Monthly Archives: January 2020

Disrespect of our elder brothers and sisters

What a reprehensible display of disrespect; “Church” asks older members to worship elsewhere.   I put church in quotes on purpose.  The Lord said others will know His disciples by their love for one another.  Looking at the leadership of this supposed church it is clear they do not love their fellow congregants, nor do they love the Lord.  The older members of this particular Methodist congregation were instructed to stay away from the new congregation that was forming at a new location.  The over 60’s were told they could continue to care for the old church location, and of course are free to keep giving money to those who kicked them out!

Why are they being asked to buzz off?  They aren’t wanted anymore because they are elderly, the church wants a brand new “image” and these longtime congregants don’t fit the bill!  Disgusting. I would urge those congregants to find a new church, a real church where the fellowship and the servanthood of those in leadership roles are biblical.

Proverbs 16:13 A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness.

Leviticus 19:32  ‘You shall rise up before the grayheaded and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord.

1 Timothy 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

Take head that you don’t abide false shepherds in the flock; they don’t care for the sheep, they throw them to the wolves. For shame.  Value the elderly people in the church, they are a wealth of experience and just as much brothers and sisters as younger members.

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2020 Oscar Nominations arrive…

Yes, it’s that time of year again when award shows appear and Hollywood turns out to make some cringe worthy speeches.  You can find the list of nominees here: Oscar Nominations 2020.  The main reason I’m posting is that several nominations, and the only ones I actually care about tie into some of my recent posts.

Adam Driver is up for Best Actor for his role in Marriage Story, a particularly depressing look at a failed marriage.  However, I give Adam kudos because he was brilliant in it and deserves recognition for his breakdown scene alone.  My recent post The Rise of Ben Solo is obviously connected to his role in The Rise of Skywalker, but it is focused on Adam’s acting abilities, what he brings to his character, and his charity.  If you feel so inclined to root him on, perhaps giving something to his charity in honor of his acting would be highly appropriate given that the charity is Arts in the Armed Forces, and it’s an Oscar race.  See my post for the GoFundMe drive that is currently up to over $81,000 as of 1/13/2020.

And, last but not least, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is up for original score, sound editing and visual effects.  Truly we can all agree that John Williams needs to win this, as his music has touched us all whether we are Star Wars fans or not (we are!).  His scores are good enough that one should either listen to them on their own, or train their ears/brain to pay attention to the music as one watches the movie.  His scores are one of the best reasons to go see Star Wars films in a theater as you get to experience the music as it was intended to be experienced.  Another earlier post of mine, The Rise of Skywalker & John 15:13, touches on one of the main themes of the movie, and of the Star Wars franchise; Redemption.  Pay attention to the score behind the scenes as that redemption plays out.

Anywho, that’s really the only picks I’m paying attention to this year… let’s hope we get out of the Oscars without a new scandal to occupy everyone.

 

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Outrage Culture; Christian response?

We’ve all experienced outrage culture in some form, haven’t we?  If you’ve been on any type of social media it’s kind of hard to ignore.  The term tacks on “culture” to the outrage because it is so pervasive.  A person shares an opinion and suddenly people are compelled to jump on them, and in a flurry of hastily typed words there’s the equivalent of a slap fight.

But it can be more than that; road rage anyone? How about our sporting events, like the latest headline grabber; Kassian vs. Tkachuk in some hockey action. The thing is this culture grows with “views.”  How many people are watching, what do people want to see, how far can it go?  Take the hockey incident; hockey is one sport where people watch the matches expecting to see a dust up.  We go on Facebook or Twitter and are on the look out for some verbal sparring, or we post something that we know might stir the pot.  How many likes can we get, how do we react to that little laughing emoji, do we push people’s buttons because we actually believe it can make them change?

What are we, as Christians, called to do about all of this?  Anything?  Where is the line drawn since we are to be in the world but not of it?  Also, I’m not doing as some and suggesting that people shouldn’t share their opinions on important topics like politics or religion… obviously not since that’s kind of what this blog is about.  We are taught directly by Christ in scripture to turn the other cheek.  So, if someone is simply goading us or insulting us then perhaps we should be more inclined to let it slide vs. Christ’s example of turning over the table of the money lenders in the Temple.

