Monday, March 28, 2016

New Evangelizers Post: On the Necessity of the Resurrection

I have a new article up at  

We have now come through the long lonely days of Lent to celebrate new life in Easter.
So now what?

Lent is the spiritual boot camp where we are training our souls towards greater holiness. We concentrate on the sacrificial love of God and meditate on his Passion on the cross. Catholics have many devotions to the suffering of Our Lord. Sometimes we get accused of being morbidly obsessed with guilt and suffering. And while it is fundamentally necessary to enter into the cross, the story does not stop there.

The cross must end with Resurrection.

This is difficult for many of us. None of us have experienced the full Resurrection. But all of us have suffered in this world. The cross feels more tangible to us than the Glorified Body awaiting us. As Fr. Benedict Groeschel once said, “I don’t know what it’s like to rise from the dead. But I’ve been to Calvary several times in my life already.”

It takes no faith to believe that we will suffer in this world. The faith comes in believing that the suffering end. But unlike Buddhists who believe that the most we can hope for is simply an end to our pain, we Christians are promised a whole new life.

When Christ rose from the dead, it was not merely a resuscitation. Death is the separation of the body and the soul. A resuscitation is when the soul is reunited with the mortal body. We see this all the time on medical TV shows where they do CPR. And it is also what occurred with Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, and the widow’s son. Jesus raised those last three people from the dead and their souls were reunited with their bodies. But those were not Resurrections, they were resuscitations.

What is the difference?

In a resuscitation, the reunion of body and soul is temporary because eventually the mortal body will get old, sick, and die. Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, and the widow’s son all eventually succumbed to death.

But Jesus was not resuscitated. He Resurrected.

You can read the entire article here.

Sunday, March 27, 2016


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.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Film Review: Batman v. Superman - Dawn of Justice

Sexuality/Nudity  Mature*
Violence  Acceptable**
Vulgarity  Acceptable**
Anti-Catholic Philosophy  Acceptable**

I know that I still have to get my Deadpool review up, but seeing how divided critics and audiences are on this movie, I thought this would be more timely.

As I sat in the theater as the movie began, I turned to my wife and said, "I've waited my whole life to see this movie."  As a lifelong comic book geek, I have always longed to see the great characters of the DC Universe share the big screen together.

And this movie did not disappoint.

After the opening credit sequence, Batman v. Superman picks up during the final battle in Man of Steel.  But what director Zach Snyder skillfully does is keep the camera at street level as Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) races through the chaos to his friends at the Metropolis' branch of Wayne Financial.  This scene is tense and harrowing.  Even though I saw it in the previews, the shot of Bruce running straight into the dust clouds still give me that visceral flashback to all the footage from 9/11.  And by keeping the camera at street level, Snyder visually sets up the contrast of perspectives between our main heroes:  Superman (Henry Cavill) is isolated from humanity because he is so far above and Batman is filled with fear and rage by all the damage felt below.

The events of Man of Steel loom like a large shadow over the entire film.  Congress has even called hearings regarding what to do about Superman.  Added to the mix is Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) who is filled with impotent rage at the feeling that his genius may not be a match for Superman's power.  He is central to the events that draw Batman and Superman into conflict, as well as luring in the involvement of the mysterious Diana Prince (Gal Godot) whose true identity has been revealed by all the trailers.  I do not want to speak too much more about the plot for fear of giving away some real twists and surprises.  Perhaps people smarter than me could see a lot of the twists coming.  I, however, could not and I reveled in moments of shock and surprise that I rarely feel in big budget movies.

As I mentioned above, there are a lot of critics panning this film.  I usually don't read other people's reviews before writing my own, but I was so curious as to why there was so much venom or apathy towards a movie that filled me so much geek joy.  Some of the criticisms are a matter of taste and so are unarguable.  But others I think miss the point of the Batman v. Superman.  Regardless, let us start with the movie's deficits.

1.  Chopped scenes.  They have already announced that the director's cut of the movie will be 30 minutes longer and R-Rated.  In the early scenes especially, you get the sense that what you see on the screen was a part of a larger sequence but had to be pared down for time.  Good editing shouldn't leave you with this feeling.  The more I see this in movies, the more I appreciate The Lord of the Rings series that trimmed hours and hours of footage without making it feel abbreviated

