The problem with our society is that we are moving more and more into a society which is determined by I-IT relationships. Christopher Lash in his book the Culture of Narcissism says we are becoming a society of "happy hookers," where the goal is to sell oneself to people around us, where it a boss at work or a potential date at a coffee shop. This I-IT-happy-hooker way of life is causing more fragmentation and greater isolation. It is no wonder that the UK recently appointed a special cabinet minister post to address the problem of loneliness.Read More
The movie Signs with Mel Gibson and Jacqulin Phenoix is an alien invasion movie. But what makes it unique is that the real drama of the movie is the so much the interaction between the aliens and human beings, but the crisis of faith within a family.
The protagonist of the movie, Graham (played by Mel Gibson), is the father of 2 children. He lost his wife 6 months ago. With that he lost his faith, quit his Church of which he was the priest. Graham is angry at God for letting his wife die in a freak accident. As the aliens visit earth, it raises up existential crisis among earthlings.
Graham says in the movie that there are two types of people in the world. One who believes in miracle and ones who think that everything is a coincidence. People in the 'miracles' group have hope that there is someone who is looking out for them. Graham, having left his faith, he no longer is in the miracles group.
The movie of course ends with Graham coming back to faith. He realizes that the death of his wife served the purpose of saving his family during the alien invasion. His son gets poisoned by the alien being. Then Graham prays to God to bring his son to not die. His son lives.
So superficially the movie seems to be a vindication of faith. The faith represented in the movie partially aligns with the kind of faith that the bible talks about.
Romans 8:28 says that God works all things for the good of those who love God. So in that sense the movie seems to align with Christian faith. In that sense, the death of Graham's wife is something that is worked out for the good.
At the same time, Christian is not outcome oriented. When we pray we are promised answers. But it is also true that God is not some prayer answering machine. God gives us His presence as a gift through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. The essence of faith is to believe in God as the loving presence, Jesus as the face of God, and Holy Spirit as the power of God. Prayer is a way of being in God's presence. In Psalm 27 David says he wants to be in God's temple all the days of his life, gazing on Him all the time.
Graham, having lost his wife, is in a state of detached shock. In this he has distanced himself people around him, even his kids. He has distanced himself from God too. The way out of his grief come by his finally getting to a place of address himself to God, the first words he says is, "I hate you." In so doing, Graham acknowledges God's presence. In a sense this way of Graham talking to God is a form of a lament prayer - the Psalms often take the form of lament. These lament prayers is one where God allows the petitioner to just pour our his/her heart to God.
In some ways Graham is going through an experience that is analogous to Jesus saying, "why God have you forsaken me?" which is a quote from Psalm 22, a lament Psalm. The point of the movie Signs is that, at times, our faith we may go through a dark night of the soul. The key in those moments it to keep the communication with God open, channeling our feelings to God, even if that feeling is despair or anger. God works it all for the good. His presence is the best goodness we could ever have!
The account, of Souron and the Numenorean men, is a retelling of the Genesis chapter 3 account of the Fall of man. In Genesis the devil, in the form of the serpent, plants an idea in the mind of Adam and Eve - the idea that God was "holding out on them." God was preventing them from eating the fruit, becoming God-like. Once Adam and Eve allowed this distrustful seed to take root, the bait was taken.Read More
The movie Mary Poppins also depicts a form of biblical pathway of redemption in the sense that Mary Poppins comes down to earth as an incarnation to instigate transformation. In a superficial sense Mary Poppins serves as the Christ figure who comes from the heavens to the earth to save people, as in helping people to see that relationship matter more than material things. Mary Poppins, as in Mother Mary, births new life. Though we have the potential for both good and bad in us, we often need help from the outside to change. The idea of God incarnating into the world as Jesus Christ in order to redeem humanity is the essence of the Christmas story. Using this incarnational lens, it is possible to see Mary Poppins as a Christmas movie in its essence. Mary Poppins like Jesus, comes down to earth to save the broken lives of people, making Mary Poppins a Christmas movie.Read More
Ironically, the core of Princess Bride is not the Princess or her suitors, but the love between a grand father and his grand son who open and close the movie. What stuck me this time was how the relationship between the grandfather and the grandson was en example of the relationship between God and human beings - depicting our strategies of distraction and resistance, and, God's relentless pursuit.Read More
The language of music is the language of the human psyche. Genius artist are one who have a deep grasp of how the work of art, born authentically out of human pathos can speak authentically to the universal human condition. I think some where in the mystical realms between Movement II and Movement III was teleported into the timeless realm of my own conscientiousness and experienced a shift that resolved some deep angst within, helping me reemerge a more grounded individual with a deeper faith in, "the word of the Lord (that) endures for eternity," promising purpose in spite of the pain.Read More
Jane Austen's lesson here is that when one is anguished with one's own personal life choice, instead of following Charolet in her pragmatic rationalism, or Lydia in her emotionalism, we can follow Elizabeth in aligning ourselves to our telos, our true end, for Christians this telos is the resurrected life. This telos is what C.S.Lewis refers to as he says that Christians of the ancient times were people who had a heavenward view of life, but in the transition to modernity we have become too focused on happenings of this earthly life. Given this context, it shouldn't be surprising why the existentialist philosophers of the 20th century, from Albert Camus and Jean Paul Sartre, considered choice a burden than a gift of freedom! Perhaps, it shouldn't be surprising that we modern this-worldly neurotics stymied with limitless choices find Jane Austen's world quaintly attractive!Read More
