Thinking Out Loud

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!

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January 25, 2014

Weekend Link List

The Weekend List Lynx

The Weekend List Lynx

Some classic stuff from my files; none of this is new — most is from the Summer of 2011 — but it might be new to you. Mostly these are links I saved that I felt worth keeping at the time…

  • For those of us who are too Evangelical for Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” here is a new set of lyrics for which the author obtained a mechanical rights release, the way you’re supposed to. You might want to bookmark this for Easter.
  • “Are religious enthusiasts just naturally obnoxious? Or do certain forms of Christianity attract people who have an insatiable need to impose their beliefs on others? Do some of us simply have nothing on the the mental dashboard that registers “too intense?”  Classic Michael Spencer at Internet Monk.
  • And some classic Michael Patton at Parchment and Pen: What if the Apostle Paul’s story of the Messiah were a book proposal or a movie pitch? Paul would almost certainly get a rejection letter for having something unmarketable.
  • From a 2011 Pew Forum study, when asked what is the main threat to Evangelical Christianity 47 percent of leaders said Islam is the main threat  but 71 percent put secularism in that category.
  • There are a lot of blogs and websites for pastors about leadership, but Mark Galli suggests that what is really needed is pastors trained for chaplaincy.
  • Ten quick facts about Mormonism.
  • The part of the church service that usually doesn’t come under the microscope is the announcements. The author of this piece once tweeted, “I wish the bible had direction on how to do announcements during a service. It has to be the least effective thing the church does universally.”
  • Since the beginning of time as we know it, Phil Johnson and the Kalvinist Klan at Pyromaniacs have been offering us a “Weekly Dose of Spurgeon.” if C. H. Spurgeon has never been on your radar, drop your scanning speed down a gear and soak up his explanation of what it means to say “Jesus emptied himself.”
  • “..There was a bacteria in this youth-ministry entrepreneurial movement that has now been passed on to pastors. Because the focus was on winning participation, there was a little need or desire to reflect, especially to reflect theologically about the practice of ministry.” Andrew Root at IVP’s Online Pulpit.
  • Predating The Phil Vischer Podcast: Skye Jethani interviews Phil Vischer in April, 2012.
  • I remember when atheist Hemant Mehta posted this like it was yesterday: A survey that found many atheists who were also scientists enroll their children in a church program.
  • Ravi Zacharias quotes one of his professors: “Prophecy is very difficult, especially when it’s about the future.” What’s the future of western culture?

 

I think we’ll limit this rewind edition to a dozen; sometimes there are so many and people don’t know where to begin. I tend to be a “hoarder” with bookmarks in my computer; I hate to delete things, even if they appeared in previous link lists, because I keep thinking they are going to be needful and relevant to someone.

There is definitely a wealth of “backlist” items in the blogosphere that one hopes will keep being discovered.

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:

June 13, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Did you catch the weekend link list? Lots of good stuff there, and here, too.

  • First link today is long — I didn’t get through all five pages — but it’s interesting: When we think of unreached people groups, we tend to think of groups that are marginalized, but Eric Metaxas says we should also consider reaching the elites. (Hey, that’s easy for him now that he’s preached the Presidential Prayer Breakfast…)
  • Brad Lomenick Skypes with worship songwriter Tim Hughes in London. Tim serves on staff at HTB, the birthplace of The Alpha Course.
  • Really enjoying the Phil Vischer podcast with Skye Jethani.  Episode two is now available to download or stream live.
  • Shai Linne is a Christian rap artist who, “eloquently explains the trinitarian nature of salvation with poetic clarity.”  Check out the video for Triune Praise.
  • Revell Publishing will issue a biography from Patty Mallette, aka Justin Bieber’s mom. “…a teen mom who had to overcome a drug and alcohol addiction; she now believes God gives second chances. The book is titled Nowhere But Up.
  • The SCL’s keep on coming: Here’s 12 Signs You Attend a Suburban Church.
  • When Jared Wilson left Nashville for rural Vermont, he was told the move was a real career killer.  But, reminded by Tim Keller, we need to jettison the mindset that small(er) town ministry is second rate.
  • InterVarsity Press’ Andy LePeau cites a study that shows enhanced (interactive) ebooks actually yield lower comprehension.
  • Truthinator posted a “parody of Emergent Church Planting” at Xtra Normal a few years too late, but we through it in here anyway.
  • Dan Gouge points out that for some people, the final takeaway from the tsunami in Japan is that Maru the cat survived.
  • Marriage Corner: Some people feel that patriarchy is based on pragmatics: “Somebody has to make the final decision. Somebody has to break the tie.” Richard Beck thinks there are not that many tie votes. (See all submissions — pun accidental — in this synchroblog series here.)
  • Should you date a non-Christian? I think you know where this is going. “Don’t misunderstand me here. You’re not looking for a saint, but you are looking for someone with a hungry heart for Jesus. If that’s present, Jesus will take care of the rest.”  The reasons are practical.
  • Looking for a smile today? Here’s a video and some analysis of what could be the worst eschatological song ever.
  • Gotta go…time for some food:

