Gore is Good: On the New Horror Movies

Coming home from work today, I found the latest issue of NEWSWEEK waiting for me [April 3, 2006]. A story in the magazine discusses the new style of horror movies that are all the rage at the box office, and most often among the under 25 set. They are incredibly and sadistically gory and gruesome, described by one New York Times critic as “torture porn.” One young man is quoted as complaining after viewing one of them that it was not bloody enough for him. The article reminded me, in a striking way, of Tertullian’s writing De Spectaculis, “On the Spectacles” — a work in which this Early Church Father wrote against Christians viewing the spectacles of the gladiatorial sports that were so common-place in his days, and the theater of his time that featured absolute filth and raunch, live on the stage. Consider how he answers a protest he commonly heard to the concerns expressed about Christians filling their eyes with the “torture porn” of their days:

“Everyone is quick to argue that since all things were created by God and given to man to use, they must be good, since they are all from a good source. We see many good things in the public shows: the horse, the lion, bodily strength, and musical voice. So, since these things all exist by God’s creative will, they can’t be foreign or hostile to Him. And if they are not opposed to Him, they can’t be considered harmful to those who worship Him, since these things are not foreign to them.” [Tertullian, De Spectaculis, Ch. 2]

Some things never change, do they?

Tertullian concludes his magnificent work on this issue, one we do well to ponder today, by offering an alternative to the public shows and spectacles:

“What are the things which eye has not
seen, ear has not heard, and which have not so much as dimly dawned
upon the human heart? Whatever they are, they are nobler, I believe,
than circus, and both theatres, and every race-course.”

Much to think about, don’t you think?

What’s Wrong With Listening to Lewd Lyrics?

Martin Luther hits the nail squarely on the head, in his commentary on the Sixth Commandment in the Large Catechism. Oh, by the way, that new edition of the Book of Concord so many of you like…we didn’t produce it for people to use it as a trophy on the shelf, or a club to beat others over the head with in a game of, “I’m more confessional than you.” We produced it so that we all more easily would be able to use it and personally take it to heart. So…take this to heart.

Link: The Large Catechism — The Ten Commandments.

But because among us there is such a shameful mess and the very dregs of all vice and lewdness, this commandment is directed also against all manner of unchastity, whatever it may be called; and not only is the external act forbidden, but also every kind of cause, incitement, and means, so that the heart, the lips, and the whole body may be chaste and afford no opportunity, help, or persuasion to inchastity. And not only this, but that we also make resistance, afford protection and rescue wherever there is danger and need; and again, that we give help and counsel, so as to maintain our neighbor’s honor. For whenever you omit this when you could make resistance, or connive at it as if it did not concern you, you are as truly guilty as the one perpetrating the deed. Thus, to state it in the briefest manner, there is required this much, that every one both live chastely himself and help his neighbor do the same, so that God by this commandment wishes to hedge round about and protect [as with a rampart] every spouse that no one trespass against them.

Hear the Word of God, 1 Corinthians 6:

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sina person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

More on why Mac is best . . .

Link: Geek News Central Revealing Technical News and useful links.

Fully patched Windows XP SP2 machines are vulnerable to a new attack under way and there’s no known fix as yet. If you are a Internet Explorer user you will be infected by simply viewing a page that contains an image with this new exploit. If your a Firefox user you will be infected if you download the image. It is not clear whether viewing the picture in firefox constitutes downloading it.

This is very serious bug, and consumers are urged to not view websites that they do not trust completly. It is not known whether the exploit can attack a computer via e-mail. [www.theinquirer.net] More Info [sunbeltblog.blogspot.com]

Top Ten Used Book Searches in 2005

For many years I’ve tried to keep this web site a secret. For, you see, this is the place where I buy most of my books these days. Yes, so great is my bibliophilia that I simply must replace all paperbacks with the original hard back editions, where possible And so, I’ve been hesitant to mention www.bookfinder.com for it is the greatest used book site on the Internet. Here is an interesting blog post they put up recently, on the top ten used book searches in 2005.

Link: BookFinder.com Journal: Top 10 out of print books of 2005.

For Narnia! For Aslan!


