Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Smurfs Has a Tale of Redemption

Unless you were born in the late 1990s, there is a chance that you are familiar with the little blue characters known as Smurfs. But even if you are familiar with the Smurfs, you have never seen them like The Smurfs film.

When I learned that this classic cartoon series was turning into a film, I was not sure what to think of it and said that if I saw it, it would be in the local dollar theater. But then I received an e-mail invitation for an advanced screening. Free.

It does have a 3D version available, but as I always say, save the money and just watch the 2D.

There is enough action and storyline in this film that you do not need the extra visual effects of the 3D to be into the film. The screening was packed!

This film has a lot to offer: endearing comedy, heartbreaking moments, engagement with the characters, greater messages and morals.

What basically happens is that Clumsy Smurf accidentally leads Gargamel and Azrael to the Smurf Village. They then have to flee and Clumsy ends up down the wrong path and in a cave where he ends up sucked into a portal that has opened up due to the blue moon. Papa, Smurfette, Gutsy, Grouchy and Brainy also get sucked into the portal as they try to rescue Clumsy and escape Gargamel at the same time. Then Azrael gets tossed into the portal and Gargamel follows. They all end up in Central Park in the middle of New York City.

In their effort to escape, Clumsy falls into a box and the others end up on top of the cab that the man, Patrick, climbs into to go home to his apartment and pregnant wife and dog.

The others find the apartment and end up in the box that Clumsy already escaped from and ended up running from the dog and trapped in the toilet of the bathroom. The wife finds Clumsy in a wad of wet toilet paper while Patrick finds the other Smurfs in the box. Chaos ensues.

As the few days pass and Papa Smurf diligently seeks a way to get his Smurfs back home and stay safe from Gargamel, the Smurfs and the couple become close. Papa even provides wise advice and encouragement to Patrick about his work and his ability to be a good father. Patrick learns to be who he is and not worry about what others think. And Clumsy learns that he can be a hero while the other Smurfs learn to accept him for who he is.

As to Gargamel, he finds life in New York City to be much different than what he is accustomed to. And he does make a mess out of things because of his awkwardness and lack of social adeptness.

In the end, the Smurfs do return home safe from Gargamel and Azrael with both the Smurfs and the couple having learned things from each other as well as having made new friends.

There are a lot of comical places and endearing moments with good moral lessons.

Overall, I would even say that I actually would not mind seeing this film again. With a PG rating, it is one of the few films currently in theaters that the whole family can enjoy.

Friday, July 22, 2011

How Can Churches, Youth Pastors and Pastors Help With Cyberbullying?

First of all, if you are a pastor, a youth pastor or any other church leader or church staff person, I hope you saw the recent ABC Family Channel film Cyberbully. If not, please read my blog review post about the film over on my Media Review site:

I ask some poignant questions.

What can be done to help the victims of cyberbullying?

What will it take for laws to be passed in every state (Alabama is one of 16 states that do not have laws regarding cyberbullying)? Another victim to become a suicide statistic?

What can be done both with victims and with the bullies to educate them on the importance of not engaging in such activity?

How far do the protections of the First Amendment really go when it comes to cyberbullying?

In summary of both the film and my review, the film portrayed a high school student by the name of Taylor who comes from a broken family and ends up nearly taking her own life because of some hurtful actions by her friends on a social network site similar to Facebook because the comments started to extend off the Internet into her life at school and affecting her social life. The fact that she comes from a broken family and that her father has little to no presence in her life is a factor to consider as to why the situation with the comments and posts pushes her over the edge of almost becoming another statistic.

What can churches do to help young adults and teenagers (those 35 and under) when it comes to cyberbullying or any other kind of bullying?

In my own personal opinion, I think one thing that churches can do is help the victims by offering support groups. Another way is to contact law makers and get them to push for passing laws. Instead of being standoffish and judgmental, churches should actively seek to help victims of any crimes and violent acts or words to not remain victims. Whether victims of abuse or bullying or even just a broken family, the victims often stay in a victim mentality because they feel judged or cast out by their churches. Many churches stigmatize the victims causing them to feel like outcasts and criminals when really what the church should be doing is offering a safe haven for the victim to learn how to not remain victims.

