Neoblogs: A New Home

We are currently in the midst of recreating our blogosphere in hopes to bring back the many neobloggers in the fellowship.

  • New additions include now a base site that displays all the most recent posts from current authors.
  • Linked sites for better navigation
  • Updated user functionality for both readers and authors

If you would like to start your own blog or migrate your existing blog back to our new home feel free to contact me at interns@neoxenos.org

Current users may also contact me for support with updating themes and looks for their blog site.

To access you blog site just click you name listed on the site to take you to your blog page, then just click the login link on the side!

UPDATE!!!!

As those of you who have blog sites may have noticed, you should have received an email to set up a new password. This was cause by a transition in our database to make future endeavors much simpler. If you have ANY issues logging in please contact me.

As far as linking social media with your blogs, we will be using Jetpack, you can find this on your dashboard. To do this follow these steps:

1) Log into WordPress and go to your dashboard
2) Towards the top left-hand side click on the “Jetpack” tab
3) It should go to a screen with a giant banner saying to log in with your wordpress.com credentials, along with 6 bubbles of options below it. Click on the giant banner to login and create a new user for yourself (its really easy)
4) After this go back to the previous page and click on the “Sharing” bubble.
5) Once there drag in the social media forms you would like, i.e. twitter or facebook. Make sure you are logged into those accounts. Then simply click the connect button.
6) Before you save at the bottom make sure to change the “Button Style” to “Official Buttons” and then on the “Show Buttons On” section, click the “Posts” tab.
7) Then save and it may take a few minutes to show on your blog, as always if you have any issues, shoot me an email (interns@neoxenos.org)

Waiting for Superman…or Any Man Really. (A Review of The Men We Need by Brant Hansen)

A week ago my wife was attacked by a dog. I was in the kitchen cooking dinner when Jeri pulled up and started walking to our front door, suddenly a dog came chasing after her and took a good sized bite out of her leg. I just remember hearing her start to scream for help, and suddenly I was not in front of the stove anymore, I was outside pulling my wife away from an enraged pit-bull. She is ok by the way, she’s healing well and no long term harm done (though I’d imagine getting a dog anytime soon is off the table). Picture this though, what if I had not come outside? What if when I heard and saw her getting attacked I turned on the tv, cracked open a cold one, and put my feet up? I’d imagine a few things would happen.

  1. Jeri could have been hurt even more badly.
  2. There would be lots of blood on our carpet and most of it would be mine

I use this example because obviously I would not be so passive to sit by and watch the woman I love get mauled by a dog. No one would, right? Yet men today are more likely than not to sit back and passively watch obvious needs go by unmet, not stepping into the responsibilities we were created to take on. When we as men refuse to accept these responsibilities we are causing immense damage to those we love.

This is a major topic addressed in Brant Hansens new book The Men We Need

“A passive man becomes useless to those around him. What’s more—and this may seem counterintuitive—a passive man is a threat to the woman in his life. A man’s passivity makes a woman feel less secure, because she will intuit that he may not be up to the job of defending her or their home.” (Hansen 28)

As Hansen says, todays passivity of men is a huge issue. God has gifted men with a specific and crucial role, as Hansen calls it we are meant to be “Keepers of the Garden”. He is a poetic guy and I like how he puts it, but basically it means we as men are meant to be protectors and guards of the people around us. A passive husband leaves his wife feeling unsecure. He will shy away from responsibility and when a need arises he waits for others to solve it instead of taking the on burden himself.

Hansen makes it clear that true masculinity comes from taking responsibility. On the rare occasion I decide to do the dishes for Jeri I am met with overwhelming gratitude. She feels loved that I took on the responsibility. This is the idea that Hansen discusses in his book. I agree with this idea mostly because I have experienced this in my own life. Yesterday for example I put together my new griddle, it had roughly 586,094 parts and took me over 900 hours to complete. Ok fine maybe it only took two hours but it did have that many parts…give or take. Anyway when it was done and I had it seasoned and ready to cook I felt extremely masculine, I mean I only cried for three minutes after burning my thumb. I took responsibility to put together my nice new griddle, made dinner for some friends and my wife. Its fun being a man.

For the rest of the book Hansen deep dwells into six decisions we can make that will set us apart from other men.

  1. Forsake the Fake and Relish the Real
  2. Protect the Vulnerable
  3. Be Ambitious about the Right things
  4. Make Women and Children Feel Safe and Not Threatened
  5. Choose Today Who You Will be Tomorrow
  6. Take Responsibility for your own Spiritual Life

Overall I really liked the direction he took, and how he laid out the biblical view of what it is to be a man and then offered some practical decisions we can make in our life to be the man we need to be.

One of his major ideas of the book is that the world around us has a desperate need for men in it. Hansen uses a metaphorical guy named Jake to make this point.

