Movies

The Hunger Games: Gratuitous Violence or Morality Tale?

The Hunger Games: Gratuitous Violence or Morality Tale?
I’ll confess. When I first heard about the storyline of Hunger Games I was appalled and thought civilization had slipped another cog into the abyss.
Hunger Games has sold 26 million copies and is the first young adult book to sell a million copies on Kindle. Released last weekend at theatres, it broke box office records for a new non-sequel release.
People who know the basic plot line are asking why the series is so popular?
After all, Hunger Games is a dark story set in a post-apocalyptic future. It features twenty-four teenagers, two each from twelve districts, chosen at random and released into the wild with a mandate to kill each other until one is left standing.
In reality TV fashion these killer teens are televised so an elite, effete, pampered audience can be entertained. A game master introduces dramatic elements like forest fires and mutant attack dogs to keep the storyline exciting. Bets are placed on winners and losers and “sponsorships” provided for the audience’s favorite teenage warriors.
These gladiatorial games are the invention of a tyrannical, oppressive government seeking to suppress any attempted uprising by the twelve impoverished districts, whose inhabitants sustain the pampered lifestyle of the Capital of Panem, a nation rebuilt from the ruins of a war savaged North America.
The Hunger Games is wildly popular and controversial.  The American Library Association ranks it fifth on the list of most banned books for 2010, because of parental complaints that the books are sexually explicit, unsuited to the age group, and too violent.
Is Hunger Games gratuitous violence run amok or a morality tale?
It is common knowledge that Suzanne Collins conceived the Hunger Games when one night she flipped the TV channel from teenagers on a reality-TV show to footage of teenagers serving in the Iraqi war. She couldn’t shake this jarring juxtaposition. As a result, beyond the short sentences, page turning plotline and memorable characters, Hunger Games smuggles ideas that matter into the reader’s minds.
So does the popularity of Hunger Games offer good news for those of us concerned about American civilization and the younger generation? I say yes, for a few reasons. (I can only speak for the first book of three, and I have heard the violence ratchets up in book two and three.)
1) Hunger Games is a morality tale being devoured by a generation raised on situation ethics. The cynical citizens of the Capital say, “may the odds be ever in your favor,” about a game in which the odds are 24 to 1 that you will be killed. Neither Katniss, our heroine, nor Peeta, desire to take human life, and as the last two survivors, both seek an alternative to killing the other. Both eschew their self-interests by helping each other and other contestants too.
2) Hunger Games celebrates the heroic efforts of a few who inspire hope for the many. Like the young Theseus in Greek mythology, who overthrew decadent political and religious powers to establish Athens, in Hunger Games underdogs Katniss and Peeta set out to beat the system. They raise hope in the Districts and concerns in the Capital. President Snow warns the game master, “Hope, it is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective, a lot of hope is dangerous.”
3) Hunger Games is a searing, angry commentary that exposes our entertainment culture as a diversion from the injustices and superficiality of contemporary life. Like Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, Hunger Games reveals the dark side of a society whose minds and consciences are numbed by sensate amusements. Before it collapsed, the Roman Empire offered the spectacle of humans killing humans in Coliseums. Ironically the Hunger Games movie puts us in the stands of today’s Coliseum, the movie theatre, as we are entertained by watching a sick culture being entertained by watching what we are watching! Hunger Games exposes the dirty little secret “If no one watches, then they don’t have a game.”
4) Hunger Games is a love story for a generation trying to distinguish between love and friendship. Harry Potter, Twilight and now Hunger Games each feature a triangle of friends in which friendship and romance become intertwined and our central character must make a choice for love. Katniss Everdeen’s best friend in the district is Gale Hawthorne, but her partner in the Hunger Games is Peeta Mellark, who she learns has been smitten with her since childhood.
The Hunger Games is juvenile fiction that makes you think. The themes are big, and dark and the stakes are high, something like real life.

