Monday, October 31, 2011
Last week I made the decision to work only on the songs for Spirit Blade 3 that other actors will be singing, and only enough to fully prepare those actors for their recording sessions.
Since making that decision I've felt a significant change in how I've been looking at my work on Spirit Blade 3. Before, I was dreading trying to "summon" good ideas from nothing, where now I'm excited about the creative process again.
Some writers and other creative types are much more disciplined than I am, taking a philosophy of "just write SOMETHING" even when they don't feel inspired. I envy those folks and the skill they've developed to do that. At the same time, it's not as though I never have times in the creative process when I have to take my work to the grindstone and sharpen it up. It just happens at a different time.
I think maybe those "grindstone" periods work better for me after I've built some creative momentum. When I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. That's how it was for me with a couple of songs in "Dark Ritual". I didn't buckle down and create a couple of them until I was well over halfway through mixing the entire audio drama. But by then I was so excited about how far along I was that it was easier to push through and generate ideas that would work well. (Or at least that *I* thought worked well. You, of course, are the final judge.)
So now as I look at the work ahead of me over the next few months, I'm pretty excited! This week I plan to finish working out the basics I need to for the songs in Spirit Blade 3 that will be sung by other performer, such as Michael Tully (Raan), Sean Anthony Roberts (Saolos) and Randy Hesson (Vincent). I'll also probably be contacting cast members to schedule the official reading session for the script, which will likely take place sometime in January. (Woohoo! I can't wait!) Lastly, I plan to get started on the revision of the script for Pilgrim's Progress: Episode 2, which has been sitting on my computer in rough draft form since the release of Episode 1. (I wrote more than needed last time, so now I'm ahead of the game!)
Over the next few months, there may not be a ton to report regarding Spirit Blade 3 and Pilgrim's Progress Ep. 2, but I'd wager that things will be pretty exciting in my office as those projects quietly build momentum! Meanwhile, stay tuned for some exciting news about an audio book project I'm signing the contract for now, and of course for more details about Spirit Blade: The Adventure Card Game!
Friday, October 28, 2011
I thought I would be taking a different approach to the pacing of song development for Spirit Blade 3 compared to how it happened for Spirit Blade: Dark Ritual. Before, I worked on songs sporadically, only when inspired. I think this resulted in the best work I had to give, but it also meant that I didn't have more than melodies to give Michael Tully to prepare with before he came to record. (Sometimes less than that!)
I had originally resolved to fully develop the songs that other performers would be singing so that they can have a better feel for what the finished product will be while they record. But as I sat down a few times this week to begin work on those songs, I hit a wall and remembered why I did things the way I did last time.
So rather than risk producing forced song creations that are creatively uninspired, I've decided to fall back on the "Dark Ritual" method of working on the songs only when inspired, or when I arrive at their place in my chronological mix of the audio drama itself.
Sorry, Tully! I'll at least try to have a harmonic structure and temp track for you to learn from!
A buddy of mine pointed out that he saw a special feature using "before and after" footage to show the "re-sizing" effects of Captain America on his copy of the Blu-ray. I double checked mine and discovered that the feature was in fact on there!
Not sure how I missed it, but I checked it out tonight and it has some great "before and after" footage that is really cool! So please disregard most of my previous post. (Though the filmmaker commentary is still pretty dry.)
Not sure how I missed it, but I checked it out tonight and it has some great "before and after" footage that is really cool! So please disregard most of my previous post. (Though the filmmaker commentary is still pretty dry.)
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Quick correction. I missed the fine print on Spreadshirt's free shipping promo. Although they've been advertising it as "Free Shipping In October", the free shipping only applies to orders placed on October 29th and 30th. The promo code for free shipping is still WITCHINGHOUR.
My huge apologies to everyone for missing that detail. I hope you still go take a look at our spreadshirt store this Saturday and Sunday!
Picked up the Captain America Blu Ray yesterday and immediately popped it in to check out the special features. It has a handful of behind the scenes documentaries on the making of the movie that are pretty interesting, and one documentary about the origin of the comic book character. But I'm half way through the commentary and it's pretty dry.
