Silence

Directed by Martin Scorsese and staring Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, and Liam Neeson, Silence is a film about 17th century Jesuit Priests seeking to spread their faith in Japan. The film depicts their persecution and struggles as the Japanese hierarchy sought to uproot Christianity in Japan.

Japan’s resistance to foreign influence was strong, and Christianity was no exception. The story of Silence centers around two Priests who set out to find one of their mentors after his letters from Japan cease and rumor is heard of his denial of Christianity. The Priests seek to spread their faith and find their lost mentor while hiding from Japanese authorities. A story of loyalty and betrayal, belief and unbelief, and faithfulness and unfaithfulness follows.

Silence is a deep and heavy film to watch. It explores cultural conflict, compares and contrasts faiths, poses deep theological and philosophical questions, and challenges the definition of truth. Is truth universal, international, national, cultural, or personal? Is truth dependent upon the circumstances that surround the truth seeker? Is it permissible for a person to repeatedly publicly deny his or her faith while privately believing that faith to be right and true?

Silence is a great precursor to the philosophical question – Is it right or permissible to lie in defense of self or others? Lying for protection from injustice and oppression is often considered an okay if not right thing to do. Modern Biblical theologians might argue the forgivable nature of denying one’s faith, but modern theologians did not have to be faced with the challenges of these 17th century Jesuit Priests.

Silence also has a lot to say about belief in a higher power in general. As the title suggests, God does not rise to the defense of the people being oppressed by the Japanese rulers. There are rare suggestions of God’s presence, but the Priests mostly pray and suffer in silence. This leads to questioning the existence of God along with the reasoning behind unwavering profession of faith.

Though much can be said about the disturbing behavior and reasoning of the persecutors, Silence is about the persecuted. Did the people these priests were ministering to even understand what the priests were endeavoring to teach them? Were the priests accurately communicating and the people adequately interpreting the priests’ conception of God? Were the people dying for God or for paradise? If the priests beliefs were true but the peoples’ faith was flawed, were the priests simply hastening these peoples’ path to hell?

Silence is about the thin line between faithfulness and apostasy, and what it takes to reach and cross that line. Why should these Priests have died for a silent God? What is the promise of a paradise never physically experienced when compared to the tangible stuff of life and the relief of pain? If God exists, Who is God, and is God worth our lives? If a person decides God is not worth her or his life, is God merciful enough to accept that person back?

Those may be some of the questions that Silence leaves with its audience, and especially for people of faith, those may be some important questions to consider.

On Truth

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On Truth, written by Harry G. Frankfurt who was a professor of Philosophy at Princeton University, is a book defending and elaborating on the concept of truth. The first thing Frankfurt does is dispose of the fallacy that truth does not exist as disproving  itself (i.e. saying truth does not exist would be an absolute truth). The second thing Frankfurt does is emphasize that he is not writing about what is true and what is not true, but about the vital concept of truth itself.

Frankfurt then examines the importance of truth within modern society and some of the ideologies surrounding the idea of truth. Frankfurt indirectly invites the reader to consider if a person’s idea of truth is determined by her or his experiences and environment. The author emphasizes the importance of truth in regards to being honest about one’s self and in regards to a healthily functioning society. He discusses Baruch Spinoza’s idea that people who love themselves and their lives tend to love truth because of the role truth plays in life.

In the second half of “On Truth”, Frankfurt seems to continue his consequentialist approach to truth as he describes the importance of a person accepting reality for what it is regardless of whether or not she or he agrees with it. Though he continues to elaborate on the necessity of truth in living a fulfilled life, Frankfurt’s dialogue illuminates some fundamental questions. Is it better to utilize truth for one’s own gain, for the gain of a group, or for the gain of society as a whole? Is it better to exercise delayed gratification or immediate gratification?

For example:

The issue of the growing national debt of the United States government is discussed with every election cycle, and this topic must influence decision making on the part of U.S. citizens. Is it better to allow the debt to continue increasing to bolster the U.S. economy now or should the U.S. government make severe budget cuts now to avoid long-term consequences? One could argue that both approaches can be motivated by a consequentialist perspective (i.e. one seeks to benefit people in the present and the other seeks to benefit people in the future), but which approach provides the most benefit for the greatest number of people?

When considering a consequentialist approach an important distinction must be made between what benefits the individual (or the individual’s group) and between what benefits the greatest number of people in society. Though these discussions will likely make decisions much more complicated, they can serve to make decisions more intentional in regards to the beneficence of results. We tend to live in a world that is not black and white in nature but is instead a reality of many shades of gray. Conflicting information and opinion calls for deliberate reasoning based on evidence-based principles and truth. But, humanity often succumbs to impulsive, black and white decision-making based on preset preferences and pre-selected sources of information.

Frankfurt’s realization of the innate variation and grayness of life is refreshing. At one point Frankfurt implies that a lie may have consequential utility in one situation while being a burden to society in another situation.

For example:

Comedians lie frequently about their experiences to create a more humorous punch line. This is one example of how manipulating the reality of a situation may be of benefit to a great number of people. Often jokes are dependent upon realizing the untrue nature of a statement, and such sarcasm may serve to mock a falsity and admire a truth.

If the example of comedians seems like a weak defense of the utility of a lie, the genocidal examples of a German lying to the Gestapo about the location of Jews or of a Rwandan lying about her or his ethnicity to avoid being a victim of mass slaughter should serve as a more potent example. Frankfurt makes his points effectively without use of such examples, and he goes on to illuminate why lies can be so uncomfortable, even when they have some consequential utility.

Lies keep the hearer from some reality. The full truth of a situation is shrouded. That aspect of a lie is always negative, regardless of the lie’s consequential utility. The nature of a lie is entertaining a thought or an idea that is false, and this serves to explain why lies should be naturally less popular than truths (i.e. the nature of reality causes lies to be self-defeating).

“On Truth” is a short, reflective read that provides a good defense of the overall utility and vital nature of absolute truth while acknowledging the existence of various situations in which complete, raw honesty about truth is unknown, undesirable, or not of the most immediate beneficence. Truth has a self-evident nature which always makes falsity somewhat undesirable even if an untruth is useful. Frankfurt’s approach entertains the complex nature of truth while upholding truth’s integrity, and when discussing and deliberating what is likely the most important concept in life, such a balanced and rational approach is a good thing.

 

 

 

 

The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly

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The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly by Matt McCarthy is a book about the author’s first year as a resident after graduating from Harvard Medical School. The book is a raw story about the stressful ups and downs of life as a medical resident. Not all residents may feel the same kind of stress or sense the same kind of life-altering experiences that Doctor McCarthy reflects on in his book, but the experiences of residents must have a large impact on the courses of their futures as physicians. McCarthy’s book demonstrates how his experiences have impacted his career, and provides a valuable resource for students aspiring to a career in medicine.

The book opens with McCarthy exiting the world of academia for the work of residency. He travels from the cardiac care unit to a local outpatient clinic to the infectious disease service to the general medicine floor to intensive care unit during his residency at Columbia University Medical Center. He exchanges 2nd year resident mentors for which he has a constantly changing “scut” list of services to provide for patient care. He experiences triumphs and tragedies as he endeavors to survive his first year of residency.

McCarthy has authored other books, and his writing is not bland or above the level of the reader. He shares mnemonics like “ABC”, “VINDICATE”, “AEIOU”, and “NAVEL” to illustrate the rigors of remembering keys to good patient care, but he never expects the reader to take an interest in the academics of medicine. McCarthy writes for the sake of the story. He describes the emotions of patients and their caregivers, he illustrates the harsh physical realities of diseases and medical procedures, and he reflects on the good and bad things about life as a resident.

McCarthy also demonstrates a refreshing sense of humor and humanity. He makes corny jokes, illustrates some humorous situations that often arise in healthcare, and talks about the importance of periodically cutting loose from the serious nature of medical care. Healthcare professions can be a frustrating, and McCarthy’s humor provides welcome relief for the doctor and the reader.

