Friday, July 29, 2005

The Last Samurai

Ever feel like this picture looks? Dead inside, unsure of why God put you on this earth? Sometimes I do. In the end, I hope just as the narrator hoped that Nathan Algren (Cruise's character) found peace, purpose, and life. I want that too!

I don't have anything deep or long to say about this movie. Just a couple of thoughts...

First, a quote from Algren's journal:

"Winter, 1877. What does it mean to be Samurai? To devote yourself
utterly to a set of moral principles. To seek a stillness of your mind. And to
master the way of the sword."

I seek this in my Christian walk. In the movie Algren realizes that the word Samurai means "to serve". So I ask myself every day what does it mean to serve (be Samurai). To devote myself to the disciplines of the Christian life in my heart. To wait on God with unnatural stillness. And to master the way of God's Word (Bible, His still small voice).

As you can see I like that quote. I also like the Seven Principles of the Samurai listed on the DVD which I will print here...Yes they are Bushido which is somewhat eastern religion but I think you will agree that there are some great Biblical points in there! Especially for us Christian Men. I actually liken it more to Chivalry, the old Knights of Europe code...

1. Gi - Honesty and Justice:
Be acutely honest throughout your dealings with all people. Believe in justice, not FROM other people, but FROM yourself. To the true Samurai, there are no shades of gray in the question of honesty and justice...There is only right and wrong.

2. Rei - Polite Courtesy
Samurai have no reason to be cruel. They do not need to prove their strength. A Samurai is courteous even to his enemies. Without this outward show of respect, we are nothing more than animals.

A Samurai is not only respected for his strength in battle, but also by his dealings with other men. The true strength of a Samurai becomes apparent during difficult times.

3. Yu - Heroic Courage (I love this one)
Rise up above the masses of people who are afraid to act. Hiding like a turtle in a shell is not living at all. A Samurai must have heroic courage. It is absolutely risky. It is dangerous. It is living life completely, fully, wonderfully. Heroic courage is not blind, it is intelligent and strong.

4. Meiyo - Honor
A true Samurai has only one judge of honor, and that is himself. Decisions you make and how these decisions are carried out are a reflection of whom you truly are...You cannot hide from yourself.

5. Jin - Compassion
Through intense training the samurai becomes quick and strong. He is not as other men. He develops a power that must be used for the good of all. He has compassion. He helps his fellow man at every opportunity. If an opportunity does not arise. He goes out of his way to find one.

6. Makoto - Complete Sincerity
When a Samurai has said he will perform an action, it is as good as done. Nothing will stop him from completing what he has said he will do. He does not have to "give his word," he does not have to "promise." - Speaking and doing are the same action.

7. Chu - Duty and Loyalty
For the Samurai having done some "thing" or said some "thing," he knows he owns that "thing." He is responsible for it. And all the consequences that follow. A Samurai is immensely loyal to those in his care. To those he is responsible for, he remains fiercely true.

Wow...I'd love to be friends with men like that...I'd love to BE a man like that!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Filipino Hockey Player?

I know this has NOTHING to do with movies and if the polls are right you don't care one bit about hockey. (Truth is I have writers block on the movie I'm doing right now.) But I just got back from playing pick-up Roller Hockey at lunch today and I felt like a real player like this guy.

This is Richard Park he's about my height 5'11" (I'm 5'9), weight 190 (most of mine is fat), and he's of Asian descent (Korean, I'm Filipino). Oh, and he shoots right handed, which is rare in the NHL. Thing is he's a real hockey player...But I felt like him today!

I scored 2 goals and had 1 assist and I had many scoring chances as well as setting up a few. One of the goals was particularly sweet...

I took a pass as I was coming down the middle of the rink, there was one defender in front of me who is really good. I stick handled around him to the left, blocked his stick with my right leg as he was trying to poke the puck away, and took a sharp turn right behind him. I then had nothing between me and the goalie but about 6 feet of air! In stride I took a forehand shot to the upper gloveside corner of the net right over the goalies glove. Oh, it was fantastic!

So if the NHL ever decides to totally get rid of defense, referees, and puts 15 year old goalies who play too deep in the net I'm ready! Gretzky was the Great One, Mario Lemieux was the Magnificent One, Sidney Crosby has been hailed the Next One, I can be the Filipino Wan...I know it makes no sense...I'm just giddy. There's just something about Hockey that...MovesMe!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Quick Word on Movie Reviews

Scarecrow was looking for a brain; Tinman a heart. When watching movies is the brain more important or the heart?

