Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas! Back January 4th!


Well, I'm off for some long-awaited vacation, but be sure to come back here the first week of January for a look at what's coming in 2010!

Have a fun and deeply purpose-filled Christmas!

-Paeter Frandsen

Friday, December 18, 2009

Avatar (Movie Review)

With movies like Aliens, The Abyss, Terminator 2 and Titanic under his belt, James Cameron has the right to command hype with any film he releases now. And Avatar has had it’s fair share. But how does it stack up after it’s 2 hours and forty minutes are finished and the 3-D glasses come off? That depends entirely on what is important to you in a movie.

Sam Worthington (Terminator: Salvation) plays a paralyzed marine who is chosen to remote control an alien body in order to communicate with the native people on an alien planet. There are two human forces at work. The scientists(good guys), who want to study the planet and it’s people, and the businessmen and their heavily armed mercenary forces(bad guys), who wish to get rid of the aliens and mine the planet for its valuable minerals.

From beginning to end, this flick is a visual feast. I’ve seen a lot of movies, but never before have I watched one with this many visual effects. The credits boast a handful of visual effects studios employed to make this movie happen. Nearly every shot has some element of CGI, not including the constant 3-D effects. The world of Avatar is exotic and lavishly detailed. I have no doubts that this film will get the Oscar in visual effects. For the full experience, do not neglect seeing this movie in 3-D. It will cost a little extra, but you can keep your glasses for the DVD/Blu-ray release and it makes for a much more absorbing experience.

There is also quite a bit of action in the movie. The spirit of adventure and exploration is constantly at work. But try as it might, it won’t carry the movie for some. The plot is very predictable and the entire movie will be charted out by some within the first 20 minutes. This wouldn’t be such a problem if the performances were captivating, but there is not a single character I became invested in. (Very bad for all those action scenes that I’m supposed to be on the edge of my seat for.) The problem is that the movie is being carried by characters rendered by visual effects. Despite this film breaking ground in the shear quantity of visual effects, it makes little progress in the quality of motion capture. CGI characters still look animated in their mouth and facial movements. We miss the subtlety found in a flesh and blood actor’s performances that the digital wizards of the industry haven’t been able to duplicate or capture yet. Without sympathetic characters to ground me, I became numb to the barrage of eye-candy after only about 30 minutes.

The movie has a few concepts and themes that may lead to worthwhile conversation. The “bad guys” are greedy businessmen and a military force anxious for war. The bad guys loosely refer to the aliens as terrorists and the good guys describe the mercenaries as using a “shock and awe” campaign. The movie also draws from a familiar well with its theme of nature preservation. Given these clues, you can probably guess the political affiliations of the filmmakers.

You can also draw comparisons to early American settlers and their conflicts with the Native Americans. Though I can’t tell if the writers are trying to preach a particular message with this theme, or if they are simply drawing from history for inspiration.

It’s also hard to pin-point whether or not this movie supports Pantheistic theology, or is merely using it for inspiration. The alien natives have a clear mental/psychic connection to their planet. Their Deity is synonymous with their planet and they go to their planet in their afterlife. This certainly smells like pantheism. But it is pointed out by one of the scientists that, unlike similar pagan human beliefs, the aliens in this movie actually have a provable biological, neural connection to the vegetation of their planet. So technically, it’s not a spiritual concept, but a physical concept inspired by a theological concept. Either way, it certainly presents opportunity to dissect pantheism if you’re looking for a conversation starter.

So this movie is a mixed bag that some will be content to rent in a few months, particularly if they have a large television. The plot and characters are far from captivating, but those who want to see Hollywood pulling out every stop to demonstrate the cutting edge of the visual effects industry should not miss seeing this movie in 3-D.

Avatar is rated PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking.

Quality: 8.5/10

Relevance: 8.0/10

Almost But Not Quite!


I came VERY close to releasing part 8 of the Dark Ritual commentary this week, but instead decided to see Avatar so that I could review it for the podcast this weekend. So if you were hoping for the commentary this week, don't let my sacrifice be in vain! Check out my review of Avatar at or hear it on the podcast this weekend!

-Paeter Frandsen

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Non-Stop Christmas!


Wish I had some progress to report, but I ended up taking today off to get ready for some Christmas caroling! And you're welcome to join me if you live in the Phoenix/Mesa area! See the info at:

Anyway, better get back to gathering inventory for assembling gift baskets! Hopefully I'll have some "spirit bladey" stuff for you on Friday!

-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Other Christmas Story


Most folks with a Christmas tradition that involves reading the Biblical "Christmas Story" turn to the second chapter of Luke's gospel. It's a very descriptive and detailed account, which is why it is read so often around Christmas. But there is a fantastic follow-up to this chapter that you might consider adding to your Christmas tradition.

