All Wet!

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Cinema. I enjoy films. I love the way they engage nearly all of my senses with elements that draw me emotionally: strong characters; visually magical sets and production; vibrant cinematic landscapes; bigger-than-life action. Directors and writers, filmmakers in general, are the present-day storytellers, the Wells, Twains, Doyles, Flemings, and Carrolls of yesterday. They mark predictions of futuristic societies; warn of dystopian disparity; provide escape to fantastical worlds and journeys; entice us with suspense, mystery and intrigue; give insight to the frailty and darkness of the human condition.

One reason films are popular is because images are so very powerful. The images we absorb we often retain and can embed their messages deep in our consciousness. That’s why movies are not only provocative but can be shaping, persuading how we think and feel about things and events.

I am very aware that filmmakers, as was the same with the novelists of yesteryear, have an intention if not an agenda beyond the simple ability to entertain when bringing their stories to life. Every person has a worldview, what they believe to be purpose and truth. Every storyteller’s philosophy of life will burn its way into the fabric of their tale. In fact, the story becomes a living apologetic for the filmmaker’s understanding of mankind’s origin and purpose, the reason evil exists, and what happens to us when we die. It’s for this reason that I often ask myself the question, “Why was this film made?” after viewing a movie. This IS the question that must be asked of the recent theatrical release of the film Noah.

Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, an adaptation of events predominantly found in the book of Genesis in the Bible and Tanakh, seems to be definitively divergent from these accounts. Though I have yet to see the film, I have friends whom which posses a solid fundamental Christian world-view and who are thoughtful and dedicated to their faith who have seen the motion picture. Some have embraced it as harmless entertainment, endorsed it as a spectacular achievement, or walked-out of a screening in protest.

Being a Biblical Theist, I am always wary of any theatrical rendition of biblical narrative. I take most of these with a grain of salt, using wisdom, discernment, and careful comparison/contrast with scriptural texts to evaluate their content. However, not everyone is mindful or caring enough to consider doing so. Pastors and Theologians I’m acquainted with have endorsed Noah. What does this communicate about the film’s content?

Noah, the film, has come under a fair amount of scrutiny for the liberal interpretation of known texts of the account. It is important to be attentive to subtly subversive elements in all forms of media. Since I have not seen the film, it is indeed difficult to form my own opinion. However, a recent commentary by Dr. Brian Mattson seems to have the most comprehensive understanding of Aronofsky’s source material and philosophical agenda for Noah. I will refer you there and encourage you to read the entirety of Dr. Mattson’s remarks.

Part of the art of film making is to make the images on the screen feel real. A good storyteller creates empathy for the characters and events, causing people to feel as if we are there watching the story, even history unfold. My concern with Noah rests with how a filmmaker’s interpretation of an ancient text which I honor, admire and love will influence millions of viewers to believing that the visuals and plot that engulf their mind from the cinema screen is the traditional view of the world-wide flood account. Even more concerning, as Dr. Mattson distinguishes, is how many Christian leaders have endorsed this version of Noah. It is indeed disheartening that church leaders would sanction a film that had many distinct concerns that strayed from Biblical texts. The Apostle Paul’s words to the Corinthian church echo profoundly, “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.” 2 Cor. 11.3-4

I know I will view Noah in the future. I may even enjoy it. However, that does not mean that the film depicts accounts that many cultures’ have acknowledged for several millennia. Meanwhile, it’s imperative to know not only what you believe, but why you believe as you daily encounter contrary issues, even on the silver screen. If nothing else, the inaccuracies and liberties in Noah are great discussion starters towards what is actually detailed in the Genesis account.

~End torrent~

Editor’s update: I have now seen the film. Thoroughly enjoyable as entertainment; Completely deplorable as a historical account. I won’t go into the mountain of textual and contextual inaccuracies (the least of which is that the film doesn’t even have the birth order of Noah’s sons correct) as there’s plenty of places on the blogsphere that cover these issues. Read the Biblical account.

Your thoughts:

What bothered you the most about the Noah?

What do you consider to be Noah‘s high-water mark?

Have you been able to use Noah for positive discussion towards the biblical texts?

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There Is A Tunnel At The End Of The Light

Small business owners who have built successful trades and strong reputations; Teachers and Pastors who are well respected by their classes, congregations and peers; Business Professionals, Attorneys and Physicians who hold the esteem of clients, patients and colleagues: These are just some of the people i have spoken with over the past year or so that have communicated to me that they have lost passion in their lives.

