10 Fun and free things to do on the internet during your quarantine

Stuck at home? Still have an internet connection? Here are some fun things to check out

1) Go google maps sight-seeing

When google first offered its satellite view it was always fun to poke around and find interesting things that are visible from space like one the many shipwrecks sitting in the desert of the Skeleton Coast of Namibia, or The Airforce’s Aircraft boneyard (you can also find area 51, well at least what the government wants you yo think is Area 51), or the huge craters of the nuclear testing sites outside of groom lake (zoom out and head south west to see more) or any of the crazy things on this list (ever wondered where the world’s largest swimming pool is? they got that.)

But now, it doesn’t stop there! Thanks to Google street view you can look around at Times Square, Stand at the foot of the worlds tallest building, Burj Kalifa in Dubai, or walk around in The Magic Kingdom at Disney World. Yes, I know it’s nothing like actually being there, but it still is a little fun to be able to hop from the Forbidden City in Beijing to flippin’ Antartica in just a few clicks!

2) Go down a Wikipedia rabbit hole

I am an information addict, I’ve known that since I became acquainted with the term, so Wikipedia is where I often get my fix. What’s fun about Wikipedia is that because all the articles are interlinked you can navigate from one page to another and find constant new things. I’m sure I’m not introducing this to you for the first time, but if you’re looking for a place to start try Wikipedia’s list of unusual Wikipedia articles. It’s quite extensive, and I doubt you’re going to exhaust the list quickly. There’s also games you can play with Wikipedia similar to the six degrees of Kavin Bacon – you could pick two seeming unrelated topics and see how few clicks it takes you to get from one to the other, navigating only using the links inside the articles. Or pick a really well-known historical event or figure and find the longest path you can make from any given topic back to it.

In addition there of course is plenty of summarized history, science, and general knowledge about our world. Do you know how many stars there are in the Paramount Logo and why? Who was the Holy Roman Emperor to hold the title for the shortest period? Maybe you’d be interested in the creepiest articles on Wikipedia. Or this list of interesting articles that will all take you down the rabbit hole. WARNING: Some of these articles are down-right sad, so click at your own risk.

After a while you might find yourself typing random words into Wikipedia and seeing what comes up. “Incident” and “controversy” will give you some intriguing articles. “Failure” will lead you to some cautionary tales. And “Worlds biggest…” will usually give you some fun lists of ships, buildings, mountains, aircraft, canyons etc. Have fun!

3) Brave the subs of Reddit

If you’re not familiar with Reddit, then I should warn you – there is a lot of unwholesome stuff on there, but if you stick to the main subs then you’re likely to get more wholesome stuff, though the discussion everywhere gets pretty non-family friendly. Reddit is a social media platform that is built around discussion and info aggregation. It’s divided into subreddits or “subs” that specialize in a single topic. Your favorite TV show, band, movie, sports team, and even many podcasts all have subs dedicated to them.

If you’ve never visited reddit, I recommend visiting a few of the more popular, wholesome subs. r/AskReddit is one of the largest – click “Top” to browse the most popular posts and click whether you want to browse from just today, this week, this month, or all time. Select some of the more interesting questions and answers that have come up there.

r/Aww is one of my favorites; it’s just pictures that make you say “aww!” There are “humor” “funny” and “jokes” some of those get pretty blue, and even more are just meta humor that you’d have to be a Redditor to appreciate. There’s also r/Showerthoughts which is a list of odd, funny, or interesting epiphanies – the kind you have while in the shower.

The Top ShowerThought of all time

If you want to see people reacting to satirical sites as if they’re real then you can visit r/AteTheOnion. Or if you want to hear stories that people have told on the internet but are way to ridiculous to be true, then head over to r/thathappened. One of my personal favorites is r/WritingPrompts where people submit ideas for a plot and others submit the stories that are inspired by them.

I feel like I should emphasize the above warning, especially if you get an account and start interacting on there Reddit isn’t always the friendliest place, but it can be a fun place to lurk.

