Saturday, March 31, 2012

Wrath Of The Titans and Dead Alive! (SBU Podcast)

Saturday, March 31, 2012 3:16 PM

Reviews of Wrath Of The Titans and the goriest fright film of all time... Dead Alive!

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Wrath Of The Titans (Movie Review)

The 2010 "Clash Of The Titans" remake was an enjoyable, yet forgettable movie for me. It certainly didn't live up to its potential as a sword and sandal fantasy flick. I was surprised to learn a few months ago that a sequel would already be coming out this spring. I was skeptical of the idea, but the trailer gave me hope. It looked like they were pumping more money, effects and monsters in this second attempt, and so I entered the theater daring to hope that "Wrath Of The Titans" would scratch all the itches the first one neglected.

The story picks up 10 years after the events of the first movie. Perseus, the half-man/half-god, is raising his son alone after the death of his wife, hoping to live the quiet life of a fisherman. But his father Zeus arrives and warns him that the gods are in trouble and need his help. Perseus refuses his father's request, but is later pulled into the epic struggle as his son and the entire world are placed in peril.

Like the first movie, "Wrath" has a great visual design. There is a much greater variety of creatures populating this flick and most of them are fascinating to look at. Fire is a key visual concept in this movie. Flames, molten rock and superheated metals are recurring visual cues to remind us of the ultimate foe of this movie, the god Kronos, father of both Zeus and Hades. When he comes out to play it's nothing short of literally earth-shattering. Big baddies don't get much bigger or badder and Kronos is a sight to behold.

This movie also has even more of a "questing" feel to it than the first. Perseus soon leads a band of heroes through a forest filled with giant monsters, and then a labyrinth which changes its configuration repeatedly and also creates illusions meant to discourage intruders. Gamers looking for a movie to scratch that particular "D&D itch" need look no further than this one.

The script is very boring, unfortunately. You're likely to be about 10 minutes ahead of the movie at any given moment. I also wasn't invested emotionally in a single character in this movie, nor did I have a sense of how vulnerable (or not) Perseus and other characters were, which greatly deflated tension. I was at least pleased by a few clever lines that got a chuckle out of me.

While the script tries to offer a moving "father-son" subplot, the direction, script and performances can't seem to work together well enough or invest properly in the theme, leaving it to stumble and fall flat. The movie "Thor", also a mythological fantasy of sorts, pulled off this kind of subplot more effectively and should have been a model for this movie.

Once again the strong theological themes may provoke thought or discussion of spiritual matters, especially regarding how we view the God of the Bible today. The gods in this movie are flawed and petty. They gain and lose power with the number of people who worship them. They can also die, and unlike humans, simply cease to exist rather than moving on to some sort of afterlife. In both "Clash" and "Wrath", the gods almost seem to be inferior to humans. In fact, Zeus tells Perseus "You will learn someday that being half human, makes you stronger than a god."

All these ideas, if applied to a modern person's concept of God, reinforce a mentality of independence from him. In that regard, this movie is very humanistic. Yet because of this strong theme, the movie also lends itself to asking a friend on the drive home what they think God is like, as compared to the concepts presented in this movie.

While the superficial elements of the movie are stronger than those of "Clash", the rest of the movie falls just as short, and the final sum is barely an improvement. Though it may still provoke some interesting thought.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy violence and action

Quality- 8.0/10
Relevance- 7.5/10

For information about what these scores mean, visit

Listen to this review this weekend at

Monday, March 26, 2012

In Search Of Truth, Acts 21:37-22:22

The Tribune, a kind of Roman military officer, seemed to be surprised at the way Paul spoke to him in Greek, which went against his assumptions that Paul was the leader of a recent Jewish terrorist group.

