Friday, November 16, 2012

The Brothers

I recently finished reading The Brothers, the debut novel of Alexis Donkin.  It was enjoyable and I look forward to reading the second book, and anymore that may be written in the future.

The Brothers revolves around a young girl named Khloe who is coming of age during a time of personal change.  Not only is she experiencing the highs and lows of hormone, high school, and family, but she comes to the realization that she is not who she thinks she is.  She is in fact royalty of a secret fairy people.  These individuals are responsible for the myths of many different cultures.  Added to this stress are the two boys she's torn between.  Khloe is tries to figure out who her true love is while still maintaining friendship with the other.

Like I said at the beginning, this was a good book.  The first page drew me in, though there were a few times where my attention slipped, though not nearly enough to warrant me putting down the book.  Part of what lost my attention at times was the fact that it's about a teenage girl.  Unless I go back in time and get a sex change, I will never experience firsthand everything that girls experience.  The detail about clothes and how guys smell--it doesn't do anything for me.

But The Brothers was still very entertaining.  It reminded me of Twilight, but with a coherent plot and without the sparkling vampires.  Not quite my cup of tea (which is Black Tea, by the way), but an entertaining read nonetheless.  I'd give it a 4.5/5 rating.

If you want to read the book, you can find the book here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

A few weekends ago, I watched The Dark Knight Rises.  It was epic.  After The Avengers came out earlier this summer, I couldn't wait to compare the two movies.  After watching TDKR, I realized something very important: you can't compare the two.  It's like comparing apples and oranges.  The Avengers is a fun, super-hero action movie whereas the entire Nolan Batman series is primarily a drama which just happens to contain a super-hero and plenty of action.

That being said, I think it changes the way I look at the movie.  Nolan's entire trilogy makes you think, but TDKR does it even better than the others.  It does what art is supposed to do: expand and change the way you look at things.

Without going into spoiler for the 12 people on the planet who have yet to see the film, it was a great ending to the trilogy.  They didn't overdo Batman and tire audiences out (*cough* Spider-man 3 *cough*), and they left it open enough for your imagination to run wild.  Nolan, my proverbial hat is off to you.  You have created a trilogy that can be ranked with LOTR, the original Star Wars, and will be remembered for decades as a highlight in American Cinematography.

I guess I don't have much else to say about it other than this: "If you love me, you'll buy me this for my birthday or Christmas." ;)

Update: I own it now

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


When I was a kid, my favorite superhero was Wolverine.  Despite a mediocre spin-off movie, he is still my favorite.  When I was younger, I admired him because he was cool.  What intrigues me about him now is the redemptive story interwoven throughout his narrative.

I think that there is something hardwired into us that makes us search out role models and heroes.  We need them, but where have they gone?

Heroes used to be the embodiment of the characteristics society held in highest regard.  Their stories comprise so much of ancient literature.  Look at Gilgamesh, Beowulf, Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid, and so many more.  The heroes of these epics represented the best that society had to  offer.

Look around us today.  Our heroes have almost completely disappeared.  They've been replaced with celebrities.  Heroes we look up to, celebrities we scrutinize and wait for them to fail.  And if they don't fail quick enough, we lose interest in them.  The only reason we care about how high they fly is so that we can watch their spectacular crash.

This is a societal problem.  Nothing short of a cultural mind-shift will change that.  I don't think that is going to happen, so what do we do?  The need for a hero to emulate is so deeply ingrained within us that we can't shut it off, at least not while we are young.  So we take celebrities, doomed to fail, and copy them.  Then as a society, we wonder why the younger generations are constantly getting into trouble.  What's the solution?

Instead of scouring the media for people to emulate, I think we need to take a better look around us at the natural mentors we have and focus on them.  I think individually we need to stop focusing on the faults and shortcomings of other and instead praise their positive contributions.  Only then can we start to emerge from a culture that awards so much time and energy to exploiting the lives of celebrities engaging in infidelity and instead focus our attention on those who spend their time making the world a better place.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Much needed

Last night Destree and I went shopping at a giant, evil, faceless corporation.  No, we didn't take a quick trip to Disneyland.  We went to Walmart.

As we were leaving the parking lot, we saw a homeless man sitting next to the exit.  We didn't have a lot of food with us or any cash, but we were able to give the man (and his friend who was there for some of the time) a few apples and some graham crackers.

We also stayed and talked with them until we had to get home and put the frozen/refrigerated items we purchased away.  It felt good.  

Especially when we had more time, we used to go out and bring hot meals to people on the streets a lot more.  I miss it, and it was nice to be a blessing to others last night.  Equally enjoyable was our conversation.  Simple acts like that show more compassion than we realize.

Almost all of us have something to spare.  We can tone down on our wants to help meet the needs of others.  And if you're in a place where you're down to your own needs, take the time to strike up a conversation.  It's impactful for you and the person you're talking with.  Next time you pass someone on the streets who is looking for a handout, don't drive by and ignore them.  Don't just give them something quick and then speed on your way.  Take the time to have a conversation with them.  Ask their name.  Don't let them be just another statistic.

On a side note, Destree asked him what he needed most.  He said socks.  I've heard that before.  Keep an extra pack of socks with you to give away next time you see someone in need.  It could really brighten someone's day.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Deuteronomy 11

I read this the other day.  Just thought I'd share.  There's a lot of good stuff here.

Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.  Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm; the signs he performed and the things he did in the heart of Egypt, both to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his whole country; what he did to the Egyptian army, to its horses and chariots, how he overwhelmed them with the waters of the Red Sea as they were pursuing you, and how the Lord brought lasting ruin on them.  It was not your children who saw what he did for you in the wilderness until you arrived at this place, and what he did to Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab the Reubenite, when the earth opened its mouth right in the middle of all Israel and swallowed them up with their households, their tents and every living thing that belonged to them.  But it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the Lord has done.

Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, and so that you may live long in the land the Lord swore to your ancestors to give to them and their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey.  The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden.  But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven.  It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.

So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul —then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil.  I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.

Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them.  Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut up the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you. Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him and to hold fast to him—then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you.  Every place where you set your foot will be yours: Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea.  No one will be able to stand against you. The Lord your God, as he promised you, will put the terror and fear of you on the whole land, wherever you go.

See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse—the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.  When the Lord your God has brought you into the land you are entering to possess, you are to proclaim on Mount Gerizim the blessings, and on Mount Ebal the curses.  As you know, these mountains are across the Jordan, westward, toward the setting sun, near the great trees of Moreh, in the territory of those Canaanites living in the Arabah in the vicinity of Gilgal.  You are about to cross the Jordan to enter and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you. When you have taken it over and are living there, be sure that you obey all the decrees and laws I am setting before you today.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Hurt by the Church?

          A phrase that I've heard used (and even used myself) before is that someone has been "hurt by the church."  I didn't even stop to think about this phraseology until a few days ago.  Really?  You've been hurt by the church?  Did you stub your toe on the corner of the building?  Did a ladder on the church property fall on you?  Have you been hurt by the church?  No.  Have you been hurt by people in the church?  Well that's another story.
          The church is made up of people.  And people, by their very nature, are imperfect.  Sadly, I think too many people are treated poorly by someone associated with the church and remember that pain and wrongdoing as an action by the church as a whole instead of the action of a single individual.
          It may sound like semantics, "hurt by the church" or "hurt by someone in the church," but such a viewpoint can poison one's outlook towards the institutionalized church and organized religion.  It can negate the benefits of being part of a church body.  It also raises your risk of putting God by the wayside because of a mistake a person made.  Don't do it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Afghan Tandoor

There's a small Afghan place nestled between Cold Stone and Quiznos.  A few weeks ago Destree and I decided to check out their food.  I've been interested in trying them for a while now.  Now that we have, I can't wait to go back.

We split two dishes: chicken kabob and a mix of chicken and lamb curry.  Each came with naan, saffron rice, and a salad.  We were a little cautious getting everything because Destree is allergic to anything spicy.  If it passes her threshold, then her tongue breaks out in a rash.  I didn't think the chicken was spicy at all, but her tongue apparently did.  Everything was amazing, especially the green sauce that they give you to go on the rice.  It's spicy, but so much more.

What really stepped this place up to the next level was its service.  Neither of us had ever eaten Afghan food before. Occasionally, I will have Pakistani and Indian food, but I'm not familiar enough with most of it to order.  We told that to the guy behind the register (along with the "no spicy" rule), and we had him order for us.  He did a great job.  He wasn't irritated, in fact he seemed jovial about getting to order food to us.

The food was great and warrants a few return trips to try their gyros, Persian burger, and cheese steak sandwich, but it's their service that will keep us coming back again and again.


So this week we took Chloe to see brave.  It started out a little disappointing--we had dinner over at my parents, so I wasn't able to go home in between work and the movie, so I wasn't able to change into my kilt beforehand.  Otherwise I would have.

Brave is a Pixar film years in the making.  They developed two separate programs to help control the movement of hair.  Knowing that helped me appreciate that particular aspect more, but if I hadn't known, I wouldn't have noticed anything.

I see a kilt and I'm happy, so of course I'm going to be a little biased towards the movie.  While I'm not a feminist, neither am I a "barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen" type of guy, so it was nice to see a heroine who wasn't obsessed with finding a husband.  Bravo to Pixar for emphasizing that element while still maintaining the importance of family.

The movie had a darker tone than I had expected.  Not quite what I was expecting when I took my 3-year old.  She enjoyed it, but not as much as she did other movies we've taken her to.  If she was a little older, I think she would have liked it more.

Brave is a good movie.  The moral of the story is how important family is.  Brave is not a great movie for very young audiences, but older kids will definitely enjoy it, especially girls.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Evil exists, right?  So what does that say about God?  It's arguably the biggest objection to the existence of God.  So how do rational, logical Christians explain how a loving God allows evil?

Evil is a very complex issue, and needs an equally complex answer.  It would be awesome if there was a succinct, all-inclusive answer.  But there's not.

First off, we need a description of what evil really is.  If reality is subjective, then evil is all in our minds.  What may appear evil to us could in fact appear neutral or even righteous to someone else.  When faced with infanticide, rape, or equally heinous crimes, that explanation just doesn't sit well with me.  While there is a certain amount of subjectivity to morals and ethics, something within human nature screams against inequality, bigotry and the casual way in which life is sometimes tossed aside.

Therefore, I believe that evil can have an absolute, concrete, objective definition.  I would define evil as a moral rebellion against God.  Any time someone chooses to do something that is outside of God's will an evil act is born.

So why doesn't God stop evil?

Well, if God stopped us from doing anything evil, then we would have no freewill.  If He eliminated the source of evil, then there would be no humans.

Monday, July 30, 2012


The other day I blogged about hypocrisy.  Today, I want to share about duplicity in my own life.

Overall, I am a pacifist.  I believe that most wars are wrong.  I believe most fighting and violence is wrong.  I do believe there are exceptions to that rule.  It does not bother me to live in a country that has a military to protect its citizens, though I do think that most instance of fighting an offensive war run contradictory to the Word of God.  How you tell which wars are okay and which ones aren't?  Good question to which I have no answer other than look back in 30 years.  I honestly don't know how to answer that.  It's something I struggle with.

But where this applies to me the most involves my personal hobbies and interests.  Anyone who knows me knows my penchant for all things medieval.  I have a collection of over twenty such weapons.  I love history, especially the violent and bloody parts.  With interests like that, how can I have such pacifist tendencies?

