Friday, November 30, 2012

A "what if?" question about the Walking Dead

What if the virus that everyone is infected with is actually a virus that causes disassociative visions, hallucinations and anti-social behavior? Maybe Rick is seeing "zombies" because of his virus, but really he's on a rampage through the real world killing people. He wakes up in a hospital. Then he goes (eventually) to the CDC. Then he ends up in prison. I think this is a journey lots of people with uncontrolled psychotic breakdowns go on.

We know Rick isn't all there mentally. I mean, his phone isn't connecting to the switchboard, that's for sure. This would explain all those moments that don't make much sense in the show, because we can say, "That's all part of Rick's hallucinations."

Poor guy. And here we are, watching the guy's psychotic episodes for three seasons.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Twilight: the New Moon wolf pack auditions (by 1491)

Nurse Shasta sent me a link to the Native comedy group the 1491s a while back, and I particularly enjoyed this video, a satire about the casting of Natives for the Twilight movies. For those who don't know, there's a tribe of Native Americans (specifically the Quieluete tribe) who are werewolves. In the movie, I mean, not in real life. I mean, they're not werewolves in real life. Anyway, the 1491s made this video and it made me laugh a lot. Since the last of the Twilight movies is out now, I thought I would share it:

 If you're interested in the Native point of view on things, here are three places you should take a look:

1) My friend Mark Charles. And ESPECIALLY if you live in the Washington, D.C. area you should consider attending the Conversation for Reconciliation on December 19th.

2) A great book I read recently is On the Rez by Ian Frazier.

3) You might also enjoy One Church, Many Tribes by Richard Twiss.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Update on the secret novel

I thought I should probably update you on my progress on the first draft of my SECRET NOVEL. It's a secret, people, but I can tell you that in the chapter I just wrote there were shadow wolves, sentient rooms and a monster made out of garbage. No, really. Unless... I'm just trying to throw you off from my top secret secrets. That's a possibility.

50705 / 65000 words. 78% done!

Interview with Wm. Paul Young, author of "The Shack" and "Cross Roads"

Hey everybody!

I am partway through Cross Roads by Wm. Paul Young. I should, honestly, be done with it by now, but I got a little distracted with writing my own book this week. When I'm in the middle of a project one of my "disciplines" is to only work on my own novel, and not read anything else for fun. The theory is, if I'm not having enough fun writing my own book, then maybe it's not good enough.

Anyway, I should be done with Cross Roads very soon, and you can expect to see some thoughts here when I'm done.

In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy this interview between my friend Paul Young and my friend Greg Horton.

You may recall Greg from his guest post here a while back. He's a (former) pastor and (former) Christian who has a lot of insight into religion and understands Evangelical culture from an insider's perspective. He often has great questions and thoughts for us to consider.

If you don't know Paul already, he's the author of The Shack and probably one of the friendliest, kindest, most generous people I know. This is possibly because he was born in Canada, but nevertheless, I love the guy.

So, there you go. An interview between two guys I find enjoyable, challenging and interesting. I think you'll enjoy them as well. I'll report back when I finish the book!

Friday, November 23, 2012

It's officially Christmas season! Yay!

This should get you ready. Not that this is strictly a Christmas song, but just pretend for a minute.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Things to do today:

1. Eat a turkey.

2. Try to kick a football.

3. Try to fly a kite without the kite eating tree getting it.

4. Write a note to the little red-haired girl.

5. Be thankful for all my dear friends and family.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Some pictures from the Imaginary Jesus stage play

I have a lot to say about this last week and all the amazing things that happened while I was in St. Louis for the Imaginary Jesus stage play. I'll need some time to process and write it all up. In the meantime, here are some pictures from the play, which opened to sold out crowds last weekend!

 The show will go on the next two weekends, so if you're anywhere near St. Louis grab your tickets and get over there!

Matt is split in two during the play: Matt the character on
the left, Matt the Narrator on the right.
Daisy the donkey is not amused by Matt and Matt making fun of her.
Here's Krista and Matt together.
Shane the atheist, Portland Jesus and the Matts enjoy
some fancy dessert at the Pix Patisserie.

Monday, November 19, 2012

This is how I can tell that you didn't watch the movie

When I was a high school literature teacher, some of my students would try, occasionally, to get away with not reading a book, or not writing a report themselves. I remember once when a high school student was supposed to write about a childhood memory and he instead copied out an essay about baseball from a published book. The only problem was that the person in the book was clearly 40 years old, and the vocabulary of the essay was much higher than that of my student. I gave him a vocabulary quiz using words from his own essay and he flunked. Pretty funny.

