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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.

Link

Reaching a Child with Autism through Disney!

10 Mar

Reaching a Child with Autism through Disney!

Amazing first person story by a journalist who raised his profoundly autistic son using dialogue from Disney films!

Link

One Example of People Flooding the Twittersphere with Inaccurate Comments

27 Feb

One Example of People Flooding the Twittersphere with Inaccurate Comments

Like a giant game of Telephone from our childhood, things sometimes go around the Internet so far and for so long that their meaning is totally twisted.

I called out a liberal this morning for commenting on piece from a “newsmagazine” like the Onion (made-up satirical stories) that “that story could have been true, given the outrageous attitudes of some conservatives right now.” Nobody wants to be a caricature, and I told him so.

Let’s not play into that, folks. If you don’t have time to read a piece with attention, fine. Just don’t comment on it or forward it. If you do, you might be making a false conclusion and bearing false witness with your forward. Ya know?

Somewhere in Time . . .

24 Feb

Due to the month of run-up to the Oscars on Turner Classic Movies, I have just viewed (binge watched) 29 movies since the beginning of February.  It is not always possible to get so many Oscar-nominated movies so easily within the same month, so my husband and I have taken full advantage of that on TCM, and plan to do that every year from now on.

I just saw “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” for the first time–it reminded me of a handful of similar movies like “Ghost” and “Somewhere in Time.”  Also, “Berkeley Square,” another oldie which I saw earlier this month.  

Beautifully romantic, these movies perfectly portray the Greek philosophical teaching about the nature of the afterlife, as two disembodied spirits spend eternity together (or borrow bodies to be together again on earth, as “Ghost” portrayed).  

Beautiful and romantic but not in line with Christian teaching.  

You see, we will live again in these bodies.  The bodily resurrection was taught in Judaism all the way back to the book of Job (possibly the oldest book of the Old Testament).

So disembodied spirits will not wander the empty spaces eternally, enjoying the sharing of ideas together.  Our real, resurrected bodies will be able to touch each other again.

They will be glorified bodies, but our own bodies nonetheless.  This is consistently taught throughout Scripture.  It is only because we have listened more to the Greeks than to the Jews that we don’t get that.  

Our faith came from Judaism.  We would do well to read their Scriptures/our Old Testament.

Yes, Jesus did say there will be no marriage in the afterlife.  He gave the example of five brothers all marrying the same widow (the first one married her when she was a maiden).

In some wise way that is beyond our understanding, the marital relationships many of us need to have now will not be needed in eternity.

It is not just that God could not figure out which brother gets the widow.  That was the dilemma presented to man to make him think.  God could have figured out a way to deal with widows, had He seen that it was best for us to have marriage in the afterlife.  

So, by faith, we hear that He does not have couples as part of His plan for eternity, but He does have the marriage of Christ to His bride, the church.  

Oh, great mystery!

I am sure when it is revealed to us, it will be so wonderful and wise we won’t even be able to describe its splendor.  

We will dwell with Christ, who is already in a glorified body, in our glorified bodies.  

Forever.  

Link

Elsa in “Frozen” and Using our Talents for God

24 Feb

Elsa in “Frozen” and Using our Talents for God

I haven’t seen “Frozen” yet. Now I can’t wait to do so.

Yes, I am the one who watched old movies with my dad, my grandmother, and my cousins growing up.

I didn’t go to the movies much prior to the 1980’s because I was a serious student who was always studying (to become valedictorian of my high school class; to graduate college Magna cum Laude–I had to earn that stuff as it didn’t come naturally to me!).

As a junior officer in the Navy, I probably saw 50-75% of the movies that came out in the 1980’s. Light-hearted comedy fare was my favorite.

I then settled down to marriage and motherhood and mostly saw only the Best Picture nominations in the 1990’s.

I have hardly even seen the Best Picture nominations since 2000 as I regard today’s movies as largely a wasteland of form over substance.

So I get excited when I see bloggers swooning over a new movie that can lead to deep discussions, even theological discussions!

