Thursday, March 23, 2006

The IT Factor

There's a movie that is schedule to release in less than two months. It's one you've heard talked about around the water cooler. You may even think you have an idea of the content. But what you may not understand is the impact this movie could have on humanity. Strong words? Not nearly as strong as the words in the book the movie is based upon. The book? The DaVinci Code.

I am just about 50 pages from completing this 450 page novel. I must say that I was extremely captivated from the get go. Dan Brown is, if nothing else, a fantastic novelist. He knows how to draw the reader in. As a matter of fact, I could hardly put down the book in the first 250 pages. But then IT happened. The IT I am referring to is the most controversial part of this book. I won't ruin it for those of you who have yet to read this novel or who might want to see the movie, but let me just say that IT will be cause for many discussions in the near future.

The book, as I mentioned before, was so well written in the beginning that I could hardly stand to put it down. The historical thoughts and ideas were eloquently woven inside a most believable plot. I was definitely intrigued by the possibility that some of the historical ideas Mr. Brown was espousing were true. That is, until IT happened. Just over the midway part of the novel the tides turned. No longer was the novel intertwining between a great story line and historical evidence. At that point Mr. Brown no longer cared whether or not he was true to his intentions, but in my opinion, his gluttony of pushing the envelope bacame his main focus.

I would certainly understand if a writer wanted the reader to question their belief systems, historical evidence, etc., but what happened with Mr. Brown is simply quite unexcusable. He left the world of excellent writing to pursue a selfish desire of causing conflict. The first half of the novel he accomplishes both incredibly well - story combined with conflict. During the IT stage he abandons his writing style and focuses solely on establishing conflict. Conflict, in my opinion, which was aimed at selling his book and not to further his writing style.

Let me describe it this way. For those of us who appreciate jazz music, you might possibly equate this book to Kenny G. In his early years, Kenneth Gorelick was really a quite competent and established jazz musician. He was well versed in many styles, including be-bop. At some point in his career however, he was presented with the same scenario as Mr. Brown - abandon his roots and value system in exchange for the almighty dollar. That's exactly what Kenny G did - a new name, a new style, a new music. Both artists gave up on their roots and chose a new pathway.

You might claim that I am being harsh on this book and the writer. I have not been in the position where I had to choose between money and my core values, and quite frankly, I hope to never be in that place. I can only tell you what I have read and how it struck me. You will have to read the book and discover this for yourself. I love a good book. I love the journey you take while reading. I even love conflict when it causes me to question myself and I grow from that experience. The DaVinci Code had all of those wrapped into one but chose to finish in another direction.

I would love to hear thoughts from those of you who have read this book. The movie is due out shortly as well. Maybe God is setting this whole thing up. Maybe God is telling us that we don't do a good job talking about all this stuff; we try to hide things, cover them up, pretend they don't happen. I smile at the thought that God is opening up opportunities for all of us to discuss our faith. Honest, open, authentic communication. Will we seize this opportunity to "crack" the code? Or we continue to veil our lives in the shrouds of history? For now, THIS story remains to be written.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Old Curiosity Shop Revisited

My wife sent me a cool article this morning about the "why's" of young kids - literally. If you've been around a child for any length of time, you have heard the inevitable "why" questions:

Why do I have to put my toys away?
Why does it smell in here?
Why do you go to work everyday?
Why do people die?

At first glance these questions seem innocent enough. UNTIL you continue to hear them over and over again. My three year old daughter has been going through this stage lately. The curiosity shop of life. Normally I would give the same response that every parent resorts to in these situations - because. But the other day, God reminded me that my daughter (and countless others like her no doubt) are simply asking about things in life that they do not comprehend. Her life experiences at her point in life are so minimal. What you and I take for granted she is just starting to notice, and the wonder and amazement of life are blooming in full color.

You might remember the popular beer commercial a few years ago with the tagline, "Why ask why?" Could this possibly be God's mantra as well? I highly doubt it. God created us to question our existence. Ultimately it's the only way back to Him. Our discoveries in the process are what we call "life." To stop asking why would be to ignore life altogether. Which is "why" I just don't get it when people accept everything they are told for what appears to be truth. They are force-fed information (whether it's politics, work, or gasp, even religion) and choose to accept it without thinking on their own. They stopped asking the why question a long time ago and are content to coast on someone else's intellectual musings.

I started thinking about all the things I wanted my son and daughters to experience in life. I forget that even though I may know about something or have had that experience in life (it may even seem mundane at some point), they are just waiting for the chance to share in those experiences - I just don't afford them the opportunity. Even the simplest of things (say, flying a kite?) can be a new joy to our kids. What I might take for granted they see as (pardon the expression) a whole new world waiting to be discovered.

You may be wondering "why" I am writing about this subject, but maybe the more important question is "why" you stopped asking the question in the first place?

Friday, March 03, 2006

God On Tivo

Once again I find myself caught up in the game of tv. I hope I am finding balance, but part of me understands the inherent nature of man to find solace in mind-numbing activities. I have heard much discussion about the "TiVo" world lately, and quite frankly I am having a hard time overcoming the "early adoption" tendencies of my personality. I have always been on the cutting edge; the first one to grab new technology and test it to its fullest. Which makes me want Tivo and every other gadget RIGHT NOW!!

As my wife and I continue to work on God's plan for our finances, we have made a conscious decision to cut out some of the "fat" in our budget, which means limiting our entertainment dollars. At first I complained mightily about this new restriction in my life, but I have come to realize that this has been one of the best decisions our family has ever made. Not only have we cut down on expenses, but we now have more time for other activities such as playing/working outside, family game night, reading, praying, and much more.

I love the phrase (and ideology) "turn a liability into an asset." In a way, this is exactly what we have done. What seemed a daunting blow to our entertainment pysche has bloomed into something none of us expected. TIME. Time for God, time together, time for others, time for ourselves. Isn't this exactly what Jesus stood for? Building relationships with God and others as a foundation for the human experience? Now I am not claiming total victory over the entertainment monster - I think we all need a little down time to rejuvenate our brain - I still have tons of challenges on a weekly basis. As a matter of fact, this is a horrible time of the year. Who can pass up "The Bachelor: Paris" (did ANYONE like Moana?), the witty humor of "House," the incredible travels of the "Amazing Race," the singing sensations on "American Idol" (which, by the way, I think America has voted correctly the past two weeks!!), the battles on "Survivor" (which is not as good this time around), blood and trauma on both "CSI" and "ER," and of course the newly popular, but VERY fun to watch "Gray's Anatomy." That doesn't even cover the series "24" or the mysterious "Lost."

But then again, I am winning the entertainment battle...right? Do you think God has us on "TiVo?" Maybe he skips through the boring parts, watches some stuff live, and quite possibly rewinds and re-watches our crazy maneuvers throughout the day. Sometimes I think we put God on TiVo but we never get around to watching His episodes. Instead we keep filling up our memory with a bunch of useless junk and never get around to watching the most meaningful episodes, or worse yet, our memory gets full so we dump our drives to fill up with some more useless stuff.

If you recorded God today and watched it back tonight, what would He be saying about YOUR life?