4) Learn a new language on Duolingo

It is downright amazing that Duolingo is available for free! There is a paid version, but even without it you can spend all day on this site (and the mobile app.) Not only does it have dozens of languages, it makes learning fun by having these game-like quizzes and it tracks your accomplishments and awards you points – putting you on the leader board against all other Duolingo users. I recently spent 100 straight days trying to learn Romanian.

What is especially cool about Duolingo is that it is actually saving dying languages. There are more people learning the Irish language on duolingo right now than are native speakers. Another fun fact about Duolingo: the most popular language being learned on Duolingo in Sweden is actually Swedish. Go figure.

5) Watch movies and TV shows for free (legally)

There are plenty of places to watch stuff for free on the internet – but here are a few you might not know about

Public Domain Films – If you consider yourself a movie buff and you’ve never watched a Buster Keaton silent film, now’s your chance to put up or shut up.

Rerun Century – There are many great TV series that are in the public domain. Most of the Dick van Dyke show is available, as well as the Jack Benny Show, The Adventures of Robin Hood, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Documentary Heaven – You like documentaries on some pretty obscure topics made by people you’ve never heard of? Here you go.

Tubi – many more recent TV shows and Movies for free. I recommend the TV show, “Leverage” it’s basically a weekly Oceans 11. Also if you haven’t watched “The founder” – it’s intriguing. It’s the true story of how McDonalds came to be starring Michael Keaton.

IMDB TV – Also has a lot of newer TV & Movies. I recommend Lie To Me if you’re into detective shows. If you want something twisty and mind bending (and don’t mind the R rating) then Memento is a must watch. If you want to watch a family-friendly drama that is kind of slow, but very sweet “Whale Rider” is an excellent choice.

Many others- there are plenty of legit places to stream movies and TV for free. Youtube actually has quite a selection as well and if you have a TV connected box like a Roku, Fire Stick, or Apple TV, most of the above services have apps for all of those.

6) Download the You Version Bible App

You knew this was coming. But really, do you know how cool You Version is? In addition to the App – which has virtually every translation of the Bible now – there’s a kids app and apps on TV connected devices where you can watch free video content. You can follow friends and send each other messages, or do a Bible study together and participate in discussion.

Also have you checked out their Youtube channel? Or their Bible App for Kids Youtube Channel. Or BONUS an even better Youtube channel in the same vein is the Bible Project – which has some really cool content.

7) Take some personality tests and get to know yourself (and others like you)

My personal favorite personality test is the Myers Briggs Personality Test (MBTI) The official MBTI has to be given by a trained professional, but you can take test that is a pretty good facsimile here. Also really popular right now is the Enneagram, which I’m not as big a fan of (but that’s another blog entry) one of the challenges with it is that there is no definitive test for it (I myself have gotten a different result from every test I’ve taken) and some Enneagram proponents will even tell you that you really just need to read about the nine types and think over it, asking your friends, and really taking time to get to know yourself. But the first one that pops up on Google is this one – which you have to make an account for unfortunately.

There’s also the DISC test the always telling Political Compass Test, Or you could try this list of different tests you can take to get to know yourself that includes both IQ and EQ tests. Who knows, maybe you belong in MENSA.

After you’ve taken some tests you can find groups on Facebook filled with other people who have your same personality. Sometimes it’s fun to go to these pages and ask “Does anyone else….?” questions and find out how similar you are to others with your same type.

8) Read funny Amazon Reviews

If you’ve never Googled “funny amazon reviews” then you are in for a treat. There a bevy of well known Amazon products that are home to some of the most absurd reviews. I should warn you, not all products are family friendly. Here’s one of my favorites that didn’t make the above list. I was with a group of friends not long ago and we read some of these out loud and were all in tears from laughing so hard.

10) Read/Listen to classic books (or volunteer to transcribe/read them)

Project Gutenberg is a great resource if you have a tablet or e-reader and enjoy classic books. There are 60,000 titles that are all public domain. The works of Robert Lewis Stevenson, Jules Vern, Mark Twain, and HG Wells are all available here. If you’re like me and you actually absorb things better when they’re read to you then LibriVox is the site for you. It’s free public domain audio books.

