Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Live Chat Saturday September 10th!

Mark your calendar for Saturday, September 10th at 6pm Mountain Standard Time! We will be hosting a live chat for the Spirit Blade Community on our forums!

Just head over to the Spirit Blade Underground Forums on the 10th for the chat, sign in or create a free account if you haven't yet, and join the chat box at the bottom of the main page!

The chat will go for one hour. (6-7pm MST) There's no specific topic or agenda for the chat. We just figured we were overdue for some hangin' out! Hope to see you there!

-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, August 29, 2011

In Search Of Truth, Romans 14:7-12

In previous verses Paul described how Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews) in his day chose to observe or not observe special days or dietary customs. He made the point that whatever each believer chooses in these matters, they are motivated by a desire to serve God.

He continues in verse 7 by pointing out that no believer lives or dies for themselves. Our entire purpose in life and our purpose in death, revolves around God. We are his possessions, to be used for his purposes. (v.7-8)

In some way hinted at but not described in verse 9, Christ’s death and resurrection were the key elements in making him “Lord” over all of humanity, both those still living and those who have already died. (v.9) This position of “Lordship” means that it is specifically Christ who will evaluate what we have done in our lives.

Because of this, we shouldn’t judge or think negatively of each other. Whatever ability we might think we have to evaluate the performance of another, Christ’s ability is infinitely greater, and he will be focusing that ability on us as well! (v.10) Paul emphasizes this truth by quoting from Isaiah 45:23. (v.11) One day, when this life is over, we will each be responsible to, in some sense, stand before the “judgment seat” of Christ (probably a metaphor based on the common “judgment seats” of the ancient Greco-Roman world) and give an account of ourselves to God.

Now we might stop here and say, “Wait a minute! What about Romans 8:1?”

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (NASB)

If there is no chance of being condemned, why would standing before the judgment of Christ be anything to take into consideration now as we decide how to live our lives? Because of the rewards we will receive for obeying God.

1st Corinthians 3:11-15 (NASB)

For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

2 Corinthians 5:9-10 (NASB)

Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

As believers, we have no reason to fear condemnation of any degree. But there is a vast supply of “rewards” that Christ will portion out. And the way we live our lives now will result in either gaining or missing out on a certain amount of those rewards.

So the next time we find ourselves thinking negatively about someone else, we should remember that Christ is a far better judge of character than we are, and that there will be even more in store for us in his eternal kingdom if we keep a humble focus on him right now instead.

Next- Keeping Each Other From “Stumbling”

Coffee House Question- Many churches rarely or never teach on the subject of “rewards”. Why do you think this might be the case?

Friday, August 26, 2011

First Draft Over Half Done!

It's been a great week for writing and I am currently more than halfway through writing the first draft of Spirit Blade 3!

This is exciting because my side-gig substitute teaching could unpredictably kick into high gear at any time.

Although I've timed one or two scenes, I haven't done a read through yet, and don't plan to until the first draft is complete. But I told my wife today that she should prepare to set an evening aside in 2-4 weeks so I can read the entire script to her. (I'm DYING to share this story with SOMEBODY!)

Unlike previous entries in the series, I am waiting until the script is finished before I even conceptualize any of the songs. I have some guesses about how this different approach will effect the final product and I think it will be all good!

I'll keep you up to date and hope to report a finished first draft very soon!

-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, August 22, 2011

In Search Of Truth, Romans 14:1-6

As Paul begins discussing one specific application of the love he taught in previous verses, we get a glimpse of the cultural diversity and division in the church in Rome, which was made up of both Jews and Gentiles.

In Paul’s day, Gentiles (non-Jews) were expected to adopt Jewish dietary laws if they converted to Judaism. This expectation may have been carried over by Jewish Christians as they saw Gentiles converting to Christianity.

On the other side of the table, Gentile Romans had ridiculed Jews for their dietary customs. This attitude may also have carried over with the Gentiles who became Christians.

Paul says to welcome other believers into your life and community, even if their faith is weak. But don't welcome them just to start a debate and pass judgment on their opinions. (v.1) Paul gives an example of “weak faith”, indicating that eating only vegetables (for perceived moral reasons) is the result of some weakness in one’s faith. (v.2)

Now, regardless of who has the right perspective on this or a similar issue, we are not to have contempt for each other or “judge” each other. The Greek word for “judge” in verse 3 means “to divide, separate, make a distinction”. So in matters like this, we shouldn’t have contempt for each other or even show preference for one person over another because of where they stand on similar, non-critical issues. (v.3)

The reason is that evaluating the performance of other Christians isn’t our job. They are ultimately serving God, not us. Employee evaluation is the job of the employer. Not the fellow employee or anyone else. (Yes, many businesses ask for customer evaluations etc., but the employer makes the final call and I don’t think God needs our input.)

