Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Free Simpleology Course

In order to check out this new course on blogging, Simpleology requires that I post the following:


I'm evaluating a multi-media course on blogging from the folks at Simpleology. For a while, they're letting you snag it for free if you post about it on your blog.

It covers:

  • The best blogging techniques.
  • How to get traffic to your blog.
  • How to turn your blog into money.

I'll let you know what I think once I've had a chance to check it out. Meanwhile, go grab yours while it's still free.


I've been going through a ton of material about blogging recently (when I have time outside of filming), so this fits right in with that. I will see how cool it is after they send me the stuff now that I've posted this.

But for now, it's bedtime because shooting starts again tomorrow morning.

~Luke Holzmann

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Media and Messages

Last week I heard a statement of a sentiment that is oft repeated: "The World" "sends you messages" about what will "make you happy" or "this is how you should live". This kind of talk is rampant throughout "religiondom" and is the motivating force for much of Christian media. "We must counteract this affront to our worldview and morals" the concerned religious say. "We have to get our message out there because otherwise people will just believe Hollywood--or whatever media they see as the bad guys".

Michael Medved has built a career on this kind of thinking. I've seen his stuff and it's well done, compelling, and makes you think. He talks about how Hollywood has an anti-Christian "agenda" and then sites many movies where this is the case. He also points out that "Hollywood" produces a majority of R-rated movies every year, even though those are not the ones that turn the biggest profit. He considers this evidence that "Hollywood" is not in the entertainment business but in the business of attacking solid morals.

With that as the foundation, let's start to break this down.

1. The World/Hollywood does not "have an agenda". People in the world and Hollywood have agendas, and certain films have agendas as well. But there is no overarching flood of anti-Christian/religion material out there. In Medved's documentary that I saw, he pulled his "anti-Christian" clip examples from movies I've never seen or heard of people who had. This is an important point to keep in the back your mind for when I come back to it later.

2. I can't, off the top of my head, think of a single film that had an anti-Christian message. In fact, all the great movies have messages that tend to be very positive. "Truman Show", "Citizen Kain", "The Princess Bride" all have very positive messages about life, happiness, and even some aspects of morality. But as for specific messages about what happiness is or how you should live, there is very little. Instead, films at most show a person who is happy or living well, and viewers decide if that makes sense or not. There is not preaching on the subject of living life.

Even movies like "Saved!" that bash religion merely demonstrate the problems with the institution and many of the people who profess faith. I wouldn't consider a single person in that movie to be acting Christ-like. It is unfortunate that they don't have someone who is Christ-like, but it doesn't surprise me. How many people do you know who act like Christ? I know precious few and am all too aware of how little I emulate Him myself.

3. While watching a documentary on "Basic Instinct" (yes, that movie with sex, nudity, and more sex) I was blown away when a "gay rights" activist started to decry Hollywood's "anti-Homosexual agenda". 'What?' I thought. 'Hollywood is anti-homosexual? Where do they get that?' In fact, from what I've heard from the religious around me, Hollywood has a very strong pro-homosexual agenda. What was going on?

Turns out that religious people aren't the only ones who feel attacked by the media. In fact, you can feel attacked by just about anything. A few days ago I heard about a complaint from a guy because someone wanted to include the image of a Confederate Flag in a video. He made it very clear that there is still too much racial discrimination to show such a throwback to slavery. It doesn't matter that the Civil War wasn't about slavery (however, slavery became a huge theme, and has been made even more prominent by us "Northern Folk" since we won) or that the Confederate Flag for the video was poking fun at country singers. Just because people can get themselves offended does not mean that something is offensive. To be fair, if people are getting offended, there is need for tact and courtesy, which all of us (including Hollywood) lack from time to time.

4. But what about the fact that so many movies are rated "R" and films like "Brokeback Mountain"?

I watch a lot of R-rated movies because most of them are about subjects that are actually interesting. Filmmakers want to shoot movies that mean something and comment on life. They allow us to experience life in a way that we normally do not see. We can then ask questions of our views, ideas, and ourselves as to how we would hope to respond to such situations. And for all the talk about "Brokeback Mountain", did you see it? I did, and it wasn't anything to talk about. A bunch of sweeping landscapes, a homosexual sex scene, and then a movie exploring the themes of love (not even homosexual love) with two characters that are terrible at loving... if you draw that much from it.

What does all this mean?

First, Christians make media for the wrong reason. Our films are terrible because we are making movies in response to something Hollywood isn't doing. We want to preach because we believe that Hollywood is preaching. Hollywood is telling stories well. It turns out that stories seem to be the best way to pass on values for a couple of reasons. Stories show life and how it works, what is good and what is not good to do, and what works. Instead of showing how Christianity works better than any other approach to life, we make movies like "Facing the Giants" where we spout out truisms and preach messages instead of telling a story from life. Now, unfortunately, when we actually do try to tell a real story it seems fake because we have lost our credibility and no one believes we're for real. If you want evidence that this is true of all media, when someone in Hollywood tries to preach they make a flop... or get a Nobel Peace Prize. The great movies that stand the test of time tell stories, they don't preach.

Second, we need to stop demonizing the media. We give them far too much power. I've heard over and over again that parents don't let their kids watch something (like, "The Simpsons") because it's "evil". It's not evil. Not even close. Sure, it may not be the best thing in the world, especially if you're not into that style of humor, but most Bible study and Sunday School materials are worse from a literature standpoint and contain less truth. The ideas and criticisms in the world today aimed at Christianity are widespread. The media may make the points more cohesive and pointed, but the critiques are the same as they were a couple thousand years ago. These issues are not hard to overcome, and the ones that are must be considered if we hope to keep the faith of the intellectual.

Third, it's time for some new stories. I've been asked before what Christians can do to turn the tide of the media and make movies that change people for the better (because movies can do that). I reply with the reminder that good movies are good stories told well. What contemporary story demonstrates the validity and power of living a Christ-like life? I don't know of a single one. Christianity must become life changing for us as Christians if we hope to change anyone with a film we make.

There is hope, though. The power of movies like "300" comes from a tale from long ago. We have tales like that as well. We could use someone with the gonads to make an incredibly awesome movie of David's Mighty Men; just, please, if you do, don't title it "30"... I've had enough of Christianity trying to take the creativity of others and just putting a Christian label on that. We're better than that.

At least, we should be.

~Luke Holzmann

Saturday, December 22, 2007

God and the "Gay Grene"

I'm not sure how the conversation got there, but somehow a discussion I had at a Christmas Party tonight turned toward personal responsibility. The questions center around why God would allow sin to enter the world if by allowing such a thing people will be damned. This reminded me of something I read in a very fascinating book recently about the emerging research that points toward the genetic influences on homosexuality.

When I read that there is significant evidence for something like "the gay gene" I was perturbed. From what I hear in the Christian community there simply isn't such a thing. They cling to the fact that there isn't any real scientific proof for such a gene. But what happens when science "proves" this, or, at least, makes a convincing argument for biological links to homosexuality? What will happen?

If I were to hazard a guess, probably a lot of what has happened with the "Young Earth/Old Earth" debate: There would be a split between those who find a way to harmonize their interpretation of Scripture so that it matches the "new evidence" or find other research that keeps their current view of Scripture viable. But for people like me, who don't really care which side is right, another question arises: What difference does it make? First, we already know that we often misinterpret Scripture and need to reconsider our positions on things; keep humble. Second, even with a biological propensity toward evil, that doesn't mean that we have to do it. I think we forget that.

It starts very early, trying to pass off our bad behavior on things: Such as the kid driving the toy truck so that it rips the wrapping off the Christmas present. "I didn't do it. The Truck did it." We quickly learn that this doesn't fly and we are responsible. So we move to the next level: "I hit Tommy because he hit me first." Even here, logical, reasonable, and just, our actions are still our responsibility. This battle between revenge and mercy, justice and forgiveness is a lifelong struggle. It becomes more complicated the older we get, and the more we learn of people's motivation. After this, we figure out that there is sympathy for external/internal forces. People have tried arguing, even flippantly, "the devil made me do it", or claim "insanity", but the most powerful would be to point the finger at God. If He made me do it, then He can't damn me.

What we forget is that we all have a tendency to sin. The fact that we feel cheated is due to the fact that all our wants are not met, nor are we perfectly content with what we have. The fact that we lie is because we fear for our wellbeing, or the wellbeing of others. We beat up our siblings because we want to protect ourselves or others. Some theologians have wrestled with the question of God's involvement in sin, but overall Christians have come to terms with this issue. So why are we so freaked out about a "Gay Gene"? This isn't new.

