Friday, January 30, 2009

Scripting Nearly Finished!


Scripting is nearly finished for "Pilgrim's Progress: Similitude Of A Dream"! I would guess that after another week of polishing and detailing, I will be ready to begin the casting process. Stay tuned here for the official casting call.

It's been a very unusual experience to approach the pre-production phase after so little time spent on writing, but with the original work to base my script on, and the 60 minute runtime, it's a no-brainer that the process as a whole has moved more quickly.

Casting may be more of a challenge than usual. This story has about 10 characters in the first hour alone. Each of them has a substantial amount of dialogue, so the number of characters requiring especially solid performances has instantly multiplied from "Dark Ritual", even though that project has a run time of about 3 hours!

I'm exploring some new avenues for finding actors that I hope will bring good results. In every aspect of my process I'm continually learning new ways to do things. It makes the process fun and improves my work, but WOW, it never lets up!

-Paeter Frandsen

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Final Crisis Sucked

If this series is any indication of what more "crisis" crossovers would be like, I'm glad we're calling this the "final" one.

After a confusing 7 issue arc, I sat down and read all 7 comics back to back to see if the story made any more sense.

Not really.

This is possibly the most self-indulgent comic book story I have ever read. Morrison juggles a ton of characters that are either obscure (even to a real DC fanatic like me!) or brand new without any explanation or reminder of who they are and where they came from. The only way to make sense of this series would be to get a list of every DC comic book Grant Morrison has ever read and study them so that we can know what he obviously thinks we should know about all these Z-list characters.

Kalibak is a talking tiger? The Atomic Knights are riding around on giant dalmations? Freaking CAPTAIN CARROT??? With the presence of Geoff Johns, it's become cool recently to take outdated, once goofy character concepts and make them cool again. But guess what? Not everybody can do that well, and not every concept can be made cool.

This story was a mess from beginning to end. Maybe those involved convinced themselves that people would dig it because it's confusing in a "profound, post-modern" kinda way. But y'know what? They should have asked the readers after two or three issues and trusted the people putting down their money for this stuff.

I'll always love Morrison's incredible JLA run, but he is now on my poop list. And Dan Didio (Head Honcho at DC) should have vetoed this crazy smear of nonsense, so he's on the list, too. Countdown, Batman RIP and now Final Crisis. That's three strikes, Danny boy. Time to get a new job.

I will still recommend the mini-series' spinning out of Final Crisis, as they have very little connection to the main story and therefore are not easily tainted by it. Revelations has been very cool, Legion Of Three Worlds as well, and Rogues Revenge was awesome.

And yet, I hearby put DC on notice. Didio either gets a new job or openly apologizes and acknowledges his bad instincts for the last two years. Until that happens, DC crossovers and "big events" will be Trade Paperback purchases only for me. IF I read consistently good reviews.

And now, I close this time of ranting with words designed to express the utter outrage and frustration I feel, that those closest to me will understand the magnitude of...

"I wonder what Marvel is up to..."

-Paeter Frandsen

What Is Rationality?


(Imported From The Spirit Blade Underground Facebook Group Topics)


Here's a fun one to toss in the ring for discussion:

What does it mean to be "rational"?

In the debate over God's existence, this word shows up quite often on both sides of the table. Each individual believes that their viewpoint is "rational" and the other's viewpoint is not.
So why don't we go ahead and create a baseline by which we can all seek truth. Whether it be on the subject of Atheism vs. Theism, or any other matter.

I'll start by getting the obvious out of the way. "Mr. Webster, if you please..."

Rational: 1. based on or agreeable to reason. 2.excercising reason 3. sane, lucid. (I'll omit the definition specific to math.)

Now how about...

Reason: 1. a basis or cause, as for some belief, action, fact or event. 2. a statement presented in justification or explanation of a belief or action. 3. the mental powers concerned with forming conclusions, judgments or inferences. 4. sound judgment, good sense. 5. normal or sound powers of mind. sanity. 6. Logic. A premise of an argument. 7. Philos. a. the faculty or power of aquiring intellectual knowledge, either by direct understanding of first principles or by argument. b. the power of intelligent and dispassionate thought, or of conduct influenced by such thought. 8. to think or argue in a logical manner. 9 to form conclusions, judgments or inferences from facts or premises. 10. to urge reasons that should determine belief or action. 11. to think through logically, as a problem. 12. to conclude or infer. 13. to convince, persuade etc. by reasoning. 14. to support with reasons. 15. on account of 16. in accord with reason. justifiable. 17. with ample justification.

And finally...

Logic: 1. the science that investigates the principles governing correct or reliable inference. 2. symbolic logic 3. a particular method of reason or argumentation. 4. the system or principles of reasoning applicable to any branch of knowledge or study.5. reason or sound judgment, as in utterances or actions. 6. the consistency to be discerned in a work of art, system etc. 7. any connection between facts that seems reasonable or inevitable. (I've omitted the defenition specific to computers.)

