Sunday, August 10, 2008
Anyway, enough of my ranting, on to the movie and more spoilers than a formula one race...
The Prestige was a movie that at first I hated, kept me from sleeping for a night (The result of watching it for the first time at 2 AM) and then through a mind-warping process of consideration came to adore. My greatest cinematic love is a marvel of writing that keeps one guessing and leaves him astounded, amazed, dumbfounded, and otherwise tickled by the ending. The Prestige nicely delivers on all counts. I've read numerous other reviews that arrogantly sprayed the typical "oh it was too predictable, it was obvious halfway through, blah blah blah" that follows any genuinely intelligent movie. I would just have you know that all of these people are frauds who feel afraid that by admitting that they were surprised by the ending they will somehow lose the other half of their manhood.
Insults aside, what intrigued me most about the movie wasn't the plot twist (as spectacular as it was); rather, it was the incredible moral implications and ethical statements being made. As with all my reviews, I'm simply assuming you've already seen the movie, as to avoid cluttering my blog with the same tired summaries that everyone else's reviews already contain. If you want that, just type the movie into Google and you'll get a page-full of them. The Prestige carried some rather hefty points to consider in the realm of ethics: from cloning to life itself, but the most interesting was on the depravity of man. I found it fascinating to compare the two magicians' approach to the Transported Man (which, in essence, was no more than a glorified version of the birdcage trick... and both methods became evident in both the birdcage and the Transported Man).
The allure of the birdcage with the dove was that the dove never actually was harmed. The dove in the cage was the same as the one in the prestige, this was the envied and desired effect... the question was what would be sacrificed to achieve it?
Borden's method of the illusion of the Transported Man involved a Tesla clone of himself. In order to satisfy both men's need for the spotlight, they sacrificed every other performance in order to be the one in the prestige the next night. Also, in doing so, they sacrificed half of their lives. Each loved a different woman, and in the end, neither was with the woman he loved. Borden was ultimately the man who made the most personal sacrifice. He gave up all his pride, his public image, everything he had in order to protect what was precious to him... life. His sacrifice cost him his marriage, his happiness, and his reputation, but it provided for the life of his daughter. He didn't want to get his hands truly dirty, and he didn't, even though he gave the illusion of doing so. He only repayed what was dealt out to him through even terms of revenge (though the ethical ramifications of revenge are an entirely different matter) and never went further than his opponent.
Angier, on the other hand, was different. His sacrifice was greater physically, but less personally. His pride would not allow him to be the man behind the curtain, he couldn't handle being the man in the box that "nobody cared about." He needed, craved, being the man in the prestige, and when everything else was stripped away from him by his pursuit of this obsession, he decided he could not live without it. So, when he came into possession of Tesla's machine and the ability to replicate himself, he opted instead to drown himself nightly rather than live with "taking his bows under the stage." In Angier's case, he could not bear to lose his reputation, and so decided to sacrifice his life in exchange for his pride.
This brings us to the issue of human depravity. If all evil in the world is contingent on man's selfishness, then the ethical dialogue of the movie is rather clear. Despite both of their grievous losses, Borden is the only man who lives to see another day. Borden's daughter is saved, he never dirties his hands any more than his opponent already has, and he exhibits a clear value of life. Angier, on the other hand, in his selfishness--his desire above all else to claim the prestige of his act--sacrifices his own life nightly in order to preserve the pride of his accomplishment. The entire show, as he reveals in the end, is nothing but an ego trip for himself, "don't you understand why we do it? For the look on their faces..." Angier dies alone, surrounded by the horrors which he wrought--a victim of his own greed. However, ironically, by his willingness to sacrifice himself and essentially murder Borden by allowing him to hang, the pride he fought to preserve dies with him, and Borden, by sacrificing his own pride and his own personal happiness, retains his life by that sacrifice. Where Angier's slaughter of his clones only kept him "alive" one day at a time, Borden's willingness to share his life with his one clone allowed him to survive execution. Selfishness was the ultimate destructor of man.
That's what it comes down to really... what is the point of all your endeavors? Why do you do the things that you do? What motivates you to make sacrifices?
...are you willing to be the man in the box?
