Tag Archives: The Arts

New TV Seasons Starting to Show Up

They are slowly trickling in. The shows that have taken a break due to natural season breaks and due to Covid as well. As I watch these, it’s interesting to see how they are handling the Covid culture we are all facing in real life.

Now, I’m not a TV critic, and I don’t watch every scripted show. But of the few I’ve observed, it is interesting.

Some shows are dealing with the election and unrest. Especially police based shows. But that is a different issue, I am more looking at dealing with the virus and how it’s impacting the way we live.

Medical dramas are taking their special point of view. Even the first responder based shows have touched on it. Some like Station 19 are dealing with the initial stages as the onset of the pandemic sent the nation into a frenzy. So far, I’ve seen little political punches thrown. They did deal with shortages, the seriousness, and the stress faced by those in the medical profession.

One show, NCIS, New Orleans has shown it a bit more realistically … masks (and shortage of masks early on) are seen everywhere, people keeping social distance until results of test return, drive-by graduation parades, restaurants shut down, lives lost to the virus, people dealing with unemployment. I think they dealt with the issue better than some news outlets. Interestingly, the other two NCIS series have not yet addressed the impact.

I’ve read that This is Us has taken the issue seriously in its timeline.

Some shows have special ‘stand alone’ stories that hit the issues head on. All Rise was one of the first with the Judge presiding over a trail through FaceTime, Zoom, etc. South Park had a ‘Pandemic Special’ that had the cast (all animated) head back to school in masks, post-lockdown.

One twist was seen in Bull. (Spoiler alert ahead, skip this paragraph if you don’t want to read it.) In Bull, you intertwined the made up reality of every TV show, a dream reality you don’t even know you’re in, and real life reality … all in a one hour show. You had to pay attention to know exactly what was actually being addressed. And it ended with the cast, as themselves, telling the viewing audience they missed us. Aw, a tear rolls down my cheek.

So is it better they address the issue? Should they portray life as normal? I mean, many watch these shows as an escape, a momentary hope that life will return to normal, whatever normal is. And I not sure we will ever return to normal.

People show up at church sometimes wanting the same type of results. For a couple hours a week, they want to escape from their ‘normal’ lives and they desire a time to be encouraged, and maybe even just entertained.

But church isn’t TV. If done right (Biblically), church is the reality. We deal with pain, anxiety, frustrations, fears, loss, struggles … as well as joys, celebrations, purpose, and hope. The reality is God is still on the throne, not the economy, the politicians, nor even the doctors. The reality is He offers peace in the storm, a peace that people won’t understand if they don’t know Jesus. A peace that transcends the present and focuses on the eternal.

I may like to escape to TV at times, but I never want to forget the ultimate reality … there is a God and nothing will ever dethrone Him, confuse Him, catch Him off guard, or shake Him. And His love for me, and you, will always be there.

Of that … I am certain.

Lessons From Hawkeye

He was a comedic hero in the middle of a war where the atrocities and the ugliness of what man could do to each other was seen constantly. He was a caring soul but also quick to throw verbal punches. He cared little for authority and showed a bare minimum (if any) of decorum to those above him that acted foolishly.

I’m talking about the lovable character Dr Hawkeye Pierce from the 1970s TV series M*A*S*H played by Alan Alda. This award winning series is the latest on my binge list as I try to avoid crowds by hermiting inside my home.

Now don’t be fooled to think this character is a beacon for us to completely imitate, for Hawkeye was also a misogynist who saw nurses as objects to fill his lonely nights, a social drinker that was destroying his liver way beyond the norm, and a self centered rebel who often demonstrated his disdain for others with cruel mockery and an unchecked verbal onslaught of disrespect. But it was written in the 70s and the setting was a war zone.

So as I watch this series, taking in the way his character is developed over 12 seasons and looking for the positive in the role Hawkeye played in the series, I do see some endearing traits from which I could try to do better at in my own life. So what are these lessons …

— Never lose your sense of humor. War, brutality, ignorance of others, the worst of conditions, stress and more rarely made Hawkeye lose his sense of humor. Witty come backs in the OR, pranks on his colleagues, and planning fun and oddball events remind us to not take life too serious, to enjoy the moment, and to use humor to lift the spirits of those going through tough times.

