Saturday, February 24, 2007

Amazing Grace: Movie Review

We just came home from watching the movie Amazing Grace. Basically, it's the story of William Wilberforce's efforts to abolish the slave trade in the British empire.

You need to go see this movie. I can recommend it without reservation. Go! It's inspiring, moving and beautiful.

Krista and I talked about the movie on the way home and we had a lot of similar thoughts. We were both struck by the power of a "call" in Wilberforce's life, and by the way he stood up for justice and human dignity at any cost. We left the theatre eager to be part of changing the world for the better, and certain that the task is achievable.

In that sense, it's more than a simple entertainment. It was, in fact, entertaining, and we laughed at parts, I had chills once and yes, I cried, too. It was an uplifting and powerful reminder of the power of God in human lives to effect positive change in human society.

So, please accept my highest recommendation that you go see this movie. Take a friend. Take off work and make an office party of it. It's well worth your time.

And, if you would like to be part of the modern day efforts to crush the slave trade once and for all, check out The Amazing Change website.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Unseen Movie Review: The Number 23

Once again, we return to our Unseen Movie Reviews, the part of the blog where I review a movie that I have never seen, based purely upon the movie trailer and my own strongly brewed opinions.

Tonight we take a look at The Number 23, a new thriller starring Jim Carrey. So, let's take a look at the trailer.

NOTE: There are some disturbing images in this trailer. Many of them involve Jim Carrey. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Now, we all know that numbers can be scary. But as I recall, the scariest number is seven, because seven ate nine. But what has the number 23 ever done to anyone? As I recall, 23 has always been a kind, loving number. It has even sponsored episodes of Sesame Street. Sweet, sweet number 23.

I called the number 23 to get its opinion about this slanderous piece of trash.

Me: So, Number 23, I see that a movie is coming out about your life.

23: No, no, no. That movie is a complete lie. It's not about me at all.

Me: So, it's not true that you have driven people insane?

23: Of course not. I'm a pretty simple two-digit number.

Me: The number 13 could say the same thing.

23: I'm twice the number that 13 could ever be!

Me: Well actually, um, that's not quite true.

23: Whatever.

Me: What do you say to claims by the priest that the number 23 can become the "number of Satan"... by dividing 2 by 3?

23: Have these people ever taken a math class? For crying out loud. 2 divided by 3 is NOT ".666", it's ".66666666666666666666666666666666666667". It's just a stupid thing to say. Stupid and mean. It really hurt my feelings.

Me: Okay, I have to get back to my movie review.

23: Please don't say anything nice about this movie.

Me: Ha ha ha! Don't worry about that!

I can't believe silly trash like this gets made. I'm glad that they chose Jim Carrey as the main character so that Blockbuster can stick it in the comedy section and trick customers into renting it.

I would suggest that you buy a book by Jose Luis Borges rather than watching this movie.

For that matter, I would suggest that you stay home and do your dishes rather than going to this movie.

Matt's Verdict: If you pay to see this movie I will purposely fly to your house and kick you in the seat of your pants. Then I will take all your money so that you don't waste it anymore.

p.s. This movie review has been brought to you by the number 23 and the letter F.

Monday, February 19, 2007

History via My Children

Tonight I told my kids the story of Ruth. At the end I explained that Ruth and Boaz had a son named Obed, who was the father of Jesse, who was the father of (King) David.

Me: Z, do you know the name of any of King David's sons?

Z (laughing): Prince Charming!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Questions about Bears

Z is afraid of bears. She has--inexplicably--been afraid of them since she was very young. She had nightmares about them when we lived overseas (and before she had ever seen one) and continues to worry that they will show up and... I'm not sure, but I assume she is afraid that they will eat her.

In any case, while we were staying in Moscow, Idaho, she was very concerned that bears probably lived in all of the nearby woods. She assured me that they would come to the hotel. She seemed to think that they might hang out behind the hotel. I wasn't clear why they would do this (smoking?). Probably local bear hooligans or something.

I explained to her how bears hibernate all winter, and they do this in caves, not in the back parking lot of hotels.

But I thought about it later and realized that I only know that bears hibernate because of my lifelong friendship with the television. I started to question what I had come to know about bears.

