Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Best: Directors of All Time #6 - Alfred Hitchcock

-Rear Window
-Dial "M" for Murder

-Torn Curtain
-The Man Who Knew Too Much
-North By Northwest
-Strangers on a Train

-The Paradine Case

It is an understatement to say that Alfred Hitchcock is the master of suspense.  But I think that boxes him in a little too much.  Hitchcock was able to draw out the tension like a knife because he knew how to tell a story with visuals.

And he was a very efficient visual storyteller.  With simple shots he was able to illicit great fear, like Raymond Burr staring at Jimmy Stewart's POV camera in Rear Window.  Hitchcock could tell you so much with so little.  That is the reason so many of his movie scenes are considered "iconic."  We have a very concrete sense of what was happening and how we felt while it was happening in simple shots:

-the silhouette  of "mother" in the shower curtain
-the playground full of birds
-a man being chased by a bi-plane in an open field
-the zooming staircase from Vertigo.

Creating suspense is simply mastering Aristotle's understanding of plot.  As paraphrased in the movie Shadowlands, Aristotle said that the important thing wasn't why someone was doing something, but what they were going to do next.  Hitchcock was able to draw you into a feeling of desperation for the next moment.  You stare at the screen and are on the edge of your seat to find out what will happen when Grace Kelley enters the apartment across the way or if Paul Newman will be discovered as a spy before he gets the formula he needs.

The great John Nolte once pointed out that Hitchcock also had a sly, devious directing style that made you sympathize with the villain.  If you remember in his greatest film, Psycho, after the frenzied murder, the movie spends a very long time on Norman as he cleans up the body.  In most movies, there would be a quick cut or montage of him disposing of her.  But Hitchcock lingers and watches, but without judgment on Norman.  And you can tell Hitchcock as done his job when Norman pushes the car with the body into the swamp.  It begins to sink but then stops.  And if you feel a moment of "uh-oh" that means that you have gotten into the head of the character and part of you wants him to succeed.  Hitchcock does this again and again in movies like Dial "M" for Murder, Frenzy, and Rope.

But returning to the idea of suspense, you can only create that kind of tension when you care about your characters.  Part of you falls in love with the people on the screen and so you worry for their safety.  When people talk of Hitchcock's suspense movies, they remember the fear and the brutality.  But those qualities can only have an impact if you connect and empathize with your characters.  And Hitchcock does this with charmers like Carey Grant, everymans like Jimmy Stewart, and creepers like Anthony Perkins.

Alfred Hitchock's influence on movie making and visual storytelling is still felt to this day and will continue to be felt for generations to come.

Alleluia! Easter is Now!

Sometimes the way we say things is as important as what we say.  And it is so important in the Christian tradition that we tend not to say "Christ rose from the dead."  Instead we say, "Christ is risen."

The Resurrection is not an event of the distant past, found in dusty books and old stories.  It is an event that is happening right now.  Christ is risen body and soul, and Christ can be resurrected in our lives, even though we are dead in spirit, he can give us new life.  Even if we've fallen away, even if we continue stumble in sin, even if we have cut ourselves off from His grace, though we are dead, we can become alive again.

Because Christ is alive.

Right now.

He is Risen.


Friday, March 29, 2013

The Hour of Shadows

We all know that this is a fallen world and that the power of evil is stalking through it.  We can see it on the news.  We can hear it in our lives.  We can feel it in our hearts.

I was watching a report about a high school shooter.  In court he cursed out his victims families and proudly wore a t-shirt that said "killer."  There was no remorse in his eyes or repentance in his actions.  Here was a man-child who reveled in the anguish he could cause.  Who could see that and not see evil?

Someone I know recently told me about a poor mother who brought her infant child in for an MRI.  When a fatal ailment was detected, the mother decided to abandon the baby that very day.  Who could hear that and not hear evil?

And as I encounter the sins of my fellow man, I can feel myself climbing above them in judgment.  Inside I look down on those whose sins are manifest, and yet I cast a shadow on the secret sins of my heart.  I too am often the whitewashed sepulcher that appears good and clean on the outside, but is wasting away inside from corruption.  How can I feel that and not call it evil?

But I have remember that while the forces of darkness rage violently to this day, the real battle has already been fought.

Satan had one chance, the hour of shadows, to claim victory.  And the Prince of this world did everything he could to win.  He had laid the groundwork already.  He entered Judas to bring him to the betrayal.  He had stoked the indignation of the righteous against the one who made them feel uncomfortable.  He, the prince of practicality, had convinced the leaders of Israel that it would be better for one man to die so that the nation could survive.  And he used Peter, immediately after he had been given the Keys to the Kingdom, to tempt Jesus away from His mission.  The Devil knows how to subtly strike at our foundations so as to make our lives topple.

Jesus went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane.  I have been told that there on the Mount of Olives, he would have a very clear view of the cohort of men coming to arrest Him.  But in the opposite direction was a gate that would lead into the hill country.  Like David escaping the clutches of Saul, Jesus could have left and never been captured.

It would have been so easy.

In the garden, Jesus is abandoned and betrayed by those He loves.  And it was for these men too that He was to sacrifice.  He was about to give up His life.  They could not give Him 1 hour.  I can seem myself so clearly now do some small errand in a store and coming across a small token of kindness that I could give someone;  I see a book or a movie or some other trinket that I know would be enjoyed by another.  But then I think of the cost.  Then I think of its lack of necessity.  And then I think of whether or not I owe it to the person.  If I decide it costs too much, is not necessary to me, and I don't owe the person a gift, I usually let it go and move on.  Jesus knew the cost to save these cowards.  He would gain nothing from it.  And He owed them nothing.  How could have decided that they had proved their disloyalty and thus excused Himself from the cross.

It would have been so easy.

Before the High Priest, he could have lied.  How have I lied to get out of trouble?  So much that it is sometimes impulsive.  When I screw up and a question of responsibility is put to me, my mind immediately goes to some kind of deflection that would shift the blame from me and land on another.  One word was all that stood between Jesus and acquittal.  None of the evidence or witnesses against Him at the trial could have convicted Him.  So the High Priest asked Him, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of God?"  One word could have ended the conflict and saved His skin: "No."

It would have been so easy.