In John, chapter 1, verses 1-14, we see a picture of Christ painted for us that lifts away the veil and reveals the truth and significance of the Christmas story in a way that Luke doesn't. Luke tells the story from the viewpoint of third-dimensional physical existence. John tells the story closer to God's viewpoint, recognizing the cosmic reality of who Jesus is.

You'll notice that John uses the odd title "The Word", to describe Jesus. He describes "The Word" as having existed before ANYTHING else. The Creator of everything that DOES exist. The giver and sustainer of ALL life, and a being that can NEVER be overcome by evil. He also said that "The Word" became flesh and lived among humans.

Imagine that concept for a second. If you're a sci-fi buff (and if you're reading this, chances are good that you are) you may be familiar with the science-fiction concept of a non-linear being. A being existing outside the confines of time and the 3rd dimension. Although this concept is represented in various ways in sci-fi and fantasy stories, ultimately it is portrayed in physical images for our linear, 3rd dimensional brains. In the end, we simply can't comprehend the concept of a non-linear, non-physical being.

Now consider that this infinite, timeless God chose, in ways we can't fully understand, to limit himself to the life of a human. Stew on that for a minute and try to comprehend it. God and human... at the same time. Jesus says later in Chapter 10, verse 30, "The Father and I are one." And later on in chapter 14, verse 9, "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." Even wilder concepts still. 

The Hebrews of the time understood "The Word" to be the acting power behind creation (Psalm 33:6) and would also have understood it to make reference to God's law and goodness.

The Greek philosophers of the day would have recognized the Greek word used for "Word" here: logos. In Greek philosophy this word was a reference to the divine source and sustainer of all things in the universe. John was writing so that both Hebrews and Greeks would clearly understand that Jesus is God in every sense.

And keep in mind, Jesus did not become God more and more as he grew older on earth. He was just as much God on the night of his birth as he was when he rose from death. Infinite, unknowable power packaged in such a weak and helpless form. Even setting aside the cross for a moment, we will never fully know what the God of the Universe gave up to live as one of us.

This is the true wonder of Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Christmas Wars?


Can someone explain the whole "Christmas Wars" thing to me? I'm referring to the cultural controversy that seems to simmer every year centered on a battle between the phrases "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays".
This year, Focus On The Family launched a campaign to help identify retailers that are more "Christmas Friendly", using the term "Christmas" in their business practices instead of "holidays", etc. You can check out the site for yourself at:
The Focus site says of retails stores:
They want your patronage and your gift-shopping dollars, but do they openly recognize Christmas?
I could be mistaken, but it seems Focus On The Family wants to encourage shopping at places that (at least in some superficial way) acknowledge Christmas and to discourage shopping at stores that do not.
I'm not quite ready to wag my finger at this, because no one has explained to me the Biblical basis for this kind of behavior. But I do find it extremely puzzling. It also seems to promote a kind of "us versus them" mentality, concerning Christians and non-believers. In essence, Focus is saying to unbelievers in control of retail stores to "recognize our Christian religious holiday or we won't shop at your store." It's not quite like saying "be a Christian or else", but it leaves a similar taste in my mouth.
What I see in scripture seems to inspire a different action than what I see in the "Stand for Christmas" campaign.
In 1st Corinthians, Paul is commanding the Corinthian church to address sin within their own community of believers. In verse 9 he clarifies that when he said not to associate with immoral people, he was referring to people who called themselves Christians (or "brothers") but lived in an immoral way. Regarding the behavior of outsiders, Paul says that he has nothing to do with them (verse 12) and that God will judge those outside of the church, so we ought to worry instead about behavior within the community of believers.(verse 13) Paul does not expect non-believers to behave in a Christian way. Why should we?
The second issue here is that Christmas is not a holiday that scripture requires even Christians to observe, let alone non-Christians. If anything, we see a lack of importance given to "holy days" in the New Testament. (See Romans 14:5 and surrounding context) There's nothing bad about even a Christian not celebrating Christmas if they do it because they believe they can better serve and love God that way.
Is a recognition of Christmas as a holiday in retail stores really the best way to lead people to Christ? Perhaps instead we can aim to be good stewards of the financial blessings God has given us and look for good prices as we shop. Instead of evaluating the "Christmas friendliness" of retails stores(which by the way, are likely to sell many books and movies that are not "Christ-friendly" either way), maybe we can put our minds to work over how to engage those around us with the love Christ wants us to give and the truth he wants us to express.
How can I make opportunity for meaningful discussion with that uncle that makes me uncomfortable? How can I show my buddy that I still think well of him, even if we don't believe the same things about God? How can I use my conversations this Christmas season to stimulate discussion and provoke thought that will lead myself and others to consider the wonder of who God is and what he has done for us?
I think it would be wonderful if influential Christian organizations like Focus On The Family redirected their time and resources toward equipping us to lovingly and intelligently engage those around us with truth. But if they'd like to continue with their current strategy, I'd greatly appreciate it if they or someone else could come forward with a scriptural explanation and basis for the "Stand For Christmas" campaign so that I might see the value in it and consider supporting the idea. As it stands now, I'm left only with my concern...
-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, December 7, 2009

