Shawshank, Paris & Hope

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Hebrews 11:1 ‘Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see’

Over the last few days I’ve written, rewritten and deleted this post. What right does someone who blogs on film have to post something on Paris? I’ve wrestled with the events for days. I’ve been grumpy, downbeat and upset by every news report I’ve watched and I’ve pondered how to respond.

As a Christian the automatic response people think I should have is to open my bible and be reassured that God’s plan is perfect, everything is under control. The truth is though that at times like these those clip note verses just don’t get the job done.

That is one of the reasons I  started this blog. Sometimes a film shows me something of God that fumbling through pages of a Bible, searching for a nugget of wisdom or clarity just doesn’t do.

The events of last weekend have affected me. They have left me broken hearted. They have left me to question in truth what is the point of having a faith.

Then I remembered Shawshank. I remembered Andy and I remembered what he said about hope.

Hope might be the one thing I have left.

Hope that God is in the chaos of Paris and through his people is restoring, and healing the wounds left behind.

Hope that people see that God is not confined to pages of a book but is active around us in the smallest of things and the grandest of gestures.

Hope that in some way this insignificant blog post helps anyone else wrestling with this like I regularly do.

Why do I have faith in spite of everything?

Because faith is being sure of what we hope for and hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies.

 

 

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Avengers: Age of Ultron and our need for heroes.

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Marvel films are standard fare at the cinema now. We are no longer surprised by their release, we know what is coming years in advance the internet is  alive with plot theories, trailer dissections and reviews on release. Age of Ultron is no different to any of those that have gone before, enjoyable despite its faults and required to add little nods and winks to what will come. My main thought coming out of my enjoyable viewing was why do these films continue to thrive?

Yes, comic book fandom plays a role. Yes, there is our endless need as human beings to be entertained and Age of Ultron services those needs successfully but is there something else at play? Something that we are unconsciously seeking by continually entering these comic book worlds?

Dare I suggest that rather than being on the search for a cinematic classic we may be on the search for heroes?

This blog post will land on your social media feed somewhere in-between posts requesting help for the earthquake in Nepal, stories around #blacklivesmatter in Baltimore and election posts from both those crowing in triumph and the wailing despair of those who feel they have lost.

The demand for heroes has never been stronger, our world is crying out for them. The Avengers certainly match those desires a group that come together, taking direct action (often involving the destruction of a city, think of the costs folks!) wielding powers that we can only fantasise about. The Avengers work together (most of the time) to make the world a better place, the stuff of comic book legend. We go to the cinema to lose ourselves in wonder, awe and return blinking into the daylight to the familiar brokenness of reality.

Look again though. Look more closely.

Look at the aid agencies and charities rallying within hours of disaster to feed, clothe and rebuild cities for those in need.

See the clergy parading in unity to the front lines of protest in Baltimore to stand face to face with the oppressors of their communities to boldly declare that their lives matter.

Scroll through Twitter and read the tweets of those energised in electoral defeat. Not prepared to settle for the new regime but determined that the new regime will hear their voice.

We do have a desperate need for heroes. It has probably never been greater.

The truth is though that they walk among us on a daily basis using their powers of compassion, mercy and a desire for justice. These are the true heroes and none of them need an iron suit or magic hammer to get the job done.

Matrix Revolutions & the cycle of change

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“You played a very dangerous game.”

“Change always is.”

Let’s be clear about something. Matrix revolutions is a messy film. Its dialogue heavy and often that dialogue doesn’t, if I’m being honest, make a lot of sense. For many it was a disappointing and indeed unsatisfactory end to the trilogy.

It does however have a point.

At its core is the message of change.

Throughout the film Neo is asked ‘Don’t I know you?’ or characters exclaim ‘This seems familiar’. Like any good computer program the Matrix has cycles. Patterns that must repeat.  A story that stays the same.

Neo however moves the goalposts, his last act of sacrifice is a game changer. Everything resets. There is a new start or at least the hope of a new start as laid out in a conversation between the Architect and the Oracle at the films climax.

Elections loom in Northern Ireland for EU and local government. When I sit round tables with friends and hear how they don’t want the same old thing I get excited. I can’t help but feel change is coming.

As another cycle for Northern Ireland approaches there is a chance the old cycle may repeat, the story may stay the same.

There is however the possibility that something new may happen or at least, if the tables I sit round transfer into votes, the hope of something new.

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.