Paul clarifies that he is from Tarsus, often referred to during this time as "no obscure city" because of its commercial and educational importance. Because of this it seems, the Tribune allows Paul to speak with the assembled crowd to plead his case. (v.37-40)

Paul spoke to the gathered crowd in the language they were familiar with, likely to establish common ground with them as a Jew. He continued to establish common ground by explaining that he was brought up in Jerusalem, educated strictly by Gamaliel, the most revered rabbi of this time period, and has been as zealous for God as all those in the crowd. Paul even went so far as to deliver Christians for imprisonment and punishment. Paul was essentially saying here, "I've been in your shoes and I understand what you're feeling." (22:1-5)

Paul then shares the event that changed his entire life and perspective. He encountered Jesus after his resurrection, and even those with him experienced some of this miraculous event. And Paul's experience was not just of a miraculous event, but of a person. Jesus said that Paul was persecuting him, implying that Jesus is so closely connected to believers that he in some way experiences the pain they do. (v.6-9)

Following Jesus' instructions, Paul went to Damascus, where he met a well respected Jew named Ananias who miraculously healed his sight and confirmed the truth of who Jesus is and what he had called Paul to do with his life. (v.10-16) The fact that Ananias was so devout would have again built credibility for Paul in the eyes of the aggressively nationalistic mob he faced.

Later in Paul's story he is in Jerusalem, praying in the temple, when he receives a vision from God telling him to run from the city. Paul initially seems to resist this instruction to run, reasoning that the Jews will remember how zealously he had been "on their side" persecuting Christians. But there was another reason God was sending him away, which Paul delays mentioning until this point: God was sending him to minister to Gentiles. (v.17-21)

Paul had to have known that telling these rabidly nationalistic Jews about God's compassionate will toward non-Jews would set them off, which is likely why he spent the time he did establishing common ground and credibility with them before this point. But in the end, no amount of common ground would be enough for this mob to see past their prejudice. They still wanted Paul dead as much as they did before once they heard about his mission to the Gentiles. (v.22)

Previously, I compared the emotionally driven dynamic of Paul's circumstances with this mob to conversations we might attempt to have today with people who disagree with us on a given topic. I made the observation that it's often especially hard for us geeks to talk with people who disagree with us, without getting angry ourselves.

I think in these verses, Paul gives a great structural model for talking with others who might disagree with us, especially when it comes to our belief in Jesus. Take a quick scan of this passage again and then consider how we can copy Paul's approach when talking to others about our beliefs.

Common ground can be vital in establishing a good environment for exchanging ideas. By starting with and dwelling for awhile on what we have in common with others, we can help to disarm some of those bombs that are waiting to go off.

Next, we can talk about what it was in our experience that changed our thinking on one more points of belief. Personal experiences are valuable for people to hear about. They aren't an objective proof for our beliefs, but they do help remind those we're talking to that we don't always have it all figured out and that we're on a journey of discovery just like everyone else.

But finally, we should always adhere to the truth, never manipulating those we talk to by just telling them what they want to hear or what they will not find offensive. However delicately we try to present it, we must not neglect to share the truth. Even though this means there will be some conversations that end badly for us, just as this one did for Paul.

The geeks I've interacted with over the years are some of the most intelligent, thoughtful people I've ever met. But we tend to be weak in the area of social interaction. For whatever reason, many of us have run away from it, letting the social muscle atrophy. Or we run straight over each other, oblivious to the feelings of those we interact with.

The mind of the geek is a wonderful tool that God can use to change lives. My hope is that passages like this one, and a willingness to just get out there and "practice" being social, can help train our tongues so that our minds can be put to good use for God's amazing, eternal purposes.

Next- Paul talks to the religious leaders

Come geek out or search for truth with the Spirit Blade Underground community on our forums!

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games Review (SBU Podcast)

Friday, March 23, 2012 9:53 PM

A review of The Hunger Games, a preview of our new audio book and Paul's fate in Jerusalem.

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The Hunger games (Movie Review)

In the last few years the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins has rapidly gained an audience in the mainstream market consisting of both male and female readers, despite the fact that the genre is science fiction and the perspective is an uncommon first person present tense.

