Thinking Out Loud

April 15, 2014

Gospel Music Association to Induct Rich Mullins to Hall of Fame

Filed under: media, music — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:52 am

Ragamuffin Rich Mullins Movie

It’s an honor that would have made Rich Mullins blush.

The GMA (Gospel Music Association) will induct Rich Mullins, writer of “Awesome God,” into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame at their inaugural GMA Honors Ceremony to be held on Tuesday, April 29th at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena. The event celebrates those being inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame as well as individuals and organizations that are impacting our culture globally both past and present. Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant are the first performers announced for the ceremony, with more to be added.

The GMA honor comes on the heels of the Color Green Films Ragamuffin movie inspired by the life and legacy of Mullins whose tour launched earlier this year and is currently screening across the nation.

source: Christian Cinema

The movie has been on a tour of single-night showings across the U.S. since January, due to wrap up at the end of May. A full list of remaining venues is available here. Here is a short trailer:

Mullins left a legacy of great songs — including Our God is an Awesome God — but this will always be my personal favorite:

Another one was the powerful song Creed, a declaration of faith and doctrine which we featured here.

I realize that I may not get to see this until it is released on video, but I would not want to miss this story.

Ragamuffin Movie

April 4, 2014

Bad Ad Placement

Filed under: education, ethics, media — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:00 am

So last night I was relaxing watching The Big Bang Theory on CBS, and the local station ran a teaser for a story about a 49-year old teacher charged with kissing a 13-year old student. WIVB-TV reported:

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) – A Casey Middle School art teacher is resigning after admitting she kissed a 13-year-old boy on the mouth.

Donna Sleap pleaded guilty in court on Thursday to endangering the welfare of a child. Staff members alerted administrators about her behavior in October, and the art teacher was placed on leave in December. The incident was reportedly caught on video…

[...continue reading here...]

Then, Big Bang Theory returned, but CBS begins each segment by plastering animated advertising over the bottom one-third of the screen. This one was for a new comedy series beginning April 24th titled — wait for it — Bad Teacher.

[series] Centers on a sexy, foul-mouthed divorcée who becomes a teacher to find her next husband.

[first episode] Former Trophy Wife Meredith Davis seeks a return to a life of leisure and luxury by posing as a teacher at an upscale Elementary school to meet the students’ rich, single fathers and land one to marry.

[...continue reading at IMDb...]

I guess I’m supposed to be outraged by the former, and then tune in to be entertained by the latter.

Still, the timing was strange. The local station had no idea what the network was going to do, and of course the network could care less what the affiliates are running.

…speaking of which; if there’s an ad currently running on this article, it’s not from us!

 

 

 

April 3, 2014

Gaining Platform; Rites of Passage

Platform

I frequently look at Christian leadership blogs which seem obsessed about helping pastors and authors build their platform on social media. If that in itself is a stated goal, then I think the type of advice offered may serve some practical good.

But I also keep wondering if true respect is not also built in what might be called ‘the crucible of affliction;’ that is to say, that various people in various types of ministry endeavors have earned the right to be heard because they faced a great test, or championed a great cause.

The challenge is that not everybody gets to climb Mount Everest, nor does everyone want to. The type of platform that some people want to see built is gained only through some newsworthy accomplishment.

The other side of the challenge is that those who want to enjoy a healthy following and a strong platform are concerned only with what can be measured statistically, and stats alone seem to be a rather hollow way of measuring the worth of an individual.

I think platform is good only if leads you to another objective beyond selling your book or gaining social media followers. Utimately, however, it’s who you are that counts. That’s not something you can engineer. It’s not something you can quantize statistically, either.

Mission Trips

It’s true that short-term mission tourism has become an industry onto itself, and there have been various articles posted online, including some here, that have engaged the sport of mission trip bashing.