It was not the responsibility of any Christian in the Roman church to save another from judgment and condemnation (the meaning of the Greek for “fall” in verse 4) because of their dietary views. God would do any saving necessary. (v.4)

Another example Paul gives is the different value some believers in Rome gave to various days of the week or year. Paul teaches that whatever they believed, they should be fully persuaded. We can apply this today by holding to opinions and beliefs, not because they are what we’ve always believed, or they are what we like to believe, but because we have been convinced by good reason. (v.5)

Even with a faulty belief, though not as desirable as a true belief, there is a sense in which we can honor God. God ultimately judges the heart. If we hold to a certain belief, not out of stubbornness, pride, or personal preference, but because we believe it best honors God, then God recognizes this. And on the grounds of desiring to honor God, even those of us with differing opinions can come together. (v.6)

It should be noted that these verses do NOT teach that we shouldn’t discuss our differing views, sweep them under the rug and take an overly simplistic “live and let live” mentality. The focus of these verses is that our differences of opinion should not cause us to think negatively of each other.

So whether we have different views on diet, holidays, entertainment choices or anything else, we should aim to seek the truth out together while maintaining respect and selfless love for each other.

For more on how we can apply the Bible to "Grey Areas", specifically our choices of entertainment, visit-

Next- More On Grey Areas And Disagreements Between Christians

Coffee House Question- Online forums have done a lot to help us communicate our ideas to each other, but they also have some failings as we use them to exchange ideas. What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of using online forums to exchange differing ideas, beliefs and opinions?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Michael Bryce Recording Session, Part 2!

Check out the first part of Mickey's recording session, along with other behind the scenes videos on our YouTube Channel!

Conan The Barbarian (Movie Review)

I've never read a word written by Robert E. Howard (Creator of "Conan") and I barely made it through the Schwarzenegger "Conan" movies, but I love dark, brutal fantasy and have been waiting for Hollywood to make one to scratch my itch. Today, that itch was scratched!

In a legendary time of humanity's past, a barbarian child named Conan is the only survivor of a raid that wiped out his entire village. Growing into manhood his greatest wish is to kill the men responsible for the murder of his people. As it happens, the man responsible is also trying to awake an ancient evil and plunge the world into darkness, death and chaos, so if Conan succeeds, everybody else wins too.

The action is bloody and brutal and the portions are generous. The fight choreography is cool, but not too fancy and in favor of the dark mood.

The story isn't original by any stretch, but feels like a return to a classic framework in this movie, rather than a tired cliche. Jason Momoa (Stargate: Atlantis, Game Of Thrones) is perfectly cast as the title character. The trailers made me feel like he was trying too hard to sound tough, but the movie itself is a different story. He fits the part like a glove. Not much depth or subtext in his performance, but the character of Conan isn't about either of those things.

That said, the movie had some welcome and unexpected heart in the first 20 minutes as we see Conan's relationship with his father, played both firmly and tenderly by Ron Pearlman. This plot point also has a nice payoff at the end. If they had found ways to insert more of this kind of emotional depth into the rest of the film, it would have made it a truly unique experience. But as it is, it still offers more opportunities for emotional investment than most fantasy movies.

The rest of the cast does a fine job with what they are given to work with. These aren't Oscar-worthy performances, but the sum is a far cry from the horrible acting you'll find in most fantasy movies of the 70's and 80's.

One of the biggest stars of this movie is the visual design. Ancient temples and crumbling cities of dark design create a world that seems to jump right off the cover of the best dark fantasy novels of former decades. Costumes and props all fit perfectly in a barbaric world I would love to spend more time in. This is where the CGI effects are put to best use.

By contrast, CGI is put to mediocre effect in a scene late in the movie in which Conan squares off against a "sea monster" of some kind. I'm still waiting for Hollywood to raise the bar for CGI. CGI creatures have largely held the same amount of "realism" since the first Jurassic Park movie. I was wowed back then, but the technology hasn't moved forward much. This flick was another ho-hum example of the status quo, though still not "bad" by that measure.

I could have done without a few instances of "peripheral nudity", in which women appear topless, though not as the main focus of the camera and usually in the background. These instances can be narrowed down to about two brief scenes and were more an annoyance to my sensitivities than a problem. But they could have conveyed what they wanted to about these women and this culture without actual nudity. All of the above is also true of a relatively brief "sex scene" later in the film that is mostly covered in shadow.