The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly is a good read, especially if one is interested in working in the medical field. Working as a Medial Doctor is a very well-respected job for many reasons. The hard work and discipline that it takes to graduate from Medical School demonstrates a willingness to sacrifice time, energy, and wealth to achieve an admirable goal, and more importantly, providing quality patient care demonstrates a dedication to protecting the lives of others. As more readers delve into the pages of Dr. McCarthy’s telling first year, perhaps their confidence to sacrifice time, energy, and wealth for the sake of those who lack access to quality healthcare will grow as well. After all, it is not easy, becoming a doctor, but for the sake of others, it’s definitely worth it.

1984

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1984, written by George Orwell, was published soon after World War II and imagines a dystopian future in which “Big Brother” a figure-head of a totalitarian government controls the piece of the world that the main character, Winston Smith, lives in. The world is divided up into three divisions Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia with something like large swaths of populated no man’s land in between. Much of the book is spent describing the concepts and strategies of the totalitarian government as well as the details of the people and places in this dystopian world.

The Power of Fear & Pain:

  • The listener is provided an internal view into the protagonist mostly, so assumptions must be made about the internal feelings of the other characters. However, one thing immediately recognizable in this audiobook is the fear present in the people controlled by their government. Fear seems to prey on the instincts of the characters by encouraging them to do whatever they can to survive. Citizens of Oceania seem jovial when traitors are caught and deposed through jail and/or death, but it’s hard to believe that the citizens can truly feel jovial and secure in such a controlled environment. Much like the main character, Winston, other citizens of Oceania may be internally conflicted about their government. But, unlike Winston, many citizens seek to improve their loyalty to “Big Brother” through enthusiastically encouraging the capture and conviction of comrades found to be disloyal to the totalitarian party.

The Power of Words:

  • The citizens are always being watched through “telescreens” or something like a TV set that both records and displays visual and audible information. Whereas these “telescreens” likely seemed improbable in the 1950’s, they now seem feasible. Besides the “telescreens” there’s the “Thought Police” who monitor any signs (e.g. speech, body language, facial expression, etc.) of disloyalty to the party. There’s also “News Speak” or the effort by the government-controlled media to limit the amount of words used in Oceania’s language. The concept of “Newspeak” seems to emphasize the importance of education and language in expressing human individuality and promoting intellectual growth and freedom. In his book, Orwell seems to be emphasizing that words are powerful, and a society that diminishes the power of words diminishes the power of its people.

The Essence of Freedom:

  • The underlying tone of 1984 seems to be related to the destruction of freedom. As the book progresses it becomes clear that freedom exists solely in the mind, in the realm of human choices. One may be physically overpowered, locked up, or chained, but there is still the freedom of thought and choice. Even if the sum of a person’s thoughts and decisions are simply the totality of his or her genetics and environment, the ability to choose seems to be what makes people, at least in part, free. In order for one person or a small group to rule a multitude, there must be a way to control people’s thoughts and choices.

Misunderstanding Professed Beliefs &/or Their Implications:

  • In 1984, the ruling minority seems to be largely successful, and most citizens seem to either embrace the regime’s propaganda or take the viewpoint that ignorance is bliss. One character makes an effort to give the appearance of “orthodoxy” or conformation to the regime’s ideology without truly understanding the implications and true nature of the ideology. This character’s ignorant dedication to rules and beliefs reflects an attitude that some people may embrace in life. It may at times be easier to embrace beliefs that have been inherited from family or conform to societal expectations and standards without really examining the merit or meaning of those beliefs.

