Horror

Zombies, Ghosts, Chainsaws and Blood, lots and lots of blood; these are just a few sights you might encounter as Halloween draws near. Although the things of Halloween or even horror movies seem harmless, I believe that there is much more to them than just fun and games. Let’s be blunt here and state one bias I might have. I am a Christian and my faith guides me away from these things, but I want to talk about this issue for reasons outside of my faith. Despite my stance on horror which was partially formed  because of my faith, not every Christian agrees. Many of my friends do participate and celebrate Halloween. They have no problem with horror movies or books. Their claim is that these things are harmless and do not affect their lives. They explain that being scared is part of the fun as it gives them a rush of adrenaline. However, I would like to explain my side of things. Continue reading “Horror”

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Fierce Convictions: Hannah More

Do you like history? What about education? The abolition of slavery? Poetry?

If all these tickle your fancy, Hannah More is the gal for you.

I am currently doing a special course for my honours degree in which I was able to choose the subject matter. One of the people I am studying in the course is Hannah More. I am reading her works through the eyes of a philosopher and investigating whether or not she exercised philosophical tactics in her work. Although I am no historian, Hannah More lived an inspiring life. Coming from middle class social status, she effortlessly traversed between the upper and lower classes bringing about social and spiritual reform. Some of her most notable achievements were her ideas on education (although slightly sexist in the eyes of modern society), her contribution to ending slavery, her work in animal rights, and her beautiful poetry.

After reading more about her, I am really inspired to conduct myself as intellectually and classy as she did. She maintained a high moral standard yet always had even wit and wonderful words to create real change in the world.

If Hannah More sounds like an interesting woman to learn more about, I would suggest reading Karen Swallow Prior’s Fierce Convictions. It is a relatively short read that is informative and interesting. It is not your typical biography, but one that reads quickly like a novel. Definitely an A+ read for me!

Happy Reading!

Katie

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Fierce Convictions by Karen Swallow Prior

The Apartment of Desire

We as humans are defined by many things. For some its our ability to reason, (some seem to be lacking in this though). For others they define it by the state of evolutionary cycle we are in (I’ll talk about that one after I finish Origin of a Species) and even some define it by having a soul (I honestly don’t know if All Dogs Go To Heaven). According to some philosophers and episode thirty eight of Avengers; Earths Mightiest Heroes, we as humans are defined by our capacity to strive for something more than basic needs. Most animals strive for survival and multiplying. Sounds like a nice simple life sometimes.

Today I am speaking on my favourite movie; The Apartment. It’s an old 1960 romantic comedy starring Jack Lemmon. In the movie Lemmon plays insurance accountant C.C. Baxter. A humble, hard worker who works alone, goes home alone and lives utterly alone in New York seemingly without a friend. He is respectful, kind to everyone, and giving to the point of harming of himself (I’m sure some can relate to this).

With his pursuit to make something of his life, and not being able to say no to anybody he is in the unusual predicament with his apartment of loaning it out to higher-up men in the company to have affairs in. He really doesn’t like doing it, but they are pushy and make promises of helping his career. Indeed his career is helped, but at what cost? In all this he strives for a higher position for some self-esteem. And maybe even to make a friend amoung those who use him and call him “buddy boy”.

The other main character of this movie is Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), an elevator girl (yup. It’s that old of a movie) who has made all the wrong mistakes in her life and is stuck living with her married sister and working a dead-end job. The only recent thing she enjoyed in her life was the affair with the company’s boss; Jeff D. Sheldrake (Played by Fred MacMurray). She loves him and tried to call it all off when his wife came back to the city after being away for the summer, but she could not get away. She wanted out, but he sucked her back in for his own pleasure. Now she is a torn-up soul feeling broken and ashamed of her life. The only hope she has is that Jeff will leave his wife for her, which he continues to promise without any intention of doing so.

The other characters of this film, including Jeff D. Sheldrake are the ones classified as “takers”. It seems that this entire building is overflowing with sexual escapades and affairs of people seeking pleasure and self-profit. The men take advantage of Baxter (Jack Lemmon) time and time again, preying on his timid-giving nature. Not to mention all of the women they keep taking emotional advantage of for their own physical pleasure. “Some people are takers, and others get taken”. “That’s just the way it crumbles… cookie wise that is”.

In the end after much drama and a suicide attempt; C.C. Baxter gets his big office and the status to match on the high up floor. Sheldrake gets divorced by his wife who discovered the affair. So Sheldrake and Fran can be together. So the two are together and Baxter can get his office. Win-win right? Wrong. Each one of these characters are seeking the wrong thing in the wrong place.

