Venturing into the personal side of life, this past Saturday my wife and I visited the THE CHARLES HOSMER MORSE MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART “which houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) including Tiffany jewelry, pottery, paintings, art glass, leaded-glass windows, lamps, and the chapel interior he designed for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago” (information taken from site). What a remarkable display of beauty and brilliance. Each piece contained such precision and clarity that it appeared to be capacious allabasters (or in this case vases) filled with poetry and chanting. In the period of one hour we studied each piece as carefully as possible attempting to decipher some new enigma in the mysterious colors of Louis Tiffany. However, the most enchanting of all parts was the chapel designed by Tiffany himself. A small chapel with the pulpit on the left, the altar at the center, and a baptismal font on the side; it was all it took for me to worship. The colors and the ambiance refreshed my weary soul and took me to the heavenlies. There in the quietness of the moment I prayed and wondered about the glory of God.
Chuck Baldwin August 4, 2006
Let’s get right to the point: the Hollywood elite have had it in for Mel Gibson for quite a while. First, he abandoned their penchant for promoting big government by starring in a truer-than-most-want-to-admit movie thriller, Conspiracy Theory. He then further alienated Hollywood Leftists by starring in the hugely popular Vietnam war movie, We Were Soldiers. And I’m sure Mel’s wonderful movie about America’s fight for independence, The Patriot, didn’t sit well with them, either.
However, it was the production of his phenomenally successful film, The Passion Of The Christ, that no doubt took the Hollywood elite over the edge. That a Hollywood legend would dare to produce a movie that exalted, not denigrated, Christ’s redemptive work on the cross was more than they could stomach. They have had Gibson in their sights ever since.
Unfortunately, Mel Gibson provided the Hollywood elite the hammer and nails they needed to crucify him. His extremely foolish misconduct was just what his enemies were looking for. Now, they are attacking him with a vengeance! In fact, he has been castigated by almost everyone in the industry.
For example, according to press reports, ABC has already announced the cancellation of a planned miniseries about the Holocaust it was developing with Gibson’s Icon Productions.
In addition, Michael Levine, an agent who has represented super-stars such as Michael Jackson and Charlton Heston, said, “It’s a nuclear disaster for him [Gibson]. I don’t see how he can restore himself.” Throughout the industry, the sentiment is the same: “Gibson has committed vocational suicide and is dead in the water. It’s all over for him.”
Yet, I don’t remember anyone in Hollywood or in the national media saying it was “all over” for Jesse Jackson when back in 1984 he called Jews “Hymies” and referred to New York City as “Hymietown.” I don’t remember people saying it was “all over” for Michael Moore when he was quoted as placing Israel in his own personal “axis of evil.” Why, then, are the Hollywood elite saying it’s “all over” for Mel Gibson?
Gibson’s enemies even overlook the fact that instead of sending his publicist to handle the media (as most Hollywood stars would do), he personally took responsibility for his actions and comments. In fact, his humility and contriteness in the matter have been quite remarkable!
In addition, Gibson has admitted to a long-standing problem with alcohol addiction, and he has apologized profusely for his anti-Jewish words spoken in a drunken stupor. He has even said he was willing to meet with Jewish leaders in order to facilitate a healing. What more can the man do?
The answer is obvious: the Hollywood elite don’t care how sincere or how repentant Gibson is; they want Mel Gibson’s crucifixion! I believe the American people will see through Hollywood’s hypocrisy and hatred and will find it in their hearts to forgive Gibson’s foolishness. At least I certainly hope so.
Does the church need to change with the times? Not if the church holds the truth; the unchanging truth of God needs to be applied to man’s changing times as the measure or yardstick whereby men and events are to be judged. Where the truth is declared to be man’s standard, change then is progress towards the truth, it is purposeful growth. Without the truth, change is no longer progress; it is merely change.
I will try to periodically write some comments about movies I watch. Since I have a fascination for story-telling and since I average about three movies a week, I will take the time to make some general comments about a few and rate them according to my 1-10 scale (10 being excellent in every way). The comments on future movies will be on audio but to start I decided to make some written comments about Dark Water. The plot is about a mother going through a messy divorce and fighting for the custody of her daughter. Due to the lack of money they move into an old apartment building. The story then unfolds as leaks begin to appear on their ceiling and the daughter starts to have conversations with a ghost. Though a familiar plot in horror thrillers, Dark Water superceeds others like The Grudge because it spends a considerable amount of time in the beginning developing the characters and explaining the real life dilemmas of a single mom. The little girl played by Ariel gade does a remarkable job in expressing the complex decisions little girls go through when going through significant change. Writer and Christian commentator Brian Godawa comments
that so many of these adapted foreign thrillers start out with a real scary premise and presence, but end up with weak stupid endings that don’t make sense
Though I have met Mr. Godawa and have benefited tremendously from his works and audio material I find him overly negative about too many movies that I have enjoyed. I believe he is constantly over-analyzing movies and missing some crucial nuances. Nevertheless, I still read his comments for just about any movie because he is always insightful. Here I differ with Brian because I believe the ending summarizes the depth of a mother’s love for her child. This love is expressed even to the point of self-sacrifice, which by the way happens to be a strong Biblical theme. Granted, the plot unveils the modern fascination for ghost stories and supernatural manifestations, but the morality expressed in the movie remains solid. What message in this movie reflected Biblical principles? A mother’s love for her child is a large contrast to our society where children are abandoned by their parents who are unconcerned about their future or well-being. What message in this movie reflected pagan notions? Ghosts manifesting themselves through dark water leaks on a ceiling proves that Hollywood is desperate to confuse the audience about supernatural manifestations. I firmly believe in supernatural manifestation, but when speaking of a little girl coming and appearing physically to cause harm on others this is a little absurd and unwarratnted by Scriptures.
