Film · Loneliness · Longing · Love · Movie Review · Movies · Uncategorized

Eighth Grade – Review

EG_final-onlineBo Burnham’s directorial debut Eighth Grade is the most uncomfortable, real and important movie of the summer. The film follows Kayla Day as eighth grade comes to a close and life is on the brink of another titanic shift from middle school to high school. What follows is an intimate look at the life of kids today, who must navigate the digital deluge all while trying to figure out who they are and who they’ll be.

All Too Real

Eighth Grade is a raw movie. It offers an uncompromising and unflattering look at the state of adolescence in the United States in the 2010s. These are the children of the digital revolution, with iDevices in their hands before they can walk. For them there has never been a moment without some form of entertainment at their fingertips. Constantly inundated with images and messages, their perceptions of reality are filtered through Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook. The struggle to be “cool”, with its ever-changing standard, is real. The digital domain is pervasive, so that even when these kids are hanging out with each other, it’s usually half-heartedly, lest they miss something coming in from the never-ending stream of social media conscientiousness. It’s a lonely way to live, constantly being reminded that you’re never going to be good enough, skinny enough, funny, hip or cool enough.

It’s said that information is power, yet this generation has all the information of the world in the palm of their hands but lacks the wisdom or experience to use it well. They know way to much, way too early and are in turn forced to think about and deal with things they are just not mature enough to handle. This 24/7 marination in pop culture  makes it difficult for anything else to impact them on the same level. How can parents hope to have anywhere close to the same influence when time is not on their side? The movie does not have many answers, but it does shine a light on something parents are going to have to start addressing as the film shows just how harmful these devices of unlimited potential can be on children.

Unconditional Love

Throughout the film Kayla makes YouTube videos. They are little vignettes of advice on all the things she portrays herself to be an expert on, yet the rest of the film shows she’s anything but. She’s constantly being told that she should be all of these different things through social media and, consequently, she is lost. She has no idea who she is or wants to be beyond what she’s told is “cool”. So each day she works to earn the friendship and respect of others based on what she thinks people want. It’s exhausting for her.

Throughout the film, the one person who’s tried to truly interact with Kayla has been her father. He tries to talk to her and get to know who she is, but she constantly rejects his help and love until the end of the film. When Kayla finds herself at the end of her rope, she finally asks for her father’s help to burn something in the back yard. As they sit there, watching her sixth grade time capsule burn, he asks her what they are doing. She answers that she’s burning her hopes and dreams. She then asks him if he is sad to have her as a daughter. It’s a powerful moment as he begins to tell her how much joy she brings him, how unconditionally she is loved and that he’s always been honored to have her as his daughter. In that moment she climbs into his lap and is held in the arms of love. This moment brings a change in Kayla. She lets go of her videos and the need to be “cool”. It’s almost as if her father’s words of acceptance have nestled into her heart and freed her from the need to earn the acceptance of others.

There is a bit of beautiful Biblical truth in this scene. Isaiah reminds us that all of us, like sheep have gone astray, we’ve searched for everything under the sun to fulfill us and make us whole. Yet there is only one thing that can and because of this God has laid on Christ, the sin of us all, to allow us the opportunity, like prodigals to run back into his arms. Kayla’s rejection of “cool” and acceptance of love brings to mind Psalm 139, we are wonderfully made by a heavenly Father to be something unique, fully known and fully loved by the creator of the universe. Truth and reality are not defined by the forever-changing concept of “cool” but by God, who is the same yesterday, today and forever and his love never ends.

Conclusion

If you are someone that works with youth, if you are a parent, if you have children this age or will have, this movie is one you should see. In fact, if you have children this age, you should see this movie with them and talk about it together. This is an important film that takes seriously the ways in which our changing world is impacting the coming generations. It’s painful to watch sometimes, but ultimately rewarding. Eighth Grade is rated 4.5 out of 5.

 

Christianity · Christmas · Faith · Hope

Christmastime is Here; Happiness and Cheer?

charlie_LinusCharlie Brown: I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.

Charlie Brown: I just don’t understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I’m still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed.

Linus Van Pelt: Charlie Brown, you’re the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem. Maybe Lucy’s right. Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest.

Christmas is usually my favorite time of year. I love the music, trees, lights, parties, the lot. Something about this year has been different and I’m not sure what it is. I haven’t wanted to listen to the music as much or watch the dozens of Christmas movies I usually do. Figuring out why, has been a different matter altogether. Maybe it’s because I’m single, maybe it’s the fact that in spite of the all-too-brief ice-pocalypse the Dallas weather has felt more like Spring or maybe it’s because there is the pressure this time of year to be happy more than any other; all of these could be the reason for my holiday haze.

With these thoughts in mind, I’ve been traveling back to the first Christmas in the Gospels. What I have been struck by is how unfettered they are by the false facade we have built around this holiday. Think about it. A wearly couple arrives in a backwater Judean town on it’s busiest night in years. The census has created a metropolis out of this one-stop-light village. The sound of full inns and family homes bursting at the seams with noisy relatives spills out into the dusty streets as the couple look for any place to stay.