We are defined by what we seek. Whatever our primary drive is, whatever we work the hardest on, think the most on, spend the most time on; is master of our life. Luke 16:13 says “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despite the other. You cannot serve both God and money”. This verse is specific to money, but it applies in many other cases. Another is Romans 8:5 “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit”. Almost everyone in this movie is most focused on their own fleshly pleasure. So what could they succeed in other than pleasure? This is a pursuit many pursue in life and they find themselves empty after the high, and hopefully; ashamed. Baxter was only focused on business and financial success. This is the basis of which our entire economic structure is based on! So what can we accomplish other than that materialistic and statured success if that is what our life goal is? In the end, we will find that riches and success do not make us happy. They leave us longing for something more, and we can’t take it with us after this short life ends anyway. And Fran was looking for love. What else would she be able to find but love? She almost didn’t even find that. Yes, she did end up with Baxter and it’s a touching happy ending without being too sappy (PERFECT!). But love is fleeting. People toss around the world love like it’s nothing and then lose the love and get divorced. And it’s devastating.

But is that all we are meant to achieve in life? Hollywood makes it seem like all we can ever hope to obtain in life is love and self-achievement. These aren’t bad things. These are GREAT things. But there is some things even GREATER that nobody in this movie achieves. This is the pursuit of salvation and relationship with God. They are by-far the most joyful, long-lasting pleasurable, and most successful thing we can hope to have because they are things beyond the restraints of this crappy world. And even better is the promise in Mathew 6:33 said by Jesus himself; “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”. “These things” refer to our needs. Our need to belong, to have love and purpose. God will provide when we focus on him. So what is best to strive for then?

Inside Lewyn Davis’ really really sad life (spoilers within)

An odd movie to be on Netflix, but a very good one. The story of Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), a folk singing New Yorker wanting to become a professional musician with a record deal is a very good one. But there is more than that. Unlike other movies that build up issues until the climaxed-resolution Inside Llewyn Davis, begins with Llewyn without a home, his best friend’s wife (Carey Mulligan) is impregnated with what may be his own baby instead of his friend’s (Justin Timberlake), Llewyn’s best friend has already committed suicide and he is stuck with his other friend’s cat. Oh, and his music career won’t pick up… and he’s almost broke. Enough conflict?

Still not enough apparently. That was just the opening of the movie, later we also discover he also has had a very difficult break up with another girl we never meet but he seemed very serious about. (SPOILER ALERT) And unkown to him, this woman is raising their child. Llewyn’s sister, a struggling single mother, doesn’t want to have anything to do with him and their Father… well he honestly doesn’t give a crap (… he literally poops himself when Llewyn stops by to visit him in the retirement home). And Llewyn has serious emotional issues.

Jeez, I wonder why.

Around and in between all of this happening Lewyn is trying to get his record “Inside Llewyn Davis” publish and become a famous musician. It is quite obvious throughout the film that his entire life revolves around this single goal.

It isn’t always a bad thing though, he preforms several songs throughout the movie that show he actually has some real talent. What hurts even more though is  everyone else he knows is successful and musical to the point where the watcher just doesn’t get why they have so much success and Llewyn doesn’t. Is it his anger issue? Other emotional issue? His like of enthusiasm? Lack of regard for others? Lack of manors? Lack of income? Lack of personal security?

This dream of his isn’t a bad thing, and he is struggling through life like the rest of us just with a slight rougher time but he is a normal guy. There is one big issue with this dream of his though… it fails.

Unlike every other movie where they come up with that one great song that brings her back to life to show everything is going to be okay, or the band gets back together, or they are discovered and live the rest of their lives happily ever after… musically; Llewyn fails to become a musician and goes back to his career in his merchant marine union. BUT EVEN THAT FAILS. His sister threw out his license papers and he can’t afford to replace them.

The movie ends with Llewyn being beaten outside the bar by the angry husband of the woman he heckled the night before in misdirected anger. At that same time he is being beaten Bob Dylan is playing inside the bar his first ever New York performance which is the beginning of his famous career as a folk musician. (SPOILER ALERT) The last moment of the film is Llewyn lying on the ground, beaten and bleeding and shouts out to the driving away attacker “Au Revoir”.

Now. I know what you are thinking and no this movie is not as depressing as it sounds. It’s worse. And the reason for all of Llewyn’s failure is this; he was never destined to be a famous folk singer. Bob Dylan was, and is in real life and in that is the mirrored reflection of what Llewyn wanted to be but was never meant to.

Llewyn missed the point of his life, whatever he was meant to do or be it was not a folk singer even though that was literally all he aspired to. He just never got the hint, and probably never will.

