All Wet!

deep-ocean-hd-background-desktop

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?

Advertisements

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~

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~

God Went Golfing.

Last Sunday was Father’s Day. The one day in the year specifically set aside for sons and daughters to dignify their sire with a Hallmark card, a neck tie, a family BBQ, an interrupted baseball game, or perhaps a day of fishing or a round on the links. But this Father’s Day, one Dad was missing …Abba.

No, not the Swedish pop group. Abba is an Aramaic term meaning father. ‘Abba’ is what a small child would call their daddy or papa, often used as a descriptor in the New Testament of the Bible by Jesus and His followers to infer to an intimate relationship with God (Mark 14.36; Romans 8.15; Galatians 4.6).

Now, when i say He was missing, i mean He was absent from The Pledge of Allegiance. It seems that during the beginning of NBC’s telecast of the US Open Golf Tournament they had a patriotic montage inter-cut with footage of school children reciting the American Pledge of Allegiance. However, the “under god” portion of the creed was deleted by editors.

There was mass outcry from viewers. Though, i’m not sure why. Originally the “under God” term was not in the 1892 declaration. President Eisenhower signed legislation concerning The Pledge in 1954, which added the two words.

Here’s why i’m not upset:

1. Though this nation was founded on principles of faith and by men of faith, who called themselves Christians, their practice of Christianity was often far from following the God that the Old and New Testaments characterize.

2. The god that people think of when they recite The Pledge of Allegiance could be any god they imagine: Hindu, Muslim, nothing, etc.

3. People have been omitting God from all kinds of things (especially their personal lives) for millennia.

4. i’m not under the delusion that this is truly a unified nation “under God.”

5. Despite what people may say or not say…  God is not going anywhere.

Whether He is acknowledged or not, God is still on the golf course. Just don’t expect him to shag your balls.

What are your thoughts on BBC’s choice to deliberately edit The Pledge?

~End mulligan~

Have Trident, Will Travel.

Why is the devil red? Where did the notion come from that Satan is a hulking red brute with menacing chiseled features: protruding brow supporting ominous speared horns and hides sunken yellow eyes; a hardened jaw line framing a ravenous mouth of abnormally long, piercing incisors that look to shred the most tensile metal; a sniping tail that wields to unexpectedly pierce lustfully at the nearest flesh? (Perhaps some of you good Cybermaritans could research these origins for me?)

i did a little research and found the first recorded public encounter with Satan occurs in the Bible, the book of Genesis, Chapter 3. He is in the form of a serpent. Encountering the serpent, Eve is not repulsed, frightened or even intimidated. She simply enters into conversation. Subtle… isn’t it?

This is how evil comes into my life. Not to disregard the heinous evil that many fall victim to in violent crime or betrayal. But the vast majority of us experience evil in seemingly benign means. Perhaps it’s the simply our own justification of a want or desire. Small, sometimes well-meant occurrences that fester into vices and lifestyles beyond our control: A white lie to deflect an argument, judgment, or make ourselves look better in the mind of others escalates into perjury; a quick lustful glimpse at a beauty on the street wrings into a dark pornographic sex addiction; a toke on a joint hurricanes to a heroin overdose; a compromise of values in a moment of desperation explodes to habitual crime. (i hope hyperbole is not lost  here.)

Whatever the situation, evil usually starts with a selfish desire. We all like to think we are important. And you are!! God thinks you are. But it’s when we think we are more important than someone else, our needs and desires come before others, this is where the lie begins.

In our Western culture our desires are catered and manipulated every day. Any salesperson on the planet worth his salt will tell you that the art of selling is to appeal to your emotions and desires, convince you that you need this product/service more than life itself. The common television viewer observes well over 70 of these appeals daily. Add to this print, radio, internet, and other advertising media, the average American is exposed to roughly 3000 appeals daily. WOW! In a recent study, education scientist Dr. Norman Herr noted that the average American child observes   20,000 30-second TV commercials. UNBELIEVABLE!!

Like the serpent who baited Eve with half-truths, telling her what she wanted to hear, appealing to her desire… so go our own hearts. We don’t need the devil in snakeskin… we’re bombarded countless times a day with fancy indulgence since we could turn the channel from Sesame Street. It’s not just advertisers. Every one of us puts on our salesman persona now and again to placate our friend, neighbor, co-worker, spiritual leader, counselor, supervisor, parent, significant other, child, and …yes, even God.

With a society that caters to our every whim of self-importance and entitlement, it’s no wonder we feel deserving and indulgent and that, “I am the most important person on the planet.” So if you’re wait is more than five minutes in the fast food drive through you pitch a fit. “Where’s my damn burger?!” How ridiculous is that?? It wasn’t long ago that you would have had to milk the cow, age the cheese, slaughter and butcher another cow, grind the wheat, make the dough, build the fire, bake the buns, flame broil the beef… you haven’t even had time to think about condiments because you’ve starved to death making a cheeseburger (with all due respect to my vegetarian/vegan friends–you gotta love the cheeseburger). But today you can’t wait five minutes, so you scream at the poor teenage girl making $1.07 an hour, who did little more than take your cash in trade for a meal. Is that evil?! Not to some… but selfishness manifested as anger that seeks only self-satisfaction is as ugly as the proverbial satanic visage.  Just remember that then next time a well dressed person tells you what you want to hear.