The commentators are pretty sedate as they talk about the flick and there are no actors involved. Personally, I like commentaries where those involved feel free to joke around a bit, and enjoy actors being involved because they are closely associated with the illusion of the film presents, which I enjoy looking behind.
But the biggest ball dropped in the special features surrounds the amazing effects used to shrink the buffed up Chris Evans into the scrawny Steve Rogers for the first 30 minutes of the movie. (Chris Evans filmed all of those scenes after buffing up to play Cap, and they shrunk down and reshaped his body digitally to make him look skinny.) I saw more about these effects in TV and web specials before the movie was released. I really wanted to see some before and after shots for the "shrinking process", and although they describe how it was done in the commentary, there are no visuals with which we can appreciate this amazing digital feat. What a shame.
For the last month or so I've been putting in some extra hours developing a new project that I'm very excited about. (And for you audio drama fans, have no fear. I haven't cut one minute from development efforts on Spirit Blade 3.)
In case you didn't hear the news in last weekend's podcast, I'm thrilled to announce the development of an entirely new kind of product from Spirit Blade Productions! "Spirit Blade: The Adventure Card Game" is planned for release in the first half of 2012, and will allow players to experience the world of Spirit Blade like never before! In addition, the game is designed in such a way as to require zero familiarity with the Spirit Blade universe. So even if you haven't been listening to the audio dramas, you'll easily be able to jump into and enjoy this exciting sci-fi world with your family and friends!
Rather than being competitive, "Spirit Blade: The Adventure Card Game" is a primarily co-operative experience in which one or more players control a group of Seekers as they infiltrate enemy territory to reclaim truth stolen from the world by Atlantis Incorporated and their sinister alien allies, the Sheida.
As the team of Seekers regains valuable information, their resources and capabilities increase, giving new meaning to the expression "knowledge is power"! Meanwhile, one player takes on the role of the enemy forces, choosing who and how they will attack and determining when the Seekers will encounter deadly, automated security measures.
There are countless combinations of enemies, security measures and other obstacles to overcome, meaning that no two games play the same way. And as your group of Seekers gains more resources, they will change as well!
The different types of Seekers you can play are based on the ensemble cast of characters in the Spirit Blade Trilogy and include: Shifter (Merikk), Tech (Raan), Soldier (Vincent), Prophet (David), Sanctafi (Saolos) and Hunter (Ebony).
Enemies featured include types of demons mentioned in the Spirit Blade Trilogy, like Overlords, Demonic Princes and Nephilim. And Seekers will naturally face human opposition as well, such as Shock Troopers, Dark Hunters and Dark Shifters. In addition, Spirit Blade: The Adventure Card Game will expand the Spirit Blade universe by introducing entirely new threats, such as Mercenaries hired to wipe out Seekers and the Atlantis Bio-Mech (pictured above), a hulking blend of cold metal and human flesh.
In the coming months, I'll be showcasing specific cards from the game, highlighting character cards in particular, explaining what each character type can do and how it effects game play. So stay tuned! There is much more coming soon!
Monday, October 24, 2011
As Paul begins to close this letter, he adds a number of personal greetings. Although it's often easy to blow through a laundry list of names like this to get back to the "good stuff", we'll try to see what we can learn about Paul and living in community with believers from looking at this section.
In both the first name mentioned and 1/3rd of the total names included in these greetings, we see that Paul had friendships and working relationships with a number of women. This shouldn't be overlooked, since women were often treated as second-class citizens in Jewish and Greco-Roman culture, or at least as if they had little wisdom to offer men. But as Paul wrote in Galatians 3:28, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Although some Christians in the past and today have been known to have a low view of women, this is not the result of correctly applying what the Bible teaches to be true.
