Television Goes to the Movies

The lines between television and movies continue to become more and more blurred.

Even though today’s streaming programs are still called television, they have nothing in common with traditional broadcast or cable TV programming.

The made-for-streaming variety of entertainment fare is generally commercial free and able to avoid the strict timing with which traditional TV has had to contend.

Feature films almost always have a formulaic rhythm to their plotlines that locks them into fixed time slots with which the story must mesh.

With viewers binge-watching entire seasons, series that stream are able to feature similar production values as those of feature films. This allows for them to be financed with larger budgets similar to the ones that studio motion pictures enjoy, while also permitting more flexibility in the pacing of plots.

A case in point is Amazon Studios upcoming “The Lord of the Rings,” a so-called television series that is currently in production. In 2017 Amazon was able to obtain the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved Middle Earth tale with the goal of creating a streaming series along the lines of the very successful “Game of Thrones.”

It is expected that the “Rings” fantasy streaming series will end up expending the kind of cash layout typically associated with big league studio movie projects.

As money soaked Silicon Valley companies descend on Hollywood, budgets to release long-form streaming of what used to be called television are actually expanding.

There has been a record-breaking first season production cost for “Rings” of an astonishing $465 million, according to the Hollywood Reporter. This is not a number that anyone in the industry would previously have associated with a TV production.

The project is being filmed in New Zealand, and the budget numbers were released as part of the New Zealand government’s Official Information Act, confirming that it is the highest amount spent on a so-called television series.

By comparison, HBO’s “Thrones,” with a budget that was considered groundbreaking for its time, had a tab of about $100 million per season.

Despite the massiveness of the “Rings” budget, this sum does not include the $250 million that Amazon reportedly paid to acquire the rights to the Tolkien material.

With more than 150 million copies sold, the epic fantasy novel from which the series is derived is one of the best-selling books ever written.

The Middle Earth historical saga is of particular interest to Christians in that the work features multiple Christian themes, such as the struggles between good and evil, death and immortality, and fate and free will, as well as the addictive nature of power, the virtue of hope, and the value of redemptive suffering.

Tolkien himself wrote that his book “is a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision.”

Tolkien’s Catholic Christianity also had a profound influence on his close friend, another beloved Christian author, C. S. Lewis. Both had taught at Oxford and were members of the same literary group, and both became known for writing fictional narratives that featured Christian themes and principles.

In his autobiography “Surprised by Joy,” Lewis described himself as “the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England.”

In September of 1931, Tolkien and Lewis, while walking together with fellow professor Hugo Dyson, were discussing the subject of mythology. It was one of those discussions between intellectuals that can go on for hours. It actually did.

Chatting into the wee hours of the morning, Tolkien posed the proposition during the conversation that the story of Christianity is a myth, which happens to be true.

A few days later Lewis wrote to a friend, stating, “I have just passed on from believing in God to definitely believing in Christ, in Christianity… My long night talk with Dyson and Tolkien had a great deal to do with it.”

Hopefully, the streaming series will stay true to the Christian themes that Tolkien painstakingly placed in his works. After all, if Amazon is spending $465 million to produce the “Rings” series, keeping the Christian audience would not only be a sound business strategy but a necessary one.

The official description of the new series gives an indication that “The Lord of the Rings” streaming series will continue in the tradition that Peter Jackson established in the film versions.

It will reportedly have a story line in which “…kingdoms rose to glory and fell to ruin, unlikely heroes were tested, hope hung by the finest of threads, and the greatest villain that ever flowed from Tolkien’s pen threatened to cover all the world in darkness.”

Look for Amazon to debut the series later this year.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Gives the Media a Bible Lesson

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has been a target of the establishment press and the social media ever since she was elected to office.

In a recent critique of proposed COVID-19 vaccine passports, the House member from Georgia blasted the current resident of the White House, took a viral ride on the internet, and triggered a media firestorm all in one stroke.

“They are actually talking about people’s ability to buy and sell linked to the vaccine passport. They might as well call it Biden’s Mark of the Beast,” Rep. Greene tweeted.