~End antler~

For What It’s Worth, Today’s Special Guest is…

...DocMartin (no, not the shoes, …different spelling). Roger Martin and i go back a few years. He is a Business Professor at Warner Pacific College. i asked Roger if i could re-post his thoughts from last week as they are along a theme that i have already posted on and have more on the way.

Take Care of the Little Things!

By Roger Martin

I love my morning coffee and newspapers. I get up around 5:30am and start my pot of coffee, pour my glass of orange juice, stick my bread in the toaster, and then run out and get my Columbian and Wall Street Journal (WSJ). I then spend the next two hours reading the newspapers. Sometimes there are articles in the Columbian that catch my attention, and other times it is the WSJ. Today it was both papers.

You may think it a bit strange that I am going to connect the Buffalo Springfield with Anthony Weiner, but I am going to write about both the band and the Representative in the same blog entry. The Buffalo Springfield was one of my favorite bands in the 60’s. Richie Furay, Stephen Stills, and Neil Young represented my heroes at the time. The song “For What Its Worth,” was a call to protest that all baby boomers paid attention to. Several of the original members are now dead, while Furay, Stills, and Young have just reunited and are touring. I would love to see them. I met Richie Furay at a Calvary Chapel pastors conference in Lake Arrowhead.

The comment however that stood out to me in this article was what Furay said to Young and Stills when the idea was brought up to tour together. Neil Young said they could get together either this year or next, and Furay stated at their ages they should do it now and not wait. I thought this was interesting. We do seem to put off things thinking we have time, but all of a sudden its gone.

Let me shift gears a bit and discuss Representative Weiner. I know there are going to be an incredible amount of jokes about this guy. The fact is habits that Anthony developed as a young single man continued on as he matured and eventually married. I cannot believe he thought that these indiscretions would go unnoticed? Somewhere along the line he lost something, something I would call disciplined thinking. Our society has lost the concept of discipline. How many rock stars die at an early age because they partied so much that they destroyed their bodies? How many politicians do stupid things thinking that no one would pay attention? We don’t think about consequences. If I do something, most of the time I don’t worry about what will happen later down the road? Action A will result in effect B. Effect B could be a cause to C, etc. Our actions do produce results that may, or may not, be considered good. This is especially true in how we think.

Descarte said “I think, therefore I am.” Scripture tells us we should bring all thoughts into captivity of Christ. There is value to this disciplined process of managing where our minds go. We wake up one morning and realize my gosh I’ve gained 20 pounds. How did I get here? We wake up one morning and say, why did I send all those pictures to people I don’t even know. Or one morning we wake up and we’ve missed an opportunity to play a concert with friends. Our society is losing something that was important in the past. In our modern society we focus on video games and self-gratification, and because of this we are losing the value of disciplined living and thinking. We are becoming a modern Rome. We don’t watch what we eat, pornography is rampant on our TV, and we play endless amounts of video games rather than read. It makes me think about the guy standing on the corner with a sign that states “The End of the World is Near.” All because we failed to maintain a disciplined thought life. What do you think about this?

And that is my thought for the day!

Jesus… Now Bigger than The Beatles.

Concerning The Beatles, John Lennon once exclaimed in an interview, “We’re more popular than Jesus now.” Arguably, he was right. Now before you pelt me with baseball-size rocks and pointed projectiles, let me qualify that in a cultural sense he was absolutely right. The Beatles were more influential upon adolescents, art, and music culture than anything in their time. They were a phenom beyond others. However, there really is no comparison, Jesus will forever obscure The Beatles in every significant manner, culturally and historically. Matter of fact, Jesus is actually bigger than Jesus. I have proof.

It seems that builders in Swiebodzin, Poland are erecting a Jesus statue. A Catholic Priest conceived the idea some years ago of a Jiant Giant Jesus. The project is expected to be finished shortly. When complete the plaster and fiberglass statue will stand 33 meters tall (108 feet for us Westerners) and placed on a 19 meter high mound. That will make the total height of the statue 52 meters (57 yards).

i gotta get me one of those!

i’d like to see John, Paul, George, and Ringo just try and get their own 100+ foot tall mega-monuments.

~End monolith~

What do you think about this? Is there good cause for a monumental messiah? (For some reason i can’t get They Might Be Giants’ “The Statue Got Me High” outta my head.)


This is going to be the official start of Weird Wednesday. Every Wednesday i’ll post a… well, you get the idea.