My younger sister, who got me to read most of the Harry Potter books, also somehow convinced me to read all three of the Hunger Games books, although I should say that I found them moderately enjoyable. And when I heard news of the movie in development I became very curious as to how they would adapt this kind of book to the screen.

The premise of the film is the same as that of the books. In the future the United States has been divided into Districts, all ruled by a Capitol. At some point, the blue collar people of the Districts, whose sweat and labor give a life of self-indulgence to those in the Capitol, rose in rebellion against the Capitol and lost. As punishment, the Capitol greatly restricts the food supply to each District and holds a competition each year featuring two representatives of each District. The winning District is awarded more food for a year. The contest? The Hunger Games: an all out fight to the death in a simulated wilderness environment until only a single District's competitor remains.

The story centers on 17 year-old Katniss, who volunteers to take the place of her younger sister when she is selected by lottery to compete in in the Hunger Games, but the story also features a supporting ensemble cast of interesting characters.

All of the performances in this film are great and never took me out of the movie. I would classify this not as a sci-fi action flick, but as an emotionally involving sci-fi drama with a helping of romance on the side. The romance isn't quite as strong as in the book, which despite my interest in romance I was grateful for. However it is still an important part of the story. There are certainly some action beats too, but the characters propel the experience from beginning to end and the action is always in service to the drama, never simply spectacle.

I don't think there was a ton of money thrown at the effects budget, which doesn't have to be a problem. Much of the movie takes place in a forest environment requiring no green screen or digital effects. And the experience is no less intense for the scarcity of CGI. However there were a few moments in the Capitol, such as the chariot parade presenting the competitors to an enthusiastic sea of people, that utilized glaringly obvious green screen backgrounds. And if you've read the books, you'll likely find the outfits Katniss wears for public presentations to fall far short of their potential. A shame given the important emotional impact her costumes were meant to have in contribution to her survival.

Although the overall experience is strong, it also feels like setup for a larger story, which it is. It doesn't end on a cliffhanger by any means, but there is still plenty of unfinished business. Because of this, the story may feel incomplete and lacking some of the payoff viewers typically expect.

There are some very compelling ideas being expressed in this movie that are worth contemplating. The Capitol is clearly portrayed as "the enemy" or at least as "the problem" for the protagonists. And chief among the characteristics of the Capitol's culture are a disregard for human life, an obsession with entertainment and self-indulgence, and a gross prioritization of outward appearances, which takes the form of overly made-up women and strikingly effeminate men. That final ingredient in connection with what we're meant to think of as a "bad" society makes me wonder what the reaction to this film will be from the homosexual community.

Either way, I felt myself thinking about my own priorities, and the times I've chosen to immerse myself in a video game or other entertainment instead of pursuing something of greater worth, such as investing time in my family or in pursuit of my relationship with God.

This movie isn't condemning entertainment, and neither do I. But this film does seem to suggest that we should not make experiencing pleasure our highest priority. A bitter tasting medicine if we're willing to swallow it and one not often coming from Hollywood. But a medicine we need.

The Hunger Games is a great movie with wide appeal that falls short of its potential, but is engaging and thought provoking all the same.

Rated PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images - all involving teens.

Quality: 8.5/10
Relevance: 8.0/10

For more information about what these scores mean, visit
Listen to this review this weekend at

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"The Golden Knight" Is Available Now!!

Spirit Blade Productions is thrilled to announce the release of our latest audio project, "The Golden Knight #1, The Boy Is Summoned", by Steven Clark and Justin Clark.

"The Golden Knight #1, The Boy Is Summoned" is an Enhanced Audio Book, performed by Paeter Frandsen and given cinematic life through the use of numerous exciting sound effects and a rich orchestral score. Discover a world of magic and heroism for your ears and imagination!

In the beginning, the Kingdom was ruled by a wise and just King who ruled by the laws written in the ancient Book. The people were protected by the archangels and the heroic knights. All lived in peace and prospered. Those days are gone...