RATE OF MOVIE: 7
Evil Proves the Existence of God! This was the title of a book shown deliberately in a movie. In the last several years there have been a proliferation of horror movies with the intention of attracting a larger public into the world of the supernatural. First, it was the Exorcism of Emily Rose which was a masterpiece! It brought together a host of worldviews into a courtroom. This is to my knowledge the first time a horror movie has been blended with tense courtroom scenes debating the essence of the supernatural. In my opinion, it succeeded in developing a persuasive case for the supernatural. Though supernatural events merely prove what has already been revealed (Romans 1), the intensity of recent movies have elevated awareness among most Americans.
I have just seen An American Haunting. The trailer itself was enough to leave me salivating. Donald Sutherland has always impressed his audience with remarkable performances. This is no different. The movie tells the story of a young girl in the early 19th century who is attacked by unseen forces which develops into an intricate story of suspense and shock. The Sixth Sense did something similar some years ago, but this one takes greater risks. It speaks profoundly about the effects of evil on those who pratice sin. Sin does not go unnoticed.
Almost always the debates concerning the legitimacy of the horror genre, so to speak, have been surrounded by the evil themes. It is however, better to see these movies with the eyes of a Christian who expects these things to be common occurrences. While the secularist watches in wonder of the supernatural manifestation in the screen, the Christian watches at ease the reality all around us. There is evil and evil proves God. Not only because one necessitates the other, but because apart from God nothing exists. The increase of the horror genre simply indicates the growing skepticism of those who produce it. Both An American Haunting and The Exorcism of Emily Rose are based on true events. The question of how faithful they are to the actual events is irrelevant to me. What is remarkable is that deep inside the unbeliever wants each story to be true.
Bell writes: “An Atheist is a person of tremendous faith. In our discussions about the things that matter most then, we aren’t talking about faith or no faith. Belief or no belief. We are talking about faith in what? Belief in what? The real question isn’t whether we have it or not, but what we have put it in” (019). Rob Bell affirms that which is explicitly denied in so many of our thinkers today. Modern science–like the rationalists of centuries ago–continually assumes that all their observations are bias-free. Bell corrects this foolish thinking process by denying that the atheist is belief-free. Even the most ardent of all atheists believes firmly in the absence of God. As he writes they are a people of “tremendous faith.” In fact, to believe in a Non-Being requires more faith than believing in a Being. Though I wish not to discuss it further it is sufficient to say that atheism in all its logical argumentation contra Christianity’s use of faith falls into the same dilemma.
How should we then live? For Rob Bell there are certain ways of living that seem to be more in line with the Christian message. He notes, “As a Christian, I am simply trying to orient myself around living a particular kind of way, the kind of way that Jesus taught is possible. And I think that the way of Jesus is the best possible way to live” (020). But what is Jesus’ way of living? Here are a few examples:
a) I am convinced being generous is a better way to live.
b) I am convinced forgiving people and not carrying around bitterness is better way to live.
c) I am convinced having compassion is a better way to live.
This is the way Bell believes Jesus would have him live. These are indeed noble ways of living. Christ does expect us to be generous, have compassion and so on. However, here Bell places certain areas of concern in a priority list. All of them deal with relationship with others. He is agenda-driven (as he would readily admit)! All of his concerns are merely relational. There is little to nothing about how this new Christianity should engage culture or politics or the new theological disputes of the day. This new way of living almost seems too exclusive. If other churches are not focusing on these issues that are of great concern to Bell, will he then attempt to correct them or will he find a way to implement new ideas into his new ideas? Ultimately, the point at stake is that all groups or communities must assume an identity that is at some level strong or even forcefully dogmatic about some issues and not so much on others. Rob Bell is no exception.
If the way Jesus wants us to live is to be “in tune with ultimate reality” (021) then Bell has made this ultimate reality in his own mind. Ultimate reality is not determined merely by how we live, but also by acknowledging what Bell so desperately seeks to undermine—the doctrinal necessity of Christ’s redemptive work as opposed to some reality that we need to mystically explore (more of this in another blog). This revelational act is clear and requires extreme commitment not sheer adherence. Bell senses that to be too strong on some ideas means that we cease to explore future discoveries by the church. But again I affirm, no one escapes from radical commitment to certain ideas; it just happens that Bell has some new ones. What if ten years from now a new movement rises exploring new possibilities of understanding doctrine and living with one another; will Bell be just as encouraged or will he tell his congregation to slow down a bit? Will new ideas inspire new ideas until one hundred years from now our creeds are nothing more than documents in museums? I am in no way denying Bell’s Christian faith, but I am questioning some of the consequences to his new Orthodoxy. In summary, there is much to embrace in terms of the mistaken views of bias-free thinking, but there is reason to be concerned with Bell’s ideas of what ultimate reality is and what it is not.
I have subscribed to Christianity Today this year and was surprised to see that Michael Horton had an article on the kingdom and culture. Since Dr. Horton was instrumental in bringing my thinking to Reformed Theology I was eager to read a distinctly Reformed perspective on culture. However, I was greatly surprised to read Horton’s atrocious approach to engaging culture. I have wanted to write about this for some time but I think some of the following articles sum up my present sentiments towards that article.