Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Lessons, Providences, and Tomorrow

I guess I blinked.


I'm almost 20 now.

I have 6 little siblings... becoming progressively less little.

When the clock strikes 12 tonight, another year will have melted from the life ahead of me into the life behind me, trickling at the rate of 24 hours a day through an hourglass that will never be turned upside-down.

It wasn't long ago that I wrote about the runner's two greatest fears, as we began the race of 2013.

Tonight, we will all cross the finish line of that race, and the starting line of a new one.

We have the opportunity to, at once, remember, through the bittersweet lens of hindsight, the great and remarkable providences of God in our lives, and to set forth with the wide-eyed excitement of a faithful child on a new adventure.

Scripture repeatedly exhorts us to pass on landmarks to our children; to remember the great providences of God to the next generation (Deuteronomy 6).  Here, I'm going to chronicle a few of the signal providences God worked in my life throughout 2013.

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This year I began participating in obstacle races, building great memories with friends and my Dad along the way.  God also used one of my obstacle racing experiences to teach me about marriage.






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This year I had two life-threatening experiences.  God's mercies were made abundantly evident in each case; the lessons to be learned were equally evident.  You can read about the first one here.  The second happened just last week; returning from helping a family remove sheet metal from an old building, I was driving a friend's car at a speed that was unwise on the dirt road we were traveling.  Three overcorrections, two seconds, one turn-too-late, and in little more than the time it took me to wonder "is this really happening?", the car was on its side spanning the ditch on the side of the road.

I never considered myself the immature, foolish teenage guy that is the paragon of youthful short-sightedness.

I guess that was the problem.

There are a few lessons to be taken from this experience for me which I hope to communicate to all my readers- especially other young men like myself.  The first, and most obvious, is- always wear your seat-belt.  This may sound trite; let me tell a bit about my experience and you might see just how important that decision was in my case.

I wear glasses, as a general rule, when I'm driving; so I was during the crash.  The windows of the car were open.  About fifteen minutes after the accident, the young man who was riding with me set my glasses case in the trunk as he was cleaning up the mess inside the car, and I realized- my glasses were no longer on my face.  We found them sitting on a rock near the crash site; I can only conclude that they flew off of my face and out of the window in the incident.  That gives a good gauge by which to judge just the kind of condition I would have been in if I had not been wearing my seat-belt.

A wreck like that could easily have had severe consequences; it is by the mercy of God that I'm typing this while sitting in an office chair and not a wheelchair.  In God's providential kindness, my friend and I both walked away from the scene.

The bigger lesson from this ordeal, however, is the need for young men like myself to heed instruction; to gain "grandpa wisdom at daddy age," as my father says.

We had already fishtailed; I had already lost control on a different turn and bumped off of the dirt bank on the side.  A wiser man would have said "if there were a ditch rather than a bank, the consequences would have been much more severe; we should slow down."  I was not that wiser man.

I have been warned repeatedly about the dangers that come with young men who fail to ask themselves "what could happen if..?"  Yet when push came to shove I was one of those young men, and I only recognized it in myself after the fact.  Oh, God, I pray- let me learn my lesson now!  Let me remember this and not put You to the test again!

Perhaps the greatest irony of the event was that my friend and I had been meditating on Proverbs during the drive to the location in the morning, and again on the trip home that resulted in this crash.  We were mulling over the very Scriptures that we were violating in our unwise roadway behavior.

God is merciful.  I am grateful.

Please.  Please.  Learn from me.  Don't learn like me.

Oh, and the glasses?

Not a scratch.


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We got to host the Jost family on their tour this year; made a movie together with them; had some good ol' manly fun together with the guys.


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Attended the inaugural Arizona Patriot Academy.


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I made an adjustment to my brand, going from clean-shaven to a light beard.



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Attended the final San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (final for now, at least) with my dad and my sister; that was an incredible experience.  So many friends; so many Providences; so many stories.


While there, got to meet with a lot of great musical friends from the Rhapsodize Music Network.




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Speaking of the Rhapsodize Music Network... get yours on iTunes, AmazonMp3, Spotify, and elsewhere!  Let me know if you want a physical CD.


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Went on my first mission trip to a hospital in Mexico, helping to get it fully-functional.


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Last week, Dad preached a great sermon on time stewardship.  Got me fired up to set goals for 2014.  


"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." - Eph. 5:15-17

Thusly, I have set goals for 2014; praying for the grace of God to grant me a warrior's mentality to accomplish them.  I'm not going to list them all, but I'll list a few, and you're welcome to check in on my progress, as well as share your goals in the comments.

- Read "The Institutes of Biblical Law" by R.J. Rushdoony
- Learn Spanish to the level where I can converse, read, and write fluently
- Learn First-Aid
- 25 pull-ups 
- 50 push-ups
- 5 muscle-ups
- Cold showers 3x/week
- Go to bed at 9:30 and wake up at 5:30, and start preparing for bed at 9, M-F
- Don't go to social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) unless I have content to post

May 2014 feature the sounds of cheering and laughter and the gates of hell groaning and cracking and crumbling to dust.  May the giggling voices of a thousand babies be born into Kingdom households; may the tearful joy of a thousand souls reborn join the chorus.  May the Word of Christ pervade our land as the waters cover the sea.  May we be faithful to turn every breath we are given into a song or a step for the glory of our King.

Monday, November 25, 2013

EXALTATION: A Cinematic Christmas Collection


I had the immense pleasure of working with seven other composers on an album of music celebrating the birth of The Lord Jesus Christ in a cinematic style.  This album presents a musical take on Christmas not quite like anything you've ever heard before- and I think that's a good thing.  You can hear a bit of one of my contributions to this project below, and check out the album on iTunes, find it on Spotify, and look for it in the near future on many other online music stores like AmazonMp3.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Is Rock Music a Sin?



"Is rock music evil?"

This question, or variations on its theme, comes up often in conservative Christian circles (within which I am proud to swim).

Before presenting the answer to this question, a few things must be established:

1. Music is not neutral; it is both an art and a science, and both elements of music must be submitted to Christ.

2. The Bible is the Standard by which all things are to be judged. (2 Tim. 3:16)

3. There are some areas of life which Scripture does not explicitly address; this does not remove those areas from the purview of Christ's Lordship, but it does make diligent searching necessary. (Proverbs 8)

I believe that music is one of those areas; while there are Scriptural principles that apply, there is no dissertation on musical theory between "in the beginning" and "amen".

I also believe that unless we seek God wholeheartedly on this issue He will allow us to be swayed by our own prejudices and lusts.

