Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ten Favorites - Blogs to Remember

Self-promotion gets old, so this is me taking the spotlight off myself and shining it on someone else. If I had to pick a sountrack for this endeavor Taylor Sorensen's "Love Somebody Else" would hit the spot. periodically, I'll be putting together a list of five or ten of my favorite things and a short decription of why I like them. Since I've immersed myself in the blogsphere lately I've run across an abundance of really cool blogs so I'll start my favorite list off with them.

1. Colossians Three Sixteen - If I had to bestow a blog with the title of my "FAVORITE" this would be the the one. Brent has daily posts on a smorgasbord of topics about God, life and culture. I read it daily and leave comments often.

2. The View From Her - If you want a witty read from a "single, evangelical woman of a certain age" that might make you LOL, than look no further. Her blog makes me smile, and smiling is good.

3. - This blog offers a meaty approach to the blogosphere. Challies writes about some deep spiritual concepts and has a slick blog design. Be prepared to read more lenghty posts (but they're so worth it). Plus, he has a high volume of reader feedback (one post had about 138 comments).

4. Think Christian - This is somewhat of a Christian version of the Huffington Post,'s the closest I could find to one. There's a regular crew of contributors that submit to this blog. They write about news events, entertainment and other cool stuff from a Christian point of view. (Anyone interested in doing a similar blog like this? It could be cool.)

5. - This is a great spot for all things dealing with race and racism in the media. It was formally known as Mixed Media Watch. Jen Chau (of Swirl Inc.) and Carmen Van Kercklove are at the forefront of creative services for multi-ethnic families. It's loaded with all kinds of videos, commentary and resources.

6. Speculative Faith - I'm a Sci-Fi fan and this blog makes me feel like somewhat of an insider in the Christian Sci-Fi/Fantasy scene. About seven published authors and leaders in the Christian SF/F pack post writing tips, commentary and all things Sci-Fi.

7. Heather of JC's Girls - I first heard about Heather from a link on to an article in some newspaper. Heather is the founder of a Christian ministry that reaches out to strippers. Recently in her blog she's been sharing her story from childhood to stripper to passionate evangelist. Her blog reads like mini-episodes that leave you with a cliff-hanger until the next post. (And I'm currently anticipating the next one!)

8. Media Nation - Dan Kennedy is one of my professors in the School of Journalism at Northeastern University. He's an active newspaper reporter and blogs about the press (specializing in the Boston area). He's done a few blog conferences and you can expect to see other professional journalists leave comments here.

9. Need4Sheed - This blog satisfies my enjoyment for reading about my hometown basketball team: The Detroit Pistons. You can expect to see lots of videos, commentary and highlights about the games, plus cool Piston graphics. Deeee-troit basketball!!!

10. Latina Lista - I visit this blog to be updated by a fresh perspective on issues that effect the Latino-American community. What caught my attention are the insightful posts she has on illegal immigration. It's relevant stuff..

That's concludes round one of my Ten Favorites. Keep reading until next time! And make sure to check out at these blogs.

Read. Write. Live.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Behold, A Great Friend Is Born!

Sometimes I wonder about what kind of friend I really am.

I'm forgetful. Somehow people's birthdays seem to sneak up on me and I have to rush and get them a birthday gift (that's probably because I tend to tell myself I'll write them on a calendar later, but never end up buying a calendar and putting their b-days in it).

I can be self-absorbed. In a world full of billions of people, somehow my issues and problems seem to rise to the top of the priority list faster than oil in a cup of water. I can't even begin to count the opportunities I've had to to help someone out that I've let pass by because I was too wrapped up in my own feelings.

I can be totally clueless. It blows my mind when I think about certain instances where things were clearly obvious to others that I completely didn't notice why so-and-so was feeling that way. How I did I miss all the signs?

The fact is that we, as human beings, have completely missed the mark in the friendship arena. Sometimes we're good friends. Sometimes we're descent friends. And sometimes we really suck at beings friends at all! Everything in our sinful nature urges us to forget others' needs and to focus on ourselves. If we're not carfeful than we can get this "me" against "them" attitude. We can become the lone solider, the lone ranger, the kind of person who doesn't need anyone to walk alongside them in their journey. But what some fail to realize is that this kind of living is dangerous.

So how do we get out of the friendship muck we're in?

It all starts with God, who loved the world so much that He gave his one and only Son as a sacrifice so humankind would not be left alone to drown in our self-indulgence. Not only did God give us a Savior, a Redeemer, a Lord, and a Light on Christmas Day...He gave us a friend, a Great Friend!

