Category Archives: Film

Commending Expelled

Voddie Baucham has recently written a quick review of the documentary Expelled which is currently in theaters. As Baucham says, “The movie features intelligent, articulate spokesmen and exposes the blatant, irrational discrimination faced by those in academia who dare to question Darwinian Orthodoxy.” Needless to say, Baucham gives this movie a hardy recommendation. I am making plans to go see it myself in the very near future. I hope you will do the same. More thoughts to come…

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John Adams

This looks really good. I will be eagerly awaiting its release on DVD.

The Island

the-island.jpgThis weekend my wife and I had some down time so we decided to pop in The Island from our DVD collection. It’s obviously not the first time I’ve seen this movie since I own it but each time I watch it I am moved. If you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading this post now and go rent it. I promise that this movie will make you think. Also, I’m probably going to ruin the movie for people who haven’t seen it by discussing some details of the story.

 The Island is not necessarily unique when it comes to the idea of cloning and/or harvesting human beings. There have been several movies, such as The Matrix and Aeon Flux, that attempt to tackle the ethics of cloning while trying to give a peak into the future results of such action. Aeon Flux was a good movie and The Matrix has plenty of material to stimulate thoughtful discussion. However, I think that The Island gives us the realistic picture of cloning and its results on many levels.

In this movie, clones are created as insurance policies for individuals. Some of the people purchasing these clones have severe if not fatal health conditions. The clones that are created from the purchaser’s DNA give them exactly what they need by way of transplants. For these set of clones, they are created for the purpose of harvesting their organs. Other clones are created to be surrogate mothers for women who cannot have children. For a couple who cannot have a child naturally, a clone is created to carry and birth a child for them. Once a clone has served its purpose, it is terminated or killed. Of course, each sponsor is told that the clones do not reach any level of consciousness but remain in a constant state of vegetation. Since they are not “living” beings, it seems completely rational. No harm, no foul. However, the organs would not live and grow properly in a state of vegetation so the company had to secretly bring each clone to full consciousness and thus created an underground society of clones hidden from the rest of the world. The clones are told that they are the remaining human survivors from a worldwide contamination. However, there is one island that has been preserved and a lottery takes place each week to extract one clone from the underground society so that the island and eventually the earth can be repopulated. Once the clone is swept away to “the island,” he/she fulfills his/her purpose and is killed.

Now, several questions come to mind throughout this movie. Are clones human? Do clones have souls? What about people who can’t afford a clone? (Note: clones in this movie cost approximately $5 million) Is a clone’s status as a human being dependent on whether or not he/she is conscious or in a vegetative state? How about that same question as it relates to humans? Is it truly ethical to harvest human beings? What are the real motives behind cloning?

Answering the last question, the doctor who developed this technology says he has found the fountain of youth and path to immortality. HE did. Maybe his motives started out being pure. Maybe he wanted to help people who were hurting and dying. There is certainly nothing wrong with that intention. But then sin twisted things up for him. This doctor wanted to play God. He wanted to be God. With the ability to prolong lives and cure terminal diseases, he would be the most powerful man on the planet. Whether you believe cloning is ethical or not, sin always lurks at the doorstep waiting to overtake even the purest intentions the minute we open the door.

There are several concerns I have with cloning. First, it seems to be an attempt to play God. The root of this technology can be the lust for power. Many people might argue that cloning would help save lives. Again, the intention might be noble. But if life is created, who assigns value to that life? If it is truly a living person that is created, even at the beginning stages, who decides that the clone is less human than anyone else? Who decides that it is ok to harvest clones for their parts with no regard for the humanity of the clone? Second, there is nothing wrong with prolonging life. I am thankful for modern medicine. However, no technology can deny the inevitable. Death comes to us all. It is the result of sin. There is no science that can counter that result. The only hope we have in defeating death is repentance and belief in Jesus Christ. Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave to defeat death and render us clean before the judge. So if denying death by science is the motive, to create the fountain of youth and live forever, then it is misguided. Ultimately, a discussion concerning clones must lead itself back to greater concerns about the current issue of embryonic stem cell research. The questions that I asked earlier do not only apply to fictional movies or fantastical scenarios, but must be applied to current research and scientific testing as it relates to embryonic stem cells. We could carry this discussion on much further but I fear you may be reaching your limit.

So…go rent this movie. It really makes you think about the issues of cloning and embryonic stem cell research. Though The Island is a futuristic fiction, when does fiction become reality? Time may tell.

Church Set to Protest Ledger’s Memorial Service

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In a stunning display of grace, Westboro Baptist Church has stated that they will protest the memorial service of Heath Ledger. Westboro is the same Kansas church that pickets the funerals of American soldiers who are killed in Iraq. Now they have decided that Ledger’s performance in Brokeback Mountain is cause for them to unmercifully protest any type of memorial service for the man and his family.

Though it doesn’t suprise me, especially coming from Westboro, I am still stunned. This planned action is both gutless and heartless. Whether you agree with Ledger’s character or role in protraying homosexuality, protesting a man’s funeral might be the close second to cheering for the man’s death on the graceless scale. At the very least it is like rubbing salt in a wound. How would Jesus treat this family? What would he do in this situation? I can’t exactly answer that question. However, I have a strong hunch that picketing and protesting, and at a man’s funeral no less, would not be his course of action. We are called to speak the truth in love…in love. (Ephesians 4:15) What love can be seen in protesting a man’s memorial service? Can a person disagree with another’s stance and beliefs while showing grace and love toward that same person? Absolutely. Instead of rushing over to Hobby Lobby to gather up picketing gear, how about humbly and thoughtfully reaching out to the family and friends of this man and showing them gentle compassion as Jesus showed compassion. Wouldn’t that go a long way in protraying the truth of the gospel? Wouldn’t that be a better representation of Christ? My hope is that between now and the memorial service Westboro Baptist Church will seriously reconsider their course of action. My hope is that they will put on the character of Christ and discard the radical legalism of the Pharisees.

