Movies Archives

Star War and Religion

In the little book Star Wars on Trial, in the chapter “Charge #2″ (to whit: While Claiming Mythic Significance, Star Wars Portrays No Admirable Religious or Ethical Beliefs”. The witness for the prosecution (John C. Wright) attacks this in part by pointing out that Star Wars borrows more from boy-fiction Flash Gordon &etc than anything pretending to be religion. Mr Wright suggests:

A real religion addresses metaphysics, spiritual powers, martyrdom, ethics, salvation, miracles, and life after death.

And no, all world religions necessarily evidence all of these. What he argues, point by point, is that Star Wars “Force” as religion is a calisthenic, it is

an atmosphere, a spooky hint of mystic powers and hidden forces meant to lend an air of exotic super-naturalism to the proceedings. The Force is there for the sword fights. The Force is meant to explain why a kendo fencer can perform amazing leaps, parry laser bolts or make a single one-in-a-million bull’s-eye shot into a ray-shielded thermal exhaust port with a proton torpedo and blow up a space station the size of a small moon.

The Force isn’t learned by credoa nd ethics, it’s something you learn by practice, “by doing one handed handstands while levitating crates on Swamp Planet.”

What, for example, are the doctrinal differences between Obi-Wan and Mr Vader?

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    The Thrill of Ownership

    Apparently common construction practice is to build the sewage out piping from your house to extend 3-4 feet with heavy cast iron piping and to use two to three foot lengths of clay pipe after that. A consequence of this is local bushes and trees have roots seeking water sources find the joints in those clay pipes, insinuate themselves and eventually block the pipe. Which in turns either backs up in a basement drain or in a basement toilet, whichever is lower. Ours chose the drain … and a wonderful outflow of stuff was discovered late last night in our laundry room.

    Synchronicity abounds however in that we were this weekend (and still have not finished) watching In Darkness, a WWII film concerning a group of less than a dozen Jewish men, women, and children hiding in the sewers in the then Polish Lwow, now Ukrainian city of Lviv. These people owed their life to an anti-semitic sewer worker and the complex nature of Polish/Ukrainian <=> Jewish Polish/Ukraine is explored in the movie. The book on which this is based Girl in the Green Sweater, by my understanding was authored by one of the young girls who survived that which the movie portrays. The synchronicity of course points to the sewage flowing in our basement and in the film … on the same day.

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      Near New York?

      See this film this weekend. Salaam Dunk!

      Really.

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        Friday Link Wrap-up

        In Canada, strip searches from possession of a deadly … crayon.

        Also from the Great White North, government intrusion into homeschool, saying that Christian parents can’t teach a Biblical view of homosexuality. Freedom of religion is being chipped away slowly enough that most don’t see it.

        If Obama is some post-racial president, why is he launching "African Americans for Obama"?

        Medical "ethicists" are seriously arguing that post-birth newborns are "not persons" and can ethically be "aborted".

        With all the religious implications of Obama’s policies, you’d think he’d have kept around his faith-based council for advice. Nope, they’ve just faded away.

        Movie reviewers of the liberal persuasion are all for anti-war, anti-military or pro-environmental message movies, but that idea gets thrown out when they disapprove of the message. Suddenly, it’s "propaganda".

        Scofflaw Democrats. "The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 further provides that if, for two years in a row, more than 45% of Medicare funding is coming from general revenues rather than Medicare taxes, the president must submit legislation to Congress to address the Medicare funding crisis. President Bush dutifully followed the law, but President Obama has ignored it for the last three years."

        Obama claims that we can’t drill our way out of the energy problem, and then, in the same speech, notes that domestic oil production is at it’s highest level in 8 years. Because we drilled! Can’t have it both ways, Mr. President, but the press will try to let you have it.

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          Finding God in Twilight

          My Take: 5 reasons Christians should love ‘Twilight’ is a confusing piece, from CNN Opinion, attempting to argue for the merits of the Twilight series due to some intersections (so the author claims) it has with Christianity. The mistake here is that she appears to fall into the Moral Therapeutic Deism camp. Rather than do a stretch search for Biblical principles in something like Twilight, how about looking at what the Bible has to say? Or at least peruse the works of authors who intended to write fiction with a Biblical grounding (e.g., C.S. Lewis, JRR Tolkien, PD James, Stephen Lawhead, etc.).