Flar, the evil fire lord, and his sorceror, Murlox, have banished the King and his angels behind an energy field known as the Great Divide. The Book has been taken. The angels have fallen. The knights are gone. The people suffered. All that remains is the prophecy and a promise of hope.
Join Marsonee the Archangel and Princess Rainna as they embark on a journey to bring an innocent farm boy, Justin, toward his true destiny.

38 minutes
Recommended for ages 10 and older

Listen to audio samples or purchase your copy!

Monday, March 19, 2012

In Search Of Truth, Acts 21:27-36

In verses 10 and 11 of this chapter, we read that a prophet named Agabus warned Paul that he would be captured and bound if he went to Jerusalem. Paul's friends begged him not to go in light of this information, but Paul was determined to do what God had called him to do in Jerusalem. Now we see this prophecy coming true.

Although Paul attempted to show his support of Jewish culture by accompanying several temple-goers and paying for their temple services, this wasn't enough. Many of the Jews in Jerusalem thought Paul had been teaching other Jews to throw away the traditions given to them by Moses, and soon the whole city became stirred up over Paul, erupting into a riot.

Tempers flared and truth became of little concern. Word passed through the crowd that Paul had brought a Gentile into the temple (an offense calling for the death penalty). This was assumed simply because Paul had been seen in the city with a Gentile, which gives us a further idea of how intense the prejudice was in Jerusalem at this time. (v.27-29)

Soon the crowd was beyond all reason, preparing to kill Paul over this misunderstanding. Before it came to that, Roman officers and soldiers became involved, though not in time to save Paul from harm.

Even after neutralizing the situation, the officers still couldn't get a sense of the truth. Everyone was shouting a different story and none of it was helping to clarify what was really going on. Even as Paul was being taken away to the barracks, the mob was still furious. (v.30-36)

Although this scenario may feel pretty far removed from our personal experiences, the relationship between anger and truth plays out in a similar way in non-violent social interaction. Some of the most important things in the world are so rarely discussed because we don't know how to control our anger. And when they are discussed, our anger closes us to hearing truth or speaking it with consideration and clarity.

For many of us geeks, the prospect of talking about matters of faith with anyone that disagrees with us is extremely daunting. (It's often hard enough for us to carry on mundane conversation for extended periods.) But who God is and who we are in light of him, are among the most important conversations we can have.

Ever start to burn up inside when someone rags on your geek flavor of choice? DC vs Marvel, 3E vs. 4E D&D, 360 vs Wii or Team Edward vs... Team "whats-his-name werewolf guy with no shirt". (Sorry, never got into Twilight myself.) These conversations would be a great place to start practicing a detachment from our anger. All our geek entertainment passions are just flavors of ice-cream anyway. But learning to talk about and enjoy our differences as geeks can help prepare us for those conversations that matter more than any others.

If you'd like to get some practice geeking out or talking about important issues of life and faith, we've got a community you can do that with at The forums are filled with all kinds of geeks and we'd love to connect with you there, too!

Next- Paul sets the record straight

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Off Grid Until March 20th

I'm taking this week off from my normal routine in order to give all of my time to (and hopefully finish!) the primary development of the Spirit Blade card game.

I won't be blogging, posting on the forums, podcasting, processing physical product orders or checking my e-mail at all this week, but will be back to my routine starting on March 20th.

All digital download purchases are processed automatically and instantly without my involvement. So in the meantime, you can still take advantage of the 30% off download sale! (Ongoing through March 18th! Don't miss out!)

Thanks for your patience as I take this time for some focused project development. The game is shaping up really well and I'm looking forward to sharing the results with you very soon!

-Paeter Frandsen

Saturday, March 10, 2012

John Carter Review (SBU Podcast)

Saturday, March 10, 2012 1:09 PM

A review of "John Carter" and what we can learn from the Apostle Paul about geeking out in moderation.

