Friday, May 01, 2015

The First Year of Marriage

 If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.  – Deuteronomy 24:5

This is one of those kooky verses that we don’t understand in modern America, so we just jettison it like old apples.  “It has no use or application to me”, we might say--then we just rumble on with our overactive “Christian” lifestyles.  We really like to do this, especially with the Old Testament:  There is no prophecy, proverb, or command that we can’t easily throw aside based on the fact that it’s, after all, the Old Testament, and “didn’t Jesus come to make the Old Testament obsolete?”  Well, no.  Of course not- Jesus came to obliterate the law, or even more specifically, to replace the system that says justification before God is due to the observance of the law.  So observing many laws (Anybody rest one day a week?  Anybody avoid taking the LORD’s Name in vain?) is not wrong; it’s the looking for right standing before God through observing those laws that Jesus came to destroy... 
Back to the verse.  There are all kinds of things that God tells us in the scriptures that are just “laws of living”: they’re God’s Owner’s Manuel for how to be a successful, well-working human being.  And this is one of those laws.  Let’s observe what exactly the verse says:

1)                    When you marry, the rules change.  This should be obvious enough, but lots of people don’t take this on board.   People assume that they can go on with their guys’ nights, spending in a way that only considers yourself, throwing your dirty jeans wherever, scheduling yourself the way you used to, etc.  Oh contrare! Entering into any covenant is a death and a rebirth.  That means your old way of life, your old identity, your old patterns- they all DIE.  Isn’t it funny the first time you’re referred to as a fiance? Or as a husband or wife?  Yeah, that’s a new label for you, because your identity is changing.  It’s a huge thing to undergo, and the Bible says it takes some time.  EVERYTHING is up for re-negotiation.  That doesn’t mean you’ll never have a guys’ night again; it just means that you can’t assume your old life is going to continue, with the minor addition of a new person along for the ride! 
2)                    New Marriage needs new margins.  The verse says that the man is not to go to war, nor have “any other duty” laid on him.  Wow!  Okay, this means that IF THE NATION IS AT WAR (does that sound like kind of an emergency?  Uh, yeah.  It does), even THEN, the husband is not to go away and join the fighting.  Wow.  And there is to be no other duties laid on his head.  Okay.  To us, this means that we’re to avoid any new stresses or weights added to a new marriage.  Did we mention that you’re struggling with a new identity and lifestyle?  That’s a SIGNIFICANT adjustment, and the invenstment in that personal transformation will pay off for generations.  The Bible says, give that transition some time.  Avoid taking a new job, moving to a new city, or taking on volunteering roles (however good they may be!  It could be feeding the poor or helping out at your church or any kind of great, selfless stuff… but the Bible says this isn’t the time.  You’ve got bigger fish to fry), where at all possible.  Make room for each other. 
3)                    Bringing happiness to each other is a learned skill.  It feels indulgent, maybe, to devote an entire year to “bringing happiness” (another translation of this verse is “learn how to please…”), but that’s such a necessary, foundational skill of marriage… and of family life in general!  Books like The Five Love Languages or His Needs, Her Needs are all about this learning process- loving one person is NOT the same as loving another person.  So the Bible actually dictates that there be a period COMMITTED to the study of loving your new spouse.  It’s kind of awesome of God to demand that we do this, huh?

So besides encouraging people to say NO to good-looking opportunities that will introduce stress and responsibility into a young marriage (at least for the first year), we recommend a couple of other things too: 
1) Try to get away monthly.  Go camping, find a B&B, go stay with relatives- just get out of the grind of normal life and get away together.  Take that time to review your vows, talk about your marriage and relationship, and how’s it’s going with the year’s gold to “learn how to bring happiness”.  What am I doing well?  Where can I improve? Etc.  This is the most important relationship of your life, and will determine the lives of, potentially, thousands of people who come behind you.  It’s worth the investment.
2) Work your way through marriage books, attend a marriage conference- just make marriage your hobby for the year.  Find a helpful blog or podcast, meet up with another young couple, find a mentor couple to guide you, etc.  Just make Making A Great Marriage job one for this year. 
3) Use this first year to get your finances in order and create healthy habits that you’ll follow for a lifetime.  That includes giving, savings, and good spending (spending on stuff that matters, like relationships and memorable experiences, but saying no to stuff that doesn’t, like chasing fashion or tech trends).  Talk through all these things as often and as thoroughlly as possible.  What better time to work through these really important issues than your “off year” of marriage?
4) If there are past abuse, sexual, or illness issues, deal with them.  Get counseling.  Find a prayer group.  Get physical therapy.  Again, this year is for YOU- you’re laying a strong foundation for the family God is buildling through the two of you.  Don’t put off wholeness in body, soul, or spirit.  Invest in each other and in your marriage.