2.  Too mature.  As a kid I would have loved to have seen this movie.  But as an adult I would not let a little kid see it.  While a movie like The Avengers has a few slightly mature moments and baudy jokes, it is for the most part kid-friendly.  Batman v. Superman is not.  The dark tone is not the issue, though many critics have cited this as a problem.  For me, it was the depiction of sexuality.  It is not a huge part of the film, but it was bothersome.  There is one scene in particular where Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is in a bathtub having a conversation with Clark.  There is no actual nudity, but there may as well be.  The scene hints at such as high level of sensuality and flirts with nudity so much to the point that I would imagine a child seeing this movie would leave thinking that they had seen a naked Lois.  I would also hate to have to explain to a child why Superman is getting into a bathtub with Lois when they are not married (this pre-marital sexuality is also my major critique of Superman II)

3.  Batman kills.  One of the best things that Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy got correct is that Batman does not kill.  Even the Frank Miller comic The Dark Knight Returns Series, on which much of Batman v. Superman is based, emphasizes that Batman will not kill anyone, even the Joker.  But the Batman in this latest movie is a killer.  He usually leaves his prey alive, but he will deploy the machine guns on his Bat-vehicles to mow down the bad guys.  A killer Batman is my least favorite part of the Tim Burton Batman films and I was upset that they brought this back for the latest incarnation.

But beyond these, I think that the movie is fantastic

Even the issue of maturity is more of a choice than a problem.  If you take little kids out of the equation, then it is much less problematic.

So what is so great about this film?

1.  Best Cinematic Batman.  I know I may get some hate for this, but Ben Affleck's Batman is the best representation of the comic book Batman I have ever seen on the big screen.  This is not a knock against Michael Keaton or Christian Bale.  But Affleck's Batman is a grizzled, war-scared veteran of the war on crime; he is a hulking wall of muscle that seethes with righteous rage, and he projects a sharp intelligence.  The killing part is still very problematic, but otherwise it is like the Batman from the comic books came to life on the screen.

2.  Visual Spectacle.  Man of Steel was very much an atypical Snyder film, with its hard lighting and non-stationary camera work in physical locations rather than green screen.  In Batman v. Superman, the director melts the Man of Steel aesthetic with sometime closer to what we've seen of him in 300 and Watchmen.  Surprisingly both styles blend very well.  I love the fact that Snyder forces his actors to put on real muscle bulk.  Even in the midst of fighting CGI monsters you always have a concrete sense of the heroes' strength.  The action sequences were high-octane, visually rich moments.  Some have complained about the darkness (visual, not tonal) of the movie.  There is some truth to this because much of the film takes place at night, but it is nowhere near as murky as parts of previous superhero fare like Hulk and Superman Returns.

3.  Scale.  Batman v. Superman is without a doubt a transitional movie, which is why its subtitle is Dawn of Justice.  It bridges Man of Steel to the Justice League movies.  Many people have pointed this out as a flaw.  I don't see it that way.  I'm reminded of Obi-wan's words to Luke, "You've taken your first step into a larger world."  Perhaps it is my affinity for comic book storytelling that makes this so much palatable to me than to others.  For example, a typical Geoff Johns-written comic story would have an epic story arc that would feature one or two scenes that would plant the seeds for the next epic story arc.  The same is true of Batman v. Superman.  Some may see these scenes as unnecessary diversions.  I see them as intriguing windows into the future.

4.  Religion.  As a Catholic, you have no idea how delighted it makes me to see the most basic exercise of belief in a big summer blockbuster.  Towards the beginning as a man believes he is about to die, he prays to God to have mercy on his soul.  Later when a terrible decision is made, one listener makes the sign of the cross and prays.  Perhaps I am only a spiritually starving man cheering at cinematic breadcrumbs.  But between these and what we saw in Man of Steel, I cannot believe that this positive portrayal of faith is an accident.  Lex Luthor is one of the best movie representations of the modern anti-theist.  Superman stands in here for the concrete example of a Higher Power.  Friedrich Nietzsche said that there could not be any gods because if there were he could not stand to not be a god himself.  Luthor embodies that philosophy perfectly.  He is that mix of Nietzsche and Frankenstein that hates a world made in God's image and wants to remake it in his own.  And whoever wrote the script must have read CS Lewis, because Luthor perfectly summarize the only argument that claims to disprove God: The Problem of Pain.  And while Luthor casts his anti-theism on Superman it is important to note that Superman does not see himself as a Christ figure.  Some have criticized this film's Superman as being too angsty.  But it fits perfectly with the portrayal of a man who is hailed by the masses as a savior when he knows too well his own flaws.

5.  Emotion.  (MILD SPOILER THIS PARAGRAPH)  It should come as no shock that since Batman and Superman are heroes, their fight comes to a not-all-together-tragic end.  What stops the fight is an emotional revelation that is so basic, so simple, that I can understand why some might feel it to be corny.  But this key emotional tether is so primal that I completely bought into its resolution.  CS Lewis said that friendship arises when two people realize that they see the same truth.  That is what I felt when I watched the end of their fight.  The relationships all around were very potent and added so much nice texture to the story.