If you’re already a connoisseur of classic literature and you’ve read all of those, then you could volunteer to help with either project. If there’s a book that isn’t in either above library (and is public domain) then you could offer to transcribe it for Project Gutenberg, or record a reading of it for LibriVox.

Man of Steel Review (spoilers are labeled)

Last week I was fortunate enough to get tickets to an advanced screening of Man of Steel, The latest Superman movie. The movie comes out this weekend.

Some Background (you may wanna skip this)

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Catching you Up: For the Newbies Only

If you have never heard of Superman, I want to say first off, congrats on being born this morning and I’m really honored that you chose to read my review on your first day of life. Allow me to introduce you to Superman, the most classic of all the Superheroes. He was created by two young Jewish boys in the 1930s and has since been in six major motion pictures, three live action television shows, five animated series, countless comic books and graphic novels, and a broadway musical.

The Character of superman has evolved over the years, but for the most part he’s stayed the same. Superman was born on the planet Krypton. Because the planet was about to collapse on itself his parents, Jor El and Lara El, decided to send their new born son to another planet.

This little boy, who they named “Kal El,” landed in a little town called Smallville, Kansas where he was raised by a farmer and his wife, John and Martha Kent. The Kents named the baby boy “Clark.”

The environment of Krypton was much more harsh than Earth, having a more dense atmosphere, an older sun, and heavier gravity. Because of this Clark adapts to earth by developing what appear to be super powers – he seems invulnerable and is able to fly. His strength and speed are superhuman as are his senses.

Depending upon which movie you watch or comic you read, Clark found out about his extra-terretrial parentage at some point when he was living with his parents and eventually leaves on a quest to find out about where he came from. Taking a relic left for him by his Bilogical Father clark journeys to  the far north where, near the Arctic, Clark finds his answers in the fortress of solitude – a fortress built from Kryptonian technology created by Jor El. This is when Clark first meets his biological father through an artificial visage. After receiving some training on how to hone his abilities, Jor El sends his son out to save the world and make it a better place than Krypton ever was.

Clark moves to Metropolis and gets a job as a reporter for the “Daily Planet” so he can keep his ear close to the ground. This is where he meets Lois Lane who  falls in love with Superman/Clark and eventually (again depending upon which version you’re referring to) discovers his identity.

The Trouble with Superman

The problem with a superhero that can’t be killed is that there are no apparent limits. In the classic superman stories he really only had two real weaknesses. #1) Kryptonite – that’s radiated fragments of his home planet that crashed the earth when he did. They glow green and make him weaker than the average dungeons and dragons game master. OR #2) Lois Lane – the bad guy would imprison Lois somewhere far away from wherever he was planning his scheme such that superman ‘couldn’t possibly’ save both Lois and Metropolis.

Superman PosterThe problem with this is that it’s predictable and boring. Not only is the plot boring, but the Character of Superman is boring. He’s not an interesting character because we can’t relate to him. He doesn’t have any true threat of death – which is a key part of the human condition as I understand it. Most versions of superman haven’t strayed too far from this formula, but that didn’t bother anyone for a long time because it was Superman. He’s a classic character. So what if the Christopher Reeve Superman are cheesy and implausible? They’re the first time that we see superman on film with reasonable special effects.

But by 2006 the novelty of the character had gone and Bryan Singer’s sequel Superman Returns was really just more of the same superman we’d seen almost thirty years earlier. At that time I questioned whether it was even possible to make a superman film in a post-modern world that doesn’t believe things like ultimate truth, righteousness, and selflessness. Cynicism gets in the way when you’re talking about a superhero that does good no matter what.

That’s why I probably wasn’t as excited about a new superman film as many of my friends. I was hopeful, but not overly so. I think that I can say that Man of Steel Showed me that not only does Superman have a place in the post modern world, but he has a very important role to play.

Ok, here’s the review.

