Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Christ’

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[Note: This was originally written at the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but never published.]

Star Wars seems to be everywhere you turn. It’s on the major news outlets – CNN, Fox, & NBC. It’s on endless magazine covers. It was on your children’s Christmas lists (and possibly some adult’s lists as well).   It’s even on theological websites.

The release of Star Wars: Episode 7 was historic and Rogue One continues to reign at the box office. It’s impossible to measure the impact this franchise has had on the cinema. Notable directors and actors state that their initial viewing of this film was a watershed moment in their life. The science fiction genre was not a money-maker at the box office until the release of Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977. Thus, all the hype.

Iconic characters like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, & Han Solo returned to the silver screen for the first time in decades. Even the beloved Millennium Falcon was back in action. While Rogue One gave us a list of new characters, familiar sights and sounds from the previous installments were present. Almost everyone’s back…except for the originator of the aforementioned Star Wars world, George Lucas.

The Original Creator

Last year there was an interview with George Lucas stating that those in charge of The Force Awakens didn’t want to involve him. For those who are unaware, Disney bought the rights to the Star Wars franchise for $4 billion. Box office records show that it was a wise investment.

However, the very man who invented Luke Skywalker (initially called Starkiller), wasn’t even consulted. The man who wrote A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…sat back and wondered what was happening to the galaxy he thought up. George Lucas, who avoided major studio influence on his initial films by funding them with his own money, placed his creation in the hands of another.

Some may dismiss this thought and say, Well, Lucas did sell the rights. After all, why should we feel sorry for a man who’s counting his billions. However, there would be no hype, there would be no Force Awakens or Rogue One, had there been no George Lucas. One could even argue that there would be no Harry Potter, Hunger Games or film adaptation of Lord of the Rings literature had there been no George Lucas.

After the release of Episodes I-III, fans were ready for a change. Most despise these installments of the franchise, so it was clear that there had to be a marked difference with Episode VII and the ensuing Star Wars films. Here’s where I feel sorry for Lucas, however. It’s his story. It’s his world. It’s his cinematic vision. Yet, the movie-goers feel like they own the Star Wars universe. How dare George Lucas take this story in this direction! What was he thinking when he created Jar Jar Binks?! Why in the world did he cast Hayden Christensen as Anikan? So, I feel a bit sorry for all the criticism and down-right anger Lucas has endured from fans.

If it wasn’t for him, we would never have Episodes IV, V, & VI! He created them for movie-goers to enjoy – and enjoy they did. Yet now, we are ready for him to get out of the way and let us enjoy our Star Wars the way that we want it!

Don’t get me wrong, I was envisioning ways Jar Jar could be killed off in each ensuing episode. I was disappointed in all of the previous episodes, but I think in critiquing films sometimes we miss the humanity of the people we’re critiquing. We critique Star Wars as this thing that’s out there and forget there’s an image-bearer attached to it. I really wonder how Lucas feels.

Think about it. You can’t turn a television on right now or get on the Internet without seeing something about Rogue One. You can’t go anywhere without hearing how much critics and fans love this one immensely more than the prequels. Yet, somewhere is George Lucas hearing all this. Somewhere George Lucas must be thinking, I gave fans so much. I gave them Luke, Leia, Obi-Wan, Chewbacca, & Han. I created one of the greatest villains the cinema has ever seen in Darth Vader. I collaborated with John Williams to create a musical score that would transcend time.

What is the man, George Lucas thinking about all this?

It was this thought that got me thinking about the human condition. We are so selfish. We are so spoiled. We are so self-centered. Everything is about us and for us. We wake up looking in the mirror at a god we can’t wait to serve. Everything revolves around the person we see in the mirror and it better serve us.

The True Creator

As much as I appreciate George Lucas’ work, I am not imparting god-like status to him. Yet, he is a “creator” that has now witnessed his “creatures” rebelling against him. He did a great deal for those who are a fan of his Star Wars universe. They loved and worshipped him and now they’ve rebelled. There are definite parallels here to fallen mankind.

The true Creator gives and gives so much to this fallen race. In the beginning, God gave Adam and Eve anything they could want or imagine.   Yet, Adam and Eve rebelled against their Creator. The One who gave them the very hands that reached for the forbidden fruit wasn’t enough. The One who blessed them with the very taste buds that tasted the fruit witnessed those bestowed gifts being abused.

