Film


                                                       

Jesus loves porn stars! So heralds the cover of the controversial Bible (The Message version) being distributed by the guys over at Triple X Church. Triple X is an anti-porn website run by Mike Foster and Craig Gross, who also run the ministry Starving Jesus, and together authored the book, “Questions You Can’t Ask Your Mama About Sex”.

The flashy picture above is the actual cover of the Bible Foster and Gross are distributing. Distributing at Porn conventions, that is. The ministry of XXXChurch is to attend porn conventions which are frequented by the top names in pornography like Jenna Jameson and Ron Jeremy (who often participates in public debates with XXXChurch on porn). Does Jesus love porn stars? Here’s my controversial answer– No, He does not.

Modernly, “porn star” is simply a euphemism of a lifestyle, not a human being. It’s used, as best I can tell, exactly like “pimp” or “rock star” or “redneck” , words which no longer refer to an individual, but a particular lifestyle. Go to your local superstore, and you’ll find t-shirts (in the teen section by the way) with those titles screen printed on the front. I remember a girl with whom I went to high school wearing a t-shirt which simply said, “I’m a Porn Star,” in the same coloring and typeface as the Bible cover above. Who’s not seen the Rockstar brand energy drink, or heard a rap song about being a pimp or a country song about being a redneck? These titles don’t refer to people as individuals, but lifestyles. Contrariwise, I could say that Jesus loves homosexuals, because this currently still refers to individuals, not the lifestyle. Does Jesus love Ron Jeremy and Jenna Jameson? Absolutely! He also loves every single other individual involved in the pornography industry. However, He does not love porn stars, nor does He loves pimps, rock stars, or rednecks, as those words are used in modern vernacular to convey not the individual man, but his lifestyle; lifestyles often characterized by their committment to ignorance, promiscuity, drug use, and immorality on many fronts. Does Jesus love that? Of course not.

The message that Jesus loves porn stars, to modern individuals, does not convey the intended meaning, therefore, that Jesus loves the individual man, but that Jesus seems to have a special place in His heart for the porn star lifestyle. This is clearly seen in the ABC news video (below) where a female pornography actress says the Jesus Loves Porn Stars t-shirt is “awesome”. Finally, porn stars are justified, Jesus loves it, and if He does, what’s the problem?

Aside from the obscure message that Jesus loves porn stars, the XXXChurch website sells items which again are intended to deliver the message of Christ to individuals struggling with sex addiction. To encourage men to abstain from lust, cards are handed out that remind them (forgive me for typing this) “Don’t Spank that Monkey”, and the XXXChurch website sells Jesus pencil toppers, and Jesus bobble heads, called Jesus nodders.

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Jesus loves you. Let’s remind modern men that they are just that- you, men, women, people, individual humans in God’s image. Jesus doesn’t love porn stars, but He loves every single human, despite their man made titles.

I believe that this movie has the potential to be the most talked about event in 2008, even eclipsing the political conventions, the Olympics and the Election.   I am equally sure that if it does well in the box office that there will be MUCH negative publicity against it.    At any rate, this is a very thought provoking trailer.  Enjoy

If nothing else I hope that this movie will engage Christians in and with the culture once again.  Forcing us to think! and get off our pat answers and shallow arguments.  This could be a great opportunity to participate in conversations with the culture at large.  It will also be an opportunity to show our ignorance if we are not careful. There is a risk of the anti-intellectuals, who shun academia, science and the institutes of higher learning, to solidify the sterotypical image of the “Christian” as the ignorant, blind faith bumpkins that many in the culture say we are.
At any rate, it is time to get out of the bunkers we call church and engage our culture again, not in some antagonistic conflict, but in truth and love.  It is possible to win the argument and lose the person with whom you are conversing. (I have to give props to my Pastor, Josh, for that line, it was too good not to borrow.)  It is also possible to lose an argument due to lack of preparation and basic knowledge and end up looking like a backwoods banjo picker.

 This is my favorite scene from “Fiddler On The Roof”

Catchy Title, eh? “A Movie review:”So, What fare are we serving up today?

“Because of Winn-Dixie”

I was shocked! I tell you absolutely shocked, to find out tonight that there are actually some people who have not yet seen, “Because of Winn-Dixie.”

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This movie is a Southern fried humdinger!

When I first sat down to watch a Family Night movie titled, “Because of Winn-Dixie” I thought yea, ok, I’ll endure this and then we’ll get to a good movie. I found myself eating that sentiment and walking away thoroughly satisfied. I had not read the book so I had no idea what I was about to see. We liked so much we bought it and have re-watched it on several occasions.

The story is about a preacher, his daughter Opal, her adopted dog Winn-Dixie, and the adventures, and friendships forged one summer in a small southern town. Between Opal and Winn-Dixie we see the greatest adventure of all, that of people and relationships. We see the tender heart of a child who wants to know why her momma left her and her daddy on the one hand, but who refuses to become scarred , cynical and jaded by that loss. We see how simple acts of kindness change all those who come within Opal and Winn-Dixie’s sphere of influence.

Far from being a Pollyanna, Opal is a real kid with real hurts and real questions. Her character is powerfully endearing and reminds us that people crave fellowship with others and will respond when given the opportunity. The charming innocence and childlike wonderment of Opal is contagious, and the simple honesty of child and dog quickly affects all those this dynamic-duo come into contact with.