Zack Snyder was an interesting choice for the director of a Superman Film. In one way the choice was logical, he’s is best known for movies based on Graphic novels, 300 and Watchmen. But anyone who has even seen the previews of those films can tell that they’re on the opposite end of the spectrum from the shining Clark Kent. What makes Snyder work as director is the fact that he didn’t alter the Character of superman, he just altered his setting. He placed him in a world that was darker and grittier, giving us a view of this classic character in a present-day, post-modern setting.

The Plot (here be spoilers)

Man of Steel starts on Krypton where we learn that Jor El (played by Russell Crowe) is trying to reason with Krypton’s High Counsel who won’t accept the fact that Krypton’s core is collapsing. We also learn that for centuries children have been born artificially in something called a genesis chamber. Baby Kal, who is being placed in a nifty mini-space ship, is the first natural born son of Krypton in a long time. Around this time a Kryptonian named General Zod shows up and starts to seize control of the counsel. This doesn’t work out for Zod and he and his lackeys are shot into the phantom Zone. This might be the weakest plot device of the film, as it basically means that the Kryptonians decided to punish criminals by sending them off their planet that was moments away from exploding – ensuring that the only Kryptonians to survive are the most evil ones (aside from baby Kal.) I’m sure the hard core fans will come up with a reason for this, but it seems pretty foolish for a race that’s supposed to be way smarter than humans.

The first hour of the film is spent getting to know Clark, played by Henry Cavill (the soon-to-be sexiest man of the year). We see where Clark is as a young adult today, going from job to job under false names and occasionally saving people. But we’re also treated to flash backs that tell us a little of what it was like for young Clark, growing up in Kansas as a budding superhero. We get an idea of how Clark was raised in a good home by good parents. We’re also getting introduced to Lois Lane, played by Amy Adams.

Lois actually meets Clark while they’re both on a crashed Kryptonian spaceship that has been found near the Arctic. After he saves her he flies off with the ship leaving Lois with a story that no one will believe. So like any good reporter she begins to investigate and eventually traces this mystery man back to Smallville where Clark meets her and explains why he hasn’t come out of hiding. She agrees to keep his secret (probably because he’s so darn dreamy) and returns to the Daily Planet.

An alien craft shows up in Earth’s orbit and sends a earth-wide broadcast. It’s Zod. He explains that earth has been harboring one of his people and if the people of earth turn him over then they will all be spared. Clark takes some time to try to decide what to do and (this is where it gets interesting) stops by a church. We can assume it’s probably a Methodist church because, as devotees may know, Clark Kent was raised Methodist. If you don’t believe me look it up. You can find it most recently mentioned in Action Comics #850, August 2007.

The first time Clark makes a public appearance as Superman he turns himself over to the Military and agrees to surrender to Zod. Before they take him to his doom, however, Lois chats with Superman and we get this interaction that you see in the trailer.

Lois: What’s the ‘S’ stand for?

Clark: It’s not an ‘S’ on my planet it means hope

Lois: Well here it’s an ‘S’

They’re interrupted right as Lois is about to suggest a name that the s could stand for starting with “Super.” We’ll just have to assume that it was going to be “SuperGuy.” For those who are curious, yes this is canonical with the superman story. Though it was ret-conned long after the ‘S’ had been emblazoned on his chest. The “S” is a Kryptonian rune that is the family seal of the house of El, superman’s family.

The rest of the plot involves lots of buildings getting decimated and some fights that were confusing enough to make Micahel Bay say “Touché, Snyder.” While there aren’t any true ‘twists’ there are some things that I’d say were a little unexpected toward the end of the film. You do see a darker superman than we’ve seen on screen before, but it ends on an upbeat note even if most of Metropolis is in ruins.

The Cast

Henry_Cavill_Superman2Henry Cavill was a good choice for Clark Kent. While he’s not American, (neither are many of our other super heroes these days; Batman, Spiderman and Wolverine to name a few) he has a perfect mid-western accent. I took one of my sisters to the screening and she commented briefly on how handsome Cavill is. I don’t think I can ever remember her making any such comment over a celebrity before, so I’m just trying to tell you that this guy is gonna make all the ladies swoon. His performance is solid and not at all cheesy. It’s driven by realistic emotion and he plays it in a way that is actually relatable. I’m not sure that there wasn’t some guy out there who could’ve played it just as good, but I do think he was a good choice especially for this particular rendition of Superman.

