Archive for September, 2012

I love the Back to the Future film series. Ever since I first witnessed Michael J. Fox jump head first into a DeLorean (check out a great tribute to the 80s here), time travel has intrigued me. Yes, I know that many of you have given up on the concept of time travel because of the way that LOST ended…but I ask you to press on. Time traveling stories are here to stay (until we travel back in time and change that).

Today, the newest time travel thriller, Looper, hits theaters. It looks like a mind-bending, action-packed, hit…but time will tell (okay, that was bad).

As I watched the trailer (below) and perused the internet info on this new film, I was intrigued all the more. The tag line for Looper is this: “Face your future. Fight your past.” At first glance, this is merely a good synopsis of the film plot – guy from the past fights his future self in the present. Of course, a good tag lines hints at more. I can’t wait to see what writer/director Rian Johnson has in store.

The tag line got me thinking. The past and future can be frightening and exciting at the same time. Some people spend their lives trying to forget the past while others want to relive the “glory days.” For some the future is “bright,” but for others, the unknown produces anxiety.

Isn’t this one of the reasons why time travel is so intriguing? If it were possible, the ability to travel through time would allow us to retain a level of control. We could go back and clean up our past or head in to the future to check our progress. Sound nice, doesn’t it? Maybe? If the many stories about time travel are any indicator, I am guessing that it would be a train wreck.

There is good news for those who belong to Jesus Christ…We need not fear these things! We need not grasp at new technologies to fix our past lives or prevent future problems from happening. We have been saved by a eternal, sovereign God who created the world and “inhabits eternity” (Isaiah 57:15). While he is not confined to time and space, he is not distant. He has also entered into relationship with humanity in the person of Jesus Christ – fully God and fully man (Colossians 1:15-20).

Jesus Christ has fought our past, present and future sin by taking our place on the cross (Colossians 1:21-23). In his death and resurrection he has made the way for us to face our future with confidence. You see, in Christ there is no need for time travel. We do not need to worry about the past or fret the future. Christians know how the story ends…and this “spoiler” is awesome!

[18] For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. [19] For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. [20] For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope [21] that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. [22] For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. [23] And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. [24] For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? [25] But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
[26] Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. [27] And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. [28] And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. [29] For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. [30] And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

(Romans 8:18-30 ESV)

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Thursday’s Thoughts

Posted: September 27, 2012 by Josh Kwasny in Thursday's Thoughts
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What are you thinking about this weekend? Maybe the goal is not to think, but…for those of you who are going to head to the theater to check out a new release, let me give you some questions to get you thinking as you eat your popcorn…

Won’t Back Down (Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhall, Holly Hunter) – “Two determined mothers­, one a teacher, look to transform their children’s failing inner city school. Facing a powerful and entrenched bureaucracy, they risk everything to make a difference in the education and future of their children” (imdb.com).

1. Who is responsible for the education of children – government, parents, society as a whole? Does the Bible speak to this question?

2. What was your formative education like? What assumptions (based upon your experiences) do you bring to the table on this issue?

3. How should the individual Christians respond to stories like this? How about the church?

Hotel Transylvania (Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Andy Samberg) – “Dracula, who operates a high-end resort away from the human world, goes into overprotective mode when a boy discovers the resort and falls for the count’s teen-aged daughter” (imdb.com).

1. If you have children – What should parental involvement look like when it comes to dating?

2. If you are dating – What role should your parents have in your dating relationship(s)?

3. Who is funnier…Adam Sandler or Andy Samberg? Or do you get them confused because their names are basically the same?

Looper (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt) – “In 2072, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by transporting back Joe’s future self” (imdb.com).

1. Okay, time travel is cool…but are there any moral implications (if it were possible, that is…or is it?)?

2. What would you be willing to do to erase your past and/or secure your future?

3. If God offered you a chance to see your future, would you want to see it? Why or why not?

4. How would knowing your future affect your present?

Wednesday’s Weekend Poll

Posted: September 26, 2012 by jperritt in Action, Sci-Fi
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Loud, close and heartbreaking

Posted: September 25, 2012 by Emilio Garofalo Neto in Uncategorized

Last night wifey and I watched Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It is directed by Stephen Daldry basde on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer. Here is one of the trailers

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The movie deals with a boy’s search for a message or something left to him by his father, who died on the WTC. Very nice technical work, great acting, with Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Viola Davis and a nice and varied cast of unkowns who do a great job. Oh yes, and the great Max Von Sydow! Amazing stuff.

Some thoughts on the experience:

– It is remarkable that the movie is able to connect with non-US-Americans (like me). Of course, 9/11 was an international tragedy, but especially tragic for the USA. The movie, I believe, succesfully puts that day into the frame of a senseless and perverse tragedy for the whole of mankind, not only a national thing. I like that;  we need to be able to relate to suffering and tragedy wherever we see it; that is the point of the parable of the good samaritan, is it not? As a Brazilian I was deeply moved by what I saw regarding that day and the ripple effect in the lives of many.

