Enjoying the Endgame

avengers endgameI don’t suppose it would be appropriate to say too much about Avengers: Endgame.  Caught an early showing late this afternoon.  It was a “fan event,” so I walked away with a cool popcorn tub and a metal coin.  It was nice to get done an hour earlier than the other early showings, too (if only because of parking and traffic).

So what can I say?  Well, here goes:

  1. It’s risky.  Much like the absence of the Hulk for most of Infinity War, there are a number of things that stand out as “huh, can’t believe they did that.”  And it really works.
  2. It’s funny.  Maybe not as funny as Infinity War, but that makes sense.  The stakes are even higher in this movie.  But it’s just funny enough.  Some great one-liners for sure.  But there are also some great movie-long gags that were good to revisit.
  3. It’s appropriate in scope.  This really is the end of a major phase of storytelling.  And it feels like they left everything on the court.  It helps that the scale is also intimate in the sense that the cast is relatively small (some might say half the size as normal).  But boy is the movie big, too.
  4. It’s balanced.  I had fears of characters like Captain Marvel acting as deus ex machina.  What’s funny is how the movie plays into those expectations.  So not only was the scope appropriate, the balance of characters worked to its advantage.  Every character gets a moment (or two) to shine.
  5. It’s over.  The sense of closure at the movie’s end is nice and well-earned.  And while a few new doors have been opened, there’s also a strong sense of Endgame being as much a victory lap as anything else.  The movie owes a lot to Infinity War while being its own thing.  And that works to the story’s advantage.  When the screen fades to black for the final time, you’re okay with it.  Rest has been earned.

It will be interesting to see how the general movie-going population responds to the movie.  It’s a fast 3 hours.  It hits all the right notes.  It will also be interesting to see how it holds up to multiple viewings.

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Sunday’s Best: Jellybeans for Stones

Hard to believe that we’re just a few days away from one of the biggest cliffhangers in cinematic history (at least for those who don’t know how comic books work).  Staying away from spoilers will definitely be difficult.  But I’m pretty sure that Jason’s latest idea isn’t giving much of anything away.

Easter Infinity Gauntlet(image from gocomics.com)

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Easter Sunday’s Best

Upon finding this song by Rick Elias that was on Rich Mullins’s The Jesus Record, I discovered that Elias had recently died from cancer.  Elias was a founding member of the Ragamuffin Band, which played with Mullins often.  The comment that Mullins makes at the end of the performance says a lot.  It’s a song more than fitting for Easter.

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“I’ve Got a Feeling”

Letters of LewisIn the spring of 1921, some eight years before his conversion to Christianity, C. S. Lewis said this about death:

I have seen death fairly often and never yet been able to find it anything but extraordinary and rather incredible.  The real person is so very real, so obviously living and different from what is left that one cannot believe something has turned into nothing,  It is not faith, it is not reason– just a “feeling.”  “Feelings” are in the long run a pretty good match for what we call our beliefs.

True and not true, of course.  More than a feeling, but definitely something that involves feelings.  It’s interesting, particularly in light of Lewis’s lifelong quest for Joy, which must in some way subsume death, too.

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I’ve decided to spend some time reading the letters of Lewis and Tolkien as much “in tandem” chronologically as possible.  The big problem with that, I’m realizing, is that my collection of Tolkien letters doesn’t kick in for a good while when compared to Lewis’s.

In the quote above, Lewis is responding to the death of William Kirkpatrick, who was something of a giant and patron in Lewis’s early life.  An early letter from Tolkien to Geoffrey Smith, a dear friend and fellow member of the “Tea Club and Barrovian Soiety,” also deals with death loss.  One member of their group, Rob Gilson, had died in July of 1916 i the war.  It brings out thoughts of “greatness” in Tolkien, and a real sense of loss early on.  He wrote:

God grant that this does not sound arrogant– I feel humbler enough in truth and immeasurably weaker and poorer now.  The greatness I meant was that of a great instrument in God’s hands– a movie, a doer, even an achiever of great things, a beginner at the very least of large things.

The greatness which Rob has found is in no way smaller– for the greatness I meant and tremblingly hoped for as ours is valueless unless steeped with the same holiness of courage and suffering and sacrifice– but is of a different kind.  His greatness is in other words now a personal matter with us– of a kind to make us keep July 1st as a special day for all the years God may grant any of us . . .

It is interesting to read young Lewis alongside young Tolkien, particularly as Tolkien’s faith was steady and pronounced early on.  His is a long obedience in the same direction earlier on than with Lewis, which makes their connection later in life such a promising and hopeful sign.