The Creator of all these great graces witnesses his creatures’ disdain towards those graces on a daily basis. We complain about the weather. We’re dissatisfied with our job. The body we see in the mirror isn’t what we want it to be. We take the creation that was graciously given to us and complain. It’s not what we think it should be. In short, we think we deserve better.

This parallel breaks down, however, in terms of ownership. Lucas is the creator of Star Wars, but he sold the ownership. Part of his reasoning is that he wants this story to go on after he’s gone – he’s not eternal.

For the Christian, we have a Creator who is eternal and will not leave or forsake his creatures because of their rebellion, no matter how much they complain. This Creator did not sell his rights to his creation, rather he entered into it in order to ensure this rebellious race could enjoy life everlasting. And, we can rest assured that the next chapter in that installment won’t be a disappointment…especially if Jar Jar isn’t there.

 

JWWhen I was 13-years-old I took a trip to the beach with my family. As any teenager headed for the beach, I was looking forward to a week of playing in the ocean. On one particular rainy day, however, my family was forced to come up with a ‘plan B’. That plan? Visit the local Cineplex.

Little did I know that this visit to the theater would be unlike any other. We went to see Jurassic Park – a film I knew almost nothing about and didn’t remember viewing a trailer prior to my entrance into this dark theater. As the images began to display on the silver screen and I was transported to Isla Nublar, I lost most consciousness of my being present in a movie theater. Rather, I bought into the notion that I was running for my life from raptors and a hungry T-Rex. I laughed. I screamed. I saw it again…and again.

Fast-forward to 2015 and not much has changed. Even though the visitors of Jurassic World have turned out for a new attraction, raptors and a T-Rex are still headlining this motion picture event. Just as Claire [Bryce Dallas Howard] states that attendance spikes with the release of a new attraction, little did the screenwriters know how true this would be of the newest installment in the franchise.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park [1997] and Jurassic Park III [2001] were colossal disappointments to the fans of this franchise, as well as critics, but the release of Jurassic World has showed us that no one was ready to leave this story. JW has absolutely shredded box-office numbers. It had the largest opening weekend of any movie ever, had the largest follow-up weekend, and reached the $450 million mark faster than any other film. The Avengers: Age of Ultron reached $450 million in 54 days, while JW reached it in 15 days…wow.[1]

While I thoroughly enjoyed this film and think it is an almost perfect summer movie, I think it’s interesting to ponder this movie in our larger cultural context. Again, no movie has accomplished what JW has. Week-after-week it continues to gross large amounts of money and remains number one at the box-office, but why? Is it because people love dinosaurs? Probably. Is it possibly because people have more time to visit the theater in the summer? I’m sure. However, could it be that in the midst of our gender-confusing, marriage-redefining culture, America still has an audience that longs for male leadership? I think so.

One of the aspects I appreciated about JW, was that it wasn’t afraid to have a leading man. Currently, filmmakers seem to unswervingly pursue strong female leads – The Hunger Games and Divergent series, are some recent examples. While I am completely fine with strong females leads, as is God, (see Esther and Abigail as a couple of examples), I was ready to see a film that wasn’t afraid to have a man as a strong leader. I was ready to see that man portrayed as a character that was right. I was longing to see a man that wasn’t made to look like a fool for the majority of the film. I was ready for Owen [Chris Pratt].

Unless you’ve been lost at sea, you’re unfamiliar with the now-household-name Chris Pratt. Even Colin Trevorrow (Director) and Steven Spielberg (Creator/Producer of Every Movie) state that they got a little lucky in the casting of Pratt. In fact, they actually cast him prior to the release of the uber-hit, Guardians of the Galaxy. In an interview, Spielberg jests that they both looked very smart for casting Pratt, even though they – as well as America – had no clue how big Pratt would become.

I’m not exactly sure what it is, but there’s a certain likability to Pratt. Even though each character he portrays carries with it that indefinable likability, he also carries a nuance that makes each character unique. Owen makes you laugh, but he also brings a seriousness to scenes which displays he’s no one-trick pony.

As we meet him in JW, it’s obvious he can train dinosaurs, is willing to take risks to save others, likes motorcycles, and has some romantic history with Claire. Even though Claire is a strong woman, his leadership doesn’t falter under her authoritative tone. As he states, he appreciates her need to make tough decisions, but doesn’t relinquish his place of authority when it comes to being a dino-expert.

Owen proves to be a constant “everyman” throughout JW. He was right about the dangers of genetically-engineering dinosaurs. He was right that setting up play-dates with the indominus rex was, “Probably not a good idea.” He was right that going after said dinosaur with non-lethal weapons would result in death. Even when he’s being attacked by a hybrid-pterodactyl and Claire must come to his rescue, he doesn’t relinquish the lead. Owen is the leader. He’s the protector. He’s bravery encompassed. In short, he’s the hero.