But lately I’ve been wondering if it isn’t really some necessary rite of passage; the third point of a three pronged initiation into Christian service: Salvation, baptism, short term mission. Or, “When did you become a Christian?” and “When you were baptized?” followed by “Where did you go for your mission trip?”

It almost seems that to lack this quintessential experience — as I freely admit I do — is to have a personal story that is somehow more shallow. When people ask me to document my ministry experience I find myself sometimes apologetically saying, “Everything you can imagine except third-world missions exposure.”

That doesn’t mean I don’t believe I’ve had some rich experiences; maybe it’s reflective of a greater spiritual inferiority complex. I’m just thinking that maybe we’ve been too harsh when it comes to mission trip bashing, provided the trip has been designed to be more than a tourist visit.

Although I’ve never done it, my ideal for you, your son, or your daughter would be to connect with the six month Discipleship Training School at Youth With A Mission bases around the world; each one of which has both a training and a field experience component.

Read more:
Short Term Mission Trips: Yea or Nay?, November 2008
Short Term Mission Trippers as Seen by Full-Time Missionaries, April 2012
Another Critique of the Short Term Missions Movement, June 2012

March 24, 2014

Phil Vischer Wraps What’s In The Bible with Revelation

Twice at the beginning, characters in the final of the 26 episodes in the 13-DVD series What’s in the Bible? express their hope that the series will “end with an easy one.” With the Book of Revelation the only possible candidate for a wrap-up, that’s one wish that doesn’t come true.

Being a regular listener (and now viewer) of The Phil Vischer Podcast — a series that’s not for kids — I was curious about how the series would handle two particular books, Genesis and Revelation. My church library was only too obliging when it came to the former, but anxious to view the latter, I arranged with the series’ Canadian distributor to quickly get my hands on video 13 at nominal cost.

What's in the Bible - RevelationThe first episode on the video, number 25, deals with the general epistles: Hebrews, Peter, James and Jude. (They opted not to do a Beatles parody for Jude; to take a sad song and make it better.)(Or something.) Then it was on to final episode 26.

At one point a character remarks on something in the text and says, in effect, ‘that would give kids nightmares.’ But then in the scene that immediately follows, there are mentions of things that could, I suppose, give kids nightmares. (Our kids, raised on Veggie Tales, are in their 20s now, so this no longer becomes a personal concern.) There are some themes in Revelation from which there is no escaping, nor does the video shy away from trying to explain the difference between literal, poetic and apocalyptic writing.

Phil, Buck Denver, Sunday School Lady, the lounge-singer/priest, and the rest of the gang outline some of the basic symbols and imagery. The use of numbers like 4, 7, and 1000 are explained, yet the dimensions city descending from heaven is left at 14,000 miles cubed with no indication if the reference to thousands here simply means ‘a great number’ as it did a few minutes prior, of if it is more literal.

Either way, the plagues and the dragon and the judgments are covered quickly in order to focus on the ending, showing the Bible’s story arc from “garden” to “garden city” and then there is a quick overview of all 26 episodes. Younger children shouldn’t actually end up with nightmares if they have the ‘happy ending’ in view.

What’s in the Bible is the product of much consultation with children’s ministry specialists (an area of specialty now referred to simply as ‘Kidmin.’) I wouldn’t want to try to fault their efforts when presented with challenges like the first and last books of the Bible.

Rather, I think that past the banter with characters — some of which does get tedious from an adult perspective — this is a series that parents should watch with their children. There is much here that I think adults could learn, both in the substance and the presentation, and a few things they may have not heard before, or not heard presented so clearly.

I can’t wait to see what Phil Vischer is up to next!