I haven't always had such Anabaptist leanings.  It wasn't until reading the works Shane Claiborne, Gregory Boyd and others challenged me to read the Bible through the way God intended it, not through a narrow "America is always right" mindset.  Challenging those preconceived notions has also caused me to rethink what it really means to be pro-life.

So, how can my interests be so diametrically opposed to my views?  I don't know.  I'm still trying to figure it out.  Any thoughts?

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Hypocrisy.  I can't stand it.  Yet it's so prevalent in life.  We're all victims and perpetrators of it at some point in life.  Where hypocrisy makes me the maddest is in the arena of Christianity--specifically when it comes to homosexuality.

I think the question of homosexuality will be the defining debate in Christianity over the coming decades.  Christianity has had its share of hot-button issues.  At one time it was the question of whether or not the Earth was the center of the universe.  Another time it was the debate over the age of the Earth, and how science and religion interact.  I think we have moved into the next struggle: homosexuality.

I'm not going to get into my thoughts on homosexuality itself here; I've done that before.  Instead, I want to look at how it is preached from the pulpits of many churches.  When someone preaches against homosexuality, it's an overwhelming condemnation.  In many churches, there are a few overwhelming condemnations.  It seems that a few sins are singled out as "the worst of the worst," while other sins are glossed over and ignored.

When was the last time you heard someone blast the obesity epidemic from the pulpit?  When have you heard a pastor condemn speeding?  I guarantee you that there are more people who fall prey to those sins than to homosexuality.  Why is there such a double standard?  Is it because you'd step on too many toes if you focused all your fervor on if you damned the overweight and those who ignore speed limits?

I'm not suggesting ignoring the question of homosexuality; I just want balance, integrity, and an end to hypocrisy.  Please understand that this is not meant as a blanket accusation against every church; there are plenty of churches out there that are preaching all of God's truth.  I salute and thank you.

People are imperfect, and since churches are made of people, church congregations are going to come across as imperfect.  It's my hope and prayer that we can all look at ourselves and those around us through God's eyes.  When do that, our petty squabbles melt away as we are overcome with love for all of God's creations.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman

Maybe it's because at the end Kristen Stewart got beat up a bit, but I really like Snow White and the Huntsman.  The story-line may have been a little cliched, and Kristen Stewart is Kristen Stewart, but it was visually stunning and fun.

Oh yeah, that's Nick Frost as a Dwarf
The Disney cartoon is version that most people are familiar with, but Disney's film didn't quite fit the mood of the original tale.  Snow White and the Huntsman did.  It was much darker and dipped into the rich heritage of Germanic fairy-tales.  A lot was added to the film that wasn't in the original story, but it stayed fairly true to the genre.  In a time where most writers/directors like to "re-imagine" and alter classics to give them a more modern feel, Snow White and the Huntsman did a good job of keeping it real.  Yeah, I went there.

Charlize Theron did a great job at bringing the crazy home.  You knew something happened to her in her childhood that messed her up, and once she learned all that dark magic, it sent her off the deep end.  She was creepy and believable.  If you met her in a dark alley (or anywhere else, for that matter), you would not want to be there with her.

Maybe it's because of my fascination with Marvel and Norse history, but I like Chris Hemsworth as an actor.  He's a drunk whose lost it all, and finally finds a cause worth living for.  Is it a tire old cliche just like the phrasing in this question?  Of course.  But he plays the part well and draws you into the story.

The Dwarfs were awesome.  They provided a great comic relief, and also drew the audience in to care.  Before their introduction, all we had to care about was a princess with issues and a Huntsman who really didn't care too much himself.  The Dwarfs were the last of their people, and represented the bridge between humanity and an as yet unblemished nature.

As I've said above, Kristen Stewart is Kristen Stewart.  She was definitely the low point in the movie, but you go in expecting it.  Her acting wasn't great, and it seemed like they tried to hard to include the apple from the original story.  Other than that, I didn't have any complaints about the movie.  It was well done, and I will admit that I'm looking forward to seeing the potential sequel that is currently in the works.

Sorry, just had to throw this in there.  Wait, why am I apologizing?  You should be thanking me for the hearty laugh this caused.  And since laughter is good for your health, you should really be thanking me.  I will send you an itemized medical bill tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Red Riding Hood

So, in addition to watching Priest a few weeks ago, Destree and I also sat down to watch Red Riding Hood.  I remember when it came out it didn't look that good.  Interesting concept, but who could make a good feature-length film off of such a short, over-told fairy tale?  Apparently Catherine Hardwicke can.

When the movie came out, I wasn't too keen on seeing it.  From the previews, it didn't look like it would be that good, a view that nearly every review echoed in the weeks following its release.  After taking the time to watch it myself, I must disagree.  Yes, Amanda Seyfried was given a rather poor supporting cast.  Yes, there was some overacting (*cough* Gary Oldman *cough*).  Was the dialogue a little cliched?  Yeah.  But overall, the movie rose above all of its shortcoming and wound up being a decent film.

The movies' strongest suit was its ability to keep you guessing as to who the wolf actually was.  Partway through the movie, I had it narrowed down to five people.  By the final act of the film, I had it narrowed down to three.  None of them were the wolf.  The person was in my top five though.

In the film they were able to include the classic "Grandmother, what large eyes you have!" dialogue.  That was cool.  After the wolf was killed, they slit open his gut and filled it with rocks.  This is very similar to a scene in the Brothers Grimm story where they did the same thing while the wolf was sleeping.  The motivation was different, but I liked the fact that they were able to work in such a detail to the film.

Was it a must see movie that has achieved a place on my Top Ten List?  No.  (I haven't made one of those yet.  I should...).  Was it fun to watch?  Yes.  If you come across it on T.V. one night, find it on Netflix, or see it at Redbox, then watch it.  As for buying it...if you see it in the $5 bin at Walmart, then definitely go for it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I remember when Priest came out.  It looked interesting, but not quite good enough to take the time to see in a theater.  While house-sitting at my parents', Destree and I saw it DVR'd and decided to watch it.  Is it a must own movie?  No.  Was it entertaining?  Yes, and it was even a little thought provoking.

