Tag Archives: movie

The Star Wars that I used to know

I love Star Wars.  I’ve seen the original trilogy countless times – but not the original original in many years.  I bought the re-releases immediately and loved them, at first.  I loved the added details, and even some of the deleted scenes.  I thought the Jabba scene in A New Hope was weird, but I let it slide.  I missed the old celebration music at the end of Return of the Jedi, but seeing the Palpatine statue get toppled was kind of cool.  Then the more I watched, the more I felt uneasy.  Of course, the most egregious change was that Han shot first.

If you don’t know what “Han shot first” means, then you don’t truly love Star Wars.  Find someone that does and ask them, then sit back and wait for a good 15 minute rant to ensue.  I won’t go into the details, but when Lucas changed the original movie, he changed the development of one of the greatest characters in movie history.  He sterilized Han and ripped out part of the heart of the movie.

It was as if Martin Scorcese decided to remake The Godfather trilogy, and decided that Michael should have Fredo beaten up and shipped to Mexico instead of having him go fishing.

Then the next trilogy came out.  I remember leaving Phantom Menace a little perplexed.  I felt like I liked it, but again I felt uneasy.  I enjoyed the light saber battles.  I enjoyed seeing a younger Yoda, but I missed him as a puppet.  I couldn’t put my finger on just what was the problem, partly because there were so many of them.  Yes, Jar Jar was annoying.  Yes, the kid was whiny.  Yes, Darth Maul was underdeveloped and dispatched much too quickly.  Yes, the strange opening story that included trade embargoes and legal negotiations seemed disjointed.

Then I realized, it was the metachlorian.  In the original, the Force was a mysterious, spiritual experience.  “May the Force be with you,” was a spiritual salutation on par with, “Godspeed.”  The Force was clouded in mystery, but it was attainable.  “The force is strong with this one,” referred to Luke’s eagerness, inner courage, and desire for justice.  The force was something that we could all tap into.  It was something within reach, even if it was from a galaxy far, far away.  The force was a reminder that there is something mysterious, a power that we can never truly understand.

There were theological ramifications for this.  You could put away the targeting computer, and trust in something more powerful. Even in the midst of amazing technological advances, there was something more.  The power to destroy planets was insignificant next to the power of the force.  Isn’t this the good news of the Bible, after all?  The greatest powers on earth was Egypt, but God saved the band of rebel slaves.  Then it was the Babylonians, but God was able to gather the remnant of Israel and save them.  Then it was Rome.  Rome had the power to destroy entire cities, but it was insignificant next to the power of grace.  Stars Wars taught us that there was something beyond death that can be a source of hope, but it is the power of love that is truly the ultimate power of the universe.

Then in Phantom Menace, they pull out a syringe and count metachlorians?  What the hell?  Now it’s just a chemical and genetic accident?  It is something that be counted, measured, and predicted?  That’s just wrong.  It’s wrong on so many levels in so many ways.  I don’t care if it George Lucas’s movie, and he can do whatever he wants with it.  If DaVinci decided he wanted to put a big cheesy grin on Mona Lisa, he would be wrong.

So here’s a parody video.  It is really well done, and it sums up very well how I feel about Star Wars and George Lucas.

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Journey to Hope: Money

In our Journey to Hope (which admittedly, was supposed to end at Easter, but I’m a little behind), we have explored several surprising places we may find hope.  This is Week 5 of the series Journey to Hope, a Rethink Church study.

Introduction

Week One: Relationships

Week Two: Self-Esteem

Week Three: Work

Week Four: Temptation

The opening question of the discussion is “Are you indebted to banks or to people?”  When leading a discussion about money with my youth, I framed the question slightly different.  “Do you own your stuff or does your stuff own you?” We listed some of the things we own, and what they spend their money on.  We had a list of things like clothes, phone, entertainment, food/snacks (beyond what their parents provide), video games, and books.

It was an interesting discussion, and they seemed to understand the question, “Do you own your stuff or does your stuff own you?”  We didn’t watch the video that was suggested by the study.  Although I love Pink Floyd, the discussion didn’t need the added media to get it going.  For the purpose of this blog though, I thought of a different song.

When thinking about the love of money, I think of the song “If I were a rich man.”

