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Posted 12/20/14 at 12:09 AM | Thomas Reed

The Giver-2014

“The Giver” (2014) stars Jeff Bridges in the title role (in fact, he was one of the main movers behind the film for some years) and Meryl Streep as the Chief Elder. Of course, in young adult lit, as in the movies made from them, adult roles rarely take center stage but function as either momentary mentors or antagonists. That is less true here, and is one of this movie’s many strengths. The story belongs to the three “friends forever,” the hero, Jonas (Brendan Thwaite), the love interest, Fiona (Odeya Rush), and Asher (Cameron Monaghan), of whom we see little. He was clearly significant to the characters, if only appearing at certain critical plot junctures. In the economy of cast-lists, it sucks to be the third-wheel.
Like so many YA stories, a teenager discovers he/she is a “chosen one” critical to the future of a dystopic society. There, logical order (standing in for Enlightenment rationality, if not Christian conservativism) suppresses passionate disorder (standing in for Hollywood’s favorite artistic political expression, the Romanticist critique), and “freedom” is the answer. In the ritual of adulthood at 18, Jonas is revealed to be the next “receiver of memories,” also indicated by a mark on his wrist. He reports for training to Jeff Bridges, the previous “receiver” who is now the “giver.” As in a few others, e.g., Pleasantville, black-and-white visuals indicate the typical, anesthisized, non-emotional world view. The shift to color indicates Jonas’ growth in training, as well as his increasing refusal to take his daily “dose” of govt approved, emotion-control medication. Receivers have the ability to share memories. Jonas is so shaken by these, first the lushly glowing, wonderful ones of love and family and celebration, then even more by those of cruelty and war, that he reaches out for support from his childhood friends ... well, OK, Fiona (naturally, she’s a hot chick and he’s off his meds ...). At the same time, his father, a “nurturer” as the nursery brings home an underweight child, also a “receiver.” The “unit” (not a “family”) names the child Gabriel and Jonas forms a close bond with him.
The more memories Jonas receives, the more he realizes his entire society is built on carefully constructed lies. Denial and suppression of emotions and the careful control of thought through “language precision” remove any reason for anyone ever to disagree about anything (because, that’s what leads to war ...). One of those lies is “being released to elsewhere,” a ritual for infants who don’t meet the standards and adults too old to work. He realizes “release” means euthanasia and that he loves Gabriel. The Giver, whom it turns out has had this intention since the release of his previous failed student (Rosemary, played by Taylor Swift ... yes, that Taylor Swift), tells Jonas what he must do to restore all memories to the entire community. Fiona is caught helping Jonas escape and she joins the Giver in prison to await “release.” Asher also helps but is not caught, though he will be eventually. Jonas must cross a certain line in the wilderness to set off the reaction that will restore their memories. Jonas makes the journey, on foot, across multiple ecologies of South Africa (mountains, snow, desert, forests, etc) in the day or so needed to decide Fiona’s ‘release’. Yeah, that’s miraculous, but the timing is perfect: he crosses the magic threshold just as the needle approaches Fiona’s arm. The faces begin streaming tears. We see the memories come flooding in. We see the memories themselves and they are winsome, warm and full of life. Color returns to their faces and to everything else.
Here, the critics are right. Wikipedia reports from Rotten Tomatoes, "Phillip Noyce directs The Giver with visual grace, but the movie doesn't dig deep enough into the classic source material's thought-provoking ideas." This is entirely true. The debate between fear and love, between the Chief Elder and the Giver, as the needle descends could’ve been a little more substantive (though not passionate ...). This is, however, an action adventure with a time-limit not a university round-table discussion of these very critical ideas.
Now comes the most interesting tidbit, which received the least cinematic attention. When Jonas gets to the end of his journey with baby Gabriel, he discovers his very first vision was, in fact, a reality. This was not the first miracle he experienced on his journey. He follows this vision to the house to find it is Christmas and the house is filled with families singing “Silent Night.” The young man who sacrificed all to save a child, and his entire world, approaches a community celebrating the birth of the young man who would sacrifice himself to save the entire world.
Now we reconsider the story. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus just as The Giver did for Jonas. Jesus’ struggle with the Pharisees compares to Jonas and the elder’s rules (none of which were bad in themselves). Both societies suffered the effects of false-saviors and the struggle over the claims of a new Way. Jesus offers redemption unto new life under a new Lord and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jonas forced “new life” on his community; one filled with passions named love, joy, peace, etc, but with all the evils and goods of unbounded moral choice. The elders may see Jonas as the serpent in their Garden but he offers them a true Garden where they may choose something better than what they have. The parallels are strong but the gospel goes so much further. Jesus offers new and eternal resurrection life, in which it is possible to choose good rather than evil, to have responsibility and to use it responsibly. The Giver planned to stay behind to help people with their newly colorful world, while Jonas had to leave to make it happen (shades of Jesus’ resurrection, ascension, and second coming?). Where The Giver would very likely not put the community back under his or any other “law,” this seems to be the norm for Christians. The re-Pharisization of the church is a sad and satanic reality, but not an excuse for a sequel. The first story, ending with the Holy Spirit, is truth enough, when taken seriously.
“The Giver,” though an entirely secular view, apparently even in its source book, offers a surprisingly neutral, classic liberal vision. George Orwell would’ve recognized it immediately. There was no freedom in the passionless, black-and-white existence. It was secular but not specifically right or left. Religion especially was deemed dangerous, much less any other kind of love. But the first free community Jonas finds is celebrating the birth of Jesus, the Savior.
The final voice-over continues from the beginning. The story ends well enough but I would loved to have seen his return to his now colorful community, to his family and to Fiona. Well, OK, I’m a romantic. But even more, I would loved to have seen him take the story of the “holy infant” back to them as well.
“The Giver, though mild and a bit shallow, is worth some time and reflection. It offers a variety of avenues into thoughtful and spiritual conversations that can go much deeper than it did. While it may not be truly red-meat for adults, it’s offers useful moral grist for its intended YA audience.

