Who says you need to read the book first?

The Harry Potter Series is my favorite book series. I thoroughly enjoy the movies as well. In fact, I can admit without shame that I saw a majority of the movies before finally deciding to read the books.

It seems that most movies hitting theaters today are adaptations of popular novels, stories, and fairy tales. Even Marvel and DC movies come from comic books.

Honestly, I’m not complaining. I think it makes sense to use the popular stories that so many people are captivated by for film. It’s proof that books and reading can never truly go out of style.

If a young adult novel turns into a movie, you can be sure that people will be rushing to stores to buy the book. But you will also have those uninterested in reading the book, who decide that they  just want to see the movie. And here’s why: Seeing a movie is easy and fast. If you hate it, at least you’ve only wasted two hours of your time.

Personally, I don’t like to harp on people to “Read the book first!” Yes, I will often suggest they read the book, but only if I believe that reading the book will be even more enjoyable than watching the movie—which in most circumstances is true. With the Harry Potter books, I discovered them because I loved the movies so much. Once I started the first book, I couldn’t stop. I read them all and was enthralled by the details in the books that weren’t in the movies. Soon enough, I had finished all of the books and was waiting for the newest movie to come out.

Whatever you decide to do (read the book first, see the movie, or both) just enjoy it for what it is: a story to be experienced.

Give Yourself Permission to Turn It Off

There’s always a new TV show. We get a lot of media recommendations from friends, family, coworkers, TV itself. “Try this! You’ll love it!”

So what happens when we don’t love it?

Sometimes we keep watching because our friend is super-excited about a show and wants someone to watch with. Other times we keep watching because we don’t want to be judgmental or legalistic. Maybe it’s the cool new thing.

I’m definitely guilty. I have a lot of friends who are in love with Supernatural, a TV show where two brothers hunt all kinds of supernatural monsters. It sounded interesting, so I watched the first four seasons.

And Supernatural was fun. The brothers’ love for each other is compelling. The side characters are hilarious. But I felt dirty whenever I finished an episode. There was too much darkness for me to handle. I felt like a wimp for giving up so far into, but it wasn’t healthy to keep watching.

So I turned it off.

We talk a lot about not discounting media choices out of reflex. We’ve also had a few posts on being careful about what we chose to watch (here and here.)

Sometimes that moment doesn’t come until a few episodes or seasons in. It’s easy to think, “I’ve already invested sixteen hours into this show. I can’t turn it off now.” But you are the one who has to live with what you watch or listen to, and some of it can be hard to forget. If you ask me which Supernatural episode bothered me the most, I can recount the whole thing in excruciating detail.

Knowing and accepting our own tolerance makes seeing beauty in media easier. It’s easier to see hope and love if I’m not completely distracted and disgusted by other content.

So try that new show or movie. Enjoy media, but don’t feel obligated to keep watching even if you’re in season eight. Give yourself permission to turn it off.

-Josie K.

How Can We Worship God through Secular Music?

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Have you ever found yourself singing along to a song on the radio while you’re in your car, and suddenly, you realize that what you’re singing could very well be used to worship God, even though it may not be a “Christian” song? This may not happen all that often, but there have certainly been times in my life when God has spoken to me through secular music. So what exactly can we, as Christians, do with this when it comes to worship? Is there a way we can truly worship God while listening to or singing along with secular music? I believe there is. Here are three M’s to help give you something to think about and remember:

  1. Mindfulness

I think first of all, we need to remember that most popular music is written through the lens of what society values, which often does not run parallel with the Bible. With this in mind, we can get a better understanding of where the song is coming from and if the lyrics behind it are actually revealing any of God’s truths or not.

  1. Meaning

Similar to mindfulness, it is important that we look at the overall meaning behind the song. We should also think about what it means for us in our own walk with Christ. Is this song encouraging us in our faith? Is it revealing genuine emotions and struggles? Many songs are relatable because they deal with difficult circumstances and feelings, but does the song also offer any kind of hope?

  1. Motivation

Overall, what is our motivation for worship, anyway? This is something that we should take a step back and think about. Is it centered around us or are we focused on God? Often times, we think of worship as a feeling and something we need to be in the mood for, when really, it is an action in response to God’s goodness and mercy.

Hopefully, this will inspire you to go out and find some secular music that reveals God’s truths. Let us know what you find!

-Emily H.

Reading to Beat the Winter Blues

black-and-white-woman-girl-sitting-largeGuess what? It’s almost the end of February. I think that no matter where you live, this can be such a difficult time of year. Whether it’s feeling caught in your mundane routine, dealing with large amounts of homework, dreary weather, or all three, feeling down and depressed can sometimes be nearly inevitable. So where are some places you can turn when you need to take a break and refuel? Most of the time, Netflix and social media can become our escape. Both are fine in moderation, but do those things really help refuel us?

