Oct 04 2011
A Brief Reading List to Make You a Raging Nutball Like Brant

Believe it or not, people ask for this.  Some, because they're genuinely wanting something to read, and others, likely, because they want to know how one human's brain can be so fouled.  Who's to blame for this?
Well, here you go.  Just a starter list.  Blame these books, and these authors.  More to come, if you want.
A Scandalous Freedom -- Steve Brown
Steve Brown is a good, solid, Reformed, theologically-sound, upstanding, pastoring, college-teaching, doctorate-holding, mild-mannered, wise, older gentleman.... who completely ticks off all the “Good Christians” with this book.
He tries to get Christians to believe the Gospel, and, my friends, let me tell you... that ain’t easy.
In other words:  Hero.
Orthodoxy -- G.K. Chesterton
G.K. Chesterton is one of my favorite people ever.  He’s absent-minded, he’s self-deprecating, he’s happily fat, he loves life, and he disagrees with just about everybody, all the time.  And he’s also so right, so often.
Plus, he’s hilarious.  And he skewers modernity, just so. 
He shows how beauty, art, and life are found within the bounds of lasting, Biblical faith in Jesus, not in the avant-garde.  Faith in Jesus “fits the lock” for life’s troubling questions.
Pagan Christianity and From Eternity to Here -- Frank Viola
They won’t stock Pagan Christianity in many church bookstores, even though it sold mega-copies.  I can understand why.  Frank Viola (and George Barna) show that a lot of what we think of as making up Biblical “church” life actually has no basis in scripture. 
Hold on to your churchgoin' hat.
-- and then read Viola’s follow-up, From Eternity to Here, to see just how beautiful God’s vision for the church really is.   It’s an incredibly romantic book.  Read them both.  Healthy deconstruction, then reconstruction, and it’s a beautiful thing.
Prodigal God -- Timothy Keller
I wish I could buy this one for everyone who’s been in a church more than two years.  Tim Keller captures the story, and how it re-defines, for its listeners, God, sin, and forgiveness.
The mis-named “Prodigal Son” is the best story I’ve ever heard.  Read this book, and then thank God. 
Messy Christianity -- Mike Yaconelli
Mike Yaconelli died in a car accident after writing this.  I always admired him for his youth ministry, and for his leadership of “America’s slowest-growing church”. 
Funny, and easy to read, and so true.  We’re all messed-up, and stuff happens, and thank God for all of it.
The Last of the Mohicans -- James Fenimore Cooper
Just kidding.  I actually hate this book.  "The Coop" was, I’m sure, an awesome guy, but... zzzzz.
The Great Divorce -- C.S. Lewis
I could pick practically anything by Lewis.  But Heaven and Hell are big right now.
In Love Wins, a book of the moment, Rob Bell recommends this book “for further reading”, along with Keller’s Prodigal God.  On this, I agree with Bell wholeheartedly.
What’s So Amazing About Grace -- Philip Yancey
The world pines for grace.  It aches for it.  Yancey is a fair-minded, thoughtful, journalist-type who grew up in legalism.  He tells stories, and helps us all breathe the fresh air of Amazing Grace.
The Ragamuffin Gospel -- Brennan Manning
This book confirms what I thought:  If a single book is loved by both Rich Mullins and Bono, I’ll love it, too.
Here's the upshot:  Losers, misfits, and benchwarmers... welcome to the table of God.  Let's dance.

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Oct 02 2011
Um, Maybe We Shouldn't Make Christian Video Games

Yeah, uh... I don't think so.

I know they're a burgeoning art form, but I really don't think we want many more "Christian video games".  This new game, here, is supposed to have heavy theological themes, but a) I don't understand them, and b) any profound truths are going to be completely eclipsed,, theologically-speaking, by the main guy's pants.  

...and his blouse-thing.  (I would, however, buy a spin-off game:  Ultimate Answer Quest IV:  What's Up With That One Guy's Shirt?)

Anyway, it brings to mind the only "Christian video game" I've ever owned.  I'm not sure why they sent it to me.  But I played "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" long enough, back in the day, to answer these FAQ's, and hope we maybe, you know, don't ever try this again:

FAQ's:  Left Behind:  Eternal Forces

Does Left Behind:  Eternal Forces let you kill people?

Yes.  But only in self-defense.

With a tank?


But you're protecting others, so it's morally good, then.

No, it costs you Spirituality Points.  It's still bad.  But sometimes, you have to kill bad guys, but it's still morally bad, but you should do it sometimes, but it's morally bad, but sometimes you just have to, you know?  But it's bad.

How can you tell who the bad guys are?

They cuss.

No, seriously.

No, seriously.

What do you mean?

Each character has special traits and abilities.  The Christians all have "Pray" under their special ability section.  Like, there's a woman who's the Worship Leader, and her special abilities are "Pray, Crowd Worship"  When you equip her with "music" and "public speaking" training, she gets the ability to "positively rivet the audience nearby."

Awesome.  But she doesn't cuss.

No.  Bad guys have "Swearing" as their special abilities.  All of them.  For example, non-Christian musicians get special abilties "Swear, Sing" or "Swear, Play", or -- for the Level 3 Rock Star -- "Swear, Perform Concert"  And she wears a scanty blouse-thing, which should tip you off that she's fixin' to swear.

ALL the bad guys have "swear" as their special ability?

Yes.  It's pretty realistic of the end-times, when cussing will increase ten-fold.  The Gangster bad guy has "Swear, Rumble", the soldier has "Swear, Explosive Bullets" and thief, curiously, has "Swear, Pickpocket, Poison", which is an awesome name for the next Shaun Groves CD, in my opinion.

Swear, Pickpocket, Poison?

Swear, Pickpocket, Poison.

Is there a David Crowder Band song in this game?

Yes.  For me, this is causing some cognitive dissonance.  I don't know how to account for this.  I do kinda wish he, himself, were in the game, and he could drive the tank maybe. That'd be cool with his hair sticking out and stuff.

Back to the good guys/bad guys.  You mentioned they have to be trained or something, to get their special abilities?

Yes.  The good guy Christians get trained at, primarily, something called The Mission Training Center.  Also Churches, Cathedrals.  Christian Level 1 Soldiers get skills like "Pray, Explosive Bullets".

So they're trained at Mission Training Centers.  Where are the bad guys trained?

All the evil people are trained at...you guessed it..."college".

Can the good people marry the bad people?

No, because all the good people are already married.

All the characters are married?

No, the good people are married.  All the bad people are single.

You made all this up.

I made nothing up.