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Everything Changes

The more messed up this world gets, the more God makes sense.

The Ulimate Sacrifice

Monday, January 19, 2009
Note: the following post will spoil the movie endings for Slumdog Millionaire and Gran Torino.

In Gran Torino Clint East plays Walt Kowalski, a racist Korean War veteran, who becomes increasingly unhappy at the influx of Hmong people to his neighborhood. After he catches Thao, a teenage Hmong neighbor, attempting to steal his 1972 Gran Torino as part of a gang initiation, the boy is forced by his tradition-oriented family to work for Kowalski in penance.

Estranged from his children and grandchildren, and having just lost his wife, Kowalski gradually becomes friendly with Thao and his family, learning about Hmong culture. He attempts to protect Thao and his sister Sue from the gang.

Slumdog Millionaire is the story of Jamal Malik, an 18 year-old orphan from the slums of Mumbai, who is about to experience the biggest day of his life. With the whole nation watching, he is just one question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India's "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" But when the show breaks for the night, police arrest him on suspicion of cheating; how could a street kid know so much?

Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells the story of his life in the slum where he and his older brother, Salim, who is both his guardian/protector and antagonist, grew up - of their adventures together on the road, of vicious encounters with local gangs, and of Latika, the girl he loved and lost.

I haven't seen many movies in the past year so I found it interesting that the two most recent movies I saw had similar themes. In both movies the characters of Walt and Salim are hard-nosed, heartless men that hate people and would kill anyone that got in their way - Walt killed in the Korean war and Salim killed gangsters and crime lords from the time he was a child.

Yet both films offer incredible stories of sacrifice, redemption, freedom.
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

[ John 15:13 ]

In Slumdog Salim helps Latika (his brother's lost love) escape from Javed (the crime lord he works for) and allows himself to be killed in a bathtub full of money after shooting and killing Javed. Salim's last words are "God is great", which is a Muslim prayer.

In Gran Torino the Hmong gang that keeps pressuring Walt's young neighbor
Thao to join them find Thao alone, mug him and burn his face with a cigarette. Walt confronts and beats up one of the Hmong gang members in retaliation. The gang returns days later and shoots up Thao's home, wounding Thao in the neck. Sue (Thao's sister), who had left for her aunt's house before the shooting, returns, beaten and raped. Walt confronts the gang about the shootout and rape. He waits and watches as some neighbors witness the confrontation. He takes out a cigarette from his jacket, puts it in his mouth, and asks the gang for a light. Then Walt reaches for a lighter in his jacket, and the gang unleashes a hail of fire upon him in fear, thinking Walt is pulling out a gun. Walt is killed.

Both Walt and Salim sacrificed their lives for others. And interestingly, both men planned and prepared for martyrdom - Walt by attending confession prior to his demise and Salim by praying to God.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

[ 1 John 3:16 ]

There is a huge difference between suicide martyrdom and laying down your life. Christ died so that we don't have to. Walt and Salim reminded me of this.
For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.

[ 1 Peter 3:18 ]

it was for freedom that Christ has set us free. [ Galatians 5:1 ]

Shine In 09

Saturday, January 03, 2009

A few days ago while I was driving home from the States the phrase "shine in '09" popped into my head. In the midst of the gloomy 2009 predictions that people are making I believe that this is the year to SHINE and let people see what you're made of!

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.

See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.

Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Isaiah 60:1-3


Friday, January 02, 2009
According to a recent article there are some things that are vanishing from our culture. Here is a sample from the top 25:

Analog TV
According to the Consumer Electronics Association, 85% of homes in the U.S. get their television programming through cable or satellite providers. For the remaining 15% -- or 13 million individuals -- who are using rabbit ears or a large outdoor antenna to get their local stations, change is in the air. If you are one of these people you'll need to get a new TV or a converter box in order to get the new stations which will only be broadcast in digital.

