Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Strong Woman vs. the Woman of Strength, Pt. 2

I said I would talk about Anne Hathaway as Catwoman in this blog, and the bottom line is, her performance in The Dark Knight Rises was truly magnificent.

I was sceptical at first - as Anne has such large doe-like eyes, a history of playing a sweetheart - and to me, it seemed she could not pull off the cunning, crafty sensual Catwoman. She did not look mature enough, hard enough.

Man, was I wrong! I know I speaketh not only for myself, but for brethren geeks who did sit with mouth agape as she would 'transform' in front of our disbelieving eyes from terrified waif to cunning cat thief in seconds.

"Oops." she demures flatly when caught by Wayne.

She was superb. And, instead of trying to eschew her femininity, it was accepted as an essential part of her appeal and her power in dangerous situations, clearly granting her the upper hand, because we men ARE suckers for a pretty face, a damsel in distress, an awkward ingenue who 'does not know the rules.'

She plays an emotional masquerade, much like the Joker did in The Dark Knight Returns. She plays the victim to get ahead, to cause her opponents to underestimate her. She plays outraged lady when she is committing an outrageous act.

She knows manipulation is an art form. She looks soft and vulnerable, but inside she is crafty, wise and strong.

And, also, fearful.

She is afraid of poverty, of men, of intimacy, of not being in control. [Watch TDKR four or five times as I did and you will see how brilliant the acting choices of Ms. Hathaway were. She went for the gold, and got it, in my humble estimation.]

And so, when Bruce Wayne catches her once, she escapes. When he catches her again, she escapes with his car. When he saves her after catching her, he intentionally lets her go - and then she acts in fear. He is caught and she is upset. She betrayed a man who seems to care for her, is willing to talk to her and understands her motives. When he miraculously returns, we see her backtrack - and he graciously stops her.

"If you want an apology..." she begins defensively.

"It wouldn't suit you," he replies. He knows she betrayed him out of fear - fear of Bane, the monstrous madman holding Gotham city hostage. He understands.

And so Bruce has to go and defeat Bane and save Gotham, sans apology. Sans fanfare.

But when he does, guess what happens?

Catwoman helps him. Oh, she argues about it at first, ala Han Solo in Star Wars, but she cannot deny moving to help a man she respects. A man who loves his city. A man who wants the best for her. A man willing to make sure she has a clean slate - yes, a digital wiping of ALL her crimes by wiping her identity from every electronic record in the world. Her 'sins' will be washed away.

He's Bruce Wayne. He can do that.

And what is so wonderful is to see her respond to this great man, a man willing to give all he has for what he loves.

Even after betrayal. Even after no apology.

'Cause he knows he's won already. He's got her attention, and her heart.

Does this sound familiar? At all?

Well then read, my poppet:
Matthew 26:69-75
69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.
70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”
74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed.
75 
Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
And he went outside and wept bitterly.
That last part kills me.

Peter denied knowing Jesus out of fear of torture and imprisonment and death.

But Jesus still loved him. And when He RISES, he lets Peter know He has some work for him to do: that is, he covers the shamed man with a Call to Service and promises him an heroic end as well. Jesus understands his fear, his acting cowardly.

He also tells him he will not die at his own hand but at the appointed time and just like HIM.

Those words sound terrifying to us, but they were a comfort for Peter, who must have been agonizing over his cowardice after his late-night false bravado.
John 21:15-19
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
  “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” 
   Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
   He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
   Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
     Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
     Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.  
18 "Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  
19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Peter was a Strong Man - shoot, he even cut off a man's ear with his sword to try and protect Christ! But he learned to be a Man of Strength - and to fear not the world or men, but God and God alone.

Jesus loved him and it changed this man.

In The Dark Knight Rises, we see Selina Kyle also change. She is transformed from the purely cunning, crafty and impossible-to-catch Catwoman to a partner and ally of Bruce Wayne a.k.a.Batman.

It is a great ending to a great movie to see them together. Nolan's Dark Knight is an unexpected messiah, fulfilling his destiny through nearly all the tragedies a man can face.

