Evading the Limits of Embodiment

Your smartphone pushes you to evade the limits of embodiment.

We try to break through the boundaries of time and space, and we end up ignoring the flesh and blood around us. In reality, we are finite. We assume that we can drive cars and read and write on our phones all at the same time, but we are weaker than our assumptions.

Continue reading Evading the Limits of Embodiment

Finding Dory and the Gospel for the Lost Fish

Like Dory we have wandered away from home. Like Dory we have forgotten who we were. Like Dory we were separated from the Father. And like Dory we don’t know how to get back home.

For sure Disney did not intend for Finding Dory to bear some religious undertones but the language and imagery of the movie unwittingly deliver poignant pictures of the gospel story. They resonate with us because we recognize that we really are the real Dorys (and Nemos) of the world. Like Dory we have wandered away and have forgotten our home. Like Nemo we were lost and we needed rescuing.

This is exactly our redemption story. The Father sent Jesus to seek and save the lost. No wonder the story feels so familiar and at home with us.

The AlDub Twitter Explosion and Why It Matters To Us

As of this writing, the AlDub Twitter stats already reached a whopping 23.7 million. That’s incredible for a noontime TV show in this corner of the globe. One should never underestimate the power of the collective falling in love of an entire nation. Let the haters hate. Let the bashers bash. Maine Mendoza and Alden Richards captured the imagination of millions of people in a way that has never been done before.

At the height of the online buzz today, internet memes started popping up, the most hilarious I saw is the famous comic strip where Batman smacked Robin in the face . The caption reads: “Puro ka AlDub at Pastillas, pero di mo alam na lumpo si Apolinario Mabini.”

This meme is funny if you saw the Facebook screenshot that came out this week where a Facebook user, on his way out of the theater, overheard a young couple wondering why in the Heneral Luna movie, Apolinario Mabini didn’t even bother standing up in the midst of a chaotic cabinet meeting. The couple may have missed the part in their history class where it was mentioned that Mabini was a paralytic.

As of this writing, that Batman meme got more than 38,000 likes, 21,000 shares, and more than 700 comments with subcomments, all decrying the fact that young people today are more interested in ‘kilig’ than in knowing the facts of history. In the less polite comments section, people cursed the public school system, the teachers, the parents, and the students for the collective ignorance of our generation.

It is hard to make sense what this all means for us as a nation. Our ignorance of history came to the fore when the movie Heneral Luna came out. I am certain that thousands of people went from the movie straight to the internet to find out who really killed General Luna and if Aguinaldo was culpable for his assassination. On the other hand, our propensity for ‘superkilig’ entertainment has reached a record breaking scale. I heard that the most tweeted event in 2015 was the Super Bowl XLIX, with 25.1 million tweets sent. That’s a sporting event with many players and big time celebrities put together in one show, not a blushing couple dating for the first time on live TV.

I’m sure those who decry the historical ignorance of our young people make a very valid point. If we as a people don’t even know where we came from, then I fear for the future of this nation. But do we really have to choose between history and entertainment? One look at that question and we all know it’s a false dichotomy. Knowing the facts of Heneral Luna doesn’t necessarily mean a person is smart, the same way that falling head over heels with AlDub doesn’t mean a person is less smart. We are far more complex than the caricatures we throw at each other. Why do we always think that we have to choose one at the expense of the other anyway? Why don’t we just get good grades, get our histories right, and love simple entertainment at the same time? These things are not mutually exclusive.

The reason why I say that is because more than the wild popularity of the AlDub love team, there is something in it that I’m sure we could all appreciate. The fame of the AlDub tandem fires up the ‘kilig’ in our imaginations because it is clean, innocent, and unpretentious. People are not afraid to publicly admit that they like it because it really is likable. AlDub reminds us that we are not a complicated people. We don’t need vulgar entertainment in order to be happy. We don’t need bitter rivalries, third parties, extramarital affairs, and bloody confrontations complete with extended “iyakan, sigawan, sampalan” sequences to be truly entertained. Deep within us, we only desire to find love in that one person we believe God prepared for us. We need simple pleasures. One person is enough.

I wish more compelling historical movies will be made, if only to cure our collective ignorance as a society. I hope the screen innocence of the AlDub love team won’t be spoiled by the usual intrigues and controversies of the local entertainment culture. But that is hardly the point here. We know that Mendoza and Richards will be offered movie deals, more commercials, and probably concerts. We know that in time the magic will fade. This is TV, folks, deal with it.

The point is that our entertainment gatekeepers now know that we don’t have to follow the over-sexualized entertainment trend of the West. Our movies and TV shows don’t have to be shocking, dark, and sexually driven. We don’t have to show skin and go for unnatural relationships to sell movie tickets. We only need to take what is already good and commendable and clean in our culture and run with it. This is the simple beauty of the Filipino heart. We are a religious, family loving people. We need movies and TV shows we can watch with our buddies, mothers, younger sisters, grandma, and girlfriend. AlDub gave us that so we went to the internet and gave Eat Bulaga a collective thumbs up via a Twitter hashtag party. Let the movie and TV producers hear that great chorus of 23.7 million voices today.

Reactions to the US Supreme Court’s Redefinition of Marriage

I have no appropriate words for the plight of American Christians this weekend as they face their first Sunday Service after the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. I will point you instead to what their church leaders said on the issue:

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:

“While this decision will ultimately hurt many people and families and civilization itself, the gospel doesn’t need “family values” to flourish. In fact, the church often thrives when it is in sharp contrast to the cultures around it. That was the case in Ephesus and Philippi and Corinth and Rome, which held to marriage views out of step with the Scriptures.”

Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:

“The Supreme Court, like every human institution and individual, will eventually face two higher courts. The first is the court of history, which will render a judgment that I believe will embarrass this court and reveal its dangerous trajectory. This Court will find itself in a trap of its own making, and one that will bring great harm to this nation and its families. The second court we all must face is the court of divine judgment. For centuries, marriage ceremonies in the English-speaking world have included the admonition that what God has put together, no human being — or human court — should tear asunder. That is exactly what the Supreme Court of the United States has now done.”

John Piper, founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary:

“My sense is that we do not realize what a calamity is happening around us. The new thing — new for America, and new for history — is not homosexuality. That brokenness has been here since we were all broken in the fall of man. What’s new is not even the celebration and approval of homosexual sin. Homosexual behavior has been exploited, and reveled in, and celebrated in art, for millennia. What’s new is normalization and institutionalization. This is the new calamity.”

Mark Galli, editor of Christianity Today:

“The temptation is to go off and sulk in our holy corner. Or to dig in our heels and fight harder. Or to lash out in anger. Or to despair. We can do better. Like taking to heart especially the Beatitudes.”

Three Dollars Worth of Gospel, Please

D.A. Carson in Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians:

I would like to buy about three dollars worth of gospel, please. Not too much—just enough to make me happy, but not so much that I get addicted. I don’t want so much gospel that I learn to really hate covetousness and lust. I certainly don’t want so much that I start to love my enemies, cherish self-denial, and contemplate missionary service in some alien culture. I want ecstasy, not repentance; I want transcendence, not transformation. I would like to be cherished by some nice, forgiving, broad-minded people, but I myself don’t want to love those from different races—especially if they smell. I would like enough gospel to make my family secure and my children well behaved, but not so much that I find my ambitions redirected or my giving too greatly enlarged. I would like about three dollars worth of gospel, please.