The Man of Steel, Easter & Destroying Structures

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Tonight I’m off to a Batman v Superman preview screening. I’m a bit excited to be honest. While superhero fatigue is at an all time high for many, this film in particular has excited me. The man vs god angle depicted in the various trailers grabs my attention. Now I’m aware that trailers can lie but I’m intrigued by the premise.

Superman has always had a god like quality. In fact for much of Man of Steel director Zack Snyder does a not so subtle job of reinforcing this. For example in one sequence having a praying Clark Kent in front of a stained glass window where his and the pose of Jesus are practically identical. I liked this aspect of the film of course (that’s my gimmick here) but it could have been a lot more delicately done. Snyder though is not a director known for subtlety.

The films loses its way in the final third and becomes one big CGI brawl that goes on for FAR too long. At one point our hero saves some people from falling debris and they exclaim their gratitude. At the time I laughed as I thought, yes to be saved is great but your city has been destroyed so good look getting a pint of milk when this is all over.

However this perhaps the most Jesus like moment.

Saviour yes but also also the destroyer of structures around us.

Easter is days away. Holy week is at the mid point and as Christians we await Good Friday and the East Sunday celebrations that follow. I’ve wrestled with Easter this year. I’m uncomfortable with it.

I’ve come to the point where if I’m not prepared to fully get behind the Easter story there really is no point. To believe what I do and believe in the person of Christ means that the structures that contain the message need to fall.

One of the first things to go on Good Friday is the temple curtain. This barrier to the holy of holies, the area where God lived only accessible to temple priests  is gone. The reveal of nothing being behind there says a lot. The man made concept of where God abides is gone.

To fully believe in Easter. To fully believe in the person of Christ means not only believing in the one who saves it’s also about believing in the structure breaker.

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Amazing Spider-Man 2 & Easter Saturday: Hope is a comma not a full stop

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Yesterday was Good Friday a day of reflection, a day of sadness. I spent last night watching a Passion play depicting the last days of Jesus put on brilliantly by members of our congregation.

Afterwards I did something that some amy think rather odd. I didn’t quietly contemplate. I didn’t go home and pray for hours.

I took myself to the Dolby surround sound scaped, CGI laden, action packed Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Not the norm perhaps. Not for Good Friday. Possibly. It may however be a film for Easter Saturday.

Easter Saturday is an odd day, a supposedly dark day, a hopeless day.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is laden with hope. Speeches on hope, reflections on hope, the hope of discovering who you are, the hope of finding who you are meant to be, the hope of finding out facts of those you have lost.

Easter Saturday sees a broken, wounded, bloodied body resting in a tomb.

Those at the time thought hope was lost, hope was dead.

Those of us who have Easter Saturday today realise that hope was not lost. Hope lay broken wounded, and bloodied but hope was a comma and not a full stop.

Calvary: A surprise in the end and the beginning.


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Calvary is a film that shocks in both its opening and its ending.

A priest (Brendan Gleeson) is told by a visitor to his confessional booth of the horrific abuse inflicted by a priest. The priest is then also told that he will be killed, not because he is guilty, he will be killed because the greatest shock is in killing someone who is innocent.

What transpires is a darkly comic trip through not so much a who dunnit but a which one will it be.

Timing is everything and a release at Easter is far too coincidental for me not to be drawn to this films Holy week allegorical leanings.

A village full of extreme and in some ways biblical characters, an inn keeper, a rich young ruler (a banker), church leaders more concerned with rules than what is happening on the ground, murderers. 

A village full of characters who begin the week quite jovially with the priest but as time progresses turn on him with more frequency and ferocity.

It has an air of familiarity.

The ending however did something incredible. Something I had not experienced in a while. At the films climatic end there was an audible gasp as a story that many thought would go one way, pulled the rug from under us all, and took us another direction entirely.

Again an air of familiarity.

Easter is approaching and instead of being at church on Easter Sunday I will be camping with my family. Away from social media, away from blog posts, away from a cinema, away from noise (to a degree). To be honest I haven’t felt bad about that. How many times have I travelled the Easter journey through church, how many times have I sung those same songs.

An air of  over familiarity.

This week I was reading Brain McLaren’s ‘A New Kind Of Christianity’ which I would definitely recommend.

In it he said ‘the tomb becomes the womb giving birth to a new creation’.

Before I could stop myself I felt the eyes of those around me staring. I realised I had taken a sharp intake of breath.

To my shock and awe I was reminded of something I had neglected.

Shock endings and perhaps more importantly shocking beginnings aren’t just restricted to films carrying the name of Calvary.  

Fire in the Blood: not just a documentary but an Easter challenge.

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I haven’t found myself left open-mouthed by cinema much recently. I also haven’t found myslef angered much by cinema lately either. Fire In The Blood however achieved both.

Fire In The Blood tells the story of how Western pharmaceutical companies and governments aggressively blocked access to low-cost AIDS drugs for the countries of Africa and the global south in the years after 1996 – causing ten million or more unnecessary deaths –  and the improbable group of people who decided to fight back.

The director Dylan Mohan Gray was led to tell this staggeringly true story and recent interviews has said that this story needed to be told in reaction to “shock and disgust that so many millions of lives could be so callously and I would say brutally set aside, with very little attention paid to the fact and no one called to account”.

This documentary is shocking, compelling and heart wrenching as you watch the lives of millions in the hands of not only governments but also the drug companies and their profit first attitudes.

On coming out of the screening conversations started to begin around how fortunate we are in comparison.

Growing up in Belfast has often struck me as a privilege .  I have never wanted for anything. My health has always (to date) been decent. If I did need health care it is available via the NHS at no cost to me.

We complain at our money disappearing via direct debits to cover our monthly living costs but I should stop and remember that I am blessed a) I HAVE A JOB (despite my grumblings about how I want a better one) & b) I AM WELL PAID.

I shouldn’t complain about paying out so much each month when after essentials are covered I use parts of my monthly income to entertain myself. For example my satellite tv subscription and my reluctance to give up the extortionate sports package costs added through choice and desire to keep them to watch my team play football.

This Easter weekend again I look to the Cross and think of the sacrifice made for me.

Fire in the Blood challenged me and made me contemplate how this ultimate sacrifice is being reflected in my own life. How do I use the privilege I have afforded to me? What am I sacrificing to help those in need?

The first step (regardless of how insignificant I may feel it is) is to whole heartedly recommend Fire In the Blood and point you towards their website: http://fireintheblood.com/ .

Please have a look at the site, watch the documentary and please get involved in making a difference.