“All the world’s a screen”. At least that’s what my prof from college argues page after page in his book Meaning At The Movies. He also writes, “God made us in his image, and we make movies in ours”. So true. Sometimes the reason why movies (or television shows) are so entertaining to us is because it’s like looking in a mirror. We see our lives, emotions, thoughts, feelings played out before us and it’s very attractive and revealing about our own hearts. For more on this idea, pick up a copy of Meaning At The Movies, but in the meantime I wanted to show you this clip from a recent episode of The Middle that Bethany and I watched with great laughter and appreciation as it revealed a little bit about the human heart and parenting. If you’ve never seen this show, it’s about a “middle” class family in “middle” America. It’s a classic family sitcom, but it’s narrated from the viewpoint of the mom Franki (Patricia Heaton) to give us an insight in to her feelings and thoughts about being a mom and having a family in “the middle”. Here’s the clip:
The rest of the episode goes on to show just how the parents “take back their lives” in a pretty amusing fashion. The furniture in the living room is rearranged just the way mom wants it. The dad and mom are high-fiving every time they “take back” another portion of their lives, be it the kind of pizza they order, taking a parent’s night out with friends, not dropping everything to cater to any one of their kids specific/immediate needs, etc. Bethany and I were just laughing in agreement as the parents actually start to rule the home and not let the kids run the place. The kids of course are completely taken back that their parents are now saying “no” and their efforts to plead with the parents to go back to the way things were before simply creates hilarity throughout.
It all reminded me of a blog I read just this week from Jay Younts of the Shepherd’s Press blog titled “Go to Sleep!”. It’s a critique of a new book that tries to humorously discuss why kids just won’t “go to sleep” and are annoying their tired and frustrated parents. The problem is, as Jay Younts argues, “Children were never intended to be installed as rulers of the universe…“. And often this is exactly what they are in families today, rulers of their own schedules, bed times, toy selection, and the like. But there’s already a ruler of the universe–his name is Jesus. And when children begin to rule their own universe (e.g. parents, household, etc.), and when parents reinforce this sense of dominion in the child it will only frustrate everyone involved. That’s why we need the Gospel. Without the Gospel, Jesus doesn’t rule in our hearts and stake the claim He rightfully owns (paid for by His shed blood) in our homes, children, and families. What we end up with is a war for authority of which each little battle is often won by the children who finally win the war.
By the end of the episode both parents finally “give in” to one of their child’s needs and basically go back to their old ways. The furniture is rearranged to the way it was, the parents drop everything to meet their children’s needs, etc. Honestly, they needed balance in their approach, but it’s still sad that they couldn’t stay committed to ruling their home as the authority in the kid’s lives. In the final scene, Franki (the mom) goes outside to get the mail and another mom with a toddler in a stroller are walking by. The child is obviously not happy about something and you hear the other mom saying “What is it honey? Whatever you need I’ll get it for you.” Franki quickly approaches the mom and says, “Don’t do it! Don’t give him everything he wants!” It was a last ditch effort to keep her dream alive of helping another mom change her ways before it’s too late! The concerned mom just gives Franki an odd look, helps her child, and keeps walking down the sidewalk. As Franki stands there watching them walk away we hear her say “She won’t listen”, as if to say “It’s a lost cause. In the end, the kids win. Parents lose.” You’re right, Franki. If parents keep letting their kids rule the universe, it’ll be a lost cause to try and rule your home. It’s only when parents see that their children were designed for authority and limits that blessing will come.
I shot a short video of the Astronomical Clock in Prague when we visited a few weeks ago. This thing turned 600 years old (yes, I just said 600 years old) last year. Here’s a little bit about it:
The [Astronomical Clock] is mounted on the southern wall of Old Town City Hall in the Old Town Square. The clock mechanism itself is composed of three main components: the astronomical dial, representing the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky and displaying various astronomical details; “The Walk of the Apostles”, a clockwork hourly show of figures of the Apostles and other moving sculptures—notably a figure of Death (represented by a skeleton) striking the time; and a calendar dial with medallions representing the months. [via Wikipedia]
This weekend Bethany and I watched the movie Citizen Kane. Originally released in 1941 and often considered one of the best movies ever made, the film follows the rise and fall of one man as seen and remembered by those who knew him. I had only heard a few things about the movie before watching it, but a big reason I wanted to see it was because I just finished reading Meaning at the Movies by Grant Horner in which he says that’s it not so much the story that grabs you, but the way the story is told.
I love a good story–who doesn’t? But a good story can rise and fall at the mercy of the storyteller. That’s why I love the story and videos below. Yes, the story is good, but more than that, the way this young man tells the story of how he was able to reunite a lost roll of film with it’s owner is just great. Take a few minutes and watch these little videos. I think you’ll be blessed.
Found: Lost Pictures of New York Blizzard (part 1)
Found: Lost Pictures of New York Blizzard (part 2)
Found: Lost Pictures of New York Blizzard (part 3)
I’m only posting this because I want to remind the world that there IS life beyond the computer. Okay, maybe that’s a reminder for myself, but I feel like in a world that is increasingly reliant upon technology that this kind of craftsmanship just doesn’t get the appreciate it deserves. I had the privilege once of visiting a guitar factory and I’ll never forget the feeling of watching people hand craft things–it’s inspiring, artistic, and all around just very cool.
