Sunday, December 14, 2014

Happy Holidays! See 'Exodus: Gods and Kings'


This author was wary about seeing Ridley Scott's latest film, Exodus: Gods and Kings, because the reviews weren't great, and Scott has a checkered past in my book (Prometheus).  But he also did Gladiator, which was quite exceptional. Exodus: Gods and Kings is an astonishing achievement, and there's much more to it than meets the eye. Who doesn't like films which create that 'time machine feeling' of really being there? This author has studied ancient Egypt for fifty years, and has been to tombs and temples. This a very real film:



So why are so-called sophisticated people rejecting it? The film is a global hit, and has grossed well over $282 million. The discrepancy is based largely on the fact that most viewers are Bible-illiterate these days, and have no idea what ancient life and people were really like. Fact is, the real Exodus story is (as some critics have said) "heavy-handed" and a "slap in the face" if you're a worshiper of power, a lover of wealth, and can't stand "judgments".

Exodus: Gods and Kings is long and painful to watch at times, but is a genuine and powerful drama - as ancient life often was. Scott pulls out every stop, and creates a shockingly realistic and soul-wrenching psychodrama. Nobody in it is wooden or uninvolved, and the cast is masterful and engaging. Christian Bale is at his best, along with Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, and a cast of new actors who look like they stepped out of the ancient world already formed.  More than 15,000 people were involved in the production.

It's the perfect film for our age in that the core issue facing us right now is exactly the same one Exodus deals with: Power over Truth. Which will win? Do men with power define truth? Or does God? Some of you are saying that's the core issue of the whole Bible, and you're right.

Pharaoh Rameses never would give up, nor would his armies, even after the ten plagues that were so horrible they almost defy description. In the same way our modern Ruling Class will NEVER give up. They prove it again and again as our modern plagues have no effect. We must - somehow - escape from their malevolent influence. Like the Egyptians, they're doomed to suffer in their hell forever, and we can't let them drag us down with them.

How can we escape from this psychic Egypt? Exodus shows us the way. Pray to God, and have courage. It's hard work, but we'll be enslaved until we do. The rewards for working with the Lord of All Creation are inconceivably wonderful.

Perhaps you're skeptical - as I once was - that the Exodus story contains any truth at all? You might be surprised to discover that this and many other Bible stories and characters have now been verified by recent archaeological evidence.

                                          The Israelites Crossing the Red Sea:


Friday, December 5, 2014

Why Are We Here?

This is the ultimate question in our lives, and I've spent my whole life asking God that question. It has required a lifetime of study to arrive at the complete answer; or at least an answer I could understand.

When I was five my grandfather died, and I was devastated. He was such a loving and kind man, though I didn't get to see him often. I asked my parents and anyone else who would listen, "Where is he? Why is he gone? What happens after we die?" I couldn't get an answer, because my parents were atheists or agnostics, depending on their mood. It shocked me then, and it still shocks me now, that so few people seem to know or care about this. Perhaps the loss of life and love is just too terrible to contemplate for many people. I felt my life depended upon finding out everything I could about it.

In a nutshell, this is largely the reason for our existence: Life is a test and the world is like a boot camp for our training. Every day there are issues and events that prove our soul's worthiness. How honest, kind, forgiving, and loving are we? If we see someone - any living thing - being abused, what do we do? If we abuse someone ourselves, how long does it take for us to recognize it? How conscious are we to the sufferings of others, and their well being?

Records are being kept, and our own brains are extraordinary recording devices. This has been proven over and over again by science, that we can be prompted to remember events in incredible detail. Our good and bad deeds are a matter of permanent record in our own minds and hearts. Everything we know, God knows, and so much more.

For the sake of the integrity and value of the test, it must appear that nobody is watching or listening, and that each day be very ordinary; even humdrum. In that way, our true selves will be revealed to ourselves, to others, and to God.

Jesus often spoke metaphorically about separation in life, "the wheat from the chaff", the "sheep from the wolves". In Matthew 24 he says,

“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?  It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.  But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’  and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards.  The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.  He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Time is always short, and we need to search our hearts, make a clean breast of our wrongs, and ask for forgiveness. Courage and diligence in this leads to a tremendous reward. Don't lose it!