The idea behind the movie is that vampires evolved and laid waste to humanity, and the only way humanity survived was from priests--warriors trained from a young age to kill vampires.  The church rules society in a dystopian, autocratic type-way.  The vampire menace has ceased, but humanity lives in a walled metropolis with a handful of outposts in the vicinity of the remaining vampire hideouts.  The priests, who had once been the saviors of mankind, have been marginalized by the church and all but forgotten.

When a vampire attack hits close to home, Priest (the titular character) tries to get the church to support him in finding out why the vampires have started attacking humans again.  Predictably, the church ignores him and Priest goes rogue, hunting down vampires and trying to get to the bottom of the mystery while attempting to rescue his captured niece.  All the while, there is a mysterious black-hatted figure leading the vampire army.

It had some cool fight scenes and action.  The special effects were good--not too cheesy and not too over the top.  The plot line had a lot of potential, but it fell short.  The history of Priest could have been more developed, particularly the part with Black Hat, but they let it fall short.  It seemed like they rushed things, trying fit a two hour movie into 90 minutes.

The spiritual message of the film is one that I think many people can identify with, and even need to hear.  All of the priests had been alienated and abandoned by the church.  Priest in particular.  At one point, Priestess, his love interest, basically tells Priest taht just because the Church has abandoned him doesn't mean he should abandon God.  It was a very thought provoking scene.

Was it a great movie?  No.  Did I feel that my time was wasted?  Not at all.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Men In Black III

MIB has come a long way since its origins as an underground comic. I was a little dissapointed with the second film, but the third one was worth the wait.  I think it's the best one of the trilogy, and it's definitely worth watching in 3D.

They've continued to stay imaginative with not only the story, but with the aliens themselves.  Boris the Animal, the primary antagonist, was brilliantly done.  How he functioned, if you will, was out of the ordinary, even for them.  But it was good.  James Cameron Avatar type interesting.  Boris had something, maybe another alien, maybe a part of himself, that lived in his hand, but could come out attack.  The thing was a beast.

Will Smith looked younger than he has in years, and he was still cracking jokes just like before.  Tommy Lee Jones was as stoic and emotionless as ever.  Josh Brolin, who plays the younger version of agent K, was believable.  I don't how long it took him, but he had Jones' facial expressions and tones down pat.  Andy Warhol was hilarious, as was Grif, an interdimensional being who could see an infinite number of realities, and is constantly commenting as to which one it might be.

Time travel gives the audience some great laughs.  From Will Smith being pulled over by racist cops to a portable neuralizer working off of dial-up internet, I was cracking up the whole movie.  And the worms playing bagpipes while singing "Amazing Grace" at a funeral--priceless.

Without giving any spoilers, there was more depth to this one than in any of the other films, delving into some motivations that you don't necessarily see coming..  The ending gives you more back story on the characters than I would have imagined.  Very intense.

So, in a nutshell, MIB is definitely worth watching.  And if you watch it on the big screen, spend a little extra and watch it in 3D.  It's not on the level of Avatar, but it's still worth it.

Monday, June 11, 2012


So simple yet so true. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone subscribed to this thought process...

1st Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.  When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

My Dilemma

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted.  My keyboard hasn't been idle, however.  I've been spending a lot of time working on fictions.  So far, I've completed five short stories and have over a dozen other ideas for prose that I'm currently working on.

But I do need some help.  I absolutely detest editing my own work.  You spend so much time wrestling with the right words and phrases, birthing characters, and transforming an idea into a coherent plot, and then you're forced to tear it apart, piece by piece, looking to destroy it.  It can be agonizing.

But I've found that it's much easier to do with the work of someone else, especially if you're a masochist ;)

That's why I will be posting my work here.  Be warned, most of it is still rather rough.  I've given everything an initial edit, but that about it.  So if you enjoy editing, please, take some time and lend a hand.  If not, read it anyways.  Let me know what you think, let me know what you like and don't like.  I will be posting more as I complete the various projects I have going.

Each work of fiction has its own tab near the top of the webpage.  Enjoy, and if you like it, share it with others, please.  :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What Would Jesus Do?

This past Tuesday North Carolina passed the First Amendment to their state constitution.  This amendment classifies marriage as a union between a man and a woman.  While I am a Bible believing Christian who disagrees with homosexual marriage, there has always been something about such legislation that doesn't sit well with me.

The main reason behind the push for such legislation has always been to protect the sanctity of marriage and to protect family values.  Protection is very important, but how can you rationalize the legality of certain actions that are deemed hazardous, while banning others that you think are harmful.  For example, do you really think that gay marriage is more harmful than tobacco?  I can applaud the effort towards protecting the sanctity of marriage and family values, but stopping gay marriage is not how to do it; a whole shift in the mindset of what constitutes marriage is needed.

I don’t want “marriage” associated with a 72 hour marriage between a drunk pop star and her boyfriend in Vegas. To me, marriage is a sacred bond between husband and wife before God Almighty. Anything less than that is mere compromise. If a group wants to push for a legal definition of marriage that fits the Bible, then go all the way. Make it so that it can only be done in a church setting. Make divorce illegal unless there is marital infidelity; enough of this “We’ve just drifted too far apart” junk. Or, and this is my preferred solution, make marriage in a religious sense and the legal civil union two separate and distinct things. Civil union can be what is done at the courthouse, and marriage can be what you choose to do in a religious setting.

