Friday, September 30, 2005

Generosity: Antidote to Nihilistic Naturalism

Have you thought about the fact that many people subconsciously live outside of their worldviews? Think about how often you've heard--or spoken--the words "Nothing really matters here, anyway. We live, we die, we turn to dust. This world is all there is." Such statements are woven from naturalistic DNA that presupposes that this world is all there is. Spirituality is locked out of it. No logical foundation for magnanimity or grace exists. No greater good can logically be ascertained. The naturalistic worldview is by nature precommitted to, well, nothingness. We're here in the form of specialized atoms and arms, we think thoughts, do actions, and die. Any thirst for something greater is false. Such is the stuff of naturalism.

How interesting, then, that 99.9% of humans don't live this way. Those who say that we are simply programmed matter without first cause or higher motive themselves disobey their precepts. They seek a better world, try to protect the environment, and fall deeply in love. Though they claim naturalism in theory, they deny it in practice. We also see this trend in the impulse to generosity so much of the 99.9% possess. If there is nothing higher, nothing better, nothing that possesses meaning, why do people strive to help one another? If naturalism is truly true, there ought not to be any drive to go out of one's way to help one another. If naturalism is true, in fact, there ought to be no impulse toward generosity. We ought to be naturally geared, and only geared, to self-sustenance.

But this is not so, and any attempt to explain the world in naturalistic terms is false. We were imbued with purpose, with philanthropic instincts, and these things cannot be explained away. Naturalism, not God, is dead. Its proponents make great claims that they do not live by, because they cannot live by them. It is natural for humans to love, to strive, to want something greater. Of course, naturalism is right in that without God in the picture, hopelessness and purposelessness reigns. With Him reigning and ruling, however, all is well. Live is worth living. Gifts are worth giving. Love is worth having. This, not nihilism, moves our hearts, motivates our deeds, and composes our DNA. Don't let anyone tell you differently.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

More on the Art of Looking Stupid

The second practical tip to help you look stupid (please recognize the slight irony in all of this) is this: tell someone of your fallibility. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? Just try it. You’ll find a freeing sensation in doing so, like the lights went on in a little district of your soul that was in darkness. Go ahead, tell someone how you messed up, how you looked stupid, how you answered a question wrong. Tell them the real reason you got turned down. Maybe you’re not good looking enough. That’s okay. Life will go on. We’re not all Tom Cruise or Halle Berry. We should admit that. We couldn’t all have gotten into Harvard, and it’s not just because we fit a familiar profile. Some of us just aren’t smart enough. That’s fine! We’re not all geniuses. We couldn’t all have made the team. Many of us didn’t make the team for good reason. We were too slow, or too weak, or just plain not skilled enough. That’s fine. We’re not all athletes. Why, goes the question, should we pretend we are something when we are not? We shouldn’t, and should actually take steps to avoid doing so.

Parents, teachers, ministers, politicians, siblings, and so many others do much to gain our credibility when they discard the pretension that they do not err and embrace their faillibility. Of course, many people think they do this. Here’s how it’s often packaged, however. They know they’re fallible in theory, but in practice, they just can’t seem to think of concrete examples that show their fallibility. For every action, there is a reaction, and it usually involves the art of “explaining-away.” I’ve noticed with sharp people that the very first response to challenge or correction is to offer, often at light speed, an excuse, denial, or cover-up. These take the rightful place of a thoughtful silence, a mulling over, perhaps a humble follow-up question, and then a sincere admission of wrongdoing. So often when we’re confronted in peaceful concern we take up the weapons of self-defense and fight until we’ve bloodied the other person a bit. We know we’re wrong, of course, but that does little to ease the frustration and anger we feel at having our weaknesses and shortcomings exposed. So we battle back, thinking we retain some pride in the process, and we lose the opportunity given us to personally grow and find freedom from false perfection.

To close this post, the one who takes the opportunity to look stupid is in fact the one who, in the eyes of honest people, looks the best. We see this proven true with children. They see much, including the good and bad of their parents, and they are much more likely to trust and follow a parent who admits wrong. In humility is gain. In stupidity is wisdom.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

More on the Necessary Art of Looking Stupid

I was originally going to devote only one blog to my suggested life rule, that of looking stupid occasionally, but I’ve found more to say on the subject. This post gives some practical suggestions on how one can integrate a dose of reality into the life-consuming project of impressive appearance. In other words, here are some tips on fighting misplaced pride and recovering natural humility.

