Posts Tagged ‘media’

This week: a piercing story about the loss of a son, bad manners with media, giving your ideas momentum, making all things new, and some arguments against owning a home.

It Was Not Wicked for the Lord to Take Our Son (by Lisa Blanco)

As our plans as parents have been thrown into confusion and sadness, we are faced with the question of what happens next. I long each morning to wake up to a crying baby to console in my arms. Ernie longs to come home from a long day of work to play with his son, and each time we walk to the garage we have to pass an empty nursery painted in blue. Through each seemingly impossible fear that rushes to our minds, the Lord has calmed us with several great truths about himself and our circumstance.

Bad Manners Masquerading as Media (by Tim Challies)

We find ourselves in that tricky space where many of us are applying old rules to new media. But we may also be excusing sinful or rude habits by our thoughtless dedication to these new media. In some cases we will look back in a few years and marvel that we could ever have been so rude. By that time society will have caught up and negotiated new etiquette. But for the time being many of us behave like barbarians (albeit barbarians with high-tech devices and Internet connections).

The Art of Momentum: Why Your Ideas Need Speed (by Jocelyn K. Glei)

When it comes to momentum, frequency of execution is perhaps more important than the duration of execution. Even if you’re working on your project for just an hour a day that’s enough to keep your objectives and recent activities top of mind. Then, when you sit down to work on it again, you can slip quickly back into the flow.

Making All Things New (Not All New Things) (by Tullian Tchividjian)

God doesn’t plan to utterly destroy this present world and build a brand-new world from scratch. Instead he plans a radical renovation project for the world we live in today. The Bible never says that everything will be burned up and replaced. Rather, it says that everything will be purged with fire and restored. God won’t destroy everything that now exists, but he will destroy all the corruption, brokenness, and chaos we see in our world, purging from it everything that is impure and sinful.

Why I’d Rather Shoot Myself in the Head than Ever Own a Home Again
(by James Altucher)

The serf is flushing money with his rent payment. But he has more cash in the bank, a more diversified portfolio, and is generating liquid cash (hopefully) from other investments. He also has the cash to be an entrepreneur, move around to take advantage of other opportunities, etc. This (in my experience) more than makes up for the rent down the drain.

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I know that all of my posts (the few) so far have been about movies and tv but can I help it? There were 2 series finales last month for 2 of the only shows my wife and I watch! Just to disclose, my wife and I have stuck  to a couple of shows: Lost, 24, Survivor, and Biggest Loser. We’ll sometimes watch CSI NY or The Office but not very consistently.  I covered 24 in 2 previous posts here and here. Survivor is a great demonstration of human sinfulness and a fun show. We love the outward transformations while rooting for heart transformation in The Biggest Loser.

Then there’s Lost. I honestly believe that there has never been a show quite like it and there never will be again.  Tell me about another show with those ratings and popularity that ended after 6 seasons and had one single purposeful story arc that finished. The new Battlestar Gallactica?  Maybe. We bailed in season 1 simply because the characters weren’t great and it felt like it would be same storyline over and over until they found Earth (another reason we bailed – way too much sex). Lost had both the mythology and sci-fi aspect as well as superb, well-acted characters that you locked in with. Between Locke, Sawyer, Jack, Kate, Hurley, Sayid, Ben, Desmond, and more, you had someone you gravitated towards and rooted for. It was pretty much the question in the first few season: Locke, Jack or Sawyer, who’s your guy?  I just listed 8 characters above and I could name 10 more. Without the characters, there would be no Lost, just a mysterious island with a smoke monster.

The show creators knew that and wrote it that way. Sure there were the mysteries: the time travel, the smoke monster, Jacob, the Darma Initiative, the Others, Richard, the Island’s weird powers, the fertility issues the Island caused, the strange bermuda triangle aspect of the island, the electromagnetics, the man in black/Jacob’s brother’s name, the nature of the island and the light at the center, and more. But the heart of the story was always the characters. Is there redemption for them? Will they unite? Will they find happiness? Can they overcome their pasts? People have whined about the finality and how too many mysteries remained unsolved but you knew they had to end it the way they did – a redemptive ending centering on the characters. There was no other way to finish. Who cares about the mysteries? I just wanted to see if Ben would be redeemed. Would Sawyer find peace (and Juliet)? Would Jack and Kate finally be together and happy? Was Locke right, did his life matter? Would Sun and Jin reunite and finally get to move forward? Who cares what the Smokey’s name was.

