Saturday, August 14, 2010


We left the cinema exhausted, exhilerated and wondering.  Inception is a movie that packs a punch and leaves you thinking.  One critic described it as a doctoral level version of the Matrix.

I won't risk spoiling the movie, or take excessive space on this post, by trying to outline the complex plot of Inception.  Suffice to say it is an action thriller that mixes dreams with reality.  It is a bit like James Bond meets the Matrix, with some emotional moments built in.

Some themes and discussion starters:
One of the characters is "The Architect" who has the job of creating the world of the dreamers.  Makes one think of the Architect of the real world, and how our imaginative, creative ability reflects that of our Creator.

At several points in the movie characters are asked to "take a leap of faith".  What is a leap of faith?  How much evidence should we require.  Sadly the movie also contains a leap of faith which leads to tragedy because the character's faith was misplaced.  Freedom to believe something that isn't true is not some kind of postmodern tolerance, it is the tragedy of delusion.

Guilt for past mistakes racks Cobb (Leonardo Di Caprio's character).  Ariadne (played by Ellen Page) urges him to find forgiveness and let that go because it is threatening the whole team.  In the dream level his subconscious emotions have real effects.  Isn't that also true at reality level?  The plot of the movie includes an opportunity of redemption for Cobb.

Layers upon layers of dreams leave cast and audience wondering what is real.  That is a very good question to be asking.  People sometimes contrast the walk of faith with "the real world".  The implication is that someone who believes in a miracle working God isn't living in the real world.  But I think the key question to ask is, what is ultimate reality?  I would argue that the ultimate reality all humans must grapple with is that Jesus died, but Jesus rose again from the dead.  Can that happen you might wonder?  Is that real?  The testimony of Jesus followers is that it did happen.  Over the centuries Christians are those who have discovered the reality of the resurrection.

Not a movie for everyone, but more thoughtprovoking than any action thriller I've seen for a long time.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Parenting - Who's the Boss?

This week Aric Sigman's book "Spoilt Generation" featured on the Six O'Clock News and in our newspapers (click here).  He was brought over to New Zealand by the lobby group Family First (led by Bob McCoskrie) who describe themselves as speaking  "from a family friendly perspective with an emphasis on the Judeo-Christian values which have benefited New Zealand for generations."

Sigman says, "We now live in the time of the child-centred upbringing." The rights of children had increased to a point where parents no longer felt they could say no, felt guilty if they criticised a child rather than constantly lavishing praise, and pandered to what the child was interested in rather than his or her best interests.  He is particularly critical of money rich but time poor parents who come home late from work and then try to make up for that by indulging inappropriate behaviour from their children.  Interesting the way parenting fads come and go!

I haven't read Sigman's book, but what reflections does the Bible bring to this discussion?
  • Children are precious, made in God's image, and not to be exasperated (Eph 6:4)  They are certainly not to be abused, emotionally or physically.
  • However, the Bible clearly expects parents to be in charge.  Children are to obey their parents. Parents are to raise their children in the ways of God.  (Eph 6:1f)
  • Children who do not respect their earthly father, will find it hard to respect their Heavenly Father.
  • There are times when God says, "No" in answer to our requests.  Surely there are times when we need to say "No" to our children in their best interests.
  • Respect for authority is a good thing and it can be modelled and developed in the home.
  • There is a difference between just authority and authoritarianism.
Sue and I enjoy our teenage children.  Like all  families we have our difficult "moments", but by and large the teenage years have been fantastic.  As our children are growing up they are taking on more and more responsibilities and the boundaries we set for them become wider, leaving more choices for them to make on their own.  However, when they were very young, the boundaries were much tighter.  We worked at winning the smallest battles so they knew who was in charge.

Recently I was in the supermarket queue and a young mother calmly told her youngster he was not having lollies from the checkout rack today.  There were howls of protest, but the mother stood her ground and won the battle.  I complemented her on resisting the urge to give in to the toddler's demands just to keep the peace.

I'm not arguing for battling against our children, but because we want the best for them, we will stand firm if they are demanding something that isn't best for them.

God Bless you parents. It's such an important job - but you really are wiser and know more than your young children (most of the time anyway).  That's why you are in charge!


Monday, August 2, 2010

Living from the Inside Out

Last Monday (my Sabbath) Sue and I had lunch in Palmerston.  I was amused to discover a shop with the same name as my blog.

It is a recycle clothing shop!  The other interesting thing is that the reflection on the shop door upset this amateur photographer when I tried to capture the sign on my iPhone.  The photo shows more of what is outside the shop than what is inside.  And yet isn't that the way life works?  Who and what we are inside affects the way we behave on the outside.  This is illustrates part of my conviction about Inside Out (see my post of 16th July).  It was Jesus who said, "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." Mt 12:34  Good for a preacher to remember!

John Stoddart was reading my blog and sent me a link (here) to an article that gathered wisdom from some mature Christian leaders.  Among other things the article said, "These 'fathers of the faith' also made it clear to us that their leadership is simply an overflow of who they are.  What they have allowed God to build and develop in them has become the reservoir that the Holy Spirit draws upon as they lead people, make decisions and discern the guidance of God.  The deliberate tending of their hearts has helped to guard and guide them as disciples of Jesus and leaders in the kingdom."

 I took one other photo of the shop.  This one shows a little more of what is inside - a cross!  May that be true for me!  Again and again I find, and it is true just now, that it is when I am living close to Jesus that I am most fruitful.  When he is dealing with stuff inside me and keeping me from rebellion, opportunities to share my faith arise and people around me come to know Jesus.

It isn't a magic formula, but it is part of my conviction about Inside Out!