Monday, June 17, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

Finally got around to watching this. Overall? Pretty good, but a qualified good.

I’ve been waiting for this one a long time and maybe it’s the wait that affects my reaction to it. I liked the Hurt Locker so was looking forward to Bigelow’s next helming.

I remember feeling similarly about Lincoln. Kind of underwhelmed by what is still a pretty good movie. But one area where I felt Lincoln did a really good thing was not dwelling on the assassination and Lincoln’s death. It was there and could not be ignored but was also not the story being told.

ZDT is similar in that the story is really the run-up to the killing of bin Laden – not the actual killing etc.

And the story is well-told and interesting if perhaps a little long. It wasn’t until we were watching awhile that we realized this is a 2 hr. 30min+ movie. And it began to feel like it.

At the end (SPOILER ALERT!) when they get bin Laden, that whole sequence seemed drawn out and almost lame to me. Maybe I’m too used to slam-bang action that moves really fast. I had way too much time to think during this sequence and too many questions. Why did no one hear the crash of the helo? Seems like everyone in the compound would have heard that and begun evasive measures. And maybe I missed a detail or two but there were a bunch of Seals left behind after the first helo left with the body. How did they get out and away from the compound? I may have just been so tired by that time as to have missed the obvious. One more observation – I think I heard that Obama and others were watching the operation in real-time back in DC. But the only reactions we see during the op are Maya’s while she watches from her spot in nearby Afghanistan.

I guess we know how it ends and the Seals are not going to reveal their trade secrets but either rock-it-up a little or play it down. This just seemed kind of … weak.

Not sure what the ending’s point was – Maya as the sole passenger on a big cargo-type place. Symbolic? I can see her not being all “high-fivey.” I’d imagine after spending years of your life on something, it’s a let-down when it finally happens, when you get what you want. For some folks the chase is what it’s all about. Then the inevitable, “now what?”

Monday, June 3, 2013

Thoughts and prayers

Been seeing and hearing this more lately – actually almost every time there is some tragedy people say: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to those …”

What exactly does that mean and why do people say it?

While I don’t understand every little bit about the “prayer” part, as a Christian, I do believe (“Lord, Help my unbelief!”) that when I pray, it makes a difference, somewhere, somehow.

This is an integral and important part of most folks’ Christian faith.

Without throwing a verbal wet blanket on anything, what’s the “thoughts” part about?

OK, when I think about people in some sort of need, I often pray for them. I recall many times walking my dog through our pasture in the months following the devastating tornado that hit Joplin in May 2011. I would often come upon bits of paper debris that was blown here. I even posted a collage of sorts of those bits and pieces. I made a sort of promise that every time I saw a bit of debris, I would pray for those people in Joplin. Now how did God answer those prayers? I have no clue. My job was just to be faithful and obedient. 

I get the surface, “politically correct” reason why people say “thoughts and prayers;” it’s non-offensive and inclusive, sort of like saying, “Holidays” instead of “Christmas.” Especially in public situations. Nobody is going to sue Blake Shelton for saying it on national TV. Now if he just said, “We are praying for those people in Moore, Oklahoma, …” some folks might take offense. But adding that one extra little word, gets him off the hook. I’m not picking on Blake, I just heard him say something like this earlier this week on the radio while he was interviewed backstage at the big benefit on NBC. Whether you actually heard him or not, surely you’ve heard people do this.

For those who can’t bring themselves to add the word, “prayer”, what are they thinking? I guess many of them are just trying to be polite and inoffensive and aren’t overthinking their comments (like me!)

But if those people do not share some part of Christian belief about prayer, what do their comments mean? Do thoughts go anywhere? I think about a lot of things everyday. I have a 45-minute one-way commute that gives me plenty of time to think (and pray.) But my thoughts are internal. If I have something I need to expand upon, I’ll call myself and leave a message or dictate a note into my phone so I can remember it and come back to it later.

But if I just thought about say, Moore, OK, what happens? I’m not just being rhetorical here. I am really asking of those folks who do this, what are you thinking and what do you expect to happen? Is it just to make us all feel better? If we stumbled across someone from Moore, we could say, “I was thinking about you.” Now if those thoughts prompt people to remember later to perhaps text $10 to the Red Cross, then those thoughts have accomplished something tangible. And maybe that is enough.

In my church circles people are quick to throw out “I’ll be praying for you.”

I’m not. In our services we are presented with all sorts of prayer needs. Sometimes I don’t pray for any of them. Sometimes I do. But prayer, for me, is personal. And in this sense it has value. I can’t (or don’t) pray about things I don’t care about. I have a list in my phone to remind me of the things I try to pray about everyday. I think I’m batting in the high % of doing that on a regular basis. Obviously I think about those things also.

SIDEBAR: A friend in my Sunday School class had been on dialysis for years. I’ve been praying for him for more than a year or so that I’ve known him. He recently got a kidney transplant and even humorously shared that he “urinated” for the first time in years (I know TMI!) I was happy to have been even a small (but faithful) part of that by praying for him almost every day. Was it my prayer that helped? I guess I don’t think of it that way because partly this isn’t about getting credit or scoring points but also someone else had to die in order for him to get a kidney. But I prayed for him. How it turned out is way above my pay grade!

Back to my original question. If a person without any religious faith says, “My/our thoughts are with you,” do they think something happens? And if so, what? Not being ir-religious here but is there a little “g” thought god out there who takes care of this kind of stuff?

I am reminded of a comment I read last week from Steven King (the horror writer) where he says he does believe in some sort of intelligent design that created all this beautiful stuff we see and encounter. So I’d guess even though I have no idea, what faith (if any) beyond this, Mr. King has, he has some idea (and maybe hope), that there is something else out there.

But back to the many who think, this is all there is.

I’m not trying to start an argument here, I was sitting on the porch Saturday morning, after more big storms and somewhere in the Twitter feed of people I follow, was the phrase “thoughts and prayers” so, of course, I started thinking.

This may start a firestorm of responses on Facebook where all my stuff ends up eventually but maybe there with be some thoughtful responses.