6.  Performances.  I already mentioned Affleck, but the rest of the cast is great.  Adams shows the contradictory fear and thrill of a mortal in love with a god.  Cavill's Superman is weighed down with the responsibility of every success and failure of his mission.  Jeremy Irons as Alfred is such a wonderfully touching turn, wrapped in humorous cynicism.  Godot, though she has little screen time, has great screen presence.  There are many who hate Eisenberg's portrayal of Luther and I do understand why.  It is whiney and fidgety and awkward.  Based on the trailers, I was prepared to hate it too.  But I think I understand what he was going for: he is the demasculanized nerd who thinks he knows better.  He is the internet activist "anti-bully" bully.  Like so many who were bullied by the stronger, Lex hates the strong because they are strong.  My observation of social media outrage was very much in keeping with Eisenberg's performance.   How often do we see people online attack with insane bile rather than offer something positive?

7.  Darkness to light.  (MILD SPOILERS THIS PARAGRAPH)  There are many who have said that the film is too dark.  I read an excellent review, with which I disagree, that compared the optimism of Aunt May's hero speech in Spider-Man 2 with the cynicism of Batman v. Superman.  It is true that this movie is full of angst, self-doubt, and cynicism.  Batman's mindset in much of the movie is that we have to kill Superman before he threatens all of humanity.  Superman's mindset is that he doesn't know if he can keep helping if his actions can potentially hurt others and the world turns on him.  But that is not where the movie ends.  I cannot go into much detail here for fear of spoilers.  Yet I can say that the whole point of the cynicism is to create a dramatic conflict that leads to trust.  That trust is hard-won, but because of that it feels earned and not forced.  This movie is very dark, but opens to the light.  That is why it is called Dawn of Justice.

My sense from the online community is that I am very much in the minority with my effusive praise for this film.  But I cannot help it.  Despite the flaws mentioned above, the movie cast a spell on me and I was enchanted for the entire time.

I loved this movie and I cannot wait to see it again.

5 out of 5 stars.

*Mature = the content may be objectionable to some, but it should only be viewed by someone mature enough to properly process the content
**Acceptable = the content may have a few morally questionable items, but it does not have enough immorality to make it mature or objectionable.   It does not necessarily support good morality

Friday, March 25, 2016

Incarnate Love - The Annunciation and Good Friday

The Christ Child Asleep on a Cross by William Blake

I'm sure it has happened before, but I cannot recall a time when the feast of the Annunciation (March 25th) coincided with Good Friday.  It will not happen again until the year 2157.  And yet how appropriate that the two holy days should be linked.

The Annunciation is when the Angel Gabriel came to the Virgin Mary and announced that she was chosen to give birth to the Son of God.  This is the turning point of all history: not just human history, but the history of the entire universe.  Because until that moment, Creation did not contain something within itself that it would after Mary's words: the Creator.

Yes, God is present in a special way in all things He creates, in the same way that the author of a story is present in the characters and places about which he writes.  But the Incarnation is the moment the author entered the story.  It was the beginning of our salvation.

And how appropriate that it should now fall on Good Friday.  I would imagine that when we think of the Baby Jesus, we do not immediately think of the Passion.  But if you read Matthew and Luke's Gospel, all the signs are there.  Fr. Raymond Brown wrote a very informative little book called An Adult Christ at Christmas, in which he lays out all of the foreshadowings of the Passion found at the Nativity.

Herod, the Jewish leader, wanted to kill him, just like the Sanhedrin.  The Magi bring signs of kingship to Him in the form of gifts and there is a literal sign of kingship on His cross.  He is born in Bethlehem, which means "House of Bread" and is immediately placed in a manger, which is a feeding trough for the animals.  At the Last Supper, Christ took the bread of His Body and gave it to feed the world.

So the connections to the beginning and the end are all there.  This is no wonder since He is the Alpha and the Omega.  We go from the beginning of the Silent Night to "It is finished."

But let us return even earlier, to the exact moment of Christ's conception and see the connections to His Passion.

The angel comes to Mary and brings her good news.  In the Gospel of Luke, an angel comes to comfort Jesus during His agony in the Garden.  I always like to imagine that this angel was also Gabriel, who was there to usher in the beginning of His life and prepare Him for His death.

