Thinking Out Loud

August 18, 2012

What’s in a Name?

So  let’s suppose I was going to start an activity center for children or a kids movie that would have some faith-based elements to it and drew on Old Testament themes and I decided to call it:

Gomorrah Learning Center

Would you think that was a bit of a strange choice? Jonah sure didn’t want to go there.

That’s kind of what we felt in east Syracuse, New York (to wit, DeWitt) last week at the Shoppingtown Mall (yes, seriously) and ran into the Ninevah Treehouse Learning Center.

Looking more like a portrait studio than anything large enough to offer activities, the place was nonetheless quite well appointed with a rainforest background set and quality stage lighting.  Setting up in a shopping mall ain’t cheap, and this facility appears to have a lot of class.

The project is headed by Rufus Morris, Jr., who also is behind The Nineveh Project, which is currently an audio book but also (I think) being completed as a movie, a TV show and/or an interactive game.  Here’s the 411 on the plot:

The Nineveh Project: Created, Written and Produced by Rufus Morris Jr.; In this magical story find out how a young boy (Michael) depressed from the death of his father he searches for a place his father often told him of. An ancient city called Amethyst, many have heard of but few have seen and lived to tell of it. However while searching for answers to his father’s death he finds himself in the Land Of Nineveh wearing nothing but pajamas, slippers and a mysterious gemstone necklace given to him from his father. On his quest he discovers other worldly friends but soon finds the pathway to the city is guarded by deadly creatures and an evil sorceress who has vowed to keep all from entering the great city. In Michael’s search for the city of Amethyst he finds his destiny to lead others to a magical place he’s never seen.

What I called a “portrait studio” is actually a place where kids can audition for a role in the completed production.  Morris is also associated with Kingdom Entertainment Studios and School of the heARTS.  One business directory says Kingdom was established in 2008, its own website says it is celebrating its 12-year anniversary. But let’s not quibble over dates; this is a massive media undertaking.

The Ninevah website continues:

Author, Producer & Educator Mr. Rufus Morris Jr. has plans to expand the services of Kingdom Entertainment Studios & School of the heARTS to include a Music & Creative Arts Therapy Center for at-risk youth. These programs facilitated on our studio campus will use the Nineveh Film Series movie sets, props and curriculum to train & equip youth to defeat their personal enemies of dreams (i.e. substance abuse, depression, academic failure etc.). The programs will also offer a creative & nurturing environment that encourages personal growth and responsibility. Working closely with caring parents as well as private & public school administration will allow our students to get the support services they need while still working towards a high school diploma or G.E.D. In addition to exploring exciting (vocational) careers in music, film, multimedia, theater and other creative arts, youth in our programs will have access to a full range of mental health services and academic support. The outcomes / data from our research & development will show how music & creative arts can be used as therapy in mental illness, behavioral & below standard academic cases among youth.

But what about the faith-based element?

One of the websites contains a 5-minute feature from The 700 Club which introduces Rufus Morris as a former rap star who felt a spiritual battle that caused him to question his connection to the hip-hop scene. Around the 3:30 mark, it’s clear, without doubt, that Morris is a Christ-follower.

So why Nineveh?

The 700 Club doesn’t seem concerned, so I guess we shouldn’t be either. We’ll sit back and see what develops at Nineveh Treehouse and Kingdom Entertainment; it is, after all, a whale of a concept.

Read more about Rufus Morris Jr.’s background as “D. J. Skratch” and his vision for the Nineveh project and School of the heARTS in this local Syracuse newspaper article.

March 21, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Click the image above for sourcing; meanwhile, here are the rest of this week’s suggested readings:

  • The Economist catches up to the wind of Evangelical and Charismatic Christianity blowing through the church in the UK.  Yeah, really, The Economist. 
  • I was recently scanning the four youth books that deal with cutting, addiction, abuse and food disorders by Nancy Alcorn, and noticed the books are somewhat of a commercial for something called Mercy Ministries. Then I read this report.
  • Last week while we were linklisting here, Pete Wilson posted an article about all the damage being done by Facebook. Except that Facebook isn’t really the culprit
  • At Internet Monk, Denise Spencer, wife of the late Michael Spencer who founded iMonk, shares some insights she discovered after being lost in a forest.
  • Why do so many Christian blogs have Christian book reviews, and so few have Christian music reviews? Amy Sondova at Backseat Writer is the exception with this in-depth CD review of The Same Love by Paul Baloche.
  • Here’s an intriguing idea: What if we read the directives in Paul’s epistles in the first person? This example from Galatians 3 models what could be an instant small group exercise. B. J. Stockman guest posts at Zach’s. (Chapters one and two are also blogged there.)
  • Here’s an opportunity to wear your Spandex to the Red Sea: Stryper frontman Michael Sweet is leading a Holy Land tour.
  • Why Writers Need Editors: A guy we associate with alternative Christian media doesn’t have much use for mainstream Christian media. Maybe too much so.  He apologizes, sort of.
  • Here’s a short story that will rock your world when it comes to how we tend to view who pays for what when it comes to missions. Not everyone gets a 4-star hotel with M&Ms (red ones removed) either.
  • Texas pastor and blogger Trey Morgan was involved in a house giveaway last week that didn’t involve either Habitat for Humanity or Extreme Makeover Home Edition. It’s the second house they’ve given away. (Here’s more about the first one.)
  • If some are chosen, elect or predestined, why evangelize? Here’s a Calvinist with seven Biblical reasons.
  • Wanna go deep? Here’s an article about the concept that worship is a physical act; there isn’t a higher or purer worship to be experienced; not in this life.
  • Author Linda Mintle talks to CBN News about the “Am I Pretty?” YouTube video disturbing teen trend.
  • And here’s another parenting must-read: Brad Whitt’s 20 Ways To Tell Your Child You Love Them
  • Know someone responsible for worship and/or creative arts ministry in your local church? Tell them about Sunday online magazine.
  • Dave Carrol has a great quotation from Randy Bohlender’s new book, Jesus Killed My Church.
  • Speaking of books, Rick Apperson reviews the new Mike Howerton book Glorious Mess which he found literally too funny.
  • Here’s a blog link just for the sisters; but the guys can read it, too. Sometimes parents exasperate their kids because we think that they have to learn to do a task the way we do it.
  • Hometown (sort of) rapper Chris Greenwood aka Manafest, has a new album, Fighter releasing in April. One of the producers worked with Justin Bieber while another produced for The Newsboys.
  • Don’t forget to have your link suggestions in by Monday night.
  • For our closing picture below, we ask the musical question: Why throw out your old car parts when they can be part of the church stage design on Sunday morning? Click the image for the story link.

November 13, 2008

Got Kids? Veggie Tales Creator Phil Vischer Launches JellyTelly.Com

Filed under: Christianity, parenting — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 12:56 pm

While I’ve always enjoyed the humour in Veggie Tales, I became a fan of Phil Vischer after reading his book, Me, Myself and Bob; which chronicles the ups and downs of trying to build a kidvid empire, only to watch it collapse; and the lessons God has taught him throughout the process.

So after getting this as an e-mail this morning; I wanted to pass it on.  Don’t miss the enormity of the task they’re taking on here: 20 minutes of fresh content DAILY delivered to your computer.



Dear FFP (friends and fans of Phil!) …

We’ve launched!  After three years of work, we just launched JellyTelly – our new kids “mini-network” – at!

Every day on JellyTelly kids can watch 20 minutes of “mini” TV shows and play online games while learning about the Bible and their faith.  Biblical illiteracy is a huge problem in the church, and we think we can help address it in the same way Sesame Street tackled basic literacy back in the 60s and 70s.

phil-vischerBeyond that, by collaborating with other Christian producers we are planting the seed for what could become an alternative to Nickelodeon® and the Disney Channel® – a tiny kids network that can help raise the next generation of Christians while launching the next generation of Christian storytellers.  It’s an exciting time – the most fun I’ve had since we launched VeggieTales® out of a spare bedroom way back in 1993!

To hear more about the mission of JellyTelly, watch this video.  To see a sample of our programming and meet Buck Denver, Clive & Ian, the Bentley Brothers, Dr. Schniffenhowzen, Agnes & Winnefred, and Quacky the Duck, watch this clip.

We’ve got a great opportunity to launch the next phase of Christian kids media, and you can be a part of it.  Check it out at!

Phil Vischer

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