In fact, he’s too strong – at least that’s what some in our culture are claiming. You see, some movie-goers may be okay with a strong male lead, just as long as the female is just as strong, or stronger. But, they are not okay with a solely strong leading man. Don’t believe me? Check out some of the blogs of feminists that are destroying JW. Quite simply, they hate it!

Maybe this is a bit of a stretch, but I think JW can serve as – somewhat – of an accurate barometer for our culture. Genders are being called into question; the creation ordinance of marriage has been redefined; but humans still long for a prince in the midst of chaos. There’s something refreshing about a man entering into a broken creation and fighting to protect those under his care. Whether it’s the chaos of humans re-engineering dinosaurs, humans attempting to redefine marriage, or humans objecting to God’s rules laid out in the garden, we long for a prince to come and make all things new.

Or, maybe I just like dinosaurs…


[1] All these stats are according to boxofficemojo.com. JW currently rests at approx. $514 million after a $54 million dollar weekend and third consecutive week at #1 beating new-comers, Inside Out and Ted 2.

 

[Note: This is being re-posted to foster thoughts on the pornographic film, Fifty Shades of Grey]

Since American Reunion makes the eighth installment of the sex-worshiping franchise, American Pie, we have compiled 8 reasons Christians shouldn’t watch it. Yesterday, we posted the first four, below we have the remaining four.

Sex is Idolized

The first American Pie was all about losing one’s virginity on prom night. That was the god of the four main characters. In one scene, the character actually prays that God would allow him to fornicate with a girl. Sex is still the false god of this newest installment. Sex is a good thing, but when it becomes the thing it’s idolatry. This is the first and greatest commandment. Love God first, not sex. This film feeds THE lie of this culture, that lie? “Sex is the greatest thing.” Sex is a good thing, but God is the greatest in all creation.

Lust & Pornography

One would be hard-pressed to find any film that didn’t cause you to lust, whether it was for food or possessions or sex, however, lust is a sin (Prov. 6:25, Job 31:1, Matt. 5:25, Col. 3:5). And if I were a betting man, there is no way you could make it through an American Pie film without lusting. The entire franchise is designed to make you lust. I’m surprised they don’t give you a money-back guarantee if you don’t. The bottom line is, this film was created to make you sin. While we are on the subject of lust, let’s just go ahead and call this a pornographic film. Compared to more raunchy films this could be considered a “soft” porn, yet it is porn nonetheless. Even though this film will not be as explicit as some porn, there are plenty of pornographic elements contained in the film. Pornography is clearly sin and is one of the most powerful addictions in our culture. Even though this film will have less graphic content, it will lead to more explicit content because porn can never satisfy. It destroys marriages, spouses, & children – it is not funny. Why take the chance of indulging in something that could be your end, and laugh at something that ruins so many lives?

Masturbation is Okay

The combination of lust and porn will bring us here. In the previews Jim (Biggs) exclaims that he doesn’t have much sex now that he’s married, therefore, he decides to “please” himself. However, his 4 to 5 year-old son walks in and catches his father masturbating to pornography – again, all played for laughs. This is wrong on so many levels, but let me just take one. God created sex to bind two people together, once married. Jim’s character is idolizing sex to such a degree that his own pleasure is more important than his union with his wife. Instead of drawing towards his wife, he is committing adultery with strangers on his computer screen…in front of his son. Hilarious…right?

One Final Thought

If you are still persistent and say, “As a Christian, I think I can watch this film.” My question for you is, “Will you be embarrassed?” If you were to go to the cinema and see this film and run into someone you know – parents, girlfriend or boyfriend, pastor, or grandparents – and they knew you saw this film, would it bother you? Chances are that it would. And if it would, that means there’s a certain level of shame and guilt attached to it. I would say that there is a certain level of guilt and shame attached to this film, because of the above mentioned reasons. If you say, ‘I won’t be embarrassed.” You should be.

