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Downton Saturday: Season IV, Episode 7- A Christian worldview perspective

downton abbey wallpaperI will be analyzing each episode of the fourth season of Downton Abbey from a worldview perspective. There will, of course be SPOILERS for each episode, and I will assume readers know about each previous season and episode’s content as well. It will be assumed that readers are familiar with the characters and circumstances. I will not be summarizing the plot of the episode; I will merely interact with the content from a perspective of worldview. BE COURTEOUS AND DO NOT BRING UP LATER EPISODES THAN THE ONE DISCUSSED HERE IN YOUR COMMENTS.

The Suitors 

I can’t help but think of the opening line of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Here, however, we have “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of good fortune must be in want of a husband.” Lady Mary is highly eligible widow, and the men are lining up. It will be interesting to see on what criteria she ultimately chooses, if she chooses any of them. Matthew was a genuinely good man, and it took him quite a while to be convinced/convince Mary.

The Disappearing Bates

Bates disappeared to York for a day. Then, the man who raped Anna turned up dead in an accident. Shocking. It looks like my prediction may come true. From a Christian worldview perspective, one has to ask whether Bates would be justified in killing the man. I would think the answer is fairly obviously no. I recall reading many comments from friends who said they’d kill the man and they really wanted Bates to do so. Although I understand the rage behind such comments, I have to wonder what justification one could get from a Christian worldview for doing so.

On the Christian worldview, such punishment should never be done in a vigilante fashion. Rather, the government has been given the sword (Romans 13:4) in order to carry out justice and punishment as a representative of God on Earth. Interestingly, this is the view of civil government I think we are taught in the Bible: we are to submit to the authorities because they are given as God’s agents on Earth. Does that mean governments always do right or do what God would desire? No, governments are run by sinful people and often for sinful purposes. However, God did not issue “the sword” to the individual; even in the times of ancient Israel, punishment was most often a communal thing: the whole community would present witnesses (at least two in order to convict), and punish through stoning. There is, of course, the notion of the avenger of blood, but even in those cases cities of sanctuary were provided and witnesses were needed.

So, to return to Bates, I do understand his extreme rage, but if he killed the man–as I suspect he did–then his action is not justified. Now, the question may arise as to whether the government would have done right had Bates gone to it. That is a separate issue as well. This episode brought up many things to contemplate regarding justice.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

The Baby

It seems Lady Edith has chosen to keep her baby. Again, as I noted last time, I hardly see a ringing endorsement of a pro-life message here, but it is, nonetheless, a good thing to not have to face that in this series (yet). This episode highlighted another aspect of injustice, however: namely, that in order to not face public ridicule and shame, Lady Edith has to be whisked away to privately have the baby and then give him or her away. Such a society is inherently not a society which fully would support the pro-life message. Women should not be faced with shaming if they choose to have children.

A culture in which the primary reaction to pregnancy is essentially to shutter women away (whether married or not) as if it were an illness, and in the case of unmarried women, to socially scorn them, is not a culture in which a strong pro-life message can succeed.

Prediction

Lady Edith’s pregnancy will be outed.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

The image is copyright BBC and I do not claim any rights to it. To my knowledge it is freely available for purposes of promotion/critique and I use it under fair use.

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

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Downton Saturday: Season IV, Episode 6- a Christian worldview perspective

downton abbey wallpaperI will be analyzing each episode of the fourth season of Downton Abbey from a worldview perspective. There will, of course be SPOILERS for each episode, and I will assume readers know about each previous season and episode’s content as well. It will be assumed that readers are familiar with the characters and circumstances. I will not be summarizing the plot of the episode; I will merely interact with the content from a perspective of worldview. BE COURTEOUS AND DO NOT BRING UP LATER EPISODES THAN THE ONE DISCUSSED HERE IN YOUR COMMENTS.

The Decision

The most momentous part of this episode was when Lady Edith was very close to getting an abortion. The scene was extremely emotional: Edith’s sharing of her pregnancy with her Aunt Rosamund and the fact that she had scheduled an abortion. Rosamund insisted on going with and as they were in the waiting room, Edith shared her reasoning: she would be shunned by society, and she wasn’t sure she would be strong enough to deal with that.

Interestingly, the language used about the pregnancy affirmed several points: the baby was “wanted”–the issue was Edith’s own strength; the unborn was considered a baby, as opposed to a part of the mother. I’m hesitant to get as excited as some have gotten regarding possible commentary on “pro-life” or “pro-choice” categories in this episode for a few reasons: although the child was acknowledged as such, the issue was presented as a great danger to Edith. It was, essentially, the myth of the “back alley” abortions tied in with some bones thrown to pro-life people as well. Essentially, the episode offered a kind of please everyone approach to the issue, which, on the one hand, showed the complexity on the issue, but the other made it seem quite contrived.