A Facebook video further elaborated on her position regarding the issue.

“They want you to be required to have something called a COVID passport,” Rep. Greene explained. “This would mandate your ability to be able to travel, your ability to be able to go to events, your ability to be able to buy and sell…”

It is obvious to all but the naïve that the requirement of such a document, which would demand proof of vaccination prior to attending large gatherings or traveling domestically and/or abroad, would severely hamper Americans ability to move freely within the country and without.

The freshman congresswoman completed her presentation in appropriate dramatic fashion by invoking the subject of totalitarianism.

A vaccine “passport” is “still fascism or communism whatever you want to call it. But it’s coming from private companies. So I have a term for that: I call it corporate communism,” she said.

Almost immediately the compliant media sprang into attack mode.

–The Guardian characterized Rep. Greene as a “Klan mom.”

–An online community of supposed Christians launched a petition that condemned Rep. Greene’s comments.

–And in another sorry attempt at humor, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel wound up disrespecting Rep. Greene while belittling her religious beliefs in the process.

“What a dumb person. The mark of the beast?” Kimmel pretended to query. “Everyone knows the mark of the beast is Zuckerberg.”

Rep. Greene responded without missing a beat by offering a bill to ban COVID-19 vaccine passports. She also brought forth a bill to have Dr. Anthony Fauci receive a 100% pay cut (#FireFauci Act) and additionally shared a video of a meeting that she had at Mar-a-Lago with President Donald Trump.

It is appalling to have to witness the parade of religious bigots in the news and entertainment media, who with apparent impunity think that they can display contempt for the beliefs of hundreds of millions of Christians.

Bible believers across the globe patiently await and prayerfully watch for a future that will someday unfold, one that is foretold in sacred scripture.

Passages of the Holy Book, which Christians revere as the sacred word of God, speak of a time when the Earth is ruled by a highly charismatic, yet deeply malevolent figure.

The “mark” to which Rep. Greene refers is an imprint taken upon one’s body, which is a demonstration of allegiance on the part of followers to the singular evil ruler.

Revelation, the final book of the Bible, sets forth key language on the subject.

… all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, … receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads …”

The words of the scripture passage also make clear that no one will be able to “buy or sell” unless they have had the mark.

The evil leader about which scripture speaks is called the “son of perdition.” A specific number has been assigned to him, one that is familiar to many Bible believers and non-believers alike: 666.

This number, and the demonic figure with which it is associated, has permeated our culture across time, appearing in numerous movies, television shows, books, and songs.

Films such as “End of Days,” “Final Destination,” and “The Omen” have dealt with biblical prophecies that are embraced by followers of Jesus Christ. The remake of “The Omen” was released on 6/6/06 to capitalize on the connection to scripture.

The number has actually influenced the real life decisions of some of our nation’s most highly respected people.

In 1989, after his second term had been completed, President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan moved to a new home in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles. The residence had the unfortunate address of 666 St. Cloud Road, so the couple happily made the decision to have the address changed to 668 instead.

U.S. Route 666 became a highway in 1926. It acquired its number reference by being the 6th spur connected to the iconic Route 66.

The bureaucrats who named the road were apparently unaware of the number’s biblical significance as well as the negative implications it could attach to the road.

The road made for a particularly treacherous drive nonetheless, and it ended up acquiring two underworld nicknames: “The Devil’s Highway” and “Highway to Hell.” So in 2003, via legislation, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson renamed the road, changing it to U.S. Route 491.

In 2015 Texas Representative Joe Barton had the number of a bill that he had introduced changed from 666 to 702. According to an email sent by Barton spokesperson Sean Brown, “It quickly became clear that the original bill number carried many different negative connotations.”

In 2017 Finnair flight AY666, which flew from Copenhagen to Helsinki airport, the code of which is HEL, was renamed to flight AY954.

Much like the financial markets make predictions using indicators, the Bible reveals to Christians that they are to watch for End Times indicators of coming events that are foretold in scripture.

One of these indicators is a decline in moral sensibilities.