Use great caution in possibly indulging these areas of sin for some cheap laughs. Christians have much freedom, because of our beautiful Savior Jesus Christ, but that does not give us license to let grace abound. Let me close with God’s Word in Romans 6:1-4:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Star-Wars-7-The-Force-Awakens-Sith-Lightsaber-PhotoUnless you don’t own a television, haven’t heard of the Internet, or have no soul, you didn’t realize that the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer was released on Friday.  (If you did miss the trailer, check that out here and read Blaine’s post about a theology of movie trailers here).  To say that the trailer was released with much fanfare would be putting it lightly.  Sites crashed because of all the traffic from excited fans over-viewing the trailer.  At this point, over 27 million people have watched the trailer and several million checked out fake trailers that were released prior to Friday.  So, it is extreme to say that you have no soul if you haven’t seen the trailer, but it is accurate to say that Star Wars unites people.

I understand that a discussion about unity could be a little strange during this time of year.  For starters, we have just come off of rivalry week in football.  Football has been dividing people across the United States and some of the rivalries are even named after real-life wars.  However, this week has also shown us that people long to be united.

After I watched the Star Wars trailer, I saw a recommended video (which I cannot locate) of people reacting to the trailer’s release.  It’s shocking to see people flocking around a make-believe story.  People were dressed up like villains and heroes to show their love and support of Star Wars lore.  One person in the video even remarked, This is heaven.

I know this is a nerdy confession, but I was a bit giddy about the SW trailer being released.  I watched it multiple times and then I shared my excitement with my children, as well as, many people online.  It was exciting to watch people share their enthusiasm.  It was fun to see people anticipate the year-long release until the film (Lord willing, I’ll be there opening night!).  It was truly heaven-like.

In a sense I agree with the comment from the video about the SW convention being a taste of heaven.  You see, God’s plan is to unite all things in heaven and earth through the blood of Christ (Eph. 1:10b).  As creatures made in his image, we long for this unity.  Conversely, division is an uncomfortable, abnormal thing.  If you notice, even among the rivalries, people attempt to have a “friendly rivalry”, but that’s something that’s wrong-headed to the Christian.  I’m not saying that we can’t attempt to celebrate rivalries or that rivalries are wrong, but I am saying there is nothing – in Christ – that separates.  We are all united by His blood.

And, as weird, nerdy, and cheesy as it may sound, I got a taste of that unity this week through the SW trailer.  It was a feeble, fleeting taste, but it was a taste of unity.  An excitement that was shared among tribes, and tongues, and nations.  An anticipation for young and old.  If you think this is far-fetched or just plain silly, be there opening night in one year’s time and you might just say, “This is heaven.”

shrunkA few weeks ago we decided to pop in the Rick Moranis’ classic, Honey I Shrunk the Kids.  If you are like me, this is a childhood favorite.  I saw it in the theaters and then re-watched it time and time again.  I even remember my mind being blown when I went to Disney World and discovered they had a playground resembling the movie (Disney really is magical, isn’t it?!)

All of this to say, I was anxious to see how my adult thoughts and emotions would align with those from my childhood.  For example, I gave extra sensitivity and care to my daughter as she wept over “Anty’s” sacrificial death – I, too, fought back the tears…when I was little, of course.  I remember the Lego the kids lodged in over night, the bumblebee flight, and the big Cheerio – “Dad!  Don’t eat me!!”

Something I didn’t remember was the strife between the husbands and wives in this film, which trickled down to the children.  I realized that the children were literally shrunk in the film, but they were also figuratively shrunk, as well.  The two fathers, Wayne Szalinski (Rick Moranis) and Big Russ Thompson (Matt Frewer), were men that were consumed with themselves.  (I also need to add that Disney remains consistent in degrading men – they are both buffoons.)  Wayne is a scientist who ascends into his laboratory (attic) to the neglect of his entire family.  While I’m sure he loves his children, he often doesn’t even make conversation or eye-contact when interacting with them.

Conversely, one could say that Big Russ gives too much attention to his boys – specifically, the oldest, Little Russ Thompson.  In fact, one could say that Big Russ harasses Little Russ.  Big Russ is obsessed with his former athletic prowess and pushes his son to be just like him, without a care for the lack of gifts his son may have.

Therefore, Wayne and Big Russ have both “shrunk” their kids, in a sense.  It isn’t until the kids are literally shrunk, that the two fathers realize their errors and swear to change.

Sadly, we know this is true of our own lives.  While we may not possess a laser in our attic with the capabilities of shrinking our children, we often shrink them and their concerns for our own.  Because of sin, it turns each and every human inward.  Instead of being focused on others and their needs, we look to self.  Sin makes it unnatural to love others, which shows the significance of the first two commandments and our need for Christ.

