23 January 2013

Looking at the Frames

The mall tends to bore me.  I rarely go, so at least there is usually something novel when I do.  I will admit that malls usually do have a pleasant atmosphere.  However I do not feel the sense of community with the aggregate of consumers surrounding me, as some seem to.  Shopping for me is not so much a social outing as a militaristic mission.  Whether it is food, clothes, or an item from a specific store, I like to determine what I need, formulate a plan to get it, execute the plan, and get out.  Perhaps this mindset deprives me of the joy so many people find in shopping, but it seems to work for me.  I have a hard time "just looking" most of the time.  Unless there is something I am already interested in, and am actively searching for, I feel like I am wasting my time.

I have never people watched as many seem fond of doing.  It has always seemed almost a rude prying into other's lives.  If I can find a nice place to sit, and have nowhere to go, I can close my eyes and let the hubbub around me to slur together into a meaningless bubbling. In this moment I can find peace, but it does not last.  The peace does not last when I am surrounded by people I do not know, in a place I do not know.  My mind keeps spiking and telling me I should be aware.  This is not to say that going to the mall is an overly traumatizing event.  But whenever I am there I cannot fully relax, it is like a small itch that does not go away until I leave.  I  am not sure what makes me feel this way.  Maybe the pseudo-religious atmosphere bothers me as the tries to become more than it should be.

I did not buy anything when I went to the mall. This was mainly due to the fact that I didn't need anything.  I noticed the brands trying to draw me into a "relationship" with them through their fancy slogans, art in the stores and even those working there trying to make me feel welcome.  I also noticed that when I realized what they were doing, it broke the spell.  It made it appear to be the thin veneer that it was. Although I was disoriented by their schemes of design and advertising, their reorientations did not capture my imagination like they planned.  I realize that I have been caught up in it before, and bought things I don't need or even necessarily want.  However when you enter that place with a light, planning on seeing just what is going on, it not nearly as easy to be fooled.

Princess Mononoke

John Jung

Princess Mononoke

          When I was in middle school, my friend from Japan had a movie that she brought back from her hometown which was called, “Princess Mononoke.” At that time I viewed the movie with pure pleasure and curiosity, not wandering what sort of hidden messages the movie had. On January 18, 2013 I had another privilege to watch the movie again in the CFAC, with a way bigger screen and better sound quality. The movie is a very interesting, the way everything is portrayed in the movie gives a fascinating excitement of wonders. Everything seemed so weird. Well basically this movie is about the main character Ashitaka, a prince of the village of Emishi, defends a demon from attacking the village. He is able to stop the demon, but he is cursed from the battle. He goes in a journey to search for a cure for his curse. 
          The movie portrayed many different themes that related to the topics that I studied in DCM. One of the main theme that I saw was greed. One of the character named Eboshi, is a woman who led an Iron Town near the forest. In order to make iron they had to cut down the forest destroying many habitats of animals and gods. This leads to conflicts against the gods of the forests and the town. Eboshi is also portrayed as a woman figure who led a revolution so that they females would not be looked down upon. All this different themes tell us about even the present world today, how we are wasting natural resources and we are constantly in battles of having more than necessary. The evil nature of human being is all around us and it is our responsibility to save this world, just like how Ashitaka did. 
           This movie shows both traits of Empire and Kingdom. Some characteristics of Empire that was shown on the movie were that everything was military controlled through violence. One of the main military controlling aspect was that the Iron Town had guns that other didn't have access to. Some characteristics of Kingdom are in the forest, where the animals had faith in their gods for protection. They also wanted peace with everybody and they worked together to seek welfare of the forest.
           I really enjoy watching animations and this is one of the must watch movies that I want to recommend to anybody of all groups of ages. (Maybe not too young because of bloody scenes.) This movie has so much deep meanings and was very well made, with famous musicians and artists. Some other movies that I would like to recommend are Spirited Away, and Howl's Moving Castle. 