If the proponents of North Carolina's First Amendment are serious about protecting marriage and family values, then they should do something about it. If the BILLIONS of dollars that were poured into getting it and similar laws passed were instead poured into family counseling, promoting family unity, stopping the porn epidemic (yeah, we are talking about you Disney), you know, things that actually protect marriage and family values, think of the difference that could have been made.

But instead, what will more than likely happen is the divide between Christians and non-Christians will grow larger and larger.  Hate will fester like an untreated open wound.  And the love of Jesus will fade away like a mediocre sitcom.  The constitutionality of the law will be taken to court and an expensive legal battle will ensue while marriages and families are violently torn apart by affairs, selfishness, and a whole host of other problems that are entirely fixable if the Christian community (or any other community for that matter) would truly take it upon themselves to fix what's broken instead of merely finding someone to blame.

In California, we faced a similar situation a few years ago with Prop 8--a political issue that was back in the news two months ago.  Some of the hateful things that were done during the time leading up to voting in California were truly mind boggling. What was just as bad, though, was the overabundance of petty actions. For example, there are the feelings of the “pastor” I was serving under at the time of voting (I use the term “pastor” loosely because of his abuse, manipulative, duplicitous nature). He told me that after dropping his daughter off at school one morning, he walked past a “No on Prop 8” sign. It took all he had in him not to kick the sign over. And after he left, he had regrets over not kicking it over. That was someone’s personal property, something someone paid about $20 for, and this person wanted to kick down and destroy it out of anger. That is the sort of attitude that causes Christians to be labeled as hateful and bigoted. I don’t think that’s what Jesus would be doing.

I don’t think he would have voted against Prop 8, but I’m sure He would have much rather seen all of the effort and mind-boggling sums of money that went into passing the proposition go instead to fund activities and programs that truly bring families closer, something that actually protects family unity and the sanctity of marriage.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Joss Whedon is my hero!

My mind is awash with ideas to expand the Marvel cinematic universe.  I kid you not, I could hash out the rough plot to 30 new Marvel movies in the next few days.  The Avengers was amazing.  I guess that's what happens when a seasoned veteran of the comic book world writes and directs a movie.  Over the next few days, I could literally come up with general plot lines for about 30 new Marvel movies.  Seriously.

If you haven't realized it by now, The Avengers was awesome.  I think it beats out The Dark Knight as the all time greatest super hero movie.  I was talking with my wife after the movie, and she said that she was starting to get the feeling that if you've seen one super hero movie, you've seen them all.  To a degree, there is some truth in that.  The basis to most good super hero stories is that some ominous force is bent on world domination or wiping out all of mankind, and a hero (or heroes) must face overwhelming odds and fight their own personal demons to save the world.  What makes a movie great (The Avengers) or bland (2003's Hulk) is the execution of the plot.  Bravo to Joss Whedon.

The characters were nearly spot on in their page to screen transfer.  Fury was the manipulator constantly working for the good of humanity, no matter the gray areas he ventured into.  Iron Man was the selfish jerk who thinks he's better than everyone else.  Bruce Banner was still the genius with the big heart and the even bigger anger management issue.  The Hulk still loved to beat up on bad guys and even his friends.  Thor was still the Asgardian dedicated to justice.  Captain America was still the voice of reason (though they could have made him a little more reasonable in a scene or two to keep with his comic book character) who helped to rally everyone.  The Black Widow was still the deadly femme fatale with a deep and layered background.  Hawkeye wasn't quite the wise-cracking marksman he is in the comics, but he was still good, and I'm grateful they included him in.  Maria Hill wasn't quite the same as she was in the comics.  In the comics, she was a somewhat competent mid-level bureaucrat, not Fury's right hand person (where was Dum-Dum Dugan?!?).

One thing that separates Marvel from DC is that in the Marvel Universe, the good guys are always fighting each other.  It's something we've come to expect.  The fights between heroes have almost become more tantalizing that a good throw down with a villain.  The Avengers did not disappoint.  The fight between Iron Man and Thor was great.  The spirit of the fight was right out of the pages of the comics themselves.  The Hawkeye and Black Widow fight was great.  What really amazed me was the Hulk/Thor fight.  I didn't think they'd be able to do it on film; I thought we'd be relegated to animated fights (Hulk vs., Planet Hulk) if we wanted something good.  Now my hopes are up that Planet Hulk, World War Hulk, a Juggernaut/Hulk fight, a Thing/Hulk fight and a Wolverine/Hulk fight are feasible on the silver screen.  And don't say anything about Fox owning rights to the other characters; with the 1.5 billion it's probably going to make from world wide theater release alone, they can afford to buy the rights.

Just like nachos:  full of cheesy goodness
The movie also gave me hope that other avengers, such as Hercules and Ares, could be included in later films.  They could branch out and do a Luke Cage/Iron Fist/Heroes For Hire movie as well.  I think there'd be a large enough audience for it.  Get the West Coast Avengers together under Hawkeye.  There needs to be a Nick Fury and the Howling Commandos movie.  Period.  Black Panther is awesome and deserves his own movie.  I vote Will Smith to play him.  If not him, then the Falcon.  Get a Captain America and Falcon movie together.  Moon Knight deserves his own film.  I think the dynamics of the Inhumans would be fun to work with and see the final result.  They need to work the Sub Mariner into the mix somehow.  Maybe do it in the next Captain America movie or in a subsequent Avengers film, but it's a must in my opinion.  I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that The Avengers opens up the door to a lot of options.

Here comes the almost spoiler.  I was a bad fan boy and didn't see the midnight showing.  I should have, but didn't.  It was high up on my list to see, but I hadn't gotten around it yet.  I was browsing through yahoo articles yesterday when I came across an article that had a spoiler about the villain at the end of the movie, one of those clips that's thrown into the credits.  I was tempted to wait and be surprised when I saw it in theaters (which would have caused to convulse in sheer ecstasy), but I decided to go ahead and spoil it.  After all, it couldn't be my favorite villain of all time who I was hoping beyond all hope could be brought to the big screen, could it?  Oh yeah, it could.  So I went and saw it last night.  That scene opens the next movie up for so much.  While I won't directly spoil the surprise, it'll open up the door to some really great cosmic heroes (and villains, and the morally ambiguous) like Nova, Quasar, Drax, Ronan, Rocket Raccoon, Starlord, Adam Warlock, and many, many others.  Again, thank you Joss Whedon.  You are my hero.