To the Ledger family…though I am not a person of any great significance and for what it is worth, I am sorry for your loss.

The Golden Compass

200px-the_golden_compass.jpgSurely by now most everyone is familiar with this year’s holiday blockbuster movie The Golden Compass. If you are even the least bit connected to any form of popular media, you are aware of the ruckus this movie has stirred up especially amongst the Christian community. All of the fuss can be traced back to comments made by the author of the book trilogy Philip Pullman. In February 2001, the Washington Post interviewed Pullman and ran an article discussing His Dark Materials. Responding to comparisons to The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, Pullman was quoted as saying, I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief. Mr. Lewis would think I was doing the Devil’s work. There is no doubt that a statement like this would surely stir up a little controversy. Many concerned Christians from public figures to the average layperson have been seeking the answer the question of whether or not this movie (and the books for that matter) is suitable for our young, impressionable children. I am quite sure there have been many groups “creatively” designing their picket signs. Though I almost always cringe at the sight of Christian picketers, I do believe a level of discretion is wise when dealing with movies, music, and other forms of popular media. So the blogs have been hot with discussion on the movie and books.

After attending an advance screening of the film, Al Mohler wrote a brief commentary on the attractions and dangers of the movie and books.

The guys at Reformation 21 have been engaged in some intriguing discussion and bantering over this topic. Carl Trueman kicked things off with some words of wisdom for our boycotting Catholic friends and then proclaiming his puzzlement at all the “hoo-hah” surrounding this movie and giving an interesting critique of C.S. Lewis regarding the use of Narnia to defend against Dark Materials. Things took off from there. To follow the entire conversation, start on this page with Trueman’s post called Catholic League and Pullman and follow the discussion up the page onto the next page.

And just yesterday Adam Parker was sent on assignment to review the movie.

I am sure there is plenty more discussion around the blogosphere and other places. This should be enough to get you thinking about it. As far as my opinion goes, having not seen the movie or read the books, I think discernment is always advised in such matters. Pullman’s explicit comments should raise concerns about the agenda of such a book. At the very least, we should be concerned with the worldview it promotes. However, I plan to see the movie. And if Adam’s perspective holds to be true, then with caution we can enjoy it for the fantasy story that it is.

The Fountain

the-fountain.jpgA couple weekends ago my wife and I watched a movie called The Fountain.  If I had to describe this movie in one word it would be “interesting.”  There is no denying that The Fountain is a movie of great intelligence.  It was uniquely developed whether you believe it was ahead of its time or just too complicated to be enjoyed.  The story consists of three accounts in time making up the past, present, and future.  Hugh Jackman plays the main character in each time period.  In the past, Jackman plays Tomas, a conquistador in the service of Queen Isabella.  In the present, he plays the research oncologist Tommy Creo.  In the future, he is an astronaut named Tom.  Though they exist in drastically different time periods, each character is connected by a common quest.  That quest is the search for immortality and the defeat of death.  They have their reasons for such a quest but a recurring factor amongst them all is their love for a woman.  And so it is that love drives these men to pursue immortality.

Here is where the water gets pretty muddy though.  It is hard to tell where the direct intersection between these characters exists.  All three time periods revolve around a particular Mayan story of the cycle of life.  However, the movie begins by quoting Genesis 3:24 which sets the foundation for this pursuit of immortality.  According to legend, the Tree of Life from the time of creation is said to be hidden in the jungles of New Spain or the New World (Americas).  If a person drinks of the sap of this tree, he/she shall live forever.  So Tomas the conquistador is sent to find this tree, drink of the sap while wearing the ring of the queen in order that they may experience immortality together as the new Adam and Eve.  However, the story drifts from a “biblical” basis to the Mayan belief of death and rebirth.  According to Maya mythology, when a person dies they enter into Xibalba or the Mayan underworld.  In the Mayan underworld the dead live under the Lords of Xibalba where they may be rebirthed to carry out duties on the earth.  So any time there is a nebula in the sky, it is a glimpse of Xibalba.

One of the glaring issues with this movie is the melding of different religions and worldviews into one “cohesive” story.  The movie begins with a biblical text that leads to the story of the Tree of Life (or the pursuit of the Fountain of Youth).  The story of creation is then phased into a Mayan legend about the afterlife which contains the cycle of life (Hinduism) and the idea of reincarnation (Buddhism).  All of these religions and worldviews combine to make an emotionally compelling story of eternity.  In fact Tommy Creo’s wife Izzi, who is dying of cancer, finds a sense of peace and wonder in this belief.  The problem is the fact that it is a designer religion at best.  It is a combination of many beliefs into a man-made story that fits into a person’s desire of what eternity should be according to that person.  Nevermind the competing truth claims of each religion that contradict one another.  It is simply a melting pot of the “best” elements of each religion made to fit the desired need of the individual.  What is “best” is relative to the particular individual.  What is “best” for one person may not be “best” for another.  This approach to religion and worldview destroys the meaning of life.  How can it be determined when all things can be mixed and matched to fit each individual person and their needs?  And who is to say that one particular view is right or wrong or better than the others?  There can be no means of evaluating such claims thus truth loses all meaning and so does life.

All in all I think this movie is very thought provoking and a great source of discussion across many lines.  Though I firmly disagree with the worldview and designer spirituality presented in the movie, I would recommend this movie to small groups for critical discussion.  It can also be a great starting point for an engaging spiritual conversation with a non-believer.