But by rising to the occasion and never surrendering to evil, he captures a woman as strong and as vibrant as himself.

And maybe, just maybe, that is what Christ wants to see in His Church - His Bride - as well.

Amen.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Strong Woman vs. The Woman of Strength

Some years ago I was pitching a Young Adult SF series for boys to a book producer and thought I was doing well until I heard the ugly-egalitarian phrase, "Does it feature strong female characters?"

"Well, no," I admitted. "I am writing this for young boys. It's about them being squired by interglactic knights and..."

I need not have wasted another breath. Seems you can't have a book today that is not all-inclusive, even if your WRITING to encourage BOYS to be MEN of HONOR.

*sigh*

That said, I do indeed like strong female characters - my mother was a fiery Irish lass - but I like them more as Females with Strength of  Character, not as competitors in combat [who never lose, by the way]. Is that sexist? Maybe. I want to be the two hundred forty pound blocker for my lady, not she for me.

That said, I have written and will continue to explore the Amazonian myth [yes, I have female warrior characters], but at a later time. For now, I think it best to say we have had two excellent female leads in two fine superhero films this summer: Scarlett Johansson as The Black Widow in The Avengers and Anne Hathaway as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises.

In each film, they were just amazing. I loved how they did use their grace, charm and wits to disarm their opponents - so well, in fact, that in BOTH films I was stunned by their cunning, more than their acrobatic fight skills.

In The Avengers, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff showed us her courage under fire with vulnerability - you can WATCH her process the terror inside her and PUSH it aside to do the job before her. She is not 'all business' - she is clearly a human being who has a job as a spy and is a good one at that. She never whines nor cries and honestly brightens the screen every time she is shown - and NOT because she's 'a hottie' - thank God for that - but because she is always interacting with the HEART of the person she is talking to.

Don't skip over that. We men like brawls, to see who's the one who gets respect and who leads the pack. Women like "bawls" - the wounded soldier, the fragile mind, the one who cries in pain. We wound. They heal. It is a common grace that we see in so many women.

Is this exclusively a woman's ability? Of course not. But they are so good at it, we men like seeing them do it. Women understand hearts better than men and frankly, that can be a tool -even an effective weapon.

And in The Avengers, when the Black Widow gets Loki to reveal the cruelness of his heart -and by default, reveal his evil intentions by a single casual reference in his rant against her and her womanhood, we see her Help Her Crew because She Knows the Heart of Man [or in this case, a demi-god].

SCENE: SHIELD Helicarrier
Loki has conversed with the Black Widow until he explodes on her, mocking her need for redemption. He verbally abuses her, spitting and snarling at her weakness, her femininity.

Seemingly crushed, the Widow cries, "You're a monster..."

"Oh no," replies Loki. "You brought the monster with you!"

The Widow straightens, turns and says matter-of-factly, "So - Banner. That's your play."

Loki is dumbfounded.

So were we.

She played him -and she played him well.

[Watch Here on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbIzDAS37VY&feature=related]

I loved it.

It's this - and her scenes with Hulk, Hawkeye, Cap and the overconfident Russian general that make you love the Widow. She is smart and strong and kind [her dialogue with Hawkeye was touching, after he is freed from mind control].


Well, this blog is getting long. Next time, I'll talk about how awesome Anne Hathaway was as Catwoman.


Oh  - for a scriptural reference or two to women of faith who got through tough situations with God's help, read about Rahab and Esther.

For further encouragement, ladies please read Luke Easter's poem: A Strong Woman vs. A Woman of Strength.

