Posts Tagged ‘Genesis’

passengersPassengers accomplishes something reminiscent of Cast Away and I Am Legend – the need for fellowship.  While audiences felt sympathy for Tom Hanks and Will Smith being secluded on islands – one a tropical island, the other Manhattan island – Passengers increases this feeling on the final frontier.

When we first meet Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) he’s just waking up from hyper-sleep…90 years too soon.  Not only is that just a tad too early, but he’s the only passenger, out of five thousand, who woke up too soon.

As he slowly gets acclimated to life on the spacecraft, Avalon, he quickly realizes he’s all alone.  His terrified reaction to this realization reminds us of the importance for community and fellowship.  Not only is this feeling enhanced when it’s set against the backdrop of the vastness of space, but it’s increased by the understanding that other humans are aboard the Avalon.  This presence of humanity only seems to taunt Jim’s solitude.

Jim gets a glimpse of humanity as he encounters a bartender named Arthur (Michael Sheen), only to discover he’s a robot.  To Arthur’s credit, he does a superb job of acting human.  Just one example, Arthur constantly polishes glasses at the bar, even though Jim is the only customer aboard the ship.  When confronted with this truth, Arthur explains that it’s designed to comfort those he’s talking to.  Instead of staring into the eyes of Jim as he shares deep struggles, the distraction offered by polishing the glass comforts the patron.

Arthur even offers some advice to momentarily alleviate Jim’s predicament, “Quit trying to control everything.”  While this could be interpreted as a biblical truth – pointing to rest in God’s sovereignty – it becomes license to indulge.  Jim is all alone, but he has carte blanche access to every restaurant and drink available to Avalon guests.  Arthur’s advice grants reprieve to Jim’s loneliness, but it is short lived.  The emptiness of self-indulgence is on full display as Jim’s party comes crashing down.

The Moral Dilemma

As Jim reaches the end of himself – and the partying he enjoyed – he discovers a passenger that catches his eye.  He learns her name and tracks her down through the ship’s video log.  What begins as curiosity, becomes infatuation.  Jim watches the videos Aurora has left and begins to fall in love with her.  Sitting beside her sleep chamber, watching videos of her – simulating something of a date – Jim realizes his curiosity has only left him in greater misery.  He’s so close to human contact, and yet, so far away.

As he seeks advice from Arthur, he realizes the dilemma he’s created for himself: Wake a woman up too early and ruin the life she desired on another planet or continue to live and eventually die in isolation. One thing is for certain, neither is an appealing conclusion.

Movie-goers with a heartbeat understand this to be a true challenge for Jim.  Perhaps there are many who would claim, I’d never be that selfish.  The filmmakers, however, present such a clear picture of isolation and loneliness, one can’t help but feel Jim’s dilemma. 

One of the most poignant scenes in the film occurs from Jim’s discovery of a spacesuit.  As he sees the headless suit, he beings to embrace it and try to hold the hands of the suit.  For a fleeting second, he’s reminded of what it’s like to embrace another.  It is a powerful illustration of our need for community and displays the inner-wrestlings of Jim’s heart.

The Unintended Truth

This film does such a good job of communicating mankind’s innate desire for community.  Being created in God’s image necessitates community.  As Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in perfect community with themselves, humanity is created with this desire for community – it’s hard-wired into us (Gen. 1:26-27).

An equally deep truth, and stronger theme in the film, was seen in Jim’s choosing of Aurora.  On the one hand, we understand that perhaps he was drawn to her beauty and then her personality through the video log, therefore, his choice of passenger is easy to grasp.  On the other hand, why didn’t he choose another man?  A buddy to hang out with?  A guy he could have played basketball or lifted weights with (he does both of those things on the Avalon)?

I was fascinated by the fact that Passengers unintentionally, most likely, illustrated one of the earliest truths of Scripture – It is not good that man should be alone (Gen. 2:18).  Just as Adam spent some time in the Garden of Eden and discovered he did not have a helper fit for him, Jim discovered that he needed – not just another image bearer – but a female.

Jim’s portrayed as a capable man in the film.  He’s a mechanic so he can fix things, he seems to be in good physical shape, he’s athletic, but he’s still incomplete.  He needs a woman.  Yes, another man would offer him community and fellowship he longs for, but there’s something about a female that’s unique.  There’s something she offers that man doesn’t.  The female is an image-bearer that bears the image of God in a manner man doesn’t.