Thursday, July 17, 2008
How vast beyond all measure
That He would give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
Consider the implications not only of Christ's suffering as He took on the sins of the world on the cross... beyond His physical and emotional suffering as He was abused at the hands of His own special creations, beyond His spiritual suffering as all the evil in the history of the universe was heaped upon His shoulders... imagine the suffering of a timeless God to Whom there is no past and all of history is laid before Him. Imagine the love that would compel such a God to not only take all of our suffering upon Himself, but to take it from the instant He created until eternity has passed.
Consider the truly vast love of a God who would trade our eternal suffering for His own.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
THE END IS NEAR! THE TREES ARE GOING TO GET US BECAUSE WE'RE DESTROYING THE PLANET! RIGHT?!
It amazes me that all anyone seems to get from The Happening is a Green Party agenda. Since when has M. Night Shyamalan ever made a political statement with one of his movies? Shyamalan is a philosopher, not a politician... people take things way too literally.
Would it not seem logical for someone to use something which people consider to be a threat in today's age as a "villain" for a movie (especially one that likes to use mysterious, surreal elements and symbolism like Shyamalan). Wouldn't, then, an "angry planet" be a good antagonist for a Global Warming obsessed culture? Makes sense to me, apparently not so much to other people who can't get past thinking in purely literal terms.
As I spoke about in my last blog about Shyamalan: the man has, in his own way, revived the fairy tale - he uses events and ideas which do not necessarily correspond to reality in a literal way to convey philosophical ideas. In Signs it was a sense of Providence, in The Village it was unconditional love, in Lady in the Water it was the unique purpose of every individual, even past man's understanding.
In The Happening, it is selflessness.
If you will note - the notable characters who died (not the unnamed masses which were sort of a surreal-ish element throughout) all did so when they put themselves before others. The two boys attempting to break into the house got shot because they did what they wanted, not what they were told and knew was safe. They wanted food (as had been seen earlier), and were using the girl as an excuse, and they died. The old recluse who lived alone died when she threw all hospitality out the window and stormed out into the garden. The little girl's father died when he abandoned his daughter to try to find his wife (an irresponsible action, as between the two the daughter is who needed protection more so than the wife - he ignored his duty as a parent to fulfill his desire to see his wife safe, as the film rather clearly portrayed his action, especially in emphasizing the emotional need of the daughter for one of her parents and her reaction to his leaving). The only characters who didn't die when the toxin was clearly present were Wahlberg's character and his wife, who faced the toxin after reconciling their differences and seeking each other out of love, and still not abandoning their responsibility to the child. Each wanted to see the other, and each decided to "sacrifice" themself so that the other could have their wish... and even during this, they did not abandon their late friend's child... and thus they were spared.
The exactingly literal interpretations which paint up The Happening to merely be environmentalist propaganda, in light of an examination of the film based on typical Shyamalan standards, proves to be very narrow minded. The means of disaster chosen by Shyamalan seems to simply be one spurred by the constant, fearful chatter of Global Warming which permeates our society, and ultimately had nothing to do with the typical Shyamalan philosophical point made in the movie (unless the natural means of disaster represented the natural order of things: chaos is born when society turns entirely selfish... when we forget our duty to each other, we wind up essentially murdering ourselves; like ancient Rome, in which the selfish apathy of the people ultimately brought about the demise of one of history's greatest empires).
I continue to wait for the day that people within society will regain their imagination enough to understand that there's more to the world than what is tangible. When we again learn to use our minds to look past the thin surface of entertainment for the ideas contained within - beyond the simple, superficial points - we will finally be back on the road to becoming a truly intelligent and perceptive culture.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Is it possible for people to become stupid enough to actually deteriorate beyond classification as human? I petition that it is...
Wii Fit Dares to Call Young Girl ‘Fat’ – Experts Call For Parental Warning (and even a ban)
Who could possibly have envisaged Nintendo’s Wii Fit as being the next software title to have ‘nanny state’ experts up in arms and calling for reclassification and even a ban, but, thanks to the fact that a certain Wii Fit balance board had the audacity to call a young girl ‘fat’ that’s exactly what’s happened.
According to the Daily Mail (duly credited), the offending Wii Fit balance board, based somewhere in the South East of England, horrified the family of a 10 year old girl who’s billed as being ‘solidly built’ (purportedly her father’s words, not ours) when it called her ‘fat’.