The unwed mother’s delivery is imminent as her frantic betrothed looks for any place he can find for her to rest and bring his adopted son into the world. They are alone; this might be their ancestral village, but there is no family left here to call on. The betrothed finally finds a place, its a stable. There is nothing cute or clean about this place. This is no Disney-ized version of a barnyard; it is smelly and dirty as animals wander in and out of the stable. The teenage mother is about to give birth and her betrothed must help. There is not midwife tonight and he will see things that most Jewish men of his time would not, the birth of his child. There is no glamor or calm, only the screams of a mother, ready to have her child out of her. She’s in pain and there are no drugs to help her and straw is only so comfortable to lay on.

It’s over, the baby is here and yes he’s screaming. The sound of his cries mingles with that of the animals as well as the city. The world is unaware of what just happened. The Word became flesh. To anyone that night, it was unremarkable, no one cared. The mother wraps her child in cloth against the night and the betrothed leans back in the straw, exhausted.

nativityThere are no carols or lights, no trees or parties, the Savior comes into the world and no one knows. That is at least until angels appear to social outcasts on the fringes of town and declare that the Savior, which is Christ the Lord has been born. The mother and her betrothed, so alone this night must have been shocked as these men came into the stable to worship their child. From the beginning, the Savior was healing the marginalized and reaching out to the broken. These miscreants were the first evangelists; heralding through the streets that night, to anyone that would listen, that the world was forever changed because of a baby born that night.

This is what the season is all about. It’s not about candy-cane smiles and tinsel-hanging happiness, it’s about hope for the hopeless. Joy to the world, the Lord is come, not so we can have our best life now but so we can have our best life for eternity. God came down, born into extreme poverty and lived as one of us.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16, ESV)

He was rejected and alone, even his closest friends would abandon him in his greatest hour of need. Without the cross, Christmas means nothing. So, if you are feeling a lack of Christmas spirit, remember that it’s not about the commercialized racket, it’s about a baby that was born to die. And through his death and resurrection anyone can have life and have it abundantly. Joy to the world indeed.

This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air, Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.

From “Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming”

Books · Christianity · Dating · Faith · Jesus Calling · Loneliness · Parenthood · Trailers · Writing

Owl Post 10-31-13

Owl Post

On TV: Why I Like this Show So Much? It’s With You:

Parenthood-Season-5-Promotional-Poster_FULLLast TV season I created something of a niche here on Mbird with commentary on NBC’s Parenthood. Although I am excited one of my favorite programs was renewed (after some doubts), I’ve been admittedly uninspired to write on the new season until now. And unlike most posts on current TV programs, this one has no spoiler alert since I don’t give away too much—this is more of a meta-analysis on why I think the show has such a devoted almost cult-like following. Basically, I want you to watch it if you aren’t, and if you’re obsessed like me, perhaps these words might help you see why you enjoy it so much.

How Loneliness Made Me Stronger:.

I lived in England once. For a year after college, I studied English literature in one of the oldest university towns in the world. Many unexpected things happened that year, but the loneliness was perhaps the most surprising.

I had studied abroad in the same city during college just a couple of years before and my previous experience had been full of friends. I lived in a house with twenty people I went to college with in the States, and we were all venturing together.

The 8 Habits of Highly Successful Young-Adult Fiction Authors:

The_Fault_in_Our_StarsYoung-adult fiction, commonly called “YA fiction,” has exploded over the past decade or so: The number of YA titles published grew more than 120 percent between 2002 and 2012, and other estimates say that between 1997 and 2009, that figure was closer to 900 percent. Ask a handful of young-adult fiction writers what exactly makes a YA novel, though, and you’ll get a handful of conflicting answers.

Toward a Biblical Approach to Dating:

There are two popular, misleading ways of relating the Bible to dating. The first is to think that because the Bible does not speak about dating, we have liberty to dive headlong into romantic waters, guided only by desire to get married. We’ll call this the libertarian approach. This view allows us to imbibe secular dating-game platitudes like the currently popular sage wisdom called flirtexting.

Sarah Young Still Hears Jesus Calling:

41Ln-2qy-ZLJesus Calling didn’t seem destined to sell millions. And then, quite unexpectedly, it did.

During the first three years after its 2004 publication, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence sold a total of only 59,000 copies, a modest success for a daily devotional from a then-unknown author. But then book sales skyrocketed: 220,000 copies in 2008 alone.

Dating Games: 10 Worldly Things that Singles Do When Dating:

Look at the typical evangelical church and you will find singles dating one another. Stop and look closely for a moment. Many of their dating habits are patterned after worldly thinking. The devil is probably laughing at us. He really doesn’t have to do anything to stir up a mess in evangelical dating culture. We’ve created our own mess by thinking more like the world rather than distinctly as Christians.