Monday, January 30, 2012

Owl Post

Owl Post is something new. I come across a lot of things that I think are worth sharing from the web and so each week I will link them here. Hope you enjoy it!

Picture Prefect Marriage : 
"This morning I am going to begin just a short series of articles on marriage. Having read several books on marriage in the past few months, I found myself really intrigued by what Paul says about the topic in his letter to the Ephesians. I’ve since had the opportunity to study it and wanted to share what I’ve learned along the way." Part one, Part two, Part three
Government and Its Rivals: 
"WHEN liberals are in a philosophical mood, they like to cast debates over the role of government not as a clash between the individual and the state, but as a conflict between the individual and the community. Liberals are for cooperation and joint effort; conservatives are for self-interest and selfishness. Liberals build the Hoover Dam and the interstate highways; conservatives sit home and dog-ear copies of “The Fountainhead.” Liberals know that it takes a village; conservatives pretend that all it takes is John Wayne." Link.
The End Has Come For Chuck: 
"Chuck's five-year plan has reached its end.
On Friday, series creators Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak saw the end of their beloved spy comedy that inspired nerd culture and Subway sandwich diets. True to form, they still kept up with the fans who made the continuation of the series possible."
What We do in the Face of Suffering:
"For many people living in the West where the cultural bias is towards an expectation of everybody being healthy and living longer, sickness readily becomes seen as the main focus of one’s “suffering”. But, suffering is a far broader concept than struggling with physical, emotional or mental illness." Link This is an amazing paper on the subject of suffering; it is long, but it is well worth the time.
 5 Things We Do Today Instead of Preaching the Word:
"I wish I could tell you that most pastors are preaching the Word. I can’t—some are not. Here are five things we may choose to do instead of preaching the Word." Link 
Well that should do it for now. Look for more every week.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Out of the Shadows

I love heroes and I love books. I also love what I can learn about life, spiritually and otherwise, from a well written story. If I was a better writer(or thinker), these posts are the kinds of things that I would like to have written. There is so much that we can learn from the world around us if we would just learn to think critically. If I wring out the things that I consume in the world through the filter of a Scriptural worldview, how much might I learn? Thomas Torrance says, 
"It is incumbent upon us, therefore, to relate the actual order we find in the world to the redemptive order which lies at the heart of the Christian message. In the Christian faith we look for a new order in which the damaged order, or the disorder that inexplicably arises in the world, will be healed through a creative reordering of existence as it is reconciled to its ultimate ground in the creative love of God." 
In beginning to look at the world through this lens, I am introduced to whole new ways to acquire the keys to the kingdom.  God can teach through anything and because of this I have more reasons to praise because his truth is evident in so much more than I have given him credit for, "For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made...". Even in comic books and fantasy stories, the light of the truth can shine. What I am seeing is a shadow of the eternal; so I challenge you, where are you seeing a shadow?

This is an amazing look at the Star Wars Saga as a whole and how it can teach us about our relationship with God. I was really blown away by these posts and it has helped me enjoy all six films all the more.

There is not greater series that I have read in the last ten years than Harry Potter. It has been such a force in literature and in film; it is hard to realize that it is over. What has been most fascinating for me to see has been the reaction in the Christian community change in relation to the series. The church is beginning to see how many parallels and lessons that are in Harry mirror what is seen in Scripture. For more on this read,"How Harry Cast His Spell" by John Granger.

This is a look at the Caped Crusader and the philosophical, historical and theological underpinnings of the character. I read this one before the Superman series and it is what got me hooked and then searching for more, in-depth analysis of my favorite heroes. This is also an ongoing series, so be sure to check back for more!

Adam West
Michael Keaton
Val Kilmer
George Clooney 
Christian Bale
Kevin Conroy 

And not to be outdone, the original; Superman. He is my favorite superhero and the one I find people have the hardest time relating to. This unique and complicated hero is the foundation for all superheroes today and has a special connection with those of us in America since he fights for truth, justice and the American way. But what happens when the American way is not the best? 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Boy Who Lived