Gabriel tells Mary that her child will be called "holy, the Son of God." (Lk 1:35) It is only after the centurion witnesses Christ's patient endurance of all the torture and hate thrown at Him that he says, "Truly this was the Son of God."  (Mk 15:39)

And of course there is the most striking similarity in the responses of Mary and Jesus to the will of the Father.  When told that she is chosen to be the Mother of God, Mary says, "Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord.  Let it be done to me according to your word."  (Lk 1:38)  And when the time comes for Christ to make His ultimate decision to stay or run away, He says to His Father, "Not my will, but Your will be done."  (Mk 14:36)

There is also much to get from the contrasts between the two events.  The angel says to Mary, "you have found favor with God." (Lk 1:30)  And on the cross Christ cries out "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?"  (Mk 15:34)  And that moment of Incarnation is when God the Son is forever bound in a special way to one of His creatures, the Virgin Mary.  And yet at the cross, when He had nothing left to give, He even gave her away as well.

But for me, what a day like today reminds me is that both the Incarnation and the Passion are part of the singular event of Salvation.  Christ was conceived in the womb of Mary so that he could be laid in the tomb of Joseph.  Someone once said of Jesus, "All men are born to live.  One man was born to die."

What today reminds me is that our Catholic faith is not one that is primarily about human beings reaching up past earthly things to only the spiritual.  Plato's philosophy was aimed in this direction.  He looked at the material world as a distraction from the spiritual things: the Forms.  Even the soul is trapped in the prison of the body, according to him.  So the goal of life is to move away from the perceptible, material things and think mainly of the spiritual, universal, abstract things.

But God does the opposite.  Our Catholic faith is primarily about God coming down form the heavens and becoming a part of the material world He created.  He does not disdain or dismiss the material world: He redeems it.  Common things like water can now cleanse the soul.  Ordinary bread and wine can be transformed into so much more.

We are human beings, not angels.  This means that we are bodily creatures and very often we respond to the concrete more than to the abstract.  It is difficult to risk your life for "humanity," but we could more easily do it for the person we love the most.  And the unlimited, infinite God became limited and concrete today so that we could understand God and ourselves better.

Pope Benedict XVI has, to my mind, the most profound understanding of why Christ had to die on the cross.  The Holy Father made clear that it was not that God the Father demanded blood and pain from His Son.  If that was the case, we would be worshipping an evil blood-god who revels in torture.  So when asked why, then, did Jesus have to die on the cross, Pope Benedict says, "Because that is the only way we would ever truly know who God is."

God is love.

And while this is true, that statement is abstract.  What does it mean?  God had to show us.

Love is the cross.  Love is giving everything away, receiving nothing in return.  His love goes all the way.  It holds nothing back.  He has nothing left to give.  We can never doubt how much God loves us because He did not withhold from us His only Beloved Son.  I can look at the cross and I can see love with my own eyes, incarnated in front of me.

And when I see who God really is and that He is love, I can also see what I am called to be.  I was given this body, this life, so that I could give it away like Christ.  "For the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." (Mk 10:45)  Today reminds me that "I have been crucified with Christ and yet I live.  And the life that I live now is not my own but Christ lives in me.  Inasmuch as I live in the flesh, I live in the faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given Himself up for me."  (Gal 2:19-2)

And of course I fail at this often.  But just as Christ fell on the way to the cross and got up again and again, so must I.

I was incarnated in the womb of my mother and I also have a destiny to pick up my cross every day.

So do you.

We only have one life on this Earth.  Today reminds us that Jesus had that same one shot at an earthly life.

Imagine you knew that you only had 33 years on this Earth before you died.  How would that affect you?  I think that many of us would think something akin to "I only have 33 years.  How much can I get out of life?"

Jesus Christ only had 33 years from the moment of the Annunciation to Good Friday.  And He knew it.  And yet when you read the Gospels, you see a man who looked at that narrow window of life and said:

"I only have 33 years.  How much can I give?"

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Film Flash: Batman v. Superman - Dawn of Justice

The two titular heroes, Batman and Superman, are confronting each other, with the film's logo behind them, and the film's title, credits, release date and billing below.

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

Loved, loved, loved this movie.  Best film translation of the DCU (though not for kids).

5 out of 5 stars

Divine Mercy Novena Begins Tomorrow

A reminder that the Divine Mercy Novena begins tomorrow and continues through until Mercy Sunday.  You can find the novena here:

This has been a powerful and profound devotion in my life and many graces have come to me through a devotion to Jesus' Divine Mercy.

The older I get, the one truth that keeps burrowing itself deeper and deeper into my heart is that I am in great need of God's mercy.

I look forward to joining all of you in spiritual communion through this novena.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

New Evangelizers Post: The Lord's Prayer Part 5 - Dependence on God

I have a new article up at  

Did you ever wonder why Jesus instructed us to ask for “daily” bread? Why not ask for a lifetime supply of bread? Couldn’t God do that? Couldn’t God by His infinite power simply provide for all of our material needs?

