Sunday, March 23, 2008



A funny thing happened between "Beauty and the Beast" (BB) and "Aladdin". I remember walking out of BB and thinking that this was a classic. And I still feel that way. When I walked out of Aladdin, I knew I had seen something rich with talent, but the word classic didn't enter into it.

I have mostly stayed away from Disney movies since then, with only occasional visitations. The Pixar films (usually associated with Disney, though the company was not actually owned by Disney until 2006) are the hallmarks of the same thing today. They are films of enormous technical prowess, yet the simple storytelling of BB and Pinocchio seem to be lost in the shuffle.

Enter "Enchanted", which we watched last night. This movie attempts to pay homage and poke fun at the Disney tradition. I was only slightly surprised to see how much the critics loved it. Critics have loved the new Disney films and the Pixar films, and those films have pretty much been lost on me. The Pixar flms at least have the technical wizardry and razor sharp dialogue. "Enchanted" was a mess. It had a clever premise, but in the rush to be too cool for school, Disney emerges with a mess, as they have for so long now.

Give me simple storytelling...I say it over and over. "Enchanted" wants it both ways: a simple fairy tale with the sharp edge of Manhattan. But in the process, it lost both.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


A Conversation With Myself About Barak Obama

Joel 1: I have every reason to vote for this guy. He is an inspiring presence, he seems to be an authentic, progressive voice, and he seems that he could be another step forward in the long struggle of the African American people to have an equal voice in our nation.

Joel 2: All this is true, but if you would only look closer, you would find that the actual things he stands for are not in line with your beliefs.

Joel 1: How can you say that? I want people to have health care. I want the poor in our country to be cared for, just as the scriptures say that they should be. I want the long struggle over race to continue to make progress. Also, I know, as I white American, that the injustices done to the African American race are truly egregious. What better way for me to be a part of the solution than to vote for this man, who seems to not only understand the plight of the poor African American, but also the frustration of the Middle Class American.

Joel 2: All true, but how does he actually wish to implement these changes? Does he want to make health care more affordable by scaling back government involvement? After all, the very poor don't pay for health care now as it is (because of Medicare), and if the government takes over health care, what incentive will the medical industry have to prosper if they have nothing to gain monetarily from it.

Joel 1: That's cynical. Why should the health care industry profit from giving people care they have no choice regarding.

Joel 2: Because that is how is prospers. How can innovation and progress take place in this world if there is nothing in it for people? And why draw the line with health care? Couldn't I make the argument that no 21st century American should have to pay for food to feed their family? As a grocer, I think you count on your company being profitable so that you can feed your family.

Joel 1: True, but what about the poor and the plight of the African American.

Joel 2: Those are tougher. The poor and the issues surrounding the poor should always be disquieting to you. The minute they lose that, Christ has lost a hold of your heart, and you have become unable to care for people as he does. But how do you think government will solve the issue? If there's one thing we can be sure of, it's that creation of more bureaucracy will line everyone's pockets but the poor. Also, the separation of church and state issues make it very difficult for private charities to use government funds. I hate to say it, but it looks like you are going to have to strive to be more involved with the poor yourself, because it is not possible for the government to do the job as well. True, people can eat and have a home due to government money, but does that bring them into their own? Does St. Paul not demand that a man work to feed his family.

Joel 1: But what about Africa? The problem there is not the inability to work, but a level of poverty that we cannot imagine here.

Joel 2: I agree. But the current president, as dissatisfied as both of us are with him, has given more money than any president to Africa. We can only hope the next president does the same, whoever it is. We also need to be more involved ourselves, because the organizations we support do more than the government could.

Joel 1: OK OK, but why shouldn't that next man be Obama? He seems to care for the downtrodden, and wants to endow the people with hope.

Joel 2: Yes, but what does he believe? You must vote and support based on ideas, not how one makes you feel or what someone seems to be. You believe the greatest issue of any campaign is one that hasn't even been raised, the unjustified killing of millions of unborn children. Mr. Obama is for the status quo. True, he may wish to invest tax dollars in young people and protect the vulnerable, but how can you forget the fact that he isn't willing to protect the most vulnerable and weakest among us?

Joel 1: Fair enough. But I just want to make the evils of racism go away so much, and voting for him would seem to help that.

Joel 2: I understand. But you can't vote for someone because of their skin color without regard for their belief. That is insulting to the person and takes away his dignity. You owe it to him to support him because you support his ideas, not because you support his skin color.

Joel 1: OK. I gotta go...but this isn't over.

Joel 2: It never will be.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Good Friday in Minneapolis

As you will see from the photos, we are having a truly Minnesota Good Friday. We have had a wonderful day. Steph and I attended a wonderful church service downtown while her parents watched the kids. The message was wonderful, emphasizing God's sovereign act of our salvation. There was also some gospel tinged worship which made it a very refreshing experience for us.

Tonight, Steph and I are going out for a quiet dinner. We are grateful to her parents who are always willing to help out with these dates.

In the middle of this Good Friday, I took the kids out (along with their papa) for a romp in the snow on this, the first day of spring.

At the same time, this day always has that tinge of poignancy because of what Jesus did for us. This morning, I turned on Bach's St. Matthew's Passion for awhile. At one point, Corrie came in the room. She seemed uncomfortable with the tone of the music. I explained to her that it was written by Bach, and that the people singing were singing about the time when Jesus died for us. She kept asking questions about the death of Jesus. She held up her little king doll with his crown, and I asked her what crown did Jesus wear..."A crown of thorns," she said. "Daddy," she continued, "I wouldn't like a crown of thorns on my head." She expressed her love for God. And then an interesting thing happened. She came out with one of her cries when she isn't really crying (at other times, I would call it a phony cry). But this time, it was clear that she was kind of sad. I asked her if she wanted to hear other, happier music, and she didn't want to. It was as if (this is only my interpretation) she felt like she wanted to hear this sad music for a time, since I had explained to her what it was. After a bit, she expressed a desire to hear happy music, but only if it was "grown up music." I put in Handel's Messiah, and Corrie instantly recognized the "Hallelujah Chorus" from her Handel kids' CD. Jack came out and we danced around the living room for awhile. As we danced to the Hallelujah chorus this morning, Corrie repeatedly asked me, "Daddy, is this the very good ending?" (Corrie has a children's Bible in which the final chapter has the title, "The Very Good Ending.")

I may be reading too much in to this, but it struck me that we are all like this to a degree. We need to focus on the magnitude of the suffering of Christ, for it is there that we see his amazing love for us. But we move ahead to the Resurrection, for the suffering of Christ accomplishes nothing with out his victory.

Yes Corrie, this is the very good ending.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008



So Corrie is 5. I thought to myself the other day, "She can't be turning 5, because she had just turned 3 when we moved to Minnesota, and it hasn't been two years since we moved to Minnesota...oh wait..."

I have written many effusive blogs about my kids, and I am sure I will write more in the future.

This time, I wish to reflect on her silliness, and how much she loves her brothers, and how much she has become her own little person. Last night, as we watched American Idol, she danced with each song, yearning for the applause of us, her audience. She loves making her baby brother laugh, and she is pretty much his favorite person in the world.

5 really seems like she is a girl, and not a little girl, or anything else. She loves reading, and it is fun to watch as she learns to love some of the things I loved (Tom and Jerry), and act in ways I don't usually act (she is a performer at heart).

Corrie Hesed Bascom has been with us 5 years. I know not what the future holds, but these 5 years have been great.

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