Category: TV and Media

And so the plot thickens? No, not really. I guess a better way to say it is that the plot is plodding along at a somewhat slow and still confusing pace. No wonder Canadian media have not picked this up. Although, a news report today stated that this is part of Iran’s policy. That is, the constant waffling regarding the charges facing this man is actually part of the clear straightforward policy of Iran. The intention is that people will get so confused that they will simply allow Iran to manage itself and in the end they can do whatever they want.

In some twisted way that might be the truest new report I have heard throughout this whole process. What I know now is that the execution order has been removed. Some in the Iranian government have said that there never was a verdict and that the case was in the investigation stage only. What asked about why the appeal if there was not a verdict, Iran stated that the accused could appeal at any stage in the investigation. Others have said that the rendering of a verdict is now being handed over to another individual in the Iranian legal system.

In summary, Pastor Yousif does not appear to be facing execution this week. He could perhaps face it next month or next year…or whenever they finish the investigation into the charges that some say has not even gone to trial yet.

For now, there will be no execution. That I can say for sure, I think. In the meantime continue to think of and pray for this situation that it will continue to come to a fair resolution.

I have continued to scour the media regarding Pastor Yousif’s pending execution. As I mentioned before, there is much confusion and controversy associated with this as Iran seems to have changed their mind about why they are intending to execute this man…only after there has been public outcry from the western world.

The final verdict was supposed to be handed down today but I read in a report earlier this morning that it will now be delayed until Monday. Will Pastor Yousif be hung for apostasy, rape, running a brothel…and combination of this? Who knows…

I guess that this is still a waiting game for the international community and those interested to continue to follow.

p.s. I am still disappointment about the lack of interest in this man’s life demonstrated by Canadian media…we seem to be the one of the only nations not regularly reporting on this.

It appears that the plot has thickened with respect to the Iranian pastor who is on death row for what was initially his conversation from Islam to Christianity and his subsequent request for his children to be exempt from state operated teaching on the Qur’an. Fox News and the New York Daily News are now reporting that the crime for which he has been handed the death penalty for was rape and not apostasy.

I have been following all online news reports of this event since it began to transpire last week and I have not seen Fox News or the New York Daily News chime in yet; until the plot seemed more scandalous and damaging. What would an Iranian Christian pastor be doing raping people? This seems like it would get far better ratings than a simple ‘death for apostasy’ charge.

I cannot say 100% for sure what exactly is going on in this situation. Is Iran angered because of the pastor’s rejection of Islam? Are they now attempting to backdoor his neck into a noose with a bogus rape charge? Or did the pastor actually rape someone (that is possible I suppose)?  Was the apostasy story simply a bogus plea where the pastor attempted to get international notice and save his neck…literally!

Unfortunately it is this type of media bantering and political double talk that has many Canadians apathetic to stories like this. People who are way more in the know than I (Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister and President Barak Obama) both issued statements condemning the death penalty for this man’s apostasy; obviously the apostasy story circulated amongst the higher echelons prior to the rape charge or else both governments would not have spoken out about this. In this light the recent rape twist seems to suggest that Iran is attempting to justify actions they have already determined they will do; they are going to kill the man, they just need to find a way to justify this to the rest of the civilized world.

I am sure there will be more developments to this story as the week unfolds. There is supposed to be a final verdict on the appeal this week and so we can all stay tuned for that and see what else might emerge from the woodwork of this fiasco!

p.s. CBC and CTV have still not acknowledged that this is actually taking place…

Rachel wins Big Brother 13!

So what do you think about that? The biggest target, the biggest mouth (at least for the first half of the summer) and the biggest fighter…I guess? Just a few days ago Rachel was award the top $500,000 prize in Big Brother 13.

Rachel’s Big Brother career has not always been stellar; she left the previous season she was on as one of the biggest villains.  No doubt that was why she was brought back on this season…ratings sure would benefit from it. It seemed from the beginning that her game play would be the same this year. She would be loud, obnoxious, a sore looser, catty, spiteful…and a whole list of other adjectives you would not want to be called. Its not that she didn’t realize who she was…she was told! She even commented through tears that all of America hated her and she found it tough to get a job after the last season.