And material needs we have. Because we are creatures who exist in bodies, these bodies are in constant need: food, water, shelter, fire, etc. We are in a constant state of neediness.

Why would a God, whose bounty is infinite, leave us in such a state that we are constantly worried about our material well-being? Why doesn’t he make us more comfortable in this world?

I think the answer is in the question.

Prosperity in this world is perilous to the soul. Christ never said that it was a sin to have wealth, but he always warned of its dangers. Yes, you can be rich and be a saint. But there seems to be a higher degree of difficulty in achieving holiness when you have prosperity.

There are two principles to keep in mind here.

The first is that this world is not our home.

You can read the entire article here.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Trailer Time: Ben-Hur

I don't know, but this seems like an even more pointless remake than the Ghostbusters movie.  And they seem to be really downplaying the religious component of the movie.  The original title of the novel is Ben-Hur: a Tale of the Christ.

The race looks like it could be exciting, but why would you want to try to step into Charlton Heston's sandals.


Monday, March 14, 2016

Lack of Updates (part VII)

Dear Reader,

Thank you again for your incredible patience.  I know I have been lax in getting updates in.  The family member who has been having health problems took a sudden turn last Monday evening and was taken back to the ER.

Praise God we hope things have stabilized a bit and we are hopeful that we can avoid more setbacks.  But when we are not at the hospital, I am at school directing a play that opens this weekend and I am grading projects for the end of the academic quarter.

I am hopeful that I will be able to get back on our regularly scheduled blogging program.

Again, thank you for all of your prayers and support.

-Catholic Skywalker

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Sunday Best: TV Dramas of All Time #6 - Fargo


There are many people who would place the movie Fargo on their lists of greatest films of all time.  They would point to the sharp writing, the stunning cinematography, the fantastic performances, and the thematic richness.

I am not one of those people.  When it comes to Fargo the movie, I am lukewarm at best.  I can understand how people can see all of the above positive qualities in the movie, but it mostly goes over my head.  The film, to me, is to meandering and empty of any real heart or depth.  So when they announced a Fargo TV show, I had little to no interest.  It wasn't until a good friend of my, who I will call here the FullMetal Alchemist, spoke to me about the technical achievement of the show.  So I checked it out.

That first season of Fargo is one of the greatest things I have ever seen on television.

All of the hyperbole that people attach to the film should be applied to this show.  You may think it strange that a show with only 2 seasons under its belt should rank so highly.  But trust me when I say that it is well deserved.

Each season of Fargo is its own story only loosely connected to each other.  The first season centers around Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman), a sad-sack, put-upon insurance salesman who has a chance encounter with a deadly hitman Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thorton).  Lester has just been humiliated by an old bully from high school.  Malvo offers to kill the bully for Lester.  What follows is a brilliant character study and morality tale.  Also key to this story is Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) and Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks) who work together to set right an injustice.  The second season takes place at the end of the '70's where State Trooper Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson) tries to solve a murder in the middle of a Mid-West mob war.

This show has some of the best television acting you will see.  Freeman and Thorton gives the best performances of their careers, and that is saying a lot.  Watching Lester's transformation is stunning.  And Thorton completely owns the Malvo character and becomes one of the scariest TV villains I have seen.  Every look and gesture is packed with malice and danger.  Tolman and Hanks, as well as the entire supporting cast, give it everything that it's worth.

The directing is also beautiful.  Even when the acts on screen are atrocious, the directing finds the right way to let it pierce your heart and mind.  So many movies today feel lazy in terms of visual storytelling.  Fargo pushes the limits and creates a true cinematic experience on the small screen.

But the thing that breaks this into the stratosphere are the writing and the themes therein.

The writers have been able to craft 2 seasons of stories that build the tension to an almost unbearable level.  I remember towards the end of the first season I was so emotionally involved that I shouted an expletive at the TV screen, as if that would change the outcome.  I felt real panic and fear in my stomach for the characters.

But beyond that, Fargo is ultimately about morality.  Good and evil are clearly on display in this show.  Nowadays when it is more cutting edge and "artistic" to embrace either nihilism or relativism, Fargo plants its flag firmly on the side of traditional morality.  Not only that, but the show is ultimately a testament to the goodness and value of ordinary people, ordinary love, and ordinary life.  Whereas most shows mock the people in fly-over country, the people of Fargo have many dimensions.  Some embrace evil.  Others turn to goodness.  Things aren't always easy or simple, but the choice between the two is clear and the show does an amazing job of making goodness look and feel attractive.  There is no need to give the heroes of the show a dark backstory in order to create internal conflict.  Our heroes are just decent people trying their best to be good in a violent world.