The issue, of course, is extremely complex, and I did appreciate the emotional turmoil that Edith confronted when it came to the decision one way or the other. However, in light of the language used–killing a baby–one has to wonder, and I emphasize this: at the level of objective truth, what the debate is about.

The Bates Family

The guilt that Anna deals with continues to tear at my heartstrings. She is the victim and the fact that she is dealing with so much guilt–as though she thinks she is somehow to blame or stained because of it–is simply awful. I want to reach through the screen and hug her. Bates’ own take on it is to find whoever did it and destroy them. I get his motivation, but I wonder at his own treatment of Anna as a porcelain doll. He also seems to have shifted his view of her, and that seems to be another way in which the victim is having more wrongs piled atop each other. I do hope they manage to heal as a family.

Prediction

I predict that Bates has figured out who violated Anna and he’s going to kill him, resulting in Bates’ execution and a reaffirmation that British people must want everyone else on Earth to be as depressed as they are. (Yes, this is a bit tongue-in-cheek.)

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

The image is copyright BBC and I do not claim any rights to it. To my knowledge it is freely available for purposes of promotion/critique and I use it under fair use.

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

“Lone Survivor” – A Christian reflection on the film

lone-survivor-movieI watched Lone Survivor recently with a friend. I’m a fan of war movies (my favorites being “Patton,” “Midway,” and “Gettysburg”), so I figured i’d probably enjoy this one. I was surprised at points at the depth of the film’s narrative. Here, I will be commenting on the content on the film; not on the true story itself or any side-stories that came off of it. There will, of course, be SPOILERS for the movie in what follows. I will not be summarizing the plot, which may easily be found here.

The Trilemma

Early in the film, the SEALs encounter a situation which brings them to a trilemma: local goat herders compromise their mission security. They are left with three options: they may let the herders go and run for the hills themselves, knowing that a huge number of hostiles will be pursuing them; they may tie the herders up, hoping that they would be found before they died from local predators or cold; or they could terminate the prisoners. The latter two would violate the rules of war, but the soldiers themselves had little chance of surviving with the first option.

Their decision is eventually made after some tense debate; they free the prisoners and flee to try to call for an extract. The SEALs clearly did the right thing in this situation, not purely from a legal perspective but from an ethical perspective as well. The murder of innocents to preserve one’s own safety is not justified. However, the situation also illustrated the intense complexity of the situation of such a war. It also illustrated the very human emotional struggle we would go through in a similar situation: how would you deal with the trilemma? Can you answer it honestly that you would put your own life in extreme peril? Tough questions.

Kill Everything that Moves?

I was a bit worried that the film might serve to portray a simplistic good/bad guy dichotomy in which anyone who looked remotely Arabic was painted as a villain and everyone that moved was to be killed. That was not at all the case. Although it is clear that the Taliban are the “bad guys” in this film, Marcus Luttrell, the “lone survivor,” is ultimately saved by a local who was following Pashtun codes which grant protection for those in need.

There is thus illustrated in the film a greater range of rightness and wrongness than simply good/bad guy. Ancient customs may present a beautiful way to provide succor for someone in need; even a possible enemy. The adherence to strict codes for hospitality is something to which Christians should relate; one need only to read the Bible to discover numerous commands to give relief to the foreigner in the land of Israel or to take care of those in need. The situation in the movie is made interesting because Luttrell was a combatant and it was truly dangerous to those who would take him in to do so.

A Complex Situation

Christians have a wide variety of views when it comes to war. There are strong traditions of pacifism and just war theory, with a spectrum of variances of these two major positions along the way. I am not a political analyst, nor am I up-to-date on the facts related to the war in Afghanistan. Thus, I’m not going to try to comment on the specifics of the war because I would betray ignorance. However, I do think it is important to note that the film does depict some truly evil actions taken by the Taliban in the beheading of a man simply because he may have spoken to the Americans.

But does the issue of violence end there? Does that mean we should intervene? After all, if Americans weren’t there to begin with, such violence (perhaps?) would not happen, for there would be no Americans to inform. But I, again, want to emphasize I don’t know the whole story. I do think that a book by William Cavanaugh, The Myth of Religious Violence, brings into question some of the assumptions we have regarding religion and violence in situations like Afghanistan.