– The quest is at the same time heartbreaking and ecouraging. I will not say much about it for the sake of avoiding spoilers; but it has similarities and dissimilarities with our own quest in this life. We were given a task by Christ before his departure, the task of making disciples. And similarly to the story, we are to go pretty much everywhere in our alotted area and talk to all in order to advance in the completion of the task. It is different in the sense that we are not left with only crumbs and some mysterious clues, we are in fact left with a clear set of tools that have all we need for life and godliness.

– Another issue worth commenting is how the little guy’s quest touches and changes the lives of many. In our own walk in this world we often just go without meeting, interacting and simply getting to know how God’s immense creativity is displayed in the people right next to us. Like Christ, we need to interact with people.

– SPOILER ALERT: One of the big reveals has to do with the confession Oskar makes regarding not being able to bring himself to answer the phone when his father called from WTC. It is heartbreaking and a sour confession when we finally hear about it. Today, reflecting on it, that made me think about Peter; who in the moment of greatest need from his beloved master was unable to bring himself to identifying with him. In that, the most tragic of days, Christ died alone, so we could become part of his family. And if we are sincere in our assesment, biblically speaking we gentiles are not really Oskar, we are the rebel terrorists. And yet, his death conquers death and sin and brings over to his side all those who have faith in him.

Good news indeed.

Snapshots

Posted: September 24, 2012 by jperritt in Snapshots
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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.

Looper – Set in a future where the mob sends people into the past to be gunned down, until the hired gun’s future self shows up. Genre – sci-fi, action; content – strong violence, language, nudity, and drug use.

Hotel Transylvania – Dracula’s fancy, secretive resort is surprised by a human visitor who falls for The Count’s daughter. Genre – family, comedy, animation; content – rude humor & scary images.

Won’t Back Down – Two determined mothers go all ‘girl power’ on their local failing school in hopes to reform it. Genre – drama; content – some language.

The (good?) master

Posted: September 21, 2012 by Emilio Garofalo Neto in Uncategorized

Yesterday we talked a bit about why it is that we like to follow people; even if that means we follow crazy people with bad agendas.

Today let’s look more closely at the issue of how it is that people lead. In the movie The Master, Philip Seymour Hoffman, is a clever and crafty man that can make people follow him. There is something magnetic and charming even in his lunacy. In our world, it seems that anyone who is even mildly charming can find people to follow them.

In the mind of many, all religious leaders are somewhat alike; they all supposedly prey on feeble minds and gullible hearts, with promises of eternal (or right now) rewards. Is this what Jesus does? Of course not, but we need to check anyway:

– Gurus usually demand blind obedience; Jesus asks you to examine for yourself the scriptures and confirm his own testimony regarding himself in the resurrection;

– Gurus will demand your life so they can get richer and more comfortable; Jesus abandoned all comfort and  safety so you could live fully;

– Gurus enlighten the disciples little by little so they will never surpass them; Jesus desires every disciple to constantly learn and grow into his likeness;

– Gurus make their disciples suspicious of the world and closed unto themselves; Jesus wants his disciples to be a big influence, salty and shiny to all those who are around;

– Gurus want the disciples to feel like they are special and great for being chosen; Jesus calls those who are weak and despised;

– Gurus will make you believe that they are semi-deities; Jesus is actually God and yet he comes to us in our weakness;

– Gurus will work you to your death for their own greatness; Christ works and dies for us.

You may prefer to follow all sorts of gurus out there, and they are legion. But there really is only one true master.

The master

Posted: September 20, 2012 by Emilio Garofalo Neto in Uncategorized

What is this film? You may have seen a preview or two in which Joaquin Phoenix looks deranged, Philip Seymour Hoffman looks manic and you are not really sure what is up. Films directed by Paul Thomas Anderson do not come out every year, and they are usually an event within the film industry. Some of his movies I highly recommend; some I highly recommend that you stay away from. His last one was the amazing There Will Be Blood, in which Daniel Day-Lewis dealt with fake preachers, oil and milk-shakes.

There has been a lot of stir concerning The Master. Watch the trailer first. This is only a teaser, showing what kind of thing will be in the movie.

 

The consternation in some circles about this movie has to do with the similarity between the film’s story with that of Ron Hubbard, creator of Scientology, one of Hollywood’s premier lunacies. The movie tells the story of a “master” (Hoffman) who will find out the secret of living in this life, or something like it. Phoenix, out of his own weird phase, is the disciple of the master.

Why is it that we follow people; even if they are out there people with not so good ideas? You certainly have seen it and have likely done it yourself: you followed that guy or girl that everyone said was full of bad ideas and yet you seemed to think there was wisdom there.

