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How Studying the Scientific Method Led Me To Creation

June 25, 2012

Katha Pollitt is a popular columnist for major national newspapers.  Recently, using her trademark wit, she bemoaned a finding in a recentGalluppoll that reported 46% of college graduates still believe in creation as described more or less in Genesis.  This caused Pollitt’s brain to explode and melt all over her keyboard.  I know she’s not the only one.  I’m one of those 46% and I have much firsthand experience at watching brain’s noisily explode at my dropping this information.  Pollitt doesn’t seem to care to interview anyone as to why they believe this.  She instead, with utter boring predictability, paints a caricature of people who believe this as doing so just because they are too stupid to believe otherwise and then (unfairly based on what she just posited I might add) blames the academics out there for teaching badly.  Her big finish is with the old “if they don’t accept these ‘basic’ science teachings than they could be doing great harm to people” routine.

Katha, baby, I know you didn’t ask for it, but allow me to take you on the journey of 18 year old science student Todd and tell you exactly why I believe in creation as told in Genesis.  I’m sure you are surprised that I’m smart enough to use a computer (when I punch clicky clacky buttons pretty shapes come out!) but you may find after reading this that my view is surprising … scientific.


When I decided to enter the science field as a young lad I did a frightening thing: I started with a blank slate of belief.  I grew up in a Christian home, read the Bible, became a Christian, and had since studied with believers for a long period time.  But now I was on my own.  I wanted to see if this Christianity really was what it said it was.  After all, if God was really as big as he said he was, he could prove himself easily, I thought.  And Katha, you may be surprised to hear this, but I was always taught to believe the scripture in 1 Thess. 5:21 which said “Test everything.  Hold onto the good.”  Faith had always been to me of testing invisible things, comparing them to Scripture and Jesus, and then making decisions about them.

Going into the science field I was leery.  After all, I had heard what a juggernaut of faith destruction evolution and the geographic sciences were.  I actually liked my faith.  I wasn’t keen to give up on it, even in part.  However, I liked what was true better and Scripture itself had told me to take that stance so it was with trepidation that I took my new stance of openness into my college science classes.

I laugh now at how worried I was about it.  This thing that I had built up in my mind that seemed so powerful that it could destroy my faith turned out to not just be obviously untrue, but, at times, laughably untrue (when you need a good laugh ask me sometime about the “ground up” and “tree down” theories in my evolutionary text book on the origins of birds).  All I could think was “That’s it?  Really?  That’s your proof?”  As I progressed through my studies I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop but instead it just kept going that way until I graduated with a Marine Sciences degree from a top 5 university in the field.   What’s funny is that the reason I rejected evolutionary and big bang cosmos theory wasn’t faith – it was the scientific method itself.


The evidence used to prove molecules-to-man evolution is a lot like this:

Imagine you had a theory that all gumballs are red.   To test that theory, you go to a gumball machine.  You put a quarter in the slot, turn the knob, and .. a red gumball comes out!  “Wow,” you exclaim “Look at this proof that all gumballs are red!”  You repeat that action and, again, a red gumball comes out.  “Awesome!  My theory is being proven true!”  However, the next time you do this, a yellow gumball comes out.  “Hmm,” you think, “This one isn’t red.  Well, these others were red.  Hmm.  Maybe what happened was that this WAS red but then turned yellow.  It’s just a bad sample, I’ll throw it out.”  And so you go on and drain the machine in a like manner.  At the end of it you have two handfuls of red gumballs and you say to anyone who is listening “Look at all this proof that all gumballs are red!”  However, behind you is a pile of yellow, white, and green gumballs three times as big.

I found that all the red gumballs held out were ones of natural selection within kind.  The only place I’ve seen with hard evidence that is repeatable and observable is in natural selection and, you might not think this, but we don’t disagree this happens.  In text book after text book, this is the only hard evidence I saw.  I found that most of the red balls were basically just “these things look like each other or are similar to each other” which then was stretched to “these must have come from each other because they look like each other”.  That’s where the “Huh?” came in.  Katha, please please try to understand this.  This point has been made a million times and yet none of you seem to hear it.  The creationist stance is against long term evolution, not natural selection.  These terms are being used interchangeably all of the time and they are most definitely not the same thing!  Natural selection basically just says that creatures that breed together will gravitate towards traits found inside the natural diversity of the animal kind that best help them survive.  Creationists have no problems with this.  God created creatures who could adapt to a changing world.  That’s just benevolence and good design.  The issue is creatures evolving past their “kind” or gaining new information.  Natural selection relies on the loss or replacement of information.  There is no new information happening here.  Evolution across kind is where the white, yellow, and green gumball pile lies.

That white, yellow, and green pile in the back loomed large despite my text book and teachers gesticulating towards the red gumballs to try to distract me away from them.  In fact, a typical response is “How can you ignore all these facts?” because people seem to think that if you believe in creation than you ignore a bunch of true things.  It’s actually the complete opposite.  I see not just facts presented – I see the inconvenient research that has been throw out as well.  I take them ALL into evidence.  And, everything beyond the red gumballs is basically one giant melty gumball mess.

At first I noticed that Natural Selection just doesn’t seem to move past “kind” easily.  To try to explain why natural selection doesn’t seem to move past kind, what was brought to me first was mutation and random copy errors, which turns out pretty freaking destructive actually and seems difficult to work within the timescale that’s been constructed.  Mounds of non-red gumballs behind it.  So my text books went to punctuated equilibrium, which is the very definition of a made up story.  Get this: the evidence for punctuated equilibrium is that there is no evidence.  Ha!  I guess we’re giving migration patterns a try now to help the copy errors theory.  That’s a problem, though, because the archaeological anthropological fossil record turned out to be a convoluted trash pile.  Go ahead.  Try to find multiple charts of fossils that agree with each other on where certain fossils go across from the last 20 years.  I guarantee you this month that some new finding will change some evolutionary timeline by 10,000’s to millions of year.  It happens every month.  (It happened this month with postulation over handprints in a cave that some think are Neanderthal.)  The fossils themselves are not accessible  and rarely seen by anyone (which has posed problems with accuracy) and have often been qualified by dubious individuals (see “Lucy”).  The archaeology is such a gigantic mess (read “mess” as “not proving at all what they had predetermined it should look like”) that most evolutionary scientists have chosen to ignore it and do everything via genetic clocks.  Guess what, that’s been a mess too.  I’m serious – it is one heck of a mess.  If you knew the enormity of it, you would laugh it out of your presence.  When I saw that, it made it mighty hard for me to believe with absolute sincerity that I was told it should make me believe it.