I must admit that for the first half of the summer there was no part of me that did not want to see Rachel get kicked out of the Big Brother house. However, as the summer progressed (somewhere in mid August) I found myself actually changing my feelings towards Rachel. Or wait…was it me that changed or was it Rachel that changed?

I think after her fiancé Brendan was evicted for the second time (hahaha) Rachel realized that she had to make some changes. I think that process of change became complete when Jeff left the house; Rachel and Jordon now had something in common…and a lot more about Jordon started to rub off onto Rachel.

It seems that half way through the season Rachel stopped being all about her and actually started to play a more social game. It even appeared genuine…I think she actually started to care about the other people in the house. She also stopped trying to backstab the people closest to her. If I had to hear her make plans to backdoor Jeff and Jordon one more time I may have had a meltdown. In fact, the new Rachel even stopped mouthing off all the time…AND, she attempted to calm down Jordon when she had her very uncharacteristic blow up at Shelly. May I quote what I said as I watched that play out: “You know its gotten bad when RACHEL is the one attempting to calm someone down and bring peace to the house!”.

In short, Rachel changed. For the better. There are many lessons we can learn from Rachel and the way that she played Big Brother this season. In Rachel’s words, she was either HOH, on the block or winning the veto each week…there was no floating for Rachel.

Rachel, you fought hard and maybe even learned some life lessons in the process. Great job! Keep up the good work!

Somehow I don’t think this is the last we will hear of Rachel and Brendan…

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)

Teach For Canada: An Update

Many of you will remember a post from a few months ago where I highlighted a Canadian charity that my brother (Kyle Hill) and a colleague were attempting to found: Teach For Canada. The aim of this organization was to eliminate the education disparity experienced within Canadian cities versus rural areas (especially northern areas). I have noticed that there has been a renewed interest in this post recently and so I though it wise to provide an update.

At the time of my initial post there was an active application for a Pepsi grant of $100,000 to assist in the establishment of this organization. Unfortunately… Continue reading

As I promised, here is part two. If you missed part one you can locate on my blog site.

Lets begin with a fairly easy question: do Christian groups still require women on their monthly period to be ‘unclean’ for a period of seven days as was once required by Jewish law and recorded in Leviticus 15:19? Easy answer: NO. Why is this?

Although we are not bound by the sacrificial system found in the Old Testament as a method of dealing with our sinfulness this does not render the Old Testament irrelevant to Christians; it is an error to reject the Old Testament completely. Regulations similar to what is found in Leviticus 15:19 were just as much about teaching Israel about person hygiene as they were a theological ideal. Instructions regarding rashes, discharges and other aspects of personal health were discussed in the Mosaic Law for the safety of Israel and as a demonstration to the other nations that Israel was distinctly different in their actions as a result of their covenant with God Almighty. Remember, the whole mission of Israel was that through their blessings and unique way of life all the world would find salvation.

Our culture has changed significantly since the time of Israel; we have a more fixed society (as opposed to a nomadic and travelling society) that has many social structures in place that help us to maintain our personal health and hygiene. We also understand many aspects of our own bodies in new and more complete ways; this allows us to react differently to changes in our body. Therefore, we understand the specific details of passages like Leviticus 15:19 to be culturally and contextually bound and certainly not fixed ritual law that must be carried forth today in order to appease God. Nevertheless, the principle of taking good care of the body God has given us remains.

I wonder if Muslim thinkers would be open to this sort of interpretation of such aspects of Sharia Law and/or the Qur’an?

I do not have so much of a problem with the ritual prayer that is taking place in the Toronto school as I do with the implicit gender segregation and inequality that accompanies this. Our society has an understanding of gender equality similar to the Apostle Paul when he says in Galatians 3:28, “[t]here is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. Nevertheless it seems that Muslims and sometimes Christians too hold onto contextually bound passages as if they are central to the message of God.