One other note; throughout this post I will be generalizing with glib impunity.  I trust my readers to give me the benefit of the doubt; I know that not all rock music is head-banging and backbeat-heavy; I know that not all classical is melodious and intelligently complex; I'm using the terms to connote the broad idea behind the genre or style without having to launch into a detailed explanation on every point.

Now, back to the original question.

"Is rock music evil?"

No.  I don't believe that rock music is evil.  I believe that rock music says evil.

Is there ever a time for something that says evil?  Absolutely.  Throughout the pages of Scripture we see many tales told of evil deeds; rebellious sons, abusive men, seductive women- God's Word doesn't hide us from our own depravity.

Even so, in the stories that we tell, there is a place for evil.  It must be handled in a God-honoring and lawful way, but it must be present in our stories, because it is present in God's Story.

So if there is a movie which honors God and which lawfully presents the struggle between good and evil, there may be a need for music which says evil.

However, to make a steady diet of music that says evil is a decision not to be taken lightly.  There may be a time for a Christian to act the role of a murderer, but to take that role on as a way of life is opening a door to dangerous consequences.

And so with every form and style of music.  The Pride and Prejudice soundtrack is beautiful and calming, but it certainly doesn't say the right thing to motivate me during an intense workout.  Bach's Brandenburg Concertos have a level of technical excellence buried within that warrants years of study, but they would not make a fitting backdrop for the bullet-dodging escapades of Jason Bourne.  An epic, swashbuckling Hans Zimmer theme may narrate a battle scene or inspire my run perfectly, but it doesn't belong in the background of an intimate heart-to-heart conversation.  A Chopin Nocturne would fit a gentle goodbye far better than scenes from the apocalypse- unless, as a storytelling tool, the calmness of the music is intentionally contrasted with the chaos and destruction.

To scream "Jesus loves you!" over a distorted power chord and a heavy backbeat is to tell two different stories simultaneously- and the result is chaos, which is contrary to God's nature.  This could be used appropriately as a storytelling tool, but it must be recognized for what it is; it may be appropriate, but it isn't beautiful, and we shouldn't pretend that it is.

Those power chords might exactly match the message of someone reveling in the pleasures of sin- and that would be a lawful and skillful and fitting use of that music, provided that the story is resolved in a God-honoring way.

So instead of asking whether the music is good or bad, let's ask what the music says- and how well it says it- and whether what it says is being used in a proper and God-honoring way.

The communicative power of music is obvious; there is a reason that directors pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a John Williams score instead of knocking on their neighbor's door to inquire about their teenage son's garage-band.  There's a reason that a country singer wears a cowboy hat, a rocker wears a mohawk, and an orchestra looks like a gathering of penguins.  Flames and neon lights don't fit the story of Handel's Messiah, but AC/DC is right at home in that setting.

Why?  Because music says something.  So does lighting.  So does color.

When we depart from the binary "good/bad" approach to analyzing aesthetics, things become more difficult.  Life is easy when we have a list of legalisms to check ourselves against- "Don't watch R-rated movies, don't ever drink alcohol, don't listen to rock music, don't play card games."

Scripture calls us, however, to press beyond the milk and into the meat- to seek wisdom. (Hebrews 5:14)

May God guide us in this search.

Recommended listening: Some excellent talks on music by Ken Myers

Thursday, August 8, 2013

BOUND

Do you like LEGOs?  Do you like LEGOs that move and talk?


I had a blast scoring the Kickstarter promo for this film which shows just that.  I got to talk to the Tull siblings at the last SAICFF and let me tell you, the vision that they have for this film is a little bit mind-blowing.  Check out the trailer below, and please prayerfully consider supporting the film financially.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1350609618/bound-fun-animated-brickfilm

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What's a Guy to Wear?

My sisters and I have been discussing male style.  Guy fashion.  It's quite the interesting topic.

"Culture is religion externalized."
Art is culture.
Therefore art is religion externalized.

Art is religion externalized.
The way we dress is a form of art.
Therefore the way we dress is an externalization of who we are on the inside- our religion, our worldview, our presuppositions.

So it's kinda important.


As Christians, from a modesty standpoint, we talk a lot about the way girls should dress.

As far as style goes- I think girls naturally talk about that enough on their own.

I tease, I tease;  it's good to analyze style for men and women from a Biblical worldview.  The Botkin sisters' recent "Reclaiming Beauty" webinar was a great resource for this very thing, specifically focused on beauty and style for girls.

But what does The Bible say to us guys about the way we dress?  Or can we just go through life looking like we were dressed by a tornado so long as we have good character on the inside?

Isn't it interesting that the culture around us is very serious about men's style?

What messages does the masculine (or maybe just "male") fashion in America send?

Before We Get Into That

I would like to start off by mentioning something that I think is a serious problem: stylistic apathy.

I suspect that for a lot of us guys what we wear is simply accidental.  Thoughtless.  We don't really consider the messages we're sending through the clothes that we wear.  Yet our clothing and grooming habits are another area of our lives over which Christ claims lordship, and they make up an important part of how we represent our King to the world.

Biblical Principles of Clothing and Style

Before I get into the guy-specific and practical part of the post, I want to look at the general, universal Scriptural principles that should apply to the clothes we wear- and how we wear them.

- Clothing should cover, not reveal the body.  The initial purpose of clothing was to cover shameful nakedness (Genesis 3); therefore, all clothing worn publicly should serve this purpose.

- Clothing should reflect gender distinctions (Deuteronomy 22:5).

- Clothing should not draw attention (1 Timothy 2:9+10) unless it's for a good reason (Galatians 1:10).

- Physical appearance is secondary to the condition of the soul (1 Timothy 4:8, 2:10, Proverbs 31:30).

- The condition of the soul should manifest physically (Mark 5:15, 1 Timothy 2:9, John 14:15).

- The physical will reflect the spiritual (Matthew 7:16).

- We are ambassadors for Christ; it is our responsibility to represent Him well (2 Corinthians 5:20, 1 Corinthians 10:31).

Clothing is not a neutral or morality-free subject (Matthew 28:18, 2 Corinthians 10:5, Genesis 1:28).  This is a crucially important presupposition without which not only clothing but all manners of artistic expression become meaningless.  Just because God's Word does not specifically address something doesn't mean that He therefore has nothing to say about it; we are responsible to "get wisdom" (Proverb 4:7) and to seek the "meat" (Hebrews 5:12).  When we discuss things like music, photography, or clothing, there are myriad principles which we can draw from Scripture which apply, not because they were explicitly applied by Scripture to the specific subject, but because the specific subject is a part of a universe governed by the principles of Scripture.  So when we discuss aesthetics, we should be looking for ways to reflect Godliness that we see elsewhere in Scripture or in nature; principles like those of order (1 Corinthians 14:33) and contextual propriety (Jeremiah 6:26, Revelation 21:2) will take us far beyond simply discussing "how short is too short."


