The Monuments Men: A Movie Review

The Monuments Men

The Monuments Men is a new movie starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Jean Dujardin, Cate Blanchett, and Hugh Bonneville. Set during the waning days of World War II, it is the story of an unlikely platoon of men tasked with recovering, and restoring, works of art stolen by Hitler’s Nazi regime. Positioning itself as an epic among the likes of Saving Private Ryan, it is nevertheless a tale that takes place in smaller, quiet moments. Going in, we do not know much about the Monuments Men, other than they are scholars, professors, art historians, architects–men who love art. Despite this lack of back story, we learn who they are by what they do.

They characters are revealed by their respective actions. Though they wrestle with it, struggle to come to grips, each believes the mission is one worth dying for. That these monumental works are worth preserving. That by keeping culture alive they are keeping hope alive.

That by preserving history they are safeguarding the future.

Though it is somewhat disjointed at times, with abrupt tonal shifts, this movie brings home the high human cost of war. Not through the horrors of the concentration camp, but rather through small moments (a character hanging a painting in an empty apartment, never to be occupied again by the people who left it).

It is a journey worth taking.

Go see The Monuments Men.

Just Jesus

I didn’t see the Creation Debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham last night. It’s not that I wasn’t interested; rather, I was working. From what I’ve gathered about it, it doesn’t appear that any minds were changed.

Ham claims the authority of Scripture for his position, and Nye science. Thus questioning Ken Ham is akin to questioning God, and in questioning Bill Nye the Science Guy one risks the withering scorn of the scientific establishment.

Why are things always so rigidly dogmatic? So binary, so this–or that?

There’s no room for nuance. No room for debate, really.

Yet science and faith are not mutually exclusive. God gave us brains to use them. As Chesterton said, the “point of having an open mind is to close it again on something solid.” And chew!

If we believe that God is truth, then all truth is His truth. He doesn’t lie. If we observe that it takes light, well, light years to reach us it simply stands to reason that the universe is old. The further we look out into the universe the further back in time we’re looking.

I’m not threatened by this.

And neither is God.

God, in preparing a place for us, knew well in advance we would need fossil fuels…

But this is all really secondary. In fact, I don’t care what you believe about how we got here. I really don’t.

What’s important. What’s indeed number one with a bullet is what you make of Jesus, and what He did for all of us. Whether you want to be a theistic evolutionist, young earth creationist, old earth creationist, day-age creationist, proponent of the gap theory, intelligent designer, eater of bok choy, etc. it’s no skin off my back.

Because none of that is central.

What is is Jesus.

Just Jesus.

Your convictions about origins are not now, nor have they ever been, Gospel. Simply put, we have an enemy who loves nothing so much as to divide–to sow the seeds of discord–wherever and whenever he can.

He gets us majoring in the minors, while Jesus stands off to the side weeping because, somewhere along the way He and the Gospel, have been forgotten. It’s rampant throughout the world, but easily identifiable:

When, and where, ever we are more committed to an idealogy over and above the Gospel we’re missing it.

As for me, just give me Jesus.

How about you?

God Wants To “Root” Your Life

To say that I’m a fan of technology is akin to saying that Captain Ahab was mildly interested in a certain white whale. Tech isn’t just my job, but my obsession.

My first smartphone was a Samsung Blackjack. It horrible battery life, a small screen, and ran Windows Mobile 6.something. I hung onto it until the iPhone 3G was out. I mean what’s the sense of upgrading from a phone with 3g to one without (the original iPhone)? Am I right?

So I waited for the 3GS.

It was, after the Samsung, a revelation. It was a pure joy to use. Until it got glitchy (between the two of us, my wife and I went through 5 3Gses–all replaced under warranty).

Then there was the iPhone 4. Sleeker, glass front and back. It was fun, but more of the same. Its limitations chafed.

So I jailbroke it.

This opened up a whole new world of themes, ringtones, hacks, tweaks, etc. My phone felt like it was mine again.

Until I updated iOS to the then-latest release. And then began the waiting. Again. For the savvy wiz kids to release a new jailbreak.

I got tired, and a little bored, with iOS. So I switched to Android. The difference was, well, like the difference between Mac and PC: dissimilar ways of doing the same things.

But, while Android gave me more flexibility–more freedom–this came at a price: the experience hasn’t been as fluid (or as stable) as iOS.

So I rooted my Droid to clear out carrier bloatware, and strip the phone down to closer to a stock Android setup. It’s certainly cleaner. More as it was designed to be.

Bear with me here, but this seems to be what God is desiring to do in our lives: He wants to root us, strip us down to what He designed us to be.

To bring us back to the purest essence of ourselves.

He wants to clear out the cruft so the purity of Christ shines through. This doesn’t mean we’ll all be Moto Xes, or HTCs, but we will be changed into His image and likeness.

Which will express itself through whichever theme He has skinned us with.

Have you let Christ root your heart?

