Archive for October, 2011

snap·shot – a brief appraisal, summary, or profile.

Every Monday we hope to provide our readers with snapshots of films being released for the upcoming weekend. This will be a brief summary of films that will assist our readers in the area of discernment.  Instead of searching other sites and reading lengthy articles, it’s our hope to provide a concise list of all the films of the weekend in one consolidated post. If you wonder why we don’t list the MPAA ratings, please click here.

  • A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas – Stoner buds, Harold & Kumar, burn down a prized Christmas tree, kill Santa Clause and mock the Savior, Jesus Christ.  Genre – comedy; content – graphic nudity, strong crude sexual content, strong language and drug use (right in time for Christmas).
  • Puss in Boots – A story about the events leading up to a sword-fighting-cat’s meeting up with Shrek and his friends.  Genre – comedy, family; content – action and mild rude humor.
  • Tower Heist – The formerly funny Stiller & Murphy, team up to rob a wealthy man who’s responsible for their shortcomings.  Genre – comedy, action; content – language and sexual content.

In time (part 2)

Posted: October 28, 2011 by Emilio Garofalo Neto in Action, Sci-Fi
Tags: , , ,

Yesterday we talked about this utterly cool-looking movie in which time IS money. We discussed a bit about God’s relationship to time. Today we will look at some aspects of how WE relate to time! This movie raises several interesting questions about how we deal with this very important part of our lives. Go watch it, but look at more than the action and cool effects: examine how the movie portrays the things that are important, what people are willing to do for more time (money) and the like. Try to understand how time is presented and its importance for human life.

If we only had the time, how much would we accomplish? Would we memorize more Scripture, spend more time with family and friends, make more money, enjoy more beach time? All of us complain of not having enough time. Is the complaint true? Yes, it is; but who is to blame? The Bible tells us that God is in control of time and that he calls us to be responsible with our use of time. Perhaps we never have time because we are not wise with the time we do have. God calls us to engage in several things: worship, work (study), family and even rest and play. God called us to do all those things, and he did give us enough time for such things. But we keep on biting more than we can chew – we work more hours than needed to have more money to spend on vacations we never take because we are too busy making money for such. We never have time for the family because our family spends all the time in soccer, football, ballet and flute lessons. Got it? We never have enough time because we are unwise with our priorities, we think we need more entertainment, work and fun than we actually do. On the other hand, we need more worship and family time than we think we do.

Stewardship is a very important word in the Christian life. We understand that all the resources we have come from God’s good hand and we are called to be wise with them. If we think of time as a resource we will think better about how to spend it. In the movie every minute you spend with something else is a minute of your life that is lost. Isn’t it always like that though? The minutes you spent reading this post will never be regained. I hope they were profitable! The Bible teaches us to be wise concerning our time. Life is limited and we have no idea when that will be over. Moses asks God to “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom”Psalm 90:12. This does not mean that we should make every minute one of frantic production; wisdom involves stopping and resting, which for many this is even harder than working.

We live before the face of God and we should count time as one of his many blessing to us. As a blessing it is meant to be used for good. As it was said in another movie, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

In time (or in eternity?)

Posted: October 27, 2011 by Emilio Garofalo Neto in Action, Sci-Fi
Tags: , , ,

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.” God, speaking to Job, chapter 38:4.

Another cool sci-fi idea. Another cool actor, cool visual effects and so on. Does this movie, however, also follow suit in providing solid ground for discussion as many other sci-fi classics do? Minority Report, Inception, Blade Runner, Source Code, Adjustment Bureau: all of them use cool sci-fi plot devices to discuss deep things. Check the trailer and we will talk more. It is ok if you simply want to continue reading. We have time either way.

Here is the skinny: In the future you only age until you are 25. Then you receive a number of time credits, which you use according to your discretion. You can spend a lot of time/money on a gourmet meal or go for the dollar (half-minute) menu. You work, you make money (time), which you can use to keep on living or to buy stuff. You can, in theory, live as long as you have time (money). And you do not age. Pretty cool idea huh? Of course, Timberlake clearly will stumble upon a wealth of time that is not his and things will quickly get out of control.