What Does It Say?

When discussing aesthetics it is immensely helpful to ask "what does [the art in question] say?"  Instead of going with the easier, less Biblical routes of either legalistically writing up man-made black-and-whites ("syncopation is bad, pants are bad") or throwing off all restraints and embracing antinomian anarchy ("God has nothing to say about my music or my mini-skirt"), we must seek wisdom to understand the principles that God has woven into the universe, how our art reflects those principles, and what those reflections say.

Disclaimer

Yes, there is subjectivity to this.  I contend that there is also objectivity.  I am about to make vicious, sweeping generalizations.  You may disagree with my specific applications; I beg you not to allow that to detract from the broader principles.

In the list below I am going to list some things that I believe that a given outfit communicates.  I do not believe nor do I mean to insinuate that because a man looks respectable, he must be respectable, nor that because a man looks less masculine he therefore is less masculine- etc.  I agree that the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.  I desire to go beyond the heart to the hands; if you would like to do the same, then let's seek wisdom together.

So... what does it say?

- Disciplined
- Dignified
- Buisinesslike
- Considerate of others
- Masculine
- Self-controlled
- Organized
- Well-groomed
- Respectable
- On-purpose (the man takes life seriously)

- Metrosexual (i.e. girlie-man; switch out the guy model for a girl model and it would look totally normal to me.  Note the skinny jeans and the slender cut of the whole outfit.)
- Hip
- Cool
- Easy-going
- Well-groomed

Notice how it's not just a matter of "this one is good" and "this one is bad."  Overall, I don't like this outfit, but it does reflect a man who takes care to make himself presentable.  He obviously thought about what he wore that day.  That's a good thing!

- Boyish
- Obviously immodest, with a sexy look thanks to the goofy belt-wedge
- Easy-going
- Not planning on doing hard things today

- Respectable
- Strong
- Outdoorsy
- Very masculine
- Well-groomed
- Disciplined
- On-purpose

- No comment

- Masculine
- Relaxed
- Not doing anything important at this point
- Outdoorsy
- Relaxed
- Ready to go hunting or grilling
- Masculine
- Concerned with more important things than his appearance

- Likes to show off his physique


I actually think Burton Guster of Psych is a great example of a guy who dresses respectably but appropriately for day-to-day city life.  Just because we're not going out somewhere special doesn't mean that we can throw off Biblical principles of clothing and look like slobs at home; Gus does a great job portraying simple, masculine, appropriate style in everyday contexts.


- Just got rescued from a desert island and had to borrow a (much larger) sailor's clothes OR
- Relaxed, vacationy, probably during a football game or something


- Combs his hair with a blender
- Passing out due to the constrictive scarf as we speak

So... Why Does It Say That?

Minor scales make darker music; three acts make a strong story; what makes these outfits say what they do?

These are just some general thoughts, observations, and pet peeves.

The world loves to push (and eventually destroy) the limits imposed by Christianity; thus we march from R&B to acid rock, from Monet to Picasso, from gender-segregated swimming to bikinis.

Notice the trend towards tighter and tighter clothing, both for men and women; this is an insidious way to reveal the body without revealing the skin.  Scripture, on the other hand, leads to covering the body; that doesn't just mean putting cloth on top of skin, but also hiding all the shapely intricacies of form and structure which tight clothing reveals.

Notice the trend towards gender-ambiguous (and usually effeminate) clothing for men:


- The strong, tough, firmly virile look is replaced with the slender, boyish look; skinny jeans, arm-
and torso-hugging shirts and jackets replace looser, boxier clothing- and thin, slim models replace robust, strong ones.  (Think in shapes: which is more masculine- an oval or a rectangle?  Which one does modern male fashion represent better?)
- A puerile smooth-faced look or the playful five-o-clock shadow replaces the purposeful facial hair or the simple, respectable, businesslike shaven face.
- The simple, practical, disciplined styles of short hair are cast aside for more garish and ostentatious blender-beaten styles.
- Scarves, jewelry, and other decorations replace practical, functional, dominion-task-focused manly attire.

So... What's a Guy to Wear?

I hope that this post has encouraged a more thoughtful approach to fashion and style; guys, we are responsible for what we wear, and what we wear communicates instantly and potently.  Ladies, I hope that there have been some principles here which might have edified you as well; feminine fashion is definitely a separate topic, and, indeed, even masculine fashion could warrant many more posts.

Let's start, though, by applying the things we know to the things we wear.  Our clothing should reflect the attributes of God and the principles of His Word, as well as the attributes of Godly manhood; for example:

- Love (is it really loving to others if I smell like something that's been in the refrigerator for too long or if I look like I really don't care what they think?)

- Order

- Dignity

- Gender distinctions

- Strength

- Humility

- Vision for Something beyond myself

- Etc.

Let's seek wisdom on how to reflect Christian culture in everything from the theology we preach to the way we cut our fingernails.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Dear Humanism

Dear Humanism,

Please stop being self-righteous about protecting children from the abuse of corporal punishment while actively encouraging the slaughter of babies in the womb.

Please stop pretending you're empowering women as you systematically destroy womanhood.

Please stop proclaiming that you care about the next generation- the generation that you are shackling with debt, murdering in droves, and educating into psychosis.

Please stop acting like you care about the prosperity of the nations you are enslaving.

Please stop marching forward the destruction of the family behind the facade of love.

Please stop preaching the bold lie that you're more scientific than The One Worldview that actually makes sense of reality.

Please stop selling tyranny as peace.

Please stop promising salvation through slavery.

Please stop telling people that they can listen to you and still expect life and reason to follow.

Dear Humanism, I'm not asking you to change what you are.

I'm asking you to stop pretending you're something else.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Yes Sir

Openness, humility, admiration, appreciation, love, respect, submission.

Honor.

With some young people, you can see it in their eyes when they look at their parents. 

(One of my favorite examples is at 2:02 in this video: https://vimeo.com/37457216 )

Those young people are so inspiring to me. I want to model that kind of honor for my siblings, for my friends.

The LORD has been convicting me of my own lack of honor for my elders in general and my parents in particular. Sure, I do what they tell me to. But honor is about so much more than that.

I listened to an excellent Generations Radio broadcast yesterday about honoring parents; Mr. Doug Phillips was the guest on the show. He, too, is a recent source of conviction and inspiration for me in this area; the honor that he gave to his father in his lifetime and is still giving him now after he has gone on to glory is so beautiful to behold.