Pilate found himself an escape hatch by sending Jesus to Herod Antipas, the murderer of John the Baptist.  Herod was King of Galilee and had the power to set Him free.  All He wanted was a little miracle.  Jesus has the infinite power of God.  There is no miracle that He could not perform.  He could have done something so minusculy miraculous and Herod would have spared Him from His looming doom.  How often do I use my own power, influence, connections to avoid trouble?  With a snap of Christ's fingers, the wonders of the heavens could have danced before Herod.

It would have been so easy.

And then came the pain.  Pain unimaginable.  Pain that only escalated.  And Satan laid the burden heavier and heavier.  He incited to crowds that acclaimed Jesus king only 5 days earlier to call for His death.  He set the scourging chords to shred His tender flesh.  He pushed the soldiers to mock His mission by crowning Him with thorns.  They actually reviled Him, not in spite of being our Savior, but BECAUSE he came to save us.  Even on the cross itself, where every breath was an agony, they said, "Come down from the cross and we will believe."

When I think of this my mind actually goes to a strange place (please bear with me).  There was an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where Captain Picard was captured and tortured.  They had implanted in him a device that hit him with exceeding agony.  Throughout his torture, the shined 4 lights on him.  His torturer wanted him to say that there were actually 5 lights, not 4.  When Picard would say that there were 4 lights, the excruciating pain would begin.  At the end of the episode, his torturer gave him a choice.  A life of leisure, comfort, and rest or he would turn on the device and never let it stop.  All he had to do was tell him that there were 5 lights.

What a simple choice.  Pain for your principles or leisure for your lies.  And what are principles?  They are not material.  You cannot hold them or see them or smell them.  And who is to be any the wiser?  Can I not act one way on the outside but believe differently on the inside?  I think of myself in that situation and I feel keenly that I would have broken.  How could I not?  Even the thought of such suffering makes me feel the shadow of pain in my body.  Could not Jesus have spared Himself all of that pain?

The answer is actually yes.  Pope Benedict pointed out that because Jesus is God, His word would have been enough to save us.  All He had to do was say, "You are saved," and our sins would be forgiven.  He could have come down from the cross, forgave everyone's sins, and returned home to Paradise.

It would have been so easy.

But He remained until He could say "It is finished."  And it was finished.  Evil had this one chance to destroy goodness and it failed.  The power of Satan was destroyed.  When I see, hear, and feel evil in this world I have remember that the shadow will pass.  The battle has already taken place.  The war is over.  The Devil has lost.  He may try to capture a few more souls before he retreats to Hell, but Jesus won the victory.  And though He had the power to save us at a word, He chose to save us by the Cross.  Why?  Because, as Pope Benedict says, that is the only way we would ever no who God really is.

He did not flee to save His own skin because God is Selfless

He did not abandon those who abandoned Him because God is Mercy.

He did not lie to His captors because God is Truth

He did not show off to Herod because God is Humility

And He did not hold anything back, not even His very body given up to torturous death on a cross, because God is Love.

And as He is, so we must also be.  We must be selfless, merciful, honest, humble, and loving.  And when we are, the shadow of evil will pass like a nightmare that lingers at first, but is soon forgotten.

Lord, by Your Cross and Resurrection, You have set us free.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Trailer Time: The Wolverine

There's two things I really like about what I see here.

1.  It is the first movie in X-Men continuity since X-Men The Last Stand.  It seems to be taking very seriously the toll of Logan's choices from that movie.

2.  I like that it makes him vulnerable.  An indestructible man is kind of interesting, but watching him lose that power greatly amplifies the risks and makes it more exciting.  This trailer very much reminds me of what I've seen for the Iron Man 3 trailers.

This will be Hugh Jackman's sixth outing as Wolverine in film, and he's already scheduled to be back in X-Men Days of Future Past.  And it looks like he hasn't lost a step.


Also check out the quicktime version of the American trailer here.

Film Flash: Oz- The Great and Powerful

15 words or less film review (full review to follow soon)

A horribly miscast James Franco almost derails this charming, sometimes scary, colorful fairy tale.

3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pope to Pope

(There is no sound for the first few seconds).

What an amazing sight!  Two popes meet.

5 things struck me:

1.  Benedict seemed so frail.  Seeing him scoot around with his cane, it makes much more sense to me why he chose retirement for the good of the Church.
2.  Once again, Benedict's humility was on full display.  It looked like he tried to get Francis to take the single spot at the front reserved for the Holy Father.  Benedict was attempting to show his deference and obedience to the new pope.
3.  Francis' respect for Benedict.  Instead of going to the front space, the current Pontiff insisted on kneeling with his brother pope.  The media is working hard on creating a distinction between the "reformer" Francis and the "traditional" Benedict.  I am convinced that this is a media created narrative.  One of the first things Francis did as pope was to pray in gratitude for Benedict.
4.  Prayerfulness.  What an example to us all!  We must become people of prayer.  Francis and Benedict are showing us that prayer draws us not only closer to God but to each other.
5.  Okay, this is the geeky part of me, but seeing the two of them together felt like a comic book crossover that shouldn't happen.  After elected, most popes never get a chance to meet the predecessor because they are dead.  This is an unusual meeting.  It would be like Superman meeting Luke Skywalker or Aquaman showing up on the Battlestar Galactica (what he's doing so far from the water, I have no idea).

Anyway, enjoy the video

Monday Poetry: Roman Triptych II.1

This next part of John Paul the Greats poem is a meditation on the painting of the Book of Genesis that is at the front of the Sistine Chapel:

1. The first beholder
"In him we live and move and have our being", says Paul at the Areopagus in Athens—
Who is He?
He is like an ineffable space which embraces all.
He, the Creator,
embraces everything, summoning to
existence from nothing, not only from
the beginning, but always.

Everything endures continually becoming—
"In the beginning was the Word, and through Him all things were made".
The mystery of the beginning is born together with the Word and is revealed through the Word.

The Word—eternal vision and utterance.
He, who was creating, saw—"saw that it was good",
his seeing different from ours.
He—the first Beholder—
saw, finding in everything some trace
of his Being, his own fullness—
He saw: Omnia nuda et aperta sunt ante oculos Eius
Naked, transparent,
true, good and beautiful—

He saw in terms so different from ours.
Eternal vision and eternal utterance:
"In the beginning was the Word, and through Him all things were made",
all in which we live and move and have our being—
The Word, the marvellous eternal Word, as an invisible threshold
of all that has come into being, exists or will exist. As if the Word were the threshold.

