Monday, October 20, 2014

Get out your Bible and re-watch last night's THE WALKING DEAD

No need to discuss the "Bob-b-cue" or the "shish-ka-Bob" or whatever you want to call it at the end of last night's The Walking Dead 'cuz chances are that you've heard plenty enough of it today and Lord help you if you had to eat ribs tonight.

I'm re-watching "Strangers" right now and something that caught my eye...

After Rick finishes sweeping through Gabriel's church and the rest of the group come in, there are a couple of boards on either side of the altar at the front of the sanctuary.  On each board is an identical set of verses.

The verses are:

Romans 6:4
Ezekiel 37:7
Matthew 27:52
Revelation 9:6
Luke 24:5

Just out of curiosity I went to my Bible and looked up each of those verses.

What I found makes me wonder if that was something intentional on the part of the producers.  As if it's a clue or a sly wink or whatever.  One way or another, each of the verses is about death and/or resurrection.

 Very, very intriguing stuff.

And this show keeps continuing to demonstrate why it's the best on television.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Flatline": Chris declares this week's DOCTOR WHO to be nothing less than astounding and brilliant!

It's been 45 minutes since the transmission (heh-heh-heh, did you see what I did there, saying "transmission" like they always do in Britain?  That's all I got...) on this side of the pond of "Flatline".  And with each passing minute I'm coming to be convinced more and more that this episode of Doctor Who may be one of the very best since the legendary "Blink" of David Tennant's era.

Yes.  It's that good.

"Flatline" was classic old-school mystery/horror and along with the past few episodes I'm reminded a lot of the more terrifying stories from the Tom Baker years.  This was no exception, and along that trend "Flatline" is the finest of the bunch.  In fact, I would even go so far to say that this was the greatest episode of Peter Capaldi's run we've seen so far.  There were some real "hiding behind the sofa" moments in this episode and I think it will be a solid entry on a lot of fans' "favorite Doctor Who stories" lists.  It was also - it goes without saying - replete with plenty of humor (especially in regard to the teeny-tiny size that the TARDIS exterior begins to be).  You can tell that Capaldi is really settling into his role as the Twelfth Doctor and that he's having a wazooload of fun with it.  The chemistry between him and Jenna Coleman's Clara is a sincere delight to behold, and "Flatline" may be the best example yet of that.

So what made "Flatline" so awesome?

1.  The most terrific interaction we've seen yet between Clara and the Twelfth Doctor, despite the fact that they were rarely together (more or less).

2. Clara standing on her own two feet and showing what she's capable of when practically alone.

3.  The incredible shrinking TARDIS (and won't the toymakers go crazy with that one...)

4.  A cerebral concept that was brilliantly executed and was quite easy to follow along.

5.  Secondary characters that viewers could readily empathize with.

6.  The Boneless: perhaps the most original new monsters since the Weeping Angels arrived in "Blink" several years ago.  And just as horrific.

7.  The "I am the Doctor!" scene where the Doctor breaks bad and reminds us that no matter how afraid we may be of the monsters, the monsters will always be afraid of the Doctor.

All in all, "Flatline" is an absolute hoot of an episode and I'll no doubt watch it again from my DVR before the weekend is out (maybe before tomorrow night's The Walking Dead).

Something else that I've been meaning to mention.  I am really digging the music that Murray Gold came up with for the Twelfth Doctor's theme.  There is an epic majesty and sense of mystery to it that complements Capaldi's Doctor just as spot-on as "I Am The Doctor" was for Matt Smith's.  Here's hoping that the BBC won't be long in putting out a Series 8/Season 30-something soundtrack.  Then again, we're still waiting for that score from "The Day of the Doctor"/"The Time of the Doctor" from the fiftieth anniversary last year.  What's the hold-up on that anyway?!

But guess what?  I found out tonight that November 8th sees the return of Doctor Who to PBS!  That's also the night that BBC America broadcasts the season finale.  So that'll be at least two hours of Doctor Who spread out across two networks.  Doctor Who once again on PBS every Saturday...

...somehow, that makes things seem a little brighter in the world.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Best fried chicken recipe I've EVER had!

It was going to be finished by the end of June.  And then the end of July.  Then the end of August.  Then by the end of September.  That didn't happen so I projected the end of October.

