Posts tagged ‘Sin’

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.

December 5, 2011

Disorder #5 (Finale): Hypochondriasis

DISCLAIMER: refer to introductory post here

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Definition: chronic and abnormal anxiety about imaginary symptoms and ailments.

Often times, hypochondriacs persist even after a physician has evaluated and reassured them that their concerns about symptoms do not have an underlying medical basis or, if there is a medical illness.  Their concerns are far in excess of what is appropriate for the level of disease.

When I first thought up the idea to write this series, I only had one or two disorders in mind.  As I began to reflect more and more in this past month, I began to be confronted with a realization of problems rooted in my subconscious.  Flaws I would have never admitted to having before started surfacing naturally.  Every mistake I made or awkward social moment I experienced could be traced back to some form of clinical illness.  I almost became overwhelmed by how “messed up” I was.

Gospel Connection:  Sin works in cunning ways.  It can persuade good people to do bad things, as convention will tell us is the mold for “evil.”  However, it can also persuade good people to do great things… just with the underlying motive of self-gain and acknowledgement.  It influences you to commit certain acts, but also refrain from others.  It will convince you of something you’re not, and dissuade you of something you are.  While sin can feed your ego into an inflated pomposity, it can also debilitate you to a state of self-deprecating paranoia.

The beauty of the Gospel is that we are responsible for sin.  How is that beautiful, you ask?  Sin isn’t just an external evil that is the cause of oppression we see throughout history and the world today.  If it were, we would merely be victims of an overwhelming, and unbeatable entity that is just “a part of life.”  In that scenario, there is no hope.  If we can come to terms with that fact that sin is actually rooted in our own human nature, and that we are accountable for it, we can begin to see the hope for redemption that God promised.  It may seem like we’re still fighting the same fight we couldn’t win in the previous scenario, but that’s where the beauty comes in.  Salvation is rooted in the One who came and finished the work we seek to do ourselves, on the Cross.  We no longer have to toil while bonded to our never-attainable standards of perfection.  It is only under the blood of Christ can we find the perfect balance between humility and pride.  Humble from recognizing our depraved state, but proud because of the truth that we are made righteous in the sight of God regardless of our faults.  We may be as messed up as we thought were, even more; but praise the Lord for the life, death and resurrection of the Son.

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.

November 9, 2011

Disorders Intro

I was having a conversation with a friend, and she happened to say, “I have a lot of problems.”  My almost immediate response was to ask myself a rhetorical question, “Doesn’t everyone?”  I’m a very introverted person and try to be mindful of what people think of me.  So I may not ever show it outwardly, but I have a lot of problems myself.  Doesn’t everyone?

Over the next couple of days, I will be starting a series on the kinds of problems I have.  Each day will highlight a specific problem that I think I have and relate it with an actual psychological/physical/clinical disorder.  You might be thinking, “That’s pretty ballsy, dude.  How are you ever gonna find friends, let alone a girlfriend/wife?”  Therein comes the GC.

Gospel Connection: It was easy for the Pharisees to love other Pharisees.  It’s easy for us to love other capable, sociable, noble people.  But the beauty in the Church comes from- not the self-righteous qualities individuals have that would merit recognition but in- the unifying acknowledgement that we are all sinners.  The common denominator amongst all human beings is that we’re flawed, and more specifically amongst Christians, is that we admit to that fact.  This is kind of a cheesy quote, but it always puts things in perspective for me:

We come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.

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DISCLAIMER: If you happen to have/are diagnosed with any of the disorders mentioned hereafter, please do not take offense from my entries.  It is not my intention to undermine that particular disorder, but more so emphasize my own flaws and quirks.  Think of it not as a denigration of you, but rather a satire of Nameun.

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