“She is a perfectly healthy, 4ft 9in tall 10-year-old who swims, dances and weighs only six stone,” (6 stone = 38.1kg, incidentally) said the father, who did not want to be named for fear of embarrassing the girl further, states the Daily Mail who also reports that obesity experts are now calling for Nintendo’s Wii Fit to be banned as far as young children are concerned.
Nintendo have responded by issuing a press statement reading: ‘Nintendo would like to apologise to any customers offended by the in-game terminology used to classify a player’s current BMI status, as part of the BMI measurement system integrated into Wii Fit. [The] Wii Fit is still capable of measuring the BMI for people aged between two and 20 but the resulting figures may not be entirely accurate for younger age groups due to varying levels of development.’
Personally I also have a problem with the Wii Fit as, thanks to having only one TV in the house, my wife persistently working out with her Wii Fit is preventing me from doing an especially lucrative drug deal in GTA IV which is, let’s face it, completely out of order.
Perhaps I’ll also write to the Daily Mail though I suspect that my story will be axed in favour of a breaking news item where a father breaks down as he details how two (unnamed) insects had the audacity to have a quick shag in front of his daughter (21, slim, blond and not unattractive) occasioning grave offence and a long overdue chat about the ‘birds and the bees’.
What is the world coming to?
And another article on the same subject
Friday, April 11, 2008
Jesus said "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength." Shouldn't we do both? Seems to make sense to me...
God is a God of balance, He balances His wrath of judgment and His mercy of forgiveness in the person of Christ, by which He satisfies both.
We need to study and understand the Bible, "meditating on it" constantly, as Biblically prescribed, but also have a deep, loving personal connection with Christ and our fellow believers, also as prescribed Biblically. The two aren't mutually exclusive, and it's time we stop treating them as such.
Aside from that, look what happens when we focus only on one extreme... we get the legalism which makes us hypocrites in one field, and the sensationalism that spawns the prosperity gospel in another... neither of which is Biblical!
Balance is key, both reason and feeling, discernment and heart, judgment and compassion... that is what it means to be Christian.
Friday, April 4, 2008
Keeping the Faith in the Dark Night of the Culture
Session 1 Notes
- Even flourishing Christians puzzle over the nature of cultural engagement. What does it mean to engage the culture?
- Cultural activism
- Not just about evangelism
- The darkness of the culture causes Christians to despair.
- Can cause Christians to retreat to “comfort”
- Pulling out doesn’t get us away from the culture, it only weakens us. The culture will take over the ground we leave.
- Engaging culture does not inhibit salvation of souls; rather, it helps it.
- The main goal of the church is the expression of love—thus bringing others into the fold, not “soul harvesting.”
- Mercy is our motivation, not a “soul quotient,” – love is the message.
- Renewing the culture is not just a means of conversion—though the two do go hand in hand.
- Godly cultural institutions are “pre-evangelical”—one thing leads to another.
- Say not “if the culture came to Christ, it would be renewed,” but “if the culture were renewed, it would come to Christ.”
- The culture is hopeless in a Christian sense, tempting us to lose hope with them.
- Don’t think you’re too small to do something.
- Don’t exaggerate your cross; don’t make your burden out to be more than it is; don’t create drama.
- Don’t belittle your cross—don’t be ashamed of being un-persecuted—for suffering less than others.
- Remember God’s reassurance.
- The church can’t make everything go right, it’s job is to simply do the right thing.
- God has not promised us we will dominate the culture, He commanded us to love. He hasn’t promised us
, He promised us Himself. America
- “One Christian is no Christian” – never try to bear your burden alone.
- Christ bears your cross with you
- Other Christians bear your cross with you—bearing each other’s burdens.
- The light of Christ illuminates the culture, not the church.
- It’s not always Christians blatantly “evangelizing” apathetic listeners—take what you can get. Stay relevant, stay real. Follow their interest, don’t always push for instant conversion, have faith in God rather than just yourself. Begin where they are, don’t push them further than they’re willing to go.
My Thoughts and Reactions
The paradox of truth – the more we know, the less we know we do; the more we understand, the less we know we can comprehend; the closer we get to God, the more we realize the distance; the more we learn of Him, the greater His mystery.
