Lights, Camera, No Action! Five Non-Conventional Science Fiction Films

The Encyclopaedia Britannica defines Science Fiction as “a form of fiction that deals principally with the impact of actual or imagined science upon society or individuals.” That is an adequate definition but it falls far short of describing the kind of impact sci-fi stories have had. From its very inception, science fiction has endeavored to challenge, to provoke, and to inspire, and sci-fi films have been at the forefront of that movement. There are the classics of the genre: 2001: A Space Odyssey. Star Trek. Alien. While sci-fi has never been confined to one style, many people think of action films when they talk about sci-fi. Star Wars (not science fiction, for what it is worth), Avatar, The Terminator. No doubt there is a place for high energy, fast-paced, action-oriented sci-fi films. Yet the root of the genre is in stories and ideas. For today’s Five, we want to focus on a handful of sci-fi films that do more than just entertain. Enjoy and be sure to tell us about your favorites in the comment section below.[1. Click the Title of each film to be taken to Amazon for the option to purchase the films and a portion of that purchase will go to supporting REO.]


Primer

I have a particular weakness for time travel shows and movies. That is why while I might experience some fatigue or get bored with other types of popular genres,  I always, always love anything involving time travel. Anything. And the best of the genre, the most thought-provoking, the most complex that I have seen is Primer (2009). Let me say right here that this movie is not everyone’s cup of tea. Many people will just find it incredibly boring and overly tedious. And it certainly isn’t flashy, being made for only $7,000. If you are a movie viewer whose primary goal is watching a movie with lots of action and a fast-moving plot that lets you turn off your brain, Primer is not for you. However, if you love a movie that really challenges your mind, Primer is the time travel movie for you without a doubt.

There is so much complexity going on with this movie that I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t get it all the first time through. Maybe not even the tenth. There are several good discussions online to help people who have viewed it to better understand it. The emphasis in that last sentence in on “who have viewed it.” Many of these places obviously have spoilers, so watch it through once or a few times before visiting any of these places. You might also want to try figuring it out for yourself first. (Benjamin Plunkett)


Gattaca

Genetic perfection? DNA manipulation? What once only seemed possible in the world of science fiction is almost a reality. Before that though, writer and director Andrew Niccol gave us a film that exhibited the true power of the sci-fi genre. Gattaca is smart, stylish, and full of symbolism and spiritual questions. The story takes place in a world where genetic tinkering allows parents to choose the best version of themselves to pass on to their children. Babies “created” this way have a massive advantage over babies conceived in the old-fashioned manner. This is where we meet the protagonist, Vincent Freeman, whose only dream has been to reach for the stars and become an astronaut. That path is closed to him due to his genetic inferiority. His hero’s journey is one of impressive willpower, unmatched determination, and a little help from a few outside sources.

Niccol envisions the world as both futuristic and retro, maintaining an elegance throughout. All the actors do good work, but Ethan Hawke and Jude Law give career best performances. And to this day, the musical score is one of my favorites. Gattaca checks all my boxes for what I love about the genre. (Phill Lytle)


Moon

Moon

Back in June of 2009, Moon quietly released with a limited showing in America, earning a paltry $136,046 on its opening weekend. Word quickly spread of just how good of a movie it was, and by November of that year, it had earned over $5,000,000. My brother-in-law went to see the film at an independent theater at the time and told me that I needed to go see it, but I just never got around to it. Moon even made a few appearances on Netflix in the past, but I always missed out…until its most recent arrival.

The main actor, Sam Rockwell, does a fantastic job exploring the loneliness and frustration that might come with an extended stay on the Moon, where he is serving out a period of time harvesting solar energy for Earth. His character is completely isolated from the rest of humanity, and watching him develop as his grip on reality starts to come unraveled is an unsettling, interesting experience. The robot GERTY, voiced by (now-disgraced actor) Kevin Spacey, adds to the sense of loneliness you feel for Rockwell’s character as you see the robot’s faltering attempts to imitate human emotion and touch.

