Movies

Wish I Was Here – Review

rs_634x939-140528062250-634.Wish-I-Was-Here-Poster-JR-52814Wish I Was Here is Zach Braff’s sophomore film and a vague follow-up to his first film Garden State. Braff’s main character Aidan is a 35 year old man who comes face to face with his existence in the light of his father’s impending death. The movie explores a myriad of topics, including family dynamics, marriage, raising children, faith and the dreaded question of what to do with one’s life. The movie has some stand out performances. Kate Hudson is brilliant as the matriarch of the family,gracefully loving her husband and his hard to please father. Joey King is perfect as the oldest daughter Grace, whose world is turned upside down throughout the film. While not perfect, it is surely well worth your summer dollars and constitutes another solid movie from Braff.

What You Leave Behind

Adian’s father Gabe is dying. Gabe has tried to raise two sons as well as he could, supporting and loving them, all while trying to pass on his values. It is interesting to see throughout the film the clash of generations. The movie perfectly portrays a first generation that was unable to pass on its values to their children. Gabe, who is Jewish, was unable to pass this faith and belief system on to his sons. He is also a firm believer in hard work and fulfilling your potential with the gifts that God has given you. Gabe’s sons are a disappointment to him in many ways as Aidan still pursues a nonexistent acting career and his younger son Noah squanders his genius “blogging”.

Where the film gets really interesting is in its comparison of Gabe’s parenting and Aidan’s. Generally Aidan is not shown to be the best parent. He swears constantly in front of his kids, pays very little attention to them in the beginning of the film and has no values of his own to pass on. Aidan’s values seem to be nothing more than pursing happiness. In the movie, there is a conversation between Aidan and a rabbi. Aidan asks if God is not worried about his happiness and dreams to which the rabbi replies, no. God desires Aidan to take care of his family, the rabbi tells him. Aidan is so wrapped up in himself he has forgotten that it is his responsibility to raise his children, to train them up and teach them about life. Yet he and his wife are ill equipped to do so because they are unsure as to what they even believe about life itself. There is a sadness in this inability to pass on anything substantial to children because of the innate selfishness of an umoored existence.

Manhood

wish-i-was-here-reelgoodIn Aidan’s pursuit of acting he has abdicated his role as provider for his family. In a “modern” world the sexes have been equalized and there are many who would see nothing wrong with the woman being the sole bread-winner in a family. Yet Aidan has abandoned more than the provision of material things, he has resigned leadership of his children and his family. He has thrust upon his wife the sole responsibility of providing for the family as he pursues his dreams, while taking away her ability to pursue the dreams she has. She even asks him at one point, “When did this relationship become solely about supporting your dreams?”. He has side-lined her in his selfishness. As she has sacrificed for him, believing in him and supporting him, he has reciprocated nothing, leaving her exhausted mentally and physically.

It is a sad picture of the state of manhood. Manhood has nothing to do with beers, hunting and video games. Manhood is about responsibility. Manhood is about putting others before yourself, especially those you have joined your life with or brought into the world. What is nice about the film is that Aidan does begin to grasp what it means to truly be a man, and he begins to live that out for his wife and children.

Faith

The movie is filled with conversations about God, but one of them stuck out more than the others. Aidan, who is struggling with losing his father and the turmoil it has caused with his brother, goes to see a rabbi. The rabbi tells him not to worry so much about labels for god, god can be whatever he wants. If Aidan feels like it’s the cosmos and it’s trying to tell him something, he needs to listen. Really this advice is not all that different than any episode of the Oprah show or a Starbucks coffee sleeve these days with Oprah’s “words of wisdom”.

The problem with this advice is very clear; if you make god in your image, if it is only a construct of what you think or desire, it’s useless in the end. A god of your own making has absolutely no authority or weight, even in your own life. In the end, such a god amounts only to what you want it to be, and that is meaningless to speak into your life when you have no idea who you are or what life is about. Only a god who transcends humanity and our ideas can possibly be worth listening to, otherwise it might as well be the great spaghetti monster in the sky.