~Luke Holzmann

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"Brown" and "Candleflame"

I wrote another short story last night while waiting for my wife to log out of World of Warcraft. After posting it to, I realized that I hadn't posted here about my first short story I posted there: "Brown".

"Brown" is the result of my wife asking me to tell her a story. I didn't have a good one, so she pressed me to write one. My goals for "Brown", as with most of my creative writing, slowly formed as I wrote. First, I decided I would focus on color, but keep the post-apocalyptic reality very earthy. Second, I started to use common phrases in off-beat ways, as if a child were reasoning out the meanings. And third, I wanted her to have the feeling of an anime character: Seemingly normal yet somehow supernaturally "special". is certainly not a perfect site, but I'd love to get some more reviews and ratings if you read "Brown".

Yesterday I woke up in the middle of a dream. It was a very moving dream, but it didn't make much sense. Well, it made sense in a "feeling" sense, and I knew what it "meant", but none of that would have been transfered to a listener if I'd told them about it. So, since I had time last night, I decided to write it up as a story. The short story goes a bit beyond where my dream was interrupted by day, but I think the spirit is still there. The resultant tale is "Candleflame".

"Candleflame" has dark religious overtones and the romance of self-sacrifice. This is not a tale of romantic love, nor is it a tragedy. In fact, the end is meant to be read as hopeful, in a clouded, out-of-control kind of way. There is much more to life than our common experiences tell us, and perhaps it takes an extraordinary event to force us to challenge the leaders around us who have not lead us where we need to be. I guess I'm also exploring the ideas of maturing "youth" when it is pitted against the "wisdom of age". I hope you enjoy "Candleflame". Please rate it.


~Luke Holzmann

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

"Mischief. Mayhem. Soap."

Title link here.

I saw "Fight Club" back in college. This was pre-"Sin City" so it was disturbing in places. It was also profound and hinted at a path that men should walk down.

Now, in the past week, I've heard of two books that seem to push a similar line, just without quite as much violence and more contained graphic sex: "The Barbarian Way" and "No More Christian Nice Guy". I haven't read either book yet, but the ideas I've heard from them are powerful and demand that we, as men, shape up and bring the Church back to a proper understanding of our role.

A quote that Jason read to me from "No More Christian Nice Guy" went something along these lines: Since women are frequently considered more spiritual, moral, and godly than men, and since they do not display the same sexual urges that guys do, the natural conclusion is that a sex drive is sinful. This has led Christian couples to talk about becoming "closer" to one another and so avoid any mention of sex. ...One Christian woman even called her husband a "pervert" for his sexual desires. A man's sex drive is such that he will seek satisfaction elsewhere, often in places that truly are perverted.

Sex. God made it, and it should be intense. We may not need the yellow glove (didn't get it when I saw the film and don't feel like I need to understand it now), but sex is good in the proper context of marriage. I certainly feel the tendency to think that girls are not only the "fairer sex" but also the sinless one to boot. As Coughlin points out, if you printed off sections of "Song of Solomon" and showed it to many church-goers, they would decry it as pornography written by a sick mind. That's not good.

A similar message holds true for violence as well. Our Christian culture tells boys that it is wrong to punch another kid. "Violence is not the answer" stuff. Instead we hear that we are supposed to "turn the other cheek", even though Christ did not demonstrate this the way we interpret it at all. When struck at His trial, Jesus demanded that the man be held responsible for his action [John 18:23]. Not very "Christ-like" is that when He clearly told us to just let things slide?

Similar things can be said about parents who demand that boys "respect" them even if they are being tyrannical. Coughlin makes many other fantastic observations which are much better in his book than in a small blog post here.

Suffice it to say: "Fight Club" is closer to the truth than many church going Christians. Not that mischief and mayhem are good, but perhaps we need to lay off the soap a bit.

In a recent conversation with a Christian media producer, he recounted the story of a woman who wrote in berating him for putting such filthy content on his program that allowed a guy to touch a young lady's shoulder during a love song. His response was to tell her to "shut the hell up and go to hell." When he said that I smiled and knew I was in the company of a Christian man.

~Luke Holzmann

Friday, November 30, 2007


I got booted from a film set today. That's frustrating.

I was working on a Tutorial for and found out that all free NLEs do not support multiple video channels. That's frustrating.

I want to help people make movies but I get kicked off sets and run into software limitations. That's frustrating.

So what should I do with my time? I should edit some past projects that have yet to be completed, but I don't want to. That's frustrating.

I've got a book to write, but it's practically in revision mode right now so there's not much I can do. That's frustrating.

I guess today, this afternoon, is just one of those moments in life where you feel completely incapable of moving forward. It's like I've landed on "Go to Jail" and have to wait until I roll doubles. That's frustrating.

More than frustration, however, is the overwhelming feeling of weariness. I feel spent. Drained. And guess what? That's frustrating.


~Luke Holzmann

Monday, November 26, 2007

Images from Italy

[NB: The following contains images from art history that depict nudity. I will refrain from further comment at this time if you have a problem with that.]

No, this is not a post of photos I took. That will come later... maybe.

For those of you who don't know (which would be almost all of you if more people read my blog, Jason), I just got back from Italy with my family. It was a good experience. We had great weather, saw tons of amazing art, spent a ton of time walking around with the family, ate gelato (ice cream), took some great pictures, walked a ton, dealt with children, family dynamics, bedbugs, exhaustion, cramped seating, the smell of natural gas leaking from the heating units, virtual starvation, high exchange rates, and customs.

All in all, the Duomo and the David were the most impressive things we saw, but this is not a post about them. They're famous. I'm going to post about the three images that I personally liked to look at. Don't get me wrong, there are much more amazing works of art, but these were ones that stuck with me in a "warm and fuzzy" kind of way.

First, one that I only saw in postcards, bookmarks, and diary covers was Bouguereau's "First Kiss".

Perhaps I'm a sap, or maybe I'm just looking forward to having a cute little girl of my own, but I think the little girl (with moth wings, making her a... "mothgel"?) is simply adorable. This is not done by any of the "old masters", but I like it.

Second, while walking through the private corridor from the Uffizi, we buzzed past this image:

I fell in love with it right away. However, since we weren't allowed to use a flash or a tripod and there was no placard with information, it took me a while to figure out what it was--Reni's "Susanna and the Elders". After poking around a bit, I found this image, also by Reni:

I like the second better because her face is more striking, even if the colors are muted. Although, it is frustrating when an artist does multiple renditions of his own work that are so similar. Even so, in my search I found the following quote amusing as well:

"The story [of Sussana] is a complex narrative of sexual desire and visual temptation, female chastity and masculine law. During the Renaissance the dramatic focus on the moment of the woman's nakedness while bathing exposed to a lecherous conspiracy emphasized the sexual, voyeuristic and visually violating aspects of the theme, while providing a biblical and even theological justification for the painting of an erotic female nude, a genre that was emerging in this period, shifting the connotations of the female nude from its traditional iconographic association with Truth towards its modern signification of (masculine) desire and its privileged visuality" [Griselda Pollock].

Last, I really liked the following scene by Sarto:

My sister told me that she wasn't as impressed because it looked like everyone was "searching for a lost shoe" instead of mourning the death of Christ. I can see that. I'm really not impressed with the overall picture either. However, I really like how Mary Magdalene looks. In fact, I'd prefer just a poster of her, but I had to do that myself.

It is mildly interesting to me to note that the art I like contains pictures I like of girls. I like cute girls. I didn't need to fly half-way 'round the world to realize that, but it was nice to be reminded.

~Luke Holzmann

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Funds, Fads, and Fun

I've long felt that I needed to post something about Tithing. It started way back in the day when I was chatting with a few college buddies about tithing and taking a Sabbath (both of which seemed completely foreign to them). It happened again when one of the snot-nosed kids we were teaching belligerently told me that he wasn't going to give his nickel because he didn't want to "waste it". Okay, time to set things straight.

Even if you're not religious this still holds true: Take a freaking day off every week and give at least 10% of your income to some good cause. For the Christians out there there is no excuse. So why do we take a day off? At the most basic level, life gets all out of whack if you don't take time to relax. A "go-go-go" mentality is one of the biggest causes of people's personal lives falling apart, and I'm not just talking about workaholicism here. I talk with some new kid every couple months who tells me that his or her life is horrible or out of sorts. The solution? Take a day off where you don't do anything to try to get stuff done or get ahead. That's good advice for everyone, and God commanded it first.