On the show, they talked about the issue of jurisdiction. God has placed me under my parents' jurisdiction. It is not for me to critique them (openly or in my heart); I'm not their judge. Rather, I should be striving to bless, serve, honor and obey them, and to assist their vision.
How beautiful, how loving, how liberating is the honoring life!

Pride is something else that I struggle with; I don't think it's a coincidence. Scripture tells us to put off and to put on; it's going to be hard to put off pride unless I put on humility- which is a huge part of honor towards authorities.  And oh the joy, the freedom from irritation that comes when I'm no longer wrapped up in my own schedule and my own plans and my own me.  What I want, what I deserve, blahblahblah.

And how amazing is it to think that the first commandment with a promise is the commandment to "honor thy father and thy mother"?  God will bless those who honor their parents.

So: want to be happy? Want to be humble? Want to be blessed? Want to be successful? Want to be wise? Want to defeat the kingdom of darkness?

Say "Yes sir."








Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Complacency of Fools

Have you ever had a moment in your life where you realized, deep down, sincerely, that in the next few hours, you could die?

Until earlier this year, my answer to that question would have been "no."


A few months ago, we went out into the desert for a men's prayer advance; not the most dangerous thing in the world, usually, unless you're a part of the army of darkness.

Part of the itinerary is that on Friday after lunch all the men go off and find a place to pray for a little while; this allows for time to really focus on what is being learned; time to spend alone with God and in His Word.

Off I went; I picked a peak in the distance (but it didn't seem to be any significant distance) and set off towards it.  On my way there, I had the vague idea that I wasn't quite paying attention and wasn't exactly sure how to get back to camp, but I figured that so long as I reserved a little extra time to get back, it would be no problem.

It's a humiliating, frightening, perspective-changing thing, being thwarted by a few miles of dirt.

The extra time that I reserved to get back to camp came and went, but no camp appeared.  Up one hill and down another; these gentle, rolling rocks suddenly became impenetrable camouflage, providing a vantage point when on top and obscuring any distant objects at all other times.

I discovered a huge variety of things that I didn't know were near our campsite; the Gila river, abandoned buildings, mineshafts.  I nearly stepped on a snake; that was- exciting.  Again at another time, I heard the distinctive rattle of our favorite local reptile.

Eventually I gave up trying to find the camp and switched tactics; I could see the highway in the distance, so I made that my new destination.  Yet now a new obstacle met me- the Gila river.

I heard some people talking in the distance, but after a brief long-distance conversation I began to suspect that they were the sort of people whose help I might not want anyway.  My trek continued, and I started back along the river in hopes that eventually it would cross the highway and I would be able to get help.

The sun was going down; my heart was sinking with it; though, praise God, I was afraid, but at peace.

Then I saw some kind of factory, its two imposing barrel-towers standing above the earth, its lights a welcome sight in the darkening desert.  I got to the factory and searched for a person, a phone- nothing.  The doors were locked; the area was unoccupied.

Never have I been so grateful for water as when I smelled, taste-tested, then gulped the water that came from a hose apparently used to wash trucks.

After doing some exploring and pondering (and taking another drink), I set off towards the highway again; this time, the path was clear.

Once there, I started waving down cars- well, "waving down" sounds a little less agitated than I was.  It was not the best location for doing so, as a prison was very nearby, but, thanks be to God, a man stopped.  Another moment of great relief.

He was able to call my Dad, and then he took me to a nearby gas station, bought me some water, and left me there for my Dad to pick up.

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The other side of the story comes from my Dad, who at first, when I didn't return, was simply planning to reprove me for inconsiderate lateness- but then he began to suspect that something was wrong.  Eventually, the whole camp was looking for me.  Dad, my little brother, and two other men took a truck out to look for me.

Micah, my 5-year-old brother, at first found it to be an exciting little jaunt, but as the sun set he said "I miss Gabe."

Someone suggested that it was time to call Search and Rescue.  Dad was about to dial 9-1-1 when another man in the car asked if he knew where they were; not wanting to call only to not be able to answer the questions of the operators, Dad decided to wait until they returned to camp, so as to be able to give an accurate location.  It was then that he received the phone call from the man who picked me up.

It was a tearful reunion; not the most idyllic location, but I was certainly thankful for that little gas station in the desert.

The sermon that we had heard just hours before?

How God often gives moments of preparation with Him- Gethsemane- before He calls for great sacrifice- Golgotha.

Dad had honestly and genuinely figured that I was dead.  He says that he now knows just a fraction of what it must feel like to have a dead son.  And even in the moment, he was praying that if this was his Golgotha, he was willing.

I praise God for a father of faith like that; odd though it may seem, it is the father who is ready to give even his own child if God requires it who truly loves that child more.  He has never failed to make clear to us all that Jesus comes first.  Jesus always comes first.  Oh, may that be true of all of us.

As for me, I had the most frightening, humbling experience that I've ever had; as I said at the beginning, this was the first time in my life where the reality of death stared me in the eyes.   I was immensely blessed, really; all the experience ended up being was a multiple-hour hike without much water.  Yet it was enough to serve as a powerful reminder of so many things.

As far as the other campers are concerned- well, I'll probably never live this one down.

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There's plenty to learn from this, of course.

1.  Don't underestimate nature.  I'm an Arizonan; I should have known this.  A few square miles of dirt is all it takes to kill us if God is not merciful.  People die from experiences like this all the time!

2.  Don't overestimate yourself.  "I'm a young, fit, obstacle-race-running teenage guy.  Surely I should be able to be stupid and get away with it."  Oh, you young, fit, obstacle-race-running fool.  Whether this approach is taken consciously or subconsciously, it is dangerous and foolhardy.  How many times must we be warned?

3.  Make your ear attentive to wisdom.  Actively make your ear attentive.  My parents have warned me enough about things like preparedness and attentiveness that I have only my own complacency and pride to blame for my danger, my father's and friends' turmoil, and the disruption of the entire camp.

4.  Pay attention.  The simple act of marking a few landmarks in my mind would have been enough to change this story into the story of just another normal day at camp.

5.  We have it so easy.  Years ago, pioneers traveled this land in small groups of covered wagons; cowboys roamed the desert on horseback.  Now, we scarcely venture off the asphalt, and when we do dare step out of our air-conditioned carriages, and wander a little ways off into untamed wilderness, we are so easily lost.  Let's not let the blessing of hot meals and cool rooms make us weak.  If those things are taken away, will we still be able to press on for The Kingdom of Christ, to still bless the name of God?  I don't want to be a soft man; though I have no aspirations of living in a covered wagon, I do want to take the occasional cold shower, or crawl under barbed wire every once in a while.