Each of these individuals calls themselves Christian. Personally knowing these individuals, i attest that over the years they have definitely lived determined and faithful lives in service to God. So where has their passion gone? Why have zest, vibrance, vitality and zeal seemingly vanished? Is it due to mid-lifefaith crisis?

Christians are to have a splendid and glorious purpose to live out to extremes in hope and fervor and enthusiasm for all they do. Countless books on Christian living profess a mind-set that should be continually joyous and full of hope, life and laughter. Likewise, this is propagated from the front of churches every weekend.

i sometimes get exasperated at ministers who are all fired up on their platform. When you talk to them one on one their zeal/zest isn’t nearly as vibrant and sometimes altogether missing. It’s like they are putting on a performance or acting when they get in front of a podium, morphing into a divine cheerleader. Because, in fact, that is not real life 24/7.

Many have sought God to find fulfillment. In so doing find initial elation in a newly discovered relationship with The Savior, which over time fades. Disillusioned, many tend to waiver and disregard their faith. Which is indeed an oxymoron, for there is the exact point… it is after all called “FAITH.” Faith is trusting even when you don’t feel like doing so; when there may be no sense of emotional connection; or when certainty dims and doubt shines.

The Psalms are filled with songs of pain, frustration, even ambivalence in the midst of faith. Not always happy, joyous dances of praise. Even the Apostles  sought that their faith would increase (Luke 17.5).

It is really not worrisome to me that fervency has flickered in the lives of many. Sometimes that’s just life. Because someone doesn’t feel passionately about an issue doesn’t mean they don’t believe or support it either. Real faith holds on in the midst of these circumstances.

Being “lack luster” too is the working out of Faith and Salvation. God is truly continually purposeful towards us, refining us. At times this is through violent surge of flood waters breaking off chunks of our riverside. However, it is most often by erosion, the slow gentle trickle of the ordinary and constant. This is the menial, the average, the mundane of life. Both methods result in a changed landscape: To be better, to build character, to be refined, distinguished, reshaped for His purpose.

Progressive French inventor, apologist and mathematician Blaise Pascal noted, “The power of man’s virtue should not be measured by his special efforts, but by his ordinary doings.” Sometimes life is simply mundane. It is purposeful enough to live, love and do the right thing. Indeed, God’s purposes and glory are often expressed in our faithfulness in living out the trivial, banal and ordinary aspects and routines of daily life, without the flash or miraculous.

How has your faith/trust in God survived passionless points?

How do you see God working in you through trivial day-to-day tasks?

What have you learned from seasons of ambivalence and doubt?

~End bourgeois~

Metrophobic?!

 

The other day i was called a Metrosexual. Not the first time this has happened. i’m never sure how to take it. Should i be offended or flattered? The woman who termed me such is very attractive, tall and slender (I’m not sure why I’m pointing this out, perhaps to gird my masculinity). Without prompting, she offered her characterization, noting that i’m very professional, clean, in great physical shape, well-groomed, intelligent, have great fashion sense, and good taste in general. She just described the stereotypical gay man. Here is where i profoundly pronounce that i’m not gay. So is a metrosexual a homosexual who is heterosexual? i’m confused. i’m sure my homosexual friends will help me out on this.

i’ve heard many people describe metrosexuals in different ways. i remember reading a blog about it last year and distinctly muttering in my mind that the author was definitely convoluting metrosexuals with scenesters and emo poseurs. Not that i have a better handle on it. But he was certainly off. A quick internet search popped up photos of Brad Pitt, Justin Timberlake, Ben Afleck, Jude Law, and David Beckham (i feel better already).

i looked up metrosexual in Merriam-Webster. It’s there. So why does my word processor keep underlining it in red?

METROSEXUAL: a usually urban heterosexual male given to enhancing his personal appearance by fastidious grooming, beauty treatments, and fashionable clothes.

So let’s see how this works:

“A usually urban…”
i always picture a metrosexual being on the cutting edge of urbane living, hosting kitschy parties in a sprawling loft that overlooks the trendiest eateries and shops of a bustling metropolis. i, however, live in the deep suburbs. i like to refer to it as the outskirts of civilization. A major supermarket is just half mile down the road. Heading half mile in the other direction is nothing but cow pastures. This is of particular excitement when the wind is blowing my way from the dairy. But the definition does modify “urban” with “usually.” So i could give in to that i am the unusual exception.

“…heterosexual male…”

i am heterosexual, in case i had not already clarified. i’m distinctly male as well. This brings a point i’ve been pondering. If the terms heterosexual and homosexual encompass both genders, why does metrosexual exclusively define males? Chew on that and spit it back to me if you have any insights (…or outsights).

