While waiting

While I was waiting for the main event, I was almost meditating like in a desert, when I heard “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”.

The song was over the sound system in the café section of the theatre.

It’s a U2 song. U2 were described by Time in 1987 as the greatest rock n’ roll band in the world. But they aren’t really rock n’ roll. They are rock although their sound has changed tempo from album to album, even going alternative. They have never gone country.

“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” is the most popular single from their 1987 album The Joshua Tree. It was nominated for a Grammy.

Listening to it again today, I revisited the old feelings I had for the song back in 1987.

I loved singing along to it in my soul. But following the third section, which describes a love for what Jesus did, the section ends with the line, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. I just couldn’t sing that.

Because I believe that what Jesus can do for someone is the beginning of a journey and not the stepping stone of a quest. Jesus satisfies the believer’s heart and sends him or her on a journey with him.

This U2 song, unfortunately, leaves me cold by the end. By the end of the third section, the song falls flat rather than resonates; I was waiting for the lyric, I have found what I’m looking for. That doesn’t fit this song.

So, where would I sit with the The Joshua Tree? It came to me today. The album’s about a quest that is barely satisfied even with knowledge about what Jesus has done.

I would not sit in the middle as I have always done. I would not sit on the positive. But when it comes to theme I would have to sit on the other side, on the negative.

The album sounds good musically, but looking at the lyrical facts of this album, it lacks the thrust of theme to fully satisfy, unfortunately.

I wish I could say otherwise, but I can’t. I don’t think my experience of the album is a solitary one. I think the feeling is not unusual, depending on who one is talking to.

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A climate for conflict

A Passage to India (1984) is a fine film, a grand and lavish epic, handsomely mounted, based on the E.M. Forster novel, published in 1924 during the days of colonial England. It’s a valuable story. The values of East and West meet romantically, but also comes with a hefty dose of realism where East and West clash. British daughter-in-law and mother-in-law travel to India to with be with her fiancé and explore this exotic country. But she is caught up in a scandal, claiming an Indian doctor, who was her escort on a day trip, violated her. Controversy erupts and the locals stand by the doctor, saying he is innocent and the British are unjust. The larger meaning is the relationship between England and colonial India. The human meaning is prejudice and fear of the unknown. A Passage to India is beautifully filmed, wonderfully acted, and larger than life-like characters engage vividly and vitally. It is especially recommended for thoughtful audiences and fine film aficionados. Rating: 10/10

Slice of life cuts to the heart

Places in the Heart (1984) unwraps as a slice of life in a community of Texas in the 1930’s, it’s leisurely paced as Edna Spaulding responds to her husband’s accidental death, making her a widow, and the community also responds. She now must avoid foreclosure on her house with the help of unlikely allies. Beautifully rendered storytelling, cinematography and cast of characters. Forgiveness and facing the world with strength and resolve is in this slice of life movie. Rating: 9/10

Offside Mozart in dramatic telling

The fictional drama of an Austrian court composer’s revenge on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is scintillating, and scandalous. Composer Salieri is jealous of Mozart’s musical ability and his outlandish behavior puts him offside even more. He blames God for giving a greater gift to this “trained monkey”, as he calls Mozart, and not to himself. His confession of revenge to a Catholic priest recalls Salieri meeting Mozart and how their professional and personal relationship was tainted. The production values of Amadeus (1984) are done to the hilt—wonderful to behold, immaculate. Rating: 10/10

Making things right

The Killing Fields (1984) is, despite the title, real heart and soul, a wonderful sense of humanity in desperate places, based on a true story. A Cambodian interpreter is working with a New York Times journalist covering the conflict in Cambodia circa the 1970’s. Dith Pran, the interpreter, stays in Cambodia, as Sydney, the journalist, leaves the country. The Pol Pot regime takes over and Pran is imprisoned, but he attempts to escape the prison camp and flee to safety. Sydney is dealing with a guilty conscience over leaving Pran behind and tries to find him. The Killing Fields is done with a sense of horror at the atrocities of war and a thread of hope and humanity despite the horrors and how things can be made right. It is also a vivid recreation of that period.
Rating: 10/10

Two wholesome movies

Wonder and The Star are at theatres this weekend. The trailer for Wonder shows me a winning attitude despite the obstacles of facial disfigurement in childhood. In fact, the boy August Pullman is a winner in this trailer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ob7fPOzbmzE

Animation The Star is an animal focussed take on the nativity Christmas story about the birth of Jesus. The trailer is cute (unlike the Justice League trailer which has sensational visuals and a tad theology that may be debatable). The Star trailer will probably whet appetites for more among family friendly viewers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NjvYZtwk00

Counting the cost

That Sugar Film (2014) is an Australian documentary that positions itself on the side of the debate that says added sugar in food is not good for you. I agree. In fact, I’m adamant.

I’ve been off juice drinks for almost a year now and don’t miss them. The taste for them has gone. This documentary has motivated me to do more.

There’s a theological rationale for it, too. God the Creator wouldn’t make our bodies react in adverse ways to food that isn’t good for us or isn’t supposed to be there.

One interviewee said that “addiction to sugar” has caused materialism, in that people will buy things that satisfy their cravings for more sugar. Materialism is an artificial way to live as it can leave one feeling empty. But empty for what? More things?

Rare and sympathetic

1980 was a year of prestige films Raging Bull, Ordinary People, and Coal Miner’s Daughter, but The Elephant Man stood out as the one to watch. Ordinary People won the Academy Award for Best Pictured and The Elephant Man came away empty handed after scoring eight nominations. But I would have picked The Elephant Man. It’s the more progressive of the films as it suggests a more humane treatment of people who suffer with kinds of conditions that hinder living for themselves as well as hinder interacting in society.

The Elephant Man hinges on a rare subject—severe disfigurement, in this case it’s of John Merrick in Victorian England—and the response to him in a society that is complacent. This is during the time of the so-called freak shows at the circus. It is also a time of poverty that drive some people to do anything to make a buck. Some poor people made money out of “Fat Ladies”, “Strong Men” and “The Elephant Man”, John Merrick’s stage name. Though Merrick was in a “freak show”, a good doctor, played by Anthony Hopkins, gives him a safe place to stay in a hospital where Merrick is safe more so or less. In a harrowing scene, he does have to contend with the attractions of curious onlookers who know where to find him.

The movie ends on a haunting, disturbing note that underlines the severity of his condition and how it affected his life. We could ask numerous questions about why he suffered, and how could human beings treat people in his situation unlovingly, but also see the hand of providence in looking after this man the best society could. Merrick’s doctor was like a God-send. Otherwise, society would do better in the future for others facing similar predicaments with the introduction of universal laws to outlaw freak shows, advancements in health care, and education of unusual medical conditions. The Elephant Man suggests a more humane treatment is the way people like Merrick will get along better in society.

A little reading and reflection

What I’m reading. After reading and reflecting on the book of Job I went back to the start of the Bible with Genesis, with the intention of noting facts of the scripture rather than reading primarily for themes. Thematic analysis is what I had been doing, but I wasn’t sure if I was being true to the text by seeing themes that may or may not be there, for what was the purpose of writing devotionals.

I’ve also finished Star Wars, the original novelization of the film. This year it’s been re-published in a trilogy of books. This trilogy is the original Star Wars trilogy, from A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, to Return of the Jedi. I was surprised how they condensed two hours that seems longish into a shortish book. I expected longer, but that’s how this film-tie in went.