The threshold of the Word, containing the invisible form of everything, divine and eternal —beyond this threshold everything begins to happen!
I stand at the entrance to the Sistine—
Perhaps all this could be said more simply
in the language of the "Book of Genesis".

But the Book awaits the image—
And rightly so. It was waiting for its Michelangelo.
The One who created "saw"—saw that "it was good".
"He saw", and so the Book awaited the fruit of "vision".
O all you who see, come—
I am calling you, all "beholders" in every age.
I am calling you, Michelangelo!

There is in the Vatican a chapel that awaits the harvest of your vision!
The vision awaited the image.
From when the Word became flesh, the vision is waiting.

We are standing at the threshold of the Book.

It is the Book of the origins—Genesis.
Here, in this chapel, Michelangelo penned it,
not with words, but with the richness
of piled-up colours.

We enter in order to read it again,
going from wonder to wonder.
So then, it is here—we look and recognize
the Beginning which emerged out of nothingness,
obedient to the creative Word.
Here it speaks from these walls.
But still more powerfully the End speaks.
Yes, the judgment is even more outspoken:
the judgment, the Final one.
This is the path that all must follow—
every one of us.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Best: Directors of All Time #7 - Frank Darabont

photo by

-The Shawshank Redemption
-The Green Mile

-The Majestic


It is not for nothing that the number one ranked movie according to the Internet Movie Database (arguably the most comprehensive and democratic movie voting website) is Frank Darabont's The Shawshank Redemption.  This movie has a special place for me, as it is the only movie I have ever seen in the theater by myself.

But it has to remembered that The Shawshank Redemption was a hard sell.  It was a Stephen King story without the horror or supernatural element.  It took place a men's prison and all kinds of male prisoney things happen in it.  It has a lot of narration, which is usually a sign of poor writing.  And it had a really weird title.  Almost as weird as something like "Attack of the Clones."

But Frank Darabont crafted from that raw material a true and utter masterpiece of film-making.  Liam Neeson once said that George Lucas was a poet with the camera.  I don't know about that, but this statement could clearly be applied to Darabont.  He made the dark and dreary prison beautiful in its sadness.  I am still struck by that helicopter shot of the prison with that hauntingly melancholy score as he sweeps you across the confined landscape.  With that one shot he tells you that you are about to watch an epic, not of vistas but of the spirit.

And while he deserves enormous credit as a writer, in the hands of a lesser director, The Shawshank Redemption would never take off.  His use of visual repetition hypnotizes you into ignoring the obvious clues in the story.  His style in the movie is alternately showy and subtle.  Notice the shot where Red walks out of Shawshank and the camera follows him out.  As the the audiene we leave with him.

Storywise, Darabont created what star Tim Robbins called a real love story between two men that wasn't romantic in any way.  The closeness that Red and Andy have is borne of pure friendship, but that love is strong and real.  Again, in the hands of a lesser director, this love would have been overly sentimental or perhaps too distant to feel real.  But he is smart enough to let this truly masculine Platonic love grow strong while giving it its distance.  Notice the final shot of the movie and it steps away, whereas in a romantic movie, it would end up close.

But Darabont did bring his extra sentimentality to his next film: The Green Mile.  The movie is a little too long, but it wisely takes its time so that it can build its emotional climaxes.  For those who saw the movie, we remember how it felt when Mr. Jangles got crushed.  That moment was so violent and shocking that I remember the entire theater gasped and hissed.  Darabont drew you in deeply and emotionally into the story.  I can still see Hanks' character Paul asking so vividly, "On the day of my judgment when God asks me why I killed one of His true miracles, what am I going to say?"  That scene was made of simple closeups, but Darbont gets Hanks to a place of such sad desperation, begging for a way out.  And I can still see the light spectacle, a firework of grief, after he says, "Roll on two."

Darabont has not been able to match the success, either commercially or artistically, of these 2 films with his later ones.  But to have both The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile in your director's filmography is enough to earn you the number 7 spot on this list.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Film Review: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

I love Steve Carell.  I think that not only is he incredibly funny, but he has great range as a dramatic actor.  Despite this, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone fails to live up to any of its potential.

The story centers around Carell's Burt who first learns magic tricks as a child in order to make friends.  I can painfully relate to this, as I too tried to master a box full of illusions to impress my classmates.  He does end up making a friend and the two grow up to create a non-gay Siegried and Roy with a permanent gig in Vegas as "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton: A Magical Friendship "  But already, the film begins to fall off the rails.  When we get to the present, Burt is mean and bored.  He bullies Anton (Steve Buscemi) and sexually harasses his new assistant , the aspiring female magician Jane (Olivia Wilde).  The skip ahead in time goes too quickly from the lonely child to the egotistical Lothario is too much.  It becomes difficult to care about Burt's problems at all.

Trouble ensues when a Chris Angel type of street magician played by Jim Carrey comes along.  His gross-out, cringe-inducing stunts are set up as an affront to the traditional magical acts that Burt and Anton put on.  As Carrey's character becomes more popular, Burt's act becomes less so.  He struggles to remain relevant, but continually conflicts with Anton and Jane.

The movie picks up a bit with a struggling Burt meets his childhood idol, the famous magician Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin).  The movie beings to pull itself together and explore the nature of performing magic and why we like it, but it never really delivers.  In the end, the story moves towards a final contest between Carell and Carrey.  Burt must put on a grand illusion to save the day.  But almost all of the wonder is lost because they explain how they do too far in advance of the actual magic trick.

The cast does a fine job.  Carell is a bit uneven, though.  It feels like he is putting on the performance of a complete jerk only to switch strangely to sincerity.  Buscemi is one of those rare actors that can move from comedy to drama effortlessly.  Wilde brings a great deal of charisma and brains to her part.  And Jim Carrey does his normal over the top Jim Carrey thing.

