Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year In Review: New Year’s, Lord of the Rings, Twilight, Movies, Music, Mayberry, Christmas, & More!!!

I've been busy!

New Year's Content:

2009 New Year's Resolutions of Gospel Artists
Featuring: DecembeRadio, Bob Halligan, Stephen Hinkle, Joanne Cash, Lyrycyst, Carried Away, Beloved, Kevin Levar, Mission Six, After Edmund, and Eliot Sloan (Blessid Union of Souls)
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/28/2008 |

Top Ten Songs for New Year's
Songs from Robert Burns, U2, Barry Manilo, Relient K, Dan Fogelburg, Stacy Orrico, Ella Fitzgerald, Sir Cliff Richards and more
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/6/2008 |

Lord of the Rings Content:

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Complete Recordings
Almost four hours of music on four CDs, containing the full score of the 2003 film, the final edition of the three complete recording releases of the film trilogy whose score earned with three Academy Awards, four Grammy Awards, etc
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/30/2008 |

Nashville Symphony Scores with Lord of the Rings
Led by guest conductor Markus Huber, more than 200 members of the Nashville Symphony and Chorus performed in the Lord of the Rings Symphony at Belmont University's Curb Event Center on November 5, 2005.
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/30/2008 |

Finding God in The Lord of the Rings: A Book Review
A review of the book "Finding God in the Lord of the Rings" by Kurt Bruner & Jim Ware.
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/20/2008 |

A Man Like You
A poem about temptation and the corrupting influence of power inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's Witchking in "The Lord of the Rings"
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/9/2008 |

Music Reviews:

Brendan Soul - a Celtic Companion
A review of Carol Arblaster's Celtic CD, Brendan Soul
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/30/2008 |

The Christmas Collection - Amy Grant
A music review of Any Grant's Christmas project for 2008, "The Christmas Collection" which contains 18 Christmas songs
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/28/2008 |

Movie Reviews:

Ghost Town - Movie Review
Ghost Town, a romantic comedy starring Tea Leoni, Greg Kinnear, and Ricky Gervais just released on DVD and Blu-ray on December 28.
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/31/2008 |

"Eagle Eye" Releases on DVD and Blu-Ray - a Review
The action/thriller "Eagle Eye" releases on DVD and Blu-ray on December 28, 2008, starring Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, and Billy Bob Thornton
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/27/2008 |

Kyle XY, Season II Review
Kyle discovers how he was scientifically created by Adam Bailin and he starts to train his extraordinary abilities. Kyle's link to Jessi XX are also developed and new relationships begin between Kyle and Amanda, Jessi and Declan, and Josh and Andy.
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/26/2008 |

"The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea" Special Edition Review
A review of the sequel to The Little Mermaid as the adventures of Ariel, Eric and their aquatic friends continue in this new Special Edition
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/23/2008 |

The Duchess - a Royal Disappointment
The Duchess, the story of a young noblewoman who marries Britain's most powerful peer and becomes the toast of London, arrives on DVD and Blu-ray December 28th from Paramount Home Entertainment.
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/21/2008 |

Horton Hears a Who Releases on DVD - a Movie Review
A review of the movie "Horton Hears a Who" which just released on DVD and Blu-Ray on December 9
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/21/2008 |

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Collector's Edition DVD - Review
Viewers are invited to return to the magical world of Narnia in the second installment of C.S. Lewis' timeless epic, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/15/2008 |

Twilight at Midnight - a Movie Review
I sink my teeth into the movie "Twilight" and discuss the highs and lows!
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/27/2008 |

"The Day the Earth Stood Still" Special Edition Releases
The Day the Earth Stood Still will be released as a Special Edition Blu-ray Disc (BD) and a two-disc DVD on December 2, 2008
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/25/2008 |

Christmas Content:

Christmas Slideshow - 2008
Sights and scenes from my 2008 Christmas memories
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/30/2008 |

Christmas - What's in a Name?
What does Christmas mean and how does it relate to other festivals and celebrations during December?
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/14/2008 |

Favorite Christmas Traditions of Gospel Artists
A look at some of the favorite Christmas traditions of popular gospel artists and entertainers
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/18/2008 |

Cookies for Kids Hosts Holiday Book Signings to Aid Children with Serious Illness
Cookies for Kids will be hosting two holiday book signings in Nashville during the Christmas season to benefit children with life threatening illnesses
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/15/2008 |

Favorite Christmas Albums of the Gospel Artists
Kevin Max, Lyracist, Tammy Trent, Bonnie Keen, Bob Halligan and 25 other gospel artists share their Christmas project recommendations.
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/7/2008 |

Favorite Holiday Movies of Gospel Artists & Entertainers
A list of the movies recommended by gospel recording artists and other Christian entertainers including Kevin Max of DC Talk, Dan Meyer (sword swallower), Bob Halligan of Ceili Rain, and 30 more gospel artists.
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/7/2008 |

Christmas Eve Church Services in Nashville, Tennessee
Churches, candlelight, communion, chorals, choirs, carols, Christmas eve services and Nashville, Tennessee. What's not to love?
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/3/2008 |

Favorite Holiday Songs of Gospel Artists and Entertainers
A guide to the favorite Christmas songs from the musicians who perform them
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/2/2008 |

Christmas Memories - What Christmas Means to Me
Looking back on my favorite Christmas memories
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/3/2008 |

Five Christmas Projects to Consider in 2008
A look at Sara Groves' "O Holy Night;" Michael & Carrie Hodge's "The Heart of Christmas;" David Phelps' "O Holy Night: A Live Christmas Celebration;" Mandisa's "It's Christmas;" and Faith Hill's "Joy To The World"
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/24/2008 |

A Tender Nashville Tennessee Christmas
Christmas Music, Christmas plays, performances, parades, lights and more!
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/19/2008 |

