Archives For reality

Have you ever wondered why–in stories, books, films–there’s a protagonist and an antagonist? A good guy and a bad guy? Beyond the mere fact that without conflict there isn’t much story, there’s something deeper going on. The stories we love the most, of the heroes vanquishing the villains, reflect a deeper truth: that the story we’re living in (life) has an antagonist called the devil. And like characters in stories, we endure conflict either to achieve the good we seek, or because of the evil in the world. We are also in conflict with ourselves, with our own nature. But God has provided both the ultimate triumph over evil and the sin which lives within us; this happened upon the cross of Christ, when He said, “it is finished.” Although this is true, evil endures in our world until the consolation of history. If history were a play, this is the third act. But make no mistake: the King shall return to set all things right.

It is up to us to decide which way we shall go, who’s team (if you will) we’ll join. In the meantime, because we have received His help, how can we not be about God’s business, be helping others?

Following is an article from Grace Hill Media on the reality of evil:

Evil has been with us, and in our entertainment, since the dawn of time. First plays, now movies and TV shows, always have to have a bad guy – a corrupt cop, a supervillain bent on world domination, a violent criminal or murderer. In earlier, some would say simpler, times, the dark character in entertainment was clearly one audiences were meant to root against. It was easy, or at least easier, to know our heroes from our villains.

 

Today, though, it can be a little tougher. Far beyond the reluctant anti-hero, some of the characters we’re supposed to find admirable have qualities that just a generation ago would have firmly planted them in the bad-guy camp. From a sexy devil with charm and a heart (Fox’s hit series LUCIFER), to all variety of films (the TWILIGHT series) and TV shows (pretty much anything on The CW), characters who used to headline horror films – vampires, zombies, werewolves, witches – are now the stars we’re supposed to want to emulate.

 

That’s why it’s refreshing when a film like THE CONJURING 2, in theaters nationwide Friday, comes out. Like the first film, a big hit that took in $318 million at the U.S. box office alone, the sequel vividly portrays the nature of evil – as something destructive and ugly and to be defeated, not embraced. The “bad guy” in this case isn’t a guy – or gal – at all, but a demonic spirit that torments a British family and must be overcome by paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, reprising their roles from the original film).

 

The Warrens make sure the Hodgson family, the targets of the supernatural entity, understand it is a malevolent force out to destroy them. As a statement from the real Ed Warren stated at the end of the first film, the new one makes very clear that: “Diabolical forces are formidable. These forces are eternal, and they exist today. The fairy tale is true. The devil exists. God exists. And for us, as people, our very destiny hinges upon which one we elect to follow.”

 

A film like THE CONJURING 2, with its forthright depiction of spiritual evil, is a great opportunity to talk with friends about the true nature of the dark forces that inhabit our world. Here are a few questions to get that conversation going:

 

  • Do you believe in good and evil? In the spiritual realm? In the human realm?
  • If you do believe in evil, what do you believe is the source of it?
  • If you do believe in evil, how do you think it can be defeated?
  • What do you think about the trend in entertainment to make heroes out of characters that have traditionally been villainous?
  • Do you plan on seeing THE CONJURING 2? Why or why not?

20120410-131956.jpg

My mom has held many jobs throughout her life: elementary school teacher, juvenile detention officer, youth diversion coordinator. Perhaps one of the most interesting was her tenure at Opportunities Industrialization Centers. OIC was started by the late Reverend Leon Sullivan to provide job skills and employment opportunities for African Americans.

We’ve never really talked about what she did there, but I’m guessing it was some type of employment counseling. In any case this was forty-some years ago, and other than being told about it after the fact, I have no recollection. (I’ll come back to this in a minute).

Let me add that, as a child, race was never discussed–people were people. That I know of, my parents never displayed any latent, or overt, racism. Of the things from my childhood I can be thankful for, this is near the top of the list.

That said, I can’t say that they went out of their way either to expose my brother and I to other cultures. Mine was by-and-large a sheltered, white, suburban, middle-class upbringing.

As one of our core values, despite a similar middle-class setting, my wife and I are trying to instill in our kids the notion that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female–for all are one in Christ Jesus.” That we all stand equal before God, and equal in our need of Jesus.

People are people.

Back to OIC:

As I said, I have no recollection of this time–I was two, or three–but my mom tells me that she brought me with her to work.

Once.

The reason is perhaps lost in the mists of time; maybe it was to expose me to different people (one day I’ll write of eating pizza with her clients at a halfway house), or maybe she just couldn’t get a sitter that day? I don’t know. What I do know is:

As (she tells it) we were walking down the slate gray steps–my chubby hand in hers–I started to point, and said–over and over:

“Sanford! Sanford! Sanford!”

Because I was so young, and didn’t have the words, I used the one I knew:

“Sanford.”

The only African Americans that were real to me were the ones I’d seen on T.V.

Thus they were all “Sanford.”

Good Times!

(Okay, that was a joke–for the five of you old enough to get it).

The way my mom tells it, she clutched my little paw all the harder, and walked probably faster than my stubby legs could carry me.

All the way to her office.

I never again visited OIC.

But, despite our issues over the years, and the lack of a common faith, I can say this: I’m proud of my mom for trying to make a difference.

How about you? How old were you when you first became aware that race was a thing? How has T.V. shaped your reality?