Truth In The Songs Of Christmas


Angels From The Realms Of Glory

Angels from the realms of glory, wing your flight o’er
all the earth. Ye who sang creation’s story, now proclaim Messiah’s birth! Come
and worship! Come and worship! Worship Christ the newborn king!

Shepherds in the fields abiding, watching o’er your
flocks by night, God with man is now residing. Yonder shines the infant light.
Come and worship! Come and worship! Worship Christ the newborn king!

Sages, leave your contemplations, brighter visions beam
afar. Seek the great desire of nations. Ye have seen his natal star. Come and
worship! Come and worship! Worship Christ the newborn king!

Saints before the altar bending, watching long in hope
and fear, suddenly the Lord, descending, in His temple shall appear. Come and
worship! Come and worship! Worship Christ the newborn king!

Although the title suggests a song focusing on the angels
of Christmas, each verse focuses on a different group from the Christmas story,
including present day believers who now anticipate Christ’s coming to judge the
world. (Malachi 3:1)

The phrase “desire of nations” comes from Haggai 2:7,
where God speaks of both the temple and the Messiah. This song reminds me that
the truth of God becoming a man is for all. Cosmic angelic creatures, blue
collar workers leading simple lives, philosophers who may think Christ or
Christianity is beneath their complex contemplations, and believers, who place
faith and hope in Christ’s promise to come and remake the world. All are called
to come and worship Christ, the King of the Universe.

Angels We Have Heard On High

Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing o’er the
plains, and the mountains, in reply, echo back their joyous strains. Gloria in
excelsis Deo! Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds, why this jubilee? Why your joyous strains
prolong? Say what may the tidings be which inspire your heavenly song? Gloria
in excelsis Deo! Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Come to Bethlehem and see Him whose birth the angels
sing. Come, adore on bended knee Christ the Lord, the newborn King. Gloria in
excelsis Deo! Gloria in excelsis Deo!

See within a manger laid Jesus, Lord of heav’n and
earth! Mary, Joseph, lend your aid. With us sing our Savior’s birth. Gloria in
excelsis Deo! Gloria in excelsis Deo!

An ancient tradition of shepherds in southern France was
to call to one another from the hilltops during the Christmas season, singing
the angelic phrase “Gloria in excelsis Deo!”, which translated from Latin
means, “Glory to God in the highest!” Although they used the same tune we now
sing, the verses were added years after this tradition began.

The word Jubilee is commonly accepted today as a term for
celebration. In Leviticus 25, it is a time during which property is given back
to its original owner. Although probably unintentional in the author's writing
of this text, it is interesting to note that Christ came to give us back the
life we threw away by sinning.

Hark The Herald Angels Sing

Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn
King! Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!” Joyful, all
ye nations, rise! Join the triumph of the skies! With th’angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!” Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the
newborn King!”

Christ, by highest heav’n adored. Christ, the
everlasting Lord! Late in time behold Him come, offspring of the virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see. Hail the incarnate Deity, pleased as man with
men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel. Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the
newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of
Righteousness! Light and life to all He brings, ris’n with healing in His
wings. Mild, He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die. Born to raise
the sons of earth. Born to give them second birth. Hark! The herald angels
sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”

This song is filled to the brim with wonderful truth. It
is first helpful to understand the old English which can keep us from hearing
the message of this song. Ironically, that is the exact opposite effect the
author would prefer. The original first line read, "Hark how all the
welkin rings", but as the language became dated, Charles Wesley, author of
the text, made changes to modernize it and make it more understandable. A few
other hands were involved in further modifications in keeping with the times.
However at some point, despite previous efforts on the author's part, tradition
locked it into its current state.

Hark comes from the word harken, which means “listen”. A
herald is an announcement. So to “Hark the herald angels sing” means to “listen
to the announcement” the angels sing. And in this song, the announcement is the
Good News in a nutshell: God and sinners are being reconciled. The relationship
between them is being repaired.