Do they really hiberate all winter, for instance. And how do they all find caves? Are there really that many caves in the woods, to accomodate every single bear? What happens if they can't find a cave? Do they just sleep next to a trail or something? For that matter, I've been in plenty of caves and do you know what I found? Beer bottles. I always assumed this was from people. If they are from people, then the only evidence I have that bears live in caves is watching Fozzie and Yogi.

Are you out there, Mr. or Ms. Bear Expert? Perhaps a bear is reading this blog? Someone give me some insight here.

Greek Conference

Hey folks!

The whole family is in Spokane, WA this weekend for the "Greek conference". Greeks from universities around our region came together for three days to talk about Jesus, who he is and what it means to follow him.

I was the main speaker for the weekend. I spoke on what it means to be a disciple... according to Jesus. So we looked at his definiton of what a disciple is, the cost of discipleship according to Jesus, the two major identifying marks of a disciple, things like that. It's been a lot of fun, and I think that God has been speaking to some people.

I'm one of those people. I have to admit that this series of talks really messed with me a little bit. I felt like I was sitting at his feet and having to deal with some hard questions about whether I am really a disciple as he describes them. It's a hard question, and I've been talking it through with Jesus all week. I think it's safe to say that I have room to grow.

The Greeks have been a lot of fun. They're a high energy crowd, and they're not afraid to share their thoughts. I love that there are people who don't even know Jesus here, and they're engaging and asking questions, too.

And of course it's a huge blessing to have Krista and the kids here, and not to be on another trip without them. And it's great to hang out with my student and staff friends from around the region, too.

Anyway. Greek Conference = Good.

tonight I'm meeting with some people to talk about Stint for next year. I've had some great conversations already, and I think there are several people who are hearing a "follow me" from Jesus on this question.

Red Hair

Our daughter, "A", has red hair. For some reason it's a cultural norm in the United States for people to walk up and ask children, "Where did you get that red hair?" Krista and I have always been offended by the question because, what are you implying? And if you're not implying something, then you might as well ask my daughter Z (with the brown hair) the same question.

Anyway, here's a funny conversation that my kids had with the waitress at our hotel this morning:

Waitress: Where did you get that red hair?

A: God made it.

Waitress: Oh! I see.

Z: God made my hair, too.

Waitress: Is that so?

A: He also made yours.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I am not a Faker

The photo at the left has been creating a great deal of discussion from my friends who have seen it on my Facebook account.

So, in answer to your questions:

1) Yes, I am really moving in the picture. It is not staged.

2) Yes, it is really me. I have not pasted my face onto the picture of a Jamaican bobsledder.

3) The reason there are no "speed lines" is because it is not manga. This is also why there are no tears flying out of my eyes.

4) No, I am not a Faker.

5) Yes, I have pictures of me doing even more amazing things. But I like to take my time in revealing such things. Like the picture below.

Hebrew Finals and so on

I keep forgetting to write on here that I passed my Hebrew test (the second time I took it). My professor actually made the second version of the test a lot harder... but I got a score in the low 80's. So that's pretty darn good.

Which means, of course, that I am back in Hebrew Action every Monday morning. This week my professor began an official reign of terror by going around the room and having people parse verbs and translate verses on the spot. I nearly fainted. But I managed to pull it together at the last moment.

It's my right.

If you are the first person in the neighborhood to put up Christmas lights (which I was), then I think it is your right to wait until you are the last one to take them down (which I was).

It's a firm rule in our household: Christmas lights come off the house at least 24 hours before Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Get Ready!

I found out this week that two more of my stories have been accepted to the Wittenburg Door. I won't go into any detail other than to say that one is an interview with Superman (which was a real honor... maybe I'll give you guys more details after the story is published) and the other one has the catchy title, "Men’s Retreat Speaker Shocks Participants By Focusing On Bible."

