Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Book Review: Buried Alive by Roy Hallums

What would you do if you were held captive for 311 days? What if your captors placed a hood over your head so that almost the entire ordeal was spent in nearly complete darkness? What if you were placed in a small underground holding cell that was cemented shut for days on end?

Roy Hallums, unfortunately, knows the answers to those questions. In Buried Alive, Hallums recalls the 311 days he was held hostage in Iraq. He recalls being moved from place to place, keeping track of the days by listening for the morning and evening prayers, and the physical, mental, and emotional trauma of his captivity.

The first thing that stands out when reading this book is how quickly it jumps into the action. So many other stories like this would include several chapters leading up to the kidnapping, but the reader knows something big is coming when the first line of the book reads "The traitor's name was Majid." Through the course of the kidnapping and captivity, the reader learns about how Hallum's family in the United States dealt with the news of his capture, and the reader also learns a little bit about how the United States military and intelligence agencies deal with these types of situations.

"Entertaining" is not a good word to describe a book like this, but it did keep me turning the pages late into the night a few times. The pacing of the story helps to break up the emotionally difficult portions of Hallums ordeal by changing focus from Roy to his family every few chapters. The writing is not complicated, but I felt like this helped the story move as if Roy Hallums was telling his story in person.

Buried Alive will gives the reader a cursory understanding of the hostage-taking business in Iraq and illustrate some of the cultural differences between Iraq and America. One should not expect anything too profound relating to these topics as that is not the focus of the book, but it does help the reader to better understand the situation Roy Hallums faces during his captivity.

Although Thomas Nelson published this book, I did not notice any overt spiritual component to the story. Other readers may find this frustrating, however I found this surprisingly refreshing because the story is powerful enough on its own.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Clothing Optional Church

I have long defended various approaches to ministry. Maybe I'm a prude, but I don't think I can defend this one.

Unfortunate quote: "I'll put our chapel up against just about any other church around."

Umm.... please don't.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What Can OK Go's New Music Video Teach Your Church?

OK Go, of treadmill fame, released their newest music video three days ago on YouTube and already has 2.5 million views. (That's almost 35,000 views per hour!) If you haven't seen it yet, here's the video.

Behind this incredible Rube Goldberg Machine lies a considerable amount of creativity, planning, and hard work. To understand just how much work went into it, check out this video of Adam Sadowsky, president of Syyn Labs in which he explains the process. (There is a slight profanity warning.)

I see three lessons for anyone

1. Find the Experts

The band knows music and they know how to be creative, but in this case the sought the experts. A lot of churches try to do everything in-house. I understand the cost-saving benefit of this, but sometimes some outside assistance can mean the difference between pretty good and jaw-droppingly amazing.  

2. Make No Small Plans

A building at my alma mater, The University of Texas at Arlington, had a phrase inlaid into the main exterior wall that read "Make no small plans." Look at the list of requirements the band gave to Andy. They wanted a minutely timed machine that was massive in scale. Challenge the barriers of what is considered possible.Does your church have the same schedule every Sunday? Do you do the same events year in and year out? Shake things up and make no small plans!

3. Plan, Plan, Plan, Adapt

The saying is "Every general has a plan until the first shot." The creation of a complex machine like we see in the video requires months of planning. They began planning the video in August and completed the project in January. And even with all that planning there were still times they had to adapt the plan to make the machine work.  Some churches have trouble with the planning phase; others have trouble adapting their beautiful plans. Both should be remedied. 

4. Nothing Trumps Hard Work
Shooting the video took twenty 18-hour days to complete. 

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