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Life

A Few Thoughts on R-Rated Movies

A friend and co-worker asked me today if I had any thoughts on R-rated movies. Since I have an opinion on everything, I gave my opinion to him. I probably don’t think about this as much as I should, and with a baby in the house, we simply don’t have the time to watch as many movies as we used to. Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s what I told him:

  1. The first thing I research is the amount of sexual activity, innuendo, or nudity that a movie has. I want to keep that to a minimum, or have it non-existent, to honor God, keep my mind and body pure, and honor my wife. If an unexpected racy or sexual scene pops on the screen, I do my best to literally close my eyes or look at my wife (she looks at me too).
  2. I do not mind vulgar language, so long as it is not an extreme amount of taking the Lord’s name in vain. That really bothers me. Now, vulgar language doesn’t need to be in a movie to make it good, but sometimes without it the reality of the movie would be lost (e.g. Training Day or Saving Private Ryan).
  3. Violence normally isn’t a factor for me when picking a movie. I am not the kind of person who will watch The Dark Knight and then want to go out and beat the pulp out of somebody. That said, I’m not going to see a horror-filled, blood-bath flick. Neither will my wife, thankfully.
  4. There are some R-rated films with particular actors that I know will be raunchy, embarrassing, or just plain bad stories. Some of those include actors are Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy, Will Farrell, and anybody who has been in Hangover or Hangover 2 (yes, they did make a sequel). These men have been in good PG and PG-13 movies, but for some reason, when the rating turns ‘R,’ the movies are not worthy my $9 or $1.20 at a RedBox. There are other actors I’m sure who immediately turn me away. These three just happened to be on the top of my mind.
  5. Above all, if the movie is about a good story, it will probably make a good movie even if it’s R-rated. The Shawshank Redemption is a beautiful, moving, passionate, emotion-jarring story. It draws you in. On the other hand, Step Brothers is not a story that (most normal) people want to be engaged in.

So I don’t just reject a movie because it’s R-rated. It basically comes down to this: every story, whether good or bad, R-rated or G-rated, points to the ultimate story, the story of God and his redemption in the world. We attribute this to the common grace of God, for he even uses non-Christian filmmakers and actors to point to his story. Every story, then, is a faint picture of good, evil, guilt, redemption, restoration, forgiveness, judgment, heaven, hell, and a thousand other biblical themes. Every story points us to the story that we all want to be apart of, even if we don’t believe it’s true. Every story is a reflection of human brokenness and the need for a Savior. Some movies just do a better job than others of telling it.

There’s a few raw thoughts. What about you? Do you watch R-rated movies? If so, do you have any “filters”? If you don’t watch them, why not?

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Theology

Symphonies and the Trinity

The Trinity — the fact that God exists as three persons in one — is the most mysterious and glorious truth about God.  The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all the same in their deity, attributes, and being, yet different in their function, office, and purpose.  I love that our God is a Trinitarian God.  It illustrates unity and diversity functioning together in perfect union, harmony, peace, love, respect, and a thousand other things.

In music, especially symphonies, we see a small reflection of this truth. I am not the musician in our house: Carly get’s that title.  She is gifted with a number of instruments and can sing beautifully.  What I do know is that a a full-size orchestra consists of about 100 people, and that they are all unique in their talents, functions, and purposes. In order for an orchestra to master a symphony, the musicians must not all be playing the flute.  They all have their own instruments; they fulfill their role and responsibility and trust that the others will do the same.

As one person plays, he is one part of a greater whole. As one person plays, there are a hundred other musicians who are playing their own notes, with their own sheet music, with their own purpose. Yet as each musician performs, the music comes together in perfect harmony, and art and beauty is created.

This is true of all music, not just the orchestra. When we listen to music, we must embrace the reality, and appreciate the harmony, of unity and diversity functioning together. Whether it is Coldplay or Skillet or the Boston Symphony Orchestra , music performed skillfully should lead us to worship the God who is diverse, yet unified and three, yet one.

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Life

William Wallace: The Christ Figure

Many films have a “Christ figure,” that is, a character who is savior-like. This person is usually larger-than-life and often fights for a cause, atones for wrongdoing,  redeems hurting and broken people, or even sacrifices his own life for the good of others.