          The five reasons Jesus would love Twilight?

          1. The supernatural surrounds us whether we’re aware of it or not.
          2. Love results in, and even requires, sacrifice.
          3. Humans crave divine perfection.
          4. A drastic change of direction may be exactly what you need.
          5. You’ll only really fit in after you accept what it is God has designed you for.

          Oh, and I really like the Jeremiah 29:11 reference as an argument for reason # 5 [sarcasm].

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            Friday Link Wrap-up

            What Charlie Rangel did:

            To summarize briefly, we have blatant and recurring Federal and State tax fraud, illegal use of four rent-controlled apartments in New York City, using his Congressional letterhead to illegally solicit funds for his private foundation from lobbyists for companies he was writing tax regs on, outrageous conflict of interest, failure to declare over $600,000 in income..the sort of stuff that would get you or I locked up for a long time.

            What punishment he got:

            Charlie Rangel’s penalty? He’ll be required to stand in the well before his colleagues in the House while a censure resolution is read, which will then become part of the Congressional Record. That’s it. Boo-freaking hoo.And he will stay in Congress.

            Love that accountability.

            Remember the movie "Erin Brockovich", telling of one woman’s crusade to get justice for the people of Hinckley, California from the eeevil corporation, Pacific Gas & Electric, for releasing a toxic plume of hexavalent chromium 6.  PG&E was sued for (what was going to be) a huge spike in cancer for the people.  No real scientific proof was offered, but this result was clearly going to happen.  Yeah, well, it didn’t.  Turned out John Stossel was right.  Again.  And Erin is back in Hinckley, pursuing the same thing.

            Chuck Collins, senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and writing for they Sojourners blog, decides that the moral measure of a tax plan. 

            "Does it further concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a few? Or does it disperse concentrated wealth and power, and strengthen possibilities for a democratic society with greater equality, improved health and well-being, shared prosperity, and ecological sustainability?"

            By this measure, it sounds like the "rich" should never have their taxes decreased.  Ever.  OK, so what’s his limit on that moral measure?  How much money should the "rich" be allowed to keep?  Can we just get that number out, so we know what the standard is?

            Wonder what the Hollywood Left’s supporters of Hugo Chavez will think of his upcoming dictatorial powers?  Eh, probably sweep it under the rug.

            Liu Xiaobo, newest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, also endorses the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, praised George W. Bush, and is strongly on Israel’s side in the Middle East conflict.  Just sayin’.

            Post-natal abortions are all the rage.  Oh, please don’t be surprised.  It’s just the natural result of the culture of death mindset.

            Death panels are getting ready to meet.  Really. 

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              Secretariat

              Just returned from watching the movie Secretariat.

              If you’re a fan of sentimental, feel-good Capra-corn, then this is a film for you. Based on the real-life story of how a house-wife orchestrated the set of events which gave us the last Triple Crown winner, Secretariat provides a glimpse of how dreams can sometimes come true. Diane Lane does a wonderful job as Penny Tweedy, Secretariat’s owner, but John Malkovich’s performance of a quirky Lucien Laurin, the horse’s trainer, is superb. Race scenes are expertly filmed, with a few unique perspectives I don’t recall seeing in other horse racing movies (e.g., Seabiscuit, Dreamer). There is a continuity miscue, in my opinion, just after the horse’s birth, but that’s minor. Also, the personalities of several of the characters don’t seem to get a chance to develop which, I suppose, could have occurred had the movie been a bit longer.

              The movie, evidently, is aimed at a Christian audience (or, at least, at a family-values audience). The opening and closing sequences, with narration from the book of Job, as well as a couple of Gospel song overdubs within the movie, works well, I think. How this will play out with moviegoers remains to be seen, but I found the film a delight, and one the entire family could enjoy.