In light of the differences between genders, I must tell viewers that there is some sexual content in the film.  While nothing is explicit, the film illustrates the sexual desires males and females have ingrained into their being.  I want to be sensitive and warn others of this content, and, while nothing is too explicit in this film, I wish they would have toned it down a bit.  At the same time, we are talking about one man and one woman secluded in space for a long time.  While Christian viewers may quickly look upon those scenes with understandable disdain, we also – I would suggest – should recognize the biblical truth of sexuality that’s being communicated onscreen.  I’m not condoning the content, but the truth.

As the film approaches its ultimate climax, Jim looks at Aurora and says, “I need your help.”  Jim, a very capable man, needs the woman and, as the film illustrates, Aurora needs Jim.  The man and the woman need one another to accomplish the task before them.  Ultimately, it is one man and one woman that keep civilization aboard the Aurora continuing.  Without the two of them coming together, the entire crew would not survive.

God’s Passengers

While so much of our culture wants to distort Scripture’s view of biblical manhood and womanhood, I feel that Passengers gives viewers a pretty accurate portrayal of what we find in God’s Word.  God created humans to be in fellowship.  God created male and female after his image.  God taught Adam he needed Eve.  Adam recited poetry as he first lays eyes on the beautiful creature he calls ‘woman’.

This side of heaven, our community and fellowship is imperfect.  Sin brings division among males and females, it brings division among races, and sin brings death which ushers in the most painful form of isolation to those left in its wake.

Truth be told, we are all passengers.  In this grand narrative called life, we are reminded that we aren’t the main characters.  The life we’re now living is not ours, but Gods.  He owns all things, even our stories.  While we are significance because we bear his image, we are merely passengers along for the ride.

This post is a few years old, but decided to run it again because of Monday’s post.

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Hannibal Lecture, Norman Bates, & Darth Vader; three of cinemas greatest villains. According to the American Film Institute, these are the top three greatest villains of all time. The shark from Jaws, the alien from Alien, and the Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs also made it in the top twenty.

What is it about these villains that make them better than the average villain? Why is it when we think of Darth Vader, for example, that we think, Yes! He’s an awesome villain. For starters, he’s got the force, his outfit is pretty cool, and his voice/breathing has left a lasting impression on culture (thanks James Earl Jones). But, he also crushes a man’s neck in Episode IV, as well as, cutting off several other character’s breathing, ending their life. Is that good? Does that make him awesome?

We at Reel Thinking, recently composed a list of the top villains/henchmen in the James Bond franchise. It got me thinking, should we really cheer for the bad guys? What criteria do we use to judge whether or not a villain is a ‘good’ villain? Or, is it okay to like the villain in some cases?

According to AFI’s criteria, they state,

For voting purposes, a “villain” was defined as a character(s) whose wickedness of mind, selfishness of character and will to power are sometimes masked by beauty and nobility, while others may rage unmasked. They can be horribly evil or grandiosely funny, but are ultimately tragic.*

This is a carefully crafted definition, but ultimately it’s praising crafty, wickedness or, simply, in-your-face evil. Let’s consider each of these in turn.

Craftiness

The AFI definition states that the wickedness and evil is sometimes masked by beauty and nobility; i.e. craftiness. When I hear the word ‘crafty’, I think of Satan. In Genesis 3:1 we read that the serpent was more crafty than all the other animals. The serpent was wicked, yet there was something attractive about him. His evil wasn’t repulsive or Adam and Eve would have run in the other direction. His wickedness had an appeal, or beauty if you will, that made Adam and Eve run to him, resulting in the Fall of mankind. Therefore, we can say that evil sometimes possesses a certain level of beauty and appeal.

In-Your-Face-Evil

Some of the villains on the AFI list are those who rage unmasked or are considered horribly evil. Villains like Freddy Krueger, the shark from Jaws, and Terminator from The Terminator. We wouldn’t say that these villains possess a lot of beauty. I know a shark is part of God’s creation, so we can say they possess a certain level of beauty. However, if you were swimming in open water and you spotted a great white racing towards you, I doubt you would think – What beauty that creature possesses!

Some of the villains on the silver screen are pure evil. What is it about those villains that leave a lasting impression? They possess a certain level of power, justice, and wrath we appreciate.

