Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pandorum (Movie Review)

In a summer filled largely with mediocre movies, I’ve discovered that the fall is when the best movies start to come out. And in a further twist, I am now seeing a pattern in recent Hollywood flicks where the sinful nature of humans is acknowledged and even used as part of a central theme!

Pandorum is a futuristic horror movie about a small group of people who wake up in a deep space vessel on an unknown mission. Due to prolonged hyper-sleep, the memory of the two main characters is damaged and recovers only as the plot progresses. It may sound like a cheap writer’s tool, but it works to great effect in this movie.

The ship is dark and running on almost no power, and humanoid monsters are hunting humans for food throughout the ship. As the crew scrambles to survive and make sense of what is happening, the mysterious plot unfolds.

The strength of this film for most of the ride is what it doesn’t tell you. Enough details are given to avoid frustration and disconnecting from the story, but you’re grasping at straws for most of movie.

The visual look is a cross between Alien and Event Horizon. Not surprising given that Paul Anderson (Event Horizon director) produced this film.

Ben Foster and Dennis Quaid both turn in engaging performances. Quaid grounds the film well with his presence and Foster gives the audience a window through which to empathize.

Special effects are mostly practical and creature-related and do a fine job. In fact, the lack of too much CGI keeps this movie feeling gritty and real. Darkness is also used to great effect, following the same philosophy as the script: “Don’t give away too much.”

Near the end of the film, we are faced with the nature of humanity. When left unchecked, our default passions and desires are selfish and evil, and this film doesn’t shy away from it. In fact, it even subtly recognizes the evil that will naturally result as the outcome of applying evolutionary philosophy. When “survival of the fittest” is the highest good, well… use your imagination, or just go see Pandorum.

Rated R for strong horror violence and language

Quality: 9/10

Relevance: 8.5/10

In Search Of Truth, 2nd Corinthians 1:1-11


Paul begins this letter with a standard form of greeting in verses 1-7. He affirms his status as an official representative of Christ. (Some in Corinth had been casting doubt on Paul’s Apostleship.) He also states that this position was assigned to him by the will of God, to remind them that it is not a role he sought out for himself. (See Acts 9 for Paul’s “Origin Story”)

The letter is addressed to the church of Corinth and other churches in Achaia (Greece). Paul uses two elements in his greeting common to Greeks (grace: undeserved favor) and Hebrews (peace: well-being and security) and identifies God the Father and Jesus Christ as the source of both.

The word “praise” or “blessed” at the beginning of verse 3 indicates in the Greek that God deserves being spoken well of. Praise is a particular type of worship expression that is outwardly detectable by others in some way. So Paul is telling his readers to outwardly express who God is and what he has done.

Paul then specifically highlights God’s compassion and ability to provide comfort. (v.3) And when God gives us comfort, he also equips us to give comfort to others. (v.4) “The sufferings of Christ” (v. 5) is a phrase used in the New Testament to refer to suffering endured by believers in service to Christ. Christ also served as the ultimate example of a suffering servant and so we can expect to experience various degrees of suffering as we aim to follow his pattern of living. (See Philippians 3:10)

Paul recognized God’s purpose in every state of his existence. When he was distressed, he knew it was because he was serving others and serving God. When he was comforted, he recognized the hope that it would bring others to see him comforted even in times of suffering. (v.6-7)

Paul was not superhuman. He knew what it was like to be in so much agony that he didn’t want to take another breath. He knew what it was to reach his personal limit and be pushed far beyond it. He knew the fear of death and torture. But he also saw his suffering as a calling to trust in God, knowing that God can even reverse the power of death. Paul knew that God is ultimately in control and worthy of trust. (v.8-10)

Although prayer can sometimes feel futile or like talking to the air, Paul emphasizes the importance of prayer here. Although God does not need our prayers in order to act, he often acts in response to our prayers! (v.11)


 Next Week- Paul repairs his reputation

Coffee House Question

When do you find it easiest to pray? Why? When do you find it hardest to pray? Why?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Yom Kippur And The Christian






In Leviticus chapter 16, instructions are given to the Israelites regarding a ritual performed once every year to make atonement for their sins. The phrase "make atonement" comes from the Hebrew word "Kaphar", which likely finds its root in the noun "Kippur". Today, Jews around the world observe Yom Kippur and make effort to atone for their sins. (In the Hebrew root word, the idea of atoning implies a "covering" or "wiping away".)

