What’s Wrong With “The Bible”

I had the opportunity to sit down and watch the first part of the new TV series The Bible last night. After seeing many commercials for it and even reading a tweet from Tim Tebow himself, I thought I better sit down and watch it. To be completely honest, I don’t think too highly of it. I missed the first about 20 minutes of it, and came in when Abraham and Sarai are trying to figure out how to have kids, Sarai finally admits that Abraham should try with her servant, Hagar.

For those of you who know the biblical story, there are many things that happen in the beginning (Genesis). The story felt so rushed as it pointed out the things the filmmakers viewed as important, but it seemed to me to leave many things out.

One of the things I appreciated about the show was that it really made me see things from the humans perspective as it was telling the story. For example, Abraham had tears streaming down his face as he offered his one and only son as a sacrifice to God. It’s really easy to read through these stories and causally pass over the emotional side that the biblical figures had to deal with.

The other thing I noticed was that it actually does a pretty good job of ultimately pointing to God. God wasn’t portrayed as a big bad guy or someone hell-bent on destruction but as the God who continually cares for his people.

Now my hesitations with the show: it seemed like they focused far too much on the human side and how mankind was continually doing good things and missing many of the effects of sin. Sodom and Gomorrah especially felt very off to me. The angels who escorted Lot and his family out of the city strike the men trying to get into Lot’s house with blindness, then run down a street and turn into ninjas with swords single handedly killing 10 men. As I’ve read through Scripture, I don’t see a need to add any violence to it-there’s quite enough in there to fill an R-rated film as it is. Finally, I didn’t understand why they picked the stories they did and spent the amount of time they did. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah was given 10-15 minutes of the 2 hour movie that covered creation through the crossing of the Red Sea. I understand that there’s only so many events they can cover from the Bible in a 10 hours mini series, but it seems that instead of majoring on the major themes, they majored on some of the minor stories to make it more exciting.

Overall, I hope this pushes people to read Scripture for themselves and explore more of the greatest story ever told, but am afraid that it will do the opposite. Why read the book when you can see the movie, after all? So the way I’ve described the movie to a few friends is: it was better than I expected, but not as good as it could have been or I was hoping it would be. It has the potential to be a great conversation starter, but ultimately I think it could do a better job of pointing to the God who has worked all of history to be HIS story.

ADDED:

I just read a great blog here on some more hesitations with this series. I completely agree that the writers missed the great theme of the Bible as a whole and instead focus far too much on the human side, missing the story of GOD redeeming His people for His purpose and His glory.

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Blue Like Jazz Movie Review

There was a book written back in the early 2000s with the provocative title ‘Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality‘ written by a guy named Don Miller on his experiences living on Portland, OR and attending some classes at the local Reed College. The book slowly made it’s way on to the New York Times bestsellers lists and Christians all across the country soon learned that it was ok to ask questions of your faith and pursue relationships outside of the church (and drink a beer, swear and befriend homosexuals, Tim Challies has some helpful critiques of it as his blog). Being as successful as it was, it was only a matter of time that a movie would be made out of it.

I didn’t get a chance to see it in theaters as it was only on limited release and wasn’t near me (one of the disadvantages of living in Cheyenne, WY) but now that it’s in my local RedBox I rented it last night and watched it. My reaction is very mixed. On the one hand I was grateful that it wasn’t another feel good “Christian” movie with bad acting and clearly trying to hard to preach a point, but at the same time I don’t think a movie needs to have scenes of drunk parties, getting high and glorifying homosexuality to reach the “world” For those who haven’t read the book the movie probably won’t make too much sense. It follows the life of a conservative Don Miller who grew up in Texas and left to the Pacific Northwest to attend a godless Reed College because he discovered his mother was having an affair with his youth pastor. He goes on to explore all that the world has to offer and eventually reaches the conclusion that the writer of Ecclesiastes did, “everything is meaningless.” And without Christ, everything is meaningless. The movie ends on a positive note which is the scene most people remember from the book: the reverse confession booth where Don apologizes for the sins of so many Christians. Don apologizes by saying, “I’m ashamed of Jesus because I want you to like me. It’s like Jesus is the geek in the cafeteria and I’m the one pretending that he’s not my friend.” He goes on to ask, “Do you forgive me for misrepresenting God?” This should strike a chord with many of us in the church today who misrepresent God on a regular basis. We too often give in to the world or completely condemn the world who need us to give them an example of what a Christian really is – it gets down to even calling yourself a Christian, a “little Christ.” How many of us are defaming the name of Christ on a daily basis? We say we’re a Christian then cheat on our taxes, or lie or spread rumors about our brothers and sisters. On a retreat I recently went on a comment someone said came to mind during this scene: the Christian community is the best apologetic to the faith.

This movie does a good job of asking some questions but ultimately falls short of providing the ultimate answer – Christ’s atoning work on the cross. The book did a far better job of showing this answer. This isn’t a movie I’d share with a conservative youth group, but could be a good conversation starter for those who have grown up in the church and are planning to attend a public college with all the temptations the world has to offer.

*For a good review of the movie see this article by Mike Cosper.

