Friday, May 30, 2008

Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (Review)

I revisited the previous three films before watching this one and found that they were much less interesting than I remembered, so take that into account. Because of this, I wasn't terribly let down by this movie, although it has it's flaws. First the good, though.

Great performances by all involved. Ford seemed to need a couple scenes before he felt like Indy, but got into his groove soon enough. The film acknowledged the character's age with good effect, though Ford still seemed to do a very surprising amount of his own stunts. (That or the face replacement was REALLY slick!)

Cate Blanchett was especially enjoyable as the stereotypical "communist Russian bad lady".

The film was served well by modern special effects and the sets were great in number and textured in design. Some great visual material.

On to the bad. As my wife pointed out, "no one ever seemed to really be in danger. It was like they were at an amusement park going on a bunch of fun rides." This is true. The logic of this film, even more so than previous Indy films was: If it's cute or funny, it doesn't have to be believable. Unfortunately, if you don't appreciate the "cute" or "fun" sense of humor in this movie, you'll just be frustrated at the obvious lack of realism. A refrigerator, a snake, some groundhogs, ants and a "tarzan" scene all come to mind. (You'll see what I mean.)

The film also departs from its supernatural roots to explore themes of science fiction. This is probably because of the time period the story is set in (indicated by an iconic image of Indy and a mushroom cloud early on) and didn't bother me much, but know going in that the concept driving the movie is different from the norm.

The movie is very aware that it is a sequel and often seems more interested in reminding us of previous films than in making a new one. It's not as overdone as it might have been, but it's enough to be slightly less than charming in the big picture.

In terms of Truth to be found, one idea came to mind about the franchise as a whole. By giving legitimacy to the Bible(Raiders, Last Crusade), an African tribal legend(Temple of Doom), and now the Crystal Skulls, what philosophically must be true according to the worldview of these films? Seems to me it must mean that all ancient religious stories are true, or none of them are. Smells like relativism. Nothing intentional I'm sure, and these movies have never felt preachy. Just a little observation.

The film might also lead to some interesting discussion about the ancient Mayan calendar and its prediction of the world's end just a few years from now.

Rated PG-13 for adventure violence and scary images

Quality: 7.5/10

Relevance: 6.5/10

Back In The Mix


This week, Paeter has gone back to mixing scenes and is now just 18(out of 66) pages from the end!

You may have also noticed that parts 8 and 9 of Paeter's audio commentary for "Spirit Blade" are available for free download on the "Media" page of ! The commentary will finish with Part 10, which is in the can and will be released in the next week or so. If you think you know the world of "Spirit Blade", think again! In this detailed commentary, Paeter talks about the philosophy AND mistakes behind the making of "Spirit Blade". He also periodically highlights the seeds of "Dark Ritual" planted throughout "Spirit Blade" and even drops hints now and then of where we're going with that story!

We've also got a big event coming this summer on our podcast leading up to the release of "Dark Ritual", but you'll have to wait for the details to be spelled out here another time.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

In Search Of Truth


Galatians 5:22-26

It's a common pop-culture proverb to do "as the spirit moves you", but what does that mean? What spirit? As we finish up this chapter, we're going to look specifically at the footprints left behind when the Holy Spirit, God himself, is moving us. Verse 22 uses an agricultural metaphor that the original readers would have readily understood. If the Holy Spirit were a tree, the footprints we look at today would be the "fruit".

This isn't an exhaustive list, nor do these things appear exclusively in Christians. Still, what kinds of things will show up in a life that is being willingly guided by the Holy Spirit?


This word is thrown around alot today. It's thought of as a warm feeling, or synonymous with affection. The Greek word here, Agape, is much deeper than that. This word means a charity or benevolent love that serves others. Dr. Spiros Zodhiates' lexicon for the New Testament more specifically says that this kind of love "is not shown by doing what the person loved desires but what the one who loves deems as needed by the one loved." This kind of love puts others first, but not always in ways that the person loved will find pleasing. A compassionate, yet "tough love".


This Greek word can refer either to an attitude of exuberant celebration or the cause of this kind of attitude. Although Christians will not always be happy, we have the ultimate reason to celebrate. Our eternal lives have been saved and our ultimate future is incredible beyond imagining. When the Holy Spirit is directing our lives, we will more often be focused on the reasons we have to celebrate, and will more often be happy as we think of them.