But whether abuse or bullying, what can churches do to help?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cars 2 and Redemption

I am not that big a fan of the Cars films, but since I had won a couple of vouchers that got both my mother and I into the Cars 2 film for free, I figured what the heck?

I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

So as not to give any spoilers, I won't reveal too much of the story line, but this film focused on the friendship between Lightning McQueen and Mater. McQueen had tried to get Mater to conform to being more sophisticated while they traveled the globe for races, but in the end, he learned that friendship is more important than conformity.

I particularly loved the quotes regarding friendship in this film! And of course, one line: "Mater! I'm sticking by you the way you always stick by me."

On a cost-saving note, the film has enough action packed into the 2D version, so save the money and skip the 3D version unless you want to get really dizzy!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Proverbs 3 and Luke 3 - What Does Discipline Really Look Like?

In Luke 3 lies a reference to a baptism of repentance. Baptism itself does not give repentance though, so I'm a little confused by the expression. There is also a genealogy of Jesus through Joseph which I guess offers hope for everyone who is or has been adopted. If Jesus, who was not the biological child of Joseph, can still be attributed to the lineage of Joseph, what hope for those who are adopted and their lineage!

Proverbs 3 talks about the discipline of a father who loves his child and equates it to the discipline of God. But sadly, for some, discipline is not present. In some families, discipline was in the form of abuse and not from love. So what does REAL discipline look like? What SHOULD it look like? Understanding and knowing this can help those who have grown up with abuse know and understand God's discipline and what it really is.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Proverbs 2 and Luke 2 - I Am Confused

In Luke 2, I read about how Joseph and Mary became frantic searching for Jesus when they could not find him in their caravan. They searched everywhere for him until they found him in the temple. A loving family apparently will search for their lost member until they find them - intentionally search for them - pursue them.

In Proverbs 2, I read about how if someone searches for wisdom, they shall find it. But it got messy for me as I read later in the chapter and almost felt as though it were saying that sometimes a person doesn't find wisdom and ends up being punished.

In my own life, sometimes I feel like I am searching for wisdom and not finding it, feeling lost and confused and not being pursued. This scares me. The lamb feels lost and confused, alone and scared. Where is the lamb's shepherd?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Proverbs 1 and Luke 1 - Shut Up and Listen!

In one sentence, what I learned from these passages that rang out in both, is that when God speaks to you, especially through angels, you better shut up and listen!

I'm sure there are other things, but that's what I got for the time being.

You see, I'm on a journey. A LONG journey. It's not going to be easy and it's not supposed to be easy, but it's supposed to eventually help me learn more about me and about God. That's the purpose of this blog. To explore what I'm learning. To ask questions. And to be open to answers from readers who may understand more than I do.

God's Predestination and Watermelons

I have questions. Lots of them. Just when I think that I understand predestination, I don't have a lemon thrown at me, and not even an orange. At least with a lemon, I can make lemonade. With an orange, I can catch it and make orange juice! But I am learning that sometimes watermelons get thrown in the works, and MAN, are they messy! Boy, are they messy! How do we deal with the watermelons when it comes to predestination?

Watermelons of life: Divorce, child abuse, child neglect, affairs, pre-marital relationships, losing a job, not getting a job, disabilities, handicaps, illnesses, car accidents, children dying before their parents, losing a baby at birth or shortly after, child kidnapping, foreclosures, bankruptcies, disasters, wars. They're all watermelons!

There's never anything pretty about a watermelon. All it is is a green ball or oval-shaped thing with red, juicy, watery meat inside with either just white seeds or black and white seeds that makes a giant mess.

Watermelons are fragile. You throw one and it's going to break. You hit a hammer to one, it's going to splatter. They are just plain messy.

They're popular in the summer because they do have that juicy, watery messy goodness as a positive attribute, but they don't really provide nutrition and they're messy.

You ever see a young child enjoying his or her first watermelon? The clothes, the child, and anything else around are never the same again.

Watermelons. Do we throw them in the works and mess up God's predestined plan for our lives? Or does God throw the watermelons in and mess up His own plan? I don't know. But if someone figures this mystery out, I'm open to hearing it.

That's all I have to say for now.