The Importance of Authenticity:

  • While some people may struggle to truly comprehend or even accurately live out their beliefs due to a lack of examination, others like Winston in 1984 may be afraid to reveal who they really are. While Winston hides his true beliefs out of a fear of imprisonment and death, individuals in modern society may hide who they really are out of a fear of disapproval or relational rejection. Failure to meet societal expectations can prevent people from being authentic. As Winston confesses both the positive and negative aspects of his inner self, he shows us a valuable part of his humanity. In a society that expects perfection, or at least the ruling party’s definition of it, Winston comes to grips with his imperfections.
  • This serves as a lesson to individuals of modern society. The individual must determine for herself what is right and wrong and judge herself by that standard. The governments of the nations in which that individual chooses to reside will hold that individual to a collective standard of justice along with the rest of the people in those nations. That individual will likely judge herself imperfect by both the standards of those societies as well as her own standards. However, that realization aids in understanding the necessary responsibilities and privileged liberties of living in a mutually beneficial community. Realizing one’s imperfections while taking responsibility for one’s actions is an essential part of what it means to be human.

The Existence of Absolute Truth:

  • Late in the book Winston goes into a self-reflective monologue about the insecurities of truth. He wonders if two plus two really equals four. He asks what truth really is if it exists in our minds and our minds are only a perception of our surroundings. Winston turns to the fundamental laws of the world around him such as the law of gravity to help reinforce his belief that truth exists outside of his own mind. But, his questioning of the very existence of truth is apt. Ultimately, one may ask if even the existence of truth is a belief that requires faith?

1984 may be an uncomfortable book to read or listen to at times, but Orwell covers some important concepts. The questions and challenges that arise from reading a book like 1984 are more beneficial than the story and its characters. The details of this book need not be remembered as long as the general ideas and questions relating to choice, community, and truth are internalized. Are people really free to choose? What is the individual’s and government’s role in a community? Is there such a thing as absolute truth? Those are some of the questions that seem to get to the main points of 1984.

 

 

 

Hacksaw Ridge

Hacksaw Ridge, directed by Mel Gibson, depicts the story of  how U.S. soldier/medic Desmond Doss became a conscientious objector serving in World War II. Doss is portrayed by actor Andrew Garfield who was nominated for a 2017 Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. In the movie, Doss endures criticism from his fellow soldiers for avoiding what they perceive as justified and necessary violence.

The cast of Hacksaw Ridge includes Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Luke Bracey, Vince Vaughn, and Sam Worthington, and though the film’s battle scenes are less grandiose than the ones in Braveheart the film tells its story well. Hugo Weaving plays the role of a war-torn father, Luke Bracey portrays a soldier embracing his job as a warrior, Teresa Palmer plays the love of Desmond’s life, and Sam Worthington and Vince Vaughn act as Doss’s superiors. What the film lacks in majestic cinematography it makes up for in character development and raw depictions of combat. Nothing is lost in the storytelling.

Initially the movie relies heavily on storytelling and the plot surrounding Doss’s upbringing and journey to becoming a conscientious objector, but as seems to be Director Mel Gibson’s style, the eventual battle scenes are gruesome and uncensored. When Doss finally reaches the battle at Okinawa, the shock of war mixes with his determination find and save wounded soldiers. The endurance of this man’s faith fuels his heroic actions on the battlefield.

The movie’s events are based upon the true story of Desmond Doss. Doss was a part of a group tasked with scaling a steep-faced ridge to drive Japanese soldiers out of their positions. Following a day in which the group suffered many fallen soldiers and were forced to retreat down the ridge, Doss remained and searched for those soldiers who were left behind.

In the film, Doss despairs and complains that he cannot hear the voice of his God. One can imagine this was a common feeling among soldiers serving in World War II. In this dramatic moment, Doss (Garfield) hears and responds to the voices of injured soldiers crying out for help.

This film provides a good basis for the discussion of the justification of war and a persons role in it. Murder is among the most consequential crimes imaginable, but warriors are celebrated for their killings and often garner more attention for a higher tally of kills. Some people may despise this film for its passivity while admiring a film like American Sniper for its decisiveness. Others may despise all war, and take a position of pacifism. Questions of the feasibility of avoiding all war or the implications of embracing its role in the world may arise. Regardless of one’s position in the discussion it’s clear that there is something valuable to be learned from these debates.