6.  Remember how short life is and how blessed we are.  Staring death in the eyes makes one appreciate so much and appreciate it so much more.  Tom Hanks in Castaway, after living on an island for years, was content to simply turn the lights on and off- and on and off.  We have so much; how much of it do we even notice?  How much of it are we even grateful for?  How much have we invested in our siblings?  Our parents?  Time goes by so fast; may we invest it wisely.

I'm sure there are more takeaways; point 6 leads easily into a discussion of the honor of parents- something else that God has been recently working in my heart about.  Another topic for another time.

For now, though, I shall conclude this chronicle of the providences of God by saying that I am so grateful to God for His mercy.

Don't be a fool like I was.  Learn from my mistakes, my sins- don't perpetuate them.

For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them. - Pr. 1:32

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Leftist Jihad

If you haven't heard it, you haven't been involved in politics for very long:

"Jesus was a socialist!"

There's a remarkable, ironic incongruity evident when those who desperately cry against a statue of the Ten Commandments in a courthouse in the same breath plead for their agenda because "that's what Jesus would want."

Yet perhaps the irony fades when seen in the light of two crucial truths; first, that the Jesus of their socialistic gospel is not the Jesus revealed in the pages of Scripture, but is an idol fashioned in the image of Marx; second, that the separation of Church and State is as impossible as the separation of soul and body.

There is perhaps no idea so important, so relevant, as this one is to the political climate of today.  In a culture of bubble-wrapped, emasculated, truthless "tolerance," the political realm can acknowledge no god but Caesar.  Yet this is precisely the dilemma which faces the supposedly irreligious politicos:

They will always acknowledge a god.

The question is not whether religion will be allowed in the realm of politics, but which religion.

Will it be Islam, with its brutal and tyrannical but self-consistent sharia?  Humanism, with its arbitrary, self-contradictory, thoroughly lost and ultimately despotic platitudes?  Christianity, with its loving, perfect, liberating laws?  Or simply government as god, state as savior, the empty promise of redemption through men tainted by the very thing from which redemption is sought- sin?

It is time for the great facade of secular neutrality to be torn down.

This is the real reason why all evidences of true Christianity must be stripped away from America's schools and courtrooms; not because religion cannot be allowed into the state, but because the Christian religion contradicts the religion of the state.

How can "thou shalt not steal" be displayed in a courtroom which endorses theft?  How can "thou shalt not kill" be displayed in a school that provides abortifacients?  How can "thou shalt not commit adultery" be displayed in a town hall which condones homosexuality?

Those remnants of Christian doctrine are heresy in the eyes of the priests and priestesses of this new religion, a religion with a new "Jesus," a new "Bible," and a new god.

The intolerance of the left only makes sense when it is understood for what it truly is; not the confused and arbitrary condemnation of religion by those who desire to preserve political purity, but rather a modern sort of inquisition, a jihad, a crusade against the one religion which the monolithic magisterium of socialism cannot withstand:

Biblical Christianity.

The Church of Marx cannot tolerate the Church of Christ, yet the Church of Marx needs a way to control a population which overwhelmingly claims to be part of the Church of Christ.  Herein lies the sinister genius of the "new Jesus."

The left has at once hidden itself behind a facade of religious neutrality while subtly substituting the true tenets of Christianity with their new gospel; a gospel of redemption through social justice rather than the bloody Cross of Jesus Christ.

Once this substitution has been made, the rest is easy.  In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand sums the idea up nicely:
"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them... just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted--and you create a nation of law-breakers--and then you cash in on guilt." 
And so the left has done, both in the literal world of laws and prisons and in the realm of ideas- and it is the ideological prison which has chained America.  By poisoning the well of Truth which is Christianity, by perverting the tenets of Scripture, the left has rendered American Christendom largely confused and politically impotent; instead of standing firm on the truth of Scripture, the Church in America weakly flings conservative platitudes against liberal ones, always a little less wrong than the Marxist, but rarely any more right.

The godless left is just as religious as the Christian right, but the former has convinced the latter that their religion has no place in the political sphere.

The people of God in America have been disarmed of their Sword; worse, they have flung It down and joined their enemies in ridiculing It.  It is not ultimately Marx's fault that America has let go of the legacy of Christian liberty left her by her forefathers; the blame falls squarely at the feet of an unfaithful Church.

It is time for the Church to awake again; to repent, to return, to reform, to again, as the prophets of old, proclaim the real and living Jesus, and decry the new gospel of the Church of Marx for the lie that it is.

Until this is undone, no serious progress towards liberty in this nation can be accomplished.  Jesus said "Whoever is not with Me is against Me."  America needs to remember this.  Any entity which claims to be irreligious is by necessity anti-Christian; any entity which claims to be Christian must by definition submit to the Word of God.

So let the Christian right first remember that the Marxists are just as devout, just as puritanical, just as desperately clinging to their religion as the Christians are.

Then, she must remind the eager evangelist of the Marxian mysteries that in the same Bible which he quotes so glibly it is written: "thou shalt not steal."

Which means that Jesus definitely wasn't a socialist.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

What a Mud Run Taught Me About Marriage



Today my Dad and I participated in our first-ever mud run.  



Was it fun?  Very.  Was it muddy?


'Nuf said.

On the way there, I reviewed Ephesians 5:25-33 (I just started using this awesome Scripture memorization method), of which I'm going to post only the portion relevant to this article:

"So husbands ought also to love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the Church, because we are members of His body.  For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh."

It wasn't until later on today that this verse really hit me.

A few days back, I went for a run in a different pair of shoes than I was accustomed to.  Probably not the best idea a few days before a race, but I did it anyway.  Sure enough, I earned myself a few colossal blisters.  They were pretty impressive, and they weren't entirely gone by race day.  Of course, I ran anyway, and, of course, the sandpapery effects of gritty mud seeping into my shoes and socks weren't exactly the most soothing balm imaginable for my poor feet.

Naturally, when I got home from the race I cleaned myself up- including my recently-blistered feet, which warranted extra attention.  Now, if I were to go into the details of what that entailed, to lots of you it would probably seem- well, gross.

But was it gross to me?  Even if it was, did I really care?  No.  And why?  Because my feet are part of my body.  I need them.  I'm attached to them (in more ways than one).  In a very real sense, I cherish my feet.  They are precious to me.  My life would be radically changed if I lost my feet; how much worse if I did so because of my own neglect to care for them.

