Tuesday, September 2, 2014

First Flight-Gliding in the Land of Enchantment

Well loyal readers, it has been quite a long time since I last posted (for which I apologize), but I have been rather busy. I also apologize for the fact that this is not going to be the second part in the Good Movie series, but I think you will find this post far more interesting and enjoyable than it would have been.  

I write this post from the middle of nowhere in the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico. I would tell you where we are, but it wouldn't mean much to you. The nearest town is a long ways away and several thousand feet below us. On to the main point of the post!

This morning we drove to an old abandoned airfield in Hobbs, NM that used to be the training site for B-17 bombers during the Second World War. At the time, it was the largest airfield in the USA and its runway still ranks among the longest in the country. The glider was a Schweitzer 233 made by a German American company in New York back in the 1960s. The particular glider we flew was made in ’65. The hangar was built on the concrete surface used to calibrate the compasses on the bombers during the war. It was very neat to be flying on the airfield used during the war. 

Anyway, first-off we did a formal check of the plane (There’s not much to check on this type of glider so we basically made sure the wings were attached) and then pulled the glider out of the hangar and out across what used to be the ramp for the B-17s. Here is a picture of the airfield during 1943 and you can actually see the bombers lined up on the ramp. (Despite the word, it is not inclined at all, it is just the place where the bombers were pulled out and inspected before flight.) You can also see the barracks that housed the cadets, technicians and trainers. 

To make a long story short, we pulled the glider out to the end of the runway behind a pick-up and took a few pictures while the pickup went down the runway about half a mile. I got strapped into the glider and we did a check for full movement of the controls and radio signal. The pilot, my step-grandfather, was in the back and I was in the front. 

To take-off, the pickup would go to the end of the 1/2 mile wire, attach it to the hitch and then radio back, "Tow truck ready to take up slack." If we were strapped in and the canopy was secured, we would then reply, "Glider ready to take up slack." The tow crew would then say, "Taking up slack." Once the slack was out, we would radio, "Slack out. Pause." This told the tow crew to wait as we radioed Hobbs Regional Airfield and warned them that a glider was being launched. Then we would say "Let's go" to the tow crew and we'd be off. The pickup would begin to cruise along at around 15 mph picking up pace very quickly to about 55 mph, at which point the glider picks up off the ground, takes a steep 45 degree angle into the air for about twenty seconds, levels out and then releases the cable from the front of the plane so that it is free of the truck. The wire, which is about a half mile long and has a piece of chain on one end, is slowed down in it's descent by a parachute which the tow crew picks up. I don't have pictures of that, but here's take-off.  

As you can see, the airfield is grown up but it still works for gliding. You can just barely distinguish the plane in the picture above, but it is the horizontal white strip in the center between all the clouds. It is nearly at 'top of the flight' which is when we release the cable. Normally, the glider would be towed up by a powered plane, but there was no such convenience that day. :)

For my first two flights, we just flew around the airfield in a circuit and then landed again just so I could get accustomed to the feeling. I flew for a majority of the time and that was fairly simple. There are three main controls: the stick you steer with, the rudder pedals, and the air brakes. The rudder pedals were handled by the pilot and the brakes aren't necessary until landing so I didn't use those. Most of the flying is done with the stick. My step-grandfather did the take-off and landing but I flew the rest. I banked over a bit too much one time and scared the pilot, but we straightened out again so other than that I did fine. :D

After those flights, my brother went up and we ate some lunch as we waited for the clouds to build. Clouds are an indication of a thermal wind current which is what the glider uses to climb since it has no engine. Without a thermal, flights are restricted to about ten minutes because they don't have enough air speed from the tow to stay in the air for very long. Flights can be up to around 7 hours however with a good thermal. They are hard to find and fairly hard to stay in but once you do, it is quite nice.

I went up a third time looking for a thermal but we had to come back down and try again. On this fourth time, we found one and began circling around inside the thermal until we were up to about 7,000 feet above the airfield. (10,700) feet above sea level. This took about twenty minutes because we had to battle the wind currents and find the right one to take us up. I flew several of these turns myself, which was a little bit scary but surprisingly simple. I started getting a little bit sick up towards 8,000 feet so we started down. In order to descend fast enough, my step-grandfather opened the air brakes, which forces us down against the wind current. Generally we would go down much slower. The fast descent increased the pressure I was half-deaf upon landing, but it went away after a little while. 

Well this post is getting a bit long. I haven't had time to explain everything and I don't want to bore you, but I might be able to answer some questions you may have. I have been considering an aviation career for some time now so today was a great chance to get a bit of experience. I have a powered flight scheduled for later on this week so may make a post on how that goes as well. So long!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Guess what this is?

You're right, it's another tag. This is the last one though, I promise. This one is from my friend Josh.

1. Do you play an instrument, and if so who was your biggest influence on the decision to play that instrument?

A. Yes, I play guitar. Acoustic and electric. I know a tiny bit of Steel too, and three Ukulele chords. :D I play some piano too. My biggest influence on playing guitar was probably my dad and my sister, because I grew up watching them play. I am pretty much self-taught though.

