Halloween and Jesus?

Brian LaLonde here… I’ll bet some of you didn’t know that I’m teaching this term? Yep, I have a class of college students going through “Christian Foundations 1 – Christian Maturity”. We’re having a good time at it – well, at least I’m having a good time challenging them to think.

Right now we’re studying Obstacles to our Walk as Disciples. In light of our studies, and in light of the time of year, I’d like to propose a question to these students:

Are these two articles compatible with each other on the question,
“Should Christians be watching horror movies?”

Commentaries: The Horrors! – on Christianity Today Movies http://www.christianitytoday.com/movies/commentaries/horrors.html

Halloween’s Occult Connection – An extensive study of the roots of Halloween. http://www.believersweb.org/view.cfm?ID=614

Each student should post some comment here:

  1. to show that you read the articles
  2. to participate in any discussion/debate with your classmates

Enjoy! and Happy Halloween!

A wee bit o’ Belfast

I’m definitely growing in my understanding of Belfast, getting an inkling of how much there is I just don’t see and pick up on.  The area where our house is in south Belfast is a mixed area.  There are several of these but most of the city is clearly carved up between Protestant and Catholic.  You can pick it up from the murals painted on the sides of many buildings and what team the occupants of any given pub are supporting.  I can pick out someplaces as clearly loyalist, and others as republican, but a native knows intuitevely the intricate patchwork of the city.  It’s somewhat boggling to me how present the sectarian differences are here, having grown up in relatively homogenous suburban america where most people could really care less about religious background (or too commonly religion at all).  A perseptive fellow can normally nail down someones denominational background through a few simple questions like “what’s your name?”, “where do you live?”, and “where did you go to school?”.

Last night there was a Charis Lord’s Day celebration.  I’m really enjoying getting to know the brothers and sisters in Charis.  As I think many of you know the Sword of the Spirit communities have a set of prayers and a special meal on Saturday night in order to usher in Sunday and observe it, the day of Christ’s resurrection, in a prayerful, thankful, and joyous way.  The Charis community has one Saturday a month where the whole community joins together for the opening prayers and then goes to different houses for the meal.  I went to the McFaddens, a Protestant family.  They hosted me along with a couple folks from TEC and a Catholic family.  The whole time was delightful, an easygoing and entirely pleasant affair.  It’s so clear to me what a blessing it is for folks from different traditions to live life together and support one another in following Christ.  It’s clear that this is a blessing, but unfortunately it’s a bit under represented in Belfast.  Overall I’m thankful to be living in the midst of this people who have found such rich life together amidst the real obstacles to that here in Belfast.

Belfast from the noseToday the lads here in the house had a bit of an outing together.  We went hiking up by Belfast castle to a place called Napolean’s nose (it looks a bit like a giant sleeping with the highest point being the nose, but I’m not sure where the Napolean bit comes in).  A nice little climb, from the top you can get a view of much of Belfast, this one here is of North Belfast and Belfast Lough (actually taken on a previous occasion by Bruce, our view today was a bit cloudier).  We brought along the houses frisbee supply and played frolf up and down the hike.  From the top there was a stiff wind going, very difficult to get off a good throw.  Q had one that caught some thermals and went farther then I’ve ever seen one go in my life.  I had a good stretch until I had a seriously errant throw go well off the path down a steep hill, landing in the middle of a thick patch of black berries, wild rose, and stinging nettles.  After slow progress for about twenty minutes I managed to recover the disc.  Amazingly, despite many precarious lies, all of our frisbees made it home.  They’ll be able to threaten the Irish public on yet another occasions.

One more aspect of life here I’m figuring out a bit are some of the language differences.  There are many, maybe I’ll try to keep up a little running Irish lexicon.  Here are a few of the more important, or just entertaining, ones so far:

Slaggin’ and slags off:  the Northern Irish well refined art of cutdowns, backhanded compliments, and sarcasm.  You need a slightly thicker skin then back home, but it’s generally good natured.

Yousons: All of you folks, just like y’all.

Uni: The universtiy.  If I’m trying to blend in I might ask someone what they’re taking at uni, ie what are you studying.  Truth be told I don’t blend very well.

So I was: an emphatic, many variations on the theme, some of the lads here can distill half a dozen variations in a single sentence. 

What’s the craic?:  What’s going on with you, how are things going, can also be used descriptively- I was heading from city center to uni, so I was, and saw some of my mates there on the corner, so I did, and asked them if they wanted to go for a swallie (get a drink).  So we ducked in and grabbed a pint, so we did, and, aye – it was good craic … so it was.

Slicked (two syllables, slick-ed): I’ve only heard this one once but I think it’s brilliant.  Basically it’s a contraction of sly and wicked, could be used to describe someone who sneakily always manages not to buy a round at the pub or the like.

God Bless yousons, I appreciate all your prayers.  I’ve gotta go get washed up and remove the last prickers from my lacerated limbs now.

Movie list 2006

As you know, I like movies. I keep a running list of good ones and ones that look good that I need to see. Movies sometimes help point me back to the Master Story.

Here’s the list, which will change as things go… but click on the clickable ones for more.