I highly doubt that any meaningful conversation will spring from watching this movie. Although technically the movie is said to take place on our planet in the distant past, the mention of Atlantis in the opening narration and the rest of the film's story removed it so far from reality for me that I thought of this as a completely fantastical realm with no supposed relation to human history. This movie isn't presenting or suggesting any historical truth claims.

Conan is far from a pinnacle of virtue. He does what he wants, when he wants to, yet he still holds to a few moral absolutes. His brutality can't be commended, but is also satisfying in some ways for those of us who crave justice for wrongdoers.

Fans of dark, brutal fantasy simply can't miss this movie. It's what we've been waiting for Hollywood to make for years. And though it doesn't leave you with anything of value to ponder, its a fantastical adventure in a barbaric fantasy world that I hope the filmmakers will return us to very soon!

Rated R for strong bloody violence, some sexuality and nudity

Quality: 9.0/10

Relevance: 4.0/10

Listen to this review this weekend at-

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Make Your Own "Spirit Blade" Movie!

I'm planning something fun for the Spirit Blade Underground community to do together. At the end of August, I'll be selecting one or two clips from Spirit Blade and Spirit Blade: Dark Ritual to put online for people to download and use to create a video. The idea is to create a video that looks ridiculous, driving home the point that "some things are better left to the imagination". You can use puppets, action figures, or real people using the audio track like "dubbed kung fu movie" audio. Or whatever other crazy idea comes to mind.

I'll give more specific instructions when the event is launched from our Official Newsletter. For now, I need your scene suggestions. What scene from either “Spirit Blades” do you think would be the most interesting/ridiculous to make movies from using puppets, action figures, actors mouthing along like dubbed kung fu movies, or something else equally ridiculous?

Respond to this post before the end of August and make your voice heard!


-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, August 15, 2011

In Search Of Truth, Romans 13:8-14

As Paul transitions from teaching on our relationship with the government to our relationships with each other, a unifying truth is that we should be in debt to no one, whether the authorities over us, or anyone else in our lives. Our only debt should be love.

In other words, we always “owe” others a never ending supply of love. And when we love others, we fulfill the social obligations of God’s law as a by-product. Paul teaches that avoiding adultery, murder, stealing and coveting will all happen automatically if we live by the motto, “Love your neighbor as yourself”.(v.8-10)

This teaching is an echo of Jesus’ teaching, who taught that we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Jesus also taught through a parable that we should BE a neighbor to everyone, especially those in need and even those who we might normally consider enemies! (Luke 10:27-37) So this command to love our neighbor as we love ourselves really amounts to loving everyone as we love ourselves.

Considering how well known this saying is, it would be good to spend a little extra time looking at it and scraping away some common misconceptions.

For us nerds and geeks, who live in silent insecurity and sometimes low self-esteem, it might seem like good sense to “learn to love ourselves first” so we can more effectively love others. But this isn’t what Jesus and Paul are teaching. The Greek root word they both use for “love” is Agape. This word refers to love that is concerned for the well-being of others. We may not “like” ourselves, but apart from serious psychological disorder, we are still naturally concerned for our own well-being. We want to have pleasure and security in life, not because we think we are great people, but because we have natural “Agape” for ourselves. Jesus and Paul are teaching us to apply this same kind of love to others, no matter what we may think of ourselves.

Agape is also distinct from the Greek word Phileo, which is love/friendship/affection based on common interests. Most of our friendships are based on Phileo. God is not expecting us to have these kinds of friendships (based in common interests) with everyone. (Good luck with THAT! Especially as a geek!) But God does expect us to care about and act on behalf of the well-being of others, no matter who they are.

Living out this kind of love toward each other is especially important because God’s agenda for us on earth is time sensitive. It was popular among the Greeks of Paul’s day to see the world as unchanging, believing that everything happened in eternal “cycles” and that nothing will ever drastically change. But the physical return of Christ is an event with a real date in the future (unknown though it is) that is getting closer all the time. Paul makes his teaching distinct from popular Greek thinking by attaching expressions of time-sensitive urgency to his teaching about how we are to live.

It’s time for us to “wake up” out of apathy, because the day when God finally rescues and transforms us to live with him forever is not perpetually in front of us, like a carrot dangling in front of a horse. It’s getting continually closer, and the time we have to lead others nearer to the truth and relationship with God is shrinking every second! (v.11)

The period of history we’re in is like the night, in that people tend to live more recklessly and outside the will of God at night. It’s more common for people to party in ways that are uncontrolled and reckless at night, whether it involves substance abuse, or the careless use of our sexuality.