And of course, there's always the chance that when you teach, say, The Scarlet Letter, that students will sneak off to watch the movie instead of reading the book. So you have to put some questions on the test that only people who have watched the movie will get wrong.

But then, there are these times when you look at Netflix and see that whoever writes the summary of the movie hasn't watched it. Like, for instance, this description of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible"... a play about the Salem Witch Trials:

I'm afraid I'm going to have to flunk you for this, Netflix. P.S. Yes, I realize that Netflix is probably getting all crazy and commenting on the film by saying it's a "parable" of the hunt for communists. But I think I'll just harass them for not just saying "it's about the Salem witch trials." Because it's funnier that way.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Video clip from the Imaginary Jesus stage play

Tonight, Krista and I are in St. Louis to watch the WORLD PREMIERE of the Imaginary Jesus stage play! Be sure to get your tickets and we'll see you there! (I'm here all weekend, so if you can't come tonight, come tomorrow or Sunday!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Our new podcast: The StoryMen!

Yes, it's true. Clay Morgan, J.R. Forasteros and I have decided to start a semi-regular podcast together. We are, in fact, pod people.

For the uninitiated, basically a podcast is like a radio show. It's the three of us hanging out and talking about things that interest us. We'll have guests, we'll have fights, we'll have laughs. In fact, J.R. and I have a big fight in this one about whether Quantam of Solace was a good movie or not. Well. A minor disagreement, anyway.

The themes of StoryMen will be pop culture, theology and history. That's why we put it right in our banner.

You can listen to our PILOT EPISODE here, in which we talk about Star Wars, Skyfall and Biblical Womanhood. Yes, you read that correctly. We are that awesome.

You can join our Facebook group.

And, here's the StoryMen website.


1. Which of the StoryMen learned about Lucasfilm being purchased by Disney from Jordin Sparks.

2. Who Clay sides with on the Quantam of Solace debate!

3. What kind of homemade cookie my daughter delivers to me during recording!

4. And much, much more!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wonderful Wednesday: The Super Great Toilet Keeper can stop professional soccer players from scoring goals

It's time once again for Wonderful Wednesday to come to us from the amazing people of Japan, where scientists have created a toilet able to deflect soccer balls. Why? Because it's awesome, that's why. I am a little disappointed as it makes my (still in development) baseball pitching urinal seem redundant.

You can treat yourself to more Wonderful Wednesday here. Unless a toilet prevent you from doing so.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Guest Post from Josh Riebock, author of Heroes and Monsters

