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Reviews

Mother India

This week, I was blessed to be able to watch Mother India, a brief documentary that follows twenty-five orphans living along the railway in southern India. The film is directed by Noah Lamberth and David Trotter, and narrated by Grammy Award winner Rebecca St. James. 

Concerned about the thirty-one million orphans in India, Trotter and Shawn Scheinoha head to India in search of some orphans who would trust them enough to show them what life was like through their eyes. What they find is a veritable family of orphans who live, play, and survive together.

Trotter and Scheinoha do not simply report about the children, however. They actually seek to help them. A previous connection with a man named Suresh Kumar of Harvest India proves helpful. Harvest India is a Christ-centered mission and orphanage whose mission is to “carry Christ’s compassion to every village in India.” Convinced of the orphans’ need, Suresh and Harvest India opened their arms to help these children and bring them a sense of worth, value, and dignity.

The film is powerfully moving and, if it does its job, will make you uncomfortable. That is a good thing. We, particularly in the West, need to be confronted with the poverty, need, and injustices around the world. Yet, this is more than a “movie,” and the point is not to make Westerners feel guilty, as so many documentaries about orphans may do. The film is simply a catalyst for a movement that’s on the verge of rescuing thirty-one million children from being abandoned and forsaken. The filmmakers challenge you to get involved and, they opportunity for action, particularly with child sponsorship (similar to Compassion or WorldVision).

I commend the film to you. But even more than watching that, visit Mother India and Harvest India online and see what God stirs in your heart.

Categories
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?

Categories
Life

GIVEAWAY: Win a Free Copy of The Mysterious Islands

I’m giving away a copy of the DVD documentary The Mysterious Islands. In my previous post, I reviewed film, so if you haven’t had a chance to read the review, please do so!

Here are ten ways you can enter into the drawing (you only have to do ONE):

1.  Re-Tweet this (or post on Facebook and tag my name if you aren’t on Twitter).
2.  Follow me on Twitter.

For the rest, leave a comment on this post telling me what you did:

3.  Subscribe to Beneath the Cross via RSS or Email.
4.  Give your husband or wife a kiss.
5.  Buy someone a meal.
6.  Sit next to someone at church without leaving five seats in between.
7.  Don’t yell at anyone in another vehicle today while you are driving.
8.  Memorize a Bible verse.
9.  Do something nice for someone.
10.  Get that “thing” done you’ve been saying you’ll get done.

On Friday, October 8, I will draw from the combined pool of those who re-Tweeted this giveaway, posted it to Facebook, followed me on Twitter, and commented here.

Categories
Reviews

The Mysterious Islands Review

September was a horrific month of blogging for me. My apologies. Let’s start off October with a film review. Last night, Carly and I watched The Mysterious Islands, a documentary about a team of researchers who explore the Galapagos Islands — the “ground zero” of Darwinism — off the west coast of South America.

Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands nearly 180 years ago.  He wanted to observe the animals on the islands in order to better understand how life began and how species evolve and adapt.  It wasn’t until 1859 that Darwin would consolidate his observations into his famous Origin of the Species and change the way the Western world looked at life and nature.

In this film, Doug Philips, his son Joshua Philips, Dr. John Morris, and their team witness the majesty of the wild that Darwin saw: giant tortoises that can live to be 200 years old (and nearly 6 feet long!), white-tip sharks in the cold Atlantic waters, ferocious birds dive bomb the coast to find breakfast, and much more.

Their main goal, however, is to show that these islands are a showcase of God’s creation, not a laboratory of evolution. Philips and Morris attempt to answer this question by examining three things on the island: the volcanic rock beneath their feet, the cormorant bird with wings too small to fly, and the salt-sneezing marine iguanas.

Perhaps their most compelling argument against evolution came when the director asked Philips, “What would it mean for the world if Darwin’s theory of evolution was true?”  Philips responded by saying that human life would have no inherent value. He proceeded to talk about the connection between evolution, racism, and genocide.  Margaret Sanger (founder of Planned Parenthood) and Adolf Hitler are two examples Philips mentioned who held to evolutionary theory. They took it to its logical level: bringing about the survival of the fittest by their own power.

Philips and Morris have clear answers, and their arguments are convincing and faithful to God’s creative design and objective research.  The evolutionist will no doubt find their answers to be biased and tainted with Christian lenses, but Philips addresses this. The team uses good science, but perhaps most importantly, they do not litter the film with Bible lingo and Christian clichés.

As for artistic value, this documentary is solid film making.  The cinematography is masterful.  The music is stirring. The dialogue is engaging, and the story is entertaining, intellectual, and compelling. My wife and I both agreed that it was the best Christian film we have ever seen. You could say that doesn’t mean much. But this documentary would stack up against any other for its beauty, creativity, and controversial nature.

I recommend The Mysterious Islands to anyone who wants a scientific, holistic, intelligent, fresh approach to Creationism. Christian or not, I promise, you will not be disappointed.

I will be giving away a FREE copy of The Mysterious Islands.  Make sure to read my next post to find out how to enter to win.

*               *               *

Disclosure: I received on more more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention in here. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Categories
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.