For the skeptics, the burned, the mistreated out there: God's commands are good for us. I think this truth is often overlooked in many people's attempts to demonstrate how serious God is about what He wants: Don't sleep around, don't do drugs, don't cuss. Why? Because God says not to. Anyone out there willing to demonstrate clearly how each of those things makes life worse? I will gladly if you come ask me.

So what about "wasting" money giving it away? Isn't that a clear example of how God is just "putting it to us"?

Not at all.

Being willing to gladly give up 10% (or more) of your money to something good other than you is great. From a purely selfish side of things, you get a tax break. But much more than that you get to discover that you are not a slave to your money. That is a message that everyone needs to learn. And that's not to mention the fact that your few dollars will help someone else.

So Sunday, sitting in church, waiting to drop my meager check into the plate as it goes by, I noticed something. In front of me were two couples, nicely dressed, fairly regular attenders who seem like very good Christians who "have their acts together". Not that it bothers me exactly, but one of them dropped in $5 and the other one.

One dollar.

Come now. Why the crap would you put $1 into the plate if you work at all?

If you don't have a job but want to give what you can to a cause you believe in you put in one dollar. If you're 12 and have your soda money you want to give to a missionary you give a dollar. If you're an adult who lives in an expensive house with three cars and throws expensive parties and you give one dollar, something is wrong with you.

Don't get me wrong: God does not need your money. It's not even the amount. It's the statement: Tithing is a fad. I put money in the plate because that's what you do in church.

If you're not at a place where you "get" tithing as an act of faith/self-betterment, then don't give anything. Don't do it because it's expected of you. Get your head on right and start actually giving money. A dollar as an "offering" is like a one cent tip... insulting.

On the other side of this whole deal is the question of purposeful giving. My parents just got back from a seminar where they met with a fantastic organization that is doing wonders in improving the lives of the people of India. After seeing what they do, realizing that 1/12th of the world's entire population for all of time is alive in India right now, they concluded that giving money to change lives in India makes way more sense than giving money to encouraging "rebellious youth" here in the States.

I understand that, but it reminded me of something I learned in Film School: Use the resources given to you wisely for what you are supposed to use them.

The dilemma started at Missions Conference where we were told that for $200,000 we could feed an entire country, give them all Bibles and fund missionaries. Or, I realized, I could try to shoot a low-budget film that people may or may not watch, like, or "get anything" from. Time to drop out of film school, stop eating Taco Bell, and get my butt over to India.

I felt that way for a couple of days, convinced I was wasting resources. Then someone--my mom, I think--reminded me that God doesn't need my money and I need to use what He's given to me for what He's called me to do. If He gives me millions of dollars to make movies, I'd better use those millions well in making a great movie.

I guess it all comes down to a more simple point: This life is about finding joy. Taking a day off, giving your money away, and using the many blessings you have where you should will bring you true happiness. Not doing so, buying into a fad, will make you look okay at best.

May you find your place in this world.

~Luke Holzmann

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I Don't Wanna Be Like Mike

I did it. I finished Michael Pearl's "Sin No More" series. It's been a few days now and I decided I needed to report, review, and respond to the 10 or so hours of material presented. Naturally, this is not going to be exhaustive (thankfully), and merely an overview of my thoughts and reactions. If you are at all interested, I would recommend checking it out. If nothing else, it will allow you an opportunity to think critically and hear some challenges to some of your beliefs.

First, Mike "guarantees" at the end of CD 6 that you will stop sinning after hearing his message... "or you don't have the Spirit of God in you." Since finishing his lectures I have found that I have sinned at least 14 times that were painfully obvious. Conclusion: Either God's spirit resides not with me and am I am damned, or Michael was just saying something to make himself sound better. Since I sin, I think I know what Mike would say, but I'm not sure what Christ has to say about that.

Second, I found most of Mike's points from Scripture to be completely accurate and insightful. I can't think of a single time where he was teaching from Scripture that I disagreed. Very interesting stuff.

Third, his almost cult-like bashing of psychology, science, reason and general-life observation came off as ignorant. Psychology and science are merely labeling processes to observable phenomena in life. Proverbs would be a Bible similarity. To discredit them because they are human is "weak" at best.

Forth, Mike actually used the words "corrupted version of Scripture". What is he, Mormon? Come on. What is even more ridiculous about this is he buys into the KJV version as "the" Scripture for English speaking individuals, which has since been found to have minor translation errors. Ugh.

Fifth, many of the points that Mr. Pearl spends hours of teaching on are, at their root, mostly semantic. They are fine observations, but hardly worth calling people heretics over. For example, I'm willing to give him that the Bible does not teach a duality of spirit so there is not Old Man fighting the New Man. Cool. But then to go on to say that it is one's "Members" wrestling against one's "Spirit" makes the first point lame. I know, there is reason to make the distinction, but to claim that a believer who holds to the first view is "no better than a Buddhist" is ridiculous. It is, at most, an important semantic distinction. I think that Christ is the turning point of our salvation, not our doctrine on the nature of man.

Sixth, the majority of Mike's teaching is not based on Scripture at all. This is where what he says gets disturbing. NB: As I said above, I agree with just about everything he says from Scripture. The problem is that his foundational tenet revolves around Abraham. He claims that when God told Abraham he was going to be the father of a great nation that Abe went around telling everyone, "I'm the father of a great nation! Oh, I know I don't have kids yet, but God said that I am so I am." This is then extrapolated out to Mike's main point of saying that since we are dead to sin we should be saying that we are in the same faith of Abraham. Problem is: There's no Scriptural support for this notion.

All-in-all it was an interesting, if not depressing and frustrating, series. I'm glad I'm done with it and have been able to figure out where Mike is so very wrong. If I had missed his step out of Scripture I would still be depressed and feel damned by a holy man. Instead, I'm just a tad frustrated that he so dogmatically preaches something that isn't Scripture as if it were and am very happy for the love of God which I pray continues to make me more Christ-like.

~Luke Holzmann

Friday, November 02, 2007

Captive or Captivated?

I like pretty girls. I think everyone does. If you don't, something is wrong with you or you're lying. I don't like people lying to me. We like pretty girls.

But this raises an awareness of a perplexing reality: Since we like them, what do we do about it?

In a past post I wrote:

[Michael] talks about "husbands [who] are secretly following porn queens". Sure, there are certain girls (Camilla Belle is my current obsession) whom I "follow", but "porn queens"? I don't think my issues with porn are that different from other Christian guys. I know that many guys who have abandoned themselves to porn may latch on to certain "porn queens"... but, that doesn't fit with my experience. I don't like porn queens. I'm not interested in porn queens. I never have been. There is one "babe" whom I think is beautiful, but that's about as far as that goes (that being the header of my book's blog).

This spawned an email response:

"I think it's impossible to justify porn usage for the believer. Every Scripture says to flee immorality.
"And even 'innocent' following porn queens--I doubt if your daughter was beautiful and well-endowed, you would want to follow her around the internet. Stop following someone else's daughters. Ugh."

In my reply I said:

"My goal is not to justify porn use (or sin at all, for that matter), but rather to honestly look at what is going on and thereby come up with ways of better dealing with it. The 'Nike' solution to sin of 'Just Don't Do It' hasn't worked. ...
"I hope I get a beautiful (and properly endowed) daughter to dote upon. I plan to spend a lot of time 'following' her around. The proper response to beauty is a concept I've been kicking around a lot. I'm closer to the truth, I think, but I'm not quite there yet."

I am still not quite there yet, but one thing has become more clear to me: I really like "following" pretty girls (on the internet or with my eyes in "RL"). What do we do about that? How do we properly respond to beauty?

In college this became an obsession of mine for a while. I wrote such sappy things as:

Someday, somehow, someway allow for me to gaze on you.
No one is as beautiful as you, the fabled few.
Men write songs and poetry, paint pictures, conquer gods
All for you, your sympathy, your smiles, and your nods.
I know not what to think or do when I see you walk by;
Men as tough as iron break down, they weep and cry.
Pity us, but mortal men, fallen, by the way,
So now we have nothing to do; even less to say.