So maybe the real question is, does a belief require complete and exhaustive proof for it to be considered a rational belief? How can we tell when a belief is rational or not?

Any thoughts?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Seeking Truth in "Legend Of The Seeker"

Two bits of dialogue jumped out at me last night while watching "Legend Of The Seeker". Since the concept of the show and books lends itself to asking "truth oriented" philosophical questions, I came up with a couple for last night's show.

Kahlan: You can't ask me to change my beliefs!

Richard: And you can't ask me to change mine!

In the show, a baby's life hung in the balance during this conversation and the argument hit a stalemate at this point as they both surrendered themselves to this overly sensitive mentality. Why can we not ask each other to change our beliefs? I agree that we can't "demand" that someone change their beliefs. But why can we not ask someone, in light of good evidence and solid reasoning, to change their belief on an issue? I mean, I can always say "no", can't I? What's the harm in asking if the request is accompanied by good reasoning?

Well, in this episode, good reasoning didn't seem to be a weapon in anyone's arsenal. Richard wasn't acknowledging the potential problems with his opinion and Kahlan seemed to think that tradition was reason enough to hold onto hers. I suppose if we never talk about the REASONS for our beliefs it woulds be counterproductive to ask someone to change their mind, but is there any reason to avoid a discussion like that outside of the obvious difficulty of keeping cool and exercising emotional self-control?

Maybe we've forgotten that emotional self-control is a virtue. I mean, we keep hearing that we should just "follow our hearts" anyway, right? Maybe that means we should follow our emotions. We seem to be living in a time when emotions trump all else. Make no mistake. I'm a very emotional guy. I cry at the end of "The Iron Giant" and "Frequency" and "Big Fish" every time I see them. But emotions can't be the guiding elements when we're trying to determine what's true and what isn't. Emotions are our RESPONSE to reality. Not what TEACHES us reality.

Zedd, in trying to explain why a baby must die, said to Richard, "Evil is in its(the baby's) nature!" Richard responded, saying "Well it's not in mine!"

Really, Richard? There's no evil in your nature? No selfishness? No tendency to serve yourself before others? Ever? Being less than good(the opposite of evil) all the time never comes "naturally" to you?

Wow. I guess you must be perfect. Unless your definition of "evil" only includes, murder, sadism, rape, stealing, hatred.... y'know the "really bad" stuff. Maybe you just have "kinda evil" in your nature.

(Sigh.) I can't believe they gave this guy the Sword of TRUTH...

In Search Of Truth, 1st Corinthians, Chapter 3


Paul points to the Corinthians' jealousy and conflict as evidence that they are not maturing spiritually. They have become stagnant in their growth, still at the "infant" stage of their spiritual maturity. Paul uses reason to point out the problem with their disputes over who is the superior teacher. It is God who gave each of them the opportunity to believe, using Apollos and Paul as instruments. (v.5) Paul introduced them to the truth. Apollos contributed teaching afterward, but it was God that actually brought about growth in them. (v.6-7)

Everyone who works and gives themselves and their resources for God's purposes is united. No matter what their unique role may be. Paul may have laid the foundation, but he says his ability to do so was because of God's grace (undeserved favor) toward him. What Paul seems to be hammering home with all of this is the idea that we should not put each other up on platforms, but recognize that it is God using all of us, in the spotlight or in the shadows, to do what he alone is empowering us to do.

Paul continues, saying that no one can lay a foundation that isn't based on and originating in Christ. Starting in verse 12, Paul begins alluding to the time when Christ will judge everyone based on their work. This may sound wrong to someone from a heavily "grace" oriented background. We're not saved by works, are we? No. We're saved by God's gift to us, through Jesus' death and payment for our sins. Look more closely at the text here.

Verses 12-15 describe how a person's deeds will be tested, using the metaphor of fire, a symbol for judgment in the Bible. Those who have invested in the things that matter, things of "substance", will see their work survive. This represents work we do that has eternal impact. Work that invests in other people and in their understanding of and relationship to God. Although we don't know specifics, their will be rewards for this kind of investment! Those who invest in only physical things or self-serving efforts will see that those objects and pleasures don't last. They won't receive any reward for them, but they will still be saved from Hell.

Paul pleads with the Corinthians to understand that the God of all the universe, the ultimate being, the perfect life, lives inside of them. The Greek here is plural. So Paul is saying that they, collectively, are the "temple" of God. He warns that anyone that tries to destroy that temple (the implication in context would refer to those destroying Christian unity through petty arguing) will be destroyed. The Greek word for destroyed here can mean either corruption or death. So those who corrupt the relationships that make up a church community, will be either allowed to become corrupt themselves, and face the consequences, or may even be caused to die!

Paul further pleads for their humility, setting the record straight about where the greatest wisdom can be found. He says that anyone who thinks they are wise by the popular culture's standards, should become a fool by those same standards if they hope to become truly wise. Truth and real wisdom come from God. He is the only completely reliable source. And though popular culture may think God's ideas are foolish, God knows that truth is not determined by democratic vote.