No text book came anywhere near proof of how life came to be in the first place.  Katha, you would think that to be a fundamental question, eh?  I find it so.  It’s only the foundation of the entire assumption here of what I’m supposed to so easily believe.  My evolutionary text book offered no theory and, in a hilarious accident I think, actually said something to the effect that this all came together naturally by some “miracle”.  It actually used the word “miracle.”  Then it took a feeble stab at trying to show the earth wasn’t a closed system and the laws of physics weren’t broken.  Katha, there isn’t even agreement (because there is practically no fact for reasons discussed further below) about the original conditions of the earth and what would be needed for life.  Most textbooks and professors just mumble something about early conditions, iron concentrations, a primordial soup, some amino acids, Miller-Urey, and skip to the “simple” cell already formed.  That’s been so hard to prove that the main thought now is that life came from extraterrestrial means through a meteorite.  That’s attractive because, for the most part, we don’t know what in the h e double hockey sticks happens in space.  The earth condition data is looking pretty bad for these life questions so we have to go somewhere where we can make stuff up without dissent.  The next frontier, once the space theory is dried up, is the mulitverse to try to fix the math, which, Katha, is bad.  The math that this life we all live could happen from a giant explosion is extraordinarily, extraordinarily bad.  Like kazillions to one.  Like worse than winning the national lottery 10 times in a row bad.  Long live the multiverse!


Stuff like this self organizes all of the time around me.

I got further news for you Katha.  The “simple” cell ain’t so simple.  I took a test on both bacteria and regular animal cells so I know.  You try remembering how to spell, let alone locate, mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum for a test!  We got a huge evolutionary problem here.  In order for life you have to have a few very complicated, multi-faceted things.  First, you have to be able to take in energy.  Second you have to process the energy.  Third you have to be able to release waste.  Fourth, you have to be able to keep inside stuff you want inside and keep stuff out that you don’t want inside.  Fifth, you have to be able to reproduce.  Sixth, growth.  Seventh, you have to have some kind of mechanism for controlling all those things (because sometimes it’s detrimental to eat or you have to distinguish between what is food and what isn’t).  There is nothing out there that comes close to factually showing how anyone of these came to be let alone how the could form together all at once.  I’ve looked for 20 years.  And these are the easy questions!  What about why any matter has the properties is has or why they stay stable instead of chaotic?  What is life anyway?  Throwing out some amino acids that have been formed in a controlled experiment is nowhere near this complexity.  Heck, I’ll give you a complete dead body.  Make it live. The only answers reported to me are wild postulations that are said without any experimentation at all.  Even Miller-Urey, which has always had massive problems with its left-handed amino acids, has been quietly swept back into the pile of white, green, and blue gumdrops.  And people accuse the Christians for believing made up stories.  Seriously, I found that 99% of the “science” behind the origin events are completely made up, have no evidence for their theories, and are molded around 1% of a controlled test about amino acids and natural protein formation.  GIANT MESS!  Forget how I can’t believe this stuff.  How CAN I believe this stuff?


I’m not even getting into the massive problems with birds and bats, how a nucleus could evolve in a step by step fashion, how a creature could transition from water to land and back again, how the earth – which works like an engine – could form in the way it’s been said, why animals would evolve to eat each other or when other things that are much easier to obtain are nearby, and hundreds of other problems that stared me right back in the face when I tried to see if this was true.  Somewhere towards the end of my time in school when I was trying to figure out problems like how a whale could evolve to live on krill (think about it), I just gave into the fact that we are created.


Yes, that is a bat grown over in a stalagmite. And yes, I am confused why I was always told that it took millions of years for stalagmites to form.

Besides from this, these portions of the sciences have a massive credibility problem.  These credibility problems get swept under the rug.  This is part of the problem.  I’ve grown up in a world, like most people, that is always trying to sell me something.  At least Christians are upfront about their problems, for the most part.  How often do scientific mistakes about large scale evolution or geologic problems get revealed?  Piltdown man was taught in textbooks for 40 years before it was proved a hoax and there are still people that don’t know it was a hoax.  How come I was never told that stalagmites and stalactites can be grown quickly instead of taking millions of years?  I’m confused at why I was told that strata always takes millions of years to form but when Mt. St. Helens erupted it created a 25 feet deep layered strata in 3 hours.  How come I was never told that there have been numerous problems with dating organizations sending back lava samples and such with million year price tags when they were known to have been formed 40 years before?  Furthermore, there are massive issues with all of the dating techniques from fission tracking to ice cores.  Fossils are found where they aren’t supposed to be all of the time that revise the age of fossils found around them that have been previously dated by these methods.  The reason: dating methods don’t arrive at an answer independent of pre-assumptions.  But, that’s never said.  We instead get the mysterious “Must’ve been a contaminant” quote as our only explanation.  These are just scratching the surface.  It led me to think “Why aren’t they being open about this?” That led me to “Why would they try to hide it?”  That led me to darker thoughts.

Science is supposed to be about asking questions.  Science is not supposed to have a world view.  It is supposed to be neutral, right?  But we all know that’s not the truth.  Overall, a group has gutted a good thing called the scientific method, a method based on a predictable universe made by a logical and predictable God, and replaced it with Naturalism and Atheism, saying this predictability came from chaos or something unknowable.  Why in the world would chaos produce order?  Why in the heck would an unknowable being make things so that they could be intricately known?  The thing is – the more ordered I see things, the more I believe there is something out there that ordered it.  If I found a pyramid in the desert, the first question I would ask would not be “How did this sand randomly form into bricks that appear to be a perfectly ordered pyramid?”  It would be, “Who built this?”  I’ve learned this from observation and using the principles of the scientific method.  For me, the scientific method further proves a thinking God that wants to be known to me.

When someone isn’t being real with me about their faults, Christian or not, it makes me distrust them.  When you ridicule me as your only response it further shows me that you aren’t the neutral science loving fella or gal that you say you are.  You should want me to be skeptical.  Then I could perform the scientific method more.  But you and I both know, Katha, that this isn’t really about science.  Because, if you looked at it, the hypothesis step of the scientific method demands you have a worldview to test, so you can’t really be neutral.  The dirty little secret is that the origin issues are not observable – the very first step of the scientific method – so it doesn’t matter how much anyone postulates or how good it sounds when postulating, we just don’t know and we never will what happened in a scientific way.  The best we can do is make educated guesses.  I realized this while in college.  This isn’t about science, it’s about faith and people are trying to convert me to their faith by keeping elements of the truth away from me.  It IS faith.  You can’t know it.  It may be educated.  You may think it’s true.  But it is still something you believe, not something you know.  Stop trying to pass this off on me as fact.  Please refer to the mess briefly introduced above.  It was my scientific training that taught me to observe those problems.  The scientific method teaches me to reject these things as fact until they are repeatable and they make sense.