Oh pass again before us
That we may all concur
That you are truly pretty,
You, and her, and her.
So many charming women,
And girls, oh to be sure,
Soft like new-made velvet;
A scent like rose or myrrh.

The longing that I know so well is deeper than your face,
But the beauty there beheld is a mirror for that grace.
You cannot know the every time that I have sought you out,
And tried with all that I could do to restrain the shout
That would exclaim your many charms, and desired traits.
Oh what a cruel world that leaves us in such states.
A fallen world we live in, and it bequeaths this pain
That sears within our souls when beauty touches stain.
Oh for better words, for flowing songs and melodies,
For something I could say or do to charm these very trees,
For all this you daily do, in that precious, youthful way.
I see you oh so rarely, but how I bless that day!
Again I say it's painful to be with you or no.
Absence makes forgetful, or the longing grow.
Alas, alack! Oh who can say, what I am to do,
For something more than love draws me more to you.
Not that I would have your hand, or even your fond touch,
But if innocence could kiss, I'd like that very much.
Curse lust that burns in passion, for that I would not feel.
Rather, I'm enamored, but more than that, it's real.
There's something in the way you are that shines upon the soul.
Like heaven on this moral coil, you seem to be so whole.
And yet you are so fragile, in need of love and care,
And so you are approachable, and I can meet you there.
Remember you're desired, much more than I can write.
I wish I knew what this is called when one weeps in delight.

I love re-reading those poems because they get at that raw emotion I experience when I see pretty girls I really like. The question remains unanswered to this day. But it is an important one that others have noted as well. I've been slowly reading through "Captivating" by the Eldredges and the entire book is devoted to the point that women were made to be, believe it or not, captivating. I haven't gotten very far yet, but the already it is dripping with the need to be noticed, appreciated, longed for, loved and, yes, even looked at.

I like pretty girls. I like looking at them too.

But am I then captive to lust? Am I merely another "dirty old man" [shoot, I have a great link, but it is far too inappropriate] who likes leering at little ladies? I admit that I am, at times, but more often than not I am just trying to "drink in" beauty. As we argue in our book, this is far more likely to be the case. The problem is that without a proper response to the properly captivating girls around us we often find ourselves captive... either to lust, legalism, or lying.

I like pretty girls. I wish I could figure out a better way to say that both in pen and in life.

~Luke Holzmann

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Myth of Moral Relativism

This struck me last week and I forgot, but I was reminded of it this morning: I don't know any "moral relativists". I hear it from well-meaning religious folks all over the place: This world is no longer one of absolutes but rather full of moral relativism, the teaching that what is right for you may not be right for me. This is supposedly the problem today. This is at the very least a major contributor to our sinful culture of today.

I have yet to meet someone who is completely relativistic in his or her moral take on things. Sure, people may say that there is no absolute truth, but not because they are against the idea of Truth. Rather, they are correctly observing some apparent contradictions in this world. Because they personally do not have a standard through which to filter these conflicts they logically assume there is no absolute truth. But this isn't the definition of "moral relativism" taught in churches. One accurate definition of Relativism is "the doctrine that knowledge, truth, and morality exist in relation to culture, society, or historical context, and are not absolute" [my computer's built-in dictionary]. This is very different from the more sensational religious definition of "those opposed to truth and who believe that whatever you think is true is."

Defining "relativism" this way has led to some really silly statements that I got even in Bible college. A couple examples are as follows:

Moral Relativist: There is no absolute truth!
Christian "Thinker": Do you know that absolutely?

Moral Relativist: You shouldn't tell someone what is right or wrong because you have to know the context of why they did the action.
Christian "Thinker": So you'd be okay with me hitting you in the nose, right? Since you shouldn't tell people what is right or wrong. And besides "shouldn't" is a morally absolute position, you self contradicting relativist, you.

I put "Thinker" in quotes not because I think people who say this kind of thing are stupid (because I've said the same things myself), but because they have yet to think this all the way through. First, when a relativist says that there is no absolute truth his statement is not about the inability to make statements of truth. Rather, he is commenting on the inability to make statements that encompass all reality. In fact, if you actually talked with the guy, you could show him that even his statement of "no absolutes" is not true in some contexts. Instead of doing that, however, we just brush him off as foolish, too far gone, and one of those "moral relativists".

Second, a moral relativist does not believe that people can't make judgments about the relative goodness/badness of a situation. Bopping the guy in the nose would of course be wrong. However, if you bopped him on the nose accidentally as you turned around too quickly, he would say that was fine. Moral Relativism?


I think a more helpful term may be "Contextual Morality". Are there things that are right and wrong? Yes. Are they always that way? That's much harder to say.

Oh, but what about killing babies? Who would say that's okay in certain situations?


Check out Isaiah 13 (especially verse 16). That's God's wrath being poured out on an evil nation. Moral relativism? Nope. Contextual morality.

So what am I saying? Is there no Truth? Is nothing absolute? No, I'm not saying that at all. Rather, I suggest that we stop being so quick to judge the statements of others and figure out what they are really asking. Only by listening can we hope to speak to them with truth and love. In all my years of telling the "moral relativists" around me that they were self-refuting, not once did they fall on their knees and beg for salvation and Truth. Why? I wasn't listening to them, so why would they listen to me?

Stop debating and trying to prove your point. Relax a bit and realize that those around us wrestling with these ideas are just as interested in truth as we, they just have a different starting point and no anchor. Let us use our firm foundation as the starting place to build a bridge, rather than the battering ram to break down their "error"... especially when, after actually listening to them, they aren't wrong.

Contextual Morality is not wrong at all, it's "merely" incomplete without a solid context.

~Luke Holzmann

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the Tasty

Not that anyone cares, per se, but I've been down lately. That's the kind of thing people visit blogs to read, I'm sure, so I'll try not to belabor the point. I'm not depressed, but rather perturbed. I have many things I want to get done, be done with, and otherwise incorporate or expel from my life. But nothing's moving, or so it seems.

The good news is that, if I haven't told you a million times already, is up and running. It looks pretty good and I'm doing my best to get the wiki exposure by updating it frequently. But I want to make this more than just a website I have sitting around. I want it to become a real entity. My current thinking is to go Non-Profit, and I have a few reasons for it that I won't post right now. So I've been talking with people and trying to figure out what to do, but, again, nothing has changed. I seem to get the same old answers and advice that I got two years ago and haven't been able to act upon. If I didn't do it then, what makes you think I can do it now? So, I feel alone; abandoned. I've said it to my wife many times recently: I have no allies.

At best that is merely how I feel.

Along those same lines is the bad: I'm rather stuck. Again, not to beat this dead dog too frequently, but Michael Pearl is wearing on me. He has been for about three weeks now. I agree with much of what he says, but it has yet to affect me, to bring about change, to help me Sin No More. He still has huge gaps that he hasn't closed. I'm hoping he does in the last few CDs, but until he does I just feel beaten down and oppressed by some guy who claims to never sin... ever. His friends don't either, apparently. ... What do you say to that?

But it's not all doom and gloom. A new Chipotle just opened by our house, so Wednesday we got a free (yes, completely, totally FREE) lunch. Today, their official opening, gave me a free T-Shirt and another burrito just for being one of the first 200 customers after 3pm. That's good stuff. And not just in the belly department, it's also great marketing that I hope to implement one day... which goes back to the beginning of this post.

So full circle we have come.

Out of time for now.

~Luke Holzmann

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Waiting, Wanting, Willing to Die

As we've been reading "Family Wealth Counseling: Getting to the Heart of the Matter" in preparation for figuring out what to do with our lives and as a family, we ran across the passage where "Jay" and his team ask people (mostly elderly) if the best years were before them or not, and why. Many say that the best has already been, that the good-old days were better, and that now it is mostly a waiting game. This didn't surprise me in the least.

Several years ago I was in Michigan visiting my grandparents. My grandfather was still alive and as I came into the sitting room he was there looking off into space. He did this often, and I find myself doing it too from time to time, just stilling still and thinking about who knows what. I asked him how he was doing and he replied, "Just waiting to die, Luke."

That surprised me at the time. Maybe "surprise" isn't the best word. That confused me at the time. What do you say to a statement like that?

He was old and died a few years later. He could no longer work in his coop that was his woodworking shop. I don't think he had any other activities. So he sat and thought. I have no idea what things passed through his mind, and now no one ever will. Those private thoughts have vanished into the past. My grandfather was waiting to die because the future held nothing for him.