I can’t think of a better investment in this first year than to pursue one another’s health, wholeness, and happiness.  Being able to believe that “my spouse really wants my good, more than money or success or knowledge or anything else” is a powerful trust-builder that, again, will pay off for the rest of your lives (and for the duration of your family lineage!).  Go to school on this wonderful provision God gives us in the scriptures, and protect this precious first year.  Don’t let undue pressures creep in on your new marriage- knowing that fostering its health is the wisest move you can make.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Prophetic Word From Denis Beausejour

I see a fork in the road with Jesus saying “Come follow me”. 

I sense the Lord is calling us to move beyond addition in our disciple making and to move to multiplication. Biblical knowledge is no longer to be the sign of maturity but rather obedience and fruitfulness and reproduction. I sense Jesus saying “I am going to have you bear much fruit if you abide in obedience.”

I believe the Spirit is asking us to stop muffling Jesus words with human traditions. Those who have ears to hear are those who approach His Word with a desire for uncompromising obedience. The commands of Jesus are the textbook for discipleship in lifestyle. We must obey in repentance, Spirit-filled living, prayer, generosity, restored marriages and relationships, and making disciples.

Get your disciples ready for the church to move underground. The coming season will be a time of revival and awakening contrasted with growing evil and persecution. We must not allow the cares of the world to distract us. Set the plow and do not look back. Become poor so that others may inherit eternal riches. Loving one another will become more and more practical as we share our resources.

Prayer will release the coming move of God. Will you seek me in the school of Kingdom prayer? I am releasing Body ministry through the priesthood of all believers. I am obliterating the clergy/laity divide and calling everyone to ministry. Leaders streamline your budgets and engage in tent making. Simplify.

Open your hearts and open your homes. Grasp my definition of family - the Father’s Household. Fathers and mothers will turn to the next generation and build networks of extended households where the next generation is disciple systematically for reproduction. Generations will come together in the Body. Unity and love will prevail in my Church by the power of the Spirit.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Discipline is Normal

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.     -1 Corinthians 9:24-25

Today I heard a group of people talk about the pain and glory involved in physical training when they've not been used to it.  What resulted was anger/cursing, resentment, accusations from their own hearts ("You can't do this."  "You need to stop."), guilt/shame, and a general feeling that they were trying to tackle something impossible.

What I took away from their inspirational stories was that WE ARE SOFT.  Me included.  WE DESPISE DISCIPLINE.  We've all been acclimated to comfort and instant gratification and the (vain) pursuit of life without pain.  It's the calling card of our culture and we were trained up honest, right in the middle of it.  It's the air we breathe.

Unfortunately, this will not do, going forward.

1.  Our endurance is crap.

      The one who endures to the end will be saved.   -Mark 13:13

Endurance is the ability to undergo pain for long periods of time.  Most of us throw up our hands at ANY sign of pain, much less the slow burn described by the word "endurance".  That stuff is in short supply around here, and I'm emboldened any time I see it on display around me.  People who fast as a discipline (as opposed to a one-off "don't let me die, God!" emergency move- I mean those are good, too, but when somebody decides they're going to fast as a lifestyle move, I want to take my shoes off.  Holy ground.), pray through the night, repeatedly and decisively pour their lives out for the poor, etc. are special people.  They are building ENDURANCE.  Ask any distance runner and they'll tell you that you can NOT start having 10 hours of running in the tank.  You start small.  It hurts.  You run.  It's exhausting.  You lose hope.  Then you ramp up again, give it another go, and you can go a.  little. bit... farther.  Repeat, ad infinitum, and you get Mucho Endurancio.