Posted 12/19/14 at 8:02 PM | Thomas Reed

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

Back when I told bible stories for a living, I made it point not to add to the story. While I would leave things out depending on several factors, it was important not to add. Jackson & Co. have done the reverse with Tolkien’s “canon” here. They have not left anything out but have added. They have done so carefully, however, and, I believe, have improved on the sacred text. Purists will complain. God bless them. Read the book and avoid the movie (to your own loss). The movies are wonderful, thrilling, visually lush, and emotionally engaging. They are far more explicit about the deep connections between Bilbo’s experiences and the larger story of Illuvatar’s creation and the era of Middle Earth. Most of the additions are on the order of dramatic expansions of events merely referred to in passing by Tolkien. For example, we actually see Gandalf’s conflict with and deliverance from the Necromancer, as well as the battle to banish his evil. This event offers us insight into the powers of the high Elves. It shows us the power and the glory that were once Saruman’s as well as the first inklings of his corruption.
In many ways, “Battle of the Five Armies” is simply the third act of the trilogy intended only to bring it all to a rousing conclusion with a climactic battle. This it does in spades. Yowza! It brings also to satisfying conclusion the doomed romance of elf and dwarf. It separates out the personal battle between Thorin and his high orc nemisis. It gives a blow-by-blow account of the battle itself – Tolkien would’ve been proud, even if astonished.
It emphasizes Tokien’s theme of covetousness in ways new to the text but deeply connected to Tolkien’s thought and writings generally. Tolkien showed us Thorin’s corruption to dragon-tainted gold, the peculiar vulnerability of dwarves, made more ferocious by the arkenstone. He also referenced the more-or-less valid demands of the Mirkwood elves and the surviving humans of Laketown under Bard. All are defensible to an extent. All are excuses for desire. These and Bilbo’s doings with the arkenstone are all present. As is, initially, even the Hobbits of Hobbiton. They reveal petty greed in the auction of Bilbo’s goods (a form of legitimized theft).
Jackson and Co. have added a revealing glimpse of Saruman’s own desire. The covetousness of Laketown’s leadership is a running gag and reminder of how closely greed and cowardice track together. For Tolkien, Sauron and the Orcs are simply empty categories of evil whose intentions we never know, only viewing them as the enemy. Jackson shows us their desire for power and destruction, even showing us Angmar and alluding to their pre-history from the Silmarillion. Through it all, as also in the LOTRs, Bilbo is mostly invulnerable. Where Tolkien implied his culpability in the arkenstone affair, Jackson cleans him up and previews for us his slow seduction by the gold ring.
Tolkien, perhaps influenced by the global nature of empire and WWI, structured LOTRs thematically around the alliance of wary competitors against a common evil. “The Fellowship of the Ring” finds no easy comparison in “The Hobbit” until the final battle. Jackson, however, reads this element back into the Hobbit’s account at a number of points. Several times, an isolated good guy, under threat from an overwhelming enemy, receives or gives the message: “I am (you are) not alone.” Galadriel gets to do this twice, once for Gandalf, caught at Dol Guldur, and once for herself, when faced by Sauron as well. The latter opens the door for a particularly thrilling combat-set-piece with a couple of cameo appearances from LOTRs figures (I would dearly loved to have seen Aragorn in a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo talking with one of these guys and then turning away on some secret mission. He gets a shout-out just before the credits roll). Further, Jackson expands the unlikely alliance of dwarf, man and elf against the orc hordes with the unlikely romance between Tauriel the