Why Meme? And other thoughts

“Whatever is produced in haste goes hastily to waste.

– Saadi

 

Post a meme affirming your worldview, and move on… but now what?

I have experienced with increasing dissatisfaction the poor ability of the American people to engage in civil discourse. Before I continue my rant and point fingers at the rest of society, I will confess that it was not very long ago when I was in the exact predicament. That is, why learn how to defend one’s position when it is infinitely less difficult to post a meme? “Victory is mine!” to unintentionally quote Stewie.

If a meme is worth a thousand words there may be nothing left to say, but when a disagreeing friend poses a question, the lack of defense offered either suggests one’s inability or unwillingness to venture beyond his or her post. “Um, I don’t know… I didn’t prepare a rebuttal, the meme was supposed to do that for me.”

To be fair, though I hesitate to grant the point, Facebook is not real life. What one gets away with on Facebook, they should be discouraged from practicing at work, school, home, etc. When racism gets ugly in the South, how do you handle the pain and chaos? Post a meme, of course.  

 

“It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.”

– Alfred Adler

 

Diversity, tolerance, free speech, open-minded… Most people are willing to use these terms, but not all know how to put them into practice. For me, again, I’m new to this as well, the more I practice friendly speech with my opponents on Facebook, the better I am at having thought-provoking conversations in front of blood pumping, breathing human beings.

“A heart that understands what is right looks for knowledge.

But the mouths of foolish people feed on what is foolish.”

– Proverbs 15:14

Please, please listen to others. Please ask them questions about their worldviews. I’ve been guilty of assuming I knew a person, when in fact I learned a surprise or two. If we cannot learn to listen to one another we will fail to understand each other, and the bigotry will continue on all fronts.

“If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.” – Moshe Dayan

We have to learn to listen to one another.

Applying Standards: Racism

“…man who lives for self alone, Lives for the meanest mortal known.”

– Joaquin Miller

Sinful, and nothing short of it. What we are seeing in America is despicable.

Jesus declared hatred to be murder because the latter is often a result of the former. But we aren’t supposed to talk about Jesus. He’s not politically correct. Perhaps we have gone beyond the need for political correctness. Hearts that hate will hate in spite of the PC culture. So what should we do?

For starters, we need to stop pretending that this world has made God’s law obsolete. We certainly don’t live as though we weren’t created in His image. When we see injustice, we cry out against is, as we should. But, whose standard are we applying to the injustice?

“If you don’t like abortion, don’t get one…” Okay, let’s apply that standard.

“If you don’t like racism, don’t be racist.” Are we all on the same page yet?

Why is racism bad? Because it is a form of hatred. Why is hatred bad? Because it is murder.

Murder? Oh yes, because we are dealing with standards greater than “If you don’t like (pet peeve here),” we have to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the sovereign King that He is. If we are created by Him, for Him, then his standards apply to us, and we cannot manipulate those standards to suit our personal whims. Why is murder bad? Because Jesus is not a murderer; He’s neither racist, nor full of hate. His standard is ours, whether we like it or not.

But, let’s consider for a moment the consequences of violating His standards?

Those who are guilty of sin are deserving of Hell… plain and simple. This means that racists are deserving of Hell, and so are those who hate racists… “But I don’t believe in Hell,” said the criminal about prison to the judge on the day of his sentencing. Belief must submit to truth, and Jesus is the Truth.

We dare not stop with racists. The Bible makes it clear that all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and that those who reject Christ already stand condemned (John 3:18). This is bad news America. We need to wake up! We are seeing the results of a society who refuses to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord. What did Jesus say about the greatest commandment? Love God with all heart, mind, soul, and strength; and to love our neighbors as ourselves. (Matthew 22:36-40)

I have failed. The racists have failed. If you are honest with yourself, you may come to the conclusion that you have failed as well.

Sinful, and nothing short of it. We are all condemned with no excuses to offer before a just and righteous judge, so what do we do now?

“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1

No condemnation, declared innocent. This is good news!

Which standard will America apply? If we choose our own, “if you don’t like, don’t do” then we will continue to deal with racism. If we choose God’s standards, (which He does apply to us) then we all have some repenting to do, because unless we accept His mercy, we will never escape His justice.  

The Forgiveness of the Separation: Church, State & Family

“If we want deliverance from the false savior of the state, we are going to have to appeal to a real Savior-and there is only one of those.”

-Douglas Wilson Father Hunger.

 

In the midst of his crucifixion, as his labored breaths deteriorated, Jesus cried out, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Stephen Likewise, had been stoned to death after preaching to his brethren. His final words were, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

Then, the church scattered and grew. The Good News has made its way into our lives today because those who faced persecution were faithful to forgive. How difficult it is to forgive our enemies, but how influential it can be.