Conclusion

“Lone Survivor” is, unquestionably, a brutal film. There is much violence as well as quite a bit of vulgar language. But amidst these things, the film managed to convey a picture of the war in Afghanistan that was more than a simplistic black-and-white picture. It poignantly portrayed the difficulties of ethical situations in war. It also called into question the notion that there can be quick-and-easy lines drawn for friend and foe. I recommend the film for adults.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Review: “The Myth of Religious Violence” by William T.  Cavanaugh- I review the book which has led me to discuss the ways the category of religion is used to stigmatize the other and also forced me to rethink a number of issues. I highly recommend this book.

Lone Survivor and Insufferable Anti-American Self-Righteousness- The film has caused quite a bit of critical discussion. Here, a soldier reflects on the reaction to the film. Having now seen the movie, I think the viewpoint offered here is interesting and worth the read.

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Downton Saturday: Season 4, Episode V

downton abbey wallpaperI will be analyzing each episode* of the fourth season of Downton Abbey from a worldview perspective. There will, of course be SPOILERS for each episode, and I will assume readers know about each previous season and episode’s content as well. It will be assumed that readers are familiar with the characters and circumstances. I will not be summarizing the plot of the episode; I will merely interact with the content from a perspective of worldview. BE COURTEOUS AND DO NOT BRING UP LATER EPISODES THAN THE ONE DISCUSSED HERE IN YOUR COMMENTS.

Justice & Aristocracy

The showdown between the Dowager Countess and Mrs. Crawley over the alleged thieving of the gardener was interesting because it illustrated the damage done by injustice. The Dowager was convinced the gardener was a thief, but she didn’t allow for the possibility to clear his name. Interestingly, such injustice would have been prevented by even the ancient laws found in the book of Deuteronomy (19:15) out of the Ancient Near East, in which two witnesses were necessary for conviction.

But the Dowager also showed great courtesy when she was shown to be wrong. She even asked for forgiveness.. from the gardener! What an incredible show of injustice being righted!

I thought the discussions Mary had with the researcher who was anti-aristocracy (I can’t remember his name and I’m afraid to Google spoilers!) were interesting in context of the whole series up to this point. The researcher held Mary and the aristocrats in general in contempt,  because they had received what they had rather than earned it and they expected to keep it. But the show has demonstrated how the Grantham family not only provides jobs for the people who work in the home, but also for the farmers who use the land. They have created jobs rather than destroyed them. They are also able to contribute to things like the local hospital and other causes. This is not to say that aristocracy is the greatest thing ever; it is just to note that the show has presented a fairly complex vision of how aristocracy can help or harm the more general population.

One might reflect on this and consider how our own actions may impact others, whatever our place in society.

Race

It was interesting to see how the characters reacted to Jack Ross, a black band leader. I was pleased that Lord Grantham didn’t throw a fit about it. I wish they’d briefly mentioned Wilberforce’s influence in ending the slave trade in Great Britain. It will be interesting to see how the relationship between Mr. Ross and Rose develops.

Women

The discussion Anna had with Bates is worth reflecting upon: she was noting how she should not be viewed as a victim. Bates countered by saying he should have been there to protect her. I think that Anna’s thoughts were perhaps more on target than Bates’. The latter assumed a kind of responsibility for the activity of another; Bates assumed that he should be protecting Anna at all times, and that anything that happened to her was his fault. Such a view, I would argue, is mistaken. Bates’ blame game is misplaced. It is not his fault; nor is it Anna’s fault; it is the rapist’s fault.

Conclusion

I thought the episode brought up a number of interesting points related to race, women, and aristocracy. Justice for the poor was another major theme. I look forward to seeing what comes next. Feel free to comment with your own thoughts on the episode (remember NO SPOILERS FOR LATER EPISODES).

*Okay, I missed a couple. We’re back on now!

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

The image is copyright BBC and I do not claim any rights to it. To my knowledge it is freely available for purposes of promotion/critique and I use it under fair use.

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Disney’s “Frozen”- A Christian reflection

disney-frozenDisney’s “Frozen” has generated quite a bit of buzz, and for good reason. The movie is a feast for the eyes and ears. It’s a delight to watch, and it is filled with interesting thematic elements and humor. Moreover, as a Minnesotan, I feel right at home during this winter. Here, I’ll evaluate the movie from a worldview perspective. There will, of course, be SPOILERS hereafter.

Balance

The core of the tension in the movie is found in Elsa’s power. Her parents try to teach her to restrain it, but when put under duress, her power breaks free and she fled the castle. Interestingly, one may note that the total denial of her capability led to her cutting herself off from those who surround her.