              Image – © 2009 Autumn

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                Friday Link Wrap-up

                Leave it to Newsweek to call family films "shameful" for not fulfilling their PC feminist quotas.  With so much that is actually shameful coming out of Hollywood, you’d think they’d have more to deal with than "Finding Nemo".

                Robert Robb of The Arizona Republic asks:

                What will it take for economic policymakers to understand that the chief problem today is uncertainty? And that until they quit moving significant pieces of fiscal, monetary and regulatory policy around, the uncertainty won’t abate?

                Quite a lot, apparently.  If jobs start getting created after big Republican wins in November, it’ll likely be because the "Party of No" will be there to curb this uncertainty.

                If 91% of white voters had voted against Obama, some would have called it partially due to racism.  If 91% of black support him, can that be partially attributed to racism?  Jerome Hudson considers this.

                The New York Times trumpets how well the civilian court system is for dealing with terrorism it when a terrorist pleads guilty and is sentenced.  Um, that’s not a real test of the system, guys.  A trial is the way to test it, and a terrorist trial going on in the civilian system was dealt a huge blow.  Do we want to chance, perhaps, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed getting off on a technicality?

                Glasses that give perfect vision for any type of eyesight, even if you need bifocals?  Looks possible!

                And finally, the longest stretch of 9.5+ percent unemployment since the 1930s has not been mitigated one bit by the two highest deficits since 1945.  Given liberal claims, we ought to have been sailing out of this by now.  Can we finally put that "government spending fixes the economy" meme to bed?

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                  Rusty Nails (SCO v. 4)

                  Well, some of us tried to warn our fellow Americans about Obama’s lack of experience.

                  “Barack Obama’s incompetence, if indeed he is incompetent, results directly from a flawed political and media process that allowed such a candidate to go forward. It’s a failure of quality control. It’s an indictment of the gatekeepers and of the media in particular. They didn’t look the gift horse in the mouth and now it turns out he’s wearing dentures. It wasn’t President Obama’s fault that he aspired to a job he had no preparation for: a man’s entitled to try for as much as he can get … will you give a billion dollars, please … but only a fool would let him. And the fools in this case would do well not to ask for him to try harder. At some point the only way they can redeem themselves is to stop digging and realize that they, not he, are to blame for this fix.”

                  ###

                  I suppose, then, we should re-write our founding documents?

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                  The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – the trailer is out.

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                  From the common sense department:

                  Women in always-intact marriages who worship at least weekly are more likely to have had fewer lifetime sexual partners than those in other family structures who never worship.

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                  Good guy wins another one. Let’s see, another attempted robbery, and another store-owner dispatching the would-be robber. And, again, this one is in Chicago, which means that the individual who engaged in self-defense could face prosecution. As they say, “better to be tried by 12, than carried by 6.”

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                    Why Sex & Nudity is Down in Movies

                    This is the title of a post by Phil Cooke on his blog "The Change Revolution".  Phil is a Christian media consultant (that is, a consultant to Christian media) and has had some big name clientsHis bio is impressive.

                    But I think he’s not giving churches and other Christian organizations enough credit.  As to why the changes in movies are happening, why the reduction in sex and nudity, this is his answer:

                    Wal-Mart.

                    That’s right. In 2007, the major Hollywood studios made $17.9 billion in DVD sales. The catch? $4 billion (nearly 25%) was made from selling to Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the world. But Wal-Mart actually has a policy that forces any movie with high sexuality and nudity away from the areas of highest visibility in their stores. They take those DVD’s and put them in an "adult" section that’s much harder for customers to see.

                    Why do they do it? They don’t want to offend moms. They know mothers are there to get family oriented DVD’s for their kids, and they represent a huge market for Wal-Mart.

                    OK, fair enough.  And here’s what he says isn’t working.

                    Although it might be hard to believe, sexuality and nudity is actually going down in movies today. And a number of Christian organizations are taking the credit. Some raise money based on telling the public they work in Hollywood "consulting" the studios, and others say they boycott or apply pressure from the outside. I don’t need to mention them, but they jump to the forefront when statistics indicate that sexuality in movies have dropped over the last number of years, and are the first in line to take credit. But the truth is, that’s bunk.