Millions of Christians and others are painfully aware that this is an ominous trend in our current world. Rep. Greene, along with many of her Christian sisters and brothers, are also extremely uncomfortable with the potential use of intrusive digitally-based identifiers.

For folks like us, the book of Revelation looms large as current events seem to be leaping off the pages of The Word.

The End Times scenario of a one world government, a one world religion, and a totalitarian system of rule seem more and more plausible with each passing day.

Thankfully, though, the second coming looms larger than all of it.

Things about Rush that I’ll Miss the Most

I lost a dear friend two days ago. This is the way so many of us feel.

I heard Rush Limbaugh’s debut show and was hooked from the start.

Unique doesn’t begin to describe the sound coming out of my car’s AM radio. It was bold minus the fear, brilliant minus the stuffy, and uplifting minus the sermonizing.

While challenging me to think outside the Drive-by Media box, El Rushbo helped me to sort out my own worldview, solidify my positions, and formulate original ones.

As a student of the Limbaugh Institute for Advanced Conservative Studies, the Doctor of Democracy was at my side each day to coach, prod, and affirm me in my own personal Relentless Pursuit of the Truth.

A Real Man, he showed me that you can sit in a Prestigious Attila the Hun Chair yet still remain a Harmless Lovable Little Fuzzball at heart.

A Living Legend, he modeled for me how to handle adversity with grace, transforming obstacles into advantages with a wave of our Father’s hand.

A Way of Life, he provided me with the inspiration to always look for the next hill to climb and to always strive to make the next dream come true.

The All Around Nice Guy would routinely tap into his boyish mischievous side, making sure that I would enjoy every minute of the three hours he shared each day.

America’s Truth Detector taught me how to absorb a potshot and return the favor with a nerf ball that would bring a foe to his or her knees.

When The Most Dangerous Man in America took to the Golden EIB Microphone, he made it safer for me to express my beliefs, attitudes, and opinions, knowing that the attacks would come, but so would the victories.

Maha Rushie stood by the two greatest presidents of my lifetime, Ronaldus Magnus and Donald J. Trump, heralding them when others were reluctant, and never missing a chance to stick up for friends and champion his and my heroes.

In my 33-year-long joyride with America’s Anchorman, I had more fun than one human being should be allowed to have.

Miss you my friend. May God’s peace be with you till we meet again at the EIB Mansion in the Sky that was made just for you.

A ‘Casablanca’ Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, a lot of us are still scrambling to find that gift for our special someone that conveys the love that is in our hearts.

Many have already learned, especially with the times that we are living through, that take-out dinner and a streamed movie can make for a simply spectacular night.

You’re on your own with the take-out, but as for the movie, I’ve looked at a number of lists that rank Hollywood’s greatest love stories. Titles almost invariably include the 1942 classic “Casablanca,” with the film oftentimes topping the list.

Many movie buffs view this film as close to perfection as cinema can be. The producers of “Casablanca” hit a trifecta – the perfect cast, director, and script. It was a box-office smash and a three-time Academy Award winner.

Two of world’s best known movie critics placed it at the very top of the “best films ever” list.

The late Roger Ebert noted that “Casablanca” is “probably on more lists of the greatest films of all time than any other single title…”

And Leonard Maltin gives it a rating of “the best Hollywood movie of all time.”

The film grew in popularity over the decades, and several attempts were made to do a remake or sequel. But none ever made it to completion. Thankfully, filmmakers chose to leave it in its original exquisite state.

The plot and setting were designed to be current for the times.

Filmed during World War II, American expatriate Rick (played by Humphrey Bogart) finds himself having to choose between spending his life with his true love Ilsa (played by Ingrid Bergman) or coming to the aid of her war hero-husband Victor (played by Paul Henreid).

Victor is a Czech resistance leader, who is attempting to escape from Nazi-occupied Casablanca. He desperately wants to continue his valiant fight against the Third Reich.

The times are as challenging as they can be. As Ilsa wistfully puts it, “With the whole world crumbling, we pick this time to fall in love.”