Once she leaves the castle, she decides to break free of her self-restraint. The Oscar-nominated song “Let it Go” is indicative of this. Elsa sings:

Let it go, let it go!
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go!
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care what they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on
The cold never bothered me anyway

It is interesting to see that there must be some balance between the two extremes. Elsa’s self-imposed restrictions upon her powers led to the separation from those she loved; her release endangers the entire kingdom. Her life, instead, must be lived along a balance. I can’t help but think of the words of Paul:

“I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive.

Christian freedom is a freedom with restraint. There must be balance in the process of sanctification.

Women

Many have hailed “Frozen” for its portrayal of women. Neither Anna nor Elsa have a relationship foisted upon them for the main purpose of the plot. Anna’s developing relationship with Kristoff is made even more interesting by the contrast to her obsession with Prince Hans. Both women are independent. Some tongue-in-cheek humor could be found in the striking way in which both Kristoff and Elsa noted that Anna’s willingness to marry a man she just met that day was a bit absurd.

The plot is not driven by a love story; instead, it is driven by the need for reconciliation. Powerful, strong women are the ones who push the plot forward, while the men are sometimes helpful and even featuring shades of prince charming (Kristoff) or villainous and greedy (Hans). It is not that the portrayal of men is negative (as I just noted, there is a spectrum of motivations for the men involved); rather, it is that women are not seen as incapable of action. It is refreshing.

Our Own State

Elsa herself, far from being the quintessential villain, is someone with whom we may be capable of sympathizing. Like her, we are in a serious predicament brought about by our own actions: we live in need of aid. Our actions have sometimes horrific consequences. At other times, our consciences convict us of the wrongness of our deeds. We long to sing along with Elsa, crying out to “Let it Go” and stop caring anymore. But, like her, we realize that such a state is ultimately not be lauded but to be feared. We lash out at those we love due to our own guilt. Can there be salvation?

Christ

Interestingly, some have argued that the movie actually serves as an allegory of Christ. It is Anna who is wronged by Elsa, but it is only Anna who is able to right the wrong. The person who is wronged is the one who must make it right. Similarly, for the Christian, it is God who is wronged, but God is the only one capable of righting that wrong in the perrson of Christ. (I am here paraphrasing the post I linked to.)

The themes noted above come to fruition here. Our state is characterized by a recognition of the wrongness of our actions, but an incapability of bringing about the reconciliation required. Thus, it is up to the party wronged to bring about this reconciliation, through the true forgiveness offered in Christ.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Disney’s Frozen might be the most Christian movie lately- This post reflects upon the movie as an allegory of Christ. As noted, I derived much of the last section from the argument made in this post.

The Image featured in this post is the intellectual property of Disney. I make no claims to ownership and have used it under fair use for the purpose of critical evaluation of the film. To my knowledge the image is freely available as promotional material.

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Sunday Quote! – Secularism as necessary in the Political Sphere?

psir-hurdEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Secularism in International Politics

The quote this week is from Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, The Politics of Secularism in International Relations, a book which makes me reminisce upon The Myth of Religious Violence by William Cavinaugh. The book is about how secularism comes into play with international relations, and how secularism is often turned into the wielding of power of the secularist over the religious other. Here’s a juicy quote explaining one of the products of secularism:

“[T]he objective of laicism is to create a neutral public space in which religious belief, practices, and institutions have lost their political significance… The mixing of religion and politics is regarded as irrational and dangerous. For modernization to take hold, religion must be separated from politics… Laicism adopts and expresses a pretense of neutrality… This makes it difficult for those who have been shaped by and draw upon this tradition [laicism] to see the limitations of their own conceptions of religion and politics.” -Elizabeth Hurd, “The Politics of Secularism in International Relations,” 5.

What do you think of the concept of laicism based upon this quote? Have you heard of it before? What are your thoughts on the possibility of the presumption of secularism in politics?

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Review: “The Myth of Religious Violence” by William T.  Cavanaugh- I review the book which has led me to discuss the ways the category of religion is used to stigmatize the other and also forced me to rethink a number of issues. I highly recommend this book.

SDG.

Downton Saturday: Downton Abbey Season 4, Episode 2

downton abbey wallpaperHere, I will be analyzing each episode of the fourth season of Downton Abbey from a worldview perspective. There will, of course be SPOILERS for each episode, and I will assume readers know about each previous season and episode’s content as well. It will be assumed that readers are familiar with the characters and circumstances. I will not be summarizing the plot of the episode; I will merely interact with the content from a perspective of worldview. BE COURTEOUS AND DO NOT BRING UP LATER EPISODES THAN THE ONE DISCUSSED HERE IN YOUR COMMENTS.

