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Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

With the Oscars for 2011 over, there was one movie this past year which certainly should be honored, and more importantly discussed. The movie is called the Conspirator. It is a film by Robert Redford about the trial of Mary Surratt after the assassination of President Lincoln. However, it is far from a mere historical retelling; it is a timely story that cuts to the very heart of many of the issues we are dealing with today.

In the film, Redford paints Surratt as innocent of the crime she was convicted of, conspiring to kill Abraham Lincoln. While this is certainly an issue that is up for historical debate, that is not the essential point of the film. What is extremely relevant today was how the U.S. government wanted to find Surratt guilty and hang her, so they did. They refused to try her in civilian court, and instead put her in a military tribunal where her fate was sealed before the trial even began.

It is a story where the law of the land, the Constitution, is simply disregarded in a time of distress and conflict. The Bill of Rights with its guarantee to a fair trial by jury is exchanged for the will of Washington. It is amazing how we have done the same thing today, even though we do not even face a fraction of the turmoil, bloodshed, or danger they faced back then. It stands to reason that if was a real threat, today’s U.S. would turn into a complete police state in a matter of weeks, or even days.

If you have not seen the movie, I would highly suggest it. It is not only a well-directed and historically intriguing film; it is a film that we need to see today. In an era of Guantanamo Bay, indefinite detentions, and unlimited executive power, we need to wake up and realize that our own rights and values are slowly slipping away.

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A man who thinks he has it all and is slowly moving up the corporate ladder, soon realizes that the corporation does not care about him at all and will get rid of him the second they think it will help improve profits. This is the basic story of the recent movie The Company Men.

The movie shows the all the too familiar scene of individuals being laid off and not being able to find unemployment. It is a story about how corporate greed and an insane demand for profits is ensuring the great wealth of a few, but leaving the majority in pain and poverty. I would say this movie is a great social commentary for our time. It basically reveals a truth that we already deeply know- our society is in deep trouble because of the love of money and the increasing inequality which seems to grow worse by the day.

The ideals and values of the U.S. are slowly dying as the few rich and powerful reap in all the rewards of the society- a society where the elite few are given the voice and the ultimate vote in the government while the common person voice is silenced and forgotten about. Why is our society seeing such a high rate of unemployment and poverty? While there are numerous reasons, the main problems are not a lack of trade, government regulations, or unions (which is what politicians and the powerful love to blame). No, the problem is unrestrained capitalism and greed that is literally killing our country economically, culturally, socially, and spiritually.

I would encourage you to watch The Company Men. For many it may be a story that hits really close to home; for others it could be a simple reminder about an issue that the powerful want to keep us blind to. At the end of the day, it is about showing how the common person is being slowly destroyed by the greedy interests of a few.

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I know I am probably way behind seeing the movie Avatar, but I went and saw it last night, and I was blown away by the creativity and idea behind the movie. However, I also found the message to be a great social commentary and something very important for our time.

For those who haven’t seen the movie, I don’t want to give it all away. However, the basic plot is that humans go to a planet far away in the future and encounter an indigenous group. The human military which is really funded by a corporation, seeks to take the precious materials from the Native peoples, if they don’t give up their land voluntarily it will be taken by force (a classic metaphor of the Spanish or American governments against the indigenous peoples). However, I think the movie is trying to move beyond a simple analogy of past conflicts, but rather the danger of when military and corporate/profit interest interchange. We all know that war is always tied to money. However, today it is often much more subtle than it was in the past when it could be openly stated.

Though I wasn’t a big fan of George W. Bush, I am not going to say that what he did with the war in Iraq was completely for profit. I still hold out that however misguided the war was, there was still some non-corrupt motives behind it originally. However ,there were very many corrupt links and deals between the corporation interests and the government which at least raise suspicion (the most obvious being the direct link between Dick Cheney and Halliburton which was given the contract for billions of dollars to really help with the war effort and recovery.) The simple fact is defense companies and weapons distributors want war to happen, because that means their profits will increase significantly. Oil companies also enjoy the fact that the U.S. will have control over certain regions, because it means easier access to the oil reserves.