2. What is your favorite quote from a real person?

A. These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will in this crisis shrink from the service of his country, but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.  Thomas Paine (18th century activist and revolutionary.)

3. What is your favorite hobby?

A. Writing my book(s).

4. What is your number one goal in life?

A. When you talk about a number one goal for a Christian, everything gets thrown out for me except one thing, and that is to come to have an intimate relationship with God that is strong enough to stand through whatever trials life throws at me. I would like to get married and have children, but I do not know yet if that will happen (I'm only 16, so that's okay, right? No, I don't have anyone picked out.:D) and if it does, I believe it will be just part of the means that God uses to attain His ultimate end, plan, which is sanctification. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)

5. What is your favorite pass time?


6. If you had to, would you eat road kill?

A. Sure would. If I was absolutely starving then I wouldn't care or not if it was that fresh, but I think I would exercise some precaution. i.e. if it was entirely rotten and swarming with maggots, then I think I’d find something else. But other than that, yes, I would.

9. Do you dance? (meaning Swing, Foxtrot, Cha Cha, etc.)  If you do which is your favorite and why?

A. Of course I dance. I'm not that great at it, but I do dance. It's really hard to choose a favorite dance, because it generally depends on who I'm dancing with. Certain dances I prefer to dance with certain people. If it was a total stranger though, then I probably wouldn't care that much. I'm just glad that I'm dancing! But if that's not satisfactory, then the Swing or Tango would be my favorite.

10. Do you prefer handmade gifts or gifts bought from a store?

A. Handmade, definitely. When people make something for me it has a lot more meaning to it because they actually invested time and energy into that gift for me and it proves that they care enough to take that time. Not that I don't like store-bought gifts, it's just that handmade gifts mean more to me. Especially if they're sharp or made out of paracord. :D

Well friends, please don't tag me again for at least two months! I didn't mind doing this one at all, in fact I wanted to, but I think I'm done for a little while! Pictures of SeaWorld in San Antonio coming up next!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Favorite Quotes-Part 1

Well hello readers all! Some of you may know that on my sidebar is a scrolling collection of some quotes I put together, but as the list is far from complete I have decided to post a few more of my favorite quotes I have been putting together lately in my Commonplace Book, a quote book basically. So here they are, along with their author and location.

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. 
                                                   Thomas Paine (The American Crises Papers)

If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade,all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to thing of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’; aim at earth and you will get neither.
                                                                        -C.S Lewis, Mere Christianity

He that cometh to seek after knowledge, with a mind to scorn, shall be sure to find matter for his humor, but no matter for his instruction. Advancement of Learning, Book I(1605)   -Francis Bacon

“To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinion which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”                                -Thomas Jefferson

All that is necessary for the forces of evil to win in this world is for enough good men to do nothing.                                                     - (Edmund Burke)

“I am much afraid that schools will prove to be great gates of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not increasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt.”                               
                                                                           -Martin Luther

 If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.                            -           
                                                             -C.S Lewis (Mere Christianity)

The desire of power in excess caused the angels to fall; the desire of knowledge in excess caused man to fall; but in charity there is no excess; neither can angel or man come in danger by it. F. B

Laws are made to guard the rights of the people, not to feed the lawyers. The laws should be read by all, known to all. Put them into shape, inform them with philosophy, reduce them in bulk, give them into every man's hand.                                           -Francis Bacon

Number itself importeth not much in armies, where the people are of weak courage; for (as Virgil says) it never troubles a wolf how many the sheep be.   -Francis Bacon

It may not always happen that our soldiers are citizens, and the multitude a body of reasonable men; virtue, as I have already remarked, it not hereditary, neither is it perpetual. Should an independency be brought about by the first of those means, we have every opportunity and every encouragement before us, to form the noblest, purest constitution on the face of the earth. We have it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present, hath not happened since the days of Noah until now. The birthday of a new world is at hand, and a race of men perhaps as numerous as all Europe contains, are to receive their portion of freedom from the event of a few months. The Reflexion is awful—and in this point of view, how trifling, how ridiculous, do the little paltry cavellings, of a few weak or interested men appear, when weighed against the business of a world.
                                          -Thomas Paine (The American Crises Papers)

I said just now that the question of Faith in this sense arises after a man has tried his level best to practice the Christian virtues and found that he fails, and seen that even if he could he would only be giving back to God was already God’s own…Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your action, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.   -C.S Lewis (Mere Christianity)                                                                              

The answer to that nonsense is that, if what you call your faith in Christ does not involve taking the slightest notice of what He says, then it is not Faith at all—not faith or trust in Him, but only intellectual acceptance of some theory about Him.          
                                                               -C.S Lewis  (Mere Christianity)

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith,
                                        -- 2 Timothy 4:7 (The Bible)

Thank-you for reading! If you would like to share your favorite quote or quotes, please comment below!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Sunshine Award Tag...Again.

Well friends and arch enemies, I have been tagged again by my good friend Rachael. I will keep my post brief however, and hopefully refrain from boring you with miscellaneous information about diverse and varied subjects concerning myself.

