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HELP! Greenbean Needs Your Opinion

I need to pick a new picture of me for our church newsletter. Of course, we go low budget around here, so any picture we use will likely be one taken on my iPhone. All my iPhone pics are on Facebook. I scrounged Facebook and found these pictures that I think could work. The problem is no picture of me is very good (not much to work with there) so it really boils down to picking the best of the worst. So here they are–register your vote at the end, and come back later to check and see who is winning. For the record, I do not promise to abide by the electoral decision.


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Game Time Jamie
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Theologian Pastor Jamie
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Bucees Big Drink Jamie
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Happy Church Camp Jamie
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Beard Stroking Jamie
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Not Happy Church Camp Jamie
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Jazz Hands Jamie
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Magnum P.I. Jamie

After you click your choice, be certain to click on “VOTE” to record your selection.

 

 

 

 

The Dark Tower Movie

Is it possible to enjoy something and be disappointed by it at the same time?

The answer to that question must be yes, because that is exactly how I feel about my experience last night watching the Dark Tower.

WARNING: There are some spoilers below. Nothing major that would ruin it for you, but if you’re a purist you might want to stop and come back after you’ve seen it.


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I enjoyed the movie. I really did, and people who criticize it too harshly are either elitists who refuse to have a good time or who decided they didn’t want to like it before they ever sat down. The Dark Tower movie was far better than the Guardians sequel, yet another Spider Man movie, or anything else out there. I haven’t seen Dunkirk, but that is probably not a fair comparison, either. Dunkirk is Oscar bait. The Dark Tower movie is a fun summer film.

I enjoyed the movie because Idris Elba was amazing. Except for a single moment in the very end when he smiled too much, I was buying him as Roland. I never bought the story arc they told in the story for Roland, but I bought him, the actor, as Roland.

I enjoyed the kid playing Jake Chambers. The Dark Tower in the novels is not about Jake, but in movie he is the star, he is the protagonist and he is phenomenal.

I enjoyed Matthew McConaughey’s sleazy lizard lounge Man in Black. Sure, they put too much of him in the movie, but that was okay because I thought he captured the cheap sorcery and flippant caprice of the literary character pretty well.

I enjoyed the gunfights. I wish I could have seen more of those epic guns themselves, like a close up or a still shot or something, but nevertheless I loved those scenes.

I enjoyed that the movie didn’t answer all the plot elements of the breakers, and I enjoyed that they changed up the way they operated inside Algul Sient.

I enjoyed Jake making fun of Walter’s name.

I enjoyed the theme park.

I enjoyed hearing Roland say, “You have forgotten the face of your father.” Thank you big big.

I enjoyed all the homages to King’s other works, which are likewise part of the Dark Tower Universe, such as The Shining, Cujo, Salem’s Lot, and It.

I really enjoyed the opening screen that included the Ka-Tet Corporation with the turtle emblem as a maker of the movie. Way cool.


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But I was also disappointed. My perception is that a tinge of sorrow accompanied most people who loved the books as they watched the film play out, because the film was not the same epic story we’d fallen in love with. It is hard to even put into words, because its more about the feel of the movie than anything specific.

I was disappointed that they tried to distill several characters into Jake. I missed very much Eddie and Susannah and Father Callahan. And Oy. I really missed Oy. For those of you who haven’t read the novels, leaving out these characters would be like going to watch the Harry Potter movies and discovering that all the Weasleys had been written out, as well as Neville ¬†Longbottom and they were all added to Hermione’s character. Or you went to watch the Lord of the Rings and discover Frodo was the only Hobbit around and that Sam, Merry, and Pippin were added to Frodo’s character. It is that disappointing.

I am disappointed that Roland’s motive was changed. Roland is all about the Dark Tower, not revenge on Walter. Walter is in his way and is his enemy, but all Roland cares about is the Dark Tower.

I am disappointed in the beginning. They start the film in New York. The story should have started with King’s epic first line. I really wanted the movie to open with Roland on horseback chasing Walter in the desert.

I am disappointed in the lack of musical allusion. If it was there, I didn’t catch it. For me, in reading the novels, the first hint that there is a connection to this weird world the Gunslinger inhabits and ours is when he hears the song Hey Jude in the bar in Tull. TDT has a soundtrack of wonderful songs–from Someone Saved My Life Tonight to Velcro Fly to Crazy Train. Zip, Zilch, Zero on that in the movie. If you’re interested, there is an awesome Spotify playlist for the Dark Tower songs.

I am disappointed in the ending. It felt like Back To The Future, and it was too much of a happy ending. There is never a happy ending for the Dark Tower. Never. It is a sad, tragic tale.

I am disappointed in the lack of connection to other works of literature–Asimov, Rowling, Browning, etc . . .