This is the same word Jesus used in John 14:27. It refers to the absence or end of conflict. Some conflict is needed. When truth is attacked, it should be defended. But this Greek word for peace means a state of untroubled, undisturbed well-being. We are able to be less often troubled by life and the world around us as we remember the peace we have with God because of Jesus Christ. Pain and hurt will still exist, but our deepest peace comes from knowing that we are reconciled and on good terms with the ruler of all the universe. (Check out Romans 5:1 and Ephesians 2:13-18)

Kindness and Goodness

Here we have two words that may seem to mean the same thing. So let's look at the Greek briefly. Chrestotes, the Greek word translated as "kindness" or sometimes "gentleness", conveys the idea of softness or mellow behavior, without sharpness or agitation. This is the kind of sensitivity that we should learn to grow in when interacting with others. However, there is also a time to be sharp. Agathosune, translated as "goodness", is active and not passive. Agathosune is not content to quietly obey a list of rules and keep to itself as many traditional Christians may do. It is not a faith tucked away to a couple of hours on Sunday morning. This word means "active good" and takes the initiative in doing good. Zodhiates' lexicon says that "Agathosune does not spare sharpness and rebuke to cause good in others."

Given these two words, we can realize that while interacting with others, we should be sensitive at times, and allow for (though not rush to) sharpness at other times as we aim to communicate and defend the truth.

In the context of talking about legalism and the law, Paul points out in verse 23 that "against such things there is no law". The implication being that we should aim to grow in the areas mentioned in verses 22 and 23. Being led by the Spirit is not simply about avoiding certain behaviors. It's also about growing in behaviors that reflect God's plan for us. Imagine what life would be like if we learned to allow the Holy Spirit to invade our lives, not just at church or around our Christian friends, but at work in the breakroom during our conversations; After school hanging out with our friends; Weekday evenings with our spouses and children. We would be living the kind of lives that God uses to transform others!

Paul presents a word picture in verse 24. If someone has truly decided to trust in Jesus, they will have made the decision to kill off their evil desires and tendencies. This doesn't mean we don't sin. Most of the New Testament wouldn't have needed to be written if Christians magically stopped sinning. But someone who truly believes in and follows Christ will not intentionally allow sin to remain unchallenged in their life, seeing evil as good when the Bible says otherwise. Paul reasons in verse 25 that, if the Holy Spirit allows us to have real life, we should be under the direction of the Holy Spirit as well. The journey of a Christian only begins when we are saved by God's favor. It continues by "walking" with God every day.

This chapter ends with Paul's desire for us to avoid boasting about ourselves, or provoking or envying each other. As we aim to live the way God wants us to, it can be easy to get out the "measuring stick" and compare our lives to others. This was probably happening a lot among the legalists, and Paul wanted to be sure to distinguish what he was teaching from what they were.

Making Christianity a "religion of rules" can be very easy. God is undeniably calling us to a higher standard, but wants us to respond out of an effort to please him and only him. Not to impress ourselves or those around us. Obedience is the way we communicate our love to God. Setting aside our personal desires is what today's Greek word "Agape" is all about. God modeled it better than anyone through the sacrifice of Jesus and now wants us to imitate his example by putting our preferences aside to serve him and others.

Next Week: Paul Signs Off

Coffee House Question

Take another look at our examination of the word "joy". What can you think of in your life that you can be specifically "joyful" about today or this week?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Price Of Freedom

Memorial Day You've probably heard the expression, "Freedom isn't free". And hopefully we can take a moment during our picnics and family gatherings to remember the price that someone paid for our freedom.

First, we can acknowledge the men and women who gave their lives to defend the freedom we have. Whether they believed in the God of the Bible or not, God used them to bless us in a monumental way. We can also take a moment and pray for the people bravely serving today, and the families they leave behind to do so.

And second, we have the opportunity on this Memorial Day to acknowledge and thank God for the price he paid by hanging in our place on a tool of humiliation and torture. The rejection and wrath delivered by God the Father and experienced by Jesus, represents a price paid that we can't comprehend because we can't fathom the infinite value of the life that was given in payment. But by trusting in the worth of that sacrifice, we can have freedom from the power of sin in this life and freedom from the presence of sin in the next.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day and enjoy the freedoms you have because of those who paid for them.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Songs, Commentary and Comics!