Jesus is the "friend who sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24). And it is Jesus who came to show us the Way, to gently yet firmly guide us down the path of true friendship.

Eastman Curtis Ministrues did this commerical on TBN several years ago that started off with a man sitting alone in prison cell just minutes away from getting the death penalty. A prison guard walked by and he and the prisoner exchanged looks. The prisoner had this "I know I'm guilty but I don't want to die look" and the prison guard had this amazing compassionate and understanding look. The next scene shows two different prison guards walking "the prisioner" to his final death, where he would be electrocuted. But as the guards are strapping him down and about to pull the level or whatever they do to electric a person we get a close-up of the prisioner's face and we see that it's not the original prisoner we saw at the beginning, but in fact it is the prison guard dressed in the orange jumpsuit. Then they cut to the real prisoner who is now dressed in the the real prision guard's uniform who is looking through the glass window of where the real guard is about to be executed at. They exchange one last look and the real prisoner's face is filled with gratitude before he walks away and the guard gives a faint smile just before they execute him because he knows he saved that man's life. Then it fades to black and a question pops up on the screen: What kind of friend do we have in Jesus?

The depth of that commerical sticks with me to this day, even though I was in high school when I saw it. It's a beautiful parable of what Jesus did for us. He was the innocent prison guard and we were the guilty prisoner. We were all condemned to a grueling eternal death, but Jesus switched places with us and paid the price for our sins. By Him doing so, He saved our lives and not only did He save our lives, He offers us eternal life if we believe in Him.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other. (Jesus, in John 15:-17)
As you celebrate this Christmas with your family and friends, be reminded of what the true meaning of Christmas is about...the birth of a holy child who became the Savior and Great Friend of the world.

Merry Christmas everyone! & Happy Birthday Jesus!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Anita Baker's Still Got It!

My Mom got me hooked onto Anita Baker when I was in middle school. We used to listen to "Body and Soul" in the car (back when CDs were still new to me) and sing aloud to Baker's soulful lyrics of how a man should love us mind, body and soul. If you're not familar with Baker, then let me tell you she's not one of those cardboard box Britney Spears singers who rely on studio touch-ups to sound descent. Baker's alluring voice goes down smooth like a strawberry banana smoothie from Surf City Squeeze.

Middle school came and went, I became a Christian in the 8th grade and started to devour music from the Christian music scene as Baker drifted away from the R&B spotlight. Life went on and there's always a fresh star to replace the old ones, but anyone who knows anything about quality music knows that Baker is one of the best. Once a Baker fan, always a Baker fan even if you don't listen to her music anymore.

This morning as I was watching The Today Show and guess who was doing a performance? None other than Ms. Anita Baker herself and by the end of her new Christmas song set I was left wondering why I had ever stopped listening to her music in the first place. Even though she looks a little older Baker's still got it after all these years! She could still blow most of these singers away with her powerful jazzy vocals that are reminiscent to the likes of the female jazz greats of days yonder.

More often then I'd like to admit I hear people slamming Christian music for its lackluster artists and unoriginal music styles. Some people, Christian and secular alike, claim that Christian music artists are subpar to the rest. I politely disagree with their arguments because I know of some really good artists. On the other hand, I agree with them because for some reason beyond me Christian radio tends to showcase the cookie-cutter music artists. The majority of radio stations cater to the Adult Contemporary style and it's hard to find stations with a constant eclectic blend. The more daring artists get shunned while the Steven Curtis Chapmans' get Dove Award after Dove Award. I'm not saying that Steven Curtis Chapman's music is bad (he has a couple songs to my liking) but there's more to the Christian music scene than Casting Crowns.

The front-runner for the soulful vocalist in the Christian music scene is Stacie Orrico. She's got the range, the power house vocals and when she does one of her trademark vocal runs it's a real thing of beauty to hear at a live concert. I've followed her music since she hit the Christian music scene with "Don't Look at Me" and I've stuck with her throughout her career and watched her music mature as she made her transition to Virgin Records for mainstream appeal. I highly anticipate her forthcoming album The Beautiful Awakening slated for a January 2007 release. The video for "I'm Not Missing You" transforms Orrico into that female jazz great singing about love lost and how to move pass the heartbreak because she's "got life to do." What's refreshing about Orrico is that her songs are chalked full of meaning and openly express the joys and sorrows of life while pointing to the hope found in Christ, all done with the superb sound of a talented singer. If Stacie Orrico continues to blossom the way she has, she could have a long and fruitful career in the music industry because her voice is the real deal. It would be a delight to see her do a more jazzy album in the vein of Anita Baker one day.