Personal Cheques
According to an American Bankers Assoc. report, 23% of consumers plan to decrease their use of cheques over the next two years, while 14% plan to increase their use of PIN debit. Bill payment remains the last stronghold of paper-based payments -- for the time being. Cheques continue to be the most commonly used bill payment method, but on a bill-by-bill basis, cheques account for only 49% of consumers' bill payments (down from 72% in 2003).

Handwritten Letters
In 2006, the Radicati Group estimated that, worldwide, 183 billion e-mails were sent each day. Two million each second. By November of 2007, an estimated 3.3 billion Earthlings owned cell phones, and 80% of the world's population had access to cell phone coverage. In 2004, half-a-trillion text messages were sent, and the number has no doubt increased exponentially since then. So where amongst this gorge of gabble is there room for the elegant, polite hand-written letter?

Incandescent Bulbs
Before a few years ago, the standard 60-watt (or, yikes, 100-watt) bulb was the mainstay of every North American home. With the green movement, the Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb (CFL) is largely replacing the older, Edison-era incandescent bulb. 2007 sales for Energy Star CFLs nearly doubled from 2006, and these sales accounted for approximately 20 percent of the U.S. light bulb market. And according to USA Today, a new energy bill plans to phase incandescents in 10-12 years.

Cameras That Use Film
It doesn't require a statistician to prove the rapid disappearance of the film camera in America. Just look to companies like Nikon, the professional's choice for quality camera equipment. In 2006, it announced that it would stop making film cameras, pointing to the shrinking market -- only 3% of its sales in 2005, compared to 75% of sales from digital cameras and equipment.

Answering Machines
The increasing disappearance of answering machines is directly tied to No. 20 our list -- the decline of landlines. According to USA Today, the number of homes that only use cell phones jumped 159% between 2004 and 2007. It has been particularly bad in New York; since 2000, landline usage has dropped 55%. It's logical that as cell phones rise, many of them replacing traditional landlines, that there will be fewer answering machines.

Phone Landlines
According to a survey from the National Center for Health Statistics, at the end of 2007, nearly one in six homes was cell-only and, of those homes that had landlines, one in eight only received calls on their cells.

Dial-Up Internet Access
Dial-up connections have fallen from 40% in 2001 to 10% in 2008. The combination of an infrastructure to accommodate affordable high speed Internet connections and the disappearing home phone have all but pounded the final nail in the coffin of dial-up Internet access.

For the better part of three decades, the VCR was a best-seller and staple in every American household until being completely decimated by the DVD, and now the Digital Video Recorder (DVR). In fact, the only remnants of the VHS age at your local Wal-Mart or Radio Shack are blank VHS tapes these days. Pre-recorded VHS tapes are largely gone and VHS decks are practically nowhere to be found.

Movie Rental Stores
While Netflix is looking up at the moment, Blockbuster keeps closing store locations by the hundreds. It still has about 6,000 left across the world, but those keep dwindling and the stock is down considerably in 2008, especially since the company gave up a quest of Circuit City. Movie Gallery, which owned the Hollywood Video brand, closed up shop earlier this year. Countless small video chains and mom-and-pop stores have given up the ghost already.

I have an analog TV that I use to play DVDs.

I borrow DVDs from the public library for free.

I don't have a VCR.

My bank now offers digital cheques and paper ones are no longer available.

I still send cards with personal handwritten notes inside.

When I'm away on a trip I often use dial-up Internet.

I only pay $21 a month for my landline phone and I use an answering machine.

This past summer I took some pics with my 35MM film camera.

I don't use CFL bulbs because they make people sick.
One generation goes its way, the next one arrives, but nothing changes—it's business as usual for old planet earth.

[ Ecclesiastes 1:4 | The Message ]


Thursday, January 01, 2009
It's here - another year. You can't fully understand this until you are over 30, but these days the years seem to fly by - super fast. That just means that I need to make the most of every opportunity - without wasting time on the things that don't matter.

Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don't miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.

[ Colossians 4:5-6 | The Message ]