Posts Tagged ‘Brokenness’

Document 1People sometimes quip, Ministry would be easy if you didn’t have to deal with people.  The same could be said of relationships – they would be easier if you didn’t have to deal with people.  The subtitle to Paul David Tripp and Timothy Lane’s book entitled Relationships aptly reads A Mess Worth Making.  If anyone were to sum up the story of Two Lovers in a word ‘Messy!’ would prove fairly accurate.

Two Lovers tells the story of a heart-broken man, Lenard Creditor (Joaquin Phoenix).  Lenard suffers from depression after his fiancé left him.  He now lives with his parents and works at his father’s dry cleaning business.  With little prospects in sight, he comes across Sandra Cohen (Vinessa Shaw) and Michelle Rausch (Gwenyth Paltro) within a day of each other.  He is drawn to both of them, providing Lenard (and the viewer) with a difficult decision.  That is, until you get to know them.

The film accurately portrays the complexities of relationships.  Not so much through cliches of your typical rom-com fare, but by getting down to a heart-level.  It accurately displays the brokenness present in every human heart.  It accurately displays the truth that we all display a facade of tidiness towards those we meet in order to conceal the depths of depravity below the surface.

In a sense, Two Lovers is your anti-romantic comedy.  It wars against the cliched one-liners the male fires away at the female.  While those lines are fired away in Two Lovers, they often come out awkwardly and fall on deaf ears.  Not only are the lines not received well, but relationships aren’t sanitized, cookie-cutter style either.  There are deep problems of drug addiction and past sins, that display a difficulty in relationships that aren’t a quick fix.

Not only does the film capture the complexities of relationships, it also captures the deep need for them.  As Tripp and Lane explain in their book, we were made for relationships.  Being created in the image of a triune God – who is in perfect relationship with himself – we don’t have a choice but to be in relationship. Sharing in fellowship with other individuals is something that’s in our DNA.  Sin, however, doesn’t make this relating all that easy, but it doesn’t keep it from being a human necessity either.

Two Lovers is a messy film.  It has content that will bother some Christians (utilize the fast-foward).  That being said, its display of sin wreaking havoc in individual’s lives, as well as, the need for humans to be in relationship with others, gives a realism that’s often cleaned up before its portrayal on the big screen.  I think a film like this proves that we want redemption.  We don’t like messy stories.  We often want stories that are cleaned up and have a happy ending.  And while you can say there is a happy ending in Two Lovers, the rocky path on the way there will prove too bumpy for most.

Advertisements

princessNot too long ago I bashed a Disney classic (Peter Pan; even though I do like it), so I thought I would come to Disney’s defense in this post.  After all, we had an excellent time in Disney World this past October and we own/enjoy many of their movies.

We were recently watching The Princess and the Frog, and I noticed how this film contains some pretty dark themes in it.  Then, I thought about almost every Disney film having elements of evil depicted.  Let’s take a minute to reflect on a few of the films:

  • Finding Nemo – the mother and her litter (is that the correct term?) of fish are destroyed in the opening minutes of the film.
  • The Lion King – the father is stampeded by some gazelles, Scar makes us all cry, and the hyenas are just plain mean.
  • Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs – the scary witch still gives me nightmares and she poisons Snow White (whose voice drives me crazy, by the way).
  • Sleeping Beauty – has Maleficent who looks demonic prior to turning into a dragon, but drives further fear into the hearts of pre-schoolers by breathing fire.
  • Toy Story 1 – Sid
  • Toy Story 2 – Al of Al’s Toy Barn
  • Toy Story 3 – Lotso
  • Toy Story trilogy – all of them have some pretty terrifying/sad moments.  Sid’s toy experiments, a child who abandons her doll (Jessie) on the street, Lotso’s rebellion, toys descending into the pit of “hell”, and Andy making the entire audience cry by giving his toys away (be honest…you cried).
  • Up – everyone over the age of 25 was crying in the first 10 minutes
  • Tangled – “Mother knows best” Mother Gothel’s aging makes every child cower; not to mention her fall out of the tower is a little unsettling.
  • Frozen – the parents die and Elsa won’t build a snow man with Anna for Pete’s sake! (the huge snow creature is also frightening).

And, then we get to The Princess and the Frog, quite possibly the most demonic and frightening, because it does explicitly deal with demons, after all.  Dr. Facilier makes a deal with the Devil and uses voodoo throughout the film.  Demons dance around and then Dr. Facilier’s deal goes wrong and he is dragged to hell…literally.