Here are the questions that were given me and my answers to them.

1. Favorite vacation?

A. Well, if you don't call camping trips vacations, then I would probably say the trip I took last year to Washington D.C. There was also a very memorable vacation in Turkey one year when I was about seven when we went to Fetiye, in southern Turkey that classifies as a real vacation.

2. Favorite ethnic food?

A. Vietnamese

3. What book are you currently reading?

A. Book or books? :) I am currently reading Moby Dick, (boring) Jane Eyre (okay) and He Is There and He is Not Silent by Francis Schaeffer (good)

4. Favorite movie or movie(s?)

A. LotR counts as one. Then there's the Bourne Trilogy, Son of God and We Were Soldiers.

5. What do you do in your spare time?

Play guitar, read books, listen to LOTS of music amongst various other classified activities.

6. What kind of music speaks to you personally?
A. It all depends on what mood I'm in, really. I will say that metal, reggae, rap and hard rock do NOT speak to me in the slightest. I like Josh Groban, Phil Wickham and soundtracks though. Occasionally a good classic rock song will speak to me as well though.  
7. Have you ever acted in a movie?
A. If home movies count, then yes, I have acted in at least five or six.
8. How many different genres of music do you have on Spotify and/or Grooveshark?
A. I have 12 different genres on Spotify but I tend not to group my music in playlists by genre, so I have more playlists than that. I have 9 different genres on Grooveshark.  
9. Do you have a job? If so, what is it or, if not, what would you like your job to be?
A. No, I do not. That is not to say that I do not work however. I would like to be a Search and Rescue pilot, but as that involves joining the Coast Guard and/or military forces, I would be okay with being a flight paramedic, or a pilot in some sort of helicopter service. (Ambulance, private, S&R, or other)
10. Favorite hiking experience?
A. Oh goodness, I've been on a lot. Probably the one that was supposed to be a 1.5 mile hike and turned out to be a six mile hike down in Oklahoma. That's not the reason I liked it though, I liked it because we ran all the down hill parts as fast as we could. (with various implements: knives, tomahawks etc.) in our hands) Then of course, we had to wait for the adults at the bottom of each hill, but it was a lot of fun. We raced the last half mile in a full our downhill run and THAT was a lot of fun!
11. Have you lived in any other states? If you have, where?
A. I have lived in other countries, but not other states.
12. Plans for your future?
I do not have any definite plans for my future. At some point I would like to get my pilot's license, paramedics training and have a family, but I have found that leaving that sort of thing up to God is far better than worrying and obsessing over it while a teenager.
13. Do you prefer strumming or picking on the guitar?
A. Picking, slapping and thumping. I'm a finger-style guitarist in training.
14.Something your parents have done that you wished you could have been alive to do with them?
A. Can't think of anything, but I do wish I could have gone to Rome with them when they went eight years or so ago.
Thank-you Rachael, for the tag. I hope my readers enjoyed it. I think I am going to refrain from tagging anyone else though, seeing as everybody has already been tagged at least once. If you would like to answer the questions above though, then feel free!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sunshine Award

Well, I was going to write the second part to my Good Movie series here, but I was nominated for the Sunshine Award by Isaac Benjamin so here I am with this post instead. Thank-you Isaac! After all, A Good Movie Part 2 can wait. :) 

The questions I was given and my answers to the same are as follows.

1. If you could go anywhere, where would you travel?

Does this question limit me to one place??? That's not very nice. :) Well, lately I have really been wanting to visit Normandy, France. I would love to walk the beaches made so famous by the Allied troops during the week of June 6th, 1944 and to see the numerous cemeteries honoring the fallen Allied and German soldiers who fell there. Plus, it would be a great opportunity to do some on-site research for my WWII book. There are many other places I would like to visit too, like Scotland and Rome.

2. If you could live in 1945 would you?

A. That all depends on where I'm living. J

3. Would you mind if there was less gravity on Earth?

I don't think I would mind. I've never experienced a planet with less gravity though, so I could never be sure. I imagine that it would take some getting used to. 

4. What is your favorite movie genre, (Kind of movie)?

That is a tough question. I really like Lord of the Rings and Narnia, but I watch very little fantasy other than that. I have seen many amazing and meaningful war movies, but that’s not really my genre either. Action is a pretty wide genre to state as a favorite, but that's probably the one that fits my interest best.

5. Who is your favorite author-director-artist?

I think I'll probably go ahead and answer two of those. As my readers are probably aware, Lord of the Rings is my favorite book(s) but I can't say that J.R.R Tolkien is my favorite author. Based entirely on the author, I think that Rafael Sabatini, and G.A Henty are probably my favorite. There are good authors, but I don’t really have a particular one that I love more than any other. C.S Lewis and Chesterton are really good too though. As you can probably see, that question is a bit difficult.

My favorite director is Steven Spielberg. He has done some movies I don’t like, but he has produced many good ones. I don’t really keep up on directors that much so I don’t have wide knowledge in that area. I must say that I like Peter Jackson too, for his admirable efforts with Tolkien’s books.

