My Take On The Dark Knight Rises

Christo­pher Nolan is a mas­ter film­maker. This is obvi­ous to me after see­ing the con­clu­sion to his Bat­man tril­ogy, The Dark Knight Rises. Don’t worry this post isn’t about spoil­ers, but about shar­ing some under­ly­ing mes­sages I took from this masterpiece.

Batman Logo

First and fore­most, there is evil in the world. And when it comes to true evil, there is no grey area, only black and white. It can­not be nego­ti­ated with. It can­not be trusted and it doesn’t care who stands in its way.

Evil pro­duces greed in the world. But greed is not the sole pos­ses­sion of the rich want­ing to amass more wealth. Greed is also not hav­ing and demand­ing from those who do have. Greed is want­ing power for power’s sake. Greed is want­ing to con­trol what is uncon­trol­lable. Essen­tially, greed is apart of all of us.

Evil hides behind nar­cis­sism. We all have so much to lose. No mat­ter wealth, career or even life, when faced with los­ing it, we default to our sur­vival instincts and will do any­thing to save ourselves.

But, evil can­not exist alone. Just as there can­not be rich with­out poor or power with­out weak­ness, you can­not have evil with­out good. And good is what stands in con­trast to every­thing wrong in the world today. So even though we as humans are inher­ently evil, we often desire for good to lurk its “ugly” head.

And that is why we love film expe­ri­ences like Christo­pher Nolan has produced.

Now go see this movie.

Brave – Yet Another Typical Pixar Film

We scored some sneak pre­view tick­ets to go see the new Dis­ney Pixar film Brave tonight. Our girls (almost as much as me) are always stoked about the lat­est Pixar has to offer, and in typ­i­cal fash­ion, they did not disappoint.

Brave movie posterArt Direc­tion – Shocker, this movie is beau­ti­ful. From the begin­ning, Pixar draws you into the beau­ti­ful Scot­tish coun­try­side giv­ing you the since of pres­ence within the story. The char­ac­ter move­ment feels per­fectly real. Only their extreme car­i­ca­ture appear­ance reminds you that they’re not. Near visual flaw­less­ness. Typical.

Char­ac­ter devel­op­ment – Each char­ac­ter is unique and has very dis­tinct traits. The voices fit per­fectly with their per­son­i­fi­ca­tions. The funny ones are hys­ter­i­cal. The despised ones are despi­ca­ble and the scary ones put you on edge. There isn’t a weak link in the “clan”. Typical.

Story – Con­se­quences to your actions. Good over evil. Guide your own des­tiny. Fam­ily. Respon­si­bil­ity. The list goes on. Pixar always sticks with with the fun­da­men­tal “good teach­ings” of life (let’s for­get about Cars 2 for the moment) and wraps a ter­rific story around them. The story of Brave car­ries many of these teach­ings which adds dimen­sion to its title. Typical.

Audi­ence – Kids. Teens. Boys. Girls Adults. Par­ents. Grand­par­ents. Yes, every­one will enjoy it. Typical.

There is one dynamic that stood out. I highly rec­om­mend every mother take their young daugh­ters to see this movie. The one thing that sets this Pixar film’s story apart from oth­ers is the power of a strong mother/daughter rela­tion­ship. Yes, I caught my wife cry­ing, with our two daugh­ters next to her. The mes­sage seemed pretty clear.

Pixar films seem to be money in the bank, and now that they’ve pro­duced so many of them they are def­i­nitely becom­ing for­mu­laic. But their for­mula works. And I hope they stick with it.

Go see Brave. It’s typ­i­cally great.

Memorial Day confusion as a Christian

On this Memo­r­ial Day, I find myself torn between two extreme beliefs: hon­or­ing those who have fallen for my free­dom and hon­or­ing the One who has fallen for my salvation.

Flags on markers at Arlington CemetaryI’ve often com­pared the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice our sol­diers have made for this coun­try with the sac­ri­fice Jesus made on the cross. Both gave up their life’s desires for the ser­vice of oth­ers. And both died vol­un­tar­ily so that oth­ers may live. One big dif­fer­ence, though. Jesus died with­out a sin­gle thought of vio­lence towards those against Him.

So, where does that leave me as a Chris­t­ian on this day?… Confused.

I’ve always hated the excuse, “I’m against the war, but I sup­port our troops.” Isn’t this just an anti-war (but I don’t want to sound anti-American) cop-out. How can you be in sup­port of those vol­un­tar­ily car­ry­ing out the very action that you are so adamantly against? Yet I’m find­ing myself with this view more often than not these days… Confused.