I hope in years to come when I have my own children that they'll remember singing Orrico's songs in the car with me and ten years later they've be able to say "Stacie Orrico's still got it!"

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

New Year's Eve: Kansas Style

If I ever decide to stand outside in the freezing cold for a New Year's Eve celebration it won't be in Times Square. Thanks to an article I found in Family Circle magazine (January 2007) there's a more unique spot to freeze my butt off on the threshold of the New Years to come: Manhattan, Kansas. Home of "The Little Apple New Year's Eve Celebration and Ball Drop". I like the fact that they hace a huge glittery apple instead of New York's trademark cheesy disco ball. They get two thumbs up for that alone. Plus, they have fireworks and we all know how fireworks make any event that much cooler.

The Little Apple's website has loads of pictures and a video clip from the 2005 celebration. Approximately 10,000 - 20,000 people gather in Manhattan to rock in the New Year with a Midwestern twist.

This looks like a perfect setting for a Hallmark Channel love story flick. I better get to writing...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Think Virtue! Readers: People of the Year

Okay, so I totally got this idea from Think Christan but it's too cool not to do my own version of it.

The real version of the Time magazine Person of the Year goes to "You", that's all of us bloggers, YouTubers, MySpacers, Facebookers, etc. Now I can tell my future grandchildren in all honestly that I was named Time's Person of the Year.

First, I'd like to thank Jesus. My Mom. The Academy...

Monday, December 18, 2006

My Golden Globe Favorites

As an artist, getting feeback that people like and appreciate what you do is something meaningful and special. I'll admit getting awards are nice. It makes you smile and feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But awards ceremonies are not the end all and be all that should define you and your work. If acquiring awards is the only the thing that you feel that will validate you, then you're in for one bumpy ride that will leave you with a broken spirit at the end. I was reading the Bible the other night and it encouraged us to find satisfication in gifts from above:
"A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?" (Ecclesiates 2:24-25)
With all that said, here are the people that I want to walk away with a shinny statue in their hands. But even if they don't win that doesn't relinquish the the quality of their work and hopefully they enjoyed the beauty of the creative process.

Best Picture - Drama: Bobby. The story behind Emilio Estvez's passion to make this movie is part of what really makes it special.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama: Kate Winslet. She can act circles around most of the actresses out there. She's in the high-class with Susan Surandon and Sally Fields.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama: Will Smith. The movie is based on a heart-warming true story. If he grabs the Globe here, he just might get the Oscar too. And that would make me happy.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical Or Comedy: Johnny Depp. He completely owned the role of Captain Jack Sparrow. 'Nough said.

Best Director - Motion Picture: Clint Eastwood. I've never been a fan of his westerns, but boy can he direct.

Best Television Series - Drama: Heroes. If haven't been watching Heroes, then get with the program. It's the best show on TV and it's my current fav. Save the cheerleader, save the world.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Matthew Perry. The Ron Clark Story is an excellent example of what cable movies were meant to be.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Katherine Heigl. I've never even watched this show before but I've been a fan of Heigl's work since Roswell (one of my all-time fav shows) and I really enjoyed her in the Love Comes Softly movies. This may not be the best reason, but I still want her to win.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Masi Oka. He's the break-out star of Heroes, as well as the most original and refreshing character on TV. Plus, he's the man behind the catchy phrase: "Save the cheerleader, save the world." So cool.

Think otherwise? Then leave a comment with your favorite picks.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Rosie O'Donnell and the "ching chong" comments

If by some chance you haven't heard about Rosie O'Donnell's offensive and racist "ching chong" comments about Asians then where have you been the last few days? The Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), UNITY - Journalists of Color, Inc., NY Councilman, John Liu and other insulted viewers wrote letters of complaint to O'Donnell and/or Barbara Walters about this issue requesting a public apology. Later on she eventually got around to giving a so-called "apology" that really didn't sound like an apology at all because it came off like another big joke to her.

