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Location: Des Moines, Iowa, United States
* Jars of Clay
* Sixpence None the Richer
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* Maroon 5
* Gavin DeGraw
* Napoleon Dynamite
* To Build a House
* I Do Exist (Warren Throckmorton)
* The Butterfly Effect
* Wild at Heart (John Eldredge)
* The Jesus I Never Knew (Phillip Yancey)
* Blue Like Jazz (Donald Miller)
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There comes a time when we all have to call our dragons.
Watching the movie Eragon made me think about how just about every story ever
told ultimately creates a perfect parallel of the human condition: a battle
between good and evil, right and wrong, hot and cold.
When it comes to movies, the viewer almost always knows
exactly who the bad guys are and just what needs to be done in order to
"get" them, and the hero usually does too. The question that's left
unresolved is rarely the nature of the evil or the duty of the task, instead
the question is almost always about the hero. More specifically, does the hero have
what it takes to win. The movie Eragon is no exception.
When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he
thinks it's just a lucky charm, but then the stone starts to move...
Eragon had heard his soon-to-be-mentor Brom telling the townspeople stories
about a time when Dragons and Dragon Riders ruled and protected their world
from the evil that lurks beyond. In fact Brom was beaten by the evil kings' soliders when
he suggested that such a time might just come again.
When Eragon's blue wonder
finally hatches a dragon he initially views it as a fun pet, but when the
Dragon starts to fly Eragon realizes that his Dragon, Saphira, was the
fulfillment of Brom's prophesy; but who would ride her? Eragon, thinking he had
found the stone merely by chance must have thought it was his job to find a
worthy rider for the beast, but when Saphira starts to speak she explains that
Eragon's finding her wasn't the result of chance, but choice. Saphira had
chosen him from the beginning, "I am your dragon, and you are my
rider." And all the stories that were told about a time when Dragons and
Dragon Riders might just rule again; the stories he had heard were about him.
This is how the story is told on the Eragon movie website:
Before your grandfathers' fathers were born, and even before their fathers,
the Dragon Riders were formed. To protect and guard was their mission, and for
thousands of years they succeeded. Their prowess in battle was unmatched, for
each had the strength of ten men. They were immortal unless blade or poison
took them. For good only were their powers used, and under their tutelage tall
cities and towers were built out of the living stone. Wealth flowed into the
cities of Alagaesia, and men prospered.
Though no enemy could destroy them, they could not guard against themselves.
And it came to pass at the height of their power that a boy, Galbatorix, was
born. At ten he was tested and it was found that a great power resided in him.
The Riders accepted him as their own, and he exceeded all others in skill.
Gifted with a sharp mind and strong body, he quickly rose among the Riders'
ranks. [But] during a reckless trip Galbatorix and two friends were ambushed...and
his dragon slayed...When the Riders refused to grant him another dragon,
Galbatorix grew mad with rage...In the last bloody battle, Galbatorix gained
dominance over all, and anointed himself king over all Alagaesia. And from that
day on, he has ruled.
Now here comes the question:
Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders?
In other words, does the hero have what it takes to win?
Winning, according to the film, requires that Eragon become "one"
with his Dragon. At first Eragon struggles with the challenges of keeping his
balance on the back of a thousand pound beast as she twirls and dives through
the air. He struggles learning what it means to know his Dragon so well that he
actually sees the world through her eyes. He also struggles with the whole idea
that Saphira can read his mind and he can hear her thoughts. At first, he
doubts that he's really hearing her, but when she answers his silent call
Eragon realizes that the two of them really are communicating. His Dragon really
does hear his voice.
As Eragon learns what it means to ride his Dragon, he begins to understand the
words of the seer who said "A great battle awaits you. You have powers you
Unity with his Dragon proved itself to be a force so
powerful that evil could barely reckon with it, and when Eragon's mentor Brom
instructs him on the significance of "the word", Eragon becomes even
more effective at "getting" the bad guys; for Eragon realizes that
the kingdom he is fighting for has it's own language and that those words actually
have power to control destiny. His mentor Brom explained: "The thing IS the word, know the word and
you control the thing."
The moving lights from the screen in front of me danced on my face with the
tears that rolled down my cheeks as I watched Saphira land in front of Eragon
and announce that "I am your dragon, and you are rider." You see,
like Eragon, I also came to realize that this story was about me.
I, too, was chosen "before [my]
grandfathers' fathers were born, and even before their fathers." As was
the case with Jeremiah, one of the greatest Dragon Riders in all of scripture.
God said "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you born I
set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations" (Jeremiah 1:5). And victory over
the forces of darkness demands that I am one with my creator: that I learn how
to keep my balance as I ride through life on his promises, that I learn to see
my battles through His eyes, and that, despite my occasional doubts, I realize
that I really can hear his voice. Jesus confirmed this when he said
"His sheep follow him because they know his voice” (John 10:4).