This chapter ends with Paul putting things in perspective. We don't need to strive for significance or popularity. All the things that really matter have been given to us already! And we belong to God. We're his special possession. That gives us more significance than anything else possibly could.

Coffee House Question- Why do you think we find it so hard to find our significance in God instead of in our own achievements or possessions?

Next Week- How we should think of ourselves and other Christians.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans (Movie Review)

As I sat in the theater, preparing to watch this movie, I wasn't sure what to expect. If the trailer was any indicator, this would be the best movie I'd seen in awhile. But trailers have been bad to me recently, so I tried to go in "neutral". I own the first two Underworld movies on DVD and really enjoyed them. What started as a relatively small action film(Underworld) quickly leaped forward in the second installment(Underworld: Evolution) to an explosive vampire/werewolf action flick.

But this movie lacks both Scott Speedman and Kate Beckinsale, the lead performers in the other films. It also has a new director and takes place hundreds of years before "Underworld" begins. I knew that this could go either very right or very wrong.
I'm pleased to say it went very right.

Despite this being director Patrick Tatopoulos' second film, with most of his career focused on special effects work, it's clear he knows how to bring together a good movie with characters you can invest in. It also helps that Michael Sheen (reprising his role as Lucian from "Underworld") and Rhona Mitra deliver performances that, while not record setting, draw you in and make you care. Bill Nighy delivers another great performance as Viktor, and compellingly reminds you of why you love to hate him.

If you've seen the Underworld films, you know where this movie is headed. But when the climax arrives, it is still very intense and involving. There are also a few revelations and sequences not covered in the flashback scenes from "Underworld" that fans will be impacted by. I was afraid the movie would end without sufficient payoff, simply leading into "Underworld", but they manage to have the bad guys "get their due" in a very satisfying way. Although part of a trilogy, the story stands on its own, as do the characters.

The violent action is plentiful and intense. The FX are not groundbreaking, but still look cool. The fight sequences are at times brutal and in a few instances beautiful. The costumes and setting make the movie stand apart from the first two films, given that this is a period peice. If you're a fan of dark medieval fantasy, you will probably really enjoy looking at this world and its people. I would enjoy seeing this director helm a Dungeons and Dragons type of film, as his instincts seem dead-on for the genre.

A few times the camera was too close on the action and it was hard to get a complete sense of what was happening. But I was sitting closer to the screen than usual, and this was only in a few sequences and not a common element.

As for veracity, this film deals with themes of love, betrayal, racism, hatred and slavery. But none of these topics were handled in a way that made me give them a second thought, nor does the movie lend itself to much meaningful conversation. It's mostly just a really cool flick to watch and enjoy.

This film would round out and complete a trilogy nicely, but I'd be interested in seeing another one made. Either another prequel with Selene (Beckinsale) in the lead, or a sequel with Speedman in on the fun, too. I would trust either to this director and creative team.

Well done!

Rated R for bloody violence and some sexuality

Quality: 9.0/10

Veracity: 6.0/10

The Spirit Blade Underground Alliance!


Over the last two years, a few of you have asked me how you might get involved with Spirit Blade Productions as a writer, actor or in some other way. Your opportunity has now arrived!

I'm very happy to announce the birth of The Spirit Blade Underground Alliance. A creative community focused on developing speculative fiction (sci-fi,fantasy,horror etc.) with Biblical themes designed to lead people to the truth!

For information on how it all works and how you can become involved, visit and click on the "Operations" menu tab. Or just go straight to:  

Can't wait to hear from you!

-Paeter Frandsen

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

In Search Of Truth, 1st Corinthians 2:10-16


In verse 10, Paul says that the wisdom, the mysterious things of God, are revealed through the Holy Spirit. And in verse 11 he says that only the Spirit of God knows the thoughts of God. This is very significant. If only the Spirit of God knows and can communicate to us the thoughts of God, then no one who does not recognize the Spirit of God as described in the Bible can rightfully claim to have knowledge of God. At least not the type of knowledge described here, which goes beyond the most basic understanding of God. (verse 6)

Paul also says that it is the Spirit of God who has given the Apostles knowledge of what we have been given by God. He says that the Apostles have also spoken and taught this knowledge (verse 13), so we have access to it as well through scripture. This would include knowledge of God's gift of salvation: justification, sanctification and glorification.

Quick vocab review with "bite size" definitions:

Justification- Being considered perfect by God, cleared of all charges and saved from the penalty of Hell. (Instant event at the time of belief in Christ.)

Sanctification- Being both set apart for and declared appropriate for carrying out the purposes of God. (An ongoing, daily process.)

Glorification- Being remade, perfect in every way, no longer having the tendency to sin. (This comes after our current life on earth.)