Although Honey I Shrunk the Kids focuses on fathers, we know mothers fall into the category of selfish living as well.  The question for each of us is this, Are we more prone to the distracted, isolated Wayne, or are we prone to the overly critical, vicarious, mind-set of Big Russ?  How do you find yourself shrinking your kids?  If you have no children, how do you shrink others around you?  Bosses?  Employees?  Neighbors?  Spouses?  Friends?  Strangers?  Homeless?  Orphaned?  Widowed?

We are all well-aware that the current culture is one of distraction.  The primary distractions come from the screens we carry around in our pockets and purse.  And, when we’re not carrying them, we’re passing them off to our children to distract them for a moment’s peace.  Bluntly put, we are masters at shrinking each other.  Praise God, he was one who was others-minded.  He sent one who did not count equality with God as something to be grasped.  He was one who looked out for the interests of others.  And, He was one who became nothing – or, shrunk – to ensure a bunch of “nothings” could be called children of the Most High.

meet_joe_black_ver1Before you laugh or begin to judge my taste in movies, just bear with me.

My family and I recently had a STAY-cation and we were trying to maximize some free fun.  One thing we did was rent some movies from our local library.  While perusing the available films, we stumbled across Meet Joe Black – a movie I hadn’t seen in quite some time.

[SPOILERS AHEAD]  Meet Joe Black follows the story of an older man named William Parrish [Anthony Hopkins].  William is visited by Joe Black [Brad Pitt] and told that he is going to die.  How does Joe know of William’s death?  Because Joe is Death.  Things become really interesting as William’s daughter, Sarah [Claire Forlani], falls in love with Joe a.k.a. Death.

As I began to watch this movie, I had forgotten about some of the cheesy banter between Brad Pitt [his character isn’t called Joe until later in the film] and Sarah at the coffee shop.  Even though this film does contain elements found in your typical romance story, there are some that go against the formulaic nature of most in the genre.  For starters, right after the playful coffee shop talk, the male love interest is ping-ponged between cars while crossing the street…didn’t see that one coming.

Themes of life and death offer up some interesting discussion, but something I wanted to zoom in on is supper.  William is a highly successful man.  He had riches most of us have never dreamed of, respect many long for, and a legacy in the business world that is often pursued.  However, the movie helps us to see what is really important.  It’s not the fame, respect, or money that is often focused on, but family.  MJB helps us answer the often posed question, What would you do if you knew you only had one day left on this earth?  What did William Parrish want?  Dinner with his family.

Scripture affirms, in many times and in many different ways, that mealtime fellowship is significant.  One place in particular is seen through the story of a wee little man, Zacchaeus.  Zacchaeus was a man that was hated by all.  Why?  Because he cheated others for his own financial gain.  Jesus, however, being rich in mercy and grace told Zacchaeus he was coming to eat at his house.  Much of the significance of an act like this is seen through the response of the crowd, “And when they saw it, they all grumbled…” [Luke 19:7]  Sharing a meal with someone is an intimate thing.  It’s a time you typically share with those closest to you.  Jesus was showing love to a man who was unloved.  This action brought salvation to the house of Zacchaeus but grumbling from the on-lookers.

As death grew near, it’s interesting to me that a man like William – a man who had it all by worldly standards –  simply wanted a meal with his family.  Every time he found out that death wasn’t going to take him, he knew he wanted dinner with his loved-ones.  He didn’t want to fly around the world.  He didn’t want to buy a fancy car.  He wanted the intimacy offered by a dinner table with those closest to him.

Part of the reason this struck me was because of the significance our current culture has made of the family mealtime.  Sadly, the significance comes from its rarity.  Families are often split in a thousand different directions – meals together aren’t something time allows.  Even when some families are sharing meals together, they’re often too busy “sharing” it with everyone else through social media and miss those at the table.

Towards the end of our lives, I doubt too many of us will think, I wish I would have checked Facebook more.  I should have tweeted pithier comments.  I wish I worked more hours in the office.  Sadly, I think many more will wish they would have simply shared in mealtime fellowship with those living under the same roof.  While we don’t have the ability to know when death comes knocking at our door, let’s ensure the dinner table is a place our families frequent.  Breakfast is good, too.

grey26f-1-webThe trailer to this movie was released last week, so I figured some thoughts would be appropriate. I thought about coming up with ‘fifty thoughts’ for Fifty Shades of Grey in order to have a catchy title, but I couldn’t think of a greater waste of time pondering fifty thoughts about a filthy piece of trash like this film (can you tell where this post is going?).