  • The Village
  • Contact
  • Donnie Darko
  • Groundhog Day
  • Luther
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  • Primer
  • Shawshank Redemption
  • Simon Birch
  • Spider Man
  • To End All Wars
  • Truman Show

I’ll also post other movie-related thoughts, like good movie recommendation sites, under the rolling site category: Movies.

Note: this post was originally a page, but I decided to turn it into a post since things get stale… here are the original comments:

February 7, 2007 at 12:28 am Angelique says:

I love movies too but there isn’t a lot I can see. I have seen a couple on the list you have on this site. The “Truman Show” is by far my favorite with “Shawshank Redemption” coming in second place. I must mention the movie I watch 2-4 times a year….Ben-Hur. I think we should get “the crew” together and watch this on the big lonley tv in my basement.

September 11, 2008 at 10:38 am Kari says:

Frequency, equilibrium, a walk to remember, gataca, powder, P.S. I love you, finding neverland, cool runnings, the island, ya-ya sister hood, (i realize some of these are probably more heavy on the “chick” flick side than others…however they’re GOOD!!!)…

September 18, 2008 at 2:36 am James says:

Hi, I found your blog on this new directory of WordPress Blogs at blackhatbootcamp.com/listofwordpressblogs. I dont know how your blog came up, must have been a typo, i duno. Anyways, I just clicked it and here I am. Your blog looks good. Have a nice day. James.

The Village

This is the movie that secured Shamalyan’s status as my favorite movie storyteller. The Sixth Sense was a good one that got my attention. I then noticed that Signs had some good things going. But then The Village absolutely grabbed my whole attention.As you can see, I’m pretty excited about this film…

You might want to just watch the movie first and then get into this stuff. What follows is a bunch of seemingly random stuff that doesn’t make much sense unless you’re already “in” on the movie. Warning: there are definitely “spoilers” in what follows.

Here is my (long) list of striking insights:

  • Simply as a story, or even as a movie (I mean, as basic entertainment), I think that The Village works because of a few things. It has a grabbing conflict (the villagers vs. “those we don’t speak of”), an overall element of mystery, interesting characters (especially Ivy and Lucius), a love story, and a final resolution with which most people can relate (Ivy saves Lucius).
  • The village is an intentional community set-up separate from the surrounding culture in order to protect the members from evil and to preserve innocence.
    • The elders realize that they can’t totally guard from evil. They come to the realization that suffering is just part of life that they need to endure (as seen in the opening scene of the film where a father grieves over his son’s grave).
    • Shamalyan expresses this theme in a blatant way through the brief guard shack scene. This scene is the only view of the outside world during the film. We see the newspaper headlines and also hear the radio news full of stories of war and murder. This shows that Shamalyan is toying with the idea of separating from the outside world. He’s saying, “I see the insanity of this surrounding culture, and so what would happen if people actually set-up a real sheltered society like this village?”
    • A Christian worldview seems incompatible with this village, as it seeks to sustain life out of the world instead of in but not of the world. The Christian call is to be different from the surrounding culture, but also to influence the culture with the Christian message. I would make the case that groups like the Amish are more “in the world” than this village because of the word of witness that the Amish currently speak into the surrounding world. Our culture actually knows about the Amish and is horrified at the idea (it’s working). This village is totally secluded and so only exists for itself. A possible greater good is that this village may preserve something true if the rest of mankind were to totally dissolve.
    • The experiment by the elders in establishing the village works because the elders have set-up a force of fear to achieve the seclusion of the members. The question is, “What is permissible in achieving the end of preserving innocence?” Should fear be allowed as a means to a seemingly noble end?
    • I’ve heard that this idea is close to what’s called Plato’s “noble lie” – that a society can be based on an untruth if that untruth sustains a “greater good”.
  • Elder Walker and the mother of Lucius (Sigourney Weaver) deny their feelings for each other. This is the right thing to do because Walker is a married man. All right! He does what he can for this widow and shows her real love by keeping a special eye out for her son Lucius , but all the while he denies any inclination or opportunity he feels to show her love in the physical way that she, and even he, might want.
  • Excellent moment that hit me hard on what it means to be caught-up with a beloved: Lucius shows up at night on Ivy’s porch. She asks him why he’s there and then continues to talk away. She even asks him flat-out if they’ll dance on their wedding night. “Why can’t you say what’s in your head?” “Why do you always say what’s in yours? Why must you always lead when I want to lead? If I want to speak, I will speak. What is it if every thought from the time I wake is on you? What is it if I cannot think clearly or work properly because I think of you in harm. I only fear for your safety before all others. Yes, we will dance on our wedding night.”
  • Ivy is lost when Lucius is injured because his light is dim. She looses her place in the world without the guiding light of her beloved.

More Questions:

  • If the community fails then was it a worthy endeavor? The Irish elder guy resigns to Ivy being allowed to travel to the city by saying that the village won’t fail if it is, in the end, worthy. Worthy how? Worthy in the sight of God?
  • Noah = Evil? Is Noah the only one that acts out of any selfish ambition in the movie? He seems to act out of the jealousy he has for Ivy.
  • Tough question: Why is Ivy so beautiful? To Lucius? To me? Is there such a thing as true beauty?