Today's guest post comes from Josh Riebock. Josh lives in Austin, TX with his wife, Kristen, and his dog, Ditka. He’s an author and a fan of all things 80s. He sometimes tells the truth. And he once got a really bad tattoo. For more information, visit:
Put your ear to my chest, listen closely, and you’ll hear a crowd of voices inside me—some of them loud, and some of them tender. Some of them brave, and some of them fugitives. Some of them skeptical—angry even—and some of them innocent. Some of them voices that I discuss publicly, and others that I bury deep in the closet behind the bones of my other skeletons— I’m not crazy. I’m just not as symmetrical as I’d like to be. This reality birthed the idea for my most recent book, Heroes and Monsters. My name is Josh Riebock and today, in this guest post, one of the voices inside me is going to interview me about this new book…
So, Josh, let’s start with this question: why in the world did you write this stupid, stupid book?
It’s not stupid. Actually, I’m really proud of it, and a big part of the reason why is because I wrote it for me. Instead of trying to write a book that I thought other people would want to read, I just tried to write the kind of book that I’d want to read. An artist can spend all of their energy, talent, and ideas trying to guess what kind of stories and art that others will like, or they can simply create the kind of story and art that resonates with them, inspires them, the kind of work that they are passionate about. That’s what I tried to do. And what came out was an illustrated memoir mixed with intentional fiction, an honest, partially experimental, kind of weird, genre-bending story. And well, I’m proud of it.
Whatever. So with that in mind, how much did you worry about this book bombing? Remember how I warned you that it might bomb? I kept saying, “Josh, this is a huge mistake, colossal. Just be normal. Why can’t you be normal? Huh? Just do what people expect, or you’ll regret it. If you write it the way you want to, it’s going to fail.” Remember how I said that?
Yes. I remember how often you warned me. Over and over— 
As you were writing it I kept envisioning someone making a paper airplane that they are convinced is really aerodynamic—a technological breakthrough!—only to have it plunge straight into the ground once they throw it. Crash and burn. I mean, didn’t you worry that no one else would resonate with this thing that resonates with you?
Sure. I worried about it plenty. I think most people fear that others won’t share his or her passions, fear that our heart beats for something that no one else cares about. That’s what being alone is.
You feel alone a lot don’t you.
I know you do.
Of course you feel lonely. 
I suppose I do. Every artist, every person, is destined for frequent bouts of loneliness. But I inflict a fair amount of that on myself. I’m an introvert, so I wander through my own imagination a lot, spend loads of time alone—reading, thinking, movies, whatever—and all of that is good. But sometimes I do it to the point of isolation. Lots of folks do. Humans are really good at building inanimate community: a tight circle of songs and films and trophies and possessions and ideas that we can relate to. We connect deeply with authors and musicians and business leaders, athletes, historical figures, those far away people who share our passions, but we may struggle to connect in a similarly meaningful way with those we can actually touch. Sometimes I work harder to connect with an author I’m reading than a friend or my wife. I’ll watch a movie with my phone in my pocket, silenced, but check my phone repeatedly when I’m with a group of people. I’ll engage significant ideas and emotions in a book, but not in a conversation. I’ll concentrate while I’m writing, but then let my attention drift when someone is talking to me… 
Is there a point in there? Or are you just doing your typical rambling on and on and on thing?
I’m just saying that, chances are, there are people near me who share my passions, but because I’m sometimes so invested in my inanimate community, I never find out. So I feel alone, even though I’m not. In that way, my loneliness is often an illusion. A very lifelike illusion. 
“Illusion”. You like that word don’t you?
Any other favorite words?
Man, I’ve got lots of favorites right now. Ragged. Caloric. Fish. I could go on and on. In general, I have a strong love for words. I believe in their power. That’s why the writing process matters so much to me. I don’t just care about what I’m saying, but also about how I’m saying it. Word choice. Sentence structure. Artful prose. The wonder depicted in the form of writing, the form of anything—singing, architecture—can do so much in us, and in others. And in my opinion, that dimension isn’t valued enough. Sometimes we care so much about the what, and neglect the how. And the how is often the very thing that makes a message so profound. When we stop valuing form, we strip the soul out of whatever it is that is being said. Form is the soul of expression.
Speaking of soul-stripping, I get the idea that you are comfortable exploring dark ideas in your writing, ideas about ugliness and pain and fear. True?
I guess so. 
Well isn’t that dangerous? I mean; being comfortable dabbling in dark ideas probably implies something dark about you, that you’re tortured maybe. Or, I don’t know, maybe that you’ve got unresolved issues that shouldn’t be shared with others—not your wife, your friends, your readers—issues that you should keep to yourself. Unless, of course, you want to fill the world with more darkness, be considered a dark person, or are a dark person. Is that what you’re saying? Would you consider yourself a dark person?
No. I’d actually consider myself a hopeful person. But I like to explore the most honest places of life and humanity, those places that we often don’t want to think about, and that, at times, takes me into pretty dark territory. Can it be dangerous? Sure, just like anything handled poorly can be dangerous. But in order to understand who we are, in order to tell great stories, we have to go there. Our frequent resistance to depicting darkness can lead to terrible art, untrue art. Sometimes the “brightest” art feels good, but it’s a total lie. It glosses over pain, and creates false realities, false promises, tidy answers that don’t really exist. Sometimes art has to have elements of darkness if it’s going to be true, if it’s going to bring genuine hope, transcendent hope…that butterfly floating over the ashes of a burned city kind of hope.
Can you give me an example?
Sure, well, I’d say the Bible is the most hopeful book I’ve ever read.
And it’s also the darkest book I’ve ever read.
Alright, well, since you had to go and bring up the God thing: in Heroes and Monsters, you’ve got a character named Jack. What’s up with him? I found that dimension to be weird, wildly annoying sometimes.
Thanks. Yeah, so Jack is a character that represents God. I did it this way because I wanted to capture the physical presence of God in the story of my life, in both the big and small moments, rather than representing him in a distant, floating amoeba kind of way. I wanted people to be able to see how involved God has been in my life, how involved he is in their own life. But I also did it to expand the way we view God. It’s easy to fall into ruts when talking about God, always using the same language, the same images, and in doing so we limit the conversation about God to those who are able to access it in those terms, with those words and pictures. It becomes an exclusive conversation. And because of that, we’re always having the God conversation with the same people. I wanted to create a fresh picture of God that would speak to those who struggle to access the typical God conversation, to talk about God in a way that would engage those who’ve grown tired of the same God talk, and maybe to depict God in a way that would even rattle some folks. Besides, God is bigger than any of our pictures or conversations anyway. I wanted this book to demonstrate that.
Yea, so I think we should stop now. Besides, people probably aren’t going to like this anyway. You know that, right? 
Maybe. We’ll see.
Yeah, we will. Anything else you’d like to add?
Oh let me guess. I'll bet I know. This is where you want to tell everyone to go get a copy of Heroes and Monsters, right? At Barnes and Noble or Amazon? This is where you want to tell everyone that if they read this book, they can anticipate being swept up into a story that is unlike most stories that they’ve encountered, being rattled and moved, laughing out loud and shedding tears, being taken deep within themselves, stirred to more intimate relationships with others and God, having the muscles of their imagination flexed, and realizing that life is a thoroughly damned and divine experience. Is that it? Nice. Wow, way to make a sleazy sales pitch—