Scripture gives us not only knowledge of God, and salvation, but also knowledge of ourselves and understanding of our purpose.

When we take a moment and consider the things "freely given to us by God", the list is immense! But we need the Holy Spirit to teach us all of these things. Without him, we only have access to "human wisdom".

Paul says that the Holy Spirit allows him and the other Apostles to "combine spiritual thoughts with spiritual words" when they teach. The word used for "spiritual" here is "pneumatikos" from the root word, "pneuma". "Pneuma" refers to the immaterial part of man that reflects, desires and is able to think of God. All humans have a "pneuma" and are "spiritual" in that sense. But in the context of 1st Corinthians chapter 2, Paul contrasts this word with the word "psuchikos" in verse 14, which means "natural". A "psuchikos" man, as mentioned in verse 14, is governed only by his environment, his animal instincts and his fallen nature. The "psuchikos" man thinks that the things related to the Spirit of God are foolish. He thinks this way because he doesn't have the Spirit of God in him and is therefore unable to evaluate spiritual things. (Verse 11)

Paul continues to define "spiritual" by saying in verse 15 that "he who is spiritual appraises all things". The spiritual person can potentially examine accurately the ideas he is presented with. The "natural" man has no potential for this without the Holy Spirit revealing truth to him. Paul also says that the spiritual person can't be rightly examined by anyone. This is supported by verse 11 in this chapter, and by Isaiah 40:13, which Paul quotes here in verse 16 from the Greek translation of the Old Testament.

So based on this chapter as a whole, a truly "spiritual" person is someone who is being guided by the Holy Spirit.

He caps off this chapter by adding that he and the other Apostles, however, have the mind of Christ. They have access to the mind of God in ways that other men do not and so are able to evaluate men with the authority of God. In light of this, Paul continues his evaluation of the Corinthians in chapter 3.

Coffee House Question-

How do you think the average person might define the word "spiritual"?

Next Week- "Growing Up"

Monday, January 19, 2009

Civil Rights


Galatians 3:26-29

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Many, yet all too few, have given themselves to securing the freedom and equal standing we enjoy today. Some recognized Christ and worshiped him as God. Others did not. But God used all of them to accomplish his work so far in this area.

You're invited to take a moment and pray with me. Really. Take just a minute right now and pray. Let's thank God for loving us enough to send people to lead us away from our own bigotry and hatred. And let's ask him to complete that work in our hearts, teaching us to love sacrificially in the same way that Jesus did.

-Paeter Frandsen

Friday, January 16, 2009

Expansion Prep


After finishing some more "Pilgrim" scripting this week, I decided to give some time to planning for the expansion of project development at Spirit Blade Productions.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm interested in getting some of YOU involved in the production of a new line of projects! In preparation for that, I'm writing up a description for each of the roles needed to produce audio fiction, and presenting the details of what being involoved with a production will mean for those participating.

I know that's a little vague, but that's exactly why I'm taking the time to map it all out. I still have some issues I need to resolve and questions I need answers for, but I hope very soon to have all the information you'll need to jump on board and help create Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy that's Unsterilized, Unsafe and Unleashed! Together, we can create unique and meaningful material that will entertain and hopefully, make people think!

Talk to you again soon!

-Paeter Frandsen

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Unborn (Movie Review)

David Goyer (Co-writer of Batman Begins and director of Blade:Trinity) serves as writer and director of this movie about a girl being haunted by an evil spirit.

The trailer for this film is what brought me to the theater. It's a shame that the best parts of this movie were in that trailer.

Based on the previews for this film, I assumed I was heading into something akin to "The Ring". Creepy images covered the trailer from front to back. But when I sat down to watch the film, I soon realized that the majority of this film would have an entirely different feel to it, and was made for a different audience as well.

The lead character, Casey, is played by Odette Yustman. From the moment she first appeared on screen, a small part of me sighed and though, "I don't think this girl was hired for her acting chops." Two underwear and one shower scene later, I was all too familiar with the kind of movie I was looking at. Performances from the supporting cast confirmed my suspicions. I was watching a teen thriller. (Ugh.)

Granted, the lead characters were early college age, but almost every other element smelled of the "yawn and stretch" date-night maneuver. The characters were without substance, conforming to stereo-types. The dialogue took me very quickly out of any potentially creepy mood set by the rest of the film.

I will say that the creature effects were wonderful. The bizarre collection of images (most of which are seen in the trailer) include and old man crawling around in a hospital gown with his head on backwards. A little boy with a very large mouth, who looks like he's been decomposing for awhile, and a dog wearing a human mask and another growling dog with his head on upside down. Very unsettling stuff. Although I found them more unsettling outside of the movie's context, when i wasn't aware of the shallow characters and ideas the movie is built on.

One gripe I have revolves around some of the basic doctrine of the film. Although it draws chiefly from Jewish Mysticism, a welcome change from the usual Catholic backdrop of these films, it takes the "all religions are the same" approach near the end, putting the real power not in any god, but in the "belief" of those who may worship him.