Phoebe was likely carrying this letter to Rome, meaning that she would be the first person the Roman Christians would ask to clarify anything in Paul's letter. This is probably why Paul speaks well of her and mentions her significant role (usually a specific office in this context) in the church at Cenchrea. (v.1-2)
As we go through this list, another observation we can make is the number of friends Paul had in a city he had not even visited yet! This might not seem unusual in our electronic world where people commonly have dozens or hundreds of so called "friends" on facebook or other online communities. But for Paul to have relationships over long distances at this time would have required tremendous investment on his part. As we look at this "laundry list" of names we can ask ourselves whether or not we are willing to invest in people with the passion that Paul did.
Priscilla (or Prisca) and Aquila were a husband and wife team that Paul had worked with both in ministry and in making tents to support themselves. (Acts 18:2-3) It is significant that Priscilla is mentioned first, implying, in Paul's culture and time period, that she had a higher station in either society or in her role in the church community. This again affirms the value and equality of women in Biblical teaching. (v.3) These friends of Paul had also in some way risked their lives on Paul's behalf! No wonder they show up early on this list! (v.4) At this time, Priscilla and Aquila were hosting church meetings at their home. (v.5)
Epenetus was the first to believe in Christ under Paul's ministry in Asia. (v.5) This is another example of faith for us. It's hard to do something when no one else is doing it. But Epenetus chose to trust in Christ when no one else in his community was doing so. (Remember that Paul's focus has been in going to places that had not heard of Jesus Christ. See Romans 15:20.)
Mary is said to have worked hard for the Christians in Rome. The Greek used here for "worked" means "to grow weary, tired, exhausted (with toil or burdens or grief)". This was not a woman who simply faithfully kept her self occupied with service to other Christians. (Although that's honorable in itself.) She poured out her life in painful sacrifice to others. And Paul recognizes her for that. (v.6)
Andronicus and Junias were likely another husband and wife team. It's interesting that Paul refers to them both as apostles. Although some Christian thinkers still debate whether or not this applied to both of them, I don't see any reason that Junias, a woman, should have been ruled out for this distinction. He also commends them for coming to faith in Christ before even Paul did. (v.7)
Next- More Distinguished Believers In The Church At Rome
Coffee House Question- Can you think of someone you know or knew from a Christian church that made a strong, positive impression on you? What were they like?
Friday, October 21, 2011
This is an enemy card in raw format. (If it looks familiar, that's because I sneakily posted it on my personal blog while talking about table top games a few weeks ago.) In the finished version the corners will be rounded off and some of the perimeter removed in the cutting process. Otherwise it represents how the card will look...unless of course I change it.
So what in the world is this all about? What is this card for? Listen for the big announcement on this weekend's episode of The Spirit Blade Underground Podcast!
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Another month, another behind the scenes video!
This one features actor Krystofer James VanSlyke as he records the role of Kaphan for "Pilgrim's Progress: Similitude Of A Dream".
Highlights include my off-topic rant on Heath Ledger's "Joker" and demonstrations of my complete technical ignorance. (It's a wonder I work with computers all day!)
You can check it out now at spiritblade.net/videos!
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
As of today I've got 3 out of 4 hymns selected for adaptation as songs for Spirit Blade 3. They are fairly obscure, have haunting or dark melodic potential (after I monkey with them a bit) and fit the thematic moments of the story they'll be placed in.
The song count remains at 7, which means that more than half of the songs this time will at least be partially based on hymns, which I never imagined would be possible, but I'm pretty stoked about it. For one, I like bringing the wonderful texts of forgotten hymns into awareness, and for two, having an existing song provides a foundation I can build on, rather than having to create something from scratch. The net result is a significant reduction in production time for the songs and the project as a whole.
For a little perspective, songs based on hymns in Spirit Blade: Dark Ritual include Hour Of Trial, Lead Me, and Death Come Quickly.
I hope to have the last hymn selected by the end of the week so I can start developing the sounds and styles of each song next week!
In 1986, DC published Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns", which arguably re-established Batman as a grim and gritty character and influenced the way Batman stories were told forever after. One year later, DC hired Miller to retell Batman's origin in a story entitled "Batman: Year One". Unlike "The Dark Knight Returns", this story was part of official DC Universe continuity, and even further established the dark tone that this well-known character is defined by. "Year One" served as source material for a number of great comic book stories, and was drawn from heavily in Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins" movie.