So, why do others in the field believe naturalism?  Obviously because they get something out of it.  Of course someone is not going to express doubts about these naturalistic, atheistic philosophy’s when there job, home, credibility, legacy, pride, ethics, and family are on the line.  Katha, your methodology persecutes non-believers like any other faiths have and do today.  “Coming out” as a creationist has cost lots of people their jobs and station in life and is increasingly causing problems for people.  You and others like you have a zealous faith that persecutes and demonizes, clearly without following the scientific method you are supposedly espousing.  Besides, lots of groups of people believe things that aren’t true for long periods of times for these reasons.  I have.  Everyone I know has.  Look at yourself and look to history.  This argument that a creationist thinks everyone is purposefully lying or that “everyone” thinks this way and your stupid to disagree is demonstrably false.  (You should rethink the “everyone believes this” stance.  I see it all the time the appeal to the supposed agreement on a fact by smart people by saying things like “Science says” or “Most scientists say” without a shred of evidence of this consensus – and believe me, most scientist in the same field disagree with each other – make up a story with outrageously self important etymology and code speak, and then congratulate themselves when someone doesn’t know what they are talking about by saying – “They’re just too stupid to understand.  I’m smarter.  I know more.”  If “everyone” agrees, prove it.)  And we both know what this is about.  If we can see very deeply into the way things work and they don’t look like random chance it makes it pretty hard to deny that a creator is out there.  People want to protect that they can do whatever you want and that those actions are just.  That’s powerful motivation to believe the lie.  The lie gives you what you want.

Speaking of looking to history, the theory that not believing molecules-to-man evolution is detrimental and harmful to the world is one of the worst scientific theories you could posit.  It has been already been proved untrue.  This idea you have has only really been around en masse for 200 or so years and in the state you believe it in for much less.  Clearly many scientific discoveries happened long before this was on the scene.  In fact, you wouldn’t have your theories unless positive discoveries could be made from people who didn’t believe in them in the first place.  Tons and tons of discoveries have been made and are still being made by creation believing individuals.  For your own sake, stop using this argument.  Every time you use it you show that you actually reject the scientific method and make your statements based on belief.

Katha, I don’t think you are stupid for what you believe, nor do I think your college professors are to fault for it.  We all are scientists in a way: observing, forming hypotheses about how things work, and testing them out in this thing we call life.  The evidence led you one way.  The evidence led me the other.  We get nowhere by calling each other stupid or blaming someone.  You may disagree with what I wrote above but you can hardly call it the product of willful stupidity.  It is factually the product of the method I was taught and, so, my teachers taught me well.  We just don’t agree.  Maybe you can unfold to me in a neutral manner why I am wrong but we have to have a two way conversation.  Isn’t it the thing that quite a lot of people who don’t like God complain about that they believe he is asking them to do what he wants without regard for them?  That he forces them without their consent or input?  That it is a one way conversation and he doesn’t listen?

I studied science in college.  I came away believing more in a creator.  I came away from seeing the data – all of the data – and I saw not only what could easily be fit into creation as described in the Scripture – but what led me to further believe that it was true.  I’m not special.  Apparently 46% of people found the evidence actually fit the God of the Bible more than the wisdom of this age.  Perhaps we should all take a little lesson from the scientific theory and experiment afresh again.


The not-so-simple cell

June 25, 2012

The not-so-simple cell

Summer 2012 Update

June 19, 2012

What’s up in the ‘Zoo?

Kara and I just returned from spending a week at Midwest Bible Camp in Brighton, IA.  What an amazing week!  This camp is my happy place.  You know in Empire Strikes Back when Luke gets all jacked up on Hoth and they put him in a Bacta tank in his underwear and utility belt to heal him?  ImageMWBC is my bacta tank.  I get all messed up in the world and being immersed in Senior Week heals me.  I sometimes make my walk with Christ about intellect.  I forget that the kingdom of God is marked by power.  The love at this week is unbelievable power and it made me know the blessing I have to be in the kingdom.

This year there was around 60 campers aged 15-18.  That theme was “What Really Matters?”  Kara and I went as teachers.  We co-taught a class on relationships entitled “Love is a Battlefield”.  Yes, I did sing the song.  ImageThe focus of the class was to see the devastated landscape of people broken by bad relationships in our world and then to learn to make our relationships intentional in Christ.  We focused on sharing that we should not try to live a life (including who we date/marriage) and then make God a part of it.  Instead, we should make God our life and our dating/marriage as a tool to help that.  It seemed that a class like this was very needed.  Great times!  We connected with people in ways that are sure to last for some time.  

Thanks so much to all of you who support us and let us go do this work.  It blew my spiritual mind!

Other happenings in the ‘Zoo

Monday Night Dinners have been solid.  We continue to have an open dinner for the neighborhood in East Main and have now had several people stop in and eat with us.  There is a consensus among us that we are building toward something special!

Saturday Night Dinners are back in full swing and, like before, have become a place where lots of new people seem to turn up.  I can’t wait to bring some of the wonderful content of camp this year to our table.  I’m super thankful to everyone who plays a part in making that night special.

We have some bible studies going and are, in general, always being given things to do to simply help people out.  I’m proud of the willingness of nearly everyone associated with Zoo Ministries to be a servant and help people out who are in need.

Individually, we’ve all been busy.  There is a lot of transition in our lives here.  It’s amazing to see how God has answered the many desperate prayers we brought to him a year and a half ago.  It seems like everyone is in a new and better job, dating, married, or spiritually farther along.  Please pray for Daren as he and Danielle, his new wife, are traveling to Africa to lead a youth mission trip to Zambia where Active Water works.  Please also continue to pray for Kara’s pregnancy!  We’ve got about 3 months left until baby is in our arms.  

We can’t do this thing we are doing without you, so thank you!  I’ve been smitten by the beauty of Christ’s body in full action and it’s been wonderful to be a part of a ministry that restores mobility to parts of the body that have been stagnant and atrophied.  This work you’ve taken a part in is reminiscent of what Paul talks about in Ephesians 4 when he talks about the many parts of the body such as teachers, evangelists, etc .. being held and knit together – the muscles, the sinews – by love.  We in many ways are a ministry of sinews and muscles so that the other parts of the body can not just operate, but do so with power.  Love to all!


Zoo Ministries is a community of young adults who have chosen to live out the life of Christ in their greater community.  We focus on the practical aspects of what it means to be devoted to one another in Christ while living in a world that more and more feeds self absorption.  The focus of our community is to share the love of Christ with each other and with the world around us.  This blog updates and explains this ministry as well as being a spot to share thoughts, generally on spirituality, about the events of the day.  We hope it provides something good for you!

Here is our house motto:

“We are a community of Christ-followers who believe in living a life of love. That loves drives us to comfort the hurting, serve the needy, befriend the lonely, accept the rejected, and challenge the status quo. We understand that love is risky, and we are compelled by Christ to take that risk. If people needs a place to belong, they can belong with us.”

