Zimzum - Rob Bell's Inspiration

I'm convinced a movie night with his wife, and specifically hearing the song and the lyrics below, convinced Rob Bell to write The Zimzum of Love. Oh I know "zimzum" is from the Hebrew and all that. Blah blah blah. I'm not dumb, Rob. I know. Just check out these lyrics and the song below to find the real inspiration for crazy relationship words. Maybe they didn't use the word "zimzum" but it would of fit right in.

We're one of a kind
Like dip da-dip da-dip doo-wop da doo-bee doo
Our names are signed
Boogedy boogedy boogedy boogedy
Shooby doo-wop she-bop
Chang chang changitty chang sha-bop
We'll always be like one, wa-wa-wa-waaah

Bock on Hollywood, Movies & The Bible

Very much enjoyed Darrell Bock's piece at TGC on Noah and movies on biblical stories, "Hollywood, Movies, & the Bible: Should We Rewind On How We View?" He asks some helpful questions and provides reasonable, thoughtful answers on engaging culture and art. This should be essential reading for pastors and theologians who want to talk about movies. Would help some of the constipated thinking going on. Here's a sample...

Should I expect people who do not believe the Bible to make movies that follow it? Might it be better to consider how people reading the Bible without the eyes of faith see it, listen to what they are saying, and then winsomely and critically engage where they are coming from?

You need to read the rest here.

The Key To Watching Aronofsky's Noah

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My family saw Noah on Friday. Didn't plan on it, but decided last minute to take it in. I just wanted to get out of the house after a week of illness. It was a good decision. 

A lot has already been said and a lot more will be said about Darren Aronofsky's new film. I recommend you check out Greg Thornbury's take, which is my favorite so far. I won't rehash most of what Thornbury has already said so well. Ben Witherington's post is worth reading too

I'm going to keep this simple.

As a whole, I'm pretty disappointed with the way Christians are viewing the film. The whole of the conversation is in the wrong place. We are talking about Aronofsky's fidelity to the biblical story and all of its pieces. Wrong, wrong, wrong. It's not wrong to bring up that he takes liberties, makes some changes, etc. But it's wrong to stay there and make that the issue. Making a film is not teaching a Sunday School class. We aren't merely critiquing his sermon. Yes, films have meanings and make points. But we should be talking more about what Aronofsky's saying and less about what we should want him to say. If you want to go make your own Noah film, feel free. This one isn't yours and we should ask ourselves as we view it what he's trying to say to us. You don't look at a painting and say, I wish she would have used more yellow, or narrower strokes. You say, what is she saying?

Now, if you saw the movie and don't like it, ok. Whatever. I'm not saying it's the best movie ever. I'm not saying it changed my life. I have no dog in this fight other than my experience with the movie, which was a very good one. I want more folks to watch it, discuss it, talk about art and truth and film. We need to do a better job understanding and talking about art.

So here's my simple point. Don't miss it.

There's a key to watching this film. I found it very naturally. But the ridicule it's receiving tells me not everyone is. So I'm going to just put it out there and change the way you see everything in Noah. The key to watching, enjoying, understanding, and loving Noah is the Rock People.

Mind blown, I know.

If you don't know who the Rock People are, stop reading. All reading and no watching makes Johnny a dull film critic. And Christendom seems to be blooming film critics with every drop of rain who have a lot to say about the film they didn't see. 

Aronofsky has found something Tolkienian (Treebeardian) to help his story. I don't know what he intended to do with the Rock People other than to bring some role to the Nephilim. But primarily through the Rock People (as well as other touches of the magical and fantastical) Aronofsky shows that he is blending the true story with a stylized film. He isn't merely telling of a time before the flood when the world was different. He's telling of no time in particular. He is also telling of all times and all places for all people. He's creating a fiction aggressively borrowed from a biblical text and it has enough meat to make us think about real truth and enough magic to make us not sit and steam with our arms crossed. 

What the Rock People do is say to the viewer, You thought this might be merely an historical film, but it's a lot more about thinking about life in general so I'm going to throw something unbelievable and otherworldly at you so you can suspend your disbelief enjoy to enjoy Aronofsky's version without recoiling over differences with the biblical version. 

By the way, the Rock People are actually interesting ideas for characters. They aren't Jar Jar. Don't miss the forest for the, uh, rocks.

Aronofsky has done us a solid. He not only has made an interesting and provocative movie, he's opened up this opportunity to talk about the movie, his vision and message and art and our vision and message and art, with our neighbors. As long as we cluck our tongues because he can't figure out Noah's sons had wives on the boat we will miss the depravity so dark, the wrath and justice of the flood, and the wonder at what it must have felt like to actually be any of their shoes. 


One additional comment. The first half of the film, up to Noah telling the creation story on the ark, is the best half. I could go again and just stop at that point. The story he tells and the way it's shown on screen is a delight. I was on the edge of my seat. I like the second half too, but not nearly as much.

I recommend you go and see Noah. I loved it. Never has our family had so much enjoyable discussion after watching a film. 


The Fault In Our Stars | Trailer

I've been looking forward to the trailer for The Fault In Our Stars for a while now. The movie is based on the John Green book with the same title. The trailer is both heartbreaking and hopeful.