The cast is pretty interesting with Cillian Murphy (Inception, Batman Begins, Sunshine) Olivia Wilde and Justin Timberlake (oh so cute).

Tomorrow we will talk a little about how to use time, but today, let’s consider time itself.

What in the world is time? Augustine, way wiser than this blogger, said: “What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know.” Nice huh? I agree. We are limited by time and space, and while we can grasp space, time is one of those things that gets stranger the more you think about it.

Time is one of our biggest constraints, it stops us from learning more, from resting more, from having more fun and from living enough to experience more World Cups Planet Earth loves it (look it up). But have you thought about the fact that time is a created thing? Yes, I mean to say that there was a time in which there was no time. Even better, the eternal God, is not restrained by boundaries of time like we are, but as the omnipresent and eternal he is not limited by time. He is the creator of time and sees all things simultaneously. Wrap your mind around that. Come on, try. You can’t. That is one of the reasons we worship the eternal God. He is the greatest, God is the eternal, uncreated being. It comes to a point in which we need to simply fall to our knees and worship. Where were we when God began time? Only the triune God witnessed this.

Let me finish with Augustine again: “Your today yields not to tomorrow and does not follow yesterday. Your ‘today’ is eternity. Therefore you generated the coeternal, to whom you said ‘today I have begotten you.’ You have made all time and before all times you are….” Put that in your theological pipe and smoke it!

Through the years Will Smith has put out some very entertaining movies. His first big budget film (which made him a summer movie action star) was Independence Day. That movie came out on my birthday, so we got a big group together and watched that film – it was amazing!

Men in Black I & II (MIB III is set to be released in 2012), i,Robot, and Bad Boys I & II have also been some of the big budget films Smith has attached his name to. I have enjoyed most of these, so I was expecting to see the typical big-budget-Smith-film filled with his one liners – “Welcome to earth!” (After punching an alien in the face) – when I purchased my ticket for I Am Legend. However, there was a little something different about this big-budget-Smith-film.

Yes Legend did have a big budget ($150 million to be exact), but there was a deeper layer to this film that made it somewhat atypical to the box-office blockbuster we are accustomed to.

[SPOILERS: You can skip this paragraph and go to the next, which doesn’t give away key plot developments] For starters, all of the parallels to light and darkness – a clear theme in Scripture – are clearly communicated throughout I Am Legend. The creatures in the film are actually humans that have been infected with something, which makes them love the darkness – those creatures parallel sinful mankind. Blood is the cure for the virus and one man gives his life to save mankind…hmmm…sound familiar? Not to mention the title of the film I Am Legend – God calls himself ‘I Am’ in Exodus 3:14. The film also ends with the awesome Bob Marley song entitled Redemption Song.

These are just a few of the themes, there are many more that are clearly pointing us to Scripture. One interesting line I wanted to point out in this post is a statement Dr. Neville (Smith) makes in reference to the spread of the virus, “God didn’t do this. We did!” Our gut reaction to this statement, may be an objection because we know that God rules and reigns over all things. However, applying this to our sin, which is represented by the virus, this is a correct statement.

In our understanding of the doctrine of sin, we know God DID NOT create sin. God created Adam and Eve posse peccare – able to sin/able not to sin. They both rebelled and sinned against God. Prior to this, however, there was another fall, that is, the fall of the angels. We do not know much about this from Scripture, there are some references to it (see 2 Peter 2:4 & Jude, also the existence of the serpent in the garden implies there was an earlier fall). Although we don’t know much about this, we know the fall of the angels was similar to mankind’s fall in that rebellion was at its core.

Some people argue with the notion that, God created all things [mankind & angels] therefore by implication, he is the author of sin, but this is incorrect. While I say (along Herman Bavinck) that sin remains a riddle, we would be completely wrong to say that God created sin, for many reasons, one of those being that this would completely go against his character. God is a holy and good God, and because of this he hates sin. Therefore, there is nothing in his being that would give him a desire to create sin.

While he is not the author of sin, we would also be wrong to say that the origin of sin caught God of guard. Augustine put it this way, “The works of the Lord are great, well-considered in all his acts of will” – that in a strange and ineffable fashion even that which is done against his will is not done without his will.” And since I’m quoting, let me do it once more. Anthony Hoekema sums things up well:

Sin is therefore against God’s will but never outside of or beyond God’s will. God permitted the Fall to occur because in his omnipotence he could bring good even out of evil. But the fact that man’s sin does not occur outside of the will of God neither excuses nor explains it. Sin will always remain a riddle.