Christmas in Iraq - a Christmas Poem for Our Soldiers
A poem of encouragement for our military troops in Iraq and all over the world
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/13/2008 |

Mayberry Content

Mayberry Days 2008 - Photos
Photos from 2008 Mayberry Days in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. Be sure to read the article Mayberry Days' Spirits Not Dampened by Drizzles.
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/13/2008 |

Mayberry Sparkles - a Christmas Poem
A poem about the lights in Mayberry during the Christmas season
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/12/2008 |

My Mayberry Gift List
Just for fun, a list of gifts for the characters on "The Andy Griffith Show"
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/11/2008 |

Admiring Andy's Authority on "The Andy Griffith Show"
Examining why Sheriff Andy Taylor had authority and Deputy Barney Fife did not
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/30/2008 |

Remembering Don Knotts
My personal memories of meeting Don Knotts on two different occasions
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/29/2008 |

Act Like Somebody - a Mayberry Devotional
So many times we get such tunnel vision about the problems in our lives that we lose sight of the fact that each of us is special - we are all Somebody.
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/27/2008 |

The Mayberry Poem - a Tribute to Mayberry Book Review
A Tribute to Mayberry is a collection of photos and poems about Mayberry and "The Andy Griffith Show"
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/25/2008 |

Thanksgiving in Mayberry
A short acrostic poem about what a Mayberry Thanksgiving might be like!
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/23/2008

The Badge - a Poem
A poem about a small-town lawman based on "The Andy Griffith Show"
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/20/2008 |

Christmas in Mayberry
Imagine what Christmas would be like in Mayberry, North Carolina
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/17/2008

Mayberry USA - a Great Place to Vist on the Web!
Mayberry USA is a discussion board with forums about the cast and crew of "The Andy Griffith Show"
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/10/2008 |

Mayberry Days' Spirit Not Dampened by Drizzles
Review of this year's Mayberry Days festival in Mount Airy, North Carolina
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 10/24/2008 |

Misc. Content

International Medal of Peace Presented to President George W. Bush
President George W. Bush received the "International Medal of PEACE" at the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day on December 1, 2008
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/2/2008 |

How to Promote Your Book on a Shoestring Budget - Book Review
A look at a book that teaches authors how to do the nitty-gritty of publicizing, promoting and selling their books
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 12/13/2008 |

The Gift of the Magi - Donating Hair for Children in Need
A look at the whys and hows of donating hair to Locks of Love and Wigs for Kids
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/27/2008 |

Christian Poet's Pen
Christian Poet's Pen is a blog where Christian Poets can publish their poems and exchange constructive criticism with other inspirational poets
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/26/2008 |

New Wristband Proclaims "Thank You God, I Am Grateful."
Journalist creates "Thank You" bracelets to promote gratitude, hope and thanksgiving
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/24/2008 | Read more »

Lucknow Railway Station Hires a Monkey-Man to Control Local Monkeys: Sometimes Truth Really is Stranger Than Fiction
The Lucknow railway station in India took drastic measures to protect their passengers and their property from monkeys.
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/24/2008 |

A Christian Take on "Twilight"
Examining the themes of temptation and abstinence in the book "Twilight"
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/19/2008 |

The Leaves of October - Photos
Fall colors and fall scenes. Read the accompanying "Leaves of October" poem!
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/16/2008 |

The Leaves of October - Poem
Poem about the joy found in fall foliage - look for the accompanying slideshow!
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/5/2008 |

November Nostalgia
Remembering an unusually beautiful November in Tennessee. View the accompanying Slideshow.
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/10/2008 |

This Sword Swallower's Got Talent!
Sword Swallower Dan Meyer made it to the Quarter Finals on this 2008's "America's Got Talent," but that is only a small part of his interesting career
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/6/2008 |

Ren Fest Photos
Photos from the Tennessee Renaissance Festival. For more info, read the article This Sword Swallower's Got Talent!
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/7/2008

Thanksgiving Acrostic
A poem of thanks at Thanksgiving
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/3/2008 |

Obama Limerick
A humorous look at Obama
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 10/14/2008 |

Halloween Content

Halloween in the Woods
Last year I hosted a Halloween party in my local state park, and the results were better than I imagined!
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 10/28/2008 |

Halloween Slideshow
Grown ups having fun dressing up on Halloween in Ren Fest, Lord of the Rings, and Narnia-type costumes. Read the accompanying article Halloween in the Woods
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 11/6/2008 |

Halloween Acrostic - A Halloween Poem
A look at Halloween and the ghosts that haunt us from a different perspective
By Kathryn E. Darden | Published 10/9/2008 |

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas - What's in a Name?

I love good literature, and for that reason, I am on several discussion boards to discuss writers like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkien . I was somewhat bemused that when people began to post their holiday greeting between December 21 and 25, 2007, the posts all had titles like:

Happy Yule to All!

Happy Holidays!

Happy Hogswatch Night

Happy Solstice

In fact, I was the only person on two such lists to wish my fellow Tolkien and Lewis enthusiasts a Merry Christmas!

The yule was a Germanic festival featuring a sacrificial feast some time in late December to early January on a date determined by the Germanic lunar calendar. The winter solstice is an actual astronomical event which occurs between December 20 and December 23 each year in the northern hemisphere. Hogswatch is a fictional holiday occuring on Dec, 31 and Dec. 32. None of them has anything to do with the celebration on December 25 which is known as Christmas unless the yule actually falls on December 25 by coincidence some year.

The bard, Shakespeare, once asked the pertinent question: what's in a name? The holiday has a name - it's Christmas. When did it become necessary to completely remove Christmas from holiday greetings, especially on discussion boards for authors who were Christians?

