Friday, December 1, 2017

Two Ways To Be A Bad Patriarch

Husbands and fathers, we have been given a great authority and responsibility by God as the heads of our homes. There are two easy ways to misuse this authority and place ourselves in the pathway of God's judgment. 
1. To fail to exercise our authority- like David, who "had never crossed [Absalom] at any time by asking, "Why have you done so?"" The passive father who does not actively lead his family has been given authority by God, but has left it sitting on a shelf collecting dust, and he will answer for the resulting disrepair all the more because he neglected to use the very tool God gave to prevent it. 
2. To over-exercise our authority, or to act as if it has no limitations- like King Uzziah, who presumed to offer incense on God's altar and thus overstepped his God-given authority. The father who exercises authority without love, or who acts as if his wife or children are to obey him without limitation, without recourse, and most of all without their own personal sense of duty and relationship to Christ, may expect a similar rebuke: "Get out of the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful and will have no honor from the Lord God.”

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Highway of Heroism

This article is by turns fascinating and heartbreaking. It is amazing how humanism takes us by the hand and walks us away from God's reality- and indeed from all true meaning and joy.

It's no longer about truth or reality. It's about the experience. It doesn't matter if you are actually a man- if you *feel* like a woman, then you must be. It doesn't matter if you are *actually* the little girl's daddy, so long as you make her *feel* like she has an involved father. It doesn't matter if you are in a committed relationship for life; it just matters that, for right now, she makes you feel good.

Thus we run from the real world that God made, a world of meaning, a world of true family, a world of covenant, a world of unconditional love.

All we want is the experience.

The highway of heroism has a high toll, paid in blood, sweat, and tears. But the game console version only costs a couple of hundred bucks and your manhood.

The road of reality is hot in the summer and covered with snow in the winter. Let me watch the movie about someone who traveled that road instead.

I'll get the experience without the sacrifice. The joy without the pain.

But that's a lie.

Because the experiences of God's World are not only about what we enjoy in them but about what they do to us. And if you remove sacrifice from the equation, you have an anvil with no hammer. The sword will not be sharpened without friction.

Remove the trial, remove the reward. Remove the race, remove the finish line. Remove the battle, remove the thrill of victory.

Rent a perfect boyfriend who plays his script to perfection and you will experience happiness. You will experience wonderful dates and comfortable movie nights.

But you will never taste looking into the eyes of a soul so close to yours that it is almost indistinguishable. You will never have your soul broken by the careless words of your best friend, and re-forged in the tears of her repentance. You will never discover just how deep your selfishness runs like rot into the foundations of your soul, or just how much you need Jesus to rebuild that foundation, or just how much joy awaits when He does and you feel the layers of flesh falling away. You will never know sweet tears or broken laughter. You will never be the last, longest-married couple on the dance floor at the wedding. You will never hold the same hand that you've been holding for sixty years, or wake up an old man to the same kisses you first tasted on your wedding day. You will never bear the burdens of crushing pain beside another weeping heart. You will never see overflowing joy spilling from your heart and splashing shimmering sparkles into the most beautiful eyes in the world. And you will never, one day, wake up alone, and feel like half of your heart is buried under six feet of earth and half of your soul is waiting for you at the feet of Jesus.

So yes. We can trade this life in for a facade. Yes, there will be less pain. The dead don't feel pain.

But neither can they laugh.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Is America under Judgment?

Eclipses and hurricanes and floods and fires and the conversation is inevitable- is God punishing us?

The answer is undoubtedly yes. But not necessarily in the way that we are used to thinking.

Throughout Scripture, signs in the heavens and catastrophic natural events are seen as being sent by God. However, unlike Biblically prophesied events, modern natural disasters- while being no less acts of God- have no clear word from God that says that they are anything more than His Providential and glorious weather-working. So could tragedies like Harvey and celestial anomalies like the recent eclipse be signs and judgments upon America?