6. Favorite book series?

That’s easy. Lord of the Rings. But I have also enjoyed the Anne of Green Gables Series, The Tripods, Narnia and the Black Stallion series when I was younger.

7. If you could have had any other name, what would it be? 

A. Well, not to avoid or be a stick-in-the-mud, but I really like the name I have and I wouldn’t trade it for any other.

That’s all of them I think. The people I nominate are as follows:

Arwen at noble-maiden.blogspot.com

My questions for my readers:

1. If you could pick anywhere to live, where would it be?
2. If you could meet any author, who would it be?
3. What type of music do you like?
4. Best line from the Princess Bride?
5. How much quoting do you do every day?
6. Do you play any instruments? If so, what?
7. What is your favorite season of the year?
8. What is one of your biggest dreams in life? (i.e. skydiving, be a pilot, win the Kentucky Derby, etc. J)
9. What is your absolute favorite thing to do?
10. If you could be anywhere right now, where would it be?
11. Have you ever wanted to just get lost somewhere for a week or two?
12. Does a cat look like potential food to you? (I have a sense of humor, ok?)
13. If you could have had any other name, what would it be? '
Okay, I know this is a common question to ask, but I'm going to ask it anyway. 
14. What is you favorite color? 
15. What would be your dream career?

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Good Movie

Series: A Good Movie
Part 1: On Box Office Hits

            Throughout the years since TV was first invented, the public has been submitted to a variety of movies and theater presentations from silent films and musicals to epics and thrillers. Over time, our special effects, computer software and HD cameras have set the bar high in the technical department of the movie industry. With the invention of airplanes and faster modes of travel, film studios are now able to fly their cast and equipment to any set they choose, giving them the benefit of both equipment and location. Peter Jackson filmed both the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit epics in New Zealand, Spielberg filmed The Raiders of the Lost Ark in France, England and Tunisia, and more recently, Thor 2: The Dark World was filmed in England and Iceland. Unrestricted and unlimited, the modern film industry has been able to produce some of the world’s most advanced films in its history, creating movies with stunning special effects and stunts. However, is technological advancement the prerequisite of a good movie? And is it the reason that a movie is able to claim the title of a ‘classic’ as it grips the hearts and emotions of its viewers?

This, then, is the question before us: What gives a movie the necessary power to shock its viewers and send them out of the theater unable to forget what they have just seen? There are different ways that movie producers and directors attempt to make a movie memorable. Graphic movies, horror movies, suspense thrillers and dramas are a few of the ways, but is that kind of remembrance the one a good director or producer wants to leave with his audience? There are some who think that, but while I agree that you will definitely make the audience remember you, it is not just remembrance that you need to make a box office hit, and it is not just being a box office hit that makes a movie good.

In order to get on that chart of ‘top ten grossing movies’, your movie has to not only make it to the theaters, it also has to be watched by millions of people. In order to get that kind of audience, the movie doesn’t just have to be good—it has to be advertised and in order to do that you have to have connections, and not a little bit of money. There have been many good movies produced over the years that would have made more money if more people had known they existed. Not everyone in the world checks the theater every week to find out if any new movies have come in, and not all good movies even make it there. To be accepted to a theater, your movie has to be attractive and prospective to the owners of the theater. They have to believe that it will attract enough people to be worth their time, and if they don’t think it is going to do that, then they will replace it with a different movie. Once the movie makes it to the theaters, it will have to be advertised enough to get its initial audience. Once it does, the snowball starts rolling.

Once a movie makes it to the theater, it will be subjected to a variety of praise or criticism depending on the movie and popular culture at the time of its introduction. If the initial response is positive, then people will start talking about it and if enough people go to see it and share it on Facebook and other similar social media sites, the larger media will very likely pick up on it, and the snowball of fame will start growing. More people will go to see it, more people will praise or criticize it, more people will write reviews, and consequently, more people will hear about it and repeat that process. Assuming that the popular reaction to the movie is positive throughout all these stages of the process, it will become a box office hit. The purpose of the next section of this article is to define ‘positive’ in the phrase ‘positive reaction’ and to show you what that means and how it changes. The purpose of the third section of this article will be to show that being a box office hit can be an indication of a good movie, but it is not the fundamental or necessary factor in determining the quality of a movie. In the fourth section, we will discuss heroes and work on identifying the qualities that transform a protagonist into a hero. I will use the fifth section to wrap up my arguments and present them in an outlined fashion.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Queen and the Soldier

Hello everyone! I recorded this a while back but as I had an abundance of things to post on, I saved this one for a later point, which proves to be now. Hope you like it! I am taking song requests at the moment, so leave a comment if you are interested. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Winter in Russia, 1812

In 1812, the proud French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte attempted to take Russia in a six-month long campaign that stretched throughout at least four harsh winter months. Throughout the bitter campaign that followed, Bonaparte lost approximately 380,000 men. Some estimate the casualties as closer to 450,000. These deaths were not caused by bombs, machine guns or missiles, nor even to bayonets and inaccurate single-shot muskets, but exposure to sickness and freezing temperatures. More men were lost in the campaign on Russia than either Britain or America put into the field during the entire Revolutionary War or the War of 1812, better known as the French and Indian War, which was going on at the same time. In the entire invasion of Russia, Bonaparte only crossed blades with the Russian army a few times. The tragic loss of life was due mainly to natural causes. This is the first part of a poem I wrote in memory of their campaign.

The Russian Winter of 1812
Open your mind and close your eyes,
And follow me if you can,
To a land where the snow never melts,
Where the lonely tragedy began.

Imagine the boots on a frozen plain,
The wind a howling whirl,
Their banners flying through the storm,
And through the gale unfurled.

The wind whips through their tattered ranks
And leaves its icy grasp
Upon the hearts and souls of each,
As through the plains they pass.

Long have they traveled upon the road,
And longer still have they to go,
Through wind and rain and hail and sleet,
On paths of freezing ice and snow.

Troubles mark their slow progression
And thousands will fall before the end,
For an icy rage in the hand of Winter
Is a fearsome foe to offend.

The cheerful rays of a summer sun
Have long since fled this land
There is no hope of victory,
But the troops go marching on.

The snow stretches across the fields
But melts with the coming rain
Churning the paths to a treacherous mire
To slow the retreating campaign.

Along the road lie the bodies of men
Half-covered with ice and snow
And horses lay prostrate and rigid,
Under the silent shadow.

The march is cruel and terrible
Men fall and fail to rise,
“Winter is with the Russians!”
That is their final cry.

Indeed, what other reason can there be?
To explain this woeful tale,
For if Winter were with the Frenchman,
Then her sons would not have failed.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

What a Day!

Oh what a day! Starting off with the luxury of sleeping in until 8:00 and ending with a good book and a cup of tea! Oh but there were other things in between, like driving along windy and rain covered roads through familiar towns to see people who are literally 'familyiar'. But the best was yet to come. =Standing outside under a small overhang playing everything you can think of on an electric guitar with two fun and invincible guitar players who couldn't care less that the rain is coming down in sheets around us! Less-than-melodic sounds emanate from the amplifiers but no one seems to notice or care about them or the rain. Neither did I.

 I'd be willing to bet that none of you expected that bit about the guitars. I bet you expected me to talk about cups of tea and good books and romantic smells of rain and earth. There is that too. :) But if you know me, you know that standing in the rain playing a second-hand guitar has a bit of a Jukebox Hero feel to it, and that romanticism has never been my forte.

But that was not the end of my day. I gingerly packed up my guitar with the careful attention and serious expression that one would use in handing a baby over to a friend on the other side of a cliff and then made my way home. (I actually got that expression today from someone when I picked up their guitar. :) It is a look of surprise, supressed fear, intense inward stress and more than a hint of if-you-dare-drop-that-I-am-going-to....to...do-something-terrible-to-you!' I give people that look every time they breathe on my guitar. Some people call it obsessive, I call it 'cautionary action caused by lack of replacement funds and imminent possibility of damage caused by user's potentiality for ineptitude and carelessness'.
 But I told you there was a bit of the romantic as well. Sitting with candles, tea and cookies with 'Les Miserables' on my lap and my eyes on the opposite wall going, why, why, why, am I reading this book? Yes, yes, it is a classic, and a very good one, but Mr. Hugo seems to have thought of a million ways of avoiding dialogue and things that actually have a very important bearing on the immediate plot. If you doubt me, consider that when one is one pg. 615, you are just now only halfway through the book and the fact that the font size is 9. When I have finished it and watched the movie I suppose I will not regret having read it so I will stumble forwards to its completion.
What else? Well, then there is right now. Outside the fields are saturated with water, a cold northern wind is blowing and the pond has overflowed its banks. Our basketball hoop was split in two by ferocious winds, narrowly missing our car, and rivers of water are running through the pastures. But I am inside, writing this post, with every soundtrack from Braveheart and Sherlock to The Avengers and Spiderman playing in the background. 'Les Mis' is sitting beside me, judgmentally viewing my neglect of it and I am looking at it with the expression of one who knows his fate is approaching. Ah! well, "If we are marked to die, we are enough to do our country loss..."

P.S. When I am done with Les Mis, I shall come back and write what I thought of it, and if my opinions now were made prematurely, I shall correct them and state my new opinion.

P.P.S Here is a link to the great St. Crispin's Day speech where the above quotation is from.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

'Son of God' and Beyond

I have seen several movies about the life of Jesus, including The Passion of the Christ, the Matthew Project and King of Kings along with a few others, but I believe that ‘Son of God’ is my favorite. I left the theater so encouraged and moved that I decided to write a post about it and show you what I took away from it, or rather, what He gave me through it. The movie had an unbelievable soundtrack, (composed by my favorite composer, Hans Zimmer) and a powerful message that went far beyond John 3:16, all the way to its fulfillment in the last lines of the Bible in Revelation. I have neither the time nor the desire to discuss plot, storyline, actors, etc. the things people usually discuss when writing a review and seem to think are the most important. I wanted, rather, to tell you why I think it is the best Jesus movie I have seen, to discuss its Biblical accuracy and how it affected the viewer, and to show you how it impacted me and what it left me with. I hope that I will have the space to fit all that in.