I am not one of those who believes Jesus the Christ was born exactly on December 25, so I don't personally get into singing "Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus" on December 25. But the Baby was born, and the early church redeemed a couple of pagan celebrations and turned them into an annual day of remembrance for the night Jesus was born, calling it a "holy day," and naming a mass after the Christ child. Thus was born one of the major holy days/holidays of the Christian calendar - Christmas.

When did it become OK to forget what made the holiday a holy day? When did we decide as a society it was OK to take Christ out of Christmas?

President Ulysses S. Grant declared Christmas a legal holiday in the United States back in 1870. However, by the time I was born almost 100 years later, there was already a major push by atheists to remove God and Christ from everything from our coins to our pledge. My parents' generation was made of sterner stuff and didn't cave under pressure. But somewhere along the line the next generation began to lose the battle. Perhaps the attacks, which originally were blatant attacks, became sneakier as it became more and more politically correct to talk about including everyone, not leaving anyone out, not "offending" people with lighting Christmas trees and placing manger scenes, etc. Recently, some retail stores made the news by demanding employees NOT wish customers a "Merry Christmas." Manger scenes are banned from city property in many cities for fear of offending other religions or the non-religious, and Christmas trees are now frequently called holiday trees.

So, when did we as a society actually make the brilliant decision to leave Christ completely out of Christmas? Given a choice, have we as Americans really decided we will let the dictates and petty agendas of foreigners and special interest groups cause us to eliminate Christ from the Christmas equation?

Chanukah and Ramadan are also celebrated respectfully here in America. In Israel, however, Hashanah, Succot, Passover and Chanukah are national holidays. In Muslim countries, Ramadan is a public holiday. Here in America, a nation founded by Christians where Christianity is still the major religion, we celebrate Christmas as a national holiday, and people of other faiths are welcome and free to observe the day as they see fit.

I have no problem with calling the period between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day "the Holidays" as that period includes so many holidays, but the period right around December 25 has a name - it's Christmas! People who bend over backwards to accommodate every special interest group out there not only end up looking spineless as they been further and further backwards, but they also look pretty ridiculous. And if they bend any further backwards they will soon tip over and end up kneeling in front of the alter of political correctness, giving up true Divinity for a god made of human hands. This has already happened once before in the day of Moses, and it didn't end well for those who chose the golden calf over the Living God.

Christmas has become a litmus test for our society, whether December 25 was the actual birthday of the Christ child or not. Whose day will you choose celebrate on December 25 - a day dedicated to God born in the flesh to live, die and be resurrected among us, or a day dedicated to political correctness? Christ makes the day a holy day. Christ gives the day its name. So when you are wishing folks well around December 25, remember - it's not the yule, the solstice, or any other holiday we celebrate then. The holy day has a name - it's CHRISTmas!

So from my house to yours, MERRY CHRISTMAS, everyone!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Birthday

Yesterday (December 19) was my birthday and if you must ask, I was 29... again! I had a very nice day - it actually started last night when my older cousin invited me up for my birthday/Christmas and fixed me my favorite meal, curried chicken. She used the recipe my mother brought back from India, so this is curry the way I like it best. It was so good, and she sent me home a casserole dish full! Of course I ate too much! Then I gave her grandkids the presents I had brought up, and it was worth the one-hour trip up just to watch them having so much fun with their presents!

Today some friends took me out for lunch downtown, and it was nice just catching up, and, yes, eating too much! It was Christmassy, too, with the decorations. Nashville is looking mighty festive!

Then tonight I had a dinner meeting with sword swallower Dan Meyer who caught me up on his exciting career and treated me to a birthday dinner at California Pizza Kitchen. The food was delicious! Why, yes! I DID eat too much! Thanks for asking! Dan has so many interesting projects in the works, you should all check out his MySpace page.

Then I found out the site Poets Who Blog had posted my poem Christmas in Iraq as the Poets Who Blog: The Seventh Day of Poetry for their "12 Days of Poetry" for Christmas!

To top it off, I got to work at Macy's until midnight! OK, so that wasn't the good part, but the rest of the day, except for my afternoon excursion to the DMV to renew my driver's license, was really nice!

Thanks to everyone who emailed, Twittered, posted, phoned, and sent cards! I have some of the nicest friends around!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holiday Book Signings to Benefit Children with Serious Illnesses

Cookies for Kids will be hosting two holiday book signings for me in Nashville during the Christmas season to benefit the charity Special Spaces ( The organization has been given a storefront at Hickory Hollow Mall where they will sell gourmet cookies, do gift wrapping, and other special activities including my book signings!
I will be signing copies of my books The Mayberry Poem - A Tribute to Mayberry and How to Promote Your Book on a Shoestring Budget on Wednesday night, December 17 at 5 PM, and on Monday afternoon, December 22 at 2PM.

Cookies for Kids is located in the lower level of Hickory Hollow Mall near Sears in the "Real Estate" store front. Proceeds will benefit Special Spaces, a non-profit organization focused on making a difference in the lives of children with life threatening illnesses.

The Mayberry Poem - A Tribute to Mayberry
is a compilation of poetry about "The Andy Griffith Show." Each poem pays tribute to a character, episode, or theme from "The Andy Griffith Show" or simply honors the fictional town of Mayberry itself with its small-town values and simple "good ole' days" way of life. The poems range from humorous limericks to thought-provoking verses about the things that still make Mayberry resonate with viewers today. The book contains 204 poems about Mayberry written by over 60 different poets from 20 states as well as Washington, D.C. It also features photographs of Mount Airy, NC, the town where Andy Griffith grew up and which inspired Mayberry.

How to Promote Your Book on a Shoestring Budget takes authors step by step, through developing a marketing strategy, writing a press release, contacting the media, setting up a book signing, and much, much more.

Cookies for Kids will carry autographed copies of the book throughout the holidays, so if you cannot make it to one of the book signings, stop by and pick up a book and some cookies anyway! It's for a good cause! Call 615-530-8218 for more information.