2.  Discipline is part of the deal.

     Endure all hardship as discipline.   - Hebrews 12:11

We all like the idea of being disciples.  Sounds great!  But the idea of being DISCIPLINED, or "living a life of discipline" or whatever it looks like in action?  We run the other way, screaming.  "I've earned this car, even if I can't really afford it."  "But it's the holidays and candy is everywhere!  How am I supposed to resist?"  "Get up earlier than I already DO, just to spend time with God??"  We use innumerable excuses to dodge discipline... and yet we call ourselves disciples!  ...I think somebody's fooling themselves.

3.  Discipline is voluntary discomfort.

     I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.     - 1 Corinthians 9:27

     I'd like to think that discipline in money, physical discipline, discipline in my relationships (like scheduling a date night with my wife then sticking to it), discipline in my prayer life, etc. are all just electives.  "I can add one here or there if I want bonus points with God."  This is not so.  Submitting oneself to discipline is a prerequisite, not an add-on, to maturing in Christ.  It's all over the Bible, but it's not a popular thing to discuss, because it indicts about 99.9% of us (I'm certainly in that group).  We are going to have to bow our head to a life of discipline (intentional living, army-type living, a more spartan, not-all-luxury-all-the-time attitude) if we want to taste the Kingdom.  It's just the way it is.  "Whoever wants to gain his life must lose it."  What do we think Jesus meant by that?  Just changing our goals in life from "selfish" to "moral"?  We can live a moral lifestyle for selfish reasons, you know!  SelfLESS living means that my whole life looks engineered for God's purposes.  It's intentional, and strategic, and less mushy.  No getting around it.

4.  Endurance and discipline will be called upon.

      The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.   -Matthew 13:22

     We're coming into the very end times- the last days.  They will be hard days.  Miraculous days, to be sure, but hard days.  There will also be a massive falling away, during these desperate days, by those who call themselves believers.  It seems that those who fall away will be those who 1) were told that God only does happy things, never hard things, 2) have avoiding all suffering, so never been toughened up into people with endurance, and 3) are too weak and cowardly to face pain with boldness and yes, even love.  I do not want to be in that group.  So I'd better start to see discipline, and its resulting pain, as a friend.

Revelation 12:11, as many of us quote, says "they defeated [the devil] by the word of their testimony and by the blood of the Lamb."  True.  But it goes on to say "they loved not their own lives, even to the point of death."  Do you love your life today?  Sure you do.  Your comfort, your pleasure, ease in Zion- these are all things we hold precious to us, actually, as Americans.  Well, praise God, I think we're going to have to have some cold water thrown in our faces that will wake us up to the present and coming reality that discipline will be required for the days that we're headed for.  And because it's God, I know it's good.  My flesh is weak but praise God, my spirit is willing.  I'm into making my spirit the lead horse on the Stevie team, so that weak flesh will have to fall away.

The kind of endurance and discipline the LORD is calling us into these days is a high calling.  It is not for the sissies.  It is for the warriors.  I might not be one yet, but I'm in training.  I'm happy to admit alongside you that training hurts.  But I'm coming to believe that it's good.  It's provision from God.  It's salvation.  It's a little-regarded form of His protection. 


Take a minute and consider-

Where are you avoiding discipline right now?

Eating habits
Sleeping habits
Sex habits
Spending/saving habits
Prayer/study habits
Physical fitness habits

Now take a moment and consider-

What am I going to do to undergo the pain of discipline in this area?  How can I build it into my calendar?  What can I use for inspiration or encouragement?  Who can I enlist to keep me accountable?  Do I need to spend some money to make this happen?  Etc.

I wish I could force each of you to do this exercise (you'd be better off).  But then again, we won't answer to each other; we'll each give an account to the Captain of the Hosts.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.  If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open... Prosperity is as short-lived as a wildflower, so don’t ever count on it... Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.     -James 1

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Stock Values: Down.

Today I took a look at my stock positions on E*Trade. This is what I saw:

What I want you to notice here (if you can read it) is that, altogether, I paid $938.19 for stocks that are, together, worth $1.10 today.