Dr_cover_proj_pg200 This week has seen a lot of progress made on the music of "Dark Ritual". The final, climactic song is now finished and Paeter is polishing up another that will likely be finished today.

After that, two songs remain that haven't even been started yet. However, both songs are by nature more "vacant" or "empty" sounding, requiring much less in the mixing process.

Paeter has also nearly finished work on the remaining 3 commentary tracks for "Spirit Blade". Part 8 should be posted on the "media" page this weekend with the others soon to follow!

Lastly, you don't want to miss the podcast this weekend. Paeter interviews J.S. Earls, the Christian comic book creator behind the official adaptations of some of Ted Dekker's work, as well as the creator behind a great looking series called "Pistolfist", which will be released this summer! So be sure to check out part one of this interview!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008



I had a great time talking with Christian comic book creator, J.S. Earls. We spent around 30 minutes chatting about his new comic, PistolFist, and the other projects he's worked on.

The full interview will play in multiple parts on our podcast, the first of which will be this weekend! Don't miss it!

-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, May 19, 2008

In Search Of Truth

Biblepod2_2 Galatians Chapter 5:16-21

In verse 16, we're commanded to "live/walk in the Spirit". Sounds pretty deep, doesn't it? And this isn't just any spirit, or our own spirit. The Greek here indicates that Paul means the Holy Spirit, God himself!

We might look at verse 16 and say, "how do I figure out how to live in the Spirit?" Although our relationship with the Holy Spirit is an incredible mystery, we can be thankful that God gives us some guidelines to help us determine whether we're living in the Spirit or not.


Sometimes translated as "sinful nature". In this context, the word "flesh" refers to the corrupt, sinful aspect and tendency of humans.

The first thing we can determine is that the desires of the Spirit and the desires of our "flesh" are against each other. (v.17) So unfortunately we have to rule out the philosophy of, "if it feels right, do it." Choices and attitudes that are offensive to God often feel very good in the short term, so our feelings are not a reliable compass for our lives.

This doesn't mean that our lives will become dreary and burdened with rules. Although we are still under moral obligation to obey God, we don't have to be burdened with the guilt of our failure (and yep, we will fail!) and feel separated from God because of it. If we allow ourselves to be led (the Greek in verse 18 also means "governed" or "ruled") by the Holy Spirit, we won't be burdened with the shame of our failures. The Holy Spirit is given to those that trust in Jesus, and because of him we don't have to fear the judgment of God anymore. (Check out Romans 8:1-2)

Paul must have known that these concepts of living by "flesh" and "Spirit" might not be understood clearly by his audience, so he gave us some helpful hints to indicate which we are currently following. We're going to pick apart some of these words to try and get a better understanding of what they mean for us today.

So what kind of actions indicate that we're living in the "flesh"? Lets take a look at some of them:


Also translated as immorality. The Greek has a clearly sexual definition. Unlawful or unbiblical sexual activity. In simple terms, this kind of sin is any sexual activity that takes place outside of a marriage between one man and one woman(who are not close relatives and have not been divorced from someone previously). (See Mark 10:11-12. See Matthew 19:8-9 for the exception to this.)


This Greek word refers more to attitude. Internally selfish motives or an openly shameless desire to live for ourselves.


Excessive, unrestrained sexual activity. The Bible is certainly not against sex. God created it! But sex is never meant to be about just gratifying ourselves with no regard for our husband or wife.


Although at a glance we might think this doesn't apply to us today, the Greek word here refers not just to physical idols, but ANY false god. With so many man-made religions in the world, the concept of idolatry has never been more relevant. God sees and knows what is absolutely true in all of reality. From his perspective, worshiping any God but him is like worshiping Superman or Captain Picard. Everything we're capable of enjoying comes only from God. So imagine how offensive it must be to God when we enjoy all these wonderful things he's given to us and then willingly ignore him and give credit to fictional characters instead!


The practice of magical/supernatural arts. However, have no fear geeks and gamers! Provided you are in no way led to an actual practice of real supernatural arts, there is no command against enjoying the imaginitive fictional variety found in sci-fi/fantasy books and games.