Rick’s love for Ilsa is epic. He first fell in love with her when they were in Paris, and he longed to make her his wife. While preparing to escape together from the city during the Battle of France, Ilsa suddenly leaves him without giving him any reason or explanation. Rick leaves Paris with an ache in his heart, but also with a giant chip on his shoulder.

As those of you who have seen it know, the story doesn’t end here. I’ll leave the rest for you to savor on the screen. Here’s a hint, though, without any spoiler alert needed. Love triumphs.

So how do we define love?

Well, we all know it when we feel it. Love makes us so happy that we radiate. And we aren’t able to keep it a secret, because everybody knows what we’re feeling. They can see it in our eyes or in our smiles or in our spirits. And before you know it everyone present is feeling the same thing.

We all know when love is real and when it isn’t. It’s the best feeling in the world when it comes right back at us. And the worst feeling in the world when it doesn’t.

We all know that love takes different forms across time and relationships. And we know it is never static. It is either growing or diminishing. Those who are blessed in life get to experience the ever growing love of family and friends from birth to life’s end.

Staying on the Valentine’s Day theme, I want to talk more about love itself.

I believe there is such a thing as true love; that is, love in its deepest purest form. At its core, I think true love looks the same no matter how old we are or what the relationship is.

When we feel true love for people, we try to be patient with them especially when they’re messing up and kind to them even when they’re not kind to us.

When good things come their way, we don’t feel jealous but instead feel happy for them.

We resist bragging even though it sometimes makes us feel good about ourselves, because we know it almost always make them feel bad about themselves. Same with acting like we’re somehow above them.

When someone does us wrong, we try not to get mad, or go silent on them, or hold grudges, or bring it back up again and again every time they do something else wrong, because we know how bad it makes us feel when the shoe is on the other foot. And we don’t want them to ever feel bad.

Just like with “Casablanca,” a lot of you already know the rest of the true love story too.

Tables Turn as Bibles Burn

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Good folks all over the place are so tired of being told that what’s been going on in cities like Portland and Seattle are peaceful protests.

Instead of trying to understand the wobbly language that’s being bandied about, the better route is to take a long hard look at what’s actually happening.

For more than two months street thugs armed with rifles, lasers, bombs, flame throwers, swords, spears, and an assorted array of sick weaponry have terrorized to the hilt average everyday people.

Meanwhile Democratic Party hacks and their media toadies give attaboys to the perpetrators. They insist that there’s no violence going on anywhere. They while away their leisure lockdown hours plotting ways in which they can torment their political enemies. And cruelest of all, they turn a deaf ear to folks who cry in the dark for help that never comes.

Here’s a little animal tale to ponder.

Early in June while on a walk through the park some Portland police came across a pig that had fallen asleep on the ground. The officers took to Twitter to see if the pig’s owner could be located. A photo of the little guy was displayed on the official police page along with a phone number and message that encouraged a happy reunion.

The presence of the animal in the park would be an eerie foreshadowing of something insidious that would take place about a month and a half later.

Last week rioters sent yet another symbolic message of the appalling kind. They set a pig’s head on fire. Atop the animal’s head was a police hat. An American flag completed the smoldering scene.

As if an incinerated pig’s head in police attire and a torched American flag didn’t assault the psyche enough, footage of another ugly event was posted on the internet. It showed participants, who were wielding Black Lives Matter signs and being cheered on by bystanders, happily hurling stacks of Bibles onto a blazing bonfire.

Providentially, Twitter user Ian Miles Cheong would catch the whole thing on tape.

Burning books is very much a specialty of fascists. The Nazis did it in the 1930s. But burning the Holy Bible? Even in fallen away corners this is not going to sit well.

Guess it should have been apparent though, considering the recent comments made by BLM activist Shaun King, who used a series of Twitter posts to urge the destruction of images and statues of Jesus Christ, his Blessed Mother Mary, and other figures from scripture.

“Yes I think the statues of the white European they claim is Jesus should also come down. They are a form of white supremacy,” King tweeted.

King also posted that “white Jesus is a lie” and is a “tool of white supremacy,” which in King’s words was created to help white people use Christianity as a “tool of oppression.”