The Hunger Games

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here and I’ve been wanting to do a review of ‘The Hunger Games’ which I happened to see 3 times the first week it was out (I kind of liked it).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This has been dubbed the next Harry Potter or Twilight series, and it’s clearly lived up to the hype and made a killing at the box office! I’ve read some mixed reviews about both the movie and the book so decided I’d add my voice to the masses and write what I thought of it. This is one of the most accurate book to movies I’ve ever seen so pretty much anything said about one applies to the other.

First the warnings: obviously there is a good amount of killing, and this killing isn’t the typical adult on adult in the midst of battle, but kid on kid (ages 12-18 year olds). This obviously is not good and it’s not shown as good. To me its reminiscent of the Roman gladiators where certain groups of people were thrown into an arena to fight to the death (just like in this book).

Katniss is also quite a selfish teenager. Everything she does is to better her chance of survival. This isn’t really that abnormal, however, and she still cares for her family with all she has.

Now the good: both the book and movie are incredible! I bought the book last summer to just read for enjoyment but didn’t think I’d get into it. 6 days later I’d read all 3 books in the series. (yes it is a trilogy so get excited for the next 2 movies!)

As I said above, Katniss really does care for her family, and in the end Peeta. I also like that the book shows us the horrors of the human condition. As the saying goes, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” That’s made quite clear in The Hunger Games with the Capitol exploiting children for entertainment. As Haymitch says in the movie, “It’s a TV show!” The people of the Capitol reap all the benefits of forcing those in the multiple Districts to work and then hold a drawing of children to compete in The Hunger Games every year. Quite an interesting use of power.

I think this is a good movie to see and discuss with friends and would be appropriate for anyone 16 and up.

My Top 5 Favorite Movies from 2011

With the Oscars happening yesterday, I thought I’d share my top 5 movies from last year.

1. The Tree of Life

This movie is incredibly hard to explain and most people who have seen it describe it as, “really good, it has Brad Pitt in it.” The story follows the life of Jack (played by Sean Penn) as he reflects on his young life growing up in Texas with an authoritarian father (Pitt). Through his reflections he questions the meaning and purpose of life. This is one of the movies that you can’t really grasp by watching just once, and it has some of the best cinematography I’ve ever seen. Put this one on your must see list. I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone younger than 12. It has some language and that father is very harsh with his kids and wife.

2. Super 8

This was a fantastically fun movie which I dubbed “Goonies 2” It brought me right back to my childhood of adventure and exploring everything I could touch, see, taste and feel. It follows a group of kids through the filming of a movie for their school and an alien invasion of their hometown. It has some frightening images, but I’d say this ones a good one to watch with pre-teen and up.

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

The long awaited climax to the thrilling story of the young Wizard Harry Potter. If you haven’t heard of this movie you probably won’t be reading this blog. All I’ll say about this is it’s a fantastic end to a fantastic adventure. As always, the book is better than the movie, but I still enjoyed this movie. Definitely my favorite of the series. Again, pre-teens should be ok seeing this one.

4. The Muppets

This brought me right back to my days of watching the Muppets with my cousin Anthony. This movie follows the Muppets attempt to save their theater from extinction from an oilman. Walter, a new Muppet pulls out all the stops with an all star cast. The tunes are catchy, and despite my skepticism, Jason Segel did a fantastic, and clean job. This is a movie to take the whole family to, including the young kids. I was surprised by the cameos from Selena Gomez to John Krasinski (of The Office). Fun for all ages!

5. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rounding out the top 5 of my favorite movies is the new Planet of the Apes. Honestly, I’m a sucker for anything Andy Serkis does since Lord of the Rings, and this movie didn’t disappoint. It follows scientist Will Rodman (played by James Franco) as he attempts to find a cure for Alzheimers which has been affecting his dad. Testing his formulas on chimps, he finds that it makes them much more intelligent which leads to the revolution. Never having seen any of the other Planet of the Apes movies I was a little nervous about this one, but was very happy with the outcome. This one should be appropriate for those 13 and older.

Honorable Mention (in no particular order):

The Adjustment Bureau

A fun movie that looks at a “higher power” who controls the events in our everyday life. Matt Damon plays a man running for a New York senate seat who falls in love with a woman after seeing her once. The “higher power” doesn’t want them together so they try their best to make it happen. The movie asks some very good questions but ultimately doesn’t give a satisfying answer. It can spark some good discussion, however. I’d suggest this for those 14 and older. It has some suggestive scenes as well as language.

Source Code

A wounded vet finds himself in an experimental computer program that lets him live out the last 8 minutes of a deceased person’s life. This one again asks the question about the meaning of life and search for meaning. Again, it doesn’t provide the best answer, but gives a great ride through the search! I’d recommend this for 14 and up it has some violence and language.

X-Men First Class

This franchise just keeps going! I was disappointed with X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but this one definitely made up for it! This one shows the beginning of the group X-Men as well as the friendship of Charles Xavier and Magneto. Along the way it shows how the Cuban Missile Crisis REALLY happened. This one has some inappropriate content, language, sexuality, drinking and smoking. I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone younger than 16.

Moneyball

Another Brad Pitt movie to make the list. Although this isn’t exactly what happened to the Oakland A’s, it was a really well done movie. Both Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill did a great job with their roles and the movie did a really good job of getting you invested into the team. There’s some swearing in this movie, so I’d recommend it for 13 and up.