Thursday, April 22, 2010

Michael

My fourth (and youngest) child, James Michael, turns 21 years old today.

I posted about Michael almost exactly three years ago, when he was about to graduate from high school. Now he's a rising senior at Florida State University. Time has passed quickly. It's been awesome to see Michael grow in maturity, knowledge, talent, and vision for the future.

He is a creative writing major at FSU. I know I'm biased, but his writing is excellent. He's a senior staff writer for the FSU campus newspaper. He writes for the Arts & Life section, where his passion for movies and music shows. Recently he got a big promotion.

Over the years, I have loved all the things Michael and I have done together. We've eaten lots of burgers together. We've seen lots of movies and gone to some concerts together. Last year he, my other son David, and I went skiing in Vermont. In August of last year Michael and I visited Seattle together. I'll never forget walking around the waterfront with him and all the good food we had.

When Michael was little, he played baseball and soccer - all the little kid sports. In high school he developed as an actor and writer. He's a great communicator and wordsmith, an insightful thinker, an amazing dancer, a good singer, a discerning audiophile, a loving uncle to his nieces and nephews, and a guy who cares for his friends and family. One of his qualities I like most is his authenticity. He is not a fake, and I admire that. He's funny, serious, humble, and sensitive. I could go on and on.

Forget his accomplishments; I just love him for the person he is.

Happy birthday Michael. May it always be true of you, "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit" (Jeremiah 17:7-8).

Monday, April 12, 2010

Clash of the Titans

I wasn't going to do it, but I did it. I went to see Clash of the Titans today. In 3-D, no less.

Like I said on my Facebook status update, it was ridiculously fun. Ridiculous because of the over-the-top special effects and the irony of heavy hitters like Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes having major roles. But also fun because of crazy mythological creatures like Medusa, scorpions, and witches, and the death-defying antics of our hero, Perseus (played by Sam Worthington of Avatar fame).

Actually there's a lot of gospel application in this movie. Perseus is a demigod - both god and man. He is ridiculed, rejected, scorned, and nearly killed by the very people he ends up saving. Perseus has to travel to the underworld to engage evil in hand-to-hand combat. Hades (played by Fiennes) is a horrible, self-centered, deceptive being intent on the destruction of humankind. Zeus (Neeson), the father of Perseus, turns out to be a beneficent (if somewhat naive) god who has the best interest of human beings in mind.

What particularly stood out to me is the way the movie illustrated man's stubborn attempt to live independently of God. The citizens of Argos, early on in the movie, wanted to stop living as though they needed help from the gods. Andromeda, princess of Argos, rebuked her parents and townspeople and called them to honor their creator. But she was largely ignored. The citizens of Argos said they were tired of being thankful. The gods had let them down too many times, so from now on they were going to rely on themselves.

Romans 1: 21 says that "although [human beings] knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." How ironic and sad that we puny little mortals, whose every breath is an unmerited gift from God, think that we don't need God. Like Zeus in Clash of the Titans, God has powerful ways of showing us our weakness. Every now and then he raises up a Kraken to humble us and prove how dependent upon him we really are.