For more details, read the longer article at Holiday Book Signings to Benefit Children with Serious Illness.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas in Iraq

'Twas the Night Before Christmas in an Iraqi Town

Christmas in Iraq is a poem written for a soldier and his troop I sponsored in Iraq in 2005. It is my hope that this poem and others like it will be forwarded to our military men and women during the Christmas season so they will know they are not forgotten during the holidays.

'Twas the night before Christmas in an Iraqi town;
And our brave U.S. forces had all just hunkered down.
Not a Humvee was moving, not a Jeep stirred the sand
As troops dreamed of their homes, each and every man.

Some longed for their sweethearts, other men missed their moms,
Others missed sons and daughters not seen for so long.
Sugarplums would be nice, but much nicer to be
At home with their loved ones 'neath their own Christmas tree.

When what to their wondering ears should be heard,
But the faint sounds of carols, music and joyful words.
At first heard so faintly, then the sound grew and grew --
The sound of your loved ones singing carols for you.

For you are not forgotten, you are not alone;
You are missed by the people you keep safe at home,
And we remember you as the Christmas bells ring,
As you're watched by the Christ Child whose carols we sing.

For no matter how far from your home you may be,
There once was a Babe born for you and for me.
So hark to the carols as their music draws nigh,
And look to the stars in the Iraqi sky.

Remember the star which on Bethlehem shone,
The star that still guides those who yearn to be Home.
So as Christmas Day dawns over here, over there --
Merry Christmas to you, with our love, thanks, and prayers.

© 2005 By Kathryn E. Darden

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Why Do the Heathens Rage? Jack Black's Tastless Video

Why do non-Christians think it is OK to mock our beliefs, parody Jesus, and insult Christianity? If we parodied Mohammad or Buddha like these B-list Hollywood types and their sycophants parody Jesus, why, we would be intolerant or hate mongering. But these actors and the morons who applaud them are guilty or the same kind of bigotry and hate speech they so gleefully accuse Christians of every time they spread the kind of intolerant idiocy featured in Jack Black's latest tastelessness. Actually, they are guilty of much worse, one, for their hypocrisy, and two, for their blasphemy.

Perhaps you would think it equally funny if Jack Black portrayed someone you loved and respected - a religious leader, a parent -- and make a total mockery of what they stood for?

Most of the people snickering at this are the same people who would be insulted if we insulted an animal or cut down a tree, but make fun of Jesus and what he stood for, well SURE! THAT'S OK!

It's OK to offend Christians, but not OK if we stand up for values they find offensive. Anyone else see a double standard here?

I hate stupidity, and I have no tolerance for the PC, tree-hugging, amoral, Christian-bashing, PETA fringe crowd that is trying to push their immorality down my throat with such nonsense. Something this stupid makes me laugh in derision while I mourn for a world which persists in turning away from what is holy, righteous, and Divine.

Psalm 2 (King James Version)

1. Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

2. The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,

3. Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

4. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision.

5. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.

6. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.

7. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

8. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

9. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.

10. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.

11. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

12. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What Christmas Means to Me: Pagan Roots or Christian Traditions?

Christmas is my favorite holiday -- in fact, the holiday season is my favorite time of the year. I have always loved Christmas, and fondly recall our family traditions at this time of year. Even when my father was stationed in India and we lived there for three years during my childhood, family photos show my brother and me sitting amidst our presents under the Christmas tree which was some kind of Indian evergreen and looking much like any other Christmas tree but decorated with traditional Indian garlands of metallic cords and sequins as well as the decorations my mother brought with us. Our native housekeeper and his family piled traditional garlands of marigolds on our gifts and tables. Some of the metallic Indian garlands became part of our annual Christmas tree decorations. The marigold garlands, however, with their ties to Hinduism were left behind in India.

There is some dispute among Christians as to how appropriate it is to put up a tree and celebrate a holiday which has its share of pagan roots. At the private Christian school I attended in the 7th grade, I learned that there is little evidence Christ was born on December 25, or even in December. I have studied the myths and facts behind Christmas for 30 years. If you would be interested in a relatively brief overview of Christmas trees, Santa Claus, Moloch, Boniface, Druids, Saint Nicholas, Adam & Eve Day, and more, please read my article What Christmas Means to Me: Pagan Roots or Christian Traditions?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Blog According to Typealyzer

According to a web tool called Typealyzer which is of the personality tests and theories genre, this blog belongs to a group called, "The Performers."

Typealyzer Quote:
The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

They enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.

Note: writing style on a blog may have little or nothing to do with a person´s self-percieved personality.

While I do hope my blog is somewhat entertaining, I would say in this case, Typealyzer has fallen way short of the mark! What do you think?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Act Like Somebody!

When Sheriff Andy Taylor sent his young son Opie off to school, on at least one occasion his parting words (as in Ep. 34: "Barney's Replacement") were, "Do a good day's work and act like Somebody!" This may sound odd or even pretentious to the modern ear, but in the South in the 1960's, such an admonition simply meant: You are special. Act like it!

So many times we get such tunnel vision about the problems in our lives that we lose sight of the fact that each of us is special - we are all Somebody.