Amy Adams is going to make you love her in any role that she’s in. One of my friends expressed concern for her ability to play the role of a spunky, abrasive reporter, but she did it well. She’s just as brash and cunning as any other depiction of Lois, but she does it with a smile and red hair. Lois actually plays a much more active role in this film. She is equal parts damsel in distress and sidekick, much like the character of Gwen Stacy in last year’s Amazing Spiderman.

mosjorelRussell Crowe as Jor El might be my favorite casting choice in this film. While I’m well aware the Crowe is a jerk, I’ve been a fan of his work since Gladiator and I was happy to finally see him accept a role like this. Keep in mind that Crowe was offered roles like Morpheus in The Matrix and Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings. He turned them down, but he’s finally made a solid stride over to the nerd side of the force by playing a very convincing father-of-superman.

Diane Lane and Kevin Costner were solid as the Kents. Yes, I said it, Kevin Costner was solid. This is the first role I’ve actually liked him in since Field of Dreams. Maybe he should just stick to movies involving supernatural things happening to farmers. My friends will know that the thing that gets me up out of the bed is the hope that I’ll get to see Kevin Costner and punch him in the face and say “THAT WAS FOR ROBIN HOOD!” But yeah… Diane Lane was great.

Man-of-Steel-EW-2-Zod

Michael Shannon played General Zod. He may have been the weakest character, but not by much. I liked him mostly, but something about him seemed a little unbelievable as a warlord from another planet. Maybe it’s the fact that he looks like the genetic composite of Rainn Wilson and Jaoquin Phoenix. Or maybe it’s the fact that I just have a little trouble relating to an alien who wants to destroy earth anyway.

There are many other casting easter eggs for über nerds. Lots of actors from other shows and movies coming in to play minor characters. My favorite might have been Alessandro Juliani, who was Dr. Hamilton in my favorite interpretation of  Superman, The CW’s Smallville. Juliani plays a very minor role, but enough for fans of the TV show to make the connection.

My thoughts

Superman’s role in the movie is strengthened greatly by Snyder’s choice to fully embrace the Christ Imagery in the film. I was talking to a friend who was surprised to find out that Superman was depicted as a Christ-figure. I let him know that this is nothing new. The first superman film has plenty of the same in it, but they lean heavily into in this version of the film. I think the only way that superman works is if you accept the fact that he’s ultimately good and is willing to sacrifice himself to save the world. This is the story of Christ in a nutshell.

But it’s not just in the story it’s in the details as well. Think about it. Clark’s Kryptonian name is Kal El. “El” is an ancient hebrew word for God. His father sent him from beyond our world to lead the people of earth. At one point in this film Jor El goes as far as to call him a “bridge between two worlds.” He’s the only son sent to lead the Earth. Did you catch that or do I need to pull out a Gospel tract? The scene in the church has the most obvious image. And I almost hate to spoil it for you by pointing it out, but I want to make sure you see it. Just check out the choice of stained glass behind clark when he’s in the church – specifically the scene being depicted. It’s definitely symbolism.

There could be discussions going on forever about how Superman is like Jesus, as well as discussions about places where the similarities break down, but it is the choice to make this an overt part of who superman is that brings strength to the film. In a world that is falling apart, a world that is dark and gritty and all too real, we want a hero, but we question if one this good could ever exist. People question if Superman is trustworthy, if he is really good, if he is on our side. This makes it a fun movie for Christians. We get to say to people, “You do realize who superman really is, don’t you?” and explain all the parallels. I’ll be curious how this is received by the general populace.