“Jake is actually harming himself and others, by not being who he was created to be. The world needs Jake. There are real humans outside his window who will suffer because he isn’t who we need him to be. There are real humans outside your window who will suffer because you aren’t who we need you to be.” (Hansen 25)

For Christians this idea is 100% true, we are called to love those around us (John 13:34) which means if we are not taking responsibility in our lives we are not loving anyone. The non-Christian however could push back against this idea that we have some obligation to help the world, by being a contributor.

“I do not owe the world anything, I owe it to myself to be as comfortable and happy as possible”

While this notion may seem like a recipe for a happy life, Hansen does a good job offering counter evidence on why this way of living actually leads to depression and an unfilled life.

While this book has a message that I believe is important for men across the country I think he presents the best case to the Christian man. Jesus was a doer, he worked at a carpenter, was always willing to heal those he met who were in need. He took responsibility for other peoples issues, and we should as well. A Christian with an attitude of “its not my problem” does not live out the “Christ” part of Christian.

Overall, Brant Hansen’s The Men We Need tackles a problem our nation is turning a blind eye to, the lack of men willing to be who they are created to be. He boldly proclaims the biblical view of what it looks like to be a man, you do not need to be super strong, super outdoorsy, or superman. We need a willing heart and can choose to take on the responsibility God has blessed us with. I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in what God says on the topic of masculinity, it is not toxic or hateful to want to be masculine, God has the real inside track to what masculinity looks like, and wants to share it with us. Women this book could be helpful too, you can help your friends and husband be the man he wants to be. I hope men who read this take it heart, take a hard look at themselves and pursue being the man God created you to be, because like Brant Says “Jake, we need you”.

Selling Selfishness

This week has been another week of sickness for us. Well, Jay & I. Somehow Zak has the immune system of steel. It’s been a lot of sickness this year. I have my own unfounded theories as to why we’ve been so sick so much this year, but ultimately I do not know why & it’s lead to many “WHY GOD? WHY AGAIN?!”moments. Not my finest. We’ve been lucky to still somehow avoid Covid & not have anything too bad. Just long & annoying. I hate being stuck inside with no energy for my snotty, cranky toddler who just wants to escape his sickness with lots of attention & fun. And I’m over here running on empty. 

How I’ve handled it has been pretty OK – until the last bout. I’ve felt I’ve been able to function through each month’s sickness (yes, we’ve been sick at least a week every month of 2022) with the mindset: this will pass. But this last one coming just a week or so after the last cold – at my wit’s end. I coped by binging a TV show. 

That show was “Selling Sunset” on Netflix. If you haven’t seen it, I’d HIGHLY NOT recommend it. There are plenty of other good TV shows, such as “The Last Kingdom.” (Side note: this one is SO GOOD that it lead me to start the TWELVE book series & I am completely fascinated & immersed. I love the obvious & underlying themes of religion & hypocrisy & faith & love all in the context of history & battle scenes.) 

Anyway, back to Selling Selfish – I mean, Sunset. The setting is Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. It’s a reality TV show that follows a group of realtors working for the same group. They sell very high end homes & also have a staff that looks like they walked out of the Playboy mansion (which, one or two of them did to work there…) 

The show really isn’t about real estate. I mean, it is, but what propels it is the drama of the relationships between the women realtors. You can totally tell these ladies were hired for the show to start drama & they MUST be directed to start drama whenever possible because the amount of stupid, mundane conflict that happens is so utterly brainless… it’s hard to believe. 

What really had me hooked was watching how these women tried to justify themselves. They’d talk about someone behind their back & then when the other person found out, they have to make up a false reason they said it or spin it or put the other person in a bad light to make themselves look better. All they say to each other is, “if you could just own what you said & apologize, we’d be fine!” But NOBODY CAN EVER DO THAT! Literally! And when they do “apologize” it’s so fake & “I’m sorry you feel that way” (which isn’t a real apology.) 

It made me think, not deeply, because that’s impossible with this show, but about how that can be me… That is how I function when I’m not under grace. I have the inability to admit that I’m wrong, I have to continually justify myself & make enemies with anyone who took any issue with me. That is exactly a good picture of what it looks like not living under grace. Which does suck. It leads to alienation, pride, insanity & fear. So, as much as I judge the ladies of Selling Sunset, I judge myself. I am like that, but a lot less cosmetic. 

Grace isn’t like that. Grace allows you to admit freely that I messed up, I’m sorry. And it allows you to forgive without grudging or dominating. I forgive you, I won’t hold this against you, let’s be friends. Even if you did really do something messed up, I’ve been forgiven of so much, of course we can work through this. 

But that’s just it: I’m not great at living in grace. My pride is too strong. I love being right. I hate being wronged. I think I deserve everything I want & more, to be treated exactly how I want. It takes every effort of mine to release control & to trust God. 

One of my greatest hopes is that the older I get the quicker I am to apologize. I don’t think that’s happening, but I pray for it all of the time. I don’t want to live under my laws or my standards nor do I want to hold my friends to that height, either. It’s impossible, destructive & DRAMA. Which reminds me of what Jesus said: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Peace is the opposite of drama, ain’t it? How wonderful grace leads to peace – internally & with my relationships. 