The first tip is this: If you get stuff wrong, don’t try to explain it away to the person next to you. Also, don’t shake your head and mutter. Look, pal, I know I’m not perfect, and I’m quite sure no one else I know is. There was one perfect man, Jesus Christ, and he happens to be at the right hand of God right now, not answering questions in history class. You do not look or live like Him, so don’t pretend you’re perfect. Lay hold of your humanness. You’re a person, so you make mistakes. Admit it! Sure, we all get a little red-faced, and that’s okay. It’d be great if we didn’t, but we can’t change that overnight. However, we can work on our moment-by-moment responses to our own errors. To all professional basketball players, some of the greatest pretenders one can find: if you miss a shot, don’t scream at the ref. He didn’t miss the shot, and you likely didn’t get fouled, or he would have called it. Students, if a professor marks you down on a paper, don’t bridle at the suggestion you are an imperfect writer. You are an imperfect writer. And no, he’s not a really hard professor, it’s just that you aren’t that good of a writer yet. Save the energy you would expend explaining away your low grade and channel it into actually improving your prose and argumentation of thought.

Can you see from the above paragraph how much effort we give toward making ourselves look good—or rather, preventing the inevitable, that of looking stupid? So much, so much is wasted in this vain pursuit.

Look at politics. You know, I am pretty much an out-and-out conservative. Across the board, down the line, from sea to shining sea, I’m conservative, and completely unapologetically so. But—and this is important—I appreciate an honest politician, conservative or not. I may not agree with them, or like their work, or support it, but I will appreciate them for their honesty. This is understandably so, but so many in the public eye fight a lifelong struggle to appear flawless in decision-making. Almost nothing does more to sour people on leaders than to see that they are not realistic about themselves. When people see you’re not real about yourself, they realize you probably aren’t trustworthy at all. After all, if you can lie to yourself, you can certainly lie to people you’ll never meet and faces you’ll never see.

Monday, September 26, 2005

It's Good to Look Bad

I’ve come up with a good rule to help facilitate a happy, comfortable existence on this earth. It’s rather blunt, and it gets right to the point, and as a result it is fairly helpful. Here it is: allow yourself to be wrong. Perhaps this is aimed most directly at men, who tend of the two genders to be the most competitive. Contrary to what some would think, the masculine competitive nature does not die with Little League or high school graduation. It simply expands into other fields, even as it remains anchored in sports for many men. Many guys compete over most any thing their mind fastens upon. At the office, what salary one makes. At the home, who has the prettiest wife. In the gym, who has the biggest muscles. In the church, who leads the most ministries. At seminary, the competition takes a muted but still-present form in the matter of hours spent working and taking class. I must have had thirty conversations with other seminarians in which I was asked a) how many hours of class I was taking, and b) how many hours of work I was working. One might say that these inquiries need not necessarily be competitive, but I think I discern fairly well the masculine instinct, however sanctified. In the case of such conversation I usually smell competition.

All of which makes it very hard for one to look stupid. The average driven American male seeks to construct a world around himself in which he looks as good as possible. Sure, there are times he trips, or messes up, or airballs, but by and large, his life is dedicated to looking good. Like the need for food and drink, he seems to navigate life according to likely actuality of impressive appearance. He eschews things that will make him seem lesser, poorer, and slower than others. What comes from all of this is a falsity to everyday life, to one’s own self-conception, that is damaging. We all become all-stars, albeit stars that play on a field of our own choosing and to an audience of our own imagining. Hints of weakness, of a lack of ability, of failure we push away, rationalizing all the while. “Well, I could have got that girl…she just prized the wrong things. She said once she liked me.” “Yeah, we would have won, but the umpiring was really poor.” “I could have gotten into that school—I just didn’t want to.” There can be truth in some of these statements. Sometimes teams do get gipped, sometimes girls do make stupid choices, sometimes schools overlook a gifted student. But the perpetual quest to look good traps us, lies to us, and sows bitterness in our heart.

