Sunday, June 28, 2015

I Need #Resurrection, the Likes O' Which Ain't Never Been Seen Before

Oh wait, yes it has. About one thousand nine hundred eighty five years ago in Jerusalem... what.

Any rate, I feel like I've been watching a lot of movies/TV since school let out the first week of June. I feel like I was working pretty hard at the end of the school year, what with my part-time teaching responsibilities plus covering for my part-time colleague. So I have felt that kicking back and taking in some of the entertainment I missed over the past few months is fine. Most of my viewing pleasure has been on Netflix; my wife and I have been getting our money's worth there watching 30 Rock. That's been fun.

I've also been using the Netflix to watch episodes of Arrow. Because superheroes.

Speaking of which, I found out that the AMC down the street has $5 weekday matinee tickets. I took advantage of that last week to watch Avengers: Age of Ultron. I don't really think there's any redeeming value there; it's just fun superhero adventure. I mean, if you really wanted to find literary merit there, you could talk about Tony Stark's hubris and the way that Marvel always portrays its heroes as very human, with many flaws and foibles.

I also took advantage of the $5 tickets to see Mad Max: Fury Road. I was really digging that one. It totally lived up to the hype, which for me included the feminist themes. I saw in that one a conflict over the possession or freedom of innocents. But I think some may disagree with me there because of the ultra-violence that Mad Max has always featured. I'd love to discuss that one if anyone is interested... (just contact me and let me know).

Now, the problem with all of these is that there's not a whole lot of redeeming content in them. I mean, I wouldn't go so far to say that any of them are trashy entertainment. But I definitely don't think there's a lot of really spiritually edifying ideas, either. Which is part of why I wrote my last blog post. And how I decided to watch a movie that my wife shared with me when we first started dating: Bella.

By the way, the blog I borrow this poster
from has a decent discussion guide that
connects this movie to scripture

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tom's Got a Short Post About Movies... What?!?

Hi everyone! This blog requires audience participation, so please be prepared!

Some of you, dear readers, who read my blog regularly know that I have done a couple of movie reviews and I've also incorporated a few movies into posts, just based on context. Well, one of the things that I've been thinking about is live tweeting and then reviewing movies that I like.

Well, not just random movies that I like, but rather movies that have themes of resurrection in them. It's one of those things that I'm trying to do this year; by being cognizant of the tone of my blog I want to lift up stories of resurrection. Lifting up stories of resurrection rather than just ranting or bemoaning seems like a much more sustainable way of writing.

But at any rate, I want some input. I'm going to provide you with a list of the movies I'm already planning on watching and then I want you to let me know which ones I should add to my list. I'll be watching and reviewing them in no particular order and I can't guarantee that I'll get through all of them this summer (little do you realize that, as a teacher on summer break, my time is not completely open to loafing about). Nonetheless, I want some input.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Are We in the Eye of the Storm? Or, Jesus Is Sleeping in the Boat Again

This is the stained glass behind the altar at Sacred Heart
Catholic Church
 in Wahkon, MN, where I will sometimes
attend Mass when my wife and I are visiting her parents.

I couldn't help but think of these panels as I listened to this
week's gospel story from Mark.
The Gospel reading for this past Sunday was the story of Jesus calming the storm. Or, if you prefer, it's the story where Jesus is asleep in the back of the boat while his disciples tried to keep the boat afloat. Either way, when Jesus wakes up, he tells the storm "Peace! Be still!" and the sea becomes calm.

He then does that thing where he asks the disciples why they were afraid and he asks whether they have no faith. I can just see that image, where Jesus is kinda shaking his head in a very exasperated sort of way (yes, I imagine that Jesus grew impatient with his disciples sometimes).

While I was growing up, more often than not, this story was taught with a cute little moral at the end like this: "And that, children, is why you should never be a afraid of a storm in your life; whether it's something at school or a misunderstanding between friends or even a real storm. Never be afraid because Jesus is with us always." BLEH.

However, this weekend, I was listening to a priest who pointed out that very often, we feel like we're in the middle of the storm. He paused and pointed out that almost every commentary on this Gospel story says that the boat the disciples are traveling in is an image representing the Church. This priest then pointed out that sometimes we, as a Church, might find ourselves in moment of calm. It's like suddenly, all the criticism and controversy around us in the popular media subsides for just little bit, but it's not the case that we're out of the storm. It's that we're in the eye of the storm.

What that means is that this story of Jesus is not important because we can look back on the storms in our life, but it is important when we recognize we are right in the middle of a storm.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

What Do We Give to the Emperor? Or, Jesus Is Into Coinage Now

"Sestertius - Vespasiano - Iudaea Capta-RIC 0424" by Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
An example of a denarius - hover for more info

The Scripture from today's Pray As You Go meditation is the well-known one where the Pharisees ask Jesus about paying taxes. Jesus very deftly asks for a coin and asks whose face is on it. After some rhetoric, he delivers the well-known line "Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and give to God the things that are God's" (if you feel moved to read the whole passage, follow this link).

Many commentaries that I have heard about this passage have to do with worldly things going to worldly powers, while our hearts and spirits should be dedicated to God. I have also heard commentaries that have to do with the nature of giving itself (in fact, the meditation that I linked to above suggests one such approach). But as I was listening to the meditation, I had a realization: one way or the other, Jesus is acknowledging that there are multiple Lords that have authority over us as humans.