Friday, July 25, 2008

A Few Words on The Dark Knight

Went to the midnight showing on Thursday night with some friends.

First of all, pretty much everyone is right in that it was a great movie. It was completely engrossing (and terrifying) throughout the entire two and a half hours, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Despite significantly more action than Batman Begins, it managed to brilliantly develop a complex plot and several main characters. Despite the title, the film was actually just as much about Harvey Dent, The Joker, or James Gordon as it was about Batman/Bruce Wayne. Heath Ledger was truly amazing as The Joker, and the rest of the cast was solid as well (I mean really, can there possibly be a better Alfred than Michael Caine?).

Despite all the ingredients of not only a great superhero film, but a great film in general, there's one key thing that indicates whether a film was great or not: how memorable it is. It's been over a week since I've seen The Dark Knight, and I'm still thinking about it! That is why it's so good. When your thoughts constantly return to the twisted and depraved acts of the Joker, internal struggle of Bruce Wayne, or tragic fall of Harvey Dent, you know there was something about The Dark Knight that made it awesome.

*note* Reviewers are right in that this is not a kids' movie. Aside from a few dirty words, The Dark Knight is very violent and downright scary at times. I still get chills whenever someone licks their chops like The Joker. Anyways, there are plenty of places to get more info on content. Just use some wisdom and discernment before seeing it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything

Finally saw it today, courtesy of free family film morning at our local theater. Pretty good movie, solid, random, goofy, humor in Veggie Tales fashion; a surprisingly good and interesting story; important biblical moral to the always.

There are only a few real knocks I can think of as a film critic, namely, the animation. Yeah, yeah, it certainly wasn't bad, definitely tolerable for a guy like me, but I must say that it just didn't quite match up to most animated films today, and it wasn't even in the same league as Pixar (also saw Wall-E not long ago, great film, see it too). Again, I know, it's just Big Idea. Despite the name, they're not all that big of a company, and I understand that. The animation quality didn't bug me, but it might bother some people, especially those who paid ten bucks to see it in theaters several months ago. The other thing is the complete absence of God and Jesus. Sure, it may win a larger audience, but it really makes the movie seem a bit awkward and shallow in some of the morals it advocates.

For example: doing what is right no matter how big, brave, or skilled you are. First is fact that this implies absolute truth, second is the idea that we are all special and capable of doing something important and heroic. Both of those only make sense in light of God's word. We are all created in the image of God and are therefore all significant, important, and designed to bring glory to Him. Also, some things are "right" and other things are "wrong" because God has given us his standards. An action is wrong because it is committed against God, not because we feel like it is wrong (no disregard for the conscience, btw).

In sum, 'twas a pretty good film: good, clean, entertainment for all ages. I'm just not a huge fan of how Big Idea, a company know for being Christian, takes all references to God out of their movie. It's the only VeggieTales (that I'm aware of) that does not place God as the standard and giver of our morals. There are just no valid excuses for this.

After all, they did it with Jonah....

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Where is certainty?

Perhaps this is strange, perhaps it isn't, but more and more I'm working on writing songs and turning ideas and messages into songs. I have, about five that I've written so far this summer, and, since they all have a pretty substantial theological message I've decided to post a few of them. Here's one of my favorites (poetically, at least). I don't have a title yet, so if anyone feels bold enough to comment, I'd like some ideas.

I remember when you were the toast of the town
Like a light in the dark, the way to be found
Kings ruled and sages spoke in your name
You defined reason, true joy and true shame

Woah, forget what we said, those days are gone
Forget who we are, nobody is wrong
Woah, you have been dragged out, shot in the street
Foundations crumble as fools meet

That was like you, when the world was unsure
You’d bring down the gavel and open the door
We’ve always stood for you, through fire and war.
So tell me what happened? Are you worth dying for?

Woah, forget what we said, those days are gone
Forget who we are, nobody is wrong
Woah, you have been dragged out, shot in the street
Foundations crumble as fools meet

Blood runs through cracks of broken concrete
Compromise reigns, where is certainty?
Where is certainty, where is certainty, is there certainty?