The last Harry Potter film has finally come to homes and it has given me a chance to re-watch and think again about the difference between the films and the books. For the most part, I have been able to understand the changes that haven been made for the cinema; but in the last film, the last few minutes, really left out some of the most important elements and themes that, I believe, Rowling has poured into her masterpiece. 
In the movie, Harry goes to the Forbidden forest to meet his doom. He knows that he has been marked for death and has excepted that by his death, others might survive. Harry knows he has been kept alive to die at the right time. So Harry dies, but as we all know, he comes back and defeats Voldemort for good. The main problem is that the movie lacks all the nuances that makes Harry’s death so important. Harry’s death, in the book, means so much more than a final showdown and the end of an evil person. Harry’s death stands in for something deeper and much more mythic than just defeating the “bad guy”. This was the place where the film fails its source material and audience the most. 
“Harry understood at last that he was not supposed to survive. His job was to walk calmly into Death’s welcoming arms.” In the book Harry calmly walks into the forest and faces death. It is in this moment that he does the one thing that Voldemort could never do, face death and not be afraid. Harry has learned that there are more important things than living and that death is not the worst thing that can happen to a person. In all of Voldemort’s scheming and work to escape death only Harry will become it’s master. Harry goes willingly to death, he sacrifices himself for others, he lays down his life, like his mother, for the good of those he loves. In the end Harry defeats death by death.    
In the movie, the full affect of Harry’s sacrifice is not seen, and in the end, it does a disservice to all those who watch. 
“And his knowledge remained woefully incomplete, Harry! That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend. Of house-elves and children’s tales, of love loyalty and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he never grasped. " Rowling goes on to explain this in the final showdown. Harry taunts Voldemort and fully explains his failings and deep misunderstanding of the world around him. Harry’s death has much more meaning than the end to an evil dictator, he has bought life from death. “You won’t be killing anyone else tonight,” said Harry as they circled, and they stared into each others eyes, green into red. “You won’t be able to kill any of them, ever again. Don’t you get it? I was ready to die to stop you hurting these people-”  
“But you did not!"
 “-I meant to, and that’s what did it. I’ve done what my mother did. They’re protected from you. Haven’t you noticed how none of the spells you put on them are binding? You can’t torture them. You can’t touch them. You don’t learn from your mistakes, Riddle, do you?"
This pivotal moment in the book is missing from the movie and cheapens the power of Harry’s death. Harry’s love is greater and more powerful than Voldemort’s ambition, hate and cruelty. And it is not just Harry’s love, but the love of his mother and Snape that have played Voldemort for a fool. Another moment that leaves a character not as strong as he is in the book is the moment that Harry explains how Snape’s love has made all of this possible. “Severus Snape wasn’t yours,” said Harry. “Snape was Dumbledore’s, Dumbledore’s from the moment you started hunting down my mother. And you never realised it, because of the thing you can’t understand.” 
Voldemort has no understanding or comprehension of love. 
In all this talk of love and the true meaning of death, Rowling is saying something. She is linking her myth with a much more powerful and much “deeper magic” than is seen in the film. J.R.R Tolkien says this about myth, 
“We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming 'sub-creator' and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic 'progress' leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil.” 
It is in myth making that we can understand the true reality. Tolkien goes on to explain further, 
I would venture to say that approaching the Christian Story from this direction, it has long been my feeling (a joyous feeling) that God redeemed the corrupt making-creatures, men, in a way fitting to this aspect, as to others, of their strange nature. The Gospels contain a fairy-story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy-stories. They contain many marvels—peculiarly artistic, beautiful, and moving: ‘mythical’ in their perfect, self-contained significance; and among the marvels is the greatest and most complete conceivable eucatastrophe. But this story has entered History and the primary world; the desire and aspiration of sub-creation has been raised to the fulfillment of Creation. The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man's history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. It has pre-eminently the ‘inner consistency of reality.’ There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many sceptical men have accepted as true on its own merits. For the Art of it has the supremely convincing tone of Primary Art, that is, of Creation. To reject it leads either to sadness or to wrath.”
 The Apostle Paul speaks of these things that Harry dimly reflects, 
For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
What Rowling has written connects us with something that runs deep and mythic, it points to the greater reality, the meta-narrative that we are all a part of. There is a story that we are all involved in and when we respond to certain works of fiction or a good film it is because it is touching something innate and fundamental to the reality of the world. C.S. Lewis puts it this way, “In the enjoyment of a great myth we come nearest to expressing as a concrete what can otherwise be understood only as an abstraction...It is only while receiving the myth as a story that you experience the principle concretely” While I love the Harry Potter films, in missing this key element, they have taken away the true power of the story, it’s connection with the profound reality of the universe. And I believe this is the reason that so many people, from all walks of life, all over the world have fallen in love with, “the boy who lived”. 
All quotes from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" from the Bloomsbury edition, 2007