More than halfway through this month and my book is still far from finished.  I'm learning the hard way (but what other way is there really?) about what it means to write a book.  And right now I'm going through entirely other frustrations about this, not necessarily related to the manuscript.

This is a very tough thing to do.  But I've grown so much from this.  I wouldn't take anything for it.

Anyway, it occurred to me earlier this week that I really have been throwing myself into this almost non-stop since mid-May.  I don't know if I could have started this before: being able to write this seemed to have come at just the right time.  I wasn't equipped or prepared before.  Now I am.  And I'm going to take this as far as it can.

But for the past few days I've taken a break from writing for the book.  As you can see the blog posts have been far more frequent.  Maybe if I give this site some tender loving care, a few more things will fall into place.

So right now (because it's the sort of random thing that The Knight Shift is famous for) I'm going to share a recipe.  Not just any recipe, but the one that I used for the best fried chicken that I've ever attempted!

Credit goes to Pepper Faircloth Romo for the recipe.  Thanks also goes to longtime friend Lenora Hendrix for drawing my attention to this.  When I saw it on Facebook and how delicious it looked I immediately took a screenshot of it with my iPad so I'd have it wherever I went.  After I used this recipe for the first time I knew it was something that I wanted to share with this blog's readers.

So here is...
I fried this chicken!
No, really, I did.
(And it tastes as delicious
as it looks!)
Grandma's Recipe for Good Old-Fashioned, Perfect Every Time Southern Fried Chicken
  • 10 pieces bone in, skin on chicken (can also use 12)
  • 2 C. all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika (optional, but adds good flavor)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 C. heavy cream or milk (I used heavy cream)
  • vegetable oil for frying
 Set the chicken out about 15 minutes before you are ready to fry. In a large Ziploc bag combine the flour, salt, pepper and paprika. In a dredging type bowl/dish beat the eggs with the cream or milk. Using a large iron skillet (or other deep sided skillet, you could deep fry also), heat 1" oil to 350 degrees. Take each piece of chicken and dip into the egg mixture then place in the Ziploc bag and shake around till well coated. Shake off excess and place in the hot oil. Repeat with a few more pieces (do not overcrowd the skillet, I cooked mine in two batches). Cook for 7-10 minutes or until the chicken is good and golden brown on the bottom, turn the chicken and brown the other side about another 7 minutes, continue turning and cooking the chicken another 6-8 minutes or until the internal temp. reads 165 degrees (white meat does not take as long as dark meat, so check after 15 minutes of frying). Remove chicken to a paper sack or paper towel lined plate.
There are many more recipe's on Pepper's Facebook page, so be sure to go and check it out! And tell her that you saw it on The Knight Shift :-)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Horrifying for Jesus: The problem with "hell houses"

Hell-raiser?
Poster for hell house in Texas
The first time that I went to a hell house (we’ll get to what that is soon) it depicted a commercial airline crash.  It was pretty impressive really, all taking place within the basement of a Baptist church in Asheville.  Then we were taken through a series of rooms that showed what happened to the characters following their untimely deaths.  Some were lifted away by “angels” (younger members of the church in white robes absent the wings) and didn’t show up until later.

And then there were some who were condemned because of their unbelief.  These were hauled out of sight by other youth members in demonic makeup.  Their eternal destination was what could only be called the “Hell Room”: a very dark room that required holding onto a rope to navigate through.  Still more youngsters in glow-in-the-dark masks and faintly luminescent attire mulling around while an older man playing the devil himself ranted about how there was always room in Hades.  The kids would occasionally whisper “Ssssaaatan!” or some such.  The conclusion of the hell house proper was a room depicting Jesus and the good characters coming in to worship Him.

What followed after was that those of us in our group were brought into a normal classroom up a floor where another older man talked about the gospel of Christ and salvation.  The gist of the message though was clear: be saved or go through worse than what you just saw.

I will be honest: it was a show that even years later disturbs me.   But probably not in the way that the organizers had intended.

There are various names for them: “hell house” or “judgment house” or the like.  They’re meant to  be a Christian version of the haunted attractions that spring up around this time of year.  Some of those are pretty fantastic.   Others are unbelievably complex: Woods of Terror - a nationally renowned annual Halloween attraction - owned an operated by a devout Christian, incidentally - is just down the road from where I live and is a true wonder to walk through.

