Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I am Number Four

            I love a good action movie. A movie that can make me grip the armrests of my seat and stare wide-eyed at the screen. In the age of special affects and (apparently) abundant pyrotechnics, that isn't hard to find. Case in Point: I am Number Four.

          Legacies can make you or break you. they can give you an instant 1-up on the social Pyramid or they can put you in the catacombs below. And others will just plain kill you, or at least they'll try to. For Number Four and his guardian, thats no joke. Fugitives from the planet Lorien, Number Four and his guardian were sent to earth along with 8 other gifted children (all numbered 1-9) and their guardians after the ruthless Mogadorians decimated their planet. These 9 were meant to be raised in hiding and reunite to destroy the Mogs (as the Mogadorains have been dubbed).

         That plan is sort of going down the tube though. The Mogs, after all, have snuffed out Numbers 1, 2, and 3, along with their guardians. And on this happy note, we meet Number 4.

       Number four doesn't know what normal life is. He doesn't remember his home planet, his parents, or the last time he's stayed in one location on Earth for more than a month or two. All he's had is his Guardian, Henry, and the Jeep that is their getaway vehicle. And quite honestly, he's getting towards the end of his rope with that. Add in the searing scars that have followed the death of each of his predecessors, and this is one legacy he really doesn't want.

    So when he and Henri find their place of hiding for the time, in Paradise, Ohio, and he meets a troubled guy like himself and falls in love with a girl in his class, you can guess what begins to happen: As Number Four (who's now going by the unoriginal alias John Smith) finds his niche in life and a place where he belongs, he's a little less heeding of Henri's orders to stay invisible. And when the Mogs catch up with John, there's a guarantee for a showdown that will bring out the mettle in our  young hero.

    I am Number Four is a coming-of-age story that carries messages of true friendship, bravery, and dedication, as well as the values of family and home. Sarah, our love interest here, is a caring and compassionate girl with a penchant for taking some darn good pictures. Through her, John/Number 4 sees the positive affects of a family and a home. And while Sarah's parents are slightly aloof and clumsy, John simply enjoys his brief experience with family life. Henri is like a surrogate father to John, helping him through his legacies (random instances in which his powers show themselves without him even realizing them) and respecting his drives to stand against the Mogs and fight for what he believes in. We could even say there's a message about loving our enemies, as both John and Sarah forgive the jerky Football Jock at school who causes them plenty of trouble throughout the story. And, at the very least, I found the characters VERY likeable and 3 dimensional (even if the movie wasn't hallelujah).

All good things said, however , this was not the stock PG-13 thriller I was expecting in concerns to content. While my only branching out from safe PG-13's is the Passion of the Christ, some of the content definitely seemed a little much for the audience (teens and pre-teens) this movie is being aimed at. Director D. J. Caruso is well known for his work in such films as Disturbia, an amped-up remake-type film based on the idea behind Jimmy Stewart's 50's murder mystery Rear Window. His style is indeed dark and heavy at times. A scene in a haunted house tractor ride goes awry when (after many fake yet gory looking horror set-ups) afore- mentioned Jerky football jock and his buddies ambush John and Sarah. The following sequence is a lot of running around in the dark,, and for younger viewers it's a frightening sequence. The Mogadorians, aside from being Grotesque in their own appearances, have some pretty harsh weaponry and ways of dealing with things. Worst of all, however, for me, was the language. Just because a movie is set in High school doesn't mean you have to have that kind of language.

If it weren't for these things, I am Number four would be a perfect Matinee thriller. But what is even more heart-breaking is that the film was clearly made with the intention of sequels. being as most of the viewers detected this gimic, however, seems to have sealed I am Number Four's fate.

Writer Paul Asay of concluded his review of the film with this quote: "Number Four, the character, may be willing to give up much for us. Number Four, the movie, just wants to take … two hours of our time."

That, unfortunately, just about sums it up.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


"Lord, it's hard to turn the other cheek, Hard to bless when others curse you. Oh Lord, it's hard to be a man of peace Lord, it's hard, oh it's hard, You know it's hard to be like Jesus."