"The Crocodile's Dilemma"
The pilot episode brought all of the show's strength at once.  It is incredible who quickly we identify with Lester as he is unjustly bullied and reviled by his wife, his family, his work, and his neighbors.  At once we empathize with him.  And even when he makes horrible decisions, our empathy lingers for a long time, maybe longer than it should.  But the story that unfolds begins slowly but you cannot take your eyes off it.  I never thought I would say that Billy Bob Thorton was charismatic, but I'll be darned if he did not command the screen.  And once that first episode is done, if you are not all in you never will be.


"Buridian's Ass"
Like a lot of TV shows, the beginnings and endings are strong, but the middles sometimes suffer.  Unfortunately Fargo is no exception.  The writers placed in the story an ultimately pointless subplot involving a millionaire named Milos (Oliver Platt) that finally came to its rather unconnected conclusion in this episode.  That storyline was meant as a tether to the movie Fargo, but it did little to further the story and it was the first time the show really felt like it was treading water, waiting for the good stuff.

"Morton's Fork"
The entire first season builds to this final confrontation.  I cannot write too much without spoiling it, except to say that it is an edge-of-your-seat episode from start to finish with such a thematically rich finally that I was filled with an immense sense of satisfaction.


I was worried that Season 2 would lose the greatness, but it was just as good.  I am looking forward to the next season.  While the show sometimes gets a bit too graphic with their depictions of sex and violence, it is not nearly as bad as some other basic cable shows.  It is so refreshing to find a show that is edgy, violent, and thrilling while at the same time being ultimately wholesome in nature.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Trailer Time: Ghostbusters

So the Ghostbusters remake has a trailer:

I am trying to be open-minded, but here are a few thoughts I had:

1.  A Tough Act To Follow.
No matter what, this movie is going to suffer by comparison to the original.  That already puts them at an unfair disadvantage.  Having said that, if you are going to try and fill Babe Ruth's shoes, you better knock it out of the park.

2.  Paul Feig is no Ivan Reitman.
I have become less and less enthusiastic about Paul Feig sense of humor.  He lets awkward jokes play out way too long and doesn't seem to understand that brevity is the soul of wit.  Something tells me this movie is going to feel a bit bloated.

3.  Gross Does Not Equal Funny.
The slime in the original Ghostbusters was gross.  But if you remember, you never see Venkman get slimed.  In the new one, slime is essentially ghost-puke.  I am not sure how that is funnier.  But I think that this is the level of humor that we will deal with.

4.  Caricature is not Character.
The actors in both the original and the remake had a significant background in sketch comedy.  But the original Ghostbusters felt like tangible characters.  From what I saw in the trailer, these new Ghostbusters feel like some kind of Saturday Night Live parody of Ghostbusters.  I obviously could be wrong, but they seem to be playing personalities, not persons.  If that's all you have, then there can be no strong emotional connection.  Think about Winston and Ray's conversation about judgment day or Venkman saying, "See you on the other side, Ray."  Those moments have weight because though they were often silly, the Ghostbusters felt real.  I'm not getting that from these new ones.

5.  What is the Point of Ghostbusters without a Venkman?
Everyone in the original Ghostbusters was great.  But let's be honest: it was Bill Murray's show.  But beyond his comedic genius, Venkman served an important story function: he was they guy who knew that this story was silly.  He was the pressure release valve for the audience.  And he made Ghostbusting cool.  Look at the characters in this new one: 3 geeks and a tough chick.  Not one of them appears to be trying to ascend the Murray throne. Maybe that's intentional to avoid the unflattering comparison.  But again, if they wanted to avoid that, they shouldn't have made the movie in the first place.

Anyway, those are my initial thoughts.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

New Evangelizers Post: The Lord's Prayer Part 4 - Surrender to the Father

I have a new article up at  

“Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
At one time I was contemplating the priestly and religious life. I considered what it would be like to take on the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. I remember having a conversation with someone at the time who asked if I could handle a life with no or little material possessions and never having physical intimacy. I said that that might be a struggle. But the real problem for me would have been the obedience.

Growing up was not an overly rebellious child. I did not act out against my parents in ways beyond the typical teenage tropes. But I will say that, as my mother puts it, I marched to the beat of a different drum. Or to put it more plainly: I was weird. When I became obsessed with Billy the Kid, I wore toy six-shooters wherever I went in public, even when my parents took me shopping (I should mention I was older than you are probably imagining). Once at a junior high dance while everyone else was acting normally, I decided to start a game of tag with my friends instead. When my mother insisted that I didn’t wear sneakers to go see The Nutcracker, I put on dress shoes: one brown one and one black one.

