Category Archives: Marriage

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.

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My Wife Has Tattoos: Marriage, New Birth, and the Gospel

ring-tattoos-13Today is the day of my wedding.  And I am not marrying the girl of my dreams.

If you would have told me when I was a teenager that my wife would have seven tattoos, a history in drugs, alcohol, and attending heavy metal concerts, I would have laughed at you, given you one of my courtship books, and told you to take a hike.  My plans were much different, much more nuanced with careful planning, much more clean-cut, and much more, well, about me.

When Gifts Lose Their Luster

giftThere are times I grow weary of good things. Things I love. Things I would not want to live without. Things that have the ability to make my heart beat a little bit faster and keep my mind racing when I ought to be asleep. They are good things, but somehow, through time or familiarity or neglect or something else, they begin to feel not so good. I wish it wasn’t this way, but it seems to be yet another cost of being a sinful person in a sinful world. Even the best things feel like bad things at times.

Advice to High School Graduates: ‘You Are Not Special’

graduation-hats1On a spring day in 2012, Wellesley High School English teacher David McCullough, Jr., stepped onto the school’s football field, then covered in a sea of seniors dressed in identical caps and gowns. Clad in a blazer and striped tie, McCullough made his way to the podium, donned his reading glasses, and began his commencement speech. Nothing about the event seemed out of the ordinary. McCullough, after all, was participating in a ritual that happens hundreds of thousands of times across the United States each year. He had given graduation speeches before.

But compared to the countless other remarks given by comedians, journalists, and politicians that year, McCullough’s speech stood out for its blunt, four-word message: “You are not special.”

Kirsten Powers: Liberals’ Dark Ages

darkagesWelcome to the Dark Ages, Part II. We have slipped into an age of un-enlightenment where you fall in line behind the mob or face the consequences.

How ironic that the persecutors this time around are the so-called intellectuals. They claim to be liberal while behaving as anything but. The touchstone of liberalism is tolerance of differing ideas. Yet this mob exists to enforce conformity of thought and to delegitimize any dissent from its sanctioned worldview. Intolerance is its calling card.

Waving His Wand at ‘Beowulf’

packshotThere’s more to J. R. R. Tolkien than wizards and hobbits. The author of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” was also an Oxford University professor specializing in languages like Old Norse and Old English.

“Beowulf” was an early love, and a kind of Rosetta Stone to his creative work. His study of the poem, which he called “this greatest of the surviving works of ancient English poetic art,” informed his thinking about myth and language.

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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.

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How to Destroy Your Marriage Before It Begins:

gods_design_for_marriage_umjrTim and Jess had only been married for eight months, but the honeymoon was most certainly over. The sweet conversations that once marked their relationship had been replaced with constant bickering. Their laughter had dulled, and their distance had grown. Their sexual intimacy had almost ceased.

A Referendum on Midlife Friendships:

friends-tv-show“We haven’t seen them in a while,” I hear myself observing every few weeks, usually in reference to friends with whom my wife and I have lost touch. Most of the time, the estrangement is purely logistical, schedules being what they are in a house with two working parents and two napping toddlers. But guilt nevertheless sets in and triggers defensiveness. Soon platitudes like “it takes two to tango” or “life happens” are being trotted out and before long, you’re castigating yourself or the other person(s), possibly deconstructing society as a whole, and any chance of reconnection has been essentially nullified.

On the Power of Story with a New Fiction Writer:

Reading fiction is fun, but is it wise? Doesn’t Scripture tell us that life is a vapor, and that we need to “make the best use of the time” we’ve been entrusted? Can reading a novel count as a valid, even wise, use of time?

Vince Gill Gets Told One More Time About Jesus (and Divorce):

F3-GILLGR_SU_C_^_SUNDAYThis week country music star Vince Gill made news for his confrontation of the Westboro Baptist protesters. While this ‘colorful’ group of believers normally likes to target military funerals, this week they had their sights set squarely on Gill and his adulterous ways. But when they showed up to protest at his Kansas City concert last week, Gill decided to confront and engage with them. As he approached the group one female protester asked him, “What are you doing with another man’s wife? Don’t you know that divorce plus remarriage equals adultery? Jesus said that.”