Hacksaw Ridge is a story of a man holding to his convictions. The man endured hard circumstances, hurting no one through his direct actions while achieving something great in the process. Everyone should be able to celebrate that.

 

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

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Written by Trevor Noah, Born a Crime is a memoir of what it was like for Noah to grow up as the son of a white man and a black woman in Apartheid South Africa. From the absence of his biological father to the oppression of his step-father, from the faith of his mother to the skepticism of his own mind, and from the streets of Soweto to the streets of Hillbrow, Born a Crime gives the listener a glance into the societal inequality of Apartheid South Africa and personal struggles of the people who lived through it. Trevor Noah takes the reader on a humorous and educational journey through the times and places of his upbringing.

There are some audio-book performances that immediately distract from the content of the book due to overzealous or unconvincing voice acting, but Born a Crime is not such a book. Noah performs the book well, impersonating influential figures from his childhood and painting pictures well enough to naturally give the listener a good imaginative visual of the scene. While narrative books may naturally be much easier to read/perform than books heavy in dialogue, Trevor Noah’s narrative and dialogue performance is fluid reflecting his skills as a comedian and long-established relationships with the people he impersonates.

One of the people he impersonates is his mother, the overwhelming co-star of the book. Her strength and convictions bleed through the audio, and as the story develops the listener is subjected to more and more astounding moments from this woman’s life. The bond that develops between Noah and his mother speaks to the listener as the listener allows, and culminates in a shockingly amazing story from Patricia Noah’s life. Whether or not the reader identifies more with the faithful and joyful Patricia or the skeptical and comedic Trevor, both equally stubborn, the bond between these two is deep enough to impress on the reader a sense of gratitude and affection for those who he or she holds closest in life. That may be what most makes Born a Crime worth a listen.

Blood Diamond

 

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Blood Diamond is one of those beautiful movies that can be hard to watch. As a fictional story centered based on true events of exploitation of people for the sake of finding and selling diamonds, the film is often uncomfortable. It’s a reminder of where selfishness, greed, and a capitalism-at-any-cost ideology can lead a person or organization. It’s a reminder of racism, fear, and abuse of power. It’s a reminder of the world’s sins.

Diamonds are only one of the many resources exploited from developing nations in recent history, and in the materialistic cultures of many European and North American nations, films like Blood Diamond can make viewers feel cornered and uncomfortable. Awareness without opportunities for action can turn a temporary sense of consumer guilt into numbness. The tradition of a diamond engagement ring remains, but rings do not typically reveal if  they originated from a nation in conflict bolstered by diamond-trade. The attractiveness of a chocolate bar or cheap t-shirt might be lessened if it included a label stating “made with child-labor”, but though “fair-trade” products are available, there are no such negative labels revealing the problem-products. Gas stations are unlikely to label their petrol with a list of values or policies of the leaders or nations that furnished the oil, and the latest cell phone typically does not come with an update on the company’s sources of coltan or other minerals.

It’s a familiar story in Africa – a European nation steeped in a history of exploitation of people and/or resources grants self-government to a former colony or protectorate, and that colony or protectorate descends into a civil war in which people are dismembered, raped, murdered, &/or enslaved as soldiers, workers, or sex slaves. All-the-while developing nations knowingly or unknowingly fund the conflicts through buying products (e.g. diamonds, oil, tires, cell-phone parts, etc.) from and selling weapons to the warring nation. This “familiar story” is painting with a broad brush, and should not be taken as a simple narrative applying to most African nations. The intricacies of these conflicts are accompanied by the complexities of their causes, and it can be difficult to tease out the influence of imperialism and colonialism on these conflicts. However, to deny the historical context and continuing influence of colonialism and imperialism on these conflicts is naive.

Blood Diamond portrays characters that are not naive to the wrongs of their environments. A man seeking to unite his family, a smuggler seeking to utilize his environment to his advantage, and a reporter seeking to expose corruption all come to witness the terrible atrocities and injustices of their surroundings. Familial love, wealth and safety/stability, and the beneficence of humanity are some of the different motivators at play in the film’s characters. As these characters collide the audience is treated to background details of each character that help explain their motives. Like their environment, these characters are complicated and not easy to understand at first glance.