I often think I might have the spiritual gift of humor, but that may be more in my mind. I am probably less Robin Williams of Good Morning, Vietnam and more Robin Williams of Good Will Hunting.

He made the best use of his skills wherever he was. Stationed near the front in a war zone, surrounded by conditions that tears at your soul, and knowing you could do so much better elsewhere … yet he kept helping people, he did his job, and cared less about the accolades of others than he did about the self assurance of knowing he was making a difference.

He saw that he wasn’t stuck, he was stationed.

— He stood up for what he believed in. He cared for the injured from both sides of the war. He didn’t let military politics stop him from doing what was right. He would challenge decisions he thought was wrong.

— He believed in life. His profession, his calling, his skills … were about saving lives. And this is is also seen in his view on guns. You 2A People, don’t get mad here. I’m just talking about how Hawkeye showed he believed in life.

He believed in his friends. From Trapper to BJ. There is Radar and Margaret. His care and sacrifice for them is powerful.

He believed in marriage. Yea, he was a womanizer, a cad at times, and not the highest of moral characters in his view of purity before one gets married … but he never crossed that line with a married woman. There was a respect for the institution. It may seem it of place with his lose moral character, but it is worth noting.

— He led by example. Always working hard in the OR. He also showed you don’t have to be in charge to be a leader. His was a few people down on the authority totem pole, but many looked to him for morale and direction.

You don’t have to be in charge to be a leader

– me

So to the writers that gave us the character Hawkeye, thank you.

What are people getting from your life? They are watching you know!

Lessons from Agent Carter

She shakes her head in disbelief. She rolls her eyes at my jokes. Sometimes I read her mind (yes, I can do that after 30+ years) and I glean her thinking, “why did I ever say ‘I do’?” Does she really get me? But she thinks I’m gorgeous, she wants to kissss me, she wants to huuugg me (read in your best Sandra Bullock impression from Miss Congeniality). She tolerates me the best she can and I think we are a pretty great couple.

But there is one area we do not have in common, TV and movie genres. She can only tolerate Stargate and the new Star Trek Discovery only so much. And her romcoms put me into a catatonic state. But there is a series we both enjoy and we’re binging on Hulu right now (yes, I dropped Netflix and went Hulu for a while). We both enjoy Agent Carter. I mean, Marvel universe, secret agents, action, gadgets, etc for me … female lead, fantastic dress/attire for her to imagine wearing, and some forlorn romance thrown in. What’s not to love?

But Agent Carter rarely gets credit for her saving the city, no, saving the world. She is belittled by the male roles (it is the 40s after all and women were too often regulated to secondary and assistant roles in society). But does she get rattled? Does she demand the attention and praise? No.

In a recent episode, her colleague was praised by their superiors for something she did. A friend was going to speak up for her, but she stopped him. He wanted her to get the praise she deserved. And while very noble and considerate, she said it was not needed. She was okay with herself with a job well done. She did not need to be praised, she found satisfaction in just doing her best and knowing she did her best.

That philosophy is easier desired than practiced. But even better then self satisfaction, for that often depends on our own fickleness and frailty, is knowing we are doing our best for Him, our Lord. (Colossians 3.23) We are to keep that in mind in everything we do … everything we do. So play sports your best, but for Him (think Tebow), do your work the best for Him (think S Truett Cathy and Chick-fil-A), do your best in school, work, and home. But do it for Him.

Here are a few encouraging ways to glorify God at work … (from an article seen here)

– be just and honest with all people

– depends on God for sufficiency

– grow in your skills, strive for excellence

– exemplify love and humility

– encourage others in their roles

– speak words of grace

Can you think of others? Share with us.

And pray for Lisa, she has to put up with me all the time. And she does a great job at it.

Also note, serendipitously, my wife wrote a similar article on tastes … and she talked about our differences. I did not remember this until after this entry was composed. You might enjoy it, click here to read

Winnie the Pooh – are you that kind of bear?

Winnie the Pooh (from the opening pages)

Sometimes Winnie-the-Pooh likes a game of some sort when he comes downstairs, and sometimes he likes to sit quietly in front of the fire and listen to a story. This evening—“What about a story?” said Christopher Robin.

“What about a story?” I said.

“Could you very sweetly tell Winnie-the-Pooh one?”