Mumford & Sons Taking a Break for the ‘Foreseeable Future’:

Mumford-Sons-Concert-Posters-12It’s a dark day for Mumford fans—a time to hang up your suspenders, pack away your kick drum and put your banjo back into storage. This weekend the group announced that they would be stepping back from touring and making music for “the foreseeable future.” Keyboard player Ben Lovett told Rolling Stone, “We just know we’re going to take a considerable amount of time off and just go back to hanging out and having no commitments or pressure or anything like that.” Though Mumford & Sons didn’t say they were permanently breaking up, we’ve probably heard the last from the Grammy-winning gentlemen of the road for a while …

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The Problem with the Childfree Life:

Ford_Time_Ubrella1Time magazine has stirred up the social pot again, with its recent cover picturing a couple clearly reveling in “The Childfree Life.” In her cover article Lauren Sandler offers a vivid glimpse into the fast-growing world of women “having it all without having children.” She not only lets us see the statistics; she also lets us hear the voices of the women they document. The statistics themselves are dramatic: for example, about one in five American women now bear no children, compared to one in ten in the 1970s. We’re talking about remarkably quick demographic change.

The Rise and Fall of Katharine Hepburn’s Fake Accent:

HEPBURN“Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By,'” purrs a moon-faced Ingrid Bergman in the now-famous scene from 1942’s Casablanca. Staccato t’s and accordion-stretched a’s lend a musical flavor to Bergman’s lilt. “Early” becomes “euh-ly” and “perhaps” unfolds as “peuh-haps.'”

The grandeur and glamor in her voice, though, is a sham.

You Can Do Anything: Must Every Kids’ Movie Reinforce the Cult of Self-Esteem?

good-grief-charlie-brownFor all the chatter about the formulaic sameness of Hollywood movies, no genre in recent years has been more thematically rigid than the computer-animated children’s movie. These films have been infected with what might be called the magic-feather syndrome. As with the titular character in Walt Disney’s 1943 animated feature Dumbo, these movies revolve around anthropomorphized outcasts who must overcome the restrictions of their societies or even species to realize their impossible dreams. Almost uniformly, the protagonists’ primary liability, such as Dumbo’s giant ears, eventually turns into their greatest strength.

Enjoying John Mayer’s New Album Does Not Make You a Bad Person:

954867_10151686223176252_1578322741_nI was into John Mayer before he was big. I was into him when he was so small-time; he couldn’t even afford velvet bandanas. His guitar strings were old shoelaces. He was still a kid. He was so small. He didn’t even know what a bandana was. He was still in his mother’s uterus, banging on the walls, screaming to be let out so he could make the world sing.

Ripping Off Young America: The College-Loan Scandal:

Studnet-Debt-1On May 31st, president Barack Obama strolled into the bright sunlight of the Rose Garden, covered from head to toe in the slime and ooze of the Benghazi and IRS scandals. In a Karl Rove-ian masterstroke, he simply pretended they weren’t there and changed the subject. The topic? Student loans. Unless Congress took action soon, he warned, the relatively low 3.4 percent interest rates on key federal student loans would double. Obama knew the Republicans would make a scene over extending the subsidized loan program, and that he could corner them into looking like obstructionist meanies out to snatch the lollipop of higher education from America’s youth. “We cannot price the middle class or folks who are willing to work hard to get into the middle class,” he said sternly, “out of a college education.”

When Mentoring Exposes Your Idol of Being Needed:

mentorSharing the gospel is inextricably tied to sharing other aspects of life with those we’re mentoring. Consider what the apostle Paul says: “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:8). Biblical mentoring requires engaging the whole person for more than just a scheduled time each week or month. It includes meeting for lunch or coffee, showing up for an important event in the life of the woman you’re mentoring, inviting her to be part of your life or family, serving together, and even enjoying together the seemingly “frivolous” activities such as watching a movie or going shopping.