If Jesus’ answer to vio­lence is ALWAYS love, then no war can be jus­ti­fied. Ever. And that’s just a hard Truth to accept. No excep­tions to self-defense, to pro­tect­ing the oppressed or even to pre­vent­ing geno­cide. Let alone nation-building around the world under ques­tion­able cir­cum­stances. Yet I get emo­tional at prac­ti­cally every story I ever hear about our brave sol­diers… Confused.

God bless our troops!” I don’t even know what to do with that prayer. To para­phrase, what we are indeed pray­ing is “Jesus, bless the men and women that we set out to carry out the will of our gov­ern­ment to enforce our beliefs through means opposed to Your will.” Yet I say it all the time… Confused.

We spent over $1.6 tril­lion last year in this coun­try on defense. I don’t mean to argue for or against gov­ern­ment spend­ing and I know with­out it we have NO free­dom, but that num­ber just aston­ishes me. How many peo­ple could that feed? How much shel­ter could that pro­vide for those in need? What advances against human traf­fick­ing could this fund?… Confused.

So, on this Memo­r­ial Day, I can only come to this conclusion.

I whole­heart­edly honor the men and women of this coun­try who have fallen in war so that I may be able to freely wor­ship and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who came to earth to show the power of peace and love… Confused.

Being Bullied? then Portion Size Me

I saw this story on CNN this morn­ing and had to post about it.

A cou­ple of years ago Mar­shall Reid and his fam­ily watched the doc­u­men­tary Super Size Me. The next day, coin­ci­den­tally, some kids at school started pick­ing on him because of his weight. So he fought back like any 9 year old would. He changed his and his family’s eat­ing habits, started his own doc­u­men­tary and wrote Por­tion Size Me, his first book.

Marshall’s web­site
Marshall’s videos
Marshall’s Face­book page

Nice job Marshall!

The Ordinary Radicals: bad for your faith

The Ordi­nary Rad­i­cals is a doc­u­men­tary released last year by Jamie Mof­fett. The film fol­lows “rad­i­cals” Shane Clai­borne and Chris Haw on their bus tour pro­mot­ing their book Jesus for Pres­i­dent. I finally had the chance to watch it the other night and came to the con­clu­sion, it was bad for my faith.

Before I was intro­duced to these guys I was very com­fort­able in my faith. Church every Sun­day. Vol­un­teer­ing for kids’ wor­ship and for youth group. Learn­ing some the­ol­ogy. Serv­ing the com­mu­nity occa­sion­ally. Pretty much being awe­some. Then I watched The Ordi­nary Rad­i­cals… I’m not doing jack. Worse than that, I’m not think­ing, car­ing or liv­ing jack.

Wow. In less than two hours I felt like I had 40 plus years of Chris­t­ian growth flushed down the drain. Well, maybe not com­pletely down the drain. But I’m def­i­nitely in full reeval­u­a­tion mode of my spir­i­tual life,.. wait, strike that,.. of my life.

If you’re com­fort­able with your faith I dis­cour­age you from watch­ing this film. But, if you’re inter­ested in the true teach­ings of Jesus and the truth about liv­ing life as a Chris­t­ian bring­ing the King­dom down to earth, you should put it in queue. I do warn you, though, it’s any­thing but comfortable.

Thanks guys. Really, thanks.



Parents: You owe it to your kids to see Bully

Recently, we bought out the the­ater for our youth group to see the movie Bully. As great of an idea as it was, we took the wrong group.

This film was sup­posed to be about the prob­lem of bul­ly­ing. Instead it was a total indict­ment on the inept­ness of the pub­lic school sys­tem and how they deal with bul­ly­ing. When there is an absolute refusal to do any­thing to end this heinous crime (and it is a crime), our pub­lic schools are noth­ing less than an arena for sur­vival of the mean­est. And the school offi­cials should be charged with conspiracy.

For you par­ents whose kids aren’t sub­ject to this prob­lem in their pub­lic schools, you’re liv­ing in a lie. They are. The vic­tims’ par­ents in this movie didn’t even know the extent of their children’s anguish. And their chil­dren were being filmed because of it.

Go to your kids’ soc­cer games. Help them with their home­work. But if you aren’t involved in the what goes on in their lives between 8am and 3pm, you’re really doing them an injustice.