Monthly Archives: January 2015

Great Minds, #2

CSL, 3/8/13, random marriage forum posting:

How many husbands are called upon to die for their wives? Not many of us will be called upon to demonstrate that extreme devotion. But it takes a life-long devotion to live for my wife, as well, and I believe that is also expressed in “giving himself up.”

Paul Byerly, 1/28/15, The XY Code:

He’s willing to die for you, and he’ll become willing to live for you. (Dying is easy; living involved a great deal of sacrifice.)

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Apostle’s Creed, part 9

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord;
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,

      was crucified,

I’ve written, in a previous post, about how The Passion of the Christ affected me. I think it is an important movie, but I haven’t been able to re-watch it in nine years. I am a somewhat hardened old coot, but Gibson’ graphic depiction crushes me. Not because it is too brutal. Oh, no; if anything, I would guess that Gibson was spot-on. Given mankind’s capacity to devise methods to create pain, I’d say that it was probably understating what Jesus experienced. Continue reading

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Christian Go-To Marital Tools, part 1

mrlucky

(This is the first of a five-part series; here are the links to part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5.)

I’m going to step out of my Mr. Nice Guy persona and go on a little rant. And, I’m also going to go…. There!

Michele Weiner-Davis, author of The Sex-Starved Marriage, says that 1 in 3 marriages have a problem concerning significant libido differences. That’s a clinician’s way of saying that one person in a marriage is wantin’ and ain’t gettin’. And I’ve come to the conclusion that Christians have the worst set of skills for confronting a sexless marriage.* Continue reading

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Matinee Monday: On The Town

curtains

At the end of WWII, a Gene Kelly – Frank Sinatra movie was released, Anchors Aweigh, about two sailors on leave in Hollywood. The musical was a big hit, and so a sequel was made four years later, that disproved the axiom “the sequel is never the equal.” On The Town was blessed with three great dancers (Gene Kelly, Ann Miller and Vera-Ellen), two great comic actors (Betty Garrett and Jules Munshin) and Ol’ Blue Eyes (before he was Ol’ Blue Eyes). Continue reading

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Matinee Monday: Stagecoach

curtains

What can one say about Hollywood’s 1939 except to cast about for all the superlatives you can find? Most film critics and aficionados accept without equivocation that 1939 was the nonpareil, that no crop of film of any year comes close to what was produced just before WWII. What film year can come close to it, when it has such films as Dark Victory, Gone With the Wind, Ninotchka, and The Wizard of Oz?

But the film I want to address today is a film from 1939 that is an equal to these, and more: Stagecoach. This was the first pairing of director John Ford and actor John Wayne. While Ford and Wayne would go on to make many other movies together, Stagecoach established Wayne as an actor and Ford as a director. In fact, Wayne’s portrayal of The Ringo Kid was his breakout role, establishing him as a major motion picture star.

But for me, the real “star” of the movie was John Ford and his innovative direction. According to Wikipedia, “Orson Wells argued that it was a perfect textbook of film making and claimed to have watched it more than 40 times in preparation for the making of Citizen Kane.” His decision to move the production from the studio backlot and film in Monument Valley created a lush visual panorama that would come to define the Western film genre. As well, he created new camera angles that added to the storytelling of the film. In one short sequence, the stagecoach crosses a swollen river. A simple scene done many times, right? In Stagecoach, the viewer watches the team of horses pulling the coach from above, from  the vantage point of the driver. It was a beautiful sequence, and one I’ve never seen repeated.

As a fan of old movies, one of my joys is seeing character actors that I enjoy, and Ford stocked Stagecoach with several familiar faces: Donald Meek, Andy Devine, Thomas Mitchell (Uncle Billy, in “It’s A Wonderful Life”, and John Carradine. See if these old photos don’t make you go, “Oh, him!”

Donald Meek

Donald Meek

Andy Devine

Andy Devine

Thomas Mitchell

Thomas Mitchell

John Carradine

John Carradine

And, of course, there is the iconic shot of The Duke, the one that served to announce a major star had arisen:

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Apostle’s Creed, part 8

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord;
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,

“suffered under Pontius Pilate,”

This line of the Creed makes two statements that the apostle affirms.

First, the apostle is stating a fact of history. Christians are stating that Jesus was born, lived, taught, died, and was resurrected during a specific period of time. By connecting the time with a person in the annals of history, Jesus is placed on earth, in Judea, under the rule of Romans, during the decade that Pilate was Roman procurator (26-36 AD). This anchors the Christian faith in human history, and keeps Jesus real; Christ is not some ethereal spirit flitting in and out of time. God, in and through Jesus, met mankind where the sandal hit the road. He is a God Who says, “Do as I do”, not “Do as I say.”