It's not as if I've never known the thought of death, or even welcomed it. There have been several points in my life where I have wanted to die; more precisely: be dead, or better yet, never have been born. These were moments when life offered nothing. These were the times when, through whatever juvenile immaturity and perspective, the future was worse than the already terrible present and nothing good could come of it. I wanted to die because the future held nothing for me.

It is often, or perhaps only sometimes, hard to believe that "The best is yet to come" [Whit]. And that is where hopes and dreams are so important. This is the place for Mission Statements as well as practical courses of action. Without either one the future is dismal. We must have purpose and a way to accomplish this.

And this is where the Church, either the institution or the members (or likely both), has failed its congregation. The older generations must be linked with the younger. This will give purpose and pleasure to the "old fogies" and hope and direction to the "young whippersnappers". My grandfather's wisdom and thoughts may still be around if he had been connected with a few youth at his church to mentor. He may also very well be alive today.

There is one last position to death that we should probably all assume: A willingness to die. This is where another question from "Jay's" book could help us: What would you do if you knew you only had 30 days left to live? Here Martin Luther has an interesting perspective: I'd plant a tree [can't find a good reference]. Wanting or waiting to die comes from a lack of hope, but a willingness to die comes from a proper hope. The future will be better, much better. But we don't just want to bop off without making something of ourselves, and so we want to end our lives doing something that will continue beyond us, like planting a tree. And this is where connecting the generations fits so perfectly again.

Years ago while on EuroTrain (now Nexlead) someone said, "By the time you're 35 your life is no longer about you, and the sooner you realize this the better off you will be." I've long thought that, even before EuroTrain. The problem I have is how to implement my desires to help and impact others.

My current "scheme", if you will, is, an on-line media mentoring program. But I'm having trouble making it "go". Anyone out there with experience want to "come alongside me" and help plant this tree of mine?

~Luke Holzmann

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sin No More Now 9 lessons.

After the fiasco (well, it probably wasn't exactly a fiasco but I don't know what it was) of a couple of weeks ago, I've been listening to Michael Pearl's "Sin No More" series. It's interesting.

It's also frustrating.

First, his use of Scripture could we way out to lunch and I wouldn't know. I should be listening to this with my Bible, Strong's and IVP's Bible Background Commentary, but I'm not because I'm listening to it while I drive. Mr. Pearl will read Scripture and then interject his own thoughts on the matter without changing his voice inflection. So I find myself saying, "Wait, does the Bible say that, or him?" He also uses the King James Version without any references to commentary, study, or great thinkers. So, is this his interpretation of Scripture (and his own thoughts interjected) or is this based on good study? I can't tell at all.

Second, he keeps saying that we can be free from sin now. Instantly. He just used that word today. I'm on the fourth CD now (so more than four hours in) and he has yet to say how this happens, how I can be free, and what it takes. So, yes, I can be free from sin now... I just need to hang in there for five or six more hours. Granted, I know he's building a case and working up to it, but it's just annoying. Especially since, over the past couple of weeks of listening to this I haven't seen any positive change.

Don't worry, I'm going to keep pushing through, I'm just expressing my frustration as it now stands. I finally got around to writing about this because this morning at prayer someone read about how the Bible will lead us into all truth (or something like that, and, unfortunately I have forgotten what the passage was), but the question that came to my mind was: So what do we say about those who come to completely erroneous ideas based "on Scripture"?

This goes back to a brilliant question my dad once asked me: What good is it to say that the Bible is inerrant if we can not read or interpret it infallibly?

I still don't have a good answer to that.

~Luke Holzmann

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Does God Save Sinners?

I was up late last night.

I was up early this morning.

I didn't need to be, but I was.

Why? Because of some nagging and disturbing thoughts. I mean, I just read an article that had damned me to hell. I was damned by some really holy people. These people have a ministry centered around joy and freedom in their holiness before God (scroll down to "The Christian Walk"). They believe that holiness is the "norm" of the Christian life. Because that is not exactly the case for me, I'm not a "true" believer, and am therefore still in need of salvation.

That all pretty well lines up with Scripture, especially if you're looking for that. But to tell me I'm not really a Christian? That I'm still damned if I don't become one? That I am outside the grace of God until I "turn or burn"? ...Holy crap! (oh, I guess I just showed my damned state there too) That's enough to keep anyone with any sense of moral responsibility and a desire for Christ-likeness up.

Now, I wasn't up because I was questioning my salvation. "I know whom I have believed" [2 Timothy 1:12] and that "he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion" [Philippians 1:6]. I was up because something was very, very wrong with the statements of these very, very holy people.

Besides the nuisance of them disregarding everything I say as null simply because I am not of the mind of God, there is a deeper issue. The issue is with a fundamental question of Salvation: Does God save sinners?

If you followed the link above, you would see that they clearly do believe this. So why do I ask this question? Because they have made their answer beg another question: Does God save sinners so they no longer sin and no longer need saving, or does He "merely" save sinners?

I believe that God "merely" saves sinners. I also believe that the fruit of following Christ will be a more righteous life, but I am fairly confident that I will remain a sinner until the day that I die. If this is not the case, awesome; but, I'm not holding my breath or questioning God's redeeming work in my life.

From what I can tell of others (NGJ, my sister, and, it seems, Mormons) tend to hold to the other idea: You get saved and then you are on your own. Now would anyone actually claim this as true? I doubt it. But the fact remains: They are willing to tell me (in writing) that after being saved, I'd better be holy or I'm obviously still under the damning wrath of God. Hmm... but maybe that's not what they are saying at all. Perhaps I'm getting in the way and twisting what they would actually claim.

It could be that they would merely say that I have not "fully matured" in my walk with God. Perhaps they just think I'm stuck in the basics and haven't moved on to the life God has offered me. Maybe they wouldn't say I'm headed to Hell, exactly, more that I'm not exactly headed to Heaven either. Even so, the question remains: Does God save sinners?


I just read a follow-up e-mail from my sister who assured me that her husband has found that he is dead to sin (porn, in particular, as that was what sparked this whole thing). That's awesome. I encourage everyone to break free from sin. I would welcome the state of "dead to sin", and even mentally ascent to it's reality. How that becomes reality for me, I'm unsure. My sister says that I need to listen to this series by Michael Pearl, so I'll see what I can do about that. Believe me, if it changes my life, I'll let you know.

For now, tonight, as I head off to bed, I must admit that I am still a sinner. I am still in desperate need of God's grace and salvation. And that is why I am so thankful that He saves sinners.

What would a life "dead to sin" be like, look like? I guess I'm not close enough to my sister to know. ...I admit it: That was mean. But I'll leave it there for now for two reasons: 1. I said it in part because I believe that a "true" Christian life would be Christ-like and therefore draw sinners to find what He is all about, and 2. It could be my fault (and so a reflection on my state not hers), in that if I am still too worldly I don't see the things of God... but that doesn't jive well with point 1. ...Bother, I am confused. And so, confused, hurt, and very aware of my own short-comings, I throw myself on the grace of God and bid you all "adieu" (quite literally: into the hands of God).

~Luke Holzmann

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

No Greater Harm

Edit: It has come to my attention that Michael (not Debi) wrote this article. The original letter was address to Debi, and I mistakenly assumed. My apologies. Please make note of this error as you read my post. However, since they are "one" there is much difference between the two.

My sister sent me an article. She said that she and her husband "really like" it and thought it would be a good resource for the book I'm writing. I really like it when people send me material to consider. It pushes me to think and re-evaluate my ideas. However, the ideas presented in this article are on par with the statements I felt the need to rebut in my "Flirting with Sexual Jerks" post, and so I feel the need to respond.

This article comes from a "ministry" named "No Greater Joy". My wife has read another of Debi's works and really liked it. So, I guess this goes to show that one must be very careful when representing Christ because, obviously, we all get it wrong from time to time. That being said, I pray that I will share "the mind of Christ" [1 Corinthians 2:16] and not spread more harm.

Please feel free to read the entire article before wading into my tirade.

Good. Moving on.

I will overlook the issues with the original note for now. The biggest problem I have with it is that the husband is not (according to him) looking at porn. So, why does everyone treat him as if he is? Oh sure, his TV use seems high, but the reason he's sleeping in his shop is probably because he isn't "getting any" (her words: "join myself to him") so why in the world would he want to sleep in the same bed? In short, she is not helping the situation; in fact, she is perpetuating the problem and driving her husband to porn.