Posted in Books, Faith, Movies, Staublog in March 29, 2012 by | 18 Comments »

God is love, but Love is Not God

Great Kindlings Muse show at Hales last night on the theology of the best film nominees. Great observations by a stellar panel: Jeffery Overstreet, Jennie Spohr, and Dr. Christine Chaney. Interesting observations about individual films 127 Hours, Black Swan, Inception, The Fighter, The Kids Are All Right, The King’s Speech, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit and Winter’s Bone. We than asked if there was a common theme running throughout these nominees~buddy movies, learning to love (or not), we need each other? I said the theme to me is “the planet is weeping.” There is a lot of sadness in these films and where there are glimmers of hope it is because people learn to love despite differences. This is a good thing, but not enough of a good thing, because human love absent a relationship with God is not enough to lift our sorrow. As has often been said, “God is Love, but love is not God.”

Posted in Movies, Staublog in February 22, 2011 by | 1 Comment »

Harry Potter: Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter: Goblet of Fire

With each new Harry Potter movie I find myself drawn into a debate, seemingly unavoidably, I wish not to be part of.

I refer of course to the battle between those who oppose the Harry Potter series as antithetical to faith, and those who are thrilled to see their kids reading, and who find the series imaginative, believing also that it provides teachable moments. (In David Buckna’s Harry Potter Quiz he explores a number of them) It might be useful for people to read what JK Rowling has said about God and Magic in her own words!

The divisiveness over Harry Potter is passionate in the extreme, so much so that I’ve heard individuals from the pro & con side actually questioning “the salvation” of those on the other side. This, I trust you agree, is the quintessential definition of “over the top.”

Here are a few guiding comments.

ONE. WE suffer the problem described by C.S. Lewis in “Screwtape Letters” regarding devils. ” There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel and excessive and unhealthy interest in them.” I think we ought not to ignore the issues raised by Harry Potter. I also do not think we ought to be unhealthily preoccupied with them.

TWO. There are two legitimate sides to this issue.

On the negative side:

Ted Baehr gives the most recent movie his “abhorrent rating” commenting, “Very strong pagan worldview with very strong occult content and a kind of elitism, with witches and sorcerers forming their own secret society of witchcraft and magic.”

Bob Smithouser reviewing for Focus on the Family’s PLUGGED IN says, “Without magic and the occult there is no story. Supernatural goings-on inhabit every corner of the film¢â‚¬¦ It’s impossible for me to invest myself in a series that glamorizes witchcraft.”

On the positive side.
Connie Neal reviews the HP book series and then enumerates more than fifty “Potteran” themes that can be seen as “glimmers of the Gospel.”

HollywoodJesus.com comments of Goblet of Fire that the movie “signals a call for perseverance and steadfast progress toward mature actions and deeds something that Jesus called for, too.?”

Looking at other reviewers we see additional negatives and positives in Goblet of Fire.

Negative
1) Pre-occupation with the spirit world and the power of the dark side.
2) DARK Magic is central. Plugged In: the scene in the “graveyard finds one of Voldemort’s toadies tossing the shriveled wizard into a cauldron before adding other ingredients (including his own hand) that fuel a macabre transformation.”
3) Hogwarts trains young people to put their faith in magic and to help them become skilled in the tools of the trade.
4) Unlike Narnia or Lord of the Rings there is no Lord Over the Battle between good and evil, the characters are simply contestants on one side or the other.

Positive
1) Love, not magic, is the ultimate power.
2) There is good and evil: Near the end of Goblet of Fire Dumbledore warns, “Difficult times are coming Harry. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” Mad Eye also tells the students there are three “unforgivable curses:” to control, torture or kill.
3) Harry regularly chooses the virtuous, selfless, morally courageous path.
4) Harry travels in a company of loyal friends

THREE: The situation is further complicated becuase most Christians are on the extremes in their view of consumption of popular culture. They are either cultural anorexics, cut off from culture completely, or cultural gluttons who uncritically consume anything that comes along.

Three pieces of advice in conclusion.

1) Avoid the extremes of cultural gluttony or anorexia, practicing discernment in your media choices.

