A Hero’s Legend: An evening with the Music of Hyrule

Posted on by Aaron in Music, Video Games | 1 Comment

The year was 1986, and I was only four years old.  I wouldn’t know of it’s existence for a few more years, but that’s the year the “golden cartridge” known as The Legend of Zelda appeared on the 8-bit video game scene dominated by the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and changed things, forever. That golden cartridge gave us Link, the Hero of the Land of Hyrule, destined to confront and defeat Ganon, the Dark One with an iron grip on the land, Princess Zelda in his dungeon, and the power of the Triforce in the balance.  But it was only the beginning, as this legend has spawned numerous video games, music, apparel, philosophy book, and even a short lived cartoon.    While in many ways  built on what had come before, such as Dungeons and Dragons on the Mattel Intellevision; a game I have fond memories of playing with my Dad, Zelda took things to a whole new level.  The golden cartridge has left a hero’s legacy that is far from over, with the new Nintendo Wii U releasing later this year

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The Reborne: The Lake Ann Camp 2012 Rangers, Alpha Company, Part 2

Posted on by Aaron in Star Wars | 2 Comments

After two weeks of being back in Washington, DC, I am still processing much of what happened during Reborne Rangers 2012 Alpha at Lake Ann Camp.  It’s a challenge to be back in the concrete jungle after a week like Reborne Rangers; safely planted, for a time, in a place where God’s presence clearly is and things are happening.  To enter back into such an environment of uncertainty is difficult; to leave the safety and rejuvenating effect of “family” is something I did not want to do.

Reborne Rangers is a program that builds, and doesn’t stop building.  Not only does it help mold, craft, and build young leaders; the program builds on itself as the week progresses and Wednesday was clearly a “building day”.  I was thankful that I wasn’t the only “Alpha Ranger” that the current recruits heard from, as Sarah Anderson was also at Lake Ann that week.  Her journey is powerful and genuine, illustrating the Lord’s desire to pursue someone and enable the one pursued to be used for great things as she and her husband Tyler prepare to go India to do mission work; as Sarah told the Rangers – “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies those He calls”.  (As an aside, having both Sarah and Tyler visit me in Washington this week was a great blessing; a little bit of Lake Ann on the road as I took them though the Capitol Building and talked about the spiritual heritage of our nation and the leadership that came out of that heritage for so many years.)  After hearing from Sarah, the Rangers heard from Ken Rudolph, my mentor and teacher of 15 years.  Ken took the Rangers though how to use a Strong’s concordance to look up the roots and definitions of various terms in the Scriptures as to equip them to be able to craft their own devotionals, sermons, and Bible studies.  I had a flashback or two of learning that skill alongside Sarah and the others in the first Rangers group years ago, a skill that I never quite honed to the point I could (or should have).  Ken also instructed them in his own methods of building a sermon and how all of that is structured; an inside view of the preparation he does consistently to be able to reach into the lives of students five nights a week, eight weeks a year at Lake Ann Camp.  As Reborne Rangers is a program that builds upon itself, these skills are not imparted for the sake of the skills alone; the Rangers then had to use what they had been taught to construct their own thoughts on a passage in the Word and present it later that evening after they spent the afternoon studying, researching, and writing on the beach of Lake Michigan.

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The Reborne: The Lake Ann Camp 2012 Rangers, Alpha Company, Part 1

Posted on by Aaron in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Seven days ago I boarded a plane to return to the concrete jungle of Washington, DC after spending a week ensconced within the borders one of the greatest place on Earth:  Lake Ann Camp.  It’s impossible to quantify the extent of the effect this place has had on just MY life and development over the last fifteen years; there has never been any doubt that things are still happening there and lives are continuing to be  transformed.  My return came after a five-year hiatus and it’s catalyst was none other than Ken Rudolph, the man who has been ministering to high school students at Lake Ann for many years.  When I returned to Washington, DC in 2007 after a week of counseling at Lake Ann I faced a hard reality: I couldn’t continue to return for a week every summer because my body couldn’t handle such a level of continual exertion.  That realized, I had little choice but to take the storybook that was “Aaron and Lake Ann” and put it on a shelf until such a time it could be opened again.  On June 19, 2012, the book came off the shelf.

That day, I received a message from Ken asking me to come to Lake Ann Camp to speak to a special group of high school students known as the Reborne Rangers; to share my journey with them, in part because I was one of the first to go through the Reborne Ranger program when I was in high school.  The Reborne Ranger program at Lake Ann is  an invitation-only leadership experience that pushes individuals far out of their comfort zone and challenges then to make a difference in their world by drawing out of them the leader within and allowing them to hear from leaders in the military, business, and faith spheres.  I don’t think I’ve scrambled so fast to make travel arrangements like I did to be there, as I had about a week and a half to figure it all out before I actually had to be on site.     Right from the start, so many things came together in just the right way to ensure I could be away from Capitol Hill for awhile; it was as if I was supposed to be there (and I had no idea at the time how correct such a thought was); however, the path was not without a travel hiccup or two.

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Life Imitating Art: A “real-life episode” of TOUCH

Posted on by Aaron in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

On Wednesday evening of this week, I missed a fight for the first time.  In almost thirty years of flying I have never missed a flight.  I was to catch a flight from Ronald Regan Airport to Detroit Metro to spend time in Michigan, a well-worn routine.  While this summer flight to Michigan generally happens in August, part of the reasoning for an early trip was needing to get to Lake Ann  Camp next week to speak to the Alpha week of Reborn Rangers 2012, a special leadership program that has run each summer since 1999; the other reason, because my family was already planning on being at the Watchtower in the Upper Peninsula (the lake house in the middle of nowhere) and extra travel on their part to retrieve me wasn’t going to happen on my account.  In preparation for this  flight, I made sure to do two things: (1) to book a cab ahead of time, and (2) check with the TSA to make sure that I was allowed to pack a toy lightsaber into my carry-on bag for use at Lake Ann Camp later on.  I checked with the TSA and booked the cab; that cab never arrived. The company tried to track it down, never did, and sent another cab.  This second cab whisked me away to the airport, but to no avail; TSA security took their time making me wait for a special screening – since I can’t go through detectors – and did nothing when I clearly heard my name being called for this flight to Michigan, which happened to be the last flight to Michigan for the night.  Rushing to the gate was an exercise in futility as I realized the door was closed and the plane moments from pulling away.

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The Terminator and The Apostle

Posted on by Aaron in Comic Books/Superheroes | Leave a comment

I think that destiny and revelation have common denominators.  Not only do both posses a massive feeling of “otherness” or “beyondness” to them, but I think the two are both often inconvenient; neither, as Optimus Prime said, “calls upon us at a moment of our choosing.”  Rather, they present themselves in the midst of moments wherein nothing can be done about them “right then” and, as such, things must wait and risk the moment fading away.  Recently, I had a moment like this and only now record it, willing it to stay within the foreground of my memory.

When considering instances of destiny in modern American culture, few are more poignant than the tale of John Connor in the Terminator films.  The story of a young boy possessing the knowledge of not only what he will become, but what must happen to the world in order for him to become it; always racing against time to prevent it and stave off disaster.  It is within this story that recent revelation arose.

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Living Action Figures: Life as a worn out superhero toy

Posted on by Aaron in Comic Books/Superheroes, Star Trek, Star Wars | 1 Comment

I’ve been thinking some about action figures lately.  When you’re young you don’t think past tearing the miniature plastic superhero or villain off the card and using the figures to re-enact your favorite scenes from a show or movie.  I did this a lot with Batman figures such as the Caped Crusader, Robin, The Joker, Riddler, Mr. Freeze, and even the Joker’s henchman Bob – alongside the Joker Van, all the Bat-vehicles, and the Batcave playset.  Might as well add to that a collection of Playmate’s Star Trek: The Next Generation action figures too; along with the Enterprise D bridge and Transporter.  When you’re older, all you can think about is how much those plastic toys would be worth if you hadn’t opened them; they’d be collectibles then, not just toys.

The best collectibles are “Mint in Box”; never opened, never played with. Much like my Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire Dash Rendar, or Chewbacca in Bounty Hunter Disguise from 1997.  Or Sheldon Cooper’s Mint in Box 1975 Star Trek Transporter toy with “real transporter action” on Big Bang Theory a few weeks ago (Leonard Nimoy voiced Mr. Spock action figure not included, sadly). Open the box, and the object loses it’s value.

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The Avengers: Worth the Assembly Required

Posted on by Aaron in Comic Books/Superheroes | Leave a comment

In May 2008, movie-goers the world over were introduced to Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man; it changed things forever. Marvel had formed their own movie-making apparatus and had an ambitious plan: release movies about the origins of characters in the Marvel universe (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America) that made up the more recent incarnation of the Avengers, known as “The Ultimates” and release them in a specific order, connecting one to another to build up to something that had never been done: an Avengers team-up film. That film released this weekend and the assembly required was worth it.