The use of a shofar and Psalm 91 in an exorcism near the end of the film is also very odd. The shofar was used as a communication device in battle and as a celebratory announcement for Jewish festivals. It had a few other uses as well, but the way they film it and speak of it in "The Unborn" looks like a strange attempt at giving it mystical powers. And while Psalm 91 is a song reminding us of God's love and protection, its use in the film was also overly mystified, as though it were a magic spell.

The Rabbi, played by a "phoning it in" Gary Oldman, at one point in the film tells Casey that an exorcism doesn't work unless those involved believe in the "power" they are calling on, and that she doesn't really believe. (Casey never denied her unbelief, either.) Then, just before the exorcism, he changes his tune and says that the faith of Casey's mother and grandmother will be what does the trick.

But there really was no clearly defined source of good in this movie. The Rabbi said that he himself was a "man of God, but not a miracle worker", so he gets his episcopal priest buddy to bring some Christianity to the ceremony. Huh? Casey says she doesn't want a Christian exorcism, to which the priest responds by telling her that the evil spirit, if it's real, probably pre-dates religion, and that most exorcisms contain the same basic elements regardless of which religion they come from.

So my question is, if neither the Priest nor Rabbi really believe that what they believe is really real, why are they in their chosen professions and giving other people spiritual advice?
I suppose if you're coming from an agnostic or relativistic viewpoint, where logic doesn't really come into play, you can just roll with this stuff. But I have trouble with it. It certainly isn't that it offends me. I'd just like some consistency in whatever fictional spiritual world-view is being presented.

I mean, if all religions have the same basic "exorcism powers", why didn't they just tell Casey, "Look kiddo. It doesn't matter what you believe. Just make up some religion and a prayer that you can say over and over again. That oughtta get rid of those pesky spirits."

In the end, the film got a lot wrong in the philosophy department, but as a result of its failed attempt, it leaves room for discussion about truth.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and terror, disturbing images, thematic material and language including some sexual references

Quality: 7.0/10
Relevance: 7.5/10

"Pilgrim's Progress"


I've made some more progress on "Pilgrim" this week. The story is starting to develop momentum. I've introduced the main character and his dilemma and I've arrived at the first action sequence. It's an "escape" sequence that is drawn from the book, but given added intensity and danger. The scene is taken from the beginning of Bunyan's work, where Christian, determined to escape judgment, plugs his ears and runs away shouting "Life! Life! Eternal life!"

The circumstances for his departure from the "City Of Destruction" are a little more dire and with a lot more "fireworks", but the emotional material from the original version of the scene naturally lended itself to the creation of the more "explosive" version I'm developing now.

I also gave my main character a last name yesterday. His first name is Christopher, or Chris, in reference to the main character, Christian, in Bunyan's work. The title of "Pilgrim" is not one we use anymore, even in fantasy fiction. Nor do we use the term pilgrimage. But I thought "Pilgrim" would be a fitting last name for our main character. I'll be using his first name almost exclusively in the script, but adding Pilgrim as his last name will hopefully work well and serve as another nod to Bunyan's classic.

This has also led me to remove the "The" from this project's title. Calling it simply "Pilgrim's Progress" attaching it more to the main character as a unique individual, while still undeniably retaining recognition as an adaptation of the original book.

Well, that's it for now!

-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, January 12, 2009

In Search Of Truth, 1st Corinthians 2:1-9


Paul emphasizes again that his approach to teaching did not involve polished and clever speech. He didn’t consider his personal words to be of superior (or also translated "prominent") wisdom. In other words, he wasn’t grandstanding or making a big deal of himself while sharing truth with the Corinthians.(Verse 1) He distilled his entire philosophy down to the basics of who Christ is and what his crucifixion means.(Verse 2) He wasn’t some invincible, perfect preacher, either. While with the Corinthians, he was weak (and the Greek word here implies physical sickness or impairment) and scared. His message was convincing not because he was a skilled debater, but because God was working through him. (Verse 4) He allowed himself to look small, and weak so that the people he taught would never put their trust in him instead of in God. (Verse 5)

Paul was not, however, opposed to wisdom and teaching wisdom. Although he gives "wisdom" a back seat in verses 1, 4 and 5, the Greek word used for wisdom here, Sophia, can mean either wisdom from God, or faulty so-called wisdom created by humans. So context is key when we look at this word.

Paul didn’t just use the polished debate associated with human wisdom. He didn’t use charismatic speaking techniques to manipulate his audience. He just presented truth while living among them, letting all of his weaknesses show.

Paul did teach wisdom to those who were "mature". This probably referred to believers who had grown enough in their relationship with God and knowledge of scripture to understand what Paul taught.