Even though God did not create sin he did give us a cure, but we (and those in I Am Legend) chose to pursue another cure – a man-made cure. By doing so, this caused a deeper, darker virus to become more widespread, which caused people to hate the light. We, quite often, choose many others ways to cure us of our sin, but they end up causing us more pain and frustration.

I’ve heard many people say that we all struggle from gospel amnesia, which is true. We forget that our ultimate cure for every pain in life is the good news of Jesus Christ. We look to money, possessions, friendships, status, job security, 401K, and endless other things to cure our dark hearts, but none of these ‘cures’ will last. The only Cure for our dark heart is the Light of the world and we are reminded of this in the last line of the film which says, “Light up the darkness.”

Snapshots

Posted: October 24, 2011 by jperritt in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

snap·shot – a brief appraisal, summary, or profile.

Every Monday we hope to provide our readers with snapshots of films being released for the upcoming weekend. This will be a brief summary of films that will assist our readers in the area of discernment.  Instead of searching other sites and reading lengthy articles, it’s our hope to provide a concise list of all the films of the weekend in one consolidated post. If you wonder why we don’t list the MPAA ratings, please click here.

  • In Time – In the future people stop aging at the age of 25, but must work in order to buy more time.  However, a man is given more time, but must run for his life against a corrupt police force.  Genre – action, sci-fi; content – violence, some sensuality, partial nudity and language.
  • The Rum Diary – A journalist struggles to make a name for himself writing for a run-down newspaper in the Caribbean.  Genre – adventure, comedy, drama; content – language and sexuality.
  • Anonymous – A thriller proposing the idea that Shakespeare’s plays were actually written by another.  Genre – drama; content – some violence and sexuality.
  • Johnny English Reborn – Johnny English battles assassins going after the Chinese premier.  Genre – comedy, action; content – mild action violence, some language and sensuality.

Deformed. Grotesque. Hideous. Repulsive. Wretched. Shocking.

Words employed to describe the real person, Joseph “John” Merrick, depicted in the true story film, The Elephant Man. Merrick lived from 1862 to 1890 and suffered from an incurable combination of neurofibromatosis and Proteus Syndrome. What you see below is not the product of “Hollywood” makeup wizardry. It’s an authentic photo of a real man:

Three-time Academy Award winner David Lynch directed the film. Its star-studded cast includes Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Frederick Treves, Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Kendal, and John Hurt as the Elephant Man. Set in Victorian London the movie was shot entirely in black-and-white. It was released in 1980 and received nominations for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture.

For me, 1980 was a banner year. Fresh out of Ohio State with a Doctorate in Optometry, in many ways I was on top of the world. At least I thought I was. Back then you could have called me a “yuppie.” That means I was relatively well-dressed and well-groomed, my career was upwardly mobile, and I wore real cologne and not Old Spice like my father. I valued only the people who could help move my token forward on the game board of Life. And I was attracted only to the attractive.

Then I went to see The Elephant Man and something broke inside me.

When the movie was over, I sat glued to my seat until the theatre was completely empty. Then I walked to my car in silence, feeling as repulsive on the inside as the Elephant Man was on the outside. I whispered to myself, “I will never, ever be the same.”

The Elephant Man opens with Merrick as a circus sideshow freak. When not on display, he wears a burlap hood with a single eyehole to cover his face. Today the hood is on exhibit in the Royal London Hospital Museum:

Merrick’s “keeper” mistreats him with unrelenting cruelty. Dr. Treves arrives and makes a deal to allow him to take Merrick to the hospital to study and catalog his condition. Why? So he can gain notoriety in the medical community. As Treves begins to examine his “find,” Merrick is afraid to speak. He concludes that Merrick is an imbecile, a medical term meaning a person of extremely low intellectual capacity.

In the next scene, Merrick submits to being displayed and photographed naked before a meeting of the London Medical Society. Treves points out that Merrick’s left arm and genitals are entirely normal, but the remainder of him is “absolutely grotesque.” The scene ends with Treves receiving the applause of his colleagues.

