Category Archives: the Bible

Tackling Life Through Film

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Life is gritty,  it is messy  and mistakes happen often.  There are no

‘easy’ paths to take nor do you expect things to always fall into place

in the real world. The film, “Boyhood,” which tackles reality of life in

relationships and many dimensions of everyday families has been

well received. You may have heard that Richard Linklater wrote and

directed this original screenplay.  Instead of using different actors to

portray time passing and people aging, he used the unique process of

gathering all the same people together to make this film, year after

year.  It took twelve years to make, “Boyhood.”

 

The beginning of each school year is carefully documented with

the different locations the family has moved to, along with the

ever changing wide variety of characters in each segment.

 

Two children who share the story’s childhood are played by his

daughter, Lorelei Linklater and newcomer, Ellar Coltrane. The

reoccurring character roles for a period of twelve years. You see

Lorelei acting like Britney Spears in her famous song, “I’m Not

That Innocent.” The adults who portray their parents are played

by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette. This endearing movie just

may possibly win the 87th Academy Award’s “Best Picture of

the Year.”

 

Here are some of the themes displayed in this ground-breaking

film:

Love

Marriage

Children

Divorce

Family

Bullying

Finding your passion

Elementary School dynamics

Moving to other homes/schools

High School dynamics

College education

Photography

Empty Nest

Religion

Music

Art

 

Relationships

Connections

Forgiveness

 

When my good friend, Gary, who writes for a living on the staff

of the “Columbus Dispatch” asked me to let him know what I

thought about the movie, “Boyhood,” I may have responded a

little bit late at night. I wrote him a rather long text about my

feelings about the movie. Overall, I told him, along with my

youngest daughter and my brother, Rich, I would give this a

three * * * rating out of four * * * *.

 

There are very interesting aspects to this movie, one is how

the mother really tries to help her children lead a successful

life, while still making poor relationship/marriage choices.

Oh boy. This is actually my story being played on the Big

Screen.

The first husband ends up the ‘best of the lot.’ There are times

you feel he is really ‘on the ball,’ showing he cares by being very

articulate and expressing how much he wants to know his two

children, son and daughter’s thoughts. He engages in a serious

sexual conversation, which did not embarassess me at all. It

was so reminiscent of both my parents it startled me. This is

quite disconcerting, since we are open-minded and say just

about anything, my brothers and both my parents, when my

Dad was alive. My Mom is still a ‘hoot’ because she is about

the most modern woman I know, except possibly Betty White,

who also is above 80 years old. She just turned 90, right?

 

The sad element of the story is mentioned in my one word

use of “Bullying” in the list of different reoccurring themes in

the movie. Poor Mason, never seems ‘to catch a break.’ His Dad

cares about him, but gets preoccupied with his musical career.

Ethan Hawke does an excellent job singing, having also written

some of the songs they all sing in the movie.  He is used as a

scapegoat by his mother’s second husband and is bullied by her

third husband. He manages to get through several of the moves,

jobs and choices by just ‘sliding,’ playing a kind of  ‘slacker.’ But

underneath the surface, Mason is the central character you are

rooting for throughout the movie. He is a deep thinker, an artist,

with a camera, a daydreamer, and he makes it to college, winning

a silver medal and scholarship.

 

Does this encompass too much revealing information? No, I will

reassure you, it is the slow unwinding of the story, as if it were

a book you were reading chapter by chapter. The summary on

the book jacket (or in this film,  the DVD case) doesn’t tell you

the whole story.

 

Will you like it? I hope so.

You will need to set aside time, take breaks and I feel take time

to digest the story. I had to rewind the film since the changes in

his elementary years are NOT designated, “One year later.” You

have to ‘keep up with the film,’ pay attention to how quickly the

girl develops and seems to be a ‘brat’ until she becomes more

confident in her own ability to be independent.

 

Patricia Arquette is amazing. I felt her world. I felt her needs

and her interests. I felt her ‘weight of the world,’ trying the very

best she could to make wise choices, leaving bad, abusive man

behind. Her mother is well portrayed and the woman that her

first husband gets married to is interesting. Her parents also

come into the story line, making a unique impact on the kids’

lives, too.

 

When the movie opens, the boy Mason is lying in a yard with green

grass under him and a brilliant blue sky above him. The song which

starts this out is Coldplay’s song, “Yellow.” It is really perfect and

sets the tone for the movie viewer. The soundtrack includes many

famous musicians.  I would like to entice you by sharing some of

their names here. As mentioned, original music is introduced in the

movie, too. (Ethan Hawke wrote several songs, one the family all sing.)