The Greek word for “sensuality” in verse 13 refers to a mindset that seeks to satisfy every sensory pleasure (not necessarily sexual) without any restrictions. So this teaching can also apply to someone who throws themselves into an entertainment hobby (video games, RPGs, etc.) obsessively, without any self-restriction.

Paul also identifies conflict and jealousy-induced bitterness with the night.

God is commanding, through Paul, that we prepare to step out of this time of darkness, and live now in light of the “daylight” that is coming when Christ will rule the earth. Through trust in Christ, we have new identities. (Galatians 3:26-29) In light of this we should let our outward behavior reflect the presence of Christ in us, like a uniform that represents a specific role. We should also leave no room in our lives to fall back on the “comfort food” of self-absorbed living. (v.12-14)

Next- How To Handle “Grey Areas” Together (Another great passage for us nerds and geeks!)

Coffee House Question- What types of sins or barriers do you think Geeks and Nerds uniquely face that keep them self-absorbed instead of actively loving others? How might these problems be overcome?

Friday, August 12, 2011

"Action Scenes" In Audio Drama

While I never seem to have quite as much time for scripting as I'd like, this has been a "tortoise week", where the progress has been slow but consistently plodding along. I'm getting pretty close to the halfway point as I write my way through my outline. I continue to feel like the script will be too long, but I'm not letting that stifle my creativity at this point.

Have I ever mentioned that action sequences are tough to design for audio drama? I've been writing one today, and as usual it plays out very different from what a film version would look like. I take a lot of inspiration from film as opposed to other audio dramas, which I think gives my work a specific and unique flavor, especially concerning how I handle action.

I rely on the fact that my audience is made up of movie-goers like me and can "fill in the gaps" in action scenes with the help of movies they've seen, music and sound effects I provide, and their imaginations. If I rely on this too heavily, it becomes too difficult to tell what's happening. If I don't rely on it enough, then I've got characters describing out loud everything they're doing. (Lame. Who does that?)

So my challenge today has involved scrapping two attempts at an action sequence and taking it in a very different direction than I had planned because of the limitations of the medium. Although very different from what I've been imagining for this scene until today, I think the direction I'm going now plays up the strengths, rather than weaknesses, of audio drama.

-Paeter Frandsen

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Why I Need Christian Apologetics

Christian Apologetics is the logical defense of the Christian faith. Although that may seem like a strange idea, it's a field of professional study for more people than I could possibly name, and a discipline I'm extremely grateful for.

The reason is that I am not the type of person that can "check my brain at the door" when deciding what I'm going to believe, and beginning in junior high my brain began demanding answers to a number of serious questions about the Bible.

Back then, my interest in apologetics was motivated by the natural process of coming into my own as a young adult. These days, apologetics are vital to living out my faith. The reason being that, if the Bible is a fairy tale, or even a well-intentioned but false representation of reality, than treating it like an instruction manual to base the rest of my life on is a waste of time and effort.

My natural inclination is to doubt. To find reasons why I can just live life the way I want to. So I've found it valuable to come back, again and again, to examining what the evidence reveals about the nature of the Bible.

That's where I've been at lately. With two young boys fighting for time that is extremely difficult for me to give, and little time left over to just be a husband to my wife, reminding myself of the reality of what the Bible teaches helps pull me through this tough season of life.

A nice idea or a warm fuzzy could never be enough to drive me forward. But understanding that God is as real as the keyboard I'm typing on, and my future with him is as sure as the existence of the sun, can make a real difference in my life and propel me toward eternity with a real, genuine reason for hope.

Super (Movie Review)

I wasn't going to review this movie, since most people have never heard of it and wouldn't be expecting a review of it from me. It would have been a great chance to free up my time a little this week. But after watching this highly unusual film on Blu-ray this week, I felt compelled to express some thoughts about it.

"Super" is a low-budget, independent film (that uses it's money to GREAT effect!) with some very familiar faces and names. The story follows Frank D'Arbo, a socially awkward short order cook (played by Rain Wilson, The Office) whose wife, a recovering drug addict, leaves him for her dealer. Desperate to reclaim his wife and furious over the injustice of life, Frank creates a superhero persona that he believes is inspired by God, and hits the streets to fight crime and save his wife. Joining him in his odd quest is comic book store employee, Libby, who is even more socially inept and seems to live almost completely in a fantasy world the more she involves herself with Frank.