The second statement that this line makes is much more theological: Jesus, the holy Son of God, suffered a cruel, agonizing death, even though, as God, He could have secured His safety and release with a word. The night before He was crucified, Jesus prayed to His Father to be spared this agony, if it were possible. But strengthened by God and by angels, He endured the crown of thorns, the whipping and beatings for one reason: the reconciliation of mankind to God.

I have a small confession to make. I’ve seen Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ only twice. I saw it the first time in the theater, and on VHS tape, a couple of years after it was released. The violence of the film shook me. It’s not that the violence was gratuitous; after all, the film is only two hours long, and Jesus was in the hands of the Temple guards and Romans for hours. No, it was that the violence that was shown was, of itself, so brutal, but not nearly all of what Jesus went through for you and me. I bawled in the theater, and I bawled in the privacy of my living room. It was overwhelming, devastating, to see just some of what He endured.

“He suffered under Pontius Pilate.”

Oh, how He suffered. But Hebrews 2:10 tells us that by His suffering, He brought  “many sons and daughters to glory.”

CSL

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Marriage: Contract or Covenant, part 3

covenant

(This is the third of a three-part series; here are the links to part 1 and part 2.)

I’ve been writing about how the Church has created a teaching by which it tries to differentiate between ‘contract’ and ‘covenant’, attempting to elevate Marriage to a higher, spiritual plain. I think that I have shown that there is no biblical support for this teaching, that the Old Testament word for ‘covenant’ (berith) is the same word for ‘contract’, and that during OT times, Jews treated marriage as a contract. Continue reading

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Matinee Monday: Harvey

curtains

In 1950, Universal brought the popular Broadway play “Harvey” to the screen, with America’s favorite Everyman, Jimmy Stewart in the starring role. The movie tells of a day in the life of Elwood P. Dowd, a slow, mild man who imagines he has a 6’3″ rabbit for a friend.

Stewart delightfully plays the amiable Dowd with a charm and warmth that only he possesses. The absolute gem of the film is the dowager Josephine Hull, brought from Broadway for the role of Elwood’s sister Vida. Poor Vida is so exasperated at being socially shunned because of her brother’s eccentricities, that she finally conspires with a local judge to have her brother committed to the local sanitarium, Chumley’s Rest.

The plot centers on the mix-up on who is being committed, and Elwood’s gentle delight in introducing his friend Harvey to others. If you have never watched Harvey, you are so much the poorer for not having had a pookah in your life; rent it. In the clip below, there is a wonderful nugget of truth.

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Marriage: Contract or Covenant, part 2

covenant

(This is the second of a three-part series; here are the links to part 1 and part 3.)

In the previous post, I looked at the idea that “marriage” is actually a contract. For so many years, I’ve heard “Marriage is a covenant, not a contract.” But it appears that, in Bible times, marriage WAS a contract, and Jewish customs dictated a written contract, a ketubah. Continue reading

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Apostle’s Creed, part 7

Tomorrow is the Twelfth Day of Christmas, so this is still seasonally appropriate.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord;

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

“Born of the virgin Mary,”

I know that the default image for Christmas is something medieval or Renaissance, a la da Vinci or Titian, but I’m pretty sure that crude roughness is the truth of Mary’s situation. Living in a brutish time, forced to walk/ride to Bethlehem and finding ‘sanctuary’ in a cave used as a cattle pen, with flea-infested straw and home-spun cloth as a “hospital” birthing bed, and a rough-hewn board manger and straw for a bassinet, Mary, Joseph and Jesus did not present a Christmas-card tableau for the Three Magi to happen upon. (Yes, I know that the Bible doesn’t say there were three magi, but I can only deal with so many icons in one one post.)

But the truth of the Creed is not in our idealization of the imagery of Christmas, but with the statement of the Bible about our Savior, and what God accomplished. And with the humble obedience of a young girl, on the cusp of womanhood, who accepted her place in God’s plan of salvation.

There is no way that this can be minimized. We know that Mary had to deal with whisperings behind her back about the legitimacy of Jesus’ birth (after all, at one point, the Pharisees cast His birth back at Jesus “Where is your Father”.) Told by Simeon that her heart would be pierced, she watched her son crucified by Romans.

And, yet, she was faithful to her promise to God throughout her life. “Let it be to me according to your word.” One more testimony of faith in God that we look to when we say the Creed.

We confess that Mary’s obedience is a model for ours. We, too, are servants of God, and say with her, “Let it be to me according to Your will.”

CSL

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