We'd encourage you to look over verses 19-21 carefully, using more than one translation of the Bible if possible. We've picked out a few of the words that can be confusing, vague or commonly misunderstood, but God has more to say on this issue of "the flesh" in those verses.

Also, remember as you look at those verses, that even if you see them in your life, even if you realize you have some real work to do, God loves you. And if you've made the choice to trust Jesus with your life and everything in it, you are forgiven, and God will never condemn you.

The warning in verse 21 refers to people who continually make a practice of this kind of behavior. Those who are not struggling or making any effort to avoid these sins. If this is the case in someone's life, then it is likely they don't really believe that the Bible is the truth. And if they don't believe the Bible is the truth, they can't logically believe that Jesus is who the Bible says he is. Since "inheriting the kingdom of God" hangs on belief and trust in Jesus, we can assume that is why Paul makes this statement.

Romans 8:1-2 gives us a huge sense of relief when it says-

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

When God asks his children to take a hard look at their own lives, he doesn't do it so that we will become depressed and feel discouraged and worthless. He does it because we are worth more than we can imagine and he has something so much better for us if we'll follow him to find it!

Well, looks like we'll spend an unprecedented THIRD week on one chapter!

Next- How you can tell when "the Spirit moves you"!

Coffee House Question


Can you think of an example of sin that feels good "in the moment" but actually does harm later on?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Prince Caspian (Movie Review)

Andrew Adamson returns to direct this second adaptation of C.S. Lewis' classic fantasy series, with pretty good results. I've read and enjoyed all of the books, but it's been about 15 years. Since then, however, I've listened through most of the series in audio drama format in the series produced by Focus Radio Theatre. (I can recommend this series both for its production quality and faithfulness to the original books.) After seeing "Prince Caspian", I flipped back through my copy of the book to check my memory and verified that some pretty significant changes were made.

I'll admit that I saw the changes coming. First, there were several action sequences added to the the first movie and second, the "Prince Caspian" story, like many of the books in this series, is not "action packed". It's driven by the exploration of events and ideas. It's not a thickly spread allegory, but is still undeniably an allegory. The original story also doesn't have the four main characters interacting with Prince Caspian until near the end of the book, when he is King Caspian. About half of the book is a flashback as a dwarf catches the children up on events that have taken place in their absence.

Disney may have thought that the four children are the centerpiece for these stories, and so didn't want to stray from them too far. This would explain the tremendous amount of plot juggling done to keep the kids active in the story from start to finish. Purist fans of the books will likely be bummed that much of the allegory is lost, replaced by standard movie plot elements. As one who enjoyed the symbolism found in the first film, I missed its absence in this one.

Although there were significantly fewer moments of Biblical symbolism, there were one or two that still proved very meaningful.

Lucy had been spotting Aslan throughout their journey, but the other kids couldn't see him, and didn't believe her when she told them he was out there in the forest. Eventually, Lucy finds Aslan and complains that she had a difficult time with the other kids not believing her. Aslan then asked her, "Why did that keep you from following me?" To which Lucy replied "I was afraid to follow you alone." A true reflection of what it means to be a genuine Christian. Following Jesus, especially when our friends and family do not, can take us far outside of our comfort zone. People can think we're crazy or stupid. But the challenge to press on remains.

The material added, although not wonderful, isn't bad. Some battle sequences and witty banter here and there round out the script nicely.

In terms of straight up film quality, this movie is pretty good. Not amazing, but definitely enjoyable. It continues in the visual style of the first film, giving a serious "adult" tone to the film despite its PG rating. Colors are muted and dark. Violence is present, but without any gore. Several cuts and shooting angles are designed to represent violent moments, but without showing anything that will "upset the kiddies". The sound effects do a great job of implying violence, making it gripping for adults, but visually, this movie is pretty kid friendly. Adamson continues to take cinematic inspiration from Peter Jackson's Lord Of The Rings trilogy. The battle scenes, while not as intense, certainly have some of the epic scale of the Rings flicks. If this trend continues, I'd imagine these movies will become a great "LOTR junior" for kids that aren't ready for Jackson's movies yet.