I think the overwhelming response to this question in our culture and the "Age of Reason" is the brain. For whatever reason my observation is that we prefer facts, figures, control to feelings, emotion, and ambiguity.

This point is so evident in the Movie Reviews I read. Most contain somewhat interesting information like this movie is about love, family, and honor. (That barely scratches the surface for me.) Also, I find helpful information about the films content to help me judge if I want to see it or not (ie Sex Scenes, Vulgar Themes).

Most though contain a listing of facts about the movie. Where it was filmed, the inconsistencies of the story to the book, and my personal favorite (insert sarcasm here) what the Producer/Director/Writer should have done better. Precious few (critics and movie goers alike) do more than criticize the movie. I fall into the same trap!

The problem with this is we miss the movie's soul (if it has one not all do). We miss a possibly life changing message that only comes from an emotional experience. We miss a chance to connect with other human beings that are trying to portray their point of view through the art of movie making. We miss the chance to feel.

And maybe that's why we like factual and critical reviews. Maybe that's why we like our rational brains more than our hearts. Because it's hard to feel, it's hard to be vulnerable as a movie critic or movie watcher. If you don't believe me look at the question we normally ask after a movie is over. "What did you think about the movie?" versus "How did you feel about the movie?"

One author writing about something else wrote that you can't get to know a cat by dissecting it. You'll just get to know a bunch of facts like it's spleen weighed 1.5 ounces. But you won't get to know it's fun-loving spirit or cute purr. I'd love to say more but that's my Quick Word...

My wife and I, invite you not only to dissect the movies and get to know a bunch of facts about them but to let them speak to you. Then come and blog with us about it...

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Village

"GO and make disciples of all nations" - Jesus of Nazareth [emphasis mine]

After I saw The Village I talked about it with a few other Christians, who hadn't seen the movie. I described the premise of the movie: a group of people, who after experiencing some traumatic events in the "real world," built an idealic village and secluded themselves in a nuturing community. The almost universal response was, "Oh, that is my dream."

I have to say, that in my heart of hearts, I am the same way. Just as depicted in this scene, the young men are running towards the safety and security of the village. I, too, tend to want to run towards seclusion...away from people, circumstances, and tragedy. Yet Jesus, our master and commander, says "GO," not stay. So I run towards sharing how this movie MovedMe.

FEAR vs. LOVE - Why did the Villagers leave the outside world? Because of fear. Traumatic events in each of the original villager's lives led them to band together and create Covington Village. Ironically, however, they had to manufacture more fear to keep everyone inside the village... fear of unknown monsters and fear of the color red.

Personally, fear also drives me to want to isolate myself and my family. I didn't have the greatest past (pre-Christianity). I never want to be tainted by that lifestyle again, so I don't find myself hanging out much with non-Christians. Yet Jesus says go. Fear also drives me to shun meaningful fellowship with believers, because Christians in my past have hurt me deeply. Jesus still says go. Fear of our public school system and the outside world directs me to want to home school our first son or send him to Christian private school. I want to make this decision without regard to his actual needs or God's call. Again Jesus says go...

On the other hand, Ivy is motivated by love. Love propels her to brave the monsters and unkown in order to reach the towns in search of medicine to heal her beloved Lucius. A blind woman, she is the last person anyone would send, but her father rightly discerns, "She is more capable than most in this village. She is led by love." In the same vein, Paul of Tarsus told his disciple Timothy, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." (1 Tim 1:7)

Love drives me to venture out into the non-Christian world; for we, as Christians, have the Light and we must shine it in a dark and weary world. Love motivates me to engage in small groups, because, like Jesus, I want to love with more abandon. Love has given my wife and I the courage to follow God's leading to put our son in public school this coming fall, realizing our main reasoning for putting him in an alternative school situation was rooted in fear. Jesus says go...

The major theme of Fear vs. Love hit me rather hard while watching this movie and prompted me to think differently about my life. I realized that with my fears, I have created my own private Covington, one where I was in a "Christian" cacoon. I need to break free. So we are boldly trying to do so, while at the same time clinging tightly to 1 John 4:18, part of which says, "perfect love drives out fear."

Additionally, there were a couple of minor themes from the movie that impacted me.