How much better to look stupid every so often, to admit weakness, to grin and bear it, to give up false conceptions of self-grandeur, to embrace our humanity with all its shortcomings. Honesty, they say, is the best policy. The adage holds true. There is great freedom in admitting we don’t know it all, we can’t do it all, and we won’t be it all. How ironic—in the pursuit of a realistic self-image that includes failure and shortcoming, we find true excellence of person. That’s an equation most of us think little of, and oh, how we miss it all.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Consciously Forgetful: the Culture and Death

It tells us something about the state of the human soul that people have to be reminded of their impending death before they will consider it. Death is perhaps the greatest of all realities we face as a race, and yet think of how few give time to consider its approach. Christian groups have recognized this and thus often use some sort of witnessing style that points folks to ponder their end and their relative preparation for it. The witnessing encounter, however, usually serves not as a reminder but as an initial warning to the person wrapped in a protective blanket of naturalist, materialist, and escapist fabric. To watch the world at work is to realize that it is in a maddening rush to forget its certain end.

How interesting that programmed into the very essence of our lives are continual--and oftentime sobering--reminders that we are surely decaying and will surely die. In fact, decaying, or aging, is in fact another way of thinking of dying. From the moment we're born, we're dying, in a sense, because at birth we are placed on an irreversible course toward nullification. We think little as a society of this fact, but it's true. We're dying. It's just a matter of time before the process completes itself.

The ancients were more honest in their worldviews about death. The Stoics, Cynics, and Epicureans confronted their mortality head-on and then constructed ways of dealing with it. It is my belief that these philosophical attempts to reconcile life and death were ultimately insufficient and fatally flawed, but at least those people attempted as they did. Today, in America, it seems we would rather turn up the Itunes, pour a stout glass of something, and entertain ourselves until we are numb and have forgotten our fate. The pretending, however, does not make the reality go away. Death must be faced, and it is a force one cannot trifle with, a state one can scarcely escape.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Finding God's Will, Part Two

Before we discuss certain precepts, let’s note two important ideas that necessarily undergird a discussion of the will of God. I don’t think that everyone is conscious of these two ideas, but I think that thinking over them will help us understand the importance of the matter of God’s will. That is to say, God’s will does not simply relate to where we go to college. Rather, it relates to the way we understand ourselves—and the way we understand God.

The first key idea is that the way we understand God’s will determines the way we live. It’s a simple matter, really. If you think that God’s will is hidden and difficult to discover, you will naturally live in confusion. Your confusion won’t simply surface in frustration over decisions, but will trap you in a pattern of fear and tentativeness that is certainly damaging to your spiritual life. You will think of life as a confounding journey, a perplexing quest to a destination you do not know and cannot find. The days you are given will not present themselves to you as opportunities for exploration and growth, but as little time-sealed prisons. Much of the joy that the Bible promises the hungry Christian will evade you, or rather, you will overlook it. It’s not a pretty picture, and it may be a bit dramatic, but it is nonetheless realistic for many Christians, I think.

On the other hand, if you think of God as a revealing God who does not wish you to live in a swamp of confusion and disarray, you will find much joy. If you remember that God is sovereign, you will know that your life is not ultimately dependent on you and your decisions. You will see instead that while you are responsible for making wise and faithful decisions, God has the creation in His palm. He loves it, and He loves you as His child, and He will work all things out for your good. That idea doesn’t simply apply to the end of life, when everything “works out for good” in the ultimate sense (being heaven), but on a day-to-day basis. Instead of being perplexed by the days and their options, we can see them as gifts from God in which we discover His goodness. And so we see that the way we understand God’s will determines the way we live.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Will to Find the Will of God

I think that many evangelicals have been really, really poorly taught on the subject of God’s will. Things were good theologically in the Reformation era, but then the enlightenment hit, and man and his feelings and thoughts took center stage, and existentialism and pietism came to the fore as a reaction against the more rational brand of Christianity of the reformers. That followed with German liberalism, which just generally muddied the waters of theology altogether, and topped off with the Spirit-focused Christianity of the twentieth century. We’re left today with pieces from all these popped balloons and a fragmented understanding of how God works in our lives. Because of liberalism, we’ve pushed away from the Bible’s declarative role in our lives. Because of existentialism, we focus more on feeling than fact. Because of subjectivism, often confused with the leading of the Holy Spirit, we trust our impressions and think our thoughts and intuitions to be directly connected with the will of God. All of this leaves many in evangelicalism in a morass of confusion.

