Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thoughts About Phil Robinson and the Duck Dynasty

I'm just a little frustrated by the whole situation because I get to be caught in the middle of a highly charged debate. Long story short, Phil Robinson is asked by GQ Magazine about this position on Homosexuality. It's a obvious trap by GQ. The writer knows full well how the Bible-believing patriarch will answer the question and he got the response that he hoped for. The result...a lot of publicity for GQ magazine.

Phil plays it smart by quoting the Bible. He offers to commentary past that. But he does quote the most damning verse there is. He plays the "God said it, I believe it" defense.

The conservative Christian side of me stands by Mr Robinson only for the reason that he is standing up for his beliefs. Having only a little exposure to him. He spoke at my church, I know that he is a devout Christian. He doesn't hate anybody. He wishes no ill-will on anyone and hopes that all come to Christ. He also believes that God condemns homosexuality. I believe he would just in front of a moving bus to save the life of a homosexual.

He is a good man who believes that homosexuality is a sin. Logically speaking, is a man's position on homosexuality the litmus test of whether he is righteous or evil in the grand scheme of things.

At the same time, yes, the verse he quoted and the steadfastness of his voice, it appears he condemns the LGBT community in the eyes of God. Yes, I can see how you can in a round about way say that he likens homosexuality to bestiality. I don't believe that was the point he was making.

I doubt Mr. Robinson has many gay friends. I doubt he understands the problem gays face everyday with their identity and the acceptance of their identity. I doubt he truly understands the struggle that gays, Christian or not, face with their faith and their sexuality.

This is what I believe about Phil Robinson.

He loves God.
He believes the Bible and his interpretation of the Bible
He loves the lost, including gays.

He believes homosexuality is a sin.
He has no regular contact with gays.
He doesn't understand the heart of gays, Christian or not.

He is a good man and his stance on homosexuality will not change that.
He can be educated as I hope more and more Christians can be in the days and years to come.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Is Homosexuality A Sin?

In my quest to ask Christians to rethink the way we view Gays and homosexuality and for my gay friends to not give up on God just yet, I've been asked the same question from both sides, "Is Homosexuality A Sin?" In the immortal words of Admiral Ackbar, "It's a trap."

I've made a concerted effort to not answer this question. Not because I don't have an opinion. I've avoided it for two reasons: One, the answer is irrelevant to my goal, which is ending the "war" between Christians and Gays. Jesus walked amongst all people, and believe me, they/we were all sinners. No one was ever even close to being holy and sinless in the eyes of God and yet, God still chose to walk with sinners. He talked to them, served them and died for them. Yes, Gays too. Being sinless was never and will never be a requirement for fellowship with God.

The second reason is that the question is a trap to undermine the overall goal. By answer the question, one way or the other, I immediately alienate myself from both sides of the battle. I'm starting to sound like a mediator and to some degree...I am. 

Look, if I answer the questions, "Yes, homosexuality is a sin." Christ's message is lost. Go through the gospels and you'll notice something interesting. Christ dealt with the lost with love and the issue of sin was the conversation. The woman at the well, who slept with numerous men, Christ address the emptiness she felt by taking men into her bedroom. Jesus told her that God could satisfy that thirst and she believed Him. Go and sin no more. To the hated tax collector, Matthew, Jesus says, "Follow me." Jesus didn't ask for repentance from greed and for taking advantage of the poor. "Follow me."

On the other hand, every moment that Jesus judged a person about their sin, it was always in the direction of religious leaders. Often their complaints dealt with why Jesus would associate with sinners. After all, they are icky. Does this sound familiar? When It comes to the war between Christians and Gays, we are the religious leaders that Jesus is condemning.

Conversely, if I answer the question, "No, homosexuality is not a sin." Christ's mission is lost. One thing that I'll say about my fellow Christians, is that we love the God of the Bible deeply. We've all received God's love and forgiveness and we want you to experience the same love. It's amazing and it brings freedom. If I say that homosexuality is not a sin, I will be pointed to about 6 passages and verses in the Bible that deal directly with homosexuality and then I'm standing in Christian court defending whether or not I believe in the Bible.

At the same time, to God it doesn't matter whether I believe homosexuality is a sin. What does matter is that God made you and he knows the struggle you've had all you life trying to come to grips  with your sexuality. He doesn't judge you, because He knows why you feel the way you do. So who cares what I think. I have no authority to judge you and I don't claim to have it.

So, I choose to not answer the questions. Is it the coward's way out? Maybe it is, but as I said before sin or not a sin, it's irrelevant. Look, do I believe divorce is a sin? We've somehow managed with either ignore that sin or we've somehow managed to love those who go through divorce and restore them into the good graces of the church.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

The Hobbit and the High Frame Rate Experience

This post is more about the High Frame Rate 3D experience than it is about a review of the Hobbit. I really like the Hobbit and I definitely have opinions about it as compared to the Lord of Rings Trilogy, but I want to talk about the new technology applied to it.

So, unlike the original Lord of the Rings trilogy the Hobbit was shot in 3D and in certain theaters you could view it in 48 frames a second, which is twice the frame rate of all movies you've probably ever seen in your lifetime. That's certainly true for me.

The Not-So-Good.
Watching the Hobbit at the high frame rate was incredibly bothersome to me, especially in the beginning of the movie. As you may know just like the Lord of the Rings the first half of the movie is a lot of talking and exposition. What was so bothersome?

Unnatural movements
At the high frame rate, it looked like everyone was movie twice as fast, even though everyone was moving at a normal pace. If you didn't see it for yourself, trust me it just looked weird.

Unnatural clarity
I just saw the Hobbit yesterday on film (not digital) and although the clarity was not very good, I didn't care. I think partly because I'm accustomed to seeing movies like this. Now that I'm watching most of my movies at digital projection theaters, movies still look like they are movies and that you're watching a pristine print of the movie.

The high frame rate looked too clear. Almost as if you're on the sound stage with them. And that's my point, it feels like you're on a sound stage and not in the actual Shire, which is what I hoped they wanted your experience to be. I remember watching old Dr. Who shows and they were shot on a nice clean sound stage. The problem is that it just looks unnatural.

Here's what I liked. After the 90 minute mark, I got used to the new format. The scenes in the underground caves and caverns, where freaking amazing. The clarity worked so well in these dark environments as opposed to the bright locations of the Shire and Rivendale. It's definitely worth seeing the second half of the movie in this format.

Should you go out and see it at 48 frames a second? If you want to try something new, yes do it. If you want a traditional movie going experience, definitely not. My complaint about 3-D movies today is that after 10 minutes, I don't care if I'm watching 3-D. With HFR, you notice problems right from the beginning and these imperfections become noticeable all throughout the movie. It's not bad, but it's different and noticeably different.

Let me also make a final important point. This is the first movie to incorporate the high frame rate technology. I would not say that this was a failure. I can definitely see that the technology can improve over time. I'm hoping that my complaints will be address in the second movie.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

After thoughts on Les Miserables

There was one element of Les Miserables that someone pointed out that I didn't address and that was the fact that all the singing was done live to film as opposed to being prerecorded and lip synced on set.

My thoughts...It's admirable but I don't think it added any value to the movie.  I'm not being negative about it. I appreciate the effort it was cool to see, but at the same time, if you're going to record one of Broadway's best films and preserve it for history, why not have a perfect recording and soundtrack.

This is exactly why I won't be purchasing the soundtrack to the film and will opt for the original London cast recorded. It's perfect and includes all the music from the play.

Also note that the although the singing was done live, the orchestra was added after the fact, so you're not really getting a perfectly live performance.

I wonder if Russell Crowe's performance would be been improve had he been allowed to prerecord in a studio.

All this said, I still stand behind my previous remarks - Anne Hathaway gave a top notch performance of I Dreamed a Dream, Hugh Jackman although not a true tenor brought emotion and passion to his voice, Samantha Barks is an amazing talent and incredibly hot.

When I think about the great movie musicals, I could really care less if they had be sung live or prerecorded. West Side Story, Chicago, Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady, the list goes on and on and I don't think a live performance would have made these movies any better.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Les Miserables - A Honest Review

I'm back from watching Les Miserables with the wife. My background with the Les Mis phenomenon is I saw the stage production many years ago and loved it. I also liked the movie with Liam Neeson. Suffice it to say, I'm a fan of Les Mis and of musical theater in general. So what did I think of the movie.

I loved the movie and being a fan certainly helped. At the same time, this movie will do nothing to convince your other jaded friends who hate watching musicals on film.

Let me address the bad before I address the good. Here are the common complaints of movie musicals.

1. People just break out into song. Yes, that's the whole movie. People singing everything they feel and every last piece of dialogue. There's a seen when Hugh Jackman is trying to escape and he quietly approaches an ally in an open courtyard. He then proceeds to sing his distress in his loud tenor voice.

2. Producers would rather have A-List Hollywood stars that can kind of sing, instead of actual actors who can actually sing. Case in point, Russell Crowe can't sing. He's the weak link in the movie.

3. Schmaltz galore. "Schmaltz" literally means "rendered chicken fat." Basically a series of overdone and over produced love songs and emotional vomiting.

If you have friends who had movie musicals, it would be pointless to tell them, "But then, you've never seen Les Miz!" You'll lose the argument and become a laughing stock to your friends.

To me this movie, represents every complaint man has ever laid against movie musicals all rolled up into one movie. The saving grace for this movie is:

  • An amazing story of forgiveness and redemption.
  • Incredible music and lyrics, which made the broadway play the best ever.
  • Fantastic performances, especially an Oscar-Winning performance from Anne Hathaway and yes, Hugh Jackman.
  • Faithful adaptation of the original musical.
Despite the fact that this is a Hollywood Movie Musical, the story, music and performances make it one of the best movies of 2012.

On top of that, I love the fact that this British movie featured an entirely American and Australian cast. Take that England!

Yes, Anne Hathaway delivered an emotional performance as Fantine. She packed a lot of punch in her 20 minutes of screen time in this 2 1/2 hour movie. I cried during her song.

Hugh Jackman was made for the role of Jean Valjean. His voice is good even when he could not quite reach the higher register.

I don't know who Samantha Barks is but she is super hot as Eponine. Pretty face, muscular arms and a four inch waist.

Look, I walked away from the movie glad that I could revisit the performances from the stage play, but it just does not translate from stage to film. You really have to see it live. The main reason this didn't work was there's a suspension of disbelief that works on the stage, but in a movie when the transition of events move too quickly, it makes you question what happened. For example...


At the end of the movie, Jean Valjean gets in a carriage to leave Cosette and Marius. The carriage leaves and cuts to the wedding, which immediately cuts to the church where, Jean Valjean is sitting alone in a chair about to die. This all takes place in duration of 15 minutes. How the hell does this happen?

You buy it on stage, but not in a movie.

FINAL WORD. If you're a fan of Les Miserables, like me, or musicals in general you'll love the movie and think it's great and amazing. If you dislike movie musicals for all the right reasons, you will hate Les Miserables.

Friday, October 19, 2012

My Kid's Second Exposure to Gays and Lebians

As a Christian, being for or against Homosexuality is usually a theological discussion than a real life experience, because honestly, most Christians that I know, don't have gay friends. For me that's not true, I have a few gay friends, relatives, closeted and open.

As a father, how exactly do I handle the "gay" topic with my five-year old. That issue was thrust upon me recently and I get the feeling that gay and straights may not like how I handled it.

Last Sunday, I took my daughter to Disneyland and we happen to do almost every Sunday. The traffic into the park was usually heavy and it took move over an hour to park. We entered Disney's California Adventure and whammo, I discover that it's Gay Days at Disneyland. How do I know? 80% of the men in the park are wearing red shirts. 

How would I know this? The Anaheim Angels won their first World Series several years ago. I wore my team's red and white proudly at Walt Disney World during their gay days and I sadly no one hit on me.

Back to today, so my daughter and I walked through the park to go on rides. Every moment, gays and lesbians holding hands, being affectionate and sitting in front of and behind on all the rides.

So how did my daughter respond to the "debauchery" that surrounded her. Simply, she could care less. She just wanted to go on rides and find toys for me to buy her. My moral duty was to just let her go on rights and refuse to buy the toys that she wanted. In fact, that was the only drama I had on this trip. She never asked me why those two women are holding hands, why that guy has his arms around another guy or why did those two dudes kiss. Honestly, I don't even this she noticed...she just wanted to go on rides and eat candy. 

To my Christian friends, I guess you would want me to point out that being gay or lesbian is a sin and God hates that. To be honest, that's not the kind of Christian I want my daughter to be. It would kill me to have her walk up to anyone and start pointing out the sins in their lives. With all my heart, I want her to love others and let God do the judging.

You may also ask, aren't you afraid that gay relationship and marriage will warp her definition of a family. You can talk to her personally, her idea of a family is far from warped. Here's here understanding of family. She has two parents who love her very much. She has aunt, uncles, cousins, grandparents and until recently great grandparents who love her and whom she loves in return. She has aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, who are not even related to her, but she knows they love her very much. That's family. It doesn't make a difference if these people are men or women, she just knows that they are special people in her life and she loves them.

My cousin and his partner are looking to adopt a child. I hope a miracle happens and they do get a chance to adopt. They would make great parents. At five years old, all my daughter will understand that her second cousin will have two parents who love him/her very much.

To my gay friends, I guess you would want me to point out that gay relationships are as normal as straight relationships. C'mon, she's five. She just wants to go on the Ariel ride and buy toys with her dad. To be honest, she's not ready to enter the political world of sexual equality, she just wants to ride rides.

My job, as a father, is to her to love you, gays and lesbians, as God loves you, unconditionally. To treat you as God would have her treat you, as one of God's creations.

So gays and straights, I admit it, I wussed out and didn't discuss with my daughter whether homosexuality is right or wrong. I just wanted to ride rides at Disneyland with my daughter.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rethinking my stance on gay marriage (maybe)

I'm looking back at my blog and its been a long time since I've written on the subject of Gay Marriage. A few weeks ago President Obama came out in favor of gay marriage.  Maybe I'll write about the politics of gay marriage, but I wanted to respond to an aspect of gay marriage that my Christian friends have brought up on a few occasions.

Simply put, why would I, Alan, an evangelical Christian, be in favor of gay marriage, with the knowledge that gay marriage "displeases" God and legalize "sin."

So Why Homosexuality?

I find it interesting, there are hundreds of thousands of sins in the Bible. Why in the last 4 years have we singled out Homosexuality as the sin Christians will battle publicly and to the point that we will legislate and make a presidential campaign issue.

A friend of mine told me that my support of gay marriage "displeases" God. Also, that if you've read my blog on Gay Marriage, you know that I believe that Christian have done wrong by alienating ourselves from the LGBT community and rather than reaching out to this community we've done far worse by condemning this community at every turn.

Essentially I was "accused" of sacrificing God's definition of marriage in exchange from building a bridge to the gay community (which is not necessarily wrong).

Does my support of gay marriage "displease" God? I know you want to give me a straight answer. Well…I'm not going to give it to you. Instead, I want to point the fingers back at you.

As Christians, we believe in the sanctity of marriage. So much so, that we are spending millions of dollars defending marriage between a man and a woman and defining it as such legally. If marriage is so sacred that we can not legally allow two individuals of the same sex, who love each other to get married. Then we, as Christians, must fight as vigorously to enact laws that violates God's intention for marriage. I've got three to start with:
  • Pre-marital sex
  • Adultery
  • Divorce
Look, fellow believers, I will rejoin the cause of defending marriage, if we work just as hard to enact laws banning pre-marital sex, adultery and divorce. I'm in fact one who can speak to this for I have committed none of these sins in my life. I had sex with only one person, my wife.  I've never cheated on her and I don't plan on divorcing her ever.

So if you want me to help ban gay marriage, I propose that we make it illegal for two single people to have sex before marriage, because this "displeases" God. Since the man is more likely to be the initiator in pre-marital sex, first time offenders will need to attend abstinence courses and for repeat offenders will need to attend sex rehab clinics.

If you want me to help ban gay marriage, I propose that we make it illegal for married people to commit adultery. Since this is one of the ten commandments, the punishment must be especially harsh. Jail time for men. For women, we'll create an adultery registry and we'll just add them to this national database. Better yet, why not slap a giant red "A" on their clothing. Lest we forget, adultery "displeases" God.

If you want me to help ban gay marriage, I propose that we make divorce illegal. By law, we will nullify all divorces across this national. Biblically though, if you divorced due to adultery then you're free and clear, but then you're under arrest for committing adultery. If you are divorced, your marriage with your first spouse is now restored. If you are remarried, your current marriage is null and void and you must immediately move back in with your first spouse. Any children born in these now nullified marriages will be branded as "B@st@rds."

Excuse me now as I remove my tongue from my cheek. To my Christian friends, I have a question for you. Why is it so easy for us to condemn gays and lesbians for being gays and lesbians to the point that we create laws banning them from getting married, when at the same time refuse to legislate the sins that we Christians are more likely to commit?

Think about it. Christians are more likely to displease God by having pre-marital sex, commit adultery or divorce our spouses than we are of committing a homosexual act. Don't you think that by creating laws banning pre-marital sex, adultery and divorce, we would not do it?

When we stand there supporting proposition 8, how exactly are we not hypocrites?

I'd like to thank everyone for sending me the Bible verses condemning homosexuality. Believe me, I've known them all decades ago. At the same time, you know the verses regarding pre-marital sex, adultery, and divorce.

I'm going to end this blog the same way, I ended all the other ones. Christians end this war against homosexuals now! Stop this legalistic battle, we're fighting and be the salt and light to the world that God has called us to be.


Epilogue. I've been asked many times, do I believe that homosexuality is a sin? I'm going to answer the question this way. I believe the Bible is God's inspired word and that it is both infallible and inerrant. I believe that the way Christians treat the LGBT community is abhorrent and makes God weep. More to come.