So the unpleasant and painful tasks of cutting and peeling away dead skin, washing out dirt- these things were natural and easy for me to do because I knew that they needed to be done.  I knew that my body would benefit from them.  I care about my feet!

Was I, the whole time, begrudging my feet for the care that I was giving them?  Was I grumbling about how gross the task was?  Was I bemoaning what a wretched man that I was having been given feet in the first place?  Did I think that, maybe, I would be better off if I just chopped my feet off and didn't have to put up with them anymore?

Of course not.  That would be ridiculous.

But how often do we see this very thing done by husbands to their wives?

What is more ridiculous?  To cut off a pair of feet, or to tear apart a human soul?

Will I look at my wife as an accessory to my life, to be treasured when I feel like it and discarded when no longer interesting?

Or will I see her as an integral part of myself, who I can toss aside as easily as I can toss aside my arms and legs?

When she needs to be washed in the water of the Word, will I see it as a gross task?

Will I clean her heart like I would clean a toilet?

Or will I clean her heart like I would clean a wound in my own body?

Will I say, "Oh God, if only I didn't have this woman to put up with"?

Or will I say, "Oh God, thank you for this woman; what a blessing she is; how much less of a man would I be without her!  Please help me to address this issue in a way that will bring healing and sanctification to her heart quickly and gently!"?

Will I see her like I see my own body- as a blessing, an amazing gift from God, something which allows me to do so much more than I could without it, which needs to always be treated well and sometimes given extra care and attention- and even that is a joy?

Or will I see her like I see my lawnmower- something which I have to fix when it's broken and which is rarely of any use?

When was the last time you seriously considered amputation as an option when you had an injury?  Yet how often and how easily is divorce seen as a valid option?

Why does it seem so ridiculous to cut off an irritating foot, but not ridiculous at all to get rid of an irritating wife?  Where is the disconnect in our thinking?

When we think about our body, we assume the necessity of every part.  We wouldn't want to part with any limb.  Problems with our bodies aren't seen as something to blame the body for, but rather something to help the body out of.  We know that we need our bodies; we appreciate them; we can't live without them; they are integral to our being.  It's the disease or the injury that is the enemy- never our body.  We assume that our body is a good thing going through difficult trials.

But when it comes to our spouse, do we do the same?  Do we assume that she is precious, a good gift of God, a treasure, our right hand, our best friend and constant companion, the crown of our strength, the multiplication of our abilities?  Or does she become the enemy, instead of the sins which she is dealing with?

It breaks my heart to see so many divorces happening even within the circles of people whom I know and love.  I hope and pray that God will help us men to truly understand what this verse means, and to truly nourish and cherish our wives as our own bodies; to realize that she's not something we're stuck with, but someone we're blessed with.  Oh God, please change our perspective of marriage from one of coexistence to one of camaraderie; from one of survival to one of victory; from one of endurance to one of exhilaration!

Oh God, if the time comes where I shall take on the title of husband, please help me to rejoice in the wife of my youth!  Oh that this joy and exuberance and oneness and friendship would characterize the marriages in the Body of Christ, just as it characterizes the marriage between Christ and His Body!

Indeed, may that joy and exuberance characterize us all, always, and in all of our relationships!  For even those of us who aren't married yet can be practicing many of the same things with those whom God has given us already.

I shall conclude with a retelling (and it's fictional; I'm not married yet!) of our original story with a little twist:

A few years ago, my wife and I got married.  Over time, as we ran the race of life, we collected our share of dirt and grime in our souls, so sometimes when we would rest during the race I would clean myself up and also focus on addressing things that I saw in my wife which might warrant extra attention.  Now, if I were to go into the details of what that entailed, to lots of you it would probably seem- well, pretty taxing.


But was it taxing to me?  Even if it was, did I really care?  No.  And why?  Because my wife is part of my being.  I need her.  I'm attached to her (in more ways than one).  In a very real sense, I cherish my wife.  She is precious to me.  My life would be radically changed if I lost my wife; how much worse if I did so because of my own neglect to care for her!

So the unpleasant and painful tasks of cutting and peeling away godless worldviews, washing out sin by the water of the Word- these things were natural and easy for me to do because I knew that they needed to be done.  I knew that my very flesh would benefit from them.  I care about my wife!

Was I, the whole time, begrudging my bride for the care that I was giving her?  Was I grumbling about how exhausting the task was?  Was I bemoaning what a wretched man that I was having been given a wife in the first place?  Did I think that, maybe, I would be better off if I just divorced my wife and didn't have to put up with her anymore?

Of course not.  

That would be ridiculous.

Friday, February 1, 2013

REVIEW: The Bourne Legacy

There was never just one.  But because of just one, all of the others had to be silenced. Aaron Cross is one of those others- a chemically-enhanced "Outcome" agent who is now being targeted by the very people that built him into such an effective soldier.

They're going to regret doing such a good job.




[THIS REVIEW DOES CONTAIN MINOR PLOT SPOILERS]

The Worldview

The Good

One of my favorite things about the Bourne films is that they feature damsels in distress and valiant knights coming to their rescue- in a much more modern sense, of course, but with many of the same basic, refreshing ideals.

It seems standard-issue in modern films to see Amazon women fighting alongside- or against- the men (The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol).  The old and chivalrous concept of "women and children first;" the Biblical idea that the men should be the protectors of a society and the defenders of the innocent, the defenseless, the weak and oppressed, these are now rare things to see modeled.  Yet in the face of this cultural tide, the Bourne films have always featured a man who is a great warrior and a woman whom he needs- but who also needs him, particularly as a protector.  






While feminism has certainly not been entirely eradicated, the warrior-woman does not make an appearance in these films.  


(Interesting side note: the Hebrew word for "man" can also be translated "warrior." So in some ways I don't think it's an extra-Biblical stretch to say that a warrior-woman is a man-woman.)


While Legacy did show a female Outcome agent, we did not see her doing any kind of combat.  The woman who poses as a psychiatrist does some fighting, but her role was fitting, because it would have been odd to send an all-male psychiatric evaluation team to a single woman's house.  She wasn't very feminine, but she wasn't held up as a role model.  Interestingly enough, this would be the first Bourne film where the hero consciously takes the life of a woman.  I think Aaron was justified in doing so, but it's worth noting.  


Another thing with regards to this is that Marta actually does a little bit of fighting (if it could be called that) in a non-manly way.  She's not good at it, but she does it when she needs to- namely, she kicks over the motorcycle of an agent trying to pursue them.  I love this- a woman who isn't afraid to use force, but she does it only as a last resort, and even then in a feminine, desperate, self-defense way, not an "I totally dominate you, scum" way.