Quotes and misc:

  • Elder Walker: “I hope I am always able to risk everything for the just and right cause.”
  • Continues… “She will not fail because she is led by love. The world moves for love. It kneels before it in awe.”
  • “A leader is one that people will follow – is one that sees light when only darkness surrounds.”
  • Even after Walker tells Ivy not to fear, she is still afraid upon touching the costumes and she is still afraid when in the woods. Does she have any rational reason to fear? No, but it’s difficult to control the emotion of fear.
  • We should not operate out of fear in relation to our life and purpose but instead we should act out of love and trust.
  • She says that if Lucius dies she will die with him. She can live as though dead – without fear of death, what else is there to fear?

How’s about somebody lets me know if anybody ever finds anything neat in what I’ve collected here?

I see the Master Story in good movies…

I like movies.

I keep a list of good movies, some of which I’ll feature on this site.

I intend to post about some good movies with the hope that I can share with my people a love for good story.

Good stories are ones that contain bits of what I’ve heard called, “The Master Story” – the all-surpassing Good News that the God of the universe loves us and has shown it through his son, Jesus Christ.

Really, I’m not that into movies… I know that these movies in themselves will all pass away, and only the master story will remain. Only the good that the stories portray will survive the great shaking of the earth. Only the stuff that is part of the master story will remain at all because it will be found in Him.

And so we hold onto these movies lightly and we focus on the golden parts of them. No movie is perfect. Sorry for any junk you see in them. As we say, “Eat the fish and spit out the bones.”

Enjoy the movie list and the first movie post, The Village.

lost password for XP home

Around 9/28/06 Bekah asked:

Best Buy wanted to charge me $200 for recovering my lost password to login to XP home. Is there an easy way to fix this?

Hi Bekah,

The situation: Windows XP Home does not let you log in with the Administrator account normally. That’s good. To access it so that we can use it to change your regular user password, you must restart the computer in safe mode, a special ‘minimal’ mode used to correct errors caused by third-party software, among other things. Sounds fun, no?
Here are the instructions:
1. Turn on the computer.
2. Immediately after the POST screen, or the first black screen, or whatever, press F8 a few times to bring up the XP advanced options menu.
3. Select the “Start Windows XP in safe mode” option. Hit enter.
4. If you are prompted to select the operating system to start, select Microsoft Windows XP Home and then press ENTER.
5. Once safe mode has loaded, on the “To begin, click your user name” screen, click Administrator. The password is blank by default in XP Home, we hope…
6. If that worked, then click Yes to acknowledge that Windows is running in safe mode.
7. Click Start, and then click Control Panel (or point to Settings, and then click Control Panel).
8. Click User Accounts.
9. Click the user account whose password you want to change.
10. Click “Change the Password”
11. Type the new password for the user, and then click Change Password.
12. Quit the User Accounts tool.
13. Reboot the computer normally (use Start Menu:Shut Down:Restart).

I hope this works!

I’m having deja vu right now really bad because I feel like I’ve emailed this exact info out before… I even put “I hope this works” at the end of emails just like this before. Fun.


audio editors

This one goes back to 05…Paul Jordan wrote on 11/10/05:

> Hi Brian,
> Looking for a word of advice…
> I want to get my hands on something that
> – allows me to play with MP3s a bit like audacity did
> – allows me to read in from line in and record direct to MP3 a bit like MP3 Direct Cut did – although – I never got that to work again, once I left the US…
> – allows me to add effects, esp. my own reverb ideas
> – allows me to mulitrack inputs, vocals, guitar and mix em…
> – imports and exports multiple formats
> Any quick words or ideas?!
> Think I’d spend a couple hundred…
> God bless bruv,
> Paul,

Quick reply without doing that much research:

Of course MP3directcut is the best for recording in MP3 if you’re only going to do one track:

For Multi-track, everything you BUY these days is going to import and export a lot of different formats… but it won’t record direct to mp3 because you can’t do any effects right onto mp3. Everything works in WAV and then exports to MP3 or whatever (this is what audacity did).

Another trick is that software seems to break down into these four areas:

  1. Single Track WAV audio editing/tweaking (CoolEdit, GoldWave… noise reduction etc)
  2. Multi Track DJ Remix type software (Acid. This will also record a song… but maybe not so well)
  3. Pro audio multitrack suite (protools, etc… will do everything but is too expensive)
  4. Multi-track home studio (Apple Garageband – cheaper, designed to record songs like you’re trying to do, effects, but a little weak on the single track editing)

There are so many options that you could spend a lot of time looking around… and one could try to get away with just using some freeware, but you have money, and I haven’t been into this stuff in a while… but here a couple that I think could work:

1. Get a macintosh and use the built-in GarageBand program because I think it does exactly what you’re looking for.

2. I think you could get away with a Goldwave/Multiquence combo for about $100.

3. I’ve used Acid Free a lot from Sonic Foundry (because it’s free and to me seemed really user-friendly like Apple’s GarageBand) but if I were to buy something I’m not sure I’d go with acid or not.

4. cakewalk used to be standard, and is huge…and they have about 50 names for all their software now…

Have fun,