Link

Taking Personality Tests Online . . .

21 Feb

Taking Personality Tests Online . . .

I haven’t taken a personality inventory since I took the Myers-Briggs test on an Episcopal vestry retreat over fifteen years ago, but I do understand the pull of these online tools. They validate us in some important ways, or we think they do . . .

Link

Rosaria Butterfield, on Moving from Gay Studies Professor to Conservative Pastor’s Wife

17 Feb

Rosaria Butterfield, on Moving from Gay Activist Professor to Conservative Pastor’s Wife

Before this talk, Rosaria Butterfield was picketed by gay activists whom she helped equip in her own activist days. She notes that irony in her talk, as she mentions how our worldview is informed by what we read and . . . maybe it would behoove us to step away from the electronics and read some good, old-fashioned Puritan writers and their Biblically-based worldview.

They are even available in theological libraries we can download to our tablets.

Good stuff! This sister is always encouraging.

Link

Worst Example of Journalism I have seen since High School!

16 Feb

Worst Example of Journalism I have seen since High School!

This article is an example of purple prose. It is an example of a tempest in a teapot. And, for those who dislike such phrases from bygone eras, it is also an example of rampant racism (or some other type of “respect of persons” as forbidden by the Bible).

Let’s list the reasons why:
1) The “crisis” seems to have started right before Jason Cosby, the Virginia Beach Director of Public Works, was sent to Afghanistan on a mandatory military deployment. I would suspect someone at the city didn’t want to hold his job until he came back (as required by the law called USERRA). So they started a trumped up process to fire him . . .
2) The “infractions” are so vague and minor (if this news article can be believed) that they would probably apply to hundreds of other employees of Virginia Beach. There is no evidence that any other employee has been gone over with a fine-toothed comb like this. It is as though Mr. Cosby were suddenly looked at under a microscope to pick apart any mistakes made during his twenty years with the city. I regard that as racism (or at least as undue scrutiny of just one person) until I see evidence that everyone else has been subjected to the same level of inquiry. Who else was followed around at Virginia Beach rec centers to see whether they actually worked out when they swiped in, for example?
3) The article does not specify, in most cases, what was done when these infractions came to light. They could have been innocent mistakes that were later made right. For example, I once grabbed my business American Express card to pay for some Christmas presents I bought while on travel. I was shopping with a friend and not paying attention. That card was the one on top in my wallet. Since I had to pay the card off anyway, after my return, it was a “no harm, no foul” situation which I brought to the attention of my supervisor. I believe many people accidentally use official credit cards to pay for things at some point in a twenty year career. It is what they do when they find that out that matters!
4) Mr. Cosby is not currently profiting from receiving city pay (only benefits like medical, which the military also offers in most cases). The first year, the city paid him the differential between his city salary and his lower Army salary, as required by law. This is, again, a common factor for all people who work a full-time job while maintaining a reserve career in the military. If people don’t like the way that works, they need to lobby to change the system, not persecute one person who is doing it as though he were doing something wrong. In this case there not only is no fire, there is no smoke!
5) The article smears a decorated veteran with a 20-year city career that was, until now, regarded as exemplary. He holds degrees from the University of North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech, two of them advanced degrees. His case is making its way through the city system, with lawyers on both sides working it. Why put this case in the paper to be tried in the court of (ignorant) public opinion by many people who don’t understand the USERRA law and how it is used to get quality military personnel to serve in places like Afghanistan?
6) At best, releasing the requested freedom of information files in the paper today is meant to sell papers. At worst, it is meant to produce an online lynching of someone who is, due to the ongoing process, not allowed to talk to the press and defend himself. Ya know?

Link

How to Set your Son up to be a Porn Addict . . .

14 Feb

How to Set your Son up to be a Porn Addict . . .

Shortened version of an earlier post, showing us by dramatic negative example how to porn-proof our homes and our families, especially our sons.

In an era when most seminaries don’t ask their students whether they have viewed porn, but rather how often they have viewed it, we must remember that this can easily become an addiction.

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