Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My Two Cents on Phil Robertson.

A quick warning before you continue, my Christian friends: This will make you mad. You might not like this. Particularly if you are a fan of 'Duck Dynasty.' You have been warned. How about we call this an experiment in First Amendment acceptance, shall we?

Okay, now that is all clear...

I have a confession to make: I have never seen an episode of A&E's 'Duck Dynasty.' I do not understand the fascination with 'Duck Dynasty.' Alright, that part's not true. I do understand the fascination with 'Duck Dynasty.' The Robertsons are openly Christian. We sure do love when we have some great Christian things to obsess over, don't we? In fact, it sometimes can even feel like Christians are almost obligated to love these things. Things such as: Kirk Cameron, Jesus Culture, WWJD bracelets, and Bible verses haphazardly plastered over stock photos of sunsets. You might see why I don't openly share my not watching of Duck Dynasty. Perhaps it is a good show. I generally don't like reality shows, unless it's Pawn Stars. Pawn Stars is just fantastic. 

Back to the matter at hand. As I have not seen an episode of 'Duck Dynasty,' I thought I would look into the show a bit. From Wikipedia, I learned that the show has attracted (at least at one point) 11.8 million viewers. That makes 'Duck Dynasty' the most watched non-fiction cable broadcast in history. I also learned that the opening theme is ZZ Top's "Sharp Dressed Man." Hmm.

So...a lot of people like 'Duck Dynasty.' 

Now, about what happened. One of the Robertsons, Phil, did a GQ magazine article. In the interest of full disclosure, I have not read this article. In fact, I cannot find this article anywhere and I am under the assumption that it has not actually been published in entirety. I am also aware that internet news reports love twisting and turning things for the sake of getting clicks. That said, here's what I know. At some point in the interview, Robertson said: 

"everything is blurred on what's right and what's wrong ... sin becomes fine,"

I can agree with that. As a long time Christian and a Biblical student (for credentials) I can see where he is coming from. The magazine, however, asked for more. Boy, did he ever give it to them.  

"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there -- bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,"

Oh Phil. Please tell me you didn't fall for that trap. Your show is in its fourth season. You've been an outspoken Christian the entire time. How did you not see that coming? There is not a news media outlet on the planet that does not want to catch a Christian on the homosexual topic. It isn't all bad though, Phil. Joel Osteen just recently managed to navigate that situation just fine. I'm sure you were just taking the chance to show some love to some people that might not see your show. Right?

"Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers -- they won't inherit the kingdom of God. ... Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."

Well...okay. I can still follow you here. I mean, technically this was Paul advising the church in Corinth to make sure they weren't swayed from the Kingdom by the sin around them, but that must mean you were encouraging Christians like me to not stumble or compromise our beliefs, right?!

"It seems to me, a vagina -- as a man -- would be more desirable than a man's anus," he said. "That's just me. I'm just thinking, 'There's more there! She's got more to offer.' I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical."

No. No no no no no no no. 
This is where I officially lose my sympathy. Here's why.

'Duck Dynasty' is in its fourth season. Fourth. There is no way these men have never done an interview before. There is no way they have never been advised to choose their words carefully. There is no way that Phil Robertson, or any of the Robertsons for that matter, are not aware of the icons that they have become. Icons, in no small part, due the large Christian following of the show. It's also worth pointing out that this show is generally considered a family-oriented show. I understand each episode begins with a prayer. That's pretty awesome. Now, one of these icons just went off about how desirable a woman's vagina is. Really let that sink in.

As a someone who came into the world on the tail end of the Millennial generation, I've already encountered many instances in which I have had to address homosexuality. After prayer and study, what I've learned is this:

Your feelings on homosexuality directly relate to how you view sex.

What I mean is this-if sex is just something humans do, whether we are just like the animals or not, you generally find yourself on the accepting side of this debate. However, if sex has a spiritual side to things, then you see sex differently. Christians probably should fall under this category, as it says in 1 Corinthians 6:15-20,

Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.” But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.
Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.  

In case you were wondering, I do believe that there is a truly spiritual and sacred component to sexuality. That is why I am also not of fan of where Robertson went with his comments. That does not sound like someone taking sex seriously. Now, I'm not saying we shouldn't talk about sex. In fact, we need to do more of it. However, we need to view sex as deeply spiritual, not just a desirable thing God happened to give us. If anything, Robertson's comments echo that of my high school classmates, glorifying the achievement of 'scoring,' while I struggled enough with making sure I didn't see that compromising image on the internet.