One thing that I have found helps me get through the winter blues is doing more reading, even if it is something light and easy. Unlike Facebook or watching TV, it engages your mind and imagination. It requires focus and attention. A recent article from Metro discusses some books that may be worth reading during this time of year, especially ones with themes of hope and inspiration in showing how others overcome their obstacles. Stepping into the mind of another character can even give us a new perspective on issues we are dealing with in our own lives. It can be so tempting to spend all of our free time binge watching TV shows, especially those of us who do a lot of reading for school, but what if we read for fun more often? Would it help us to get in the minds of others so we can better understand them? Would our reading comprehension improve? Would we feel more productive than if we had spent our time browsing Pinterest or Instagram? Why not give it a try?

 

 

 

 

 

Daredevil, Flannery O’Connor, and Violence in Media

Marvel recently released a trailer for Daredevil’s second season, introducing the new anti-heroes Punisher and Elektra. (Warning: Trailer briefly shows a crime scene and fighting throughout.)

Matt Murdock is a blind lawyer who moonlights as a vigilante. In the courtroom or on the streets, he protects innocents who can’t protect themselves. Matt is also one of the most religious characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the help of Father Lantom, a Catholic priest, Matt grapples with his motives and his own soul.

The peace of the church is a sharp contrast to the dirt and chaos on the streets. The strongest-stomached viewer will flinch at the gritty picture of Hell’s Kitchen slums. Is the violence justified? Is the harsh picture of evil necessary?

Flannery O’Connor says absolutely. Evil belongs in movies and TV because it’s already in real life. It’s tempting to gloss over the bad, but refusing to acknowledge evil is like pretending it doesn’t exist or will fix itself, which ultimately helps no one. Sin and pain are an inescapable part of reality; the honest writer must confront it with wisdom and careful consideration.

“For the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost blind you draw large and startling figures.”- O’Connor, “The Fiction Writer and His Country”

Daredevil is absolutely a loud and startling figure. It paints humanity with all its rottenness and hope and reminds us that redemption is not cheap.

O’Connor is right. Evil, in media and in life, is inescapable. Without some cause of conflict, story is impossible. Or at least very untrue. But how much of that evil we see, or can stomach, is something each of us must weigh for ourselves.

-Josie K.

 

Lessons from Click: Don’t Put Your Life on Autoplay

This weekend I watched the movie Click for the first time, and I found myself with a desire to start living my life differently.cXR4a7WITJbzkVbWQJ3UVkoK2sd

Michael Newman (Adam Sandler) is a workaholic who puts his job above his family while pursuing a well-deserved promotion. In an attempt to balance his life, Michael acquires a universal remote from kooky salesman Morty (Christopher Walken). The remote allows Michael to skip or fast-forward through uncomfortable parts of his life. It’s the perfect answer to his dilemma, until the remote takes over and programs Michael’s life for him.

The prevailing theme in Click is to enjoy each day and put family first. The movie is convicting because, even without a remote, we make the same mistakes as Michael.23clic.600

When Michael skips scenes in his life, he goes on autoplay. This means his body is still present, but he gives minimal effort to interacting with others.

We can often do this in our lives. We skip around the boring or hard parts, tuning out instead of investing.

We can see from the movie, that this lifestyle has bitter consequences. So how do we keep ourselves from going on autoplay?

  1. Say, “I love you.” You will never regret being honest with your friends and family about how much they mean to you.
  2. Shut off screens. I love media, but sometimes I need to take a break so I can interact with people. Choose one night a week to be “screen-free” and fill it with quality time spent with people.
  3. Examine your priorities. Michael was so focused on doing well in his job so he could make a better life for his family, he didn’t realize he was neglecting them. Make sure you have the right priorities and pursue them the right way.
  4. Be present in every situation. Unpleasant moments are easier to skip past, but we need to be invested in others no matter how difficult it gets.

Click is a cautionary tale about what happens when we don’t appreciate every moment we have. Stay off autoplay.

– Megan R.

3 Truths That the Media Tells Us

 

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Yes, I said “truths.” We are constantly being told all of the lies that media is presenting to us, such as what love is and what makes a person feel happy and fulfilled. It is true, the media definitely spits a lot of falsehoods at us, but if we look at the media in a more positive light, are there any truths that it presents to us? Is there anything we can learn from the entertainment industry that is beneficial in our knowledge of ourselves and the world around us? I think that there are. Here are three of them:

  1. Attention is a drug.

We can clearly see how this affects celebrities. For example, what does a musician or actor do when they begin declining in popularity? Many times, they resort to using the value of shock in order to get attention. This goes to show how addictive the desire for attention can be and how it has the potential to drive us to do crazy things.

  1. Trends are temporary.

This is obvious when looking at clothing and hairstyles, but we can even see this when looking at ideal body types over the years. I think this is an important truth that we can take away because it shows us how frivolous chasing after the ever-changing trends is. There is nothing wrong with getting a cool haircut, but we will never be satisfied if we are placing our identity in short-lived trends.

  1. Fame is exhausting.

Sure, it may look glamorous, but when hearing about the hours that actors spend working on films or the long tours that bands take, it really is hard work. Think about it: if you’re a celebrity, you can’t even run a simple errand without the paparazzi hunting you down. As an introvert, I think I would go crazy.

Even though these are just a few, I think there are a lot of lessons and truths we can take away from the media and entertainment industry. What are some others that you have noticed?