The “haunted” attractions have a straightforward purpose: frighten the bejeebers out of you momentarily, only to propel you forward into more good-natured horror.  You pay money and for the next 45 minutes you come perilously close to losing bladder control… all for fun, of course.

That isn’t what the hell house is meant to be.

They pop up in various churches every year at this time, just in time for Halloween.  For twelve bucks you pay to travail from the mortal realm on through the torments of the damned, after which you are sent into an indoctrination session to explain what it is that you’ve just witnessed and how to avoid it.  Doing such means turning to Christ for eternal salvation.

I absolutely can accept that.  We are most certainly kept in the arms of God from the moment that we turn to Him and surrender ourselves to His will.  We are told that nothing will separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:39).  Do I believe that once we have salvation, that salvation is eternal regardless of what it is that we do in this life?  Yes.  Definitely.

But could it be that the people who go through a hell house are more being driven away from Hell than into a relationship with God?

There is a difference between the two.  And it’s one that seriously makes me wonder how much of the “repentance” is genuine and how much is motivated by a fear that could very possibly be as temporary as a weekend.

I call it “horrifying for Jesus”.  And there is something that is significantly troubling about that.

Look, I don’t doubt that the intentions of the people running “hell houses” or “judgment houses” are very sincere.  They have set out to do something that we as Christians are meant to do, and in some ways they do it quite well.  And that is, to cause others to wonder about their eternal destination.

But I have to question… as I have long questioned… the methods that are utilized toward that end.

I’m compelled to wonder if the reason why some say that they turn to Christ is primarily out of fear of the torment of Hell.

Now, do I believe that such a thing exists?  As much as I do believe in “once saved, always saved”.  As I have come to understand it over the years, Hell is something that God has to allow.  Hell is for those who not only turn away from Him: Hell is for those who absolutely refuse to acknowledge Him.  Because if they can not stand to be in the presence of God, then being in His presence for eternity would be an even greater torment.  It is something that they could not possibly tolerate.  Heaven would become just like Hell if such a thing were possible.  What is Hell?  It’s the absence of the presence of God more than anything else.

Are our reasons to turn to God because we long to be in His presence, or because we fear the absence of Him?

There is a difference between the two, I believe.  One is based in love.  The other is borne out of fear.  The two are for all intents and purposes incompatible with each other.

So what does it say about us as followers of Christ when we need stunts derived from fear?  How is it that horror has supplanted love and tenderness in drawing others to God?

The NIV version tells us that “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” (2nd Timothy 1:7).  The KJV version might say it even better: “For God hath not given us a spirit of fear…”

Think about that.  The word of God instructs that we are not given over to be driven by fear, because He who is within us has conquered fear.  The Spirit within us has overcome the fearfulness of these fallen circles of the world.  We are meant to be beyond the realm of this fallen realm and the horrors that are too much a part of it.

So why is it that we are sometimes determined to drag some people back into that horror?  And for an admission fee at that?

1st John 4:18 is even more explicit: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

We are called to be bearers of the Spirit.  Not procurers of terror.

How is it that Christians are using fear as a tactic for winning others to Christ?

And does that, or does it not, speak of our failure as Christians that we have to resort to such things?  Particularly when we are told that this isn’t the way we are supposed to  be.

It’s like this: followers of Christ don’t need gimmicks like hell houses.  When we do so, we diminish the light within us.  We are shying away from showing forth the new nature that we are meant to show forth to the world around us.  We replace that light with darkness.  We are in effect admitting that darkness is stronger than light.

We aren’t supposed to be like this.  We shouldn’t need depictions of damnation to encourage others to seek after Him.  I believe that Christ is reality… and that should be more than enough.  Christ suffices.  Fear does not and never will, and is never meant to be a substitute for love.

As I said, I don’t doubt the intentions of those who organize judgment houses, hell houses, whatever.  They mean well.  But there is supposed to be something infinitely more powerful than terror that will draw people toward God.

And it doesn’t charge ten bucks and change, either.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My prayer for this day

Dear God,

Please show me how to believe, without needing to understand.