You know who else takes the topic of sex very seriously? Homosexuals. They are defined by their sexuality. We all are defined by something. For every Christian who gets persecuted or mocked by what defines them (Jesus), that which a homosexual is defined by is constantly mocked or made offensive to them (sexuality). Sometimes, I can't help but wonder if Christians have done it to themselves, basically burning any potential bridge that could bring more people the love of Jesus. We downplay sex as just a "thing," and then tell people they are going straight to Hell for that very "thing!" Case in point: Robertson paraphrases 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, but in his usage, he gives no hope! What if he were to use a different verse in the same context, say, Romans 3:23-24? Nothing is being compromised, but we're sharing love, not just condemning. 

Honestly, after that he should have just shut up and changed the topic.  

Keep in mind, I'm a Bible believing Christian, just like Phil Robertson. I am very sad that Phil doesn't get a chance to make things right before A&E does damage control for their PR. The Robertsons could have used this chance to reach people they might not have with 'Duck Dynasty.' I pray that this also does not cause the family -or those that work on the show- grief, as that would be tragic. I'd hate to see a show tank that so many people loved. I'd hate to see people have to find work. I'd hate to see bridges burned.

Perhaps we Christians get a little excited about our celebrities. 

Except Kirk Cameron. Kirk Cameron is the man.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hope Still Flies (Or, a post 9/11 memory)

        Today, no doubt, all Americans across this wonderful country are remembering where they were and what they felt on this day eleven years ago. I know that I am. I recall the early morning oatmeal smell as I came down the stairs to some of the most explicit language I had (and to this day, have ever) heard in my life. I saw my grandmother, with tears in her eyes, trying her best to explain to little me what exactly had happened.

       She didn't have to.

       Everything else from that day, to be honest, blurs. It's been eleven years, and the world around me has changed exponentially since September 11th, 2001. We've seen huge shifts in religion, class, society, science, technology, privacy, the law, war, and the list could go on. Since that day, we've become a little less trusting, a little more scared, and a lot more on edge. The America that existed on September 10th died the next day, to be replaced by something else. 

      This is not a criticism of America post 9/11. This is not the place, nor the time. Any other day, I'm vocal about what I disagree with or do not like about what is going on in this country. Today, today is different. Today-we don't need that.

      In fact, I'd like to ask that if you have any sort of opinion that might hurt someone on this day, please keep it to yourself. Conspiracy theories can be saved for September 12th. Criticism of politics can wait until September 12th. Ultimately, we were caught completely off guard. Not that we weren't ready-the bravery of every emergency department in New York alone prove that-but because it's about near impossible to have known that this was going to happen.

      Something of this scale could not have been anticipated. Regardless of what anyone could have done, did, or didn't do, no one expected to turn on their TVs to see that blatant display of evil. And it was evil. Whatever those men did to justify what they did doesn't matter-any sane person wouldn't need two seconds to know this was, like the image above states, the actions of madmen.

     However, there is one resounding truth to take from September 11th. And that is the fact that the sun rose again on September 12th. We were different-changed and hurt. But we were still there. Like the flag we sing so proudly of in our national anthem; we survived one of darkest moments of our 300+ years as a country-and we were still there! 

     I remember September 12th better than I do the 11th. For the next few weeks after the attacks, we didn't wait for the dust to settle. And for the first time, I saw what America is really about. People stepped up to help other people recover. Volunteers began to dig through the rubble with exhausted and scarred service workers. People looked to their government, not to their political party. We honored the few men who decided to rise to the call and manage to prevent one more plane from hitting anything. Some people prayed, and other people didn't let it bother them. Others didn't pray, but didn't disrupt the prayer, and they weren't forced to. Gender, skin color, beliefs, opinions, these things didn't matter. We were Americans. All of us. And we needed each other more like we needed each other during the 1940's, like during the 1770's. We earned our heritage in those few moments. We were truly the realized dream of our founding fathers. 

    Because we are imperfect people, this could not last. It's tragic, but it is the truth. Eventually, things shifted again, and we are where we are now, eleven years later. And we are still here. On this day, as I remember all the loss, all the pain, all the scars, I remember that, even for a brief moment-we stood taller than any of us could have ever imaged. We stood together, one nation, under God, indivisible. That is the strongest memory I have of this most terrible event. We lost a lot, but we didn't lose it all. We were changed forever, but didn't forget who we were. And every year, on this day, we go back to the way we were in those days and weeks after disaster. It's only one day, but I still cannot be more proud to pledge allegiance to the United States of America.

     Stand tall, America.

     Psalm 3:1-3 "O Lord, I have so many enemies; so many are against me. So many are saying 'God will never rescue him!' But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high."

*The images included in this post are from Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #38 by J. Michael Straczynski with art by John Romita Jr. You can download this issue for free through the Marvel Comics application on iOS or Android or through Marvel Comics Unlimited online. This is not an endorsement of Marvel, but I did use their images, and I think people should read the whole thing.*

Friday, September 7, 2012

The question I get asked the most is...