elf-maiden and Fili the dwarf royal son. This is old-news from the earlier movies. The continued commitment of Legolas to Tauriel, however, though she draws farther from him and against Thranduil, Legolas’ father and king of the Mirkwood elves, sharpens the tension as well as the theme. Will these peoples cling to their isolated, nationalist/species-ist prejudices or allow the common enemy to unite them? Jackson again plunders LOTRs for content. Sauron shows himself at Dol Guldur, repeating the Ring Lore formula. This shows the false-unity in servitude (and destruction) that Sauron offers. It shows how the Battle of the Five Armies sets the foundation stone of what ultimately ends in the true and voluntary unity in freedom. That freedom found first clear expression in the Fellowship of the Ring and later in Aragorn’s rule over Gondor.
The fatal flaw in “Battle,” the one (or cluster) that prevents it from having the same emotional impact as “Return of the King,” is the ending. Tolkien had a perfectly good ending to the Hobbit and Jackson pays homage to it here. However, after the battle and Thorin’s death, Jackson’s interests seem to have divided. First, in order to tie up his version of the story, he had to have someone say certain things to Tauriel. There was apparently no one truly pertinent near her to do so. I can just hear the dialogue from the end of the scriptwriter’s meeting: “I know, let’s have Thranduil say it! He’s got that great elvish voice!” In the end, Thranduil made several high speed emotional turns. These are the kind that tear the wings off angels, and lay waste to wide landscapes, yet he did so without batting an eyelash. It’s pure plot-functionality and cast-list-economy but didn’t fit his character. Someone had to do it and he was near ... sigh.
Second, Jackson seems to have lost interest in “The Hobbit” and turned (nearly) everything towards setting up the LOTRs. I expect there will be a “new” whoopti-do version of that trilogy out in the next 6 months. One of Thranduil’s high speed turns sends Legolas off to the wilderness to find “Strider.” Apparently, Legolas can’t find his own butt with both hands tied behind his back because it took him 80+ years until the Fellowship of the Ring at Elrond’s house to do it. The biggest mistake was passing over the pageantry of Thorin’s interment to have Bilbo take off for Hobbiton. That would’ve paid due homage to the present story and still have left a bit for winding up Bilbo and leading to Frodo. Maybe Jackson was still tender over the criticisms of “Return of the King” having 14 endings. Dunno – but this one didn’t work very well at all. It was an incomplete mash-up. I will say, however, that segueing from Bilbo’s trashed hobbit-hole to Gandalf’s visit at the beginning of LOTRs was a very good idea. It showed the ring’s corrupting effect on him and satisfied Jackson’s marketing need to remind us of “the rest of the story.” The last complaint is the glaring absence of a suitable final theme song. “Return of the King” had “Into the West” (Annie Lennox). No one can see that movie and ever hear that song again without becoming a teary-eyed wreck. It’s that powerful. Jackson offers nothing even remotely close for “Battle” to make you remember Thorin, Tauriel, Bilbo, or anything.
Still, complaints aside, even if this isn’t a record breaking home run, it only “missed it by that much.” It’s definitely worth your time and money. I saw it in 3D and hope to see it again in IMAX 3D.

Posted 12/18/14 at 2:08 PM | Mark Ellis

'Exodus' movie: Founder of Movieguide defends depiction of God as 11-year-old in film

Isaac Andrews plays Malak (God) in film

By Mark Ellis

Some Christian movie-goers and film reviewers have criticized the Exodus movie’s choice to portray God as an 11-year-old boy, but one noted Christian film critic defends the filmmakers on this point.

“We know from Colossians 1:9 that Jesus Christ is the only visible manifestation of the invisible God,” notes Dr. Ted Baehr, the founder of Movieguide. “We know Jesus came as a baby and grew up during that period,” he notes.