Why must such passages be interpreted as God ordained and essential to our faith? I affirm 1 Timothy 3:16 in that all Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, correcting and so on; however, I think we need to dig a little deeper than surface before we hang out hats on a particular passage of Scripture and making it essential to our faith. If Paul really meant in 1 Corinthians 14:34 that women were never to speak in church and always had to be silent, why then would he also to the same church and in the same letter instruct women to wear a head covering when they prophecy (1 Corinthians 11)? Now we have a conundrum: should women always be silent in church or are they permitted to prophecy? Much of our understanding of gender and faith is subject to this same conundrum.

This is by no means a complete theology of gender; rather, it only scratches the surface and raises the questions in our mind that need to be answered. We can question the practice of segregating menstruating girls in a Muslim prayer gathering but we must also question our own Christian practices of segregation and inequality. This may prove to be far more difficult of a question.

Here’s to the continuing conversation! I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

This will be somewhat of a different post as I relate to you some thoughts going through my mind that are not about exclusively about youth ministry or popular media; however, I am sure that many of you will find this discussion interesting.

First of all, let me unpack what the somewhat provocative title says. Sharia (literally meaning the ‘way’ or the ‘path’) is a code of conduct or religious law that provides Muslims with practical guidelines for behavior in a variety of circumstances. Much of Sharia Law is derived from the teachings of the Qur’an and also from the example set by the Prophet Muhammad. In a Christian sense we can understand Sharia Law as if it were a merger of Christian religious tradition though he years and Scriptural principles into one single document. Sharia Law covers a variety of aspects of life including religious practices but also matters of finances and so on.

The school where this law is in effect is Valley Park Middle School located within the city of Toronto. This school allegedly has a significant proportion of Muslim students (to be expected in the world’s most diverse city) and thus the school accommodates a required 30-minute prayer time for Muslim students each afternoon between the months of November and March.

Here is the aspect of Sharia Law that is causing question: at these prayer times the boys must sit in the front, the girls must sit behind them, and ‘unclean’ girls (those who are menstruating) must sit at the very back and are not permitted to participate in compliance with Sharia Law. The photo included with this post demonstrates just this and is attributed to John Goddard of the Toronto Star.  The question emerges then, is this somewhat archaic expression of segregation legal within Canada today? Is this example of segregation proper for our Public School System?

One blogger is outraged by this imposition of Sharia Law and states that while this has been going on each Friday in Canada’s largest city, “…over 150 Canadian soldiers died in Afghanistan to…fight for the rights and dignity of young Muslim women like these”.

So what do we do about this? Is it just the segregation that should cause question or is the whole thing troubling? What about human equality and gender rights within our culture? Should religious groups be permitted to breech certain societal regulations for the sake of their traditions?

We have to remember that our Christian Old Testament states that women on their monthly period will be impure for seven days and anything that touches them will remain unclean until evening (Leviticus 15:19). We obviously do not adhere to this way of living as the early Jewish folks did; is there something here we can help Muslims to better understand?

Stay tuned for part two scheduled for release tomorrow afternoon as I continue to wrestle through some of this and let you know what I have found. In the meantime, leave a comment to let me know what you think.

The full news article on this event can be found here.

Big Brother followers everywhere are likely cringing after last evening’s episode, which featured houseguest Rachel…pulling a Rachel. When she was first in the house last season I think that most people would suggest that her biggest downfall was her mouth. If you remember near the end of last season when Pandora’s box was opened they repercussion on the house was that something awful would be released for 24 hours; that something that Rachel reentering the house for 24 hours.

As the episode unfolded last we learned that Brendan and Rachel were selected to compete in the Veto Competition. Unfortunately during the competition Jordan (the current Head of Household) was eliminated first; she had the option of remaining eliminated or she could get a second chance if she committed to two weeks of eating nothing but slop. Jordon did not take the slop challenge and remained eliminated – this did not sit well with Rachel. For the remainder of the competition she made snide remarks about Jordon not competing, the foolishness of continuing to compete if Jordon was not competing and other such remarks. Jeff (Jordon’s girlfriend) had all he could do to contain himself during the competition but certainly let Rachel have it after the competition was over.