Watching the film now, almost 9 years after its release, is a bit of an odd experience. Other space survival films (The Martian, Interstellar, etc.) have since borrowed or re-imagined some of the same scenarios, so it’s that much harder to isolate and imagine how the film would have been taken at release. Overall the plot and progression are spot on, along with the soundtrack. If you’re interested in sci-fi at all, be sure not to pass this one up before it leaves Netflix again.  (D.A. Speer)


The Iron Giant

The Iron Giant

 

Brad Bird is one of the best directors working today and this early animated film is a perfect example of his particular talents. This is a story that if handled by less skilled hands would feel clumsy or derivative. We know this story. It feels like it is a part of our cultural DNA. Small town. Curious child protagonist. Existential fear of some foreign nation – the USSR in this case. And finally, the unlikely friendship that is the backbone of the plot. Our child hero – Hogarth – befriends a giant robot that has crashed near his home. It’s a fish-out-of-water story, a buddy film, and a mystery story all rolled into one. The animation is simple and elegant. The music is rich and full of strong themes. The script is crisp, funny, and poignant. All the voice actors do great work, even Jennifer Aniston. For my money, there are very few animated films that are better. The Iron Giant towers over the competition, not with flashy action or choreographed fights, but with strong characters, a compelling story, and a deeply emotional climax. (Phill Lytle)


Signs

Signs

Every once in a while a movie comes along that transcends entertainment and becomes a piece of art that creates deep conversation and makes a difference in real life. M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs was that for me and my closest friends. It impacted me in such a way that I showed a clip of it before a sermon I preached in 2003: the conversation between Graham and Merrill about whether or not there are “signs” of God. Amazing conversation between two A-list actors. Exceptional mood setting, lighting, and general cinematography as well. The double meaning of the movie’s title brought life to that sermon and hours of conversation to my church friends.

The movie is not scary as much as it is riveting and spooky and thrilling. In his review of the movie, the late Roger Ebert said, “Shyamalan doesn’t want to blow up the world; he wants to blow our minds.” I think that says it well. Much of the movie is subtle and building. It’s not a flashy film. And this makes the intense parts even more effective, as when Merrill sees the alien on the TV footage. Complete with plenty of laughs (actual tin foil hats, anyone?) and touching moments (Graham telling his children about how they were born when he thinks they are going to die), it is a suburb blend of all the right emtions. But more than anything this movie rises and falls on the writing and direction of Shyamalan in colliding a world of the wrecked faith of a former clergyman and the classic movie trope of invading aliens. And he knocks it slam out of the park like Merrill’s 587 foot HR. (Gowdy Cannon)

 




Is There Room For God Today?

I blame the actual arrival of today. As long as it stayed tomorrow, things were okay. Things were hunky-dory. Tomorrow. You can bet your bottom dollars that every single time it will insist on metamorphizing into today. There is always that deadline you must meet today, that whatchamacallit due today, that thing you absolutely must do today, etc., etc., yada, yada, yada. And when we do have free time, we frequently use it for me time, for some form of entertainment, for chilling, yo. My personal happy places: doing jigsaw puzzles, taking walks, reading, playing board games, watching T.V., and, of course, sleeping. When I can swing it I do stuff like going to movies, hanging with friends and family, and going out to eat. That sort of thing. These are nice pastimes, really, but Christians shouldn’t be cramming all of their free time with just entertainment. In fact, the serious, need-to-do sector of life needs to prioritize time with God, as well. He needs to be at the center of all of it.

Time with God should not be something we squeeze in only if it is convenient. But for most of us, that is very sadly the case. Unfortunately, God is often a last resort. It is so much easier to seek help from someone or something we can see, hear, and/or touch than from someone we cannot. Turning to God might be a little easier if we take developing that relationship a lot more seriously. I certainly have a long way to go in that area, but there are three things I know without a doubt are imperative keys to having a personal relationship with God. All three of these examples are drawn from great examples of prayer throughout the Bible.

