We came home from the library last night with the movie, Changing Lanes. The picture stars Ben Affleck and Samuel Jackson. The package gives almost no indication as to the nature of the film other than that it is a drama. I picked it up because I thought it looked... interesting. R for language, which is to say, R for Samuel Jackson being in the picture, or so I thought. It was a mild risk. We had Dances with Wolves for our back up.
But Changing Lanes was great. It was was one of the best movies I've seen in a while, and the biggest suprise since Napoleon Dynamite (ok, bad analogy).
The story moves from two insulated, and very different, worlds deep into the human heart. But unlike most modern dramas, you're not left violated by the writer's nihilism: here there is a sense of redemption.
I won't give anything else away. The film covers such broad topics as racialisation, poverty, anger, alcoholism, marrital love, adultery and its consequences, the power of the internet, high-corporate fraud, growing up, honesty, religion, redemption and, of course, the ultimate test of morality, big city highway driving. This picture gets a 9 out of 4. I had very low expectations but walked away with more food for thought than one viewing will allow me to process. Profanity did not seem harsh, though it was present. Considering what you're braced for when you read "R for language," the swearing seemed negligible. Watch it. Let me know what you think.
I've recently completed my second "the best Christian writing" collection. One has been published every year since 2000. Though best may be an overstatement (superlatives usually are), this is very good writing, insightful, thought provoking, and frequently beautiful. The volume contains short stories, interviews, eulogies, political sketches, devotional thoughts, and other miscellaneous genre shorts. If you see them on sale, as they tend to be, pick one up. You won't be disappointed; there is always something worth the price of the book. Two submissions captivated me:
Dakota Christmas by J. Bottum, reprinted from First Things
How to Build Homes without Putting up Walls by Tim Stafford, reprinted from Christianity Today.
They are both available online.
Cross Movement Records puts out the best hip-hop in Christian music and some of the best music in Christian music period. By best, of course, I don't mean slickest, fanciest, best produced, or even the most singable. I mean doctrine. Truth.
For instance, I'm listening to a new CMR artist: Flame. Though the style is occasionaly hard for me to hear since I haven't been used to those particular lyrical and musical flourishes, the lyrics are deeper and more biblical (strait biblical) than most of your CCM today (that is, commercial christian music). The gripes I have against flame are things such as his plug for women in the ministry. That's a serious problem, but the bare fact that it's being addressed in CCM evidences the deeper level of Textual concern amongst CMR artists.
I'm new to rap music as a pure genre (rap metal I've found enjoyable), but I must say, I'm enjoying Flame for the prophetic challenge he's giving my soul in his poetic mixing and articulation of generally sound doctrine.
The NEESH bought me the Batman Knightfall series for my birthday (at my behest). Great series, not for beginners. It assumes a significant emotional attachment to the Bat. If you're not a fan, then it's not that great. The art is so-so. The story line is, well, comic-bookish. It's a little violent (ahem), or maybe a lot. But it is a great three part series. I loved them when they came out the first time, but never had the financial where-with-all to finish the series. So you know what I did for three days after my birthday?
This sad article about the societal consequences of truth-supression is confusing for how clear it is. And under it all, the challenge to all of us to be better informed.
You Have to Find the Facts Before You Can Face Them
You Have to Find the Facts Before You Can Face Them
What is this? Are we witnessing the beginning of a wholesale shift in how the English language is written? Various translations of the bible have been cutting edge in shifting vernacular even as it represents it. But this may be as radical as the shift from olde English to the nu stuff: The Text Messaged Bible.
I recently completed the shocking and confused "modern classic", Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison. I don't mean shocking in an overly vulgar way, although that may occasionaly be the case. I mean shocking as in, "No way, no way could that have happened!" That sort of shocking can be good, awakening.
Ellison writes like a confused African-American man amidst the sexual and social upheaval of the American 1960's trying to sound like Fyodor Dostoyevsky. He amidts to as much in his introduction. But what sounds intelligent and funny in the mouth of a simple (ha!) Russian peasant, sounds intentionally confused and confusing in Ellison.
That critique in place, however, I admit I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Although it struggled with its own identity, quite apart from it being the story of a man with the same struggle, as to whether it was fiction or philosophy, I found it strangely hitting home on a number of occasions. Regularly I felt disturbed, not by the events the book chronicled, but by the journey Invisible Man took. I felt at home in his loneliness. I am not a black man. Yet I felt like his words were perfectly mine, chortled out in confused, deflated anger; anger that must keep walking for fear and for the foundational principles laid under it. Whatever I am that I dislike, I am nonetheless. Those identifying features that are not sinful I must come to accept as the Lord's will for my life.
I am twenty-five years old today. What I am I am. As Invisible Man says, "I yam what I yam." So with Paul I must now move on. Glory and Horror fills my past. Whatever. Fix ye old hope exclusively on the grace to be brought to you at the coming of Jesus Christ.