So then, why do I think it is the best Jesus movie I have seen? Firstly, the exterior factors. The soundtrack had a lot to do with my opinion of the movie. To me, soundtrack is one of the most crucial factors in determining a persons overall response to a movie, especially my response to a movie. Putting the right music in at that right moment is key to getting the emotions of the viewer and making your movie well remembered. In a future post, I will go into that in further detail. Soundtrack, acting, set, and filming are the most important external factors, I suppose, but they are boring and while they contributed each in their little share to my conclusion about the movie, they were not crucial. I will move on to the more important factors.

I prefer to think of movies as stories, not movies and that goes for ‘Son of God’ especially. I believe that people get caught up in action, special effects, filming, and fan-girling. ‘Son of God’ is a perfect example of how relatively unknown actors can produce a very good movie, but ah! stop right there…It is not a movie. It is a story, the best story ever told. Do not see it as a collection of random actors and filmstrips. It is the most important story ever told. That must be clear. Now that it has been made clear, we will move on.

Historical accuracy is very important, and some people have complained that the movie did not follow the Bible precisely. On the one hand, I would agree, and say, no it did not, (like when Jesus went into the tomb to raise Lazarus from the dead) but on the other hand, for the other things, I would say, “What does it matter?” The things that were omitted, paraphrased or changed were not major changes and did not undermine in any way the context or message of the Scriptures. Honestly, we do not know the exact chronology of the events written down in the Gospels and that is okay. What really matters is what Jesus said and why, not exactly where He said it. Even with the mistake of having Him go into the tomb to raise Lazarus instead of calling him out, I do not think that should affect too much the fact that He still held the power to raise Lazarus from the dead! As John himself said in closing his book, And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” If you’re a Christian and up enough on your Bible trivia to know that something was left out or misplaced, but you also know that it did not take away from the message or twist Scripture, then that shouldn't matter that much. You know what’s being left out so you’re okay and the unbeliever coming in is not going to be thrilled with a three and a half hour long movie that details every miracle that Jesus performed or every word He said. I say this with the utmost respect, with the premise that Christ does not need three and a half hours to show the people His power.

I believe the directors realized that because there were so many Jesus movies, and the life of Jesus was so well known even among many secular circles in the modern world, it would be ‘just another preachy Jesus movie’ to many people. In that light, I think they did a fantastic job of producing a movie that broke some of the traditional boundaries set down in previous movies. The parables and words that Christ performed and preached were present at the right moment and the right time, allowing you to grasp their full power in light of the context they were presented in. I think they definitely produced a new Jesus figure, one whom I thought was far more accurate and like the Jesus of the Bible, not unlike him. That leads me back to the first point and also to the third topic, for they’re rather similar, the latter being the cause for the former. The things that stuck with me and made me give it a 5 star rating, are as follows.

Firstly, the power of Christ; not the power to perform miracles, but the power in His entire figure, His confidence in the message He had been sent to preach, His courage and joy amid His suffering. It is hard to explain the things one feels when they see that divine power. I struggle to control my disappointment and disgust with those who think that because Christ was meek, He was weak. Perhaps my anger is misplaced, but I do not believe it is unfounded. Christ is not weak. He is powerful and just because He took the form of a man, does not mean He was weak. Does He not say that He could ask the father and instantly have the aid of twelve legions of angels? A man, yes, but not a weak one.

I cried as the first five minutes of the movie flashed before my eyes, for it showed Christ’s power, and how He was there, with our ancestors, on Day 1 and what He left behind so that He could save us. I cried again as the last five minutes went by, for it showed that He will be there on the last day too. "It is done,” he says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end...Behold, I am coming quickly.” This was interesting and new for me, because although I had read this Scripture, I had never watched a Jesus movie where it was emphasized so much like it was at the end of this one. These movies tend to end everything at the Resurrection, as if everything was going to be fine and happy after that, but they do not mention His role in the end, and they leave you with that oft-quoted, but never explained and less studied, sentence, “And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the Age.” It did not point ahead enough to what was coming like Alpha and Omega does and in the context of the movie, that sentence was powerful for me.
Another line that was put into ‘Son of God’, was in the last scene, when Christ appeared to John on the Island of Patmos. We do not know the exact details about this, but we do know that what Jesus said is straight from the book of Revelation. John was weeping and told Jesus that he had been waiting for Christ. Christ answered him with the second part of this verse: (verse 4) “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away…Behold I am making all things new.” I cried when I heard it. I took off my hat and cried as the movie closed and the credits rolled by to the song, Mary Did You Know?’ I had disliked that song before I saw this movie, but that was because I had not understood it fully. The version that played was incredible.

‘Son of God’ omitted the about the end of the age, like it did a few other famous translations of specific sentences Christ said that have become almost as famous as Christ Himself, as if changing it would somehow lessen their relevance. It would be silly to think that because John 3:16 says ‘For God loved the world so much’ instead of ‘For God so loved the world’ that somehow decreases or lessens the power of the verse. Paraphrasing did not take away from the movie, it added to it. It gave the movie that bit of originality to set it apart from the other movies and give you a new perspective, one that is the subject of my final point.