                    His conclusion:

                    Is it religious ministry organizations making the difference? Nope. Studios are discovering that it’s simply good business.

                    I’m not sure that the conclusion necessarily follows. He zeroes in on Moms making good choices, but if we zoom out just a tad, isn’t it very likely that many of those moms are actively participating in a boycott of some sort?  Isn’t it at least possible that knowledge of certain religious organizations’ views influence their choices? 

                    And what of Wal-Mart itself?  The Walton family has a background in the Presbyterian Church USA and have given millions to that church.  I find it highly likely that their decisions for the stores is influenced by their church and other religious ministries.

                    Are bees responsible for the production of fruit on trees?  Nope.  Each individual bee is just hungry.  OK, not the best analogy, but hopefully it serves to show that if you look too closely, you can miss a much larger picture.  I’m surprised that a guy like Cooke can miss something like this.  Perhaps the influence of religious organizations isn’t as big as those organizations themselves think.  But Cooke’s analysis by no means proves they have no influence.

                    Salt and light work.

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                      And, hopefully, stay there.

                      Now, this is funny (HT: hellinahandbasket),

                      …it is simply not reasonable for a 19-year old punk to be plucked off the Iowa plains, given a prized appointment to Starfleet Academy, immediately promoted above all of his upper classmates, and then immediately commissioned as not only a junior officer, but a captain — and then given command of a major vessel. This is stupid and asinine, and was only written because it makes 14-year old girls swoon.

                      Star Trek might attract 14-year old girls, but it should not be written with that as its primary goal.

                      While I thought the movie was enjoyable, to a point, I was completely annoyed with the incessant reflections on the bridge of the Enterprise, and found the video-game-like battle scenes to be tiring after, say, 10 – 15 seconds. Critics claim that the standard Star Trek series / movies are dull banter. Well – yeah – what did you expect? It’s Star Trek!

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                        It’s been about a year since I began pursuing an interest in firearms (aka guns) for both recreational and self-defense use. In that time, I’ve been impressed with the variety of opinions people have on the “gun” issue in general, as well as the varied responses I’ve gotten to the mere fact that I now own firearms. People who I thought would have had a positive response to the owning of firearms have reacted negatively, and people who I would have never thought would be interested in shooting have pleasantly surprised me.

                        In another silly twist to my expectations, I ran into what I consider a worldview paradox, with a few acquaintances at work. One person, upon overhearing a conversation about shooting, anxiously exclaimed, “You have a gun?!”, while another expressed the sentiment that he could see nothing good at all coming from owning a gun. And yet another claimed to be frightened whenever the mere topic was discussed.

                        However, imagine my surprise when I later overhear this same group discussing some of their favorite movies, the likes of which include Pulp Fiction, No Country for Old Men, and Inglourious Basterds. Further imagine my surprise at their reveling over the violence occurring in these movies!

                        Of course, upon my questioning, their excuse was that “it’s only a movie” and that they are merely praising the “artistic” merits of the films.

                        Nope. I don’t buy such nonsense, and I consider their stance to be hypocritical. In the meantime, they can have their cinematic artistry… I’ll stick with the reality of my Glock.

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                          I try to stay aware of current cultural motifs. Yet I was surprised by the furor over the recent Twilight movie, New Moon. It was at work, a couple of weeks ago, when I caught first glimpse of the phenomenon. A co-worker complained that his wife was dragging him to a movie which, as he put it (in referring to me), “your teenage daughter is looking forward to.” When I asked what movie that might be, he referred to something about a “New Moon”. I must admit that my first inclination was that the feature was actually a documentary on certain astronomical events, however a Google search quickly dashed my hopes.

                          As point of fact, though, I must say that “no, my daughter is not interested in this movie” (note: I made it a point to ask her whether or not she was interested in the movie and whether any of her friends were, and her answers were very reassuring).