1. How can we in our daily lives live for the welfare of the community that we are in?
2. Is it possible to have a world with no evil? 
3. If we look into our lives, what's evil?    

21 January 2013

"Eye of the Beholder" - The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone is a TV series that aired in the 1960s. The episode entitled "Eye of the Beholder" is episode six of season two. The scenarios of each episode are said to take place in the 'Twilight Zone' meaning it is some kind of alternate reality or possibly a look into the future. In this episode, a woman is in a hospital receiving treatment in order to fix the condition of her face. You don't see the faces of the doctors, nurses, and the woman until her bandages are removed at the end of the episode. The woman, Miss Tyler, is constantly exclaiming and pleading, "I want to be like everybody else!" or "All I've ever wanted is to be normal." It is finally revealed that Miss Tyler is a beautiful young woman, but 'normal' people have distorted pig-like faces.
The audience is to understand that the origin of evil is forced conformity (conforming everyone to have pig-like faces). The Leader is heard proclaiming, "It is essential for society not only that we have a norm, but that we conform to that norm!" The empire established by the Leader and government ensnares people to think that conformity is needed to have an ideal world. The seeds of redemption can be seen in some of the comments by the doctors. They question the conformist rules of the government and express that they see the true human underneath Miss Tyler's appearance. Miss Tyler herself had a captured imagination. She did not want to accept any alternative to the empire; she wanted to be the 'normal' that was chosen by the empire.

How could the doctors have responded subversively to Miss Tyler's appearance?
Miss Tyler was sent to live in a community with others "of her kind." Could this be considered as an act of grace by the government? Or is it only suppression?

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret

I just finished re-watching the first season of “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret,” which is a show starring two of the stars from “Arrested Development,” David Cross (creator and writer of “The Increasingly Poor Decisions”) and Will Arnett. This show is about a socially clueless compulsive liar who is unwittingly transferred to the UK to sell a mysterious Korean energy drink called “Thunder Muscle.” Needless to say, as the plot progresses, Todd Margaret completely ruins his own life with his lies and touristy ignorance.

“The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret” is a comedy, but there are many serious messages in it. One is the issue of honesty—Todd’s failures can all be traced back to the web of lies he spun about his past and present conditions. According to “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret,” dishonesty is an evil that leads to the sin of lying, which only makes things worse. Todd arrives in some wildly chaotic situations because of the lies he tells, and, true to form, his attempts to weasel his way out of them involve even more lies.

Another issue is greed. Todd’s new boss Brent Wilts (Will Arnett) is just as foolish and naive as Todd, but his character is much more aggressive. That’s because Wilts is a gambler who is obsessed with money & power. Once he mysteriously gets promoted from his telemarketing position, he has an extremely profane field day lording his power over the office where Todd works. This says a lot about our world’s idea of human purpose. Arnett’s character is sort of a caricature, but he embodies many of the evils that affect people everywhere: greed, perversion, and carelessness. These evils are deceptive and blinding. 

We eventually learn that Todd’s only employee, Dave, is really the deluded son of a British millionaire, and has been playing Todd and Brent all along. This is another perversion of power: manipulation. This doesn’t make power a bad thing, it only calls out the misuse of it. Dave’s reasons for messing with Todd and Brent are completely personal, and his massive masterplan for revenge is a gross misuse of power.

1. If dishonesty and greed are Todd’s and Brent’s weakness, respectively, then how could they redeem themselves and solve all their problems?
2. How can a person see a show like “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret” as apocalyptic? That is, how can somebody glimpse the kingdom vision through it?

Arrested Development

Ask anyone with half a brain and a netflix account, and they'll tell you that Arrested Development is by far the most well-written TV comedy to ever grace our eyes and ears. A telling of one family and their issues that stem from the family's deep-seeded and inherent greed. What Arrested Development teaches us is that evil comes from greed, and greed from a lack of both intelligence and family-based priorities. Redemption is found in actions that stem from honesty, integrity, and selflessness. The idea of redemption is one of the most key themes within Arrested Development, as Michael Bluth, the middle son and protagonist of the series seeks to undo his fathers actions that brought the family company and the family itself. After watching any episode of this genius comedy, I can't help but wonder, what one of the seven deadly sins would bring my family to ruin, and am I doing anything to prevent that from happening?