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Friday, March 9, 2012

John Carter (Movie Review)

I'm not familiar with the writing of Edgar Rice Burroughs or his character, John Carter. So I went into this movie only knowing that it was based on some stories written at least 50 years ago or more. (Actually closer to 100.) My ignorance was aided by the nearly non-existent marketing campaign for this movie. Was this just a big "whoops" on the part of Disney, or did they realize this was a terrible movie and didn't want to waste any more money on it?

"John Carter" is about an American Civil War veteran who lost his family after the war and now bitterly lives only for selfish gain. He is whisked away to Mars, where he discovers that it is not airless and lifeless as humanity had believed, but home to large civilizations on a downward spiral of self-destruction.

Carter is captured, but escapes, only to find himself in the middle of a war that will decide the fate of the entire planet and all who live on it. His alien anatomy and the low gravity of Mars give him relatively superhuman strength and the ability to leap amazing heights and distances. He must use every resource available to him to survive the conflict around him, and decide what his place in it should be.

Carter is played by Taylor Kitsch, whom genre fans may recognize as "Gambit" from "X-men Origins: Wolverine". Kitsch is a great leading man who combines adventurous heroism with a brooding tone. The surrounding cast is also made up of familiar faces who do their jobs well, though there are no big stars and won't be any acting nominations for this movie next year.

Dominic West plays the primary villain, and though he doesn't bring any interesting layers to his performance, he's just so suited to this kind of role that the lack of depth is easily forgivable.

Mark Strong plays the mysterious big baddie pulling the strings behind West, though the mystery surrounding his character even at the end of the film implies an intended sequel.

The love interest, a Princess of course, is played by Lynn Collins, whom Wolverine fans will also recognize as the love interest from that movie as well. Her character is a wonderful paradox in terms of her role as a "Princess" in an adventure movie. She can easily fend for herself, and then some, in battle, but still welcomes being literally swept off her feet by a rescuing hero. Usually, fiction leans too far one way or the other in this regard, but I found it to be a wonderfully well-rounded balance between strength and vulnerability in a leading lady.

The world of Mars, or more properly "Barsoom", is fantastical in so many wonderful ways. Conceptually, this is a sci-fi story, with aliens on other planets and highly advanced technology. But it comes in the trappings of fantasy, with swords and armor and technology so advanced it looks like fantasy world magic. I'm a sucker for blending genres, so the setting scored pretty big points with me.

The tone of the movie also blends opposing elements nicely. The loss of John Carter's family informs his motivation, which we see more as the film progresses. This keeps him from being a two-dimensional stereotype (like Han Solo in "A New Hope") and gives us a reason for sympathizing with his bitterness.

On the other hand, the movie is full of fantasy adventure that demands we not take the story too seriously. The obviously bad science and the super-speed courtship between Carter and Dejah require a willingness to just turn a bit of our brains off and enjoy the ride. In this case, I was partially willing to do this, just because the setting and action was so fun, but it's still something I hope they will improve on or make less noticeable if another film is made.

I'd also LOVE for Hollywood to collectively improve their ability to create and use computer generated characters. This movie has a lot of them. And I mean a LOT. Some of the most crowded scenes in the movie were probably the loneliest days for Taylor Kitsch, who must have spent weeks talking to tennis balls to make this flick.

The resulting CG characters are every bit as good as those in the Star Wars prequels. And yes, that's an insult, folks. Actually, they may even be better in terms of texturing. But as always seems to be the case, the animation, not the texturing, is the problem. There is no subtlety in the movements or facial expressions of these CG characters. At least not compared to flesh and blood actors. To my eye, the realism of the animation is about the same as watching Mary Poppins dance with cartoon penguins.That said, many other effects are great-looking and the multitude of action sequences are candy for the eyes.

Two themes in this film strike me as being relevant to real world spiritual matters. The first is John Carter's bitterness over what he has lost, which leads him to adopt a very selfish attitude toward those he encounters. It's hard to condemn him. So often when I feel I'm being mistreated, I can get into a little funk or pity party where I begin to believe I am entitled to certain things. But suffering does not entitle us to neglect doing what is good and right.