But, all this talk may have sounded somewhat negative and I began this post stating it would be positive.  So here’s my assertion: This is all really good stuff.  I mean, sometimes I’d watch these films with my children and think, couldn’t they have left all the dying out?  Couldn’t they have left off that scary part?  Or, did they really have to make the moles on her nose that grotesque?  However, then I thought about the nature of evil and realized, it’s real.

The truth is, there is death.  The truth is, there is sadness.  The truth is, demonic forces are wagging war against us each and every day.  If that’s the case, then what’s my problem with these depictions?  My problem is the fact that my pre-fall nature is kicking in.  I want Eden.  I want the Eden that existed before that nasty serpent.  Or, I wan’t Jesus to be here…now.  I want to be in Heaven.  You see, these desires are normal.  The knee-jerk desire that hates evil, death, sadness, and demons is a good thing.  But, the cold harsh truth is the fact that we live in the “already” and the “not yet”.  Jesus Christ has already come, but he has not yet returned.

Therefore, Disney got it right!  We need children growing up with a sense of fear, sadness, and evil.  It is unloving to raise them without a sense of brokenness.  The more brokenness they feel, the better.  It’s just our job to let them know that there’s only one “magical spell” that can break this.  And it’s not a kiss from a prince or some incantation from a good wizard, it’s only fixed by the righteous blood of Jesus Christ.

secret_life_of_walter_mitty_ver6The first time I saw the trailer to this film I was very impressed.  It was a movie that was on my “to-watch” list (not that I have an excel spreadsheet or anything).  However, I heard some mixed reviews from some trusted critics, so I put this film off a while.  But, I finally got around to watching it and I really liked it.

Yes, it is on the quirky side.  Yes, it may be just a little too weird for some of you.  But, if you watch it with any level of honesty, you’ll realize it’s a film about you.  To put it another way, you’re weird.  I’m not trying to hurt your feelings or get your day started off on the wrong foot, but you are a little strange.  Please don’t skip to another blog or run and grab the tissues just yet, hang on and I’ll explain.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is about a quiet, “nobody” who dreams of being somebody.  Walter [Ben Stiller – who also directed the film] is an average guy who often has extraordinary fantasies of courage and success.  However, his job is threatened and he embarks on an adventure that blends fantasy and reality.  You see, the film gives us glimpses into Walter’s head.  Without the screen going black or employing some cinematic visuals that fade into a dream, we are seamlessly carried off into Walter’s fantasies.  Because of this, the viewer often wonders if this is reality or simply one of Walter’s crazy dreams.

Now, back to the part where I called you weird.  If you took offense to the statement, let me ask you this question, would you like for someone to get into your head for a week?  Would you like it if someone could record all of your thoughts and play them for your family and friends?  I think the answer for most of us would be a loud, NO!  Why?  Well, chances are, most of our thoughts are sinful.  After all, our heart is poisoned with sin and we, therefore, end up thinking a lot of things we shouldn’t (see the Sermon on the Mount).

But, what Walter Mitty showed us was that fantasies are normal.  Yes, the movie may have seemed a little too weird, but it captured similar fantasies that are rolling around in your mind.  Who hasn’t had fantasies about being a hero?  Telling off the bully in their life? Or, saying just the right thing at the right moment?  Most of us have.

In fact, I would say that you’re not weird if you have fantasies, I would say you’re weird if you don’t.  Fantasies are typically favorable thoughts.  We rarely have fantasies that end bad for us, do we?  I mean, how many of you have fantasies where you are the villain and someone else is the hero?  Fantasies tell us something is broken.  In Walter’s life, he was the “loser”.  He didn’t have a lot to offer – just think of his conversation with the e-harmony guy.  However, he compensated this lack, by dreaming scenarios that righted the wrongs.  Scenarios that brought about justice, that manifested romance, and that ensured a “happily ever after” ending.

The reason we have fantasies, like Walter, is because this life isn’t what it should be.  Justice is flawed, love is imperfect, we don’t say the right things all the time, people are bullies, there is sadness, the list goes on and on.  Therefore, many of us imagine a life that is perfect, a life without sadness or injustice.  A life that seems to only exist in our minds.  The truth for the Christian, however, is that these “fantasies” about perfect justice, love, and peace are not things that solely exist in our minds.