Lady Gaga sings two songs, “LoveGame” and “Telephone.” Bob Dylan’s

song is. “Beyond the Horizon.” The Black Keys, Gotye, Foo Fighters,

Kings of Leon, the Beatles and Mason’s father’s (Ethan Hawke’s)

interpretation of their split up. I would like to see his own rendition

of the way the Beatles’ solo careers should be put into one album.

 

“Crazy” sung by Gnarls Barkley is a fantastic song. Had not heard

this version before. “Deep Blue,” sung by Arcade Fire band, with Ken

Butler and William Butler being part of the group of musicians and

lyricists who wrote the final song played during the credits was

outstanding.

 

I rewound the final song, with some tears going down my face. It is

a touching story, with all the traits of true storytelling genius. The

way Richard Linklater and his whole crew, team and actors worked

together on this made this an impressive movie. I took note even

the first song being called, “Yellow” and the last song, “Deep Blue,”

seemed like they handled the details perfectly.

 

The 87th Academy Awards Ceremony will be on tonight. Neil

Patrick Harris will be the host. If you watch television, you

have seen the ‘hype’ for many of the films. I have seen almost

all of the ones in the best picture, actor and actress categories.

If you wish to see my reviews or summaries, I have written of

“The Theory of Everything,” “The Imitation Game,” “Selma,”

“Big Hero 6,” “Gone Girl” and “Unbroken.”

 

I shall be watching it, along with the pre-show Red Carpet on,

“E!” channel.

 

Will you be watching?

If so, do you have your any favorites?

 

 

 

 

Serenity Sunday

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This was a special memory, a time when our church walks to the African

Methodist Episcopalian Church in Delaware, Ohio. The way the ‘body of

the church’ there responds to the words of the Gospel, is quite amazing.

My young children, ages 1, 3 and 5 had seen a few movies with the responses

that different cultures have to religion.

We were open-minded,

had chosen to go to the

Asbury Methodist Church

to visit,

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church,

and then, this summer Sunday,

we had been entering

First Presbyterian Church

for the first time.

My three children were all ‘slicked up’ in their Sunday’s best clothes. The

two girls in matching dresses, ‘baby’ in my arms, since she was still pretty

clingy. The people we saw pouring out of the church, were all friendly,

but wait! Had I missed the time? Were they starting earlier, in summer?

One very open, sweet faced petite ‘elderly’ woman, older than my parents

who were in their fifties, (I, only thirty, considering my parents… “old!”)

stopped to tell me that the whole congregation ‘exchanged’ or ‘visited’

the other church, AME church, in the summer for one Sunday and then,

the following one, their whole church came to ‘ours.’

When we entered their church, you must walk up a long, steep set of

steps. They had an elevator, for those who were needing it. This group of

well-dressed black people on the first floor and outside the door, looked

like they were in the receiving line of a wedding. All were such warm,

smiling faces. I was glad I had not turned around at First Presby and

gotten into my car to go home!

Their were a few children who greeted my children, some giving hugs,

as encouraged by their parents and what appeared to be grandparents.

 

The Gospel songs, rejoicing and praising the Lord were awesome on

this Sunday. For many years since I arrived in Delaware,

in the late Summer of 1986,

I have walked or driven straight there.

Knowing how blessed I would feel, enriched and most importantly,

LOVED after the service.

I had known of Maya Angelou, due to being born in Cleveland, my

parents having chosen, during their retirement around 1979, to move

to Vermilion, Ohio. Maya went to college in Oberlin, where my parents

had chosen their ‘final’ church to attend. The service included this poem.

I know this because it has helped me, made me continue to feel loved,

throughout many years since that first visit at the AME church.

There are many poems, books and thoughts (quoted frequently) that

Maya wrote, but these powerful words were ‘given to me’ on that first

Sunday morning of church in Delaware, Ohio, in the articulate man

who preached to us the Word of Christ:

 

“CHRISTIANS

by Maya Angelou

(April 14, 1928 – May 28, 2014)

 

When I say. . . ‘I am a Christian’

I’m not shouting ‘I’m clean livin’

I’m whispering ‘I was lost

Now I’m found and forgiven.’

 

When I say. . . ‘I am a Christian’

I don’t speak of this with pride.

I’m confessing that I stumble

And need Christ to be my guide.

 

When I say. . . ‘I am a Christian’

I’m not trying to be strong.

I’m professing that I’m weak

And need His strength to carry on.

 

When I say. . . ‘I am a Christian’

I’m not bragging of success.

I’m admitting I have failed

And need God to clean my mess.

 

When I say. . . ‘I am a Christian’

I’m not claiming to be perfect,

My flaws are far too visible

But, God believes I am worth it.