The performances are all sufficient, but no one's getting any trophies for this one. A favor the director could do for everyone would be to recognize that "ideas", not drama, are the strengths of these stories. You absolutely need the drama, but give us a little more to think about, too. Additionally, there were some action sequences and other moments that didn't serve the characters or move the story forward, resulting in a slow pace just once or twice.

Special effects and scoring were great. No big steps forward from the first film, but that's okay. Things looked and sounded great in the first film, too!

To sum up, I'd say that the absence of potentially richer symbolism combined with the "kid friendly" action make this one weighted a little more for kids this time around, and so not as interesting to me. That said, it's still a very good movie and one I will use someday to prepare my kids for "daddy's even better movies".

Rated PG for epic battle action and violence

Quality: 8.0/10


Duel Of The Wizards!

Dr_cover_proj_pg200 "Dark Ritual" has a group of characters that have a few things in common with "wizards". They don't use "magic" in the traditional sense, but what they are capable of amounts to about the same.

This week, Paeter has arrived at a scene where two powerful "wizards" take each other on in an all out fight to the finish! Scenes like these contain multiple layers of sound effects. They take longer to mix than most other scenes and the work can be tedious at times. We're confidant, however, that everyone will be pleased with the action packed results.

We're kickin' it into high gear as the summer takes off, so stay with us for the ride!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Picking Up Speed

Img_0526 As I anticipated, I'm picking up speed and momentum with the mixing for "Dark Ritual". I've now passed a major turning point in the story that I've been so used to looking forward to. Now that I've passed it, it feels like the end is just around the corner. It's not really that simple, but it still feels pretty cool.

I've noticed that "Dark Ritual" has a different pace from "Spirit Blade". Before, the characters were on the run in some way for nearly the entire story. This time, there's very little running, but a lot of confrontation.

"Dark Ritual" is also considerably more dark than "Spirit Blade" was. Characters get put through the ringer and the theme of "torture/pain" becomes a significant plot element. Thematically, I'm representing a truth about becoming a Christian: The next life is promised to us, but tomorrow is not. Life isn't magically "fixed" when we trust in Jesus. A few things even get harder! For much of the story, things do not look good at all for the heroes, and not everything is rosy by the end, either.

I anticipate this being about as dark as we go here at SBP. At least in a project being marketed as "sci-fi/fantasy/action" and not "horror/suspense". It's been a good opportunity for me to decide where I want to draw our lines.

Well, that's it for now. Vincent Craft is getting a little ticked off with me. He wants to start the fight scene I'm working on, but I told him to wait while I post today's blog. Better get back to his scene before he becomes... impatient with me.

-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, May 12, 2008

Paeter and The Jesus Geek!

Jesusgeek_200 Paeter was interviewed about "Dark Ritual" on the "Jesus Geek" podcast this week. Listen to the episode at:

If you like technology and other geeky things, you'll want to check out this podcast!

In Search Of Truth

Biblepaint1Galatians Chapter 5:1-15


While God certainly demands obedience, living the life of a true Christian is about freedom. Freedom from guilt and shame. Freedom from the pain of damaged relationships. While we will still have pain in this life, by obeying Christ we will avoid a lot of pain caused by our own sin.


Paul is not saying that if we are circumcised we lose our forgiveness and will go to hell. Paul is speaking to grown men who willingly have themselves circumcised as adults in an effort to earn God's favor. (v.4) Circumcision was never meant to "earn" us anything. It was instituted as a sign of the agreement between God and his people. (Genesis 17:9-11)


In the NASB translation, verse 4 reads: "You who have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law, you have fallen from grace."

This verse is not directed at genuine believers in Christ, but at people who, although they may think of themselves as "Christians", are actually not. The phrase "fallen from grace", in the original language, does not specifically mean that they had God's grace (undeserved favor, often referring to salvation from hell) and then lost it. Rather, these people who have not yet trusted in Christ, but have access to his grace like anyone else, have put themselves on a path that drastically takes them away from the grace of God.


After this life, those who have been saved by Jesus will be made completely righteous(meeting God's standard of perfection) in every sense. (Romans 5:19)


To be "in Christ Jesus" means(in the original Greek) to be before him, with him or in very close proximity to him. When we choose to put our trust in Jesus, circumcision doesn't mean anything to God one way or the other. God wants inward reality over outward symbol. And the kind of faith he wants inside of us will result in loving behavior toward others. (This is one sobering way we can monitor whether our faith is growing or not.) Faith is more than a hidden, personal belief. If we honestly believe that God is real and that Jesus is who the Bible says he is, it will change our priorities and behavior toward others.