Amen.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Bad Hostess! BAD!

http://www.nathangreene.com/prod_detail_list/30
At Jesus' Feet by Nathan Greene
When you know visitors are coming over to your house, you get busy cleaning, straightening things, etc. if you have ANY social grace at all. You want to put on a good impression and usually are embarrassed at all the things you have left undone. The only exception to this rule is when old friends who know all your habits come over. Seeing them day in and day out, you can sweep away some newspapers and find an empty spot on the couch for them.
We're comfortable with them. We ignore everything else to make sure we don't miss a word they're saying. Especially if they have some really good news to tell us.
But some of us neurotics keep cleaning even as the company comes and beyond. We are so worried about what we have left undone, we cannot enjoy the moment.
Such is the case with Mary and Martha. While it was Martha who opened her home, it was Mary who was opening her heart. While Martha had a list of things to do, Mary had a priority of Who to listen to.
Jesus commended the bad hostess –for she made Him the most important person in the house. And he was welcome any time.
Amen.

Read in the round

Luke 10:38-42

38  As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.
39  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.
40  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him
and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?
Tell her to help me!”
41  “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,
42  but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and
it will not be taken away from her.”

Questions
1)      What do you imagine this scene looked like? Where would your sympathies be?
2)     Personal share: when are we like Martha [busy, worried]? When are we like Mary [submissive, attentive to God]?

Benediction
Psalm 46

Quotes on Dedication to Christ                 

  • Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. –C.S. Lewis
  • Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him. –St. Augustine of Hippo
  • Trying to work for God without worshiping God results in joyless legalism. Work minus worship magnifies your willpower not God’s worth. If you try to do things for God without delighting in God you bring dishonor upon God. Serving God without savoring God is lifeless and unreal. -John Piper
  • I am a fool for Christ...whose fool are you? –Brother Andrew
  • If your life is Christ, then your death will be only more of Christ, forever. If your life is only Christlessness, then your death will be only more Christlessness, forever. That's not fundamentalism, that's the law of non-contradiction. –Peter Kreft

Saturday, August 11, 2012

God, Do What We Say - or We'll Cry

A friend sent me a blog about a gay person in emotional despair for everyone accepting Chik-Fil-A instead of boycotting them as they wished.

They saw our love for a Christian corporation that supports the Biblical definition of marriage as a form of hatred.

They were right.

Christ - the living Word who agreed with His Father - said our love for Him and His Word would look like hatred to the world. To our families too.

You see, when a true Christian commits to Christ, he or she puts Christ as the Supreme Being over their views and emotions. If they are not aligned with Him, then they are wrong. Period.

But the World does not LIKE being ignored. We all have this urge to manipulate God and He just doesn't play our games.

Listen to what Jesus, God incarnate, said in response when John the Baptist was upset He wasn't going to rescue him from prison. He begins ASKING if Jesus IS the messiah. Well, Jesus answers in the affirmative,  and even praises John as an awesome prophet, but then He takes a moment to comment on our human proclivity to try to wrap Him around OUR little finger instead of accepting our place in His plans.

Matthew 11:16


16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’  
19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!

Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”

Woe to Unrepentant Cities

20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.

21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
22
But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.  

23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.  

24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.

See, we think we are wise but we act like children. We are moved by the sound of music, but we do not have discernment to say "wait a minute... is this appealing to reason or my basic emotional needs?"

You see, we don't want to ACT rightly. We want to FEEL GOOD. And if we can appeal to emotions, and the concept of abuse, we can win a human heart to our POV.

But what if you do not, as the Al-Anon literature so aptly puts it, 'buy into' their point of view? What if you say "Uhhhh... no. That is not accurate. Nor correct. The actions do not match the facts."

Well, that upsets those who put their heart as first priority and leave reason as a second.

And our supernatural Lord does like reason, folks. He is often wondering why you are running away from Him, are fearful and have so little faith. Seems crazy to Him.

But if you want to make Jesus Christ shake His immortal head in disbelief, just try to emo-manipulate Him. Jump on His followers for accepting sexual purity as a standard.

Cry when a Christian businessman stands up to you.

Whine when the State will not redefine a sacred institution that is literally thousands of years old for you.

Act surprised when He says "It will be more bearable for Sodom than for you, on the day of judgment."

Sodom was a wicked city and had infected Gomorrah. It was so bad they wanted to rape the messengers of God  - to 'sodomize' them. They even said to Lot who tried to stop them by offering his daughters:
“Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down.
It is the most famous city of perversion. They did not repent. They did not like Lot saying 'No' to them, even as he offered an awful alternative. They went to break down his door.