That Escalated Quickly

Anna Bates. If you’ve seen it, you know already. I don’t really know what to say. From a worldview perspective, which is my intention with these posts, it is clear that this horrific tragedy deserves punishment. Moreover, the show did a good job of showing the horror of the situation without being explicit–a subtlety from which much contemporary media could learn. I knew something terrible would happen to the Bates family, but I didn’t expect this.

One thing which was abundantly clear is that something like this should not be allowed to continue. If there exists a situation in which anyone is afraid to report abuse, that is an inherently unjust situation and Christians must work against it.

I’m honestly still a bit emotionally disturbed by this episode and it is hard to comment further. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Gambling

The episode handled the dangers of gambling in an interesting way. Initially, I thought they’d be going full-court press on the real harms of the activity. Lord Grantham, who can hardly afford to lose money as he’s thinking about how to pay taxes on the estate, loses an undisclosed amount. Moreover, he conceals this loss from his wife, who deserved to know. But, in stepped Michael Gregson, the [married] man with whom Edith is in love. He had some “unscrupulous” times in his past and had figured out that the poker table was infested with a cheat. He then turned the tables on the cheat, recovering the money Grantham and others had lost.

Thus, the episode could have done more to show the great dangers of gambling. Instead, it seemed to make light of the situation. Though, for the sake of the plot, the writers may have simply been using this to endear Gregson to Grantham.

Predictions

I must unfortunately predict the most dire things imaginable. Although I didn’t post it here, one of my predictions–that something horrific would happen to the Bates family because they are too wonderful–already happened. Now, I think that Anna will become pregnant from the travesty and the show might use it to make a case for abortion. I know, that reads like just about the worst direction it could go, but I just think that’s where it will end up. Believe me, if/when it comes to that point I’ll have a lot to say.

I was made distraught by this episode. What are your reactions? Remember to stay spoiler free for later episodes.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

The image is copyright BBC and I do not claim any rights to it. To my knowledge it is freely available for purposes of promotion/critique and I use it under fair use.

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Downton Saturday: Downton Abbey, Season 4, Episode I

downton abbey wallpaperIt should be known that I’ve quite enjoyed Downton Abbey. I’ll be watching Season 4 as it airs on PBS, and sharing a few comments from a worldview perspective on each episode, provided I have time, of course! There will, of course be SPOILERS for each episode, and I will assume readers know about each previous season and episode’s content as well. It will be assumed that readers are familiar with the characters and circumstances. I will not be summarizing the plot of the episode; I will merely interact with the content from a perspective of worldview. BE COURTEOUS AND DO NOT BRING UP LATER EPISODES THAN THE ONE DISCUSSED HERE IN YOUR COMMENTS.

Trust

It seems to me that this episode was particularly focused upon the issue of trust. Lady Grantham’s trust in Thomas was increased, but it was actually merely a fluke that Thomas’ hint about the nurse’s mistreatment turned out to be true. Trust can easily be misplaced. Of course, as my wife pointed out, it is possible to see this scene through the lens of “What you intended for evil, God intended for good” (see Genesis 50). Clearly, Thomas’ hint turned out to bring about a great good: the ridding of an abusive nurse.

Another example might be found in the young man’s trust of Rose’s story about being a housemaid. Although these may appear to be “white lies,” it is clear later in the episode that such lies can potentially bring about great harm. The first aspect is the fight the young man got in over Rose. The second potential for harm would be when the man showed up at Downton itself seeking Rose. Although the situation was handled comically, it seems clear it could also have ended in great emotional harm for the young man and possibly Rose as well.

Of course, “Downton Abbey” is largely centered around themes of trust. The way viewers see the interplay of truth and lie is part of the interest of the show. We know who is trustworthy (usually) and not, but the characters do not. It is telling that so many people turn out to have little value so far as trust is concerned.

Women

The times, they are a-changing! The women of Downton are seeking larger roles for themselves, whether it is Rose’s constant striving to explore and be entertained, or Lady Mary’s taking her rightful place as a co-owner of Downton. The show has continually done a good job of showing the interplay of power between patriarchy and the emergence of more egalitarian views in society. Of course much of this is steeped in our own cultural biases as a show is made about the past, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting.

