Tuesday, August 20, 2013

In which Thomas Paine flunks Bible history

Reading Common Sense recently I came across this line which made me laugh:
In the early ages of the world, according to the scripture chronology, there were no kings; the consequence of which was, there were no wars; it is the pride of kings which throw mankind into confusion. Holland without a king hath enjoyed more peace for this last century than any of the monarchial governments in Europe. Antiquity favours the same remark; for the quiet and rural lives of the first patriarchs hath a happy something in them, which vanishes away when we come to the history of Jewish royalty.
At my church we have been doing a series on the book of Judges. "Quiet and rural lives" is hardly a fitting description. And if I recall, there were a fair share of conflicts in Genesis as well.

Oh, and the conquest of Canaan also takes place in Paine's "no wars" chronology.

Ok, so maybe I'm being a little snide. Although conflicts, those weren't wars in the modern sense (with the Canaan conquest as an exception) with nation rising against nation. Instead, they were more like tribal conflicts or skirmishes between the patriarchs. However, even that interpretation of Paine fails to help him. If one defines wars as conflicts involving nations that are ruled by kings, then it would make sense that if one has no kings one can have no "wars." But that, at best, is equivocation, and at worst, is circular reasoning.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday miscellaneous (8/16)

In global news: Sweden is running out of garbage, a Russian man used a bank's tactics against it to obtain an interest free credit card, and a Chinese zoo disguised a dog as a lion (apparently it was the bark that gave it away).

Not that important global stories make it to the domestic cover of Time.

On the domestic front, Steven Hayward at PowerLine explains why this was a bad week for liberalism.

And in the bad housing market, foreclosures are increasing. However, it appears that some banks, rather than keeping a paper trail of ownership, simply make it up.

Last week we linked to the five rules of politics. Here are five more. (That's ten, for those who are counting, but I suspect rules in politics are like budgets--as long as we don't add them all up we can keep it to five.)

Here is a global map of political anomalies such as: Non-Sovereign Sovereign States, Imaginary State, Proclaimed but Non-Existent State, and Barely Recognized Puppet State. And speaking of maps, here's the entire history of the world mapped out.

We've written quite a bit on immigration policy, including a critique of Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration. Here's another critique of their theology:
And this is the biggest problem with the EBI letter. While it gives lip service to the idea that the Bible requires God’s people to act with justice, compassion, and kindness toward the aliens and strangers among us, the authors tie themselves in exegetical knots to avoid having to extend that kindness to illegal immigrants.
And speaking of immigration, were you aware that veterans are being deported?

Here's a paradox: the US, where violent child play is more and more restricted, has much more adult violence than Japan, where violent play is encouraged. And speaking of violent play, here's an article digging into the background of G.I. Joe.

Another paradox: Charles Spurgeon, deemed a strong theological conservative, was a political liberal. While Charles Wesley, whose style was more liberal, was a political conservative.

And John Medaille over at Front Porch Republic adds his very insightful contribution to the future of the Republican Party:
The advantage of being out of power is that it gives a political party time to think and reflect. Better yet, it gives a party the opportunity to fight, and to fight with its most serious enemy, that is, itself. And that is what is happening in the Republican Party right now, as they collectively reflect upon their plight.
Dr. Who fans can now explore the TARDIS in Google maps.

And finally, why don't we have more sports like this?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Friday miscellaneous (8/9)

It's been three weeks since I last had a Friday miscellaneous post. But I had a good excuse--everything was cleared off my schedule for the Virginia bar exam, which I took last week.

So now I get to rediscover what normal life is like. Which includes what happened in the world while I was absent.

It has been said that imitation is the best form of flattery. I think this "review" of Dan Brown's new book might show otherwise.

China keeps trying to redefine family relationships. First the one-child policy. Now laws mandating that children visit their parents.

And demonstrating once again that truth is stranger than fiction, here's a review for the History Channel's completely unbelievable show called World War II.

On a mores sober note, Christianity Today has an interesting article on Christians in Detroit:
Many Christians whom CT interviewed for this story explained their commitment to Detroit using an analogy from church history. (This story focuses on Christians in central Detroit; our online reporting will cover the work of Christians in Detroit's suburbs.) When the plague ravaged Rome in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, inciting an exodus of citizens, many Christians rushed in to care for the sick and dying, joining the many who were already there, refusing to leave.
In our hyper-security state, there's always the temptation to classify everything as terrorism.