Aidan says that he and his brother wanted to be heroes when they were little. They would play for hours in the back yard, saving the universe. He asks a poignant question at the beginning and ending of the film, “What if we aimed a little high? What if we were not the saviors, but the everyday people needing to be saved?”. This is such a profound question with the resounding answer of, yes. Yes, we are the everyday people needing to be saved.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6 ESV)

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8 ESV)

Courage

Films often try to have it both ways, telling us to live for our dreams while at the same time telling us to be responsible. Wish I Was Here definitely wants to have it both ways. Gabe constantly gets on to Aidan for not providing better for his family. Aidan’s response, which is also backed up by his wife, is that he is living for his dreams–dreams that come at the expense of everyone around him. This film, more than most, portrays the immense courage it takes to live out the day in, day out responsibilities of a father or a mother. Real courage is demonstrated through facing one’s obligations head on with grace and love. There is nothing braver or more loving than laying down one’s wants, desires or life for the betterment of another. Aidan learns this the hard way as he loses his father, but through that experience he learns not to take for granted his own family.

The movie is at its best when, in the end, it shows the characters finding their passions leading them in directions they had not considered before. Aidan, who has single-mindedly pursued acting, has his kindness to a fellow actor pay off when he is invited to become an acting teacher. This effectively reinforces the message that life is not about selfishly following our dreams, but living for the betterment of those around us.

Conclusion 

Wish I Was Here is a good movie that has a lot to say. The messages do get muddled in characters that as a friend put it, are one minute the worst life has to offer yet are transformed by the end. There is a lot here and many of the answers are not satisfying completely, but the questions themselves are worth wrestling with.

The Fault in Our Stars – Review

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

Julius Caesar

fault-our-stars-movie-posterThe Fault in Ours Stars continues a tradition that has been seen from John Hughes’ Sixteen Candles all the way to Diablo Cody’s Juno; teens who sound more like middle age people while trying to deal with the rigors of high school. From the mind of popular teen author John Green come Augustus and Hazel who are not only trying sail the waters of adolescence but do so with cancer. The Fault in Our Stars strives to be anything but typical while at the same time using many familiar cliches. Girl meets boy, they fall in love and are separated, except this time one of them dies. The thing that sets this movie apart are the performances of Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. They truly do sell the romance and the plight that these characters find themselves in. Where the film falters is in not allowing for more genuine expression. Augustus and Hazel sound more like philosophy majors much of the time and the authenticness of their views falls flat because of it. While the movie is good, there is something that is missing to make it truly a classic.

The Death of Hope

“There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything. There will be no one left to remember Aristotle or Cleopatra, let alone you. Everything that we did and built and wrote and thought and discovered will be forgotten and all of this will have been for naught. Maybe that time is coming soon and maybe it is millions of years away, but even if we survive the collapse of our sun, we will not survive forever. There was time before organisms experienced consciousness, and there will be time after. And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.”  - Hazel

This movies’ philosophy on life is bleak. Hazel and Augustus have rejected that there is truly any meaning to life and are left to deal with their pain and misery all on their own. There is absolutely no hope for them to hold to; their worldview has ruled any such thing impossible.

There is an interesting scene in the movie where Hazel and Augustus are in Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam. In the background there is an audio version of Anne’s diary playing. It creates a fascinating dichotomy between these teens. Our films protagonists are cancer patients in the prime of life, arguably a horrible situation. Anne Frank was a young Jewish girl sent to a concentration camp where she would die at the age of fifteen. What is astounding is the difference in her view of the world as compared to Hazel and Augustus’.

“Where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.”

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” – Anne Frank

What Hazel and Augustus are facing is horrendous, yet nothing compared to the nature of Anne Frank’s suffering. One has hope that see’s her through the worst that life has to offer and the others have nothing concrete to hold on to. They find each other but as the film so deftly points out, even that is fleeting. And if there is not meaning, no higher purpose and oblivion is all that awaits, connection between humans can never be enough. The Fault in Our Stars is one of the bleakest and most depressing movies that has ever been made for teens and in the end, the fault lies not in the stars but in the philosophy of oblivion. Thank God there is hope,

Mystery and Victory I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:50-55 ESV)

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Exclusive: Read J.K. Rowling’s new post for the latest Harry Potter ‘gossip’

550w_movies_harry_potter_epilogue_4Can’t get enough of Harry Potter? Then this is for you. Since March, best-selling author J. K. Rowling has been writing original stories about the imaginary 2014 Quidditch World Cup Finals for Pottermore, the online home for the world of Harry Potter. 