1.   Make Your Daily Relationship With God a Priority That Will Hold Up No Matter What

The Bible gives a multiplicity of good examples of how to pray in any circumstance. The book of Daniel tells us the story of Daniel and his three friends who time and time again showed that they feared and revered God above all else. Everything else—including their very lives—came at best a very distant second. In Chapter 6 it tells how Daniel spent time in prayer three times a day no matter what. And this was no secret; his political opponents used it against him when the king decreed that only he should be worshiped and that all who disobeyed this decree—and their families—would be thrown into the lion’s den. These opponents, they obviously knew Daniel well enough that this would not affect his routine and that he would continue to pray to God. There evil scheme was banking on this assumption. That in itself says a lot. And they were right, he prioritized his divine relationship to such a degree that nothing ever swayed it. I like to think he didn’t even have to think about it. That is just one awesome biblical example; there are many others.

The recorded prayers of these great men, they are all so honed and well worded that it can be intimidating. You might think that God will only listen to immaculately worded prayers. Although He deserves to have our best prayers, He will not ignore clumsy, stilted, but reverent prayers. God will always accept even the clumsiest and most awkward of prayers from the heart of a devoted Christian.

2.   Let Him Be the One to Hear Your Every Need

Check this out:

“Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.” (Psalm 4:1)

This was one small prayer uttered by David. It is only one example of the many very honest and open prayers to God by the giants of Scripture. And that is the same kind of honesty, openness, and urgency with God that we need. We need to crave His attention every single day, all day. This passage is part of a prayer David prayed in a time of distress. David, godly David, great and powerful David, he was faulty just like us; the Bible is open about his weaknesses and mistakes. But despite his failings and times of selfishness, he trusted the Lord and depended on His guidance and help. Like many men in the Bible who prayed to God, David was extremely open and honest in his prayers, sometimes brutally so. These men, they understood that God is the ultimate confidante. We can say things to Him that we can’t say to anyone else—sometimes things we can’t even admit to ourselves. We can and should bring before Him our every need.

3.   Be Aware This Divine Relationship Isn’t Only About Your Physical Needs (and/or Desires)

I’m a fan of The King of Queens. One of my favorite episodes involves Doug and Carrie attending church. Carrie is particularly very reluctant about the whole thing until she prays for a raise and immediately afterward gets a cellphone call that she got one. After that, she treats prayer like her personal good luck charm. She even tells Doug that she can’t tell him what she prayed for or it won’t come true. A resentful Doug starts praying to undo her prayers. Back and forth they go, waging a “prayer” battle with each other. A wizard’s duel, if you will.

Yeah, it doesn’t work like that. We may not be that bad, but it is easy to fall into turning prayers into a grocery list (“I want that and that and some of those and some of these, too—if it is your will, of course.”) or like Carrie, a good luck charm. God wants us to ask him for stuff, but he also desires praise, adoration, thanksgiving, and a genuine one-on-one relationship. Jesus taught the disciples a good example of prayer. We call it The Lord’s Prayer. There are two versions: one in Matthew, the other in Luke. Both are very similar with the Matthew version being a tad longer. Here is that longer version:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”

This particular arrangement of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew has ten lines. Only one of those lines deals with the meeting of personal physical needs. By the inclusion of “give us this day our daily bread,” God obviously considers it an important component, but it is certainly not the only component. The majority is taken up by other things like adoration, prayer for the strengthening of God’s earthly ministry, confession, and prayer for the strength to resist evil. So when you are praying, don’t bog the entirety down with personal needs (or desires) and exclude or almost diminish the other important prayer factors. If your prayers are all about you and what you want, it is no wonder that imperative aspect of your divine relationship loses importance in our eyes.

