Dean’s List of 21 Reasons to be an Orthodox Christian.

Hipster monks
#5. Orthodox leaders have cool beards, like hipsters.

 

Important caveats:

  • This is Dean’s List. I do not speak for the Orthodox Church.
  • I love the people and forebearers of my Protestant heritage.
  • I believe some Orthodox are going to hell, and some non-Orthodox to heaven. This is about truth and love, not eternal destiny.
  • I like to have a little fun when I write.

Continue reading “Dean’s List of 21 Reasons to be an Orthodox Christian.”

Real Black Power – 12 things Ethiopian Orthodox Christians can teach American Christians

EOTC-v5

I just returned from a trip to Ethiopia. I have been enchanted with the country for years, due to its ancient Jewish and Christian traditions. My trip confirmed all my suspicions.

Every American and every Christian should be aware of this great nation. Jesus said, “The last shall be first.” Ethiopia has been last and first many times already in human history. Recently, she has been named the poorest country on earth. But that could flip the other way soon as well. Spiritually, she may never have dropped from the top tier. 

Enjoy your read, and please join me in the admiration.

Continue reading “Real Black Power – 12 things Ethiopian Orthodox Christians can teach American Christians”

50 Facts about Hillary’s dead lover Vince Foster that will convince you he was murdered.

Foster and Hillary

 

When Hillary Clinton’s lover, lawyer, and best friend was found dead by gunshot in D.C in 1993 as White House Counsel, it was the the highest suspicious death of a government official since JFK. Among the many very questionable items in the case are these 50 documented facts:

 

  Continue reading “50 Facts about Hillary’s dead lover Vince Foster that will convince you he was murdered.”

The Recent Shootings: Conspiracy defense vs. Church Calendar offense

Girl thinks

 

The recent shootings: did they happen as advertised by the media … or not? I am always suspicious—and I will talk more about that—but either way, all of us are talking about the shootings. And that is where we get defeated. But there is a way to victory.

Who sets the agenda? The agenda for life, the agenda for talking points, the agenda for daily discussion, the agenda for larger, group concerns—events, celebrations, memorials, and demonstrations? Continue reading “The Recent Shootings: Conspiracy defense vs. Church Calendar offense”

Is this the End Times? What has the Church always taught?

The future. Do we plan for it? Do we “take no care for tomorrow, for it has enough trouble of it’s own?” Do we watch the news for clues of whether we are approaching the End Times? Are we close?

Screenshot 2016-03-31 14.31.38

As one speaker I once heard put it, many Christians today say, “We’re gonna fly, they’re gonna fry, so let’s just watch the news and root for the Anti-Christ!”

As many of us know, End Times madness ends up being just that. For decades, Evangelicals have pronounced with glee that the End is almost here because Israel became a nation in 1948, and “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” Continue reading “Is this the End Times? What has the Church always taught?”

Is it time for Kings to replace Democracy? Four arguments from a Christian viewpoint.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Same-sex marriage. Abortion and infanticide by the millions. Brazen occult imagery at the Olympic ceremonies, the Grammy Awards, and the Oscars. Teaching sodomy to our five year olds in public schools. Allowing monuments to Satan in public places. The body politic seems to have gone insane.

While the idea of restoring monarchism to government may sound a bit over the top, considering how bad things have gotten, any idea is worth considering these days, no matter how ancient or odd. Continue reading “Is it time for Kings to replace Democracy? Four arguments from a Christian viewpoint.”

Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: aspects of their personal lives you may not know—an interview with Oxford Professor Timothy Ware (Bishop Kallistos)

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 6.09.59 PM

When I was in Oxford, England, I had the privilege of interviewing Oxford Professor Timothy Ware (now Metropolitan Kallistos Ware of the Orthodox Church, at the time Bishop.) He is the author of The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way, two of the most popular books in the world on Orthodoxy.