Rowling shared her latest Pottermore.com story exclusively with TODAY.com. Written in the voice of the fictional Daily Prophet’s gossip correspondent Rita Skeeter, this post centers around the reunion of Harry Potter and his friends at the Quidditch World Cup Finals. Click here for the new Harry Potter Story 

For Taylor Swift, the Future of Music Is a Love Story

taylor-swift-red-largeWhere will the music industry be in 20 years, 30 years, 50 years?

Before I tell you my thoughts on the matter, you should know that you’re reading the opinion of an enthusiastic optimist: one of the few living souls in the music industry who still believes that the music industry is not dying…it’s just coming alive

Gbj6CRxJustice’ is served with another helping of Superman

Who’s better, Superman or Batman? Zack Snyder doesn’t have to choose a favorite since he’s getting to put both on the big screen at the same time.

The director of last year’s Man of Steel doubles down on A-list superheroes in his follow-up Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (in theaters May 6, 2016), teaming a returning Henry Cavill as the big guy in the cape and “S” on his chest with Ben Affleck as the latest cinematic incarnation of the Dark Knight.

Europe Is Starting to Take American Soccer Seriously (Seriously!)

article-2594795-1CC15A9B00000578-590_634x457Did American soccer just win the football world’s respect?

The World Cup is over for the U.S.A. after a heartbreaking loss to Belgium. But that defeat made for what some regard as perhaps the best match of a tournament that has thrilled from the start. More importantly, the U.S. has been called a “world-class team” by the likes of Barry Glendenning, the ever-critical football writer from The Guardian. Glendenning is perhaps not the Supreme Leader of Football (that title belongs to Sepp Blatter), but he is near the epicenter of international football, and he does not compliment teams lightly.

The real story behind the war over YA novels

91o13sPo7VLFew categories of literature right now seem to receive the level of hatred reserved for young adult fiction, which is the subject of nearly endless editorials on its supposed inanity, excessive sexuality, darkness, and girlyness. It doesn’t escape notice that there’s a strong whiff of sexism underlying the wave of YA hate—the genre is heavily dominated by women, and female authors can recount their experiences with sexism first hand.

Coming Out as a Christian

social-mediaI’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to live transparently—especially when it comes to my digital life. For as long as I’ve been on social media (I first joined Facebook in 2005), I’ve oscillated between expressing myself honestly and expressing contrived personas that I broadcast on Twitter, Instagram, and everywhere else.

Take, for instance, my well-documented love of Rolling Rock. Anyone who follows me on any website knows I’ve posted endlessly about the famously watery beer for the past three years. My Instagram feed was once a veritable shrine to Rolling Rock. My friends gave me four cases of it for my birthday last year. Heck, my Twitter fan club (yes, it’s still weird to me, too) uses a picture of Rolling Rock as its header image! I know how to advertise my love for a product.

X-Men: Days of Future Past – Review

xmen-daysAfter the disappointing Last Stand, the X-Men franchise was at a crossroads; how to revitalize a once promising film series and breathe new life into something that, up till that point had been fantastic comic book cinema. Matthew Vaughn was chosen to helm First Class and the finished product was everything the name implied. As the next film began the percolate and Matthew Vaughn exited the project, fans were worried that the the series would once again flounder. Bryan Singer, director of X1 and X2, was tapped to return and with him brought us a film that rivals First Class for one of the top spots in comic book movie rankings. Days of Future Past is a film that utilizes the best of the original cast and the newest film to create a mind-bending tale of time travel as well as resetting the X-Men film universe for the future. The Quicksilver scene is alone worth the price of admission. If you have not seen Days of Future Past, do! This film is sure to entertain as well as leave you thinking as you walk out of the theater for weeks to follow.

Hope

One of the hallmarks of the X-Men series has be Professor Xavier’s ability to hope when all seems lost. In this film, we learn why. In the future,  Sentinels have all but eradicated mutants as well as all people who would help them. There is one play the mutants have; send Wolverine back into his past self to stop Mystique from killing a weapons specialist who’s life work will turn into the Sentinels. Wolverine will also need to revive Xavier, who after the events of First Class has lost his abilities (the drug he takes to allow him to walk impairs his mental powers) and his school because of the Vietnam draft. Xavier has lost all hope in the world as well as himself and has descended into wallowing in self-pity and self-loathing. Through his interaction with Wolverine, who allows him to communicate with Xavier in the future, he is able to regain his focus and his hope. It is a powerful scene with the reminder that one cannot live long without hope. Peter reminds believers of this in his first letter when he says,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Belief

