February 24, 2010

being human in a Sci-Fi world

I came across a story in USA Today from earlier this week (via CTMovies) that looks at the recent success of Science-Fiction films and Oscar nominations for Best Picture going to Avatar and District 9. The closing quote in the article is the most profound, coming from Sigourney Weaver, as she reflects on whether either of these movies will actually win Oscars:
"With that label, 'sci-fi,' I think it'll be tough," she says. "But of course, to look at these movies with that label is to miss the points they are trying to make. These movies ask us to look at what it means to be human."
I find it interesting that a genre that might have been shunned in the past as "for the nerds" is now mainstream, but why the success now? I won't go as far as to say, "I called it", but I'm pleased that the Fall Movies @ Grace series was called "Being Human", exploring topics of humanness and authentic experience in Into the Wild, Wall-E, and The Soloist (though I had to cancel the last showing because Sarah was about to go into labor). The discussion about sci-fi after viewing Wall-E was a lot of fun, about the stark/bleak vision of the future at the start of the film and how robots demonstrated characteristics of human love and courage far more naturally than the blobular humans in the movie.

(Good/lasting) Sci-fi and Fantasy artworks typically deal with this theme, about what it means to be human. In recent years, these genres have increased in visibility and popularity. The remake of Battlestar Gallactica comes to mind as a great example. What other movies/shows/books come to mind for you? Why do you think that this has come about now, in first decade of the 21st Century?

February 16, 2010

on Lent

Today is Fat Tuesday, which means that tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the season of Lent. Growing up, I can't say that I understood what I should do during Lent, and even more importantly, why I should be doing it. Since Lent isn't mentioned in the Bible, Christians aren't required to observe this season of fasting and self-reflection, but it is a custom handed down from the early church that we can take part in and benefit from today.

Here's a helpful essay by Craig Higgins on the why and how of Lent observance. From Higgins:
Even though a repentant spirit should mark all we do, it is still appropriate that certain times be set aside for a particular focus on repentance. The church has traditionally done this at the Lenten season...

Lent, therefore, is a time for focusing on the heart, a time for asking questions about our spiritual health:
  • What are my characteristic sins, and how can I work and pray for change?
  • What idols have captured my imagination so that my love for the living God has grown cold?
  • In what ways is my devotion to Christ and his church less than wholehearted?
The Lenten season is the spiritual equivalent of an annual physical exam; it’s a time to take stock of our lives, our hearts.
For daily Scripture readings, go here for the ful text of today's reading from the Daily Office Lectionary.