 

When I say. . . ‘I am a Christian’

I still feel the sting of pain.

I have my share of heartaches

So I call upon His name.

 

When I say. . . ‘I am a Christian’

I’m not holier than thou,

I’m just a simple sinner

Who received God’s good Grace, somehow!”

 

I am off to babysit, really play with, my grandchildren.

I give them little parts of my faith,

pieces of God,

to love

and

pray.

 

I have an overnight planned,

so won’t be posting

tomorrow either!

 

 

June 11, 1955: Tribute to a Marriage

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Although 58 years does not make a “landmark” year,

I am choosing this Tuesday, June 11, 2013 to honor

my aunt and uncle’s marriage.

There was a post that probably shocked those few who

actually read it, (ha ha, teasing you all!) about a young

couple who met while children, then later while going

to college. (Love Started at Vacation Bible School.)

They never thought they would see each other again.

There is a tragedy that may sound forced or unbelievable

in it, but that story was about my Aunt Amy and my Uncle

Orrin.

My mother’s sister has glasses and mostly white hair, my

uncle has salt and pepper hair with glasses, too. They look

very nice, friendly and tall! My mother is about 5′ now and

my Aunt Amy is about 5’7” and my Uncle Orrin is about 5’11”

tall. They have quiet, thoughtful looks on their faces when

you talk to them. They have deep thinking minds that are

very calm and still now. My Aunt Amy was a mathematician

and my Uncle Orrin was a scientist. Both taught high schoolers

how to live better lives. They inspired with their loving natures

and their friendly approachable manners.

This couple was drawn closer to Jesus Christ than my family

would say we practiced what was preached but not to others.

We heard the words, “Lead by example” and “Faith through

works.” My aunt and uncle were very good at preaching. They

were able to show their beliefs through daily reaching out to

others, including saying prayers that carried meaning and

scripture.

My Aunt Amy and Uncle Orrin came to my mother’s senior

living apartment last Spring when she moved in. Later in the

summer when my Mom had her housewarming party which

was wonderful and filled with goodies along with special

gifts for her guests, my aunt and uncle came too. It was

there that we learned they were moving away, selling their

home in Chardon, where all kinds of family dinners every

other year we attended.

Letters still fly back and forth and over the miles between

the sisters, Amy and Rosalie. There are lots of love messages

and memories in those letters. Also, scripture readings and

prayers to recite.

My parents would have been married 58 years this year. My

Dad’s packet of letters and cards that Mom opened at a special

party, ended on their “50th Golden Anniversary.” It was so

loving and unlike my Dad’s mainly unsentimental self to have

wrapped them up and stuck them in the sock drawer for Mom

to find. At their 50th, Mom was alone but my Aunt and Uncle

were there, since they wed only 4 months after my Mom and Dad.

So, this is truly a wondrous and auspicious occasion:

Amelia and Orrin who wed on June 11, 1955, may you have

many more blessed and happy years together!

Love Started at Vacation Bible School

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My parents had several couples that they were close to over their

years of marriage. I mentioned my godparents in a story of their

having to testify in a court murder trial concerning a boy I knew

growing up. I also have two more stories that would be of interest

when examining life’s crazy foibles and love matters.

This story is about Amelia and Orrin. They met at Vacation Bible

School at age 11. This is special because their lives led away from

each other and then back to each other. I love it when there are no

perfect beginnings or endings; almost as much as stories with the

happily ever after right from the start!

My parents had this couple many times to our house and I reached

out to them when I was 16 while they were sitting in the living room

talking about some of their memories. I asked them, “When did you

meet?” When I found out they met at age 11, I was very happy because

I was still stuck on my most serious (second) crush ever! (I have

recounted my First Crush and Second Crush in posts.) I felt hope lifting

and rising in my chest as I sat enchanted by their love story.

When the two young people met, Amy and Orrin, they were as different

as night from day. Amy wore a long skirt and a ruffled blouse with her

sleeves rolled up. She had knee socks on, that covered the gap between

the skirt and her shoes. She wore plain black worn leather mary jane’s.

Some people may have had shiny black mary jane’s made of patent

leather for church. These were Amy’s only pair of shoes, along with a

pair of tan leather boots she wore with skirts for everyday wear.

Orrin was a tough and tumble boy who had been begged, prodded and

tricked into coming to Bible school by his grandmother. His parents

were having a “rough patch” and he was sent away with his younger

sister for a month. He had raggedy jean shorts that his grandma had

just cut from his pair of jeans this morning and he had a plain white

(at the moment) t-shirt tucked into his pants. His hair was slicked back

and he had a comb in his back pocket. Amy mused out loud during this

recounting the story, “I figure he must have seen an early James Dean

movie and took it from there!” (But James Dean was not yet popular!)