That unknown is our comfort—what is the power of a God who is on our level? With our obvious flaws, our short sight is an accolade, for God’s greatness is blatantly beyond us, giving us the possibility of hope and faith.
To pull out of the culture is to destroy one’s ability to understand (and thus, interact with) the culture, crippling our evangelistic efforts. To change the cultural mindset is to make one more receptive to evangelistic messages. The evangelism-only focus of the modern church is nearly self-defeating. A world who sees us as being without a purpose will reject what we have to say without consideration.
The nature of love is to share itself, a want of mercy brings only the question as to the sincerity of one’s own salvation.
God draws us to Himself, we don’t need to do the pulling, only the presentation, lest we attempt to take the place of He whom we serve.
Renewal brings about Conversion, it isn’t a by-product of it. Like salvation, transformation brings about conversion. We must keep our focus on the key, lest we undermine our own efforts.
Cultural influence is the macrocosmic variation of personal salvation—inward reformation comes before outward transformation.
To turn all our attention to the conquest of the culture is to lose sight of the ultimate reason that we act. When the culture passes away (as all cultures are destined to do), with it dies our purpose, and we despair.
Separating yourself is spiritual suicide, alone we lose our selfless focus and thus forfeit our purpose.
We can’t become too enamored with ourselves, only Christ reforms and saves, lest we lose our souls to our own supposed deistic importance. Our battle is with the self, not the culture—log before the speck.
Reformation follows a pattern: Individual>Church>Culture
The transformation of Christ reaches all, our own necessity to Him is limited. We must always know our place, lest we forfeit our purpose.
Christianizing a thing doesn’t make it good. Poorly executed “influence” is more a hurt than a help, it can even be crippling to our efforts.
Tolerance = good judgment, “live and let live” as opposed to universal acceptance
Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
"I think he knows what Rome is. Rome is the mob. Conjure magic for them and they'll be distracted. Take away their freedom and still they'll roar. The beating heart of Rome is not the marble of the Senate, it's the sand of the Colosseum. He'll bring them death - and they will love him for it." -Gladiator (2000)
Monday, March 3, 2008
(Taken from WorldNetDaily.com)
A student-run magazine at UCLA has revealed an undercover investigation in which representatives of Planned Parenthood, the nation's abortion industry leader, admitted willingness to accepting a financial donation targeting the destruction of an unborn black baby.
Lila Rose, who edits The Advocate, previously revealed how Planned Parenthood officials expressed a willingness to conceal statutory rape, an investigative piece that earned her an appearance on the Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor."
Now she's told WND she hopes the taped responses of Planned Parenthood officials in seven states reveal to her local UCLA community and the nation the racist leanings of the organization.
WND calls to Planned Parenthood of Idaho, which was featured in The Advocate report, requesting a comment were not returned.
"Students on campus are shocked and saddened that such a huge organization would have racist leanings in the present day," Rose told WND. "They are surprised to hear the truth about [Planned Parenthood founder] Margaret Sanger, and how the African-American community is being hurt by abortion.
"There's a lot of surprise out there. Planned Parenthood does an excellent job of covering up the facts," she said.
Sanger supported eugenics to cull those she considered unfit from the population. In 1921, she said eugenics is "the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political and social problems."
At one point, Sanger lamented "the ever increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all." Another time, Sanger wrote, "We do not want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population."
According to Bryan Fisher, executive director of Idaho Values Alliance, Planned Parenthood, which gets an estimated $200 million annually from U.S. taxpayers, has located nearly 80 percent of its clinics nationwide in minority neighborhoods, and about one-third of all abortions are performed on blacks, even though they make up only 13 percent of the population.
Some of the information about the investigation was posted on a YouTube video:
Nationwide, almost half of all black pregnancies end in abortion, officials said.
"It turns out that blatant racism is alive and well in Idaho, but it's not coming from the Aryan Nation types – it's coming from way-left organizations like Idaho's own Planned Parenthood," Fischer said. "If Idaho is in fact a haven for white racism, it turns out that Planned Parenthood and not Richard Butler is to blame."
Richard Butler, who died in 2004, was a notorious white supremacist who founded Aryan Nations in northern Idaho. He lost a 20-acre compound in 2000 when a $6.3 million civil judgment against his group led to a bankruptcy.
"Idaho didn't have room for Richard Butler and shouldn't have room for Planned Parenthood," Fischer said.
The Advocate released a transcript of a conversation between an actor presuming to be a racist and wanting to make a donation, and a woman identified as Autumn Kersey, vice president of marketing for Planned Parenthood of Idaho.
Actor: I want to specify that abortion to help a minority group, would that be possible?
Planned Parenthood: Absolutely.
Actor: Like the black community for example?
Planned Parenthood: Certainly.
Actor: The abortion – I can give money specifically for a black baby, that would be the purpose?
Planned Parenthood: Absolutely. If you wanted to designate that your gift be used to help an African-American woman in need, then we would certainly make sure that the gift was earmarked for that purpose.
Actor: Great, because I really faced trouble with affirmative action, and I don't want my kids to be disadvantaged against black kids. I just had a baby; I want to put it in his name.
Planned Parenthood: Yes, absolutely.
Actor: And we don't, you know we just think, the less black kids out there the better.
Planned Parenthood: (Laughs) Understandable, understandable.
Actor: Right. I want to protect my son, so he can get into college.
Planned Parenthood: All right. Excuse my hesitation, this is the first time I've had a donor call and make this kind of request, so I'm excited, and want to make sure I don't leave anything out.
The investigation included calls to Planned Parenthood in Idaho and half a dozen other states
"I think Idahoans are going to be horrified and shocked at the blatant racism and bigotry exhibited by our local Planned Parenthood affiliate," said Fischer. "I just cannot imagine they're going to stand for that."
He said the timing of the release of the information was intriguing, because the Idaho Legislature is scheduled this week to have its first public hearing on a bill written to prevent Idaho women from being forced into having abortions they do not want.
Rose said students at UCLA now have begun a petition to request the school cut its affiliations with Planned Parenthood.
She said the actor specifically asked about lowering "the number of black people," and each PP branch called agreed to process the racially earmarked donation.
"None expressed concern about the racist reasoning for the donation," The Advocate said.
The Advocate said an Ohio representative, identified as Lisa Hutton, listens to the racist reasoning, but confirmed Planned Parenthood "will accept the money for whatever reason."
Rose said her UCLA campaign has been endorsed by Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, who said she supports "the student campaign to get UCLA to cease its programs with Planned Parenthood."
WND reported Rose previously posed as a 15-year-old seeking an abortion at a Planned Parenthood center in Santa Monica, Calif. She was equipped with a hidden camera when she met with an employee to discuss her options.
When Rose revealed she was 15 and her boyfriend was 23, the employee informed her Planned Parenthood was legally required to report the statutory rape, a transcript of the conversation shows.
The Planned Parenthood representative then suggested she could say she was 16 and avoid complications.
"Well, just figure out a birth date that works. And I don't know anything," the rep said.
The Texas-based pro-life group Life Dynamics previously conducted an extensive undercover project in which an adult volunteer posing as a 13-year-old called every Planned Parenthood clinic in the U.S., saying she was pregnant by a 22-year-old boyfriend. Almost without exception, the clinics advised her to obtain an abortion without her parents' knowledge and told her how to protect her boyfriend, who would be guilty in any state of statutory rape.
[This is the sort of thing that both frightens and disgusts me... the corruption of our society is absolutely hideous. It makes me wonder if America is even able to be saved anymore.]
Saturday, February 23, 2008
"‘No coincidence’ believer at pains to explain bizarre events
MINNEAPOLIS — Tom Stefans, 19, recently announced to friends at his Christian college that he believes nothing in the world happens by coincidence but that everything is the result of God’s invisible hand at work. Friends promptly launched a secret crusade of absurdity to test the limits of Tom’s beliefs.
"We think he’ll crack this week," says one friend, who says messing with Tom’s theology is ten times more entertaining than anything on YouTube.
They have been staging elaborate ruses to present Tom with bizarre, inexplicable situations. They paid someone to go to Tom’s dorm room at 3 a.m. dressed in a chicken suit and greet him with, "Hi, Chicken Man."
When Tom asked what was going on, the person said, "You are the chicken man! You are the chicken man! Take your beef!" He then threw a hot dog at Tom and ran away.
