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A Dog in the Audience (Or, Kensington, Part II [Or, A Deconstruction of the Christian Megachurch {Or, Improperly Nested Brackets and Things}])

October 27, 2009 2 comments

I know.  What a bold title.  An audacious title.  To level such accusations and observations against a church body shows a blatant lack of respect for the parishioners, and my Christian brothers and sisters.  But I tell you, kind reader, there was a Dog in the audience.  No, seriously, there was a Seeing Eye training dog in the audience.  A golden retriever puppy (Maybe? We stupidly sat in the balcony because no one informed us of a puppy in the main auditorioum.  Strike 1, Kensington!). The dog laid happily in the aisle way as the trainer petted him (except for the one bark that came during the announcement).  Jealous for sure.

As we drank our cappuccinos at the Great Lakes Café on the upper-level of Kensington, the conversation mainly focused on the dog in the audience.  I mean, hello, puppy!  But we also discussed the community, the odd quirks, and the environment we observed during our two weeks (only one for Brother Jordan).  Last week I addressed the message, now I’m gonna talk about the elephant in the room: the megachurch feel.

According to the Hartford Institute of Religious Research, Kensington boasts an average attendance of 11,099 people (I assume spread out over the campuses) and also is in the handy-dandy megachurch directory the Hartford Institute constructed.  The average attendance beats out Keith Butler’s church by 99 people for the highest total in Michigan (I’m not measuring overall reach and influence, which with Rob Bell’s popularity as an author, I assume Mars Hill would win).  While impressive, its just numbers and I want to address my views on the larger tenets that are assumed when the stereotypical megachurch gets addressed. (A Deconstruction on the Christian MegaChurch? Postmodernism for the win!)

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This Is How You Church Hop

October 6, 2009 2 comments

Throughout most of my life, I’ve attended one church.  Besides for a couple of years, where my family attended Covenant Baptist Church, or followed my Dad around as he subbed in at a variety of churches, I spent my childhood at Shepherd Fellowship Church.  In college (arguably, the more formative years than our formative years), I didn’t attend church.  Not because I hated Jesus, but every Sunday was a seeker service, and every “Grow more with the Lord” group scheduled meetings during my night classes.

And not to be crass, but Science Fiction films is more exciting than listening to you debate whether we should pray to God or Jesus.  Here’s a hint: they live together, and they pass along the phone messages, in fact they’re so close together it’s almost like they’re Father and Son—honestly, they’re pretty much the same guy.

During my time Church-hopping with Dad, we’d usually go back to the church when someone else talked.  I’m not sure if this was intentional—letting my Dad get the feel of the place—or just because when you’re churchless, why not?  But even when we only hit up a place when my Dad showed up, you learned a lot just by the way people reacted at the end.  Their interpretation of the Bible, their view of life, their fashion sense, and what TV shows they watched on Thursday night.  Just by how they reacted to someone different talking about the Bible.  I didn’t realize at 10, 11, 12, 13, or 14 that church-hopping revealed a whole backside of Christianity that shapes the way we see things: interpretation.  Christianity all comes down to how you view a certain passage: do you take into account the social forces at work when the writer’s wrote it, and the social forces at work when you read it?  Or read it as a stoic piece that exists outside of social forces?  The Bible means different things to different people, and you shouldn’t accept what you hear blindly, and the world won’t end when some disagrees with you.

Because God has spoken, and everything else is commentary.

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An Errant Goodbye

September 2, 2009 Leave a comment

“What does the coma represent to you? What idea were you trying to get across with the symbolism?”

“I just thought it was funny. When I was writing, he ended up in a coma and I said, ‘Hey, that’s weird.  I wonder what’s gonna happen?’”

— Bob Byington, director/writer of Harmony & Me, and a slightly pretentious Traverse City Film Festival audience member during a Q&A.

When writing – something totally not grasped by non-writers – things happen.  Narratives, stylistic choices, and main topics go places you didn’t quite expect.  At some point you stop and say, “Huh.  That’s weird, I wonder what happens next?”