She's The Man

Adapted from William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, She's The Man is one of my personal favorite films. A teen romantic-comedy, She's The Man is the story about a girl named Viola, played by Amanda Bynes, who's girl soccer team got cut at her high school. Therefore she pretends to be her twin brother, at the rival high school he attends and joins the soccer team. Throughout the film with the complications of almost blowing her cover, cat-fights in the bathroom, to falling for her roomate, She's The Man is a funny movie.

However as She's The Man is not a 'Christian' film, this artifact talks about evil in the empire about the sexual hierarchy. The film may not address the issue directly but it is implied. As mentioned before Viola becomes upset at the fact that her high school cut her soccer team. When Viola finds out she adresses the issue to the men's soccer coach and comes up with the idea of allowing the girls to try out for the soccer team. Hearing the idea, the soccer coach laughs and mocks the girls and saying that girls can't do anything boys can and that boys are just better than females. This scene then goes with what  Walsh and Keesmaat were trying to explain in chapter 11. Even though it says in the bible that women should be 'under' her husband, the woman is also to be set free of the hierarchy of the empire. Even though I may sound like a feminist by this point, even though I am not, I believe that there should be an equality treatment to both sexes. Some may be upset at the fact that a woman can throw a football better than a guy or that a guy can knit a scarf better than a girl, but despite the 'abnormal' examples, that doesn't mean that we should treat each other poorly. Instead we should be happy and encourage one another.

Even though women may or may not be able to do everything a male can, why do you think that women should or should not be limited to what they can do?

How important is communication?


       For my second cultural artifact, I chose to watch an hour of Friends. This is a show in which six friends all live together or close to each other and hang out all the time. They each go through their ups and downs, along with lots of comical moments thrown in there.
       This artifact doesn't tell very much about human purpose. From what I watched, the main thing it said was that humans are meant to live in community. They are supposed to be with and love people. All the characters show this very well and continue to live with each other, even if they are mad at each other. I think that watching this show makes me realize few things about evil. I realized how often sex is referred to and actually happens in a lot of tv shows and movies. Not only is it Joey, the friend who "dates" lots of women, but every single of the friends in the show have had sex before they are married. I also noticed how all the women in the show that Joey "dates" are beautiful, but very skinny. Actually, almost all the women in the show are skinny. The redemption comes when they are in community. They give each other support and try to help each other do the right things, not only in the episodes that I watched, but in all of them.
        Why are there no people of color in the friend group shown? Why is it socially accepted that sex before marriage is okay and can be shown to the younger generations of the world?


Melancholia is an independent film starring Kristen Dunst as Justine and Charlotte Gainsbourg as Claire. It tells the story of two sisters whose relationship is stained from Justine’s struggle with depression and inability to take care of herself. Claire and her husband pay for Justine’s extravagant wedding but then are disappointed at Justine’s continued unhappiness. At the wedding Claire and her husband struggle to keep things running smoothly. Justine cannot pretend to be happy. She looses her new husband and her new job promotion to her depression. The sister’s relationship is further stressed when news that the planet Melancholia that is headed towards earth is announced. Claire is overcome with anxiety upon hearing the news; while Justine calmly accepts death.

The reason I choose this movie was because I had heard very good reviews of this film. Some of my friends even claimed that its one of their favorite movies. Watching this film with that in mind, I have to admit that I was very disappointed with Melancholia. Yes, it was beautifully put together and the cinematography was perfect. But my main problem with the film is that the story was boring and overall intellectually dry. There were many interesting themes that the film could have explored but didn’t. It portrayed depression is a moving, interesting way but didn’t really address the issue of depression or ask meaningful questions about depression.