Rich Mullins, "Hard"

This blog, my Orphan Ministry Blog, my Facebook Page, my writings about personal opinion for school, are all centered around a message: God's Message. the gospels. My favorite Bible Figure ever (aside from Jesus) is definitely Paul. Paul, originally Saul as we all know, was a Pharisee. You know, like those men that accused Jesus and had him crucified? Yeah. Saul was one of them, a Jew believing he was doing the right thing. He even held the cloaks of the men who stoned the first Christian martyr, St. Stephen. And yet God had a plan for him. To be prominent for another reason. God struck Saul off the back of his horse and called him out personally for what he had done. And then Saul did his first radical thing for God: 

He decided to quit the Christian Persecution march he was on and begin learning from the Apostles.  
Paul, as he now named himself (for it was a gentile name, the group of people he would mainly evangelize to) didn't get any more popularity for joining the Christians. he was ridiculed and hated for it. when he started his missions, He kept his head level, and met opposition with joy, because as he said,  "It is no longer I, but Christ who lives in me." Even in suffering, he lived in happiness because he knew he was living his calling. He even had the courage to die for Christ's teachings.

So why is he one of my favorite biblical figures? He was one of the first real "Jesus Freaks," right up there with John the Baptist. He heard what Jesus said, realized how amazing it was, and followed it in his own life completely, letting it lead him across the known world of the time, and leaving an influence and a legacy still felt today. He lived life Hard.
Now I don't mean he woke up at five in the morning (even though he probably did), drank a glass of water for breakfast and then did 192 push-ups, and then jogged 8 miles. He was fighting the cultural waves coming against him and he did it with joy. 

Here we are today. Culture, aside from being different in its interests and values, really hasn't changed much. Christianity is still the thing that "disturbs the peace, makes the controversy" in the eyes of the secular world. Believing in something that has teachings against some of humanity's natural (or sometimes negative) desires doesn't compute with some. But our example can change that and reach many, as my last post about "True Guys" (or heroes) talks about. But as worth it, and satisfying as it will be for eternity, at times, in the here and now, it can just seem...


Is it always fun not seeing the latest movie everybody sees? Is it always fun not listening to all the popular music? No. There are times when it really stinks and you get made fun of for it. But God didn't promise us the easy road, or the fun road, or the short road. It's a long, straight, narrow road that will challenge us at times. And while it is hard, I wouldn't have it any other way. Because I know that in the end, Christ's words (In Matt. 5:10) say " Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,"and while I am a sinner in need of a savior, "I can do all things, in Christ who gives me strength (Phillipians 4:13)."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

True Guys

Shortly before the release of one of this summer's biggest blockbusters, Iron Man 2, Writer Bob Smithouser of Plugged In Online wrote a very insightful and interesting article called "Why We Love Super Heroes." The article gave the interesting insight into our culture's penchant to not only demand, but pay our $6 in large amounts to watch superhero flicks. Iron Man 2 grossed in almost 130 million dollars  in its first weekend. So what is the connection?

In the age of trying times and not too many real life heroes, it's easy to cling to fantasies like afore-mentioned Superhero flick, where Tony Stark is single-handedly keeping World Peace under his thumb with clear ease. But wait, haven't we who have ever read or heard the Bible Stories of old heard that before? Wasn't that guy named King David? I mean, David had a pretty great reign right? I mean, sure he had an issue with stealing a soldier's wife and all, but he repented after he realized the shocking aftermath.

We see a similar story with Stark. As long as his eyes are on the right objectives, he can achieve the world (pretty literally as well). But after a slightly drunken slip-up at his birthday party shoots his reputation with the U.S. Armed Forces, things go out of hand and he has to fix it. But he does. And the millions who saw it rooted for him.

So God raised up great men in the Bible, and our secularized culture has turned them from merely upstanding humans into guys with lots of money, beefed-up modern-day armor suits, and/or the kinda cool super-humanizing after-affects of a science experiment gone wrong. Let's call them True Guys.

I love hanging out with other teenage guys of like mind. It's one of the main reasons I go on retreats and other youth events. There are some really great guys who want God as the center of their lives and are willing to look culture in the eye and resist it to achieve that. But what is my connection between King David, Iron Man, and teenage guys?

We could be those guys. We could be real life Men of Iron, who can take whatever comes at us with bravery and die fighting for the world. We could live like David did (for the most part), using the gifts God has given us to proclaim his glory and allow him to council us. Indeed there are some doing it that way. But what is the majority up to?

There are so many different directions I could take with the post. so I'm going to try and condense them all into the one negative influence that is disassembling our Iron Men and dethroning our kings: the negative channel of energy known as MTV  modern culture's expectations. What does our culture, or extremely popular rappers and rock artists like Metallica or Eminem expect out of guys? Party it up, rock it up, do what you think is best and who's to stop you? These standards are degrading our society bit-by-bit, and it shows.