There are several departures from classic superman lore that I believe were good choices. The main two that I noticed were: # 1) Lois knows Clark is superman from the beginning. There’s none of this business where Clark is sitting two desks away, wearing glasses and Lois – the greatest investigative journalist on the planet – can’t recognize him. That works fine in the comic and the cartoon, but not in live action. And #2) no Kryptonite. While I’m sure it’ll show up eventually in the sequels, they manage to come up with a plot where Superman has weaknesses beyond the green, glowing meteor rock that feels like a prop out of the original Star Trek series. They also show you that it is entirely possible for Kryptonians to be killed, even on Earth.

Did I love every minute of it? Not at all. I found the amount of rampant destruction to be tedious. My initial review of the movie still stands. After the screening I posted on Facebook that one’s enjoyment of the film is directly corollary to your tolerance for gratuitous amounts of massive destruction. The fights are also filmed in such a way that it can be difficult to keep track of what exactly is happening. If you saw Transformers 2, you’ll know what I’m talking about. (If you haven’t seen Transformers 2, I’m not encouraging you to go see it unless you like lots of twitchy, confusing robots fighting for no discernible reason.) This is just part of the annoying trend in filmmaking to pretend that Stedicams don’t exist. I haven’t met anyone that has ever said “I loved that movie’s hand-held camera work.” I understand that it’s an artistic choice, but that doesn’t make any more pleasant to watch.

The way that Snyder moves along a plot is sometimes frustrating. I would’ve like to have seen him spend more time on plot development and less time on buildings falling over. This is only noticeable a few times in the film, but I found myself feeling like I had just skipped a scene a few times. This detracts from the otherwise high quality of the production and performances that is generally more on par with the Dark Knight Films (which of course were directed by Man of Steel‘s Producer, Christopher Nolan.)

Is this a family film? Not by any means. While it’s not as dark as Nolan’s Batman films, this is definitely not a bouncy, sun-shiney, comic-book movie. It’s pretty violent. Several Characters die. Half a city is leveled. A planet explodes. In addition, there’s a fair amount of foul language. Scenes of young Clark getting bullied are accurate to the experience of getting bullied on the bus – and involves some vulgarities. There’s no sexual content to speak of, though we do get to see Cavill shirtless a couple of times. (That boom you just heard was all the teen girls rushing out to see this movie.) I’d say the PG-13 rating is pretty accurate; kids under 13 might find this one a bit too intense.

Ultimately, I do recommend it. I think it’s an entertaining movie that brings the Superman mythos into the 21st century. It also has some great themes and symbolism that can make for some good post-movie discussion. So check it out this weekend.

Your Role in the Story God is Writing.

Those who know me know that I’m a big fan of the Harry Potter books and movies. I started reading the books when I was 8th grade. So, like many people now in their mid 20s, I grew up with the books. This christmas my mom and dad gave me the last Harry Potter film on Blu-Ray and just yesterday I was watching the special features when something caught my attention.

Emma Watson, who played Hermione, was talking about her relationship with Jo Rowling, the author of the series.  Jo based Hermione loosely on herself and she considered the casting of Hermione more important than any other character. In this Interview, Emma Watson mentioned that after the 3rd movie was released Jo sent her a letter that began, “To my perfect Hermione.” Emma talked about how much that meant; receiving such accolades from the woman who created Hermione was an enormous compliment.

As a person who dabbles in both acting and writing this is not lost on me. To have an author say to an actor that they are ‘perfect’ in their role – that is truly the highest praise possible. For a moment I wondered what that would feel like – having the originator of a character tell you that you did it perfectly. Jo Rowling started the creation of that Character even before Emma Watson was born and yet she felt that when Emma played the part she did so perfectly.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, being a member of the Millennial Generation means that I was given a lot of ‘Be the best you you can be’ talk. And ‘no one can be you but you.’ I always felt that those were vague and even foolish sayings. Sure, you don’t need to copy what everyone else is doing to be you, but everyone needs some guide – some template or role model. It was when I was watching this little featurette that it clicked for me.