Another thing that seemed unresolved but not in a good way was the strained relationship between Justine and Claire. I think the relationship dynamic between them was very interesting but the filmmakers didn’t fully explore their relationship or make the audience ask questions about what it means to be a good sister. Since my younger sister has some audio processing difficulties, I was very intrigued by this mother-like older sister character. I also identify with Claire’s struggle with anxiety. This film could have been very personal and spoke to my real life relationships. But it didn’t. It didn’t fully explore or resolve the sister’s relationship so I was very disappointed by that aspect of the film as well. 

As Christians how should we approach the issue of depression? How should we treat and deal with it?

How do our relationships with our siblings reflect how we view ourselves? What would kingdom-like sibling relationships look like?

The Majestic Mountains

The television show Planet Earth, made by Discovery Channel, may as well be the best made educational and entertaining show on the features of this earth we are living on. I just recently saw an episode that focused on the mountains. It explained how it formed, showed the inhabitants of different mountains and how they adapt to the harsh living conditions of the place. The narrator, David Attenborough, mentioned that people often talk of conquering a mountain, and yet in truth they have not. “We are only visitors,” David said.

At first, if you’ve never seen Planet Earth before, it may sound boring but it is quite the opposite. This show teaches us to admire the nature that God has created. It is telling us about His creativity and His power and His attention to detail. It shows all the variety of mountains, plants and creatures that God has given us. But at the same time, this show demonstrates how all of creation has fallen; Pumas are trying to maim other animals for food and even male bighorn sheep fighting against each other as a proof of who’s stronger and a competition to decide who gets the female. Climate change has been changing the life of the different animals residing in the mountains. These mountains sometimes hold our violence and other people’s riches since drug trades often take place in mountains, where there are no eyes that spy. Even our attempts to conquer the highest of mountains, Mount Everest, show our fellness, in that these attempts highlight our desire for personal glory. We long for the recognition that comes with being able to scale that treacherous mountain.

With all the majesty of the mountains and the adorableness of the different creatures, it makes you wonder what it will be like in the new earth and heaven. If the natural landscapes we have now are already breathtaking, how much more when Jesus comes again?

But until then questions arise:

What are we personally doing to care for nature?

How can we prevent the extinction of endangered species?

Perks of Being a Wallflower

Cultural Artifact #2-Perks of Being a Wallflower
by Karis Kim
                This coming of age movie tells the story of a boy named Charlie who struggles to find normalcy in his life. Charlie wants to be like any other teenage hoping to find friends that accept and understand him. This is an important part in Charlie’s life because he is finally recovering from mental issues and deaths that he has come to cope with. A group of friends ‘adopts’ Charlie as they introduce him to a whole new world outside of anything he could imagine. There is a lot to take away from the movie and how it can relate to a lot of things that high schoolers are going through. Grades, social pressure, partying, and what the future will hold for each of these characters. Everyone is created differently and goes through different situations that shape how they become. For Charlie, he struggled a lot because seemingly the suicide death of his best friend and car accident that happened to his aunt. These events took a huge toll on Charlie’s introverted nature. The constant clashing of his love for his aunt and the fact that she had abused him really left Charlie unstable and uncertain about why he was living. There are so many things that we don’t know people are struggling with and this movie just brought that idea to life. People are always hiding their real story and everyone should be aware of this fact. Evil and sin just emanates through all the things that have happened in Charlie’s life. He is extremely strong for being able to handle all the different pressures and evil that he has been inflicted with. By the end of the film, Charlie is able to find a peace and purpose for his life. He doesn’t have everything figured out, but he does have a better handle on coping and helping himself be healthy. I really enjoyed the film and felt that it made me aware of a lot of stuff I never would have thought about. So many people struggle with their own problems and it made me think about how strong people are to be going through whatever their story has entailed. How can we as Christians help talk to these kinds of introverted people? Is there any way for us to help prevent even more of these evils from occurring?