While I watched the Superbowl with my dad last Sunday night, I had my Facebook profile up on my laptop. With the plethora of devices that now support Facebook, people could post their thoughts on anything (maybe even the  Superbowl)  from their Iphone, Ipad, Macbook, Zune, Laptop, Blackberry, etc. So as I posted my thoughts on dopey things like "The Force vs. Volkswagon" commercial, I waited to see what other people posted. For  the most part it was people poking fun at whatever team was losing (always Steelers, cough cough*) and the people rooting for them and it was all good fun. And then the add for the new Transformers movie came on during a commercial break. While I didn't post it, I've always loved seeing trailers for the new movies, because while half of them aren't worth it, there are sure to be LOTS of whiz-bang explosions and superheroes and lots of cool cars on display. But this movie is being met with some opposition because its main female star (whose name I consider a sin to even utter) is no longer in it. Almost instantly after the trailer ended, one of my friends from Cathedral Prep (retreats which are meant to teach chastity and a strong relationship with God) posted the movie was not worth it because this seductive actress was not in it.

In hindsight, I probably should have seen this coming and ignored the comment, but I didn't. I quickly responded that this might not be a bad thing, but this guy was convinced.

These are the standards our culture is not only allowing, but encouraging. while some have had the courage to resist, many have taken the "castle in the sand over a shack on a rock" perspective and simply let whatever they make of themselves be constantly reformed by culture's changing tides and how popular their beliefs may or may not make them.

While many may not consider this macho, I live in a house where gender-wise, we're split down the middle. My Mom spent a year of her life in England as a child, and she fell in love with the adaptations for TV of Jane Austen's beloved tales and has shown us many of them. Mom and Elizabeth  just adore them. While as a guy they can get a little mushy-gushy from time to time, there is a general lesson to be taken away by many of the men in all 18th and 19th century literature: their morals and respect. They wake up in the morning, lead an honest job, and live an honest life. They come to the aid of their friends at any time, even after they have wronged them, sometimes very cruelly as well. And on top of that, their morals in concern to romance and marriage are extremely high. First, they always introduce themselves to the girl and her parents right off the bat. From there comes a very honest, steadfast and chaste courtship before their picture-perfect wedding and happily ever after. Now while the last part is obviously a little fantastic for common real-life, the point stands firm, from righteous Biblical figures, to the Sir's and Mr.'s of 19th century literature with high standing morals, to Stan Lee's Spider Man, Iron Man, etc. There are high moral standards more of us guys could be embracing, maybe even more openly than we already are. And we should. And we need to.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Speaking Out

Well, friends, I have been gone for two long. Forgive my absence from the blog that began my blogging experience :)

There is so much I can tell you about. And a lot of it involves raising the shout and speaking out. Or just speaking in general.

Where to begin? Well, lets start with blog numero dos. Speaking for the Silent. Instead of trying to balance my personal life experiences as well as photography and orphan care, etc., I've designed a little blog/community/movement specifically for my orphan advocacy efforts. There's a parallel  Facebook Page that has a little badge up at the top of the sidebar on the blog, and I'll probably add it here too. Thank You to all who follow me here who have found the blog and followed that or Liked it on Facebook. It's so uplifting and encouraging to see other people raising the shout!

I also had the privilege of going down to the March for Life down in Washington D.C. This event commemorates the legalization of abortion, and people go on the anniversary (January 22, but this year it was the 24th since the 22nd was a Saturday) to support the sanctity of all human life. This is about the coolest Pro-Life event EVER and brings in tens and even hundreds of thousands of people. I always leave on a bus the night before at Midnight and sleep the way down. You get breakfast at about quarter to 5, and then go to Mass at 7 at St . Peter's Catholic Church. People of all denominations go together, to unite with other pro-lifers and hear one of the Catholic Bishops in D.C. give an awesome and encouraging sermon before sending us on to the Day's activities. The group I stick with always goes from there to the Capitol building, where a group of Pro-Life leaders of all denominations go to hold a prayer service together. While it takes many people to orchestrate, the two chief speakers are always Reverend Rob Schenk, President of Faith and action Ministries, and Father Frank Pavone, who is a Pro-Life activist in every meaning of the word. It's ALWAYS an awesome event and there are always great orators speaking for Life.

The March itself is always powerful because so many people  are there having a great time supporting Life. It's a powerful sight I relish seeing every year.

Speaking has affected all people in all ages, and this is also clear in a great movie I have seen recently. The King's Speech, starring Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, and Geoferrey Rush, is an awesome movie about overcoming obstacles and true friends. for anyone who can see it and ignore the slight profanity the King had to use to overcome his stammer, it is truly well-made and well acted.

So what have I learned from all of these events? Well, managing three blogs (including Hope for Every Child) can be tough. :D But if you have the drive to raise the shout and fight fro the cause, it's all worth it.