I Believe in a Thing Called Love

We all have to believe in something, it is the life blood that colors our character and outlines our lives as individuals, a crowning glory for most Americans. We define ourselves by these opinions, whether it is believing in a higher power, in freedom, in the American dream, in anger, in sex, or in money. Even those who say they don’t believe in anything, well their denial is actually a belief in denial, a belief in believing nothing.

I believe in love.

Some people call my kind “romantics.” For me, I think it developed out of a childhood watching Disney movies. Despite all the critics of Disney, I think it taught me more good than bad, especially since that’s where I learned to dream big and wish bigger. That quality also taught me to believe in a love so pure and unrealistic we can only find it in fairy tales. It wasn’t until I was many years older that I realized this love could also be found in God.

Continue reading

A Love like Cory and Topanga’s

Lately I have been watching Boy Meets World each morning when I wake up. There is something so enjoyable about stealing an hour before the start of the day to simply relive old memories, it makes it feel as if time isn’t always slipping away so quickly.

Boy Meets World was one of my favorite shows way back when. There isn’t too much unnecessary drama, just realistic scenarios and challenges faced by a host of uniquely likable characters. It was one of those shows that actually taught you something about life, not a bad life filled with pretty liars, but a life filled with joy and love. The last few days though, the episodes chronicled a rough patch for main character Cory and his childhood girlfriend Topanga.

Continue reading

America (in)dependence – Where Freedom Falls Short

Happy fourth everyone! This holiday is always funny to me, I like the irony of celebrating the treason committed by 56 men signing a remarkably well-written document in the heat of summer. Plus the fireworks are good too.

It is clear though that this treason is no longer what we truly celebrate on the fourth of July each year, instead we celebrate the bigger notion of our country, and the even bigger dream of freedom it represents.

What does that freedom really include though? And what does it cost us?

Monday night I caved in and went to see the movie Magic Mike with two friends. I had pretty low expectations, which were unfortunately proved true, but it was a good experience to help me see where our culture is at. I will probably write another post on it soon so stay tuned.

There was a scene that stuck out to me in relation to today being the Fourth of July though. One of the many dance scenes in the movie included a special tribute for the very occasion of Independence Day. The boys marched out in camouflage uniforms, did their thing, then lowered their ranks till they were down to nothing but some very small red white and blue thongs. As they struck their final pose, their audience hooted and hollered for the grand finale of a large American flag to be lowered behind them.

is this what makes our country great?

My response – a strongly sarcastic “God Bless America” under my breath. My two friends I was with still say that was the best joke I ever made (not hard to believe) and the funniest part of the night.

Let’s be honest though – I wasn’t trying to be funny when I said it. Admittedly, I tend to use that phrase more often in times of frustration or despair than as an exclamation of pride. That was it’s initial usage anyways, to say a small prayer that God may bless this country, that He would save it from evil and help it to live up to its noble intentions.

On this Independence day, I would say we need that prayer now more than ever. We are supposed to be celebrating freedom, but is freedom really free? What cost have we paid for these things, or who else is paying the cost for us?

Don’t get me wrong I think the ideal of freedom is a great one, and it is part of why I can support our country, but we must admit that we fall short of true freedom in many places. Some people would bring up immigration, our prison system, or various human rights violations around the world. After seeing a movie like Magic Mike – the first thing I think of is our bondage to sex and the importance it has gained in our culture.

The way that Hollywood portrays sex, in movies like Magic Mike, makes it seem carefree and fun. Maybe it is in the moment, but they don’t emphasize the way that it imprisons people in loneliness, traps them into unhealthy relationships, or forces them to view love as defined by sex. Sex can be a good thing, the way God intended it, but the way that our culture has championed it as an independent choice free from consequence is a lie that only breeds further dependence.

Women in real strip clubs or prostitution houses, ones who are stuck in a system we allow, they are not free. Those traded into human trafficking who are herded like cattle for these industries, they are not free. The girl on the news, who was raped and abused, she is not free. Even the men, who are locked into the unrealistic expectations generated by Magic Mike of Fifty Shades of Grey, they are not free.

As a Christian, I hesitate to say that I am ever truly independent, or that I want to be. On one hand I completely support the tolerance freedom allows, and I support the belief that we all have our right to choose what we believe in. Yet I must remind myself that when I committed myself to following Christ, I gave up all independence to surrender myself to God’s will – and in all honesty, I am much happier without that freedom. When I trust his commands for my life instead of what culture demands of me, I am happier. That includes taking God’s word on sex instead of Hollywood’s.

It is difficult when everything about our American culture denounces rules and regulations, things that hold us back and restrict the dream of freedom. I think that’s why a lot of times people turn away from the church, because they don’t like to be told what to do. But we must remember that we are broken people, we all sin, and when given independence we often trade that for other forms of slavery because we don’t know how to use it correctly.