If they are, do we deserve them? We murder our babies by the hundreds of thousands, we dismember and dismantle the most foundational elements of God's design for marriage, sexuality, and the family, we blaspheme our Creator, we institutionalize theft, we divorce our wives and abandon our kids- yes, we deserve them.

But do we know that they are judgments?

No. We have no direct revelation from God saying that they are.

It is all too easy for us to let physical appearances eclipse spiritual realities. We cannot know that Harvey was a messenger of Divine retribution- although it might have been. But we can know that God's judgment is very real and active upon our nation on a deeper and more chilling level.

As a country we no longer know what it means to be male or female. We fly into riots over trifles and are offended by the slightest transgressions. We don't believe in truth and are shocked that we cannot make sense of reality; we deny that words have meaning and then discover that conversation is meaningless.

This is the judgement of God. "And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind..."

There is salvation in no other Name. Yes, America is under judgment, and conservatism will not change that, Republicanism will not change that, even traditional values will not change that. Only real and lasting repentance before the One True God of Heaven through His Son Jesus Christ caused by the outpouring of His Spirit can save this country. It is for that repentance that we must pray and labor.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Crying Baby In The Room

I'm going to start off by saying that I unilaterally and unequivocally condemn racism of every shape, color, and size, white supremacy included. God made us all in His Image. The Sacrifice of Christ and His Gospel are offered to all people regardless of the amount of melanin in their skin. And God is the One Who put that melanin there anyway. Any belief that one race of humanity is inherently, genetically better than another is anti-Christian and immoral. There only, really, is one race- descendants of Adam. The question for everyone of every race is not about the bloodline they were born into, but whether they have been born again by the blood of Christ.

That said, I think we are contributing to the race-driven dialogue of this country by spending so much time harping on this wonderful truth. Unwittingly- indeed, against our will- we are allowing the Antifas and the Alt-Rights and the CNNs to control our dialogue as a church and as a nation. Antifa and the Alt-Right together make one tragic fiasco after another, driven by racial hatred; the media, loving a good tragedy, focuses on, meditates on, propagates that conflict and the worldviews of those involved; the left successfully sets the tone of the dialogue- "anyone on the right who does not come out and condemn the Alt-Right in the strongest of terms is a racist." And we know they have succeeded because all over the right are calls for conservatives and Christians everywhere to come out and publicly denounce white supremacy.

The right fires back by telling the left to condemn the racism and violence of Antifa and Black Lives Matter and the rest.

And all of these things should be condemned. But that's not the point.

There have been white supremacists and black power groups and rioting socialists before. They are advancing an evil ideology, sure. And sometimes a particular Klaner or Black Panther does something particularly repugnant, and I am in no way downplaying the evil of both those ideologies and the actions of their adherents.

But just because I am white does not mean that every time the Alt-Right guys do something evil I need to come out and disassociate myself from them. To consider me automatically associated with white supremacy because of my skin color *is racism*. Just because Joe is black doesn't mean that I have a right to automatically assume that he supports the smashing of shop windows.

The most disturbing thing to me about this whole issue, this whole dialogue, is that nationally we are becoming more and more polarized by skin color- not less and less. It is becoming less and less acceptable to actually look at one another as humans- to actually talk about skin color with all the same emotional freight as I would talk about hair color or height or dialect- in other words, with no emotional freight at all.

Frankly, I don't care what color your skin is. And I don't want to care what color your skin is. You're a human. I want to see you as such. To know you as such. To love you as such and offer the goodness of Jesus to you as such.

And if you call me white, it doesn't offend me. I'm white. Technically, I'm more of a light brown- at least on the parts of me that are regularly exposed to the Arizona sun. And I don't really care. That's how God made me.

"Black," "White," "Indian," whatever it is- it's not an insult. It's simple, common-sense English.

The simple fact is that the Alt-Right and Antifa together probably make up less than a tenth of one percent of the population of America. You probably don't know anyone personally who knows anyone personally who knows anyone personally who is a member of either.

Have you ever noticed the remarkable phenomenon of a crying baby/toddler? When everyone stops and pays attention to them, usually the crying increases. When they are given a pat on the head and life goes on as usual, they calm down.

