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Friday, March 29, 2013

"Are YOU Amazed?"

The four gospels in the New Testament of the Bible state that wherever Jesus went, people were amazed by him. It didn't matter who they were, whether they were rich or poor, young or old, sick or healthy, men or women, friends or enemies -- people were amazed at Jesus. This short video uses scenes from the film, "Jesus of Nazareth". The music is a praise song by Philips, Craig and Dean titled, "Your Grace Still Amazes Me".
"As an interesting footnote, in the Bible (NIV) the word amazed is mentioned thirty-nine times, always referring to how people were amazed at Jesus. What is not commonly known is that there was one occasion where Jesus was also amazed. In Mark 6, Jesus returns to his hometown only to discover that many were opposed to him. In this context Jesus too is amazed — amazed at their lack of faith. The choice is ours — we will either be amazed by Him, or He will be amazed by us."

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"Good Friday"

Chief of sinners though I be, Jesus gave his life for me.


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Thursday, March 28, 2013

"How To Inflate A Concrete Tent"

As you can see, the technology now exists that can allow anyone to construct a tent made of concrete canvas. It's a material that has all of the elements of concrete, but is flexible enough to be molded into any shape. Add water, inflate, let it dry and boom.... a new building is born.

The applications are limitless. With this technology, you could build permanent structures in a fraction of the time needed for traditional building techniques. Once completed, cut holes for windows and add interior walls to make separate rooms. Put up a quick building in your backyard; build a concrete cabins at a youth camp; erect semi-permanent buildings at a refugee site. I don't know about you, but I think this kind of ingenious creativity needs to go on the market asap!

We'll call it the "perm-a-tent".


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"Time-Lapse: Building The World's Largest Ship"

This is a time-lapse video featuring the construction of Maersk Line's first Triple-E ship at the DSME shipyard in Okpo, Korea. The video was produced by the Discovery Channel and Maersk, and consists of 50,000 photos taken over the span of three months. Pretty cool stuff!


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"Tokyo's Vast Underground Temple"

I love fascinating and unique places. This one is impressive:

The G-Cans Underground Temple in Saitama, Japan is probably the largest undergroun flood management system in the world. It is comprised of miles of concrete tunnels connecting five huge silos and one immense water tank, known as The Temple. The complex spans between Showa in Tokyo to Kusakabe in Saitama, with the power to pump 200 tons of water per second into the Edogawa River.

Here are some photos of The Temple. Take a peek!


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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Quote of the Day"

"That which is worth doing, is worth doing against all odds. Great things were never achieved without challenge." - Jon Baas


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Sunday, March 10, 2013

"The Modern Ghost Cities of China"

This is happening in China right now. "It is estimated that ten new cities are being built every year." One was even designed for 12 million people. But no one lives in them. "Shops unoccupied, hundreds of apartments uninhabited." It's estimated that there are (now, two years later) well over 64 million empty apartments in China. Yes.... empty apartments.... over 64,000,000 of them. And the Chinese government doesn't care. They're only concerned with maintaining economic growth. Massive building projects count as economic growth.

It's a depressingly sad (and somewhat haunting) reality. Watch this 15-minute news documentary from Australian TV and see for yourself. China is full of brand new, empty, over-priced, never occupied, modern ghost cities. Dozens of them.


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Sunday, March 03, 2013

"The Bible, on The History Channel"

What a sad waste. The History Channel is airing a massively-hyped, 5-part, television mini series called "The Bible" in which they are re-visualizing the Christian Bible ("with stories from Genesis to Revelation"). It's a major undertaking indeed, full of great stories to tell, and iconic well-known characters. However, there's a big problem: they've gotten it all wrong.

They've turned their re-telling of the Bible into a "Lord Of The Rings" type adventure saga, with spectacular visual effects... and the obligatory "Trust in God" comments from the "Biblical heroes" (aka, Noah, Abraham, Moses, etc). Unfortunately, though, there's no substance. None. Their entire two hour re-telling (so far) resigns God to being a super-powerful presence that uses awesome events just to "save his people" from oppression.

Never once in these stories are we told why God does these things. Never once are we told about our deep-seeded sin and our need for salvation from that sin, nor even God's promise of Christ as our Savior. It's all: "the Israelites are God's people... they are oppressed.... God must show his spectacular might to save them from bad people, and make them more powerful than the people that are not God's people." That's not what the Bible is about.