Paul says that he speak God’s wisdom "in a mystery". This is the Greek word "Musterion" and refers here to "something hidden or secret which is naturally unknown to human reason and is only known by the revelation of God." (Spiros Zodhiates’ Lexicon To The New Testament) For us to come to an understanding and acceptance of the truth about God, God has to reveal the truth to us individually. I don’t mean that he gives us a warm fuzzy inside when we’re hearing the truth. (Good luck using THAT as a "truth-meter" in life!) He may do it through a number of methods, people, books or experiences. But it has to start with his action, bringing those thoughts, people and circumstances about, and giving us a desire for truth. We may experience it as a choice we make, or something we initiate. But at the same time, in some invisible, unknowable way, it all starts with him.

As we look at more scripture, we’ll see this idea of God’s "initiation" pop up again and again. We can see it implied here in verse 7 when Paul refers to the "hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory". God’s plan, since before he created the world, has been to reveal truth to people and for them to be transformed forever by it.

Not everyone will be transformed by the truth. It is specifically targeted at "those who love God." (Verse 9, adapting a quote from Isaiah 64:4 and 65:17, using the Greek translation of the Hebrew text, resulting in a different read from the original.)

So you might ask at this point, "If God initiates our understanding, and therefore our love for him, how does he use our love of him as the basis for initiating our understanding and eventual love of him? Where does our choice and responsibility granted with free will intersect with God’s absolute control?"

Let me be the first to welcome you into one of the greatest and most complex topics of Biblical and philosophical study! (Or in other words, good question!)

We’ll probably end up touching on this mystery now and then, but since it is a topic best covered using a variety of scriptural sources, we won’t be able to tackle it with much force using our "chapter by chapter" format. However, if you’d like to read more on this topic, please shoot me an e-mail. Over the years I’ve fallen on different sides of this issue and am currently reading yet another book that I hope will give me some more insight. It’s a mind-bender, but a fascinating mystery to probe at!

Next week-

Spiritual thoughts, spiritual words and spiritual people. What does it all really mean?

Coffee House Question-

How important is it to you to have a preacher that speaks well and holds your attention with his level of infection and energy? How important is it to you to have a preacher teach from the Bible, as opposed to topical, yet scripture-based sermons?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Babylon AD (Uncut DVD Review)

I have nothing for or against Vin Diesel. He usually fills the role of action hero without adding or subtracting from the film. The same was true in Babylon AD.

I missed seeing this movie in theaters and so rented it on DVD this week. For the first 40 minutes it looked like things were going somewhere. Sure, it had some plot points we'd seen before, particularly in "The Fifth Element", but it had enough going for it that I was more than happy to see it through. Too bad the film-makers didn't seem to feel the same way.

This "pre-post-apocalyptic" movie has a few semi-cool action sequences that gave me the feeling we were building up to one or two really fantastic ones. But the coolest special effects shot of the film was the focal point of every trailer for this flick, so it was nothing new when you saw the pseudo "bullet-time" shot at the climax of the film.

I should also say that I use the word "climax" very loosely. After 40 minutes, the action sequences topped out, no longer gaining in intensity, just kinda being there. The movie also spends much of its time building up the mystique of the mysterious female lead, but never really pays off.

A few interesting opportunities to talk about faith and/versus religion present themselves but go nowhere. The antagonists in the film are the overdone "evil yet churchy" theocratic organization, borrowing yet again from Catholic subtext and imagery. I'm no Catholic, but can we find different imagery or religious tradition to base this concept on and then come up with antagonists that are a little more 3-dimension than the usual "We want others to be religious and give us money while we are truly selfish and evil?"

After the "climax", I got the impression that this movie was just about to start into a 3rd act. Some things were explained, but not enough to call it a "payoff".

The main character had just undergone some potentially empowering changes. He was ready to fulfill his mission. Then suddenly Vin starts in with a voice-over where he basically says, "So I went through with my mission and had a great adventure and now I'm done". Roll the credits.
Normally I'd have a little more to say in a review like this, but in addition to its other problems, the movie just wasn't that memorable.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, language and some sexuality

Quality: 7.0/10

Relevance: 6.5/10

Part 2 of Tully's Interview!


You can now download part 2 of my "Dark Ritual" interview with the voice of Raan, Michael Tully!

In this segment, Mike talks about the development of his character and we both discuss the unusual process of recording "Misc!"

As with all of our special features, you can download and listen to it for free on the Media Page of our main website! (


-Paeter Frandsen

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Spirit (Movie Review)

Frank Miller has created some celebrated comic books that have recently been made into very successful films. Sin City and 300 both wowed audiences with their stylized visuals that captured much of the source material in a dynamic and appealing way.

Miller, who co-directed Sin City, decided to make "The Spirit" his feature film debut as both writer and director. But the result is an experience lacking both textual substance and film quality.

I am not a fan of The Spirit, and know very little about the character. So I judged this movie on its own merits. I went into this film not knowing what to expect. The previews looked like a Sin City knock-off and Samuel L. Jackson made me nervous from the get go. He’s either really right for his roles, or really wrong for them.