One of the most interesting lines in the film, from a worldview standpoint, is when Edward Norton's character is justifying his organization to Aaron Cross- who is a part of the organization, accidentally killed innocent people, and now is feeling very guilty.  Norton compares themselves to "sin-eaters," and says that they are "morally indefensible and absolutely necessary."


Why am I listing this in the "The Good" section?  Because Norton is the bad guy.  This pragmatic "for the greater good" garbage comes from the antagonist, but the protagonist doesn't buy it, and we know it, and we love him for it.  Legacy portrays this philosophy as exactly what it is: a lie.





Another thing that I really appreciate about the Bourne films as a general rule- and even more so in this one- is not so much how much good stuff they put in the film as much as how much bad stuff they didn't.  Legacy is one of the best romances I've seen in a long time- and they never kiss once.

Which brings me to the romance between the main character and the woman who is his companion throughout the film.  Like I said, I loved it.  While many films take the "I'm good looking, you're good looking, I got lost in your eyes, now we're in love, now we're committing sin together, and that was just the frst ten minutes" approach, the relationship that we see in Legacy is beautifully real, coming about like true love and deep friendship often does- by going through trials and facing adversity together.  The physical affection- in the form of holding hands!- comes after their relationship has transcended superficial attraction, and not before; indeed, the superficial attraction factor was not even really there, which was also refreshing.  No googly eyes or sleeplessly-hugging-my-pillow-while-looking-dreamily-at-the-stars garbage.  Finally, a relationship between two main characters of the opposite sex that isn't a cookie-cutter cliché!




I also enjoyed how their relationship fell naturally into a Biblical model- the man setting the vision and taking the lead, and the woman coming alongside and helping him to accomplish his goals. Marta was definitely "a helper suitable to" Aaron.  She even obeys him (how often does someone say "don't turn around" in a film and the other person actually doesn't turn around?!?), which is apparently OK if it's some assassin guy that you hardly know, but super-oppressive if it's the husband who has pledged to love and protect you until the day he dies.


The hero, too, isn't a drunkard, womanizer, or anything else along those lines.  He gets angry, he gets sick, he's a little flirtatious on occasion- he's a regular guy who isn't perfect.  But he protects the innocent, he fights injustice.  Legacy gave us a hero who felt flawed and human, but who didn't have to commit egregious and habitual sins to prove it; I would consider Aaron Cross a great example of what a protagonist should be, though, of course, it would have been better if his vision had transcended this world and been set on The Kingdom of Christ.




The Bad

The language was a bummer in this film; though, as with the others, it was not nearly as bad as it could have been, it would have been much better if it wasn't there at all.  It especially irks me when the name of The Lord Jesus is used as an exclamation; this happened more than once.  Marta's swearing grated on me particularly; she is the heroine and is overall a very attractive and likeable woman, but her occasional swearing tarnished that a bit.

Speaking of Marta, early in the film she talks about a man that had been living with her but moved out, and in a matter of moments we have a worldview presented which says that that's normal and OK.  Another real smear on her character which was totally irrelevant to the story.


I've noticed more and more presentation of homosexuality as normative in films lately; it is worth mentioning that Marta says of a coworker "I thought he was gay."  While this did not at all feel like the forced agenda that spills out of many other modern films, it's worth a mention as, if nothing else, an interesting inclusion in the script.


Like I said, Aaron is a little flirtatious in one scene.  


Obviously, the film is violent; I think the violence was, overall, very tastefully done, but for viewers who are disturbed by violence, it's definitely present.  However, there were a few times where Aaron killed people that I don't think he was justified in killing; they did not threaten him with any serious harm, nor did they pose a serious threat, so I would have preferred to see an approach that placed more value on life.




Aaron Cross needs the "chems," chemical supplements which enhance his mental and physical ability and were part of the government program he participated in.  It is unclear from the film exactly what the consequences of going off this medication would be, but the worldview issues remain.  

First, that we should be content with the way that God made us; Aaron, before being enhanced, apparently had a low IQ, but instead of solving that by modifying the body God gave him, perhaps he should join Lumosity.


Second, that the most productive way of bettering ourselves is God's way.  Chemical enhancements (like steroids or drugs) often promise instant results at the expense of long-term heath.  The Bible has a lot to say about how we treat our bodies, so regardless whether Aaron could live without the chems or not, it's important to consider Biblical principles before popping the pill.




Something else that's normal to see in films and in our culture is women in the work force- living alone, working outside the home without the protection and leadership of a husband or father.  It's worth pointing out, not because Legacy is different in this regard from any other modern film, but because it is the same as all the others.  It's a constant cultural message which, if we do not take it captive to the obedience of Christ, will influence our own worldview.


Another thing that happens all the time in movies is that the hero runs off with someone's car, destroys property while getting away, or some other such.  In this case, Aaron pilfers a watch, a motorcycle, an airplane, and is involved in street chases that aren't exactly... casualty-free.  Um- is anybody going to repay these people?




As far as modesty is concerned, there are a few scenes where Aaron is shown shirtless, and Marta wears a spaghetti-strap shirt.  None of these, though, are set in a romantic context- with the exception of the scene with the most intimate interaction between them, which is when Aaron has a very bad fever.  You could call it romantic, but it didn't go beyond anything that two good friends (or a brother and sister) could do in good conscience in that context.




The Art


The Good

Gotta say, I didn't want another Bourne film.  Ultimatum left off amazingly well, and I figured another try would be superfluous and also just really, really bad.


I stand corrected.  The direction Legacy took was unexpected and unique.  The decision to bring in a new lead character was brilliant; an attempt to replace Matt Damon with a different actor playing the same role would have been disastrous.  Bringing Aaron Cross into the story of Jason Bourne, on the other hand, breathed new life into the franchise.


Cross contrasts wonderfully with Bourne.


Bourne is stoic, silent, robotic, with a permanently furrowed forehead and the bewilderment of a lost child buried beneath an exterior hardened by his life and profession.




Cross is talkative (VERY talkative), personable, has a sense of humor and a ready grin.  


(Side note: THANK YOU costume department for being honest with things like facial hair!  Seriously, Jason Bourne is on the run 24/7, but he's always clean-shaven and with his hair gelled in place. Um- wut?)

Even with a new actor and new character, the filmmakers could have tried to just do another Bourne- but they didn't, and that was a very good decision.  The contrast between the two protagonists adds to the believability (and enjoyability) of the story, and while Matt Damon's robotic Jason Bourne was perfect for Bourne, it would have quickly grown boring had it appeared in another protagonist as well.