2) Acknowledge that the decision regarding Harry Potter should be made within the family involving healthy dialogue with kids and parents who are taking an active role in educating their children. It is a teachable moment whether you decide for or against Harry Potter.

3) Apply Augustine’s dictum.

In essentials unity.

In non-essentials liberty.

In all things charity.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Movies, Staublog in November 20, 2005 by | No Comments »

    Hitch & Fever Pitch: Sex & The Fine Line of Romantic Comedies

    Hitch & Fever Pitch: Sex & The Fine Line of Romantic Comedies

    As a genre, romantic comedies have always been audience pleasers and they helped boost the careers of actors like Cary Grant, Doris Day, Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.

    The successful romance involves a good story, centering on endearing and believable characters that is romantic.

    Modern versions like “Sleepless in Seattle,”” “Hitch” and “Fever Pitch” are good stories (a young boy calls a talk show seeking help for his dad in Seattle which is heard by a prospective love interest in Baltimore; a matchmaker inadvertently matches himself in a romance where everything goes wrong; a die hard Red Sox fan is faced with a choice between baseball and the woman he loves), their characters are endearing and believable, but their romantic charm is tested in the way they deal with the sexual relationship of their central characters.

    They face a dilemma when they try to reach a wide audience. The more sexual content the more their rating will limit the age appropriateness of their story they walk a line. “Sleepless” played the safer route (PG) while “Hitch” & “Fever Pitch” went the PG-13 route. PG-13 in both cases meant more overt sexual innuendo and “adult” language.

    All contemporary romantic comedies make decisions about whether or not the central romantic couple will engage in premarital sex or not. In “Sleepless” Hanks confided to his son about his earlier pre-marital sexual exploits, but because he didn’t meet his new love interest (Meg Ryan) until the last scene, their romantic attraction was developed without the “complication” of sex. In “Hitch” the assumption is that matchmaker Hitch’s couplings will likely be sexually active, but Hitch and his love interest (Eva Mendez) are not and get married after they declare their love. In “Fever Pitch” the sexual attraction of Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon is an early and ongoing part of their relationship. This should not surprise those who know the work of writer Nick Hornby and the Farrelly brothers (producers).

    Let’s not be naive–premarital sex is as old as, well, as old as …sex. Storytellers have always walked the line on how to balance romance and physical passion (Shakepseare is an obvious example in classic dramtic literature.) In my opinion romantic comedies are strengthened when they spend their time and energy developing the characters and their maturing romance without introducing sex or introducing it in an illusory, subtle way. Such an artistic decision also reflects the emerging conservatism of today’s teens. Hollywood may assume all or most teenagers are sexually active, but a number of recent studies indicate teens are seeing the value of deepening friendships with the opposite sex without prematurely introducing sex into the relationship.

    Therein lies the film producer’s dilemma. In each of the romantic comedies we’ve mentioned the central characters are in their 20’s (or 30’s), yet the filmmaker wants to appeal to teenagers along with the film’s more natural connection to those in their 20’s and 30’s.

    Most filmmakers cannot conceive of a dating scene of twenty-year olds that does not involve sex as an early step in a progressing relationship, so they feel their characters MUST be sexually active to seem authentic so they include the sex at the risk of offending teens (and their parents). I think there ARE plenty of 20 year olds who are not sexually active and I think some who are sexually active wish they weren’t. I also think most 20 year olds are still capable of separating romance from sex and would not be offended with romantic comedies that deal with characters who are not sexually active.

    “Hitch” and “Fever Pitch” had some wonderfully funny moments, but in my view both were weakened by their sexual humor. Tenderness, kindness, good-heartedness will always be at the heart of romance and sex will always belong in the context of a fully committed relationship called marriage. Since study after study is showing that films with family appeal are stronger in the box office, one can argue that economic incentives favor going the PG route (like “Sleepless”) rather than PG-13 like “Hitch” & “Fever Pitch.”

    So what can you do about the dilemma of sex in romantic comedies?