I urge everyone to go see The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the The Wardrobe. I just returned from seeing it with my family and I’m absolutely stunned and amazed at the depth of Christian content in this movie. I suppose those who have no idea that C.S. Lewis was, perhaps, the greatest Christian apologist and writer in the 20th century, may see the movie, and leave again, with no idea what this film is about; that is, what it is  really all about.
     Ironically, because of secularist reviewers trashing the movie for its “overt Christian symbolism” many people will be sensitized by those who despise the Faith to be aware of what the true meaning of this movie is.
    I would be hard pressed to identify a better witnessing tool than Narnia. What a wonderful way to draw people into the “great story” of the Faith,without necessarily rubbing their noses in things that may seem so obvious to believers, but are not at all  clear to unbelievers.
     If we want Hollywood to be sensitive to the needs of the Christan community and if we want movies that reflect the truths we hold dear and the values flowing from those truths, we must support movies like this.
    I believe you will be as delighted as I was by the quality of the movie. The special effects are truly amazing. I have to tell you that I’ve never read Lewis’ “Narnia” books and in preparation for this movie I began to read the second volume of the seven Narnia series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but frankly, I got bored and put it down. I’m a huge fan of Tolkien and so I guess I expected something a bit more in-depth in the books.
    Now, I’m rather pleased I only read half the book, for it gave me a chance to evaluate the movie more from the standpoint of not being familiar with the story’s details. The movie made perfect sense. The symbolism of Christ and His sacrifice and resurrection is keenly powerful. The realism of life as battle against evil and sin and death came through so strongly. How many of our Evangelical brethren wil catch the amazing symbolism of the Lord’s Supper in this film? Look for it.
    Finally, the joy and promise of eternal life, given as a gift now, to be enjoyed forever brings the movie to a powerful emotional conclusion.
    And so, I say, for Narnia and for Aslan, go see this movie.

Roger Ebert’s Take on Narnia

I may not always agree with Roger Ebert’s film reviews, but over the years I’ve found him to be consistent and relatively fair. Check out what he says about Narnia. Note Ebert’s matter-of-fact assertion that Aslan dies for Edmund’s sin, “just as Christ died for ours.”

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
‘Narnia’ yarn mixes magic and myth

Release Date: 2005

Ebert Rating:

Dec 8, 2005

C. S. Lewis, who wrote the  Narnia books, and  J.R.R. Tolkien, who wrote the Ring
trilogy, were friends who taught at Oxford at the same time, were
pipe-smokers, drank in the same pub, took Christianity seriously, but
although Lewis loved Tolkein’s universe, the affection was not
returned. Well, no wonder. When you’ve created your own universe, how
do you feel when, in the words of a poem by e. e. cummings:: “Listen:
there’s a hell/of a good universe next door; let’s go.”

Tolkien’s universe was in
unspecified Middle Earth, but Lewis’ really was next door. In the
opening scenes of “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and
the Wardrobe,” two brothers and two sisters from the Pevensie family
are evacuated from London and sent to live in a vast country house
where they will be safe from the nightly Nazi air raids. Playing
hide-and-seek, Lucy, the youngest, ventures into a wardrobe that opens
directly onto a snowy landscape where before long Mr. Tumnus is
explaining to her that he is a faun.

Fauns, like leprechauns, are
creatures in the public domain, unlike Hobbits, who are under
copyright. There are mythological creatures in Narnia, but most of the
speaking roles go to humans like the White Witch (if indeed she is
human) and animals who would be right at home in the zoo (if indeed
they are animals). The kids are from a tradition which requires that
British children be polite and well-spoken, no doubt because Lewis
preferred them that way. What is remarkable is that this bookish
bachelor who did not marry until he was nearly 60 would create four
children so filled with life and pluck.

That’s the charm of the Narnia
stories: They contain magic and myth, but their mysteries are resolved
not by the kinds of rabbits that Tolkien pulls out of his hat, but by
the determination and resolve of the Pevensie kids — who have a good
deal of help, to be sure, from Aslan the Lion. For those who read the
Lewis books as a Christian parable, Aslan fills the role of Christ
because he is resurrected from the dead. I don’t know if that makes the
White Witch into Satan, but Tilda Swinton plays the role as if she has
not ruled out the possibility.