Christians largely ignore this holy day, but I have to wonder why. This day holds great significance for the Christian.

Reading Leviticus 16, I see a picture of a Holy God. In other words, a God who is so pure, so "other" from what we are, that humans, sinful as we are, can’t survive the mere act of being in his presence. His perfect justice won’t allow it. The scales must be balanced. There has to be payment for our rebellion and selfishness.

Thankfully, our sinful state doesn’t diminish our worth to God. So he created the sacrificial system as a way of communicating with humanity, telling us about who he is and who we are. But the Day Of Atonement didn’t fix the problem. The fact that it has to be repeated every year exposes its insufficiency to completely and permanently repair our right standing with God. So this day points to a need for complete restoration in our relationship with God.

In Jeremiah Chapter 31, verses 31-34, God tells his people that he will establish a new covenant with them that will not be like the old one created at Mount Sinai. The writer of Hebrews logically points out that God would not have said this if the Mosaic covenant and the sacrificial system worked perfectly.

Fast forward to the time of Jesus. He said that he didn’t come to abolish the Law or The Prophets, but to fulfill them. (Matthew 5:17) As God in human form, the sacrifice of his own life was worth infinitely more than animal sacrifices or any human efforts to "make up for" our sin. Hebrews 9:12-15 says-

He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance-now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

So on this day, those who choose to put their trust in Jesus can actually breathe a sigh of relief and thank God for forgiving them for their selfishness and rebellion against him! We can make every effort to love others and invest in relationships without the weight of our failures constantly discouraging us.

So why not take a little extra time today to observe Yom Kippur? Thank God for his amazing act of love and sacrifice and ask for his help as you aim to be more like him and turn away from behavior that weakens your relationship with God and others.

Believe it or not: "Happy Yom Kippur!"

-Paeter Frandsen

Friday, September 25, 2009

Surrogates (Movie Review)

This movie nearly slipped under my radar for its lack of trailers in theaters or on tv in my area, but I'm so glad I saw it!

In the future world of "Surrogates" everyone is able to live day-to-day life through virtual reality controlled robots called surrogates. While plugged into a control unit at home, users can let themselves physically go to waste while they live out life in either idealized versions of their own bodies, or completely different custom made surrogate bodies. They can see, hear and feel just as if they were in their own bodies, with the exception of pain, which they are protected from at all times.

Until recently, it has been impossible to suffer harm through use of a surrogate, but when several surrogate users start turning up dead, Agent Greer (Bruce Willis) is sent in to investigate. What follows is a great ride with plot twists and super-heroic action that is all too short, presented in just under 90 minutes.

Willis once again delivers a performance that is understated yet emotionally engaging. A chief subplot involves his strained relationship with his wife, who wants to limit their contact to surrogates, while he wants to be with her in their own bodies more often. The plot-line is so engaing that in another movie it could have been the A story.

Although the strongest moments are not given away in the trailer, one of the climactic plot points can be predicted if you've seen even one trailer for this movie, so avoid them if you haven't seen any yet.

Special effects bring the sci-fi elements to life very effectively in both action beats and calmer moments. In Willis' surrogate form, they use special effects to remove wrinkles and sagging skin, much like what was done for Professor X and Magneto in X-men 3. Either it wasn't on par with Benjamin Button effects, or they were going for a somewhat plastic "Ken doll" look. Depending on which you assume, the anti-aging effects on Willis either look really good, or don't quite meet quality standards recently set by Benjamin Button. Other visual effects, while not new, look wonderful.

I do wish the ride would have been a little longer. I'm not sure what extra story there might have been to tell, but I could have spent more time in this world and seen more of the great action sequences this movie contained. Even one more 3-5 minute action sequence with some money thrown at it might have brought this flick up to "Iron Man" standards in that department, if not overall.

The element of the movie that stands out the most to me is it's message. Although the statement being made about online relationships (not necessarily romantic, but online human interaction in general) is obvious to frequent internet users, it is not preachy, but rather pleading. We see the tragedy of human disconnection as it plays out in the romantic subplot, and in numerous other places in the movie. This is no doubt the central theme. The movie even starts with one of the characters narrating: "Life is not meant to be lived through a machine." What the movie "Gamer" communicated in an exploitative manner, "Surrogates" says more eloquently and with deeper and fuller expression.

