• Selma, Birdman, Narrative and Redemption

    2-3-2 Boeing 767


    Last week,  I had the unfavorable yet fortuitous opportunity of having the very middle seat of the 2-3-2 seating style Boeing 767-300ER. In this centered seat, I had 10 screens in my immediate view. Because we were largely Americans, we all immediately glued ourselves to the customizable entertainment on the 9″ screens in front of our faces and began watching movies in unison.


    There were 9 different movies playing on these 10 screens in view. My screen (yes, I am an American too) was playing Selma. The others were playing the films The Imitation Game, McFarland USA, Unbroken, Night at the Museum 3, Taken 3, Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, Birdman… & a non-descript rom-com.


    I have never watched 9 films at the same time. Periodically, I scanned the other films whilst watching mine. What struck me was how the arc of most stories is the same and roughly in real time.


    At roughly the same time, drama, narrative tension, conflict, insurmountable odds were all rising.


    At roughly the same time, the rising action boils over in battles, standoffs, deaths and eurekas.


    At roughly the same time, relationships find healing, obstacles are overcome, codes are broken, the will triumphs over atrocities, and REDEMPTION is found.


    Why such uniformity? Are we so uncreative as human beings? Or is there something bigger at play here?


    Humans love stories because humans crave redemption. We want wrongs to be made right. We want injustices to become just. We want evils to be overcome. We want what is broken to become unbroken.  We want tension resolved redemptively.


    Man vs man
    Man vs himself
    Man vs machine
    Man vs God
    Man vs society
    Man vs nature


    The stories all arc in the same way.


    We love stories because we image a God who tells stories. We love stories because we image a God who is a redeeming God. We love stories because we need redemption.


    “He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!”
    Psalm 111:9


    “And [for all who believe] are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
    Romans 3:24-26

    June 1, 2015 • Anthropology, Culture, Film • Views: 10085

  • Best Links of the Week

    Eric Metaxas has a great longer piece that is really worthwhile entitled,  Cultural Elites:  The Next Unreached People Group.  I am curious for some of you who have reach Culture Making and To Change the World, how you might respond to Metaxas.

    The Eight Kinds of Friendship

    Excellent Photos from Iraq

    In a very sad story, a priest in Moldova drowned a baby during an infant baptism.

    Book Art

    Solid interview with Robert Duvall from Christianity Today.  Duvall has some good insight; he remarks that Hollywood does not merely have disdain for Christians, its’ main disdain is for the heartland of America.  Interesting thought.

    Michael Bell analyzes recent pew forum study along with a helpful info-graphic.  (HT:  Kevin DeYoung)

    Nine old Nintendo Games that can be played straight from the internet with no download required.

  • Mark Driscoll on Avatar


    I have now actually seen Avatar.  Can’t say I really disagree with Mark here on the spiritual side of things.  Spiritually, I would characterize Avatar as repackaged gnosticism having also shades of process theology and pantheism.  The film is not merely spiritual, it is also political and in its politik, it is a full-frontal attack on Western Imperialism and American hegemony.  I would be hesitant to equate Western Imperialism with the cultural mandate (to do so would be wrong and dangerous).  Politically, I think the film is more of an attack on Western Imperialism/Colonialism than the cultural mandate.

    Your thoughts?

    February 26, 2010 • Culture, Film, Philosophy, Video, Worldview • Views: 405

  • Best Links of the Week

    The Problematic Path of a Graduate Degree in the Humanities

    I am starting a new installment of this blog for the best links of the week.  They will typically be in accordance with the major topics discussed here (theology, philosophy, culture, economics, and politics).  Depending on how many good articles were out on the net, the number of links will vary.  Enjoy.

    1.  “Graduate School in the Humanities:  Just Don’t Go“:  controversial, informative, and lucid look at the current status of graduate school humanities programs and the dysfunctionality of finding work thereafter.

    2.  MSNBC article on Matt Chandler’s battle with cancer – there are some strange things about this story involving him punching a healthcare provider…  Also excellent is a year old article by John Piper entitled, “Don’t Waste Your Cancer.”

    3.  Previously mentioned article by pro-choice Sally Jenkins (Washington Post) defending Pam/Tim Tebow’s Superbowl Ad.

    4.  “Haiti Three Weeks Later“:  absolutely stirring images from the Boston Globes excellent photo-essay segment “The Big Picture.”

    5.  Pew Survey on Social Networking: Teens Love Facebook, Hate Blogging, Are Always Online, and Don’t Use Twitter

    6.  Newsweek on the ineffectiveness of Anti-Depressants.  Not sure I share the conclusions, but interesting article.

    7.  “A Christian Nation“:  article exploring relationship between Christianity and pop-culture and how we are highly marketed to.   There are weaknesses to the author’s argumentation but interesting nonetheless to get an outsiders view of Christianity and pop-culture.

    8.  “Should Conan, Goldman Sachs send megabucks to Haiti?“:  Interesting proposal.

    9.  “The Rise of the Calvinists“: article exploring Scott Brown’s theological convictions as a member of a CRC church.

  • Avatar Causing Depression and Suicidal Thoughts

    Pandora: The Fictional Utopian World in Avatar

    Disclaimer: I have not seen the film Avatar.  Here is a link to a story about audience members who have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts, due to the fact that they cannot live in the utopian Pandora.   My initial thought was this is completely pathetic…  it is just a movie promoting pantheism (or perhaps panentheism) while bashing American imperialism.

    However, on second thought, there is something more profound here.  It is not new or revolutionary for humanity to long for peace, prosperity, and flourishing life.  The people who are feeling these ‘side-affects’ are really longing not for Pandora.  They are longing for the Shalom that God will usher in at the Second Coming of Christ.  These people are longing for the fullness of the Kingdom of God where everything is made right, everything is made new, and there is no injustice.  Its the same longing for the end of winter in Narnia, the destruction of the ring in Lord of the Rings, or Christian’s journey to Mt. Zion and the Celestial City in Pilgrim’s Progress.  There is a palpable intensity to living in this broken world.  The reality of fallen creation can be bleak and depressing and promote both anxiety and despair.  All of man’s attempts at utopia have failed:  communism, capitalism, pantheism/panentheism/Walden’s Pond, communalism…  We need the reality of the God-Man, Jesus Christ, making peace through his propitiatory sacrifice the wrath of God towards the sins of man.  We need Christ’s church to do her work throughout the Earth.  We need Christ to return and establish the New Heavens and the New Earth.

    Come quickly Lord Jesus.

    January 12, 2010 • C.S. Lewis, Culture, Eschatology, Film, Gospel, Interesting Article, Soteriology • Views: 640