The adventures that Lucy has in
Narnia, at first by herself, then with her brother Edmund and finally
with the older Peter and Susan, are the sorts of things that might
happen in any British forest, always assuming fauns, lions and witches
can be found there, as I am sure they can. Only toward the end of this
film do the special effects ramp up into spectacular extravaganzas that
might have caused Lewis to snap his pipe stem.

It is the witch who has kept
Narnia in frigid cold for a century, no doubt because she is descended
from Aberdeen landladies. Under the rules, Tumnus (James McAvoy) is
supposed to deliver Lucy (Georgie Henley) to the witch forthwith, but
fauns are not heavy hitters, and he takes mercy. Lucy returns to the
country house and pops out of the wardrobe, where no time at all has
passed and no one will believe her story. It is only after Edmund
(Skandar Keynes) follows her into the wardrobe that evening that her
breathless reports are taken seriously. Edmund is gob-smacked by the
White Witch, who proposes to make him a prince.

Peter (William Moseley) and
Susan (Anna Popplewell) believe Lucy and Edmund, and soon all four
children are back in Narnia. They meet the first of the movie’s
CGI-generated characters, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver (voices by Ray Winstone
and Dawn French), who invite them into their home, which is
delightfully cozy for being made of largish sticks. The Beavers explain
the Narnian situation to them, just before an attack by computerized
wolves whose dripping fangs reach hungrily through the twigs.

Edmund by now has gone off on
his own and gotten himself taken hostage, and the Beavers hold out hope
that perhaps the legendary Aslan (voice by Liam Neeson) can save him.
This involves Aslan dying for Edmund’s sins, much as Christ died for
ours. Aslan’s eventual resurrection leads into an apocalyptic climax
that may be inspired by Revelation. Since there are six more books in
the Narnia chronicles, however, we reach the end of the movie while
still far from the Last Days.

These events, fantastical as
they sound, take place on a more human, or at least more earthly, scale
than those in “Lord of the Rings.” The personalities and character
traits of the children have something to do with the outcome, which is
not being decided by wizards on another level of reality but will be
duked out right here in Narnia. That the battle owes something to
Lewis’ thoughts about the first two world wars is likely, although
nothing in Narnia is as horrible as the trench warfare of the first or
the Nazis of the second.

The film has been directed by
Andrew Adamson, who directed both of the “Shrek” movies and supervised
the special effects on both of Joel Schumacher’s “Batman” movies. He
knows his way around both comedy and action, and here combines them in
a way that makes Narnia a charming place with fearsome interludes. We
suspect that the Beavers are living on temporary reprieve and that
wolves have dined on their relatives, but this is not the kind of movie
where you bring up things like that.

C.S. Lewis famously said he
never wanted the Narnia books to be filmed because he feared the
animals would “turn into buffoonery or nightmare.” But he said that in
1959, when he might have been thinking of a man wearing a lion suit, or

The effects in this movie are
so skillful that the animals look about as real as any of the other
characters, and the critic Emanuel Levy explains the secret: “Aslan
speaks in a natural, organic manner (which meant mapping the movement
of his speech unto the whole musculature of the animal, not just his
mouth).” Aslan is neither as frankly animated as the Lion King or as
real as the cheetah in “Duma,” but halfway in between, as if an animal
were inhabited by an archbishop.

This is a film situated
precisely on the dividing line between traditional family entertainment
and the newer action-oriented family films. It is charming and scary in
about equal measure, and confident for the first two acts that it can
be wonderful without having to hammer us into enjoying it, or else.
Then it starts hammering. Some of the scenes toward the end push the
edge of the PG envelope, and like the “Harry Potter” series, the Narnia
stories may eventually tilt over into R. But it’s remarkable, isn’t it,
that the Brits have produced Narnia, the Ring, Hogwarts, Gormenghast,
James Bond, Alice and Pooh, and what have we produced for them in
return? I was going to say “the cuckoo clock,” but for that you would
require a three-way Google of Italy, Switzerland and Harry Lime.

Cast & Credits

White Witch: Tilda Swinton
Lucy Pevensie: Georgie Henley
Edmund Pevensie: Skandar Keynes
Peter Pevensie: William Moseley
Susan Pevensie: Anna Popplewell

And the voices of:
Aslan: Liam Neeson
Mr. Beaver: Ray Winstone
Mrs. Beaver: Dawn French
Mr. Fox: Rupert Everett