God created three governments, and we have seen the consequences of weakening them. The church was God’s idea. So was the family, and yes, you guessed it, the civil government is under His authority as well.

Here’s the problem, when one form of government is guilty of rebellion, the others suffer. Fathers abandon their children, churches stray from the truth, and the civil magistrate exercises corrupt authority. This has become a grotesque status-quo in America and the gospel is the only way out.

Because Jesus died, was buried, and rose on the third day, we can trust Him. He has all authority in heaven and on earth, and He sent his followers on a mission. They trusted Him. Do we trust our Savior? If we do, then all three forms of government must be made aware of, or in some cases reminded of, who gave them their authority. “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” – Samuel Johnson

We must all repent and return to The Savior. It is possible, maybe overwhelmingly so, that we must begin by repenting of our unforgiveness. Christ forgave his enemies while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). Stephen asked that his killers would not have their sin held against them.

Where to begin? God created the family first in the garden when He brought Adam and Eve together told them to multiply. How many husbands today need to forgive their wives? How many sons need to forgive their fathers? How many mothers need to forgive their daughters? We can ask any number of scenarios about the purveyors of forgiveness.

Families fill churches as well as participate in government. Christ said that He would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. I believe a wise theological view would be to take Him at his word. The civil government can only administer justice if there are just individuals in judicial positions.

So what should our response be the next time the supreme court oversteps its bounds? Remind them that they are under the authority of Christ and cry out to the Father for forgiveness. If a church starts preaching a false doctrine, call them to repentance with a loving rebuke and ask the Father to forgive. When husbands, wives, mothers, and fathers turn away from their God-given roles, we must remind them, we must plead with them to turn back to the Living God. He alone can save them. The best thing we can do for our society as a whole is the best thing we can do for individuals: love them, and forgive them when they hate us.

A word of caution: “love them” does not mean to be nice, smile, and turn a blind eye to the actions of others. Though that is the easier way to live, it is not the way to be hated, crucified or stoned to death. If we want to flip around a culture, we must be willing to risk everything (which includes comfort and popularity) for Jesus. 

To end on a more positive note, I will simply remind us that Jesus Christ is faithful. If persecution comes, He is faithful. If revival comes, He is faithful. Come what may, He is faithful; be prepared to forgive those who might hate you, and keep your eyes on Him.

Top 50 Movies? Part 2

“In mathematics you don’t understand things. You just get used to them.”

-Johann von Neumann

 

Since it was so difficult for me to provide a legitimate top 50 movie list, I decided to give it a second try. I hope your expectations are not too high.

 

  1. Bottle Shock (2008) Can American wine compete with French wine? The answer may shock you.

 

  1. A Good Year (2006) A good film.

 

  1. Saving Private Ryan (1998) This movie probably belongs on the top ten list, but I’m clearly not a reputable movie critic.

 

    37. Gladiator (2000) Why was this movie not on the first list? Was I not entertained???

 

  1. True Lies (1994) I’m not lying, this movie was tolerable.

 

  1. Beaches (1988) Don’t cry, it’s just a movie.

 

  1. Forrest Gump (1994) What a strange, but entertaining film.

 

  1. The Last Samurai (2003) Thanks to Hans Zimmer for an extraordinary soundtrack. The movie was good too.

 

  1. Toy Soldiers (1991) Action-packed.

 

  1. Rudy (1993) Sean Astin is a stud.

 

  1. Encino Man (1992) This movie is fun.

 

  1. The Goonies (1985) Finishing off the Sean Astin four-movie-streak. I’m not sure how I managed to forget about this movie on the first list… shame on me.

 

Well, for those of you who understand mathematics well enough, you will have concluded that I have ten movies to go to complete the top 50 list. Be patient, you might be shocked by one of the remaining titles.

If You Give a Friend a Coffee

“We must always remember…that poets are also God’s creatures.”

-P.G. Wodehouse, Leave it to Psmith

 

If ever you are thirsty

I’ll gladly offer drink

Coffee, coffee, or tea

Or water from the sink

 

There’s chocolate milk, or plain

Or coffee, I prefer

Wine from France or Spain

And coffee, as it were

 

When doctors give advice

About what I should drink

I never see them twice

I only trust my Shrink

 

My Shrink loves coffee too

And doesn’t let me thirst

Things are wrong, it’s true

And decaf is the worst

 

I never thirst for long

A double shot for me

Of course I like it strong

How else should coffee be

 

I may have shared too much

About my mental state

Psychiatrists and such

Consumption, year-to-date

 

 

But this is about you

You’re still thirsty, I see

I’m offering a brew

Coffee, beer, or tea

 

Rhetorical, for sure

The coffee is your choice

For some there is no cure

We drink and we rejoice

 

So do not thirst my friend

Instead, let’s make a toast

And drink from end to end

To celebrate our roast

Top 50 Movies?