With sports as well; it is better that mankind work out some violence with sport than with war, but what of violence within sport itself?  Do we, as believers, support more violent pastimes, or find our entertainment and exercise elsewhere?  I don’t think a particular sport, such as hockey or boxing, is inherently evil, not at all, but perhaps we should expect more from participants of our chosen sport.

Words are better than physical wounds, but we also know that the tongue has the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21), so maybe a Christian response is more one of thoughtfulness than silence.  If people would take a second and ask themselves if what they are trying to add to a conversation is actually productive, perhaps that would help.  It’s also true that we can simply put an informed opinion out there without then engaging in a meaningless back-and-forth for the fun of it.  Every now and again, we should listen more than we speak.

Matthew 12:36 informs us that we will give an account of every idle word on the day of judgement.  For those of us who believe such things, it should give us at least a moment’s pause.  I’ve been “guilty” of the pull of outrage culture, and that verse in Matthew does spring to mind but perhaps not often enough.  We’re called to be peacemakers with truth and love, never at the expense of either.  Just something to ponder.

 

 

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The Rise of Ben Solo

This post contains SPOILERS for the latest Star Wars trilogy, especially for The Rise of Skywalker, so you have been warned (again; get outta here and go watch it on the big screen).

In my last post I talked about Ben Solo’s redemption and sacrifice and how that impacted the fans.  This time I want to talk about how that impact is spreading in the real world, and how you can participate if you’d like.

As many know, Ben Solo/Kylo Ren was played by Adam Driver in all three movies of the latest trilogy.  For some it took this last movie to see how well Adam was able to capture subtle differences when playing Kylo or when Ben was sneaking through, for others they’ve been a fan of Adam’s for a long while.  I have to say, his performance as Ben in Rise of Skywalker was fantastic.  He was able to take the material given him and literally show a physical change from Kylo Ren in Ben’s bearing, fighting style, reactions, emotions, the whole range with very little dialogue.

Ben’s redemption and death touched many fans, and made a whole new cheering section for Adam Driver as well.  Yes, some were incredibly angered by Ben Solo’s death and did not represent the Star Wars fandom in an upright manner.  However, on the flip side, one fan decided to show appreciation for the character Ben Solo and the real life actor who brought him to life so well, Adam Driver, and to focus fan emotions onto something worthwhile instead of screaming at each other on the internet.

Adam and his wife founded a charity focused on aiding troops and veterans in a very creative way; via theater.  Adam served as a Marine (he was with 1/1 Weapons Company at Camp Pendleton, CA) and wanted to give back, founding Arts in the Armed Forces, a not for profit focused on bringing the arts to service members, vets, and their families.

A GoFundMe; The Rise of Ben Solo, was set up by a fan with the (Adam Driver-appropriate) nickname of Matt the Radar Technician to benefit Arts in the Armed Forces in honor of Adam’s Ben Solo performance.  The donations started piling up, and then Adam himself got wind of the fundraiser and thanked fans personally for raising money… more donations poured in, and then Joonas Suotamo, AKA the nextgen Chewie himself, urged the fans to even greater charity by promising his own reprise of the #BenSoloChallenge.  Fans didn’t disappoint and reached the $75,000 goal and then some.  Go to the GoFundMe link and at least read the updates (especially significant is how this has impacted the fan who started this up), it’s worth a read.

Isn’t that amazing?  A good redemption story, a good actor, good fans with a good cause… sacred secular indeed.  A lot of people mock fandoms, but when one does something like this, something meaningful, to salute a job well done, well, it does a bit to redeem one’s outlook on humanity, doesn’t it?  So, after praying it over, and you can, why not join in?  The campaign runs for awhile longer (at least until 1/21/2020, and sits at almost $80,000) and if it’s over and you missed it, go to Arts in the Armed Forces and donate there.  My point here isn’t just to plug this one human effort at making a difference but to look at the phenomenon (that we’ve seen in fandoms before) and see something a little bit brighter than the norm.

Christians tend to admit a good story is tough to beat, and we believers know someone quite fond of parables.  There’s power in words, make yours good ones.  There’s power in actions, make yours count.

