Sunday, January 31, 2010

Come Out of Her, My People

Revelation 18:4

Recently, e-Harmony was involved in a lawsuit where homosexuals demanded that they be served on the popular "match-making" website.

e-Harmony Lawsuit

This reinforces a distinct trend I am seeing in the political realm. Social liberals never seem satisfied with the rights they've been given. And it will be only a matter of time before Armando and Lucius drive by a quaint little country Baptist church and think, "Awwww. Wouldn't that be a nice place to be married?"

But when the pastor refuses, based on the moral imperatives taught by his respective religion, suddenly his right to adhere to a religious doctrine will not be shown the same tolerance the legal system will have given to homosexuals. He will be accused of discrimination and be forced to acquiesce to the couple's request to use his church, and perhaps even be forced to conduct the ceremony himself.

Yes, I know this may sound far fetched, but so did the whole idea of "gay marriage" a mere twenty years ago. Consider the recent lawsuit against e-Harmony. This lawsuit will certainly be cited in such a lawsuit against a Church and its pastor.

Why should e-Harmony be forced to match up homosexuals? Indeed, why can't some enterprising and creative homosexual create an online dating website explicitly for homosexuals? Because that isn't enough. They want to impose upon our lifestyles with their alternative. They think that by imposing equality through the avenue of the legal system, they will gain the social acceptance of their fellow citizens, in spite of the fact that legislation ( like Prop 8 ) shows that popular opinion still isn't ready for this level of "tolerance". So, they insist on imposing their lifestyle on the community via the legal system.

But it doesn't work that way.

This lesson should have been learned in the 1800's during the emancipation of the slaves. If slavery had been allowed to die out of natural causes, then all the bad juju between the races would have died along with it. Popular opinion, even in parts of the north, was opposed to total emancipation at the time. Even "honest Abe", the great emancipator himself, said, "I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races -- that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races from living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."

But they insisted on driving it home, in spite of popular opinion. The byproduct? Racism is prevalent even now, 160 years later.

So, the homosexual agenda, by forcing this stuff into the political limelight, may eventually get gay-marriage passed on a large scale, but as a byproduct, they are sowing the seeds of hatred and intolerance of their lifestyle that will propagate from generation to generation, very much the same way racism has propagated. And pretty soon, companies will be forced to hire a certain amount of homosexuals, and there will be government, taxpayer subsidized, programs catered to homosexuals, which will only compound the problem. The moral and ethical fabric of such legislation is nigh irrelevant. Simply put, pushing through legislation that politicians feel to be right and moral, but the populace hasn't embraced en masse as such, will create an enduring angst, and will actually slow the social acceptance of the behavior or attribute in question. This angst will exist in spite of the moral and ethical grounds for the legislated legality of the behavior or attribute.

The signal this sends is clear. Now is the time for the Church to seek "separation" from secular society! We need to "come out of her". As a church, we need to identify every area where we have ties in the secular world. We don't need to preserve the sanctity of marriage, we need to restore it. We should adopt de facto marriages, to ensure our definition of marriage stands in sharp relief to the world's. We need to sever all ties to the world's ideology, and return to the Scriptures and trusted writings. It may sound like I am condoning a rigid ascetic Christianity, similar to the monks of the middle-ages, or a communal Christianity like the Amish of the Eastern United States. Perhaps I am. Modern Christianity, especially in the west, disproportionately equates the "joy of the Lord" with the pleasures of the world, and uses such things as spiritual barometers. This ideology is one rooted in secularism, and has been a unseen malignancy in the Church ever since its inception.

I will admit I am very concerned. We don't want to find ourselves so entangled in the secular world that we are unable to extricate ourselves when the time comes that it does indeed become imperative to do so in order to retain even the faintest resemblance of one who is following Christ. Indeed, when the Anti-Christ comes, we've always assumed it would be in such a way that all the world gravitates toward him. But I am beginning to think that his appearance will be to a world already primed for him, so all he has to do is move chess pieces already positioned for a mate. Personally, I believe that the day of a profound separation is already here, but it is obvious that the remainder of the Church does not, or they'd already be taking steps in that direction.

