Robin Hood Movie Review

russell-crowe-in-robin-hood-movie-posterJust got finished watching Robin Hood.  I meant to see it last week and then yesterday and finally got to it today.  I did the very lame (to some) thing of going to see a movie by myself.  Sometimes I just love that.  Anywho,  Robin Hood starts Maximus as the lead and reunite the Gladiator with the director of Gladiator.  It also stars Galadriel (the kinda scary Elf queen witch lady) from Lord of the Rings as Lady Marion, the priest from the Exorcist as Sir Walter Loxley, and reunites Col. Striker and the Blob from X-Men Origins: Wolverine as King Richard and Little John.  I could do this all day.  It had a lot of people in it that make you go, “wait a second, how do I know them?”

Expectations:  How could my expectations be higher?  Perhaps my expectations for the Hobbit will be higher.  I think my expectationsfor Star Wars: Phantom Menace were higher.  Suffice to say, reuiniting Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe in an heroic epic with swords had me through the roof.  I tried to temper my expectations, but they would not be tempered.

Reality: No movie, I mean no movie, can live up to these expectations.  So, I try to be gracious.  That said, I was surprised if not a little disappointed.  I was expecting more epic battle sequences and creative ways of taking people out with a bow and arrow.  What I got was a story with a plot.  This was a prequel story to how Robin Hood became Robin Hood.  I wish Heidi had been there.  I know she would have liked a plot-driven movie and thus I would have enjoyed it more.  All that said, I really enjoyed it.  The story was good, the action sequences were good.  Russell Crowe, as always, was unbelievable.

Appropriateness: In contrast to Gladiator or Braveheart, this was PG-13, so the battle sequences and kills were significantly less bloody and scary.  There was a lot, I mean a lot, of sexual innuendo, but you don’t see anything.  With the British accents, which I have a hard time understanding, there may have been even more than I noticed.  If I had a teenage son, I might let him see it.  That all depends on what you’re comfortable with.

Rating: (Here is the system)

See it in the theater and will definitely own

See it in the theater and might own

See it in the theater and will likely rent it

See it in the theater and be done

See it at the dollar theater

Rent it

Avoid it.

I rate it a see it in the theater and maybe own it.  It depends on how my typical 48 hour rumination on the movie goes.

That’s Not How I Would Do It

May 27, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

Here’s a quick test.  Someone is helping you out by loading your dishwasher for you.  You walk by and notice that they are not putting the cups where the cups go.  What do you do? 

1) Say “You’re not doing that right,” tackle them and start loading it yourself.

2) Encourage them in other ways they can help like folding washcloths (who can mess that up?) and start loading it yourself.

3) Give them some “helpful tips” on the “best way” to load the dishwasher and then nervously oversee them.

4) Twitch uncontrollably until you pass out, but you don’t say anything.

5) Walk away, and think “Sucker. I’m glad I’m not doing the dishes.  As long as you don’t accidentally put the dog in there, I’m good.”

There areprobably people who would answer at different places on this scale, if you control-freaks are willing to be honest.  However, most are probably putting themselves at 4 or 5.  I mean, come on, it’s just dishes.  However, more and more people will move up closer to 1 and 2 the more important the task is.  If it is something that is very important to you, something of great value, perhaps something that you will be evaluated on, the harder and harder it becomes for you to delegate things.

However, the better job that we can do delegating the big things, you know what happens?  The more attractive you are to leaders, big leaders, high capacity leaders.  If the only things that you can delegate are the “dishes” in your church or organization, the only people that you will have on your staff or as volunteers are dish loaders.

Too often we define delegating as “appointing someone else to do it just like I would” rather than “empowering someone to do it the way they would.”  But, Cloften, I want to teach them the right way to do it.  I understand that, but too often we get “right way” confused with “my way” and “only way.”  Teach someone the essentials, and then let them do it–their way. 

Let them lead.  Let them be creative.  Let them take risks.  Let them take the credit.  Then stand back and watch your leadership and your organization grow and flourish.

Sunday’s Coming Movie Trailer or “I don’t if I’m supposed to laugh or be convicted”

I don’t mean to be 2000 and late on this as I’m sure that many of you have seen this.  When I showed it to the worship team at Fellowship Cabot, they loved it and said that we have been busted.  I’m scared to show this to the good people at the Grove, because I would like to convince them that what we are going to do when I get there is both fresh and original.  Nope, we are already the subject of a spoof video.