    1) Be aware and make discerning choices.
    2) Talk to your kids.
    3) Support advocates to Hollywood: Ted Baehr’s Movieguide and Larry Poland’s Mastermedia are two good ones.

    Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

    PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

    PS 2. If you haven’t yet done so, register for our daily updates. You won’t regret it!

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    Posted in Movies, Staublog in April 18, 2005 by | No Comments »

    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

    Cast
    Elijah Wood … Frodo Baggins
    Ian McKellen … Gandalf the White
    Viggo Mortensen … Aragorn
    Sean Astin … Samwise ‘Sam’ Gamgee
    Liv Tyler … Arwen
    Billy Boyd … Peregrin ‘Pippin’ Took
    Dominic Monaghan … Meriadoc ‘Merry’ Brandybuck
    Orlando Bloom … Legolas Greenleaf
    John Rhys-Davies … Gimli
    Ian Holm … Bilbo Baggins
    Christopher Lee … Saruman the White
    Cate Blanchett … Galadriel
    Bernard Hill … Théoden
    Brad Dourif … Grƒ­ma Wormtongue
    Miranda Otto … ƒâ€°owyn
    Marton Csokas … Celeborn
    Karl Urban … ƒâ€°omer
    David Wenham … Faramir
    John Noble … Denethor, Steward of Gondor

    Other credited cast listed alphabetically
    Alexandra Astin … Elanor Gamgee
    Sala Baker … Sauron
    Wi Kuki Kaa … Ghan-buri-Ghan
    Lawrence Makoare … The Witch King
    Sarah McLeod … Rosie Cotton
    Andy Serkis … Gollum/Sméagol
    Bruce Spence … The Mouth of Sauron
    Stephen Ure … Gorbag
    Hugo Weaving … Elrond

    2003 release: New Line presents a film directed by Peter Jackson. Produced by Peter Jackson and Barrie M. Osborne. Written by Frances Walsh. Based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. Photographed by Andrew Lesnie. Music by Howard Shore. Running time: 200 minutes. Classified PG-13 (for intense epic battle sequences and frightening images).

    Central Theme
    There is a battle for the soul of man in which the enemy must be engaged with courage, determination, individually and in the fellowship of friends; Above all else we must recognize that ultimately we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with spiritual forces requiring our submission to and cooperation with a spiritual reality that seeks our well being and not our destruction.

    Story
    Sauron’s forces have laid siege to Minas Tirith, the capital of Gondor, in their efforts to eliminate the race of men. The once-great kingdom, watched over by a fading steward, has never been in more desperate need of its king. But can Aragorn (Mortensen) answer the call of his heritage and become what he was born to be? In no small measure, the fate of Middle-earth rests on his broad shoulders. With the final battle joined and the legions of darkness gathering, Gandalf (McKellen) urgently tries to rally Gondor’s broken army to action. He is aided by Rohan’s King Theoden (Hill), who unites his warriors for history’s biggest test. Yet even with their courage and passionate loyalty, the forces of men–with Eowyn (Otto) and Merry (Monaghan) hidden among them–are no match for the enemies swarming against Gondor. Still, in the face of great losses, they charge forward into the battle of their lifetimes, tied together by their singular goal to keep Sauron distracted and give the Ring Bearer a chance to complete his quest. Their hopes rest with Frodo (Wood), a tiny but determined hobbit making a perilous trip across treacherous enemy lands to cast the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom. The closer Frodo gets to his final destination, the heavier his burden becomes and the more he must rely on Samwise Gamgee (Astin). Gollum-and the Ring itself-will test Frodo’s allegiances and, ultimately, his humanity. “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” concludes the epic story of these characters, their relationships and rivalries, and reveals how through courage, commitment and determination even the least of us can change the world. ‚© New Line Productions.