For Christianity to remain in its current state is to conform to a profound description of modern Christianity observed, and penned, by none other than a atheist acquaintance of mine, who called it "A superstitious meme that is spread generation to generation, validated by placebo and confirmation bias, that builds an emotional stake in its hosts by encouraging evangelization and discourages doubt using guilt and social pressure." This atheist was attempting to describe how he felt about Christianity in general, but in so doing, profoundly described modern, pretentious, western Christianity to a tee. We attend church as a cultural nuance. And we go expecting to feel something, instead of eating the flesh and drinking the blood as we're supposed to. We go home and lay our Bibles down until the next service. We pray 5 minute "nighty-night" prayers, that scarcely have any substance, much less prayers that qualify as the "effectual and fervent" prayers urged in the Scriptures. We are Christians who are trained to feel a certain way, and as long as that criteria is met, grace is supposedly established and assumed to exist in the adherent's life. No change required. The stringent requirements of discipleship have suddenly become the foundation of legalism.

But grace and obedience runs together. As James put it, Faith without works is dead.

I recommend reading Part One: Grace and Discipleship of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Cost of Discipleship, to see how you, and your respective church's doctrine, measures up to what is now widely considered an "archaic", "obsolete", "idealist", and "out of touch" Christianity. One that renounces all forms of secularism and is a stinging and fundamental reminder that secularism and the lack of obedience is incompatible with a real, biblical, Christian disciple.

To whet your appetite, allow me this quote from the book...

"If grace is God's answer, the gift of Christian life, then we cannot for a moment dispense with following Christ. But if grace is the data for my Christian life, it means that I set out to live the Christian life in the world with all my sins justified beforehand. I can go and sin as much as I like, and rely on this grace to forgive me, for after all the world is justified in principle by grace. I can therefore cling to my bourgeois secular existence, and remain as I was before, but with the added assurance that the grace of God will cover me. It is under the influence of this kind of 'grace' that the world has been made 'Christian,' but at the cost of secularizing the Christian religion as never before. The antithesis between the Christian life and the life of bourgeois respectability is at an end. The Christian life comes to mean nothing more than living in the world and as the world, in being no different from the world, in fact, in being prohibited from being different from the world for the sake of grace."

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Avatar - My Review

Facebook readers can read this on my blog here.

To be honest, I had no real plans to see this movie. But after hearing so much about it, very good and very bad, I very much wanted to see what the buzz was all about. All the reviews seem to have no middle ground. It is either regarded as ground-breakingly epic, or a complete political propaganda movie.

In my opinion, it is both.

In a Dances With Wolves meets Star Wars meets Matrix meets Rambo amalgamation, we find our hero, a Marine, part of a research program called Avatar. Humanity has set up residence on a planet called Pandora, and is researching a indigenous, pantheistic tribe by assuming physical control of fabricated bodies identical to the members of the neolithic people. These bodies, called Avatars, are controlled by their host who is jacked in through a computer/cerebral interface. Matrix, anyone?

The tribe itself, the Na'vi, lives life very synergistic with their otherwise hostile environment, making them very similar to Native Americans during the settlement of America. Although essentially religiously pantheistic (where everything comprises God), they still worship an individual deity, called Eywa, who is the equivalent to Mother Earth. But she is more like The Force in Star Wars than a distinct personality.

The movie has a very good, very original premise. But the movie is rife with politically liberal ideology. Our hero, a wounded marine, has become part of the Avatar program only to find that there was an evil capitalistic agenda wanting to mine a precious mineral called Unobtanium, from the planet. Without thought to the implications of what displacing the Na'vi might be, the military stands ready to do whatever it takes to gain access to this mineral.

I would like to point out three things that really angered me. First off, our marine hero had lost the use of his legs. At their level of advancement, the medical procedure to regain the use of them must have been easily within the scope of medical technology, howbeit a procedure that was very expensive, and consequently reserved for an presupposed elite class of people with connections and status. This supposed caveat was an obvious byproduct of healthcare being in the private sector, where it belongs according to conservative ideology, and which is currently under attack in the United States.

Secondly, they depict the Na'vi as being completely in tune with nature. So much so that they share an almost symbiotic existence. When hunting, they address their prey as their brethren, apologize, and then thank them for leaving their bodies behind so the "the People" may subsist. The Na'vi, and subsequently all nature-loving liberals, are verbally martyred in this movie with titles like "tree huggers". The Na'vi are remarkably similar to Native Americans. Their language is strikingly similar, and there is even a scene that is strikingly reminiscent to the "Trail of Tears". In another scene, Na'vi resistance are referred to as "terrorists".

And thirdly, in sharp relief to the Na'vi, the military is depicted as a bunch of superficial, muscle-bound, greasy, cigar smoking grunts whose only ambition is to perpetuate the agendas of evil corporate gurus wanting the precious mineral, Unobtanium. Forget the idea that a national military is a highly disciplined outfit designed to protect citizens from foreign threats. According to this, the military is for just imposing ourselves on other cultures with military force. This is what many liberals think military operations are doing in the Middle-East today. In my opinion, this movie serves as a perfect look into the mind of liberal ideology concerning the military.

Now I take exception to this. I am a conservative, and also I greatly love nature. Having been born and raised in Appalachia, and hiking woods, exploring caves, and feeling right at home with nature since the time I could walk, I am very offended at the depiction that pro-military conservatism is an idea that means ushering in out-of-control urban sprawl and knocking down forests like they shouldn't exist, for some capitalistic agenda. That is pure lunacy. I love nature, and want more than anyone to see it preserved. I hike when I am able, and even harbor jealousy for friends who are now rangers. I am even among the ranks of those who would prefer a more primitive existence over our current level of technological advance. That is why i find the imagery and ideas in works like Narnia and The Lord of the Rings so compelling. Both books, and their authors, regard technological and industrial advances as detrimental to society as a whole. An idea that I whole-heartedly agree with, in spite of being a free-market conservative.

Liberals consistently paint Conservatives as nature hating SUV drivers with no regard for our environment. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, if you look at a map of where concentrations of political philosophies are, you will find the highest concentrations of liberal ideology in urban areas, while the highest concentrations of conservative ideologies are in rural, forested, areas. At least, that is the way it is in America.

So, while the movie was very beautifully rendered, with stunning visual effects and Real D elements, the outlandish political undertones destroys any possibility of real enjoyment. Other reviewers who cite the political motives profoundly understate their position. I suppose they were too mesmerized by the beautiful imagery.

As far as the movie elements go, it is quite status quo of modern science fiction. No real character building, which is typically sacrificed due to time restraints, and due to the elaborate antagonist vs protagonist plots needing to be set up. We learn of the characters in quick, bullet point, snatches. The plot of the movie is certainly original. In fact, I hate that such an original concept is tainted with such overwhelming political propaganda.

In summary, I thought the movie was very entertaining, and will be doubly so for anyone who is politically ignorant, or who is able to ignore the propaganda, or who agrees with the political statements being made. Unfortunately, I am neither able to ignore it, or agree with it.

On a side note, Stephen Lang, who played Colonel Miles Quaritch, is one of my favorite actors. I always thought him able to bring a real organic quality to any role he was in. I could watch Gods and Generals over and over again, based on his portrayal of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson in the movie alone. It saddened me to see him play such a prominent role in a movie that paints the military in such a negative light. I hate to see that he was willing to be involved in such a movie, and my opinion of this actor has been greatly diminished by this fact. While I still think he is an excellent actor, and that his role in Gods and Generals is worthy of the highest theatrical honors, my opinion of him has been dealt a severe blow by his incomprehensible involvement in such an prominent political propagandist motion picture. Possibly beyond the hope of fan redemption, at least the redemption granted by this fan.

Another side note, the last movie I saw in Real-D was Beowulf. I must say this rendering is more than an improvement. In a few cases, things appeared to floating right out into the theater itself. Real-D is a new 3D method that is still stereoscopic in nature, but uses light rather than color. Polarized glasses isolates each eye. The projection of the movie alternates, very quickly between each eye. The brain cannot distinguish each eye, so even though each eye is essentially watching its own version of the movie, the brain see one picture with depth. The effect is very profound, and certainly adds dynamic to any film that lends itself to 3D effects. That is, of course, an oversimplification. Unfortunately, at this time, this effect cannot be reproduced on non-projection systems, which means that DVD and Blu-Ray cannot reproduce the effect in home theaters. I am sure this is being resolved in a lab somewhere. Watch, I don't imagine it will be long before it will be available in a home system. If you haven't seen a Read-D movie in a theater yet, I cannot recommend it more highly. It is usually worth the surcharge charged by theaters for the added effect.