Bethany and I don’t get out too often to see movies these days, but when we do we like to make sure we’re seeing something we’re going to like. When I saw the trailer for The King’s Speech I knew we would have to see it, and last night we finally did.
If I can use a British word, the film is brilliant. The story is heart warming and genuine, the nineteen twenties era is spot on, and the acting is some of the best I’ve seen. During the opening shot of the microphone I turned to Bethany and said, “I already like it”. From a cinematography standpoint it’s just a beautiful film. The production is high quality and they absolutely nailed the era of England in the twenties. Basically, it’s a film about two things: fear and friendship. I won’t give any spoilers away, but the IMDB description sums the film up this way, “The story of King George VI of Britain, his impromptu ascension to the throne and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch become worthy of it.” That’s a very fair explanation, but in no way is this a boring English movie. Colin Firth (King George VI) and Geoffrey Rush (the speech therapist, Lionel) are both just incredible in this movie, and the way their friendship is established is both funny and heart warming. Bethany and I talked about it the whole way home from the theater (which was about 20 miles away because it’s not playing everywhere) and we just couldn’t get over the characters and the nuances of each person. Needless to say, we highly recommend the movie. Yes, we know it’s rated R, and without getting in to how I feel about the useless rating system, I can say that if you’re an adult you can see this movie without any real awkwardness. It’s rated R for language, but I’m telling you that even the very few (about two) sections of language are actually quite funny. Though I don’t condone the use of poor language, I can honestly say I was laughing…a lot.
There are few movies that come out that I clap at the end, and this was one of them. If you’ve been waiting for a great movie to come out that you can catch, this is the one. Like I said, it’s a story about fear and friendship and if those concepts don’t capture your heart then you’re probably not living too well. Go see it–it won’t disappoint.
Here’s the trailer:
If you Google “medal of honor” you’re confronted with some very interesting results. The first two (three if you count the “sponsored link”) are links to a popular video game with the same name, and the third result is for the “Congressional Medal of Honor Society” which was created by the U.S. Congress to remember the recipients of the highest award given to U.S. military personnel–that is, the literal Medal of Honor. This might be confusing to some, but not to Google. Google is just returning back what it thinks are the best results of what people are searching for. But Google’s results illustrate this reality: we live in a confused culture. Confused over what? The simple answer: everything. We are a culture that doesn’t understand parenting, gender, race, sex, death, development, God, religion, and many others. But in the case of the medal of honor, we are confused over reality, or said another way, we’re confused over what’s real and what isn’t.
Staff Sargent Sal Guinta is the first living person since Vietnam to awarded the Nation’s highest medal, the medal of honor (you can watch his personal account of the story in this video). Three years ago he bravely fought off the enemy in Afghanistan and his story, though heart-breaking, will give encouragement and hope to many Americans. It’s the story of a real young man, with real strength and valor, doing something that few would ever do. He stared down certain death and risked his own life for his fellow soldiers and his country. Even in his own words, he believed he didn’t deserve the medal, but wanted it to represent the many other who fought along side him and those who are still fighting today. He sounds like a humble and self-sacrificing man, and I personally want to thank him for his service to the United States. But as I listened and read his story, I couldn’t help but think that so many other young men are out there right now, sitting behind a screen playing a video game that, though entertaining, doesn’t teach them anything about life in the real world, with real pain, and real risks. I like the way one former Marine officer Benjamin Busch put it in his article “Why A Video Game Does Not A Soldier Make“, he says
“Playing and risking your life are different things. In the video war, there may be some manipulation of anxiety, some adrenaline to the heart, but absolutely nothing is at stake…A video game can produce no wounds and take no friends away.”
Some young men probably stood in long lines back in October waiting for the release of the latest “Medal of Honor” video game. Many of them probably didn’t even hear about President Obama awarding the actual Medal of Honor just a month later. But then again, there’s really nothing exciting about an old guy giving some young guy a little necklace, right? Wrong. My concern is that young men today don’t know anything of the bravery, valor, or even honor displayed by Sal Guinta. And what they do know of it is probably highly distorted. While they sit at home in their bedrooms playing video games created by companies that spend millions of dollars to create reality, there are real men and women risking their lives every day, many of whom have left their friends and family here and aren’t guaranteed a return ticket home. Again, officer Busch’s comments are relevant,
“And for those who truly want to play for a Medal of Honor, recruiters are standing by. Only eight have been awarded since we invaded Afghanistan. All but one have been posthumous.”
It’s easy to live in a confused culture and not see the weird dichotomy it creates at times, or the blurred lines of reality and fantasty. As I look forward to training and educating my own son about the world around him I would do well to see the problem here and make the necessary adjustments. I hope and pray that he would grow to understand that there’s more to life than entertainment and that he would always separate what’s real from what isn’t, even when the lines look blurred. More than that, I pray he would be a man of great courage, valor, and honor–not just for his country, but for his God who deserves far greater allegiance.
Watch President Obama reward Sal Giunta with the Medal of Honor:
Scroll to minute 16:15 of this video (below) and you’ll hear the freakin’ President’s photographer answer my question! I was pretty excited–not just because he’s the President’s eye, but because Pete Souza is a legit photographer. This entire Q&A time is great and if you’re looking to understand more of the behind the scenes stuff at the White House and get some good photo tips, then definitely check out the whole thing.