As we contemplate the life of Jesus, and how He was submissive and enduring of suffering and persecution, let us not forget that He could have called out to His Father at any time and that His Father would have “at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” Perhaps you are not aware, but twelve legions is approximately 60,000 soldiers. Can you imagine what 60,000 heavenly angels could do to the entire Roman army? How much more could they do to the feeble Temple guard? Remember this when you study the humility of Christ. Do not forget Christ’s power as you study His love, for God is both the Lion and the Lamb, the Judge and the Redeemer, the King and the Sacrifice. This post is far too long as it is, and I apologize for that, but I wished to address every possible objection raised against the movie and to share some more besides. I will close with these words from our King, ““Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end…Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”

“Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him.”

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Your Guardian Angel

Just a simple acoustic cover video I did of a song called 'Your Guardian Angel.' Great song and great tune, hope you like it!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Iron Will-Chapter 4

The next part of one of my books. I would appreciate any and all feedback so if you have a question or correction, please comment! Other chapters can be found in the category 'Stories' on my sidebar. Thanks!

 Jakin turned and proceeded silently out of the camp to the summit of the sloping hills that lay before the army. He hoped that the night-watch set over the army would retire by three o’clock so that the army’s preparation for battle would not be observed. Once upon the summit he ducked down just out of sight on the other side and began to run back to his own camp. He arrived at Garfield’s tent one minute late. He entered quickly and saluted. The captain looked up. “Report.”
            “The rebels have made camp for the night.”
            “It is fortunate we did not enter the valley. They had prepared an ambush, but were disappointed when we did not make any appearance. As far as I know their general assumes we are making camp.”
            “How do you know that?”
“He said so," replied Jakin.
           Garfield raised and eyebrow, but said nothing about it. “Excellent.”
“Not entirely. They have set a watch on us. We will not be able to move till after dark.”
            “It will be hard to get your men into position in time.”
“We’ll get there. On time.”
            The captain frowned doubtfully. “You had better.”
Jakin did not reply.
            “Do you still desire to go through with your plan?”
“I do. But,” he added quietly, “I will not be blamed if it fails. Also I request that this operation originate from my strategy, but your command.”
            The captain eyed him suspiciously for a moment. “Very well, take your men. If it fails, I will bear the blame.”
            A light sprang into Jakin’s eye and he said quickly, “Then draw up your troops; heavy cavalry in the middle, heavy infantry on both sides and light infantry to surround the enemy by ascending the ridges. Archery would be useful."
            The captain was amused by Jakin’s fire and his harsh commands, commands which he expected to be obeyed instantaneously as soon as the captain had given him the authority and taken the blame. Jakin forbade the horn from being used but instead ordered the word to be spread throughout the camp from mouth to mouth. The heavy infantry formed two wings on either side of the cavalry and the light infantry filed past with their commander, David Harrison, to receive their orders. Jakin surveyed David as he approached. He was a tall commander, still very young. His black hair was half-covered by his tri-corn hat lined with a silver edging to show he was a commander. His clothes consisted of white trousers and a white shirt covered in a blue vest. His face was stern in battle but he was known to be light-hearted when not surrounded by the sounds of war. A mustache was beginning to darken his upper lip but he was still practically a boy. Probably a relative of the king, thought Jakin.
            Indeed, he was not too far off. The boy was the son of William Harrison, the king’s chancellor.
Garfield began giving him his orders but then paused and turned to Jakin, “You command the light infantry with David. David, you can get your orders from him.”
            Just then Lucas filed past with the light infantry and Jakin thought for a moment before he ordered sharply, “There is a soldier here by the name of Private Lucas. Send him to me at once.”
            David’s face portrayed shock, but at a glance from Garfield, his uncle, he left and called Lucas.
Lucas came up, saluted and faced Jakin with a nervous look. “This man will co-command with us. Bring him and Captain David a horse.”
            Horses were brought and the two mounted, but Jakin remained on the ground speaking to Garfield.
           “It’s almost nightfall. I will lead the infantry around the ridge until they meet at the eastern side. We’ll be in position by three o’clock. That gives you time to give the soldiers a brief rest before the charge. You must be awake and in position by three thirty, for I’ll give the signal at three forty-five. Heavy cavalry charges, infantry follows and light cavalry patrols to make sure none escape. If we have complications and do not light a fire by four o’clock, then you must wait. Do not charge until you see two signal fires. The first means we’re in position, the second the order to charge. No doubt the rebels will see the first signal fire and try to escape by the front route. If they do then when the second fire is lit you will go forward to charge them. Understood?”
            “Yes sir.” said the captain with a smile on his face.
Jakin held the man’s bridle and said sternly, “Lives are at stake, Brigadier General Garfield. If you do not carry out my orders correctly then you might very well be tried for neglecting your responsibility. This is not some game that you and I are playing, no careless shift of authority or responsibility. My plan is sound and I trust it will work but only if you and your men obey to a turn all my orders.”