"What should I buy?"

Okay, obviously this is more of a practical post than a very deep one. But it does happen to me a lot. I'm asked often especially about mobile devices. To say that mobile is how we like our technology is a bit of an understatement. So I'm often asked what people should get. Now if I had my way, I'd have something picked out for someone, but often-especially with something as personal as mobile tech-it's a matter of personal preference. So, I'll go over where each platform stands right now, (Objectively, I promise) and hopefully that will help you make the best choice for you.

iPhone (iOS)-Apple

It's impossible to talk about this without talking about the impending iPhone 5. As of now, we know nothing about the thing. However if leaks are to be accurate (just Google iPhone 5, watch what happens), then some people may be disappointed by the, well, lack of change. We do know, however, more about what the iPhone 5 (and 4s, and 4) will be running. iOS6 will have some changes to it, such as FaceTime over cellular networks and not just Wi-Fi, turn-by-turn directions *finally*, and some other features the 5 will no doubt be advertised with. Looks? Well, it looks pretty much the same as iOS5, with about the same limited customization options. If you were hoping for widgets to be added, too bad.

Things to note:
When the 5 is announced, the price of the others will obviously drop. If the 5 doesn't sell you, maybe a dirt cheap 4 will.
If you've used an iPhone before, jumping ship will surely be hard. Chances are high that you've bought an app on iTunes that won't work on any other platform, or you've managed to get iCloud working. That might be enough reason to just stick on Team iPhone.

Advice: If you love Apple, use it, or are interested in the iPhone, it can't hurt you to wait for September 12.

Galaxy S, One, Droid, and others (Android platform)-Google, Samsung, HTC, LG, Pantech, Sony, Huawi

Before we go any further, let me make one thing very clear that hasn't been for some time:
ANDROID is a platform, just like iOS. DROID is a device series that Verizon paid out the butt for the rights to use from George Lucas. Now that you have had that quick crash course, never confuse the two again. Thank you.

Anyway, the Android platform has never been better. The newest version, called Jelly Bean, has been announce, but has begun it's slow roll out. Of course, that might not be as slow now that Motorolla has promised that every phone that can be updated (if it was released in 2011 or 2012) will be by years end-with Google backing that up. And if your phone can't be? You get $100 to get a phone that can. This will hopefully get every other Android manufacturer in gear to keep Android devices updated, becuase that would be the greatest weakness of the OS. Unless you get a huge flag ship device, you can't be sure that the phone will still run well over the next 2 odd years you'll have it. Thankfully, the version of Android on most new phones (called Ice Cream Sandwich) is both stable and wonderful, so you shouldn't have many problems for some time. As for phones themselves? They are a plenty. You've probably heard of the Galaxy SIII somewhere, and rightfully so. It's on many carries, and is a great price at a cool $200. Becuase Android devices can be so varied across carriers, let me drop some links to what I think is the best for each carrier. *All of them have the SIII, so just consider it already on the list.*


HTC One X (the best value you can get in a smart phone!):
Sony Xperia Ion:


Motorolla Droid Razr M:
HTC Droid Incredible:


Samsung Galaxy Nexus:


HTC One S:
Samsung Galaxy SII:

Things to note: It's fall, so there are about to be a bunch of new phones drop all over. If you can wait, wait a couple of weeks for everyone to announce their fall lines.

Advice: If the SIII doesn't whet your whistle, there's something that just might. Be sure to give the phone a test run at a store before buying. Plenty of people are just unwilling to try to figure out what they are doing and cry "iPhone, iPhone!" Remember, the iPhone doesn't even have a manual. You're kind of expected to figure it all out yourself.

Windows Phone

To be honest, this platform isn't even actually out yet. You can get a feel for what they are going for on the current Windows Phone 7 devices that are running around. The problem with WP8 is that it hasn't gotten it's footing quite yet. I don't really have a full opinion of this OS quite yet. I like the Xbox integation with games. The tiles could be cool, but you can even customize the iPhone more. What I really think will be the appeal of WP8 will be the fact that their platform-as opposed to any other mobile platform-is, at it's core, the same kernal as Windows 8 for computer. To boil it down, the phone will work in conjunciton to your PC better than any other device. That, and the fact that big names like Nokia, Samsung, and HTC will be releasing devices that look and feel great and unique, just may make WP8 your choice.

Things to note: There isn't actually a confirmed Windows Phone 8 on any U.S. carriers yet. So keep your eyes out!

Advice: Go look up Nokia's WP8 keynote presentation. That should tell you right off if you'd like WP8.


..................................just wait for BlackBerry 10. If it doesn't interest you, don't bother.

So, there you have it, my advice about what mobile device to get for yourself. Hopefully this helps you make the best choice for you.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Good, The Bad, And The Batman.

