Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Words of Life

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits."
- Proverbs 18:21

Last month, Amber and I went to see the new movie, A Thousand Words. Eddie Murphy plays Jack McCall, a literary agent who will say anything to get what he wants. But after an encounter with a spiritual guru, Jack's life is forever changed when a magic tree springs up in his yard. This tree loses one leaf for every word Jack speaks, and the fear is that when all the leaves have fallen, both characters will die. Despite being a light-hearted comedy most of the way, there are several great truths for us to explore.

Eddie Murphy in 'A Thousand Words' © 2012 DW Studios LLC
Eddie Murphy in 'A Thousand Words' © 2012 DW Studios LLC

First, and most obvious, is the truth that what we say is important. Words help us express ideas. The power of words can influence people. We can deceive people or enlighten them. We can bring hurt or we can bring encouragement. And the way we choose to use our words is a reflection of who we are. Whether we lie or tell the truth, it says something about our character. Whether we show contempt or love, that says something about who we are. Consider these words of Jesus from Matthew 12:33-37:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

All the Lonely People

I have to admit, I've never watched Pulp Fiction, but for years, I've heard people quoting Uma Thurman from one of the film's deleted scenes:
"[T]here's two kinds of people in this world, Beatles people and Elvis people. Now Beatles people can like Elvis, and Elvis people can like the Beatles, but nobody likes them both equally. Somewhere you have to make a choice, and that choice tells you who you are."
Anyone who knows me very well knows I'm more of an Elvis person, but today I want to talk a little about The Beatles. The Beatles have been controversial at times, but whether you love them or hate them, there's no denying the influence they've had on the world of popular music, and sometimes they have a way of expressing things beautifully.

Generally, I prefer their earlier music, but in the later years, there were still plenty of great tunes. One of my favorite Beatles tracks came when they were transitioning from being primarily a touring band to being a more experimental, studio-bound group. Forsaking the traditional "guitars and drums" format I loved so much, they brought in a string octet to record Paul McCartney's tragic ballad, "Eleanor Rigby".

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I'm the King of the World!

This Sunday will be April 15. When most Americans think of that date, we associate it with tax deadlines, but many this year will be thinking about the RMS Titanic, which sank 100 years ago on April 15, 1912.

When the movie, Titanic, came out back in 1997, I remember people joking that there was no reason to see it since we all knew the boat would sink in the end. Now, because of the 100th anniversary, the film is back in theaters, and I asked Amber last week, "Why would anyone go to see it in theaters again? The boat's still gonna sink! And we've already seen it sink!"

But all joking aside, I admit Titanic is a great film, and if you haven't seen it lately, it's worth the 3 1/2 hours to check out your local theater or - if you're like me - dust off the DVD and give it another look.

RMS Titanic
RMS Titanic © 1997 Paramount Pictures

Friday, April 6, 2012

Jesus Christ, Superman - Part 2

Since his creation by two Jewish teenagers in 1932, Superman has been an American icon, and - as I mentioned last time - whether it was intentional from the beginning or not, his story serves as a sort of modern-day parallel to the life of Jesus Christ.

Over the years, Superman has appeared in many forms in comic books, radio, television, and film. Perhaps your favorite Superman is in print, but maybe you love the Fleischer cartoons of the '40s, the George Reeves version from the 1950s, the Christopher Reeve version from the '80s, or any of countless other incarnations.

A few years ago, Amber and I discovered the series, Smallville, which focuses on young Clark Kent before he fully became Superman. We didn't watch when it first began, but we've been playing catch-up on DVD, and we just recently watched the Season 9 finale for the first time.

As we watched, I was struck by the strong religious overtones of the episode. Since I talked last time so much about how Superman and Jesus are similar, I'll start with those connections first:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Jesus Christ, Superman - Part 1

"Those who know your name will trust in you, 
for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you."
- Psalm 9:10 NIV

Sometimes, when we're searching for God, we imagine that he's hard to find, but all too often, he's right in front of us. More than that, when we find him, we often discover he's been there all along - we just didn't know where to look. But those who are seeking the Lord will find him.

Even before Jesus walked the earth, he began revealing the truth about himself in different ways - through the words of the prophets, through events in the history of Israel, and sometimes through the direction of the lives of Biblical characters. Several Biblical figures are what we call "types" for Christ - that is, their lives hinted at what was to come when Jesus would arrive.

Joseph in the book of Genesis is one of the best examples of what I mean. Consider these points:
  • Joseph and Jesus were miracle babies (Joseph's mother was barren; Jesus' was a virgin).
  • Both were persecuted by jealous men (Joseph by his brothers; Jesus by the chief priests).
  • Both suffered for wrongs they had not done (Joseph was falsely accused of rape and sent to prison; Jesus was falsely accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death).