I'm not Asian-American and I get how O'Donnell's comments were offensive and hurftul. Why is it that some white people still just don't get it? Their lack of understanding can be so frustrating at times. This only serves to remind me why this world will never truly be my home. Like Switchfoot sings:
It was a beautiful letdown the day I knew, that all the riches this world had to offer me would never do. In a world full of bitter pain and bitter doubt I was trying so hard to fit in, until I found out: I don't belong here...I will carry a cross and a song where I don't belong. It was a beautiful letdown when You found me here and for once in a rare blue moon I see everything clear.
If you're not happy with what O'Donnell said then I urge you to write a letter to her and/or Barbara Walters via Also, remember to pray for her. Why? 'Cause Jesus said to pray for those who do you wrong.
Visit and for updates on the Rosie issue

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Oh God, please make me white again

I was watching Touched by An Angel on the Hallmark Channel today and it was the episode where Monica (Roma Downey) is in a southern smalltown when Rosa Parks visits. The smalltown is divided because of racism leading up to Parks' visit. John Ritter guest stars as the town sheriff.

Monica wonders if things would be that much different if her skin was brown, so God grants Monica the privilege to be a black woman. There's this poignant scene where Monica is being chased by these two racist white guys in a truck on a dirt road. Monica runs off the road, hides behind a tree and pleads, "Oh God, please make me white again!" God does and when the white guys see Monica hiding behind a tree they apologize for scaring her and ask if she's seen a "nigger" lady running around.

Monica learns something about herself through her brief hour as human: that there is a darkness within. She experiences firsthand the power and allure of the sinful nature that exists in all humans. She comes to the revelation (with the help of some wise words from Rosa Parks) that being a human is hard and that before we can battle the darkness in the world we must acknowledge the darkness within and ask God to change us through His saving grace. She's got that right!

Another moving scene was when John Ritter's character and a black deputy were was confessing their darkness to one another after Monica revealed that she was an angel. The black deputy said he was tired of white people looking at him like he was an alien when he walked into fancy stores and that he hated how white people had something in them that wanted to put down black people when they could. John Ritter's character said that despite all his attempts to not be racist there was something deep inside of him, involuntarily bubbling that made him want to wash his hands after he shook hands with black people. Also, that he was tired of being made felt guilty by black people when he went out of his way to try not do something that may seem racist.

I had never seen this episode before and at first the whole black Monica didn't sit too well with me, but then I came to the conclusion that I didn't think the creators where trying to portray her in the stereotypical blackface manner.

Touched by An Angel is one of my favorite shows and this episode really hits on a lot of good spiritual points. Racism is something darker and deeper than hate itself, racism is a part of our sinful nature. It is something that manifested from mankind's Fall in the Garden of Eden. Also, racism isn't something that can be solved by our own power and will. We need God's help, the atoning grace that comes from the Holy Spirit's daily sanctification. And lastly, we can't pretend like racism isn't there. We have to admit that something deep inside of us longs for what is contrary to God's will. The Bible says:
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. (Galatians 5:16-18)
Whatever the color of your skin may be, remember that we are all created by God. And that tells us a little something about Him, that He isn't fond of merely one color.
Check out this PSA on Racism Face Cream, thanks to for the heads up.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Red Light Districts

A&E's Red-Light Districts is the best documentary I've seen on the global issue of prostitution and the sex industry. And it really is a big issue, BIG. Here's A&E's official description of the program:
A two-hour special that looks at prostitution around the world. Explores Israel's underground adult world, run by the Russian mafia; Japan's $1000-a-night Geisha girls; and Nevada's Mustang Ranch. Then, peek behind closed doors at Moscow's elite "Beauty Queen" club, Los Angeles's booming sex-for-sale business, and the sex industry in Thailand, Miami, and Cuba.
The documentary also includes Amsterdam's blantant yet legal display of women in windows (think of a Victoria's Secret front window display but with real women) where men peruse like they're window shopping on Rodeo Drive. Then there's the atrocious "drive and pick" that mostly hosts transvestites from other countries where cars park into these "stable-like" spaces to do their dirty work. And yes, they were actually compared to horse stables! The appauling cherry on top was the interview with a government official who acknowledged how these activities stimulated the economy. But honestly, what good is money in the bank when it can't buy these women peaceful sleep and self-esteem?

Another interesting angle the documentary covered was prostitute advocacy groups like International Comittee for Prostitute Rights (ICPR) who fight for more healthy and safe arrangements for prostitutes. The ICPR thinks that legalizing prostitution world-wide will better protect prostitutes. Can legalized prostitution protect them from nightmares and a haunted past? Although, I applaud their helping spirit I think that legalization is the wrong way to go about solving the problem. We need to go to the root of the matter: sin. You can't fix a broken spirit and a hurting soul with a band-aid and a box of condoms. The Bible says, " Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." And these women (and men) are prime targets for the enemy of our souls. Providing education and quality jobs for the disadvantaged is a start but we've got to back it up with attending to their spiritual needs, offering them true hope.