********

God is our Father, our Heavenly Father. A continual, intimate relationship is so necessary. But while we should have a comfortable, daily converse with Him, we should keep in mind that He is the perfectly holy God, sovereign over all of His created universe. He is more than worthy of all of our worship. Many of the psalms—in a book chock full of prayers–were designed to be sung in worship services. While spending time openly talking to Him every day, keep in mind the magnitude of his awesome standing and that He is worthy of your continual worship and awe. He is worth everything and more.

P.S. – Let me reemphasize the fact that I am still struggling with this myself. If you aren’t, maybe you should.




Why I Didn’t Quit: My First Year Teaching in the City

I guess I was born to teach. It wasn’t exactly something that I chose to do with my life. It was just embedded in my DNA. Both of my parents are teachers. And from what I’m told, I just have that teaching “spark.”  It was a no-brainer for me to major in some form of education in college, and elementary education is what I eventually chose to do.

You go through your college courses asking yourself, “Do teachers really do this much planning for every lesson?” (No. At least I don’t.) and “I can’t wait to have my own classroom with cute bulletin boards and displays and the cutest reading corner!” (I have those things, but they are not “cute.” It’s the end of the year, people.) Most of what I saw in my college preparation for this field was just that–preparation. And I could have taken another 5 years of education classes and gotten my doctorate or something crazy like that, and never have been prepared for what was about to come this year.

Let me preface this by saying this is NOT my first year teaching. I did teach a full year last year, in 7th grade math, and now I teach 3rd grade – all subjects. But let me tell you, it was like last year didn’t even happen when I set foot into my classroom this year.

I’m going to spare you some of the details of the roughness that was and still is this year. But what you need to know is I work on the west side of Chicago. These rough days took me to the point where I would be on my break, crying, asking myself and God if I could really do this, if I really wanted to put myself through this. Then I would dry it up, because it was time for math. Rough days to the point where I was on the other end of a one sided phone conversation being cussed up one side and down the other. Rough days to the point where I came home, hair in disarray, dirt and Expo marker covering my hands, and collapsed on the couch.

I don’t say these things to make you feel sorry for me. If I told you what really happened, you might think I’m making it up. But what I’m here to tell you is why I still go back, why I haven’t broken, why I haven’t and won’t quit.

I sent out my resume to probably 50 different schools and met with principals all last summer. Only one principal gave me an interview. Only one principal saw me a second time. Only one job was offered. So I took it. Being a believer and praying for the way to be made known to myself, that was it. I was called to teach, and here the opportunity presented itself.

Reason #1 – I was called to be put in front of these children. These specific children that I have.


 

In September I got my roster with my student data. From what I was told, I was going to have some rough kids in my class, some challenges. The data showed me that the majority of my students couldn’t read, and at least a third were repeating the grade. My kids could barely add or subtract, let alone be prepared for multiplication.

Reason #2 – These kids can’t go through life without knowing how to add, subtract or read. That was an injustice in and of itself.


 

The first day of school came. They started right in. My students had a lot of anger in them. A lot of disrespect for authority was present. They had a lot of frustration and had no idea why or what to do with it. Confidence was lacking. They didn’t seem to understand any expectations (the nice word for ‘rules’) that I had set for the classroom.

Reason #3 – My kids needed security and consistency in their lives.


 

Security and consistency came with time. About Week 10 (around 50 days of school), I finally felt them break. It was palpable. They finally realized I wasn’t leaving, my standards weren’t changing, and they were going to act civilized in the classroom whether they liked it or not. It is only by the Lord’s strength and grace that I made it that far, and we weren’t even half way yet. But as time went on they started to blossom, and we all learned one way or another to multiply and to at least begin to read. They felt confident and successful for the first time it seemed.

Reason #4 – They needed someone to champion them, someone to make them feel like their success truly mattered.