There is little in this world that is more harmful to a person than a loss of belief in themselves or the idea that no one else believes in them. Mystique is on the brink. She believes that she is forever set and cannot go back to who she use to be. Estranged from Xavier and betrayed by Magneto, she sees no options for herself. Xavier makes a statement midway through the film in reference to her, “Just because someone stumbles and loses their way doesn’t mean they are lost forever “. What a beautiful, gospel-filled message that no matter what someone has done, they are not beyond salvation. There is nothing more powerful than the cross of Christ and it is only when we loose sight of that, that we write people off. Xavier realizes at the end of the film that he has been trying to control Mystique instead of believing in her. His ultimate act of giving her the choice in the end brings to light the admonition that people cannot be force into something. Cohesion or control are never effective in winning the hearts and minds of people. It is only through love, belief and authentic relationship that people can change.

Conclusion

The X-Men series is at the top of it’s game. With Apocalypse as the storyline for the next film and a focus on the First Class iteration of characters, the series looks to be poised for greatness once again.

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If All Religions Are True, Then God Is Cruel:

world-religionsThe short film Most made its way onto the big screen more than 10 years ago. A brilliantly moving piece of cinema, the film tells the story of a single father who lives with his son in the Czech Republic. The pair share simple yet content lives together. The father works as a bridge engineer—he is responsible for raising and lowering a massive draw-bridge that allows ships and trains to pass at scheduled times. One day, the boy happened to be at the bridge with his father. As he’s playing outside, he notices a train rapidly approaching the station.

Why How I Met Your Mother’s Marshall and Lily Were TV’s Best Sitcom Couple:

tumblr_l7vaf65RMu1qdsisgo1_500For many casual fans of How I Met Your Mother, the treacly plot of Ted seeking out “the Mother” grew unbearably manipulative, right up through the twists and turns of last night’s final episode. And yet, our nostalgic flame will burn on for many aspects of HIMYM, among them the awesomeness of Lily and Marshall. The married college sweethearts, played by comedy heavyweights Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan, provided a model for happy but rarely boring coupledom, even as the show’s other characters fumbled romantically. For every obnoxious rom-com gesture that Ted attempted, Lily and Marshall were there to point out that the real thing is as messy as it is sweet.

Hollywood tries to win Christians’ faith:

1Randall Wallace didn’t expect a rock-star reception when he went on the road to promote his faith-based drama “Heaven Is for Real” ahead of its Easter-weekend release.

Yet at the First Assembly of God Church in Phoenix, 9,000 congregants greeted the filmmaker with a standing ovation. A few days later, 11,000 boisterous students packed a convocation in the sports arena at Liberty University, a Christian college in Lynchburg, Va., where Wallace, best known for writing the 1995 battle biopic “Braveheart” and directing the equestrian drama “Secretariat,” spoke about “Heaven Is for Real.”

Literary City, Bookstore Desert:

storewindownight_0When Sarah McNally, the owner of McNally Jackson bookstore in Lower Manhattan, set out to open a second location, she went to a neighborhood with a sterling literary reputation, the home turf of writers from Edgar Allan Poe to Nora Ephron: the Upper West Side.

She was stopped by the skyscraper-high rents.

The Underrated, Universal Appeal of Science Fiction:

science-fictionWhen I’m introduced to someone as a writer, a now familiar pattern of events often follows.

“Oh, really! How interesting!” the someone—let’s call her Jane—says, sounding quite enthusiastic. “What do you write?”

“Science fiction,” I say.

Jane instantly glazes over. “I’m afraid I never read science fiction.”

 

Noah – Review

noah-movie-poster-castNoah is the new movie loosely based on the biblical narrative found in Genesis from director Darren Aronofsky. This movie has faced controversy since even before it’s release, with Christians worried about how a proclaimed atheist would portray something they take seriously. As a film it has great acting, fantastic effects and a story that might be more interesting if it was not based on something so many see as sacred.

The Good:

There are a few things that Aronofsky does well in this film. One, he shows clearly the reasons why “The Creator” (What God is called all throughout the movie) wants to destroy humanity. The depravity seen is rampant and disturbing. People are shown trading teenage girls for food, there is murder, chaos and misuse of creation in every way possible. This is humanity at is basest, with it’s evil core completely exposed. Sin has infected everyone. Secondly, the idea of sin in all people is reenforced when Noah himself realizes that he and his family are not righteous. There is a clear representation of the biblical refrain, “none is righteous, no not one”.  These are powerful reminders of the impact that sin has had on the world since Adam and Eve took life into their own hands and chose themselves over God.