The Vacation Bible School was held at a Methodist campground and

once the kids loaded up at the church, they had a ride for about 20

minutes before arriving there. Amy sat with a friend that she knew from

her church and who also went to her school. She noticed the awkward

boy who did not seem to know anyone to sit with and watched as he

sulkily shuffled down the bus aisle and sat by himself.

Orrin was already regretting this but noticed his sister, Sue, was very

happy and chattering away with her newly found ‘best friend.’ He felt

a little tension ease from his shoulders and his heavy heart. He was

the oldest and felt compelled to worry a lot, especially about how his

parents would be once they went home later that month.

The first day, church volunteer members became teachers and the

bus load of children was divided into age groups so that there were

four groups. Sue was in the next younger group from Amy’s and

Orrin’s youth group.

The beginning of each day there was a big cluster of all the children.

They were asked to hold hands and join together to make the circle.

They would hear a prayer delivered by the minister. The songs were

easy, light church songs. One that Orrin and Amy liked, which they

mentioned to me, was “Morning Has Broken.” I was excited to tell

them that (at the time his name was this), “Cat Stevens sings that

song!” We all laughed at my excitement and rapt attention.

Do you remember family gatherings and someone older, a member of

the family sharing and telling stories of the past? I was a mature 16

year old who often would get these stories rolling, memories opened

and renewed. Maybe I was meant to write these down….

Anyway, as the week progressed, Orrin became the little troublemaker

or “class clown,” especially when the Bible was being passed around.

There was no way they would make him read that book aloud! His

thoughts were, “It is bad enough I have to listen, but would be so much

worse, if I had to try to read it!”

Amy loved to read and she made the words pour out fluidly and beautifully.

When it was her turn, Orrin paid attention and somehow, at age 11, his

heart started to care and melt for a young girl his age.

At the end of Vacation Bible School, a printed list of the children’s names

with their addresses and phone numbers was stapled together and passed

out. The minister said, “I have met some young people in my 25 years of

preaching that wrote as pen pals and stayed in touch. I would encourage

you to think about God, Jesus Christ and your fellow friends that you have

made this week as lifelong parts of a chain reaching from this city to

others as you grow, move and go off to college, possibly, someday.”

Those words sunk into Orrin’s head and he somehow thought about

Amelia at that time, too. Wondering if she had even glanced or

noticed him while he valiantly tried to stay awake at the camp!

On the last bus ride home from camp, Orrin turned to look back at

Amy and gave her a big smile. She had been chattering away with

her friend, only to look up at the toothy smile. Amy did what any girl

in their right mind would do, she smiled back!

There were only three weeks more to stay at his grandparents until

Orrin could go home and ask his mother what she thought of him

writing to Amy. He knew his father could care less and would not

give him good advice. His mother would listen, think, put a wrinkled

brow look on her face and then, agree with him that he should write

his new friend. He just knew that they would be able to communicate

better on paper than they had during the supervised, group setting of

church camp. He would need to use the dictionary or ask for help, but

it was on his mind even as his grandparents drove him the hour’s drive

back home. The house was all closed up, no windows open, but he could

see off on the farm field, his father on his tractor. Since the crops were in,

Orrin surmised he was probably bored and checking how high the corn

was up. His Dad would not be drinking this early in the day… yet.

When they got out of the car, their  grandparents hugged and started to talk

at the same time, “Now if for any reason you want to come back to spend the

rest of the summer with us, just get your mother to call us!” Since their mother

was off working at the dimestore as a clerk, Orrin said, “Now you need to get

back on the road, no need to come in the house.” For some reason, he felt

compelled to tell his only living grandparents that. He wonders why now,

from time to time, remembering how mature he was at that moment.

When Orrin and his sister, Sue, went into their home, it was a house still

in turmoil. A month without the children had not repaired their parents’

marriage nor did it seem to have helped anything at all. The house looked

like a disaster and the children worked together to wash the dishes while

they waited for their mother to come home. They went into their rooms and

unpacked what little they had taken that was all nicely laundered and smelled

of sunshine and light. Granny had hung their clothes on her clothes line.

Sue came into Orrin’s room and sat on his bed. She had been talking in the

car to their grandparents about her friend, Heather. She had written a letter

already mailed from her grandparents’ mailbox. They had put the flag up and

seen it picked up one day while sitting on the porch swing. They were drinking

the truly delicious cold lemonade Granny had made.