You've more than likely heard about the tragic events that occurred early this morning in Aurora, Colorado. So, I won't bother going back over everything that we know, because it makes my heart heavy, as I'm sure it does for you as well.

That said, I do want to make one plea to everyone:

Please do not blame Batman.

If you know me at all (or have seen my presence on social media), then you are aware of my deep love for comic books, particularly superhero comic books. However, this is not why I am writing this. If I were, it'd be more about how you shouldn't try to compare The Dark Knight Rises to The Avengers. This post is more about why we care so much about what happened last night, and why it matters.

During my short lifetime on this planet, there has been quite an lot of events to occur that shock our nation. I remember the school shooting in Columbine, Colorado. Obviously, I would not have been old enough to understand exactly what everything meant-but I've lived with the consequences as a graduate of the public school system post-Columbine. I remember 9/11. How could anyone forget. Those are memories that are imprinted now in our entire country. I remember the Virginia Tech shootings a few years back. Many of us remember these events, how we felt, the way our hearts broke-and how we were shocked that it even happened.

There is nothing that I remember better about my childhood than my. fascination with superheroes. I loved what they stood for-protecting the cities they loved, the people they cared for, and ultimately, fighting for the greater good. Batman: The Animated Series, for example, never went over Batman's origins in the actual series. They didn't need to; the Tim Burton film had just been announced. As for us kids watching the series, we didn't need it. Batman was good. The goons he was beating down? Bad. It was simple. When you are a kid, it's a lot easier to believe that the world is that simple. Obviously, things are always more complicated than they seem. However, society today can spend all day debating what is "good" and what is "evil." More over than not, we've just decided that we can all decide what is good and what is evil by ourselves. I did. My superheroes taught me that there was a greater good that needed to be defended.

In our "everything is relative" lifestyles, the world sometimes likes to remind us that there is a such thing as pure evil. This happened last night. There is a such thing as pure good as well.

Ultimately, the idea taught to me by superheroes is what led me to understanding God and His love. Over and over, in the book of Genesis we see that God sees creation as "good." This must mean that He understands what good is. And, being God, He must have it more figured out than us. Isaiah 55:9 tells us “For as heaven is higher than earth, My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." (HCSB)

God's thought process is different than our own, and He sees pure "good." Occasionally, we can see it too. We see it in the little things, the person who is willing to give a warm meal to a hungry stranger, the person who starts a push to raise money for a life saving procedure for a child. There is still good in this world...and beyond.

All of these shocking events I've lived through have taught me that. Evil does strike. Even so, goodness still manages to survive. The good guys still win.

So, if your kids ask about Aurora, Colorado, tell them that evil attacked, but the good guys got the bad guy.

Pray for Aurora. Keep those lives in your thoughts. Give those you care about an extra hug today. And go see The Dark Knight Rises. They worked way too hard on this film for evil to win.

Evil loses in the movie, too.

Saturday, December 31, 2011


Doing a blog has been something I've talked about (to myself) for a long while now. And I feel, now that I've been alive for more than twenty years, I shouldn't waste my thoughts on myself. So instead, like so many on the internets, I'm going to waste them on everyone else who'll listen.

Anyway, I want to reflect on the things that have brought me to this point. I'm a ministry student about to finish his credentials. I live in the state of Utah (still under construction) and have done so forever. Which, is, in fact, a measurement of time when stuck in our traffic. I'm an assistant to a wonderful youth pastor (not that others aren't) have an awesome relationship, friends, and my mother didn't completely ruin me while I was growing up.

More so than anything that has defined my life, however, has been a constant search in my life. That is, the reason for being alive. My entire philosophy on life is this-we exist, therefore there must be a reason. Indeed, there are many who would argue that we all just kind of, well, showed up to the party uninvited. But I've seen people who live that way-and it is an empty lifestyle. It can lead to a dark pit of despair. What I've noticed today is that people have an need a constant fill of something to fill that pit. Anything. Friends, hobbies, talents, sex. Anything. And while that one may find satisfaction, it isn't enough. "Yes it is, I always party." But there always must be another party. There must always be another drug, friend, sexual encounter.

The truth is, we're looking for a constant. Maybe that's why we make New Year's resolutions. Perhaps we think that if we change for (what we think) is the better, we'll find our constant. That never failing satisfaction of being alive.

What's my point here? My constant is love. Not the kind of love many think of, not a love interest in a film, not a dating relationship. But a heavenly love. One that is, truly, a constant. Christ loves you at any point, He wants to be that part of your life that is always there, never failing, never letting go.

This year, I encourage you to consider what is your constant in life. Especially if you are starting 2012 in a way you wouldn't call your best. Consider what causes you to get out of bed, to be alive. Find it, and hold on to it. Find Him, and He'll hold on to you. Constantly.