That means, if I were to "cash out" of my 2,210 shares of stock held by E*Trade, I could not afford to purchase a carbonated beverage at the local convenience store. I would need to add a quarter to my stocks' aggregate value for that soda pop. Or, considered another way, I would need another 578 shares of stock to buy the refreshing fizzy drink.

In this, I have been 'unlucky' with the stocks.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Allen Stickney, 1940-2008

I was first told about Allen Stickney by my friend Karl Nyquist. I was hunting for a shepherd/mentor in Dallas, and Karl told me there was a "hard core anti-institution" guy that I should look up. When I first called Allen to see if he had some time for a guy like me, he inquired about me and I said I discipled men as a matter of course. There was a pause on the other line.

"Well where do you come from?" he said in his severe southern drawl. "Because guys like YOU don't run in herds..."

I soon learned that, to Allen, "ministry" was all about making disciples. One life breathing into another. He had no time or patience for any religious effort that didn't translate into mature disciples of Jesus. Needless to say, he wasn't a church fan. One of Allen's famous lines was "the greatest enemy of the gospel is the red brick church house on the corner." He used to berate his old pal Bud for only spending his time around churchmen, instead of the bars that Allen liked to frequent to fish for men. "I tell him, I say 'WHEN, in the name of GOD'..." (This is an exact quote, because once I started hanging around Allen, I took a tape recorder with me to capture his pithy greatness) "...WHEN are you gonna make something that looks like YOU? ...Instead of these phony-balonius, sanctimonius CRAPHEADS..." The guy was, understand, 58 at the time. Aren't you supposed to be a little more... REFINED by that point?

Allen's experience with the Christian Religious Complex was extensive: he was the "head pastor" of the First Baptist Church of Augusta, Georgia ("Oh, sure, there I was preaching on television every week, thinking everybody NEEDED to hear what I had to say...") until the racism of his governing board forced him to leave in disgust. His wife Alice (who Allen never referred to but called her "Alice Faye, Baby"- which, pronounced by Allen, sounded like BAY-buh) complimented his passion for taking the good news about Jesus to the very least, so they relocated to Kenshasa, Kenya, and had a career as missionaries, until family problems brought them back home to Dallas.

Scores of men, and the hundreds they impacted, are glad God brought Sticko back to Texas for a while. My life was certainly changed. Allen was one in just a small handful of men who've seen the LORD's purposes in me, called it out, and befriended me while watching over my soul. I learned from Allen that the church can meet over fried catfish or in a living room easier than in an auditorium over a Sunday bulletin. I saw a middle-aged man who was still frank about his struggles with the flesh, and who was still ravenous toward the Father, the scriptures, and humbling himself in prayer and worship.

In 2002, Dora and I were honored to have Allen officiate our wedding. He and Alice were the single most encouraging couple with regards to our relationship. They saw God's plan long before we did, as Alice and Dora had started to spend time together too. Alice is, like Allen, a person who is completely aware and open about her shortcomings, and simply trusts in the LORD to see her through in spite of them. She pays no attention to Alice, trying to get herself perfect. Her attention is given over to the Perfect God. She and Allen always playfully called me a knucklehead, saying that I was so in love with Dora that I couldn't even see straight enough to know it. But they were for us through all of our romantic bumps, and told us so repeatedly.

Allen and Alice Faye Baby dreamed of returning to Kenya, where their hearts were, but they received the terrible news that Allen had developed prostate cancer. Undergoing the painful humiliation of chemo, the troops rallied around Allen and did what we could to serve him and Alice. One of my most precious memories of Allen is when I visited him in his bedroom, catheter and all, and sang songs to Jesus with him. He said I was like David with my guitar, giving comfort to the afflicted Saul through the peace of music. Nobody knew how long he was for the earth, but we knew he was hurting and struggling. That pain laid him open to God like never before. He became desperate, cried out to God (and how!) and he was healed of that cancer. Really. It was gone.