Now, the DC animated studios have turned their attention to "Batman: Year One" and set out to create an animated version of this iconic story. I'm pleased to report they succeeded wonderfully.
The character driven story is what really sells this movie so well. Surprisingly, for those who haven't read the original comic, this story is more about James Gordon than it is about Bruce Wayne. Gordon has just transferred to Gotham with the rank of police lieutenant, and is having to survive as an honest cop amidst a corrupt police force. His stance for honesty and justice put both himself and his family in danger, and his only ally may just be the vigilante he is trying to capture!
Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne is discovering his calling and what it really takes to fight crime in Gotham City. This is Batman well before he becomes the seasoned veteran with a plan for every situation. He makes mistakes and suffers the consequences, resulting in injuries he's forced to suffer through and "back to the wall" situations he has to think his way out of on the fly.
With Zack Snyder's "Watchmen" being the only exception, I think DC's animated version of "Batman: Year One" is the single most faithful adaptation of specific comic book pages to the screen. Fans of the comic will recognize numerous panels that have been brought to life, though with a cleaner look and a few more colors added to the palette.
The cast performances were solid, though not perfectly suited to the project. Miller and artist David Mazzucchelli captured the grim despair of noir. And though this film aims to retain that feel, the 1st person voice-overs, representing the thoughts of James Gordon and Bruce Wayne, have a little too much inflection from time to time. I also thought that the voice of Batman, while appropriately young sounding given the age of the character in this story, was having to try a little too hard to achieve that natural, guttural sound that makes the best Batman voices work.
The animation and lines are beautiful on Blu Ray, and the the character of Gotham City deserved its own credit. The original artwork was clearly the basis for the visual design, and with just a few enhancements, the original visuals translate wonderfully.
The run-time is once again pretty short at only 64 minutes. But it's more than enough time to tell this story well. And the numerous great features on the Blu Ray(creator commentary, round table with current Batman creative staff, documentary on the original comic, Catwoman short feature and more!) easily make up for any perceived brevity in the main feature.
Although it may not lead to conversation after watching the movie, a major theme in James Gordon's story is doing the right thing, even when it hurts. Gordon is a flawed man, but strives for most of the movie to make the right decisions, despite the pain it brings him. When contrasted with the modern pop-philosophy of "do what feels right" or "follow your heart", Gordon's pursuit of honesty and justice is refreshing and inspiring, whether it impacts the entire city, or just his relationship with his wife.
For those interested in an introduction to the Batman comics mythos who aren't quite ready to flip through an actual comic book, this is as good as it gets. A solid, serious representation of Batman with a grounded, human story that even many non-genre fans will appreciate.
Rated PG-13 for violence and some sexual material.
You can also listen to this review this weekend at spiritblade.net/podcast
Monday, October 17, 2011
As you might have guessed, I rushed to the store on Friday to get my copy of the extended Blu-ray version of the Green Lantern movie.
For those wondering, the added footage is great and adds appreciated depth to character arcs, though it doesn't fix any shortcomings you may or may not have felt in the flow of the story as a whole.
What it DOES do is give us more reason to invest in Hal and in his fight to overcome fear. The added 14 minutes is almost all in one section at the beginning, which flashes us back to Hal's childhood. We see his childhood connection to both Carol and Hector and experience with more vulnerability the death of Hal's dad.
With a little more time and less freshness to my first viewing experience, I've modified my original quality score from a 9.0 to an 8.5, which I don't think this extended cut improves enough to bring it back up to 9. But the degree to which I personally enjoy the film still hasn't changed. (LOVE it!)
In fact, now months later, with the responsibility to write an unbiased review well behind me(and failed anyway), there are aspects of the movie that I'm even allowing myself to be more forgiving in. I'm even more impressed with the CGI suits now that I've seen the "making of" and know how much work went into them. And Blake Lively's portrayal of Carol Ferris, while no better, is one I'm "adjusting to".