 

At this point, almost 180 days have come and gone. As I’m writing this, I only have about 8 more days, about 60 more hours, to stand in front of my students before they leave me for the summer. And as excited as I am to have summer and to spend time with family and friends, a part of me is sad. They drive me bonkers and push my buttons every day. Their behaviors that I saw at the beginning of the year are coming back out because days of uncertainty are coming. But I will miss them. Through all the bad days, through all the tears, there were those moments–fleeting moments–when they got it. They understood what I was trying to do, what we as a classroom were trying to do. And that–that is why I go back.

Every teaching job, whether public, private, home school or other, presents its own unique challenges. My hope is only to encourage all teachers–and anybody working any job, really–that we all need good motivations to keep going. I have no doubt any teacher knows this, but we all need to be reminded of it once in a while.




An Essay About Nothing: Seinfeld As Filtered By Christianity

Elaine: Well I guess a certain someone changed their mind about whether a certain someone is qualified to babysit.
Jerry: Is this about me?
Elaine: No.
Jerry: Well then I’ve pretty much lost interest.

 

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY?  NO SUCH THING.” 

Today the Seinfeld series finale is old enough to vote!  18 years ago on May 14th the New York Four stood on trial for not being good Samaritans and, in the words of the judge, for “callous indifference and utter disregard for everything that is good and decent” in society.  So what better way to celebrate than talking about that callous indifference!  To be upfront, this is not an essay about how great a show Seinfeld is or how it impacted my life or why it is my favorite show ever.  If you are interested in that, you can go here or here.

Instead, I want to dissect it in a way that I am certain Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David never envisioned and probably would rather I not.  But I’m doing it.  While probably unintentional, Seinfeld was very philosophical.  You cannot truly have a ‘show about nothing.’  In trying to make a show about the most inane parts of life[1. “the excruciating minutia of every single daily event,” like the look a teller may give you at the bank drive thru] you are essentially saying that “life is about nothing.”  Intentional or not, that is philosophy.  Even if it is guised heavily by the funniest dialogue and greatest character development in TV sitcom history.

When I watched Seinfeld during its original run (and it’s still surreal to me that I can remember the commercial previews for episodes like when Kramer’s first name is revealed–when they were brand new) I watched it because it was funny.  And I’m sure millions still see it as a funny show.  Nothing more, nothing less.  But as I moved on to Bible College the semester after the show went off the air, I began to notice that a lot of what I studied–from Nietzsche to Ecclesiastes–reminded me of Seinfeld.

“AND YOU AND I KILLED HIM”

I do not think I’m reading too much into the show to say that to the characters, God was dead.  At least in the sense that they lived like He had nothing to do with their lives and especially their morality.  God was irrelevant.  At times, he was a punchline[2. When George thinks he is going to die after getting on with NBC, he tells his therapist “I knew God would never let me be successful.”  She says, “I thought you didn’t believe in God” and George replies “I do when it comes to the bad stuff.].  As a result, an anti-Christian worldview was implicit and explicit in the show.  The characters were completely selfish, completely self-consumed.  Nothing mattered other than getting what they wanted.  It was utterly perpendicular to loving your neighbor as yourself.  Like Paul wrote, citing Isaiah, if the resurrection isn’t true then ‘let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die'[3. 1 Corinthians 15:32; Isaiah 22:13].  Seinfeld was the quintessential “eat and drink for tomorrow we die” show.  It’s like the characters listened to Paul, just that they went the opposite way that Paul desired.

     The characters were completely selfish, completely self-consumed.  Nothing mattered other than getting what they wanted.  It was utterly perpendicular to loving your neighbor as yourself.  Like Paul wrote, citing Isaiah, if the resurrection isn’t true then ‘let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die’  Seinfeld was the quintessential “eat and drink for tomorrow we die” show.  

