Free World

Quoted from Pariah, a new movie:

“I am broken. I am broken open. Breaking is freeing. Broken is freedom. I am not broken; I am free.”

First the context for this quote. I was trying to find a movie to watch from a bunch of trailers and the poster for this was a nondescript white background with black handwriting defining the word “Pariah.” English major interest is piqued at this point. However, this is actually a movie about a teen girl choosing a lesbian identity and calling it freedom. This trailer also uses the word “broken” to mean that some restraint is broken. (Like coming out of the closet… or breaking out of it.) I’m analyzing this thinly veiled worldly perspective on being free to make your own choices because I think I need to combat the sin of wilfulness. Wilfulness is related, but that is departing from the above theme a little.

As CJ Mahaney has tastefully worded it, we are not deprived but depraved. A pariah may seem deprived of societal status, but because any pariah is still human, pariahs are depraved too. Just like any accepted member of society is depraved. We are idolaters in some way/shape/form when anything is more important to us than God. It is increasingly common in world culture to twist the gospel of “grace for sinners and deliverance for the sinned against” into “unconditional acceptance for the victims of others’ lack of acceptance.” Celebrities like Lady Gaga promote a false gospel. Their songs sing that God accepts you just as you are – God has unconditional love for you. This is not the gospel. The gospel is that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24)

CJ Mahaney continues, “The gospel is better than unconditional love.” God accepts us just as Christ is accepted. God never accepts me as I am, but as I am in Christ. And in Christ I am changed from the depravity in which I was born. Sometimes it seems like identity is the one thing we should not give up or change. To continue with the example, Lady Gaga’s front page Metro editorial subtitle was “Let identity be your religion.” But identity need not be so untouchable if we can say with gladness, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) “I was born this way” (Gaga), but I am being made new after the likeness of God (Ephesians 4:20-24).

——————————————————-

Romans 6:20-23 (ESV)

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That bold part about being free just means not having to be righteous. Free to not be righteous is not so great a thing. And the measure of righteousness here is not “what feels right” but what God ordains as holy and pleasing to Him.

2 Peter 2:18-19 (ESV)

18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.

Being overcome is to be subdued or won over — owned (pwned) might be a curiously fitting modern word, though maybe not entirely accurate. If you give in to something, even something that seems or feels good, you are overcome. And to that you are a slave.

John 8:31-38 (ESV)

The Truth Will Set You Free

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

That’s how we get freedom. Not by being “broken open” and released as ourselves, but to abide in the word of God and to know the truth. You’re either free to break rules or free to follow them because you are not trapped by thinking that breaking the rules means you’re free. If I didn’t use too many negatives, that might make sense.

——————————————————-

Well, that was a good review for having listened to the first two parts of this sermon series. If you’re interested, CJ Mahaney’s three-part sermon series, The Idol Factory can be downloaded free here:

(Quotes above are from the first 15 minutes of Part 3. An outline is also available.)

Advertisements

Hope

You know chick flicks? They’re mostly run-of-the-mill pieces of mediocrity that directors make to guarantee some femme group-spending on a ladies’ movie night. On the contrary, there’s something to be said for the power of a feel-good flick watched with good girl friends.

Realist movies aren’t as fun to watch as the unrealistic fast food of a chick flick.

[Below are spoilers for the movies Alfie and Sweet Home Alabama.]

Take Alfie – despite the possible chick flick designation for having Jude Law in the cast, this movie ends as a downer. Alfie’s really messed things up for others and himself with his playboy lifestyle that includes personal attachments to many women. He thinks it’s ok; he always makes it clear beforehand that he’s not the type ready to commit. Still, the movie ends and he is lonely and guilt-ridden. Realistic? Maybe. Droll? Definitely.

Take Sweet Home Alabama – despite definite chick flick flavours such as good-looking screen personnel and a fairytale storyline of economic success and ‘true’ love, it does kind of subvert fairytale romances of the urban fashionable blue-blood strain where the rich marry each other or some poor girl or boy. (It does upkeep the childhood sweetheart fairytale though.) In any case, we admittedly hope for our own fairytale.

Back to the point. “S/he/It is so real.” That’s what we say when we’re impressed with how something has moved us deeply. Like when something has the raw power to connect with a part of ourselves that we believe to be ‘real’. What is real? We keep returning to the chick flick; whether we say it is real or we don’t, we include it in the functions of our life.

Perhaps the ‘real’ thing we see in chick flicks is the hope it inspires. That hope may not be for any realistic target, but the act of hope is viscerally real. And hope is far more appealing than despair.

Belts make you stand straight

Belt of truth. Standing upright.

I have recently learned why soldiers tie their waists tightly with a belt. Kinda like a corset. This practice is featured in the final battle in Glory (a movie about the American Civil War) when Robert Shaw prepares to attack Fort Wagner. According to my dad, belting your waist keeps your back straighter and makes you stronger.

This stirs another thought. The belt of truth in the Armour of God may not be as randomly assigned as I thought. It’s as if truth can prop you up when you want to slump, straighten the crooked, and so make you stronger in the war against lies. Pretty important stuff, if you consider (realise) that the whole world is a warzone of truth versus falsehood.

Personally, my heart sinks right to the bottom of the pool when I hear someone talking about believing something that contradicts the truth. I’ve realised how fickle our (my own) standards for truth are. We like keeping our own standards of truth. Truth cannot hurt us. Anything that hurts can’t be true! Even though we know this is silly when we see it pointed out, we still use this ‘ruler’ to measure truth because for some reason we think hurt ≣ no good. [≣ is always equal to]

Chick flicks are like fast food

Chick flicks are like fast food: not real, and very bad for your health if consumed on a regular basis.

Some assumptions of those affected:

  1. It only ever takes 121 minutes to meet The One and be in love forever, absolutely.
  2. Loving someone is passive; you can experience it by sitting, watching, and welling up emotion.
  3. People will inevitably get thrown together because you think know they are ‘right’ for each other.
  4. If you are ‘right’ for each other, okthanks go live happily ever after.

Actually, when you watch a ‘romantic movie’, two people will hit it off, and could potentially be really good friends. Then [footage not shown].

We don’t see the mundane life happening; all we get is the romance. Popular art (the movie) has to be ‘nice’ and it has to be palatable to a diverse audience. We want what we kind of wish life were like. If it tastes good in the mouth, who cares what it does to the body? Grab some food in 5 minutes? Or spend the time grocery shopping, washing your vegetables, peeling and cutting, marinating your meat, preheating the oven, waiting for your food to bake, setting the table… washing the dishes?

Is it possible to get emotionally obese on cheap love?

Enchanted by Enchanted

Fresh. And just really funny. So many references to other stories – I like that. It takes the stereotypical Disney fantasy, admits and jabs at all the outrageous unreality of it, and then ends in an outrageously unrealistic fashion anyways. Meanwhile empowering the female character at last. (and stooge characters too)

What does it try to argue? Fantasy? Reality? A synthesis? Stop arguing about which one is better as long as you do a good job of it? Stop accusing Disney of fantasy because nearly every other movie out there is ‘fantastic’? We are ‘fantastic’ and proud of it?

Well one point is certain: we all need some feel-good fantasy in our lives – just a little. (But we also need a healthy serving of reality – and like Samuel Johnson and many others have pointed out: the audience knows the difference between the stage and reality.) (Or do they? And can they separate it in their own lives?)

I am of the opinion that the film is rather sophisticated in its treatment.