Goodbye to My So-Called Upbringing

'Dysfunction Junction: Cold Spring NY Photowalk' photo (c) 2010, Nick Harris - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

I don’t want you getting the wrong idea–I wasn’t beaten as a child. The spankings I got, I earned (helping your buddy try to burn down his grandmother’s garage, anyone?). I wasn’t a battered child, but I’ve got come to the conclusion that abuse is never just physical.

There are psychological, and emotional, abuses, too. And if I was abused, it was in this way:

I was ignored. One of my earliest memories is being told to go away, relax, unwind, watch T.V. And then later, when she checked on me, my mother was aghast to find me drinking a beer in front of Sesame Street. Why? “Because it wat daddy do.”

When I fell, got hurt, got a boo-boo, there was precious little soothing; instead, I was indoctrinated with the mantra “I’m alright.” Even though I most decidedly was not alright. They say the lessons learned earliest go the deepest.
And are hardest to overcome. I’ve been alright far too many times when I shouldn’t have been. Been okay in places I never should have been…

If my mother’s chiefest failing was practiced indifference–emotional diffidence, my dad’s was indifference followed by the bitter wash of sarcastic chasers. I would go from being ignored to verbally masticated, spit out, left to put myself back together…

And I had to be alright.

After their inevitable divorce, the neglect only deepened. My mom, of course, didn’t share her pain; instead, losing herself in work, she hoped (I think) to give others something she couldn’t give herself: an intact family.

And my dad? Our relationship was as defined in the divorce decree: I saw him twice a year. His second wife hated my brother and I…

Divorce touches millions of families. And my life, seen from the outside, may have appeared to be, while perhaps less than ideal, a privileged one. I was white, lived in Scottsdale, had a roof, clothes  food. In short, the basics.

It has taken me years to pin down just exactly what I didn’t have:

A sense of love.

Part and parcel with growing up latchkey was, I guess, a sense of parental guilt. There were precious few boundaries, and even fewer consequences. I was left to my own devices, to indulge in whatever I wanted.

It’s a wonder I just got into smoking, and not drugs. My interest in porn was labelled “healthy curiosity.” If my childhood was defined by anything, it was these three things:

Neglect

Pornography

And Stephen King

I turned inward because there was nowhere else to go, no one to go to. My mom eventually had a live-in boyfriend, who’s example, and idea of culture, consisted of pizza, cigarettes, and “martoonis” in front of the T.V. This was my exemplar of manhood.

I wanted to escape, but had nowhere else to go. My dad didn’t want me, my mom was too busy, and this is “white privilege?”

None of this was talked about. I had to navigate a broken family, adolescence, on my own.

Habits developed then have not always been conducive now to  building healthy attachments. I’m almost 45 years old, and still bitter about what I didn’t have. Why couldn’t I have a normal, loving family? Why don’t I have meaningful relationships with my parents, brother, etc?

For years, as a growing Christian, I thought it was my job to put up, shut up, keep the peace. I allowed so many unhealthy things to happen, so many hurts to go unaddressed. I want to let my parents off the hook, say they did the best they could…

But I don’t believe it.

That’s why I want so much to be done with them. I can’t seem to get past the things which they’ve done, or I’ve done in relation to them. I want to say there’s too much water under the bridge. I don’t feel listened to.

I want to be done, but can’t. Because…

Because God.

He’s the God of second, third, thirty-third, and seventy-times-time chances.

Because He’s given me chance after chance, though I’ve blown it time and time again, I can do no less. I have to try.

If there’s a lesson I’ve learned in life, it’s this: the things we like least in others are usually the things which dislike about ourselves. That hurts to admit.

I’m not perfect (far from it), and neither are they. They dealt with their own demons, as I’ve dealt with mine.

God help me, I’m willing to try.

That’s the best I can do.

A Little Girl’s Dream

image

Hi! This is my daughter, Bella; she’s a Daisy Scout. This is her, and our, first year involved with scouts. We’re heading into cookie season, a fun time for the girls (and their families). Cookie sales fund a number of scout programs, such as camp, troop activities, etc.

Ours being a brand new troop, expectations aren’t very high for sales. Even so, her mother and I always try to encourage Bella to dream big.

You have a dream; you might be pursuing it now. Or maybe you had a dream, and have forgotten how. You remember what it is dream–what it feels like to see it out there, shimmering on the horizon before you. It’s so sweet, you can almost taste it.

It’s right there at your fingertips.

You didn’t get there alone. You had a lot of help, a lot of encouragement, along the way.

My little girl has a dream, too:

She wants to sell 1500 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

If she can, she’ll earn a one-day trip to Disneyland (one of her favorite places). 'Take that, Girl Scouts!!' photo (c) 2012, An Mai - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

From the Girl Scout’s website:

“When a Girl Scout sells you cookies, she’s building a lifetime of skills and confidence. She learns goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics—aspects essential to leadership, success, and life.

By putting her mind and energies to something, a Girl Scout can overcome any challenge. There are no limits. She can be anything. She can do anything. Help her build a lifetime of skills and confidence.”

The Cookies

Can I count on you to order cookies, and help a little girl’s dream come true? They’re only $4.00 per box. Contact me at: Chad Jones, and we’ll work out the details.

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