Films released in 2012 via IMDb, including their IMDb ratings out of 10, can be found here. It’s interesting to look back over the year’s films and be reminded on ones seen and ones still to see.
Thanks to friend Jason Clark for drawing my attention to it.
“As you approach the start of a New Year, reflect back on the past one
to see how you've grown and what issues still block your way to a deeper
transformation. Has there been a theme during this past year and do you see a
pattern for your future challenges?”
One of the most grounded and indeed, encouraging, books I read last
year was How to Be A Bad Christian… And
a Better Human Being(pub Aug. 2012) by Dave Tomlinson. I loved the
subtitle, and understand why the title was what it was, but it felt a little
ironic, for shouldn’t a “Christian”, a Jesus-follower, be a person becoming a “better human being”…? After
all, isn’t Jesus the “second adam”?
The fullest revelation of what it means to be a fully human being?
I still read Jesus through the lense of one of the most helpful
academic essay’s I’ve read; one that has journeyed with me since 1991. The
essay was titled Christ’s Humanity and
Ours: John Owen by Alan Spence (published in Person’s Divine and Human edited by Christoph Schwobel & Colin
In essence, I take Spence to be arguing, in conversation with English
Puritan divine John Owen (1616-1683), that Jesus’
humanity is in everyway just like ours. Jesus’ humanity formed, grew, and
developed as he grew in his experience of himself, the world and of God. He
experienced all that we experience as human beings, his whole life being a
“prototype” of renewed humanity. Or as John Owen was want to say, we have borne the ‘image of the first Adam’
in our fallenness and brokenness so that we could bear the ‘image of the
second’ in our renovation. “Jesus’ humanity was such that his experience of
God was in no way qualitively different from
the possibilities that are open to us. So, for Owen and Spence, and indeed
me, the role of the Spirit acting upon and within
our humanity and human experience and activity becomes critical in us
becoming more deeply, fully human, free, and alive. In other words, more
Christlike. “For we become fully human only as we are conformed to the one whom
God put forward as the exemplar of true human existence. For me, then, our
destiny is not that we become divine but rather that we might finally become truly human.
And so, back to Dave’s book, which is ultimately a book that encourages
us to become more fully human, individually and relationally after the example
of Jesus Christ.
Dave is cogniscant of the
experience of many that find themselves having to stray away from the church in order to find and experience God.
It’s likely too that he would agree with me that many stray away from church in
order to find themselves and in that
process to find God as well. Sadly, and this
is true of my experience, too many churches rather than humanizing us actually
de-humanise us, leaving us less than
we are called to be - persons
becoming more fully human and thus more Christlike, not apart from our everyday
realities, suffering etc, but in the midst of them.
The Power of Us includes a rich
cross-section of New Zealanders – comedians, actors, cinematographers, lawyers,
athletes, business people, and inventors. Sir Ray Avery introduces it.
My aim is to read a reflection every couple of days and sit with the wisdom and insight of each person.
The first person was Rhys Darby, a comedian / actor:
“…Risk is really important
because you never know until you try. You have to conquer the fear of risk [and
thus of seeming failure]… Don’t be
afraid to say ‘yes’ to a lot of things. Take all opportunities seriously, no
matter how small, because things lead to other things, that lead to other
It’s a fantastic book; I highly recommend it – a great inspirational coffee
table book to dip into for insight and wisdom.
I’m not the most artistic person, but I love art and creativity. I often feel really inspired, thinking to
myself, (perhaps) I could do something like that, or “what a cool idea, I
wonder if I could do something similar?” The source of that might be the art
book I was flicking through on Friday, the visit to the wonderful Auckland Art
Gallery, the art installation of an artist friend, a documentary, a film, and
yesterday Jonny Baker’s blog – specifically this post – Looking for
Christ in Ordinary Places (in this case Florence). Follow the links Jonny
The photo, up there on the left, is by the artist Jonny
features – Ric Stott, a Methodist
Minister, art psychotherapist and artist working in Sheffield to explore
Christian spirituality and community based around the visual arts. More on him here.
Here are some excerpts from the unedited online version of his talk:
“…Here's another didactic little story.
There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan
wilderness. One of the guys is religious, the other is an atheist, and the two
are arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that comes
after about the fourth beer. And the atheist says: "Look, it's not like I
don't have actual reasons for not believing in God. It's not like I haven't
ever experimented with the whole God and prayer thing. Just last month I got
caught away from the camp in that terrible blizzard, and I was totally lost and
I couldn't see a thing, and it was 50 below, and so I tried it: I fell to my
knees in the snow and cried out 'Oh, God, if there is a God, I'm lost in this
blizzard, and I'm gonna die if you don't help me.'" And now, in the bar,
the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. "Well then you must
believe now," he says, "After all, here you are, alive." The
atheist just rolls his eyes. "No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos
happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp…
the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default
settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums
merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and
worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways
that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The
freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the centre
of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course
there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious
you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting
and achieving.... The really important kind of freedom involves attention and
awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and
to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day…
…Because here's something else that's weird
but true: in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such
thing as atheism. There is no such thing
as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to
worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or
spiritual-type thing to worship--be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan
Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical
principles--is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they
are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never
feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual
allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you
will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we
all know this stuff already. It's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés,
epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is
keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness…”
I know it’s not quite the end of the year, but my custom around this
time is to publish a list of my favourite films of each year – this time 2012.
All are movies I watched in 2012,
even if some may have been produced in 2011 or earlier.
Take this Waltz
Extremely Loud, Incredibly
My Week with Marilyn.
(For escapism & the "little boy" in many of us) The Amazing
Spiderman / The Dark Knight Rises / Skyfall.
“…We can only respond to
love’s invitation to grow and expand when we are willing to let a
relationship take us to our edge –
the place where an old identity no longer serves us and something totally new
can begin to emerge. This is one of the most creative moments in a
relationship. If we are to remain alive and growing in a relationship, we have
to learn to stay connected with ourselves when we encounter one of those edges…
…The urge to break out of
our dark shell also activates our demons, the voices of our fear, which urge us
to stay safely ensconced behind the walls of our habitual defenses. In showing
the way out of our prison, love forces us to do battle with these demons, for
they are our prison guards…
…To love and be loved, the
false self has to die…
…Finding ourselves means freeing ourselves from the conditioned
personality and becoming the authentic individual that we are called to be. (Individual literally means undivided – having access to the full
range of our powers and potentials – instead of living divided against
- John Welwood.
Reflecting on generational differences with respect to long-term
relationships, it seems to me that healthy, honest relationships (and that’s
the key) between people committed to working with their own interior realities – their fears,
compulsions, interior architecture, shadows
etc, committed to difference, change and growth, and committed to the other becoming all they are capable of
becoming as a fully alive, free, and authentic human being, provide a rich
means of becoming more; a rich means
to exploring and engaging with what most brings an individual alive. Healthy,
changing, growing relationships are willing to enter into the “swamplands of
the soul”, the “dark woods”, and to journeying through those experiences individually
Clearly there are unhealthy relationships where none of this is
possible; but I wonder whether there are degrees of “unhealth’ and brokenness,
because to a very real degree we’re all broken and damaged individuals (to
varying degrees) and thus our relationships will always manifest this. However,
are people like Harville Hendrix right when they say all relationships can be
saved and thrive? Saved at what cost…? Does there come a point where the damage
is just too great, the load to heavy to continue to bare…a stage when there’s
no more life in you to drain away? What is gospel
in this context? What is resurrection…?