Well, the basic problem of pornography is not sex, or sex drive, or anything like that. Rather, it is linked to your relationships. If your relationship with your wife is cruddy, then why would you go to her for sex or anything at all for that matter? You wouldn't. And if she is demonizing you as a "porno-freak" and "pervert" then there is no way you'd go near her. I'm reminded of the passage: "God's kindness leads you toward repentance" [Romans 2:4]. Grace and mercy are much more effective at brining people to Christ, probably because that is what He was all about.

Debi talks about "husbands [who] are secretly following porn queens". Sure, there are certain girls (Camilla Belle is my current obsession) whom I "follow", but "porn queens"? I don't think my issues with porn are that different from other Christian guys. I know that many guys who have abandoned themselves to porn may latch on to certain "porn queens"... but, that doesn't fit with my experience. I don't like porn queens. I'm not interested in porn queens. I never have been. There is one "babe" whom I think is beautiful, but that's about as far as that goes (that being the header of my book's blog).

"At one large meeting of several thousand 'Christian' men, over 50% of those present confessed to having 'used pornography' in the previous seven days." The fact that she puts "Christian" in quotes shows her damnation of these men. I am sick of people who claim that because you sin you are not saved. That kind of thinking runs counter to the Good News (and it really is good news) that we are sinners saved by Grace alone. Do we then have license to do whatever we want? Of course not, but that doesn't change that fact that at its heart Christianity is about sinners. Romans 6 talks a lot about no longer being slaves to sin, but by becoming "slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life." When we turn our lives over to God holiness is the result, not the aim. We get there by a proper understanding of God's love for us, and this process is life-long.

"If you isolate yourself in a room and indulge in pornography, you are not sick; you are evil." As I know, and I throw myself on God's grace. ...I'm sure that if you took a moment to consider your life, motives, and thoughts, you'd come to the same conclusion.

"You are part of a disgusting group of perverts, all piled onto the same image together. And somewhere there is a sexually dysfunctional editor enjoying the extent of his erotic powers." Now I like what Jason said once: How is liking girls perverted? Beyond this, from what I know of porn producers (granted, I only know one) they are doing what they can do make a buck, not reveling in their "erotic powers".

"You are not oversexed. You are not even sexed. You are alone." And here Debi gets as close as she is going to in the article to the truth about pornography: It's not about sex. Unfortunately, she disregards the fact she just pointed out and says that pornography is about sex. It's not about sex. It's about a lack in relationships. It's about being/feeling alone.

"Adam fell, but you are falling even further. You are plunging your soul into eternal destruction, moving as far away from God as you can get." This statement is ludicrous. How does she even begin to rationalize depths of "falleness"? It's about as binary as you can get. In fact, we start out damned and then have the option of being saved by God's grace... there isn't any plunging involved at all. Dead in sin, or alive in Christ [Romans 8]. Odd; why does this article make me feel like I have to go back to the "Roman Road to Salvation"? I see that my Blog Title is well chosen: There isn't much greater harm than messing up the Gospel.

"You justify your addiction"... no I don't. Porn is a problem. It's bad, destructive and not good. But how about offering a solution and talking about what's really going on instead of just liberally handing out "Get Into Hell Free" cards?

"You are having communion with the devil – bowing in worship of the flesh. You are a disciple of evil." Ouch. I wouldn't go that far, unless you want to apply that brand to every sin... which you don't, or you would have said something like: "You also are a disciple of evil who desperately needs God's grace too." Hmm... let me say that: Debi (and my sister, and you who are reading this): You also are a disciple of evil who desperately needs God's grace too.

"You have taken the downhill slide into Hell, and there is absolutely nothing to stop you except your willingness to apply the brakes." Again: Lunacy. Sin is always an issue of will, and we need God's grace and power to intervene. My desire to be good does nothing for me. C.S. Lewis in "The Screwtape Letters" demonstrated this well. Do we have a part to play? Absolutely. Repentance is an act we do. But to get off the path to Hell requires God's intervention. As with most things on this subject, Debi resorts to sensationalistic verbiage to try to make her statements more meaningful.

"There comes a point when any attempt at a normal relationship is nothing more than assisted masturbation. Your world grows ever smaller until you are alone with your semen. You stink of self. You do not deserve a woman." This is very true, but why? Because pornography is at heart about relationships, not sex. So, relationships are damaged by porn, and porn is reinforced by bad relationships. As for "deserving" of a companion... who would dare to say they "deserve" a spouse? If you dare, you have serious pride issues and a completely unrealistic view of self. The only way we "deserve" anything is as adopted children of God, which would make Him get the glory, not you.

"Don’t tell me that pornography is a substitute for a good woman." I wouldn't dream of it. Pornography is not about substituting sex, it's about substituting relationships in the "male" way. Read Dr. Sax's "Why Gender Matters". And then consider the actions taken in the letter that spawned the article. Again, telling your husband you won't have sex with him because he looks at porn will just push him toward pornography (thankfully, Debi does not condone this). If you refuse to have a relationship with him, he will gladly find that relationship somewhere else.

"[T]he drive for pornography is a cultivated, perverted passion that has nothing to do with love and marriage." I agree it has nothing to do with love and marriage, but it wasn't something that I cultivated. It is a twisting of perfection via my fallen human state, but "perverted passion"? If by "perverted" you mean "not ideal"... okay, but "perverted" has many negative connotations that I think are merely here for sensationalism (the line "If sodomy is sin, pornography is its 'significant other' " would indicate that I'm right).

"The children of godly parents are protected from unclean spirits by being under their moral umbrella. But when a father gives his mind over to wicked lusts, he removes the hedge of protection around his family and invites impure devils into his home. ...Any prayers you pray for their safety are negated the moment you open the pages of a pornographic book or glare at an electronic image." ...I agree that there are spiritual strongholds and physical locations of demonic activity. I even agree that engaging in certain sins opens the door evil spirits. However, the protection we have is from God, not our "moral umbrella". Where is Christ's Blood in this woman's writing? The lack of Christ indicates to me that she has lost sight of salvation and is now resting on "personal holiness"... may I never get there: Son of David have mercy on me and my family!

"If you think you can indulge in pornography and still be a Christian, you are blindly hoping against the clear statements of Scripture. ...You are dangling your soul and the souls of your children over the fires of eternal damnation." While it is true that sin is what we need saving from through Christ's Blood, I would challenge everyone to read Galatians 5:22-26: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other." I fear that there is much conceit and a significant lack of "fruit" from the article. And so I would suggest that we all "continue to work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling" [Philippians 2:12].

"I have not been as hard on you as God will be in the day of judgment." That is up to God and my relationship with Christ. It has little to do with my sin, and nothing to do with you. But here, for the first time, Debi begins to talk sense. She starts to mention turning our lives over to Christ. That's good.

"I have done you a service by increasing your guilt... The good news is that Jesus Christ ...died the death you should die. If you repent toward God, God will remove the guilt and free you from sin’s power." I think guilt is entirely Satanic, which is why God removes it. So, I think it is sinful to go about "increasing" the guilt of others. And, while the rest of what Debi says is true, it ultimately lacks the point: "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" [Romans 5:8. She also does not delve into the much more important detail of how God frees us from sin's power, what it means to be a "new creation", and how we walk blamelessly. She just assumes that you automatically do so. This is not at all the case, and, since I buy into Inaugurated Eschatology, it won't be fully here on earth.

"Your children, your wife, and your God are waiting." If God is waiting, you're toast. God isn't waiting; He's very much active. He didn't just send Christ to die and now is sitting back waiting to see who responds.

"How do you joyfully participate in your nuptial duties when you know that you are simply a receptacle for the eroticism stirred up by his vice? I have to admit that it stretches the limits of my faith to tell you that your duty remains the same." I find that sad. If Debi understood pornography (it's not rooted in sex), then she would tell wives to seek ever closer relationships with their husbands, not merely keep doing their "duty".

"You can wrestle with it for years and never get any relief, but once you learn your lessons in faith and trust, God can work the miracle of deliverance." I believe this is also true for those who struggle with pornography.

"God can and will work to defend you and the children if you will truly commit it all to him and perform your duties cheerfully." I don't know how Debi feels she can say this. This is clearly not true, and the "hope" she can offer women who are not defended by God is that they were not "truly" committed to Him.