I think it's high time we began ignoring Antifa and the Alt-Right altogether. They're a paper tiger problem being given real weight by all the massive attention put upon them. They are an anthill, and we need to stop viewing them through a magnifying glass.

When they break the law (vandalizing statues, harming people, etc.), they should be punished according to the law.

Beyond that, they should be devoutly ignored. They are driven not by principle but by emotion- an emotion that is fed by the swirling dialogue of our national conversation. That is the Marxist crisis-creation machine working in full swing. Let's not contribute to it.

We need to allow the issue of race to fade back into the background of irrelevance where it belongs and see people the way God made them- in His Image. Let's stop playing in their sandbox. It's just making everything more messy.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

On Modesty and Dead Horses

Ah, we have dug up the corpse of the modesty horse from the backyard once again. Grab your bats, everyone.
But it's not really beating a dead horse; more like a zombie horse; some battles need re-fought, and some need re-focused. In all the back-and-forth, we may hope and trust that God is honing the effectiveness of His Church.
Like most issues, the modesty issue really boils down to whether or not we are seeking God wholeheartedly. If we are, we can grow in wisdom. If we are not, then we will dig into one side or the other and stay there.
Blamers gonna blame. Legalists gonna legal. Libertines gonna liber.
For the girl who wants to feel justified in dressing in ways that are worldly and reminiscent of the Proverbs 7 woman, articles like the recent viral wonderpost provide the perfect ammunition to cast blame on the men around her. 
For the guy who wants to feel justified in ogling his sisters in Christ, any given call to modesty for girls is the perfect ammunition to cast blame on the women around him.
So the real question is- have we removed the log from our own eye? 
Am I arguing for "modesty" because I'm unwilling to repent of my own sin, or maybe because I am desperate to uphold man-made standards and too proud to lend an honest ear to a critique? 
Am I arguing against "modesty" because I want to be free to dress the way that makes me feel beautiful, rather than the way that best honors Christ and serves others?
We are all responsible for how we dress- for how it represents Christ, and for how it affects others. We should be dressing for Christ and for others, not for self. This would obviously include having some sort of standard for decency (and I believe that that goes for both guys and girls-…/magic-mike-and-male-mode…). (1 Cor. 13:4-8)
We are also all responsible for how we think. Guys, if we don't take our lustful thoughts captive, our poor sisters could walk around in burkhas and we would find that their eyes were enticing. "Girl, the bridge of your nose is causing me to stumble." (Matt. 5:28)
And girls, it's also unfair to tell guys to keep their eyes under control while posting drool-stained fangirl comments about the screenshot of Mr. Hotness, coming in HD December 2017. I'm just sayin', all that drool ain't good for your keyboard.
Somewhere out there on the war-torn battleground of sexuality and decency is wisdom. 
The devil would be happy to convince us that God doesn't care, and to render us as Christians just as naked and licentious as the world. "You shall not surely die."
The devil would also be happy to see us fenced up in a bunker of our own traditions and legalisms, so focused on this or any other peripheral issue that the Christ that we claim to serve fades into the background. "Hath God said?"
And the devil would probably also be happy to divide us into the two above camps and keep us busy fighting between ourselves and representing a divided Christ to the world around us.
We all know (or should know) that some attire is not fit for the public eye. If we are humble enough, we should be able to discuss one another's standards, learn from each other, discover how best to love and consider each other, embrace liberty in Christ, and seek wisdom.
It's not "girls, wear what you want." It's not "guys, think what you want." We're Christians. The whole point of this thing is that for every one of us the command is crystal clear- "do what Jesus wants."
So let's humble ourselves and seek God together.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Reposted from my music website:

The filmmaking world is unique for a variety of reasons; the convergence of disciplines, personalities, passions and skills that come together to make a single production is staggering, and the community that such like-minded laboring forges is easily compared to the relationship of a family; the cash flows in torrents, circulating enough green rectangular blood cells through the body of the filmmaking community to support many thousands of professionals and their families; the end product will often be seen by millions of eyes in dozens of countries around the world. With such a huge industry, so much skill, so many relationships, so much money, so much exposure and influence, it becomes quickly obvious why filmmaking makes such a powerful tool for the advancement of the Kingdom of God; inherent in a tool’s power, however, is a corresponding necessity for the careful use thereof.

