Mission Completed

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Wednesday night, Tabitha and I got another shot at watching Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Now where were we… oh yeah, in the bathroom!

Munching on Twizzlers, alone in the theater, Tab and I watched as Superman and Tom Cruise continued their BMW funded frenemy adventure. I was reminded that my most favorite types of movies are movies that allow you to click off your brain and escape for awhile. Movies that allow you to travel to exotic lands, drive really fast, and play front row witness to insane stunts.

My most favorite part of Mission: Impossible – Fallout is that Tom Cruise does every stunt you see on screen. Stunts such as:

  • Driving a motorcycle, super fast, through the streets of Paris.
  • Driving a boxy BMW, not as fast, through the streets of Paris, with your friends. (I think Tom Cruise was secretly auditioning for the next The Fast and the Furious movie. SPOILER ALERT: Tom Cruise turns out to be the bad guy in Fast 9.)
  • Running everywhere; Running all over the place.
  • Jumping from rooftop to rooftop.
  • Running again, because Maverick still misses Goose and this is how he pays penance.

By the end of the movie, Tom Cruise hops into a helicopter. Turns out he can fly a helicopter, for real (see video below). There is something about knowing that when Tom does something in the Impossible series that it is him.

SIDE BAR: Makes one wonder if Tom made a pact with the Devil to look forever young and be able to survive any stunt he tries. In exchange for these amazing abilities, he has to believe/preach aliens.

Tab and I had fun completing our mission to watch Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Summer action movies are the best. Especially when Tom Cruise and Superman, mortal frenemies, are involved.

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Mission Failed

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Tab and I were excited this past weekend, we were going to go on a date!

While Wyatt went to go spend quality time with his grandparents, we drove to one of my favorite local theaters. Where we grabbed some popcorn, Mountain Dew (on tap!), and made our way to our recliner seats.

The previews featured some nightmare-inducing crud known as Slender Man (no thanks). And then our feature presentation began, Mission: Impossible – Fallout.

I’m not sure how far we got into the movie before the mission went south. Could have been thirty minutes to an hour before the sound cut out.

Up until this point, Tom Cruise had jumped out of a plane and was now making his way through a throbbing techno music infused party. That’s when the fight occurred in the bathroom. Superman decided to help Tom Cruise out.

The vocal and background music track cut out first. All Tab and I could hear were various grunts and bathroom tiles breaking from the fighting. One of those deals where you hoped it was just a momentary issue but knew something big, technically, had happened. The movie soon froze-in-frame and the lights came up. A major part of the theater sound system had blown. No more Tom; No more crazy mission.

The ultimate buddy flick.

Walking back out into the summertime blaze, Tab and I felt gypped. Mission: Impossible – Fallout had been fantastic ride up until the technical failure. We had been strapped into a most excellent rollercoaster only to have the ride malfunction and our tickets refunded. Bummer.

The backyard swimming pool ended up calling us for a bit. Nothing like floating around minus a kid making waves. Got to watch the thunderheads, off in the distance, grow and move about.

With our weekend date a sorta bust, we hope to join Tom Cruise and Superman again soon. We can’t wait to see how the movie ends.

Grow Up Faster, Kid

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Tab and I were at the bookstore recently and I came across Iron Man: The Gauntlet by Eoin Colfer. Knowing Colfer’s reputation from his Artemis Fowl series, I picked up the Iron Man book to read to Wyatt before bed. Being a good dad, in that moment, I decided to read a bit of the book before reading it aloud to the boy. I am happy I did.

Within the first chapter, teenage Tony Stark is accused of being “one of those boys”. Howard Stark’s secretary is angry at Tony for something he might have/have not done with her daughter. Tony acts surprised. All I could think of, as I was reading this, was having to explain to my 8 year old what “one of those boys” meant. I get that this is 100% par for the course for the character of Tony Stark. But I wish that Colfer could have played teen Stark more like he is in the cartoon Iron Man: Armored Adventures. Which is to say a Tony Stark that is driven, sometimes moody, but always resourceful; a Tony who is not on the girl crazy bus, yet.

For years now, I’ve noticed that children’s media (cartoons, TV shows, books, etc.) seems aimed at rushing kids to grow up. Presenting them with topics and life issues kids won’t encounter until well into the middle school years.

As someone who was homeschooled fourth grade through high school, I know that there is no hurry to grow up. Kids can be innocent, their imaginations left to thrive, by proper parental engagement in curating media choices.

My goal is not to shelter Wyatt. I want to help him work through life issues as they are presented to him. My goal is to be wary, watchful, and help make sure no outside media influences are forcing him to grow up faster than he is ready to grow up. I want my kid to remain a kid, on his own terms.

Age classifications and ratings boards cannot do the job of a parent. Just because another entity designates a piece of media as age appropriate doesn’t mean that it is.

