Archive for ‘Media’

October 24, 2012

The First

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What is love?  What does it mean to love someone?

After watching a recent video posted by WongFu Productions, entitled “The Last” (posted above), I was forced to ask myself the same questions.  Many people love people for different reasons.  And as alluded to in the video, a lot of those reasons center around the age-old, Five Diagnostic W’s: Who, What, Where, When, and Why.  But either from watching the above production or from first-hand experience, we eventually notice that loving anyone for any one of these reasons exclusively is not enough.

You can’t just love someone for “who” they are or how high a pedestal you place them on.  You can’t just love someone for “what” they are, because even though all your best friends can’t all be your lover, admittedly your lover must be your best friend.   You can’t love someone simply because of “where” you are, or else the lines of commitment and circumstances begin to blur together.  You can’t just love someone for “when” they are, because then we would all be formulated to our 2nd-grade crushes, 7th-grade summer camp flings, or high school sweet hearts (while that has worked for some, it’s not the overwhelming majority).  And you can’t just love someone on the “why,” lest your love gets diluted to a generalized reason with no unique attachments of reciprocity geared towards that specific one person.  What’s different about that love than the one you show to others?

In an ideal world, the goal is meld all of these reasons together.  If you can love someone for who, what, where, when, and why they are, you’ve found your perfect match… your soul mate.  Once you find “The One,” you’re supposed to hold onto them so that they are the Last.

But even this sentiment is flawed.

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Gospel Connection:  We all fall short.  As much as we would like to love someone encompassing all five W’s and more, we will fail to do so on the constant level our lovers demand.  And even as much as we would like to have someone love us in this way, past scars remind us that, that almost never happens.  So where is the hope in love?  If no one can fulfill the need for us, nor can we satisfy that for others, why even bother trying?  The world will tell us to continue searching for that love.  At one point or another, someone will end up being your Last.

The Gospel tells us that the love we are searching for is already here.  When we place all our hope and love in someone who is just as flawed as we are, the status of that savior-figure will, at best, only remain as “surrogate.”  But when we place our identity in the One who came restore everything that is broken in this world, we realize that the work is already done.  We no longer search for the Last, but believe in the First who chose to love us before our search even began.

We love because he first loved us.
– 1 John 4:19 (ESV)

March 5, 2012

Not so prestigious

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A couple weeks ago I was able to watch the movie The Prestige, starring Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman.  Though I’ve seen bits and pieces of the movie here and there, I was never able to enjoy the whole film in one sitting.  Before hitting play, I was eager to be deceived by plot twists, wow’ed by magic tricks, and taken on a compelling mystery-ride.  But by the end of it, I was left quite a bit disoriented and somewhat nauseous.  While all the elements of screenplay were extremely satisfactory (acting, directing, writing, cinematography, etc.), it was the underlying theme of the movie that leaves the audience disconcerted.  Let me explain.

The Prestige opens with Michael Caine narrating the sequence of any magic trick.  Said tricks occur in three stages: 1) “the Pledge” consists of the magician introducing his/her illusion by showing the audience something ordinary (e.g. a bird); 2) “the Turn,” and aptly named so, shows the magician then doing something extraordinary to his ordinary object (i.e. making the bird disappear); but making something disappear isn’t enough, because the true twist in the act is found lastly and most importantly in, 3) “the Prestige.”  Only when the magician makes the bird reappear will the audience applaud.

The story centers around the rivalry between two magicians (Bale and Jackman), and the entire movie is sequenced with attempt after another to outdo the other magician.  Primarily fueled by revenge and pride, both characters will do whatever it takes to come up with the better illusion.

SPOILER ALERT: The rest of this post will disclose the ending of the movie, thereby spoiling it for those who have not and still plan on watching it.

Most of the movie deals with an illusion called the “Transported Man,” whereby the magician is instantaneously transported from one part of the stage to another (see clip here).  While both Borden and Angier (Bale and Jackman’s characters, respectively), can successfully pull of the act as an illusion using doubles of themselves, they both strive to make the trick a reality.  Angier’s life-long quest focuses around having a machine built for him that would do just this.  When it is finally made ready, he is able to pull off the greatest illusion of all time… or so it would seem.

