The Golden Compass

My sister wrote a piece about The Golden Compass, a different perspective from many emails that have been forwarded around. It’s up on the Vintage website. Check it out.

Different Worlds

So I’ve been traveling in different worlds lately – different from my own and certainly different from each other.

American Splendor. Last night, I watched What an interesting movie, telling the story of Harvey Pekar, a comic book writer (not artist) who developed quite a cult following in the 80s. The movie itself was fascinating, weaving together the real people with the actors portraying them as well as how they have been depicted in comic books. It had original footage of the Late Show and MTV coupled with scenes produced for the movie. It is a truly postmodern mosaic. And it tells of an interesting world – the world of a deeply depressed, pessimistic man seeking to make his life count while walking the streets of Cleveland, Ohio.

Not too far from there is a completely different world – the world of Amish teenagers. I am reading Rumspringa right now. It tells the story of Old Order Amish teens, primarily in Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, who once they turn 16 get to leave behind the strict rules of the church and experiment with the outside world. They party hard during rumspringa, many getting pregnant or becoming drug or alcohol dependent. But most of them – 80% – get scared straight and return to the Amish way of life, being baptized and joining the church. They sell their cars and get rid of their “English” clothes and return to the slower and quieter world of buggies and bonnets.

And not too far from there outside of Youngstown Ohio is where the Croatian immigrant family of Steve Belichick settled. Steve is the father of Bill, world champion coach of the New England Patriots. I started listening to The Education of a Coach this week. It tells the story of how Bill Belichick became Bill Belichick. His roots go deep into the world of the Depression era rust belt where hard work was valued above all else. He learned discipline and skill from his father who was a scout for Navy for over three decades and even wrote a book on scouting. And he learned the priority of team from high school coaches and friends. His world shaped him, and he is helping to reshape the football world.

Worlds have been colliding. It has been a little strange to walk in and out of these very different world. And I have enjoyed thinking about how my time in them ought to change my own world.


Last week in our house was dominated by Transformers. Vin and I had been talking about it for – literally – years. We still lived in Michigan when we heard that the movie was being made and that it was coming out the week of his 6th birthday. We decided then to go. And we did.

But not before I went first – at midnight on Monday. What a geek – standing in line with all the other 30something guys who grew up with Prime and Megatron and Bumblebee and the lot. When the movie ended near 3 am and I walked out to my car, I was pretty sure something in the parking lot was going to turn into a robot before my very eyes.

I went again with Ness, Vin, Mattie, and like a dozen other people from church on Sunday afternoon. Armed with the knowledge of the right scene to take the kids on a potty break, I liked it even better the second time.

It is big and loud and fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously – like so many disaster movies do. Peter Cullen doing the voice of Optimus Prime was so amazing and nostaglic and perfect.

The bad guys are bad guys and the good guys are good guys. I liked that. It was refreshing. The American soldiers were obviously good guys. And I liked that too.

Plus, the message is a great one – No sacrifice, no victory. I really love the comic book movies that have a great message – “With great power comes great responsibility.” What a great way to teach truth! (And to illustrate it in a sermon. Hey, if anyone from BaYouCa is reading, I’ve got a whole new junior high series here.)

The computer animation is breath-taking. It kind of boggles my mind to imagine what they will come up with next. Watching the robots transform was awesome, Prime especially!

My excitement was certainly fueled by Vin’s birthday, which was Transformer-themed. And it has been fueled by the very fun and high energy series we are doing at Vintage right now, Transform Your Life, which everyone seems to be enjoying. But, upon reflection, my excitement was well-founded. The movie did not disappoint. Certainly, not everyone will like it. But I did. Very, very much.

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