Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Reflections on Psalm 2

I'm doing a series on Psalms. I don't think I am going to go through each one, one at a time; I intend to just reflect on and discuss what I feel the Spirit is highlighting to me as I read through them. Rachel is going to join me, and you, of course, are welcome as well to blog through Psalms with us.

Psalm 2 is a Messianic psalm; in my opinion, there's no mistaking that:

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his anointed,
'Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.'

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
'As for me, I have set my King
on Zion,
my holy hill.'

I will tell of the decree:
The LORD said to me, "You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.

You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry,
and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Immediately I am struck with the greatness, the utter superiority and sovereignty of God. No one is remotely like Him, and no one can stand before Him in defiance (!). History is rife with men of hubris who sought to further satan's kingdom rather than serve God, actively dedication their lives to anti-Christian purposes (Karl Marx, Adam Wieshaupt, Adolf Hitler, and Aleister Crowley leap to mind). But what is God's response to those who plot against His Kingdom? Laughter. Derision. And wrath.

I believe God laughs (in scorn, obviously) at the very idea of weak creatures, made of dust, seeking to subvert an omniscient, omnipotent Creator. As Jesus said,

Matt 5:33-37
"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."

We don't have the power to create and destroy, to know and to judge, to understand and to love the way God does. Any of those things that we can do are because we are made in His image, and in His gracious love He made us a little like Him. So I can paint or draw a sunrise, but I cannot make the sun rise.

Psalm 8:3-5
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

Job 38:3-5a
Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!

And, of course, this is a Messianic psalm. Jesus is the "Anointed One" of whom David was a type. It is Jesus Christ who is the only begotten Son of God, whom God Himself has placed at His right hand.

I believe that one day the nations of the world will gather against the Christ in an unprecedented way:

Rev 16:12-16
The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east. And I saw, coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs. For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. ("Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!") And they assembled them at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.

This psalm helps me remember that God is my sovereign, all-knowing, all-powerful King who is in control of the past, present and future.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Pride and Prejudice (2005) Review

Rachel did a wonderful job summing up the new Pride and Prejudice that's now out in theatres. I could have written her post myself...almost.

Long story short, it must be understood before engaging in any conversation about (or reading anything about) this film that, more than likely, NOTHING will EVER compare to the 1995 BBC version. While I do have some small quibbles with that series--which Rachel elucidates in her post, actually--I do think it's as close to Austenian perfection on celluloid as we're ever going to get.

I went into it with the "this is not the BBC version" caveat in my mind, but the fact is that I can't divorce my experience of reading and viewing from my present experience in the theatre.


With that said, I'll tell you what I liked and disliked about this new film.


1. Mr. Darcy (Matthew McFadyen) is all right. No Colin Firth, mind you, but "tolerable, I suppose." He's not very handsome, but I'll reluctantly admit that he grew on me as the movie progressed. And the cheesy, anachronistic lines he was sometimes given weren't his fault.

2. I did like the softening of Mrs. Bennet, and will reserve further comment on her for the 'dislikes' portion of my post. Suffice it to say that my ears are thankful to be spared some of Mrs. Bennet's shriller moments.

3. I liked Charlotte and thought the explanation of why she married Mr. Collins was extremely well done (except for the "Don't judge me!" silliness...see my complaint about anachronisms below). This is an excellent example of something that was done better than even the 1995 version, where I thought the treatment of Charlotte's marriage wasn't sympathetic enough to her situation.

4. Rachel's right: Mary is truer to the book in this film. BBC Mary was, but it was a caricature.

5. Nice cinematography!

6. Lady Catherine was fun, as she should be. I was afraid my dad would choke from laughing while munching popcorn.

7. Some of the dialogue was included from the novel that the BBC version omitted. I noticed this with some of Mr. Collins' speeches particularly. Of course, he's also the one who inadvertently makes an "intercourse" joke (see #3 below). Can't win fer losin'.


1. The overarching thing that annoyed me about this film was its lack of subtlety. Everything was spelled out so that the American audience would get it, perhaps? One of the delights of a great film or a great book is that every theme and nuance are not spoon-fed to the viewer or reader. "We're so alike! We're both so stubborn," Lizzy exclaims at the end. Oh, really? You're kidding me...I didn't know.

2. The emasculation of Mr. Bennet's wit. In this version, Mr. Bennet is a doddering, doting old dad who is far milder than what I hoped for. The tension between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, and the verbal sparring that results from it, are essential parts of their characters and of the family's ethos. Unlike Rachel, I blame this on script and direction more than casting. Donald didn't have a lot to work with once his best lines or delivery methods were taken away from him.