The Bad:

A friend of mine said about Noah, “Even in the truth, it is twisted somehow”. There are quite a few examples of this. Tubal Cain, a descendant of Cain and the main antagonist in the film, uses the truth of God’s command to Adam and Eve,  “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” and yet twists it for his own advantage. He uses it for justification to curse “The Creator” and do as he damn well pleases (a paraphrase of his own words). He subjugates people as well as strip mines the earth, caring for nothing but himself; a pattern that all the peoples of the earth follow except for line of Seth (Which Noah is the last of). Tubal Cain also uses the fact that man is made in God’s image to his benefit. To him, it gives man the place of God on earth and therefore he can rule and reign as he sees fit.

Each of these things has a part of the truth in them. Man was called, by God to subdue the earth, to be his representation and care for all that God had created. This meant respect for all God had created, beast, environment and people. God also had created only man in his image and therefore set them apart from all other created things. Again this great power came with immense responsibility. We were not indented to destroy this world and others for our benefit, but to nurture creation, caring for it as our very own as well as following God by creating ourselves. Sadly Aronofsky so misrepresents the truth that it becomes unrecognizable and seen as evil.

Perhaps the biggest misrepresentation in the film comes from the silence of “The Creator”. Noah is left much to his own devices because the visions and dreams that he gets from “The Creator” are sufficiently vague to leave him in the dark as to want he is suppose to do. He gets enough to know that he should build an ark and that the animals will be saved through this vessel. What is not explained to him is that God is also saving his family. Noah comes to believe that because of his inherent wickedness as well as his family’s, that they should be the last humans. The earth will be left to care for itself. He has absolutely no understanding of being made in God’s image and that, that makes humanity something God would want to save. All the drama in the film comes from ignoring the source material. In the movie God might be vague, but in Scripture, God could not be clearer.

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him. (Genesis 6:11-22 ESV)

God is so clear to Noah, not only is he told to why the flood is coming, he is told exactly how to build the boat as well as why he and his family will be saved. It is not from Noah’s righteousness, it is because God is making a covenant with him.

It is amazing the difference between a God who speaks and one who is mostly silent. In the movie, Noah is left to try interpret God’s wishes. Noah is told that God chose him and gave him the decision as to whether humanity continued or not. In the end, the movie is about a vengeful God’s wrath and the mercy of a human. When in reality, the true story was about God and his grace towards Noah, because even in Noah’s obedience, the same sin courses through his very being. Francis Schaeffer said about God, he is there and he is not silent. Thank God we do not live in a world like that portrayed by Aronofsky, with a god who speaks in vague generalities leaving us to our own devises. Genesis says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… And God said…”. He has spoken, the question is, do we want to listen to what he has to say or make our own way. It is the same choice Adam and Eve had; what will you choose? 

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STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS’ FINAL SEASON, “THE LOST MISSIONS,” TO HIT NETFLIX ON MARCH 7:

Exclusive Licensing Agreement with The Disney/ABC Television Group Brings Star Wars Content to Netflix Streaming Members for the First Time

The Galactic Republic, Disney/ABC Television Group, Lucasfilm, and Netflix Inc. today announced the highly anticipated debut of the sixth and final season of the Emmy(r) Award-winning series Star Wars: The Clone Wars exclusively to Netflix members in the US and Canada on Friday, March 7. Accompanying the 13-episode new season dubbed “The Lost Missions” will be the entire Star Wars: The Clone Wars saga, which includes several director’s cut episodes never seen on TV as well as the feature film. This multi-year agreement also makes Netflix the exclusive subscription service for the entire Star Wars: The Clone Wars series.

The Economics of Sex:

One of the most interesting and thought provoking videos I have seen in a long time.

Everything Is Awesome: Grace in The LEGO Movie:

hr_The_LEGO_Movie_10I would write a review of this movie, but this says it so much better that I ever could.

Some thoughts on grace and the new LEGO movie come from Michael Belote, author of the wonderful reboot:Christianity blog and author of Rise of the Time Lords, doubtless the best (review here) geeky intro to Christian doctrine available.