We currently function partly of donations (we have a 2 year plan to cut the need for donations down significantly and, actually, be able to start funding other things).  If you want to contribute financially to help this develop, go to  or send check payable to East Main Church of Christ with my name in the memo line to East Main Church of Christ 2528 East Main St. Kalamazoo, MI 49048 .  If you don’t care about tax write offs you can send it to me at Todd Tipton 5727 West Q Avenue Kalamazoo, MI 49009.  We are always looking for roommates and helpers so contact us if you want to move here and be a part of this!

Should Christians Vote?

May 16, 2012

In all of the hubbub lately about the legality of gay marriage in the U.S. I’ve heard an argument surface several times that goes a little something like this: Christians shouldn’t vote at all.  The gist of the argument is based on a couple of things.  First, Jesus wasn’t political and did not attempt to change things through politics.  Second, even if you believe something is right, it does not mean that you should legislate it and force others to follow what you believe.  After all, is it really loving in the way Jesus defines it and went about his business to force others to follow your morality?

While it is not in the scope of a blog to handle these questions with the thoroughness that they deserve (A book could be easily written on it), I’ve often used this blog to discuss ways to understand each others arguments better and have a civil discourse, so I will take a shot at representing these sides in one place to get us all thinking.  This is a very convoluted and difficult question.  Someone having a different opinion than you is not willful stupidity, it’s just a hard subject.  In my short life span I’ve noticed that people screaming over each other and calling each other stupid doesn’t change anyone’s mind.  As a Christian and a minister of reconciliation, as Paul tells us we are, it is as important for me to choose how to have a conversation as it is in choosing what I say.  We, as Christians, are instructed by the New Testament writers to have conversations that use listening first (James), speak the truth in a loving way (Paul), speak gracefully with beneficial words (Paul again), and be careful that our emotions are in check with righteousness backing up what we say (Jesus on the Sermon on the mount), among others.  I hope this helps us understand each other better and leads to great relationships where our words matter to each other!

Jesus for President?

Saying that Jesus wasn’t political on his time on earth is a bit of a misnomer.  Jesus’s words were ridiculously political!  He talked all of the time in political terms, just not in the way that you and I usually apply them.  Jesus himself used the word “kingdom” over a hundred times in the sense of describing the kingdom of heaven or God.  The crux of his message was wrapped in political kingdom terms.  In fact, all four Gospels record him using the terminology and the beginning of his ministry was almost completely focused on preaching repentance because the “kingdom” of heaven/God was at hand.  He seems very interested in getting people into that kingdom.

Jesus also understood the politics of the day, so did the Gospel & NT writers, and they occasionally used them as teaching aids or to their advantage.  The Gospel writers are always filling us in on the political machinations behind the scenes that are developing in response to Jesus.  For example, Mark tells us of the politics of the issue of John the Baptist and how he was beheaded in chp. 6.  In the case of Jesus political understanding, he purposefully stays mostly in Galilee during his ministry where he is politically the safest.  He times things correctly so that he is not executed before his time (for example, we are told many times that people wanted to lay hands on him but couldn’t because of the situation or crowd).  He understands the politics of the question of the woman at the well.  Jesus did not stop the singing of political songs in the triumphal entry or single out people for calling him politically charged titles such as “Son of David”.  Jesus when he stands before the three biggest political figures of his day:  Herod, Annas, and Pilate, speaks to them (or keeps silent) in ways that shows he understands the political significance of what he says.  And, ultimately, Jesus was actually crucified based on a political issue: that he claimed to be king and to Romans there could only be one king, Caesar – showing that the hearers understood his words in a political way.  Jesus even admitted to Pilate that he had a kingdom (again, political terminology) although he makes sure Pilate understands that the kingdom is spiritual in nature.

There seems to be some thought surfacing out there that says  Jesus was off-put by the political scene and refused to engage in it entirely, simply speaking to each individual to make changes in their heart.  That is simply not the case.  I have barely scratched the surface here, but the Gospels dictate that 1) Jesus had a keen understanding of the political framework he lived in, 2) Jesus used politically charged words – often in describing the kingdom he was setting up, and 3) the Gospel writers understood it as political and used it as framework to discuss how we should react to Jesus message.

So, then, Jesus was Republican/Democrat/Insert-Political-Party-Here, right?

Umm .. no.  Here’s the thing.  The way we’ve interpreted things in the U.S. is that the kingdom of God isn’t physical so we just have to do our best with imperfect human systems until he comes back.  How that plays out is that we chose a party or a particular vote based on what percentage they get things right and vote accordingly.  However, Jesus didn’t use that technique.

The political parties of the day are outlined extensively in the Gospel.  You had Pharisees, Sadducee’s , and Herodians, among others with party substrata like Zealots.  We don’t look at these as political parties, just religious factions, because we think we mostly separate (and God wants it that way, we think) our specific religious principles from our political party and base it on universal truths.

This idea is not new.  It actually comes from our founding fathers.  It’s too much to go into deeply, but, in short, the founding fathers came from an England that was physically torn apart by disagreements about Scripture.  The Church of England was the state religion, and because of that, terrible things happened to those who didn’t fall in line with their understanding of particular Scripture.  This is why the founding fathers, who believed in God, did not go extensively to Scripture to found the laws of their new country or ideas, they went to the logical things people could see that God put in humanity and nature.  “Self-Evident Truths”, as you will.  They also relied heavily on government systems that had worked before.  So, God is given as the source of our freedom and ultimate authority, but the Bible isn’t specially used to back it up.

(And, it should be noted, that the idea of “separation of church and State” is not law – it came from a letter of his – and is rooted in Jefferson’s ideas mainly about the evils perpetrated by an official state religion, not in Christian ideas being represented by a majority of people.  Saying the founding fathers didn’t want religious things in law isn’t really true, they just didn’t want an official state religion.)

So, considering  all of this, I would just simply state that Pharisees, Sadducees, etc .. are exactly the same thing as Republican, Democrat, etc …

It is very important to consider this point.  Jesus did not join any political party of the day.  Furthermore, there is no indication that his disciples did either after his departure.  He did not take the “this is what is best” approach.  Jesus was often asked types of questions to get him to fit into one side or the other.  Should we pay taxes?  What about resurrection?  How does marriage work in the afterlife?  Jesus, however, had another political party he was affiliated with: his own.  As shown in the above section, he pushed his own kingdom very hard.  In fact, even though he understood the politics of the kingdoms of earth, he showed that the kingdom of heaven superseded those transient things.