I knew within 20 minutes of this film that I’d made a terrible mistake in coming to the theater. Seven dollars and two hours that I’ll never get back. Sometimes I’ll go and see a movie I might otherwise skip because of my desire to put a review on the blog or podcast, but this movie made me change my mind about that philosophy.

So what was wrong with it? First, it didn’t seem to know who it was. Violent action, yet cheesy dialogue you’d expect from a family film. Bold statements that may look good in a comic panel, like "Shut up and bleed", just feel contrived and gimmicky in this movie. The performances of all involved were just far enough over the top that I didn’t believe in any of them. Scarlet Johannsen was the only actor that held my interest consistently, coming across more subtle and clever than the rest.

The movie used 1930’s period sets and costumes, but threw cell phones and laptops into the mix as well. In some films, this kind of attempt at "timelessness" work. Here, for me, it didn’t. It was just a distraction. (See "Dark City" for an example of this done well.)

Unlike Sin City and 300, the effects were a distraction from the story and characters, rather than an enhancement of them. And some really awkward looking wire work made the title character look silly as he jumped from one building to the next, or performed other acrobatic feats.

Despite looking for it throughout the film, I just couldn’t find any topics touched on that might lead to meaningful conversation. So this movie gets a low Veracity score as well.

Frank Miller has put out some incredible, groundbreaking stuff. But his ideas don’t always work. (See The Dark Knight Returns, or All Star Batman and Robin) I don’t know if his problem is that he becomes to "aware of himself" or what. But his style is hit or miss with me, and this movie was a big MISS. Better luck next time, Frank.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of stylized violence and action, some sexual content and brief nudity

Quality: 6.0/10

Relevance: 5.0/10

I Want Your Questions!


Calling all "Dark Ritual"fans! Be a part of the "Dark Ritual" Interactive Audio Commentary!

I am assembling my notes to record the commentary for "Spirit Blade: Dark Ritual", Disc 1, Track 1. And I want to include any questions you may have about that portion in the commentary track! I also want to include your name and give you credit for your question! So give that track another listen and e-mail your questions to me at paeter (at) spiritblade (dot) net. I’ll get back you with an answer by e-mail, so you don’t have to wait to have your question answered in the commentary, and then I’ll include your name and question when I record and produce the commentary track for everyone to download and enjoy!

The deadline for disc 1, track 1 questions is February 1st. So drop me a line soon! I'd love to hear from you!

-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, January 5, 2009

In Search Of Truth, 1st Corinthians 1:17-31


Paul puts to rest the factions forming under speakers and leaders in Corinth by pointing to the Gospel (the "good news" of Christ and his saving achievement on the cross) as the ultimate source of truth and life. He clarifies that Christ sent Paul out primarily to share this truth, not to baptize. And to share this truth without dressing it up with "cleverness of speech."(v. 17) In fact, to use too many gimmicks can result in sabatoging the purpose for which the truth is being shared. This is what is meant by the Greek word "Kenoo" in verse 17 for the phrase "made void".

While we should be prepared to defend the truth of Christ's identity and accomplished purpose (1 Peter 3:15), we shouldn't manipulate it, or people, to make the truth look more appealing. Manipulating truth makes it false. Offering yet another false belief system to the world only hurts.

God acknowledges here that his method for our salvation sounds foolish to those who don't believe it. Humans have a very stubborn idea of what strength is, and it doesn't include dying on a cross. So much of what Jesus taught was counter-intuitive in his day and still is in ours! Love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). Sinful thoughts make us as guilty as sinful actions (Matthew 5). The Jews were expecting a king to lead them in victorious battle, but Jesus came to die so we could have victory that lasts forever.

A few of his ideas are accepted among modern philosophers. Mostly his ideas about love. (Everybody likes love, right?) But his radical teaching about himself makes us uncomfortable. We start to wonder if this guy had a few loose screws. He tells his followers that he is God, but then proceeds to willingly allow himself to be brutally tortured and executed. If he was God, then God must be crazy, right?

The point of verses 18-31 is that God does things differently than we would. This makes perfect sense if God has infinite capacity for intelligence. Yet if God doesn't conform to what our finite minds consider intelligent, we call his message crazy or stupid.

The Jews believed following Christ would lead them away from God. The Greeks had resurrection stories among their gods, but these were considered myth at best, or even allegorized myth not even meant to be taken literally. Roman culture was defined by power and status. Crucifixion was considered a death for slaves. So for Christ to excercise power through his death sounded as nonsensical to them as it does to us. (For more information, see the IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, Keener.)

Our own philosophies and spiritual ideas have not led us to God. We might believe we're really deep thinkers, but our conjured version of truth has only led us away from what is real. Thankfully, God is more than happy to intervene and set the record straight, even though he knows most of us will choose not to believe him. (v.21) He does this to be true to his word in Isaiah 29:14, which Paul quotes here from a Greek translation in verse 19.

