This week someone in the IT department of my law firm died. No details were provided regarding the cause of his death, but it appeared his death was not unexpected even though he was only a middle-aged man.
Attorneys in the firm responded to the email of his death by recounting stories of how he had helped them with their computer issues, and how he was always patient with them. That was about as personal as it got.
At first it seemed sad to me that the best we could do was talk about his IT support skills, but then I realized that was the only way we knew him.
I’m sure his family knew him more fully as a person because they related to him as a husband, father, son, or sibling, but they are only a handful of people. We are a law firm of 750. In short, at work he was known more widely but less fully. And that is the case with most of us.
I drafted this post years ago and never published it. It was drafted during the one of the presidential primary seasons, but I never pulled the trigger on it. After reviewing it though, I’ve decided its applicability is not dependent on the election cycle.
Candidates say many things when they want to get elected, some of them true some of them not so true. I heard a presidential candidate say something that was so far from the truth but sounded so good that I thought it worthy of comment here.
Let me first say, the point of this blog is not a political one, and I’ve intentionally avoided writing in favor of or against any candidate. What I do attempt to do is offer a Kingdom perspective on current events and worldview. It is for that reason I comment on this candidate’s statement.
The candidate, a Libertarian, said that people were getting his message and realizing that “freedom is the answer” to our country’s problems. I was struck with how good it sounded but how wrong it was. The answer to our country’s problems is not more freedom; it’s more self-government.
I love freedom and would welcome more of it, but it won’t solve any problems because the problem is not that people aren’t free to do what they want; it’s that in exercising their freedom to do what they want they do what is wrong.
I recently rewatched the 1991 movie, City Slickers. Mitch Robbins (Billy Crystal) is a 39 year-old in a mid-life crises. He and his two friends from the city have come out to a ranch for a two week vacation and a cattle drive from New Mexico to Colorado.
At the ranch, Mitch meets Curly (Jack Palance), an old cowboy with some wisdom about life. In one scene, Mitch and curly are out riding, and the conversation turns philosophical. Curly, sensing Mitch is after something deeper asks a question of his own.
Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is? [pointing index finger skyward]This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean s**t.
Mitch: But what is the “one thing?”
Curly: [smiles, pointing his finger at Mitch] That’s what you have to find out.
Mitch goes on to help Curly deliver a calf, which Mitch names, Norman. Mitch later risks his own life to save Norman from a raging river during the cattle drive. These experiences cause Mitch to realize what the “one thing” is, and he goes back to New York with a new focus and sense of purpose.
The scene depicted by the narrative above is one of the most famous in movie history. It remains because it resonates. There is one thing that is most important, and once we realize that it puts everything else in a perspective.
38 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
Martha was focused on many things, probably preparing a meal, being a good host, and maintaining her reputation amongst her guests. This caused her anxiety, as a multitude of cascading concerns can.
But Jesus cut through it all, “…only one thing is necessary. For Mary has chosen the good part…” Luke 10:42. Mary had correctly chosen the one thing, and that one thing was her relationship with Jesus.
The Apostle Paul would later make a similar choice. Once he did, like Curly in City Slickers, he considered everything else “dung.” Philippians 3:8 (KJV)
We live in a far more complex world than that of the first century, but it gives rise to the same anxieties and confusion. Recognizing one’s relationship with Jesus is the one thing more important than anything reorders everything. GS
I have a relative who is a Christian and constantly posts on Facebook derogatory comments about Joe Biden and and all things Democrat. They are the kind of posts you would find offensive if you were a Democrat. So, I asked him one day if he had any friends who were Democrats. He said, “I don’t think so.”
I mention this example because it is indicative of too much of evangelical Christianity today, which seems more interested in confronting the world over politics and culture than the gospel.
First century Christians had a lot more politically and culturally to take issue with than 21st Century Christians, yet I don’t see any indication in the New Testament that they were picking fights with the pagans over such things. Rather, I see Paul, for example, using the Athenian culture to reach the Athenians on Mars Hill. See Acts 17:22-34.
Jesus said Christians should use money to make friends to reach them with the gospel. Luke 16:1-9. Christians today are too often doing the opposite with their politics.
I have reviewed many movies here, but I rarely mention whether a movie has nudity, sexually explicit scenes, or other offensive content. I figure if that is primarily what a Christian movie critic is offering the public, it is not worth the effort. Pagans will act like pagans, even when they make movies; we shouldn’t be surprised. I try to overlook it and focus on the themes, messages, and entertainment value of the movie. After all, movies are supposed to be a form of entertainment.
A movie’s biggest sin then, is when it fails to entertain. When it does so after 2o minutes of resorting to every shocking image the most perverted pagan can conceive, from a grossly obese man enjoying a golden shower to a midget on a pogo stick made into a giant penis spraying its pretend semen all over the audience, you know you have a monumental loser on your hands.
In fact, the most fitting metaphor of this movie was the elephant in the first scene defecating all over the man transporting it to a Hollywood party. Call it foreshadowing. After twenty minutes of this movie, I felt like that man, and the only thing I could think to do was look for the exit and the nearest shower. It was perhaps the single worst, most banal and offensive, boring excuse for a movie ever put on film.
I have been a fan of Damien Chazelle’s movies in the past, particularly Whiplash and La La Land, but I seriously doubt his judgment after seeing this one. Chazelle should give back whatever he was paid to write and direct this movie. In fact, he should pay me back. After seeing this abstract-excrement-on-celluloid-excuse for a movie, I feel like I have been robbed at gunpoint and felt-up at the same time.
Save your money. Don’t waste your time. Get a root canal, a colonoscopy. Anything is better than being subjected to 189 minutes of this. GS