I take comfort in the fact that North Point was making fun of themselves as well.  What do you think when you see it?  Is it funny, sad, ironic?  Let me know.  I’ve seen it 10 times and I’m still not sure.


More About LOST or “Artists and Literature Guys Skewer a Math Major”

This is a continuation of yesterday’s LOST discussion, see here. I like starting new posts rather than making one post with a lot of comments.  (But that’s just me)

So I am minding my own business on yesterday’s LOST post and then someone quotes Faulkner to me.  I am now hearing from artists and literature guys.  Where are the other math majors?  They probably gave up on LOST years ago.

Here is what I want from a show like LOST or movies that delve into the supernatural–a cohesive worldview.  All of my nitpicky questions are part of an overall picture of what is the worldview. 

What are they wanting to say when it seems Michael is in worse shape with “God” for killing two innocent people out of desperation to save his son than Ben who slaughtered the entire Dharma Project and many more people?  As far as Mr. Eko and Walt go.  There are ways to make that work.  Film Eko on a green screen wherever he is.  Use clips from Walt from the early seasons.  Make him an adult.  Try harder.  That’s all I’m saying. 

We’ve also yet to dive into what Jack’s dad says.  You guys “created this place” to find each other.  Created this place?  What do you guys think that means?

BTW, I scrutinize time travel movies way more than this.  We can hammer that out another day.

LOST Questions, or “I wish I weren’t overly analytical”

My desire today was to blog about something of some consequence.  However, I think that it will take a mental purging of my internal crankiness about LOST to even get me to the point where I can.

Let’s say, first of all, that I never believed that LOST would answer all of my questions.  I hoped, but I never believed.  Second, don’t fill up the comments here with the basics.  I get the basic timeline:

People’s lives intertwine

People get on plane

Plane crashes

Hijinks ensue

They ultimately all die

They go to purgatoryish place and reconnect

They go to LOST heaven led by Dad.

Third, I understand that this was mostly a show about personal redemption and relationships, so spare me the “you missed the point” comments.  All that said, the nerd in me needs some answers.  So, if you would like you may contribute answers here.  You can put them in a comment or you if you are also overly-analytical and verbose and put something long and interesting together, I will post it here as a blog post (email me at charlie @ ).

In no particular order:

What didn’t Walt and Michael get included in LOST purgatory and heaven?  For heavens sake, Boone is there.  Boone?   A case could also be made for Anna Lucia.  She showed up in purgatory.  Maybe she has more work to do.  I could go on here.  I’d find a way to get Lapidus and Richard in as well.  Not crash survivors you say?  What about Desmond and Penny?  OK, I’m done.

Who made the island and for what purpose?  What is the gold light thing?  Aren’t the answers we need really the bigger picture metaphysical questions?  For real, right?  No? Just me?  Fine.

Who put the crazy lady who killed Jacob’s mom in charge?  Then who put them in charge all the way back to the creator, I guess.

With Locke/Smokie/Esau dead, would anything have happened (big picture) if the island had gone down?

Is anybody else wishing they would make a buddy comedy following the wacky antics of Hurly, Ben and Vincent as they try to figure out how to run the island and work together?  You know, Perfect Strangers meets Gilligans Island.

That’s enough for now.  Maybe no one is going to comment and I just got a good rant out.  If not, we could keep this convo going a while.

My guess is that 24 will end a little cleaner.  Jack will kill everyone.  We will be left to think Jack may be dead, but he will survive for the movie.

Iron Man 2 Movie Review

Not twice as good, but not half as good either.

Not twice as good, but not half as good either.

I saw Iron Man 2 opening day with my brother.  I know that it has been a couple of weeks since then and this is a little stale, but I briefly lost my blogging mojo due to external circumstances.  Iron Man returns Sherlock Holmes as the lead and the big girl from Shallow Hal as Pepper Potts.  Introducing that really famous girl that really hasn’t done much but still manages to be famous as Natalie, that famous actor from the 80’s who revitalized his career by being crazy as the bad guy Ivan, and Wild Bill from Green Mile as Tony Stark’s rival.  Also, inexplicably replacing that dude from Crash as Rhodey is Basher from Ocean’s 11.

Expectations:  I initially had very high expectations for Iron Man 2 because I loved the first one so much.  As I was driving to the theater, I was thinking, “Dude, there is no way this is going to be Dark Knight.  So settle down.”  On the other hand, didn’t it have to be better than Batman Returns and Fantastic Four: Silver Surfer?  By the time I got there, I was thinking Spiderman II, good not great.