Woah, forget what we said, those days are gone
Forget who we are, nobody is wrong
Woah, you have been dragged out, shot in the street
Foundations crumble as fools meet

You may have been dragged out, shot in the street
But I’ll still cling to you, and you’ll set me free

Friday, July 4, 2008

More Shudderings

The past two Wednesdays, our church has been continuing the videos on Mormonism, this time a two-part production on polygamy in fundamentalist Mormon groups. Needless to say, this one made me even more sick. The stories from ex-fundy Mormons were just heartbreaking and terrible. They spoke of abuse, loneliness, jealousy and stress...lots of stress. Stress from being forced to marry a man they hardly knew, stress from trying to compete with other wives for their husbands attention, stress from trying to become good enough to go to heaven (or wherever they go after they die) and being told that if they try to leave or change their lifestyle, they will go to hell.

Passionate and saddening stories aside, the thing that really struck my intellectual side was the complete illogicality (is that even a word?) of polygamy. When you think about it even on a surface level, it's so obvious that it just isn't the way God meant it to be. One of the many beautiful thing about Christianity is that it actually makes sense and works when applied in one's life. When biblical principles are put in place, the family functions smoothly, people are satisfied, and society as a whole thrives. In other words, pretty much everything plays out as if were designed that way. Not so with Mormon fundamentalist and polygamy.

First of all, you've got the problem of more than one wife per husband. There is a reason that God made humans reproduce in an exactly equal ratio between the sexes. It's because only one girl is meant for every guy! Suppose that polygamy was practiced on a worldwide scale. There would millions, nay, probably billions of men that wouldn't have wives because there simply wouldn't be enough women around.

Secondly, polygamy is no conducive to a well-functioning society at any level. With so many wives, it is virtually impossible for a man to develop any strong relations with them whatsoever. This naturally leads to loneliness, depression, and dissatisfaction, while the whole time these wives are told that if they will go to hell if they resist or change. That's not even to mention the tens of kids that the husband has. They will miss out on crucial father-son time and never develop as well as they could. In fact, they hardly even know their father at all, if any of the film's stories are true. I may not have as strong a relationship with my dad as I should, but at least he takes me out for cokes once in a while!

Thirdly, it is horribly abusive and unfair to the women. We Christians take a lot of heat for not allowing women to hold positions of authority within the church, but we do hold than men and women are spiritually equal before God. In the case of Mormon fundamentalist sects, women are terribly demoted and almost treated as lesser beings than men. I don't know this for a fact,but I'm guessing that most of them are not content with the way they are living, yet they are indoctrinated with the idea that they will go to hell if they change their ways. So essentially they are trapped in this system with no chance of earthly escape and no guarantee of heavenly escape at death.

What's the bottom line here? Well, if you examine everything Joseph Smith did and taught, it's pretty clear to me that he was nothing but a selfish, perverted, deceptive, false prophet. Once again, we are reminded that God's Word as revealed in Scripture is the only unchanging, perfect, and sufficient source of truth and guidance.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

"Musings" from San Diego

As mentioned in my previous post, my family and I just spent several days vacationing in San Diego, and I have a few thoughts I figured I'd share.

One, God is a truly amazing and creative God! We visited both Sea World and the San Diego Zoo, and must admit that I have never been more impressed at the incredible beauty and design of the world we live in. The other thing I found amazing about the zoo in particular is that, despite the obvious evolutionary mindset of the zoo's researchers or whoever, they still referred to many attributes of animals as "designed." It's incredible that someone could see the variety, intricacy, and even beauty of the world's flora and fauna and still not attribute it to a grand Designer. At the zoo especially, I was reminded that creation does indeed bring glory and recognition to its Creator. It was almost as if I'd taken a small step back into Eden...or a step forward into heaven.

Two, I also had the chance to listen to a bunch of Way of the Master Radio podcasts on the drive down and back. Good, convicting, stuff, as usual, but when they played a reading of Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." To say the least I was shaken...a whole bunch. I'm not completely sure, but Edwards had a way with words (not to mentioned the authority of God's Word and power of the Holy Spirit) that really hits me right in the heart every time I read or hear that sermon. Vivid, passionate, authoritative, and all too true. Just take it from a brother trying to grow in his zeal and love for Christ; if you are ever feeling lukewarm in your walk and/or emotions, sit down for a few minutes and read "Sinners." There's a reason it's Edwards' most famous sermon.

Three, I had the chance to witness part of a three game sweep by my Mariners over the Padres. Yep, I'm a Mariner's fan, and am sticking with them despite high expectations and disastrous results for the season thus far. Seeing one of their rare wins was something kinda special (for me, at least).