Good, because I think most readers of this book can anticipate being frustrated by the style and content, possibly offended by the honesty and imagery, bored by the often meandering main character, and using the pages to both ignite and sustain their backyard bonfire.

Maybe. But I’d still like to add something.

And what’s that?

I wanted to tell you that someday you’ll be gone. Someday you won’t bother me anymore. And that day is coming. The day is coming when I’ll just be me. Just me. All the voices within me will go quiet, and you’ll be nothing more than a memory, a vapor, a ghost that used to harass me. When that day comes, you’ll serve the same purpose that every other pain and struggle that I endure will eventually serve.
And what’s that?
You’ll become just one more reason for me to celebrate.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Awwww. Kids are cute.

This is the conversation I just had with my three-year-old, M, while I was putting her to bed.

Daddy: Give me a hug before you fall asleep.

A big hug is dispensed.

Daddy: You're my sweet girl.

M: You're my sweet girl, too, Daddy.

Eavesdropping with Matt (Episode Sixty-Four: Suffering for Fashion)

Dedicated to the two men at our church yesterday morning, one of whom is growing in his beard, and the other who had his hipster beard all grown in and beautiful.

Man #1: Dude, when does the beard stop itching? It's driving me crazy!

Man #2: You just have to stick it out. It will stop itching soon.

While you're waiting for your beard to stop itching, you could always read more Eavesdropping with Matt.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

You Lost Me Live this morning in Portland

I'm headed to You Lost Me Live this morning. There's still room if you'd like to join us. It's only ten bucks and it's at the Imago Dei campus.

1302 SE Ankeny St 
Portland, OR 97214

Here's a video about what David Kinnaman will be speaking about:

you wlil lkie tihs

Friday, November 09, 2012

The Sword of Six Worlds news....

Hey friends!

The Sword of Six Worlds print edition will be arriving shortly, just in time for Christmas! So for those of you without the ability to buy e-books, hang in there! Your time is coming!

Also, there have been two reviews recently about the book, one from J.R. Forasteros and another from Star the Bibliophile, both really great reviewers who loved the book.

Lastly, here's what the cover of the book will look like when it goes to print (click to make it larger):

Thursday, November 08, 2012

My interview with Rachel Held Evans, author of A Year of Biblical Womanhood

You have probably already heard something, positive or negative, about A Year of Biblical Womanhood the new book from Rachel Held Evans. I wrote an article for Out of Ur (the blog of Leadership Journal) about that, and during the course of gathering materials for my article, Rachel graciously agreed to speak with me. I thought you might enjoy reading the whole interview, since I only had room for a short quote in my article. 

MM: I had seen a few people write reviews of your book and I was in the middle of reading it and I thought, "These people did not read your book. They clearly did not read it." One of them was a secular one saying you were mocking the Bible and "doesn't she know A.J. Jacobs already did this?" And you specifically mention that in the book.

RHE: Yeah, and I've been talking about that. From day one I've been talking about how that was inspired from A.J. Jacobs.

MM: And then a conservative Christian blogger with a pretty big following tweeted something about how, "Even secular reviewers think Rachel is mocking the Bible" and all these people started retweeting it and I thought, "Come on, people, what is going on here?" So I sent a note to Out of Ur and asked them if they would like an article not completely about the book, but about how we make these decisions of who we're protecting and what's okay to talk about and which books should we read when it comes to the people who are following us.