In the aftermath of Jesus time on earth, Peter calls us strangers and aliens (a political term concerning lawful nationality) and a holy nation.  Paul in speaking about his life before Christ described himself by political party (Pharisee), by nationality (Israel), and by ethnicity (tribe of Benjamin).  Then he goes on to say that he counts those as rubbish now that he is a part of Christ.  He talks about those things as if in past tense.  The 12 Apostles almost certainly differed in their politics, yet they became one homogeneous unit in Jesus.  Perhaps the biggest thing to consider is that nowhere is it discussed by the New Testament writers that people should run for office (although there is good evidence that some of them held some sort of political office).  It was also not part of Jesus’ great commission to bring change through political systems, but instead by winning hearts and minds to Christ.

I’m going to stop short of saying that it is sin or that you absolutely shouldn’t join a political party as a Christian.  The law of Christ is freedom and grace.  That being said, you should consider those points above (and again, i have just scratched the surface) very seriously.  Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial.  Without a doubt, if you are a Christian, then your nationality is first Christian, your political party is first Christian, you ethnicity is first Christian, and the political figure you are first accountable  to is Jesus, first and foremost.  In fact, the interesting thing about Jesus being so political in his terminology means that we can’t just dismiss “Christianity” as our political party.  It actually kind of forces us to understand ourselves as politically Christian, something most of us wouldn’t consider.  It’s something to think about.

So you’re saying I shouldn’t vote?

Well … not exactly.  Just because you don’t claim a political party other than Christ doesn’t mean that it’s sinful to execute duties as a citizen to the nation you are currently an “alien” in.  In fact, we are expressly told to obey the authorities over us (as long as we are giving to Caesar what is Caesars and giving to God what is God’s) and that they have been placed by God into their situation for His reasons.  However, God gives us opportunities to alter our current states and, certainly, voting could be one of them.

The undeniably fact is: God seems to be interested in what nations do as a unit.  If you don’t believe that, just read Joshua 7.  If you want to avoid the issue of comparing a nation (Israel) that had a specific covenant with God with a nation that doesn’t have that (the U.S..) you still have the problem that the Old Testament prophets, among other books, are rife with passages of God judging entire nations for their sin.  He also fills those prophecies with promised mercy for those who change their ways.   If you want to go New Testament, the destruction of Jerusalem after Christ is shown in the Gospels as judgment on Israel for rejecting God.  Jesus himself tells the disciples that they can pray that it happens at a decent time so the pregnant women will have a better time of it.  He is essentially saying that repentance could have delayed the judgment.  So, you can’t just say that God says “Live out your life in some country regardless of what happens there because I just deal with spiritual kingdoms”.  Scripture doesn’t hold that up.

And what about forcing morality on someone?  Should we do that?   We have to discuss a myth here as a base before we get to that question.  The myth here is that you can have a political system that is a-religious.  That is simply not true.  Every law represents a religion or belief held by people.  If a law is atheistic it’s still a law based on religion – the unknowable belief that there is no God.  If you say that God’s name shouldn’t be invoked in law, you are representing your belief and imposing it on others, which is what you seem to be saying is what should be legislated against.  Morality is in some way or another being forced on you all of the time in any social compact.  The benefit of a democracy/republic is that the majority of people get to decide how they will live.  There is recourse if you are in the minority – convince people you are right.  (This guy is a bit smarmy but he has well spoken things to say about all of this, including voting

So, what if Christians are in the majority and have power.  Christianity is known for meekness – power under control.  How do we use that power?  Jesus seems to hate pecking orders of one person over another.   He tells his disciples they should not “Lord” over one another like the Gentiles which is a direct condemnation of pecking order philosophies of this world that say you have 1 guy at the top of a triangle and those closest to the top have power over the ones at the bottom.  There is one head – Christ – the rest are on an equal playing field.  When James & John ask for high standing in the kingdom of God, Jesus tells them they don’t know what they are talking about.  He then washes everyone’s feet and says the first are last and the last are first.  Equality in Christ is repeated over and over again through the New Testament.  You could make a good case alone that since there is not pecking order in Christ, we shouldn’t engage in it at all in politics however it seems that some of the earlier disciples like Erastus did hold political office.  It seems political office is not condemned but let’s also not say it is promoted as a mechanism for real change.

The cross proves Jesus loves submission to authorities, even if they are sometimes wrong.  Jesus stood in front of the three biggest political figures in his area.  A strong case could be made that the most beneficial thing that could happen to the world is Jesus living on.  However, Jesus did not choose to take out any of the guys standing in front of him and take over their position.  He instead chose to let them kill him and ultimately let them be wrong.

But, then again, isn’t a change in the agreements of a social compact proof that the message of Jesus is reaching people?  Aren’t we told that faith without action is dead?  Shouldn’t we act?  Shouldn’t we, as a nation (or a majority), repent with the actions we allow ourselves to take without punishment?  Martin Luther King Jr. acted to change our social compact by preaching and acting on it.  He did.  America is better country for it.  His major success was moving Christians who sat on the sidelines saying it doesn’t matter if people are being treated badly to say it does and then vote on it.  After all, it was the Christian contingent that always fought for the quality of life for those enslaved based on their understanding of freedom as it existed in God.  The great emancipation and equality orators went over and over again to the line “all men are created equal” in our founding documents: a statement based on creation by God.  Christians inhibited change because on their inaction.  Christianity has been in the majority since the founding of the country.  Why did we allow slavery for so long?  Because too many said they shouldn’t force their beliefs about freedom on others.  If you look at countries founded on Christianity, you absolutely find the most freedom, the most grace, and the most understanding.

Also, not voting opens us up to things like people not considering murder as wrong (there are those that believe that – check out leopold and loeb) or pedophilia as wrong.  Don’t believe that people think that?  I once got into a long conversation with a man who was a pillar of his community that told me the pedophilia was only wrong because society said it was.  I asked “So, what if society in the U.S. said it was ok?”  He said it would then be ok.  He was a leading psychiatrist in the community.  What started this conversation?  Gay marriage.

The answer

All of these considerations lead us to what exactly?  Should we vote or not vote?  Final answer:  I don’t know.  There are compelling points for both.  I suspect the answer is both yes and no.  C.S. Lewis often talks about Godly truths as a piano in which you need to know when to play the appropriate key.  Probably, the truth lies somewhere beyond how we frame the question and how and why we vote.   If we do vote or don’t vote: we should do so in submission, full of mercy, listening first, and with the understanding that there are better ways to change peoples minds than the political system.  In fact, God wants us to almost solely change their minds through love and good deeds.  Just forcing them to do what we think isn’t what God wants.  God doesn’t want consolidated power.  He wants hearts.