Now, for a few things I would have thought would have been different.  During the final battle, I think Fury would've been down there fighting himself, not monitoring the situation from the helicarrier (nerdtastic, by the way).  I think he should have been leading the Howling Commandos.  They could have split the fighting with the Avengers.  And where was War Machine?  He was in Iron Man 2, why couldn't he have shown up, or at least referenced?  Same thing goes with other super heroes and super hero teams.  What have they been doing during this whole time?

Anyhow, while there are few minor things I would have tweaked, I think Joss Whedon did an absolutely amazing job with the Avengers, and I eagerly await the next installment in what is promising to be a multi-billion dollar franchise to rival Star Wars itself.

Friday, May 4, 2012


I first read a few of Sophocles' plays when I was in high school.  I enjoyed them.  I wasn't a fan of plays at the time, and Sophocles opened me up a little to the world of drama.

Personally, I don't think Shakespeare can hold a candle to Sophocles.  Sophocles makes Shakespeare look like an illiterate hillbilly, which, considering the fact that Shakespeare straight up made up over 2,000 words, it's kind of true.

We know for sure that Sophocles wrote nearly 100 plays (over 80 of which won awards), sadly only seven of them have survived into modern times.  The ones that did survive, survived because of their superior quality.  They are the best of the best of the best.  They were the ones which were most often studied by ancient scholars.

Sophocles' life coincided almost exactly with the golden age of Athens, and his plays reflect the rich, deep history of not only Athens, but the Greek peoples themselves.  From mighty Ajax and Heracles to the wily and crafty Odysseus to the noble yet divinely faulted Oedipus to the creepy Antigone, the characters that populate the works of Sophocles are deep and complex.  They are larger than life, individuals which are eventually brought down by a combination of their own actions and the unyielding will of the gods.

His plays are not as long as most of Shakespeare's, so they are easier to digest in a single sitting.  Even non-thespians and theater lovers would enjoy these works of art.  (I'm not a theater person myself)  If you only read one of his plays, read Oedipus Rex.  It's by far the best play I've ever read or seen.  It's worth the hour or two to read it, as are the rest of his plays.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


*Sigh.  Life can get busy sometimes.  For almost a month and a half, I have been posting nearly every day.  I think I only missed one or two days. blog has been silent for about a week.  It's been weird, not posting.  I've felt off.  Between work and family, I just haven't had the time and energy as of late to post.

I've missed it.  It's not nearly the creative outlet that working on the two dozen or so writing projects I have going on right now, but it's still nice.  It helps me feel accomplished.

Unfortunately for some, the overwhelmed feeling doesn't dissipate.  It stays.  It grows.   The ever-increasing piles of to-dos becomes more and more consuming.  You feel like your drowning in it all.

Is that what's been happening to me the last week and a half?  No.  Has it happened to me before?  Oh yeah.  Been there, done that, and even bought a handful of key chains for everyone.  The key to not allowing the pile of work to drown you is to anchor yourself.  If you already feel like you're gasping for air, anchor yourself.  Take a few minutes to read a book, listen to some music, watch a tiny bit of T.V., talk to a friend, spend time with loved ones, pray, read your Bible.  Connect with yourself.  Connect with other people.  Connect with God.  Anchor yourself.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Father's Love

Here's a poem I wrote for Chloe

A Father’s Love
Can a father truly express his love for his daughter
The way I melt when your smile and run to me
Yelling “Daddy!” when I walk through the door
For out of your words, tones and expressions
There is no doubt about how much you love me
With pride I look at you and call you my own
My cutie-pie, my baby girl, my little princess
Hugging, no, holding you tight, I whisper in your ear
“Daddy loves you, Chloe.  Daddy loves you.”
Waiting to see that smile creep across your face

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book Review: Grimm's Fairytales

A few months back Destree and I got our hands on some free e-readers thanks to freecycle.  It came preloaded with a few different books, one of them being Grimm's Fairytales.  Unfortunately, it didn't contain the complete collection of tales.

The stories themselves were awesome.  Some of them were familiar stories such as Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, an Sleeping Beauty.  Others, like The 12 Dancing Princesses are less common, and most of them I'd never heard of before.  Even the more common, overdone stories were enjoyable.  For being "fairytales," many of these stories were violent.

Most, though not all, have a heavy moral element in them.  This is what makes these stories so timeless and endearing.  A few of the more popular ones have been made (and remade and remade again) by Disney and Hollywood.  I think a fresh take, drawing on just the fairytales themselves, would make for some great movies.

Grimm's Fairytales were good.  I don't know when, but sometime in the future I will certainly be investing in a copy of the book.  It's a great bathroom reader or something you read before bed.  The short nature of each story means that pick it up and put it down quite easily

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Evelyn's Big Italian: Soooo good

My wife and I went to Evelyn's Big Italian in downtown Fairfield for the first time last night.  We payed about $13 for a slice of pizza and drink each.  Does that sound expensive?  Oh yeah.  Their prices kept us away for a while, until we had their pizza that someone else bought.  Looking at the size of the slices, we figured it was worth a try.
That is one huge piece of pizza!  (BTW, that is not my hand, nor is that my
piece of pizza.  I don't take pictures of my food, I let other people take
pictures of their food and steal them with the help of Google
Then we went there.  I don't know why, but the slices from the takeout we had were maybe half the size of the slices we had when we went there in person.  The two slices we bought were nearly the size of a whole pizza.  And it was goooooood.  Destree had a slice of their pepperoni.  A classic and safe bet.  I had a slice of their Louisianan pizza.  It had bbq chicken, garlic, and mozzarella.  It easily could have been the second best pizza I've ever had (The top honor goes to the Chicken Q at Pizzas 'n Cream in Point Arena.  When you factor in gas, it's about an $80-$100 pizza.  Yeah, I'll do it again.  Restaurant overlooks the Pacific Ocean.  It's AWESOME!)