In his pursuit to get a record label and a music career he lost his friends, family, health, a child, and a loyal cat. That final scene of him broken, beaten and bleeding on the street is all he is now. All he has left.

He could have helped his struggling sister, reconnect with his Father, be a true friend to those who let him sleep on their couch the entire movie or even better; help raise the child he has out there and even had a good opportunity to go meet the kid and the mother.

Sometimes we all miss the point of life. Something distracts us and we don’t know which way to go. Llewyn thought his life was meant to revolve around his music and lifestyle as a musician but as it seems; it really wasn’t.

The point of our lives is to love the Lord with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength. And to love our neighbours as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). Anything other than this will leave us lost and confused seemingly without a purpose or direction. And even when we find our own path, who says it won’t end up as empty and unsuccessful as Llewyn’s? If it doesn’t, it’s thanks to God’s common grace to all man kind.

A trip to the Bathroom… and Time?

The hot tub time Machine series as stretched longer than I, and probably others thought it would. And personally, longer than it should. I enjoyed the first one as much as the next guy… and the handful of girls probably (note: no sexist intent here, just a simple observation that it was meant to be a guys-night movie by the movie corporation.)

I’m not even going to touch the second and third hot tub time machine movies. If you need to wonder why, you may watch them and then wish for that amount of your life back. (Sidenote: you can never get back the time you spend on anything, so make sure you choose wisely. That goes for everyone. Not just Christians)

In the first Hot tub Time Machine we meet the four main characters. Adam (John Cusack)who seems to be an average guy in his 30s in the midst of a depressing divorce. Jacob (Clark Duke), a 20-something year old who’s life is also depressing, but that is more because of his lack of living, and lack of proper child-raising. Nick (Craig Robinson), who is married, but has recently discovered his wife who definitely wears the pants in the relationship has been cheating on him. Not to mention he is filled with regret of wasted potential. And Lastly, AND LEAST; Lou (Rob Corddry), a real jerk-faced loser who has drank away his life, driven away his friends and tried to commit suicide (spoilers).

The theme of this movie is the mutual regret each character feels for their past. And through the help of a hot tub time machine they go on an adventure that betters their lives by fixing their past.

(This entire paragraph is spoilers)
Adam marries a different girl, Jacob grows up with a father and and lot of money (which shouldn’t really confirm happiness), Nick gets his music career going and scares his young wife into fearing adultery. And Lou becomes successful, gets and family and helps out his friends lives so to make up for his alternate pass. Everything ends happily.

But the truth is. None of these guys had to travel through time. Yes if we did things different in the past it may cause different results but the things that have happened to us, or we have done made us. God detailed and planned out our life and we either try to live by that plan or don’t. No middle ground.

TI reference a much better movie; Hakuta matata (copywright-lion king) no worries put your past behind you and to add: FOCUS ON THE NOW!

Each one of those guys could have changed their lives without changing their past. By the grace of God people do it everyday. Adam can find a different girl, maybe even the same one in the alternate universe. Jacob is still young and can live his life, and Adam could have been his father figure or somebody else. Nick could have solved these issues with his wife AND done his music career (Alice Cooper was a geography teacher for several years before a rock star and Johnny Cash didn’t produce a single album until his mid twenties). Lastly Lou’s lonely, empty drunken life can be turned around just like hundreds have. I personally know people who were in similar or worse shape before they found Christ and turned their lives around for the better.

So let your past be your past whatever it is, no matter how horrible or regreatful. Everyone has skeletons in their closet and a trunk-full of regrets… but we don’t have to.

God can heal more than imaginable and I assure you, despite the past, the best is to come; if you want it to.

The Inside Out of Faith

A friend of mine once said happiness is overrated. At the risk of being depressing it’s true. A happy moment is short, fleeting and sometimes very shallow. At times someone can even feel happy about something that is questionable to others. And constantly being happy is exhausting and after a while, empty without other emotion. The truly desired emotion should be joy. It’s deeper, lasts longer and can intermingle with whatever other emotion the person can feel.

Joy is also the name of the main character in the new Pixar film “Inside Out”, detailing the emotional roller coaster and almost mental destruction of young Riley whose family is moving to San Francisco. Continue reading “The Inside Out of Faith”

Guardians & Such

Despite the violence, language and sexual escapades of Marvel’s new film, The Guardians of the Galaxy, I still find something in it worth writing about. Many beliefs and values in the Christian life can be found in pop culture and it is the essence of the characters, and that of super heroes in general that invoke spiritual themes here. Since God is the source of everything good, in order for there to be good reflected anywhere, an aspect of God must be present.

In this specific film, the characters and overarching theme is riddled with aspects of the Christian walk that we each aspire to. Continue reading “Guardians & Such”