I'm not suggesting that online friendships are all shallow. Neither does this movie. What I believe the creators of this movie are saying, which I agree with, is that we shouldn't kid ourselves into thinking that online friendships/romances/etc. are the way we are meant to fully experience human relationships. In chat rooms and message boards, if we become frustrated with a conversation, we can simply disconnect from it. We see this idea played out several times in Surrogates. Behind the safety of a computer monitor or surrogate body, we can escape as soon as we have reached our emotional limits. But in face-to-face, everyday relationships, we sometimes have to stick it out through angry or tear-filled conversations. Sure, we might storm out of a room in anger. But making that decision takes more consideration than just clicking that "X" in the upper right corner.

Full human relationships, the kind that are messy and can't be "turned off" or "facebook blocked", are the kind that can yield friendship and character growth on a level simply impossible when attempted through a "Surrogate" or screen name. So if you and I claim to care about people and relationships, this movie gives us something to think about.

One of the best movies in the last 6 months. Don't miss it.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, disturbing images, language, sexuality and a drug-related scene

Quality: 9.0/10

Relevance: 9.5/10

Paeter The Dragon









I am officially mixing the final scene of "Pilgrim's Progress: Similitude Of A Dream"! It involves a dragon (I'll reveal no more) and I spent some time looking for dragon type roars in my sound effects library and a few places online, but couldn't find what I needed and didn't feel like spending money.

So I grabbed some household items to help expand my vocal resonating space and recorded a series of vocal noises that I then layered, altered pitch for and added reverb to in order to produce what I believe with be the dragon noises used in the final product. The process has been a lot of fun and is not over yet, so we'll see! But just in case it works like I hope it will, I used some screen capture software to video document my experience creating the effects that you will hopefully see in a few more months!

There is still some other work to be done, too. I need to write up and have an actor record the opening and closing credits, and I also need to record my reading of the original material from John Bunyan's classic, which parallels what we cover in this installment of the series. Mid-October might be pushing it, but I'm working as hard as I can to get it all finished and in your ears!

Have a great weekend!

-Paeter Frandsen

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Of The Night: Episode 1, Kiss The Night







I am pleased to announce the release of the first audio drama project produced by The Spirit Blade Underground Alliance!

Of The Night: Episode 1, Kiss The Night

James Elysian is a former policeman recovering from the death of his fiancee. But is she truly dead, or merely transformed into a creature... of the night?

(This audio series contains content recommended for ages 16 and older.)

Download it now for free at !


-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, September 21, 2009

In Search Of Truth, Acts 20:1-2 and Intro to 2nd Corinthians


After the riot in Ephesus ended, Paul prepared to leave for Macedonia.  In the midst of controversy and persecution, Paul seemed to consistently be a source of “exhortation”. (v. 1-2) This Greek word, Parakaleo, means “to call to one’s side”. It’s used in the sense of both motivating and comforting others.


Paul made his way to Greece through Macedonia and it’s believed that at this time Paul wrote 2nd Corinthians.


Since Paul’s last visit to the church in Corinth, a group of men came to Corinth claiming to be Apostles and challenging Paul’s integrity and authority. Paul came out to Corinth to try and remedy the situation, resulting in what he calls a “painful visit” in 2 Corinthians 2:1. Sometime after leaving, Paul wrote them again, possibly regarding the same unresolved issue, in a severe tone. On his way to see them, Paul met with Titus, who gave a report on the Corinthian church and how they had responded to Paul’s “severe letter”. 2nd Corinthians is written after Paul heard that the Corinthians responded well to his severe letter, and so the tone of this letter is more warm and personal than many of Paul’s more instructive letters. Even so, we’ll see that Paul still has some serious issues to address with the Corinthian church in the last few chapters of the book.


As we look at 2nd Corinthians, we’ll learn more about relationships between Christians, what to realistically expect and anxiously look forward to as we live our lives for Christ, the importance of being generous, and more of who Paul is and the uniqueness of his life. And along the way, we’ll see a picture of what our lives can be today if we surrender them to God’s will. Be sure to come back next time as we start our trip through 2nd Corinthians!


Next Week- God, Suffering and Comfort


Coffee House Question


Who is someone in your life that has been a source of motivation and encouragement? Can you think of one person this week that you can help to motivate and encourage?