I have a new favorite actress.  Rachel Wiesz delivers one of the most convincing, genuine performances I think I've ever seen.  From shock to bewilderment to fear to her mischevious smile at the very end of the film, she played her role perfectly.




Speaking of acting, the acting overall in Legacy was stellar.  


Jeremy Renner was excellent as Aaron Cross (I thought he did a far better job in this film than in The Avengers- whether by his fault or that of the people behind the camera, I don't know, but Hawkeye was painful).  He delivered a very believable and likable Aaron, talkative, personable, with human emotions and just a very buyable personality.




Edward Norton made for a formidable antagonist.  Cool under pressure, but without the over-tension that I think haunted previous Bourne characters in his position, quiet but authoritative, he was perfect for this role.




Indeed, I thought the entire government agency side of the film was far and away better than in the previous Bourne films, in which there seemed to me to be an over-tension and "I'm cool"ness about many of the government agents.  Not Norton and his team- they were spot-on, without stone-faced stoicism or over-exaggerated emotions.  Even the minor characters on his team were spot on, down to the slightly overweight, nerdy-looking guy who asks how to get this screen up on the big screen. Perfect.  It's the little inclusions like this which take the government side of the film from cardboard cut-outs to a real and believable group of people.


And then there's this guy.



The scenes featuring Aaron Cross and the other Outcome agent in the cabin were some of my favorite from the film.  The chemistry between these two was amazing, and the scripting was masterful.  In our family, we refer to it as "blue"- the scene was very "blue" in that the two men talked to each other just like men do.  Between the acting and the scripting, it felt so spot-on.  

Indeed, throughout the entire film, on-the-nose dialogue ("I accept your apology, we can be friends now") is avoided masterfully, with emotions being shown instead of spoken.  Very good.

Another excellent inclusion was the scene in which Marta Shearing talks to a co-worker who later commits a serious crime- in just a few moments of very natural, organic dialogue, we get to see that this is a normal guy and not some psycho.

I very much enjoyed director Tony Gilroy's style.  I found Legacy far more artistic and tasteful than the previous three Bourne films; shaky-cam was not forced into the film, while sweeping vistas and other amazing (non-shaky) shots colored the canvas marvelously.  The color, too, was much richer in this one, and overall the film felt warmer, more inviting, and just more filmic.  I haven't said it yet, so I'll say it now- Legacy is my favorite of the four so far.  





I really appreciated the costume design of Rachel Weisz's character.  She looked respectable, feminine, and attractive, but that was all.  No skin-tight leather or gaping necklines distracted from her facial expressions; nor did she look like a supermodel who was for some reason working in a laboratory.  She looked exactly like who she was- a professional woman who had more important things to do in life than worry about her looks- a woman who took care of herself but didn't spend hours in front of the mirror- and she wouldn't seem out of place if I walked past her in Wal-Mart.  I think she (as well as almost everyone in this film- I already mentioned Aaron's beard) was a great example of honest, artistically fitting costume design vs. forced or sensualized costuming.




I loved how the "Jason Bourne" theme was masterfully woven into the score by James Newton Howard at just the right moments- instantly conjuring up three films worth of story in just two notes.  Chillingly well done.  The sound of the music was also excellent- very modern and smooth, providing a rich sonic bed into which the film was set.




The Bad


Overall, I think this film was an excellent work of art, but there are a few bones I have to pick with it.


First, why is Marta's car such a mess in the beginning of the film?  It is only a brief shot, but it's shown as if it is introducing us to a facet of her character.  Yet, for the rest of the film, she seems to me like a very organized, professional person, so that seemed inconsistent to me.




A bigger artistic issue for me was the story, which felt like it ended too quickly.  I guess, technically, the protagonist had achieved his goal, but when the film ended, I wanted more.  Part of that you want- you want the audience to leave the theater begging for the next one.  But this was a little more than that- it had a touch of "that's it?!?" a touch of "well, that was sudden."  I'm not entirely sure how it could have been fixed (although I'll bet the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet would tell me), but I think I would liked to have seen a little more resolution to the other threads of the film, a second climax that dealt with the real antagonist and not just his minions.  As the film ends now, there's no good reason to believe that Aaron and Marta are actually safe for any extended period of time.




And then there was the obligatory Bourne chase scene with the obligatory other-assassin-agent-guy that the hero must fight.  Chase scene: pretty awesome.  Other-assassin-agent-guy: not so much.




Whether it was the actor or the people behind the camera (I'm inclined to think the latter), LARX-03 felt way over-epic.  (Did we really have to do the "epicly-pulling-off-my-aviator-shades" shot?)  Plus, I had no chance to connect with this guy, to identify him- not even any real good reason to be afraid of him.  I think this was part of why the climax of the film was not as satisfying- the bad guy that Aaron defeats isn't the real bad guy.  He was pretty much a throw-in at the end of the film (I mean, the film would have hardly changed if his character was entirely removed).  It felt very forced.  I wanted to see Aaron defeat Edward Norton's character; LARX-03 is just another agent, so while that could make for a good action scene (if woven into the story well) it doesn't make for a very satisfying victory to end the film on.


This isn't the first Bourne film to contain cardboard cut-out assassinesque attackers, but I do think it's the first one to attempt to use one as the catalyst for the film's climax.


The guy who said "look at us... look at what they make you give" from Identity is a great example of a better-developed minor antagonist.




Then there's the music.  There were some things that I really liked about Howard's Legacy score, but some things I didn't care for as much.  I really, really missed the main theme which John Powell used so prominently in the previous three Bourne films.  Whether or not it should have been used in a film featuring a different protagonist, I don't know (they did use the "Jason Bourne" theme), but I didn't think it was adequately replaced in this film.  A theme prominently appeared late in Legacy's score, which felt rather odd, because it hadn't been even hinted at up to that point- at least, not that I noticed just from seeing the film.  I haven't listened to the score.  There were a few points where the score felt like it was trying too hard to be something that it wasn't, especially in the last action scene.  I'm definitely nitpicking, though- overall, I think the score fit the film like a glove and set a great sonic atmosphere for the whole story.


Overall,

I really enjoyed The Bourne Legacy.  It's my favorite of the series, and, indeed, one of my favorite films all-time.  I really enjoyed the relationship between the main characters and the believability of the antagonist and his team, and the film as a whole seemed artistically richer than the previous three, even in spite of a weak (or missing) third act.  If you can get rid of the language, I would definitely recommend doing so; other than that, it's surprisingly clean for a film of its genre, and it's a very fun ride.  I highly recommend it.  

It's definitely one that I'll watch again and again.  4.5/5