The relationship between Lady Edith and the editor (whose name I can’t recall at this moment) will be interesting to monitor. For the first season in particular, Edith was kind of the whipping child for the show. Everyone seemed to take her for granted. Yet she has emerged as her own person, only to get involved with a married man. Of course, the man’s marriage is to someone who is, with the standards of the time, deemed mad. One might wonder how such a relationship will play out. Moreover, from a worldview perspective, how might we deal with the question of his attempt to divorce his wife due to insanity to marry another? Part of the difficulty of analyzing the situation migIht be found in the fact that (as my wife pointed out), we never meet his wife. Insanity could mean any of a broad spectrum of things; so it is hard to pinpoint the meaning and discussion here. Edith’s whole character continually raises tough questions, which makes her an excellent foil.

Prediction

My primary prediction for this season is that the housemaid that Lord Grantham kissed is going to turn up; likely dredged up in some fashion by Thomas or some other character with a major agenda against the family.

Conclusion

There is, of course, much more to comment on regarding this episode. I’m curious to have your thoughts on the episode and series. Again, do not spoil anything past this episode. What do you think of Edith’s relationship? How might the newfound trust in Thomas play out? What other worldview issues do you see in the episode?

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

The image is copyright BBC and I do not claim any rights to it. To my knowledge it is freely available for purposes of promotion/critique and I use it under fair use.

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”- A Christian Reflection on the Film

desolation-smaugThe second part of “The Hobbit” trilogy has arrived in theaters. What themes does it present? What might we talk about in relation to the latest film? Here, we’ll explore a few themes found through the film and view the movie through worldview glasses. There will be SPOILERS below.

Justice

Perhaps the strongest theme throughout the movie is that of justice. The most obvious aspect of this may be found in the quest at the heart of the story itself: the dwarves seeking to reclaim their homeland.

Yet justice also plays its part in reflection upon each ruler the film shows. Thorin, for example, seems to be consumed in part by greed. He is comfortable leaving members of his group behind so that they do not slow the quest. In fairness, when he does leave Kili, Oin, Fili, and Bofur behind, it is in a place in which they were welcomed (eventually) and so perhaps Thorin is not so cold here as he may seem.

Thranduil, on the other hand, is a clearly unjust ruler. First, he treats his subjects unjustly. When he discusses the potential feelings Legolas has for Tauriel, an elven captain, she (seemingly with some hope) mentions that she thinks he would never allow Legolas to become betrothed to a non-royal. Thranduil responds saying she is right, which is why he charges her with telling Legolas there is no hope. The injustice of the scene is both seen and felt. One cannot help but sympathize with Tauriel against Thranduil’s audacity.

Yet Thranduil’s unjust rule also extends to his entire kingdom. His concern seems to be purely with his own borders, as he prefers to keep evil out rather than confronting it at its source. His isolationism is based upon the notion that only his kingdom has “the light” and so that light must be preserved from the darkness of the surrounding world. The discussion made me think of the fact that some Christian evangelical groups withdraw from the world, because they do not wish to be part of the world or its darkness any longer. Yet as Christians, we are called to go into the world and confront the darkness rather than isolate ourselves from it. Thranduil’s comments speak to our own feelings, and his unjust ways are a call to us for action.

The Master of Laketown is also unjust in his dealings with his people. His highest aim is to preserve his own power. The thought of anyone sharing power with him–or the thought of the people having some say–is horrifying to him. Yet rather than ruling for the sake of his people, it seems his life is consumed by alcoholism and gluttony.

Light in the Darkness

The theme of light opposed to darkness is found throughout the film. Thranduil speaks of the battle between light and darkness in his own confused fashion, Beorn notices the “stench” of evil and a darkness over the woods, and Gandalf directly confronts darkness with light.

The latter instance is perhaps the most powerful, for it features Gandalf facing off against Sauron as Gandalf uses light from his staff to combat the blackness with which Sauron assaults him. Sauron’s words call out, telling Gandalf that there is not enough light in the world to combat his darkness.

For those who know how the Lord of the Rings ends, the scene is ironic. But in the moment, it rings true. It seems that darkness will indeed prevail.

Greed

Thorin, as noted, seems to be consumed by greed. Not only does he leave his fellow dwarves who would slow him behind, but he eventually confronts Bilbo regarding the Arkenstone. He uses his sword to bar Bilbo’s way and demands he hand over the Arkenstone, if he found it. The tension of the scene is only broken when Smaug attempts to destroy them both. However, the greed within Thorin seems to be growing. It will be interesting to see how it plays out in the conclusion to the trilogy.