If you want to know what your neighbors will be watching, and feeling, and longing for, and crying over...this is it. It brings together life and death, the fear of oblivion, the hope of finding love, and a bunch more.

You may want to check out the book before the movie releases in June (Amazon | Kindle).

Groundhog Day & My Life in Woodstock, IL


Groundhog Day was filmed almost completely in Woodstock, Illinois, where I live. Here are a few fun movie facts as they merge with my life.

1. The Starbucks I frequent is right next to "The Pennsylvanian Hotel." In real life the hotel is the Opera House in which my kids have been in summer plays, I've seen Alejandro Escovedo play, I've heard Billy Collins read poetry, etc. 

2. I've taken photographs from the tower at the top of the hotel (Opera House) Bill Murray jumps from in one of his moments of despair.

3. When our church used to meet outside of our church building a few years ago, we met in a ballroom in the building along the alley where Bill Murray tries to revive the "old man." It's right across from the "Alpine Theater" which is really the Woodstock Theater.

4. "Gobbler's Knob," where the prognostication happens, is the place on the Woodstock Square where my boys and I usually play "hot box" or "pickle" between two trees.

5. The Bed & Breakfast Bill Murray stayed in is a real Bed & Breakfast in Woodstock. Or at least it has been. I think they had some issues in the last few years.

6. I've stood where Bill Murray stood as he stepped in the puddle. You can too. There's a plaque. There are actually many plaques around Woodstock at all the main sites.

7. The restaurant & bar where Bill & Andie McDowell drink to world peace is now closed, though it was open when we moved here. You could (and we did) actually eat in a jail cell, as it's part of the Old Courthouse in Woodstock. 

8. Molly & I have danced where Bill Murray and Andie McDowell danced. It's a Moose Lodge. Our dancing was way cooler.

9. The "Tip Top Cafe" has been many things since the movie. It's now a Mexican restaurant. A few years ago it was a family favorite place to go for gelato.

10. Woodstock has a yearly Groundhog Day event with our own groundhog, Woodstock Willie. He said winter is ending soon and announced it at 7:07am today.

Baptist Press & Les Miserables

Baptist press

Sometimes as Southern Baptists we simply outdo ourselves. The main article in today's Baptist Press release is titled, "Les Miserables finds support, caution in Christian community."

The main support comes from people like SBC President, Bryant Wright and Trevin Wax over at LifeWay. The article does end with more positive notes about the film, so I want to give some credit to Erin Roach/BP for that. But my concern is the space given to the main "caution" for the film. It's from Travis Ragon, a Kansas City counselor and grad of Midwestern, who...wait for it...didn't see the movie. I'll give you a taste.

Travis Ragon (pronounced Reagan)...said he is confused and grieved by Christians' enthusiastic support of the film.

Ragon cites elements of Les Miserables that he views as directly in conflict with foundational Christian values: instances of the Lord's name being used in vain, pervasive sexual innuendo, gratuitous depictions of sexual acts, and a scene that apparently has left some viewers feeling emotionally raped.

"Perhaps more than anything else this movie has become a review of where we as Christians have chosen to walk," Ragon wrote in comments to Baptist Press. "It seems that we have become systematically desensitized to sin. We are [accustomed] to the effect it has on our souls."


Ragon has not seen Les Miserables. "I try to research any movies which I might watch, including ones in my home," he said. "... I enjoy music and a good movie. In being a good steward, I try to be diligent in what I give my time and money to."

Les mis headerSeriously, Baptist Press? Please edit this article and remove the comments from the guy who hasn't seen the movie. You can't allow someone who hasn't seen the movie describe in detail what's actually in the movie! Even if you wanted to share an opinion of someone who wonders if the content is appropriate, to give it this much space is ridiculous.

As a pastor who saw the film with my four kids, I can confidently say Ragon's descriptors are inaccurate. Statements about the film's "pervasive sexual innuendo" and "gratuitous depictions of sexual acts" are way overblown. Inaccurate. Misleading. Why would you publish such a thing? It's no wonder why my neighbors think "Southern Baptists" are about what we are against. We can NOT see a film, give contrary opinions to the SBC President, and still get plenty of shelf space in an article. We need to do better.

Tim Keller on Les Mis

Les mis header

Tim Keller commented on recently viewing the movie version of Les Miserables with his wife, Kathy. It's short and to the point, and I'm only giving you a snippet...

I could make this review, very, very short: It’s been a long time since Kathy and I left a theater with tears running down our cheeks.


I for one am glad that millions of viewers will be exposed to the themes of redemption, self-righteousness, and self-sacrifice. Critics uncomfortable with the unabashed sincerity with which those themes are treated have mocked the film as “risible.” The rest of us can weep tears of joy.

In the short "review" there's more good stuff. Go read it.

Once Soundtrack | $3.99

Once Soundtrack might be the best soundtrack ever, and it's $3.99 today only. Glen Hansard (of The Frames) & Markéta Irglová star in the movie and create the music. If you need convincing, here are two of my favorite songs, "Leave" (live, Hansard) and "Lies" (via the Soundtrack, from both artists). Consider yourself convinced.