He was also a graduate student at Oxford during the days of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and has a number of  insights from interacting with them personally or being well acquainted with their close associates. Continue reading “Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: aspects of their personal lives you may not know—an interview with Oxford Professor Timothy Ware (Bishop Kallistos)”

A comprehensive Christian worldview on Geopolitics, Corruption, Conspiracy, and the Supernatural. (Dean interviews Jay Dyer.)

Jay graphic with bookMonday this week I had the opportunity to interview Jay Dyer (youtube and audio mp3 links here and below), author of  Jaysanalysis.com and Esoteric Hollywood—intellectual, thinker, conspiracy theorist, geopolitical pundit, theologian and philosopher (he just recently finished ten lectures on Plato’s Republic).

Many of you likely cringe at including all those other words along with “conspiracy theorist.” And that’s exactly why Jay is, in my opinion, one of the pre-eminent thinkers of our day. We live in a very corrupt generation, and unless some people are willing to start dealing with facts in a rational manner and take the risk of a lost paycheck—or being called names—the rest of us will continue to live under a cloud of deception and manipulation.

Nonethless, however pervasive the evil around us, confessing the name of Jesus Christ and following the two great commandments will get you far down the road, even if you are only a simple thinker. Thankfully, Jay is a card-carrying Christian and currently identifies with the Orthodox Church. And, while some of his “conspiracy theories” might be jarring, he doesn’t move into the realm of aliens, reptilians, extraterrestrials, and other la la land material—unless, of course, he considers such activity demonic distractions.

Need some intellectual grounding in a world of chaos—from the perspective of Christian truth? Jay is your man.

On the interview itself: Jay answers the following questions, among others:
– the massive Hollywood film funding from defense and intelligence departments
– the “transhumanism” religion of the elites which Jay identifies ultimately as “Luciferianism”
– the concept of “predictive programming” in film and cartoons, the motives and purpose

Much of the discussion from the crowd focused on the last question, a large pill to swallow. I consider the audience to be some of the sharpest people (many high level filmmakers) in Chattanooga. This was not a one-sided classroom lecture.

He lightened up at the end with some quick impersonations of Nicholas Cage, Rand Paul, and Matthew McConaughey.

video

 mp3 audio

Franky Schaeffer: a confused conundrum.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 4.21.18 PM

Franky Schaeffer is a difficult conundrum. I invited him to speak at Covenant College in the mid-80’s when I was a student and spent three days with him. He was very sharp, well read, not much of a sense of humor. Sensitive to what people thought (even though he loved to irritate them).

He gave an address that I will never forget that was very powerful: basically that the fall of the Soviet Union was the fruit of 500 years of the godless Renaissance finally failing for good. He had great moments.

I subscribed to his Christian Actviist publication as an avid pro-lifer, but a couple years in, men in long beards and black robes started appearing on the cover. What gives? Franky had become an Eastern Orthodox Christian. This was my first introduction to someone I knew becoming Orthodox, which I later became. I respected Franky’s intellect and background, so it certainly caught my attention.

But a few years into my Orthodoxy it became clear that other Evangelicals who had become Orthodox stopped mentioning or claiming Franky as a poster child. His attitude was hardly saintly, nor of the Orthodox way, and his trashing of his parents not very appreciated. Most of us from our Evangelical backgrounds appreciated the fact that we had found Christ in our traditions, believed godly people could be found there, and were not rebelling from them but rather looking for a firmer foundation for the true Faith we had been introduced to.

At the beginning of the video I posted here, Schaeffer identifies himself as “a survivor of polio and a fundamentalist, evangelical upbringing.” Hardly. As Franky got more shrill, other voices finally began to emerge. The best response I ever read (which I can never find online) was from his brother-in-law Os Guiness in Christianity Today. He provided a touching account of Franky and Francis’s relationship, but noted that the younger Schaeffer was hardly the victim of Fundamentalist abuse. Rather, Francis and Edith never disciplined the young boy, let him run wild at L’Abri, and he became quite spoiled. In Guiness’s words, Franky, rather than being a victim of fundamentalism, instead “was the poster child for Dr. Spock.”