    A most satisfying cinematic experience combining Tolkien’s incredible and rich story, an attention to detail, an aesthetic sensibility, dramatic action scenes. Like the LOTR book series archetypical themes weave throughout, but for the theologically literate it is impossible to miss the light/dark, life/death, good/evil foundation on which the trilogy rests. Sin destroys, removes the enjoyment of the richness of human life (taste, sight, smell, friendship, love) and replaces it with a dark, dank, sightless, tasteless poverty of spirit. The notion of spiritual warfare is clear and we understand the nature of this battle as a cooperation between the divine and human AND between individual and collaborative efforts. Ultimately, the real battle cannot be won by human energies and weapons alone, but the battle also cannot be won without them. Human life is enriched by aspiring to a virtuous, honorable life of valor.

    Beliefs num
    –It is not over until it is over.
    –Honor in battle is as important as winning
    –Oaths must be taken and kept.
    –There is a dark power that can overtake us and lead us into behavior we would never condone.
    –The more you embrace this dark power the more you deteriorate.
    –Darkness cannot tolerate light and there is a light when all others fail you.
    –There are good and evil forces at work behind the scene in the events of humans.
    –There is a difference between a king and a steward.
    –A good king is a good thing.
    –There are those who doom coming and do nothing and others who see doom and prepare to face it with honor.
    –In most battles there are multiple fronts.
    –Each of most must discover and do our individual part, but victory comes through our interdependent efforts.
    –It is the age of the dominion of man.
    –There is a world after this one and hope after we die.

    Questions Worth Discussing num
    –What are the artistic merits of this film?
    –What elements common to human experience did you resonate with in this film?
    –What elements in word, deed, theme or behavior created a dissonance with who you are or want to be spiritually?
    –What does this film tell us about who God is? Who humans are? What we are seeking in life?
    –In addition to military battles are there other kinds of battles humans face today?
    –Are there unseen forces at work behind the scenes?
    –Is there a dark force enticing us into behavior that will ultimately destroy is?
    –Do we still value honor as much as winning in today’s world?
    –What is the great challenge your generation must face?

    Provocative Quotes byline
    –We forgot the taste of bread¢â‚¬¦the sound of trees¢â‚¬¦we even forgot our own name.
    ==Gollum.
    — Sméagol did it once¢â‚¬¦ Sméagol can do it again.
    ==Gollum about killing for the ring.
    –Things are now in motion that cannot now be undone.
    == Gandalf.
    –If I leave him now I will regret it. It is time.
    ==Arwen.
    –He is a steward only¢â‚¬¦a caretaker¢â‚¬¦The Lord and Steward of Gondor.
    == Gandalf about Denethor, steward of the city.
    –I offer you my service, such as it is, in repayment of this debt.
    ==Pippin.
    –Authority is not given for you to deny the return of the King.
    == Gandalf to Denethor, steward of the city
    –Our enemy is ready¢â‚¬¦We come to it at last, the great battle of our time¢â‚¬¦the board is set the pieces are moving¢â‚¬¦Hope is kindled.
    == Gandalf.
    –Now is the hour. Oaths you have taken. Fulfill them all.
    ==Rohan.
    –The age of man is over. The time of the Orc has come.
    ==Orc commander.
    –Long has he foreseen this doom.
    ==Faramir.
    –Foreseen and done nothing.
    == Gandalf.
    –But he’s a liar. He’s poisoned you against me.
    ==Sam to Frodo.
    –Become who you were born to be.
    ==Elrond to Aragorn.
    –I fear not death.
    ==Aragorn.
    –The dead do not suffer the living to pass.
    ==Commander of the dead.
    –You will suffer me.
    ==Aragorn.
    –I summon you to fulfill your oath. Fight for us and regain your honor.
    ==Aragorn.
    –Abandon your posts.
    == Denethor, steward of the city
    –Prepare for Battle.
    == Gandalf.
    –May it be a light for you in dark places when all other lights go out.
    ==Galadrial.
    –I have to destroy it Sméagol. I have to destroy it for both of our sakes.
    ==Frodo.
    –This task was appointed to you Frodo of the Shire, If you do not find a way no one will.
    ==Galadrial.
    –You are soldiers of Gondor no matter what comes through that gate you will stand your ground.
    ==Gandalf.
    –End? The journey doesn’t end here.
    == Gandalf to Pippen.
    –This is your test. Every path you have trod through, wilderness, through war, has led to this road. The enemy will never let Aragorn come to the throne of Gondor.
    ==Elrond to Aragorn.
    –I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of Men fail . . . when we forsake our friends, and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. This day, we fight!
    ==Aragorn preparing the troops for battle.
    –Feast on his flesh.
    ==Witch King.
    –I will kill you if you touch him.
    ==Eowyn.
    –No man can kill me-die now.
    ==Witch King
    –I am NO Man.
    ==Eowyn.
    –I go to my fathers in whose company I shall not now feel ashamed.
    ==King Theodin.
    –I hold your oath fulfilled. Go be at peace.
    ==Aragorn.
    –Behind the walls of Mordor the enemy is regrouping.
    ==Gandalf.
    –There’ll be none left for the return journey.
    ==Frodo about water to Sam.
    –I think that there’ll be a return journey.
    ==Sam to Frodo.
    –I never thought I’d die side by side with an elf.
    ==Gimli.
    –What about side by side with a friend?
    ==Legolas replies.
    –I can’t carry it for you, but I CAN carry you.
    ==Sam.
    –The ring is mine.
    ==Frodo to Sam.
    –It’s gone. It’s done. It’s over now.
    ==Frodo.
    –Now come the days of the king. May they be blessed.
    ==Gandalf.
    –My friends you bow to no one.
    ==Aragorn to Hobbits.
    –The age of three ring’s power has ended. The time has come for the dominion of man.
    ==Galadrial.
    –It is time Frodo.
    ==Gandalf.
    –We set out to save the Shire and we have done that, but not for me.
    ==Frodo.
    –The journey doesn’t end here. (Death) is just another path, one that we all must take. As the gray-rimmed curtain of this world rolls back, and turns to silver clouds, then you’ll see it¢â‚¬¦ White shores; and beyond, a far green country and a swift sunrise.
    == Gandalf to Pippin.