But there is hope. The question of “what does God want for me?” need not distress us and leave us paralyzed in fear of doing the wrong thing. I can state this with confidence because I believe in the Bible and know it to be the prescriptive revelation of God and His will to His people. This does not mean that the Bible has a ready-made answer for every single decision we face. There are no passages we may find that explicitly instruct as to whether we should go shopping or do laundry. There are, however, several scriptural principles that we may highlight that will give us significant help in figuring out what God would have us to do. Consumed is now starting a brief series on a number of these principles in the hopes that this material will help people to understand God’s will.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Life as a 24 Year Old

The years of early adulthood have to be some of the most confusing of all life. I’m thinking particularly here of the confounding nature of contact with the opposite sex during the immediate post-college years. College was a beautiful time for many reasons, not least among them the contact one had with friends of the opposite sex. It’s a really good thing to be able to develop friendships with girls in normal ways. Something is right with the cosmos when you can hang out with girls and guys and have fun, non-pressurized interaction. I was able to do so both in college and right after it, when I was working in DC. The church in which I served had a strong mass of young people, and we had a great time hanging out, going to events, eating, and generally getting to know one another in healthy ways.

All that has changed with a shift to seminary, as one would expect it would. For those curious about what seminary life looks like on the ground level, it’s a fairly bleak scene. If you don’t go to a large church where there’s lots of young people, it can be particularly rough, as there are almost no regular opportunities to interact healthily and normally with girls. You’re reduced largely to hurried post-class conversation—“Good lecture, huh?”—which really sets the world on fire, or on awkward and forced conversations in places like the gym or coffee shop. “I’ll take a mocha, please. By the way, what are you doing tomorrow?” Ugggh. Being in this environment makes one yearn for a context in which guys and girls can meet one another without pressure and stakes. Until that happens, I guess one is pretty much confined to conversation that is often awkward and difficult. There’s good in such situations, though, for one learns to trust God, wait on Him, and make small talk as interesting as it can possibly be.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Men and LHD: Long Hair Disorder

It’s time to talk about a disorder many guys suffer from. It’s called “LHD” and is short for “long hair disorder.” As one who has suffered from LHD, I am well able to diagnose the disorder. It involves the disposition of many guys to think that they look best with short, rather than long, hair. The symptoms of LHD include too-frequent barbershop visits and extreme sensitivity to any comment regarding the length of one’s hair. For many guys, as soon as one notes that their hair is getting long, action must be taken. Hair must be chopped, tips must be given, and order must be restored. This is a sad condition—and it probably affects someone you know.

As I said above, I can diagnose this disorder because I’ve had it. For the duration of my life, I’ve thought it best to keep my hair quite short, when I think in reality it’s best to grow it long. It just works better for me. Though my dear mother and sister tried to warn me that I suffered from LHD, and tried to get me to grow my hair long, I steadfastly resisted. This happened for twenty-three years, when the whole shag look came back and I decided I wanted to try something different. A corner was turned then, and I was liberated from LHD. It’s now part of my life mission to turn fellow sufferers toward health—and hair. Perhaps someone you know suffers from LHD. They may never voice their struggle, but I encourage you—warn their barber. Be a part of the cure, not the cause.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Don't Fear Man, and Definitely Not People

For those who don’t know, there’s an interesting conversation going on amongst evangelicals over the translation of Bible language relating to gender. As popular English has shifted away from masculine-centered language, e.g. “mankind,” some evangelicals have called for a Bible of gender-neutral language wherever possible. That is, at any point where it is not essential that translation refer to masculine gender, the Bible should shift to gender-inclusive language. Where Paul says “brothers,” for example, in introducing a number of his epistles, the translation should read “brothers and sisters” or “fellow believers.” This principle makes good sense in part, for Paul certainly wasn’t addressing his letters solely to male Christians. And yet this philosophy of language runs into difficulty at certain points. Here’s one I’ve thought up. The Bible talks about the need to fear God and not man. “Fear of man,” as the phrase goes, is one of the central problems of the human heart. People naturally concern themselves with what other people think about them, rather than giving first priority to the opinion God has for their actions and thoughts. Such behavior is clearly a problem, for while people can affect us for a short time on earth, God holds our souls in His hands. First priority must be given to Him and His call on us to love Him and hate our sin.