To back this thought up for consideration, I want to recount one more story from  Scripture.  We  often hear about how God detests homosexuality in Leviticus.  However, what about God saying he hates divorce in Malachi?  I say this only to show that we need to consider very seriously how we go about this if our one recourse is to legislate this issue.  We certainly haven’t outlawed divorce.  We aren’t complete hypocrites.  There are biblical reasons for this.  We find out from Jesus that Moses allowed divorce in certain situations even though God didn’t want it and hates it.  The reason, Jesus said, is that the people’s hearts were hard.  However, Jesus still shows divorce as against God’s plan.  In this story, I see that God doesn’t desire it, but allows for some laws to made in lands whose hearts are hard.  That is actually punishment.  He “gives them over” to their desires because they persist in pursuit of them, as Romans says.  This seems to me to be the middle ground that wraps up both of these conflicting arguments.  The law always has been a tool for children (spiritually) to use until they grow up.  However, even for children, once they have developed you have to allow them to go their own way, even if it’s wrong.  Certainly letting a child go it’s own way can have ramifications on the family (just like a nation) but you still must let them at some point.  Timing, then, is very important.  So, maybe you vote for the morally correct choice.  But, maybe there is a time where you give people over to their own evil desires.

Final Thoughts

This is an incredibly difficult subject.  No matter how you come out on it, I hope you see at least that and go about any further discussions armed with that knowledge.  Despite whether you vote or do not vote, realize that God wins people one person at a time by reconciling difference with outstanding, sacrificial love.  The Spirit is essential in all of this.  If you are devoting more time to developing your political stances than you are to understanding God and bringing him through love to the others, you will be wrong no matter what you do.  Love to all –


Inner Truth Schminner Truth

May 10, 2012

You’ve heard it time and time again.  When you have problems, you need to look internally for an answer.

As my friend Wang says in the great movie “Murder By Death”, there is only one problem with that theory: it’s stupid.  The most stupid theory I ever heard.  Well, at least if you ask me to do that sort of thing!

Anybody who looked inside me would see a hopeless mess of conflicting desires, fuzzy ethical math, half truths, and confusion.  Asking me to wade into that pool of moral vomit and pull out something true and substantially beneficial is bordering on cruelty.  Don’t make me go in there!!  When I get in there I always find out I’m like some creepy hoarder.  Don’t make me do it!  I don’t want to go in there!

The wisdom of this age is saturated with the message of truth being embedded internally into your desires.  I hear it everywhere passed on as revered wisdom and I see the damage it’s caused in countless lives.  I see it in the felt emptiness of so many chasing whatever whim comes to their cognizance. They chase and chase, find it all utterly empty, and ultimately come to the conclusion that they shouldn’t feel anything.  Or they spend their lives trying to convince themselves they like something a whole lot more than they actually do, ultimately trying to achieve satisfaction by volume.  More men.  More women.  More games.  More diversions.  More drugs.  More money.  More clout.  Something new.  Looking inward seems to only end for me in a cycle of self indulgent destruction.  What person really understands themself?  As the writer of proverbs asks, how can anyone understand their own way?

Following your natural instinct is great as long as your natural instinct hasn’t been corrupted.  Following your internal voice is great as long as you don’t have more than one voice inside.

According to Scripture, God’s breath is a part of you.  He formed you in his own image and is a part of you.  So, certainly, looking inside can be beneficial if you manage to see the everlasting part of you that is there.  After that, looking inside seems to be only useful in clearly demonstrating how much you need something outside of you to sort it out.  Most likely, if you listen to your internal “voice”, what you will really hear is several voices telling you different things.  This makes sense because God has told us that we are multiple things that are one yet separate: body, mind, emotion, soul.  This is a great thing because these multiple parts work as a set of checks and balances against corruption.  It can make things a mess of conflicting desires, however.

The modern church has unfortunately adopted some of this teaching.  The truth is, however, that Scripture says to do the exact opposite.  Jude says “These are the men who divide against you who follow natural instincts and do not have the Spirit”.  Paul says in his letter to the Colossians to “Put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature.”  Peter says that we “may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption of the world cause by evil desire.”

When truth is subject to your interpretation, you will eventually be miserable.  The only option will be to eventually zap yourself out of reality through pleasure or emptying good things of their true power.  Your happiness will be equivalent to the degree you can convince yourself that nothing here is real.  And then, you’ll just be an animal.  Living for the desire or living by knowing nothing at all.  Of course, at that point, why go on living?  Peter describes this as becoming “brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed.”

Peter’s description of people who are beasts on born to be caught and destroyed kills me.  It is so obviously true it frightens me.  It convicts me to bring truth to others – not what I see inside myself – but the truth that so many others and that nature itself testifies about.  It teaches me to seek truth from true sources other than what I think.  Proverbs tells us that the way of a fool seems right to him but a wise man listens to advice.

Jesus once said that he is truth.  I believe him.  His words are the only thing that makes sense of the mess I see inside me.

Zoo Ministries Plan 2012

March 30, 2012


This is the plan for Zoo Ministries in 2012!


* Sat. Night Dinners (3 Hours)

Saturday Night Dinners have in many ways become the core of Zoo Ministries.  In short, Saturday Night Dinner is a meal devoted to Jesus.  Young adults bring a dish to a themed meal.  We pray and then we talk, laugh, and enjoy the meal.  There is no set structure, but usually, towards the end of dinner, we share what we call “Best of/Worst of” where each person shares the best and the worst of their week.  After that, I usually introduce a topic or verse and we talk about it in a meaningful way for a few minutes while drinking coffee.  Occasionally, at the end, we take prayer requests.  Afterwards, everyone sticks around and has a great time!

Saturday Night Dinners have been extremely successful on a variety of fronts.  For me, they are meaningful because I simply think it is a beautiful thing to have a family meal with Jesus.  If you read the gospels you’ll notice that Jesus loves food, so I like to think of him being there with us.  The dinners have intimacy.  They feel like a family dinner.  We have all shared difficult things with each other and found out things we didn’t know about the people sitting around us.  This love and intimacy with little religious knowledge necessary to participate have made it assessable to outsiders.  Since its inception, over 100 different people have come to a dinner and there are 20-30 regulars.


 * Mon. Night Dinners (3 Hours)

+ Sign Time (4 Hours)

The success of Saturday Night Dinners has pushed me on to believe that it could be duplicated in a place I have a heart for.  For some time now I have sought to reach out to the lost by sitting in local places with a chalkboard that has a message written on it: “I’ll Listen”.  (I also use “I’ll pray with you.)  This has been blessed by God.  For every hour that I sit out with the sign, one person stops to talk to me.  I usually do this in poorer neighborhoods or downtown near the homeless.

After listening to so many in the neighborhood who opened up their lives and problems with me, it became natural to ask “Ok I’ve heard them.  How do I help them?”  In light of this, I’ve decided to invite those I talk to a meal like our Saturday Night Dinners.  I believe that bringing them into a group of people who desire better things will create a wonderful God filled zone in the neighborhood I work and give nearby support to the people struggling so hard in it.  I already have several people who I’ve talked to interested in it!  And, free food always helps.  J  Plus, the meeting place is a house the church owns that is located on the corner of its property.  I have hopes to help grow the church in the neighborhood.