The Bible continually upholds truth as one of the highest values and presents God as synonymous with truth. Alternatives to the Bible, as the legalists here represent just one of many, are not simply another valid option. The legalistic alternative is implied to be against the truth and not from God.


The yeast metaphor refers to evil's ability to start small or localized and then spread and corrupt.


Paul clearly separated himself from legalistic(over-emphasis on the law) teaching, pointing out that if he was teaching that anything was required in addition to Jesus, his message of Christ's sacrifice on the cross would not be so offensive to people.


Paul's frustration is expressed through sarcasm when he suggests that the legalists go beyond circumcision and cut off their genitals.


As Christians, completely forgiven and guaranteed eternity in heaven no matter what, it can be easy to take advantage of our freedom by ignoring our sinful habits and not making genuine efforts to avoid sin. But God commands us, through Paul, to avoid "indulging" our sinful desires, instead focusing outside of ourselves by loving those around us.


Although technically "love your neighbor as yourself" does not include laws related to loving and worshiping God, classic Bible scholar Matthew Henry notes that:

Love is the sum of the whole law; as love to God comprises the duties of the first table, so love to our neighbour those of the second. The apostle takes notice of the latter here, because he is speaking of their behaviour towards one another; and, when he makes use of this as an argument to persuade them to mutual love, he intimates both that this would be a good evidence of their sincerity in religion and also the most likely means of rooting out those dissensions and divisions that were among them. It will appear that we are the disciples of Christ indeed when we have love one to another. (John 13:35)

Loving others as much as we love ourselves is counter to our nature. But if everyone constantly serves their own desires more than anything else, we will destroy each other.

Coffee House Question

In what ways do we see media (music, film, television, books etc.) influencing us to think of our own desires instead of loving and helping others first?

Next Week

Bring your shovel, we're diggin' deep!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Dark Ritual, Act 3

Dr_cover_proj_pgThis week, mixing began on the third and final act of Dark Ritual. If you're tracking along at home, we are on pages 43-45 out of 66 pages.

We're sneaking up on the final climactic scenes of Dark Ritual and can't wait to get there! But Paeter is also determined to make each individual scene special, so we're not rushing in our excitement.

Paeter spent two days this week sifting through music, trying to find just the right pieces to include in our musical score. Although Paeter did alot of the scoring for "Spirit Blade" we're purchasing most of the score this time, resulting in a shorter production time and higher quality product. If you liked the music near the end of our trailer, we think you'll be pleased with the results in "Dark Ritual" as well!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Plans For The Pilgrim's Progress

Img_0528 I had a lengthy conversation with my wife the other night about our plans for "The Pilgrim's Progress". For those of you who don't know, after "Dark Ritual" is released I will immediately begin development on what we are currently calling "Similitude Of A Dream", based on The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan.

What I'm struggling with is deciding who my audience is for this project. Of course, we're still trying to find much of our audience for "Spirit Blade", too!

As a small company trying to be noticed, producing an adaptation of The Pilgrim's Progress has several advantages.

1. It's public domain material, so I can basically do whatever I want with it and don't have to pay anyone a dime.

2. The outline for the story is already in place, so I don't have to create an entirely new work from scratch.

3. The material presents truth that is scriptural and potentially life-altering.

4. It's a recognizable name. Christians who may not be so sure about this weird "Spirit Blade" stuff might be willing to try a cinematically produced audio version of The Pilgrim's Progress.

The main question in front of me is: How close should I stick to the source material?

In the realm of fandom, straying from the source material can be close to blasphemy. We've seen plenty of comic book movies fail for their lack of fidelity to the source material. But in this case, the source material is archaic sounding and only vaguely lends itself to the fantasy genre.