The second theme is nothing new to the sci-fi genre. The true villains of this story are a race of mysterious, advanced aliens who conceal themselves from mortals while manipulating their lives on a grand scale, choosing leaders and deciding which nations will rise and fall. These beings are considered mythical messengers of "the goddess" by the people of Barsoom.

The device being used here(which may have been original if used in Burroughs' original 1912 story, though is now overused) suggests that deities (and maybe even God himself) are only advanced alien life forms. Bigger, stronger, older and smarter versions of all of us, but with a detached, unloving relationship with those under them.

The biblical picture of God is very different, portraying God as limitless, loving and completely different from whatever divine portrait our minds might invent.

Although these themes are present, I think it's unlikely that many will feel inspired to think about them much after watching the movie.

John Carter is a fantastical thrill ride that, while flawed, deserves a sequel and shouldn't be missed by any fan of sci-fi or fantasy.

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action

Quality: 8.5/10
Relevance: 6.0/10

For information about my scoring system, visti
Listen to this review this weekend at

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Does Adventure Require Evil?

This week I've started playing a new (new to me anyway) fantasy table top game called "Thunderstone". It's something of a card-based dungeon crawl, though I'll let you check it out for yourself for more details.

But playing the game got me thinking about the concept of adventure. In fiction, adventure always seems to come with evil. Adventure never seems to exist in RPGs, video games, comics, books or movies without evil being in the mix somewhere. There's an evil enemy to overcome (moral evil), or dangerous circumstances to avoid (natural evil).

Two verses I've been trying to memorize recently describe what eternity with God will be like for those who choose to trust him in this life.

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."

If eternity will involve complete satisfaction ("fullness of joy") and will be unfailingly, unceasingly pleasurable ("pleasures forevermore"), if there will be no more death, mourning, crying or pain, then where is the risk? Where is the adventure?

I think if we're asking ourselves this question, we probably need to re-examine our view of "adventure". The primary definition of adventure is "an exciting or very unusual experience". A number of games, whether athletic or strategic, can be very exciting without any notable risk of injury. Even in a game like football, people are most excited (I'm told anyway) when the score is close near the end of a game and no one knows which team will win. It isn't the possibility of injury that is on the front of everyone's minds, but the anticipation of a glorious victory for one team or the other.

Adventure is really about anticipating and experiencing the wonder of the unknown, rather than about risking harm. That's what the heart of every dungeon crawl is about, too. What kind of treasure will I find? What kind of unusual monster will I face? What am I capable of accomplishing? Any "risk" is only simulated, with no real negative consequences for failure. (Hint: If we feel otherwise, we've been playing too long.)

We have no reason to believe that eternity will be a static, euphoric state in which we do nothing but glow and sing "aaaaah". For those who entrust themselves to Christ, eternity will be an increasingly exciting adventure as we discover who God is, what he has made and what he has made us for. We will likely put our ever growing skills to the test in endeavors that may be challenging, but never the least bit frustrating.

In this way, games like Thunderstone are a sneak peak, the tiniest foretaste of what is waiting for us. Evil will be a thing of the past, but adventure will last forever.

-Paeter Frandsen

Monday, March 5, 2012

In Search Of Truth, Acts 21:15-26

After the long journey of collecting funds to help the persecuted Christians in Jerusalem, Paul and his company finally return to Jerusalem. (v.15-16) The Christians there were extremely glad to see Paul and received him and his company warmly(v.17), although the environment in Jerusalem would have been a tense one.