From the outset, let me go ahead and tell you that I have not read the book and I will not see the movie.  I know many would use this to discredit me, but I think this argument is no longer valid because of a little thing called The Internet.  You can read and research a whole lot about something without having to read the book or watch the movie.  Without a doubt, one gets a greater understanding of something by actually experiencing it, but when depth and substance are lacking from a story there’s not much to experience anyway.  So, here are five thoughts:

  1. Scripture Alone:  Scripture begins with, “In the beginning God” [Gen. 1:1] and many have said these are the four most significant words in history.  They tell us many things, but one thing they tell us is the fact that God is in charge.  He’s always been in existence, he was before all things, he created all things out of nothing, and he dictates what his creation will do.  When  it comes to sex, we don’t get to do what we want.  Therefore, Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele are spitting in the face of God and perverting his invention.  What does that say for those of you who’ve read the book?
  2. Faith Alone:  Because of the fall of mankind, we place our faith in everything but God.  We place our faith in money.  We place our faith in food.  We place our faith in friends.  We place our faith in sex.  Now, nothing is wrong with enjoying any one of these in a proper perspective, but a misplaced faith ends up in misplaced worship – God alone deserves that.  Fifty Shades of Grey, however, makes sex the ultimate thing and worships it.  I will say that the story seems to accurately portray what happens when anyone or anything receives the worship that is due to God – perversion.  Grey is so obsessed with sex it becomes something demented.  Sadly, many who have read the book have gone down this demented path and have adopted these practices.  Even more sadly, husbands and wives will go see this movie together and will worship this ideal and become more discontent with one another.
  3. Grace Alone:  God doesn’t owe us a thing.  The fact that you’re breathing right now is solely because God allows it.  When all of life is grace, it’s difficult to draw attention to one aspect to appreciate.  However, sex communicates a great deal about God’s grace.  The simple fact that God gives us any pleasure is remarkable.  We sinned against him.  He would be perfectly just to make all of our food bland, remove any beauty from all creation, take away emotions, the list goes on-and-on.  One clear thing Scripture communicates about sex is that God commands husbands and wives to make it a common practice – God is so harsh. [1 Cor. 7:5]  Again, God would have been just to make sex the most boring, laborious chore – but he decided to make it pleasurable.  Christian and Anastasia (as well as the readers) see sex as something deserved for their own self-centered motives.
  4. Christ Alone:  As strange as this may sound to some, sex communicates a lot about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Once again, God designed sex as properly practiced between one man and one woman in the context of marriage [Gen. 2:15-25].  This marital union points us to our union with Christ.  Therefore, whenever there is sexual distortion, there is a distortion of the gospel.  Fifty Shades of Grey distorts the gospel of Jesus Christ for your own sinful fantasies.  Why in the world would any Christian seek to see a movie that deliberately distorts the gospel for their own entertainment?
  5. Glory to God Alone:  God is Creator and his fingerprints are all over creation.  The creation – because of God’s fingerprints – displays glory because God is glorious.  Therefore, each of us are glorious in various ways, but we turn into glory thieves because of our sin.  We attempt to highjack the glory that is due to God.  E.L. James (who wrote the novel), as well as, the actors and filmmakers are attempting to steal glory from God’s creation.  Whether it’s in the act of sex, the naked bodies of actors, or the selfish fame they are all longing for, Fifty Shades of Grey illustrates selfish people pursuing their own glory.

There are some books and movies that should simply be avoided and Fifty Shades of Grey is easily one of those.  Unfortunately, I’ve heard many Christians are reading, or read, the books and I know many more will see the movie.  While I know there is a character named ‘Christian’ in the movie, those displaying true Christian character will abstain.

Forrest Gump Knows What Love Is

Posted: July 28, 2014 by jperritt in Classic, Drama
Tags: , ,

forrestI think I saw a tweet somewhere that listed the Top 5 Films to Watch on the Fourth of July.  I noticed that Forrest Gump made the list, so my wife and I decided to watch a little bit of the film after we put the kids to bed (we ended up watching all of it).

Forrest Gump was an instant classic.  While watching it with my wife this last time, I remarked that Robert Zemeckis must have known he was making a Best Picture before the film was even complete.  The scope this film encompasses is remarkable.  All of the historic events that are covered through the life of one man is amazing.  The acting, the score, the soundtrack, the quotes – “Life is like a box of chocolates” – all of it, simply spelled O-S-C-A-R.

