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When Terror Lives At Home

For publication in our local paper this week. A reflection on White Ribbon Day.

Another White Ribbon Day has come and gone. The day challenges us to acknowledge that, for a significant portion of Mount Gambier’s population, home is not a place of security and nurture, but a place of fear and abuse.While the day is gone, that situation goes on.
This is not a circumstance that is distant and unlikely to personally impact us, like the terror attacks in Paris, Sydney or Beirut. This is violence that occurs within sight of our front doors. And, for some of you reading this, within your front door.
We demand our governments be vigilant to protect us from distant threats. How can we do anything less than demand that we ourselves stand against a threat on our doorstep?
Any consideration of the statistics available is horrifying. Any hearing of the stories of victims or survivors is harrowing.
Apart from physical suffering, the emotional and psychological effects of abuse can continue long after the abusive relationship is ended; the deepest scars are those that are in our minds. Bruises and bones heal, there are supports that can help reorient feelings and reactions, but the memories will never change.
While acknowledging that sometimes the victims of violence are men, campaigns like White Ribbon Day demand that we confront ourselves with the reality that is men’s violence against women and children, and continue to work toward a society in which is safer and more secure for all.
The Bible demands that every husband should devote their life toward the support, nurture and care of their wife. Violence, threats, financial blackmail, verbal abuse or any other form of coercion are completely unacceptable. Excuses about needs, circumstances, stress, alcohol, illness, or any other form of justification are wrong.
No one ever deserves to be brutalised. If you are, or were, a victim: it is not your fault. If you are someone who behaves in this way: you are an abuser, you must stop, and there is help and support available.
The feeling of shame among perpetrators and victims is strong. But that is no reason to keep the situation concealed. Healing can only come through the situation being addressed.
It is observed that leaving an abusive relationship is a brave action. Confessing that you are an abuser and that you need help to change is a brave act as well. Abuse is not about strength, it is driven by fear.
Don’t let fear rule your life and relationships.
The heart of Christian belief revolves around forgiveness and a new life. Life with Jesus is about change and growth. Churches strive to be communities where those who have been hurt can heal and learn to trust, and where those who have been abusers can be renewed and learn to be worthy of trust.
There are numerous agencies and groups in our town who would willingly support those who want to leave abuse behind, as well as those who have been victims.

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The Turkey Drop, 2015

My friend Matt has a tender heart, loves birds, and celebrates Thanksgiving.
In honour of him this is the 2015 post of a classic clip from WKRP in Cincinnati.
For the few of you who don’t know, this is the set-up: Arthur “Big Guy” Carlson has a big idea for an unforgettable Thanksgiving giveaway/promo for the struggling radio station he manages — drop live turkeys from a helicopter into a crowd waiting below.
What could go wrong?

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Of Making Many Study Bibles There Is No End (via Carl Trueman)

Carl Trueman on the proliferation of Study Bibles, generally produced by publishers and para-church groups:

There are many comments one could make about the plethora of such Bibles. The most obvious is that, to any with eyes to see, it is a publishing racket, designed to reinvent markets and thus invigorate income streams. It helps establish the dominance of particular individuals within the evangelical world. It meets no real need in the church. It is simply a part of the economy of finance, control, and promotion that characterizes today’s Big Evangelicalism. Study Bibles create a need which they then generously fill, a bit like the Apple iPhone, whose constant but trivial evolution keeps the gullible customer permanently dissatisfied and thus willing to shell out cash for whatever comes next. But perhaps that is too harsh. At least this one is ‘centered on the gospel message’ which is good and praiseworthy, if completely inane as a statement. In my experience, the best Bibles I have ever read have generally been centered on the gospel message. Indeed, if you have a Bible in your possession which is not centered on the gospel message, I suspect you may find that it is not actually a Bible at all but something else entirely — a novel by Tom Clancy, for example.
It also seems that there is a certain oddity to the endeavor, a kind of incipient megalomania, even if such is not actually intended. I used to take a copy of whatever Study Bible came immediately to hand into my Reformation class, the one on the Protestant notion of the uniqueness and sufficiency of scripture, open it up to the inside page and say ‘The Holy Bible: Written by God. But edited by Top Man.’

Read the whole post here.