There are no seven day waiting periods for the purchase of butter knives.

So what are the inherent dangers and temptations facing us as Christian filmmakers? While I cannot claim to list them all, I would like to suggest three powerful lures that would love to displace Christ as the king of our hearts.

The first is money. There is nothing wrong with a desire to make money- to the contrary, we are required to provide for our own, and that implies making money. Furthermore, Scripture says that the laborer is worthy of his wages. It is not “more Christian” to work for free, nor is it somehow wrong to charge a price that makes our work profitable. But the problem arises when we see our professional pursuit primarily as a means to make money, rather than primarily as a means to serve God. We cannot serve both God and money, and in an industry so flush with cash- especially in the secular realm of Hollywood- the lure of riches shimmers bright and golden, and we as believers must remind ourselves of what is truly priceless.  (1 Tim. 5:8,18, Luke 16:13)

The second is fame. Your average McDonald’s burger-flipper isn’t interested in making sure that he is known nationwide as the most talented patty artist. But step into the filmmaking community and “who you know” becomes essential to professional success. You need a brand; you need name recognition; you need a social network. And these are simply necessary considerations for a wise businessperson. But it is a very short step from Christ-focused pursuit of professional excellence and self-focused pursuit of fame. A good litmus test for this consideration is whether or not we can rejoice in the success of other believers, especially those who share an identical professional pursuit. If my focus is on Jesus, and if I am considering others more important than myself, then when that other composer gets signed onto the awesome film project, I will be glad for him, praying for him, and excited to see God’s Kingdom go forward. I will also trust Him to provide for my needs in the way that is best for me- even if that means I need to get a job at McDonald’s! After all, if I am seeking first His Kingdom, then it is about His fame and not my own. If, however, my focus is on myself, I will struggle with coveting others’ successes, and I will not be content with the blessings God has given me. (Matt. 6:33, Phil. 2)

The final snare to beware (for this post, at least) is the idol of art. We creatives are generally quite passionate about our respective crafts, and there are few things more satisfying than making a ________ (scene, score, script, etc.) that turns out just right. But as satisfying as that is, it is ultimately empty if it is not subject to our pursuit of Christ. The goal of artistry is not just to create excellent art; it is to create excellent art for the glory of our excellent God. This doesn’t mean cramming a “pray-a-prayer” scene into every script, but it does mean that our definition of good art stems from our pursuit of Christ and our understanding of His leading on our life. It also means that if our artistic pursuit is not what God wants us to do right now, we will not cling stubbornly to our dreams, but will rather follow the leading of our King. If the question changes from “what does Christ want me to do” into “what do I want to do” in our pursuit of artistic excellence, then we have created a golden calf in the shape of our passion, and we have revealed the true attitude of our heart- more passionate about our craft than about our Christ. This can also be diagnosed with a simple question- if Jesus wanted me to quit filmmaking and go work in a gas station, would I be OK with that? (1 Cor. 10:31)

This all boils down to the simple commandment to seek first the Kingdom of God- to love Him with all our hearts. If we are doing that, then we will see that no amount of money, no amount of fame, no level of artistic achievement can ever rival the joy and perfection that is for us in the infinitely satisfying Jesus Christ. (Matt. 6:33, 22:37, John 15:11)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Lures of Sin

Pr. 7 warns against the adulteress and her lures; I suspect that there are some principles in her approach that are reflective of all sin.

- Permission - although we know the sin is wrong, we try to justify it one way or another - "today I have paid my vows"

- Pride - oftentimes the lures of sin appeal to our pride, even back in the garden with the invitation to be like God - "to seek your presence earnestly" [It's also worth noting that she/sin doesn't actually care a bit about him; he is a piece of meat to her; but she will make him feel important.]