It’s a shame that Rachel cannot even keep stay in the good books with her own alliance. I feel for Brendan who has to play the game as Rachel’s finance; if she keeps opening her big mouth it puts his game in jeopardy too.

Even though Rachel offered a forced apology to Jordon, I think Jordon’ faithfulness to their alliance (demonstrated through NOT putting Brendan and Rachel on the block even though it would have been a better move than putting Cassi and Shelly) may have Rachel reconsidering her emotional and bitter behavior. I guess time will tell…

Here is some wisdom for Rachel: “The mouths of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating.” (Prov. 18:6). The fact that she is a girl might protect Rachel from getting a beating from the guys…but I would hold your tongue around Cassi, Rachel!

Lets all learn from Rachel this week and wisely use the words we share with each other!

Tuesday night was our weekly Emergency Ministries event in Essex and this week we decided to carpool to Silver City to catch some movies together. I must give credit for this idea to Michael Sheppart, one of our recent High School graduates. He commented once that all the movies we can rent and show in house are so old no one cares anymore or they are “garbage” (his word). So, in order to watch something current and something is not “garbage” we have carpooled to Silver City the past two years.

The guys (and a few brave girls) went to see Transformers. It was a busy night; we had to sit in the front row and I am not lying when I say that I am on my second extra strength Tylenol fighting the headache I got from looking up at the screen for two and a half hours. By the way…the movie would have been just as good (for me anyways) if they had cut out about 30 minutes of ‘bang bang BOOM’ at the end. I might not even have a headache if they had done that!

Aside from being a little longer than necessary at the end, I did find the plot and the storyline quite entertaining. Two positive messages emerged from the movie and are worth remembering.

1. Everyone wants their life to make a difference.
Sam really wanted to make a difference with his life. Early in the movie he sat through many job interviews and was ultimately offered a job in a mailroom; not the job a recent college graduate wanted to get. Sam’s new boss had some wise words when Sam initially rejected the job. He said, “What you want Sam is the job after this job”. The moral of this story, if you are faithful with the little things you will be faithful with the big things. If you are unfaithful or slothful with the little things, you will also be unfaithful or slothful with the big things. (I’ve read that somewhere before….hmmmm) Sam eventually got to have his big moment of significance later in the movie!

2. If you make a deal with the devil you will get burned…every time!
It was a mistake on the part of Sentinel Prime and the human race to think that they could make a deal with the Decepticons. (I can hardly believe I am having a serious conversation about Decepticons  and Autobots) No matter how alluring, how tempting, or how much of a good idea it seemed, the Decepticons showed their true colors when in the end they attempted to destroy the very people (and robots) that they made an initial agreement with. Wrong is wrong and bad is bad not matter how good it might look for a moment in time. Remember that!

All in all it was a great night. I got to know H.G. a little better and quite honestly she needs to have a reality TV show based on her life. I told her I’d give a shout out to her crazy one-liners in my blog today and so here it is. If you don’t know her yet I challenge you to have just one conversation with her and they you’ll see what I mean!

The girls (and a few brave guys) went to see Zookeeper last night and you can read my wife’s review of that movie on her blog at

After my last post regarding Bachelor Brad & Emily I had a very interesting conversation with my wife that I thought might be great to share here. As you will remember if you have read my last post or seen the July 11th interview with Emily Maynard, the details concerning Brad and Emily’s break up are somewhat ambiguous. What is certain, however, is that the contact harassment of the media and paparazzi did not help their relationship.

I asked for your thoughts about this and my wife had an interesting comment: perhaps this interview was a publicity stunt meant to divert the media and paparazzi attention so that Brad and Emily could continue to work on their relationship outside of the public eye? This may explain the ambiguity in Emily’s interview.

Whatever the case, I comment the couple for striving to work on their relationship, I commend Emily for refusing to move too fast (i.e. move in with Brad right away) and I commend the bravery it takes to live life with constant harassment by the media (something most of us have no concept of).

Hopefully Brad and Emily will both find happiness once the attention shifts to Ashley Hebert and her pending engagement to one of the three remaining guys!