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dark Ritual Commentary Part 5!


Thanks for your patience, everyone! Today I finally got around to posting part 5 of the Spirit Blade Dark Ritual Interactive Commentary. You can get it for free right now at!

I'll be leaving Friday morning to head out to California to meet with some other podcasters that I interact with online. It's possible that I will post before then, though I'm not certain. There will also be no podcast this weekend.

So if you're a podcast listener and you've never looked at the free downloads on our main site, now is a great time to go check it out!

Have a great weekend!

-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, September 14, 2009

My Real Job


(No podcast this weekend, so no "In Search Of Truth" today. But check back next week!)

There just isn't enough time. I think I feel it most when I'm nearing the end of a project and have self-imposed deadlines that I have shared publically. But I also happen to know that my last two weeks have had an unusual number of "things" that need to get done that have nothing to do with mixing, which is what I'd REALLY like to spend all of my time doing at this point.

It's at times like this that it's really challenging for me to remember what my job is. My job is not to churn out audio dramas on a conveyer belt. Audio dramas are a huge part of my job, but they aren't what primarily defines Spirit Blade Productions and the goals I have for my life and our little company. My job is to share biblical truth with "my people": The geeks. The ones that the church doesn't seem to know how to talk to or what to do with, or that she even judges and turns away. The ones who love exploring new concepts and discussing ideas too otherworldy, philosophical or abstract for "normal people".

Even though it's difficult to feel behind and frustrating to encounter obstacles and "to do lists" that ultimately delay the release of our next project by hours that turn into days that turn into weeks, I do my best to remember that the most important work is still being done, little by little, every day that I remember what my real job is.

-Paeter Frandsen

Friday, September 11, 2009

9 (Movie Review)

Clocking in at a mere 79 minutes, this movie is no epic, but still creatively ambitious. Marketed as "not your little brother's animated movie", just who is this movie for?

The story takes place on post-apocalyptic earth. Mankind has destroyed itself and only machines and 9 mysteriously animated rag dolls remain. The dolls, named 1-9, struggle to survive as an evil, monstrous machine aims to hunt them down and kill them. The movie is not graphic, but death is a common reality in this film. The advertising campaign and the PG-13 rating ought to be enough warning, but just in case I'll let you know that this movie probably isn't for most young kids. Though tweens and early teen boys will likely enjoy it a lot.

The visual look certainly contains some hallmarks of producer Tim Burton's early work, though not excessively. Both grim and child-like, the design of this world is captivating.

Cast with celebrity voices like Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly and Crispin Glover, you might expect the characters to really stand out, though the roles would have likely been serviced just as well with unknowns. Plot and concept are the real stars of this movie, and they carry it pretty well. Though I could have used 10 more minutes of character development spread throughout the cast. As it stand, the characters are not very fleshed out, leaving the movie feeling somewhat like a "Twilight Zone" episode or other short story.

The action is exciting and executed well. The bad guys are creepy (especially a strange "snake with a doll's head" creature) and hard to take your eyes off of.

For most of the film, we're asked to simply accept that the dolls are alive somehow, without knowing the reason. And though the plot doesn't continue asking the question of their origins, it is explained at the end of the film.

The plot is not complex and the premise (man vs. machine = end of the world) has been seen a dozen times. So it's not a story that will stimulate the mind of a sci-fi geek. But it will likely spark the imagination of a pre-teen boy and be a movie he looks back on in adulthood the same way I might look back on "The Dark Crystal" or "The Neverending Story".

For parents and kids, themes of death and the human soul are both given springboards for conversation in this flick. The human soul, in particular, is ripe for discussion among viewers of all ages as you leave the theater. Keep an eye out for some discussion points on the nature of the human soul near the end of the movie. You'll also notice a visual cue just before the credits end, suggesting a sort of reincarnation with a touch of Pantheism or Monism(All are one. No individuality. Each piece part of one whole.)

Probably not a movie that everyone will embrace, but a certain slice of the populace will find it scratches a very unique itch.

Rated PG-13 for violence and scary images

Quality: 8.5/10

Relevance: 7.5/10

I Am Not "Basically Good"


For a number of years now I've heard it said repeatedly that "people are basically good". But I would guess that most police officers do not find themselves agreeing with this philosophy. To be something "basically" means to be something "primarily or fundamentally". Although there are various moral codes that people adhere to, let's assume for just a moment that "good" means thinking of others first. Doing unto others as you'd have them do unto you. Being the opposite of selfish.