- Pleasure - sin always promises some pleasure or another; even while we are miserable in our sin our flesh still has a sick enjoyment in it - "let us delight ourselves with caresses"

- Promise - sin also paints itself as a consequence-free endeavor; "you will not surely die" - "at full moon he will come home."

So then, in fighting sin, we can watch for these commonalities and respond with a Scriptural perspective on each issue:

- As Jesus responded to the devil, who tried to twist Scripture into justifying sin, by quoting God's commands right back at him, so we must refute the justifying endeavors of the flesh by simply responding with God's Word. "I really have a right to be angry right now. I can't believe he did that to m- WAIT. The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God." (Matt. 4:1-11)

- When pride becomes part of the equation (which it almost always is), we need to identify the area of self-focus, self-exaltation, the area where I am big and Jesus and others are small. In the above example, notice the focus on self- *I* have a right to be angry; *I* can't believe *he* did that to *me.* I am no longer thinking of myself as an unworthy recipient of the grace of God who deserves nothing better than eternal judgment for my sin; if I was, I wouldn't be so worked up over something so small, but would rather realize that I don't deserve any better! I am also no longer thinking of the other guy as more important than myself. (Phil. 2:3)
-  We must identify the pleasure that sin is promising and remind ourselves that we won't actually get pleasure from this sin, even here and now; it will at best be passing and overshadowed by guilt. Then let us simply get a glimpse of the beauty and joy to be had in God's path of life, and the pleasures of sin will be overwhelmingly eclipsed. (John 15:11)

- Sin promises that "you shall not surely die." We feel like it's worth it; we'll get away with it and there won't be consequences. But we must remind ourselves that its end is "the way of death;" rather than looking at what sin says the harvest will be, we should read God's warnings written on the package of seeds. He has warned us what those pleasures will cost in 2, 12, 20 years. He offers life, and we would be wise to focus our hearts on the rewards *He* promises, which are far richer than any fake delights sin can offer. (Pr. 9)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Review: Rogue One

It's been a long time since my last film review, but this one is worth coming out of hibernation for. The reception for the latest installment of the Star Wars saga has been overwhelmingly positive, and the film will obviously have significant cultural reach, so like a cargo shuttle from a spacecraft of dubious intent it deserves a close inspection before being provided a docking bay in our homes and hearts.


The Good

The Worldview

There are plenty of good lessons to take away from this movie:

- It is good to have the courage to sacrifice ourselves for others and/or a cause greater than ourselves (and here the Christian worldview provides the only cause worth dying for; our heroes are dying for arbitrary values, but their courage is still commendable) - John 15:13

- Tyrannical regimes that centralize power in the name of peace are bad and should be resisted; liberty is good and should be defended - Neh. 4:14

- Family relationships are good and parents should take care of their children - 1 Tim. 5:8

- Trust has to be earned - Pr. 20:6

The Art

The art in this film was pretty much what you would expect from a modern Star Wars movie, with the exceptions we will note in the next section; incredible graphics, engaging sound design, solid acting. And really cool shots of Darth Vader.

I really appreciate the fact that they actually let people die. In particular, the deaths of the main characters at the end added a lot of weight to the importance of their quest and the depth of their resolve which is severely lacking in most modern movie fare.

The romance was tasteful and believable (although largely lacking the richness of gender distinction and attraction).

Also, the tie-in to the next film was masterful.

The Bad

The Worldview

As far as the battle of the worldviews is concerned, however, this film is overall fighting for the Dark Side. And I don't mean the Dark Side of the movie's universe; of course Vader and his ilk are still the bad guys; I mean the Dark Side of the real universe. Rogue One is packed full of unBiblical messages that are easy to miss and easier to absorb. Whether such packing was intentional or not doesn't really matter- whether the droid meant to shoot you or not, the blaster hit hurts just the same.