            Jakin turned and walked to the front of the heavy cavalry. He raised his voice and it rang out over the troops like a roll of thunder, commanding their attention and respect. “Soldiers and troops, Garfield has given me temporary authority over martial operations. The attack you are about to undertake will be easy but the trail through the canyon will not be one very well suitable for your horses. Therefore take care not to proceed too quickly or to separate from each other till it becomes necessary. No infantry can withstand your charge. You are invincible and victory is assured if you carry out your duties with proper attention and dexterity. There is no need to separate till their ranks are broken and they begin to run. At which point you will dismount and cut them down or take them prisoner. When you are in, the light cavalry will close up the entrance to the canyon. Any man found despoiling the rebel troops will be shot immediately. Micah Parson!”
            Parson stepped out of the light infantry and took the sword Jakin threw him. “You will join the second company of infantry.”
            Now, before we go any farther, we must clarify that one group of infantry was no lighter armed than the other, and neither were the cavalry groups. Jakin was speaking in a rather outdated fashion and what was understood was that the first company of cavalry would charge while the second remained behind to close the gap. After this instruction, Jakin gave the order for the cavalry and the heavy infantry to set up a temporary camp. This was carried out and Jakin retired some distance from the camp. Lucas was shocked at the authority Jakin spoke with and followed him to get the rest of the story. Jakin told it briefly and Lucas said teasingly, “You were a minute late. What happened? And I thought you would never take a commission.”
            “Did I?”
“No, but you took the responsibility which comes with one and that is the thing which you said you could never take.”
            Jakin nodded, “I did, but in this operation the situation is a little different. I freed myself of all responsibility. The idea originates with me but the operation was carried out by Garfield’s orders. Although I lead the party, my orders to them come straight from Garfield.”
            “What if something goes wrong and you have to order them to take measures that may be fatal?”
“Nothing will go wrong under my command,” said Jakin quietly.
            At this moment they were joined by David who stood rather awkwardly off to one side playing with the tassel on the shoulder of his officer’s uniform. In his mind he battled the longing to join and the reluctance to shove himself into a conversation between the man who was suddenly his captain and his friend.
            Lucas noticed his uncomfortable appearance and called, “Captain David!”
David turned and came over, “Yes?”
            His very words and bearing communicated the greatest humility and Lucas felt great respect and amiability towards him. “Do you want something?”
            David cast a nervous glance at Jakin and replied, “I wanted to ask the new captain when we were marching and what his plans were.”
            Jakin looked up. “We march at ten. Our campaign will last all night and part of the morning. You should get some sleep.”
Lucas realized that the young man desired to be with them and said, “Perhaps you’re not tired.”
            “Not at the moment," he said nervously. "What are your names, if I may ask?"
"Windsor and Lucas," said Lucas.
           "I am pleased to make your acquaintance," said David. 
Lucas inquired after the captain's family and reason for joining the army.
           The captain became slightly embarrassed at this question and shrugged. "My father is Chancellor. I owe my rank to is influence."
           Lucas returned the shrug. "It does not matter if the rank was given to you, it is what you do with it that matters.
      Jakin nodded. "Power in itself is not what corrupts, although some people think otherwise. It is what one does with it. Too many examples of corruption have been set for the people."
            David nodded and said quickly, “I have seen that for many years and it made me reluctant to take the position I have, but if nobody worthy comes to power then evil will always rule.”   
            “Precisely,” said Lucas, with a meaningful glance at Jakin. “Excellent point.”
David was encouraged by Lucas’ approval. “As Captain Jakin said, the power has been corrupted into a desire to rule which has destroyed much of our government. In my opinion, which I do not assume to be right, I think that governments and kings should be servants to the people. Isn’t that what their position should demand of them?”
            Lucas smiled to himself as Jakin immediately said, “Of course. They should consider their position an honor. This has been destroyed by ‘right of blood succession’ and hereditary kingdoms which entitle one to glory. One must work to attain glory and fame. Governing a nation for me would be a burden not a joy.”
            “If it was governed correctly.”
“Right. I assumed you knew what I meant.”
            David had broken down Jakin’s first wall: Silence. He had yet to break down Jakin’s numerous other walls though, and some of them would never be completely broken down. It was given to Lucas alone the ability to break down all Jakin’s walls.
        Lucas was overjoyed to find someone less gruff and stern than Jakin and the two were able to talk for hours on nearly every topic. Even Jakin was able to discuss certain things with them. It was only when they reached the topic of the military that Jakin was thrust outside. His beliefs were too extreme for David and Lucas. Their conversation had proceeded along its course until David happened to mention along the side of another argument, that military exploits were glorious. This was unacceptable to Jakin and Lucas smiled inwardly as Jakin argued coolly,
            “Any exploit which involves the killing of thousands of men and boys and the widowing of countless women and the orphaning of thousands of children cannot be glorious, Mr. Harrison. There are very few military exploits which are done for righteous causes or merciful justice and they have not visited these lands since this country was called Glasgow. True honor has deserted our ranks."
           "Yet you are in them?' asked David. 
“I was a draft.” replied Jakin sharply.