We all like to throw around cliche’s like “money can’t  buy happiness,” but money can be a powerful tool.  I don’t believe that money in itself is an evil.  It is a catalyst or an exclamation point.  Money magnifies the character of the one that possesses it. It can be used for terrible harm and it can be used for a great deal of good.  The reason I love “If I Were a Rich Man” is because it is so honest.  Tevye doesn’t just say, “I’m happy as I am.”  He knows that being wealthy could change his life.

He also admits that he might be a little extravagant with his money.  He would strut and preen.  He likes the idea of people treating him better.  He would get a bunch of animals so that they would make a lot of noise and point out to everyone that “Here lives a wealthy man.”  Part of the song speaks of the kind of frivolousness that many of us dream of a little.  I would buy a Jaguar.  Tevye would buy one staircase going up, another even longer going down, and another going nowhere just for show. I appreciate the honesty of that kind of wishful thinking.  There’s no sanctimonious piety.  Then, he starts to sing about other, more valuable things.

He starts to ponder the meaning of wisdom.  He starts to dream of spending time in Synagogue.  He dreams of sitting on the Eastern Wall.  His passion and deep commitment to God starts to grow apparent has he dives deeper into his fantasy.  Finally he comes to the ultimate fantasy – being able to sit with learned men and discuss the holy books for seven hours everyday.  The mere thought of it gives him pause.

That moment of the song – when he stops singing – is my favorite.  To me that moment reveals so much of the character of Tevye.  If you don’t know much about “The Fiddler on the Roof,” I apologize.  You should go out and watch it (and I’m really excited that it is coming to Davenport this season).  In this moment, I see the difference between the love of money and the love of what money can do.  Herein lies the difference between owning your stuff and allowing your stuff to own you.

When it gets down to the heart of the matter, it’s not the great staircases or loud animals that Tevye wants.  It is the chance to get closer to God.  Of course, if I were Tevye’s pastor, I would suggest to him that he can grow closer to God without money – but his heart is in the right place.  For too many, money is an obstacle.  It gets in the way of generosity, risk-taking mission, and genuine relationship.  These are the things in life that are of value.  It is very easy for the things we own, that we think are supposed to be serving us, become the instruments of the oppression we are trying to avoid.

People claim that wealth is a sign of God’s favor.  I don’t believe that.  Others claim that God is on the side of the poor.  I’m not sure when God chooses sides.  I think what God wants is for us all to be in relationship with God and with one another.  I think money can be related to that, but I think simplicity has more to do with it than a checkbook balance.  Simplicity in life goes a long way, and often with money there are complications.

Still though, I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to biddy biddy bum all day.

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Napoleon, meet Katniss

Napoleon, meet Katniss

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March 18, 2012 · 10:34 am

Fireproof stirs something

My last post, about the movie “Fireproof,” has been one of the most successful posts I have made. By successful I mean a couple of things – my object with this blog is not to convince anyone of anything. I am not trying to tell you how to feel or think or believe. I am simply sharing some insights or thoughts I have about a variety of topics. My goal is to start conversations, or to help people think of things in ways that they hadn’t before.

To me, a successful post is one that: a. a lot of people read, and b. people think about and react to. On an objective level, this can be measured by the number of visits and the number of comments.

My fireproof post was one of the most successful posts on both counts. Now, the term “a lot” is relative. Anytime one of my posts goes over 50 hits, I consider it “a lot.” So far, the Fireproof post has had 63, and has a chance at becoming the most viewed post in this blog. It also has brought forth several comments, including a running dialog. To me, this is fantastic.

It seems clear that this movie has hit a chord with a lot of people. Those that like the movie claim that its message is powerful and has been inspiring to people in the context of their marriage relationship. The message (apparently, I still haven’t seen it) is that God must be in the center of a marriage. I certainly believe in that, and have preached that on more than one occasion.

On the other side is the fact that Kirk Cameron is the star of the movie. Some Christians believe him to be a good representative of all that is wrong with American evangelical conservative Christianity. In this, I mostly agree. I am not completely familiar with his work, but I find the movie “Left Behind,” which thrust him into his current role within some Christian communities, to be dangerous and antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as I understand it.

So, where does this leave us? Should I ignore the movie, or even actively try to dissuade people from seeing it, for fear that it might inadvertently lead them down paths I would certainly want people to avoid? Or should I see the movie and use it as an evangelical tool to guide people in Christian marriage?

