzzzzzz storyline sucking the life out of the show, I fear for the rest of the season.

Overall, I'm going with a B+ on this one. Very solid ep, and very much in the feel of season 1.

This is not the article I was talking about above, but an interesting one, nonetheless: 'Heroes' Creator Apologizes to Fans: Tim Kring admits mistakes were made at the beginning of season 2, but promises to get back on track

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

All Pictures Post

Halloween and other various and sundry pics.

Connor after a successful candy collection.

I love Halloween like Connor loves suckers.

With my mom and dad.

At Sheryl's mom and dad's

This might have to become a desktop picture.

This might become blackmail later.

Where else would he gets the good looks?

Kinsey chilling out after school.

Kinsey and a friend from school having a playdate on Saturday.

A candid from last night.

Check out those cheeks.

One of those two needs a haircut.

A candid that Kinsey took of Connor.

A candid Kinsey took of herself.

This one is definitely blackmail for a later date.
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