You can already guess then what I thought of the finale. It was awesome. I loved it. Even watching a second time, I still wept at certain moments – Locke and Ben’s conversation at the church, Charlie connecting with Claire, Jack saying goodbye to Kate on the island, and of course when Jack meets his dad. Such a bittersweet finish. A few things to key on: the flash sideways and Jack.  I like how the flash sideways ended up being the sort of purgatory, like the gray town in The Great Divorce by CS Lewis. I loved how what happened on the Island was real. There really were no second chances at life. Locke really did die when Ben killed him. The flash sideways was not a simple everything ends well story where all is good. Sun and Jin really did die on the sub together. Sayeed really did sacrifice his life so more of them could get off the sub. Hurley never met up again with Libby in life, she really was gone. Sawyer didn’t simply get to erase his past sins as a con artist and leaving a wake of brokenness in his path. Charlie really did die trying to help rescue the others. Jack’s dad really was dead. Powerful. This life matters. What happened on the Island and the choices that were made – mattered. Jack’s final choices on the Island were not just a temporary death before the storylines merged, but mattered. Wow. Do I think that about my life? Do I wake up and think my life matters for Jesus everyday? Do I live as if I really only have one shot at this whole thing? Am I living like the selfish, wounded, fixer pharisee that Jack started as? Or am I living as the Jack walking by faith, ready and willing to genuinely unselfishly lay his life down for his friends? What a gut check. I’ll come back to this.

I have to talk about Jack and his dad. I  wanted to see them reunite. I knew it had to happen for the story to be complete, the writers were building towards it and you knew it would be a significant moment when it happened. And it was. It hit me at 2 levels. First, I lost my dad almost 9 years to alcoholism (yes, like Jack’s dad, Christian). I loved my dad. Sure he had his faults but I always felt like my dad was for me and we could always be straight up with each other.  I miss him often. I long to see him again. When I came to Jesus as an eighteen year old, one of the first things I wanted was for my dad to experience Jesus with me and that he would know Jesus and be a spiritual father to me not simply my dad. My dad accepted Christ on his death bed and I never had that chance. When I think about heaven, I think about seeing him again and fully experiencing the love of Jesus and his glory together, no longer divided and no longer blind. So to say that I looked forward to the moment when Jack would see Christian again is an understatement. The loving embrace, the tender revelation. Second, Christian Shepherd has his name in this story for a reason. A loving father meeting his son at the end, ready to guide him into eternity? I wonder what book they found that theme in. It hits us emotionally (at least it did for me) because of the truth of the gospel in it.

Finally, the bittersweetness of the ending. Walking into eternity at the same time as flashing back and forth to Jack’s death, mirroring the exact beginning of the show.  Really well done in how it draws out that feeling of nostalgia, that longing for home, for that perfect time and place, for the past and “better times”, for innocence, and for redemption. We all feel it. That longing for home. That desire for ease and peace and no more struggle. Safety. But it’s unattainable. Everything is broken in this life. Everything can feel tainted. When we try to reach back for what we’re longing for all we find is emptiness and memories, not satisfaction. What we really long for is eternity. This life is truly bittersweet and meant to direct us to the only one who really can give us a second chance and is the reason we’re even here. That bittersweetness is meant to tell us that this life is not all there is. Nostalgia is a gift to point us to our true Father, the one who really is waiting for us, making a home for us, able to redeem us and desiring to show us what matters.

Jesus’ death on the cross matters. God’s glory really does matter. Finishing well matters. A life well lived for Him and with Him matters.

Other good reads on the Finale and Series:

The Rabbit Room




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Just a few thoughts on some movies coming out or just out on DVD between May and July…

Crazy Heart (Already out on DVD). Probably worth a post in and of itself. Unbelievable movie simply because it felt so real. Jeff Bridges deserved the best acting oscar he received for this role. The alcoholism,  the skeaziness, hitting rock bottom, and the repentance – you feel it all and believe it. At points it feels like a documentary because the characters and their conversations are so genuine. Maggie G (her part made this movie for my wife), Duvall, and even Colin Farrell were perfect in their roles to say the least. Believing in someone and loving them is always a risk, there will indeed be a cost. But change will likely not come apart from it – be it God the Father demonstrating his love for us on the cross or us being a conduit at personal sacrifice for someone who doesn’t even seem to deserve it. The reality is that we all never deserved the love God has shown us or even the love people around us. All of us are just as fallen as Bad Blake is and in need of redemption and wow, do I desire to be a friend like Duvall is in this movie. The movie has a lot of rough language (rated R for a reason) and 2 scenes of sexual content that are very easy to see coming and fast forward through but if you can handle the rawness without stumbling, definitely worth engaging in.

Alice in Wonderland (Already out on DVD). I have not seen this movie but every person that I know who has seen it has recommended it saying it has a redemptive ending. Take it at that.

The Book of Eli (June 15 release). Another one probably worth a separate post. Just see this movie. Definitely very raw and violent with rough language. Some of the violence, especially the way women are treated, made me squirm a bit. But the violence against women points to the unrestrained sinful nature of an post-apocalyptic future and is definitely not glorifying of it. It merely magnifies the need for redemption and how fallen we really are. The spiritual themes of the movie and the centrality of the Bible are almost shocking for a Hollywood movie. James Harleman at cinemagogue.com writes:

“My wife got an advance copy of the screenplay over a year ago from a friend and was struck by its unerring Christian center. She summarized it for me, from awesome apocalyptic beginning to its shock-peppered ending, and I was surprised. We both agreed there was NO way this screenplay would ever get made. When we heard it was in production, and starring Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman, we were blown away… yet determinedly pessimistic. We altered our tune, certain there was NO way it would ever survive with all the biblical elements intact.