The Master of Laketown also makes his decision through greed. Although the prophecy regarding the return of the king under the mountain makes clear the notion that his own town will burn, Thorin’s appeal to the Master based upon shared wealth does not fall upon deaf ears. The Master of Laketown succumbs both to his own greed and to the mob which has formed around the debate.

Evil

One of the more interesting things for me to reflect upon in the film was the way evil was portrayed. Clearly, the unjust rulers discussed above are each, in their own way, a kind of evil. However, the orcs were the clearest portrayal of evil. Yet their evil, to me, seemed to be inherently unreasonable. There was little reason for them to act as they did apart from pure hatred. Sauron was calling out to his evil minions as well, and his motivation seems to be simply the destruction of any who are not subject to him.

Reflection upon this depiction of evil leads to an insight: evil is, at its core, irrational. There is no reason to it. It goes against what genuinely makes sense in the world. This applies not only to the fanatical lust for murder which the orcs had, but also to the injustice of the rulers mentioned above. A viewer cannot help but think that Thorin, Thranduil, and the Master are each acting in an illogical fashion. Their greed corrupted them. For the orcs, their lust for suffering has consumed them. Evil is illogical; those who practice it are chasing fantasy.

Conclusion

I admit I did not enjoy “The Desolation of Smaug” as much as I enjoyed “An Unexpected Journey,” though I did still like the movie. I think the themes found here are worth reflecting upon, and the way they are presented forces viewers to really sit back and think as the movie continues. In particular, the feeling of injustice throughout the movie was unexpected, but it touched upon a number of areas related to our own lives and how we live them.

There is, of course, much more which could be discussed regarding the “Desolation of Smaug,” and I turn to you, readers, to start that discussion in the comments.

Links

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey- A Christian Perspective- check out my look at the first of “The Hobbit” trilogy.

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

The picture featured in this discussion is an official movie poster and the property of MGM/New Line/WingNut films. I do not claim any rights to it.

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

“Catching Fire”- A Christian Reflection on the Film

the-hunger-games-catching-fire-fan-movie-poster-01“Catching Fire” is likely to be one of the biggest blockbusters of the year. There are an extraordinary number of things to discuss in this movie. It is filled to the brim with points of interest. Christians would do well to see it and reflect on some of these themes. I have drawn out a number of them below. There will be SPOILERS in what follows.

The Aftermath

Early in the film, Katniss is hunting alongside Gale. They see some wild turkeys, Katniss draws her bow to fire, lets loose and hits… Marvel? Marvel was the young man she killed in the Hunger Games about a year before. How could he be here? How did he get shot? The screen pans in, and Katniss is hyperventilating, struggling to comprehend the horror she has just witnessed. But… it wasn’t real. She comes back to the present. The nightmare, however, is not over.

The film explores this issue in moving, distressing ways. Katniss seems to be dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The memory of the violence she has wrought has come back to haunt her. Later, she is confronted by the families of those who died in the Hunger Games that she and Peeta “won.” Her heart is broken. She wakes with nightmares. Violence… is horrific.

But you, in the audience, are forced to deal with another level of the drama: is Katniss to blame for this? Yes, she did kill; but she was forced to kill or be killed. The system dealt her the cards she is playing with: did she merely play the part? Who is to blame? Surely, the system is to blame every bit as much as Katniss. Indeed, is Katniss to blame? An unjust system yields nightmares.

Friendship

Katniss and Peeta are forced to put on a show to meet the expectations of the Capitol. In one (somewhat comical) scene, Peeta is trying to learn more about Katniss, who reveals that she doesn’t feel she has friends. But what is it that makes friendship? As I noted in my look at the book, Katniss betrays her own pragmatism in many points. Her compassion wins out, and demonstrates that she really does have friends and even–shock!–understands what friendship is, though she may not realize it.

Her willingness to sacrifice for her friends proves just how much she understands about the nature of friendship. It is self-giving, self-sacrificing; and not based upon the mere exchange of information, as the scene with Peeta shows.

The Rich

The stark contrast between the lives lived by the people of the Capitol and those of the district comes through very strongly throughout the movie. One cannot help but shake one’s head when considering the way that Caesar Flickerman–the Hunger Games’ gameshow host–first somberly reflects that the people going into the games have been favorites of the Capitol for years but now will all die but one… and then his face turns into a grin and he says “it’s so exciting!”