It's written in the literary style of allegory. Every character is overtly symbolic of something. They have names like Obstinate and Pliable and behave in direct accordance with their names. "Progress" is meant to be read with an openness to learning life lessons and morality. But I'm not interested in beating people over the head with super-obvious lessons. So my inclination is to change the names but keep most of the story. I may even go so far as to split the single character, Christian(and yes, I'll change his name, too.), into a a group of people. A sort "adventuring party" for the fantasy epic I hope to create. However, once I do that, the potential for change becomes dramatic and while telling a really cool fantasy story I may stray so far from the source material that it would be misleading to advertise it as "based on The Pilgrim's Progress". It may be better to devise my own "party based" fantasy later on and keep this a mostly "solo" adventure. (That's where I'm currently leaning.)

The conflict ultimately comes from wanting to attract two very different groups to this project: (a)The sci-fi/fantasy/action geek, like me, and (b) the person who isn't a die hard fantasy fan or audio drama listener, but who would be willing to take a risk if they saw that the project is based on trusted Christian material.

My hope is that people will be willing to check us out based on our adaptation of "Progress" and then stick around for all the original material we will continue to produce in the future. But while I'm doing that, I want to be sure I'm also utilizing my creative strengths and still creating a story with "Progress" that you, our faithful supporters, will love and be excited about.

I'd love to hear any thoughts you have on this topic, and your prayer support would be very appreciated as I look at making a decision on this sometime in July or August.

That's all for now, folks!

-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, May 5, 2008

In Search Of Truth

Bibleold_2 Galatians 4:21-31

Before we continue with this chapter, take a look at the following passages of scripture to get a basic understanding of the metaphor Paul is using.

Genesis 12:1-4, Genesis 15:3-5, Genesis 16:1-5, Genesis 18:10-14, Genesis 21:1-13

(Don't forget to read Galatians 4:21-31)

In these verses, God promised Abraham that his bloodline would become a "great nation" and that all nations will be blessed because of him. While the Jewish people are descendants of Abraham and God used them to reveal himself to the world, this prophecy ultimately comes true through Jesus. Jesus is a descendant of Abraham and has made it possible for anyone from any nation or culture to have forgiveness and a relationship with the God of the universe.

Abraham and his wife Sarah were both old, and so Sarah tried to "help out God" by telling Abraham to sleep with her servant (whom Paul calls the "slave woman" in the NIV translation) so she could give him an heir instead. This only complicated matters and brought about conflict. God ultimately allowed Sarah to become pregnant with Abraham's child. The descendants of this child became the Jewish nation of Israel.

So now we pick things up at Galatians 4:21, where Paul uses this historical event to illustrate his point about the "legalists" (those who give too much importance to the law) that had been influencing the Galatian Christians.

Paul says that the slave woman, Hagar, represents Mount Sinai (this is where the law was given to Moses) and that her children, like her, will be slaves. Sarah used Hagar to try and fulfill God's promise on her own, much like we so naturally try to earn approval with God by our actions. But like Sarah's plan to use Hagar, our efforts fall short.

Paul also says that Hagar is like Jerusalem as it was at that time (and as it still is today). Like the rest of the world, Jersualem is filled with people in spiritual and moral slavery without Jesus. Slaves that must obey God's law perfectly (an impossible task) in order to be free. The concept of a "Jerusalem that is above" refers to an ideal Jerusalem in heaven that will one day come to earth. (Revelation 21:2) Paul quotes Isaiah 54:1 where the prophet gives comfort to the exiled Jews, promising that they will be restored to glory and live in peace. Paul says that this Jerusalem of the future, inhabited by free people, is the metaphorical mother of those who trust in Jesus.

To sum up Paul's point we might say that those who try to do things their own way will be slaves to the endless pursuit of perfection and will not inherit what God has for us. Those who trust in Jesus are free from that burden and will gain everything God has promised. Paul explains that, like the slave child of Hagar(Genesis 21:9), the legalists are doing harm to the true Christians. He also strongly implies that the legalists should be removed from the church community because of their behavior. (v. 29-30)

Trying to "earn" good standing with God can seem like the right way to go. In fact, we sometimes FEEL good when we DO good. And God absolutely wants us to obey him and do what is right. But out of love for him, not out of a burden of obligation or an effort to get on his "good side". Jesus has carried that burden and by trusting in that, we get on God's "good side". God wants us to serve him freely, and that can only happen if we trust completely in Jesus for our good standing with God. Anything less, and we become slaves to a list of do's and don'ts and miss out on all that God has for us.