SIN INSIDE - In creating Covington, the Villagers ran from the sins which had tainted their lives and caused them pain, but they found that sin followed them. Sin is inside. They ran from murder, yet it followed them (Noah murdered animals and Lucius). The leader of the group, Edward Hunt (Willam Hurt), had adulterous thoughts towards Alice Hunt (Sigourney Weaver) that he was barely able to contain. And of course there was the lying and fear-mongering that took place to keep all the children from wanting to leave Covington.

Sin is not something I can run from. It wars inside me, which is why I need Jesus and the cleansing he brings daily. Paul says, "Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 7:24-25a NLT).

MAN UP - According to my wife, Linda, the porch scene where Ivy Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix) finally declare their love is one of the most beautiful romantic scenes on film. I've provided the lines for you below. What I learned is that as a man, my tendency is to think loving things in my head about Linda, but not say them. I NEED to say them!

Ivy Walker: When we are married, will you dance with me? I find dancing very agreeable. Why can you not say what is in your head?

Lucius Hunt: Why can you not stop saying what is in yours? Why must you lead, when I want to lead? If I want to dance I will ask you to dance. If I want to speak I will open my mouth and speak. Everyone is forever plaguing me to speak further. Why? What good is it to tell you you are in my every thought from the time I wake? What good can come from my saying that I sometimes cannot think clearly or do my work properly? What gain can rise of my telling you the only time I feel fear as others do is when I think of you in harm? That is why I am on this porch, Ivy Walker. I fear for your safety before all others. And yes, I will dance with you on our wedding night.

FINAL THOUGHT - There is a scene in the movie where Edward Walker, the leader, says to Lucius Hunt, "You are fearless in a way that I shall never know." You see, Lucius constantly wanted to venture outside the village...without fear. Edward led the people to hide...motivated by fear. I want to be like Lucius!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Flight of the Phoenix

"I think a man only needs one thing in life. He just needs someone to love. If you can't give him that, then give him something to hope for. And if you can't give him that, just give him something to do. "

I know, I know you were waiting for the Village weren't ya? Well it's on it's way...I'm not kidding. I have a day job so it took me a week to write it. It's with my gorgeous MoveMe partner (aka my wife!) I think it will be ready in the next day or two.

On a whim we rented this movie. It has Eowyn (Miranda Otto) and one of our favorite actors Giovanni Ribisi, as well as Dennis Quaid. It was pretty good. Didn't move me but I really liked this line quoted above.

There really is something about us men...if we don't have something to do, something to really sink our teeth into...we go nuts. At least I do. Do anything futile for any length of time. Trust me you'll go loco! One of my favorite author's said [paraphrase] I wanna do something in this life worthy of the God I serve...or something like that it's late.

The Village...coming soon. If you haven't seen it go rent'll knock your socks off. Man what am I Richy Cunningham...yikes!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Lemony Snicket's: A Series of Unfortunate Events

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)

My wife, Linda, made this Yellow cake with Lemon Custard filling and Lemon frosting the other day. She calls it the Lemony Snicket's: A Series of Unfortunate Events cake. It looks like a disaster, but MAN did it taste great!

That's exactly how we felt about the movie Lemony Snicket's: A Series of Unfortunate Events. The first time we watched it, we thought it was REALLY bizarre and off the wall, but in the end we felt something...a good something. All in all, it MovedMe (and Linda). This is what we got out of it. I hope after we describe how it tasted to us that you too will appreciate it and at the same time see something of the heart of God towards His children.

WHAT'S GOING ON HERE ANYWAY? - Klaus says it best. After the Baudelaire children's parents have been killed, and they get sent to that ogre of an uncle (Olaf), who locks them up in a dank room, Klaus says, "Didn't they [his parents] plan for us?" Isn't this the type of question we ask when life takes a turn for the worse? What is the first thing that runs through your head when tragedy strikes? What are your thoughts when you hear that a loved one is sick or dying, you've lost a job, or your safety-espousing aunt is consumed by leeches? Many times I start thinking, "Woe is me!" I hate that about myself. I begin doubting my Heavenly Father. I wonder... "Is God holding out on me?" or "Does He really know what He's doing?"

The answer is revealed toward the end of the movie. The Baudelaire children have been through seemingly horrific events, nobody is sure where Count Olaf is, and they are standing in the charred remains of their once majestic home. A letter, sent long ago by their parents, arrives, giving hope and clarity to the 3 weary offspring. It says, "At times the world can seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe us when we say there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough. And what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events, may, in-fact be the first steps of a journey." In other words, things aren't as bad as they seem. We, too, are called to open the eyes of our hearts (REALLY search), and to discover that God's not holding out on us... He's refining us. Big difference! It's a journey.