The issue goes, of course, way beyond just this movie or the story it points to; it goes back to creation. We humans were created to follow God in our thoughts and actions; thinking his thoughts after him and acting in this world accordingly. We were made to follow examples and leadership; the family model is not a product of the Fall, it is how God made man to function. We need models, examples and mentors. In our sinfulness we are, however, a living contradiction: in one hand we were made to follow God and mature people with heavenly wisdom; on the other hand we suppress the truth in unrighteousness and seek to follow our own autonomous folly. Thus every human looks for masters, people who they can emulate. We seek in them at the same time direction for life and validation of our own evil ways; when our master (teacher, father, boyfriend, brother, sergeant) disappoints us or confront our folly we look for a new one.

Following Christ is, of course, about following a master; a good thing about this relationship is that he is the only master we can be sure of who fully teaches and live the Word of God, in fact, he is the incarnate word of God. This does not mean we only follow him, however. We are biblically told to imitate those who imitate Christ; and we ourselves are to be models in our sphere of action (church, home etc). Tomorrow we will look more closely at our master and how he leads.

Wednesday’s Weekend Poll

Posted: September 19, 2012 by jperritt in Wednesday's Weekend Poll
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Often times when I see a certain film there’s needed time for reflection before deciding wether or not I enjoyed it; not so with The Shawshank Redemption. Of course reflection over the years has caused me to more fully enjoy the depth and greatness of it, but it has proved to be one of those rare films where I consciously thought,This is a uniquely great film, while watching it. It is easily in my top 10 favorite films and is on AFI’s top 100 movies of all time (#72).

I must give the common disclaimer that the film is rated R, and rightly so. It is set in a prison, therefore, the language used by the inmates is filthy and there are some other disturbing scenes that take place.

With those cautions in mind, this is a film I would recommend. Now, it has been quite some time since I’ve seen this film, so I’m going on memory here. Please be gracious if you can recite every line of the film from memory. Some of the themes I enjoy are friendship, loyalty, justice/injustice.

Something that has always intrigued me about this film is the fact that Stephen King wrote it. The man who is known for horror and aliens dressed like clowns, writes such an excellent drama (he also wrote the short stories that Stand By Me and The Green Mile are based on). I am not only surprised that King would excel at another genre, but some of the theology that makes its way into his writing has been interesting to me. Redemption, being one of those themes and the one I want to highlight today.

Ellis Boyd ‘Red’ Redding (Morgan Freeman) is the supporting character and provides the narration of the film (this was before it was cool to get Freeman to narrate every movie). As some of the guys are talking in the yard one day, introducing themselves to Andy Durfresne (Tim Robbins), and telling of their various backgrounds, one thing they all share is the fact that they ‘didn’t do it.’ That is, each of them were innocent in their own eyes. Most, if not all, of the inmates knew they had committed a crime but it was apparent that they actually started buying into the lie they had been telling. You could tell they had been making a profession of innocence for so long that their hearts had become calloused to their own guilt.

One interesting aspect to Red was the fact that he admits his guilt. As Andy assumes to hear the same testimony from Red, he breaks the mold, exclaiming, “I’m the only guilty man in Shawshank.”

This is a similar profession of the Christian. The world tends to think of us as the other inmates in Shawshank. They think we are people who testify to the fact that ‘we didn’t do it’, however, we are people who did do it. Not the righteous, sinners Jesus came to call. Part of being a Christian is understanding and affirming what is said in Romans 3:10-12, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

It is a contradiction for the Christian to profess repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, without knowing, believing, affirming, and exclaiming that we are guilty. We are prisoners to our sin apart from this.

And yes, even after a true profession of faith in Jesus, we are still prone to our prison inmate lifestyle. Which is portrayed through the characters of Brooks and Red. They are both released from their bondage in Shawshank, but don’t know how to function. They both want to go back to prison. There are comforts there. Brooks even attempts to murder one of his friends, prior to his release from Shawshank, just because he doesn’t know how he will live outside of prison. Is this not true of the Christian? Old habits die hard and our indwelling sin keeps calling us back. But, as Red says, we must ‘get busy living or get busy dying.’

The ‘living’ we must be doing is living under a constant humility of our sin, a boastful assurance in the finished work of Jesus Christ and strength through the gift of the Spirit. Therefore, Red is a character that should resonate with the Christian. We are guilty, we are prisoners, we are free, and we must get busy living or get busy dying. We could say that the testimony of Ellis Boyd Redding echoes that of the Christian. He appears to be one who has been bathed in the blood of Christ. No wonder they call him Red.

Snapshots

Posted: September 17, 2012 by jperritt in Snapshots
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.

Dredd 3D – A cop takes on a gang in a futuristic world where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner. Genre – action, sci-fi; content – strong bloody violence, sexual content and drug use.

End of Watch – Two officers are marked for death after they bust some notorious drug dealers. Genre – action, drama; content – strong violence, language, disturbing images, and drug use.

Trouble With the Curve – An aging recruiting scout takes his daughter on his last scouting trip. Genre – drama; content – language and sexual references.

House at the End of the Street – When will families and realtors learn that you just stay far away from these houses? Genre – horror, thriller; content – intense violence and terror, language, and some drug use.