The third and Christmas themed episode of the Untold Podcast is now up. Head on over to download "A Shadow Over Christmas," and other goodies, for free.
I am now destined for regular fraudulent and hilarious communication. We've recently had two such communications at The Orchard Church.
First, this one:
This name was written in our guestbook right after a recent service. I had met all the visitors that day, and I knew that I had never come across a Jim, or a Mr. Bissell. And, by goodness, I stood in my secretary's office, reading the name out loud saying, "This sounds like one of those Simpsons prank phone call names, like 'Amanda Hugenkiss' but I can't figure it out!" So I told the secretary to send out a welcome letter . . . just in case.
I should have been tipped off by the Munster's address, 1313 Mockingbird Lane.
Sigh. I hope we gave the post office a good laugh.
Have you figured it out?
Second, this one was in the offering last weekend:
The text reads:
I am forced to hide my identity to protect those I care about. I've even been forced to wear glasses so no one recognizes me. I don't even need glasses! I also, for some reason, have to wear a strange blue & red outfit when I am saving the world. Pray for Lois & I.
Superman (crossed out)
I really didn’t want to comment on the elementary school tragedy that took place earlier today in Connecticut, but God compelled me otherwise.
I don’t know anything about the individual (or individuals) who committed this heinous act. I don’t know anything about his childhood. I don’t know whether he was a democrat or republican. I don’t know if he was a conservative or a liberal. I don’t know if he had a background in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Atheism or if he was merely an incidental Agnostic. He may have been factory worker, or unemployed, or a pastor for all I know. I really don’t know anything.
But I do know what he did was evil.
And I do know that the sin he had clearly given himself over to also resides, not just in our culture . . . but it also resides in you and resides in me.
Without a doubt in the days that follow there will be arguments over why this happened and why this man did what he did. Maybe he just went through a break up . . . maybe he was bullied as a child . . . maybe he was obsessed with violent movies and video games . . .
And all of that might very well be true, or it may not. But I do know that at the heart of this evil was sin, and it’s the same sin that affects you and affects me every day.
It’s not just culture, it’s not just democrats and it’s not just republicans who need to change. It’s you and it’s me. It’s not just “the other person” who’s been touched by sin . . . it’s you and it’s me.
Our culture needs to be transformed by a radical encounter with Jesus. And I’m not just talking about attending church . . . .
You need to be transformed by a radical encounter with Jesus. And I’m not just talking about doing good things . . . .
I need to be transformed by a radical encounter with Jesus. And I’m not just talking about knowing things about God . . . .
We need to submit ourselves to Jesus Christ and be changed by him. Our old selves need to be crucified so that Jesus can come into our souls through the Holy Spirit and transform us, not into the men and women we already are, but into the men and women we were created to be.
I have no answers beyond that. I grieve with Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut today. I hate what happened. I hate the unfettered sin that I saw, and continue to see. I’m praying for the families, the neighbors, the teachers and the friends of Newtown. I’m asking for God’s hand and comfort when we have no answers. I’m holding my friends and family members a little closer tonight knowing that there are no guarantees in this life.
And I’m looking to the heavens, with tears in my eyes even as I type this, praying that the Lord Jesus Christ will transform this culture, transform you, and transform me.
“For the High and Exalted One
who lives forever, whose name is Holy says this: […]
‘I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
I will lead him and comfort him and his mourners,
creating words of praise.’
The Lord says,
‘Peace, peace to the one who is far or near,
and I will heal him.’”
Isaiah 57: 15, 18-19 (HCSB)
The Untold Podcast - Episode 2 has just gone live! I may not always post notifications here about newly published episodes, but for the frist few episodes, as the show gets established I will.
Head on over to THE UNTOLD PODCAST and listen to the classic fairytale, "Little Daylight" by George MacDonald.
"I only torment those I love."
I have often said this over the course of my life while harassing my friends, family and co-workers. I recently re-watched Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and I was shocked to find out how often I quoted this film when tormenting my loved ones!
In fact, if I ever decided to become a villain . . . I'm pretty sure I'd be donning a fake plastic chest like Ricardo Montalban!
Here's some of the great lines (and situations) I've used in years past:
"You are in a position to demand nothing, I on the other hand am in a position to grant nothing . . ."
(In response to "Nathan, can I borrow your bike?")
"Ah my friend Kirk do you know the klingon proverb that tells us 'Revenge is a dish best served cold'? It is very cold in space."
(This was a favorite one when attacking friends with freezer snowballs in June!)
"I mean to avenge myself on you . . . ."
(This was my response when someone walked in on me before my schemes were completed and they asked "what are you doing?")
"Time is a luxury you don't have . . . ."
(My go-to response to any request to "give me a sec!")
"To the last I grapple with thee . . ."
(Usually something involving wrestling at the top a hill somewhere and me forcing my foe or foes off the side of the hill.)