“…given to enhancing his personal appearance by fastidious grooming, beauty treatments…”

i am well-groomed, but it isn’t a chore (Pretty easy when you’re bald. By the way … she did say, “bald is sexy”). i shower daily; brush my teeth regularly (Mom and Dad paid a fortune for my braces. i owe them that much); and work out and eat right to maintain good health. It seems these are the basics we were all taught by well-meaning parents when we were youngsters and have kept up into maturity.

i don’t enhance my personal appearance otherwise. i don’t color my hair (The little I do have is salt and pepper and kept very short), i have never had a mani or pedi or even been in such an establishment that offers them. i don’t use skin care products unless it says SPF 75 on the bottle and then it’s applied rigorously to my bare scalp. i hate to shave and only do so if the situation warrants it.

“…and fashionable clothes.”

When it comes to fashion…  i may be guilty. i do admire the cut of nice Kenneth Cole ensemble. Do i look good in a suit? No cat calls coming my way, but i’ve never had any complaints. i dress for comfort or the occasion. When i consulted/educated in the legal field i wore suits everyday (ties are so uncomfortably restricting, but there are so many cool ones). It’s professional and it makes me feel empowered. And it may even get me what i want. However, i prefer jeans or cargo shorts over suit and tie any day.

i really don’t care if i’m labeled metro, hetro, boomer, genX, etc. However, i do care to be known as a person who loves others well: My family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even strangers, no matter their status, profession, orientation, age, race, religion …Love them well.

With all that said, it appears my scales may be tipping metrosexual. So let me hear from you: How else would you describe metrosexual? Can you be metrosexual and a Christian? Does the term “metrosexual” have negative or positive connotations? What defines a female metrosexual?

~End denial

Which came first, The Chicken or the ‘O’?

i find life interesting and full of the unexpected. Life certainly does not unravel itself in the manner we often imagine. i try to make lifeVertical relevant and fun. It’s just been five weeks since i put my fingerprint on this blog. In that time i’ve had nearly 1,200 visitors. i’m told that’s a lot for a newcomer.

What has most intrigued me in the past few weeks are the posts which have drawn the most attention, drawing almost twice as many readers as an average day. my comments on the impending ‘O’pocalypse, about the last days of the iconic Oprah Winfrey’s final days of her talk show and the absurd regulations imposed on chicken copulation in a small town in New Jersey drew the more attention than anything else.

my analytical mind has curiously pondered the attraction to these topics, especially in light of the conservative nature of my readers. What do you think? Why have these two items been of particular focus? What does this say about our culture? C’mon, don’t be shy. We’re all friends here. Let us know. Write your comments below.

~End analysis~

i Give Up!

Oh, the city’s alight
With lovers and lies
Bright blue eyes
Oh, the city is bright
It’s brighter than day tonight

Surrender, Surrender
Surrender, Surrender

Sadie said she couldn’t work out
What it was all about
And so she let go
Now Sadie’s on the street
And the people she meets you know
She tried to be a good girl and a good wife
Raise a good family
Lead a good life
It’s not good enough
She got herself up on the 48th floor
Gotta find out
Find out what she’s living for

Surrender, Surrender
Surrender, Surrender

Tonight…

Oh, the city’s afire
A passionate flame
It knows me by name
Oh, the city’s desire
To take me for more and more
It’s in the street, getting under my feet
It’s in the air, it’s everywhere
I look for you
It’s in the things I do and say
If I wanna live I gotta
Die to myself someday

Papa sing my sing my sing my song

“Surrender” by U2 (Adam Clayton, David Evans, Paul Hewson and Larry Mullen Jr.)

Not one of U2’s anthemic masterpieces, but an affecting song about forgoing personal desires, surrendering to what is right. Just when i think i’ve surrendered and sacrificed all there is some new area of my life creeps into the light, revealing it stubborn, loathsome face in shameful defiance. Ahh… something new i have to deal with. More pursuance, more introspection, dislodging and vivisecting.

For those who live to love and serve, the hard work of becoming better people is never complete. New lies, lusts, cheats, deceptions tend to muddle their way to the surface just when we think self-purging is near completion. As much as we might try to rationalize our shortcomings, they will get the better of us if ignored.

Jesus certainly made the point of this laborious undertaking, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” (Luke 9.23-24)

Surrender becomes increasingly difficult as we are aware a need for it. Even as the song points this out in the last stanza. But the singer’s quest is to win in victory by surrendering his selfish desire and have ‘Papa’ “sing” his praises, “Well done!” Dying to self-will seems  a Herculean task. Theologian and Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer summarized Jesus’ words above most poignantly, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him to come and die.”

~End resistance~