Everything else I loved about the movie: the constructs, the action, the performances (Peter Sarsgaard is AWESOME as Hector Hammond!), they're all still fantastic. A great flick!
Paul's ambition was to share the truth of the gospel (who Christ is, what he has done for us and what it means for our lives) with people who had never heard that Jesus is the Messiah. He didn't want to build on another person's work, but start a completely new missionary effort. (v. 20)
Paul quotes Isaiah 52:15, a prophecy about the Messiah, and sees his own work as a partial fulfillment of that prophecy. (v.21)
This specific focus for Paul meant that his travel plans must also be very specific, geographically. As a result, he wasn't able to visit the Christians in Rome before this time, although he had really wanted to. (v.22-23)
At the time he wrote this letter, however, his work in the areas far from Rome was over. He was now planning to go to Spain, and to visit Rome on the way in hopes of gaining their support for his work, using them as a sort of "hub" for his ministry in Spain, while also spending some time with them. (v.23-24)
Before this, however, he was headed for Jerusalem. At this time, the Christians in Jerusalem were suffering some of the worst persecution, resulting in serious financial hardships. The Christians in Macedonia and Achaia (mostly Gentiles) had collected money to send to them and Paul was planning to deliver it and then head on to Spain through Rome. (v. 25-26, 28)
Although these Gentile Christians were happy to give to the Jerusalem Christians, Paul also points out that in the bigger picture it was their obligation, since they came to know Christ through Jewish Christians. The eternal, infinite blessings they had as a result were far greater than any material wealth they could share. So at the very least it made sense for them to help the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem financially. (v.27)
Developing this kind of "eternal economy" in our minds is vital to living life the way we are meant to. This theme has been haunting me recently and I see it as the key to effectively living for God. It's so easy to only see our little day to day lives and whether or not we are experiencing pleasure in any given moment. The more we understand and put our hope in the amazing eternal future ahead of us, the more we will be able to sacrifice our selfishness and make eternal investments in that future today in the way we prioritize love of God and practical love for others over pursuit of self-satisfaction.
Paul wasn't just planning to make use of the church in Rome, he was looking forward to doing ministry their as well, and anticipated being empowered by Christ in a special way when he came to them. (v.29)
Paul's "target demographic" may have been those who have never heard of Christ, but he didn't allow that focus to give him tunnel vision and miss opportunities to love and minister to anyone else he came across. He looked forward to blessing the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, and he anticipated being useful to the Christians in Rome as well. Paul was not so focused on the mission God had given him that he missed opportunities to serve God in his every day encounters and "peripheral" agenda items.
Paul asked for prayer for his protection from unbelievers in Judea, who had been persecuting Christians, and for his work in delivering and possibly organizing distribution of funds in Jerusalem would be effective. (v. 30-31)
It's also interesting to note that, although delivering these funds was somewhat of a "side-mission" when compared to his desire to preach the gospel to those who've never heard it, Paul was still highly emotionally invested in it. He anticipated a sense of real joy for himself if his work in delivering the funds went well. (v.32)
Paul was also not a "lone ranger", and recognized the value in being refreshed by others. (v.32) Sometimes, those of us who are visionaries, who prefer to work alone rather than risk others interfering, can neglect spending time with other believers. But even Paul knew that this work isn't meant to be done alone.
At this point, Paul closes the main portion of his letter with a brief customary "wish-prayer", praying that God's peace would be detectible among them in a special way. As you might remember, the church in Rome was composed of both Jews and Gentiles, and the mix in cultures had led to some disagreement. In this "wish-prayer" Paul may be once again expressing a desire for them to live peacefully together as believers. (v.33)
Next- A Testimony To Relationships
Coffee House Question- When do you have trouble keeping an "eternal economy" in mind? What have you found useful as you try to see life with an eternal perspective?
