Posts tagged ‘Cross’

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.

November 28, 2011

Disorder #4: Megalomania

Disclaimer: refer to introductory post here

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Not officially listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) or International Statistical Classification of Diseases (ICD), Megalomania (hereafter, MM) could be defined as “an inflated sense of self-esteem and overestimation by persons of their powers and beliefs.”  Essentially, megalomaniacs consider themselves to be omnipotent and invincible.  While its clinical equivalent would be Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), I thought that MM pinpointed my delusions of grandeur in a concise manner, without having to encompass all the other elements of NPD.  But what made me realize I was showing signs of MM?

Living up here on the North Shore (MA), I tack on quite a bit of mileage on my car.  Driving up and down to Connecticut for the holidays, serving at a church in the city, and the occasional meal/coffee dates all add up.  When I drive on the highway, I can become a bit reckless and revert to a “speed-demon” temperament.  Weaving in and out of lanes and traveling at speeds 20 to 30 miles per hour over the posted limit, my only focus is to get to “Point B” as fast as possible.  What triggers this response?  One of three reasons:

  1. I’m late for an appointment/meeting/event/etc.  I hate being late.
  2. My “road aggravation” kicks in (notice how I didn’t say “road rage”… I do not have road rage).  This happens 90% of the time when there’s a driver in the fast/left lane driving at or below the speed limit.  He/she may not be breaking the law, but certainly is violating the unspoken etiquette of the road.
  3. An angry, upbeat, and/or pump-up song comes on shuffle on my iPod.  My heart rate increases, hands grip the steering wheel tighter, body repositions into racing posture (refer to picture here), and right foot just naturally gets heavier.

I held no regard for the law, my own safety, or the safety of others.  I thought I was invincible.

A couple months ago, I was able to go to Seattle for a friend’s wedding.  During my stay in the city, I rented a motorized scooter for a day to explore the sights (e.g. Space Needle, Pike’s Market, first Starbucks, etc.).  While I was riding around the streets of the seaport-city, I’ve never felt more vulnerable in my life.  Driving in the open air on a dinky, wannabe-motorcycle, I knew I was one jerky motion away from a dooming demise.  Even though the mo-ped topped out at around 40 mph, I was ant among elephants.  The once delusional confidence I felt behind the wheel of a car vanished, and I no longer felt invincible.

Gospel Connection: Only God is omnipotent.

I think that sentence alone is worthy of a GC.  But to dig a little deeper, there stands the Cross.  In an act of utter humiliation and weakness, Jesus triumphs over sin in a way which we can never have expected.  Instead of a glorious eradication of sin through a conquering manner, Christ chose to debase himself to the point of death.  Through his weakness comes our power.  Cars and speed don’t bestow invincibility.  Grades and salaries don’t guarantee omnipotence.  Relationships and friendships shouldn’t provide identities.  Our egos can’t die for us.

PTL that our assurance rests in the only One who is invincible.