King then wrote that all of the Christian imagery should be taken down, including “murals and stained glass windows of white Jesus, and his European mother, and their white friends.”

It was inevitable, being the Marxist-based global organizations they are, that BLM, Antifa, and like-minded radicals would attempt to defile, denigrate, and destroy the biblical message and its mystical messengers. After all, Judeo-Christian scriptures hold within them the very ideas upon which America in particular, and the whole of Western civilization in general, are built.

The Bible has often been viewed by the left with contempt, and for good reason. A government based on the Rule of Law, which sprang forth from laws transcribed by Moses and enshrined in the Ten Commandments, frequently prompts negative reactions on the part of those who are threatened by absolutes.

Donald Trump Jr. used his Twitter account to comment on the recent Bible burning.

“Now we move to the book burning phase. I’m pretty sure ANTIFA doesn’t actually stand for what they say it stands for. Maybe just remove the anti part of [its] name and it’s perfect,” Trump Jr. posted.

Organizations lurking behind the aforementioned street thugs are hell-bent on destruction.

Like all of the committed Marxists before them, the “utopian” world they seek can only exist when freedom dies.

The Bible is Truth. Truth will set you free. Freedom is forever.

The Roots of the Riots

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A peculiar phrase recently became a trending topic on Twitter. Its words read as follows: “Attack and Dethrone God.”

These same words were displayed on a graphic during a segment that had previously aired on Fox News Channel’s “The Ingraham Angle.”

Language contained in the graphic was intended to be a backdrop for a guest of host Laura Ingraham named Terrie Turchie, a former deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division.

Turchie was discussing ideas that had once been fostered by a violence-based group from our nation’s past, the Weather Underground.

In his appearance, Turchie drew parallels between the recent rioting and mayhem that plagued urban areas across America and the insidious activities in which the notorious 1960s group had engaged.

As Turchie noted, in the wake of its efforts the Weather Underground had left an intriguing package behind, which took the form of a book-length manifesto.

If all went according to a warped wish list, the manifesto would be adopted as a blueprint for future like-minded radicals to use. Its title, “Prairie Fire.”

“They had a major goal, and that goal was to form a communist revolution,” Turchie stated.

Authors of “Prairie Fire,” which include the familiar subversive names of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, referenced the goal of bringing down the United States government.

“We are a guerrilla organization,” the authors wrote. “We are communist women and men.”

As the Fox guest distilled six strategies that the Weather Underground had laid out in its manifesto, a graphic appeared on the screen with the following objectives listed:

–Destroy Capitalism

–The Weapon of Choice – Systemic Racism and Police Racism

–Identify the Victim Classes

–Organize the Victim Classes

–Engage in International Solidarity with the Global Movement

–Attack and Dethrone God.

The resemblance to the rhetoric used by today’s activist organizations and their allies is, to say the least, highly disturbing.

Back in the day, the Weather Underground used a benign-sounding term to summarize its approach. It turns out to be the same not so benign-sounding term now that leftist activists have been using since President Donald Trump was elected—resistance.

Following Turchie’s appearance, trolls on Twitter took to the internet speedway. The many salient points that Ingraham and Turchie had made were ignored altogether. However, the last phrase that Turchie cited would trigger the dropping of an anvil of snarky social media hate. It dared to mention the Creator of the Universe.

Some in the antagonistic media slid down the Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole of fact checking, going on to dismiss the anti-religion phrase and muttering about how the words on the graphic were not actually in the Weather Underground document, at least not those identical words.

For those who are still able to peer into the non-flipped side of the looking glass, the similarities between the Weather Underground and the Antifa movement are striking. This was observed by heralded scholar of the left Noam Chomsky, who happens to be one of the few “progressive” voices who has warned about Antifa.

Back in 2017, Chomsky described Antifa to the Washington Examiner as “a minuscule fringe of the Left, just as its predecessors were.” He also described the group as “a major gift to the Right.”

Chomsky additionally said, “What they do is often wrong in principle…and is generally self-destructive.”