In verse 22, Paul says that Jews and Greeks ask for signs and look for wisdom. Paul's response, in verse 23, is to teach about Christ's crucifixion. If we use historical evidence to see the validity of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, and if we dig into the Bible to understand the significance of this event, we will have a miraculous sign like none other and we will recognize the wisdom God excercised by carrying out his salvation plan the way he did. On the surface, this central element of the Bible seems strange and hard to believe. But in taking a closer look, we can understand why it is the most important event in human history.

There's something else that happens when God does things differently than we expect. Especially when he uses unconventional or weak people to accomplish his plans. Moses was terrible at speaking in public. (Exodus 4:10) King David was an adulterer and murderer. (2 Samuel 11) Jesus was born in a dirty stable and lived the life of a rugged carpenter. God uses people who are weak, flawed and of low status to accomplish his purposes for humanity. But why?

Verses 27-29 of this chapter give us the answer. God wants to demonstrate that he is bigger, stronger and just plain better than the best we have to offer in comparison. He uses weak vessels so that there can be no doubt that he was the one that really made it work. God wants all the credit, because he genuinely deserves all the credit. Although he allows us to be involved in the process, he's ultimately the one getting everything done!

In fact, verse 30 says that Jesus became the wisdom from God that we needed. He also became our righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Righteousness (Greek: Dikaiosune) means "conformity with the claims of higher authority." Sanctification (Greek: Hagiasmos, in this instance.) means, here specifically, "to be declared fit for and committed to, God's purposes". And redemption (Greek: Apalutrosis) means "payment made to secure freedom".

So because of God, through Christ, we have access to incredible wisdom. Those who trust in the identity and salvation of Christ are considered to perfectly meet God's perfect standard of morality. God considers them an appropriate fit to carry out his cosmic plans, and he has made the perfect payment to secure their freedom from their own sin and from eternal punishment.

Can anyone say, "wow"?

Next Week- A Look At Paul's Teaching Strategy

Coffee House Question- What reaction(s) have you received from non-Christians after they learn that you are a Christian? Did it change your interaction or relationship with them?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Coming Soon!


2008 proved to be an exciting year that closed with a bang as our second audio production was released in November. I had one or two other agenda items for 2008 that weren't completed and I learned alot about the unpredictable nature of production schedules. Having said that, I think I can still share a few agenda items for 2009 that you might like!

1. Work will continue on the first part of my fantasy adaptation of "The Pilgrim's Progress". Scripting is going well and I hope to begin casting in March and recording in April. Each portion of this epic tale will be released digitally first, about one hour at a time. When the entire series is finished, it will be assembled for a CD collection. With this new approach, we should be able to get stories to you more often and those of you who are collectors will still have something to look forward to! It's difficult to be sure of release dates, but I'm working hard to have the first part of "Pilgrim" finished and available before the end of 2009!

2. Although "Pilgrim" will not include the use of songs in the same way they are used in the Spirit Blade Trilogy, I will be remixing some songs from "Spirit Blade," recording some new ones and incuding the songs of "Dark Ritual" in a music CD project that I hope to release in the first quarter of 2010!

3. I will continue supporting "Dark Ritual" with the production and release of behind the scenes interviews, documentaries and commentaries throughout all of 2009. I'm ahead of schedule in this process and will be releasing a new special feature or commentary segment once every month until October. One exciting element I'm introducing this year is the Interactive Audio Commentary! Keep an eye on this site and the weekly podcast ( for commentary question requests. I will be asking for your questions about "Dark Ritual" and will then incorporate them, including a credit to you for your questions, into the audio commentary! I hope you'll stay tuned and be a part of the process with me!

4. In 2009 I will be looking for ways to expand our frequency of production by involving writers and sound mixers in the development of new material. I'm not exactly sure what this looks like yet, but if you are a writer, musical composer, or someone with experience in mixing sound, and would be interested in helping to create Truth-centered sci-fi and fantasy, I would love to hear from you to explore the possibilities. Send me an e-mail at paeter (at) spiritblade (dot) net. And as always you can expect to be notified of casting calls here and on the podcast as well!

5. Lastly, for a couple of years now you've heard mention of a "Spirit Blade Novella", written before I produced the original "Spirit Blade" audio drama and used to create the scripts for both "Spirit Blade" and "Spirit Blade: Dark Ritual". I've kept it safely hidden in a vault until the release of "Dark Ritual", since a few of Dark Ritual's biggest plot twists come from the novella. But in 2009 I will be opening the vault and sharing the never before seen(or heard) origins of the Spirit Blade Universe! This will be done via podcast, and/or blog posts. It will not replace any of the usual blog posting or podcasting I do, but will be done in addition to the material I already produce here and on the podcast. More details coming soon!

As you can tell, there's a lot to look forward to this year and a lot for me to get working on. Guess I'd better get to it!

Thanks for your continued support! Spread the word! Great things are coming in 2009!

-Paeter Frandsen