Once the doctors were satisfied, Allen and Alice headed back to Kenya, full of youth and energy and great plans for the kingdom of heaven on earth. But they could only stay a couple of years, as Alice had some eye problems, and they returned to Texas once again. Didi and I had dinner with them last year, and we were amazed at the openness and faith of Allen especially, and the ebullient peace that Alice always seems to exude. He was talking with God in terms of a deeper intimacy than he'd ever had. It was astounding. Ever heard of a 67-year-old, who grew up steeped in the Baptist religion, turning to the LORD anew, changing his theology, and being baptized in the Holy Spirit? Yeah, me neither--until Allen. He's one of the very few Christian lifers I've ever met who became MORE malleable, MORE humble and simple in his faith, and MORE open as time went on. Most of us become crusty in our theological certainty, aloof in our self-righteous satisfaction, and arrogant of our knowledge. Not Allen.

Then the cancer sprang back to life, more aggressive than before. In no time, Allen was gone. He crossed the finish line on July 6 from a nondescript hospital room in Dallas. But to me and Didi (who he lovingly called Dora BAY-buh), Allen Stickney was a shining star of a man, rough-hewn and beautiful, ornery and gentle. I will love him as long as I live, until the day I see him again.

The words he spoke over our marriage have become an anthem ringing over our lives. Allen took to the Message, all raw and common-sounding, and this is how he liked to say I Corinthians 2:9:

"What no man ever saw or heard, what no man ever thought could happen... is the very thing God has planned for those who love him."

Saturday, July 05, 2008

You Crazy Galatians!

Last weekend I did something I rarely ever do.

I went to a good old-fashioned churchhouse sunday-go-to-meeting. I could say a lot about this experience (I certainly thought many things), but I'll limit myself to two main ideas. First, this:

You know how obese people deal with self-hatred, so they hate themselves somewhat and give up on their bodies so hate themselves a little more so give up on themselves a little more so hate themselves a little more? That's called a Downward Cycle.

You know how people who work at StressMoney, Inc. deal with performance so they work a little harder (producing a little more success, as they've been trained to define it) so they snuggle up to performance a little more so they work a little harder and do 'better' so they snuggle up to performance a little more? That is, also, a Downward Cycle.

You know how people who have a history of bad-ending relationships often deal with rejection so they act in ways that inevitably lead to their being rejected again so they engage in more feelings of rejection, then project that rejection on the NEXT person they meet so that feelings of rejection become automatic, and they deal with more rejection? Again, an ugly cycle. These are all also called ADDICTIONS.

There's another cycle out there which also gets a lot of play. It goes like this here. Ready go:

*I feel that I am a not-all-I-can-be kind of person. I should try harder. I should be better. I should clean up.
*I would feel less loserly if I got me some of that Old Time Religion. That churchhouse makes people betterer, I hear tell.
*I go to church and yep, they affirm my suspicions. I AM a loser. They don't say that outright, but they do identify all my shortcomings with expertise. They are good at this. I am... not.
*They indicate (in accordance with the belief that made me come in here in the first place) that regularly attending their performances and giving them my money will help abate the loserism I deal with.
*I continue to attend, having more shortcomings identified, being told more ways to outwit the loserism which is in my very fabric (I'm really not good at implementing their tips, which is... a bummer), but feel that if I come here more, this will somehow help me out of the quicksand.

Sound familiar? Might we call this sort of thing a Downward Cycle? Or addiction? I will. And here's the bonus round:

*I am actually a TRY-er, and over the years, have generated such buy-in that I attend the Varsity Prayer Meeting at 6:30am (or I'm on the Special Set-Up/Take-Down Team, or I find myself in a Leader/Staff position, or I get Bible Colleged, or I'm on the Donut Brigade). More of this is better, right?
*I soon learn that the stakes, here, are even HIGHER. Whatever I started doing before (I AM, now, reading some Bible once a month. Okay, God?) isn't as good as it MIGHT be. If I pray 10 minutes, I might should bump it to 15--you know, to show my 'commitment'. If I feed a homeless guy, I'm "challenged" to feed 10 and make sure they get into a local trade school. If I WAS giving them X% of my money, X+4% would be even more "humble", "godly", "mature", "self-sacrificing", or whatever the carrot is. There should always be Just.. A... Little... Bit... More out of me.
*I try. Boy do I try.
*I return to the top of this list, realizing that self-hatred, performance, and rejection are ALL there! Wow! This IS the bonus round!