Friday, October 14, 2011
I'm a big fan of monster movies. And the more creative the monster, the better. I'm a sucker for that tried and true formula of mysterious frightening deaths, followed by glimpses of a creature, followed by progressively revealing looks and information about the creature and culminating in a terrible, expansive revelation of the creature in the climax. It worked in Jeepers Creepers, Alien, Predator and my choice for "King Of All Monster Movies", John Carpenter's The Thing (a 1982 pseudo remake of 1951's "The Thing From Another World").
This awesome flick was unfortunately in theaters at the same time as E.T. and was essentially a box office failure. But it has gained a wild cult following on television and home video and you can consider me a card carrying member of that cult.
What I love about the 1982 film is the great character performances and use of suspense and paranoia to carry the film, rather than the creature effects. But the creature effects could have easily carried this film by themselves. Grotesque and gory, The Thing is the most bizarre creature I have ever seen on screen. And although the movie was made long before the use of CGI in films, the very fact that almost every effect was in camera still gives the film a tangible quality today that is lacking in so many CGI flicks whose effects look to my eye like glorified cartoons. (Even giants like the Lord of The Rings Trilogy have many phony CGI moments to my eye.) CGI is something I tolerate, and sometimes enjoy, but am rarely fooled by.
When I heard they were making a prequel to my favorite monster flick, I was immediately stoked. But as the time drew closer and I saw some obvious CGI effects in the trailers, I started to prepare myself to be let down and resolved to just enjoy the movie as best as I could. All things considered, I had zero cause for concern. This movie nailed it.
A Norwegian team of scientists have discovered a spacecraft buried in the antarctic ice for thousands of years and hire an American female paleontologist and a few other Americans to help them excavate it. But as is often the case in movies like this, the scientists make reckless decisions out of impatience and pride that lead to disaster and horror as they unleash a terrifying creature that is far more than they are prepared to deal with.
It's hard not to compare this movie to the 1982 film, because it draws so heavily from it. Both films occur in some of the same locations and the producers of the new film obviously used the 1982 production documents as source material. In many ways the plot uses the same skeleton as the original film as well, but is fleshed out in different ways and somehow still feels very original.
This was due largely to the fact that, like the first film, this one keeps you guessing until the very end regarding who is human and who is The Thing. The sense of isolation feeds the paranoia, and the performances by the cast keep the tension levels high throughout the movie. It's this attention to character and the pace of the script and editing that kept me hugging my shoulders for much of the 103 minute run time.
The creature design is a major selling point of the film. As The Thing absorbs and imitates other life forms, it transforms in gruesome and gory ways, contorting the human form into horrific shapes that just plain give you the willies to look at. Although this movie could stand on its tension-setting alone, when The Thing literally bursts onto the scene, it pays off the mounting tension to jaw-dropping effect.
My only point of criticism, the only way I could think to make this movie any better, would be the CGI effects. The film uses some great practical effects to portray The Thing, but also uses CGI now and then, some parts of which look better than others. I would have preferred that they go practical the entire film. But the creature design still looked creepy and bizarre, and even the original movie switched over to some questionable stop-motion animation at the climax of the film.
For fans of the original flick, there are a multitude of connections to the original film. So many in fact that after the last sequence during the credits, which re-creates the opening shots of the original movie, you'll want to go home and watch the 1982 movie.
Ever wonder what led to that crazy "two person meld" they find in the original movie? This flick tells the whole story. There are bits like that throughout the film, although they are handled in such a way as to not be obvious "inside jokes" to old-school fans, such as those peppered throughout the last Indiana Jones movie. This isn't nostalgia film-making, but it does honor the original movie and even enhances the experience of watching it again.
Never seen the original? No worries. This film doesn't depend on that a single bit and stands completely on its own, a modern creature horror masterpiece. But you may just find yourself looking for a copy of the old one as you leave the theater!
Although I always look for something of real-world importance in the themes of the movies I watch, this movie was just pure escapist entertainment. It's not making any philosophical statements. It just wants to scare the pants off of you. As far as I'm concerned, mission accomplished!
Rated R for strong creature violence and gore, disturbing images, and language.