I can remember watching this film in the theater and not fully appreciating all I was experiencing – I was thirteen, after all.  I really enjoyed it, but there is a lot to take in.  However, something I’ve come to appreciate through the years is Forrest’s love for Jenny.  For those who remember the story, Forrest falls head over heals for Jenny the first time he sits by her on the bus.  After many variations of, “You can’t sit here.”  He finally heard the most beautiful voice he’d ever heard tell him, “You can sit here, if you’d like.”  From that point on, Jenny and Forrest were like “peas and carrots.”  But, that doesn’t mean their relationship wasn’t littered with difficulty.

While Jenny was always Forrest’s girl, Jenny didn’t necessarily feel the same way about Forrest.  Now, Jenny did have a rough past with an abusive father, so her hesitance to become attached to another is understandable.  However, she definitely goes off the deep-end.  Experimentation with drugs, a lifestyle of stripping, numerous partners, you name it and Jenny experienced it.  All the while, Forrest loved Jenny.

While Jenny was trying to silence the hatred from her past with sex and drugs, Forrest continued to display love towards her.  Through high school, through college, and through the military, Forrest continued to love Jenny.  Forrest went to fight in the Vietnam War and wrote Jenny every day he was serving (all of those letters were later returned).  It seemed like the more Forrest loved Jenny, the more she attempted to shut him out.  Even when he came to her rescue from abusive lovers, she would still show frustration towards him.

There is one point in the film where Jenny has had a night of heavy drug abuse, and she finds herself on the ledge of a building.  She climbs up with the obvious thought of ending her life as she sees the people several stories below her.  When I first saw this film, I’m ashamed to say that I was cheering for her to end her life.  Honestly, I was tired of seeing her destroy herself, I was tired of seeing her abuse Forrest’s love, in short, I was tired of all the brokenness.  However, I’ve learned to see myself as Jenny.

To put it quite bluntly, I am a whore like Jenny.  I am a substance abuser like Jenny.  I am one who shuns the love of the only faithful Lover of my soul.  While Forrest is by no means a perfect picture of a savior in this film, he does give us a glimpse of the unwavering love of Jesus Christ.  Forrest never stops loving Jenny, he never stops serving Jenny, he never stops searching for Jenny, he never stops defending Jenny, he never stops protecting Jenny, and, in the end, he marries Jenny.

You may not see yourself as broken as Jenny.  If that’s true, I would say you may not see how deeply you are loved by Christ.  During one conversation with Jenny, Forrest states, “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.”  I’m not the smartest man either, but I know who love is and his name is Jesus Christ.

IncrediblesSo, my family and I were watching The Incredibles for the 53rd time and I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before.  For those of you who have already seen the film, be patient for just a moment.

TI is about a family of superheroes who fight to save the world.  Mr. Incredible fell in love with Elastigirl and they made a family of supers.  As happy as all of this sounds, they actually have to live in hiding, so to speak.  You see, Mr. Incredible was doing his “thing” saving people and put supers around the world in jeopardy.

While Mr. Incredible was on top of a building, he saw a would-be jumper and dove to save him from his sure death.  While he was saving this suicidal citizen he stopped a bank robbery and saved an elevated train from plummeting to the earth.  However, through all of his heroic acts, he discovered that some of these people did not want to be saved.  Therefore, the supers were sued and forced into hiding because some people just didn’t want to be saved.

The nuance I noticed on this viewing was the name of the individual Mr. Incredible saved – Mr. Sansweet.  This was the one individual that destroyed the supers’ organization.  This was the one individual who brought destruction to a people attempting to save humanity.  This one individual wanted to end his life and his selfishness led to widespread destruction.  His name – Sansweet.  It struck me that the word “sans” means “without”.  Therefore, you could say that his name literally means “Without Sweetness”.  In other words, this guy was without sweetness and worked in such a way to bring destruction.

Mr. Sansweet (without having any prior knowledge of him) wanted to end his life.  Maybe he was in financial trouble?  Maybe he was lonely?  Maybe no one showed him the love every human longs for?  Whatever the case, he decided to jump off of a building with the hopes of ending his life.  When, however, an individual (Mr. Incredible) decides to save his life, it drives Mr. Sansweet to hatred – not love.  He moves forward in a suit that would benefit him financially and bring about difficulty for the supers, as well as, the citizens who have been under their care.

This got me to thinking about humanity’s “Mr. Sansweet”.  There was this beautiful angel named, Lucifer.  He had happiness, unity, joy, but he was still unsatisfied.  Why?  He was self-focused.  Instead of being happy with unimaginable joy, he wanted more.  Therefore, he pursued suicide over joy.  He left the life that was graciously given to him and dove head-first into a suicidal path of destruction.