The most disappointing thing about The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is the fact that it can never live up to its potential.  It isn't a particularly bad movie, but it isn't good either.  The anti-Chris Angel motif feels stale, but would have been fresh 3 years ago.  In small bits, the jokes are actually pretty funny.  But they don't hang together.  The jokes weren't big enough for large belly laughs and the story wasn't strong enough to sustain a lot of interest.  It's a shame.  With a little tweaking, this movie could have been Incredible

2 and 1/2 out of 5 stars

A Half Finished Life

I don't know if you are like me, but the older I get, the more I think about my time behind me  expanding and my time ahead in this world is shrinking.

I am not trying to be morbid.  The Scriptures tell us to count our days aright.  Mortality is one of the great motivators to "seize the day."  And yet no matter how I spend my time, it never seems like there is enough of it.

Sometimes it is the small things.  I don't find the time to return emails or phone calls.  I have a stack of books that I keep intending to read.  I still want to see every Academy Award winning Best Picture and at least one performance of each of Shakespeare's plays.

And then there are  places I've yet to see.  I am not a big traveler I tend to be slightly miserable when I am not home.  But I've never seen the Grand Canyon, the Highlands of Scotland, the Vatican, or San Diego Comic Con.  

But the thing that nags me the most are my uncompleted art.  I have at least a dozen stories rolling around in my brain that I have not gotten around to putting down on paper.  Among them are:

-I have novel about a teenager cursed with 4 wishes
-I have a short story that takes place at a prison camp in the far future
-I have a musical loosely based on Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory
-I have a comic book series about the most evil being in the world who does not want to be so
-I have another comic book series about a group of heroes trying to prevent a nuclear war
-I have book analyzing all of the Christology in JK Rowling's Harry Potter stories.
-I have a screenplay about my grandparents' love story when the Japanese occupied their country
-I have a three part Superman comic about Truth, Justice, and the American Way
-I have movie trilogy about vampire hunters
-I have a modern high school version of Much Ado About Nothing
-I have a short story about a demon who falls in love with an angel
-I have a musical version of Somewhere in Time

All of these semi-started or partly finished.  And this doesn't count my unwritten songs, uncomposed sonnets, undrawn illustrations...

This past winter I wrote a screenplay about a girl in a wheelchair who falls in love with a dancer, so she becomes a dancer too.  I was able to finish right before Christmas.  It was incredibly satisfying, but truly exhausting.  After I was finished, I felt mentally and emotionally drained.  Please forgive this melodramatic conceit, but the story was so emotional that I poured a lot of my feelings into it.  When it was done, I was drained.

Creating something, any kind of art, is like giving birth.  Of course I don't mean that it is as physically painful or emotionally beautiful as bringing a child into the world.  But all art is about birthing something hidden inside the self through concentration and labor and giving it to the world.  It is a window into the soul.  Art makes visible in the world what is invisible in the person.  Just as every child is a part of the parent, every piece of art is a part of the artist.  

But the art does not become real until it is incarnate outside the self.  Ideas for stories are not stories.  Mental images for paintings are not actual paintings.  If it does not find expression, it dies inside you.  

Of course this no ones fault but my own.  We always prioritize what is important to us.  If I truly wanted these stories written and art created, I would have done so by now.  I think that most of us are in that position: we have great ideas that we can never quite keep focused long enough to birth.

And as the years turn on and my time grows shorter, I realize the window for creation is closing.  Even if I get around to making most of what is buzzing around in my brain, I'm sure there will be more.  I don't think I shall ever finish all that I started.  I have the distinct feeling that my life will be half finished when all is said and done.

As I said, I think that most of us are like this.  Feeling as though something in life was left undone.  And that seems tragic, truly tragic.

Or is it?

When thinking about all of the things I have yet to do, I pondered on the question, why do we make art in the first place?  It would appear that it boils down to 2 things:

1.  To give us a new and greater insight into the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.
     This drab world needs light from the world above to lift us out of the shadows

2.  To express the art that exists inside of the soul that needs to be expressed.
      We need to tell people our stories and thoughts and feelings.  Even the writing of this blog is simple way to take what is on my mind and heart and give that part of me to others so that they can know me.

The urge of creation is buried deep within us because we are made in God's image.  And God is a great artist.  Creation, all things visible and invisible, is a great work of art.  It is an amazing story.  It is the greatest story ever told.  We also need to create.  Even as children we need to doodle with crayons and mash Play-Doh.  It is part of our nature.  But I don't think that need will be around forever.

In Heaven, we will not need art to give us insight into the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.  Instead of using art to give us glimpses of those things, we can have them directly.  Instead of dabbing our lips with water, we can bathe in the river of gladness.  We will be with God Himself, who is the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.

But I don't think we will need art in Heaven for the second reason either.  Paul says of this world and the  next world, " For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known." (1 Cor 13:12)

The thing that strikes me is that he says with God, I am fully known.  I think that is what it will be like in Heaven for us all.  There, there will no longer be any barriers between us.  We need art to express who we are so we can communicate it to others and be known to them.  But I think that in Heaven we will see each other completely, totally.  We won't have to find a way to express who we are inside because our hearts will be completely known to all and we will know everyone else's heart.

This does not mean that the we will lose something.  Instead we gain.  The whole purpose of art is fulfilled.  I no longer will need a medium to express the art in me.

I will be the art I always tried to make.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wednesday Comics (on Thursday): Playing the Orson Scott Card

Famed science fiction author Orson Scott Card is a marked man.

It was announced recently that he would be writing a the new Adventures of Superman series at DC.  Card is no stranger to comics, having written Ultimate Iron-Man over at Marvel.

People are calling for his job at DC.  Articles written at such places like are tearing him apart.  Others are calling for a boycott of of his work, including the currently in production movie of his novel Ender's Game.

What is his crime?  What causes this outrage?

The answer is that he is a faithful Mormon.

It has now apparently become a fire-able offense to some people to believe the Mormon faith and act upon it.

Of course his detractors would not frame the issue this way.  They would say that they are protesting a bigot.  His bigotry consists of believing that marriage is between a man and a woman and he has given money to support this belief.

And of course this makes him a bigot.  And it makes at least half the country bigots.  And it makes Pope Francis a bigot.  It makes President Obama before 2012 a bigot.  It makes all of the saints of the Church bigots.  And it makes me a bigot.