Others connected with Zoo Ministries will help me tackle it, making Monday Night Dinners a training ground for ministry and love.  We have talked quite a lot about significantly expanding the ministry in the future, pooling young adults for tutoring, GED training, tax help, running neighborhood activities, and perhaps even building a small library.


* Rest (1 Hour)

Everyone needs to step away from this noisy life, cast of our stress, and rest in the presence of the Lord.  This is why Rest was created.  Saturday Night Dinners does not provide a time for our group to have quiet reflection and worship.  This year, we will have a Sunday night activity called Rest which will be a time of planned prayer, singing, and meditation in an accommodating environment. 


* Interpersonal Meetings and Faith Plans (4 hours) – 8 people bi-weekly

In my experience, meeting with people outside of the group one-on-one is one of the tools that help with growth the most.  Early on in this ministry I lost sight of that in the constant group activities.  I plan to return to it by having one hour meetings bi-weekly with people in the group that want to do so.  In the beginning I’m going to have to limit it to 8 people bi-weekly but I hope it expands.

During that time we’ll visit and I will encourage each individual to create a spiritual target to accomplish.  Then we will focus on study, prayer, and action to accomplish those goals.


* Community Service: Heritage (3 Hours)

In order to serve the greater community, I want to have some kind of weekly service set up.  At the moment I serve at Heritage Christian Academy in a program the call Souled Out.  Every Wednesday a group of 11 high schoolers and I either have small group or work somewhere in the community.  This is part of their school curriculum.  This semester our service work is at the Gospel Mission, a mission that houses and serves food to the homeless.

In the summer I have plans to do chapel at one of the local juvie’s that Adrienne works at.


* Church Assistance: Muskegon (6 Hours)

Since I am not currently working for a congregation, I believe it is important to continue at least one act of service with a congregation in the area.  Currently I am serving as the youth class teacher at Muskegon church of Christ, a small church 2 hours north of here.  I also take them on outings occasionally, serve in the church, and I am overseeing a youth intern for this summer that will be running a program I’ve helped plan for the teens.


* Individual Zoo Member Assistance: Within Walking Distance Book (10 Hours)

One of the special things about Zoo Ministry is that it is focused on helping other achieve the spiritual dreams set inside of them.  It is important for me to spend a significant amount of time helping one person do something wonderful for the Lord.  Currently I am working as an editor and writer compiling Daren’s story of quitting his job, walking America, and starting Active Water into book form.  It’s tedious work but a wonderful story that will make the world a better place when it finally hits the bookshelves!


* Blog+Facebook+Follow Up (4 Hours)

Ministries like this need to update supporters on progress and ideas.  I use a blog to do that and to share thoughts with the world.  The other time here is spent contacting others in the group and dropping little “thinking of you” messages to build unity.  I have a large base of people I ministered to – from Iowa to Australia to New Zealand to Michigan – and it is important for me to check up on them.


* Prep Time (4-6 Hours)

This is the amount of time needed to prep for bible studies and plan activities.  Honestly, I need more, but I’ll make due.


* Event – Road Trip Camp (4 days)

I’d like to do one big event every half year with our people.  Last year we ran the marathon and went on a cruise.  This year I’d like to do a road trip camp!


* One community service project with the group every 6 months.

In the past we’ve had trouble with the sheer amount of things we want to do in the community.  This year I’m going to get a handle on that by planning an activity of the group’s choice just once every six months.  Otherwise it just gets too hectic.

Hours I’m up approx. – 16.  A week 112

Work Hours: 28 (84 Hours left)

Missionary Hours: 42-44 (42 left for personal things)

Wife+Free Time: 40-42 Hours

Review of Blue Like Jazz: the Movie!

March 22, 2012

On Wednesday, March 14th I checked out the movie pre-screening of Blue Like Jazz, complete with Donald Miller in audience, film makers, shenanigans, and goings-on.  You wanna know what I thought?  Well read on friends!


The website with trailer:

(note: If you don’t go see this movie on April 13th, you most likely won’t see it!  You have to, have to, have to check out on that weekend or you’ll miss it!)

A Little Background for the Uninitiated

When you read the words “Blue Like Jazz” you most likely had one of three responses.  One, “Wow, that book changed my life!  How in the sweet sweet Moses did they make a movie from it?”  Two, “Read it.  Liked it.  Over it.  That’s what you get for writing a book appealing to post moderns”.  Three, “Blue like what?”

For those of you in the “blue like what?” category, Blue Like Jazz is a best-selling book of Christian essays composed by Donald Miller and released in 2003.  For many, it is an incredibly special book, a watershed book even.

I know what you’re thinking.  Joel Osteen’s perfect teeth.  T.D. Jakes boogying out to a seat next to Oprah in an impeccable suit.  Something that includes 10 steps for financial and spiritual success.  It’s not that kind of Christian book.  That’s what makes it so special for so many.  The book’s full title tells you why it is distinct: “Blue Like Jazz: Non-Religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality”.  It is special because it is not a book written towards Christians at all and it is not written in Christian-ese.  It uses the post-moderns own voice and experiences to show how God is speaking to them, communicating directly with the hyper conscious post-modernity (Christian or not) that has been embedded into us by our culture.  You know, the hyper conscious post-modernity that’s screaming inside me to place and addendum to the above sentence “It’s not that kind of Christian book” that says, “… not that there is anything wrong with those kind of books …”



Blue Like Jazz is a kind of plain speak, everyday wisdom, C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity to those threatened to be swallowed by the moral-muddying voice of the modern age.  That is why it is special even with established Christians.  It helped them resolve the voice of their church upbringing with the voice in the world that seems to have a morality that is different.  It has become popular for Christians to hand this book to their non-Christian friends to translate their faith.


How in the wide wide world of sports do you translate that into a movie?  Not easily, apparently.  It’s been so difficult that Miller even wrote a book about the process, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.  The movie has encountered a veritable cornucopia of difficulties in making it to the big screen and even now it is in the tenuous situation of having to be pretty big in the first weekend it opens or it will get pulled and no one will see it.  You could almost see the bead of sweat running down Miller’s slightly-forced smiling face ala Total Recall as he very nicely begged us to bring friends to see it again on its opening date of April 13th.  Ahh .. Blue Like Jazz 2: Blue Sky On Mars – sounds like a good sequel.  It could star Arnold as Don next time!  Sorry, I digress …

So, the review!

blue like jazz trailer


Arnold, you're just in a dream. Why are you pulling out that dream gun?