Another friend repeatedly calls Tom posing as an out-of-state policeman investigating a shoplifting crime in which Tom’s mother is supposedly implicated.
They paid a professor to stop in the middle of class and say sharply, "Tom, knock that off right now," without explanation. They also paid two local Hispanic teenagers to follow Tom around campus kicking a soccer ball between them and trying to engage Tom in a game while peppering him with Spanish words.
The efforts are paying off, they say. Tom appears troubled and has confessed that he is having a "hard time making sense of my life right now."
"God’s really working on me," he has told friends while lunching in the cafeteria. •"
Monday, February 18, 2008
I recently watched three films by M. Night Shyamalan: Signs, The Village, and Lady in the Water. Several things stuck out to me about these movies, in particular were the nature of the story involved and the open "moral narrative" contained therein. Each of them definitely had an agenda that was openly expressed even in the dialogue of the movie. Also, each of them was completely unbelievable; it is obvious that the events in each did never, will never, and could never actually happen. The weirdness of the movies was at first a turn off to me as I felt that the story was nothing more than a buildup to an ending that was ultimately disappointing and felt "cut short." It was then, that I realized what was happening. Each of the movies was never about characters, was never about places or events... each movie was about an idea. In essence, what Shyamalan has done is revive the fairy tale in modern times. Rather than simply dredging up old stories and slapping new names on them along with thin modern guises, he has instead revived the genre itself--writing his own fairy tales and putting them on film. These stories need no hidden meaning, require no elaborate plot to catch people's attention in order to present their ideas; rather, the movie IS the idea, the film simply a venue for its expression.
Each of Shyamalan's movies has been advertised as either a sort of horror or thriller flick, however none of them conform to this genre, though they each contain large amounts of suspenseful buildup. It seems to me that this is due to the simple misinterpretation of his intents in storytelling and a misrepresentation through advertising of his ideal. Once the movie is analyzed as a venue for the expression of an idea, the points of the plot are very easy to identify. As the idea is forming itself through the actions of the characters, the plot builds, and the suspense that we feel is created by the unknown details--what has yet to be figured out (which Shyamalan often embodies directly through some creature which is never fully understood by the characters in the movie until the end). The turning point comes when the idea is finally grasped, and the end comes abruptly afterwards. Once the idea is complete, it has no need to stay around for long, and so the characters' part ends abruptly as well, as the focus was never on them, it was on the idea all along. Once the moral is learned, then everyone can go on to "live happily ever after," how they do so is completely unnecessary and irrelevant.
It seems though that we've lost sight of this sort of storytelling in our modern American culture, for our movies and stories are always very ego-centric, they're about the men, and oftentimes character development comes before even the plot. What we see here is the result of a culture that has lost first its wisdom, and as a result its knowledge. In a world so filled with the "tolerance" of the "politically correct," people are compelled not to even believe in such thing as an absolute truth anymore; the concept of reality itself has nearly vanished. People are no longer fascinated by the flights of the imagination because they have lost their grasp on what real even is. "Reality" and "believability" have overtaken our culture completely. People are utterly fascinated by what "real" is, because they don't know anymore. Reality, we are taught, is what we make it to be, however in all that we try we find that we can never alter the things around us. No matter what we do, life is still hard; no matter how we try, we still struggle and fail in our endeavors. The concept of "life is what you make it" has confounded us, we are living it even though we do not understand it, and so begins man's quest for what truly is real... and so begins his obsession.
This is where Shyamalan takes perhaps his most emboldened steps, in his films he dispenses with the patronizing "your ideas are as good and valid as mine," and simply seeks to say "this is how the world works." He establishes what reality is, and taking a step past it openly into the realm of the imagination, past the believable and the realistic, he uses the tools of unreality in ways that more openly explain the workings of the real world. He has moved past teaching to illustrate into the realm of illustrating to teach. His example, even if his movies are not the most favored, is one to be held in high regards, for it is men like him who truly have wisdom and insight into life. Until we come to the realization that there is an order of things, a way that the world ultimately works, then we will remain unable to touch the starlit skies of the imaginary and the fantastic and we will remain totally incredulous of even the simple dirt upon which we stand.