Believe it or not, this makes me appreciate the show on a different level.  The reason is because it took that philosophy to its logical end.  While it portrayed an anti-Christian worldview, it did not glorify it.  It certainly didn’t preach.  You had four main characters, mostly unattractive[4. I suppose Julia Louis-Dreyfus can be considered attractive but not like Jennifer Aniston or Courtney Cox, in my opinion.], mostly with moderate amounts of success at their careers.  They all lose relationships because they are selfish.  They all lose jobs or gigs because they are selfish.  They all (spoiler!) go to jail in the finale for being selfish[5. This isn’t the place to defend the finale but I know it gets bashed a lot and maybe one day I will defend it. But sending them to jail was genius. It was perfect. It was absolutely the best way to end it to me. And in light of what I’m writing right now, the fact it was “The Good Samaritan Law” that got them in trouble in the first place, is the cherry on the sundae.].  There was no cheesy music and lesson learned at the end of each episode.  It blew up the TGIF sitcom formula and changed TV in ways that is still producing fruit in 2016[6. One of which is having antiheroes as sitcom leads.  Some of the most popular sitcoms of this century (The Office, Two and a Half Men, Big Bang Theory, etc.) feature central characters that are not people of integrity, at least most of the time.  Michael Scott is a far cry from Michael Seaver.].

“A DEEP, DARK CHASM…” 

Beyond how much their selfishness messed up their lives, I now appreciate the honesty in how they confess their lives are unfulfilled as a result:

We’re all unhappy, do we have to be fat, too?” (Elaine, complaining about too many cake celebrations at work)

“My world suddenly has meaning!” (Kramer, finding out Pam liked him)

“So you began to ask yourself if maybe there is more to life?  Let me tell you something: There isn’t.” (Kramer, explaining to Jerry why marriage is a bad idea)

“Something’s missin’.  There’s a void, Jerry, there’s a void.” (George, on not finding a woman)

As a Christian I think this is how it should be.  That is the message of Ecclesiastes. But the huge difference between Seinfeld and Solomon is that Seinfeld, because it is fiction, aims to make it funny instead of depressing.  Make no mistake, this is all played for laughs.  Unlike a show like “Friends,” there are no serious moments, especially in romantic relationships.  No sappy break ups or wedding proposals, no Emmy votes for “best kiss,” no audience cheering because she ‘got off the plane.’  Only Jerry going out with a woman several times without remembering her name, Kramer getting thrown in the Hudson river (in a sack!) at the end of a date, and George dating his cousin because his parents (whom he dislikes) are ignoring him.

     …there are no serious moments, especially in romantic relationships.  No sappy break ups or wedding proposals, no Emmy votes for “best kiss,” no audience cheering because she ‘got off the plane.’  Only Jerry going out with a woman several times without remembering her name, Kramer getting thrown in the Hudson river (in a sack!) at the end of a date, and George dating his cousin because his parents (whom he dislikes) are ignoring him.

“EVERYTHING WITH YOU HAS TO BE SO JOKEY.” “I’M A COMEDIAN.” 

And of course, this extended to all areas.  Everything was funny: racism, cancer, Hell.  Nothing was off limits.  This is what happens when God is dead and becomes an irrelevant punchline.  But what fascinates me is how this contrasts to and intersects with real life.  Over Thanksgiving weekend in 2006, Michael Richards (Kramer) became the center of an ugly controversy when he hurled ethnic slurs at two guys heckling him at a comedy club in LA.  It was a terrible news story.  A few days after this happened, Jerry was on David Letterman and he asked Dave if he could beam Richards into the show via satellite so that Richards could apologize.  It was too soon after the event in my opinion.  And it did not go over well.  Mainly for one reason that I will remember til the day I die: When Richards appeared on the big screen with the saddest look on his face and began to try to explain how sorry he was, the studio audience began to laugh.  Why?  I’m not positive, but maybe because this was ‘Kramer’ they were seeing.  They could not look at him and not find him funny.  He wasn’t a real man with a real problem; he was entertainment.

That wasn’t all.  When the audience laughed, Jerry commented “It isn’t funny.” That struck me like a lightening bolt.  Here was a man who for nine years, over 180 episodes of sitcom gold, gave us permission to laugh.  At everything.  And now in real life, the laughter didn’t stop.