I can tell you from personal experience that I am definately NOT "basically good".

Recently I was running an errand out to the other side of the city before coming home to have a "date night" with my wife. I had already done some running around earlier in the day, so I was over the thrill of it by this point. I felt like singing and so I took along some CDs and a CD player in the car. (I know, I need to get an i-pod. But that's beside the point.)

Sound nice so far? "Oh, a date night with his wife. How sweet. He doesn't sound like such a bad guy. He's probably basically good."

In reality, if I were "basically good", I would not be fumbling through CDs, looking for my favorite at a stop light. I wouldn't be doing anything that would divide my attention from driving, so that I can keep traffic moving well for those behind me and avoid harming anyone by accident. But my momentary pleasure was too important to give those around me any thought. And though I didn't cause any problems for others at the start of my journey, my selfish behavior was only beginning.

Closer to my destination, while on a slow, crowded freeway, I noticed that traffic was dramatically slowing between my upcoming exit and the exit I was about to pass on my right. I had already passed the proper exit point and would have to cross illegally to get off at the exit I was about to pass and avoid the upcoming traffic jam. But I did it anyway.

My wife considers me a very safe driver. I do too, relatively speaking. I never go more than 6 miles over the speed limit, usually staying at around 4-5 above. I signal in parking lots (which my wife thinks is funny), sometimes even when no one is there. I'm not an agressive driver by any definition. Timid would be a better word. City traffic and dense freeway traffic both make me nervous.

Six months after getting my license at 17 years old, I was stopped by a police officer for not yielding to oncoming traffic. He was the oncoming traffice, by the way. I was turning left at a light, saw the oncoming policeman and thought he'd be more upset if I wasn't out of the intersection before the light turned red. I was wrong. He left me with a stern warning and I cried my way home, completely stressed out by the situation. (What can I say? I'm one of those sensitive "artsy" types.) I haven't been stopped by a police officer in the 14 years since. Until now.

When I saw him appear behind me I knew he must have seen what I'd done. I knew I was guilty. I pulled us into a parking lot in response to his inevitable flashing lights. The front of my shirt began to bounce off my chest to the beat of my heart as he walked up to the driver's side window. He told me why he stopped me and I smiled and nodded sincerely saying, "Oh, I'm sure." After asking a few routine questions and getting my information, he asked why I'd made the illegal exit. Now, if I were "basically good", he wouldn't have received a stuttered answer containing both truth AND falsehood. I told him that I had seen the upcoming traffic jam and that since I was following some printed directions (true) I didn't want to get lost (false) or stuck in traffic (true).

How did that lie get thrown in there? I'm still not sure, but I believe that as my mind was racing, there was a split second where I thought presenting a concern over getting lost might benefit me. My natural instinct was not to present truth(something good), but to protect my personal comfort(something naturally selfish). Maybe the officer would be a little more sympathetic if he thought I felt lost. I also remember shaking very nervously(which was 100% real) and making the conscious decision to hold my sheet of directions up from my lap so that he might see the paper quivering and possibly sympathize with me.

If I were "basically good", I would not have given any thought to manipulating the situation for my benefit. My concern would be to relay the truth, without hesitation. If I were "basically good", the truth would just flow out of me unfiltered and this policeman would not have to use his training to discern truth from lies.

The officer asked me at one point if I had seen the white Acura as I exited. I told him I wasn't too good with car names, which is true. After he clarified, I told him that I honesty didn't remember, which was also true. I thought I remembered a white car passing first before I turned out. Then again, I might remember a white car being behind me that seemed far enough away for me to safely exit. But after the heart-pounding trauma of being "on the other side of the law" and caught, my memory was not serving me well.

Still, even if I was not putting someone else in danger with my actions, and that's a big "IF", I was at the very least saying that "I am special and don't have to follow the rules that all the rest of you do. My agenda and to-do list is more important than yours." These are not the words and actions of someone who is "basically good".

For a few moments, the officer went back to his car, no doubt to check and see if I had any warrants or other goodies on my record. At this point I said to God, "I could really use some mercy here, God. But I know you're also a God of justice, and I know I've done wrong here. So I leave this in your hands. Help me to be okay with what happens."

