Thursday, May 25, 2017

SPLIT (2017) Why do we suffer?

1 Peter 5:10 says, “In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.” (NLT)

I have been a Christian my entire life, a fact for which I was always known. Advocate for Christ is a position (PK, Christian college student, minister) I take more seriously than any other label. Believe me, I have many more. Because of this, I am often challenged with one particular question over every other.

If God exists, why do bad things happen?

It is a complex concept to which I have heard and given many answers. Split, however, explores this concept in a fascinating and powerful way. It portrays a very dark circumstance in a gruesome way. Indeed, this film is not for the faint of heart. The message questions everything we know about the darkness of the world and what it means to suffer.

Romans 5:3-5 says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (NLT)

Kevin Wendell Crumb, a man with a severe case of Dissociative Identity Disorder, kidnaps three girls under the command of The Beast, the most frightening of his 24 identities. He believes that those who suffer are stronger and more pure than those who do not. Those who suffer are more deserving to inherit the Earth.

This puts two of his three victims in extreme danger because of their charmed lives. Casey Cooke on the other hand carries a very dark secret. She spends most of her life greatly suffering. It gives her a unique outlook on this terrifying situation and experience necessary to survive. Unlike her friends she chooses to overcome without violence. She appeals to each personality with empathy. She is vigilant. She is resourceful. The way in which she handles this trial is a contributing factor in her survival.

Romans 8:18 says, “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.” (NLT)

I enjoy that Split is so open to the distinction between the suffering and the broken. Naturally, Father God would never condone the Beast's decision to punish and destroy the inexperienced people in the world. The Beast turns the seeds of a crucial concept into an unholy abomination. She survives because she suffers, and she emerges a stronger person. The victim becomes the victor.

Why does God allow suffering?

The real question ought to be, how could God not allow suffering?

Suffering is an essential part life. It is a temporary condition. It gives us the opportunity to become the best version of ourselves. It gives us the chance to look forward to and appreciate the glory the lies beyond this life. Embrace it. Allow God to refine you through it.

Friday, May 12, 2017

SING (2016) Growing Community Through Music

Colossians 3:23-24 says, "Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ."

Sing is a story of a theater own named Buster Moon and his final desperate attempt to save his from financial ruin with a cliché singing competition. He fails to pay his staff, he cannot pay his bills, and the bank is days away from repossessing the building. Worst of all, he guarantees a grand prize of $100,000, a prize he cannot even close to pay. Could the ticket sales be remotely enough to cover all he owes? Not even close.

The only justification he has for his irresponsible behavior is purely emotion. His father worked hard to buy him the theater; therefore… he should be free to be creative in spite of rational, logic, professionalism, or reality. Even as he faces the consequences of his terrible decisions, he continues to make terrible decisions. He lives in an unrealistic fantasy. He thinks one decent show will solve all of his problems, but reality says no.

The pressure of these impossible expectation also negatively effect the passionate musicians involved. Each of them except a certain egotistical mouse audition due to their love for music. The power and beauty of music give their lives meaning. It gives their lives momentum. It gets them through their daily routines. Music is a piece of their core identity. Yet, it becomes clear that the pressure, expectations, and controlling behavior nearly crushes the musical spirit within them.

In a series of unfortunate events, however, the expectations of saving that old building are removed. Without Moons's pressure, control, and selfishness in the way, the spirit of music comes alive. That spirit is then free to spark joy into the hearts of the audience.

Psalm 57:7 says, "My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises!" (NLT)

He learns that music must not be controlled or restricted. He learns that the happiness of his performers is more important than pleasing the crowd. He learns to let go of the physical building and embrace a community of people instead.

What good is a building without people? What good is music without a joyful spirit? What good is a program without creative freedom? What will come of it is a mortgage foreclosure, a terrible reputation, and too many burned bridges to count.

Let go of control. Let the spirit grow. Give artists the freedom they deserve. Only then may the people find joy.