Performances are wonderful across the board. Though not quite Oscar worthy, Wilson shows some wonderful emotional depth and portrays Frank with a vulnerability that at times nearly made me well up with tears. Ellen Page is startling in her psychosis and provides some of the best moments of dark humor. Liv Tyler is both sweet and sadly damaged as Frank's wife. And Kevin Bacon is an interesting focal point for each scene he is in as the drug dealer and villain of the story.

The tone of the movie is a bit scattered, starting out slow and uncertain, but ramping up into gear once "The Crimson Bolt" chooses his crime fighting weapon of choice. (A Pipe Wrench.) Much of the time, the movie aims for either seriousness or dark humor, but occasionally wanders into spoof or moments that distract from, rather than serve, the story. Chief among these are the religious spoofs featuring Frank's "visions" or the over the top "Bible Man" tv show spoof that Frank watches. Moments like these take away the sense of realism that otherwise grounds the movie so well. There is also a seduction sequence that, while lacking any nudity and initially serving the story and character development, goes on for too long and seems exploitative after the first 30-45 seconds.

Despite some of it's awkwardly "off" moments, Super also has moments of (often dark) comedic brilliance, touching vulnerability and incredible "heroics" that rival the best moments of either "Kick Ass" or "Defendor", two other films that also deconstruct super heroics with relative realism.

The small budget (just a few million dollars) is used wonderfully, and the movie still has some extremely satisfying action and one very weird, but great-looking, digital special effects sequence.

Super may also trigger some worthwhile conversation or at least personal reflection. Christians like myself will likely be frustrated by the moments that grossly spoof either Christian beliefs or Christian culture. But it's worthwhile to look beyond these to see the themes of absolute morality and justice that the script grapples with. Frank is a character who mourns the injustice he has experienced in life. He has a childlike innocence about him as he expresses his longing for a better world. And though his actions can obviously not be supported by the Bible, they are still cathartic for anyone who is tired of the bad guys always winning in life.

I don't think I've ever seen a movie that had such a wide contrast of lousy and incredible moments, though I do think that the good moments of storytelling significantly outweigh the bad and make this movie worth watching, especially for superhero genre fans. The experience is likely to stay with you and provide some food for thought.

Rated R for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, sexual content and drug use. (I wLinkould add "brief nudity" to the MPAA's description)

Quality: 8.5/10

Relevance: 8.0/10

Listen to this review this weekend at

Monday, August 8, 2011

Can Truth Be "Turned On"?

Last night I recorded a three hour block of programming on the Discovery channel about the origin of the world/universe and whether or not God was responsible.

I haven't watched it yet and will probably hack away at it during my lunch breaks this week and next. But I'm very curious about how they handle the topic, which experts they select to interview and what kind of material surfaces after the editing process.

I was telling my wife yesterday that it's a little scary how much stock we put into the stuff we see on Discovery, National Geographic or The History Channel. I sometimes have to remind myself that no matter how boring the documentary or how serious and smart-sounding the narrator is, I am not getting an unfiltered look at the issue being covered. There are journalists picking the experts they think are best (or sometimes that they just think will fit their vision for the final product), editors choosing which words will be heard and which will not and producers and network execs trying to sell sponsorship slots with interesting content. And since controversy is entertaining and therefore equals ratings, we get a healthy dose of opinions mixed in smoothly with facts.

I'm convinced that, even though channels and documentaries like these can be helpful in stimulating conversation or initiating a search for truth, the actual hard work of fact-checking and investigation must be left to the individual. Especially in controversial matters. TV, Wikipedia, chat rooms and message boards might play a role in stimulating our interest or passion, but they are poor substitutes for genuinely seeking out truth.

In Search Of Truth, Romans 13:1-7

Now we arrive at what may be a less popular passage for many of us. Paul teaches that Christians should submit to the authorities over them, specifically, the government.

The primary reason is that all authority structures and figures are put in place by God, according to what he wants to accomplish on earth in the short or long-term. (v.1, and Romans 8:28)

When we ignore laws our governments have put in place, we’re ignoring the authority that God has put in place. We can’t easily separate disobedience to government from disobedience to God. When others are content to ignore little laws that don’t seem to matter, or to commit “victimless crimes”, believers should remember that doing this isn’t just brushing off “the man”, it’s brushing off God. And the consequences or punishments that may follow are part of God’s response. (v.2)

Government is not the enemy. Under normal circumstances, we are only afraid of our government when we are in the wrong; when we have done something against the law. The more we ditch our rebellious tendencies and learn the virtue of submission (a dirty word in pop culture) the less we will fear our government or view them as “the enemy”. In fact, we will more and more recognize them as a powerful ally and blessing God has given us. (v.3)

The authorities over us are even called God’s “servants”, which may seem strange. After all, we have no proof now (nor have we ever) that our representatives, governors or anyone in the White House are genuinely believers in and followers of Christ. So what does Paul mean by this?