- One of the most chilling messages of the film was a new one to this franchise. In the previous episodes of Star Wars, the good guys did good things. They wore white hats. They played by the rules. Any good guy who started fudging wound up Darth Vader. Rogue One presented a world of heroes driven by situational and relativistic ethics. Cassian, who by the end of the film is a hero, in the beginning of the film shoots a man in the back in cold blood and without any justification beyond convenience. Later, he shoots and kills a resistance fighter (who is ostensibly on his side) which leads to the death of other resistance fighters, to save Jyn from an accidental demise- we can debate the ethics of that choice, but the point is that the choice was presented in the first place, and he with no hesitation does what seems best to him. Later still, he, at the head of a group of other rebel fighters, mentions how they all basically feel guilty for doing immoral things for the sake of the rebellion. And these are the heroes... and they aren't repenting of the immoral things; they just feel bad about them.

You can have complex heroes and villains and still have a clear standard of right and wrong. God does. (Is. 5:20)

- Which brings us to point two; as with all films that will not acknowledge God or His Word, there is no standard for morality in this film. The good guys are good because they are... good at heart-ish... and care for other people... sometimes. Unless they are shooting them in the back for convenience's sake; then they feel guilty. Maybe. IDK.

Of course, that is better than the straight-up cold-blooded conscienceless city-destroying that the Empire represents... but we only know it is better because we all have God's Law written on our hearts. This film has begun watering down the distinction between the Dark Side and the Light Side... but that distinction has been arbitrary since Episode I. Or IV. Or whatever.

Humanism is coming home. The worldviews forged over the past century are finally making their way onto the silver screen. Our standards of morality are going rogue, and the galaxy will suffer for it.

- Which brings us to point three; redemption through good works. These guys are like Natasha Romanoff; they've got red in their ledger, and they are out to really strike a blow against the Empire to make up for the bad things they did so they can feel better about themselves. Even though they did the bad things for good reasons. Umwut?

This mode of salvation is directly opposed to salvation by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ- the only way we can be forgiven for our sins.

- Next, we have the good ol' mumbo jumbo about the Force. Let's not beat around the bush here- this stuff is blasphemy in pure form; evil and devilish and yet so innocent on its face. It attributes things which should only be said of God to an impersonal force copied blushlessly from eastern religions. This film only takes it further; "I am one with the force and the force is with me," chants a blind man who through the force is a super-warrior, and when he dies he counsels his friend to find the force- and thereby to find him as well. In other words, god is everything, everything is god, and when we die we will be absorbed into Brahma. The True God hates this kind of stuff, and so should we. We aren't God, and we never will be. He made it all, He owns it all, and He reigns over it all.

- Egalitarianism is such standard fare nowadays that it is easy to become accustomed to the flavor, and this requires us to be all the more vigilant in calibrating our taste buds. Rogue One presents us with yet another action heroine in yet another world with no distinctions between men and women. Jyn Erso is a skilled warrioress whose ability to whoop up on bad dudes impresses Cassian more than her beauty or femininity. While we can all appreciate the lack of sexual innuendo that this androJyny presents, the problem is that there is also simply a lack of distinction as a whole. Men and women fight. Men and women lead nations. And Jyn is the galactic Katniss, put in a place that only she can fill, giving the pep talk to the troops, rallying the council, and throwing down a lot of bad guys along the way.

It's interesting watching a worldview progress; Leia was a previous generation feminist: beautiful and womanly, but with her moments of stubborn "I can do anything a man can do." We are beyond that now. Now we don't even talk about it. Nobody notices, nobody cares. None of the men open the doors for the ladies. They're empowered, you know. They can get their own door.

This message is made all the more powerful by the fact that the authors of the film put Jyn in a place where most of what she does really would be OK. Deborah might have given a pep talk to the troops. Plenty of women in Scripture held influential and powerful positions. And what daughter put in Jyn's position would do anything other than what she did, other than perhaps stay behind on a mission or two?