Anyhow, back to Evelyn's Big Italian.  The food was great. Price was great.  Fun little place downtown with seating inside and outside.  Good service.  If you like pizza, it's worth it.  If you don't like pizza, then you cannot possibly be human.  Check it out.  It's worth it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Heaven and Hell

As a Christian and a minister, I don't spend too much time talking and teaching about Hell.  I'm not alone.  Some people don't dwell on it too much because they don't like to subject too much.  Others shy away from it because it has a tendency to repel people.  Still other pastors preach on nothing else.  Neither extreme is good.

Personally, I don't spend much time on Hell because I'm not particularly fond of the subject and it bores me.  There is a lot of debate amongst different Christian beliefs as to which (if any) of the Bible's descriptions of Hell are metaphoric and figurative instead of literal.  Really, I think it's a useless debate.  God's not in Hell.  That's all I need to know.

On the flip side, there are more pastors that preach about Heaven than Hell.  It helps people feel good.  And in this day and age it's usually either don't step on any toes, or do nothing but smash metatarsals and phalanges with the heel of your boot.  Hearing lots about heaven usually makes people feel good.  It can be a pleasant respite from the daily problems we face.  The problem arises when the focus on heaven distracts us from what God has in store for us here on Earth.  Aside from the obvious mention of Heaven regarding salvation, I don't think Heaven should be heavily preached and taught upon.  God's in Heaven.  That's all I need to know.

Why spend so much time teaching on Heaven and Hell?  God is in Heaven, not Hell.  That's all we really need to know.

What do you think?  Let me know if you think I'm off or not.  As always, all comments are appreciated.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Too much Jesus?

Is it possible to focus on Jesus too much?  I'm sure there are plenty of people like Richard Dawkins who would give an adamant "Yes!"  Most Christians, however, would respond with an equally emphatic "No!"

But do our actions really reflect this?  For me, the answer can be no.  I know I'm not alone.  Is it a good thing?  No.  Is it a human thing?  Yes.  I think one of the major parts of Christian growth is simply spending more time with God, and learning how to do it while working, while driving, while spending time with family, while doing everything else that is on our plate.

After all, Heaven is going to be all about spending time with Him.  We might as well get used to it now.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Angels. They’re one of the most depicted religious entities in America, as well as one of the most widely believed in. According to a recent Fox News Poll, more people believe in angels than in Hell, the devil (ironically a fallen angel but an angel nonetheless), ghosts, UFO’s, astrology, reincarnation, or witches. And that belief has increased in recent years. But despite all of this belief, many people do not necessarily hold to a Biblical view of angels, similar to how many people believe in God, but few hold to a Biblical view of Him. So it’s important to weed out fact from fiction when I comes to angels, and disregard all of the cultural descriptions of angels and focus on Biblical, God-centered view of angels—what they are and what they do.

What are angels? The Bible says that God created all things. Since angels are real, then God created them. Colossians 1:16 says that it is by Christ that all things were created, including what the Bible calls “powers”—a term reserved for angels. Additionally, Psalm 148 states that angels were created by God, though nowhere does it say that angels were created in the image of God like humans were. Angels were created before time; in Job 38 God tells Job that the angels were there at the moment of creation, worshipping God Almighty. According to Hebrews 1:14 angels are spirit beings, not deceased humans as is popularly believed. In Luke 20:36, Jesus tells a crowd that angels are immortal and never die. In Revelation 5, as John is being given a vision of heaven and of the future, he sees “ten thousand times ten thousand” angels—which is 100,000,000 at the very least. By their very nature—spirit beings instead of physical beings—they are invisible unless a person has the gift of discernment (such as Elisha in 2 Kings 6) or they choose to take on a physical body (like two angels did in their exploration of Sodom in Genesis 19), though they always take on the appearance and form of a male. In Matthew 22:30 Jesus describes angles as being sexless and non-reproducing.

If that is what angels are, then what do they do? Our first clue is the actual word “angel.” The Greek word used for angel is “angelos” which means messenger. This doesn’t come as any surprise when you look at when and where angels show up in the Bible. For example, one of the first times we see angels is in Genesis 19, when two angels go down into Sodom. They served as messengers to Lot and his family. An angel appears to Daniel to give him words and a vision. In the new testament, an angel appears to Zechariah telling him that his wife Elizabeth is pregnant. The angel Gabriel appears to Mary and tells her she will be pregnant with the Christ. Shortly thereafter another angel appears to Joseph with the same message. The list could go on and on, but angels are messengers of God, who, according to Psalm 103:20 do the will of God. Angels guide believers (Genesis 24:7), they protect believers (Psalm 34:7) and they comfort believers (Acts 27:24).

The Bible mentions two large groupings of angels—fallen angels who rebelled along with Lucifer, and the Heavenly Angels who stayed loyal to God. Amongst the heavenly angels, there are three, possibly four types of angels, each, apparently, with different roles. The first type mentioned are the Cherubim, then the Seraphim, and then the Archangel. There is also potentially a fourth type of angel mentioned throughout the Bible, and that is the Angel of the Lord, though it is debated whether or not the Angel of the Lord is an actual angel, or if it is in fact a theophany or a Christophany.