Picking up where some of the previous movies ended, Nick Fury and the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division (SHIELD) are in possession of the Tesserac (or Cosmic Cube) last seen at the end very of Thor and in Captain America. SHIELD is running tests on the cube, hoping to turn it into a new energy source for Earth. Unexpectedly, Loki (Thor’s brother and the villain in the Thor) materializes via the Cube, and begins wreaking havoc on SHIELD HQ to steal the Cube and use it to subjugate Earth with some extra-terrestrial assistance. Comprehending the gravity of such a threat, a rouge Asgardian allied with a an army not of Earth or Asgard, Fury assembles the Avengers to defend the Earth. Such a defense is not without difficulty, as personalities and world-views clash spectacularly. Captain America follows orders; Iron Man and Bruce Banner don’t trust Nick Fury and Banner doesn’t trust himself, Black Widow and Hawkeye have personal issues to work through, and Thor is, well, Thor; throwing around muscle and Mjolnir, his hammer, at anyone who looks at him wrong and dialogging as if William Shakespeare were possessing him. It’s not until the team suffers a sobering defeat that they coalesce and, thus inspired, become the teammates that Nick Fury (and the audience) knows they can be (and needs them to be). As always, something awaits those with patience at the end of the credits and the big reveal won’t disappoint those familiar with the Marvel-verse, but may leave the average movie-goer wondering what the big deal is; trust me, it’s huge.

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The Bucket List: 10,000 and TED

Posted on by Aaron in FENX 4.0 | 2 Comments

Sometimes crazy ideas find their way into our minds.  A few days ago I caught one of those.  Last week, I finished leading a small group at National Community Church (NCC) that read through Pastor Mark Batterson‘s The Circle Maker (In full disclosure Mark is the Pastor at NCC).  In our final meeting as a small group, we embarked on an exercise of creating a list of Life Goals; things we’d like to have accomplished by the time our lives come to an end.  Personally I think it’s much wiser to start thinking about this at 29, or even earlier, as opposed to a later time.  In The Circle Maker, Pastor Mark has some pretty interesting life goals: making a movie, speaking at a commencement, and writing a New York Times Bestseller to name a few (which he has done with The Circle Maker).

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The Forbidden Wing: A Potal Into The Past

Posted on by Aaron in Star Wars, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Among the many activities and incidents while in Michigan recently to see my brother get married, one found me at the doors of Annapolis Hospital in Wayne, Michigan.  Fortunately I wasn’t there because of some biological incident or medical malady, but rather to meet some wonderful people who work in a Family Medical Residency program housed within it’s walls.  Specifically, this program trains medical students to become general practitioners of medicine (aka Family Medicine) and those who graduate from this program generally go into undeserved areas of Michigan to provide much needed medical care.  So why might a lowly Capitol Hill staffer be addressing folks in such a program?  Because folks on both sides of the aisle in Congress worked together to preserve that program.  During the meeting, I talked with the faculty and students about how things had transpired and why it was so important to me to be involved in the effort given my own journey and that I was born in that hospital.  As I told them in the meeting:

“When many of you finish with your residency here, you will go out into under-served areas of Michigan and you’ll meet children just like I was, and their parents. Some will be scared, confused, feeling very alone and unable to cope. But they aren’t alone, they have you. In an age of medical science and genetic testing unheard of when I was born, you are there to guide them with your knowledge and expertise when the genetic test says their child will have a certain propensity for disability and the parents think they can’t; you have to fight for that precious life and reassure the parents they can. If you ever wondered “what are the problems, riddles and conundrums in the world that only I am meant to solve?” – you just got your answer, so know that when the training ends and you walk out these doors you have a purpose”

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Native Son: Fragments of the Gospel in the Thudercats Reboot

Posted on by Aaron in Comic Books/Superheroes, Star Wars, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Don’t let your pride get in the way of forgiveness” – Lion-o, Lord of the Thudercats

I have memories of watching the original Thundercats alongside the Silverhawks when I was very young, and when Cartoon Network aired both series together when I was in High School.  Last fall, Cartoon Network launched an updated reboot of the Thundercats which I have grown to enjoy more than the original series, as it is structured as a weekly serial instead of a daily afternoon cartoon, thus allowing for episodes to build one upon another in ways both large and small.

The new show establishes the Thundercats living in peace in the land of Thundera on the planet Third Earth, having long triumphed over their mortal enemies the lizards and the ancient evil known as Mum-Ra, the ever living.  Mistakenly thought to be forever vanquished, Mum-ra returns and lays waste to Thundera, leaving Lion-o and Tygra – the sons of Claudis, Lord of the Thudercats – among the few survivors of the attack.  Joining with General Panthro and Cheetara, the last of the clerics of Thundera, the sons of Claudis set out on a quest to gather the artifacts described in the book of Omens and once again defeat Mum-Ra.

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