The issue is less about any specific action and more about a worldview that says "there are no distinctions between men and women; we will not submit to God's pattern for manhood and womanhood." Today we consider an empowered woman one who is free to be like a man; the Bible presents an empowered woman as one who is fully a woman. Men are supposed to be the leaders and the fighters. That is the way God designed it. But this movie, along with most today, reject that idea entirely. (Neh. 4:14, Is 3:12)

Now before you accuse me of wanting women to be helpless weaklings, bear in mind that I've taken my wife through multiple self-defense courses and we named our daughter after a woman who killed an enemy king in his sleep with a tent peg.

So there's that.

The Art

- I am a big fan of sad movies; I am not one to complain about characters dying. But this film was strewn with one epic, dramatic death scene after another, and it was overkill. Pun intended. The characters were largely underdeveloped, and their deaths were largely unnecessary. The important deaths would have had increased gravitas if it weren't for all the red shirts also getting their own scene of demise.

"Hey guys, let's watch a random fighter pilot yell for help over the radio and then get vaporized!"

"Nope, I'm just gonna stand here and die instead of escaping with y'all. But thanks."

"The Force kept me safe as I walked to the switch, and I forgot about it on the way back, so whoops. But hey, believe in the Force and you'll still be with me."

"Now I believe in the Force so I'm gonna slowly walk forward in my rage over my friend's death while praying to the Force and kill like three people before dying awesomely because apparently the Force's magic powers broke."

- This one had less cliche content than The Force Awakens (which was basically Ep. IV 2), but it still had its reincarnation of C-3PO/TARS/etc. (who was still my favorite character- his demise was actually the one part in the movie that choked me up). Oh, and another orphan girl. Nobody in this universe has living parents except for Luke.

 - I did not care. The film gave me no reason to. When we first meet the main guy, he murders someone in cold blood; meanwhile the main girl is kinda accidentally on a quest for her dad so she can be freed from people who kidnapped her from her previous kidnappers... meanwhile, everybody else dies. Honestly, the last ending climax of the movie was the only part of the film that really drew me in.

- I was also disappointed in the musical avoidance of the full versions of John Williams' themes. Giacchino is a master, so I am not sure where the blame lies for a score that, at least to me, was lackluster compared to its heritage.

- The violence was darker and more gruesome than the previous films, and it was completely unnecessary; it seemed to correlate with the more morally ambiguous worldview of the film.

On Competing Affections

One other note- and this is true of every film, not just Rogue One- a man at our church likes to emphasize the importance of making sure that nothing in our homes is "cooler," or more exciting, more wonderful, than Jesus. Well made movie universes like the Star Wars galaxy, the Marvel Character Universe, the Hunger Games districts, Middle Earth, Narnia and even more real-world fantasies like the Bourne films or your latest Pixar trilogy- all of these provide engaging, fascinating imagination candy. We must be careful both for ourselves and especially for our children to make sure that we remember that these are all pretend stories. There's a real war on, and we should spend our time and affections on the real King and His Kingdom- not on studying and meditating on the truths of a pretend universe. Children are prone to falling in love with a film and its characters, and if that love begins to take over conversations and imaginations, and to replace the love of Christ and His real world, it might be worth curbing the media intake until the child is of an age to understand that movies are fake, and Jesus is real, and to value and be excited about imitating Christ more than imitating Jyn's epic fight moves.

In Conclusion,

Rogue One provided me with a great opportunity to spend time with my wife, but as far as the film was concerned I spent the majority of the movie waiting for it to get good. It was a darker and less interesting version of Star Wars which dimmed the ethical guiding stars into a galactic moral quagmire. The highlight of the film for me was the gripping grand finale, and if it were possible to read the first two acts on Wikipedia and then watch the last battle sequence, that would be my recommended approach. I think they should have left the original six alone, but Rogue One did provide some intriguing and well-thought-out backstory. I would not recommend it, but it does present an excellent study in worldview analysis, and given its popularity we must be able to provide such analysis.

The real Dark Side is crafty, and recognizing its advances is essential for effectiveness as a Christian warrior.