[Caveat: I'm not saying there's anything wrong with helping homeless people get into trade school.]

So I recognized that cycle while I was there last week. I hadn't seen that before.

The second thing I'd like to relate was an actual poem that was dramatized for us all. I'll help you know what was going on so that you don't miss the theatrical aspect of this performance piece or, more importantly, what I thought about everything (wink!). [And yes, I did ask for a copy of this thing specifically to pass along.]



There was a church upon a hill [by this, they mean a churchhouse building: bricks-and-mortar. Not, you know, the church.]
Where everything was fine until
The paint inside was getting old
And peeling in some spots, I'm told
[Do you like it so far? I do.]

The pastor called a business meeting [now see, this is a blatant bastardization of the term pastor. Pastors don't CALL F-ING BUSINESS MEETINGS, THEY WATCH OVER THE SOULS OF HUMAN BEINGS, FOR THE LOVE OF THE GOD WHO SHINES IN HEAVEN. Ahem.]
And after the preliminary greeting
The deacon cried, "Come one, come all!
What color shall we paint each wall?"

They gathered in the sanctuary [don't get me started on what is a candidate for sanctification and what is a superstitious article of witchcraft, based on the powers we ascribe to it]
Each determined, and contrary [Oo!]
Sister Gayle said, "What do you think
About a very chartreuse pink?"

Brother Dave said to the crowd
"Isn't that a bit too loud?
I prefer a subtle blue-
It makes the walls look clean and new!"

A woman rebuked, "I wanted gold
It seems much warmer-blue's too cold."
A man in the back began to bellow
"Yellow! Yellow! Yellow! Yellow!" [repetition for comedic effect]

From that point on, all their voices grew stronger
Each selfish plea whined longer and longer
Then strongly and sternly, a voice of great love
Silenced the church as It spoke from above:

[Here, 'church' is used as a general location, as in 'the auditorium erupted with applause'. Just so you know. Also, know that at this point, the performers slowly began to bow their heads as an unseen performer using a microphone spoke these words as deeply as possible. Also remember that this is a Voice of Great Love.]

"You wonder why you can't hear my call
When your greatest struggle is paint on the wall [good grief! the rhythm of this thing!]
Paint your church the color of skin [Here, God also refers to drywall as a church. Whoops, God!]
For you let no other races come in.
Paint your church a wealthy green
For you ignore the starvation you've seen
Paint it white and clean as uncalloused feet
For you refuse to share my joy in the street.
I agree that your church could be painted in blue
For your hearts, so cold, are given to so few.
You're experts at church as a highly skilled game [I think God is now referring to the workings of the entire outfit, which isn't really any closer...]
But reality demands you serve men in MY name
You pray using eloquent "thee"s and "thou"s
And yet forget about here's and now's [I'm not sure what God's saying here but I'm certain we've been bad.]
You struggle to be an earthly saint
But my love must not be covered in paint [Again, God may be misusing a metaphor here]


I'm tempted to just end there, but I just can't. I don't think anything on this page has ever embarrassed me more than that piece. It made me angry to retype it. Somehow, this piece went from being about people who bicker about color preferences to a long list of our shortcomings. That God really rubs your nose in it, huh? When this thing was done, and my mouth was AGAPE, the performers silently took their seats and people in the crowd raised their eyebrows and looked at one another as if to say "boy, something to think about, there. Mm-hm..." And then everything moved right along, as if this was totally understandable and normal. I was looking for Alan Funt. Nobody presented a plan for helping the hungry, we just all sat soaking in the guilt and shame juice which had just been poured all over us. I wanted to scream and cry and vomit and kick those freaking V-Drums to hell. How dare they so blithely screw with the God's kids' perception of his attitude, you know?

I asked myself this: do people walk out of here today feeling endorsed by God, or under suspicion? Do they think God is excited about them, or generally disappointed with them? Do they want to aggressively seek out love because they've been given so much by a good Father, or are just hoping to appease the Great Frown--I mean, uh--Voice of Love? God help us. Please.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Movie Pitch: Behind Closed Doors

Okay, got a crazy idea for a movie.

I’m open, shoot.