    Posted in Movies, Staublog in June 22, 2004 by | No Comments »

    Harry Potter: Faith and Culture Quiz

    Harry Potter: Faith and Culture Quiz

    David Buckna is doing some excellent culturewatching and writes a weekly pop gospel quiz in the Calgary Herald. Here is his Harry Potter Quiz.

    The Pop Gospel by David Buckna

    1 Lord Voldemort, an evil wizard, tried to kill the infant Harry, echoing the story of which biblical king who ordered the death of all the baby boys in Bethlehem in an attempt to kill the infant Jesus?

    2 Connie Neal, author of The Gospel According to Harry Potter, writes:”Lily Potter jumped in front of Voldemort’s curse to save Harry; Jesus jumped in front of death’s curse to save us. . . . When we think of how Voldemort’s curse could not kill Harry, the lightning bolt scar on Harry’s forehead can symbolize God casting Satan down like lightning.” In what Gospel does Jesus speak of this?

    3 The Old Testament book, Ecclesiastes (10:20), states, “a bird on the wing may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say.”
    Echoing this, what birds are used by witches, wizards and Hogwarts students to carry their mail?

    4 The Old Testament book Proverbs (1:19), states: “Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the lives of those who get it.”
    What magical building in Harry Potter has a similar warning engraved on its silver doors?

    5 In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the phoenix belonging to Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore provides Harry with an escape from certain death. What’s the bird’s name?

    6 At Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry is accepted into Gryffindor House “where dwell the brave of heart.” What animal is
    Gryffindor’s symbol?

    7 The Sorcerer’s Stone produces an Elixir of Life that makes the drinker immortal. In what book does Jesus say something similar about himself?

    8 One class taught at Hogwarts is Defence Against the Dark Arts. Who taught the early Christians an equivalent concern for defence against evil?

    9 In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, name one of the carols the suits of armor sang whenever anyone passed them.

    10 Who said in his July 14, 2000, commentary, “The Potter craze reflects the longing in our kids’ souls for God”: George Carey (former Archbishop of
    Canterbury), Chuck Colson (Prison Fellowship) or Andy Rooney (60 Minutes)?