Sermonizing aside, this is all relevant to this particular blog because the phrase “fear of people” just doesn’t really do it for me. The phrase “fear of man” has some gravity. It relates one to a great mass of humanity and suggests that one fears this mass as a whole. You can almost see a lone person standing before a teeming crowd of unfriendly faces. “Fear of people,” on the other hand, sounds altogether psychological. It sounds like you’re afraid to carry on normal conversations with others and takes away any sense of gravity. God isn’t displeased with sinners because they’re bad at small talk. He has wrath for them because in their sin they care more about people than they do Him. I’m sure that there are positive aspects to the gender-neutral philosophy, but one can’t help thinking of examples like the one above that show the inadequacy of neutralized language.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Risk it: It's Worth it, Baby!

It is good to risk and live with freeness in life. I’ve had this deeply impressed upon me in these past few years, with numerous decisions facing me and little clarity as to the exact path I should travel. Such circumstances trouble many, but I find them arresting. There is exhilaration in forging one’s way through life, one tentative decision after another. This is part of the beauty of early adulthood. Contemplating post-graduation in college, I was not sure what to do. Go to seminary? Work in Maine? Go home? Soon enough, something came up. From my closest friend, I heard of a church internship in Washington, D.C. It sounded good from the moment I heard it, and after visiting the church and being approved as an applicant, I decided to go. This was not without much prayer, of course, but even prayer did little to directly inform my course. Confronted with a big decision, I risked. D.C. it was.

The Lord blessed my time with a richness and depth I had not known before. In what would eventually become a challenge to happiness, I made many dear friends, was mentored by wise, godly men, and grew greatly from a potent teaching and preaching ministry. A year after I arrived, it was time to plan a new way. Southern Seminary came on the radar, and again I was faced with a big decision—stay or leave? After consultation with friends, prayer, and much thought, I left. The parting was not sweet, but it was sorrowful. I soon entered into one of the most difficult stages of my life. A demanding schedule, isolation from familiar friends and family, and location in a new region—this was the stuff of trial, or so I thought.

But God has seen fit to richly bless me here at Southern. It is a good place to be, as He continues to show me. Someday soon, though, there will be other decisions to make, other risks to take. When they come, I will welcome them, and let prayer, counsel, and thought guide me. And then, I will move forward, trusting that the sure hand of the past will guide as it always has.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Mrs. B. and Me: the Passing of Friends, Part Two

In the fall of 1999, I went off to Bowdoin, filled with emotion and hope, eager to tackle an expanded world. Mrs. Beaulieau stayed in Machias and continued teaching. This was a normal occurrence. Her contraction of cancer early in the fall was not. Seemingly before I noticed it, she had entered the hospital in a desperate state. I knew of this, but did not contact her. Then, checking my email one day, I learned that she had passed away. My grief and sense of realization were immediate. Though I thought I could live my life at my own pace, life and death stop for no one. My friend was gone, and ours was an interrupted parting, ended without fulfilling resolution. I could speak whatever praise and thanks I wanted, but my words would meet only silence. This was a sobering realization.

I have often thought about my friendship with my teacher and wished that I had better communicated to Mrs. B my great affection and thanks for her. Thankfully, our last shared moments had been happy. With tears in her eyes, she had bidden me goodbye and encouraged me to not lose contact. She was satisfied that graduation day in June 1999, and with good reason. Her charges, well taught, were moving on. Unlike them, it was her duty to stay, not depart. She wiped her eyes, wished us well, and we were off to rafting. I would never see her again.

I know now that I cannot undo what has been done. However, though I cannot go back and tell her of my deep love for God, ignited in college, but I can tell those around me now. I cannot tell her of my desire to pastor a church and write books, but I can work to achieve these ends. I cannot reminisce with her through many happy classroom moments, but I can remember those days. And do that I will.

Once, after a busy day with many extracurricular activities, I found myself stranded at school without a ride. Happily, I chanced upon Mrs. B, still in her room after a long day. Ever brave, I asked her for a ride home. Taken aback, she consented, albeit with a knowing laugh. In the short drive to my house, she and I talked as we often did, with laughter and seriousness mixed together. Then, she arrived at my home, and dropped me off. She left, but the pleasantness of the moment lingered. It still does, and ever will, a testimony to a friendship interrupted but not forgotten.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Mrs. B. & Me: The Passing of Friends, Part 1

It is a part of human experience that years after we meet a notable person, we remember them as if we knew them in the present. This is so with my deceased high school English teacher, Mrs. Faith Beaulieau. Mrs. Beaulieau was a special woman, the type of whom one rarely finds anywhere in great quantity but who one often finds in small number in diverse places. In a high school of 160 students in coastal Maine, Mrs. Beaulieau touched many a future lobsterman and homemaker with her mental precision, grandmotherly manner, and love for teaching. Happily married, with children long gone from the nest, she welcomed the class of 1999 to her room in Machias Memorial High School. We would be one of the last classes she instructed.

