Lone Survivor

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Question of the Week: Great Movies of 2014?

My favorite movie of the year so far.

My favorite movie of the year so far.

Each Week on Saturday, I’ll be asking a “Question of the Week.” I’d love your input and discussion! Ask a good question in the comments and it may show up as the next week’s question! I may answer the questions in the comments myself.

Movies of 2014

I realized recently that I haven’t been to as many movies this year as I went to last year. However, it does seem that the movies I have gone to see have been awesome.  Early in the year I saw the appropriately-timed Frozen, which I felt had some great themes in it to go with its fantastic music. Then, I went with a friend to see “Lone Survivor,” which I am pleased to report showed greater complexity than many war movies or commentary on the war in Iraq. Then, I saw “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which may have been the greatest superhero movie other than the Dark Knight trilogy. I loved its moral commentary.

Finally, I went to go see “Edge of Tomorrow” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past” back-to-back last weekend. The X-Men flick was fantastic and brought up, again, questions of morality.  “Edge of Tomorrow,” I would say, is my favorite movie of the pack so far. It was just so good and it helps that it was a genuine sci-fi epic.  “Edge of Tomorrow” brings up a number of topics like sacrifice and choice which aren’t always explored in movies, let alone blockbuster action flicks.

As for the question this week:

What movies have I missed that you would consider a “must see”? Let me know in the comments!

This post was adapted from my “other interests” site, which you may want to check out- Eclectic Theist.

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.

Question of the Week– Check out other questions and give me some answers!

SDG.

“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.

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Really Recommended Posts 1/25/14- YA Entertainment, Inerrancy, “Lone Survivor,” Feminism, and Jehovah’s Witnesses

postAnother week, another list of the internet’s finest brought to you, dear reader. These are some extremely diverse topics, and I’m excited to read your own reactions to the posts. I’ve lined up cultural apologetics, inerrancy, feminism, the “Lone Survivor” flick, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Trending Young Adult Entertainment in 2013– Anthony Weber wrote an excellent summary tracing the trends we may see in YA entertainment from 2013. I highly recommend engaging with this post as well as keeping on top of things with YA entertainment, because it shows where our culture is shifting.

What Kind of Evidence Could Nullify Inerrancy?– What does it mean to make the claim that the Bible is inerrant? Does it commit one to an a priori rejection of evidence? It seems to me that this post brings up some of the tension with inerrancy and hermeneutics. I, of course, affirm inerrancy, but I think it is important to distinguish between inerrant text and interpretation. This post brings up some interesting points for discussion with inerrancy.

Lone Survivor and Insufferable Anti-American Self-Righteousness– The film “Lone Survivor” has caused quite a bit of critical discussion. Here, a soldier reflects on the reaction to the film. I share this post with the caveat that I have not seen the film and so I’m sharing it because I thought it was an interesting viewpoint.

Sarah Bessey’s Jesus Feminist– What does it mean to be a feminist for Jesus? Does it actually mean anything? Are the terms contradictory? Check out this look into the book Jesus Feminist.

What Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Believe?– The title seems self-explanatory, but there is more to this post than a simple exposition of Jehovah’s Witness beliefs. Instead, it engages with the beliefs of Jehovah’s witnesses and provides some ways to engage with others.

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