Reality: It was much, much better than Spiderman II but of course, no Dark Knight.  Robert Downey was incredible again. Mickey Rourke, who I suspect might not have been acting, was great as a crazy villain.  Scarlett Johannsen (not going to check spelling so leave it alone) and Gwenyth Paltrow (again) were not as wet-blankety as sometimes the female leads can be in hero movies.  There was great action and a plot that was not as convoluted as most superhero sequels can be.  Great blend of humor and action.  Did I mention that I saw it on the Imax?  Everything is cooler on Imax.  (Sidenote: now that my wife is hooked on the sparkly vampire books, do you think that they could please make one of these movies for Imax and/or 3D? That would really help me out.  Thx.)

Appropriateness:  Superhero violence that never is too bad.  It’s mostly beating up robots, but there is some blodd ‘n stuff.  Tony Stark’s character is still a cad, and so there is much innuendo, bikini ladies, etc.  My nine year old who loves superhero movies will not be allowed to see it yet.  She is still mad at me that I haven’t let her see the first one.  Of all the superhero franchises, this is the least kid friendly, IMNSHO (In my not so humble opinion)

Rating: (Here is the system)

See it in the theater and will definitely own

See it in the theater and might own

See it in the theater and will likely rent it

See it in the theater and be done

See it at the dollar theater

Rent it

Avoid it.

I rate it a see it in the theater and definitely own it.

Just Admit It Already. You Lied. On Purpose.

May 19, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

Quick show of hands.  Who here has ever said something that wasn’t true?  Good.  How many people here have ever told a lie?  Hopefully, we still have everyone.  Who has ever told a lie on purpose?  Ok.  Here is the big one.  Who has ever told a lie on purpose because we wanted the person/people hearing to believe something that wasn’t true, we wanted to deceive them and make ourselves look better in some way?  Reread that if you said no and try again.  Here is one more.  How many would do it again in a heartbeat if you thought you would get away with it?

I don’t care what you are telling yourself.  All of us on occasion, and on more occasions than we care to admit, say something deceptive on purpose to get away with something, inflate ourselves, hide, etc.  It shouldn’t be that way but it is.  The question for this post is “What do we do when we are caught?”  The way I see it we have two basic approaches that we can take.

1) The “safe” “smart” poltical approach.  You will excuse me if your party affiliation lines up with the most recent example of (nerd alert) political obfuscation.  This is meant by no means to characterize one party as the obfuscating (I will say that word as many times now as I can) and the other party as the party of virtue.  I won’t take the position that “they all do it.”  They don’t all do it, but plenty from every party do.  Disclaimer over.  A politician who served in the guard and was stationed stateside during Vietnam time period has been caught saying he served in Vietnam.  Let’s assume for a second that it was a complete accident.  If that had happened to me I would have said, “Dude, (I always say dude) I meant to say during.  I said in.  My bad.  I’m sorry.”  Here is what we got

“On a few occasions, I have misspoken about my service and I regret that. I take full responsibility,”

“But I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country,”

Did he say it on purpose?  Did he intentionally blur the truth in the moment?  What is the full responsibility you are taking if no one can hold you accountable for those words?  If it was an accident, say it was.  (Sidebar.  Isn’t it interesting that we only accidentally say hurtful things about other people and helpful things about us.  I have never accidentally told someone to punch me in the face.  Although there are many times, I have tried to convince my wife that some hurtful things I said to her were accidental.)  If it wasn’t, please just say it that it wasn’t.  He won’t.  No politician ever will.  We have created a culture where vulnerability, transparency and humility are vices not virtues.  Which leads to the 2nd approach.

2) The humble, Biblical way.  What if we all decided that we would just be honest when caught in a lie.  What if we decided that we would be humble, admit our weaknesses and confess to each other?  What would happen if we lost this pressure to be perfect and stopped pretending to be perfect to each other?  We could then pray for each other, encourage other, be honest and build real trust with each other.

What if a politician said this?  “I’m sorry.  I exaggerated.  I shouldn’t have.  I served during Vietnam and I thought that was close enough to being true.  Really, though, I was exaggerating for effect to make my point sound better and make me look better.  I shouldn’t have done that.  Forgive me.”

Well, Cloften, that is the stupidest thing that I have ever heard.  Who in their right mind would say that?  His opponents would jump on him and say that he is not trustworthy.  Can you imagine the political ads they would run?  He would lose everything and be done in poltics.  He would lose it all, and what would he gain?