February 21, 2014

Miley C. and Justin B. — Same Old Story

Filed under: media, music — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:36 am

Years ago, the British band After the Fire (also known as ATF) defined the ever repeating story of kid-made-superstar that is currently happening to Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus. This video version of Billy, Billy offers the lyrics onscreen and I encourage you to read along. Depending on your age, you can probably think of other people in other decades and other areas of the entertainment industry — film, television, music — for whom this shoe fits.  Who better to introduce this than ATF’s own Peter Banks! This was written early this morning:

Greetings Paul from the UK

Billy, Billy came about because of seeing first hand the way the business (music business mainly!) can wreck certain people. We were guests at the comedian Billy Connolly’s birthday party when a completely ghostlike Pete Townshend came in, Billy looked after him… the lyrics were written by Andy Piercy and he will clearly be the best source, from my angle it is a mish mash of the people we met and a sense of concern as to where we ourselves could land up being.

This is ATF’s second appearance here at Thinking Out Loud. Check out the song One Rule For You which was a #1 hit in England.

January 11, 2014

Travel the World by Internet Radio

Filed under: media — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:38 am

Delicast sample page

I have nothing to write today. I am lost in the world of Internet radio and may not come up for air for several weeks.

I love radio. I’ve always loved the medium. I got to do some work briefly in radio a few times, and despite the slick, formatted medium it has become, I really miss it. The more “live” the better.

So you can imagine my surprise a few days ago when I discovered DeliCast.com, a well-maintained working portal to radio stations in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, as well as Canada, the U.S., New Zealand and Australia.  For each country, you can sort alphabetically, by popularity, by city of origin, and by format.

The format sorting is especially interesting: News, talk, electronic music, alternative rock, house music, classical, music of the ’70s (why?), and of course various stations tagged as religion, gospel, and Christian.  I’m currently listening to a worship stream — not true radio mind you since nobody’s introducing the songs — from Life in New Zealand. For each station listing there’s a link to their website which is how I got this one started. However, I listened to some ’60s music this week, there’s even a few religious stations that broadcast high church liturgical music.

And then there’s television. I can finally watch Cornerstone TV from Pennsylvania, and Thursday night I watched a concert at UCB Television in the UK, at what was for them the middle of the night. If you’ve got someone in your extended family who grew up where they speak a different language, this might offer them a well-appreciated taste of home. The world just got smaller.

The delivery is crisp and clear.  I live an hour from Toronto, but trying to watch the CBC National News without glitches, lags and crashes is impossible most nights. Yet I can listen to radio and watch television on DeliCast flawlessly.

If you find yourself stuck at home this weekend wishing you could be somewhere else, I can’t offer you airline tickets, but if you are willing to let your imagine run wild, you can let internet radio transport you around the world.

Do you listen to Christian radio online? Got a favorite station? Leave a comment.

January 3, 2014

My One Podcast Addiction

I talk a lot about the Phil Vischer podcast, but with its switch from audio to video about three months ago, I should have clued in that I could embed one of the episodes here, especially given that many of you drop by to see what’s going here but don’t always click through. I got the idea from Dan Edelen at Cerulean Sanctum — bet nobody else has that blog name — who did the same today.  He wrote:

…The following episode has so many interesting talking points on Evangelicalism, evil, tolerance, witchcraft, control, the world becoming post-Christian, and the end of storytelling, I didn’t even know where to start to unpack it. Once you get past the Pope sneaking out of the Vatican to give alms to the poor (ends around 7:17), the conversation shifts to the depiction of supernaturalism in films and what constitutes good and evil in a post-Christian world.

At around 22:38, Phil, Drew Dyck, and Skye Jethani begin discussing what happens when diversity attacks shared values and how this destroys the ability to tell a story. Phil quotes screenwriting guru Robert McKee noting that when a society has no shared common values you can’t tell a story because no one will agree with the framing mechanisms of rightness and wrongness needed to make a statement about a value depicted through story. Earlier, the trio decided that this has left us with only one agreed-upon value: Don’t oppress (or be mean to) other people. And in the end, this is all that is left of evil.

It’s a powerful discussion with startling ramifications for Christianity, both as Christians seek to share The Story of All Stories and as we confront genuine Evil as the Bible defines it.