“Youth would be an ideal state if it came a little later in life.”

– Herbert Henry Asquith

 

It is difficult to convince my children that they want a nap, and equally difficult to convince my wife that I deserve a nap. Somehow, a result of the fall, I’m sure, our youthfulness is underappreciated when it is endured.

This venture began as an attempt to answer a challenge given me by an acquaintance of mine: To make a respectable list of the top 50 movies of all time. I failed quite miserably. My list hasn’t the capacity to ascend to the mere fringes of respectability. In fact, one may wonder whether I endeavored to fully understand the nature of the task. Alas, shame-faced though I may appear, I knew as I compiled my list that I was breaking the rules set before me.  

I must confess that I had a greater desire to divulge the titles of my favorite films than I had to actually calculate the depths of cinematic genius. I have never seen the “The Dark Knight”. Though I have been told it belongs on such a list, my lack of experience denies it’s inclusion. That is only one example, but I am sure many will grow impatient trying to recognize the titles set before them. Be that as it may, this is my list and I can give it no greater defense than to simply say, as Maui is so famous in his boasting, “you’re welcome!”

My favorite movies, most from my childhood and in an order which strives to defy logic, have been been submitted for your criticism.

 

  1. Good Will Hunting (1997) For a breakout role to be that powerful, I cannot help to put it on this list. (Yes, my top 50 list begins at #28, but I did that for you because I did not want you to get bored before you made it to #1). Those who have seen it know why it’s on the list; those who haven’t seen it really should.

 

  1. Empire Records (1995) – Good music (assuming the title is accurate), a young cast, most of whom went on to greater fame.

 

  1. Rover Dangerfield (1991) – “I’m in love with the dog next door.” A fun movie for the family, the soundtrack is phenomenal… for a cartoon with Rodney Dangerfield as the lead character… “I’d give up a bone for you.”

 

  1. A Simple Twist of Fate (1994) – Previous to this film, I believed comedians were only allowed to star in comedies. Steve Martin is brilliant in this heartwarming story.

 

  1. Pippi Longstocking (1988) – I’ll be honest, I remember very little about this, but my family just recently started reading the book, which is hilarious, and I highly recommend listening to the theme song.

 

  1. Mannequin (1987) – Before the modern-day challenge, this movie had mannequins, comedy, romance, and mediocre special effects! What else can you ask for?

 

  1. Losing Isaiah (1995) – Cuba Gooding Jr., Halle Berry, Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Lange, and the near eradication of racism… why is this movie not on more top 50 lists?

 

21. Willow (1988) – Action, adventure, edge-of-your-seat fun, Val Kilmer and Warwick             Davis!

 

  1. A Walk to Remember (2002) – Another great soundtrack… (if you like Mandy Moore and Switchfoot). If you watch it for the doctrine you may find yourself disappointed at times, but the entertainment value compensates accordingly. I dare you not to cry.

 

  1. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) – At times slightly scary for young children, but an interestingly odd adventure that most kids, and the cool adults, will enjoy.

 

  1. The Ring (2002) – “Seven days…” This will be the only horror film on my list. I just don’t see the point of intentionally allowing oneself to be scared. But, what a thriller with a crazy plot twist.

 

  1. Jerry Maguire (1996) – “Show me the money!!” An academy award for Cuba Gooding Jr. “You complete me…” I just want to keep quoting this movie, but I’ll shut up. “Just shut up, you had me at ‘hello.’”

 

  1. Drop Dead Fred (1991) – This movie is not entirely appropriate for children and it really lowers the intelligence bar for adults. Had I not enjoyed it so much in my youth I would remove it completely from this list. Why is it ranked at #16? Remember, I am striving to defy logic in this particular enumeration. If you want a good laugh, and nothing else (other than Carrie Fisher in a supporting role) then this film is for you!

 

  1. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) – Stunning artistry in this tale. The instrumental soundtrack is far above par, excellent voice-acting, and a decent story-line.

 

  1. The Lord of the Rings (2001, 2002, 2003) – I know I’m cheating by lumping all three together, but this is my list and I can do what I want. What do I need to say about these films? “The Return of the King” ran off with many Academy Awards… Kudos. Now, I really should go about the business of attempting to read the books.