As usual, when I am faced with a decision that appears to boil down to options A or B, I choose option 3. I have determined that I am going to see Fireproof. So as not to support the production of it financially, I am going to try to borrow it from a library. After watching it, I will be better able to enter into a conversation with those that have experienced grace from it. But I am probably not going to be putting up movie posters or host a community showing.

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Twilight reconsidered

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about the book Twilight. At the time, the movie was about to come out and the stars from the movie were making their rounds to promote the movie. I couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing Cedrick Diggory, whom I have now come to know as Edward Cullen.
In that post I pretty much blasted the book, but I had not finished it. I have now finished it (and am almost done with New Moon), and I thought that in fairness, I should take another look at what I think about the book.

Let me be clear , not much of my opinion has changed. I feel of Twilight much as I did about Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It was good, but it could have been about 150 pages shorter. The building romance between Edward and Bella was draining and incredibly redundant. Some have told me that the book was just “very descriptive.” No, I don’t mind descriptive. This book was agonizing in building up Bella’s devotion to this “boy” that was so dangerous.

Some told me that the ending was the best part, and I agree. It did pick up. There were dramatic events and unforeseen twists, and it became an exciting book over the last 100 pages or so.
On a readability scale, I would say the first 150 pages were good, the last 150 pages were very good, and the middle 200 pages were agonizingly bad.

On another level though, I still have the same problem with the relationship. Bella, as one of the commenters on this page said, has no identity apart from Edward. She begins the book as a strong, intelligent young woman, but degenerates into a needy and sort-of-stupid girl. In the end, her actions seem to be motivated by selfless courage, but could just as easily be interepreted as suicidal melodrama. Laying down one’s life for loved ones is dramatic and romantic and courageous. Walking willingly into your death for no good reason is stupid.

I still feel that if my daughter was very much a fan of these books, I would be a little worried. Yes, it is teen romance, so it is full of melodrama. It is certainly a dramatic love story – and the Romeo and Juliet motif gets played out even more in the second book – but I am concerned with Bella’s utter lack of self-love.

Bella is a woman that should be admired. She is smart, resourceful, well-read, witty, and apparantly beautiful. Yet despite all of her amazing attributes, she has nothing but self-loathing in comparison to her “love.” A true love should make you feel better about yourself. A true love magnifies your qualities and reflects them. A true love lifts up the individuals for the benefit of the pair. Unfortunately in the relationship between Bella and Edward, she is simply overshadowed, she loses herself, and she is constantly fearful that she “isn’t good enough.”

That’s not love. And that’s not what teenage girls need to think love is.

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The Twlight Phenomenon

I have started reading Twilight, and I have to say, I don’t get it.  I understand that as a 31 year old male, I am not exactly the book’s target demographic, but I’m not exactly the target demographic for “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe,” or “The Giver,” or “Harry Potter,” and all of those books are thuroughly readable.  “Twilight,” on the other hand, is painful to read.

I am about half way through the nearly 500 page book, and I am really hoping that something happens soon, because the last 200 pages have been the following: 

      I love him so much, but I am afraid he’s going to eat me. But he’s so beautiful, and I can’t stand to be away, but I hope he’s so dangerous.
      ‘You need to stay away from me, Bella’ Edward said. ‘I’m sooooo dangerous.’
      I knew he was dangerous, but I couldn’t take my eyes off his beautiful pale face. I love his beautificity soooooo much.

 Seriously, there is nothing original about this story.  There is a 17-going-on-35 girl that has a flighty Mom and a Dad she can’t communicate with.  She is the new girl in a small town, and everyone is fascinated by her, and she is fascinated by the brooding, but devastatingly handsome loner that everyone in said small town misunderstands.  This is every teen romance written since 1950, combined with every vampire story written since 1800.

Like I said, there might be something interesting coming.  I am not done, but it is getting more and more difficult to read the completely unbelievable dialogue between two cookie-cutter characters. 

Last night I was telling my wife about this book and I read a sample paragraph from the page I was on.  She laughed, as I told her that is the entire book so far.  To prove my point, I flipped to a random page and found an almost identical paragraph from the one I found.  If you have this book, give that a try.  Flip to any two random pages from 50-250, and see if you can tell them apart.

Some people must have liked this book.  Please tell me why.

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