Archive for the ‘movies’ Category

The Cost Of Greed

The other night during the Presidential election, it was obvious that people are beginning to admit that we’re now in a crisis…and it’s not going to go away any time soon.  We want it to, but this is one consequence that we’re just going to have to experience.

It is funny the awareness that hind sight gives you about something.  And in today’s case we’re becoming increasingly aware of the cost of greed. We feel its affects on a daily basis now.  And watching the debate I began to wonder, when did we buy into this lie that greed works.  And it struck me how quickly I could pinpoint it.  It came from the movie Wall Street.

There’s a pivotal moment in the movie when Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) is wrestling with his soul.  He’s asking himself if he really wants to follow the powerful maverick named Gordon Gekko.  And during a shareholder meeting, he hears the following speech.

“The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA. Thank you very much.” (Gordon Gekko)

At this moment, Bud is hooked.  He buys the lie that greed works.

And what is sad is that we all bought the lie right along with Bud. This quote burned into people minds.  It did into mine.  I remember watching that movie and saying, Yeah, maybe greed isn’t such a bad thing.  Maybe it does provide clarity, purging the bloated aspects of what doesn’t work.  And I lived in the middle of Silicon Valley, where this statement became a mantra of sorts.  We bought it hook, line and sinker.

And much of the last 20 years has been living the affects and cost of that choice to buy into the lie.  We’ve enjoyed the cheap money, the grab for wealth, the assumption that it will never end.  We’ve enjoyed the rising standard of living, with a sudden awareness of its real cost.  We’ve seen fake wealth, the plastic personas, and the abrupt shame of a foreclosed sign.

Greed, for lack of a better word, doesn’t work.  It never did.  We just wanted to believe it would.


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Rob Bell’s short film series will show the newest film “She” for free on Facbook.  Details are here.

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Not Your Daddy’s Star Trek

I grew up on Star Trek.  My friends and I use to pretend we were part of the Starship Enterprise after every episode.  I can still do a mean Captain Kirk, “We’ve…got to get…back…to the Starship…NOW!”

But this looks cool.  Comes out Christmas Day.  You can see all the posters here.

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Recently I had a chance to watch the movie Some Kind Of Monster, which is the story of Metallica making St. Anger. It’s surprisingly not really about mega concerts or thrash metal as much as it is about human transition out of anger.  What happens when the band members decide to get real with each other and do it on tape?

And there is a brilliant line in the movie where James Hatfield says, “I don’t know the difference between sadness and depression.” There have been times in my life when I know how he feels.

Depression, for me, is the awareness of what is wrong in life with no hope of overcoming it.  Life happens to us in such a way that feels like we’re being pushed down.  The gods have conspired to give us a fate that keeps us from realizing all that we’re supposed to be.  And what hurts is that depression weighs on us like a ton of bricks.  Each present reality compounds on itself to pull us into a downward spiral.  Our heart is literally crushed because there is no relief in sight.  How can we change what that person did to us?  How can we remove the stain that comes from abandonment, molestation, rape, rejection, or abuse?  Depression invites us to become inhuman by shutting down our heart.  It lures us into the idea that we can survive without feeling, without emotion.  And eventually we die, if only on the inside.

Sadness, for me, is the awareness of what is wrong in life with hope of overcoming it.  Life has happened to us but love gives us a new path that changes everything.  With love we can recover our own humanity.  We can see beyond the circumstance and consequence to a future that includes wholeness.

At first sadness feels like depression.  Both bring the same deep pain to our hearts.  They bring a twinge that we feel deeply in our soul.  But the difference is that sadness has a story of reality attached to it.  It begins with the idea that we are broken in the first place.  It begins with compassion and understanding and the possibility of love.  It doesn’t suffocate us with an immovable future, but includes a God who is right there in our midst.  Sadness leads to compassion and love.

And I sometimes wonder if the difference between the two is staring that little word “no” in the face.  To cross the bridge from depression and into sadness means getting honest with myself.  It means partnering with my Creator, with hope, to deal with me first.  It means coming to terms with my own brokenness, which Hatfield does in the movie.  It means facing my fears in such a way as not to allow them to define me but instead refine me.  And when I say “no” to depression, I am opening up the possibility of a different future because I am opening the door that includes restoration.

May we partner with hope to create a brigher future for those we encounter.

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Does the soul of any movement lie in its traditions or its courage to change? And is the cost of change always tradition?

I was watching the movie, The Queen, with Helen Mirren, a Miramax film about the battle between Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth during aftermath of the Princess Diana tragedy, and it reminded me of the struggle between the church and the movement that is the emerging church.

The opening lines of the movie captured my attention because the two characters have an interesting conversation about tension inherent in change which comes at the loss of tradition.

The Queen: Have you voted yet Mr. Crawford?

Crawford: Yes maam. I was there when they opened.  First in line. Seven o’clock.  I don’t mind telling you…it wasn’t for Mr. Blair.

The Queen: You’re not a modernizer then.

Crawford: Certainly not. We’re in danger of losing too much that is good about this country as it is.

The question is simply that.  Are we in danger of losing too much that is good about the church as it is?

And I began to really think about the emerging church, deconstruction, and the cost of generation change.  We are beginning to see the first generations that have only lived in an accelerated society. My children have never known a world without computers, mass media on an epic scale, the Internet, and change at the speed of light.  They have also never know much of the traditions that I grew up in (slower pace of life, less media, traditional church life, no cell phones) because a lot of those traditions have since passed.