They went to violate his rights, the sanctity of his home and his godly visitors.

You know what happened to Sodom? God destroyed it utterly. Jesus affirms its occurrence and eternal significance.

I think that is fair, historic, comprehensive warning, don't you?

Amen.

peace
justice

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chik-Fil-A: The Dark Meat Rises

Today was Chik-Fil-A Appreciation Day. It was born to show support for a professional public Christian business that stands by the Biblical definition of marriage.

It only happened because slowly and surely the folks who promote the homosexual lifestyle and affirm it constantly got angry at Chik-Fil-A's president for responding as a Christian to a question about his values.

He said nothing against gays. He said the following in an interview from the Biblical Recorder in North Carolina:
The company invests in Christian growth and ministry through its WinShape Foundation (WinShape.com). The name comes from the idea of shaping people to be winners. It began as a college scholarship and expanded to a foster care program, an international ministry, and a conference and retreat center modeled after the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove.
“That morphed into a marriage program in conjunction with national marriage ministries,” Cathy added.
Some have opposed the company’s support of the traditional family. “Well, guilty as charged,” said Cathy when asked about the company’s position. “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit.
“We are very much committed to that,” Cathy emphasized. “We intend to stay the course,” he said. “We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”


Chik-Fil-A was immediately labeled a hate-mongering organization that needed to be boycotted by those who support same-sex unions. 'Homophobic' is the usual curse word used by these supporters.

Let me explain the difference between homophobia and theophobia.

In homophobia, I fear homosexuals. In theophobia, I fear God.

I  have never, in my entire life, ever been afraid of a homosexual.

I have been disappointed by, affirmed by, given gifts by and been rebuked by two friends who currently live a gay lifestyle and I think they can say the same about me. [Clarification: the 'affirmation' was due to the friendship and fellowship we shared as human beings who liked similar things or some personal complimentary remark. We do not 'affirm' what we disagree on. People need affirmation; beliefs need confirmation. There is a BIG difference.]

I feared God enough to repent and obey some 16 years ago. I have a good relationship with Him because of Jesus Christ. I am empowered to live a holy life, and I am serious about it. Even my old friends can honestly say 'Yeah - he's changed.' though they may not know why.

Why the Hate?
Trying to live a godly life in a messed-up world is hard enough, but I tell you honestly, it gets worse when you are 'outed' as a Christian: especially an evangelical Christian who holds the Bible as THE Authority on the will of God and our proper response to Him.


So now we have peace with God and we - I mean 'I' - am no longer afraid. "If God is for us, who can be against us?"

But we are attacked for having this faith and this timeless definition of marriage. We are vilified. I guess it is because the homosexual 'rights' agenda is afraid of our opposition.

I think they may be 'Christian-phobic.' You know - afraid of Christians?

I'm Coming Out!
Well, honestly, I just cannot stay in the closet, eating my Chik-Fil-A sandwich quietly and ashamedly.

I'm out. That's right. I'm coming OUT!

I love God and His values! I love chicken, especially chicken made by Christians! But not just the breasts that Chik-Fil-A serves; no sir - I loves me some LEGS too! They need to expand their offerings, you know?

LET THE DARK MEAT RISE! ;)

And let the CFA-haters smooch on each other all they want... You didn't know? They are planning a same-sex kissing spree this Friday, August 3rd in all the Chik-Fil-A's. Yeah - crazy, right?

But there's nothing against same-sex kissing in the Bible - its the more intimate stuff that's prohibited.

So stand down, you little haters.

The sky isn't falling on Chik-Fil-A. In fact, I'm pretty sure you helped make this the most successful day ever in their business history.

For further education, read the book of Esther - and how Mordecai was hung by his own gallows after trying to wipe out the God-fearing Jews.

You would have KNOWN this would happen if you read the Bible and believed it to be true.

And may you do so, very, very soon.

Amen.