This happened with the blog, happened in my reviews, and happened with the people who stumbled across it.  Who knew that including an incest-riddled review with the words “sleeping with your stepmom” would drive in the most traffic to the blog?  People utilized search terms like “stepmom incest true stories”, “stepmom xxx”, “how to know if your stepmom wants to fuck” to find me.  But my personal favorite search term still remains: “how to subtly convince my boyfriend to join the military”.  Now the last two terms are posed more as a question, and I feel bad, because this site never ventured to answer them.  The searchers had their own coma incident: they were looking for something else, and ended up getting movie reviews.  They were misled by a wildly restrictive search string, and clicked on my link in vain.  To them: I’m sorry.  Please try “Stepmom * seduction * me –porn OR –pornography” this will limit you to results with the words stepmom, seduction, and me while eliminating the words porn or pornography from the search.  Good luck.  To boyfriend hater: try “manipulate * join+military”.  Good luck.  I also am aware that these search strings may not yield results, those probably aren’t topics with much helpful information on the Internet.  Therefore, let me offer another olive branch.  Let’s break the questions down.

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Inglourious Basterds: or How I’m Not Sure If I Like Killing Nazis Anymore

August 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Let me give you some back story on my formal education.  I graduated from Central Michigan University with a degree in Broadcast & Cinematic Arts and Political Science.  I took classes in Television Production and Film Criticism.  The film classes were split into two categories: director classes and genre classes.  These classes were taught by the amazing Dr. Jurkiewicz, a man who can give an engrossing four hour lecture on Kurbick’s 2001: A Space Oddyssey, why his lectures aren’t on iTunes U is beyond me.  A few of my BCA classes I took with my good friend, Bryan Carr.  My post-senior year I was a regular castmember on Bryan’s podcast “GeekSpeak”, and occasionally pop in every now again.  (If you’re thinking, that sentence doesn’t seem to fit and it’s just a shameless plug for GeekSpeak, you’re right.)  Bryan’s smarter than me on all things film (this is where he feigns humility, disregards the complement, complements me, and I feign humility back.  We love that game).  To give you an example: for our Science Fiction Films term paper I wrote 10-page feminist critique on Serenity, and Bryan wrote 22-pages on V for Vendetta.  Granted, your first thought is “those two men need lives,” our first thought was “I can’t believe we get to do this.”  So, when I was able to haggle some time off work to head up to Mount Pleasant to see Inglourious Basterds with Bryan and his girlfriend Pang (and Brother Sean and his girlfriend Leah) I couldn’t pass that up.  At the end of Inglorious Basterds everyone in the theater walked out with the same reaction: we liked it, we just didn’t know what to make of it.

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District 9 isn’t racist, but I am

August 25, 2009 Leave a comment

District 9 has done something that few films this summer have accomplished, made people talk about the ideas it represents.  We aren’t talking about giant robot testicles, Arnie’s brief cameo, or how much it sucked in general.  The vigorous debates and conversations surrounding the film are on the thoughts behind it.  I was gonna write about some of the technical aspects in the film, the impressive acting feat, and the seamless integration of CGI.  Instead, the internet (the always accurate pulse of the real world) is becoming mired in the debate “is District 9 racist?”  The answer is simple: no, but I am.

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How Sleeping with your Stepmom is like Watching The Girlfriend Experience and Playing an MMORPG with a Salt Shaker

July 9, 2009 1 comment

I’m sitting at the LA Café going through my regular routine of pretending to work.  Sit in the corner, order some food, earth, and then write, away from the prying eyes.  Today, I am privy to exciting conversations from several different directions.  The most intriguing seems to come from three teenage girls, involving incest, the Marines, death threats, and a kid named Xavier.  As in Professor X.  I’m sure this is an entirely true story.

From what I can tell the family Xavier hails from is messed up.  There are Stepdads and Stepmoms sleeping with stepcousins and stepchildren while drunk.  And no, I’m not in Kentucky.  Just Waterford, on the fast track to the South, but still not inbred enough.  In retribution, Xavier, has decided to join the Marines, even though he hates the war.

“DRAMA!” squeals the girl, because apparently sleeping with your Stepparent isn’t dramatic enough.

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