I also received a note from "Coach" Culbertson letting me know that he's accepted my story "The Deluge" for his upcoming "Coach's Midnight Diner" due out in July. No contracts have been signed or anything, but I think it's official enough for me to mention it here. I'll have to give you guys a guided tour of the Deluge and its 40 years of wandering before coming at last to the brink of the river Jordan. I got my first rejection letter (on a vastly different and early draft) on November 15, 2005. You can see young Matt's enthusiastic thoughts on the matter here.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A Lesson I Learned In Spain

During our time in Spain, Krista and I went (together with a large contingent of friends, loved ones and miscreants) to two castles. We have an enormous number of pictures from these that I should upload somewhere but I am not going to right now. So just picture them in your mind. Okay, I see what you are picturing, and they're a little more Muslim looking... they are Moorish castles. yeah, more like that. Lots of colored patterns on the walls, fountains, arches, gardens, fruit trees. Nice. Good job. Okay, keep thinking about that.

One thing I learned while walking around castles in Spain is that men and women think about vastly different things when imagining life in medieval castles.

Things women think about: I imagine it was very beautiful here inside the castle in the spring, when all the roses and other flowers were in bloom.

1b) Things men think about: I imagine that the ability to grow crops inside the castle walls would make it much easier to live through a siege on the castle.

2a) Women: The fountains here are pretty and I shall take some photographs of them.

2b) Men: The fountains show that there is a large supply of fresh water. Which would make it easier to live through a siege. I will drink some to make sure it is potable.

3a) Women: The curved entrances to this section of the castle are beautiful. I should do something to remember them. Like take a photograph.

3b) Men: The curved hallway here would be an excellent place to make my stand. I would put my archers here and as the invaders came around the corner... WHAM! ARROWS IN THE GULLET! OW! Also, I could pour pitch on the floor and light it. Or I could have the archers shoot burning arrows. This place is good for killing people.

CONCLUSION: Castles are a great place to visit, regardless of gender.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Unseen Movie Review: The Astronaut Farmer

Welcome to a new regular feature of the Burning Hearts Revolution called "Unseen Movie Reviews." In this feature I will give you my thoughts about upcoming movies, using only the information available through trailers and my own comprehensive knowledge of movies both sublime and sucky.

Here's our first film, "The Astronaut Farmer" starring Billy Bob Thorton and Virginia Madsen, due to be released on February 23rd.

Let us watch the trailer together, after which I shall give you my verdict:

Here are my thoughts. First, this looks like a harmless enough feel-good movie. But I have to say that we have only two options at the end: one, the farmer successfully launches himself into space, has some troubles and makes it home safely (hooray!) or two, he launches himself into space, has some trouble, and burns into a tiny crisp on re-entry (boo hoo!).

If I thought they had the guts to go for ending #2, I would go see it. Maybe. There are several things that make me nervous about the movie. One is the writing. For instance, the main character's last name is Farmer. It's just too cutesy. I can't stand it. Two, Billy Bob Thorton has a long history of making lots of movies. But I've only liked a couple of them. Three, I think maybe it should have been called the Farmer Astronaut instead of the Astronaut Farmer and been the story of a guy on a moonbase who has a dream of making a garden outside of the oxygen dome. Everyone thinks he's crazy but he has a dream! He can do it! Everyone is against him but against all the odds he is going to pull it off and grow the tallest corn ever seen in the universe. Oh what a beautiful mooooooorning, oh what a beatiful daaaaaaaaay, I've got a beautiful feeeeeeeelin', everything's goin' my waaaaaaaaaay!

In other news, the movie is likely to make more sense and be more entertaining than this post.

Matt's Verdict: Wait for this movie to be on television. You won't regret waiting to see it, but you will probably regret spending money to see it.

Feel free to leave your own thoughts and reviews in the comment section.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Krista Posts On Her Blog!


Eight months after her promising start as a blogger, Krista Mikalatos has added three entries to her blog, Blue Sky. Her husband, Matt Mikalatos, was heard to say, "Hey! Now I have to put your link back on Burning Hearts!"

Well done, O Wondrous Wife. You show great promise as a blogger. If you are disciplined, if you are sincere, if you are pure of heart, you could be one of the Great Ones.


Your Husband

Friday, February 02, 2007

Africans in Korea

Here's the video that convinced me that going to Korea this summer HAD to happen for me. It's a compelling look at people from around the world coming together in one place to talk about the transforming power of Jesus.

I've posted this on my other blog, too.