My point is that I very much like to do things my way and in my time. I don’t think that I am unique in this, but doing simply because I am told has never been my thing. That is why the thought of religious life was such a challenge. In my studies of the saints, they would often be told to do things by their superiors that were downright stupid. But they would have to obey.

I remember reading the story of one saint in a convent who had a nun in higher authority who did not like her. So, the superior ordered her to sit on a table while the older superior nun cleaned the kitchen. The sitting nun was forbidden to explain that she had been ordered to sit and do nothing under the constraint of obedience. When other nuns walked by they saw a scene of what appeared to be a young, able-bodied woman watching uncaringly at her much elder fellow sister humbly laboring. The older nun wanted to make the younger nun look badly and wanted to make herself look humble and selfless.

This story filled me with indignation. I don’t think I could endure such a shaming. But the young nun who went on to become a saint burned with charity for the older nun. She prayed for her, not in a judgmental way, but in a sincere desire to deliver her from her false humility. And the saintly nun was grateful to the Lord for the opportunity to exercise obedience.

When evaluating someone from the religious life for possible canonization for sainthood, they look at how they followed the vow of obedience. If there is a case of unrepentant disobedience to a superior, the cause of canonization is thrown out. This is how seriously obedience is taken.

But why? Are we not meant to think for ourselves and choose for ourselves? Is that not why God gave us a free will?This objection makes a great deal of sense. That is, it makes a great deal of sense if we ignore the reality of Original Sin.

Because of Original Sin, our nature has been broken. Our hearts and souls are corrupted, not beyond redemption, but corrupted nonetheless. I am turned inward and begin to worship my own ego, the self. I place myself on the throne where God should sit.
If my compass is broken, how can I expect it to lead me in the right direction? If my heart is broken, how can following it get me where I need to go?

As I said, were are not completely depraved as John Calvin thought. We still are made in God’s image, though the imaged has been scarred. And we have His voice in us through the presence of the conscience. But the draw to selfish, rather than Godly, ends is often too strong.

If you tell a child to do whatever he or she wants at all times, do you think that child will grow to be a happy adult? Probably not. Because children need guidance from those who are wiser. As adults we think we are the wise ones, but we must remember Wisdom Itself is with God alone.

And so we have to give over our will to God. We must surrender.

You can read the entire article here.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Thoughts on Oscars 2016

First of all, the winner of our annual Oscar Game is....

Nicole K.

I believe that this is the 3rd or 4th time in a row she has won.  She had a commanding win with 25 points.  I came in second with 10.  So congratulations to Nicole who will win a prize (contact me and we will arrange it).

And now, on to my thoughts.

1.  Low Ratings.
I said on my blog a few weeks ago: Here are the top 10 money-makers of 2015:  Star Wars, Jurassic World, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Inside Out, Furious 7, Minions, The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2, The Martian, Cinderella, Spectre.  Only 2 of them are nominated for Best Picture.  This means that this will be a low-rated Oscars because there are very few films to root for.
It turns out that I was correct.  This was one of the lowest rated Oscars in years.  I am convinced the reason wasn't the ceremony itself, but the fact that few of the big money-makers (especially Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens), were not nominated.  So the night was a lot of "who cares?"

2.  Not Timeless
A question that should be asked about the categories, especially Best Picture, is "Will people remember this decades from now?"  I mean, what are the timeless movies?  I have not seen Spotlight, but I can guarantee people will have trouble remember that this movie won Best Picture in 5 years.  People would remember Mad Max or The Martian winning.

3.  L.A. Lecutres
What is it about winning an award for make-believe that makes people think that we really need their lectures on how to live?  Maybe I've missed it, but I can't remember a Super Bowl winner looking at the camera and saying, "I'm so grateful we won and stop using non-rechargable batteries!"  At the Oscars we were told who not to vote for, told that sex changes are "gender CONFIRMATION surgery," we are ruining the planet with climate change, and that Pope Francis needs to fix the Church so that it reaches Hollywood's impecable moral standards.

4.  Actresses and Age
Brie Larson is a fantastic actress.  I did not see Room, but I heard she was excellent in it and so she won at age 26.  But this got me thinking.
I tried to compile a list of the 25 Best Actresses of All Time, but I kept coming to a roadblock for a lot of actresses in that they had very few notable performances.  Not only that, most of them were from their youth.  As they get older, they tend to work less and less (Meryl Streep is a notable exception).  
So I went and looked something up.  In the last 30 years, 10 actresses in their 20's have won Best Actress Oscars (Marlee Matlin, Jodie Foster (counted twice for her 2 wins), Gwyneth Paltrow, Charlize Theron, Hillary Swank, Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman, Jennifer Lawrence, and Brie Larson)
In the entire history of the Oscars, only one man has ever won a Best Actor Oscar in his 20's (Adrian Brody).
I'm not sure what this means, if anything.  It's just an observation.