Coffee House Question

Expanding on Paul's "slave" metaphor, what do you think a person who tries to "earn" God's love by "following the rules" has in common with a slave?

Next Week: "Paul wants men to cut off their WHAT??"

Friday, May 2, 2008

Iron Man (Movie Review)

I'm so glad I avoided trailers for this movie like the plague. I'll just start by saying that this flick is impossibly cool. Robert Downey Jr. was perfection in the role of Tony Stark/Iron Man, bringing his sense of wit and charm to the screen that embody this character so well. Gwyneth Paltrow perfectly compliments Downey Jr., creating romantic interest and tension that plays well and fittingly never gets resolved. Jeff Bridges is another great choice for an antagonist in this flick. Watching his character's path is enjoyable throughout.

The main thrust of the movie is as follows: Playboy Tony Stark's multi-billion dollar company produces weapons of war that find themselves in the hands of terrorists. After a very close call that leaves Stark with potentially fatal "scars", Tony turns around and designs the "Iron Man" suit to find and destroy Stark weaponry in the hands of terrorists. You won't find arch-nemesis "The Mandarin" here, although he is likely the leader behind the terrorist organization known as "The Ten Rings".

Despite the subtle "anti-violence" beat in the film(which offers only a little potential for meaningful discussion afterward), this movie has no shortage of explosive action. In just the first few minutes, audience members are thrown into a military encounter gone bad, and we feel the fear right along with Stark. There are no "mindless explosions" for pure eye candy in this movie. The action is surprising and you're never quite sure what will happen next. This is also true of the film's sense of humor. There are several great comedic moments as Stark tests and develops his armor.

Director John Favreau has admitted a nod to "Robocop" during development, and a few moments play as subtle remakes of signature Robocop moments if you know where to look. The sound design makes you cringe as bullets bounce and shrapnel flies. The armor does pretty much all the things fans could hope for. (I won't spoil it here, though.) And the special effects look great. Not perfect. CGI still has an obvious "look" to it, but when it's used to create machines and not living things, it's much easier to forget about.

The score is a perfect blend of heavy metal and traditional scoring, with emphasis on the former. Favreau also allows the actors to play and improvise, resulting in some wonderfully "real" character beats. This attention to both character and action continues and even improves upon the balance we've come to expect in our modern superhero films.

Above all, despite the great humorous bits in the film, the movie takes the character concept seriously. It translates the source material into a cinematic framework that feels real, but without short-changing the spectacular fantasy of a comic book.

Although it's a very close call, I believe this film is the greatest modern ('98-'08) Comic Book Superhero movie ever made. A sequel seems like the most obvious thing in the world. The last line before the credits role left me with an open-mouth smile that stayed for close to 30 seconds. And whatever you do, stay for the bonus scene that comes after the credits are done. The rumored "cameo" is not just a rumor, and left me with another dropped jaw when the last line of the scene had been spoken.

If Marvel keeps their head on straight, they could create a cohesive movie universe like nothing seen since the classic Universal monster movie crossovers.

Every fan of superheroes simply MUST see this movie. It's WAY too fun to miss out on. It will be all you talk about on Monday, so go grab your ticket and repulsor boost your way into the theater!

Quality: 10/10

Relevance: 7.0/10

Necromantic Progress

Dr_cover_proj_pg This week, Paeter finished work on a lengthy, tense and dark scene that pushes "Dark Ritual" into the third and final act with the song "Necromancy" and the scene following it.

We've made this song available for download in the past, but Paeter has enjoyed adding a few layers and putting the final touches on it. It will likely be one of the most memorable sequences in "Dark Ritual" and it represents a landmark for us in the mixing process.

Paeter will now begin work on scene 21 and by early next week, he'll be plugging away at the third and final Act.

As Paeter increases the amount of continuous time spent on mixing, we'd very much value your prayers. As many of you artists know, creative burnout is always a danger best avoided through careful budgeting of time. Paeter is optomistic and excited, but will be the first to tell you that if God isn't a part of the creative process, this will be a waste of everyone's time.

As always, thanks for your continued prayer support, readership (and listenership for you fans of the podcast) and encouraging words.

Have a great weekend!