Look, I have no dog in this particular fight.  I am not that familiar with Card's work.  I read his Ultimate Iron Man and was unimpressed.  If people don't want to buy his book, fine.  If people want to boycott his book because they think that he violates the rules of the modern thought police, fine  But they are pressuring DC to fire him for not other reason than his thoughts.  It has nothing to do with the quality of his work.  As far as I can tell from my research, none of his comic book work pushes an anti-gay agenda.

But he does not think the way the politically correct group thinks, and for that he must be punished.  He does not deserve a job because he holds to a religious belief held by orthodox Christian, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, etc.

When I wrote last summer about making Alan Scott a gay super hero, I said that I really didn't care as long as the stories were good.  James Robinson, the writer who made that decision, has a radically different belief regarding sexual morality and human nature.  Fine.  I don't want him to be fired over it.   Alan Moore is one of the most respected writers in the field.  His interest in the occult is at odds with my Christian faith.  But not only do I not call for his firing, but I recognize his genius.  Moore once wrote an epic piece of pornography called Lost Girls.  My description of the work as pornographic is actually Moore's own.  He wanted to make pornography respectable literature.  I found the topic offensive.  So I chose to exert control over my dollars and not buy it.  I hoped that it would be a bomb because of its morally repugnant subject matter, but I did not desire Moore to be fired from his publisher.  I believe in freedom of expression and free speech.

I do not understand why Card is not given the same courtesy.  Can he not express himself in stories and let them speak for him?

 If he wrote an anti-gay story into Superman, I could understand.  Of course, this begs the question: what is an anti-gay story?  If a character is against "gay marriage" and is portrayed in a positive light, is that anti-gay?  If that is the case, then that explains why there are no pop culture heroes who support marriage as defined.

The artist Card was working with for Adventures of Superman has quit.  It is now a question whether or not his full series will go forward.

Let this be a lesson to anyone who dares to think for themselves or hold ideas contrary to the purveyors of pop culture or to those who believe that morality comes from God:  you are not allowed to earn a living.

So, if you plan to work in the comic book industry, be ready to answer this question:

"Are you now or have you ever been a supporter of traditional marriage?"

Does that sound like truth, justice, and the American way?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

New Evangelizers Post: Getting People to Listen

I have a new article up at

I think that most of us feel frustration when we try to communicate something we believe to be important, but  you feel as though you are not getting this importance across.  This is especially true of the Gospel.  We struggle to share and teach the values of Jesus to this apostatic world.

In my experience teaching, I think I've developed a few insights in how to get people to listen.  You can read the whole thing here.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Worst Pope Poll Winner

The winner of our Worst Pope Poll, by UNANIMOUS consent is...
photo by Gage Skidmore


I agree, he would make a terrible pope.  I couldn't see him wearing white, anyway.

And I don't think he'd want to be a successor to Peter, him begin a muggle and all.

Monday Poetry: THE ROMAN TRIPTYCH: I. The Stream - 2. The source

Here is the continuation of John Paul the Great's poem: The Roman Triptych.  Here he meditates from the stream itself to its source.

2. The source
The undulating wood slopes down
to the rhythm of mountain streams....
If you want to find the source,
you have to go up, against the current,
tear through, seek, don't give up,
you know it must be somewhere here.
Where are you, source? Where are you, source?!

Stream, stream in the wood,
tell me the secret of your beginning!

(Silence—why are you silent?
How carefully you have hidden the secret of your beginning).

Allow me to wet my lips
in spring water,
to feel its freshness,
reviving freshness.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Film Flash: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

15 words or less film review (full review to follow soon)

My love for Steve Carell cannot conjure enough laughs from this mediocre movie.

2 and 1/2  out of 5 stars

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pope Francis's a Scientist

“Marge: Homer! There's someone here who can help you...
Homer: Is it Pope Francis?
Marge: No, he's a scientist.
Homer: Pope Francis's a scientist?!
Marge: It's not Pope Francis!”

Wednesday Comics (on Thursday): Death in Comics


Loyal reader Rick O. pointed out that I have been lax in my attention to comic book news.  This point was made after he was made aware of the death of the current Robin in the pages of Batman Inc.  And while this story actually made national non-comic book news headlines, I found it all very uninteresting for one very important reason:

Death in comic books doesn't matter anymore.

In the early '90's DC shocked the world when they announced that they were going to kill Superman.  There were people who were in actual dismay over this prospect.  But those of us who have been reading for years know that death is not what it used to be.  Within a year, the Last Son of Krypton was back (and sporting a very stylish mullet to boot).  But that didn't stop DC from milking every last penny from the general public for this once in a lifetime "event."

I don't mean to be cynical about it.  But honestly, in the eyes of the publishers death = sales.  I never had a chance to review the story where Damien Wayne dies because it was sold out at my comic book store (and the fact that I don't pick up Batman Inc).  The same them happened recently with the death of Peter Parker in Amazing Spider-Man.  The story was actually pretty awful.  But people snatched it up because it was "important."

For years, the one "permanent" death in comics was that of Bucky Barnes: Captain America's sidekick from WWII who was killed when Cap was frozen in ice.  He was the standard bearer for comic book death and the last, best hope that death would have some kind of permanence.  But then a few years ago he was brought back as the Winter Soldier.  And then the original Captain America died and Bucky became the new Cap.  That is until the original Cap stopped being dead.

The same thing has happened several times in the Batman universe.  When the 2nd Robin, Jason Todd, was murdered by the Joker it was big news.  I remember reading in the gradeschool periodical The Scholastic Times, about how DC had killed him off.  But now Jason Todd is back as the Red Hood.  Batman was killed by Darkseid in Final Crisis and Dick Grayson had to become Batman.  Until Bruce Wayne stopped being dead and took back the role of Dark Knight.

And I'm sure the same thing will turn out to be true for the current Robin.  The question is will he be back, but when he'll be back.  This past year alone we saw the death of popular characters like Spider-Man, Robin, Professor X, as well as bit players like Boodika, Green Man, and Rhino.  But should the need arise, a writer will find some way to bring them back.