The series starts with a few minutes featuring a Gaelic Noah -- as if Noah is the beginning of the Bible (or even Gaelic), and then moves on to a longer segment about Abraham. It fails to depict the reality of Creation, as well as Adam and Eve, the Fall into sin, or, most of all, God's first promise of Salvation from sin.
There's no Tower of Babel; no mention of the rampant, disgusting evil in Sodom and Gomorrah; nothing about Jacob and Essau; Jacob wrestling God; not even Joseph in Egypt -- all important illustrations in the Bible. And on top of that, it depicts the angels sent from God as ninja-like warriors who brutally hack and slash those who oppose them in their mission. And it goes out of it's way to feature pointless blood-spatter battles, merely for the sake of drama.

And, after glossing over the plagues in Egypt, there is no mention about the symbolism as to *why* the angel of death passed over the Israelite houses during the final plague. And, even worse, absolutely NOTHING is said about the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years. Just the obligatory (and visually stunning) crossing of the Red Sea, followed by the celebratory "Yay! We aren't slaves in Egypt anymore!" Then we see Moses receiving "the Ten Commandments" from God on Mount Sinai (with nothing about what he saw when he came down from the mountain, nor even the purpose of, or reason for, those ten commandments). And then, right after Moses on Mount Sinai, we see.... "Forty Years Later".... there was a military man named Joshua.


As a Christian, this whole "The Bible" series saddens me. Sickens me even. As expected, this History Channel series completely misses the point of the Bible. But what's worse, I've been following the viewer response on Twitter during the show. Thousands of people (seriously, "#TheBible" is trending right now) have been saying things like: "Best retelling of the Bible EVER!"; "Wow, they really got the Bible right this time!"; "This is the best thing I've ever seen on television!"; even this from @micahlivingH20: "'The Bible' is how I imagine our history being, not that 'Sunday-school' childish stuff. The Bible isn't boring- it is real and intense!"

99% of the people watching "The Bible" don't seem to realize it's watered-down and completely lacking in true Biblical meaning. That's just sad. Heart-wrenchingly sad.

I'll be honest, "The Bible" on The History Channel is crap. Especially from a Christian perspective -- or even from the perspective of anyone who has actually read the Bible. And to think this series is produced by Roma Downey, a proclaimed Christian who considers herself "a devout Catholic".

Like I said, a complete waste; a false, frighteningly incomplete, intensely overly-dramatic representation of the Bible. And certainly not a series about any Christian Bible I've read. In truth, I shudder to think how they'll visualize the New Testament -- especially with Roma Downey playing the part of "the Virgin Mary".

I did a little more research into this presentation of "The Bible". Over-dramatic is an understatement. Here's a 4-minute teaser of the entire 5-part series. Over-dramatic? You tell me.

And, finally, here's an article (featured on the official "The Bible" website) that sheds a little light into the motivations behind Roma Downey and her husband producing this project:

"Mark Burnett, Roma Downey promo "Bible" mini to faithful"

 Here's my favorite quote from the linked article:
"As the [sole] owners of the mini[series], Burnett and Downey stand to profit handsomely if its built-in appeal to Christian auds yields a huge TV turnout that in turn fuels homevid sales and other aftermarket releases. That scenario buoyed Mel Gibson’s 2004 pic “The Passion of the Christ” and, more recently, 2009 Sandra Bullock starrer “The Blind Side.”
Ah. So it *is* about connecting with a Christian audience and making lots of money from them. It's a shame that profit, merchandising, selling three related books (including a novel), DVD and Blu-ray releases, a shortened world-wide theatrical release, small-group viewing party kits (priced at $9.99 complete with an  "I live the Bible" wristband), elaborate movie viewing event package kits for churches that want to hold large-scale viewing events (starting at $199, depending upon the size of the church), sermon guides, classroom materials (to serve as "teaching tools"), and other products are the primary goal of this 5-part "The Bible" remake.

I could avoid all this merchandising, and just.... you know..... read the Bible itself -- for free. And I would be getting the best, most accurate re-telling of these very same Bible stories.

I hate to say this, but another Bible story comes to mind with all this. It's titled, "Jesus Clears the Temple", and it can be found in multiple sources, including this one: Mark 11:15-19.

Making a reasonable profit for your own hard work is one thing. Christ encourages hard work in the Bible. But "repackaging" the Bible (which is not your own creation), and selling it for as much money as you can possibly make is another. Christ angrily drove merchants and money changers out of the Temple for using his house of prayer for financial means. I have to wonder what he thinks about "reinterpreting" the Bible for the very same reasons.


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Jon Baas

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