This is news worth getting excited about! It means that
mankind, by the power of Christ, can have triumph over death, hence the
“triumph of the skies” we are encouraged to join in celebrating. The second
verse talks about the mystery and wonder of God becoming man. Christ, who is
adored in heaven, who is the eternal, everlasting Lord, was born into flesh. As
a man, Christ was still part of the Godhead, but “veiled in flesh”. He was
content to live as a man among men; To be Emmanuel, “God with

The last verse makes reference to Christ’s coming judgment
by quoting Malachi 4:1-2. The Lord warns of the coming judgment where the
wicked will be burned up and completely consumed, but for those who fear the
name of the Lord, the “Sun of Righteousness” will rise “with healing in his
wings”, and will set free those who believe in the Lord. How is this possible?
It was Christ’s mission, as the rest of the verse explains. Paraphrased, it

Mildly, the eternal God laid down his infinite glory,
and was born so that man would not have to die anymore. He was born to raise
humanity (the sons of earth) from the dead, and give them a second birth. For
this reason, listen to the announcement the angels sing, “Glory to the King of
the Universe, who has just been born.”

Joy To The World! The Lord Is Come

Joy to the world! The Lord is come. Let earth receive
her king. Let every heart prepare Him room, and heav’n and nature sing.

Joy to the earth! The Savior reigns. Let men their
songs employ while fields and floods, rocks hills and plains repeat the
sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest
the ground. He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.

Based on themes in Psalm 98, this is not really a
“Christmas” song. Psalm 98 is in anticipation of Christ coming to rule the
earth. My favorite verse is the third. When sin came into the world, death came
with it, effecting not just people, but the world in which we live. One day,
Christ will make a new earth, where there will be no sin and no corruption in
nature, such as the thorns that infest the ground. He will make his blessings
flow wherever the curse of sin is found, and death will be eradicated.

O Come, All Ye Faithful

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant. O come
ye, o come ye to Bethlehem. Come and behold Him, born the King of angels. O
come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, Christ
the Lord.

God of God, and Light of Light begotten. Lo, He abhors
not the virgin’s womb. Very God, begotten, not created. O come let us adore
Him, O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Sing, choirs of angels. Sing in exultation! O sing all
ye citizens of heav’n above. Glory to God, all glory in the highest. O come let
us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, Christ the

Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning.
Jesus to Thee be all glory giv’n. Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing. O
come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, Christ
the Lord.

If you are one of the faithful, or one “full of faith” in
the Lord, you can come into the Christmas season full of Joy, because Christ
has made it possible for you to know God personally. You can also celebrate the
season with a sense of triumph, because you know that Christ has given you
victory over death. For this reason, we begin this song singing “Come, all ye faithful,
joyful and triumphant.

This song is a call to worship for all believers. We’re to
come and “adore” Him. To worship and honor Him, recognizing that he is God.
We’re to focus our minds on the baby who, amazingly, was born a King. And not
just any king, but the King of angels. Angels.... terrifying, awe-inspiring
cosmic creatures with power beyond our ability to imagine, trembled and
worshiped in the presence of this baby Jesus.

The second verse attempts to describe the eternal nature
of Christ, along with His complete humanity. He is God and He is Light, yet he
was willing to sit inside a womb. Like us, He was “begotten” or “caused by an
effect”. Unlike us, He was not created. Simply wrestling with that paradox
reminds me of the incomprehensible nature of Christ’s being.

In the third verse, it is unclear exactly who is implied
by the “citizens of heaven”, but is exciting to think that those we have lost
that are now with Christ are worshiping Him with us whenever we express our
love and adoration for Jesus. In that way, whenever we have a worship service,
ALL believers are joined together.

In John 1, we are told that “The Word” created everything
that is. Everything that exists anywhere was made by “The Word”. The final
verse of this song reminds us that the creator of reality itself became flesh
and bone. Even if He had done nothing else but that, He would deserve our
unending praise. This song doesn’t even call attention to what He has done, but
calls us to adore Him simply for who He is.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

O come, O come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel that
morns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear. Rejoice, Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel!

O come Thou Rod of Jesse. Free Thine own from satan’s
tyranny. From depths of hell Thy people save and give them vict’ry o’er the grave.
Rejoice, Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel!

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer our spirits by
Thine advent here, and drive away the shades of night and pierce the clouds and
bring us light! Rejoice, Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel!

O come Thou Key of David, come and open wide our
heav’nly home. Make safe the way that leads on high and close the path to
misery. Rejoice, Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel!

O come, Desire of nations. Bind all peoples in one
heart and mind. Bid envy, strife and quarrels cease. Fill all the world with
heaven’s peace. Rejoice, Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel!