A beat-up, rusty robot is all alone.

What’s his goal?

Well, uh... he has no goal, per se. He crushes and stacks trash.

And this is the star? The beat-up trash compactor?

Yeah, but.. but he does things that enDEAR us to him.

He tells us his hopes and dreams? He fantasizes about becoming a real boy?

Well, no, like I said he doesn’t really have any goals. Maybe he’s lonely?

And he conveys this how?

Beeps and mechanical purrs. ... You know, R2D2 has ALWAYS been loved…

Son, even loon-ball Lucas wouldn’t hope that R2D2 could carry a movie though! He has to communicate SOMETHING to us… what does he do that’s endearing?

He… gathers odd bits. That he finds. An old Rubic’s Cube, for instance. People LOVE that thing, am I right? And, uh… he has an old video tape... ready?... of My Fair Lady. Classic, huh? Do kids love My Fair Lady? Yeah they do!

I… don’t… ...Tell me about his world. It’s beautiful, he makes friends with people?

Well, no. It’s a sort of Mad Max world—completely desolate, destroyed planet. Not a stitch of greenery. No humans left on the planet. At all. Just totally barren. Ever read the Road? Maybe we see a… cockroach?

A cockroach? What are you, stupid? So it’s a movie with just this depressing robot on this depressing planet and maybe a cockroach?

Oh, no. I’m not STUPID, sir. There’s a love interest! Yesir!

A love interest! I’m listening…

Well, she’s also a robot…

Talking? They start talking?

No, no… no talking between them. Boops and bleeps. You know, boops and bleeps.

Uh, huh. Two robots that don’t speak on a godforsaken planet, collecting trash with a sidekick cockroach. This sounds great. And action-packed, I might add.

Wait! There is action! About halfway through, they make it up to a spaceship full of people…

People! Finally! Somebody we like? A Dick Van Dyke sort of guy up there who takes them in, gives us an emotional figure we can sink our teeth into? Gives them a family and shows them how to love? Tell me yes.

Well, that’s a negative, too, I’m afraid. See, all the humans are overfed, underexercised, and spend their days in sort of hovercraft La-Z-Boys plugged into video monitors. I mean, ha, just TOTALLY fat and gross--completely pathetic. The humans are deplorable. They don’t really interact with each other, or with the robots. It's crazy on this ship.

Geez, man, you’re... kind of depressing me, here. Are you aiming this movie at Goth college students, or what? Is a killer going to be let loose on this ship, or are they going to be sucked into a black hole? I mean, who do you hope will watch this?

Uh, children and families, actually.

There are some really nifty chase scenes around the space ship. Oh, boy, it’s fun. And one human decides he wants to STAND, which humans haven’t done for like 500 years. It's kind of campy/inspirational, because these LOSER humans are FINALLY going to MAYBE start to STAND, for cripes' sake, and we think MAYBE...

…you know WE’RE humans, right? This is like making a Christian album full of songs criticizing church. Is there even any HUMOR? Do you have ANYTHING?

Oh sure! In several places! In one instance, the robot accidentally runs over his cockroach buddy! Ha! Maybe he runs him over a couple of times! Snort!


..and, uh, the girl robots BLASTS a huge boulder, and there’s a reveal of the guy robot just COWERING behind the remaining rock—I mean, he’s absolutely scared for his life! He thinks she’s going to kill him! He's TERRIFIED back there!

Oh... I just… I’m feeling sorry for you right now. ...So... how, in your mind, is this film supposed to be fun or attractive for children? I mean, in ANY way whatsoever.

Robots open and shut, like Transformers and Iron Man…


Did I mention the chase scenes? There are two different ones, for sure.

You did. Listen, friend, I really appreciate you coming to me FIRST with this idea, but unless there’s something AMAZING you’re not telling me about this non-talking, future-despairing, humans-are-simps, plotless funfest of yours, I think we’re going to have to pass. I do hope that… SOMEone will give it a good, hard look, and…

Oh, and did I mention that Pixar’s going to do it, and we’re going to use really cool computer imaging and early test group results suggest that 20% of all moviegoers will buy a tie-in product of some kind?

Is $200 million enough to get you started?