In the movie Braveheart we see William Wallace do all those and more. Wallace battled for the nation of Scotland to be freed from its slavery to England. He was executed for his beliefs and actions. His preached a new kind of freedom to the people of Scotland. And his sacrificial death helped usher in that freedom.  He was an inspiration and example to his people.

In the last post, I wrote about the depravity of mankind.  The reality of life is that there are major problems in my own life and in the lives around me.  In theater and film, it’s characters like William Wallace that come to the rescue to solve those problems.

As mighty as Wallace might seem, however, ultimately he and other “Christ figures” fall short of the true Christ. Wallace — a real person, remember — could not forgive sin, empower the souls of men, or free the Scottish people from slavery to sin (or even another nation for that matter).  Nevertheless, Christ figures like Wallace leave us longing for the true Christ. Characters like Wallace make us say, “I will follow that man!”  Yet at the end of the film, Wallace is executed, never to live again.

But Jesus is the God-man who said, “Follow me.” He preached a new kind of freedom for men’s souls. He was executed for his beliefs and actions even though he was sinless. His sacrificial death actually purchased the freedom he spoke of. But he didn’t stay dead. He rose from the grave. He was not only an inspiration and example to his people: he was, and is, Lord and Savior.

To be continued.

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Life

Private Practice and Total Depravity

A television show or film does not need to be redemptive in order for it to be good or enjoyable. Furthermore, I would contend that if a show or film is to quickly or easily redeemed, it will not appeal to the masses.

You can call it a guilty pleasure, but I enjoy Private Practice on ABC. Now, I’m not religious about watching it, but I appreciate that most episodes are not redemptive.  In other words, everything isn’t always peaches and cream when the credits roll.  (By the way, Carly introduced me to the show, because it’s a spin-off of Grey’s Anatomy, one of her favorite series.)

Paul Adelstein plays Dr. Cooper Freedman, the pediatrician. He’s a straight shooter and a bold guy, but he has more issues than Rolling Stone. He wears his emotions on his sleeve. He’s angry and proud. He’s impulsive.  He had childhood troubles.  He can’t hold a steady relationship.  He’s broke: he couldn’t afford to pay $50,000 to be a partner in the practice, even on a doctor’s salary because, as he said, “I like porn too much.”

That’s not what you see when you take your kid to the doctor for his sore throat. If you knew that your child’s doctor was that screwed up, would you still take him? Something to think about.

Some people might think that their doctor is a model citizen, a good family man whose relationships, emotions, and finances are in order.  Cooper Freedman, and the other characters of Private Practice tell us otherwise.

What does Private Practice and every other television show depict? It depicts a particular reality. The producers and directors know that humanity as a whole has problems. Reality tells us that there are relational, social, sexual, financial, emotional, and professional problems in our lives and in the lives around us.

These problems are caused by sin. Our sin. Even if Hollywood doesn’t use that word, I will. These problems need a solution. These people need to be redeemed.  These sins need to be forgiven.

To be continued.

Categories
Theology

Christianity and Arts and Entertainment

On May 2nd, I will be giving a Sunday School lesson on Christian worldview intersecting the world of entertainment.  In the days leading up to that, I want to focus some time on that very issue.  To start us off, here something I read on Justin Taylor’s blog today about Adam Young of Owl City fame (he wrote and sings the “Fireflies” song on pop radio).

I admit I hadn’t heard of Adam Young and Owl City. His song “Fireflies” (from the album Ocean Eyes) is a big pop hit. (Video below.)

It turns out that Adam is a mature Christian. An encouraging excerpt from an interview with CT:

When did you become a Christian?

I grew up in a Christian home, with the most wonderful parents a kid could ever ask for. I came to know the Lord in middle school after hearing a testimony at church. From then on, I’ve just wanted to serve Christ in every way I know how, music being the only thing I’ve ever considered myself any “good” at. I guess my whole message or goal of this whole operation is to bring glory to Jesus Christ by all that I do and say, not just as it relates to Owl City, but in all areas of my life.

Do you want to be thought of as a “Christian musician”?

It’s up to you, honestly. It’s not my place say what people should think of me as. Actions should speak for that. I follow Jesus Christ wholeheartedly, so any definition that arises from that fact is all right with me. The same goes for Owl City. I am a Christian in a band. Is it a Christian band then? That’s up to those who ask that question.