God has a history of using leaders to accomplish his will, despite the fact that they had no allegiance to him. God called Nebuchadnezzar (the king of Babylon) his servant when he used him to invade Israel. Though Nebuchadnezzar didn’t worship Yahweh (God). (See Jeremiah 25:9) God used king Cyrus, another “non-believer”, in a similar way. (See Isaiah 45:1-6) God uses leaders like these to do good and to punish evil. (v.4)

Our leaders may not be good, moral people. And when human laws conflict with God’s laws, we need to look for ways to peacefully yet firmly obey God rather than man. (Acts 4:19, 5:29) But when this is not the case, we need to recognize that our authorities and laws are servants of God and we must submit to them. Whether or not we understand the reason for every rule.

There is a sense in which we know that when we disobey the laws established by humans, we are violating a greater cosmic principle. Unless we have allowed ourselves to become numb to it, violating the law bothers our consciences. Even if we somehow know we won’t get caught, our consciences remind us of the fact that we’ve sinned, not just against society or the people who wrote down laws and signed their names to some document, but against God. In this way, the laws established by the government provide clear boundaries that assist us in keeping our consciences clear. And when our consciences become numb, the fear of punishment plays its part as well. (v.5)

Because our authorities play such a valuable role, established by God, paying taxes is both reasonable and good! We can argue about what should be done with that tax money, and hold our leaders accountable in how they use it (meanwhile thanking God we live in a country that allows us to do this), but taxes themselves are a tool for equipping our leaders to do good and to dedicate their entire work week to providing security, safety and order for the rest of us. As we pay our taxes, we should aim to remember that God uses that money to bless us. (v.6)

Our governments and laws expect certain payment or behavior from us, and we should be ready and willing to submit to those expectations, whether in the form of tangible service, financial payment, or social courtesy.

A wise man’s young daughter once asked him about the purpose of a prison building as they drove past it. His response was, “That’s where they put the people who never learned to obey.”

Our governments have been put in place by God to bless us with safety and security, to help train and assist us in living in obedience to him, and to serve any other purpose God may have.

Next- The Importance Of Love

Coffee House Question- How much do you think we should expect our governments and laws to reflect scripture? When is it time to “take action” and what might that action look like as we aim to represent Christ well to non-believers?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Need Art For Two Audio Dramas!

The Spirit Blade Underground Alliance will soon be releasing two new audio dramas that we need some cool images for.

The first audio drama is called "Jealousy", a murder mystery set in a post-pandemic future. A small town in the desolate remains of the U.S. is distraught after a shocking murder. But without any formal law enforcement structure, they are struggling to solve the mystery and keep their town safe.

The second is a space adventure series (think "Star Trek: The Next Generation") called "Voyages Of The USS Sasquatch".

If you're "graphically inclined" and would like to create something we can use, shoot me an e-mail at paeter(at)spiritblade(dot)net for details and scripts (if you'd like to read them).

Thanks so much!

-Paeter Frandsen

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (Movie Review)

This weekend Fox Studios rebooted (again) their Planet Of The Apes franchise with "Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes", starring James Franco as a scientist developing a cure for Alzheimer's who gets more than he bargained for.

Before I get into the meat of this review, I should admit some bias and baggage I took into the theater with me, which you should keep in mind when applying my review.

First, I don't like what I call "horse movies", in which an animal is the focus of the plot (and usually has the movie named after it) and audiences are expected to emotionally invest in the fate of this animal in the same way we would for human characters. I like animals (a dog person myself, my wife prefers cats) and believe that part of our role as stewards of God's creation is to safeguard and care for them when possible and reasonable, given our other responsibilities as humans. But I do believe that animals do not have value or rights equal to humans and that humans are much more than simply the most intelligent creatures on the planet. So I become a little annoyed when I feel as though a movie is asking me to accept a different view of animals and humans in order to suspend my disbelief and enjoy a movie.

I'm also not a fan of CGI characters getting equal or greater screen time in live action movies compared to flesh and blood actors. For whatever reason, I'm cursed with a good eye for CGI characters (such as Clu/Flynn in Tron: Legacy, or the blue aliens in Avatar) and they take me out of a movie pretty easily, distracting me with thoughts of actors staring at ping-pong balls.