The officer eventually returned with some paperwork and a citation. He very kindly and graciously explained my three options, even making a sympathetic joke about how boring the traffic school class is. He never used a judgmental or scolding tone with me, though he had every right to. He asked if I had been to traffic school in the last five years. I stumbled a bit on this answer, because I had NEVER been to traffic school before. I almost said that, thinking that I might win brownie points in some way.(Not sure why I thought that would help at this point, but I was still instinctively doing anything to reduce my punishment.) But then the thought flashed into my head that maybe I'm SUPPOSED to take some kind of traffic school class every few years and telling him I had NEVER done so would get me in more trouble. So I just stammered, "Uh, n-no." See, if I were "basically good", I wouldn't have hesitated. I wouldn't have spent a single moment trying to win favor or avoid punishment. My every word and thought would be aimed at presenting the truth, with no thought for my personal comfort.

But I am not "basically good".

When we were finished, he told me to have a good, safe night, to which I sincerely replied "thanks for doing what you do" as he headed back to his car. I eventually drove away sobered and effectively reprimanded and have since had time to think about the encounter.

We may not like to use the word "evil" when describing our natural selfish tendencies(though I think it's a good fit), but I can't bring myself to say I'm "basically good". I can't help but think that if we really were "basically good", we wouldn't need near as many laws. Officer Thatcher(as I discovered his name to be on my ticket) would just be "Mister" Thatcher in some other line of work. We probably wouldn't have lawyers and almost certainly not prisons. But we do. Not only are we not "basically good" but we can't even live up to the legal standards that we've created for ourselves, let alone the moral standards set by God.

What's frightening about this, is that when we are truly honest with ourselves, we can see that our performance is not good enough to satisfy an all-perfect God. If our value is based on performance, we are worthless. And even though a philosophy of "performance=personal worth" has been etched into my brain, this isn't the case. We have tremendous value that has nothing to do with our performance.


Genesis 1:26- Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness,"


And even though we are selfish and rebel and want nothing to do with God, our worth to him still remains.


Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
I'll be going to my traffic school class soon and am oddly looking forward to it. I certainly knew that what I did was wrong, but there are more than a few "rules of the road" that I know I've forgotten. (Who gets "right of way" at a 4-way stop again?) A refresher course will do me good. And hopefully the class will be at least a little unpleasant. Because I know who I am. Left to my own devices, my sense of "goodness" will fail me. But a swift kick in the butt and fear of "the man" can help keep some of my REAL "basic" nature in check.

-Paeter Frandsen



Wednesday, September 9, 2009

In Search Of Truth, Acts 19:21-41


We pick up Paul’s story again in Acts chapter 19. The year is about AD 53. Paul is in Ephesus, where he wrote 1st Corinthians. This is the middle of Paul’s third missionary journey.

Paul’s plan is now to go to Jerusalem, but to pass through Macedonia(as Paul mentioned in 1st Corinthians 16:5) and Achaia (which together make up Greece) first. After visiting Greece, Paul wanted to visit Rome as well.(v.21) While Paul finished up in Ephesus, he sent to helpers ahead of him to get the ball rolling. (Timothy is mentioned to be heading this way in 1 Corinthians 16:10)

Trouble is brewing in Ephesus (possibly the trouble referenced in 1 Corinthians 16:9) involving "The Way", a term used to refer to Christianity in this time period.(v. 23) The Temple of Artemis served as a bank in addition to being a religious building. Economics and religion were closely tied, since metal workers were paid to create idols and other items for religious purposes. Religious craftsmanship was a booming business and it was being threatened by Paul’s teaching against idol worship.(v.25-28) Civic pride was also at stake, as the Ephesians loved their religion with a devotion similar to patriotism. (Notice that even their chant in verse 28 identifies their God with themselves. "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!")

A silversmith named Demetrius roused other craftsmen and eventually the whole city into a riot.(v.24-25, 29) The Ephesians grabbed two of Paul’s associates and took them to an open air theater in the city, which seated about 25,000. Paul wanted to go to the theater, but his disciples and even city officials he had befriended begged him not to go. (v.29-31)

The Ephesians were completely out of control. Some were simply caught up in the emotion, with no real idea why they were at the theater.(v.32) A man named Alexander was pushed to the front of the assembly for reasons that are unclear. However, as soon as the Ephesians realized he was a Jew, they denied him the right to speak, chanting over him.(v.33-34) This is probably because they knew that Judaism was also monotheistic and would likely frown on the polytheism and idol worship practiced in Ephesus. The chanting lasted for two hours, leaving no room for doubt that this was an extremely charged situation.