I don’t really know for sure Franky’s financial situation, but his last couple decades of trashing his parents and Evangelicalism seems be a variant on the theme of shucking and jiving for reactions and cash, similar to what he admitted he did as an Evangelical speaker (15.00 mark). He accused others of the same, but he should speak for himself: I think James Dobson believes very much his message.

Franky doesn’t sell many books the past 15 years if his message is in line with Orthodox Christianity, emphasizing “Blessed are the poor in Spirit.” But he definitely needed to do something different than those movies, which were gosh awful terrible, so boring you didn’t want to watch more than 20 minutes.

And his representation of Orthodox Christianity is unfortunately incorrect. at the 21.00 mark of the video, he says Eastern “Apophatic” theology stresses “not knowing.” This is quite misleading and arguably the exact opposite. In fact, it was Western theology that had stressed the inability to truly know God himself, and therefore the best we could do is to know “about” God. Thus, the intellectualism and scholasticism of late Middle Ages and the Reformation emerged, which still affects us today with church leaders looking more like John Calvin than Francis of Assisi. The true virtue is apparently encyclopedic knowledge.

Eastern Christianity never believed that. The belief has always been that God himself is knowable: through prayer, ascetism, faith, the sacraments, charity, love, obedience, humility, etc. Knowing God, therefore, is more of a struggle, and it is more mystical than a rational certitude, which Franky hints at, but it is by all means true knowledge. This “apophatic” theology, while always emphasized in the historic church for 2000 years, was championed in the 14th Century by Saint Gregory Palamas of Thessalonika, whose cathedral and remains I had the privilege of visiting a couple of years ago. He taught that we cannot know God in his essence, since we are creatures, but we CAN know him in his energies. His whole point—the point of apophatic theology—is that we CAN know God.

Franky is really screwing up by misrepresenting the historic church.

He also said in this video that he doesn’t “pretend I have the Truth or something like that.” Well, now Franky is the hypocrite, because as an Eastern Orthodox he sings the following words at the end of every liturgy: “We have seen the True Light, We have received the Heavenly Spirit, We have found the True Faith, Worshipping the Undivided Trinity, who has saved us.”

Top 10 Questions and Comments on Harriet’s Secret

It has been one month since the premiere at the IMAX Theater of Harriet’s Secret: A Progressive Marriage in the 1890s, the full feature documentary I have been working on for two years.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 9.38.03 PM

Having now taken a deep breath, I will devote a blog entry to discussing the most common questions and comments I heard that night after the show and the week following. For those who haven’t seen it yet, click here for the storyline.

1. It really wasn’t what I was expecting . . . but I liked it!
Apparently, a large portion of the audience was ready to chill out with some popcorn and enjoy an evening of light entertainment. I got the sense it was entertaining—it did keep everyone’s interest—but it was hardly light. The intense themes, tragic drama, and large amounts of information imparted to capture the social history of the era made for a night of intensity. It was more like the Deer Hunter, Sophie’s Choice, and Clockwork Orange and less like The Sound of Music.

People pay money to watch those intense movies made by Hollywood as well, so I think everyone was glad they came. It just took a few minutes to adjust.

2. That could be made into a narrative movie, not just a documentary.
This often mentioned comment surprised me. But I guess all the stuff is there for a Hollywood version of my doc. I was flattered. There are two reasons why I didn’t make it that way. 1. I am naturally inclined toward documented history and hard journalism and 2. It would have been literally ten times more expensive. Maybe more.

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 7.39.58 AM

3. I hate Percy. Why does Harriet act that way? Cecil confuses me.
These are sample comments on various characters. They represent the sense that the movie really made people think, which was a definite goal of mine. People on both sides of the ideological aisle enjoyed the film, and it challenged them.