Something weird is happening in Hollywood. Just four months ago, the world was introduced to Frozen, a children’s movie chock-full of theological nuance. As I wrote at the time, I felt like this was the best theological movie in years, and figured it would be quite a while until I saw something similar.

Boy was I wrong.

5 Sure-Fire Ways to Motivate Your Son to Use Pornography:

unhappy-wifeBefore I get into five sure-fire ways to motivate your son to use pornography, let me establish two important points. First, no parents want their child to become involved in porn. We all can agree. The problem for many of us is we don’t understand the insidious allurement of pornography and how our behavior, though unintentional, can help shape a child to crave something that can lead him into a lifetime of slavery.

Pascal’s Method for Presenting the Christian Faith:

blaise-pascalMen despise religion. They hate it and are afraid it may be true. The cure for this is first to show that religion is not contrary to reason, but worthy of reverence and respect. Next make it attractive, make good men wish it were true, and then show that it is.”

Blaise Pascal was a brilliant 17th-century French mathematician and physicist who had a dramatic Christian conversion experience and thereafter devoted much of his thought to Christianity and philosophy. He began to assemble notes and fragments he hoped would be woven into a book called The Defense of the Christian Religion, but he died just two months after his 39th birthday and it was never written. Those fragments, however, were published as Pensees (“Thoughts”), and it has become one of the most famous Christian books in history.

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The Decline of the American Book Lover:

354750466_1383346651The Pew Research Center reported last week that nearly a quarter of American adults had not read a single book in the past year. As in, they hadn’t cracked a paperback, fired up a Kindle, or even hit play on an audiobook while in the car. The number of non-book-readers has nearly tripled since 1978.

Why Classic Movies Have Terrible Trailers:

imgpulp20fiction1Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, originally released in 1994, has aged gorgeously. It’s one of those rare films that can be watched and re-watched for 20 years and remain as shocking, vivid, and irresistible as the year it was released.

The 1994 trailer, however, now seems corny and dated by comparison.

Porn and Future Marriage:

Indulgence in pornography is not a problem that only young, unmarried boys face. It’s an epidemic that stretches into the realm of men who are married and women of all kinds (young or old, married or not). However, this post is aimed particularly toward young, unmarried men. The reason I am speaking to this particular group is because I know from firsthand experience the complications that this addiction causes for young men and their future marriage.

On TV: BBC’s Sherlock, “The Empty Hearse”:

673acbad-274c-42fe-96c5-83aabb26bf5e_sherlock-season-3BBC’s Sherlock has become one of my favorite shows on television, and it was immensely fun having some new material and quelling the peremptory curiosity left by the end of last season. It was genuinely enjoyable seeing Holmes back on the screen, even though, last night, Sherlock’s self-absorbed callousness was especially in-your-face – sort of making me wonder why I like BBC’s Holmes at all. All of his flaws were on high display, and they were made all the more irritating by his inability to apologize. And yet he remains compelling, not just immensely likeable, but even lovable, an obsession for some viewers (myself included) which the showrunners not-so-subtly parodied with The Empty Hearse Fan Club. And Sherlock’s disdain for them parallels Moffat’s condescension to the his viewers, opening the episode with a wild bungee jump and James Bond-esque kiss of Molly, followed by a breezy departure. Certainly some viewers would enjoy such action-hero panache, but we’re made to understand, early on, that this conventional smoothness isn’t, at all, who Sherlock is.

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Why C.S. Lewis Never Goes Out of Style:

IMG_0145Last month marked the 50th anniversary of a bizarre day in history. Three men of significant importance each died on November 22, 1963: President John F. Kennedy, author Aldous Huxley, and author and scholar C.S. Lewis.

On that day, the developed world (appropriately) halted at the news of the assassination of the United States’ 35th president. The front page of The New York Times on Saturday morning, the day after the tragic shooting, read, “Kennedy Is Killed by Sniper as he Rides in Car in Dallas; Johnson Sworn in on Plane,” and virtually every other news service around the world ran similar coverage and developed these stories for days and weeks following.

16 Books To Read Before They Hit Theaters This Year:

91o13sPo7VLEvery year there are more and more movies based on books being released. Here are 16 books that have been turned into films that you should read, the books are always better than the movie.