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Don’t Anchor Your Identity In A Role (via David Powlison)

This video is directed towards pastors and other Christian ministry workers, but is applicable to everyone.
The danger of allowing a role to define your identity is that every role has a limited time frame.
When the role ends identity can come adrift.
Identity for the Christian must be found in the eternal.

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The Common Themes Of Pixar Movies (via Vox)

This infographic from Vox illustrates the common themes in Pixar movies, and helps explain why they resonate with their all-age audiences.
It also demonstrates what makes for good fiction.


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The Banned Lord’s Prayer Ad

There’s been plenty of coverage about the refusal by the a movie advertising firm in the UK to accept an ad featuring the Lord’s Prayer to be featured in cinemas.
Search around if you want to know more. There’s a variety of attitudes about the situation.
So, while the ad will not be seen by movie goers, it is being seen by far more people than had originally been intended.
Here it is.

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On James Bond, SPECTRE, and Returning

Watching SPECTRE, the latest James Bond film yesterday was a diverting way to fill up most of the afternoon.
A lushly filmed series of set pieces, the film seeks to advance the narrative begun in Casino Royale.
And yet it is not really the movie that has provoked most of my thought in reflection about it.
Remaining in the theatre until all the credits had rolled up the screen, the final words were the familiar ‘James Bond Will Return’. And therein lies the problem.
Early in the series Sean Connery’s diffident spy coming back to foil schemes of world domination was a welcome return.
Though amoral, he was effective.
It was in George Lazenby’s sole outing as 007 that the notion of a real price in personal terms being sacrificed by the spy for his service on behalf of others was explored.
Connery’s return and Roger Moore’s term in the role didn’t really explore that dimension, a few nods to the canon of personal tragic loss being lost in among a plethora of gimmicks, comic effect henchmen, and an increasing tendency toward self parody.
Timothy Dalton’s turn at the role was a return to some of Connery’s initial hardness, though the character seemed lost as the cold war came to an end.
It was Pierce Brosnan’s assumption of the 007 where the character’s back story seemed to come to the fore. Sean Bean’s darker mirror of Bond taunts 007 about a personal life of loss that stands at odds with his professional accomplishments. Or perhaps the professional accomplishments would not exist without the personal carnage?
Brosnan’s other performances skirt this reality and reference the place of a character who is a cold war archetype functioning in the early 21st century.
It is interesting that Bond films have not remained 50’s or 60’s period pieces, but have stayed contemporary to the years in which they were released. Think about how novel the idea of taking Sherlock Holmes from Victorian England and bringing him to the present day has been. Not so with Bond.
Anyway, Daniel Craig’s iteration of Bond has been all about the personality of the character. Themes of loss, family, home, and personal peace have loomed large over the four film arc that comprises Craig’s interpretation of the character. Despite himself, over the series within a series, he builds a family of sorts. But it’s not enough.
The four movies themselves have been uneven in quality and coherence, but SPECTRE seeks to reframe the question in an interesting manner. Instead of Bond’s loss being a combination of the random and circumstantial, what if it that loss was the intended malicious outcome of an individual? If Bond’s reactions to life’s cruel outcomes was one of world-weary, alcoholic, promiscuous, diffidence; how might his choices and reactions change if he believed that there were a possibility of happiness, even lasting love, of family? Before he seemed resigned to his lot, what now?
But this is the problem in episodic fiction. It can’t end. Unless the character can pass on their costume to their son (comic’s The Phantom) or another takes their name (like the title character of another spy movie franchise).
If the main point of the movie is not longer the villain’s scheme being foiled (early Bond), but the hero finding inner peace and love (later Bond) then there will never be a lasting sense of resolution.
Because if there is then James Bond won’t be coming back.
The early movies played with this because it wasn’t central. The latter ones don’t really know where to go because it is.
Ultimately a character who is self-knowingly miserable and bogged in their lack of personal growth becomes boring.
A character who chooses to stay in disfunction is worse.
Character can be king in finite stories, but plot action has to rule episodic works.
I can understand why Craig wouldn’t come back. His expression of the role is complete.
It would be interesting if the next actor in the role of 007 was no longer James Bond but someone else, or if James Bond itself was a code name passed onto a different person (like the other spy franchise, I know).
It’ll be interesting to see how James Bond returns. And what his frame of mind will be when he does.