Thoughts inspired by the movie: Repo Men

I went to see the movie Repo Men with some friends tonight. All in all it was an overtly graphic, action movie with lots and lots of gore, blood, and synthetic organs getting forcefully ripped from peoples bodies. As I drove home from the theater a few thoughts came into my head about the film. Now, neither of these thoughts came directly from the film, but I feel the film inspired me to think of them. The first came from sitting around after the movie. We were talking about what we thought of the film and I said “honestly, I thought it was a good movie.” to which my friend responded “ummm….not good, but enjoyable.” Now, I had to sit there for a second and think.

What is the purpose of a movie?
If movies are created for entertainment, then would an enjoyed movie successfully have filled its role as entertainment, and therefore be deemed as good entertainment? Now, I am one for enjoying bad movies, so I feel as though there is a point where art comes into the equation, but I was left asking:
What makes a movie good?

The second thought I had was during the film. Slight Spoiler Alert, I think (if introducing a character is a spoiler to you, then don’t read this. It does not divulge any major details about the plot.) One of the main characters is a female who has had most of her body replaced by Artiforgs (artificial body parts created by “The Union”). Now, even though the movie never once touched on it, this made me immediately jump to philosophy. It reminded me of a story of a boat. A boat that over time, needs a few boards replaced. As time passes, more and more of the boat is slowly replaced until finally, every part on the boat is replaced. Is that boat, which is made of entirely new parts, still the same old boat? What of humans then? If we were to replace every part of a human with a synthetic copy, would that still be the same person? Or, for a more realistic idea, our cells die and regenerate constantly. It is said that once every seven years we are made of completely new cells. Are we still the same person, after seven years pass?
A key concept of the film (this one expressed quite a bit) was whether or not your job defines who you are. Is a job just a job, or does a job make you who you are. This made me think of Peter Rollins’ story of the business man who lost faith. To summarize, there was a wealthy business man who was a christian. He did horrible things at his job and was ruthless to his employees but he could always justify it by saying “this is only my job, who i am is a christian.” One day he meets a man who has the gift of making people lose all religious conviction. He loses said conviction and realizes without the crutch of “being a christian” he can no longer justify the things that he has done. He quits his job, and gives his riches to helping those in need. In the movie, the main character deals with whether his job does make him who he is, or if it is just a job. Beyond what you call yourself, who are you? Does your job, your actions, change who you are?

For these thoughts, I don’t want to start off by giving my answers, I want to hear yours. So with that i ask these questions:

1. What makes a movie a good movie?
2. What makes a human, human?
3. Where is identity stored/found?
3. Who are you? (who who…who who)

I really wanna know.

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Flawed Humanity

Everyone has flaws. Every human being. Some drink their lives away. Some lose their home to the allure of the slots. Some are hopelessly addicted to the latest, harder, stronger drug. Some can’t make it a day without finding the latest pornography of their choice. Some compulsively lie to create a better image of themselves. But, no matter who you are or where you are I can guarantee that you have vices. Yet we don’t hear about them often. When you ask someone, “How are you?” or “What do you do?” the conversation seems to steer toward the positive aspects of their lives. Sometimes it will be more focused on what bad has happened to them, but rarely when asked “how are you?” will someone respond with, “I’m thinking of killing myself tonight.” or “Just trying to make it to the next drink.” Some may try to pretend they don’t have problems. They try to rationalize that because everyone is flawed, flaws are not bad. They are willing to admit their alcoholism, because who doesn’t enjoy getting drunk? Yet there is a conversation within all of this that is missing. People refuse to show themselves as broken, weak, and vulnerable.
Why do we not tell people of the vices? Perhaps a part of it comes from pride. We are unwilling to seem like we don’t have it all together. We like to be seen as good, upstanding, citizens. But, who decides what is an upstanding citizens? Who chooses what is an acceptable picture of mankind. If our standards of our fellow-man changed, would not the inner image change as well. We live in a world that defines success as perfection. We live in a culture that desires the end result more than progress. But, that is just the world. I am not to look to the world for my image. Yet, when I turn to the Church, when I turn to those that call themselves Christians, this ideology only worsens. Within the church, the idea of holiness has transcended to a type of spiritual perfection. For if you have faith, you surely will be healed. But what of the confession to fellow brothers? How am I to feel comfortable to tell my fellow brothers in Christ of my sins, when I know I run the risk of disgrace. Funny, how a movement started on the ideas of Love and Grace would create so much disgrace. Pastors need to look perfect, which leads to Jimmy Swaggart situations. The problem is not sin. We all have sin. We all fail. We all are flawed. The problem is the way that the body deals with it. We do not allow for people to come, confess and be healed. We preach hate towards homosexuals. We preach Gods hate of sin. We preach holiness beyond grace. and what comes of it? People are afraid to show their flaws. People are afraid to be honest with each other. So sin becomes a secret. We hide it away, because if we let it show, we run the risk of being pushed to the fringes of our supposed communities. There is a problem when a member of the church is too afraid to tell their fellow brother what they are going through. Not only is this destroying the message that Christ died for, it perpetuates so many of the problems it ostracizes its member for having.
If only we could be honest. If only we could come together, as a community and share our flaws. Be honest about our vices. I truly believe if christian community was more about being honest and loving instead of being holy, more holiness would come of it. For when we can talk to each other, and when the atmosphere is willing to listen and care, that is where healing comes. AA has grasped this idea. They realize that change does not come from judgment and demands. Change comes from honesty and communication. This is an idea that goes farther back than AA. Look at the biblical narrative. In the beginning, G-d created rules and punishments. He would judge all those who went against him, and what came of it? People kept failing. Now, maybe if we were more like G-d we would have been able to deal with this type of reproach, but we were not. The Jews failed, G-d punished and judged, which lead to them failing more. Finally, getting tired of this pattern, fueled by our failure, G-d tried a different approach. Enter the world: Jesus. Love without limit. A man who listened intently with love, and told those “Go, and sin no more.” Even James gets it right when he says :