The Marvelous Progression of Film

DISCLAIMER: This post does not really have a point, its just a bunch of my organized thoughts on movies. Please feel free to read and comment if you agree or disagree. I love movie conversations. Enjoy!

I love movies. Now I am no great critic, honestly my opinion of films often revolve around one simple criteria; did I enjoy it? Did I feel like I got my moneys worth? Did I walk out of the theater thinking that I had not just wasted two hours of my life? If a film answers those questions positively than I feel satisfied. Now this does not mean I’m willing to die on that hill that a movie I liked is a piece of cinematic gold. For example, recently I watched the movie Uncharted at home, a movie based on a video game about a treasure hunter looking for lost treasure. The movie was less than two hours, and I love treasure hunt films. I would rate that movie 6/10 very middle of the pack, but worth my time. Some people, have this idea that if a movie is not a gold standard for film, then no one has any business watching it. As if watching an “ok” movie is a tragedy, an unforgivable act, an open declaration of war against the upper echelon of cinema. I never understood that attitude, but my point is there are movies I enjoy that I never talk about with people, and movies I love that I can talk about for hours. All this to say you are allowed to enjoy a shitty movie.

My issue with film today though is the absolute drought of movies with original thought. Almost every movie made nowadays is either.

1.Sequel/Prequel
2.Reboot
3.Based on a book/videogame/board game/etc
4.Disney
5.Horror

Very few original films get made in todays day and age. But this does not mean they cannot be original or well done some are pretty phenomenal. Knives Out for example was a fresh take on an old formula (murder mystery) and is was one of my top three films that year. My issue is everything feels so stale and formulaic when we do not get any original ideas for a while. Horror movies are dished out as quickly as the fajitas at a Mexican restaurant, and never really have a plot, just jump scares or really disturbing scenes to try to traumatize you. To be fair I am not a horror movie fan though so for you horror heads you are allowed to enjoy your scare fests. I appreciate the genre, and Scream is one of my favorite movies of all time so I think there is some value in horror films. They just also have fallen into the same old routine in my opinion.

Then comes the giant planet sucking monster known as Disney. I love Disney, can’t lie, I am a sucker for a wholesome animated comedy with a lot of heart. Unfortunately, even they have gotten so bland for me recently. Inside Out, Coco and Moana were some of the last Disney/Pixar films I really enjoyed, Everything since I just have not been impressed with. I know many people might read that and give me shit saying “Zeb they have always been a corporate machine that makes cheesy movies to make a buck, its not new” and yeah I get that corporations are evil, Mark Zuckerberg’s a lizard man, the moon doesn’t exist blah blah blah. All movie studios make films to make money, all grocery stores sell groceries to make money, you go to work to MAKE MONEY everyone wants to make as much money as possible. That’s life. That doesn’t mean you don’t care about the product, there is a level of pride in what we create.

I just personally feel the quality of Disney films have gone down, but not necessarily everything Disney owns have reduced in quality. This leads me of course to Marvel. In my opinion the Infinity Saga is a testament to the finest movie franchise ever created. Not all the movies were perfect, but they had heart, built characters I really cared about, and did an amazing job bringing together a decades worth of cinema. Endgame planted itself firmly as one of my favorite movies of all time. I can agree infinity war was probably the better of the two film wise, but Endgame just hit all the right notes for me, closing the saga perfectly and its a time travel movie, my favorite movie plot line ever (Back to the Future remains my favorite movie of all time).

I admit after Endgame I was concerned with the future of Marvel movies because I just do not know how they can top it. I still am not as invested as I was with the infinity saga, but I decided to stick with it for now. My main concern lies in the multiple tv shows and new heroes they are bringing in. Wandavision, Loki, and Moon Knight were excellent. Hawkeye was ok, and I was just plain bored with Falcon and the Winter Soldier. I have never loved Bucky as a character. I am just worried there will soon be so much content to enjoy that the whole experience will become like a chore. So far the only quality Marvel film since Endgame has been Spiderman: No Way Home. Shang-Chi was decent, but sort of forgettable. Spiderman though brought back that excitement I had for Avengers Films and did not disappoint.

Tonight I am going to see Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, I have high hopes for it, its another one I have been excited to see, but not Spiderman level excitement. I may blog about Doctor Strange 2 after people have time to see it. Anyway, I just hope that Marvel can keep things fresh and keep me engaged in wanting to follow along with it. I think some people are tired of superhero films and I can understand that, I am sick of them other than Marvel, maybe I will get there one day but have not yet.

Anyway to close out my thoughts here, I hope we start getting some more original movies soon. Do not let someone else ruin a movie you enjoy for you, its ok to like “bad” movies. Feel free to tell me some of your thoughts on movies now days, what you like what you dislike. I hope to start blogging more about topics other than just spiritual things so I can get into the habit, so be on the lookout for me blogs as conversation starters. Thanks for reading!