    Answers:

    1 King Herod (Matthew 2:13-18).

    2 The Gospel of Luke (10:18), where he says: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Neal continues: “Voldemort’s power was broken when
    Mrs. Potter willingly sacrificed her life for Harry; Satan’s power was broken when Jesus died on the cross to sacrifice his life for us. . . It’s
    helpful to remember this connection to Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection by making the association between Lily Potter’s first name and
    the Easter lily.” (John 3:16, 4:9-10).

    3 Owls. The most bird-brained member of the movie cast is Ook the Owl, star of British television, who plays Hedwig the Owl, Harry’s personal messenger. Hedwig is named for Saint Hedwig, who lived in Germany in the 12th and 13th centuries. David Colbert writes in The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter (Lumina Press, 2001):”An order of nuns established under her patronage chose as its work the education of orphaned children — like Harry.”

    4 Gringotts, the bank run by goblins for wizards, bears a warning reading: “Enter, stranger, but take heed/ Of what awaits the sin of greed/ For those
    who take, but do not earn/Must pay most dearly in their turn.” Gringotts Bank is entered through Diagon Alley, but it lies miles deep underneath
    London.

    5 Fawkes, “a crimson bird the size of a swan” that “had a glittering golden tail as long as a peacock’s and gleaming golden talons”. After Harry pulls a giant serpent’s poison fang from his arm, Fawkes’s tears heal his wound: “A pearly patch of tears was shining all around the wound — except that there was no wound.” Baylor University philosophy professor Scott Moore reports that the original pre-Christian symbol of the phoenix, the mythical bird reborn from the ashes of its own nest, was appropriated by Medieval Christians as a symbol for Christ.

    6 The lion. John writes in Revelation (5:5): “Then one of the elders said to me, Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.” The lion became a favourite symbol of medieval heraldry because of its association with Christ. And in his Narnia Chronicles, C.S. Lewis would have as his central Christ-figure the lion Aslan.

    7. In the Gospel of John (4:14), he says, “Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

    8 Paul, who said, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:11).

    9 “It was quite something to hear ‘Oh Come, All Ye Faithful’ sung by an empty helmet that only knew half the words.”

    10 Prison Fellowship founder Chuck Colson, whose “BreakPoint with Chuck Colson” is found at (www.breakpoint.org)

    Scoring:

    1-3 Fair

    4-7 Good

    8-9 Excellent

    10 As wise as Solomon.

    Copyright 2004 by David Buckna. All rights reserved. Used by permission. David Buckna is the author of “The Pop Gospel”, a regular quiz feature in
    the City/Faith & Reason section of the Calgary Herald. Buckna reads email at (solomann@look.ca)

    Posted in Movies, Staublog in June 9, 2004 by | No Comments »

    Kill Bill II

    Kill Bill II

    review coming

    Posted in Movies, Staublog in May 1, 2004 by | No Comments »

    13 Going on 30

    13 Going on 30

    Cast
    Jenna Rink Jennifer Garner
    Matt Flamhaff Mark Ruffalo
    Lucy Judy Greer
    Young Jenna Rink Christa B. Allen
    Richard Andy Serkis
    Beverly Rink Kathy Baker
    Wayne Rink Phil Reeves
    Young Christopher Grandy Alex Black
    Young Tom-Tom Alexandra Kyle
    Mr. Flamhaff Joe Grifasi
    Mrs. Flamhaff Mary Pat Gleason
    Rated PG-13 for some sexual content and brief drug references.

    Central Theme
    If most people had a “do over,” a chance to change one decision in life, they would change a key decision that would change the entire course of their life. The moral? Live life in such a way that you don’t need a “do over,” and of you get one, use it to choose the better path.