                          That being settled, I pretty much forgot about the release, save for the obligatory TV or web news items showing adolescent girls, and their moms, queued-up for the midnight showing. However, a curious thing happened upon release of the movie. I began seeing various posts, mainly on Facebook, from otherwise sane Christian females, celebrating the fact that they were attending or going to attend the movie. Likewise, those that had seen the movie were enthralled by what they witnessed. It was also interesting to note that the age range of those commenting spanned from pre-teen to 40+.

                          Why all the squealing adoration? From IMDB.com, a “plot” synopsis,

                          Bella Swan is still very much in love with vampire, Edward Cullen. The rest of the vampire coven who call themselves the Cullens, especially Alice, decide to throw Bella a private party for her eighteenth birthday. Things go wrong when Bella slices her finger and thirst overcomes the vampires. As a result of the danger Bella was put through, the Cullen family decide to leave Forks, Washington. At first Bella exempts herself from all social activities, until she realizes she can coexist with childhood friend, Jacob Black. As usual for Bella, things aren’t what they seem. Something is happening to Jacob that he can’t explain to Bella, and their friendship starts to deteriorate. But when someone from Bella’s past comes back to haunt her, everything will change again.

                          It used to be the vampires were the one the woman ran away from.

                          In Top 20 Unfortunate Lessons Girls Learn From ‘Twilight’, John Scott Lewinski provides us with a funny / sad list of secular impacts that derive from an obsession with entertainment such as New Moon. Some excerpts,

                          1. If a boy is aloof, stand-offish, ignores you or is just plain rude, it is because he is secretly in love with you — and you are the point of his existence.

                          3. It’s OK for a potential romantic interest to be dimwitted, violent and vengeful — as long as he has great abs.

                          6. When a boy leaves you, going into shock, losing all your friends and enduring night terrors are completely acceptable occurrences — as long as you keep your grades up.

                          10. Even though you have no intention of dating an alternative male who expresses interest in you, it is fine to string the young man along for months. Also, you should use him to fix things for you. Maybe he’ll even buy you something.
                          11. You should use said male to fix things because girls are incapable of anything mechanical or technical.
                          12. Lying to your parents is fine. Lying to your parents while you run away to save your suicidal boyfriend is an extremely good idea that shows your strength and maturity. Also, it is what you must do.

                          14. If the boy you are in love with causes you (even indirectly) to be so badly beaten you end up in the hospital, you should tell the doctors and your family that you “fell down the steps” because you are such a silly, clumsy girl. That false explanation always works well for abused women.

                          18. When writing a book series, it’s acceptable to lift seminal source material and bastardize it with tired, overwrought teenage angst.
                          19. When making or watching a major feature film, you should gleefully embrace the 20 minutes of plot it provides in between extended segments of vacant-eyed silence and self-indulgent, moaning banter.

                          Is the adoration that evangelical girls (and women) give for a movie like New Moon indicative of how we, as the evangelical church in general, lavish praise on the secular world? In what other areas do we, men, women, boys and girls, soak up the sugar water the world feeds us, at the expense of what is good?

                          We can do better.

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                            Debunking Global Warming Myths

                            A brand new film from the Cornwall Alliance for Stewardship of Creation entitled Not Evil Just Wrong takes a critical look at the claims made by global warming fearmongers and attempts to separate the facts from fiction. Which is worse: the (alleged) problem or the proposed solutions? Click the video below to see the trailer.

                            Hat tip: Chuck Colson

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                              "Hollywood Produces What the Public Wants"

                              No.  No, they don’t.

                              A new three-year study of the Top 25 movies released in 2006-2008 earning the most money overseas shows that international moviegoers prefer clean movies with strong or very strong Christian, moral and/or redemptive content and values.

                              This study is significant because it matches our annual study of the Top 25 Movies at the Box Office in America and Canada and the top home video sales annually, and because Hollywood now makes more money overseas than it does in the United States.

                              The Movieguide® study found that 20 of the Top 25 movies overseas in 2006-2008, or 80%, contained strong or very strong Christian, moral, redemptive, and even biblical content, earning $8.39 billion out of $10.59 billion total, or 79.2% of the money among the Top 25.

                              That’s an average of $419.5 million per movie!

                              This is just another in a long line of studies showing the same thing.  OK, then, so why do they produce so much junk?

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