The state of the global sex insustry is sad beyond compare! So what are we going to do? I don't have any easy 10-step answers, but I do know that we have to do something--and quick! I want to travel around the world documenting this tradegic reality and helping those involved by working to stop human trafficking and showcasing documentaries that counter the allure of the sex industry. As a journalist, this is part of my calling and God willing, I'll get to do a formal investigation and study on this when the right opportunity arises.

Search your heart and ask God how you can help. The first step may not be as momumental as you'd like it be, but telling a friend, writing a blog, doing some research or donating some money is of great worth. Especially to the women who prostitute themselves and long for a better life for their families.

I'll leave you with this one comment from the documentary that really stuck with me, that Thailand's economic growth was esstentially "built on backs of these women." So let's go out there and remind the world that mankind's true freedom and saving grace is "built on the back of Jesus".

Sunday, December 3, 2006

The One-Two Punch

Sylvester Stallone is marketing his new film Rocky Balboa to Christians. Why? It looks like Stallone is a professing Christian now. That's great! I hope everyone makes the ultimate life decision to accept Jesus as their Savior. But I'm a little hesitant to jump on the Rocky bandwagon so quickly. I wonder if the website is a genuine attempt to reach out to Christian audiences or if it just a sly way for Hollywood production companies to woo Christians into buying tickets. As much as I enjoyed the Rocky films I don't want to naively support something a celeb and a slick marketing campaign are telling me to. Please don't get me wrong, I really hope that this new faith-based marketing trend keeps producing more positive films but somewhere in the back of my mind I am reminded not to be swept up in the whirlwinds of what's cool and to beware of wolves in sheep's clothing.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

MSNBC Investigates

One of my favorite TV shows besides Heroes and Smallville is MSNBC Investigates. It's an hour long show hosted by John Seigenthaler that features documentaries on various issues. Two of my favorites are "Hollywood Vice" and "The Runaways". I try to catch the repeats whenever I can. They're real works of art, superb in style, content and depth.

"Hollywood Vice" is about police officers whose job is to get prostitutes off the streets of L.A. and the women who roam them. The documentary profiles this one prostitute named Brandy and one of the most poignant scenes of the piece is when she's in the back of a taxi re-telling the time when she was raped as a young girl. She said she was never the same after that. She was so honest and vulnerable, and as I watched her fighting back tears as she told her story something in my heart broke and whispered, these are the kind of stories I need to capture and share with the world. I wished that she could know Jesus. That somehow, some way, God would sent someone to show her real love and a way out of the sex industry.

Don't let anyone convice you that television a waste of time. There's power in quality programs.

Visit and be inspired by the story of a porn star turned Christian.
Read Donny's Ramblings, the blog of a former porn producer who loves Jesus.
Check out for upcoming documentary specials.
Filmmakers for Social Justice

Friday, December 1, 2006

Grocery Store Art

Sunsets amaze me. Sunrises too, but most of the time I'm too lazy to wake up and see them.

I'll never forget the first time I saw a sunset in Sedona, Arizona. The sky was so big, the colors so brilliant--pinks, purples, yellows and blues all swirled together for something utterly magnificient. If the sky were a milkshake, I wish I had a straw so I could drink it all in. It was too beautiful a moment to keep all to myself so I pulled my out cellphone and called a friend. Saying, "I wish you could see this" falls way too short in moments like these.

I wonder if God has a gallery of all the sunsets, sunrises and starry midnight skies He's created. And I wonder when I get to Heaven if He will let me see my favorite sunset moments over and over again.

Extraordinary displays like sunsets convince me that God is the master Artist and Creator. Something about art speaks to our souls, touches us at our core and inspires us beyond words. From the Greeks and their sculptures to the Hip-Hop generation and their memorial graffiti art murals. Art has followed us through the ages and that says something about how God designed His "image bearers". has this refreshingly original article called "Artistic Expression in the Produce Aisle" by Neda Ulaby. I have to give her kudos for being a good journalist and bringing something new to the table. Her writing resume makes me want to drool (I'll have to put her on my "one to watch" list). Anyhow, in the article Ulaby writes about how grocery stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are employing artists to make their chalkboards more visually appealing. I find it interesting how art is always re-inventing itself and how it is so deeply ingrained in the human experience that it even surrounds us while we grab a carton of eggs for mom.

I've often wondered how Whole Foods got their chalkboards to look so stunningly neat and nifty. Now I know. Well, that beats my theory that once someone is hired they magically become skilled chalkboard artists. If only life was that cool.