Before the riot became unstoppable, the city clerk reasoned with those assembled, telling them to go through proper legal channels if and when they have been wronged by Paul or his associates. (v. 35-41)

After reading this chapter, there are a few good questions we can ask ourselves.

Do I look at church as a place to make money or find business connections? Is my faith something that penetrates my heart, or does it only go as far as cultural identity and a sense of heritage? Am I quick to get "up in arms" about an issue before someone has actually wronged me? Correcting these issues would not have made the Ephesians’ false beliefs true, but they are still errors we can learn from and use to examine our own lives.

Next Week- Paul’s continued travels and an introduction to 2 Corinthians! (Although Romans was originally planned to be our next book, recent material I’ve read more firmly places 2 Corinthians next, chronologically.)

Coffee House Question

Do you feel free to exercise and express your religious beliefs in the place that you live? If no, in what way do you feel limited? If yes, when do you take advantage of this freedom?


Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!


I'm tempted to work all day and ignore the holiday today, but sometimes you've got to rest while the resting's good! So come back for "In Search Of Truth" on Wednesday and have a great Labor Day!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Gamer (Movie Review)

Gerard Butler stars in this movie about a death row criminal who attempts to reduce his sentence by allowing himself to be controlled by an online video game player in a series of death matches with other prisoners and their controlling players.

With a 95 minute run-time, the movie starts with action and keeps the pace moving pretty well throughout. The combat is gritty and violent and I felt moderately invested in the safety of the main character. Effects are used well and the world feels well developed, visually.

Performances are pretty standard, but the script doesn't give much to work with, dramatically. It gives lip service to dramatic moments (Butler is trying to be reunited with his family) but it's not that kind of movie and this part of the story is not as compelling as it could be.

What the movie does do well is action. Plenty of explosions, cool weapons, technology and danger. Imaginative while grounded in reality.

It also delivers a concept-driven plot with philosophical statements that the average moviegoer probably wouldn't expect. It paints an unforgiving picture of America's entertainment-driven culture. Humans are depicted as creatures that live for pleasure and self-fulfillment. And the quest for satisfaction leads people to increasingly strange and twisted appetites that are obviously considered acceptable. There are references to sensationalized news media, and continuing themes of detachment from real human relationships and lack of value for human life. The premise itself is a devaluing of the concept of justice: Mass murderers can receive full pardons if they and their players are good enough at killing people.

The plot has a few holes in it. It's never made crystal clear whether or not Butler's character deserved to be on death row. And a few other aspects of the world being presented may leave you scratching your head. Not a big deal, as some movies are more interesting when they don't explain everything.

The movie offers plenty to talk about, and it's continual statements about humanity and modern culture could provide plenty of material for a running philosophical/anthropological commentary. However, this movie will not find a place in my DVD collection due to the frequent use of nudity. Some movies have a "sex scene" that, while inappropriate, can at least be skipped easily on the DVD, or turned away from in the theater until the "sexy music" stops. This flick contains semi-frequent brief moments of nudity that are usually not long enough to fixate on, but are repetitious enough to be frustrating for someone aiming to avoid this kind of content. The film could have easily made its point about a sexually driven culture without contributing to one.

For those with tastes similar to mine, it's a good flick in several ways, but you won't miss a thing if you wait a couple years for this to come to edited television.

Rated R for frenetic sequences of strong brutal violence throughout, sexual content, nudity and language

Quality: 7.5/10

Relevance: 9.0/10

Pushing Through


As excited as I am to finish "Pilgrim", there are still days when work is work and I just have to push through. Maybe I don't feel like mixing dialogue when it's time to mix dialogue, or I don't feel like hunting for an effect when it's time to do that. It's not uncommon for me to talk to myself out loud, saying things like "Just do it, Paeter. Just DO it!" as I force myself to get out of my chair and set up the microphone to record a sound effect that I really don't feel like creating myself.