Finally, I must realize the significance of God's word to impact my own destiny
and the destinies’ of other people because "The thing IS the word,
know the word and you control the thing," or as scripture puts it "By
your words you will be acquitted and by your words you will be condemned"
Coming to the terms with the fact that Eragon’s story is about me too was a
significant milestone in my life, and I suspect that it would be for many others as well. I think it's because the sooner we realize
that we the are the hero from the legends we’ve been told and the stories
that we've read, the sooner we can decide if we have what it takes to
"get" the bad guys. When Eragon first discovered the power he'd been
given he said "Why me? I'm just a farm boy..." The soon-to-be-King
David could have said the same thing when he realized that God had chosen him,
a mere teenager, to slay the giant Goliath, but he didn't. The boy-David
understood what it meant to be one with his creator, and when he called his
Dragon, his Dragon came.
There comes a time when we all must learn what it means to call our Dragon. To
become one with our creator through obedience, unity, and trust; to believe
that we really do hear him when he speaks to us; and to fully believe and live
according to promises found in His Word so that we experience the fullness of
the life that God has pre-destined us for.
I don’t want to spoil the movie for those of you who haven’t
seen it, so I’m not going to tell you if Eragon ultimately wins the battle to
save Alagaesia from Galbatorix, but since real-life doesn’t need a “spoiler
alert” I am going to give away the answer to my own story, it’s found in 2 Peter 1:3
"His divine power has given us everything we need for
life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by His own glory
In other words: Galbatorix doesn’t stand a chance.
I apologize for the ridiculous gap since my last entry.
My speaking schedule has been pretty crazy, and those of you who get my monthly E-mail Newsletter have been kept up to speed. I spoke at the annual HIV/AIDS
conference at Saddleback Church in December, and also heard an amazing band
called Sun From Shadow play live in Orange County. I then rang in the New Year by speaking at
InterVarsity’s Urbana conference. Having no idea there would be over 2,000
college students attending my talk I only brought about 100 copies of my book
and sold out within just seconds. It was encouraging and frustrating at the
same time, there were hundreds of students who wanted books but couldn’t
Incidentally, for those of you who were not at Urbana this
year, the talk that I gave can be Streamed Online, or if you have an iPod check
out the PodCast!
More recently, I spoke at UC Santa Barbara to about 400
students, including a lively group of picketers outside the door who held a
rainbow flag, passed out flyers with my photo and the word “HOMOPHOBE” on the
front, and taped banners on the sidewalk which said that I suffered from
“internalized homophobia.” There are a few pictures from the event on my new
My upcoming speaking engagements include Asheville,
North Carolina; Ankeny, Iowa; River Falls, Wisconsin; Cedarville, Ohio;
McPherson, Kansas; Fullerton, California; and Seattle, Washington. I’ll also be
at the Exodus International conference this year. For more details on my
schedule visit LovingHomosexuals.com.
I love you guys!
I've always loved things that are on a track, I
think it's because it means they are going somewhere.
As a small child I would often gaze in wonder at the attractions at Disney
World each time my parents took me. The same was true for our local amusement park:
Adventureland, and the carnival rides at the Iowa State Fair. Although I
enjoyed just about every single ride at these destinations, I always had a
special affinity for the rides that were on a track. I would just stand and
gaze at the sleek metallic carts coasting seamlessly along the smooth tracks during
the pinnacle of the ride, and then being mechanically pulled and jerked into
place by their hydraulic-powered slave masters at the cortex of their journey.
And that was the part of the ride that really got to me, the ending.
It was fascinating to me that no matter how
scary the ride seemed to be while in motion, or how unexpected the twists and
turns were when the carts went through the dark tunnels, or how insecure the
feeling of having absolutely no control over your vehicle was, the ride always
ended in the same place; right where it's designer intended
it to be. The rides inhabitants then safely get out of their ride vehicles
and head for the exit, and that's how it goes every single time.
Those of you who follow my writing know that my life verse is Jeremiah
29:11, it states: "For I know the plans I have for you,"
declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to
give you hope and a future."
To me this is a verse about destiny more than it is a verse about anything
else. I spent the first two decades of my life in a series of circumstances
that, from a human perspective, contained not even a semblance of hope. But God
used Jeremiah 29:11 to show me what destiny really means: It means that, just
like those smooth and sometimes-rickety coasters at the state fair, my life
is also on a track.
Just like the coasters I have my ups and downs. Sometimes the "ups"
are smooth and trouble free, seemingly powered by nothing more than the inertia
of a comforting relationship, a major task completed, or a good nights sleep.