The discussion then verges into talking about external evil and how stories are loath to discuss a greater evil that cannot be explained as just bad thoughts we might have for people who are different from us. We also see into how this comes down to control and why religious ideas with controlling godlike powers or controlling God Himself are anathema to the Christian worldview. And then Jethani mentions how some Christians are essentially practicing witchcraft…

…continue reading here…

Here’s the episode Dan featured, which is the one from a few weeks ago:

December 23, 2013

This Christmas, Give Me More of Christ

Great music for Christmas 2013 from the band 7eventh Time Down.

December 16, 2013

Christian Radio Stations and the True Meaning of Christmas

Christmas Banner 2

Because I spend part of my week in a Christian retail environment, I hear a lot from customers about their frustration trying to buy Christmas cards that contain anything even remotely resembling the Biblical Christmas story, and as I mentioned here a few days ago, the birth narrative from Matthew or Luke is just the beginning of what we, as Christ-followers, would want to convey.  Fortunately, the Christian bookstores — and their online equivalents — are able to offer products that aren’t about Rudolph, or Frosty, or one-horse open sleighs.

So now that we’re into the final countdown to Christmas, I’m at a total loss to understand how it is that the customers who so decry the secularization of Christmas can handle what Christian radio is offering during the final weeks of December. Biblical narrative? Idea that Jesus came to save us? Concept of God incarnate? Some songs, yes; but in many others that are sucking up valuable Christian radio airtime, it’s just not there to be heard.

Now let me say at the outset there are two realities present here.

The first is that successful Christian music artists either feel compelled or are compelled contractually to make a Christmas album. This provides them with extra visibility, extra radio airplay and extra revenue. And I’m sure that these artists really do have deep personal memories of song of these songs from their own childhood years.

Secondly, I realize that for Christian radio stations, they are most likely to attract new listeners at this time of year with a playlist that is more recognizable to the average listener. Maybe some of those new listeners will stick around in January, and hear the Good News in a way they’ve never heard it before. One of my favorite radio ministries is 96five in Brisbane, Australia. They play a mix of Christian and secular family-friendly songs that has earned them top ratings in their market.

Despite both of these realities, I believe there is an expectancy on the part of regular listeners, who are also in many cases financial supporters that the station will take the opportunity to communicate the message of the Gospel at this time of year. Furthermore, I think the broader community feels that in many ways they own lyrics like “Joy to the world, the Lord is come” in a way that they don’t relate to “How great is our God,” and are therefore quite content to stop tuning across the radio spectrum and allow their car radios to stop at any station that’s playing the traditional carol.

I’ve deliberately avoided mentioning names of artists or song titles here, but the one which grates on me (and others) most this year is a recording of a new song called “Merry Christmas, Baby.” Sorry, but there are so many better uses for that three minutes. I realize the song goes into what we might call vertical ‘worship-inclined’ lyrics — lyrics that can be taken two ways — but that isn’t clear to listeners in the context — and title — of the larger song.

There is also an argument for the radio formula where only one song in three is a Christmas song, and listeners traveling to the mall or to family events get to hear the kind of Christian radio that is broadcast the rest of the year, instead of re-branded “Christmas” format that disappears on December 26th. That strategy, is something my Christmas card customers would support. Right now they’re just bewildered.

What’s your relationship to the whole Christian Christmas-album genre?

November 28, 2013

Heaven is For Real – The Movie: Sneak Preview

Filed under: media — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:09 am

Scheduled for release on Easter weekend, 2014, the movie adaptation of the bestselling Thomas Nelson book, Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo is now far along enough in production that a trailer is now available. The book has significant title recognition even in the general market, and is sure to re-spark conversations about death, the after-life and faith.

Below is the first official movie poster, a little hard to read, but it gets away from the Sunday School version of Colton on the front cover of the book. Click the image to see the full cast list at Internet Movie Database (IMDb).

Heaven Is For Real - The Movie

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