Celebrating freedom today is a good thing, it is good to remember what the founders of our country fought so hard for. It is also good for us to remember that we need to keep fighting for it. Freedom does have a cost, and personally I would much rather be a servant of Christ than a slave to sex or drugs or money. Believe it or not, true freedom is found when we submit to God first, then we can really hope for God to bless America.

What holds you back from true freedom?

 
How could we improve as a country to actually give freedom to everyone?

Movie Monday: Whimsy and Wonder inside Moonrise Kingdom

Earlier today I was in a sour, Monday-type of mood. The only cure: a new movie filled with whimsy and hope. So off to the theater I went to trek into a whole new world from the mind of director Wes Anderson, a world called “Moonrise Kingdom.”

with a cast like this it had to be good…

The New York Times introduced the movie this way:

Wes Anderson makes films about small worlds in which big things happen: love, heartbreak, calamities, death. In his latest, the wondrous storybook tale “Moonrise Kingdom,” a girl and a boy, both 12, run off to a remote inlet on an island where most of the adults seem disappointed and more than a little sad. The girl and the boy are very serious — about love, their plans, books, life itself — and often act older than their age. She wears bright blue eyeliner; he puffs on a corncob pipe. You wonder what their hurry is, given that here adulthood, with its quarrels, regrets and anguished pillow talk, can feel as dangerous as the storm that’s hurtling toward the island, ready to blow it all down.”

 

The storm certainly does hit, but the island wasn’t the only thing blown away as my imagination tried to hold on to my seat. By the end I could let it sail away in the off-shore winds of whimsy and wonder this movie inspired.

Continue reading

How the Media Objectifies Men Too

The victimization of women in the media has become a very popular topic in the last ten years. It has become almost common knowledge that the photos of women in magazines are photo-shoped and Hollywood has turned women into mere sex objects. It’s a harsh reality that subconsciously hurts thousands of girls, and thankfully there are a good number of groups promoting awareness about it all.

However, something that isn’t acknowledged as often is what Hollywood has done to men.

Two things have recently brought this to my attention more than ever: the chart-topping novel Fifty Shades of Grey and the highly anticipated summer movie Magic Mike starring Channing Tatum. To be fair, I will admit that I have not read the book, nor have I seen the movie yet. It’s possible that both may have viable story lines or some redeeming qualities, but at the surface they are both fueled solely by sex (feel free to debate with me). That alone should be a flare in our minds: these are dangerous, in more ways than one.

This cover of Entertainment Weekly pretty much speaks for itself on what the main attraction of the book is

Movie Monday: Brave Expectations

Finally, in a packed theater on Friday afternoon, I sat and watched the long-awaited flick of the summer: Brave. The audience ooed and awwed at the stellar animation and daring courage of a girl pushing the boundaries of what it means to be strong. Although it’s a familiar story, they don’t call things classic for no reason.

Overall I really enjoyed it. There was a good balance of action, humor, sentiment, and lesson that made it a very engaging movie. Plus, the main character Merida is a wonderful example of a quirky, independent individual who doesn’t fit the princess mold and is easily relatable to young girls.

Now I am completely biased when it comes to Disney and Pixar, but the reviews and other ratings still agree with me that this was a pretty good movie. The one recurring negative comment I found was that in comparison to other Pixar films this one was sub-standard and “safe.” Honestly, I think that is a result of people holding Pixar to a ridiculously high standard. It is understandable to expect a lot from the company that created hits like the Toy Story trilogy, Finding Nemo, and Cars, but what is actually realistic?

Movie Monday: true love or just enchantment?

Have you ever seen the movie Enchanted? Besides some humorous lines, it is intentionally a very cheesy story of love that sort of parodies on the cliche fairytale. I actually like the movie, but you really do have to be in the right mood to watch it.

 

Keep in mind the definition of the word enchanted for later –

[enchant] : verb
1. to subject to magical influence; bewitch
2. to delight to a high degree
3. to impart a magic quality or effect to.

One of the biggest scenes in the movie is a grand musical number through Central Park where the fairytale princess, come to life, sings a tune to her co-star McDreamy to teach him about how to show his girlfriend that he loves her.

You can see the full clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRYU4cqUAUs
But here are the lyrics from two of the choruses:

How does she know, you love her? How does she know, you care?
Well does he leave a little note to tell you you are on his mind,
send you yellow flowers when the sky is gray?
He’ll find a new way to show you, a little bit every day.
That’s how you know, that’s how you know he’s in love.

How do you know he loves you? How do you know he cares?
Well does he take you out dancing just so he can hold you close,
dedicate a song with words meant just for you?
He’ll find some way to tell you, with the little things he’ll do.
That’s how you know, that’s how you know he’s your love.

Last night I came to the realization that this is a load of cultural poop.

Continue reading