You see, Satan did not appreciate the love he was lavished.  He did not rest content in the life that was created and granted to him.  Instead he selfishly sought for more.  He was Mr. Sansweet.  In other words, he lacked sweetness.  He lacked love.  He lacked joy and his selfish act brought about a path of destruction ever since his appearance in the garden.

However, Love wouldn’t allow selfishness to have that last word.  Love didn’t stand to the side.  Love didn’t give up.  Love left His throne and made sure selflessness would reign supreme.  Instead of allowing the selfish suicide of “Mr. Sansweet” to reign supreme, Jesus allowed Satan to pursue another form of suicide – the cross.

As John Piper once said, the day Jesus died on the cross was the day Satan committed suicide.  You see, Satan knew he had lost.  Satan knew he had been defeated.  Satan knew that his selfish acts had not brought him life, rather, death.  All of that to say, Satan is our Mr. Sansweet.  He’s not a sweet guy – in fact, he’s pure evil.  However, we have a King who does not allow sin and selfishness to reign.  Instead, he brought a selflessness to this earth and it’s allowed peace and love to dominate this creation that’s filled with Mr. Sansweets like you and me.

philomena-title-bannerPhilomena tells the story of a woman’s search for her son.  Philomena (Judi Dench) had a child out of wedlock, was forced to live in a convent, and could only see her child for an hour a day, until he was given away to his adopted parents.  The movie is truly heartbreaking in many ways, and the fact that it is true makes it a difficult film to watch.  However, the film is also filled with some humor, thanks to the journalist, Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan).  Both Coogan and Dench have a great chemistry in the film.

This is a film I think everyone should watch.  Yes, it does have some language and difficult content, but it also communicates truths about self-righteousness, judgmentalism, and forgiveness everyone would do well to reflect on.  It is a powerful film, to say the least.  And, it definitely was deserving of the Oscar nomination for Best Picture (it lost to 12 Years a Slave).

[There will be spoilers from here on]

Sixsmith is approached by Philomena’s daughter and convinced to write a human interest piece on this story.  Their investigation takes them to the United States with the hopes of finding Philomena’s son, Anthony/Michael.  She knows he would be in his fifties now and Philomena wonders if he’s happy.  Has he had a good life?  Was he loved by his mother and father?  Does he even remember Philomena or Ireland?  These were just some of the questions rolling around in her mind.  Something that bounced around in my mind was this, Even if they do find him, she has still missed his childhood – how tragic.

Sadly, their search leads them to discover that Anthony (adoptive name, Michael) passed away eight years ago.  All of the searching, all of Philomena’s hopes, all of her happy endings seem ruined.

In one of the most powerful scenes in the film, Sixsmith forces his way into see one of the nuns responsible [Sister Hildegarde] for the mother/child separation.  He peppers her with question we would all ask.  He yells at her.  He says all the things we wish we could say to this horrible woman and the tragic events she brought about in Philomena’s life.  I found myself almost cheering Sixsmith along.  However, the Sister retorts that this life is all Philomena’s fault for her sin.  She deserved every bit of what came to her.  She says it is God’s judgment.  What the Sister doesn’t realize is that Philomena is around the corner.

As Philomena comes into view, she doesn’t berate the Sister, rather, she questions Sixsmith.  Sixsmith is puzzled by her lack of anger towards the convent and is curious why she isn’t infuriated.  She then looks at Sister Hildegarde and says the most powerful statement she could make, I forgive you.  And that statement rocked me to my core.

I wanted her to scream at the Sister.  I wanted her to have some wittily, condemning statement that would get the point across, but the truth is – I forgive you – is the most powerful statement one could utter.

Philomena helped me see with fresh eyes the power of forgiveness.  It helped me see my self-righteous, judgmental tendencies, like those in the convent.  It helped me see that a lack of forgiveness is an exhausting way to live.  But, most importantly it helped me to see the forgiveness of Christ.  You see, I have committed much more evil against him then the women in the convent.  I am much worse than anything film could ever portray.  But, Christ looks at me and says, I forgive you.  John, you have loved other false gods.  You have sinned agains the Father and nailed me to the cross, but I forgive you.

Philomena is one of those rare films that can leave a lasting impact on its audience.  Like I said, it rebukes, encourages, and shines a light on the power of forgiveness.  Everyone would do well to watch it and see themselves as the self-righteous nuns and Sixsmith in the story.