"[Tell your kids that] you are grieved that [your husband] is going to hell for the lack of Christ in his life." Well, she damned me. Impressive. If my salvation is bound to my holiness, I'm damned. If my salvation rests in Christ then I have hope. I prefer to live with hope. I am still curious about what Debi has to say about her own sin....

"Cantankerous wives can provoke their husbands to all kinds of anger and bitterness" and porn use. "But let me be clear, a lousy wife – a lousy sex partner – is not responsible for a husband turning to pornography." Responsible? No, we are responsible for our sin. But that does not change the fact that a bad relationship fuels porn.

"Finally, there is hope. Put it in God’s hands and wait patiently. Others have seen the victory. You can too." Finally. Wish she had painted a picture for how guys can do this with the damning sin--heh, all sin is damning [Romans 6:23]--of pornography.

Do I have the answer to porn? No, but I'm working on it. And a posture toward God, even mired in sin, is something that Debi never considered. Let me assure you: God can make the foulest clean.

May He turn His face toward you.

~Luke Holzmann

Sunday, September 23, 2007

What Makes Boys Cry?

aka: Love, "Love", and Love Acts

I watch a lot of movies. Currently, I get through at least five a week, often more. I also watch just about anything, so I've seen some pretty odd, lame, terrible, disgusting, and disturbing flicks.

But I just watched "Boys Don't Cry" which reminded me a lot of "Monster", both of which I would not recommend. I first heard about "Boys Don't Cry" on the radio way back in 1999 when it came out. It dropped off the radar for me until I heard about it again while I was watching "This Film is Not Yet Rated". So I checked it out.

It's a story about courage, or love, or hate, or something; possibly all three. A girl passing as a guy who loves girls, finds a true love and gets knocked off for it. Similar to "Monster" in that there's true girl-on-girl love that ultimately ends in death. The fact that there is much more going on--theft, murder, jail time, other loves, lots of drinking, drugs, and many other things that scream "white trash"--is really not the point of these movies. These films are about finding yourself, love, and a way to live (or die) for who you are. ...I guess. It's "Brokeback Mountain" with a little more meaning.

Maybe it's the fact that "Monster" and "Boy's Don't Cry" are based on reality. Maybe it's because of the chapter on homosexuality in "Why Gender Matters". Maybe it's because I've known quite a few homosexuals myself. Maybe it's just because I'm odd. But whatever the reason, I feel like I need to respond to these movies and entertain the questions they raise in my mind.

As the song asks, "What is love?" Oh sure, we all know it's far more than a feeling. We may even understand that it is a verb. But what does that mean? How does one love someone who has determined (for whatever horrible reasons) to be unlovable?

"But wait a minute, Luke," someone may counter, "these girls found love with a very special female soul-mate." I guess I have to at least nod in that direction. But the love they found... it doesn't feel like love. Sure, it was love making. It seems like it felt very meaningful. And even Dr. Sax in "Why Gender Matters" points out that intimacy is very different for girls and boys, which further blurs this line and definition of love. But still, it feels like escapism. The only way these girls could function in the world was to (ideally) run off with their lover girl and be happy. Mean ol' Society (or Fate, or whatever) stepped in and decimated their hopes, dreams, and futures. So what should we have done instead?

We know that we should not have murdered "Brandon". We know these girls were just seeking love. We know that the "love acts" they did with girls made them feel like a million bucks. But what acts of love should I have done if I had been there? If we don't want these kinds of terrible events to repeat themselves, then give me a suggest for what I can do to help.

What bothers me most about these stories is that no one, especially the filmmakers, has a suggestion for what we should do. There's a sense of rage, frustration, and a demand for the "truth" of these stories, but absolutely no action, no hope, no redemption.

What makes this boy cry is that I don't have a suggestion either. If people go down these devastating paths, for whatever the reason, there is nothing I can do. That is so not my world, my experience, my reality that I can't fathom what I'd suggest or say to them if they came to me. Worse still, because I am not in their world, there is no way they would come to me.

This isn't about environment, per se, but it is about the life we choose and the hope we have. Again, someone might suggest that these girls did not have a lot of choices in life, and that may be true. But at least 50% of the blame rests on their shoulders: The refused to seek help (or accept help, like in the scene in "Monster" where the guy offers her a ride, money, and anything else she needs; she responds by putting a bullet in his head). The other 50% of the blame clearly rests on our shoulders because we are not visible enough as an obvious place of rest. We have not been helpful enough.

And that's what's so totally mind-blowing about Christ: People knew He was the guy to go to. How did He do it? I pray that one day my pursuit of Christ-likeness will lead me to the answer. Until then, if you have any ideas, let me know.

~Luke Holzmann

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Faggots, Thongs, and Britches

I was reading "Saint Frances of Assisi" by Chesterton and he said something about being the "fag-end of the faggot" and it got me thinking. Nothing concrete, see, but just a whirring in my mind. This man spells the phenomenon of the perception of a specific spectrum of light "colour", so we should take what he writes with a hand on the dictionary. There are other words, like faggot, that have been, well, shifted over the years. "Thong" used to mean "sandal" and now means "a clothless panty". "Gay" used to mean "happy" and now means "lame", which used to mean "crippled" and now means "less than ideal" which is my current working definition of "sucks". "Sucks" used to be a verb for the force used to draw a fluid along a pipe. This shifted to a specific fluid down a pipe-like fixture. Now it's a general word, much like every other four letter word out there, which means just about whatever you want it to mean. And this brings me, in my "free association" mind scramble, to a discussion of Meaning and Language. More specifically: How are Language and Meaning connected?

Those who ascribe to the "Muted Group Theory" of communication--which states that because English was developed by white males it has consistently oppressed the minorities and women, and which is the only theory I remember from my college class on the subject of theories of communication because it was so totally bunk--would likely say that Meaning is defined by Language and it must have taken a radical visionary to give voice to the homosexual community by giving them a less "socially-stigmatized" word by which to define themselves, which has inevitably lead us to today's inane definition of "gay".

Others would say that Language is merely a mode of transmitting Meaning, and Meaning can be had even if the words are garbled, like a scene where a character spouts out "Why that f-ing f-er f-ed my f-ed-up f-ing f-, so now I'm f-ing going to f- him up". Surprisingly, this makes sense.

Perhaps this ultimately goes back to audience. Depending on when and where you are in the world, a faggot is either a stick or on par with a racial slur. And while this is very important to us as communicators, it is equally essential when we are listeners. We must be careful to filter everything we read and hear through the context from which the speaker is speaking. Otherwise the Bible is unclear, the Constitution meaningless, and our laws inert.

So what do we mean by a "cubit"? What are "britches"? And how would we know if we were the very "fag-end of the faggot"?

Often, we must look to the past to understand it. Looking back with "20/20 Hindsight" often gives us the wrong impression because our world is not their world, our words not theirs, and we have a tendency to be rather stuck-up about our perception. Likely, to find more meaning and truth we need more humility.

Humility does not say that we are wrong, but it allows for the possibility. Humility lets us be assertive and certain while at the same time cautious and correctable. We can learn if we are humble, and we have much to learn from the past. It may be a good idea to not only read Chesterton, but also "The Dictionary of Disagreeable English" to lay a fun, albeit "la-di-da" (what?), foundation to our understanding of the world we now experience from the lessons of the past.

So, please, keep your britches on and your eyes open because whether your thongs are worn on your feet or between your butt-cheeks, we could all use more humility so as not to end our lives with an epitaph that states: Here lies the fag end of the faggot, may he burn forever.

~Luke Holzmann

Monday, July 02, 2007

Zeitgeist - Our Era

While dumping some footage this evening I had time to poke around what videos are big on Google Videos and found a documentary on "Christianity, 9/11, and the Federal Reserve". Curious, I watched it. Granted, it's two hours long and could really use some editing, but the content is certainly provocative if not sensationalistic, biased and wrong.

After watching the whole video, I followed the link to the references. It was clearly stated that "some information... is not obtained by simple keyword searches on the Internet. You have to dig deeper." In other words, Wikipedia did not back a single claim I double checked. Granted, Wikipedia is hardly the end all of information, but many of his(?) claims in the first part about Christianity didn't even make sense. Glancing through his sources you find that his bit on Christianity consists of 19 sources, three of which are written by the same guy. His bias is clear. Even so, it was disconcerting to me that I did not have specific rebuttals to the claims. Worse still, I have no idea where to go get them.

He's clearly out to lunch on some of this stuff, but how much? How would we know?