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The Rise of Skywalker & John 15:13

Yes, I’m finally going to let my Star Wars nerd flag fly, after all, I’ve already tackled Doctor Who, Star Trek, Breaking Benjamin, etc…  So, be warned; SPOILERS ahead for the new trilogy, and especially for The Rise of Skywalker.  If you haven’t watched it, what are you waiting for? It’s the best of the new 3, it is still in theaters, and I heartily recommend it.

So, Star Wars has been a part of my family since the original, and that included taking a toddler me to the theater… apparently my first Star Wars enjoyment came from R2-D2, and then morphed into a childhood crush on Han Solo.  Star Wars games, books, comics, movies, fanfic… it was all fair game, and in fact my online nickname “K’liska” came from a Star Wars fic I wrote many moons ago with my brother (I was a bounty hunter, but a good one, of course).  Star Wars has always intrigued those looking for something deeper in their movies, and George Lucas has shared some of the philosophical, cultural, and religious bits and pieces that informed his work, so it’s fair game here.

In the aftermath of seeing Rise, I quickly scanned the net to see what others thought of it all.  I always note what parts of a movie hit me and then see if it did the same to anyone else.  I wasn’t disappointed as the bulk of the conversation (and cursing) revolved around the culmination of Rey’s and Ben Solo’s storyline(s), especially in regards to Ben Solo’s death.

Ben’s story arc was one of redemption, and the evolution of a fractured, volatile, hostile loner into a man who discovered who he really was, and what he was willing to die for.  And die he did… which infuriated a lot of the fan base.  Ben wasn’t a Sith, but he was bad news as Kylo Ren; bad news in the sense that he committed one of the big immoral no-no’s; patricide.  Yes, he killed his own father, Han Solo.  Yet, there were many fans in a rager that Ben’s redemption ended in his own death, and didn’t that “set a dangerous precedent that redemption includes death?!?!”  Yes, of course it did, but it wasn’t a precedent; the precedent has already been set in human lore.

For sin comes death. It’s something that Christians should know from scripture.  It’s one of the huge lessons we are supposed to be learning down here, and it’s not a pleasant lesson to learn.  This is also what leads to the cross, and ultimate redemption via Jesus who died so that we might live. Yeah, yeah, I went there, so let me be clear; I’m not comparing Ben Solo to Jesus Christ, but I am saying death is (super)naturally connected to wrong choices.  In Ben’s case his death was a result of having to rush to save the day after a long series of bad choices and wrong actions, including Palpatine’s own immoral actions.  Jesus’ death was as a result of humankind’s bad choices all along the way of human history.  Ben’s death represented redemption, not only for himself, but also for Rey as well as his grandfather Anakin.

Christ took the idea “for sin comes death,” and put a new spin on it since He was the only sinless one; Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).  Now we see the value in a life laid down on purpose, for purpose.  I get why many fans were so upset over Ben’s death… we had just witness the rise of Ben Solo from the ashes of Kylo Ren, we witnessed the connection and love between Rey and Ben (romantic love or platonic love makes no never mind to me in this article), and the final vanquishing of the evil emperor.   Everyone wanted to cheer and be happy, but the world, even in fictional form, has consequences. Ben Solo laid down his life for his friend.  We, the fans, had just witnessed the greatest act of love possible.  It is heartbreaking in its impact, and that heartbreak leads to emotion.

Good stories (including the kind that play out on film) are meant to impact us and to teach us.  Good stories tend not to reinvent the wheel, but rather pull from story telling traditions that reflect actual reality and the human experience.  So we recognize Ben Solo’s sacrifice as an act of selfless love but we rage against it because it hurts.  That hurt is meant to teach us to live our lives in an upright way, walking tall, while the joy of seeing someone redeemed and saved is meant to make us celebrate and to be brave and to recognize the power of sacrifice.

The Rise of Ben Solo impacted fans enough that it took a real world turn, which I will write about in a separate article soon, link forthcoming (And, here it is: The Rise of Ben Solo).  In the meantime, as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts dear reader, let me know what you thought of the movie, Ben Solo, Rey, JJ vs. Rian (lol), anything relevant you’d like to share…

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