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. ” James 5:16

This is not talking about the oppressive system of confessing, that has sadly plagued the word, but of liberating honesty with your fellow brothers and sisters.

I am not talking about accepting sin. I am not talking about embracing flaws. I am talking about embracing humanity, and loving each other as who we really are. Creating a trusting environment where people can tell their most difficult struggles to each other, and from that healing comes. We need to realize that we are all in the same boat, pastors and child molesters. Priests and politicians. And when we start creating divisions of who is and who isn’t, who has and who has not, we not only allow the problems to perpetuate, we breed self-righteousness, which is just as bad as the failures that are being judged. To quote Watchman Nee:

“Just as GOD hates unrighteousness, so He abhors self-righteousness…Whatever has the intent and desire to develop ourselves that we may be seen and admired by others belongs to the flesh”

We need to move beyond judgment to love, the truest fulfillment of the covenant. Churches should be the most trusting, loving atmospheres that exist. We should be communities where people come to confess and be healed. We need to realize we are all flawed, we are all fallen. It is only then that G-d will begin to help us lift each other up. We need to work together. Holiness is not created alone. It is only when we allow our flaws to come out in the open and be seen that will holiness truly be found. I find it ironic that the holiness movement is the very thing that is hindering true holiness. We need to realize that flaws are what make us human. We need to stop demanding perfection and demand honesty. For when we demand perfection, we only get lies. In creating this atmosphere we will not only help people to get over their vices, we will also help people realize that they are not defined by this problem. We are all clean and beautiful in the eyes of the Lord, why are we not in our fellow brothers eyes? We need to stop hiding who we really are, and come forward so that we can become a powerful, holy kingdom of failures.

These are not my pants

This is a blog about song writing.

The other day I was hanging out with my friends and one of them was working on a very beautiful song. He had come up with a stunningly beautiful sounding voicing for a chord and was trying to figure out where to go with it. Now, I have this tendency to start to write really stupid lyrics over beautiful chords, especially when they are in the works of becoming a full-fledged song. So, every time he would go to play this chord, I would start to sing “Hey Girl…” and he would immediately stop. After a few hours of this, he got understandable angry and exclaimed “Would you singing stupid lyrics over my song?”. I retorted with “How do you know it was stupid, I could write a serious song that started with the phrase ‘hey girl…'” And thus the challenge was born. I immediately went to the piano and started working on a serious song that started with the line “Hey girl…” Now, it took a while for me to get serious and actually start writing something of meaning, but eventually I started to get it. Then the event that would forever change my life happened. In my train of thought style writing, i uttered the line “my pants….”. That was it. It was all over. I couldn’t even finish the line. And it was in that moment and the moments that followed that I learned a deeply valuable lesson.

It is almost impossible to write a serious song with the word pants in it.

Now, I tried to. I worked for the next half hour or so just to try to come up with a line that had the word pants in it that could be taken seriously, but I could not. So, I know ask you…

Do you know of any serious song with the word pants in it?
Why is it that it is so hard to write a song with the word pants?
What makes pants so naturally not serious?

I will update you if I ever find a cure to this disease.