4. I liked the Andrew Carnegie/Theodore Woodruff subplot as much or more than the main story.
I heard this quite a bit. The story of Percy and Harriet lasts about 55 minutes. The remaining 35 minutes provided me the opportunity to also tell the story of another ancestor of mine, Percy’s grandfather, who invented the Pullman sleeping car that revolutionized rail travel. Carnegie and Pullman stole the patent and left Woodruff penniless, but Carnegie decades later in his autobiography credited Woodruff with starting his fortune. This subplot is a fast paced story with adventure and intrigue and ends with Woodruff dying mysteriously. I used the subplot in part to lift the mood of the audience as the Percy and Harriet story, while also fascinating, is heavier and somewhat slower moving.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 9.55.25 PM

Subplots can perform various functions. One is to contrast with the main plot. Another is to confirm it or double down on the climax, which is what this one does. The movie ends with two strange and mysterious deaths.

5. The first half was slower than the second half.
This was actually a backhanded compliment. In fact, the second half of the movie is so interesting and moves so quickly that even I have a hard time stopping it, and I’ve watched it dozens of times. But, yes, the first half is slow by comparison, but still keeps your attention. This is one of those tricky facets in the art of storytelling where you have to provide just enough intrigue while imparting the necessary background information to properly set up the rest of the movie. This story required quite a bit of information, so I counted the cost when writing the script. But I feel like it worked.

6. The quality was so professional, like what you would see out of Hollywood.
Indeed. Much of the credit for that goes to cinematographer and co-producer Axel Arzola, who shot and edited the entire film. His standards are extremely high, and he’s just flat out talented. Our actors, untrained volunteers, also had an unusual amount of raw talent.

7. What are you working on now?
I have been chewing and praying on this question for a while. I don’t have the answer yet. However, I have in fact started playing around with a romantic comedy and it’s starting to take some shape. (I guy who plans to become a monk falls in love with his buddy’s mail order bride.) We’ll see where that takes me.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 10.00.48 PM

8. Did you enjoy it?
Yes. Very much. I was a good bit concerned about the medium of film as opposed to what I am used to—writing books. I wondered if the big but temporary splash of a movie would be less satisfying than the longterm feedback you get from a book. I guess it’s a bit too soon to fully compare and contrast the two, but I will say I did enjoy the high intensity of premiering a film. I didn’t say, “Well, that was anti-climactic. I won’t do that again.” I really enjoyed the experience, and if the right opportunities come together, will look to try and do something again.

9. What else is planned for Harriet’s Secret?
It has been submitted to several film festivals (and we plan to submit to a few more). Hopefully, we will catch someone’s attention. We won’t know for several more months. Until then, we have to refrain from distributing via DVD, streaming, YouTube, etc. as festivals often require their festival to be the first public viewing of the film (our premiere was by private invitation only). If the movie gains traction at a film festival, perhaps a cable company will pick it up.

In order to enter all these festivals and tie up loose ends, we have a remaining need of $500. Click here if you have an interest in helping with that.

10. Any other interesting stories?
Yes. A friend from high school and her husband traveled from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to attend the premiere.  Really, Amy was more of an acquaintance back in the day, so her traveling all the way to Chattanooga was surprising, but certainly flattering. It was one of the little bonuses of the event for me.

Turns out, there’s more to the story. Amy’s husband Ed is an entrepreneur and investor. And one of his pastimes is Kickstarter. So one day he was surfing around the fundraising site and came across my film project. He thought it was really cool and showed it to Amy.

“I know that guy!” she said.

So they decided to make the nine hour trip. I got a chance to chat with them at the afterparty; they had dressed up to the nines, participating in all the fun of a premiere. That’s when I learned the story of how they came across Harriet’s Secret. They loved the film and want to help advance it’s promotion with a network of friends in the Los Angeles area.

Amy and Ed travelled from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Amy and Ed travelled from Cape Canaveral, Florida.