O come Thou Wisdom from on high and order all things
far and nigh. To us the path of knowledge show and cause us in Thy way to go.
Rejoice, Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel!

This song finds its origins in medieval monasteries, where
the numerous verses were originally sung by specific monks, during specific
days before Christmas, without the refrain “Rejoice, rejoice…” which was added
later. It highlights various prophecies about Jesus from the Old Testament:

The first verse remembers Israel's prayer that the Messiah
would come and “ransom” them from their captivity to Babylon.

The "Rod of Jesse" reference is from Isaiah
11:1.  A rod or a shoot would grow from
the line of Jesse, and He would be filled with the Holy Spirit and rule with
fairness and righteousness.

"Dayspring" comes from Zechariah’s prophecy in
Luke 1:78-79. Zechariah said that because of God’s mercy, a light from heaven
would come to show us the path to peace. Light from heaven is translated as
Dayspring in the King James, a reference to the sunrise.

"Key of David" is first referenced in Isaiah
22:22. The Key was a symbol of authority, allowing you to grant or block
access, and the one who had the Key of David had the highest authority. This
verse reminds us that Christ has the power and authority to grant access to

The phrase “Desire of Nations” comes from Haggai 2:7,
where God speaks of both the temple and the Messiah who would be present on
earth with us.

In 1 Corinthians 1:30, it’s said that “For our benefit God
made Christ to be wisdom itself. He is the one who made us acceptable to God.
He made us pure and holy, and He gave Himself to purchase our freedom.”

As I sing this song, I think of Israel today, and how as a
whole, they have rejected Christ and are still waiting for the Messiah. When we
think of this song now, we can change the word “shall” to “has”, and pray that
God’s chosen nation would recognize their Savior, and that He has ransomed
their lives with His own.

Silent Night! Holy Night!

Silent night! Holy night! All is calm, all is bright
‘round yon virgin mother and Child. Holy Infant so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly

Silent night! Holy night! Shepherds quake at the sight:
Glories stream from heaven afar, heav’nly hosts sing “Alleluia! Christ the
Savior is born!”

Silent night! Holy night! Son of God, love pure light,
radiant, beams from Thy holy face with the dawn of redeeming grace. Jesus, Lord
at Thy birth.


night, holy night. All is dark, save the light shining where the mother mild
watches over the holy child. Sleep in heavenly peace.

night, holy night. Shepherds first saw the sight, heard the angels song,
“alleluia”, loud proclaiming near and far. “Christ our savior is here.”

night, holy night, God's own son, oh, how bright shines the love in thy holy
face, shines the light of redemption and grace. Christ the incarnate God.

This text is translated from the original German text of
“Stille Nacht”. I believe this song has been misunderstood, as many Hymns have,
because the musical phrasing does not lend itself to comprehension of the
sentence structure.  I have included
another translation from the same German text. To better understand the
traditional translation, I would also humbly offer this paraphrase, which will
hopefully express what I believe to be the original meaning of the traditional

Paeter's Paraphrase:

Silent night, holy night. Everything is calm, and yet
everything is bright around this virgin mother and her Child.

Tender, holy and mild Infant, Sleep. Sleep with a peace
that is like the peace experienced in heaven.

Shepherds shake with fear at the sight of glorious beams
of light from heaven. Meanwhile, angels sing “Alleluia! Christ the savior has
been born!”

Son of God, the pure light of love is beaming radiantly
from your holy face. It’s beaming with the beginning of grace that will be
given to redeem the world. From the moment you were born, Jesus, You were Lord
over everything.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Beat Collection


Well, I still can't say what the "Secret Project" is for 2010, but I can tell you that I'm FINALLY working on it again after spending half the week in a mountain of e-mails. That's what happens when I take a few days off, and it's likely fixin' to happen again! I'll be taking several days off next week, so I apologize in advance if I'm a little slow to answer e-mails.

Anyway, as far the Secret Project goes, I can say that I found some really cool beats this week for one of the songs I'm working on for it. Some hard, even nasty sounding percussion that dirties things up in a way that makes me feel all warm inside. Can't wait to start stitching the song together!

-Paeter Frandsen

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

O Come O Come Emmanuel!


Well, it's Christmas time again, and all you "Bladers" that have been here since the beginning know what that means! My dark, electronic rendition of "O Come O Come Emmanuel" is back up at for free download!

As is customary each year, I did just a teeny bit of tweaking to the audio (because art is never finished, just abandoned) and added some embedded artwork. You can get it now at ! But only during the month of December!


-Paeter Frandsen