Finish by Jon Acuff – Ch. 1: The Day After Perfect

I’ve had the opportunity to be a part the Launch Team for Jon Acuff’s latest book, Finish: Give Yourself The Gift Of Done. It’s releasing next week and I’m in the process of re-reading it.

It only took me a couple of days to read through it the first time because Acuff is a very engaging writer and I wanted to get it done as quickly as I could for Launch Team purposes. Now I am re-reading more slowly so I can engage with his action steps more thoroughly and I thought I would share some quotes and action steps I want to take as a result of this book.

(By the way, you can pre-order the book here.)

Here’s some quotes from Chapter One: The Day After Perfect

“The less that people aimed for perfect, the more productive they became.” p4

“This is the first lie that perfectionism tells you about goals: Quit if it isn’t perfect.

The genius in this first lie is subtle. It’s not ‘when’ it isn’t perfect, because that hints at the reality that it won’t be. No, perfectionism tells you ‘if’ it isn’t perfect, as if you have the chance to run the whole rack and go to the grave with a 100 percent on your tombstone.” p9-10

“Why? Why would I encourage you to embrace imperfection? Well, for one thing, doing something won’t kill you. We think it will, which is why we compare our lack of progress to a train crash. ‘I couldn’t get back on track, my plans got derailed.’ A train derailment is a significant, serious accident. In many cases, people die, hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage occurs, and fixing it takes days if not weeks.

Do you know what doesn’t happen when you miss a day of your goal? Any of those things.” p10-11

“You will not be perfect, but do you know what’s even more important than perfection? Do you know what will serve you for longer than perfectionism ever could?

Moving forward imperfectly.

Reject the idea that the day after perfect means you’ve failed.

That’s just not true.

You get to try again.

Today, tomorrow, next week.” p12-13

“Some [people]…think the opposite of perfectionism is failure. It’s not. The opposite is finished.” p13

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The Sugarland Express (1974)

Sometimes, when I’m watching an older movie, it’s hard for me to catch when that movie is doing something no other movie has done before.

For example, by the time I had finally watched The Matrix, I had seen enough parodies and references to it that it didn’t blow me away the way it seemed to do everyone else.

The Sugarland Express is another example of this, although a more subtle one. This movie, like Dyel before it, is light on special effect with a focus on the characters and the plot than the trying to wow you.

But, Spielberg in his early days, was always trying new things, filming techniques, camera angles, etc… According to IMDB, the producers wanted Spielberg to get his feet wet with some simple shots first, but he dove right in with one of the most complex shots in the whole movie and pulled it off.

The other thing Spielberg did in this movie that had never been done before was having a tracking shot of a vehicle, going from front to back with the camera as the car is moving, including a 360 degree turn around the car with audio from inside the car as well.

This doesn’t seem that amazing because it’s common place to us. It didn’t even register to me that something unique was happening when I watched the movie but this won’t be the last time Spielberg sets new precedences for future movies.

Also of note, this is the first collaboration between Spielberg and John Williams (who would go on to score almost all of the rest of Spielberg’s movies) and it’s the first movie where there is a scene of characters watching old Looney Toon cartoons (another repeated motif).

-How would I rate it? Right down the middle, 3 out of 5

-Do I regret watching it? Not at all. It was a lot of fun.

-Do I plan on watching it again someday? Maybe one day.

All in all, not a bad movie and it is interesting to see seeds of what I’ve come to know and love about Spielberg being planted here.

Have you seen The Sugarland Express? What did you think?

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Duel (1971)

It should be noted that I didn’t grow up with Steven Spielberg. Well, that’s not completely true. When I was a kid, if it wasn’t animated, I didn’t watch it. Which means I watched mostly Disney movies, although I did enjoy An American Tail, The Land Before Time, Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs as well, all of which Spielberg had a hand in.

It wasn’t until high school that I started watching his movies. Jurassic Park, ET, and Indiana Jones as well as others. But not all of them. In fact, these first two, Duel and The Sugarland Express, I had never even heard of until I read that book, let alone watched them.

Duel, for those like me who haven’t seen it, is about a man who is being chased by an 18-wheeler. I can’t say he was chased by a man (or woman) in an 18-wheeler because we never see the driver’s face and we never get any sort of motivation for the chase, except that David, the man being chased, cut him off at one point.

The story is simple, but the premise works wonderfully, even 46 years later. Who hasn’t looked in their rearview mirror at some point and wondered if the person behind them was following them? Perhaps you’ve even gone so far as to take an out of the ordinary turn, just to be sure.

That’s what Spielberg is playing with here, the fear of being followed by an unknown assailant. This is not a movie full of special effects, which helps the movie age well. In fact, they only had one truck so (spoilers) the big climax of the film could only be shot once.

Also fun fact, Spielberg used the same sound (more spoilers) of the truck crashing down the cliff at the end of Jaws.

-How would I rate the movie? 3.5 out of 5

-Do I regret watching it? No, it was enjoyable and well done, especially for a made for TV movie.

-Do I plan on watching it again? No, I think once was enough.

I found the DVD at my local library. If you get a chance to watch the movie and are interested in seeing how Spielberg has evolved as a filmmaker (it’s not coincidence that two movies later he would make another “monster” movie, Jaws), I would definitely recommend it, but it’s not one you need to add to your collection

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Steven Spielberg: A Life In Movies

I picked this book up a few months ago because I’ll be watching Saving Private Ryan in the Fall with a film discussion group I’m starting with my job.