Amidst many layers within the plot, the audience is revealed one cruel secret at the end of the movie.  Instead of having the machine transport the subject to another space, what it actually does is duplicate the subject.  So, viewers are led to believe that while Angier successfully performed this trick ten’s of times in front of live audiences, he was hiding a significant part of the Prestige of his act.  As opposed to teleporting Angier to the top balcony, as his audience is made to think, the machine clones him.  Then, the apparatus is configured so that one of the clones is shot down a trap door on stage and entrapped in a locked water tank left to drown, while the other carries out the Prestige as the audience is meant to see.  In essence, every time Angier performed the “Transported Man,” he was killing a clone of himself.

In a chilling dialogue between Borden and Angier during the closing scene, the latter states in a composed manner, “No one cares about the man in the box.”

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Gospel Connection:  We would kill ourselves over 100 times to get what we want.  For the sake of revenge, in the name of honor and a good reputation, and even if it means harm to those around us- loved ones or enemies- we would willingly give ourselves to wages of sin and death.

The beauty of the Gospel is that Jesus already died that death.  And He only had to do it once.  In that single act on the Cross, after he cried “It is finished,” all the glory and honor we could ever want or need was given to us by the only one who could pay that price.  So now, we can live in the victorious triumph of the Resurrection and have a hope that withstands all adversity.  Christ died so that we could live, and humiliated himself so that we could have prestige.

February 12, 2012

Our Idiot Brother

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There’s nothing I enjoy more than a good meal, with great company, and maybe even a movie or two.  A couple months ago, I was able to have all those things in the form of a long overdue reunion with my friends I grew up with in Connecticut.  Some of the guys and I were able to go golfing during the day, the rest of the gang joined us for dinner as we feasted on a hearty home-cooked meal, and we ended the night by poppin’ in a mild comedy.  The ideal hangout.

Usually, the quality of the movie doesn’t matter too much to me.  Good movies are always a plus, and even really bad movies can be entertaining (if you want a recommendation on one of these types of movies, try a butchering adaptation to the anime classic, Dragon Ball Evolution… don’t even get me started).  I’m not so much looking to be entertained by the movie, rather just enjoy my friends’ presence and good fellowship.  But the movie we watched that night was really thought provoking and I couldn’t help but come up with a GC as soon as the credits started rolling.  That movie was Our Idiot Brother.

Disclaimer: If you haven’t seen the movie and plan on it, there will be spoilers from hereafter.

In Our Idiot Brother, Paul Rudd plays the main character named Ned Rochlin.  Ned is a happy-go-lucky  guy who made a living growing and selling produce from an organic farm.  But after an ill-advised incident with an undercover police officer and marijuana, Ned is thrown in jail for his naivete.  Right off the bat, Rudd does an amazing job portraying Ned’s innocent nature and idealistic tendencies.  As pictured above, he has a bit of a “hippie” aura.

When he’s released from jail, we find Ned unemployed, homeless, and forced to spend time living with his mother and each of his three sisters:  Liz, Miranda, and Natalie.  As the movie progresses, the audience gets a look into the lives of each of his sisters and the problems they are dealing with.  Liz pretends to overlook her husband’s blatant affair, Miranda does anything to get ahead in her career as a magazine columnist, while Natalie is stuck between the two worlds of her bisexualism and can’t bring herself to tell her girlfriend that she got pregnant from a one night stand.  Now that the scenes are set, enter Ned.

Trying to impart the same happiness he has in his lifeview, Ned improves his sisters’ lives by instilling more communication between them and their life partners.  But what Ned construes as “helping,” his sisters deem “idiotic.”  And because of his overly ignorant nature (in Korean culture, it’s better coined as having no 눈치), Ned doesn’t even realize what he’s doing.  One by one, Ned begins to uncover each of his sister’s insecurities and problems as he lives with them.  Liz is forced to confront her husband, Miranda gets fired because of her unethical conduct, and Natalie’s girlfriend is in an utter outrage after finding out about the pregnancy.  Blaming Ned for making their lives a mess, each of the Rochlin girls kicks Ned out of their respective homes.