5.  Mad for Max
I was very happy that Mad Max won as many awards as it did.  But I find it so strange that a movie that won so many awards for such a rich visual experience should not give the award for directing to the main architect of that experience.  Of the nominees, Mad Max was clearly the Best Picture.  But we have our Hollywood tastemakers to guide us.  Then again, maybe I should think about it this way: Mad Max got beaten by a movie with Batman, the Hulk, Sabertooth, and Dr. Manhattan.

Those are my initial thoughts?

What are yours?

Below are my tweets of the evening.  (start at the bottom and go up for chronological order)

  1. CS Lewis: "Whatever is not eternal is eternally out of date." I can't help thinking of this quote after watching
  2. I have not seen Spotlight so I cannot comment on its quality. But I doubt most people will remember it winning 5 years from now
  3. Spotlight's total box office is less than Batman made in 3 days... In 1989 (and that's not adjusted for inflation)

  4. Nothing like ending a tedious evening with Hollywood lecturing Holy Mother Church about the exploitation of children

  5. "Mad Max is such a visually amazing film it deserves so many awards" "What about Best Director?" "... I don't understand the question."
  6. Morriconne's score for the Mission is one of the most beautiful film scores ever and it didn't win
  7. This is Morriconne's first Oscar? Are you kidding? John Williams should have won, but still this is cool
  8. If they had done a song and performance like that when Roman Polanski won his Oscar...
  9. I don't think I'm going to make it to the end... Too... Bored...
  10. I can't believe we lost Spock, Saruman, Snape, and Robert Loggia in the same year.

  11. When they say "coming up, performances by..." It sounds more like a threat than anything else
  12. "This Oscar is going home in a Civic" line of the night

  13. Mark Rylance just beat out Judge Dredd, Batman, Bane, and the Hulk
  14.  In reply to 
    : Some disgruntled animator got on Wikipedia really quickly ” so wrong, but so funny
  15. Does anyone else find this performance icky?
  16. Is anyone else thinking about the opening to Pitch Perfect 2 right now?
  17. Pete Doctor gets the award for best acceptance speech of the night (so far)
  18. In my head, Joy just took control because Inside Out won

  19. Okay, I admit it was cheesy, but I felt like a little kid seeing the droids on stage talking about John Williams
  20. Psylocke is presenting
  21. I know, I know I'm a fanboy saying this, but The Force Awakens should have won
  22. They put a digital beard on Damon for The Martian?
  23. I know there is a difference between sound mixing and sound editing, but I'm too lazy to look it up
  24. Captain America presenting another award for Mad Max
  25. "Coming up, music from The Wknd and Lady Gaga" How is that an incentive to not switch channels for 30 min
  26. Sabertooth and the voice of Ms. Marvel gave Mad Max another award
  27. The Human Torch and someone from Doctor Strange are presenting
  28. The bear needs to win
  29. The Collector and Elektra are presenting
  30. Now the Mad Max winners for makeup are up in a skybox. The next winners will be coming from across the street
  31.   Retweeted
    I watched Room, and felt cheated. Where was Tommy Wiseau
  32. I hope this means Mad Max will win more awards besides the technical
  33. 2 in a row for Mad Max. Why did they put them so far back in the audience?
  34. Mad Max won for best costumes. It looks like the designer for the costumes from her personal wardrobe
  35. I thought the screenplay for The Big Short was terrible but I knew it would win. It makes the voters feel smart
  36. I wish you knew which awards were up next so that you knew the times you could do a quick power nap

  37. Didn't see Danish Girl, but Vikander was great in Ex Machina. So if she doesn't win for that, I'm okay with this win
  38. "Gender reassignment surgery" is now "gender confirmation surgery?" When did that happen?
  39. The worst part about this performance isn't the singing. It's the realization I'm going to have to sit through all the nominees
  40. "People complain the Oscars are too long" "Let's add musical numbers!"
  41. Unless you follow Hollywood politics, most people would have no idea what the deal was with Stacy Dash
  42. Why did The Big Short win for writing? Because no one wanted to admit that they couldn't follow the confusing jargon
  43. That might be the funniest monologue I've heard in awhile. Chris Rock is a great host so far
  44. Funny and insightful joke about separating male female actors by Chris Rock
  45. Wow! Chris Rock is hitting hard against
  46. In the opening montage, should you show clips from movies that weren't nominated but are better than the nominees