I am disappointed in the idea of Roland as a fallen gunslinger. He is not. He deals in lead.

I am disappointed I never got to see if Roland was drinking a Nozz-A-La on the bus.

I am disappointed the movie was only an hour and a half. Really? There is a bazillion pages of source material here, and we get an hour and a half? Come on, man!

I am disappointed that the Dixie Pig shootout was moved to the front, instead of the back where it should be. Not to mention that Roland wasn’t even at the Dixie Pig shootout in the novels, unless you count his todash type appearance.

I am disappointed that all the mysticism in the novels is encapsulated with the one element of “the Shine”, which it is not. The touch (as it is called in the novels) is only part of this mystical universe.


However, I do have hope. Perhaps a new director, better screenwriting, and a revamped approach can redeem the franchise for a second installment. Just think of the difference between Star Trek The Motion Picture and The Wrath of Khan. But for now I am content with the knowledge that the books are still there, and they are the kind of story that gets into your blood, and the characters become people you know, and the language, say thankee-sai, even worms its way into your head.

I Need To Re-Think My Life

Friday I was in town, so I swung by the dry cleaning place to get my laundry. Most of the trousers I wear for work are dry-clean only, so I go there a couple of times a month.

I have never, ever, ever never, spoken to the woman who works the counter about any personal aspects of my life. Unless she googled me, there is no way she knows anything about me other than I am well-dressed.

Until Friday.

Friday, we had this conversation.

HER: “Are you a pastor?”

ME: “Why do you ask? It’s the hair, isn’t it?”

HER: “No, not your hair.”

ME: “Then what makes you think that?”

HER: “You’ve just got that pastor-vibe.”

This is a horrible development.

I need to make some changes, because the last thing I ever want is to have a pastor-vibe, whatever that is. Something has gone terribly wrong.

The List Sermon: Dos and Don’ts

This morning I’m working on the sermon I will preach in three weeks–that is Sunday, July 30. It is a part of my Nehemiah series for the summer. The text for the sermon is based upon Nehemiah 6:15-7:4 when Nehemiah proclaims that the wall, his great magnum opus, was complete.

I originally wanted this sermon to be a narrative sandwich style, but a funny thing happened as I was working through the material. A list emerged. First it was three things, then it was five, and by the time I had finished it was seven.

Am I really going to preach a list sermon? You betcha! list

List sermons have a fine pedigree as a communicative style. The early Puritans loved them. Speeches are often nothing more than political secular list sermons. Think about the State of the Union addresses–just a giant list of stuff. And blogs, the best blogs are always lists. You know its true.

The problem is list sermons have a terrible reputation. This terrible reputation comes from being abused by sloppy speakers serving up half-baked homiletics. Here are some lists on the dos and don’ts of a list sermon.

DO

  1. Tell your audience that a list is coming. Don’t try to hide it. Come right out and say “I’ve got five things I want you to think about . . .” Doing this creates built-in momentum toward the exciting last point.
  2. Make the last point exciting. Even if it is not chronological, make certain the last thing you list is a real zinger that will either make them laugh, cry, or form a pulpit committee to replace you. Whatever it is, make it memorable.
  3. Keep the list tied to the text. Oftentimes list sermons turn into elongated word studies that have little to do the text. Or opinions. Or someone else’s sermon you’re just copying.
  4. Use lists when the text is a narrative. It provides balance, because you already have the story in the Bible, and the list can help process it.
  5. Work hard to ensure all your listed points serve one big point which is the one point sermon. I am a big believer in the one point sermon–so my Nehemiah sermon has seven things, but they all point to the big point, which is “Nehemiah built the wall as a part of a process to secure the people from their enemies.”

DON’T

  1. Use clever acrostics with your list. Everyone hates those, and they are so 1980s. It only proves you know how to use a thesaurus.
  2. Spend too much time on the first one or two of your items and then cram the other six in the last paragraph of text or the last minute of speaking. Give equal time to all of your points.
  3. ¬†Develop a list sermon when the biblical text is a proposition or . . . a list. Yeah, don’t use that list sermon, I don’t care how clever your acrostic spells out the name of your church, just don’t use that list sermon to preach the fruit of the Spirit, which in case you missed it, is a list! You need a narrative to preach a list or proposition.
  4. Proclaim that your list is exhaustive or declare “These are the six things you need to know . . .” because seriously, there might be eight. And, there really might only be two, and you just like the other four.
  5. Make your list too long. I once heard a sermon that was a twenty-seven (27!) point explanation or something. Actually, I didn’t hear that sermon, because I walked out on it.

There is probably a lot more I could list here, but I’ll just leave it at this, because I need to go write some more sermony things.