It’s a theme of the film that some of the characters are trying to escape the troubles of the continent. Sometimes called “the dark continent”, the people of Africa continue to deal with a history of oppression at hands of richer nations and more powerful people. But, with good character development, quality acting, and beautifully orchestrated scores this film packs a redemptive message for its characters and its continent.

Like the history of Africa, the history of an individual is complex. To create the best understanding of a person, one must dig into the messy experiences, perceptions, and events of the person’s past. True understanding of a situation reveals a history of fear provoking violence, whether or not that fear is justified. Ethnic, tribal, and general societal relationships can be so continuously flawed that people are tempted to surrender to despair, harden their hearts, and accept the narrative of racism, social injustice, and abuse of power.

But, reconciliation and redemption can change the course of a life, a people, or a nation. The fight for peace, solidarity, and justice may never be completed. One of the beautiful burdens of life is that there’s always something to work towards. Reconciliation and redemption are constant goals, and it’s lovely to see them reflected in Zwick’s Blood Diamond.

The Hungering Dark

 

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In The Hungering Dark, Buechner (1) Intentionally reads and reflects on the words of the Bible, (2) enters into a discussion of love that may catalyze some important philosophical questions (3) uses curious wording that may be referencing atheism and the theory of evolution, and (4) openly questions aspects of the Christian zeitgeist.

(1) It’s apparent from his detailed reflections on various verses that the man has spent a great deal of time reading the Bible.

  • The Gospels and select other passages may be most read among Christians today, but Buechner pulls verses from the books of Psalms, Daniel, Isaiah, Job, Genesis, and Songs of Solomon as well as the Gospels. He finds such depth in these verses that, when combined with other literature and his own experience, he is able to write down pages of thoughts inspired by a few sentences of scripture. He also differentiates Greek words for love without estranging his less studied readers.

(2) Buechner’s comparison and contrast of “eros” and “agape” love is enlightening for relational understanding, but it is also a good springboard for a conversation about the philosophy of morals.

  • In Chapter 9, “The Two Loves”, Buechner writes about love of in the context of human and divine relationship. He mentions that in relationships people are likely to get hurt and they are unlikely to predict when or where that hurt will occur. Whether romanticism or the illusion of foresight, individuals mostly fail to predict the inevitable pains of human relationships. As he goes on to talk of sacrificial love he intentionally or unintentionally may be pointing to what seems like a philosophical difference between many believers and unbelievers. Whatever religion one adheres to, there seem to be more faith-based statements among believers than among unbelievers. Believers usually profess to some beliefs that are hard to justify through a solely Consequentialist or Utilitarian thought process, but unbelievers may more easily justify their beliefs through a Utilitarian thought-process. When Buechner emphasizes the difficulties of predicting the onset of pain in romantic relationships his words parallel a problem of consequential ethics. Humanity has yet to discover a way to consistently and accurately predict the future. Buechner’s words help him to make his point that eros and agape are more similar than they are different, but in the process his words present a hard question to the idea that morality is solely a matter of consequence, especially for our finite species.

(3) Buechner seems to have given some serious reflection to the beliefs of atheism and perhaps, the theory of evolution.

  • In Chapter 7, “The Sign by the Highway”, Buechner writes poetically, not scientifically, about humanity’s ape-likeness. It’s unclear if he’s agreeing that humans are the distant cousins of apes, and that’s not the focus of his statement. Still, his choice of words may shift some readers towards thoughts of evolutionary biology.
  • In the first chapter, “The Face in the Sky”, Buechner aptly points out the lack of significance of the birth of Jesus to nonbelievers. However, nonbelievers may sharply disagree with Buechner’s later generalization that the manger scene must only be a source of sorrow for those who do not believe in the gospel. A disagreement from nonbelievers could be that life is sweeter and time more savory without the promise of an afterlife. Nonbelievers might also enjoy traditional aspects of religion (e.g. the nativity scene, hymns, or the teachings of Jesus) similarly to the way society enjoys Santa or the tooth fairy.
  • At the end of “The Sign by the Highway” Buechner echoes Pascal’s Wager. He also writes that it’s a good kind of amazing that people still believe in God. Ultimately, Buechner’s argument in “The Hungering Dark” is for belief in God, but Buechner seems to express some understanding of those who elect for the alternative.