In Baehr’s view, any age between babyhood and 33 – the age Jesus was crucified and resurrected, would be a fair representation for God. “I don’t think that’s a theological issue,” he maintains.

“What I do think is a theological issue is when you have George Burns playing God. We probably don’t have an octogenarian God floating around with a long beard.” FULL POST

Posted 12/18/14 at 1:53 PM | Karen Farris

2 Broke Girls Mocks Nativity

Each Monday at 8 pm, television audiences watching 2 Broke Girls have 30 minutes of sexual innuendos, inappropriate sexual scenarios and graphic sexual descriptions. The show comes replete with foul language, child neglect, and drug and alcohol abuse.

But the latest show crossed a line that deserves a pushback against its sponsors. The cast mockingly portrayed the Nativity scene. They pointed to their outfits and remarked they were dressed “like idiots”. The wise men stashed joints in their gifts to Jesus.

In a scene that is displayed and portrayed in churches across our nation, this should bring righteous anger. They even used a cabbage patch doll to represent baby Jesus, and called him “Cabbage Patch Christ”. While many could rightfully argue 2 Broke Girls has no redeeming value in its content, producers crossed the line by openly mocking God. The show’s sponsors need to hear from concerned Christians. FULL POST

Posted 12/17/14 at 10:23 AM | Robin Schumacher

Why I Stopped Watching The Walking Dead

It’s official. I don’t watch AMC’s The Walking Dead anymore.

Without a doubt, I have always been an action movie kind of guy and am the sort that believes it’s a crying shame that Arnold Schwarzenegger has never received an Oscar.

OK, kidding on that last part.

But it’s true that I’m an action-hero, Sci-Fi, and general fan of movies where things blow up and good guys are going up against the bad guys with lots of hardware (the battle kind). So it was only natural that sooner or later I’d start watching The Walking Dead, which has all of that in spades.

But recently I pushed ‘stop’ on Netflix for the last time where The Walking Dead is concerned and felt that it was time for me, as a Christian, to say ‘enough’. FULL POST

Posted 12/17/14 at 10:09 AM | Tim Challies

George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, You, and Me

Photo: Flickr/Courtney - Creative Commons

George Clooney loses sleep over bad reviews of his movies. Angelina Jolie is a “minimally talented spoiled brat.” Tom Hanks checks into hotels as Johnny Madrid. You know by now, I’m sure, that a group calling themselves Guardians of Peace hacked Sony’s computers, obtained a massive amount of private and internal data, and released it to the public. The media has had a field day sorting through it, digging up the dirt, and sending it out to an eager public.

The majority of this information is mundane, of course. But then there are the few pieces that are downright incendiary. I guess it is somehow entertaining to read about the foibles of the big stars and satisfying to see a massive corporation take a hit. But this hack should cause us all to pause and consider.

Sony’s nightmare proves one thing beyond any doubt: There is an imbalance between our ability to create digital information and our ability to protect it. We create digital data all day and every day. Every email, every Facebook update, every Tweet, every photo, every Google doc—it’s all out there, and it all remains out there. But there’s far more than that. Every Google search, every phone call, every Facebook profile search, every place you take your mobile phone, every purchase you make, every scan of your loyalty card—every bit of it is collected and stored somewhere. We trust that it is all stored safely. But what happens when it’s not? FULL POST

Posted 12/16/14 at 11:18 AM | Brian Wallace

Going On Vacation? Try A Fancation!

Have you ever traveled to the location where your favorite movie was filmed? If the answer is yes, you are a fancation pioneer!

Posted 12/16/14 at 1:20 AM | Bindings: Reflections on Faith, Life, and Good Books

Fiasco Forward: The Future of Film

I sat in the back of the theater, wrapped in darkness, in shock. The credits of Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug scrolled up the screen as the theater came alive with murmuring din. What was that? I wondered. It certainly wasn’t the story I had read and loved. Driving away from the theater, I struggled to sort Bilbo’s narrative out of the film’s maze of action sequences. When were realistic, crucial friendships formed? Where was the drive of the plot, the drama of Lord of the Rings? Was not the last forty-five minute fight simply superfluous CGI?