We were (happily) mistaken. Not only have The Hughes Brothers made a thoroughly enjoyable film, they maintained it’s spirit and even surprised me with the casting of Denzel as a very quiet, deliberate action hero.”

I saw this movie twice and I think I enjoyed and was more struck emotionally the second time than the first. It’s like the perfect manly movie – plenty of action and Denzel rampaging through his opposition and yet a very spiritual message with spiritual overtones in the context of what he is fighting for and why he is fighting.

Edge of Darkness (Already out on DVD). Simply put, this movie attempts to be too much. Is it about Mel Gibson being pushed to the edge? Is it about a conspiracy to cover up something? Another good thriller that just falls short because it didn’t do either those things well. It does not deal with our own darkness hardly at all. The conspiracy reveal is much too shallow and vengeance is far too easy.

Green Zone (June 22 release). Not really worth seeing. I had to really work to pull out gospel truths and find redemption. It’s a good thriller but it sets itself in the historical context of the Iraq war and yet it’s 95% fiction which can be annoying. Damon’s quest to expose truth is noble for sure but there just wasn’t enough in this movie for me to consider watching it again or really recommending it.

Invictus (Already out on DVD). This movie could have been so much more. Between Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela and his backdrop storyline to the underdog South African rugby team, how could this movie be a flop, right? Wrong. You watch this movie and you’re just waiting to feel it, you want to engage emotionally, but it never comes. Mandela is such a larger than life historical figure that this movie doesn’t or cannot do justice. It seems like it would have been fantastic to have him either be the entire movie or just given more of a cameo. It’s hard to explain, I almost need to watch it again, but the movie never feels like it’s enough. Damon’s character doesn’t seem to go through the change that the movie has him walk through. The movie wants to move him from default racist to overcoming racism by the end but I never believed Damon’s character was a racist to begin with. He doesn’t seem to change at all. The rugby scenes were also too much with very little explanation. I don’t have the first clue of the rules of rugby so I had no idea what was really going on for all the extended match scenes. How much is field goal worth? Why is a scrum needed? What are the positions or are there any? There is a lot of rugby in this movie and yet those scenes have very little drama. I feel bad ripping on this movie but the real life story is so awesome and Mandela is such an inspiring individual, the movie just fell flat.

Shutter Island (June 8 release). This movie is growing on me as I mull it over. Such a good thriller. Such a powerful & emotional ending. DiCaprio with his usual excellence. Very creepy and disturbing at times. The lighthouse and it’s imagery. This movie gets better and better as I think about it and put the pieces together. I need to see it again. I’ll leave it at that. I can’t even mention the main theme or I give too much away.

Any other movie out there released from May to July, I haven’t seen or most likely just thought it wasn’t worth seeing – except for The Road (already out on DVD). I definitely still want to see that one with Viggo and his son trekking and struggling through another post-apocalyptic world based on the book by Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men – another fantastic gut punch of a movie).

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Last night my wife and I were able to watch the season and series final of 24, the final (or not so final) adventures of Jack Bauer. We have watched every season of 24, although mostly via DVD, and loved the first 4 or 5 seasons. Jack Bauer and President Palmer were fantastic characters, well acted, that you rooted for.  Toss in Chloe in Season 3 and it was great.

This series was a really unique concept – 24 episodes attempting to countdown 24 hours in real time. But you can only do that for so long when you just know Jack Bauer is not going to die and you know they only have 24 hrs to resolve it. You know that after 12 hours, the first baddie’s boss is going to emerge and the next 12 hours will be about stopping him instead. You know that the first plot to blow up NY or kill the president is going to be replaced by yet another crazier plot or high-level conspiracy.  There stops being very much at stake when it seems like no one else beside Jack can really die either (see: Tony Almeida).  The last couple of seasons my wife and I stuck with it but it was a show that my wife would just sleep through most of the time. But I really wanted to see it end and that is one reason why I kept engaging with 24.

Enter Season 8 of 24.  I had no idea this was the last season of the series. I don’t follow entertainment news. We don’t watch 24 on TV, we watch it online on Hulu. So when Jack’s girlfriend gets killed around episode 16 or so and he starts to spiral downward even further to where there’s no coming back, basically entering the “Tyson Zone”, I wondered just what was going on. Finally, after episode 22, I caught that it was the final series and it all made sense.

Heading into the Finale, I had high hopes. I hoped for either a redemptive death of Jack Bauer or a redemptive death of another significant character (like Chloe) for Jack. Maybe that was asking too much but if you watch, you know it was heading there, all signs pointed to something significant, a change of direction, an end. Then I heard that there was the potential for a 24 movie and I knew Jack couldn’t die – yet again. Sure enough, Jack walks away at the end of the finale in a very anticlimactic way setting up the movie. I wanted redemption for Jack and Pres. Taylor’s confession and repentance was not enough for me, especially since the Satan-like Logan is probably still alive and justice isn’t close to being done.

But maybe that’s the reality we need to engage with…

Read Part 2: here.

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