Read my full devotional at Act Like Somebody!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Wristband Proclaims "Thank You God, I Am Grateful"

Thanksgiving Bracelet Encourages Gratitude and Thankfulness

Thank You God, I am Grateful Message on New Bracelets
Just in time for Thanksgiving: While the news media is often blamed for spinning the news to promote fear in these tough economic times, one television journalist has been doing the opposite. Toni Garbo, a managing news editor in Cleveland, is spreading gratefulness and hope with her new wristband, "Thank You God, I am Grateful."
Thank You Wristbands - Focus on the Positive
Garbo says she was inspired to create the "Thank You" wristbands by watching televised celebrity awards shows, stating she is always touched when she hears a celebrity thank God in front of the world. She originally created the reminder wristband, which she compares to tying a string around your finger, for herself saying, "I needed a reminder to help me pause and reflect on the good and the positive found in the moment and throughout the day."
Reminder Bracelet - Message of Gratitude
The simple reminder bracelet on her wrist worked so well that Garbo wanted to share the wristband with friends, family and others. She ordered one thousand gray and black bracelets bearing the words "Thank You God, I am Grateful." Then she launched and the message of gratitude began to spread. Garbo has given the thanks-giving wristbands to journalists, television executives, business professionals, volunteers, politicians, celebrities, students, caretakers, soldiers, veterans, church groups and those in 12-step programs.
Gratefulness Promotes Peace & Thankfulness
"I believe gratefulness promotes peace in the hearts and in the world," said Garbo. "We have much to be thankful for in our lives and when we focus on what we have, instead of what we don't have, we are happier."
Ohio State Buckeyes Wearing Thank You Bracelets
Members of the Ohio State Buckeye Football Team heard about the "Thank You" wristbands and are now wearing them on and off the field. "I gave one to a coworker of mine and her son saw it and wanted to wear it. She recently asked me if I had any more because many of her son's teammates wanted to wear one this season. As fate would have it those teammates are The Ohio State Buckeyes." An A.P. photo recently featured an Ohio State player making a catch wearing the "Thank You God, I am Grateful" wristband on both arms.
Thank You Bracelets Two for $3.00
Garbo is encouraging Americans to give the gift of gratefulness to each other during these touch economic times. The "Thank You" bracelets are priced at two for $3.00 and available at Two bracelets are provided so others can spread the message of gratefulness as the second wristband can be given gift. A portion of the proceeds will go to charities that help children, including Providence House and Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Theresa.
Thank You Wristbands Great Gifts for Thanksgiving & Other Occasions
These "Thank You God, I am Grateful" wristbands are a great idea for Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, and other occasions all year long!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thanksgiving in Mayberry

Mayberry was that small Southern town where everybody knew their neighbors and Sheriff Andy Taylor was everyone's father figure in a simpler time and place. Imagine what a Mayberry Thanksgiving might have been like!

Thanksgiving in Mayberry
T hanksgiving in Mayberry --
H elen and Ope home from school,
A ndy closes the Courthouse;
N ow Aunt Bee sets the rules,
K eeping everything just so,
S ets the table, cooks the food,
G iving each guest big helpings
I n the day's festive mood.
V ery soon all are seated
I n the Taylor's residence
N ow it's time for grace, says Andy,
G ives thanks for God's providence.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Twilight at Midnight

On one of the first cold nights of November, at midnight on November 20th to be precise, I went to Bellevue Cinema 8 in Nashville for the midnight screening of the highly anticipated movie, Twilight. Did I say midnight screening? That's what we had been told, but the movie didn't actually start until 12:20 AM on November 21. There were 10 of us there when I arrived at midnight. Where were the screaming hoards of teen-age girls? I suppose wise parents had kept their young ones at home on a school night, a decision I applaud.

By 12:20 there were 18 of us there (only 3 of them males), including two groups of giggling female teens - the target demographic of this movie about an eternally 17-year-old vampire and the girl who loves him. After 20 minutes of fidgitting in a very un-vampirelike fashion, the audience was more than ready for the movie to start.

To read my review of Twilight, go to Twilight at Midnight

Also see A Christian Take on Twilight

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanksgiving Acrostic

'T is the season -
H olidays are upon us
A s we gather together
N ow with our loved ones
K eeping family traditions
S avoring, turkey, dressing, ham...
G ive thanks to the One
I n whose name we gather
V ine from which all blessings grow
I t is good to be thankful
N ever forgetting
G od is great, God is good...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Tender Nashville Tennessee Christmas

Free Holiday Music Performances and Plays in and Around Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville/Davidson County is a large Metropolitan area full of free things to do for the holidays (in fact, I once wrote a poem about it). One of my favorite free things to do is to walk around downtown Nashville, sauntering down Broadway, past all the decorated honky-tonks, making my way down to Riverfront Park which almost always has a large tree lit for the holidays. Then I turn left on 2nd Avenue, and stroll past the small stores in the historic district, admiring the decorations and wares. I usually end up eating at Old Spaghetti Factory, San Antonio Taco Company, or Demos' which is the only cost (except parking) to my free holiday night out. There are several parking garages downtown, and one is right between Demos' and San Antonio Taco Company.

