Learning the Ropes

14 07 2008

And in this corner…

I’m the third week into my “new career” and many people have been asking how its going.  I am mostly enjoying it and getting used to the new demands on my time; its a lot of work to put together 8 minutes a day…so I think the metaphor of a boxing ring is appropriate because I am in a bit of a sparing match between the daily deadline of a feature and the mandate to give my family my best, not just the left overs.

If you are interested in listening to my daily pieces, you can check in on my production blog and keep tabs on how its going.  Pamela and I appreciate your prayers as we get used to life on the “9 to 5” schedule.

From Proverbs 3

     5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
      And lean not on your own understanding;
       6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
      And He shall direct your paths.
       7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
      Fear the LORD and depart from evil.


The Video Crew Farming System

15 06 2008

Certification Day, 2008

Today was “Technical Crew Certification.”  We are preparing to leave as a family for a video interviewing roadtrip (with some site-seeing along the way) so I trained the kids on the basics of our video and lighting equipment this afternoon. 

These basics include:

1. The difference between a “Key Light” and a “Back Light”
2. The difference between a BNC and a XLR connector
3. The difference between a Lowell ProLite, DP Light and Rifa Light
4. The ability to say “gobo” without laughing

After the training session, they all took an exam and passed with flying colors!  So we held a little ceremony where they recieved their Technical Crew certificate–a business card sized ID with their name and today’s date that allows them to get “grip credits”.  In the weeks and months ahead, they will hopefully receive their Lighting Certification, Camera Certification, Audio Certification and Editing Certification.    

It’s fun to grow a crew, but it makes me wish for about 3 more kids…


Prince Caspian

20 05 2008

Baccus, Greek god of wine

In light of the Narnia fever surrounding the release of Prince Caspian last weekend, I decided to pick up the book last night and read it again.  Before yesterday, if anyone would have asked me what Prince Caspian was about, I don’t think I could have told them anything about it beyond: “its has something to do with a Lion…and a prince.”  I believe the last time I read the book was more than 20 years ago–though I’m sure I only skimmed it then so I could get on to the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (easily my favorite of the series). 

We have many friends who are avid fans of the Narnia series (the books) who have often spoken very fondly of the times spent as a family reading the books aloud, or listening to the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre production.  When asked how our kids like Narnia, there is usually a suprised response when we confess that we don’t read the books to our kids.  We are not often asked for our reasons why. 

After reading Prince Caspian last night I have to admit that I am even less enthusiastic about Narnia than I was before.  I know that C.S. Lewis is highly revered and loved in most evangelical circles and is the poster child for many who want to see more serious Christian thinkers in positions of influence in our culture.  However, in the case of Narnia, I have to take exception.

My problem with the Narnia stories is Lewis’ seeming facination with Greek and Roman gods and the magical creatures of the Norseman, Celtic and Britons.  For example, in Prince Caspian, Baccus (the Greek god of wine, agriculture and pleasure) is seen dancing with and serving Aslan.  River gods, tree gods, nymphs, dryads and many other mythical creatures have a part to play in the Narnia stories–mostly positive parts.  I don’t have a problem with talking animals, trees that come to life and even a God-like lion, but the attempt at redeeming the pantheon, magic and pagan mythology troubles me. 

So I find myself conflicted as I read these stories.  There are so many times that Lewis frames spritual truths in such meaningful ways as to move me deeply–he makes me see some important truths in fresh ways.  On the other hand, he includes elements and characters that come right out of pagan worship systems (like the licentious Baccus) as well as Islamic and Jewish mythology (the White Witch is supposedly the offspring of Adam and “his first wife” Lilith–who was cast out of the garden and turned into a demon-like creature). 

I think that we need to much more seriously consider the value of these stories.  Like the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Narnia is full of beautiful symbolism and deep theological truths, but there is a danger of accepting everything in these stories as worthwhile, merely because a Christian man wrote it.  Taken on their own, the merits of these characters and elements would be almost universally rejected by most Christians, and I think that this should be pointed out more often when speaking about Lewis–instead of blindly praising him and the Chronicles of Narnia.  

From Deuteronomy 18

9 “When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. 10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you. 13 You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. 14 For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not appointed such for you.

Transistors and Transitions

18 05 2008

Listening to the Radio
Listening to the Radio, courtesy of the Library of Congress

Saturday was graduation–my last graduation as a full-time faculty member of the Moody Bible Institute.  Earlier this month I handed in my resignation to the Dean of the Faculty in order to return to Moody Radio.  Beginning July 1st, I will be a full-time piece producer for Prime Time America. 