Mrs. Beaulieau left a deep mark on me during my time on her wing. She perceived my strengths and weaknesses as a person from an early point. In a school where many students did well to graduate, she challenged my little AP English class to push for greater things. She was a demanding pedagogue, insisting we read much and closely, and giving notoriously hard quizzes. She got to know her students and went to their events, so that she not only instructed, but invested. Her demanding pace was matched by a taste for mirth and warmth. As seems to be my lot in life, I was responsible in that English class for making her laugh, and laugh she did. In that grandmotherly way, she loved a bit of touch-and-go with her students, provided some work was accomplished in the day. In short, her classroom was a warm one, ever brisk and focused, ever open and enjoyable.

After I had applied to colleges, Mrs. Beaulieau and I talked over my college decisions. Hungry for prestige, I had applied to a swath of noted institutions and had grand plans of a Harvard or Amherst degree. Mrs. Beaulieau let me know that she understood my ambition, and gently pushed me to consider more salient questions facing me. What school would best prepare me for my future? How close did I want to be to my family? What was I ready for? She nudged me to think more about Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, four hours away from my family and well equipped to challenge and better me. Her kind advice did much to soften the blow of rejection that hit when Harvard and Amherst sent their “Dear John” letters. It also was used to sharpen my mind, draw me to Christian faith, and bring some of my dearest friends into my life.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Plato doesn’t like poets, but I do. I’m reading parts of the Republic for my history of philosophy class and am thus meeting the author’s disapprobation of poetry head-on. That’s okay, though. Plato’s a smart dude, and he’s often right, but he’s not right about everything. Through the character Socrates, esteemed the wisest man of his day, Plato denounces art as mere imitation of life, removed by several degrees from the essential content of life. Poetry, as with all art, is but a reflection of what is real, a shadow that flits here and there and then is gone.

Without meeting all of his objections, which would take much time and thought, I will simply say this: art is valid as an expression of thought and experience. This argument can be over-done and over-lived, but it has validity. Ours is not simply to compute equations and parse grammar. We are not merely rational creatures. We are emotive beings, capable of intensive feeling, and happily able to express it. In reading poetry or fiction, listening to music, or watching drama, we see something of our own experience and are able to process our own lives. Through the arts, we are able to make sense of our lives, to converse with our emotional side, and take in and mull over the sights and sounds, the raw stuff, of living. There is more to art than this, one may say, but these are key elements of the artistic encounter.

All that said, here’s a link to a Lifehouse video that well interprets the current state I find myself in. It’s called “Spin” and it speaks eloquently to driving guitars of the messiness and uncertainty of early adulthood. Enjoy it, and tell Plato and co. that Consumed sent you.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Cinderella Man

If you enjoy a good love story, you ought to check out the film Cinderella Man. No, it's not in major theaters right now. It's run its course there and is now, in cities, playing in the cheap theaters, where you can enjoy an old-fashioned tale of hard work, family bonds, and covenant love. The film stars Russell Crowe as a New York boxer desperately trying to support his family during the Great Depression. Crowe subtly underplays his role, radiating a sort of desperate strength, allowing Renee Zellweger, who plays his wife, to portray a furious will that seeks the survival of her little family. The film is about boxing, but it's really about the love between a husband and wife. Well, I guess beyond that it's a depiction of America in the Great Depression, fighting against all the odds to survive. I, however, am a sucker for a romance, and so I found the depiction of marital love quite moving.

The only major drawback to the film is the coarseness of the language. The Lord's name is taken in vain numerous times, sometimes with relish, and that's not a happy thing at all. It brought up questions for me as to what is appropriate for a Christian to view. My personal standard is that one must evaluate what one intakes according to how that intake will affect them, i.e., cause them to sin. Things that cause us to stumble must be carefully dealt with and avoided. But as to things like cursing, which I'm not much tempted to do, I'm not sure. I do know that I don't enjoy swearing. That said, it's tough to get a flick that really reflects Christian values. If you can do so, I would encourage you to check out Cinderella Man. In very few films has a love story been so well tucked in--who would have thought you'd find one in a film about men beating one another up?