Another annual Christmas tradition of mine is Gaylord Opryland's "A Country Christmas," which started on November 14 and continues through January 4th. The entire resort hotel, which is the size of a small town, is all lit up for Christmas with sensational decorations, entertainment and some of the most delectable food anywhere. Attractions feature the Radio City Christmas Spectacular®, ICE!™, the Louise Mandrell Christmas Dinner Party™, and more. Walking through the hotels botanical gardens and viewing the decorations is free. Some of the entertainment has a ticket price, so call if you want to do more than stroll around the vast, decorated complex. You will want to dress so you can enjoy the lights both inside and outside the complex. There is plenty of parking on site, but the free parking is at Opry Mills Mall, and easy walk to Opryland Hotel. Phone: 888-OPRY-872
Nashville has several mansions like Cheekwood and Belle Meade Plantation which are beautifully decorated for the holidays. Although there is a charge to tour the mansions, it is free to drive up, admire, snap a picture and leave!
Something I try not to miss is the annual Nashville Christmas Parade. The 55th Annual Nashville Gas Christmas Parade will showcase Nashville's rich history of musical entertainment on Friday night, December 5th at 7:00 P.M. Colorful floats will roll down Broadway, holiday lights will illuminate the night sky, bands will march down our streets and all the magical sounds of the holiday season will be heard. The Nashville Gas Christmas Parade will kick off at 7th and Broadway, march east to 2nd Avenue and then across the Woodland Street Bridge to the LP Field. Vistors can park at any of the downtown parking garages and walk a block or two down to Broadway. If you love a parade, check the parades listed at the end of this article!
Some other free holiday events in and around Nashville include:
11/30/2008 - Hanging of the Greens Service at Bellevue Baptist Church, 7400 Highway 70 South, Nashville (Bellevue). This special evening worship service where the Christmas decorations and greenery is freshly hung is in preparation for Christmas and is free. Church parking is free.
12/6/2008 - Mansker's Station Yulefest at Moss-Wright Park, Goodlettesville. Saturday evening from 6-9 there will be historical song and period costumes on display at historic Mansker's Station. The event is free to the public. There will also be a winter encampment throughout the weekend. For information on these and other events, visit
12/7/2008 - Lessons & Carols at St. George's Episcopal Church, Nashville. St. George's will present its annual Festival of Lessons and Carols on Sunday, December 7, at 6:00 p.m. Based on the traditional nine lessons from Scripture, this service will feature St. George's Choir, St. Gregory's Choir and St. Dunstan's Choir led by Mr. Gerry Senechal. Musical selections will include works by Rutter, Mathias, Sandstrom and Bibel, to name a few. The Festival is free and open to the public. St. George's Church is located at 4715 Harding Road. Childcare is provided for children under 5 years old; space is limited, so please call 385-2150, extension 262, for childcare reservations. Deadline for childcare reservations is 12 pm Monday, December 1, 2008. For further information contact: Debra Waters 615-385.2150 x 253 or
12/7/2008 - The Music of Christmas at Christ Presbyterian Church, Nashville. The Music of Christmas Sunday, at 6:00 PM at Christ Presbyterian Church, 2323 Old Hickory Blvd Nashville, TN 37215. FREE ADMISSION - Doors open at 5:30 PM - Open seating At twilight on Sunday, December 7th, at 6:00 PM, you are invited to gather and hear the music of Christmas flooding out for as many to hear as possible. Christ Presbyterian Church Adult Choir and Orchestra will host: the CPA High School "Vision" Ensemble, Middle School Concert Choir, CPC Children's Choirs and special guests Michael O'Brien and Shelley Jennings. Come early or stay late and enjoy Christmas cookies, coffee, cocoa and fellowship pre-program from 5:00-5:45 PM or following from 7:45-8:30 PM. Located near the Warner Parks on Old Hickory Blvd, between Hwy 100 and Hillsboro Road, at the Chickering Road traffic light. Call 615-646-7063 or contact Church parking is free.
12/14/2008 - Children's Music Program at Bellevue Baptist Church, 7400 Highway 70 South, Nashville (Bellevue). Special Christmas music will be presented by the Children's choir. Church parking is free.
12/14/2008 - Sing Joy... A Christmas Celebration at Siegle High School Auditorium, off of Thompson Lane, Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This holiday production features music by The Kingdom Living Worship Team and Choir, EMI Gospel Recording Artists Antonio Neal and Merche' Moore. Comedy drama "Away With The Manger" performed by nationally known comedian and actor, Steve Wilent. Admission is FREE. Doors open at 5:30. Christmas reception with cookies and snacks immediately following.
12/21/2008 - Christmas Musical at Bellevue Baptist Church, 7400 Highway 70 South, Nashville (Bellevue). This is the church's annual Christmas musical program presented by the Adult choir. Church parking is free.
12/24/2008 - Christmas Eve Lord's Supper Worship Service at Bellevue Baptist Church, 7400 Highway 70 South, Nashville (Bellevue). The church present its annual Christmas Eve Service and Candlelight Lord's Supper. Church parking is free.
I LOVE A PARADE! Local Christmas parades:
11/29 - Manchester Christmas Parade.
12/5 - Nashville Gas' 55nd Annual Christmas Parade presented by Southeast Financial Credit Union. Friday, December 5th at 7p.m. marching down Broadway under the beautiful lights of the City. The parade will begin at 8th and Broadway and head east to popular 2nd Avenue and then follow the Woodland Street Bridge to the Coliseum.
12/6 - Fairview Christmas Parade. Enjoy the festivities of this annual holiday parade along Fairview Boulevard. City of Fairview, Highway 100 at 1pm
12/6 - Franklin Christmas Parade, 2pm West Main and Main Street Franklin TN. Local bands and a colorful display of floats designed by schools, scouts, businesses and more.
12/6 - Hendersonville. Lighted Boat Parade - Christmas on the Creek: Mallard Point at Drake's Creek, Hendersonville. Featuring crafts, food, and entertainment from 2:00pm - 6:00pm. The boat parade begins at 6:00pm. For more information call the Hendersonville Chamber of Commerce (615) 824-2818.
12/6 - Mt Juliet Christmas Parade. Mt. Juliet and the Department of Parks and Recreation will be having their Christmas Parade and their 3rd annual Christmas in the Park Saturday, December 8th. The parade will start at 12:00 coming from the little league park into Charlie Daniels Park. The Christmas in the Park will start after the parade enters the park and last until dark. There will be arts and crafts vendors, games, and much more. For booth rental call Jan or Rose at 758-6522.
12/6 - Christmas Parade - Gallatin. . The theme is "Storybook Christmas". For more information call the Chamber of Commerce (615) 452-4000.
12/7 - Lebanon Christmas Parade, starts at 2pm

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Christian Take on Twilight

I have been wanting to post about Twilight, the book by Stephenie Meyer and the upcoming movie, but I have not have time to put my thoughts down until challenged by a Twitter follower to respond to her blog. So, after typing a few thoughts there, I thought I would post those thoughts here and expand on them a little.