Off the top of my head, here are characters who have been killed an come back:
Green Lantern
The Flash
Captain America
Aunt May
The Anit-Monitor
Kitty Pryde
Donna Troy
Green Arrow
Nick Fury
The Thing

I am not opposed to the Resurrection of super heroes.  This is a fantasy genre after all.  But I care that it is done in a way that makes sense.  Geoff Johns' Green Lantern Rebirth is the standard by which character resurrections should occur.  He told a story that made sense from the previous continuity so that it felt like the natural result of what had come before.  Grant Morrison's The Return of Bruce Wayne is a great example of how not to do it.  Batman was batted (no pun intended) throughout history until he was thrust into the present FOR NO REASON THAT MADE SENSE.

Does this mean that death has no dramatic weight?  No.

In 2005's Infinite Crisis, I was literally breathless as I read the 6th issue.  They had been hinting heavily for months that my favorite superhero, Dick Grayson, was going to be killed.  The tension built throughout the entire book and I was completely invested, despite what I know about comic book resurrections.

And of course there was the shocking deaths in 2003's Identity Crisis.  I have never cried while reading a comic book until Identity Crisis #1.  To see the death of that character I had loved and how it affected those around them was heartbreaking.

So death can still carry with it strong emotional gravity, but in the comic book world where so many defy gravity, its impact is less and less.

Francis, Rebuild My Church

Pope Francis!

Like most of you, I had never heard of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio until around 3:15 pm yesterday.  And like you I know very little about this man who is now the 265th person to succeed St. Peter as head of the Universal Church.  I have not had the time to do a lot of research, but here are my initial thoughts:

1.  Humility.  Like Pope Benedict XVI, Francis is apparently someone with very little ambition to become pope.  But he has taken on the burden of the Church as a humble, faithful servant.  I was struck by his initial choice of vestments.  Most popes emerge covered in the red, luxurious robes of papal tradition.  Instead, Francis came to us wearing only the simple white papal cassock.  He chose not to where the golden papal crucifix, but his much simpler cross around his neck.  This is consistent with how he has lived as a cardinal.  In his diocese of Buenos Aries  he was given a Cardinal's mansion.  Instead, he lived by himself in an apartment.  He cooked his own food and rode the bus to work each day.  He lived a life of poverty and solidarity with the poor.  I don't see this changing now that he is pope.  In fact, his papal motto is Miserando atque eligendo (Lowly but chosen).

2.  Prayerfulness.  I love how one of his first acts as pope was to pray for Pope Emeritus Benedict.  Not only did he pray, but he joined with all of the faithful together to prayer for the retired pontiff.  And I was so moved when he asked the people to pray for him before he gave his first papal blessing.  To see that giant crowd grow silent as they retreated inward to their private souls for a quiet moment with the Lord was beautiful.  He understands the necessity of prayer and the power of bringing people together in prayer.

3.  Ignatian.  We now have our first Jesuit pope.  Someone told me (I cannot confirm this yet) that he was disliked by his Jesuit superiors and that they tried to move him to obscurity until Blessed John Paul the Great saw his potential and made him a cardinal.  And since Jesuits take vows of unreserved loyalty to the pope, he is not the head of the entire order.  Being a Jesuit also means that he is incredibly well-educated.  He is a man of science, having obtained a degree in chemistry.  I will be curious to see how the new atheists try to once again claim the church is anti-science now that we have our new Scientist Pope.

4.  Orthodox.  As I wrote about in my last essay, there are those like Chris Matthews who will be perpetually disappointed that the pope will continue to be a faithful Catholic.  While he expresses great distress at the unequal distribution of wealth, he has distanced himself from Liberation Theology, which is heavily soaked in Marxist philosophy   He has come into sharp conflict with the president of Argentina over "gay marriage" and abortion.  He even made it clear that politicians who support intrinsically evil acts like abortion should refrain from receiving Communion.  Any hopes that the new pope would declare good that which is evil have now been dashed.

5.  Evangelization.  In his opening words he talked of evangelization.  Many people believe that he has chosen his papal name from Francis of Assisi   His connection to humility and poverty would support this claim.  But we should not forget that he is not Franciscan, but a Jesuit.  He may have thinking of St. Francis Xavier, who spent his life spreading the Gospel to the ends of the Earth.  I believe that Pope Francis understands the need to reach out to the poor of the world.  But more than the need for food the body is food for the soul.  The world needs the saving message of Jesus Christ now more than ever and we need to refocus our energy to the New Evangelization

6.  Humor.  I love that his first words were a joke.  "You all know that the duty of the Conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother Cardinals have come almost to the ends of the Earth to get him ... but here we are. I thank you for the welcome that has come from the diocesan community of Rome."  I think it not only points to his great humility, but to a lively and jovial spirit that I think he will bring to the papacy.  Being a joyful Christian is one of the best witnesses to the faith.

7.  Hope.  As I said, I do not know Pope Francis the way I new Pope Benedict XVI the day he was elected.  Everything I have read has encouraged me.  But this is not a hagiography   This is hope.  The fact that he chose a novel name, a name never chosen in the 2000 year history of the papacy, says to me that he intends to begin something new.

And I can't wait to find out what that is.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday Poetry: Roman Triptych - The Stream: Pt 1 - Wonderment

I know that the title is a mouthful, but it is an excerpt from Blessed John Paul the Great's poem, Roman Triptych.

I love the imagery of how man is distinct from all other beautiful things in creation and, in a sense, that beauty finds its meaning in man.

I. The Stream
The Spirit of God hovered above the waters. 1. Wonderment
The undulating wood slopes down
to the rhythm of mountain streams.
To me this rhythm is revealing You,
the Primordial Word.

How remarkable is Your silence
in everything, in all that on every side
unveils the created world around us ...
all that, like the undulating wood,
runs down every slope ...
all that is carried away by the stream's
silvery cascade,
rhythmically falling from the mountain,
carried by its own current—carried where?

What are you saying to me, mountain stream?
Where, in which place, do we meet?
Do you meet me who is also passing—
just like you.

But is it like you?
(Allow me to pause here;
allow me to stop at a threshold,
the threshold of simple wonder).
The running stream cannot marvel,
and silently the woods slope down,
following the rhythm of the stream—
but man can marvel!
The threshold which the world crosses in him
is the threshold of wonderment.
(Once, this very wonder was called "Adam").