This should interest all our politically minded readers: the five rules of politics.

And finally, a helpful driving lesson.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Great Day: an Iliad House Day!

So I have a confession to make: I haven't been good with keeping up on blogging because I've been
Professor Portalis
inside Iliad House
working on something else. Something really fun.

If you read my review of "The Labyrinth" a year ago, you know I have always been an enthusiastic fan of Adventures in Odyssey. What I did not reveal explicitly in that review was the path that took my professional life into the orbit of men whom I consider to be giants in the Christian entertainment community: the creators and producers of Adventures in Odyssey.

The first episode of AIO I ever heard was "The Imagination Station." A high water mark which saw legendary character Digger Digwillow (Digger Digger Digwillow) go back in time to see Jesus's death and resurrection. Except he didn't actually go back in time. As a child I never understood that. When, in "Lincoln," Jimmy Barclay was unable to prevent the assassination, I assumed it was because he could not change history (or else I would not even be aware of the situation he was referring too). It was not until I was older that I understood what a safe construct the Imagination Station really was (in fact, in "The Mortal Coil" I assumed Whit's adventure about death was actually a time travel journey into your own future, a concept that terrifies me to this day, similar to HG Wells' apocalyptic vision of the end of the world; of nothingness).

But I never expected to meet the writers and creators behind this show. In 2010, I had heard maybe one Odyssey album in ten years when I went to visit some friends in Colorado Springs who are the kind of friends who feel it is their duty to make sure you have a fantastic time when you visit them. They had arranged through another friend to get me an informal tour of Focus on the Family headquarters (formal tours were not available then, though I understand they have since made a comeback). On that tour, we wandered into an office where I met a man named Jonathan Crowe, who's name I had heard and we had a nice conversation about the show and my filmmaking background. This was when I confirmed my suspicion that Odyssey recorded in Los Angeles and I made some breakfast recommendations that I believe the crew still relies on today. In response, Jonathan invited me to attend a recording session some months from then and I gratefully accepted.

Fast forward several months and Jonathan had suffered a terrible biking accident and couldn't attend the session (he's since fully recovered). But he graciously kept the invitation open and put me in touch with another great member of the Odyssey team, Nathan Hoobler. Nathan served as my tour guide into the production side of AIO, and that day I heard so many voices from my youth (and sadly missed many others). It was a good day, and I ended up helping them shoot a video for the Blackgaard Chronicles set; but ultimately the most eventful meeting I had that day was quite unexpected.

About halfway through the day a man came into the studio that I did not recognize. I knew all the people currently working on the show, and all were, for the most part, present. Then I heard him speak, and I realized who it was: Phil Lollar. But this was quite improbable. Phil had left the show in 2000, and hadn't been involved since. How could this be Phil Lollar? Turns out he was there to act, not produce, and played a small but humorous role in Album 53 (this foreshadowed his expanded role in "The Labyrinth in 55). Ironically, this meant he and I were the oddest men out in the room, and both sort of sat in the back for most of the day. I then later got to have dinner with the entire production team and observe a glorious reunion conversation between Paul McCusker and Phil Lollar (I also bought Paul McCusker a coffee, something I will always be able to say).

It was a fantastic experience, and eventually filed away into my memory. Then one day my old friend Jeremiah called me for a recommendation. He was helping produce the teen program at the Home School Legal Defense Association's National Leaders Conference in Orlando and they were going to do it on radio drama. He said they wanted to get someone from Adventures in Odyssey to be the keynote speaker for the program in Orlando, and since he knew about my experience, he wanted my advice on whom to ask. We discussed the merits of several of the people involved at length, all of whom would have made excellent guests, but it came down to me saying if he wanted someone who is just really funny, engaging, and is going to show the kids a good time, he should ask Phil. He did, and Phil said yes. And that is the conference that is mentioned on the Kickstarter page. That is how the founding members of Guess What met, and where Iliad House, at least for us, began.

It would be some time before I learned of Iliad House, of Professor Portalis, Jesse, and the magnificent Time Train (of doom?). Homer's Odyssey was about a journey, and his Iliad, a battle. But no matter what happens, my life has already been changed. I hope you'll come with us on this journey, and help us make Iliad House by donating to Kickstarter and then telling all your friends.

Here's an exclusive clip about the show only available here on Looking for Overland! Live long and prosper.

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