I am not alone. Many moviegoers, especially Tolkien fans, have expressed similar confusion and dissatisfaction with Peter Jackson’s adaptation. In the words of one critic, “It’s a mess, and during that [final] fight [sequence] the whole production felt like a completely different film.” FULL POST

Posted 12/13/14 at 11:46 PM | Thomas Reed

Exodus: Gods and Kings-2014

This is a movie about which even Madeleine Murray O’Hare would say, “I liked the book better.” Don’t waste time or money on this stinker. If you must, then at least postpone the costs (exorbitant under ANY circumstances) until it comes out on DVD and you can rent it from Redbox. The only worthwhile thing about this grotesquerie is the special effects. The order of events, such as they are, basically follows the biblical one. So, when you get to the plagues and the Red Sea, Wowza! lots of great visuals. The motivations (often noticeable by their absence) and characterizations are uniformly ... not bad, but stupid. Other than a couple of very nice moments between Moses and his Midianite wife (I immediately knew which girl was “it” because she was the Bedouin girl with perfect make-up and the fewest tattoos), and Raamses and his wife, they are either missing entirely or simply wrong. It should’ve ended at the shores of the Red Sea (the “other” side) but insisted on showing Raamses wash up on his side, just as Moses washed up on the other (don’t ask me why he got wet ... sheesh). Then, there was the wasted moment devoted to the 10 commandments and the golden calf (in the distance). THEN, there was the wasted moment of the aged Moses in the cart with the covenant box (wood, not gold, with stone tablets rattling around inside, presumably) and seeing the avatar of “I Am” walking beside it briefly. Then, thank God, the credits. If a movie engages me in any serious way, I make it a point to sit through the credits to extend the experience and reflect on it. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. So will you. So save yourself the trouble and pull out the Cecil B. De Mille version and put on the popcorn. You’ll thank me one day.