The #metoo movement is great in standing in solidarity against moronic men. Grace's mistake is in thinking the #metoo movement will give her crushed soul its pound of flesh. One could say her attempt likely has backfired. The #metoo movement cannot empower women like Grace and Gabrielle who desire enduring stories. Their courage in sharing their personal pain seems to me to call for a kind of #meFOR empowerment which is not so much as standing against someone but a standing FOR one's own hope for pursuit of enduring stories. This #meFOR movement should stand FOR one's deep desire to be a drawn into an enduring story of romance. To make a stand FOR positive romantic desires is to be self-differentiated enough to NOT stand allowing ones true desires and hopes for enduring story to be subverted by someone else erotic gratification.Read More
Both the Jedi and the Sith operating with conventional expectation of logic of power, miss the miracle of the story of Star Wars: the miraculous power of Luke's love turning Darth Vader to a loving father. Christmas season is a time for us to set aside our conventional expectations for our own lives, whether the expectation is for more health or wealth or happiness, and wait with awed eagerness, making space for God's miracle in our own lives. The miracle of Christmas is that somehow own own meager manger unconditionally surrendered to God will becomes a place where God's presence Forcefully manifests to redeem the darkness in this world.Read More
A mind compulsively intent on self-preservation cannot look at the world from the other person’s point of view. Only when one steps away from ones addiction to self-preservation can one’s mind be freed to see the world from the other person’s point of view. Then one will stop seeing others as “tools” in one’s own project of self-preservation, making way to have empathy for the other.Read More
Jesus. O'Connor is not trying to prove the faith, but rather to critique the Christian culture which often misses the radical nature of the person of Christ by equivocating Christianity to some banal morality of niceness. Flannery O' Connor puts the words of truth in the mouth of the criminal, perhaps not unlike the criminal crucified alongside. In a Flannery O Connor sort of way one could say that Misfit is a better disciple of Christ than the grandma.Read More
Remembering ones true identity is key to living into ones destiny. In Deuteronomy God repeatedly exhorts Israelites to remember what He has done and to teach their kids to remember. One has to remember ones identity in order to endure suffering. For example, when my identity as a healthy person is strong it gives me the strength to suffer seeing donuts but not eating them! Not unlike the bandits who endure suffering because the strength of their identity. Identity is the emotive force the motivates action. Of course, the bandits suffer and live for ultimately self seeking motives. The Christian on the other hand lives and suffers for the sake of the glory of God.Read More
Next time you see the see the Sun and the Moon, hopefully, it will not merely an incandescent ball of fire and a cold crater ridden piece of rock, rather your heart will be drawn to the unrequited love story between the angelic beings, Tilion and Arien. May be, it is not as unrequited as I make it to be, thanks to the eclipses! And the brilliance of Illuvathar's creation... pointing back to the brilliance of God's handiwork.Read More
This lesson of being mindful of our emotions as a way of raising our ability to listen and be empathic is critical for personal relationships and for communal cohesiveness. Part of the reason why political discourse is so broken in Universities and the society at large is because people tend to blame the other people for the unpleasant emotions that others trigger in them. When our emotions get triggered by something that is happening we have to stop and ask ourselves, "Do I do well to get triggered?"Read More
Over the past few months, as I have been praying, meditating, talking with folks about ordination the phrase that God formulated in me, spiritually speaking is, to be ordained is to rest in the love of God and invite people to experience the love of Christ. This is the "why" that I have been looking for. This is the ax that will sharpen my spear. This is the anchor that will prevent me from being buffeted by the relentless waves of evanescent fascinations. This is what Keirkegaard talks about when he says, "purity of heart is to will one thing."Read More
Safe, merciful and caring gospel cultures are built on the backs of such pioneering super heroes who give up their deepest desires to fulfill higher dreams of self transcending love, serving the under-served, which makes these modern single women missionaries the true super heroes of the 21st century.Read More
The way to quell mass despair is not by a logic of power. Rather it should be by the way of love building itself to hope. In the movie, in order to get one of the dreamers, Frank (played by George Clooney) to be hopeful, Athena falls in love with him even though she knew a relationship between man and andriod would never be possible. Still she justifies her love by saying that Frank needed someone to believe in him.Read More
The fact that immigrants still want to continue to flock to States speaks to the attractiveness of the American project. We are facing some hurdles now. Instead of regressing into the clannish blame game, of the us-vs-them kind, we need to go deeper into what it means to be fully human and share stories celebrating integration of ourselves in each other's cultures.Read More
In the run up to the first Advent the elderly Zechariah and Elizabeth had a surprise child who turned out to be the blessed John the Baptist. Their shame was transmuted into an unexpected blessing. Advent is a time that reminds us that our Father in Heaven cares about the hurts and sorrows of our broken dreams. He does not just slap our broken dreams back together the way we want it. Rather, our Father re-forges our broken dreams into unexpected new prospects, pregnant with beautiful blessings.Read More
Ultimately, it is empathy that brings both stories together. Both movies will remain classics not merely because they have good songs but because they are about human empathy. Empathy of the father for his children. Empathy of the powerful for the weak.Read More