 

  1. The NeverEnding Story (1984) – Why did they stop making these films? I feel as though my childhood needs refunded or the title changed. The first one was great, the second barely memorable, and beyond that, I cannot give an honest critique as my desire to continue the saga came to a paradoxical end.

 

  1. Big (1988) – Though not really one of my favorite childhood films, I feel like I would be doing an injustice to Tom Hanks specifically and to society as a whole if I failed to add this to the list… and that’s all I have to say about that.

 

  1. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – One of the few titles submitted by yours truly which corresponds with the legitimate lists out there, this movie is a must see. Though some scenes are at times a bit too much for children, the drama, character development, and remarkable plot twists will keep you on the edge of your seat.

 

The Top Ten

I am still unable to vouch for a reasonable method of rank, but I will attempt to employ exemplary reviews for the remaining titles.

 

  1. Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993) – Mel Brooks did a great job with this one, but I am ashamed of myself for not including “Blazing Saddles.” After all, “We don’t need no stinking badges.” Cary Elwes is as good as ever, and Dave Chappelle got to follow in the footsteps of Cleavon Little. If you find a part that really makes you laugh I recommend rewinding it to watch over and over again.

 

  1. A Beautiful Mind (2001) – Math has always been a difficult subject for me, still, this film attempted to convince me to be a mathematician. Attempted unsuccessfully, but with all the Academy Awards attached to it, one is forced to face math in all its beauty. A wonderful cast, a great director, and a decent soundtrack (James Horner)… watch this movie at least once.

 

  1. The Family Man (2000) – For all of you who were hoping to see “Family Guy” on this list, I am sorry to disappoint, but Nicolas Cage does not disappoint. Surrounded by a worthy supporting cast, this movie offers the comedy, drama, romance, and even an ounce of action as well as mystery that many look for in a movie. You might like it. If I had to rank it more systematically, it would be closer to #50 than #1.

 

  1. Little Big League (1994) – Sadly dwarfed by “Rookie of the Year” and especially, “The Sandlot,” this film is definitely my favorite childhood sports movie. I’m not going to waste your time reviewing this one, just watch it.

 

  1. Loaded Weapon 1 (1993) – Why they didn’t make a trilogy from this is beyond me. All of the elements were perfectly in place for an encore, and here we are in the middle of 2017 waiting patiently. This movie, a National Lampoon’s title, is exactly what you might expect, but funnier. I can’t wait, though I continue to do so, for the sequel.

 

  1. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) – If you’re a Trekkie you might like it, if you aren’t a Trekkie, you also might like it. Whales in space and Starships in the ocean… all in the same movie… Need I say more?

 

  1. The Terminal (2004) – Zoe Saldana plays a Trekkie before she lands her role in “Star Trek,” Diego Luna plays a Trekkie before starring in “Rogue One,” and Tom Hanks is as good as ever. An interesting plot executed to near perfection. If you find yourself bored during the upcoming NFL season, do yourself a favor and watch this movie.

 

  1. Race the Sun (1996) – The very fact that more Halle Berry films are not on my list shows great self-control on my part. But apart from my adolescent crush, this movie is fun. Jim Belushi is a great supporting role, and somebody named Casey Affleck took on a strong role as well. Another one of those “underdogs overcoming the odds” kinda films.

 

  1. Top Secret (1984) – This movie was introduced to me about ten years ago by a co-worker at the time, and I am ever grateful that he took the time to place it into my hands. If you like to see puns in action, and you love slapstick comedy, watch this… watch it twice. Then, just for fun, watch it again, you’ll get a good laugh out of it.

 

  1. Pride and Prejudice (2005) – One can only guess how many enemies I am bound to collect once word gets out that I have ranked Matthew Macfadyen’s Mr. Darcy superior to that of Colin Firth. Alas, I am sure this list has already garnered sufficient enemies to demand a recount. Nevertheless, this is my number one, and Matthew Macfadyen played no small role in that decision. His chemistry with Keira Knightley (Elizabeth Bennet) is sublime. The instrumental soundtrack is worth humming all day and whistling while one works. The cinematography is brilliant, and the supporting cast owns their respective characters. Taking a back seat for Best Picture to “Crash” at the 2005 Academy Awards, this movie is worth watching at least once, as I have seen it at least twice… and note that “Crash,” though I did watch it, is not even on my list.

 

*Special note: It is interesting enough to point out that I became a better reader, and subsequently a better writer after reading Jane Austen. It would be unfair of me as a blogger and avid reader to give the number one spot to any other film.

Now, it’s your turn… What movies did I miss? Which ones are out of place, and why?

Please share your thoughts, and as for the list, You’re very welcome!