(4) Though he argues for belief, Buechner openly questions many Christian attitudes.

  • In chapter 4, “A Sprig of Hope”, Buechner asserts that there is a tendency to treat more difficult parts of the Bible as fairy tales in order to cover for a judgment in those passages. Buechner is making the point that the stories of the Bible are often treated with a selective bias among believers, who may often pick and choose what stories to ignore, focus on, or tell with a certain sort of glaze or adornment. Interestingly, Buechner illustrates his point with mention of the Vietnam War which was still raging when the book was published. He goes on to illuminate the increased significance of some regularly sugar-coated Bible stories when these stories are read for what they are. Why would Christians try to sugar-coat scripture or God? In the end it may hurt more than help.

If this book was a river it would flow towards a cleft in a waterfall, on one side of the cleft would be intentional faith, hope for eternity, and pursuit of unconditional love and on the other side of the cleft would be strictly objective human reason, self-determination of meaning/purpose, and conditional love. There are other great themes in this book like connectedness in “Confusion of Face” & “Pontifex”, vocation & mission in “The Calling of Voices” & “The Killing of Time”, love in “The Two Loves” & “The Wedding at Cana”, joy in “The Monkey-God”, and hope in “The Rider”, but this book is mostly about questioning faith and keeping it. Regardless of one’s choice for or against faith and for people who have experienced or are experiencing this struggle, The Hungering Dark is still relevant and worth a read.

Pride and Prejudice

 

 

 

There have been many film adaptations of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice. The 2005 version was directed by Joe Wright and stars Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen among other notable actors (e.g. Rosamund Pike, Donald Sutherland, and Carey Mulligan). The cinematography, like the dialogue, is detailed in its depth and storytelling. The camera captures scenery both broadly and narrowly. Whether shooting in a small room or seeking to capture a rolling landscape, the camera shots provide plenty of beauty and detail to keep the viewer engaged.

The dialogue is rich. The quips and quick-witted conversations can be difficult to keep up with at times, but the words that each character speaks are not spent idly. An overbearing mother, overwhelmed father, and underwhelming minister complement the storytelling with their humor and drama while the main characters fight their battles for love.

This movie has little to say about the excessive economic inequality evident throughout the film, but it does have something to say about relationships. In a world that approaches romantic relationships much differently based upon the culture that one is born into, it’s refreshing to see a movie that mixes the restraint of some cultures that practice arranged marriages with the openness of other cultures that encourage exploration prior to commitment. In Pride and Prejudice, there is more focus on the intellectual and emotional dynamics rather than the physical affection between the characters. This makes for a movie more concerned with character and kindness and less concerned with the erotic side of love.

This is not to say that the movie neglects the importance of physical love. There are points in the film where the gravity of the absence or presence of touch is aptly displayed. A touch of the hand under the right circumstances, like a well-taken picture or a memorable smell, can communicate a message with more clarity and feeling than a well-written letter. Similarly, the absence of touch under the right circumstances can create more longing than there would be if that touch had been given.

Messages and moments like those make this version of Pride and Prejudice worth more than one viewing. The movie holds within it reminders to be gentle, kind, and considerate. There are lessons in pursuing humility while being wary of first impressions. All-the-while the viewer is treated to melodious scores and well-crafted cinematography. While viewers craving a less conservative love story may be disappointed by the old-English romance, those who appreciate the subtle words and actions that catalyze the beginnings of a committed relationship are likely to enjoy this film.