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“This Is the Day; Let Us Be Glad”

This week has been crazy.  Beyond classes, we’ve had student council elections, some kind of chapel each morning, classes, meetings and assemblies, and the pressure of a short week to handle.

But the chapels in the morning have been nice thing.  We’ve had a simple liturgy: a selection from Psalm 118, a second reading from the Psalms or a Pauline Epistle, prayer and reflection time, and a reading from the Gospel of Luke.  It’s been nice to see the overlap of emotions and themes from the different texts as well as experience a song or two that sticks with you through the day.  Today’s song was by Stuart Townend:

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.

And then:

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.

The work day ended, giving me the chance to drop in with the neighbors to celebrate a birthday.  Then, after some errands downtown, I headed to Kailua for a Maundy Thursday at the church of friends.  It’s my third year doing that.  A great way to end a crazy week and begin  weekend of real significance.

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Lent-towards-Easter

This Lenten-towards-Easter season has had readings from the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah.  Jeremiah’s story was always a bit obscure for me growing up; I was never quite aware of the book’s narrative arc and interconnectedness to the stories of the fall and subsequent exile of Judah.

Today’s reading (Jeremiah 15:10-21) included a key part of “Jeremiah’s Complaint” before the Lord:

Your words were found, and I ate them,
    and your words became to me a joy
    and the delight of my heart,
for I am called by your name,
    O Lord, God of hosts.
I did not sit in the company of revelers,
    nor did I rejoice;
I sat alone, because your hand was upon me,
    for you had filled me with indignation.
Why is my pain unceasing,
    my wound incurable,
    refusing to be healed?
Will you be to me like a deceitful brook,
    like waters that fail?

And then God’s response:

“If you return, I will restore you,
    and you shall stand before me.
If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless,
    you shall be as my mouth.
They shall turn to you,
    but you shall not turn to them.
And I will make you to this people
    a fortified wall of bronze;
they will fight against you,
    but they shall not prevail over you,
for I am with you
    to save you and deliver you,
declares the Lord.
I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked,
    and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.”

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Today was another busy day, with two meetings before the school day actually started, two classes, an assembly, a meeting . . . and that’s all before a meeting at church in the early evening.  Things should calm down after tomorrow, just in time for my own little version of the Easter Triduum.

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43: Against Abstraction

This week I started reading the letters of C. S. Lewis.  I’ve skimmed them many times before.   But I’ve never done a full reading like I did with Tolkien a few years ago.  So as I start a new cycle around the sun, I thought I’d try and recapture some of the own concrete details of my life, much like Lewis (and so many others) did in the letters that they wrote.  It is definitely one way to fight off the odd abstraction of the single adult in contemporary society.

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The last day of 42 was actually pretty sweet.  As usual, I met a friend for breakfast before heading to church.  I helped with the worship team.  After service, I made a quick call home to check on the parents before heading over to the pastor search committee (which I’ve been a member of for some time now).  On the way home, I decided to stop by Raising Cane’s Chicken to get lunch for both Sunday and Monday (because Monday’s are crazy).  The afternoon was full of pastor search duties and getting ready for Monday’s chapel time at school.  I spent the evening over in Kailua and Kaneohe.  I hadn’t visited my friends’ church in Kailua in a while.  Even though we have some theological differences, I quite love the church and the things that God is doing there.  After church, I grabbed some dinner and dropped in on a friend I had not seen in some time.  We had a good conversation about life and the changes it brings (and our difficulties in understanding and navigating such changes).  It was a full day, one that was topped off with a quick load of laundry.

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The first day of 43 was equally packed.  I was up to school and early as usual on a Monday.  After hearing from the parents, I proceeded to get ready for chapel and classroom.  Classes were good today.  The gift of a wonderful lei by a friend made my day smell much better than usual.  We also had a guest speaker in chapel, which is always interesting.  I had a good conversation with my brother in between classes (you could hear the birds in their yard over the line: so jealous!).  After classes and a couple of meetings, I made my way down to the gym before heading over to the neighbors for a birthday celebration.  Hot pot-style food all around!  Music and culture trivia!  Amazing birthday cake!  It was a great time with good friends, which is always nice.  Then it was back home to prepare for tomorrow morning’s “Holy Week” devotional time and for other things that will make tomorrow good and full.  Spent some time responding to a few texts and Facebook birthday messages, which is one of the best things Facebook allows for.  Now it’s time to get some sleep.  Looking forward to reading some good, friendly emails before shut-eye.

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