    Story
    It is 1987 and Jenna is a 13-year-old girl on the brink of womanhood. The problem is that adulthood is just not arriving fast enough. She’s suffocated by her dorky parents, ignored by the hip kids in school–and the cute guy she has a crush on barely knows her name. No longer content to spend time only with her best friend and neighbor, Matt Flamhaff, Jenna invites the cool kids to her 13th birthday party. But the party is a disaster. Jenna is humiliated when she’s locked in the closet for a game of “Seven Minutes in Heaven” and everyone deserts her. Alone in the closet, Jenna makes an earnest wish. If only she could be all grown up, she’d have the life she’s always wanted. Miraculously, her wish comes true. The next day, when Jenna emerges from the closet, it’s 2004 and she’s 30 years old. What’s more, she is a gorgeous successful woman with a great job and a fabulous Fifth Avenue apartment. She is finally cool and popular. The only hitch? She has absolutely no idea how she got there. Initially frightened but gradually enchanted by her new life, Jenna soon realizes there’s something missing–Matt. When she looks him up, she is horrified to discover that she and Matt are no longer in contact and, furthermore, he is engaged to be married. Jenna learns that ‘having it all’ is not enough and decides to take a second chance at first love. Now her biggest wish is that it’s not too late. ‚© Columbia

    Virtually every critic will comment on the dreadful formulaic script and plot development reminiscent of Tom Hanks’ “Big,” offset by equally engaging performances from Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo. What is truly worth noting is that this film is made in 2004 and shows a young woman sensibly rejecting the hip mores of her peers AND choosing the good and life-affirming over the cynical and “whatever” zeitgeist of the early 21st century.

    Look folks, Casablanca this ain’t, but given the context of racier fare young kids are accustomed to, this is seismic in its “say yes to simpler,” more decent times. AND the moral of the story leaves kids pondering the choices they are making now and desiring to make better ones.

    The film is PG 13 and some will ask why. The film depicts bad choices (sleeping with your boyfriend who dances goofily in his underwear, having an affair with a co-worker’s husband) to show the contrast with the good. This will leave some kids and conservative parents squeamish, but it also provides a chance to talk with our kids about how film sometimes shows bad choices without endorsing them.

    Art handles evil in at least four ways: One, avoided completely, which leaves conservative productions seeming Pollyannaish and Disneyworld-ish; Second) Evil depicted, it is shown but for a purpose; Third) Evil endorsed or used gratuitously; Fourth) evil enacted to incite to action¢â‚¬¦like pornography.

    This film depicts evil, but not only does not endorse it, but uses it to show the better path of good behavior.

    Beliefs num
    –The choices you make in your teens can affect the entire direction of your life.
    –It is tempting to choose the popular path as a teen, but you may leave good and decent friends, for ones less loyal and unworthy of your allegiance.
    –Be careful: your peers may influence you more than you change them.
    –Try to live life without regrets.

    Questions Worth Discussing num
    –What are the artistic merits of this film?
    –What elements common to human experience did you resonate with in this film?
    –What elements in word, deed, theme, values or behavior created a dissonance with who you are or want to be spiritually?
    –What does this film tell us about whom God is? Who humans are? What we are seeking in life?
    –What are some key words or themes that relate to your faith?
    –Relevant insight from the artist’s background?
    –Questions you think would provoke discussion?

    Provocative Quotes byline
    –He says it wasn’t hard to get in touch with his inner 13-year-old. “I’m pretty much a goofy guy and Jennifer’s kind of a goofy girl. She’s pretty fun and easygoing. So it wasn’t too hard to play off that energy. She does it so well so it’s pretty easy to do.
    ==Mark Ruffalo coming soon ,net.

    –ATTENTION: WE make every effort to assure the accuracy of provocative quotes. If you find an inaccurate quote please use report them by using the link at the end of the quotes section. Thanks.
    ==CW EDITORS.

    If you find an inaccurate quote please send corrections to

  • CultureWatch: culturewatch@dickstaub.com
  • Posted in Movies, Staublog in May 1, 2004 by | No Comments »

    test 4

    test 4

    test_04.gif

    Test 4`

    Posted in Movies, Staublog in March 19, 2004 by | No Comments »

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