A Sad Goodbye

May 18, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Bible, Church and Leadership

Dear Fellowship Family,


When Heidi, Maylee, Lauren and I moved here four years ago, we moved here with the idea of planting a campus for Fellowship and being the kind of church in Cabot that was reaching people, equipping people for ministry and being used by God to transform our community.  In four short years, we have seen God do some amazing things.  The growth of Fellowship Cabot has been tremendous and we have had great impact in our community and world.  The last four years have been great for me and my family.  However, during the last year, I have felt an urge from God that he had something different in mind for me–that he wanted me to be a lead pastor somewhere where I could use my teaching gift on a more frequent basis and be the primary leader of the church.  Over the last few months that voice has gotten louder and louder.  I want to tell you that I have taken a job in Fayetteville, AR as the lead pastor of a church called The Grove.


The vision of Fellowship Cabot was to be a multi-site campus, not an independent church and doesn’t call for a sr. pastor but a campus pastor.  Those are two very different roles.  A campus pastor is not responsible for the direction of the church and doesn’t shoulder the teaching load.  I believed in 2006 that being a campus pastor was a perfect fit for me and would be a job that I would have for 10+ years.  I didn’t think I wanted to be a lead pastor.  I didn’t feel that it fit my gifts or my passions.  Over these last few years, God has grown me as a pastor, leader and teacher.  I believe that for this next season in life that is exactly what I need to be and what God has crafted me to be.


The great thing about the model of Fellowship is that it was never built around one person or personality.  Our church was built around a mission and team.  One person leaving doesn’t change what God has called this church to be and doesn’t really affect our ability to accomplish that mission.  God is the reason this church has done well.  You are the reason that this church is doing well.  Your commitment to God and to the mission that he has called us to.  I would like to think that emotionally I will be missed, but as far as who this church is and what God has done, is doing and will do, nothing has changed.  God will still use this church in incredible ways.  We are part of an incredible church in Fellowship Bible.  There are great pastors and leaders still here and more than all of that, you are here and will be used by God to reach people who are far from God build them up and unleash them for ministry.


I love you guys and I have loved my four years here and will always look back on my time here with great happiness.  We are not leaving right away.  I will remain with Fellowship through the end of June.  We will transition and July and start in Fayetteville on August 1st.  We ask for your prayers for the transition of our family, the sale of our house and that God would be with us in this new ministry.  Thanks.



Charlie Loften

Stupid Things Christians Fight About #1

Can you follow up one successful series  with another one?  Is it possible?  Well of course it is.  George Lucas is clearly the poster-boy for that.  How does one guy come up with Star Wars and Indiana Jones?  (He does that and what do I do?  I make humorous, sometimes cynical observations about life and tell goofy, mildly-embellished stories about my kids.) 

Let’s be clear, Stuff Christians Need to Stop Saying is no Star Wars and this series is no Indiana Jones.  I might could say that SCNTSS is Wes Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street and STCFA could be Scream, but the metaphor there is too painful.  Anyway, let’s see what happens.

In this corner:  Conservative Evangelicals who believe that the key to being a Christ follower is what you believe.

In the other corner: Liberal Mainline Christians who believe that the key to being a Christ follower is what you do, namely being socially active.

My History: I feel like I should start with a confession.  I spent the entire decade of the 90’s square in the middle of this battle.  I went to college at Hendrix College in Conway, AR.  I was a student leader and ultimately a staff minister for a college ministry there.  I ended up being at Hendrix, one way or another for 10 years, essentially all of the 90’s, from the fall of 1990 to Spring 2000.  We were the champions of the “being a Christian is based on what you believe” camp.  People who thought that it was important to be socially active by helping needy people were soft on the truth and were trying to earn their way to heaven.

On the other side, were a group of people who wanted to live out their faith not based on what they believed but living in a way that they believed Jesus lived.  Being a Christ Follower is less about believing certain things about God and Jesus, but were about following what Jesus did and the way he lived his life.  We were the Bible-thumping, narrow-minded fundies.