THE BAD BOYS OF POSTMODERN TV (DR. HOLLEY WOULD BE PROUD)

Other shows like the Simpsons, Family Guy and Southpark, took the “God is irrelevant and therefore a joke and so everything is funny” to new levels.  And I have to wonder if that doesn’t effect culture in a potent way.  I remember working with a group of middle schoolers in inner city Chicago a few years ago and they often talked about these shows as their favorites.  One time we took the kids to see a play about Anne Frank. In the play they very appropriately but still very realistically tried to portray what happened to her.  And one of the students in our group, as Anne Frank was about to be abused, shouted out a vulgarity and many of the students in our group started laughing.  The teachers I was with were horrified.  Sometimes I wonder if this didn’t happen because they were reacting as if it were an episode of Family Guy.  I’m sure apologists for Seinfeld or any of these shows would say, “It’s just TV.”  But the examples of both Richards and these middle school students proves that life not only imitates art, the lines are easily blurred when philosophy is involved.

     I want to laugh at Jerry’s “If this isn’t about me, I’ve pretty much lost interest” because it’s so absurdly honest.  But I don’t want to live it.

As far as Seinfeld, this doesn’t make me want to quit watching the show.  It just makes me want to filter it correctly.  Several years ago I was watching an episode where George says he thought his life was worse because his parents stayed together.  And of course the audience laughs.  And a friend of mine whose parents did divorce was sitting right there and said, “You have no idea how not funny that is.”  That’s kind of the takeaway I’ve come to on this topic.  I still would go crazy if I ever met Jerry or Jason Alexander or JLD or Michael Richards.  My wife and I will still go through the whole series this summer (3rd time for her, too many to count for me).  But there will be about four episodes we don’t watch because they are too crass.  And we won’t find all of it funny.  We will read and study the Bible daily and live God’s will (imperfectly) when not watching TV so that it serves a good purpose.

I realize this has been heavier than a typical Seinfeld article, so I vow that the next one will be on something like the greatness of George Constanza and a lot funnier.  But this does matter to me.  I want to laugh at Jerry’s “If this isn’t about me, I’ve pretty much lost interest” because it’s so absurdly honest.  But I don’t want to live it.  Life is very much about something.  Something important and bigger than myself.  Jesus is alive and God is relevant.  And so I live in an opposite way as the New York Four.  And as a result I have kept jobs, have a good, non-prison marriage and it’s very unlikely I’ll ever be going to trial for breaking any laws based on the Bible.   :)

 

 

 

 




If You’re Happy and You Know It…

Is there anything in your life that just makes you happy? I’m talking happy beyond explanation. Something so deeply satisfying that you can’t put it into words. I am not talking about the big things in life: faith, family, friends. Most people can understand exactly why those things inspire feelings of happiness and joy.

This is not about that.

My question is about something much simpler. Something that, when viewed from the outside, seems rather trivial.

There are people that find pure happiness in their pets. There are people that find that sort of happiness with food. Coffee. Riding their bike. You get the point. These are things that in the grand scheme of things seem to matter little, yet they can mean so much to us.

I think of them as little points of contact with the Creator. Yes, I fully believe that we do well to enjoy life to the fullest, and by doing so, we come closer to the heart of God. I am fully aware that this sounds sort of ridiculous: What does God care about how much happiness I get out of a cup of coffee? More than you or I will ever know, I would wager. There is a whole book in the Bible that covers this very topic. Ecclesiastes is full of wrong turns, dead ends, and vain searches for fulfillment, but in the end, the author figured it out:

I’ve decided that there’s nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That’s it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It’s God’s gift. (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13)

We were created to enjoy life and in turn enjoy the little things that make up our lives.

What seemingly insignificant thing brings you unexplainable happiness? Are you taking advantage of these little things, using them to dig deeper and find something even more valuable and life changing? Feel free to share.

“When a man has lost all happiness, he’s not alive. Call him a breathing corpse.” ~Sophocles