“There’s some limited similarity to the Weather Underground,” Chomsky noted, pointing out that the historical context was different and implying that Antifa was more prone to harming people than the “Weathermen,” who committed their acts “almost always against property, in intent at least.”

There are other things about the two groups that appear to be markedly similar. Both seem to view themselves as possessing the purity of true communist revolutionary beliefs. Both advocate violence, particularly against law enforcement. And both embrace a communist worldview, which requires a fundamental presupposition of a materialistic conception of history, making religion antithetical to communist thought.

Marxist theorist Leon Trotsky wrote, “Religiousness is irreconcilable with the Marxian standpoint.”

Communist co-creator Vladimir Lenin similarly cited atheism as “an inseparable element of the materialist view of life…a necessary condition for the theoretical education of the revolutionist.”

Founder of communism Karl Marx infamously dismissed religion as “the opium of the people” and argued that religion prevents a better communist existence from becoming reality.

The attempt to Dethrone God has been part and parcel of communism from its inception. Atrocities that have been committed against religious people and institutions reflect the hatred for all things relating to the Almighty.

But thankfully, people who have the gift of knowledge that flows from the Spirit know the truth.

No one can ever take the throne from the King of the World.

And the People Shouted Hallelujah

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In a bold move last week, President Donald Trump announced that his administration would seek to immediately reopen houses of worship across the country.

Next came an order to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to classify churches, synagogues, and mosques as “essential places that provide essential services.”

“Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship,” President Trump said in the White House press room, punctuating his statement with the words, “It’s not right.”

“The people are demanding to go to their church and synagogue, to go to their mosque,” the president said, adding that in America “we need more prayer, not less.”

Spirituality, by virtue of its existence, is essential. In America, its manifestation has historically been safeguarded by the words contained in our inspired foundational document.

Hard to believe that we could ever have been denied the necessity of the soul.

President Trump had another message for officials who have little sense of urgency and seem content to delay indefinitely when it comes to allowing houses of worship to reopen.

“If they don’t do it, I will override the governors,” the president said.

His remarks have been mischaracterized by the Democrats and the antagonistic media from the moment they were uttered. Many of the same partisan organizations and individuals show little or no regard for a paramount constitutional right—the free exercise of religion.

Some of the so-called experts have weighed in, indicating that President Trump does not have the authority to override governors who are dragging their feet on the reopening of religious institutions.

As head of the executive branch, the president maintains the authority to utilize the Department of Justice (DOJ) to accomplish the objective of securing the cooperation of the governors.

Among the many options, lawsuits can be filed and judges can impose limitations on the actions of governors who are in violation of federal and/or state constitutions. Attorney General William Barr has already demonstrated that he is willing to enter the fray of legal challenges to governors’ orders.

The free exercise of religion is included in our First Amendment precisely because the founders understood the essential nature of religious liberty. To ever have given houses of worship a “non-essential” label not only runs counter to the First Amendment, but it has the potential to hinder a primary life process in which an individual and/or groups engage, particularly in times of distress or anxiety.

Our country’s first president would have been on board with our current president in understanding the necessity for spirituality and religious expression.

As shown in Arnold Friberg’s famous painting “The Prayer at Valley Forge,” the image of then-General George Washington on his knees has inspired Americans since the work of art was first unveiled in 1976, the year of our nation’s bicentennial.

As the story goes, a young Pennsylvania senator named Isaac Potts was against the war that gave birth to America. His opposition would not last long, though.

One day he happened upon a man who was immersed in deep prayer. At his side a sword lay placid on the ground. The solitary figure turned out to be General Washington himself, asking the Almighty to assist him in his cause of emancipating a nascent country.

Reflecting on the prayer, Potts became convinced that the American Revolution “was the cause of God, and America could prevail.”

President George Washington would later say, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

Perhaps much like something President Washington would have said if faced with the same circumstances, President Trump let governors and officials across the land know that religious institutions, and the worship services they provide, play an essential role.

He has spoken for the searchers whose life-sustaining spirituality is, and always will be, essential.

And the people shouted hallelujah.