This movie had some of both issues working against it for me, but I can still say that I enjoyed it and many others may enjoy it even more.

Franco plays Will Rodman, a scientist whose father is suffering from Alzheimer's, which Will hopes to cure with an engineered virus that repairs brain functions. During testing on apes, however, the treatment actually enhances existing brain function enormously, giving one ape an intellect that far surpasses the average human of the same age. Due to complications, human testing is prohibited, but Rodman continues to do research with, and secretly keeps, the intelligent ape, whom his father names Caesar.

As time passes, Caesar gains awareness of his status: More than a pet yet held in captivity, subject to human rule. And though Rodman treats him well, others are abusive and cruel. Caesar naturally wishes to be free, which propels the rest of the movie forward.

Performances by the flesh and blood cast are great. Franco is sympathetic, and the storyline with his father, played with fragility by John Lithgow, gives much appreciated emotional depth to the story. The CGI characters (the apes) are admittedly some of the best looking I've ever seen. Hair is extremely challenging to pull off, but the texture mapping on these effects is many times indistinguishable from the real thing. As usual, the flaws show up in facial movements. A flaw that might have been hidden had the filmmakers not decided to give Caesar so many uniquely human expressions, subtle though they were.

Although this is definitely a sci-fi flick, don't go expecting much action. While it does have some intense action sequences, this is more of a sci-fi drama, depending on the emotional plight of characters to move the story forward, rather than a series of life-threatening obstacles. As a drama, it works best when focusing on the human characters, and slows down just a little too much in the second half as the focus turns to the Apes.

I think sci-fi movies dealing with "hyper-evolution" or artificial intelligence that becomes "self-aware" are potentially ripe for meaningful discussion afterward, and this movie is a great example of that.

What makes us human, or "people"? Is it our level of intelligence? Are we simply biological machines with enough processing power to attain the self-described status of "person"? Could apes become "people" simply by making them more intelligent?

I can't be sure where the writers of this movie fall, but I would guess they might say "yes", as would those adhering to a purely naturalistic worldview. Whatever the writers' stance, I would argue for "no" and would also love to see fiction deal with this issue in a less predictable way.

It's common in fiction for "self-aware" machines to be devoid of morality and simply use their superior intelligence to survive and take over the world. (The Terminator franchise being one example.) But I'd love to see a super-intelligent animal who is not also given the traits of philosophical introspection and moral awareness that this script gives to Caesar.(Implying these traits naturally come along with intelligence, which I don't believe is the case.) I think the result would be much more imaginative and lead to far less predictable places than this movie did.

Despite having some predictable plot points and a few slower moments, this was still an enjoyable, though-provoking movie. And I suspect a sequel, if made, will be twice as good!

Rated PG-13 for violence, terror, some sexuality and brief strong language.

Quality: 8.5/10

Relevance: 8.0/10

Listen to this review this weekend at-

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Booth At The End

My thanks to Mike L. for pointing me to this Hulu original web series starring Xander Berkeley(Nikita,24) as a mysterious man who takes meetings in a diner, offering clients whatever they wish in exchange for a "task". The task is always challenging and often criminal, but sometimes it's also a challenging act of goodness. The Man's motives, power and origins are a mystery that may or may not be revealed. (I've only seen the first episode so far.) What's more revealing is the lengths people are prepared to go to get what they want, or what they think they want.

It's anyone's guess what kinds of philosophical claims the script will make as the series continues (one client wants to feel closer to God and The Man claims he can deliver on that as well!), but the series looks to be very compelling from a character standpoint, intriguing from a sci-fi/fantasy standpoint, and worth talking about from a philosophical standpoint. I for one am already hooked!

You can check out "The Booth At The End" at-

We Need To Re-Cast!

We need your voice!

Recently an actor in a project for The Spirit Blade Underground Alliance decided to drop out of the mini-series he had been cast in. We were really bummed to hear this, and now we are scrambling to replace him! The Director/Mixer for this project is about 3/4 finished, but needs to be able to plug in some lines from a new actor for this role before we can release the first episode!

We've already posted a re-casting call for this role, but haven't received a single audition! Which means that if you're interested in auditioning, your chances of being cast are extremely good!

Here are the details-

Project Title: "Voyages Of The USS Sasquatch"

This is a limited, four episode mini-series with a Star Trek/Stargate TV series feel to it.

Premise: On the far distant border of our known universe and the frontier, Brianna Summers’ life and direction will be forever changed by what she faces and how she copes.