The Verdict:  Ridiculous, all of it.  Who decided that there was a fight to be had here?  How did it come to this?  Nerd alert!  In part these are rhetorical questions, a study of Christianity in the 20th century will answer this question, with the shifting of focus of many mainline denominations and the rise of fundamentalism in the 50’s in response to that. End nerd alert!  How does a Christ Follower say that it doesn’t matter if you do what Jesus did?  What does follower even mean? Not Christ Follower but Christ Believe-the-same-as-er?  Similarly, how does a Christ Follower say that it doesn’t matter who Jesus was or who he believed God to be?  That is not a Christ Follower but Christ Be-somewhat-like-er.

Someone who wants to follow after Jesus needs to understand everything that Jesus came to do.  He came to give us new life, forgiveness of sins, if we would believe in him.  He also came to show us the heart and values of God, to show us how to live in right relationship with God.  One of my biggest regrets in life is my participation of in this battle.  (When I’m older and bolder, we can do a series on my 10 biggest regrets and what I’ve learned from them) I can only imagine what more God could have done through our ministry if we had shared God’s truth and lived it out in the lives of the poor and needy.  Let’s not make that same mistake and let’s make a commitment to be complete Christ Followers, believe as Jesus did and live as Jesus did.

To choose one to the exclusion of the other is something, but it is not following Jesus. 

(Suggestions for this series are greatly desired)

Worship Rant (Guest Blogger–Jim Bullard)

May 4, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

I figured once the worship controversy got going, we might as well keep it going.  Jim Bullard is the Worship Pastor for the Chapel Venue at Fellowship Bible Church in LR.  He is a great guy with a love for God and for people to be true worshipppers.  Here are his thoughts.  (BTW, worship rant was the title of the post he sent me.  Actually his had an exclamation point.)

Recently, I have heard positive and negative comments about our worship at the church that I serve as worship pastor and it has driven me to ask some questions to compare my own thoughts and perceptions of worship to those found in the scriptures.  Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 and tells her that the Father seeks those who will worship Him “in spirit and in truth”.  No style is suggested and music isn’t even mentioned.


When Jesus appears to the two on the road to Emmaus right after His resurrection, then sits down for a meal with them and opens the Scriptures…their question expresses worship in a very tangible way…they asked “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”


When was the last time our hearts burned within us for God in worship or our eyes opened to see Him for Who He truly is?  When was the last time we truly worshipped God in spirit and truth?  Or, have the drums and electric guitar been too loud…or did the use of hymns and pipe organ prevent us from really getting anything out of worship.  Why is it that many of us have become connoisseurs of worship rather than participants in it?  I love this quote from the movie “One Night with The King”…which is the story of Esther from the Bible.  She enters his presence and gives him the necklace that her mother gave her as a child.


Esther when addressing King Xerxes when he is asking who she is and why she is giving him her necklace…


“I was taught that when you visit a King, rather than expect a gift, one should bring one to lie at his feet.  This is my most valuable possession in the world…it is my past…my present and my future and all of it is yours.”  


This is what we should be doing in worship…laying our most valuable possessions at His feet…fully expecting Him to change our hearts from what we want to what He wants.  Worship is a lifestyle that we live…not songs that we sing on Sunday.  Our corporate worship when we gather should reflect that lifestyle of worship rather than it being a service station where we fill up on God and all the “things” that He has for us.  It should be a corporate expression of lifestyles that are committed to His purposes and His processes in establishing His kingdom here rather than a “holy huddle” for members of a “club” (or church) to come and hear a motivational speech and music done in the style that we prefer.


When is a lifestyle of worship going to motivate us to meet the needs of our community rather than worrying about how many more people are going to the church down the street than our church?  When is a lifestyle of worship going to cause us to care more about our neighbors than we do about losing weight, getting a nicer car or learning how deal with stress in our lives?  When is a lifestyle of worship going to turn our hearts to our children and spouses and see that how we think about them speaks volumes about our worship?  When are we going to understand that music is a tool that we use to worship our Holy and Mighty God, not the very thing THAT we worship?


Many of us understand in our heads the answers to these questions…but our culture does not even ask them.  We are so preoccupied with the consumer mentality of offering our customers what they want and selling God and church life like a product for them to purchase.  The message of the gospel is to loose your life so you can gain it…that’s not culturally cool!  The message of the gospel is to consider others better than ourselves…that’s definitely not culturally cool?  The message of the gospel is to serve, expecting nothing in return…not a very popular message in our world!  Yet, the very definition of the word gospel is good news…living the good news, imparting good news…a lifestyle of worship can be the best news our world can hear.  Don’t try harder…don’t read another self-help book…pray for God to change your paradigm so that you can worship Him the way He wants to be worshipped.

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