The first type of angel mentioned, the Cherubim, are found in Genesis chapter 3. After Adam and Eve are kicked out of the Garden of Eden, God places Cherubim and “a flaming sword” to guard the way back to the Tree of Life. The next time we hear about the Cherubim is when God is commanding Moses to build the Ark of the Covenant in Exodus 25. God tells Moses to build a cover for the Ark, and to make two Cherubim facing each other at each end of the cover, with their wings stretched out covering the Ark and their heads bowed. What’s really interesting is in verse 22 God tells Moses “There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.” God also commanded Moses to have the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place to have images of Cherubim woven into it. It appears that the Cherubim are the guardians of God’s holiness. In Numbers 7, when God speaks to Moses, He speaks from between the two Cherubim on the Ark. After the Ark is made, several times throughout the Old Testament God is described as being “enthroned between the two Cherubim.” When Solomon built the temple, there were Cherubim throughout it. In Ezekiel’s vision of heaven, there were Cherubim throughout, always around God and His throne—implying that the Cherubim are focused on God’s Holiness and worship of Him.

The next type of angel, mentioned by name only in Isaiah 6 are the Seraphim. Isaiah describes the Seraphim as having six wings each, and “with two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.’ At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.” (Isaiah 6:2-4). It appears that Seraphim are angels who worship God without ceasing. This fits with the etymological root of the word—Seraphim literally means “fiery, burning ones.” They could possibly being the angels flying around the throne of God in Revelation 4:6-8, the main differences being the song they sing and John’s description of them being covered in eyes and having different faces. They also served as agents of purification for the Prophet Isaiah before he began his ministry. One of the Seraphim approached him with a hot coal and pressed it against his lips saying “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:7). Similar to the Cherubim’s duty towards the holiness of God, it seems the Seraphim are focused on the worship of God.

The third and possibly last type of angel is the Archangel. The prefix “arch” is Greek for chief, meaning that the archangel is the chief angel. An Archangel is only mentioned twice in the Bible—in 1st Thessalonians 4:16 and in Jude 1:9. 1st Thessalonians talks about the coming of the Lord, and how God will come “with the voice of the Archangel,” implying a lot of importance to the role of Archangel. In Jude, it names the archangel as Michael. What’s important about both of these passages in our understanding of angels is the use of the definite article “the.” It is not “an Archangel” in 1st Thessalonians 4:16. It is not “one of the Archangels, Michael,” in Jude 1:9. It is “the Archangel” in both instances, lending credence to the idea that there is only one Archangel, just as linguistic root of the word does.

But there is Biblical evidence to the contrary, suggesting that Michael is one of several Archangels. In the tenth chapter of the Book of Daniel, Daniel has a vision of an angel. According to verse 13, the angel tells Daniel that he’d been waylaid by the King of Persia for 21 days, and the only way he escaped that is because “Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help.” Another description of Michael in Daniel 12:1 describes him as “the great prince.” Both of these verses support that Michael has authority, but 10:13 especially could hint at the existence of other Archangels. If this is the case, 12:1 would seem to show that Michael is the head of all the archangels, though.

Then there is the fourth possible type of angel—the Angel of the Lord. The Angel of the Lord appeared to many different people, from Hagar mother of Ishmael to Gideon. Many times throughout scripture, there are references to the “angels of the Lord,” to “an angel of the Lord,” and sometimes to “the angel of the Lord.” With the definite article “the” used in this last instance, it would appear that this is a special angelic being, a separate heavenly entity. So who or what is it? Some suggest that it is the Archangel Michael, but there is no Biblical evidence for that. The evidence suggests that it is a theophany or a Christophany—an appearance of God the Father or God the Son (respectively) in physical form. The fact that in many of these appearances people feared for their lives because they had “seen the Lord.”

I personally believe that the Angel of the Lord is a Christophany for a few reasons. First off, Jesus has always been. Jesus was not created, He’s a part of the Trinity and He has always been an active part of the Trinity. Jesus said in John 8:58 “…before Abraham was born, I am!” It would make sense, then, for Jesus to be active in the world and even to manifest Himself to different people. Another argument for the Angel of the Lord to be a Christophany is because while angels are mentioned numerous times throughout the New Testament, the Angel of the Lord is strangely absent. I believe this is strong evidence pointing towards the Angel of the Lord being a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ.

Then there are the fallen angels—the angels that rebelled against God with Satan. Sometime before history, the angel Lucifer somehow got it into his head that he was better than God. He wanted to become God, so he rebelled—all according to Isaiah 14:12-16. Revelation 12:3-4 states “a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven, and threw them to the earth,” which would seem to imply that when Satan rebelled, he convinced a third of the angels to follow him. The Bible never says what types of angels rebelled with Satan, whether they were Seraphim, Cherubim, an Archangel before Michael, or other, unnamed ranks of angels.

Though in Ezekiel 28:13, there are some implications that Lucifer was once an angel of worship. It says “…and the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets was in you…” The Hebrew word there for settings is toph, which means timbrel, and a timbrel is a musical instrument. Additionally, the Hebrew word for sockets is neqeb, which means pipes. In the next verse, he is described as the “anointed cherub who guards.” So according to Ezekiel, Lucifer was once a cherub, an agent of God’s holiness and a worshipper of Him before pride arose within him and he decided to rebel against the Most High.

Angels are spirit beings, created by God before time as we know it existed. Sometime in that expanse before the creation of the physical universe, the angel Lucifer rebelled and convinced a third of the angels to rebel against God with him. Since God is God, the rebellion failed and there were two large groups of angels—the Heavenly, loyal angels, and the fallen Hell bound angels led by the angel Lucifer, a cherubim who may at one time have been in charge of worship in heaven. The Bible mentions three types of angels in heaven—the cherubim, associated with God’s Holiness and His worship; the Seraphim, whose name means “fiery, burning ones,” are associated with an intense worship of God; and the Archangel Michael, the chief or head angel.