He was alone in his wonder,
among creatures incapable of wonder—
for them it is enough to exist and go their way.
Man went his way with them,
filled with wonder!
But being amazed, he always emerged
from the tide that carried him,
as if saying to everything around him:
"Stop—in me is your harbour",
"in me is the place of meeting
with the Primordial Word".
"Stop, this passing has meaning ...
has meaning ... has meaning".

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Best - Directors of All Time #8 - Peter Jackson

photo by Stefan Servos

-The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
-The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
-The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
-The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
-The Frighteners

-Heavenly Creatures
-King Kong

-Meet the Feebles
-The Lovely Bones

Peter Jackson has the kind of career that I think most amateur film-makers would love.  He started out making low-budget horror/monster flicks, and eventually worked his way up to an Academy Award Winning director.  What is quite incredible is how you can see Jackson taking elements from his earlier movies and incorporating them into his later ones.

Of his very early work, the only one I've seen is Meet the Feebles.  This is a messed up version of the Muppets that involves murder, drugs, sex (all with puppets), etc.  I was repulsed by it, despite its incredibly creative nature.  His next movie also had a repellent topic, Heavenly Creatures, which was about the real life case of 2 New Zealand teens in the '50's who murdered one of their mothers.  But this was the first truly mature work of Jackson's filmography.  He got us into the heads of these mentally unbalanced outsiders, but he never let us forget the horror of the crime which they committed.  In fact, he uses a dreamy slow motion as the two girls move toward the murder, but then switches to a jolting steady cam when the reality and ugliness of the act takes place.  This movie was also the first use of Weta Digital, which he would use to great effect on The Lord of the Rings.  The effects are very good for their day, but the important part is that Jackson uses the effects as a means, not an end.  The special effects further pull you into the insane world of the two girls.

His last pre-Lord of the Rings movie was The Frighteners.  Not only is this movie a step up in his use of digital effects, but he is able to very deftly do a tonal shift.  The beginning of the movie feels almost akin to Ghostbusters.  By the end, it has shifted into a full blown-horror movie.  And each step felt very natural to that end.

But, of course, the main reason he is on this list is for his time in Middle Earth.  Besides the wide scope, gorgeous cinematography, and fantastic acting that we find, the most important thing Jackson does is that he takes Middle Earth seriously.  He treated the film not as if he was trying to create a fantasy movie but as if he were trying re-create an actual time in history.  The costumes were worn.  The homes looked lived-in.  But most importantly, the actors seemed very real.  That is all from Peter Jackson.  And that is a rare thing.  Just look at the other big budget fantasy that came out around the same time: Dungeons and Dragons.  It is remarkable how bad that movie looks now in comparison, mostly because they treated their fantasy world literally like a joke.   Even if you look at the Star Wars prequels, you can see a lot of the actors wearing their costumes like costumes.  In Jackson's movies they wear them like honored uniforms or everyday dress.  Jackson never talked down to us.

The power, though is in his ability to convey emotion.  The Return of the King is in my top 10 movies of all time not only for its visual and technical achievements, but for its depth and wonderful catharsis.  I get chills as the Rohirim shout "Death!"  I feel my heart swell when Sam says "I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you!"  I hold on tight when he says again, "Don't you let go!"  (an aside:  It is criminal that Sean Astin did not win an Oscar for this performance)  And I well up when Aragorn says, "You bow to no one," and they all kneel.  These are just delights for the eye and ear.  They are food for the heart and soul.  Even in his lesser follow ups like King Kong, which was overlong and over-wrought, there were some truly beautiful, powerful scenes with the creature.

Peter Jackson has had an impact on film culture not seen since the heyday of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.  As of now he still has 2 more Hobbit movies to release.  And while the first one was much lighter in content, I have a feeling, the next ones are going to match his earlier masterpieces in strength and depth.

We'll see.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Trailer Time: Much Ado About Nothing

I've watched this trailer half a dozen times at least.

I love Joss Whedon as a director.

I love Shakespeare.

I love the cast.  When you see Alexis Denisof's overly caricatured performance on How I Met Your Mother, it can be forgotten what a truly heartrendingly good job he did on Angel.  His chemistry on that show with Amy Acker has lost none of its potency in this trailer.  With Agent Coulson as Leonato and Nate Fillion as Dogberry?

I am there opening night.


Summer Movie Season

We’re almost at my favorite season besides Christmas and Autumn: Summer Movie Season!

I know that the “important” movies usually come out in the fall and winter.  But most of my favorite movies come out during the big blockbuster summers.  Last year’s movies had The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises.  How will this year’s movies hold up?

Here is a list, with a few brief thoughts of my own, including on a scale of 1-5 stars my likelihood of seeing it in theaters (1 being “Not at all” 5 being “Cannot wait!”).

May 3

Iron Man 3 – I can’t wait for this one.  My hopes are high (never a good thing) that it is the best of the series (*****)

May 10

The Great Gatsby – Could be good.  It will at least be beautiful to look at (***)

May 17

Star Trek Into Darkness – I loved the first one and I hope Abrams hasn’t lost his touch (*****)

May 24

The Hangover: Part III – 1st was hysterical.  2nd was awful.  I’m willing to give it one more chance (****)
Fast and Furious 6 – This franchise can’t die.  Not a fan, though (**)
EPIC – This looks like a cross between Ferngully and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.  Pass (**)
Penguins 3D – No desire (*)
Before Midnight – Saw the 1st two and am curious about the 3rd.  Will wait for DVD (**)

Jun 7

After Earth – I would be more interested if it wasn’t a Shyamalan movie (*)
Now You See Me – The trailer sold me.  I think it could be good (***)

The Internship – Huge Vince Vaughn fan.  I’m there (****)

 Much Ado About Nothing – It’s Joss Whedon doing Shakespeare.  I would love to see this (*****)

Jun 14

Man of Steel – My hopes are way too high for this movie.  Will be there midnight (*****)
This is the End – The trailer looks awful.  Completely unfunny (*)

Jun 21
World War Z – I just don’t know.  I go back and forth on this one (***)

Monsters University – The 1st one is one of my favorite Pixar films.  I’m curious if they can recapture the magic (****)