This is real entertainment. No flash, no glitz, no glam… just a purity that speaks to the heart. This is the way movies should be. Two thumbs up!

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Courage is probably the most important trait that can be attributed to any knight.  In spite of the various vices that Arthur’s knights posses in both Mallory and Tennyson, cowardice is certainly not one of them.  From the Battle of Badon Hill to Arthur’s final encounter with the hosts of Mordred, noble knights stand strong no matter what the odds.  This is not the case, however, in Monty Python’s retelling of events.

            In one scene, the knights encounter a creature that, according to the enchanter, Tim, is “so terrible, that the bones of full fifty men lay strewn before its lair”.  The creature turns out to be a small, white rabbit (or a stuffed rabbit on a string during the fighting sequences).  The viewer quickly learns however that this is one mean rabbit that is capable of decapitating a knight before he can say “forsooth”.  The knights are terrified and the voice of King Arthur is heard exclaiming “Run away!” as he and his men retreat in fear from the bunny.

            And who can forget “Brave Sir Robin”?  Here is a knight that is so timid that his only recorded exploits are the battles from which he fled.  Indeed, Sir Robin is an anti-Knight who tiptoes in trepidation throughout the forest as his overly-cheerful minstrel sings about his cowardice.  The knights of Monty Python turn out to be yellow under their armor.

            The film is strangely, yet aptly, concluded by the arrival of British policemen who halt an impending siege upon the French castle that holds the grail.  Arthur and Bedevere join Lancelot in jail and the remaining army is marched backward by a police officer shouting into a megaphone.  At one point, the police man notices the camera and states, “Alright sonny, that’s enough.  Just pack that in!”  All of a sudden the camera goes black and cheerful organ music begins to play.  The strange and abrupt nature of this conclusion is a message in itself.  Despite all the fancy finery and noble chivalry of romantic medieval tales, the real world wins out in the end.  Arthur and his knights are revealed to be a farce and the ideals which they uphold cannot, at least according to Monty Python, stand up to reality.

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The themes and motifs of Arthurian legend and literature have been deeply injected into the bloodstream of Western culture.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the classic, comedic film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail which was produced in 1974.  As its title implies, Monty Python is a movie built upon the edifice of the Arthurian mythos.  However, this film is not a glaring and sentimental tribute to the romantic middle ages, but an irreverent and sometimes subtle parody of the ideals of Arthurian literature.  This is particularly evident in the way that the chivalric code of knighthood is portrayed within the film as being silly and unrealistic.  Endurance in battle, an adventurous spirit, and (above all) a courageous heart are all necessary conditions for being a noble knight of the Round Table.  Indeed, these attributes are exemplified repeatedly in works such as Le Morte D’Arthur and the Idylls of the KingMonty Python, however, satirically skewers these romantic ideals throughout the entirety of the film. 

Take, for example, the first of the traits given above.  In Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, King Arthur’s martial merit and fortitude are clearly displayed in his battle with the Excalibur-wielding Accolon.  Arthur is badly injured throughout the encounter and he loses so much blood that “it [is] a marvel he [stands] on his feet”.  Yet Arthur is “so full of knighthood that he knightly endure[s] the pain” and he finally emerges victorious.  Contrast this with the character of the Black Knight in Monty Python.  With roles reversed, he is the recipient of various injuries (or amputations) from King Arthur until he is finally reduced to a writhing torso who screams epithets at his opponent.  Although this may sound horrific and gratuitously violent, it is portrayed in very humorous manner.  After losing his arm, the Black Knight objects, “Tis but a scratch…I’ve had worse!”  And after losing both arms, he resorts to taunting and kicking the king in the posterior.  All of these antics are a clear parody of the “knightly endurance” exemplified by King Arthur in Le Morte D’Arthur.

The adventurous spirit of the knight errant is another common motif within Arthurian literature.  The Knights of the Round Table incessantly seek glory through the pursuit of various quests.  Indeed, this is such a common endeavor that it appears to have been worked into King Arthur’s daily schedule:

Then the king bade haste unto dinner.  Sir, said Sir Kay the Steward, if ye go now unto your meat ye shall break your old custom of your court, for ye have not used on this day to sit at your meat or that ye have seen some adventure.

           

One can almost see Arthur fumbling through his daily planner and nodding his head in frustrated agreement.

The idea of the noble quest is roundly ridiculed in Monty Python however.  In fact, the primary quest for the grail is never even resolved within the film.  The grail quest seems to be nothing but a loosely assembled frame upon which the various sketches and sight gags of the movie are hung on.  This is no accident however, since the very meaninglessness of the pursuit is a satirical jab at the entire concept of questing.

This parody of questing is best exemplified by Arthur and Bedevere’s encounter with the infamous “Knights who say ‘Ni!'”.  Besides the humorous reaction elicited by exclaiming a monosyllabic nonsense word, the quest given to Arthur and Bedevere is completely ridiculous: they are to procure a shrubbery.  This demand sends the two knights on a pointless endeavor in which they learn to employ the dreaded “Ni!” as a weapon themselves.  Finally, their shrubbery is gained dues ex machina through their fortunate encounter with “Roger the Shrubber”.  To be sure, questing in Monty Python is not nearly as noble as in its literary counterparts!