Posted 12/12/14 at 11:45 PM | Thomas Reed

World’s End-2013

The same team that brought us “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” now offers for our enjoyment, “The World’s End,” a name with multiple references. Together, these films comprise the “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy” after a British ice cream that appears in each one. All three are brilliant comedy-actioners, providing both the wry-dry British and the over the top/in your face American varieties. As the once great French culture completes its self-degeneration in the snobbery of fashion-food-and-drink and in solipsistic nihilism; so the once great Anglo-Saxons may do in ever more wacky extensions of Monty Python-esque humor. The former is merely pathetic; the latter, a true and continuing contribution to human-kind. The Python is dead. Long Live the Python!
“World’s End” stars Simon Pegg, now famous for playing Scottie on the new Star Trek (also, providing the voice of Reepicheep in Dawn Treader). He played the responsible hero in the previous two films but is here the unlikeable, irresponsible hilariously-tragic leader of the boys who never grew up (well, they all did, but not he! Oh, no!). He has apparently escaped from what must have been a court-ordered psychiatric hospital sojourn in order to cajole his former followers into finishing the pub-crawl they attempted some 20 years before on their HS graduation. Nick Frost, the tubby, funny-looking actor who played the lovable buffooon in the earlier films, is here the responsible, heroic fighter, and friend-to-the-end. Watching him plow his way through room after room of alien ‘robots’ makes for a lot of comedy action. The ever luminous (and seemingly every-where) Rosamund Pike, and Pierce Brosnan (together again after Pike’s debut as a bad-Bond girl in “Die Another Day” [2002]), make significant cameos.
“Shaun” was a rollicking, observant action-comedy about the end of the world from zombies in the London suburbs. Its driving theme, however, was friendship. Not the infantile “bromance” crap of Hollywood’s need to sexualize everything and find homosexuality under every rock. But true unreflective friendship; the kind that doesn’t give up even when your friend has become a zombie, but keeps him chained in the tool-shed and plays video-games with him every afternoon. Now, THAT’S friendship!
“Fuzz,” also a rollicking, observant action-comedy, is about the need for frayed normalcy rather than artificially induced conformity. Pegg’s perfectly procedural police officer, sent down to a sleepy little burg for embarrassing his superiors with his superiority, discovers a council of elders has thrown off restraint in their pursuit of perfect constraints. He discovers the only real response is a truly great “Bad Boys” episode of bombs, chases and endless gunfire. Sometimes petty legalities stifle the pursuit of a broader justice (but there’s no avoiding the reams of paperwork after the gunfire stops, mind you). In the end, this officer chose to be more human, less Robocop.
“The World’s End” picks up on this theme of humanity, substituting alien robots for zombies and the whole world for the sleepy little burg, and pushes it all the way to “the world’s end.” The movie’s title refers not only to the final destination of the pub-crawl, but to the hidden alien HQ underneath and the literal end of civilization. Pegg’s character is arguably the least human of all of them. He is a tragic waste of HS moxie and bravado, still locked into that immature phase of chemical addictions and social dependency masquerading as leadership. He is, then, the chief source of irritation, to his friends, to the audience, and to the well-meaning aliens. Naturally, he is also the chief source of the humor. In the end, however, he is the true representative of humanity: fearless, free, stubborn and unrepentant, a raggedy (if self-destructive) individualist. Just as he is truly a failure and needs to “grow up,” he represents humanity’s failure and need to do the same.
The alien’s attempts to “make” humanity grow-up, to turn them into morally responsible citizens of the universe, or, something recognizably similar to Pegg’s friends, is a failure. When the alien’s leave (and take all their technology with them, thus, “the world’s end”), so strong is the nature of humanity that even their robot versions of people return to their basic humanness. All of humanity is, at heart, like Pegg. They can only be enslaved, and that, only temporarily. Such coercion merely reinforces the reflexive rebelliousness that defines human nature. In the end, it is this quality in humanity that unalterably defines it and makes the god-like aliens give up and go away. Humanity’s stubborn refusal to take on adult responsibility (i.e., follow the rules) is their inherent identity and saving grace. Irresponsible freedom is what we have to offer to the universe. The alien leader, named “The Network in the credits (Bill Nighy), says of humanity the same thing Pegg’s friends said repeatedly of him, “there’s no talking to you. F*** it.”
That Pegg is on record as an atheist makes this a broader metaphysical statement than just an anthropology. The aliens offer the carrot of eternal youth or the stick of being mulched (literally) and roboticized anyway, “for your own good.” So, freedom is not an option. Virtue is coerced by god-like beings on child-like humanity. The offer of eternal life or threat of judgment (and forced goodness) begin to sound somehow … familiar. Ultimately, human nature demands freedom as the highest virtue, choosing to rule in a post-apocalyptic ‘hell’ than to serve in an alien heaven. Wait, where have I heard THAT before?
This sort of thing is a trope as old as sci-fi (and, dare I say, Milton?). What is “man(kind)”? What does it mean to be human? Bouncing us off of aliens is a good way to bring the mirror to bear (to mix a metaphor). It often shows a fight to the death, struggle to survive, stubborn demands to “live free or die hard” (… ahem). But, this is at best theoretical; a kind of whistling in the dark (of the universe); a self-serving justification of what “is” and denying even the option, much the value of what “might or ought to be.” The problem is, it’s a human author creating the aliens and bouncing humanity off of them. The whole thing is a put up job. There IS no alien to get a truly outsider’s opinion on the subject. Unless one asks the Crucial Alien, which is God. But of course, that’s ridiculous! Who could believe in such a foolish thing as “gods” (aliens are much more interesting). We got over that whole “god-thing” centuries ago! We’ve grown-up! We’re enlightened now? (hey, got any weed?)
But if we did ask that one certifiable Alien what He thought of “humanity,” what would He say? Turns out, He claims to have created them and He has a LOT to say (… it’s almost as if He just won’t STOP saying things … which is the point of love. Unlike the aliens, He just won’t go away). First, He’d say: Yep, you got that whole rebellious, raggedy individualist thing down right. Second, He’d say: problem is, that’s not the original design. It’s not even my original design on steroids, more like my original design on PCP. It’s all my designs turned to weirdness. You’re like the chicken with its head cut-off. All that running around is “natural” but it’s not “normal,” because a true chicken has its head attached and acts much differently. Third, He’d say: all the creativity of freedom and the strength of virtue and all the rest is real and genuinely human. But all the struggle, fighting, raggedy-and-raging and the rest is broken humanity, not healthy humanity. Even more so, is the concept of God as a mis-guided, even foolish, alien trying to coerce robotic “goodness” or purchase surface compliance with the blandishments of eternal life. Only a broken mind would see the free offer of healing as an attempt to enslave. Finally, He’d say: you remember that guy, Jesus? All you “gotta be free to be me” raggedy individualists, got together in several kinds of interacting groupthink so you could murder him. Now THAT’S enlightenment! Well, He was my only and beloved son. And we both knew that you broken-minded humans would do this and we still agreed it was the only way to heal you. Offer is still good but the clock is ticking. Why don’t you use all that enlightened freedom (which I built into you) to choose healing, wholeness, sanity? What have you got to lose?

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