To the people of the Capitol, it really is all a game. It is a show. But to those who are suffering, it is a remarkable sign of the great line of division between the haves and the have-nots. I think perhaps the most poignant image of this was when Effie Trinket, the escort for the tributes for District 12, is trying to grasp the reality of the horror with which she is confronted. The year before, she was just excited to have potential to win; it really was all just a game. But now, she is faced with the thought of losing her beloved winners. Now, it has become real. But the only way she can try to cope with it is to make them “a team” by purchasing gold things for everyone. Her hair is gold, Katniss’ pin is gold; everyone else should have a gold item as well!

But Effie should not be castigated; indeed, she has become enlightened to the brutality. As one who has awakened, it is right that she should try to fight against the unjust system in whatever way she knows how. Whether her struggle is successful or not, one should commend her for breaking out beyond her closed reality.

cf-1Sacrifice

The theme of sacrifice runs strong throughout the movie. We have already seen that it comes out in friendship [and love] when Katniss is willing to lay down her life for Peeta; but there is another agenda going on of which she is unaware: she has become a symbol of hope for the people of the Districts.

As such, many of the other tributes in the Hunger Games are willing to sacrifice themselves to protect her. Time and again others give up their lives to defend both Peeta and Katniss from the dangers in the arena. But the plot to rescue Katniss is not revealed until the very end. Instead, the theme of sacrifice centers around Katniss and Peeta. Peeta is willing and fully committed to giving his life to save Katniss, but Katniss instead wants to give herself to defend Peeta.

Not only am I reminded of one extremely powerful quote: “Greater love love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” – John 15:13, but I also reflect upon the figure who spoke them himself: Jesus. Jesus did exactly that: he laid down his life for his friends; indeed, for all people (John 3:16). Could there be echoes of this same self-sacrifice to be found in the story of Katniss? I would suggest that yes, there indeed are; though they are by no means explicit or even intentional.

Yet the theme of hope draws out this theme even more strongly, such that one must wonder: who or what is Katniss?

Revolution

Hope, President Snow realized, was the most dangerous thing of all. It was fine to have fear; one could use fear. But the moment hope was injected into the equation, fear no longer worked. With hope, people were willing to die for an ideal; for a person. Katniss, Snow found, was that embodiment of ideal into a person. Her action of being willing to give up her life in the Hunger Games a year before had become a symbol; the fact that she continued to live had become a rallying cry.

Yet Katniss herself did not realize the extent to which she had become just such an ideal. To Katniss, all she had done was try to survive. And it is in this that her story most clearly displays the disconnect between her and the one true Savior. But thematically, the message remains. A revolution needs hope; one spark can light a fire.

Consider the history of Christianity. It was the hope of the resurrection which brought about enormous social upheaval. Suppression did not work, for the Christians had hope in the risen savior. When I saw the people of District 11 reach out their hands in a symbol of defiance to the Capitol, I considered the defiance of the early Christians in refusing to bow the knee to false idols.

Bringing It Together

Of course these are extrapolations. Anyone could point out holes in the way I drew these themes together to point to a Christian message. But the film itself is so thought-provoking that it demands such extrapolation. It calls for interpretation. How might we apply it to understanding our own times?

First, we must consider the nature of the “system.” There is a call to action found within the Hunger Games, but it is not a call to violent rebellion; rather, the violent rebellion is symbolic of the call the film makes to us to end oppression.

Second, the imagery of Effie’s realization of the injustice is perhaps a wake-up call to those of us who are sleeping with the societal ills of human trafficking, hunger, and racism (to name but a few). Not only must we, like her, be awakened, but we should also make use of the tools we have been given to fight against these injustices. And, thankfully, there are many effective ways we can do so.

Third, the movie features a powerful call to realize the power of hope in what seems like a hopeless world. That power is found in the message of Christianity to a world which is in great need of hope.

Go see “Catching Fire.” I hope it lights a spark within you to fight against the iniquities of injustice in our world. More importantly, I hope it brings you to the realization that the Christian message provides the most powerful hope to the world. The self-sacrifice of one Lord has provided endless hope for all nations, districts, and yes, even the Capitol.

Links

Like this page on Facebook: J.W. Wartick – “Always Have a Reason.”

Check out my look at the themes in the book, “Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins.

Christian Reflection on The Hunger Games Trilogy- I discuss the entire Hunger Games Trilogy, with a number of comments upon the themes and events found therein.

The Hunger Games Movie: A Christian Perspective- I wrote about the movie, “The Hunger Games” and provided some insight into what Christians may take away as talking points from the film.

Do you like The Hunger Games? Check out my evaluation of Ender’s Game both in movie and book form.

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

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