This is where, again, my Christian education didn't prepare me to respond. We are told what is true and what isn't. We are told that there are people out there with difficult questions. In some of my really good Bible classes we were even exposed to a few of these questions, but then were given the answer right out. So, yes, this guy is wrong... but if I had to discuss this with him face to face, would I be able to at least present the other side so he couldn't leave thinking I was completely clueless? Where do I find the answers, the rebuttal, the solution?

And perhaps that is why were are where we are in this era. This isn't merely a "relativistic culture" like we hear in church. No, there's a reason why everything seems grey. The world is so complex, truth so elusive, and perspectives so easily flawed that it makes it difficult to say, for certain and with clarity, "You're wrong." Not because truth can't be known, but because it is hard to state truth in a way that others can accept.

Like Zeitgeist--interesting, biased and paranoid, but what could I possibly say that would shed light on the other side? He accepts his truth "and disregards the rest". By the same token, how would I know what truth I've disregarded? My perspective is far too limited.

The comfort I take is that I still watch these kinds of things, still inquire, still search, still question. But in my search and openness I still hold to a consistent, orthodox view of things, and that is something sadly missing from the cynics of today. This era is full of questions that demand not answers, but apologies for the confronted. So, perhaps my lack of rebuttals isn't a problem because the counter-argument is not being sought. Rather, we must rethink how we approach these issues and find a viable solution buried behind the pain of the accusers. And therein lies the rub: This isn't logic we must combat, but hurt. And those that are hurt do not fight by the rules of reason. No, they are out for blood so theirs is not shed. Too bad they refuse to accept the fact that Blood enough has been spilled.

So, Mr. Documentary-Guy, I'm not after you or your ideas (as "out to lunch" as they may be). Rather, I want to know what started you down this path. Why did you make this video? Who hurt you? And what links Christianity, 9/11, and the Federal Reserve for you? That isn't clear in your movie and I can't piece it together. I'm curious, and I want to learn.

~Luke Holzmann

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Internet is for...

So, I happened across this today. If you happed to feel like I just ruined your virgin eyes... I'm not sorry. I am sorry if you are 4 and have not been exposed to pornography as of yet, but I started that when I was six. And, considering I doubt anyone younger than 6 will be reading this blog, I don't think I did anything new to you.

The picture made me laugh. Why did I chuckle at such an obviously... "bad" thing? Because it's true. It's very, very true. It reminds me, once again, of a very famous Google Video. I recently showed the video to my (married) little sister and she was disturbed. She asked me how I could find something like that funny. It's hard to explain why a joke is funny, and often ruins it, so I had to think for a moment. The best I could offer was something to the lines of, "It's funny because that's what's going on. Nobody is really willing to talk about it, so I think it's great people are doing so in a such a light hearted way." Maybe now we can finally talk about this subject... for real.

Granted, this does all stem from our book, but as I write I get more and more frustrated that I don't have it finished yet. People need the truth, and without it they are still locked up. They aren't set free. Please, let this free you. We do know, exactly, what it is you've been Googling. If your wife does not know, it's about time she did.

Last week we had a family reunion. At one point in time my dad started talking with my Uncle about what he does at his church. My Uncle talked about the ministry opportunities he has, and how he mentors people with problems. He was very pleased to announce that he is personally mentoring guys who were addicted to pornography.

My ears perked up. Perhaps my Uncle had some new ideas or information that I could use in my book. He then went on say that he was working with these two guys every week.

Wait... what? Two?

He only knows/mentors two guys with the porn problem? Nevermind. There's no way he has anything new to say. ...He didn't. He did cover some of the same ground we've been fleshing out in the book, but nothing, literally nothing, else.

Of the guys I've known who are around my age, I know for a fact that 90% of them struggle with porn. Of the 10% that I don't know for sure, they are in the "virgin eyes" camp and can't be trusted. I think it is safe to assume that just about every guy I know within 5 years of my age (anyone older or younger isn't going to confide that in me yet) looks at porn on a regular basis.

Let that sink in.

Your husband, boyfriend, buddy, pastor, judge, principal, jailer, father, friend looks at porn to some extent or another. As do you (1 in 3 odds even if you're a girl). Time to come clean.

As I posted recently, I've been involved in a little experiment with that. I downloaded some "accountability" software that will e-mail my wife my web history. She already knows I look at porn, but not to the extent to which I have. Since installing the software I've been much more limited, to things like images of Melissa Theuriau and the humorously captioned bikini girl. So, sure, I haven't gone to obviously bad sites, but I still seek this stuff out in more acceptable ways.

It's been hard.

It's been really hard.

To be honest, it hasn't made sex any better. It hasn't improved my marriage. It hasn't helped with anything. In fact, just yesterday, we got into a huge fight surrounding all this, and I haven't been to a porn site of any kind in almost two weeks... partly because I hadn't been to a porn site in two weeks... but that's a different issue that requires some time before I will be willing to write about it.

The point of all this? I'm not really sure--I saw a picture that made me laugh and I wanted to post it with some thoughts. No clarity, just a chuckle.

~Luke Holzmann

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Heroes of Old

I've recently started watching a TV Show based on a very X-Men-ish storyline. Basically, "Evolution" has begun to shape men into Heroes with super-human abilities (including flight, "cell regeneration" [which is a misnomer because she can actually come back from the dead], and telepathy). The show is quite enjoyable, but would be much better without the horrible "recaps" every few episodes (the voice talent is almost as bad as the blurb writer).

The idea of evolutionary betterment so we can survive as a "species" feels compelling. It makes sense, and draws from the horribly un-idyllic world in which we live. It calls for a Savior, a Superman, Heroes. It feels right. But something has been bothering me. I finally figured out what it was: Heroes are not new.

This show draws on the idea that we are now (whenever the show is supposed to take place) in need of Heroes, and evolution in its blind "wisdom" is here to save us. In the face of coming Nuclear disaster, "Evolution" has stepped in... which is exactly the opposite of Natural Selection, which states that the "fit" survive... meaning that it is only post-apocalypse that we see whom the "fit" were (namely, the cockroaches the show begins with). Evolution, by definition can't be preemptive. But that's an entirely different issue.

The thing that bothers me the most is that these kinds of stories claim that heroes are on the rise now, for the first time, to save humanity. This is simply not the case. History, lore, and legend all point to "heroes of old, men of renown". Even thinking back to movies like "300", we have stories from long ago of Heroes who rose.

Certainly, the creators of the show aren't trying to argue for a complete lack of heroes before now, but their painfully evolutionary bent reeks of lameness. It's lacking, biased, and myopic. Stories are powerful ways of shaping the beliefs and actions of people, and a story that says that in light of evolution's "violent process... morality looses its meaning. The question of 'good' and 'evil' reduced to one simple choice: Survive or perish" is not a story I can support. I can enjoy the ride, but I can't shake the brooding emptiness of such a world. Not only is such a world empty, but it is also naturally self-contradictory. We can only enjoy a story when we believe that the choices, struggles and problems our Heroes face will allow for good to win. Even tragedy only works within a functional "moral" world. Outside of good and evil, tragedy becomes comedy and drama becomes boring. I first noticed this consciously at the end of "Swordfish". The movie begins with the "bad guy" talking about how the "bad guy" should win for once in a Hollywood movie. The film then tries to make this guy into a "bad guy" by giving him guns, girls, and gold. Stuff blows up, boobies get shown, and, low-and-behold the "bad guy" gets away. The problem is that he's not really a bad guy. Sure, he does bad stuff, but the movie only works because people believe that he did the right thing. Was it "moral"? Was it "good"? No, but it was right... for the film and the filmmakers.

We now tread into "situational ethics" and "relativistic morality" which are decried, with good reason, by the religious. However, there is a certain amount of truth to all this: While there is definite right and wrong, motivation, far more than action, determines your moral status. So, sure, it is wrong to murder, but is it really wrong to tear people apart when you enter your "Hulk/Hyde" state? That's hard to say. Why? Because is it wrong to protect yourself? That's hard to say as well.

But back to the point of this post: We have long had heroes and evolution has had nothing to do with it. Evolution is certainly a tool in the "hand of God", so it could very well be that there was some genetic reason that Samson kicked so much butt, but probably not.

So, sure, enjoy the show "Heroes" but remember, 2 Samuel has some wicked-awesome stories as well. Perhaps I should team up with Frank Miller and Zack Snyder and work on "30" or something.

~Luke Holzmann