I had a couple days like that this week, but it hasn't slowed me down much. I'm almost done lining up dialogue for scene 10 (out of 11) and will likely be finishing the scene before the end of next week.

-Paeter Frandsen

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

In Search Of Truth, 1st Corinthians 16


Paul gives some direction on effective giving that we can apply in principle to our finances today. It appears that many churches, including those in Galatia, were contributing to a financial gift for the Christians in Jerusalem who were likely suffering from either poverty or persecution.


Paul directed these believers to set aside money from their finances on a weekly basis and in proportion to their financial wealth. It was not just the wealthy that were meant to participate and it was not meant to be a last minute scramble. Giving was to be built into each person’s weekly budget. The combined financial gifts were also entrusted to people that the church approved for this role.


As strong as Paul was in his faith, he was not beyond needing the help of others, and looked forward to receiving help from the Corinthians when he stayed with them.(v.6-7)


We can learn a valuable principle from verses 8 and 9. Paul wanted to stay in Ephesus a little longer because a great opportunity for effective ministry had opened up for him there. But at the same time there were many who were opposing him. We can sometimes assume that because circumstances are difficult or painful, God is “closing a door” or leading us to do something else that will remove us from the difficulty. But difficult circumstances are not an indicator that we should change our behavior or goals. God’s will might even put us right in the middle of very difficult circumstances!


Paul asks that the Corinthians accept Timothy, a partner and representative of Paul. He asked them to give him no reason to fear. We know from 1 Timothy 4:12 that Timothy had a tendency to be timid. Although he was commanded to grow out of this character flaw, Paul commanded the Corinthians to respect Timothy and make allowance for the areas he was a little weaker in.


We can tend to see our Pastors and church leaders as people who should be “super Christians”. When they fall short of this, we can jump to the conclusion that they aren’t fit for their role. While church leaders should have maturity in relation to their congregation, church leaders are people too and we can honor God by treating them with acceptance and understanding. (v. 10-11)


In chapter 3:4-5, you might remember that the Corinthians were taking sides and forming little groups under Paul and Apollos. A situation Paul spoke against. But Paul has no jealousy toward Apollos because of his followers. He even urges Apollos to go to Corinth. Jealousy can creep up on us even in ministry, but Paul serves as an example against this tendency. (v.12)


The phrase “act like men” as it appears in some translations of verse 13 would be better interpreted today as “be courageous”. Given the culture in which this letter was written, that is how the original readers would have taken it.

As Christians, we should constantly aim to have alert minds, firm faith, courageous hearts and strong character. (v. 13) And all of these things should be pursued in the context of loving God, knowing his love for us and loving others. (v. 14)


Paul holds up the household of Stephanas as an example to follow and serve under. They were the first to become Christians in Achaia (the area Corinth resided in) and subsequently dedicated themselves to helping other Christians. In our lives, we should aim to engage with and help other Christians, looking for opportunities to work under and be mentored by Christians that have been believers longer than we have. (v. 15-16) By aiming to serve Christ as a community of believers, we can be more effective than we would be individually. (v. 17-18)


Although modern churches have a tendency to be isolated from each other, especially across denominational lines, the early church made an effort to connect with each other and combine efforts in ministry. An example worth thinking about today. (v. 19-21)


Although the reference to a “holy kiss” in verse 20 is specific to the culture of the original readers of this letter, we can still apply the same principle today. The practice of kissing each other was common between family members and close friends. For those of us that are introverts and perfectly content to walk staring at the floor, this can be a challenging example to follow. But let’s ask ourselves these questions: When was the last time I made a new person or loose acquaintance at church feel like a close friend to me? How can I step out of my comfort zone a little to make someone else at my church feel cared about?


Curse invocations, like the one in verse 22, were common in Paul’s culture. It would have been the opposite of a statement of blessing, like the one following it, “Maranatha”, which expresses a desire for Christ to come and judge the world. Paul naturally wants all to believe in and love Jesus. But his love for Jesus is so great that he acknowledges being cursed as the rightful state for those who forever persist in rejecting Christ.


Paul closes this letter by expressing his desire for Christ’s undeserved favor(grace) to be with the Corinthians, expressing his own love for them also.


Next Week- Paul’s journey continues in Acts 19!

Coffee House Question


What is the most challenging thing you face in the Christian community you are a part of? What steps can you take to improve that situation and build your relationships with others?