While other times it seems like I really have to work hard to get ahead, like
that rusty chain that painstakingly jerks your cart up the first hill on a tall
Also just like the coasters, life sometimes
seems scary to me. Life's dark tunnels can be excruciating, and I can even feel
helpless or out of control at times, but when this happens I just remember the
coasters. I just remember that, no matter how scary they seem while in motion, they always end up right where their designer intended them to be.
|If you visit my website you'll see that I have two articles posted on the front page of my website and they both use movies to illustrate some aspect of truth regarding the struggle to submit my sexuality to God. One of them is based on Brokeback Mountain, the other is based on X-Men 3. |
Sy Rogers wrote:
“Why wouldn’t God speak through (some) film? He owns everything.
As a Christian leader once said ‘There isn’t a secular molecule
in the universe.’ Besides, we are no longer an agrarian civilization.
Why would a smart God speak through the stars as he once did, at a time when
the sky was our ‘global point of reference’. It’s not that
season anymore. Now in the urban age, if the Star of Bethlehem appeared in
the sky, we wouldn’t get it. We would simply see it as an astronomical
event on the news. But having rebuilt our Tower of Babel through telecommunication
and transportation, our global constellation of cities now share in a largely
unified culture which drinks daily from the well of media-driven pop culture.
It would be absurd to think God would not exploit this!”
There are many great web sites and books out there that do exploit this, such as HollywoodJesus.com, ChristianCinema.com, and ChristianCritic.com. There's even a book out there called How Movies Helped Save My Soul: Finding Spiritual Fingerprints in Culturally Significant Films. In fact there are numerous books that present the gospel according to different facets of pop culture. (See the end of this entry for more of these resources.)
Along those lines, my friend Steve recently wrote to me about the spiritual significance of the Disney movie Finding Nemo:
One of the things I saw in "Finding Nemo" was that, just like that
little clown fish, we often have misperceptions about our Father that
lead us to do foolish things. Because Nemo didn't understand how much
his Dad really cared for Him, it led him to put himself in danger and
he ended up in a lot of trouble. But then his Dad went on an amazing
journey to save Nemo. Once Nemo saw what his Father was really like,
and how much he cared for him, it changed everything! Nemo had a whole
new appreciation of who his father really was and their relationship
became brand new.
That's how it is with our Heavenly Father as well. Because we don't
really see the true character of God, we go our own way and end up in
some pretty messed-up situations. But instead of leaving us alone to
face the hurt and pain of our lives, God came after us in the form of
His Son, Jesus Christ. And it's in that act of amazing, selfless love
that we begin to see His true nature, the essence of His being. Once we
realize how powerful His love is, we want to pursue it with the same
reckless abandon that He demonstrated in coming after us. And that
I talk to a lot of people who feel frustrated because they aren't experiencing the kind of transformation they want. Some have been struggling for years or even decades without seeing significant change. I think when we analyze our lives and realize that we aren't where we need to be, our first response is to think that it's up to US to get our lives back on track, but in fact, it's actually up to God.
Finding Nemo illustrates the profound truth that God comes after us. He "finds" his people, and the reason he does this is because, just like Nemo in the HUGE and scary sea, we really don't know how to get back to our heavenly father on our own. The world is too big and scary and we find ourselves confused about even the simple things sometimes. We don't always know how to get to our Father, so he comes to us.
God already has a plan to set us free from the monsters that keep us in bondage, and to transform our hearts from the inside out. That is already taken care of. Our only job in all this is to respond to our father when he calls.
If you'll allow me just one more fish analogy: Phillip Yancey tells the story in The Jesus I Never Knew about a master and some fish. Every day the master sticks his hand in the tank to feed the fish, but each time he does the fish frantically swim around the tank as though the master has come to kill them. He wonders why the fish never figure out that he is not there to hurt them, he is feeding them. But the fish never get it. The master realizes that he is just too big and mysterious for the fish to ever understand him. The only way he could ever actually communicate to them how much he cares would be to actually become a fish so he could relate to them on similar terms.
Becoming flesh was God's ultimate plan to "find" his creation, but he finds us in different and sometimes smaller ways each day. He finds us through the application of his grace, the love of his people, and the promises of his word.
This doesn't mean that we shouldn't still look for God. Just remember that during those times when it seems like, no matter what you do you just can't seem to find God. He is finding you.
Finding God in Pop Culture Resources:
Taming A Liger: Unexpected Spiritual Lessons From Napoleon Dynamite
Everyday Apocalypse: The Sacred Revealed in Radiohead, The Simpsons, and Other Pop Culture Icons
The Gospel Reloaded: Exploring Spirituality and Faith in The Matrix
Following Gandalf: Epic Battles and Moral Victory in The Lord of the Rings
Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture
Reading Is Believing: The Christian Faith through Literature and Film
Finding God in the Movies: 33 Reel Films of Faith
The Hollywood Project
More Book Titles...
