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Incarnation and Resurrection

Stumbled across some interesting parallels in Luke’s birth and resurrection narratives:

A. An angel of the Lord appears to announce the birth of Jesus to the shepherds, and they are filled with fear (2:8-11).
A’ Two men (angels) appear to the women at the tomb (announcing the resurrection) and the women are afraid (24 5-7).

B. The shepherds are given a sign of “a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (2:12).
B’ Peter sees the ‘sign’ of the “linen cloths by themselves” (24:12).

C. After the angel host departs, the shepherds go Bethlehem to “see this thing that has happened” (2:15), “with haste” (2:16).
C’ After hearing the women’s report, Peter runs to the tomb and sees the linen cloths by themselves (24:12).

D. The shepherds make known the saying that had been told them concerning the child (2:17).
D’ The women told the eleven and all the rest “all these things” (24:9).

E. The people who heard the shepherds “marveled” (2:18).
E’ Peter goes home “marveling at what had happened” (24:12).

You also have Mary specifically mentioned as treasuring up all these things and pondering them in her heart (2:19), and two Marys specifically mentioned as among those who announced the resurrection to the apostles (24:10).

The parallels and overlap of language are hardly accidental.  Theologically, these parallels seem to indicate that the incarnation of Jesus foreshadows His resurrection.  His first birth from the womb points forward to His second birth from the grave.  This also means that you cannot have the Jesus of Christmas without the Jesus of Easter.

Rambling Review: Oz the Great and Powerful

oz-the-great-and-powerful-banner-poster

Alternate title to this post: “Oz the Great and Powerful…Not So Much.”

I have to admit that my expectations were probably a little bit higher than they should have been going into this movie, but the previews were tantalizing; Sam Raimi is the director (Spiderman trilogy); Rachel Weisz is in it; I’ve liked James Franco in other movies; and having enjoyed Alice’s most recent trip to Wonderland , I was especially looking forward to the re-imagination of the land of Oz.  So, what was my overall reaction to the movie?  General indifference.  As Steven Greydanus puts it, “When I look at it, I believe this is Oz; it’s only the story, characters and dialogue that fall flat.”

Spoiler Warning!

The movie has some nice moments, and it doesn’t take long to realize that the movie is supposed to be fun.  There’s plenty of humor when Oz (played by James Franco) is introduced, especially the interaction with his assistant Frank (played by Zach Braff).  It’s clear that Raimi has respect for the 1939 classic, “The Wizard of Oz,” and there are plenty of hat tips in that regard.  Starting the movie out in black and white, with the screen at a 4:3 ratio is one of them.  As the moviegoer, once Oz arrives in the Land of Oz you know the screen will widen and reveal brilliant colors.  Which it does.  Later in the movie the Munchkins begin to sing, but Oz cuts of them off and tells them to “Take five.”  It’s  funny because you expect Munchkins to sing.  So the movie has its moments, but they’re too few and far between to sustain it in the midst of its weak story and dialogue (as already noted).  Rachel Weisz does well with her part.  Mila Kunis is not convincing at all, and the only lasting impression of her is that she has a beautiful face (maybe that works because she’s later turned into the Wicked Witch of the West), but the delivery of her lines is empty.  Also, her skipping down the yellow brick road seemed very out of place.  Was I supposed to think of Dorothy from the 1939 film?  I did, but the image didn’t fit.

Perhaps the greatest reason I was disappointed with the movie is because it flirted with a great idea, and then didn’t really do enough with it.  The best scene in the movie is when Oz repairs the China Girls’ broken legs with super glue.  In the context of the movie, you’re to think back upon the crippled girl that challenged Oz in Kansas to make her walk (both played by the actress Joey King).  To the China Girl, Oz’s use of super glue is magical, and later on Oz comes to a semi-realization that he does possess a certain kind of “magic” through his scientific knowledge.  The problem is, though, that neither Oz’s character development nor his dialogue really bring this out in such a way to make you believe that Oz sees the “magic” in his “ordinary” scientific knowledge.  Perhaps it is expecting too much for Sam Raimi to channel “The Ethics of Elfland” from G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, but if Oz could have had an epiphany that Kansas was as magical as the Land of Oz, then that would have been something great… even powerful.

The Answer of Joyful Feasting

180px-Schmemann“Consciously or subconsciously Christians have accepted the whole ethos of our joyless and business-minded culture.  They believe that the only way to be taken ‘seriously’ by the ‘serious’ – that is, by modern man – is to be serious, and, therefore, to reduce to a symbolic ‘minimum’ what in the past was so tremendously central in the life of the Church – the joy of a feast.  The modern world has relegated joy to the category of ‘fun’ and ‘relaxation.’ It is justified and permissible on our ‘time off’; it is a concession, a compromise.  And Christians have come to believe all this, or rather they have ceased to believe that the feast, the joy have something to do precisely with the ‘serious problems’ of life itself, and may even be the Christian answer to them.”

– Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World, 53.

Confessing Christ as King

180px-Schmemann“To confess Christ as King means that the Kingdom He revealed and inaugurated is not only a Kingdom of some distant future, of the ‘beyond’ and thus never conflicting with or contradicting all our other earthly ‘kingdoms’ and loyalties.  We belong to this Kingdom here and now, and we belong to it and serve it before all other ‘kingdoms.’  Our belonging, our loyalty to anything in ‘this world’ – be it State, nation, family, culture or any other ‘value’ – is valid only inasmuch as it does not contradict or mutilate our primary loyalty and ‘syntaxis’ to the Kingdom of Christ.  In the light of that Kingdom no other loyalty is absolute, none can claim our unconditional obedience, none is the ‘lord’ of our life.  To remember this is especially important now when not only the ‘world’ but even Christians themselves so often absolutize their earthly values – national, ethnic, political, cultural – making them the criterion of their Christian faith, rather than subordinating them to the only absolute oath: the one they took on the day of their Baptism, of their ‘enrollment’ in the ranks of those for whom Christ is the only King and Lord.”

– Alexander Schmemann, Of Water & The Spirit: A Liturgical Study of Baptism, 32.

John Calvin on Remembering Your Baptism

CS009556“…there is no doubt that all pious folk throughout life, whenever they are troubled by a consciousness of their faults, may venture to remind themselves of their baptism, that from it they may be confirmed in assurance of that sole and perpetual cleansing which we have in Christ’s blood.” – Institutes of the Christian Religion, IV.XV.4

When Men Want to Play God

“When men want to play God…they can only impose their will over a large area by using implements of force and violence.  To get a uniform culture, they have to impose it from above, and this works to nullify all local diversity.  In a Biblical society, the larger government sets only general policy, and serves as a court of appeal; but in a humanistic state, the larger government sets all policy, specific as well as general, thus destroying local diversity, and there is no court of appeal because all local courts are manifestations of the central court.” – James B. Jordan, Judges: A Practical and Theological Commentary, 184-185.