"He tasks me! He tasks me!"
(Usually this one followed after my mom saying something to the effect of "Why do you keep bothering your brother?")
"I've done far worse than kill you, I've hurt you. And wish to go on hurting you, I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her, in a room for all eternity, at the center of a dead of a dead planet... buried alive, buried alive."
(This was, and is my favorite. I often abbreviate it to "I shall leave you as you left me . . . buried alive . . . buried alive." And this one can involve anything from collapsing the entrance to a snow fort, locking someone out of the house, or other random acts of mischief that really don't have anything to do with the situation!)
And here's the line as it actually was delivered:
And sometimes I used this one "Revenge is a dish best served with pinto beans and muffins":
While classic Christmas music and songs are fabulous, so are some of the lesser known songs and versions.
Here's some of my favorites:
So these are some of my favorite "oddities" when it comes to Christmas songs.
What are some of yours?
Summary: With the forces of Legion and the Dark Army consuming the Earth, Nathan Pierce must fulfill his destiny as the world falls into complete darkness.
Content: Rated ‘R’ for violence, sexual situations and language.
Review: The fourth and final book in the Black Earth series, Exodus brings the threads of Alderman’s epic story together for an explosive conclusion.
The book itself is surprisingly short. It’s the shortest in the series, and could be read in just a few sittings. Because of its brevity, I was surprised that Alderman was able to bring the story of all his major characters (and most of the minor ones) to a conclusion.
I knew going into this story that Black Earth served as a prequel to Alderman’s current young adult series Expired Reality, so I was prepared for an unsatisfying ending, and it was a pleasant surprise to find a mostly satisfying conclusion. I had two issues with the book. First, it would have been my personal preference to see the final two scenes’ orders switched. The story would have had a more “finished” feel for me if this was done. Second, while one of the major characters who became separated from the action of the story has a conclusion in the book, it was unclear to me how her “experiences” affected the overall conflict in this story. Despite these two issues I felt satisfied coming to the end of this long and rewarding journey.
Once again Alderman’s writing is superb, and the world he created is strange, bizarre, disturbing and imaginative.
Black Earth: Exodus belongs to the sub-genre of “Edgy Christian Speculative Fiction” which means that Alderman doesn’t shy away from the ugliness of life and the unfortunate consequences of decisions.
This was a great story and a great series. I highly recommend it to those interested in edgy science fiction and apocalyptic stories.
After reading the final book in the series, I have to say that the Black Earth saga is one of my favorite contemporary series. It’s not without its flaws, though. Some of the proper names are not very good at all, some of the characters are two dimensional, and some of the dialogue just falls flat.
All of that aside, I found David N. Alderman’s imagination to be unbelievably fertile. I love the world he created and how he revealed just enough about all the oddities in the world to grant me understanding, but not so much that the world didn’t seem mysterious and frightfully filled with the unknown.
The reader is given a satisfying ending, but it’s very clear that some elements of the story will continue on in his ongoing young adult series, Expired Reality. This isn’t a problem in theory, but I think the major flaw in this design is that Black Earth is for mature readers, whereas the follow-up series is for young adults. While the two audiences may interact with each other, this creates an unfortunate barrier for younger readers of the ER series to go back and read the prequels.
Personally, though, I am looking forward to reading through the Black Earth series again someday soon! It’s an imaginative, fresh and unique world!
Black Earth: Exodus Rating: 4/5 (I Really Liked It)
Black Earth Series Rating: 5/5 (I Loved It)
You can find information on Black Earth and the rest of Alderman’s works on his website: http://www.davidnalderman.com
I am excited to announce that I will be producing a new monthly podcast featuring speculative fiction from a Christian worldview!
The Untold Podcast exists to engage the culture's imagination through speculative fiction from a Christian worldview.
In all honesty, part of the reason I’m doing this is because I need a hobby that totally consumes my mind. I find on my day off (Mondays) that my mind is racing and ready to go back my work at the church. And even though I know that is not a healthy thing during my downtime, I can’t turn it off. What I needed was a hobby that so consumed my thoughts and mind that it would push out all my other concerns. Reading didn’t do it, writing (which I will still do) isn’t relaxing at all, and hiking/bike riding was fun but my mind just goes toward the mechanics of the church.
I’ve heard golf is a great sport to take up for folks in my situation . . . but I don’t have the resources to get involved in that sport just yet, and I live in the six-month-snow-covered region of Northern Michigan. So, doing a story-based podcast was a good option for me to occupy my mind with something that I love! Stories!
The pilot episode is available now on the new website!
I am also looking for the following submissions:
(See the submissions page for details.)
Right now I plan on releasing an episode every month (with bonus episodes featuring my first person sermons popping in there every so often). I hope to make this a twice a month podcast once I get into the swing of it (and the submissions start pouring in).
So go check it out, share it with your friends, blog about it, and post it up on Facebook!