Over the last 18 months I have produced 1 or 2 pieces a month (many of these pieces have been featured here) and have come to realize how much I enjoy this type of work.  However, the main difference between what I have been doing and this new position is that I am supposed to be doing a piece everyday instead of a few “when I have time.”  That is a tall order.  However, I am looking forward to the challenge.

One of the frustrations for me as a professor of radio studies has been that many of the things that God has been doing in our life as a family were not easily brought into the classroom–importance of family worship, the benefits of following God’s plan for the family, etc.  One of the benefits of this new position is the opportunity to bring these ideas to my work–I’m going to be paid to tell others about these issues (and a whole lot more). 

While we are nervous about some of the realities of making this transition (no more “summer vacation”), we are also very excited about the possibilities that it will afford in reaching a broader audience with topics that are significant for families in the Moody Radio audience.

Please pray with us as we begin this new adventure as a family.

From Psalm 78

 1 Give ear, O my people, to my law;
         Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
 2 I will open my mouth in a parable;
         I will utter dark sayings of old,
 3 Which we have heard and known,
         And our fathers have told us.
 4 We will not hide them from their children,
         Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD,
         And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.
 5 For He established a testimony in Jacob,
         And appointed a law in Israel,
         Which He commanded our fathers,
         That they should make them known to their children;
 6 That the generation to come might know them,
         The children who would be born,
         That they may arise and declare them to their children,
 7 That they may set their hope in God,
         And not forget the works of God,
         But keep His commandments;
 8 And may not be like their fathers,
         A stubborn and rebellious generation,
         A generation that did not set its heart aright,
         And whose spirit was not faithful to God.  

Stop Action Animation

18 03 2008

Ever since I saw Wallace and Gromit as a Sophomore in college, I have wanted to try my hand at stop-action animation. However, like many things, I have never done anything more than want to try.

Today, Elliot started talking about trying to make a stop-action version of a classic children’s story using Playmobil. He has tried a few times before, but it has always turned into nothing more than just a slide show…so, this afternoon I built a stop-action camera mount prototype to begin experimenting with the kids.

Here are two short tests to see what we might need to do differently for longer pieces. This is the first attempt:

Then the kids did this one almost completely by themselves.

I look forward to seeing what the kids come up with in the months ahead.

NRB Day #2

9 03 2008


What a full day this has been!  The events of the day leave me worn, but joyful.  I have had some wonderful conversations with friends and ministries that have impacted our life as a family.  I had an extended conversation with the radio director for Answers in Genesis that will hopefully lead to some production opportunities in the future.

I also met a number of the men from Vision Forum in a out-of-the-way hallway this evening.  I saw them passing and called out to them.  Mr. Phillips and I had a short, but delightful conversation.  I thanked them for honoring the Sabbath by not being on the exhibit floor today and encouraged them that the testimony of their absence was not lost.  He thanked me for my recent pieces with Isaac Botkin, the features on Passionate Housewives and the Jamestown special from last summer.  I am so honored to have such a small part in exposing the Moody Radio audience to this dynamic, God-honoring ministry.  I hope that he left the time together as blessed as I did.

The award ceremony for the student award winners was this afternoon.  I am pleased with how well our students did, and am grateful for their commitment to things that are important and significant.

We spent the evening setting up for the Moody Radio affiliate breakfast.  Running cables, setting up speakers, putting together the stage.  It was good to stop pontificating for a few hours and just labor together for a common cause.

I miss my family.  I miss my kids.  I miss my wife.  I carry three seeds around in my pocket to remind me throughout the day of my olive vines planted around my table, awaiting my return.  They have my heart.  They have my affection.  I look forward to being able to hold them tight soon.

From Psalm 128

 1 Blessed is every one who fears the LORD,
Who walks in His ways.

2 When you eat the labor of your hands,
shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.
3 Your wife
shall be like a fruitful vine
In the very heart of your house,
Your children like olive plants
All around your table.
4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
Who fears the LORD.

5 The LORD bless you out of Zion,
And may you see the good of Jerusalem
All the days of your life.
6 Yes, may you see your children’s children.

Peace be upon Israel!

NRB Day #1 part b

8 03 2008
Steve Brown

Steve Brown

I come to NRB each year with mixed feelings. Some things border the bizarre, others are completely there. However, there are also moments full of ethos and deep theological impact.

Tonight Steve Brown gave the keynote address and he spoke from Luke 19. Citing the example of Jesus’ words over Jerusalem, he encouraged us as communicators to season our voices of judgment or condemnation with compassion. He said that a prophetic word unaccompanied by tears is merely self-righteousness. A good word for those of us who feel committed to words of truth to the world around us.

From Luke 19

41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”