When things get tough and I question God's motives towards me, I have to remind myself that He has a purpose and a plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11).

WE NEED EACH OTHER - I really relate to the Baudelaire children, and not just cause they dress funny, but because something evil is trying to steal their inheritance from them. Remember John 10:10 (kill, steal, destroy)? Count Olaf embodies Satan's assault on believers. He wants nothing more than to have us miserable, in despair, the opposite of joyous. So he subtly attacks. What do we do?

We as Christians must band together as the Baudelaire children did. Just as each child's gifts and talents (Violet - inventing, Klaus - Encyclopedic knowledge, Sunny - biting) helped them out of quite a few binds, so we as the Body of Christ must bring our unique gifts to help each other in this battle against the flesh, the world, and the devil. We needn't worry about the fact that blood doesn't connect us. As Klaus said, "Have you noticed that none of our relatives are related to us?" And sometimes we hook up with peculiar people like Aunt Josephine. People like her seem totally off their rocker, but man, don't they sometimes have a good word for us? (Remember all the stuff that happens in the house during the storm that she somewhat predicted?)

Again, back to the letter the parents (and God) writes, "take care of each other with kindness, and bravery, and selflessness" also "as long as you have each other, you have family, and you are home." Acts 2:42 says "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." Amen.

SANCTUARY - Just one more quick insight and then it's your turn, Ok? Sanctuary. Throughout even the toughest trials the Baudelaire children face, they are able to find sanctuary. Snicket's narrates, "Sanctuary... Is a word which here means a small, safe place in a troubling world. Like an oasis in a vast desert or an island in a stormy sea." I don't know about you but I need me some of that stuff! I find it wave watching at my favorite spot in Shell Beach, CA. I sometimes find it listening to the lyrics of a song on my way to work alone in my car. I find it wherever and whenever I have the clarity to ask God to meet me. I need Him, because bombs are going off in the UK, my first son will be starting kindergarten in the fall, my wife needs a leader in our home, etc. Sanctuary...Not to escape, but to recharge and fight on! God is my refuge and my strength... He takes me under His wings.

FINAL THOUGHTS - Again, Klaus says it best (does he have the best lines or what?) over and over again, "Nothing happens by coincidence" and "These things just don't happen." He's right. Whatever I, you, or we are going through, it's happening for a reason. God, who loves us deeply, has an awesome plan! I can't wait to find out what it is! Let's journey together. I think we'll find He has an amazing way of making sweet lemonade out of seemingly sour events.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Tribute to THE LORD OF THE RINGS Trilogy

I have a dilemma. I can't start this Blogspot without talking about my favorite movie(s), The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. On the other hand I can't do the movies justice, there just isn't enough room on any Blog page!

So the only compromise I can come up with is to offer this tribute and open it up to any of you out there that feel the same way I do...That Wizards, Hobbits, Dwarves, Elves, and Kings and Queens speak to your heart. John Eldredge wrote in Waking the Dead that these stories round out truth for us like facts and figures just can't (my paraphrase).

So bring it on...This blog is for you! Let's talk about how Frodo symbolizes sacrificial Christ-like living. Or how Aragorn's journey to becoming the King of Gondor is so much like our journey as men to step up and lead.

One of my favorite questions is which character (above) do you most relate to in the story and why?

Can't wait to see whatcha got!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

First Entry

Hi! I was born Ariel Patrick Garcia Zalamea. For obvious reasons I go by Patrick (Think The Little Mermaid) although Ariel does mean Lion of God which I REALLY like.

Anyhow, this is my little spot in CyberSpace (aka Blog). I hope you enjoy yourself. I'll be sharing my thoughts on how certain movies Moved Me or didn't. I believe God speaks to His children through His Written Word (the Bible), The Holy Spirit, Nature (Beauty), Fairy Tales, Songs, Poetry, and yes Movies! All we, as believers have to do is open the eyes of our redeemed hearts.

I still believe that we need to "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." (Prov 4:23) So I include ScreenIt in my links section to guard yourself from some of the life sucking movies that are out there. Remember we want more LIFE not less. I hope that is helpful.

If you are not a believer come check us out at CalvarySLO or any other Bible Teaching/Christ centered church in your area. Jesus is the One who said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10) Also, check out BibleGateway which I have also provided on the links. Check out the book of John.

Happy Blogging!