Again, I am not a conspiracy theorist, but even Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us of the military-industrial complex, and how creating a huge industry based on war would create an insatiable desire and need for more war. As we know in every war, the rich wage the war, but the poor actually fight it, often with no real profit to them. We have to be very careful as the only true super power in the world that we do not let greed and corporate interests rule our foreign policy (or for that matter, our domestic policy). This is yet another reason why I find the latest ruling by the Supreme Court so disturbing, essentially giving the Corporations even more power over our government and its values both domestically and internationally.

If you haven’t seen the movie, go watch it. I think it is one of the best movies I have ever seen. However, while watching it, make sure to look beyond just the dazzling effects to the social commentary that is trying to be conveyed to our generation.

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This year, there is a remake that has come out of one of my favorite stories, the Christmas Carol. I remember watching the 1970’s version over and over as a child. It seems like a new generation is going to be able to experience it again. However, it is something so much more powerful than an old novel or child’s movie. Its message is very relevant for today’s society.

For one, the story is all about overcoming greed and selfishness, values that seem to have become noble pursuits in our society. In a time where bank executives receive multi-million dollar bonuses while their customers accounts are in ruins, when people are angrily protesting against a health plan which seeks to help out those poor, less fortunate, and uninsurable, and those with whom you disagree with socially or politically are not only wrong but evil, we need this message of change and redemption for both ourselves and our society.

It is a story about a man who was too selfish and looking out for his own needs that he can’t help out his own employees son, tiny tim, with his health problems. It is a story about a lender who decides to squeeze his lenders out of every last penny they have. Most importantly, it is about a man who changes and becomes a positive force for his society.

As we go into this holiday season, we need to remember the true meaning behind the season, which is about giving of ourselves and helping those that are poor, oppressed, and downtrodden. Maybe, we need Jacob Marley to come visit us in our society. Our political, societal, and moral health depends on it

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Have you ever found yourself in a moment where you are deeply ashamed to be called a Christian? I had such a moment last night, when I was with my boss and two of my roommates. I came home and they were watching a movie, so I came in and watched it with them. The movie was called Milk, basically about the first openly gay man to be elected to office in the United States back in the 1970’s. There was a part which really disturbed me. It was the history of some of the Christian community in their attempt to discriminate against the Civil Rights of those in the gay communities. As I watched with the people, two of which no longer really hold to the teachings of Christianity because of the exclusion and intolerance they faced when they were in the church, I got a sick feeling in my stomach.

It goes back to the overall issue of Christians losing their way, especially in regard to morality and politics. When I was younger, I remember some Christians in the community I grew up in telling people to go vote against a bill that would grant equal rights to homosexuals. There were whole denominations that boycotted Disney because they had a Gay day at their place. There are still Christians fighting against basic ideas such as Civil Unions. Whatever a person’s view of homosexuality is on a personal moral or religious level, it is not the place of the church to work against the rights of people in the society. In an attempt to win moral battles, the overall essence of what Christianity is suppose to stand for is lost. Somehow, I don’t think Jesus would have been working against the rights of others in society; he would have been encouraging his followers to love people regardless of their race, religion, or sexual orientation.

When the church goes from the oppressed to the oppressor is the day we know we have lost our way. We have lost our purpose and focus. When we do this, people start becoming ashamed of what Christianity fights and stands for in our modern culture. Instead of being a sweet savor to the world around us, we become who Jesus spoke against so greatly. You always that hear that hypocrisy is the biggest turnoff to people to Christianity; I would actually contend that it is intolerance and misplaced priorities. Christianity in the U.S. has had a dark side to it, whether it was groups like the Protestant groups such as the KKK fighting against blacks, Catholics, and Jews (who were just trying to keep the U.S. a good “Christian” nation), the Salem Witch Trials, or the John Winthrop’s “city on a hill” which attempted to set up a theocracy. When Christianity turns from a religion of peace, justice, and love to a religion of moral control, the results can be very damaging for the real message and gospel of Jesus.