As parents, we need to stay vigilant, realizing that we might need to hold off on introducing such things as Iron Man: The Gauntlet until our child is ready for it. Even if that day of being ready is weeks, months, or even years away.

What are you kids consuming, media-wise, that is causing them to grow up faster than they should?

Gamers Are Stupid

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(Dear Reader, Please take a literal minute to view the above source material. You’ll thank me later. Promise. – B)

Grab yer pitchforks! Equip a torch or flashlight? Best prepare. We have now entered the land of the 700 Club. Where the still breathing Pat Robertson reigns. Doing good. Fighting the fight.

A viewer writes in:

Recently, I was looking through my daughter’s phone, and I found many pictures of a cartoon skeleton with one glowing blue eye and wearing a hoodie. When I asked my daughter why she had such demonic images on her phone, she told me there was nothing wrong with it because it was from a video game. How do I help my daughter not be attracted to such demonic things?

Pat Robertson was born during the Great Depression. Public Works project Hoover Dam, the dust bowl, and prohibition were headlines on March 22, 1930. Movies were the accepted gateway to escape, a retreat from harsh times. Video games a dream of dreams.

There’s got to be some video game that isn’t so evil, but those things are filled with violence…and brutality, it’s unreal.

Why would any self-respecting gamer expect an 85 year old to understand video games? Especially Pat Robertson. Gamers are stupid.

As Twitter lit up with this video yesterday (11/3), the bandwagon hitched, and Robertson declared a fool. But what wasn’t questioned, beyond Pat’s demonic assumption, is what are “demonic images”? This is where Pat failed. He ran with a blanket term and commented on a video game he knew nothing about. His viewer failed him; he failed his viewer.

Video game headlines on Pat Robertson are low hanging fruit. “Hey, let’s see what that crazy Christian guy is up to today.” I wish Pat had taken the time to dig deeper. To weigh his words. Gamers can be stupid. Don’t feed them, Pat.

Rewind Wednesday: Being Atlas

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In my senior year of high school, I served as a background vocalist in my church’s youth praise band. Because of my “position” in the youth group, I was considered to be in leadership. At the time, I admit, I had no clue what that meant.

One day, I remember being approached by the pastor’s wife, she wanted to talk. Word had gotten back to her that I had been talking about a R-rated movie I had watched (The Patriot). While I didn’t think that this was any of her business, she was upset that I had been talking about this movie in front of others in the youth group. I didn’t see what the big deal was. I was told that because I was in leadership, I needed to either lead by example or step down. Time went on, I must not have changed, and soon I felt pressure to move on. I left the church in anger and frustration.

Looking back on this situation, I can understand it more as an adult. I can understand how talking about a movie (yes, something this simple) could potentially be damaging to other believers. Romans 14 goes into greater detail on this subject of the “weak” and “strong” in faith. Verses that really stick out to me are:

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. (14:13)

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. (14:19-20a)

And finally:

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. (14:22)

I do not want to be a stumbling block to anyone. I do not want to destroy the work of God over something as petty as what I consume media-wise. With this in mind, anytime I write about a certain game or a game review on this site, I am writing about it just to share my experience. I am not writing about it to brag or to cause someone to stumble (“Hey look, Bryan is doing it, we can too!”). Just because I can guilt-free, without conviction, play a first person shooter doesn’t mean that you necessarily can. God may convict you over things that I am not convicted over. That is cool.

I now know that being in a leadership position, a position or platform in the open, automatically holds me to a higher standard. As a blogger, that is something that is constantly running through the back of my mind. I have a responsibility for what I write and say. Words can bring either life or death.

What do you think?

UP

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Sat down last night and watched a bit of Pixar’s UP with my son. Ever since I first saw the movie, I have been wary of watching it again due to its emotional impact–yeah, UP makes me cry, I admit it–. Watching UP with my son, I cried so hard when the couple found out that they couldn’t have children. However, I was reminded that my wife and I have been blessed with a little boy. In that moment, I hugged him tight and told him that I loved him. Thank you Pixar for reminding me of what I have and to treasure the boring moments in life.

Worldview

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A recent run-in with a game developer got thinking me about game creators/ developers and the lens with which they view the world.

Worldview – “A worldview describes a consistent (to a varying degree) and integral sense of existence and provides a framework for generating, sustaining, and applying knowledge.”

As a Christian, I view the world through the lens of the Bible and the man Jesus Christ. Within this framework, I make judgement calls and live life. Everything I process and believe is tainted, per se, by my Christian worldview. What happens though when a game creator/ developer offers a rival lens with which to view the world? For example, say they view the world through a “patriot”-driven, anti-government, atheist lens. What then? Would all the games they potentially work on be flavored by their personal opinions? To some extent, yes.

I write this today in hopes of bringing about awareness. Christian or not, we should all be evaluating the things we take in, be it in books, movies, music, or video games.