Twilight, the book by Mormon mom Meyer, is that rare phenomena - a sexy book about virtue, conscience, and good, old-fashioned morals and manners. If you enjoy old Bronte sisters and Jane Austin novels about brooding, noble, self-sacrificing heroes, this book is for you.

Edward is an unexpected delight, a superhero who COULD easily be a demonic villain but makes a conscious decision to put aside his powerful drives and urges to be a better being. Edward has been around for over 100 years, but he is forever 17 (and played in the upcoming movie by 22-year-old Rob Pattinson). He falls in love with Bella while battling his overwhelming urge to kill her and drink her scintillating blood which calls to him in a powerful way.

Bella (played by Kristen Stewart) is "Everywoman" - an average girl coming into her own, discovering her strengths and inner beauty through the eyes of the man, er, I mean VAMPIRE who loves her.

In Twilight one could easily substitute the words "drink her blood" and "change her into a vampire" with "have sex with her" and the end result would be the same -- Edward overcomes ALL his baser desires to protect Bella's life, her virtue, and her soul. Edward has learned a lesson few humans "get" anymore -- there are some things more precious than gratification. This book is truly about temptation and abstinence in all its forms.

It is also an action-packed thriller which should appeal to anyone who loves a good superhero as well as a ruthless villain.

Interesting note: According to actor Pattinson lists his religion as Christian, and indicates Pattinson once told an interviewer his favorite character in a book was Job.

I would love to get your comments on a Christian perspective to Twilight!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Christmas in Mayberry A Christmas Poem

It's Christmas in Mayberry, the mountains are white

Opie and his friends are all filled with delight.
The town is lit up, wreaths are on every door
Andy whistles the carols he's whistled before.
Opie skips along Main Street to hear the Mayberry band,
Leon lopes close behind him; what's that in his hand?
No, it isn't a sandwich's sticky remains,
It's Christmas and he clutches a new candy cane!
They arrive at the band shell where they join Aunt Bee -
She has a basket of goodies for the picnic, you see.
An old man greets Bee; he's delighted to see her;
The former town grump - our good friend Ben Weaver.
Soon Floyd shows up, joined by Howard, Mike, Sam.
Goober stops to say "Hey;" Gomer joins the band.
The band strikes up some carols, then Barn starts to sing,
But they unplugged his microphone so the harmonies ring.
Aunt Bee spreads a blanket on the rather cold lawn,
Folks are bundled up snug with their winter coats on.
Otis keeps warm in his own special way;
But it's not from the bottle his cheer comes this day!
Soon Andy appears with his barbershop quartet
And they sing some fine carols, it's the best they've done yet!
Then the church choir joins in to sing "O Holy Night"
When the good folk of Mayberry see a beautiful sight.
Through the lights on the houses a new glow appears
As the first snowflakes fall on the town they hold dear.
Aunt Bee packs up the picnic, Goober grabs one last wing,
And the choir and quartet all continue to sing.
Opie and Leon and Mike and their friends
Are still laughing and singing as the band concert ends.
Then they hook up with Andy and he hooks up with Barn;
They find Thelma Lou and Helen and walk off arm in arm
To the Taylor home where they will share Christmas fun;
For it's Christmas in Mayberry -- Merry Christmas, everyone!

© Kathryn Darden. All rights reserved. Previously published in "The Mayberry Poem -- A Tribute to Mayberry"

Sunday, November 16, 2008

'Finding God in the Lord of the Rings'--My Story & Book Review

A Review of the Book "Finding God in the Lord of the Rings" by Kurt Bruner & Jim Ware

I was first introduced to Bilbo Baggins when I was in the 6th grade. While I enjoyed the The Hobbit, I was not overwhelmed by it although I was interested in continuing the saga when she gave me The Fellowship of the Ring the summer before my seventh-grade year. The Fellowship of the Ring and the subsequent two books in The Lord of the Rings trilogy affected me profoundly and perhaps had more impact on me than any other books besides the Bible. If you have read some of my poems, you may have an idea how much these books have influenced me!

For many years I was hard pressed to explain why the books captivated me and why I returned to read them year after year. Certainly the plot was gripping and the characters were substantial. The world, people and languages of Middle Earth seemed real, with layer upon layer of history and myth. The story of good versus evil was certainly inspiring, but what drew me back was something more intangible, more spiritual. I found some of the great truths of the Bible revealed and lived out in the pages of The Lord of the Rings - the corrupting influence of power, the love of one friend for another, the pure love between a man and a woman (or an elf-princess), self sacrifice, courage, and the willingness to lay down one's life for the greater good. This idea of deep Biblical truths in what seemed to be merely a fairy tale become a personal conundrum since I had no idea at the time what J.R.R. Tolkien 's influences were.
In my college years the mystery began to unravel when I learned J.R.R. Tolkien was a contemporary and friend of C. S. Lewis, another writer whose works have impacted me greatly. I learned the two writers influenced one another greatly. However, it was not until the movie version came out that I was compelled to research Tolkien and discovered that he not only was a Christian, but he was influential in winning C. S. Lewis to Christ. Furthermore, in a letter to Father Robert Murray, a Jesuit Priest, Tolkien states: "The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like 'religion,' to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism."
In my ongoing research I came across a reference to an intriguing title, Finding God in The Lord of the Rings. I quickly tracked down a copy at my local Christian bookstore and found a delightful series of reflections based upon quotes and concepts found in The Lord of the Rings. Written by Kurt Bruner, a vice president with Focus on the Family and Jim Ware, author of several other books, Finding God in The Lord of the Rings invites the reader to "Discover Timeless Truth Among The Hobbits." The authors state "transcendent truths of Christianity bubble up throughout this story, baptizing our imaginations with realities better experienced than studied." The authors are quick to point out that Finding God in The Lord of the Rings is not "a covert allegory of the gospel" and they do not try to make it so. Rather, their stated goal is to "explore the inference" of Tolkein's imagination.
Chapters are short, begin with a snippet of the original story line and a specific quote, and then the reader is invited to consider both the quote and the story line on a deeper spiritual level. Each chapter explores one particular theme, each of which which will sound familiar to both readers of "The Lord of the Rings" and Biblical scholars: Evil Intentions, Hidden Courage, Unwholesome Power, Singing in the Dark, and Redemption. To any skeptics who would find fault with trying to find God in a fairy tale, the authors offer two quotes from Tolkien one at the beginning and one end of the book.
In the introduction we read:
"The Gospels contain a fairy story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy stories. They contain many marvels... But this story has entered History... This story is supreme, and it is true. Art has been verified. God is the Lord, of angels, and of men -- and of elves."
In the epilogue, near the book's conclusion the authors quote Tolkien one final time:
"The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact... It happens -- at a particular date, in a particular place, followed by definable consequences... By becoming fact it does not cease to by myth; that is the miracle."
Whether you are a fan of The Lord of the Rings or not, these brief reflections are worth a read. However, they will mean much more to one who is familiar with the unforgettable characters created by a literary craftsman who loved the Gospel, loved myth, and twined the two into the telling of a truly inspiring tale.
Finding God in The Lord of the Rings
Kurt Bruner & Jim Ware
120 pages (hardcover)
Previously published in In Fellowship - The Journal of the Tolkien Gathering and on Yahoo Voices.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Christmas in Iraq - published poem