In order to study him further, Treves quickly arranges for Merrick to stay in an isolated room at the hospital. A few days later, he overhears Merrick passionately reciting the 23rd Psalm. To his amazement, not only can Merrick speak, but he can also read. He is a person of faith who knows the Bible, and the Book of Common Prayer. Behind his monstrous appearance there is a person of intelligence and sensitivity. Treves’ self-interest begins to turn to fondness for Merrick.

And as the story unfolds, you discover the dignity in the downtrodden, the beauty in the beast. Please watch the trailer before you read on:

Due to his condition, Merrick is as broken and humble as any man ever was. But eventually grace pours in according to the very promise of God:

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

-James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5

As it becomes increasingly clear that Merrick is tender, thoughtful, and courageous, more and more people begin to admire him. Merrick’s story is eventually featured in The London Times and the famous actress, Mrs. Kendal, takes notice and arranges to meet him in person.

In my favorite scene, Mrs. Kendal arrives with a gift: The Works of Shakespeare. Merrick opens it with delight and before long the two of them are playing the parts, he reads the lines aloud, while she recites them from memory. When they are done, she beams at him and says, “Oh, Mr. Merrick, you are not an Elephant Man at all. You are a Romeo.” She kisses him on the cheek. He sheds a silent tear.

As the story draws toward the close, you discover a profound, transcendent beauty in the Elephant Man. He exhibits every aspect of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And you discover you love him, not in spite of his appearance, but because of his appearance.

To know the Elephant Man is to love the Elephant Man. So I was not surprised to learn that in addition to the movie, Joseph Merrick’s legacy included several biographies, and a Tony Award winning play.

When it is all said and done, was Merrick’s condition actually a blessing from his infinitely wise, loving and sovereign God? Was his disfigurement a path to authentic humility? A humility that in turn unlocked an outpouring of grace that enabled Merrick to live an extremely rare and difficult life—a life that continues to inspire millions through film, print and theatre? A life that still speaks even though he’s been dead for over 120 years?

Jesus said, “Many who are first will be last, and the last first.” I wonder what Joseph Merrick will look like in his resurrected body?

I wonder. If I could trade places with the Elephant Man, would I? Think I might, would you?

Bob (left) Jerry (right)

We are rolling out the red carpet again at Reel Thinking to welcome author, optometrist, entrepreneur, management consultant, husband, father of four, blogger & screenwriter, Bob Bevington (He told me to write ‘wannabe screenwriter’, but I’ve had the privilege and honor to read one of his screenplays, so I can assure you he’s no wannabe).  Bob has coauthored two books with Jerry Bridges – The Great Exchange, My Sin for His Righteousness, (Crossway 2007), TheGreatExchangeBook.com and The Bookends of the Christian Life, (Crossway, 2009), TheBookendsBook.com.  His most recent book, entitled Red Like Blood: Confrontations with Grace, (Shepherd Press, 2011), RedLikeBlood.com, was coauthored with Joe Coffey.  He and Joe blog regularly at RedLikeBlood.com, so be sure and check that out. You can also keep up with him on twitter @RLBbook.

I was blessed to be able to meet Bob this past April at The Gospel Coalition and even shared a meal with him (he was kind enough to pick up the check). He is the kind of guy who never meets a stranger and has such a passion to proclaim the grace God has lavished on him.  All of that to say, we are very excited to have him blog on the film, The Elephant Man, tomorrow.  As you will see, this film left a deep impact on Bob and his communication of that should resonate with any movie-lover.  So be sure and make our esteemed guest feel welcomed by coming back tomorrow and checking out his post – The Elephant Man: The Beauty in the Beast.

Posted: October 19, 2011 by jperritt in Drama
Tags: , , , , ,

This Friday, author & screenwriter, Bob Bevington will be doing a post on the 1980’s classic film The Elephant Man. The movie tells the story of a horrifically disfigured man, who turns out to be sensitive and intelligent on the inside. We’re curious, would you sacrifice outer beauty for inner beauty?

The Adjustment Bureau: Who’s in charge here?