Jun 28
White House Down – Doesn’t grab me (**)
The Heat – Could be funny.  Melissa McCarthy can bring the funny (***)

Jul 3
Despicable Me 2 – The minions are my favorite part.  But I might wait for DVD (***)
Lone Ranger – Could be good or awful.  I can’t tell.  This is the team that surprised me with the first Pirates movie (***)

Jul 12
Grown Ups 2 – 1st one was silly fun.  This looks like it too (***)
 Pacific Rim – I want to be excited about this, but I can’t for some reason.  Hope it’s good (***)

Jul 19
The Conjuring – I don’t like horror movies (*)
R.I.P.D.  – Ryan Reynolds needs a win.  Interesting plot (***)
Turbo – Like a cross between Cars and A Bug’s Life (**)

Jul 26

The Wolverine – I need to see more, but I’ll probably be there in the theater (****)
Blue Jasmine – I don’t like Woody Allen (*)

Jul 31
The Smurfs 2 – I might pick this up on DVD if I babysit my nieces (*)

Aug 2
300: Rise of An Empire – This looks like a cheap trick to cash in on the original (*)
Red 2 – I liked the first one, but will wait for DVD (**)
2 Guns – Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg?  I’m curious (**)

Aug 9
Disney's Planes – Cars carbon copy (**)
Elysium – Message movies are boring, even if they are sci-fi (*)
We're the Millers – I have a hard time getting behind the concept of hero being a drug dealer (*)

Aug 16

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters – Didn’t see the first one (*)
Kick-Ass 2 – HATED, HATED, HATED the first one (*)
The To-Do List – I love Aubrey Plaza, but this movie looks vile (*)


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Trailer Time: Iron Man 3

"Do you want an empty life or a meaningful death?"

"So why can't I sleep?"

Those are the two lines that jumped out at me.  Tony seems to be going through an existential crises.  I particularly like the shot where he, without armor, is jumping on someone with armor.

Director Shane Black said that he was trying to capture the tone of the first movie when Tony was captured in the caves.  I fully support that as a the crucible where his character is revealed.

I may have to go midnight on this one May 3rd.


Chasing Daylight

I don't like nighttime.

I know that this is not the most profound sentiment, but it is very honest.  I don't like the night.  I never have. That isn't to say that I don't find wonder in the stars or that I am in a constant state of panic when the sun goes down.  But dusk always fills me with a little sadness, just as watching a dawning sky fills me with peace.

I don't know that we were meant to lose this much sleep.  Before gaslight and electricity, I would imagine nighttime activities were kept to a minimum.  We would miss most of the evening until we arose with the sun.  But now we wake before the sun rises and we stay awake far after it has set.  

I don't know that this is a universal feeling.  I know many who consider themselves night people.  The nights can mean freedom from the day's toil and it can mean freedom to congregate and recreate.  But I think of the words from the play Henry V:

    I am a king that find thee, and I know 
    'Tis not the balm, the sceptre and the ball, 
    The sword, the mace, the crown imperial, 
    The intertissued robe of gold and pearl, 
    The farced title running 'fore the king, 
    The throne he sits on, nor the tide of pomp 
    That beats upon the high shore of this world, 
    No, not all these, thrice-gorgeous ceremony, 
    Not all these, laid in bed majestical, 
    Can sleep so soundly as the wretched slave, 
    Who with a body fill'd and vacant mind 
    Gets him to rest, cramm'd with distressful bread; 
    Never sees horrid night, the child of hell, 
    But, like a lackey, from the rise to set 
    Sweats in the eye of Phoebus and all night 
    Sleeps in Elysium; next day after dawn, 
    Doth rise and help Hyperion to his horse, 
    And follows so the ever-running year, 
    With profitable labour, to his grave: 
    And, but for ceremony, such a wretch, 
    Winding up days with toil and nights with sleep, 
    Had the fore-hand and vantage of a king. 

What Henry is talking about is how the worries of the crown weigh so heavily on the person that they cannot sleep.  And that a good night's sleep is better than all the riches of the world.  But I love the way he calls it "horrid night."  When time stretches from sleeplessness, it feels like a prolonged pain.  Too often I associate long nights with sickness, restlessness, or worry.  There were nights when my stomach was tied up in so many agonized knots that I did not think I would ever find relief.

I don't know that we were meant to lose this much sleep.  Before gaslight and electricity, I would imagine nighttime activities were kept to a minimum.  We would miss most of the evening until we arose with the sun.  But now we wake before the sun rises and we stay awake far after it has set.  

But it is more than that.  I find I can sleep very soundly during the day, but night carries with it more worries.  I don't have night terrors or the like, but there is uneasiness when the darkness of night covers us.  During the day, if I shut all the curtains, I am comforted in knowing that beyond is the light of the sun, even if I cannot see. 

In darkness is uncertainty and emptiness.  Darkness perfectly represents the void.  Many of the saints go through a period of time called "The Dark Night of the Soul."  It is a phase of their spiritual development when God removes all consolation and joy from them.  They must now set their wills on doing what is good and holy not because it feels good, but simply because it is good and holy.  I am not nearly as far advanced in my spiritual life to have experienced this advanced stage.  And yet there are nights that I reach out to God and feel only emptiness.  I look for Him, and find only darkness.  

And the night lasts so long.

But I have to remember that darkness is not a thing in itself.  It is only the absence of light.  But just because the light isn't present to me, it does not mean that it isn't there.  The sun still shines. I am only covered in the shadow of this world.  

 I think of Samwise Gamgee, when he was lost in the darkness of Mordor, where the sky was darkened by the smoke and ash from Mount Doom:

“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tower high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” 

I have to remember that the darkness is not the reality.  It only serves to remind me that I am missing out on the light.  All darkness retreats from the light, even the smallest glimmer.  "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

And I have to remind myself that the nights are not actually any longer.  It only feels that way because of the lack of peace in my soul.  But if the peace of God comes upon me, the night holds no anxieties and I can rest in deep, refreshing sleep.

And the sun will rise.  And it will set.  And it will rise again.

But not forever.

In the end, this world will pass away.  And in the world to come, the thing I have been longing for will be there.

"They will look upon his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.  Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun, for the Lord God shall give them light, and they shall reign forever and ever."  Revelation 22:4-5