This story is going to take a wide curve so brace yourself. I have told stories

with no forewarning to the readers that everything seemed all ‘hunky dory’ and

later, got a little worried about the comments of shock or dismay. (The one about

my summer friend I made at the park, called “An Existential Man,” is an example

that I gave no forewarning about its ending.)

Their parents had a horrible fight after dinner. So, just as quickly as they could,

Sue and Orrin slipped back to their rooms. They were lying in their own beds,

sadly worried. Not too long later, Sue crept into Orrin’s bed and he held her

with a big, warm hug. He could hear her whimpering and tears were getting

his pajama top wet where she lay her head. He had tried to intervene before,

almost 2 months ago. In a similar argument, he had been slapped soundly

across the face by his father, as a result.

When the night got later, their house in the country got very dark. There were

lots of stars in the sky but no moon that night. Sue fell asleep, not too long

after in the quiet of the night, Orrin fell asleep, restless and stirring from time

to time.

Orrin heard a car engine turn over, he heard the car glide down the cement drive

until it turned into a gravel road where the distant sound was a little crackly and

then, silence.

Orrin retold this part with tears in his eyes. He heard a loud resounding shot in

the barn!

Orrin ran to the phone and called the operator, saying in a throaty scared voice,

“I am scared! Can you connect me to the police?” The operator asked his address.

She said, “Honey, don’t worry I will get the sheriff to come out that county road to

check on you and your family. You don’t know if anything has happened, do you?”

Orrin answered, “My Dad just shot his shotgun off, I have been hunting for over 4

years with him and I recognize a shotgun’s sound.”

Orrin made Sue sit on a chair in the living room, he did not really think about it

but handed her the Bible from its shelf. He said, “Read this and try to find the

passages from the Corinthians about love. Find something to get your mind off

of  this. It may still be okay!”

In his running across the back yard and through the wet grass, Orrin felt a cold

shiver spreading across his shoulders. He reached the barn and the eeriest thing

was; it was pitch black! Darn, he would have to find a flashlight or lantern. He

managed to open the doors of the barn, front and back. Still not enough light

to see, he yelled, “DAD!!” Where are you?!”

It seemed like an eternity but moments later, the sirens of both the sheriff’s

and ambulance’s vehicles raised a cacophony of sound waves. The sheriff drove

right up to the barn door with his headlamps blazing into every crevice of the

building.

Orrin’s father was hanging from a beam of the barn and below him, laying dead,

was his faithful hunting hound dog, Pepper.

After the funeral, Orrin, Sue and their mother moved down the street from her

parents’ house. They had found her a nice and neat little bungalow to rent, with

her first six months’ rent paid up from her parents’ savings. They said that once

the life insurance policy money came it would be needed to help catch up with the

bills that had fallen behind. Orrin’s mother became a waitress at a local diner

which was only 2 blocks from Orrin and Sue’s schools. Sue would be in 4th

grade and Orrin would be in 6th grade. Life had taken such a toll on these

young people but there was still a lot of love and caring going on.

Years passed on, Orrin applied for colleges and was thinking about University

of Cincinnati with pursuing science and the school of education.

While in the area of the young girl who he met at Vacation Bible School, he had

never attended church nor another Bible school camp. Despite his Granny trying

her hardest to persuade him to join Sue and her at church. He had felt he “lost

his faith in God.”

His sister had gone but Orrin was sure he was never going to pray again. Nor

would he need prayer since he would be a scientist or an engineer when he grew

up.

Senior year at U. of C. Orrin met my parents. He was the same age as my Dad

who was the “punk” who kept harassing my mother from when he had spied

her across campus, wet red hair and fiery green eyes. Her sister, Amelia, was

studying with my mother to become a teacher. My mother became a Spanish

and English high school teacher. Her sister, Amy,  became a high school Math

teacher. The two men finished their degrees, My Dad became a scientist and

engineer at NASA and my future uncle, Orrin, became a Science teacher to high

schoolers.

Amelia went on a “blind” date with Orrin as a double date with my parents.

You can do the math and put one and one together. Out of the tragic loss of his

father, Orrin grew stronger and more willing to help his mother and grandparents.

He learned to allow his sister, Sue, to bring a little giggling and happiness into his

heart. Orrin ended up being a very fine teacher, father and husband.

Orrin bought and  lived in a nice country home with his wife, Amelia. Their house

was always filled with three girls’ (my cousins) giggles and laughter.

By the way, my mother was older and chose to be one of the counselors at the Methodist

Bible School that year that Amy and Orrin first met.

Their blessed, long lasting marriage started from what they believe, allowing the “root

of Jesus” to take root and grow in their young hearts.

And they lived “happily ever after!”