3. Anachronistic language. At one point, the word "intercourse" is used as a bawdy joke (though, as Lizzy might say, "it was most unconsciously done"). It's not in the novel and adds nothing but an Americanized, Westernized, modernized, juvenile guffaw to the film. And that word wasn't even used in that context at that time. Rachel pointed out other examples of anachronisms in her post.

4. The Opening and Netherfield Balls. Blech! Blech!! While I agree with Rachel about the energy of the dances, it was all so rushed and unsatisfying, which could serve as the perfect description of the movie itself. The joy and wonder of Austen lies in the savoring of moments: the dances, the witty repartee, the looks, the solitude, the proposals. This movie granted me no (well, hardly any) satisfaction on any front. It was Austen on Fast Forward. I laughed, but it was more in remembrance of my 1995 friends than my love of the 2005 newcomers.

5. General slovenliness. HELLO, PEOPLE. They DID have HAIR COMBS way back in Elizabeth's day. Is it too much for me to ask for one? Or how about a bonnet?! While I give credit where it is due for the slightly more "realistic" (read: less sanitized) feel of this version, I have my limits. There was entirely too much difference between Lizzy and Darcy's circumstances as presented here. They were trying too hard to get the modern audience to appreciate the class issues between Darcy and Elizabeth, I think (see complaint #1).

I was particularly disappointed in the "six inches deep in mud" scene. Elizabeth's appearance (hair down and general I-just-rolled-out-of-bed-ness) was so entirely inappropriate that in this instance I am quite on Caroline Bingley's side of the equation (horrors!). Her HAIR, Louisa! Oh, which brings me to...

6. Where were some of my peeps? Rachel covered this, but there were many beloved characters, Louisa Hurst included, who were missing and were missed.

7. Did anyone notice Jane was nice and all, but not the beyond the beyond-o sweet that she is in the book and 1995 film? She actually says something negative about Darcy after the first ball (gasp!) and calls Caroline "pernicious" toward the end! A Jane who disses others is...not an Austen Jane. The screenwriters didn't take Jane's otherworldly sweetness entirely away, but she's more of a modern dame than I like to see her. And her romance with Bingley was flat, except for the well-done scene when Jane returns from London and tries to convince Elizabeth (and herself) that she's over Bingley.

8. Speaking of Bingley, this is one area where I disagree with Rachel. Bingley is written and directed as a VAPID IMBICILE in this film, and it's annoying. Come on, now. Charles Bingley is easily persuaded, yes. He is kind and agreeable, yes. But he is not a dumb boy who cannot speak a full sentence without second-guessing what he just said. LAME AND NEEDLESS COMIC EFFECT. Sorry--was I yelling? Oh, yeah...and Charles actually calls himself an, um...a donkey. But he doesn't say donkey. LAME.

9. I won't even get started on the axing of much of the morally pertinent parts of Wickham's story. What else would I expect of a quickie modern adaptation? Those pesky moral ins and outs are the first to go, I would think.

10. Darcy showing up at NIGHT in Lizzy's ROOM. What?

This is feeling like one of those sessions that could go on all night. Argh, and I haven't even talked about Georgianna's exuberance, or Bingley's entering Jane's sickroom!

OVERALL SUM-UP: Eh, it's okay. It's far better than anything else you'll see in theatres right now, I'd bet. I wondered while watching the movie how it would be perceived by someone who didn't know the story intimately already. Can a newbie really follow it?

Sure, go see it. Rabid P&P fans like me will enjoy comparing and contrasting the film to the book and BBC movie, and newbies won't realize what they're missing and will get a (wheeze) okay adaptation of Austen's novel.

here's another review I liked.

Colin, we hardly knew ye!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Psalm 1

Rachel and I, in some form or fashion, are going to go through Psalms. Not quite sure how long that's going to take!

I'll probably take several at a time and focus on whatever the Spirit seems to be highlighting. Psalm 1, though, deserves to be all by itself:

Psalm 1 (ESV)

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish

Psalm 1 has always been a great favorite of mine, and as I've been meditating on it a bit, I've tried to figure out why. I have a few ideas.

I love being convicted, exhorted and encouraged, especially all at once. Here I learn that I'd better straighten up and fly right. Those who live righteously, who meditate on the Word of God (here, particularly His Law) and find their delight in the things of God, will live, will prosper. The word "prosper" here is tsalach, and its meanings include "to advance, make progress, succeed."