May 23, 2012

Wednesday Link List


  • So let’s start with Ed Young’s Pastor Fashion blog. We’re being set up here, right? Mind you, the fashion blog and Ed’s regular blog contain the same spelling error:  Taking something to a whole other level, is whole, not hole. And that is him in the videos. So maybe this is serious. Besides, it’s not April 1st.
  • But we’re not being taken at the blog No Longer Quivering, which was one of several established to question the whole “Quiverful” movement, (Check a Bible concordance for context) not to mention Christianity itself.  Lately however, things have gotten even more complicated, as in this introduction to a 9-part post. (Note: the blog is in the middle of a move from Blogspot to Patheos.) How does a former (male) pastor move from repressing gender issues to a full-blown transition? (Did I say this one is complicated?)
  • With all the drug war violence in the news, six people weigh in on the subject of safety issues implicit in missions trips to Mexico.
  • And speaking of youth groups, Rachel Marie looks back realizing that something was seriously missing from body image pep talks.
  • If Christianity is nothing more than a “hell avoidance system,” then obviously it comes crashing down if there is no hell. That’s the subject of Hellbound – The Movie releasing in September.
  • On the world stage, two of the weekend’s religious news stories involved Twitter, in Pakistan and Kuwait.
  • 36 faculty have resigned from a Baptist college in George over its new lifestyle statement.
  • Podcast aficionados: Ravi Zacharias guested at John Ortberg’s church on the weekend. Sermon audio podcast is available.
  • Nominated for four Billboard Music Awards in April, the band Casting Crowns went on to take Best Christian Artist and Best Christian album on Sunday night. Not surprisingly, top Christian song was “Blessings” by Laura Story.
  • Know someone 15 or older who has left the church?  They may fall into the prodigal, nomad, or exile category.  Here are six things to consider which might minimize the exodus.
  • On the contrary, here’s a woman who left church around age 16, has lived that much lifetime again, but now finds herself missing God. John Shore responds.
  • Along that line, what about your friends who say they are Christ followers, but don’t like going to church?  This 3 min vid suggests they’re rejecting the wrong “church.”
  • Aaron Niequist has released the third in the series, A New Liturgy.  Also, here’s a link to another of Aaron’s projects, the song, “God’s Children.”  I love the line, “God of every class, from the greenest grass, to the underpass.”
  • From our leftover from April files, the creator of Veggie Tales is planning a new project and it’s not for kids.  Learn more about the Phil Vischer Show.
  • Lots of links from CT Inc. today. (I finally opened all those newsletters!) Here’s one by Carolyn Arends on the challenges of the term “literal interpretation.”
  • I had never actually seen the site Truthinator until Monday. It’s supposed to be “humor,” but after a few posts you realize you’ve never seen so much hate on a so-called Christian blog.
  • Looking for more reading? There’s eight great links from Saturday’s Weekend Link List.
  • Finally, if the t-shirt above isn’t exactly what you had in mind for a Father’s Day gift, if Dad thinks the local church choir sounds like a bunch of howling cats, the image below includes a link where you can buy a 8″ X 10″print of the choir in question for only $25.

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