Archive | Culture RSS feed for this section

Nothing Redemptive About “August: Osage County” and “Like Water for Chocolate”

7 Nov

I am a big fan of redemptive themes in movies and literature, even those that are not overtly Christian.

I even secretly believe that God Himself might make these films and books somehow fit for the eternal state, so we can enjoy their uplifting spirit forever.  After all, all truth is God’s truth, right?

That said, I have been watching movies lately with strong female ensembles.  There are several worthy of their own blog post.

And then there are these two dogs.  I was completely prepared to like them both.  “August:  Osage County” because it features Meryl Streep *and Julia Roberts, not to mention Benedict Cumberbatch.  “Like Water for Chocolate” because it is set in Mexico, land where I first traveled as a Spanish major in college.

But, no, both feature families with sisters and daughters and intrigue and secrets and secret sins.  Both feature families that literally implode due to the evil within them.  The only personages worthy of any respect in either one turn out to be the hired help.

There is not one redemptive moment in “August:  Osage County,” despite the fact that it contains no sex or violence.  It *does show the banality of evil, as the viewer spends two hours wondering why a movie was made that only involves family members spouting cruelty, filth, and profanity at each other.

“Like Water for Chocolate” is much the same, only it involves Mexican syncratic religion, a combination of Catholicism and paganism, with the evil mother haunting her daughter after her ignominious death.

Just wanted to review these two dogs to save anyone else the necessity of watching them all the way through, thinking there will be a point to them in the end.  There is not.

No, You Can’t . . .

17 Aug

Psalm 101:5, 6: “Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.
Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.”

While I am not a king, like David who penned the above, and therefore I don’t have anyone “serving me,” I can resonate with this passage.

Anonymous denunciations and private slander are wicked. Any Bible believers need to be convinced of that?

Exactly one week ago yesterday I sat in my son’s academic advisor’s office at his special needs college and talked to the two of them about what they term “self advocacy.” Joey will be given more and more opportunities to self advocate this year.

While the college, like everyone everywhere else, does not tolerate bullying, the people there also realize that bullies operate in the darkness, in anonymity, and in one-on-one situations where it is just your word against theirs. Therefore, we all need to learn self advocacy skills. How to say “You need to stop that now.”

I have learned a host of life lessons from this special needs college. They have been faithfully working with the special needs population for almost 60 years. They have quite a few things to teach all of us about interpersonal relationships. We are all the same, at heart, whether special needs exist or not.

Thus it was that over the last 48 hours I told a cyberbully to stop it . . . and got the expected response that bullies usually make. More threats.

This man pastors in another state and had intruded on the affairs of our local independent church by writing a private note to another member telling him to “mark and avoid Mary” due to an accusation that I “teach men and usurp authority over them.”

False accusation and, even if it were true, it would be up to the pastor of our local church and the dean of our local church’s seminary to sort that out. Not a pastor three states away who has never laid eyes on me.

Talk about presumptuous!

Hopefully we can let this die down now. A bunch of threats were made but none that we think he can make stick.

It was telling that he was livid with my friend for telling me the contents of the private note. There is a simple rule for that: If you tell me something private about yourself, I will keep your confidence. If you make a private accusation against another, I don’t owe you confidence.

Private, written accusations used to be called poison pen letters. They have been a bane of our existence in Baptist churches (and probably in all other churches, too) for at least 100 years.

If you get a poison pen letter, expose it. Tell someone. Preferably your pastor.

Don’t let bullies operate in secrecy and impunity.

“The Inn of the Sixth Happiness”

5 Jul

Why does it always take me so long to act on excellent suggestions?

Someone told me several years ago to walk, not run, to the rental store to get “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness.” Now that we have Netflix, the movie has been available at the tap of a screen for over a year.

It is everything a movie should be and more, all tied up in one neat package, with a pretty ribbon!

A biography (of Gladys Aylward, a British missionary to China).

A piece involving sweeping and exotic geography (China).

A historical piece, intersecting with World War II.

A faithfilled movie, exalting Christ.

An upbeat movie, with Miss Aylward and a band of refugee children never, ever giving up, despite weeks of little food and cold weather as they traversed the mountains in wartime.

An adventure (and not just the mountain journey, which is the last half hour of the movie).

A story of love, for a country, for a village, and for individuals within that village. The sort of love that led Miss Aylward to take Chinese citizenship and to never run away from her people during wartime dangers and discomfort.

And, best of all, an old-fashioned love story, with people willing to chastely wait for each other during the frequent movements and relocations required by the war. Both Miss Aylward and her beloved knew they had missions to perform and both bravely moved forward with them, believing they would be reunited after the war.

They don’t make movies like this anymore!!!

It was like “The Sound of Music” only the mountain journey was much longer and more intense.

It was like “Bridge on the River Kwai,” only the marchers were not men whistling the movie’s theme song, they were children singing “This Old Man.”

It seems that the number of stories produced by World War II is infinite, not only because so many millions of people were directly involved, but because, even if it were possible to tell every one of their stories, there are so many fictional accounts that could be spun off from them.

Truly I have spent a lifetime reading about (and watching movies about) World War II. It is my most fascinating period of history and I never grow tired of it.

But this movie is an utter triumph! Ingrid Bergman may have outdone her role in “Casablanca” with it. And that is saying a mouthful!!!

Link

Southern Fried Faith or . . . Uniquenesses of Christianity in the South!

19 Jun

Southern Fried Faith or . . . Uniquenesses of Christianity in the South!

Can I get a witness? Yes, we do just as this post suggests. Especially the part about ignoring the elephant in the room by way of believing all interpersonal problems will resolve themselves if we just ignore them long enough . . . (that is enough to make this Northern-reared girl crazy. There is nothing attractive about passive-aggressive behavior).

Link

People who Attend Megachurches

14 Jun

People who Attend Megachurches

I did not expect this. So much involvement, even when they could easily be anonymous and just warm a pew!

Link

Ten Questions to Ask Before Hitting “Post” on Our Blogs . . .

13 Jun

Ten Questions to Ask Before Hitting “Post” on Our Blogs . . .

Finally someone has written a list of common sense questions for bloggers to ask ourselves before we post. Appreciate this.

Link

Instagram and Being Part of the In Crowd!

24 Apr

Instagram and Being Part of the In Crowd!

Using Instagram as a symbol for the deep human need to be included.

I so identify with the author’s description of the end of his senior year in high school.  I had lots of friends but was never in a clique.  I did much better at one-on-one relationships, and I still do.

When it came to walking down the aisle at graduation, it turned out even my three best friends had someone who was more of a best friend to them than I was . . .

I was class valedictorian and I walked with a virtual stranger, another person left out after everyone paired up.

See how much we desire to be included?  I can remember that time vividly, almost 40 years later.

%d bloggers like this: