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Sunday, 15 March 2015

The great debate!

This isn't so much a review - more just a bit of a response, I think.
A couple of weeks back, I saw the movie God's Not Dead.

If you're not familiar with the movie, the basic idea is that this Christian (Josh) going to university is taking this Philosophy class. The first thing the lecturer, Professor Raddigan does, is to tell all of the students to write the words "God is dead" on a piece of paper, sign it, and hand it to him; this way, they can skip all of the religious debate - which he believes is wasted, because the conclusion is already obvious. Josh, however, won't do it; so Raddigan says he's going to have to argue the antithesis - that is, argue that God's not dead. Josh manages to convince him that the class should be the deciding vote as to what is true; and the rest of the film centres around the debate between Josh and Raddigan, who is an atheist.

Now, there are some things that are done quite well in the film; I love the way that there are lots of different stories being told, and they all weave together towards the end. (Strangely enough, at a Newsboys concert, where the big song is also the title of the movie.) I also quite like that it shows the pastor as not being all-knowing, and not always getting it right - but in a more realistic light, as being human too. Which is good, because they are! I also liked some of the different arguments that were presented in the debate, which were often the more well-known ones, so it does give answers to those if you're not familiar with them.

What I didn't like, though, was how the film portrayed Professor Raddigan. For almost all of the film, he's basically made out to be the big bad guy. He's set in his ways, he's mean, and imposing - and there's really only two times we see this not being the case, maybe three. The first is when we see him with his girlfriend - who, interestingly, is a Christian. And he's quite nice to her; but the deal is, they don't talk about religion, and Christianity. Or rather, she can't. Not too long afterwards, we get a scene where he is quite putting-down of Christians in front of her to a group of his friends, and she leaves.
The second time is when he starts quoting some Scripture in response to something that Josh says - and then Josh asks him, "what happened to you?"

The moment here is probably one of the best in the film. Raddigan turns around and says, "When a twelve-year-old watches his mother dying of cancer, it's only natural to beg God for her life. And he'll promise anything to his make-believe Grandfather in the sky - including to love and worship him forever - if only he will spare her." There's a great exchange, and you can watch it here:

Here, for once, we can see past Raddigan's exterior, and see his inner pain. And this could have been an opportunity for Josh to talk to him, to speak into that - but instead, what do we see happening? In the last argument, Raddigan has decided to go up against Josh in a proper debate, rather than just pitching in at the end. And Josh isn't going easy here - he absolutely slams Raddigan; in the end, coming up to him and asking, "Why do you hate God?" This, repeatedly, insistently, increasingly louder. Until Raddigan finally answers - "Because he took everything away from me! Yes! I hate God! All I have for him is hate!" Josh replies - "How can you hate someone that doesn't exist?"
The class all say that God's not dead (yay, title!), and Raddigan walks out.

In the end, Raddigan is trying to get on to his girlfriend (now ex, because she dumped him); he figures out she's at the Newsboys concert, and starts to walk there. He gets hit by a car running a red light, that speeds away. At the same light happens to be the pastor, who gets out and talks to him - and in his last moments, he accepts Jesus into his life, and the pastor prays for him.

At the beginning of the film, I was following along with Josh; but by the end of it, I was feeling sorry for Raddigan. He was vulnerable with Josh, and then got slammed by him and ridiculed in front of his entire class (about sixty people or so). He's been on a ridiculous emotional journey, and all he gets in the movie to end up with is a deathbed conversion.

I can't say I'm particularly happy with that, to be honest. I think he deserved more of a look, and I think that his character was one of the deeper ones in the film. I think that Christians going to watch this will be encouraged - but atheists going to watch this could well feel quite discouraged, or angry at how they've been portrayed (incidentally, if there are any atheists who have seen the film who are reading this, I would love to hear what you did think about it - I could be wrong!). And I think, given the nature of what the movie is supposed to be, that that's really not helpful.

But anyway - that's what I thought. I think it's a good movie for Christians, or maybe agnostics - but not so much atheists. But what did you think? I'd love to hear your comments about this movie if you've seen it :)

Monday, 9 March 2015

My Flat Cap.

So. I have a few hats that I have accumulated over the years. But the one that I probably use the most - particularly in the last year or so - has been my flat cap. Picture below!

And my flat cap has a bit of a history, so I thought I might share that.

A few years back, when I was in my second year of uni, I got a job doing catalogue distribution. It had it's high points and low points. High - when it was a nice day, and you didn't have too much to deliver, it could actually be quite nice. Also, since my family was helping me collate it all, that was our unofficial 'family time' together each week. :P Low points: ...most of the rest of it. Low pay, took a long time to do (particularly for someone slow like me), and was not fun on days with bad weather. (Particularly rain, wind, or a combination of the two. Wind in particular would grab your catalogues out of your hands if it could, while rain would absolutely ruin them. Not fun.)
So, I had some weeks I really didn't like it. The other annoying thing was that sometimes we had quite thick bundles.

This was one such week. We had a sample that was included in the bundle, and because of that, it really didn't fit in letterbox slots for the most part. Circles were okay, slots were not. I was tired. And so I had started dropping them on the ground.

Someone noticed, and came up to me. Asked who I worked for. Said he'd be giving them a call, and I should clean up the mess I made. I was a bit startled, but I started to do that. I remember there was a kid playing in the streets there, and he asked me why I was doing it. "Because people don't like it like that," I said. "Oh," he said. I think he found it confusing why people would worry about something like that.
Shortly thereafter, I got a call from my boss. "Someone said you've been throwing catalogues." "Dropping them, not throwing them. They won't really fit in the letterbox slots." " what you can to fit them in. You can't just have them lying around in the streets." "Yep." "Bye." "Bye."

Not long after that, I got the peak cap. And I wore it on every delivery run I did afterwards. To remind me that, even if I don't like the work I do, I should still do it professionally. I still take it to work with me now, though I don't wear it. But it's a good reminder of that for me. And I'm also told it suits me quite nicely :)

So that's the story of my peak cap! Hope you enjoyed that.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Learning On The Job + Faith.

Life lessons are called that for a reason. You learn them by living. Through experience - often bad, unfortunately. It seems that those who have had the hardest and most difficult lives can often teach you the most about life.

As such, it feels like a lot of the time I don't have a lot to say. I'm a middle-class white guy, who has always had a roof over his head and food to eat, at the very least. I got to go to school, and university. (And TAFE and Bible college.) I've been able to work, and earn money. I've had incredible friends and family. I have had hard times and things that I've struggled with - things like emotions, and not having money, and people, and my own spiritual journey.

But I haven't had to deal with death. I haven't had to deal with starving, or being homeless. I haven't had to worry about what I say, in fear of the police or the government. I haven't even had to worry too much about peer pressure to do things like alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, or get piercings or tattoos.

And in some ways, I'm really grateful. Because it means that I can focus on helping people that do. But it also means that it's tricky for me to help those people - because I've never gone through it myself! Which is an interesting conundrum.

But one thing I got to talk about recently, which I think I have had some experience in, is faith. And I looked at the example of Abram, or Abraham. Looking at his life, I came up with three main things.

God tested, and Abraham worshipped. 
God promised, and Abraham believed.

God called, and Abraham listened.

And I think that those are the real markers of faith. Worshipping when you're tested, not just when things go well; believing when God makes promises (and showing that through what you do); and listening when God calls you (not listening to others, or to your fear, or to the world).

Think that's it for now. 'Til next time :)