The Review

Blue Like Jazz is a movie about a guy named Don Miller.  No, not that Don Miller, the author of the book fella.  Well, kind of about that guy, but not really.  In the after presser, Miller mumbled something quickly about “essential truth” and then basically said “Look!  A distraction!” and we were distracted as he knew we would be because, well, let’s face it, he wrote a book about our generation.  So, where were we?  Oh yes, it’s a story about a guy named Don Miller loosely based on the life of the author Don Miller and the experiences he wrote about in the book of the same name.

Don Miller, the movie one, has a typical Christian’s life as a young adult in modern Houston, TX.  He goes to church.  He helps with the teen group there.  He has a job.  His hangs out with friends.  He’s about to go off to Christian college.  All in all, he’s buying what the church is selling him.  It’s all going according to the typical American church goers plan until he finds out something horrible about his church that blows it all to crispy communion wafer sized bits.

Don has a conversation with his estranged non-Christian father who challenges Don’s objectivity.  He tells Don that Don is a Christian because he ignores the intelligent things that other people are saying.  He is bubble boy in his safe southern God-friendly community.  Besides that, God doesn’t resolve he says.  Look at the horrible mess of life, none of it means anything and if it did God would certainly be a poor planner.  Because of all this, he enrolled Don on a whim at Reed College in Oregon, the least Christian campus in America.  Don is so angry with his situation that he decides on the spur of the moment to leave his life behind in Houston and go to Reed.

At Reed, Don dabbles in the world exploring its charms and sexy carrots, and perhaps experiments with other attractive vegetables like sexy turnips and lurid rutabagas.  It’s one big sexy salad and Don is mowing down.  This is what creates the undercurrent of tension in the movie.  The tension is not necessarily whether Don believes in God or not, although you can tell that he is mulling that over.  The tension is whether Don can believe that God isn’t really a jerk and is actually worth following.  Can Don find where God is good in all of this mess?

Blue like Jazz is clearly a labor of love.  You can see it in every frame and every line of dialogue.  Director Steve Taylor’s shots are meticulously laid out with beautiful results.  He is a talent.  The backgrounds are filled with nuances and small, wonderful details, clearly placed with precision and forethought.  The cast is likeable and many performances are quite good.  There comes a point where you are entering somewhat new story territory and you don’t know what’s going to happen next.  That freshness is exhilarating at times.  All in all, from the production value, you will have a hard time believing it is a low budget film.  Miller confirmed in the after presser that many in the industry thought after watching the movie that its budget was twice what it was.

Here’s the thing with labors of love, though: love clouds your vision of shortcomings.  And Blue Like Jazz has them in quantities that hinder it from being any more than just an average film.  It is quite normal for pre-screenings to contain more content so film makers can focus group reaction to specific lines, but, still, the movie is bloated.  Scenes are too long.  There are many that are unnecessary and they ruin momentum.  In particular, Blue Like Jazz nearly gets drunk off of how good it is to be bad, showing scene after scene glorifying Don’s world dabbling.  It’s as if they are trying so hard to connect with your everyday person that they end up with overkill causing the viewer to get lost in the debauchery.  We see very little in the way of consequences for these actions.  As it is, the movie almost approaches the line unintentionally of delivering the message that you should try everything and when you find all that lacking true satisfaction, God will be there.  Even though many of the scenes are fresh and interesting, I had to ask myself “What is this movie about, again?” several times.

The main difficulty for this film is the way to communicate the unique message of the book in a format that doesn’t naturally support it.  In the book, Don tells the story of the title of Blue Like Jazz by saying that he used to hate jazz because it didn’t resolve.  However, as he got older, he realized that all of the soul soaring high notes and crushing low notes told a beautiful story all in itself.  The resolution of jazz isn’t earthly, it’s heavenly, and it only makes sense if you look at the whole, not at each individual note.  Because of this philosophy, Blue Like Jazz is filmed like jazz.  Sometimes it holds scenes like notes for surprisingly long times or goes to scenes that don’t seem to fit into its premise like an unexpected note played from a scale, all with the thought that real resolution is different than we think and only seen with heavenly perspective.  All in all it reminds me a little bit of Pascal’s construction of Pensees where he used the spherical 3-D logic of the heart to organize his book instead of the 2-D linear logic of the mind.  This is a fascinating idea but perhaps the American cinema isn’t exactly ready for it.  After all, there is validity for people going to this form of entertainment because they know what they are going to get.  This is not what they are expecting.  And even if the idea has artistic merit, it should be noted that jazz is improvisation inside structure.  There are still rules like musical scales, tempo, and keys.  In light of that, this movie far too often plays flat notes or simply holds a note for far too long, disrupting any momentum it has.  That the filmmakers love it like the tone deaf love of a parent listening to their child sing becomes apparent.  If the movie makers are listening – snip the apron strings and brutally cut 20-30 minutes.  Trust me, it’ll be better.Image

In the end, I recommend it.  I feel as if I have to give a rating.  How about 8 out of 12 original apostles for you Christians reading this (with some of the 8 being the one’s you never heard of) and a 2 out of 3 of Freud’s psychic apparatus for those of you who aren’t and don’t give a crap about my apostle rating scale.  The reason I recommend it is simple.  There is no movie out there quite like this.  I’m tired of seeing actors ape what writers think I think as a Christian.  For once I watched a movie where a Christian wasn’t a dillhole.  For once a Christian was portrayed not as someone who blindly accepts, but one who tests to see what is good.  And for once a Christian was portrayed not as someone who was browbeaten by the threat of hell into faith but a person who saw God and found him more beautiful than what the world has to offer.  It’s really nice, you know?  Miller said in the after presser that he often gets asked the message of the movie and he honestly just thinks of it as a story, a friend to those out there who question their faith on either side.  It’s nice to have a friend.


Zoo Ministries is a community of young adults who have chosen to live out the life of Christ in their greater community.  We focus on the practical aspects of what it means to be devoted to one another in Christ while living in a world that more and more feeds self absorption.  The focus of our community is to share the love of Christ with each other and with the world around us.  This blog updates and explains this ministry as well as being a spot to share thoughts, generally on spirituality, about the events of the day.  We hope it provides something good for you!

Here is our house motto:

“We are a community of Christ-followers who believe in living a life of love. That loves drives us to comfort the hurting, serve the needy, befriend the lonely, accept the rejected, and challenge the status quo. We understand that love is risky, and we are compelled by Christ to take that risk. If people needs a place to belong, they can belong with us.”

We currently function partly of donations (we have a 2 year plan to cut the need for donations down significantly and, actually, be able to start funding other things).  If you want to contribute financially to help this develop, go to  or send check payable to East Main Church of Christ with my name in the memo line to East Main Church of Christ 2528 East Main St. Kalamazoo, MI 49048 .  If you don’t care about tax write offs you can send it to me at Todd Tipton 5727 West Q Avenue Kalamazoo, MI 49009.  We are always looking for roommates and helpers so contact us if you want to move here and be a part of this!