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Have you ever found yourself in a moment where you are deeply ashamed to be called a Christian? I had such a moment last night, when I was with my boss and two of my roommates. I came home and they were watching a movie, so I came in and watched it with them. The movie was called Milk, basically about the first openly gay man to be elected to office in the United States back in the 1970’s. There was a part which really disturbed me. It was the history of some of the Christian community in their attempt to discriminate against the Civil Rights of those in the gay communities. As I watched with the people, two of which no longer really hold to the teachings of Christianity because of the exclusion and intolerance they faced when they were in the church, I got a sick feeling in my stomach.

It goes back to the overall issue of Christians losing their way, especially in regard to morality and politics. When I was younger, I remember some Christians in the community I grew up in telling people to go vote against a bill that would grant equal rights to homosexuals. There were whole denominations that boycotted Disney because they had a Gay day at their place. There are still Christians against basic ideas such as Civil Unions. Whatever a person’s view of homosexuality is on a personal moral or religious level, it is not the place of the church to work against the rights of people in the society. In an attempt to win moral battles, the overall essence of what Christianity is suppose to stand for is lost. Somehow, I don’t think Jesus would have been working against the rights of others in society; he would have been encouraging his followers to love people regardless of their race, religion, or sexual orientation. It is also

When the church goes from the oppressed to the oppressor is the day we know we have lost our way. We have lost our purpose and focus. When we do this, people start becoming ashamed of what Christianity fights and stands for in our modern culture. Instead of being a sweet savor to the world around us, we become who Jesus spoke against so greatly. You always that hear that hypocrisy is the biggest turnoff to people to Christianity; I would actually contend that it is intolerance and misplaced priorities. Christianity in the U.S. has had a dark side to it, whether it was groups like the Protestant groups such as the KKK fighting against blacks, Catholics, and Jews (who were just trying to keep the U.S. a good “Christian” nation), the Salem Witch Trials, or the John Winthrop’s “city on a hill” which attempted to set up a theocracy. When Christianity turns from a religion of peace, justice, and love to a religion of moral control, the results can be very damaging for the real message and gospel of Jesus.

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I know many people may love the movie “The Pursuit of Happiness”, but there is a message that is spoken through it that really saddens me. What makes us happy? It is something that we are all striving for, but most people never find. Have we ever thought that what we are searching for is the reason we are so upset? We probably have heard that things don’t satisfy, but I would take it a step further and say that ultimately our accomplished dreams and those people around us won’t ultimately satisfy us either.

I recently read a very depressing book which brought out a very interesting point. The book was called Revolutionary Road. Basically, a couple is trying to find happiness, but they are never satisfied. They feel like if they would just accomplish some dream in their life, move somewhere new, they would be happy. However, it is all in vain, because the dreams will never satisfy them. The book shows the horrific endings of searching for happiness in all the wrong things and never finding it. We all have goals and dreams in life, but if we place our hope in those, they are sure to disappoint us. I heard it said that the people who actually reach the top in life are the most depressed, because they realize there is nothing there. When we search for happiness, it is always going to disappoint.

Trying to find happiness in other people is the same concept, whether it is family, partner, of friends. We somehow think they are going to make us happy. However, they soon disappoint us as well, and if they are removed from our lives, we have nothing to stand on. Or worse, we seek out new people because others are no longer “making us happy”. This is when our society starts to fall apart, when everyone starts looking out for their own good and disregards those who are around them. C.S. Lewis made a very profound point about happiness in his book Mere Christianity.

“ The longings which arise in us when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign country, or first take up some subject that excites us, are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning, can really satisfy. I am not now speaking of what would be ordinarily called unsuccessful marriages, or holidays, or learned careers. I am speaking of the best possible ones…. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing…they are only a copy, or echo, or mirage.”

When we make objectives, people, dreams, or things are happiness, we will be miserable. When we realize these things will never satisfy, we start realizing there is something much deeper than our mere day to day living, deeper than the good and bad in our daily lives. Only when we begin to realize this will we experience real joy.

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