You can also listen to this review this weekend at www.spiritblade.net/podcast
Did some math recently and realized that next weekend (the 21st) will be the 200th episode of the Spirit Blade Underground Podcast! Seems like the big 100th episode was just a few months ago!
I'd LOVE to get some comments from you guys that I can use on the show! Maybe some regular segment you've especially liked about the show, your favorite particular review/interview/"In Search Of Truth" segment, or just something else you want to say or share as we celebrate 200 episodes!
You can e-mail me at paeter(at)spiritblade(dot)net or call and leave a message for me to play on the show at 206-350-1226. I usually put the show together early on Friday nights. I'd love to get something from you for the 200th show!
Thursday, October 13, 2011
A quick extra post today to let you know that for the rest of October you can get FREE SHIPPING on any order in our spreadshirt store! Just use the promo code WITCHINGHOUR when you check out and you won't pay a dime in shipping!
But don't wait! This promo ends October 31st!
Go To Spirit Blade Spreadshirt Store
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Woohoo! Time to get excited! I'm scheduling another live chat on Saturday November 5th at 6pm Mountain Standard Time! (Google "Time Zones" if you're unsure how to do the math.)
I'm especially excited because the power (and internet) in my house went out just moments before the last chat I scheduled and I missed the whole thing! Last time was the best turnout we've had yet, but let's see if we can break that record!
The topic will be anything and everything you guys feel like talking about. I'd love to shoot the breeze with you guys and talk geekiness, Spirit Blade productions, or whatever's on your mind.
To join the chat, just go over to spiritblade.net/forums and log in, then scroll down to the bottom of the main page and join the chatbox.
Mark your calendars! I hope to see you there!
Monday, October 10, 2011
Although Paul has written extensively to instruct the Roman church in this letter, he also expresses here his trust in their knowledge and ability to instruct each other. (v.14) Much of what he has written served as a reminder of what the Christians in Rome had already learned, as opposed to new information.
Often, it's not new information we need, but reminders of what we've already been taught. It's incredibly easy to neglect the truth we've been given. God acknowledges this again and again in the Bible. (Some interesting words for the "search" field at blueletterbible.org are "forget" and "remember".)
Paul has made it his task to "remind" the Roman Christians of some particular truths because of specific "grace" (undeserved favor) that God gave him. (v.15) The specific grace Paul is referring to came in the form of the special role God gave to Paul, to bring the message of the gospel (who Christ is, what he has done and what that means for humanity) to non-Jews. Paul served a "priest-like" function as a go-between for Christ and the Gentiles, helping them, through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, to become uniquely set apart ("sanctified") as they serve and give their lives to God. (v.16)
Although Paul was proud of the results of his work, he recognized that those results were all made possible only because of Christ. He limited his conversation about his work to the ways in which Christ led the Gentiles toward obedience to God through Paul. The methods through which God used Paul varied. Sometimes it was through words and other times through actions. Sometimes through miraculous events, and other times through the various ways in which God's Spirit moves and impacts lives. The end result of Paul's selfless surrender to Christ's work through him was the successful presentation of the gospel across a wide range of people and locations. (v.17-19)
Even with good intentions, it's easy for us to become stubbornly set in our minds regarding how we think God is going to use us. Ideas that God gives us to pursue become unintended fixations of our closed-minded tunnel vision. But although Paul knew he was called to present the Gospel to the world, and especially to non-Jews, he allowed God to choose the methods. This kind of openness to God's unpredictable way of doing things resulted in tremendous success for Paul, and I think the principle is the same for us.
Next- Paul's "Target Demographic"
Coffee House Question- Have you ever had counter-productive "tunnel vision" about something you thought God wanted you to do?
Friday, October 7, 2011
I've spent most of my "creative hours" this week doing hymn research. In Spirit Blade: Dark Ritual, I adapted at least three different hymns for use as songs, some of which you may have noticed, some you may have not. The idea behind the use of hymns is that the Sanctafi, an order steeped in ancient Christian tradition, have retained many of the oldest hymns for use in their worship, though their copies may be fragmented or distorted in some way as a result of the world wide banning of religious texts.