RHE: Yeah, that's a great idea for an article.

MM: It doesn't really matter, right? Take Mark Driscoll'smarriage book, there's plenty of us who said "That's not going to be good" but we hadn't read it.

RHE: But I would like to say I did read it before I wrote my review. When you've experienced it you're more careful when it comes to other people's books to read it before you criticize. When I went through that with "Evolving in Monkeytown" I said, "Okay, Rachel, don't comment on books unless you've read them or at least given them a good, thorough skimming."

MM:I think that's an interesting thing, one, that we think we need to protect our people from something we may disagree with and two that people who haven't read it feel it's necessary to comment.

RHE: And I think with this book you really see how your initial prejudice, good or bad, is going to effect how you read the book or whether or not you decide to read the book. It's really funny too, because I'll read reviews and one will say, "This is a scripture-honoring book that makes me want to follow Jesus better" and then another review will say, "This book mocks the Bible" and you have to wonder how can two people reading the same thing come up with two such different interpretations of it? That's really interesting to me.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

My three year old explains why she is afraid of monsters

At six a.m. this morning my three-year-old crawled into bed with me, put her head under the covers and said, "I have to hide from the monsters." She often mentions monsters and never seems particularly bothered by them. In fact, the whole putting her head under the covers was new. Still, she didn't seem particularly upset.

I assured here there were not monsters in our house (note that I used the qualifier "in our house"). I told her, the only people in the house are me, your mom and your sisters.

She pointed out into the darkness of the bedroom and said, "No. There's a monster right there."

I could see just well enough to tell that there was no monster where she was pointing, and I said so.

"I don't like scary monsters," she said. "When they come, they want to get me all dressed up."

"They do?"

"Yes. And I don't like getting dressed up."

Scary monsters. They're the worst.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


First, a message from Vote Cat.

Now, at last, someone will explain the electoral college in an understandable way.

Some thoughts on Communion as a political act.

Funny 2012 Election bumper stickers. These are equal opportunity offenders, people.

You may find it interesting to read up on the history of women's suffrage in the United States!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Update on the top secret novel

Here's my word count so far. Tonight I'm working on a fun scene where some people get to blow up robots. That's right. There are exploding robots.

23071 / 65000 words. 35% done!

Halloween service at Liverpool Cathedral

Here's an update on the Halloween service at Liverpool Cathedral. Looks like it was really cool! I think we should all go next year. Who's in?

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Speaking at Village this Sunday morning

I'm preaching at Village this weekend in the chapel service on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. I'll be teaching out of the text in Jeremiah 12.

If you're in the Portland area and would like to come, we'd love to see you!

For those who don't know the text, it's about "running with horses." If you've grown tired running with men, how will you race against horses?

Which reminds me of this video, which will not be mentioned this weekend:

Happy Saturday

From here:
I know it's your day off and everything, but please try to be responsible and don't hike on the mastadon.

Friday, November 02, 2012

"Jesus Loves Me" by Page CXVI

This video is from my dear friends Page CXVI and is full of many friends and people I love. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Progress on my new top secret novel

I'm working on a new novel, which I'd like to get mostly finished this month. I can't share much about it yet, other than to say I'm targeting about 65,000 words, but that's ballpark. I've got a big chunk done already, but largely because I worked on it a while back and am picking up where I left off.

I thought it might help me to stay focused and keep moving forward if I shared my progress here. So. Here it is:

17621 / 65000 words. 27% done!

Okay, back to work on the book! I'm in the middle of a particularly enjoyable scene, where some stuff happens to some people and there is tension over a thing.

Top Five Posts of October!

This is the jack o'lantern I made for Halloween.
Okay, if you missed it yesterday, I shared a little post over at Out of Ur, the Leadership Journal blog. The post is about how we should react to "controversial" books in the Christian community, the most recent example being Rachel Held Evans's book, "The Year of Biblical Womanhood."

Here are the TOP! FIVE! POSTS! here at BHR this last month.

Number one is this post about Vampire in the Church Choir, the free short story to celebrate the anniversary of Night of the Living Dead Christian!

Second was this post about my new Snow Machine.

Coming in at number three is this beautiful moment when Romney and Obama sang "Hot and Cold" together. It made me cry to see them setting aside politics to sing together.

Personality tests! Everyone loves them. Especially when it's a personality test that tells you what kind of monster you are.

Fifth was my sweet daughter and what she said to me about how God and the Power Rangers are watching over us.