As I was thinking ‘It must be amazing to have an author tell you as an actor that you played the part perfectly.’ I had a revelation. I would say that it was inspired by the Holy Spirit. I remembered this passage:

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”

Hebrews 12:2a NIV (emphasis added)

I may never write a book that is made into a blockbuster film and I will almost certainly never be a character in one such movie. I will likely never have a role to play that the whole world will see and critique. Despite this, I still have a part to play – not a mask to wear, but rather a role to fill in my life. The Author has written it for me. Does this mean that I have no choice but to read his narrative with no expression of my own? By no means. He is expecting me to bring myself to this role. He is expecting me to take what is on the page and create my own artistic interpretation of his prose.

It isn’t about ‘me being the best me I can be.’ I’m a prideful, self-centered, boring person on my own. If left to my own devices, I’m only a sad shell of a human being. Instead, it’s about me finding a way to play that role that God has written for me in his great narrative. It’s about me giving a living interpretation of his story – the story he is writing now. I realize that I cannot be ‘perfect’ in the human sense of the word; I cannot be without any apparent flaws. What I can do, however, is be me as he meant me to be – such that God sees me as his perfect Will Adams.

It is my conviction that the greatest privilege we have in this life is simply being a living expression of the prose God is composing throughout history, in hopes that when our part has been played, Christ stands proud as the author of salvation – as the writer who tells the actor ‘you played the role perfectly.’

My 3 rules for watching movies.

In my adult life, I have been called ‘stupid’ by a peer only twice. Both incidences involved a Christian who was commenting on my opinion regarding what kind limits Christians should put media they consume. In both cases I was defending why I thought some popular movie shouldn’t be owned or regularly viewed by a Christian. I’m not someone who gets a kick out of stirring the pot, but it was obvious in both cases I’d struck a nerve.

As a Christian who enjoys observing, critiquing and participating in popular culture I try to not set arbitrary rules – I look to scripture. Here are my personal guidelines and the reasoning behind each. While I’ve probably broken them all at some point, I can say that I’ve never been sorry when I follow them. I’m talking about movies, but they can really be applied to all forms of media.

  • I do not go see R-rated movies in the theater unless I am recommended it by someone who I know holds my same values. This may seem prudish, but the reason is two fold: First, what if you get caught walking towards that theater by someone who is struggling or is young in their faith – what if they happen to know the kind of content in the movie you’re about to see is not God-honoring? You wouldn’t want to cause someone to stumble. (Mark 9:42). Second, if you go to see that movie and you see something that you shouldn’t, it will effect you and you can’t unsee it, where as If you watch the movie at home you can skip parts of it. (Job 31:1) I recognize that I’m very unusual in this way as statistically, Christians are just as likely to go to an R-rated film as non-christians.
  • I don’t watch any movies with frontal nudity. The reason is simple: Ephesians 5:2 – no hint of sexual impurity. This one seems like a no-brainer to me, but when I told a Christian friend that I wouldn’t watch a particular movie because it had a number of nude scenes in it, he flipped. He said “Just because of that you’re going to miss a great movie.” Just because of that. Just because I’m trying to take the scripture seriously. I don’t do this because I think I’m better than anyone – I do it because I know I’m a sinner; I know the effect those movies have on me and I know I’m not the only one.
  • Finally, I try not to buy any any movies that I’d have to throw out if I ever had children – I thought this was just a good rule to have about life in general. What if all single young adults lived life as if one day they might have to sit down with their children and explain everything they had ever done. What if people began preparing for parenthood before they got married? You wouldn’t just have better parents, you’d have more responsible people – even if they never had kids. I told a Christian friend of mine about this philosophy and that’s when I got called stupid. I’m not going to write a whole manifesto to defend myself on this. I just don’t believe that it is stupid to live a life filled with a desire to be responsible, to be selfless, to be above reproach and to maintain the child-like state of innocence Jesus talks about in Matthew 18.

I’ll quote again from my favorite Pauline epistle:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

No matter what you’re doing in life, if you’re not sure if you’re on track with Christ, read this passage and ask – is this me? I do it all the time and honestly most of the time the answer is “no, not really.” – That’s where I know things need to change.