Episode 1-

Midshipman Brianna Summers reluctantly signs on the crew of the USS Sasquatch, a Patrol cutter. Although she has been expecting a practicum placement on a Fleet cruiser, this was not available to her. As she acclimates to being on a much smaller vessel, she finds that her crew mates are interesting people, not the “second stringers” as portrayed by the Admiralty. Sasquatch is then called to rescue an Arghian science ship from an artificial black hole. This leads to a showdown with two Path cruisers and a critical decision being made by Captain Jessup in order to save lives.

CHARACTER: "Moose". Late twenties. Male. RECURRING ROLE
Moose will be involved in all four episodes of the series. Please only audition if you are willing to commit to all episodes of the series.

Alton Mosberg or Moose” is a hulking Marine. This puts him in charge of the squad of Marines which makes up most of the Sasquatch’s crew. Moose can come across as an “aw shucks” type of southern boy. But he is all business "when the visor comes down."

Audition Lines:

Yeah. Park it and be neighborly.

The Admiralty (snort). Babe, the Admiralty is only interested in building big fancy cruise ships that just happen to be armed. Did you know that everybody over the rank of lieutenant has an assigned valet? A valet…On a war ship.

Please record your audition at 128kbps or higher in mp3, or use wav file format.
All auditions should be sent via Yousendit ( to:

***Yousendit is a FREE online file transfer service. Please remember to make use of it. Do not send your file directly to the e-mail listed.***

Please use the following format when naming your audition file:
Please only audition for this role if you are interested in recording for all episodes in this series.

***Auditions are due by Sunday, August 14th.***

Thanks and good luck!

-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, August 1, 2011

In Search Of Truth, Romans 12:18-21

Paul’s instructions for how Christians should live turn now to the subject of conflict. Specifically, what our reaction should or shouldn’t be when we have been wronged.

Conflict is often very messy and not simply one-sided (though both sides may only see guilt in the other). Our responsibility in conflict (or when avoiding it) is to make right what we did wrong, however small it may seem in comparison to how we have been wronged. Our aim should be to agree with each other whenever possible, and to avoid conflict when not. This doesn’t mean we can’t disagree. But our points of disagreement shouldn’t be cause for tension or bitterness in our relationships. (v.18)

We shouldn’t take it upon ourselves to punish those who sin against us. “Punishing” others might seem like an outlandish thought, but we are all actually very good at passive aggressively “punishing” others when they have wronged us in some way. Even if we’re the only ones who know we’re “punishing” someone else, we’re not. God knows and takes offense that we would presume to do his job. (v.19)

By contrast, Paul says that our response should be that of Proverbs 25:21-22, which he quotes here. We should treat those who wrong us far better than we feel they have treated us. Doing this will result in “heaping burning coals on their heads”.

Now obviously, that phrase sounds a little odd to our ears. The cultural reference still eludes scholars a bit. There are two possible meanings for this reference, and therefore at least two possible applications for us.

The first comes from an ancient Egyptian tradition in which a man wears a pan of burning coals on his head to outwardly show his penitence as he goes to apologize to the one he has wronged. The application of this metaphor would mean that being good to those who wrong us may result in their repentance. Consider how much easier it is to apologize when the other person apologizes first or when they treat you with genuine warmth despite your conflict. This kind of grace (undeserved favor) given to others can melt even a heart made of stone.

The second possible meaning of this reference is from ancient Middle Assyrian law, which contained a punishment involving pouring hot asphalt on someone’s head. The application of this metaphor would be that in some way our kind treatment of those who mistreat us will make their final punishment from God all the more severe if they do not repent.

There are problems with both interpretations. The first metaphor has been subject to more than one interpretation and the second involved asphalt, not hot coals. I tend to lean toward the first, given that it can be easily applied to conflict with both believers and unbelievers, which conforms better to the context of Paul’s writing here. I think, in the second, there is also a potential danger in gaining inappropriate pleasure from the thought of someone’s future punishment that would taint the attitude of grace Paul is teaching us to have. (v.20)

However we interpret verse 20, verse 21 sums up Paul’s teaching on conflict. Evil is nothing more than a twisting of that which is good. It is inferior to good in every way. As we are dealing with conflict with others, we should remember that we do not need to be defeated by the evil of the situation. We can powerfully overcome the evil we are facing by responding with undeserved goodness. (v.21)

Next- How Should Believers View And Respond To Their Government?

Coffee House Question- Why do you think it might be important for God, and not us, to ultimately deal out punishment for wrongdoing?