Posted: October 18, 2011 by John C. Kwasny, Ph.D. in Action, Drama
Tags: , , , ,

I’m not sure if I have ever heard God described as “The Chairman” before–the “Man Upstairs” or “The Big Boss,” yes, but the Chairman is a new one to me.  And, angels as hat (rather than halo) wearing “Adjustment” bureaucrats?  That’s unique too.  Such is the world of The Adjustment Bureau–the latest movie attempt to deal with the much-debated conflict between man’s free will and God’s sovereignty.  It is a movie that is tailor-made for discussions about this essential theological issue.

The Adjustment Bureau centers on David Norris (Matt Damon), a rising political star, who ends up falling deeply in love with a mystery woman named Elise (Emily Blunt).  Unfortunately for this love-struck couple, this relationship is against The Chairman’s “plan” for their  individual lives.  The Chairman wants David to be president of the United States (too bad for him) and Elise to be a famous dancer.  For a variety of reasons, David and Elise cannot stay together and achieve this soveriegn plan.  So “adjustors” are dispatched by the Chairman to alter their paths so they will never end up together “happily ever after.”

But, by a freak series of mishaps, the veil is pulled back and David learns of the behind-the-scenes manipulations of The Chairman and his minions.  This leads to a lengthy battle (chase scene style) between the “free will” of David and the “sovereign plan for his life” of the Chairman.  You’ll have to watch the movie to find out whose plan wins out.  Go, rent it now!

As I have already said, what makes this film a great discussion piece is its underlying theology.  Consider some of the following conversation starters taken directly from the movie.  God has a plan for people, and he uses angels to make “adjustments” in their paths to keep them on track.  Or, the notion that free will is really just an illusion.  Or maybe, God actually gives people free will to choose “little things” but He takes care of the “big things” of life.  Or, try this other variation proposed by the film: God used to stay out of things in this world, but then we had the “Dark Ages.”  He stepped back in to “adjust” humanity, and then we had the Enlightenment and Renaissance.  After that, he left humans to themselves again, but they screwed things up again, creating the World Wars and the Great Depression.  A fascinating view of history, wouldn’t you say?  Finally, by the end of the movie, we are treated to the theological view that God’s meddling in our lives is just a big series of tests to see if we will learn to live rational lives.  Then, in the future, maybe, just maybe, God won’t have to design the plans for humans anymore; he could again trust us to design the plans ourselves!

Yes, there are some (very) partial truths in there–that’s why The Adjustment Bureau is such a great movie to watch and think through.  Unfortunately, there’s one BIG truth missing in this Who’s in charge here? film: The goodness of God.  A God who is sovereign and not good is just a dictatorial “chairman.”  A God who makes plans that thwart the so-called “good” desires of the human heart makes human beings much more good than God!

Praise the Lord that we don’t have to fear a controlling Chairman who is only about making things go according to his plan.  One of the movie’s taglines quips: “Fight for your fate.”  Thankfully, we don’t have to!   We serve a loving God whose plan for His people is perfect.  His children can rest in the comfort and joy that a redeeming God holds their futures in His hands and can be fully trusted to bring His plans to pass.  So, when we find ourselves “fighting” for our own plans, the solution is always to submit to an all-knowing, all-loving Lord, Master, and Chairman of our souls!

Snapshots

Posted: October 17, 2011 by jperritt in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

snap·shot – a brief appraisal, summary, or profile.

Every Monday we hope to provide our readers with snapshots of films being released for the upcoming weekend. This will be a brief summary of films that will assist our readers in the area of discernment.  Instead of searching other sites and reading lengthy articles, it’s our hope to provide a concise list of all the films of the weekend in one consolidated post. If you wonder why we don’t list the MPAA ratings, please click here.

  • Paranormal Activity 3 – In 1988 two young sisters encounter a hostile entity that begins tormenting their family.  Genre – horror; content – terror, disturbing images and language.
  • The Three Musketeers – The musketeers must unite in order to stop a double agent from seizing the French throne, sending Europe to war.  Genre – action, drama, adventure; content – action violence, mild language and sensuality.
  • Margin Call – A thriller that revolves around a group of investment bankers during the early stages of the financial crisis.  Genre – drama, thriller; content – strong language.