At this time, assassins were murdering Jewish aristocrats suspected of having strong connections with Gentiles, and Paul's mission had largely been to Gentiles. A zealous Jewish nationalism was the dominating cultural paradigm and there was great hatred and real danger for any Jew who had friends from other cultures. (See IVP Bible Background Commentary, Keener. pg. 386)

Paul related to James and the other Jerusalem church leaders what God had done through his ministry overseas. (If you go back through our look at Paul's life in Acts up until this point, you'll be reminded that it's an amazing story!) Specifically, Paul detailed what God had done for the Gentiles through his missionary work. (v.18-19)

When the church leaders heard about it all, they "glorified" God. This somewhat "churchy" word means to give high importance to something or someone. When God is "glorified", he is being recognized for how amazing and wonderful he is and is given high honor and priority as a result. (v.20)

As we touched on last time, I think it's especially difficult for many of us geeks to step outside of our comfort zones and choose to expend ourselves for other people. But as we see in Paul's life, a willingness to spend our energy in service to God and on behalf of others results in lives that are changed forever. And secondarily, our lives provide others with more reasons to "glorify" God, embracing him and the immensely significant role he intended us for.

But there was still at least one problem Paul and the church leaders had to deal with. There were thousands of Jews in Jerusalem who believed in Christ, and they were also zealous for the customs that were a part of their unique Jewish heritage. Many of them were under the impression that Paul, also a Jew, had been going around teaching Gentiles to throw everything Moses taught out the window, as though he had no respect for his own heritage. (v.21) Due to the cultural climate in Jerusalem, this would be dangerous for Paul and also potentially damaging to his ability to teach in Jerusalem.

Now, this view of Paul was partially true, in that Paul did not believe that non-Jews should be burdened with laws and customs intended for Jews. And rightly so. He took a stance on this issue before, refusing to force his Greek companion Titus to be circumcised just to please some Jews who were not genuine followers of Christ. (Galatians 2:3-5) But Paul's teaching on this controversial issue led to a misunderstanding of what his position really was.

To compensate for this, the church leaders had Paul go with a group of men who had taken a Jewish ceremonial vow requiring a purification ritual and temple sacrifices. Paul was to undergo the ritual as well and pay for the animals to be sacrificed for the other men, as a strong sign of support for this Jewish ceremony. (v.22-26)

Many Christians have, with often good intentions, tried to "shepherd" geeks away from their geekiness to live a more "normal" Christian lifestyle. (The classic example of "Christians Vs. Dungeons and Dragons" comes to mind.) If you've been following these "In Search Of Truth" posts for awhile, you know I believe we have incredible freedom as geeks, regarding what we enjoy and the geeky things we pursue. But this freedom should not be used carelessly. As Paul demonstrates, our freedom should be exercised with sensitivity toward others, with the highest priority given to serving and loving God while loving and leading others to truth.

Paul's act of conformity wasn't a compromise of the Christ-given freedom he had from the Jewish law, however. The leaders were not asking Paul or anyone else to advocate legalism. In fact, the church leaders sent a letter to the Gentile believers instructing them only to avoid a few key areas (in addition to following Christ's teachings) that could lead to self-destructive behavior and turning away from God.

For Greeks in particular, idols, consuming blood or strangled animals, and sexual immorality were all associated with pagan rituals. Greeks were immersed in pagan culture, and so this seems to be a warning to stay away from activities and sins that would tempt them to return to the worship of false gods.

This is good advice for us geeks today. If there is some kind of geeky activity that stimulates in us a tendency to sin or make God a lower priority, we should draw the line then and there. At that point we should determine to either learn to enjoy that thing in a more limited capacity, take a break from it until we more effectively get our priorities in line with God's, or remove it from our lives altogether.

Next- A Prophecy Fulfilled, Paul In Danger

If you'd like to ask a question or strike up conversation about this or anything else on your mind, there's a place to do it on our forums! We'd love to see you there!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Justice League: Doom Review (SBU Podcast)

Due to some further problems with my LibSyn hosting, the file for this week's podcast can be temporarily downloaded from here:

Did I mention we're making plans for different hosting soon!

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A review of "Justice League: Doom" and our continuing look at the life of Paul in the book of Acts.

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