Evangelicals and Hollywood Muck:

game-of-thrones-posterI grew up in a fundamentalist environment. The church I was baptized in believed it was inappropriate for Christians to go to a movie theater. To this day, my grandparents maintain this standard as a bulwark against worldliness.

The library at my Christian school had a variety of books for children, sanitized for Christian consumption. Encyclopedia Brown made the cut, but all the “goshes” and “gee whizzes” were marked out with a heavy black pen. No second-hand cursing allowed.

Strength = Good, Weakness = Bad:

1122777918_the_dramatic_decline_of_the_modern_man_460x307_xlargeI like to be strong. At least I like to appear strong. You do too, I think. Most of us value strength and look down on weakness. We honor those who have their lives together and regard with suspicion those who do not.

Strength = good, weakness = bad. That is our functional formula. But it is not the Lord’s. 2 Corinthians 12 says it very differently: “ ‘My grace is sufficient for you,” said the Lord, “ ‘for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

6 Deadly Enemies of Marriage:

religion-300x336Marriage is under attack. Marriage has always been under attack. The world, the flesh and the devil are all adamantly opposed to marriage, and especially to marriages that are distinctly Christian. Marriage, after all, is given by God to strengthen his people and to glorify himself; little wonder, then, that it is constantly a great battleground.

Her – Review

MV5BMjA1Nzk0OTM2OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjU2NjEwMDE@._V1_SX640_SY720_Her is one of the most unique films in years. The story is simple enough, a man who is going through a divorce buys a new operating system that is completely intuitive and cognizant and falls in love with the it. On the surface Her seems like one of the strangest and most outlandish ideas for a movie and yet it proves to be one of the most human. This is an exploration of what it means to be, to be human and in relationship with others. Her is a great movie, that does have some scenes I cannot endorse, so use caution when going to see it.

The Struggle:

Theodore buys an operating system, never thinking that it will turn his life upside down. He is a man who is on the brink of divorce. He hides himself emotionally, longing for connection, to be know and loved and yet fears the rejection that comes with the risk inherent in all relationships. When Samantha (the name of the OS, which she gives to herself) downloads it’s way into Theodore’s life he finds a friend. Samantha is there to listen and comfort him by making him feel known as well as cared for. Since Samantha is a fully intuitive system, she can learn, grow, change and feel just like any human, creating a connection between them that is “real”.

her-1The relationship quickly progresses from one of friendship to romance. Samantha experiences feelings of desire and wanting for the first time, every moment becoming more “alive”. Unlike a human, she is not limited to a physical form, so as she grows she begins to transcend her need for the human connection she has with Theodore, he is just too slow to be on her level.

Her has a lot to say about humanity and relationships. Humans are made for connection, it is the one thing that we cannot live without. In almost every romantic relationship we enter into it believing that the person we have come to know can fill us and “complete” us. We set them up as idols and put the weight of our souls, our happiness on their shoulders. Inevitably they crumble, disappointing us because no one has the strength to truly complete another. The satiation of our deepest desires goes unfulfilled, leaving us to look for “greener pastures”. This is beautifully played out in couples scenes throughout the movie. The most poignant is when Theodore writes a letter to his ex-wife confessing that he had asked too much of her, basically he had made her god and it was not her fault that she could not live up to such a standard. 

The Fear:

Theodore is life is rife with fear. He fears being alone. He also fears being rejected. He fears allowing someone to truly know him because there is the chance that they might cast him aside, not liking what they know. Humans have an intense hunger to be known and loved unconditionally, but experience has taught us time and again that it’s almost impossible to find. C.S. Lewis said,

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

We are made for relationship but in a fallen world, no human will ever be able to fill the needs we have fully. Only God can supply for all our needs. When we place a human being as ultimate in our lives, allocating all of our hope for joy in them we will be forever unsatisfied. Only when God is ultimate and supreme in our lives can we experience the pleasure in human relationships the way they were made to be.

Conclusion:

Movies like Her are few and far between. I found myself, the whole time, being challenged with the ideas of relationships, what it means to be human and to love another. Joaquin Phoenix gives a heartfelt performance that you immediately empathize with, drawing you into his melancholy and joy in every scene. It must be said that the relationship between Theodore and Samantha only works because of the fantastic voice acting of Scarlett Johansson. The entire time you buy that someone could fall in love with an OS if it had a voice like hers. This will not be a movie for everyone, but I must say, I will be thinking about it for a long time.