A poem of encouragement for our military troops in Iraq and all over the world during the Christmas holidays, this poem was published on the old Associated Content/YCN site on 11-13-2008 where it garnered 4,529 page views before the site shut down in July 2014.

"Christmas in Iraq"

'Twas the night before Christmas in an Iraqi town;
And our brave U.S. forces had all just hunkered down.
Not a Humvee was moving, not a Jeep stirred the sand
As troops dreamed of their homes, each and every man...

To read the entire poem, please go to "Christmas in Iraq"

Feel free to forward this link to any military men and women during the holidays

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Ugly Truth About Reverse-Intolerance

I was glancing through an older newspaper a few days ago and I came across an advice column where the question involved a woman who had her body surgically altered and took hormones in an attempt to become a man. The question concerned a family scrapbook, and whether it was OK to keep photos of the woman as a little girl. The advice completely revolved around the woman who had the surgery. What did "he" want? How would "he" feel? The rest of the family's concerns, what they wanted, and what they should tell their children were simply not important considerations.

At the same time, provocative promotional materials have been flooding my TV and magazines at the checkout counter about Thomas Beattie, the former model who chose to mar the beauty with which God graced her, having her body surgically altered, taking hormones, so that she now looks like a man, well at least sort of. She became pregnant - she IS a woman on the inside, after all, but now Barbara Walters is touting her next interview with the "pregnant man" as Oprah did before her. One tabloid loudly mourned the cruel family who did not support Thomas in "his" new life as a "pregnant man." After all, the concerns of the family are not important.

So, when did it become appropriate for the desires of one family member to become more important than the rest of the family? The family that spent 18, 20, 24, or 30 years with a young person is now expected to change EVERYTHING to accommodate the desires of that one person to become something he or she was not intended to be. The rest of the family is now expected by our brain-washed PC culture to embrace the change, and consequently change their photo albums, their scrapbooks, their personal pronouns, and their parenting to accommodate the perverse desires of one person. If the family does not jump through the obligatory PC hoops, why, they are "intolerant," of course!

We live in a selfish society, where the ***I*** wants, **I*** needs, and **I*** feels have taken ridiculous turns, and it seems like the more ridiculous the situation, the more the family and society are DEMANDED to be supportive, tolerant, and accepting. Right and wrong, spiritual and religious values, family and cultural traditions are no longer recognized as having any merit. In our brave new world, the special interest groups and personal desires trump what's best for the family... and our society.

It's no longer a question of "if" we accept this. Be absolutely clear on this -- we have ALREADY accepted it. I work part-time for a well-known, national, retail company that sends out brochures like clockwork on tolerance in the workplace in which we are mandated to allow men dressed like women to enter the women's restrooms and vice versa. We are not to question or look askance at co-workers who exhibit disturbing gender issues. Male co-workers have demonstrated inappropriate physical affection for each other in front of co-workers and customers and not been called on it. Male co-workers have shown nude photos of their boyfriends to unsuspecting female co-workers IN FRONT OF MANAGEMENT and not been called on it. Flirty female co-workers have brought tapes of "Sex and the City" into work so they can watch the lesbian episodes in a stock room as they laugh about their lesbian sex-capades and not been called on it. Heaven forbid you speak out about any of it or YOU will be the one written up or even fired -- for intolerance. Oh, and by the way -- this same company would not let employees say "Merry Christmas" a couple of years back.

We cater to the few in the "special interest" groups to such a degree that we have become blindly intolerant to traditional views. Why is it that special interest groups can picket and protest religious organizations and they are exercising "free speech," but if we picket or protest any one of the special interest groups, we are promoting "hate speak?"The rest of us are expected to change our values to embrace what was recognized to be abnormal, wrong, and perverted only a few decades ago, and we are branded "intolerant" if we don't go along with it. Talk about reverse-intolerance! Christians and conservatives have no right to disagree or speak out...or even say "Merry Christmas!"

Yes, the desires and demands of those who can't control their urges now supersede the rights of those of us who try to live by Christian or traditional family values. The definition for normal has been redefined, and traditional family values have been vilified. We have accepted this. We have let ourselves be bullied, brainwashed and silenced. And now that we have rolled over and accepted this, what is NEXT? Rest assured -- it won't be good.