We know that the righteous do not always "prosper" in the worldly sense. Those who follow God are to expect persecution and trials:

Rom 8:35-37
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Matt 24:9-14
"Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

2 Cor 11:26-27
I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

But the righteous DO prosper, because it says so in Psalm 1. I don't believe the psalmist is referring to a material prosperity, even though God does provide everything His children need. No, they advance, they succeed, they make progress in the things of the Lord--in the things of an eternal Kingdom that is not passing away.

I also love the high view of the Law that is communicated in this Psalm. Right away we understand that the Law is not our enemy, no more than a schoolmaster (Gal 3:24) is the enemy of his pupil (though I know some students don't understand that, heh). Right away we see that the Law is something we can delight in and meditate upon--and that there are great rewards for doing so.

Psalm 1 also serves as a stringent warning against keeping the wrong company: the wicked will not stand in the judgment or be counted in the congregation of the righteous. I know where I want to be found.

And there's a simplicity that is appealing in a world that can seem contradictory and where the gradient of righteousness can seem like a slippery slope: there is a plumb line, and it is the Word of God. Really, it's not that complex. The righteous will find their delight in God, His Law and His ways, and follow Him; the wicked will do as they please (for now), and God will judge all in the end according to their deeds. Here's a passage that goes well with this Psalm:

Rom 2:3-11
Do you suppose, O man--you who judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself--that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Not Coming Out, Just Wading Through

I haven't posted in a long time because my fingers feel frozen.

It's not the temperature outside (although today is a CHILLY 28! O California, where art thou?). It's my heart. I've been going through something I can hardly describe, but I thought you guys, as my friends, deserve to know what's going on with me. And maybe I can snag some prayers from you over this.

I don't want to go into details, but suffice it to say that I've been hurting, dealing with the consequences of my own faulty decisionmaking. My own sin and distance from the Lord.

I didn't want to talk about it--much less publish anything for the world to see!--but my good friend admonished me. She reminded me that some non-Christians think that Christians think they are perfect and never do anything wrong. The perception is that once a person gets 'saved,' they are holier-than-thou, prideful, arrogant. "Look at me, I was a SINNER. But now I am NOT. But poor thing, you STILL ARE." God forbid that I should ever think like that for one second. So, in that spirit, I am laying out my stony heart for you today.

I don't recommend stony hearts, by the way. Opt for the flexible, easily warmed versions. Stony hearts are rigid, heavy, and tough to break. I don't think there will be any in heaven.

Here's where I am:

Psalm 13

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;

my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me.

Don't you love how David, even when he's throttled with pain, anger, or sorrow, ends things with hope in the Lord? He's awesome. I want to be like David.

So, my friend (Rachel) and I will be going through Psalms in some form or fashion on our respective blogs. I need the raw honesty of Psalms right now--the "I think I am dying, but Lord, I really need and want you" and "Boy, I really just screwed up, but Lord, I need and want you. Help me!" Yep, sounds like medicine.

I feel like I want to get close to God again but don't know how. I feel so stiff. I know what to do on some level: I've been getting back to reading the Bible regularly, and I need to pray more. But how do I soften my heart?

Maybe that's the thing: I can't. He has to do it for me. I am such a numbskull, thinking I can do everything myself! "I'm fine, thanks. I'll handle it." No, I won't. I can't.

I know He can, though. If there's anything I do know, it's that He can.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A New Love

I'll admit it: I am a little obsessive. When I find something I like, my passion is deep and usually immediate, and it can find a source in anything from cereal (ahem), to people, to activities.

Lately I've fallen in love again--this time with running. I never thought I could run because I always was out of breath after running for just a few minutes. I never knew you could train yourself to be a better runner, and nor did I care. Who would want to run?, I thought.

Then I was challenged to run with some people from work. Unfortunately for me in this instance, I work with Army guys who have been running for YEARS. It probably doesn't take much brainpower for you to imagine just how red my face was or how hard I huffed and puffed after, oh, about five minutes of running with them one sweltering late summer afternoon. (Oh, OKAY, I'll tell you the truth: I almost passed out! It was the closest I ever want to get to an out-of-body experience.)

My pride was hurt. I thought I was in pretty good shape: I hike almost daily, I work out. I thought I'd last longer than I did.

I decided to start training myself to run. I used to joke that I only ran when chased; I don't like the thought of not being able to run if chased, you know?

I have a very long way to go, but I've already tasted how very awesome it feels to run (well, run/walk) at 5 AM. Seriously. I don't know when I have felt so alive and so clear--and the feeling lasts for hours afterwards! I'm hooked. So, like any fool in the first rush of love, I had to come tell you all about it.

Any other runners out there?