Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Tree of Life

Last Friday, Brittany and I went to see The Tree of Life in Hollywood. I've been anticipating this movie for a quite a while. It is the mysterious director Terrence Malick's fifth film in almost forty years. His other movies include Badlands (1973), Days of Heaven (1978), The Thin Red Line (1998), and The New World (2005).

Aesthetically, The Tree of Life is the most beautiful film I've ever seen. Malick uses unique camera angles and gorgeous, natural imagery to create a true work of art. And I'm not quite sure what his worldview is, but it is easy tell that he is very influenced by Christian themes.

Before you go see the movie, you should be aware of some things. It might feel slow at times. There is a break in the middle that shows what creation might have looked like. And there are dinosaurs... briefly. Brett McCracken gives some helpful pointers on how to watch it. The most helpful for me was to "let it roll over you." As you're watching don't focus on trying to "figure it out." Just receive it as is. I think you will find that you will enjoy the experience.

Also, here's the end of Paste's review that summarizes the basic idea of the movie:
...between shots of bubbling lava, there’s a family that you come to care deeply about, including the very flawed patriarch. The themes are grand and punctuated by a sermon on Job in the middle: Why do bad things happen to good people? What’s the value of selflessness? Do the sins of the father need to be revisited by the son? Malick touches on creation and evolution, the existence of heaven and the purpose of life, but does so as much through the humble world of Waco, Texas, in summertime, as through the direct questions from a boy to his Creator that transition between epochs. It’s as much a meditation as a narrative, asking a tremendous amount of patience from viewers and rewarding that patience with something entirely new.
This trailer should whet your appetite:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

How to respond when the rapture doesn't happen

Justin Taylor pointed out some wise and convicting words from Eric Landry. He encourages us to not mock those who thought the rapture was coming today, but to be ready to love on them. I am reminded that nothing I believe is apart from God's grace, so I have no reason to boast, or laugh at others for believing differently than me. Here's what Eric said:
We must be very careful about how we respond. Will we join our friends at the “Rapture Parties” that are planned for pubs and living rooms around the nation? Will we laugh at those who have spent the last several months of their lives dedicated to a true but untimely belief? What will we say on Saturday night or Sunday morning?

History teaches us that previous generations caught up in eschatological fervor often fell away from Christ when their deeply held beliefs about the end of the world didn’t pan out. While Camping must answer for his false teaching at the end of the age, Reformational Christians are facing a pastoral problem come Sunday morning: how can we apply the salve of the Gospel to the wounded sheep who will be wandering aimlessly, having discovered that what they thought was true (so true they were willing to upend their lives over it) was not? If this isn’t true, they might reason, then what other deeply held beliefs and convictions and doctrines and hopes might not be true?

It’s at this point that we need to be ready to provide a reasonable defense of our reasonable faith. Christianity is not founded upon some complex Bible code that needs years of analysis to reveal its secret. Christianity is about a man who claimed to be God, who died in full public view as a criminal, and was inexplicably raised from the dead three days later appearing to a multitude of witnesses. When his followers, who witnessed his resurrection, began speaking of it publicly, they connected the prophecies of the Old Testament to the life and death and resurrection of this man who claimed the power to forgive sins. This is the heart of the Christian faith, the message that deserves to be featured on billboards, sides of buses, and pamphlets all over the world. It is also the message that needs to be reinvested into the hearts and lives of those who found hope and meaning in Harold Camping’s latest bad idea.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Funny interview by an honest Florida football player

Abraham Piper pointed out a hilarious interview on his blog. It's between a Gator County reporter and Ja'Jaun Story, an incoming wide receiver soon to play at Florida. His honesty is pretty amazing and ends up saying some pretty funny stuff. For instance:
Q: What’s your most embarrassing moment on the field?
A: I was running, I was gonna score a touchdown and then some kid came behind me and grabbed my pants down, and my pants came down, so it was pretty embarrassing. I think I turned red a little bit. My booty was out, it was pretty embarrassing.
Q: If you were a character from a Disney movie, who would you be and why?
A: Aladdin, I think he’s pretty cool, he’s like easy going, cool guy, and he has Jasmine. I like how he wears his little vest with it open.
And here's the best part:
Q: What’s the most played song on your iPod?
A: Most played…I don’t know, I want to say Katy Perry, “Fireworks.” It’s intense.
Q: What’s your favorite pre-game ritual?
A: Well, I take a doodoo. Before every game I doodoo.
Q: That’s your FAVORITE pregame ritual?
A: Well, that’s the only thing I do. That’s one thing I have to do before every game, or I won’t feel energy, and I’ll just feel slow. When I do I just feel light on my feet and everything, and I feel faster, so that’s what I do.
Q: You know I’m going to write this in a story right?
A: Well, I mean, that’s what it is. I doodoo and then listen to Katy Perry.
I feel like this is a type of guy I'd love to hang out with. Click here to read the whole interview.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Depression in different cultures

Ed Welch has another interesting article on the CCEF blog, this time about depression. He notes that depression looks different in all parts of the world. He points out that the following are all different ways of describing depression:
A Nigerian who describes a peppery feeling in his head
A Chinese farmer who complains of shoulder and stomach aches
A Korean woman who speaks of burning in her stomach
An Iranian who identifies tightness in his chest
An American who feels interminably sad
He goes on to talk about how you interpret depression (or any pain) differently. Great perspective:
Here is one conclusion from this type of research: depression is not simply a universal pattern of neuronal firing caused by predetermined genetic combinations. At least, it consists of an experience that is shaped by a cultural narrative. Depression has a story overlaid on it. In some cultures the story suggests that the experience is normal and is part of the process of developing character and strength. In others, such as our own, it is a brain pathology that must be treated quickly or it will leave the victim incapacitated.

Your interpretation of pain affects the experience of your pain. If the pain in your chest is from a slightly pulled muscle, you are proud that you are working out. If you believe it is from a tumor or incipient heart failure, it will hurt much worse.

If you experience peculiar sadness, and you are persuaded that God is with you and, through his love, is making you increasingly fruitful, your emotional limp will be less noticeable. But if your hardships are merely neuronal, there is nothing you can do except hope for the right combination of medications.


We turn to what is universal. We turn to what goes deeper than culture—the God revealed to us by Scripture. One of the beauties of God’s revelation is that we know (1) in this world there will be trouble, and (2) we don’t have to know the cause of the trouble in order to help each other know the comfort of Christ, grow in our confidence in his promises, and fruitfully abide in him. This is for everyone, in every culture.