I somewhat lament the loss of the world that I grew up in because it was vastly simpler.  Life was simpler.  It had tradition.  It had things that didn’t change on me, things that could be counted on.  There was a time in my life when I didn’t buy something that was obsolete the moment I bought it.  We fixed our appliances as opposed to buying new ones.  My phone actually had a ring as opposed to a ringtone.  I wore my clothes until the wore out, not until they went out of style.  Disposable was the food you put in the disposal, not the iPod that is abandoned in six months.  Gaming was something we did with a board and fake money on a Monopoly board on Saturday night, not something in front of the television that gave me ADD.  I remember rooting for the Raiders because my Dad loved them, yet now favor individual players on my fantasy football team because they switch teams so much.  I remember going to the church down the street because…well it was the closest one. I remember my dad working for IBM for 30 years because they believed in longevity.

The world my children have inherited is filled with complexity.  We have new technologies that virtually wire us to the world.  Some days life seems like it should resemble the six million dollar man.  But even that would be obsolete.  We’re better, stronger faster.

And yet are we?

Cancer and heart disease affect 1 out of 2 people.  Obesity is now an epidemic.  The economy is in the toilet and our current President has the lowest approval rating…EVER.  Social Security is a sham.  Our government is getting ready to post the largest budget deficit…ever.  We have yet to solve the world water crisis even though we could with one year’s Christmas money.  ADD, ADHD, RAD, and ED have virtually cornered the market on the letter D.  Slavery still exists…in this country.  We’re just now considering the possibility of voting for a black man for President of the United States.  Divorce is still hovering at 50% and is even higher in the church.  Ford just lost 8.7 billion dollars because they refused to make smaller cars.

Has all this change done us good?  Are we better, stronger, faster?  Are we smarter?

You see I am a realist at heart.  I recognize that the change doesn’t always produce what we want it to.  I consider my own journey with the changing of the church.  The cost of my journey within the emerging church could have drastic consequences for some, perhaps even my children.  And the risk I take in participating is change that comes at the loss of valuable tradition, which at best is very destabilizing and at worse could be completely wrong.

I wrestle with the traditions we have inherited that seem stifling and even oppressive to some.  The value of the traditions is also their burden.  Like Queen Elizabeth who was virtually locked in her incapacity to respond to Princess Diana’s death because of protocol, the traditions with the church can and often do incapacitate us to respond to the work of the Holy Spirit.  In one scene Prince Charles ask his mother, the Queen,

Charles: Don’t you think you should be getting a new one of these. (referring to her car)

The Queen: (put off) What for?  This one works perfectly alright.

The scene is a statement in the dynamic tensions between two generations wrestling change in their own way.  One is to call for it.  One is to avoid it because of the perception that the traditions do and will continue to work (if only for those at the top). One seems to be the heart drawing towards change, and one seems to be the head avoiding it at all costs.

Perhaps the most important moment in the movie is when Blair, who seems to love his country, finds the true soul of Britain and defends the Queen against those who simply want to tear her down.  This moment reminded me of those who are struggling to understand the emerging church and wrestling with the emotions that can easily feel like an attack on the church herself.

And I get this struggle.  I too share in it.  But the reality is that my desire to participate in a movement for change is deeply embedded in my love for the church.  I feel the weight of the statements, “Come follow me,” and, “Go and make disciples,” and ask why it looks virtually nothing like what we do now.  And yet this call puts me at odds with the very traditions with which it comes from. So I am left with the question, does the soul of a movement lie in its traditions or its courage to change?  And is the cost of change always tradition?

The quest(ion) for me is then how do we restore the soul of the church so that our traditions reflect that restoration, that we reflect His kingdom that never grows old.

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“You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” – Harvey Dent/Two Face in The Dark Knight.

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I Am Legend 2?

If you seen the movie I Am Legend, you’ll remember the opening scene of the movie with a news reporter interviewing a scientist who has discovered a cure for cancer. The opening dialog goes like this:

TV Personality: The world of medicine has seen its share of miracle cures, from the polio vaccine to heart transplants. But all past achievements may pale in comparison to the work of Dr. Alice Krippin. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.
Dr. Alice Krippin: Not at all.
TV Personality: So, Dr. Krippin, give it to me in a nutshell.
Dr. Alice Krippin: Well, the premise is quite simple – um, take something designed by nature and reprogram it to make it work for the body rather than against it.
TV Personality: You’re talking about a virus?
Dr. Alice Krippin: Indeed, yes. In this case the measles, um, virus which has been engineered at a genetic level to be helpful rather than harmful. Um, I find the best way to describe it is if you can… if you can imagine your body as a highway, and you picture the virus as a very fast car, um, being driven by a very bad man. Imagine the damage that car can cause. Then if you replace that man with a cop… the picture changes. And that’s essentially what we’ve done.
TV Personality: And how many people have you treated so far?
Dr. Alice Krippin: Well, we’ve had ten thousand and nine clinical trials in humans so far.
TV Personality: And how many are cancer-free?
Dr. Alice Krippin: Ten thousand and nine.
TV Personality: So you have actually cured cancer.
Dr. Alice Krippin: Yes, yes… yes, we have.
[cuts to post-apocalyptic New York three years later]

This morning I found this article that describes a process not unlike the movie. Instead of a virus, they’ve enlisted what’s called programmed cell death. The idea is to train cells that naturally kill themselves to kill cancer cells.

When I read the article I kept wondering, is this real? And what are the potential possibilities for this to turn into a nightmare, a la I Am Legend?

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