“I suppose I could,” I said. “What sort of stories does he like?”

“About himself. Because he’s that sort of Bear.”

“Oh, I see.”

“So could you very sweetly?”

“I’ll try,” I said.”

So I tried …

So begins A.A. Milne’s classic writings on Winnie the Pooh. With the movie ‘Christopher Robin’ hitting the screens in August, I thought I would go back and read the original works. And like almost always, I try to see how I can glean lessons for life from a Christ centered world view and connect it as illustrations for the truths of the Bible. Little kids (and big kids like me) sometimes remember better when things like talking bears, bunnies that do opera (Bugs Bunny), or road runner chasing coyotes are part of the story telling.

And it didn’t take long. On the very first page, I was amazed at the profound insight from Winnie the Pooh’s desire. He likes to hear stories about himself. Because he is that sort of bear.

Really? Seems a bit selfish, a bit narcissistic don’t you think?

But as I pondered, and had a bit of self-revelation, I think we are that sort of bear too. Most of us like to hear people talk about us – we may not admit it but we like it. Compliment us, tell us we are doing well at work, give a shout out to us through Facebook or IG. We not only like to hear it, we like to see it – snap that selfie, give us those duck lips (which are only cute on Daffy, just saying), or tag us in a group pic.

No matter how it is done, most of us selfishly enjoy such attention. But I want to challenge us to see a different way, a Biblical way …

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Outdo one another in showing honor.

But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,

He must increase, but I must decrease.

Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.

I think you get the point. Let’s be encouraging to others, let’s put them before ourselves, let’s serve and lift them up – leaving any glory to Him and Him alone.

This week, how will you make an effort to elevate others? Send a note or email, tell a coworker they are appreciated, write a thank you card to your mother (you heard me, your mother), or whatever.

Just don’t be the kind of bear that likes to only hear stories about yourself. Leave that for Winnie the Pooh.


Excerpt From

Winnie-the-Pooh – Deluxe Edition

A. A. Milne

Verses – Phil 2.3, Rom 12.10, John 3.30, 1 Cor 10.24

Jesus and John Legend

Jesus Christ, Superstar. This 2018 version of the 1971 Weber production was spectacular in so many ways and disappointing in others. Legend’s voice was so smooth and powerful. Judas was portrayed with passion and made a connection to everyone of us that often struggles with understanding why things do not go our way. Sara Bareilles version of ‘I don’t know how to love him’ was an emotional hurricane. And who would ever thought they would say Alice Cooper might have played the best Herod ever with swagger and panache – in a 20’s swing/Charleston mood to boot. The imagery, the energy, the lighting, and the music was well deserving of the rare 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Lisa, Calvin & I greatly enjoyed the time spent watching it. The choreography reminds me of my early dance days – okay, went too far there. (When you think that you dance like Fred Astaire but are more like Napoleon Dynamite). I loved singing along when the familiar tunes hit the airwaves.

BUT – as great as the story was, it ends way too quickly. I am not talking about the time span, I am talking about the story line. It ended with Christ still on the cross. Yes, it loosely told the Gospel narrative. Yes, it took quotes straight from the Word. But it ended with the death of Jesus. What a stunning shot as the cross faded into the background and the light was all that was left. But there is more – so much more. He is not dead, He is risen. If He is not risen, our faith is in vain. On the cross He defeated sin, but the empty tomb shows He defeated death.

So here are a few challenging take aways …
… Use this production as a launching pad for a conversation about Jesus and what the cross really did.
… Think about what difference it would make it Christ was still in the tomb. And then, be glad that the tomb is empty. Think about just how much that means to our lives – for all eternity.
… Talk about what this was really trying to get across. Think about all the emotions of Judas, Mary, and others that were around Jesus. They were real people, real expectations, real short comings, and really loved by Jesus. – kind of like everyone of us today.
… Thank God that we live in a country where Jesus can be talked about. True, much of the show fell very short of the full Gospel, but maybe we believers should be filling in the rest.
… Pray for believers in Hollywood. It is difficult enough to live for Jesus in the Bible Belt here in Dallas – the pressure and the demands for believers in the entertainment world is tremendous. Pray for their witness and impact.  Pray that more shows and arts that open doors to talk about Jesus.
… And lastly, maybe I should take some dance lessons. Or Not.