‘Stories are equipment for living.’ – Kenneth Burke
Blog gurus tell you never to blog “off brand,” but this one’s not as off as it might appear.
If you love the Bible and haven’t read Robert Alter’s The Art of Biblical Narrative, you really need to. One of the reasons for the Reading the Bible in 3D seminar in April was to help people understand that the tools they gain from watching quality movies and TV and reading good fiction should not be shelved when reading the Bible. Sadly, it seems most Christians really aren’t interested in understanding the Bible in a new way. They are taught by ministers who have little idea of what they are actually dealing with in the Bible, and the ministers were trained in Bible academies ruled by men without an ounce of the childlike imagination the Bible requires to be understood. Consequently they miss the beauty, the musical rhythm, the intricacies and the constant use of “plant and payoff”, all of which are understood by the best authors. This includes screen writers, who have to say everything the writer of a novel says but in less words. Robert McKee writes: Continue reading
Then they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”
and to the hills, “Cover us!” (Luke 23:30)
What we see
and what we seem
are but a dream…
a dream within a dream.
These lines by Edgar Allan Poe, slightly reshaped, are the first spoken words in the classic Australian film, Peter Weir’s Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975). Based on a novel by the enigmatic Joan Lindsay, it is an experience that clings to you, not merely because it is so carefully and beautifully made, but also because it is a film with secret blades: it is a mystery without a solution, a horror story without savagery, a nightmare in which all the watches stop at noonday.
On Saturday 14th February 1900, a party of schoolgirls from Appleyard College picnicked at Hanging Rock near Mount Macedon in the state of Victoria. During the afternoon several members of the party disappeared without trace…
(Spoilers follow, but feel free to read on…)
[This post has been refined and included in Sweet Counsel: Essays to Brighten the Eyes.] Continue reading
Fans of the (rather sick) TV series Twin Peaks have a lot of fun trying to figure out the meaning of the many symbols and clues left by series creator David Lynch. But his apparent originality isn’t that original. His inspiration is the occult. The funny thing is that the occult itself isn’t all that original. It is simply an inversion of many things in the Bible, which is also filled with strange symbols and clues. It is no coincidence that Twin Peaks was the product of a culture that was once soaked in the Bible.
Shedding Blood in the Dark: The Liturgical Shape of Skyfall
[This post contains detailed spoilers.]
James Bond: Everybody needs a hobby. Silva: So, what’s yours? James Bond: Resurrection.
In the late 60s and early 70s, the structures of traditional Western storytelling were deliberately omitted from “thinking” films. Bleak narratives reflected the randomness of life without faith. Movies were becoming formless and void.
They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham… You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.” (John 8:39, 44)
The theme of seed and fruit, or genealogy and mission, runs throughout the Bible. Genealogy is entirely objective. Our heredity is a factor in which we have no choice. It is the tree of life. But the fruit of our lives, what we choose to do with that life, involves our volition. Volition is mission. “It’s not about the hand you are dealt; it’s about how you play it.”
It’s now official. Kirk Cameron’s been hanging around with Darren Doane and Gary DeMar. He’s left the erroneous theology of Tim LaHaye’s silly books behind and embraced the optimism of postmillennialism — the Biblical teaching that the gospel will be victorious in history, through self-sacrifice.
Cheer up, you dispies. It’s not the end of the world.
“This objection misses the point that Peter is making. The issue with Cornelius and his household was not whether they were old enough to receive water baptism, but whether they were Jewish enough. If this household had contained an infant, the members of the ‘circumcision’ who were there would not have objected to baptism on the grounds of infancy, but rather because the infant was Gentile and uncircumcised” (To a Thousand Generations, p. 55).
Certainly, the issue was whether Gentiles should be baptized, but it was never a pitting of circumcision against baptism. They understood that circumcision was a beginning and baptism was a new beginning. Circumcision was replaced not by baptism but by the death of Christ, which united Jew and Gentile. Jesus tore down that wall, and paedobaptism unwittingly puts it up again. Circumcision marked out flesh as a plot of Land. That is entirely done with. Spirit water overflows all human barriers, it wipes out every distinction with a new one – Repentance and Faith.
“In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man to run its race.” Psalm 19:4-5
The Bible Matrix is found throughout Scripture and Creation at every level. It is the foundation for the best novels and movies because they resonate with us at every level. Like the Bible, the best literature, art, music and movies show us something new every time we review them.
A prime example is a movie I discovered last week, Sunshine, directed by Danny Boyle. It follows the basic pattern, but after some thought, there are many more elements within it that illustrate the history of Adam than immediately meet the eye.
“Our sun is dying. Mankind faces extinction. Seven years ago the Icarus project sent a mission to restart the sun but that mission was lost before it reached the star. Sixteen months ago, I, Robert Capa, and a crew of seven left earth frozen in a solar winter. Our payload: a stellar bomb with a mass equivalent to Manhattan Island. Our purpose: to create a star within a star. Eight astronauts strapped to the back of a bomb. My bomb. Welcome to the Icarus Two.”
If you don’t want the movie spoiled for you, watch it before reading this post. You won’t really get the post anyhow if you haven’t seen it.