Even though they may use those attributes in a dishonoring way, the attributes, in and of themselves, are godly. We know God as all-powerful, or omnipotent. He is just. And because of his holiness, justice and love, he is wrath too. All of these attributes, however, are only used in a beautiful way that makes his glory known.

Therefore, I think we can appreciate villains. We must be cautious in cheering for the bad guy or taking pleasure in these godly attributes being employed in a villainous manner. However, these attributes, pre-perversion, can help us better understand our mighty God.

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*http://www.afi.com/100Years/handv.aspx

Yesterday I began to expose the unbiblical path the MPAA often leads Christians down. Again, my beef is not so much with the MPAA as it is with Christians being undiscerning in this area.  Using discernment takes strength and energy, looking at a rating does not.

Therefore, my second issue is the fact that it can lead to laziness.  In case you haven’t figured this out on your own, laziness comes easy.  Being slothful is a sin and we are all inclined to sin, so we are always prone to be lazy.  We typically associate laziness with physical activity.  While we are definitely lazy in that area, I believe we are much more mentally lazy.

When God created us in his image [Gen. 1:26-27], he created us to be intelligent, thinking humans.  If he created us with this design, you can bet your movie pass that Satan is hard at work to keep you from thinking.  Therefore, if your decision of movie-going lies solely in the hands of the MPAA, this is not wise.  There is little, to no, thinking involved in this process and God calls us to steward our brains for His glory.

Instead of writing a movie off because of an ‘R’ or ‘PG-13’ rating, think a bit more intently about it.  Ask yourself if some of the themes or the content would be good exposure for you.  Read a bit about the movie at websites like IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes (or Reel Thinking).  The point is, as a Christian, you need to do more reading and thinking on your own instead of having people tell you what movies you should watch.  Although your heart is always deceiving you [Jer. 17:9], you know your areas of temptation better than the MPAA.

[part 3]



In the week the last NASA space shuttle returned to Earth,  an idea for a practical joke appeared in the social networks: everyone should dress in an ape costume to receive the astronauts.  The joke was, of course, a reference to the movie Planet of the Apes, in which astronauts go to a planet to find it taken over by apes (you know what is actually going on, don’t you?).

If you want, check out a featurette showing the motion-capture in place. Or just keep on reading!

After a somewhat successful new entry in the series in 2001, this new movie will show , well, the “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” It is yet unclear how this exactly ties in with the original movie and so on. The production looks fantastic, the realism of the creatures is without precedent, thanks to the wizards (in the good sense) of WETA digital. James Franco plays the leading human role in the feature and Andy Serkis plays the leading ape role. This will show us how scientific experiments give apes unprecedented intelligence and the rambunctiousness that results.  The movie promises some intense action, some serious inter-species warfare, some cool pseudo-science and fun 105 minutes. We will see gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and other apes rebelling against mankind’s dominion.  The MPAA (whom we do not trust) says there is some sexuality in the movie; I really hope it is intra-species. Remember all that when deciding whether to take the little guys or leave them home – this is not planet of the Muppets.

What is rather interesting is the whole idea of two species fighting and battling over who should own the planet. There is a lot of discussion about who owns the planet. Which species has the right to rule the world, if any? What should characterize such ruling? Biblically we must assert that God made man in his image and put him in charge of tending and caring for the planet (Gen 2:15).  God put all the animals under man’s dominion, and mankind had the right to govern and use the whole of creation. This dominion should be exercised in submission to God’s dominion and it involved caring rather than abusing the creation, tending and protecting rather than destroying and neglecting. Of course, we know that sin crept in the world and changed everything. One of the results of sin is the strife between man and animals. In Genesis 3 we can begin to see how the relationship that was to be natural and good changed into a struggle for power. Animals and man fear one another; man abuses animals and is careless about their situation. No wonder some of them would rebel if they had the chance and the intelligence to do so. Just watch a couple of episodes of the show “Animal Cops” to see what those who should care for the garden do to the animals and I think you may join me in cheering for the apes.

Redemption involves reconciliation and restoration. The promises of the restoration of all things goes way beyond the salvation of souls, it has to do with renewing creation and making New Heavens and New Earth. The prophecy of Isaiah 11:6-9 talks about astonishing things regarding the time of the rule of the lamb:

“The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.

The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.

They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.”

The promises of God are that we will not have to fight a simian  hostile takeover; rather, in the new creation we will in fact be finally reconciled.

Whose Earth is it anyway? “The Earth is the Lord’s and and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” Psalm 24:1.