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Gospel Connection: Often times, we treat Jesus like our idiot brother.  As soon he enters into our lives, it is but a natural reaction that our sins are uncovered and brought to the surface.  Blaming Christ as if he was the problem, we kick him out of our hearts time and time again.  But what we don’t realize, as the Rochlin sisters didn’t realize, is that those problems were there way before Christ was even the picture (or at least what we perceived “the picture” to be).  When we’re forced to confront our sin face-to-face, we cower away from the thought of insecurity.  Our inclination then turns to pointing the finger at anybody but ourselves.  “If Jesus wasn’t in my life, I wouldn’t have to deal with this mess right now…”

If you’ve ever uttered that same thought, as I have before, I hope you felt the great sorrow behind the sentiment.  Jesus is more than our “idiot, hippie brother.”  In fact, if we profess to be Christians, Jesus is LORD.  He is the Christ.  From that truth alone, it is natural to feel a sorrow and a distaste for our sin.  Because He is the Holy of Holies, God detests our sin all the more!  So when Jesus Christ becomes the Lord of our lives, we aren’t left in the angst and filth of our sin, but in fact, have been set free from its bondage and made anew!

If Jesus really is the Lord of our lives, the Christ, our perspective of him changes in the most radical of ways.  We no longer have to put up a stiff-arm to guard our hearts from him.  The greatest miracle in life is that God looked at our sin, assured us He still loves us in spite of it, and took it upon the Cross so that we are ruled by it no longer.  Now let us live as if the Resurrection and Ascension matter.

October 10, 2011

PENSIVE.

In college, I somehow developed a reputation of being “emo.”  Top 5 reasons why:

  1. I faced numerous, if not too many, instances where I would find myself chasing [insert name of a girl] and eventually being rejected by [said-girl].
  2. I would often observe, analyze, and reflect on many things on-the-spot, which is manifested as me staring off into space in deep, pensive thought, which is then misconstrued for me thinking about [an aforementioned girl in #1].
  3. Reason #2 was candidly caught on camera and uploaded as a picture on Facebook, and people would relentlessly caption and/or comment on the apparent “emo” pose I was in, further feeding the misconceived notion.
  4. A lot of my friends were emo (i.e. in an “emo ranking system” that extended down from the “emo god, emo king, and emo prince,” I was labeled as the “emo jester”).
  5. I would most likely be found with one of the guys mentioned in #4, in one of our rooms, playing our guitars and singing emo songs (which were most likely slow-rhythmed praise songs).

But the reason why I kept putting “emo” in quotations is because: a) the term itself is slang for a style of music associated with emotional lyrics and/or style; and, b) I don’t actually think I was “emo.”  Whenever somebody would call me that or label a picture tagged of me on Facebook as being that, I would almost automatically retort, “PENSIVE.”

I stumbled across a song the other day that could fall under this category of “emo.”  After listening to it a number of times (which is what I do for every new song I discover that I like, and not just “emo” songs), I quickly realized that this song was really enlightening in many ways.  The song is Sara Bareilles’ “Gravity”; it’s music video and lyrics can be found below.

Something always brings me back to you
It never takes too long
No matter what I say or do
I still feel you here ’til the moment I’m gone

You hold me without touch
You keep me without chains
I never wanted anything so much
Than to drown in your love and not feel your rain

You loved me ’cause I’m fragile
When I thought that I was strong
But you touch me for a little while
And all my fragile strength is gone 

Chorus
Set me free, leave me be
I don’t wanna fall another moment into your gravity
Here I am and I stand so tall
I’m just the way I’m supposed to be
But you’re on to me and all over me

Bridge
I live here on my knees
As I try to make you see
That you’re everything I think I need
Here on the ground

But you’re neither friend nor foe
Though I can’t seem to let you go
The one thing that I still know
Is that you’re keeping me down
You’re keeping me down

You’re on to me, on to me and all over
Something always brings me back to you
It never takes too long

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Gospel Connection:  If you read over the lyrics carefully, I believe what Sara has done is very artistically and aptly describe the human condition of sin.  In God’s relentless pursuit of us through the paradoxical reminder of Christ’s life, death and resurrection, and the ever-present reality of the Holy Spirit, we as humans can’t help but to feel a “gravity” towards the Gospel message.  Throughout the song there is this back-and-forth conversation within the human conscience that encaptures our need for the Transcendent and desire for the Self.  There’s only so much more I can say about how beautifully this song describes my views of sin, but I’ll let the words speak for themselves.  I don’t know if Sara Bareilles is Christian, but it sure sounds like she’s crying out for Jesus here.