Since the Sanctafi, and of course Brother Saolos, will again play a very significant role in the story, I'm again looking to the past for forgotten nuggets that will fit with the themes I'm exploring in Spirit Blade 3. Although I've had requests for specific hymns from a few listeners, I'm actually aiming to resurrect obscure material. The less familiar, the better.
I have three hymnals I've been using. A Methodist hymnal (not much use, as it sticks to mostly the "popular" tunes), a Presbyterian hymnal (which has a few obscure ones with text that holds a wonderfully high or "big" view of God), and lastly an old Lutheran hymnal.
The Lutheran hymnal may be my favorite. It was the book that I pulled the verses of "Death Come Quickly" from, and most of the verse melody, too. There are a lot of interesting tunes and texts in that hymnal that, because of their language, the specificity of their use, or the complexity of melody or meter, have not become "popular hymns". There are some wonderfully dark melodies in minor, or that otherwise have the feel of a monastery.
As I go through each hymnal I've been making note of the hymns that have potential to fit my needs. I should be done with that first "scan" early next week, at which point I'll start trying them out and narrowing them down to make my selections.
Although some of the effort has been monotonous, I've also really enjoyed scanning some of the wonderful words that even many traditional churches never see in their corporate worship times.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
In the last year or so (and again in the last couple of days) the idea of audio book production has been swimming around in my head, partly because of some opportunities that have come my way to produce audio books.
It's something I'm still just toying with, and may be taking on one or more short audio book projects in the coming months to "test the waters" and carefully log my hours so I can better estimate the work involved in doing more audio books in the future.
I don't want to become distracted from projects I already have cooking. But I also want to always be thinking about the company's future, and doing the right audio book projects creates potential income in a much shorter time than producing an audio drama, and it's another way to get the company name out there.
Do you guys have any thoughts about me giving some of my time to audio books? Should I stick to audio drama 100%? Should I ditch audio drama and go with audio books?
I'd be very interested to get some opinions on this. Thanks!
Monday, October 3, 2011
In previous verses Paul urged the Christians in Rome to be unified, despite their mix of Jewish and Gentile (non-Jewish) people in the church community. Now Paul goes into why this unity under Christ and across cultural/ethnic lines is important.
Christ came to the earth to tell humanity the truth. (John 18:37) The truth about who God is and who we are meant to be. The Jews were the first people group he wanted to connect with on this mission, because they had been promised a special relationship with God and a special role in his plans. (Genesis 17:7 and 22:18 are just two of many examples of this.) (v.8)
This was also part of God's plan to more openly invite non-Jews into relationship with him and to reveal himself more fully to the rest of the world, resulting in people from every nation and culture recognizing who God is and the incredible mercy he offers. (v.9)
Although the Jews of Jesus' and Paul's time strongly separated themselves from non-Jews, the idea of non-Jews worshiping Yahweh alongside them should not have been a radical idea to them, or one they resisted. It had been part of God's plan since the beginning, as Paul demonstrates by quoting and paraphrasing Old Testament scripture. (Psalm 18:49, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalm 117:1, Isaiah 11:10, respectively) (v.9-12)
Many popular religions are culturally exclusive (though Americans tend to ignore that and "modify" religions as they see fit), but Yahweh is God over all and wants everyone from every nation and culture to seek him out for rescue and have an eternal, overwhelmingly wonderful relationship with him.
He is the reason we can have hope that in the end all will be set right. It's Paul's prayer (as it should be ours) that God will give us real joy (fulfillment, contentment) and a sense of peace even in the storms of life, as we learn to trust in him, and that in doing so we can experience the hope provided by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Searching and studying scripture can lay the foundation for trusting in God, but head knowledge doesn't necessarily translate to firm faith in God. Which is why it's so important that we also ask God to give us his undeserved favor in the form of joy, peace and hope through the Holy Spirit as we choose to trust in him because of what we know, despite what we may be feeling.
Next Time- Paul Discusses The Role God Gave Him
Coffee House Question- Can you identify one or more things that keep you from trusting in God from time to time?