On a related note: Disneyland is getting ready to open a new ride called the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.
You get on an underwater submarine and begin the journey to find Nemo
in a sea with mystery, danger, intrigue, and an underwater volcano! The
Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage will open in Disneyland Summer of 2007.
By the way, for those of
you who wish to subscribe to my blog using a newsreader, the url is: http://feeds.feedburner.com/chadthompson
and it's compatible with ATOM and
RSS. For more information on my ministry and my book, Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would, Click Here.
Until next time...
The last time I blogged I promised you all that I would give you my thoughts on X-Men 3. I realize that was over a month ago, but I finally saw the movie and I wrote an article for Relevant Magazine about the many ways in which the movie parallels societies struggle to integrate with gay and lesbian people. Naturally, the role that ex-gay ministries play in all this comes to mind as well. To read the article Click Here.
In other news, I attended Des Moines' gay pride parade last month with a group of friends. The Des Moines Register Estimated that about 6,000 people participated in some aspect of Des Moines' gay pride celebration this year, (that's twice as many as last year). My friends and I passed out cold water on a hot day. It was great just getting to bless the people at the parade and make conversation, I even ran into a few people that I know. Tim Lucas from Liquid Church in New Jersey Did the Same Thing Last Year after reading about it in my book Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would. Tim had a much bigger task than I did though, as gay pride events in New Jersey are much larger then they are in Des Moines. Liquid Church took about 200 volunteers (I took five) and they passed out over 10,000 bottles of water!
Here is short Video Clip that I took at the parade. If you look carefully you can see a beautiful view of Downtown Des Moines' skyscrapers in the background. At the end of the video you get to see our gold-plated Capitol Building! The parade was beautiful this year, as you can see they spare no expense on decorations, and there was very little overt sexuality in the parade itself. At least not like the type of stuff that happens in San Fransisco.
The Exodus International Conference was AMAZING this year, as always. If you weren’t able to make it to the conference you can buy the DVDs Here. Other random pieces of news, Derek Webb plans to make his music available for FREE starting in September. Haagen-Dazs has a New Flavor of ice cream that they claim was the original recipe for chocolate. Was it really? I don’t know but it sure is delicious. Jars of Clay has new CD coming out on Sept. 5th. The CD is titled Good Monsters and you can actually listen to audio clips Here on Christianbook.com. Also, new music from Dashboard and Sufjan released this month.
As a final note, I'm back in San Luis Obispo, California working on my next book and there are black widow spiders everywhere over here. I took pictures of a few of them which you can view on my Pictures Page, along with a few other pics.
|I've been blogging for about a year now, but
I've never taken advantage of the "Currently Listening" or
"Currently Watching/Reading" feature on Xanga. Let this blog entry be
my attempt to make up for all these lost months.|
of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ, by Dallas Willard
Homosexuality Be Healed?, by Francis MacNutt
My next book (Wouldn't you like to know the title!!!)
Currently watching (includes my opinion of the movie in stars):
An American Haunting (2 stars)
Poseidon (2 stars)
Mission: Impossible 3 (3 stars)
Akeelah and the Bee (5 stars)
V for Vendetta (5 stars)
(Note: 5 stars does not mean that I agree with the message
of the film, it only means that I thought it was a really well-made movie. Even
Hugo Weaving, who played "V" said
in an interview that he agreed more with Ghandi's approach to social reform
than that of his own character in the film.)
X-Men 3 (I'll let you know when I see it...)
The ODYC: This band
played near Drake University a few months ago, they are the only band I know
that copyrights their music with a creative commons license. They actually
encourage people to burn their CDs and give copies away for free.
Deathcab for Cutie:
I am new to this band, I have a few friends who like them but I'm actually not
sure if I do. Gimme a little more time to decide...
music is extraordinary. I heard them open for Switchfoot about 2 years before I
even knew who they were. I wish now that I had actually paid attention to their
concert instead of just talking with my freinds until Switchfoot took the
Random fun videos that ppl have sent me:
Can you really play that song on a guitar??
Force air dance
Mentos and soda
Well guys, that's all I got for now. I'm back in Des
Moines for at least a few weeks. Pray for me I'll be taking a group of friends to the gay pride parade this Sunday to pass out cold water and Jesus love. Then I'm headed off to Indiana for the
Exodus International Conference, (if anyone lives in Indianapolis and can give me a ride from the airport to the conference please send me an e-mail or leave a comment...) and from there I'm headed back to California
to do some more research for my book. I have speaking engagements coming in up
in California, Kansas, and Georgia this summer and fall, so stay tuned to my
website for all the dates and locations.
BTW, the pic above is me speaking at the annual MayDay Retreat
in San Luis Obispo. It was amazing. Derek Webb was amazing. God is amazing.