I read the reviews of the book online and many of them said, essentially, “She gets the big picture right, but she misses some of the details.” For example, she says Saving Private Ryan won the Oscar for Best Picture. Actually, it was beat by Shakespeare In Love. She also talks about a Road Runner cartoon in one of his movies and how the Road Runner continues to get blown up, fall off cliffs, get hit with anvils, etc… I don’t know what Road Runner cartoon she was watching, but that sounds more like Wile E. Coyote to me.

Aside from that, I have really enjoyed the book and it’s made me want to go through Speilberg’s list of movies one by one. Certainly it’s not the first time I’ve seen many of these movies, he has plenty of classics under his belt (and Jurassic Park is my all-time favorite movie) but there are plenty I haven’t seen and I am really interested in putting these movies in context with is life.

This will be a long term project, one that I will chronicle here on the blog, and I’m really looking forward to it.

You’re welcome to join me. The first movie is Duel from 1971.

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Bard the Troll #2

Yes, I realize it says number 2 and I haven’t posted number 1 yet. Number 1 is almost ready, but this felt more timely.

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The Real Problem of Evil

I’m not sure why this has been on my mind the past few days, but it has. “The problem of evil” is a philosophical argument against the existence of God that is both all loving and all powerful. Basically, it goes like this:

If God is all loving and all powerful, he would get rid of all evil because he wants to (his love) and he can (his power). But there is evil so either, he is not all loving (he can get rid of evil but chooses not to) or he isn’t all powerful (he wants to get rid of evil but can’t).

This is definitely a hard question to answer, especially in our current culture where evil is showcased online on a daily basis. Shootings, human trafficking, politics, scandals, natural disasters, the list goes on and it quickly become overwhelming. It’s natural to wonder, “Where is God and why won’t he do something about all of this?”

But imagine for a moment what would happen if God did get rid of all evil. Don’t think to the big issues like those above, think about your own life. If God got rid of all the evil right now, how much of you would be left? How much of me would be left?

Ok, let’s define some terms here, because perhaps you just caught that I implied that you and I are evil. So, what is ‘evil?’

When we think of evil people, we think of people like Hitler. People who are so beyond anything redeemable. Am I suggesting that you or I are like Hitler? No, not really.

What would God have to do to get rid of all evil? He would have to get rid of everything, from the smallest thing to the biggest thing, that goes against what is good. If even the smallest bad thing is left, evil can still happen.

So God has to get rid of even the smallest inking of evil, which comes back to us. How much of us would be left if God were to get rid of all evil? I can look at my own life and see how much ‘evil’ is in it. I yell at my kid. I get impatient with my wife. I think only about myself far more than I should. I’ve lied. I’ve cheated. I’ve stolen. I’ve been lazy when I should have been working. I’ve worked when I should have rested. I’ve treated people as if they were objects, things to be used rather than image bearers of a holy God.

Does this put me on the level of Hitler? No and I don’t think you are there either but the reality is, I am quite capable of doing what is not right so I still have to ask myself, what would be left of me if God decided to get rid of all evil, of everything that wasn’t good?

Now, as a Christian, I don’t have to worry about this because everything I’ve done wrong and everything I will do wrong has been covered by Jesus’ death and resurrection. Maybe this is why God hasn’t dealt with evil yet. Maybe he’s waiting for more of us to reconcile ourselves with him. He doesn’t want to destroy us and he knows that by destroying evil and everything not good, he would have to destroy us as well.

Jesus seemed to think this was the case. I read this in Matthew 13 this morning:

“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field,  but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” (v.24-30)

For now God is letting the good and the bad grow together, but one day he will deal with it.

Those are my thoughts. Why do you think God hasn’t dealt with the problem of evil?

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Narnian Prophesy

We’ve been reading through The Chronicles of Narnia with our daughter this year. We’re on the second book, Prince Caspian, and I read this passage yesterday:

“I-I left it too late,” said Susan, in an embarrassed voice. “I was so afraid it might be, you know-one of our kind of bears, a talking bear.” She hated killing things.

“That’s the trouble of it,” said Trumpkin, “when most of the beasts have gone enemy and gone dumb, but there are still some of the other kind left. You never know, and you daren’t wait to see.”

“Poor old Bruin,” said Susan. “You don’t think he was?”

“Not he,” said the Dwarf. “I saw the face and I heard the snarl. He only wanted Little Girl for his breakfast.”…

Lucy shuddered and nodded. When they had sat down she said: “Such a horrible idea has come into my head, Su.”

“What’s that?”

“Wouldn’t it be dreadful if some day in our own world, at home, men started growing wild inside, like the animals here, and still looked like men, so that you’d never know which were which?”

“We’ve got enough to bother about hear and now in Narnia,” said the practical Susan, “without imagining things like that.”

Airline workers willing to abuse passengers. Nobody on the plane willing to give up their own seat so this atrocity would stop. A man live streaming a murder. A president who thinks it’s ok to treat women like pieces of meat. Hundreds of kids, girls and boys, being kidnapped every day and sold into slavery.

And that’s not even mentioning the times the wild animal in myself rears up. When I yell at my kid. When I am short with my wife. When I am nothing but selfish and have no bothers for anyone else.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid we don’t have to imagine such things.

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