The Faith of the Centurion

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

Matthew 8:5-13

The Greek word that the Roman centurion uses in this passage to describe the sick man – pais – is the same word used in ancient Greek to refer to a same-gender partner.

This is the actual Biblical example that Kim Davis should have been taught in Sunday school.

And as to whether Jesus felt people were born gay? Just keep reading to Matthew 19:10-12.

The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”

Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”


Top 10 Posts of 2013

10. “i own that movie!”

9. Star Gazing

8. Hollywood’s History Lessons: Argo and Lincoln

7. Here Comes the Cries

6. How to Spot a Racist

5. Star Wars: An Even Newer Hope

4. The DOs and DON’Ts of Action Flicks: A Tale of Skyfall and Jack Reacher

3. String Theory (My first entry from 2011!)

2. The Greatest Depictions of Single-Minded Emotion

1. Three Families: The Guilt Trip, Silver Linings Playbook, The Impossible

And an honorable mention, because even though it did not get the views, it’s one of my favorite entries of the year:
A Startling Conversation about Gays and God

Sheepdog David Grant

A Startling Conversation about Gays and God

The following conversation was initiated by a facebook post.

Here it is:

Okay. . . I really didn’t want to get pulled into a maelstrom associated with a reality TV version of “The Beverly Hillbillies,” but I do have one thought no one else seems to be voicing.

Why defend a person’s rights to have a job as a television role model for their religious beliefs but try to keep the president out of office over his pastor’s religious beliefs?

Seems hypocritical to the extreme.

And here’s the conversation.  I posted it (censoring out the poster’s name), because I feel there is value to be found in the dialogue.


HIM: Let’s have the discussion here so you get what I’m saying.

ME: Okay.

HIM: Is kleptomania wrong?

ME: It’s a psychological disorder.

HIM: Is it wrong to be a kleptomaniac?

ME: It’s a sin to steal. Whether kleptomania is “wrong” or not is not up to me to judge. It’s a deeply rooted disorder that leaves the person with almost no ability to control the distance between impulse and action.

HIM: It is wrong to steal. Islets not “sin” to be a klepto. It is wrong to act in kleptomania. Christians believe the same thing with homosexuality.

I don’t hate or fear homosexuals just as I don’t hate or fear kleptos. Most are fine upstanding human beings that I’m taught to love as brothers.

Being a Christian no sin is worse than another. So a gay Christian who proudly sins is like a klepto who proudly steals.

ME: I know what Christians believe, man. I’m a preacher’s kid and a Christian. I’ve read the book from cover to cover. I have a personal walk with Christ.

HIM: So why are you having such a difficult time understanding me or Phil robertsons point of view? You are being just as intolerant.

ME: I don’t understand any point of view that places me (as a Christian) above any other person who also was born into sin and is in desperate need of God’s mercy. THAT is the complete opposite of the example Christ set for us.

HIM: Fuck David. You aren’t even listening

ME: Could you imagine the red ink in the Bible looking like what Robertson said?

If it had, I would say you have a point. Instead what I see is the church focusing on homosexuality as though it’s THE sin. And by doing so, they’ve all but put up a veil between those particular sinners and an opportunity to find God.

HIM: Sin is sin. Bible instructs homosexuality is sin. So why do you think he is judging? He is basing beliefs on the book if God he wants people to walk in the good light of god by turning from sin. You don’t pick and choose sin above or beneath another.

ME: Exactly!! So how does sin “begin with homosexuality and morph from there”?

HIM: Morph the conversation. Not sin in general

ME: Dude, the church has done so much damage to the gay community that it will have to pay for in the end. We’ve all but damned these people to hell!

When you ask a Christian what they think at a Westboro rally – and I’ve done this – they will say, “Well, I don’t necessarily disagree with their message. I just don’t like the way they’re saying it.”

HIM: Nobody is condemning them to hell. That’s Gods job. Except those freak Westboro people

Shut up. Broad brushing Christians.

ME: Not at all, man.  I see the many shades.

HIM: That’s offensive to me you would even link normal Christians with them

ME: And I’ve been accused of not being a Christian because I’m not this shade or that.

HIM: Do you believe homosexuality is sinful to god?  Or is it cool since society has deemed it cool?  Be not of this world

ME: I believe carnal lust of all kinds is sinful to God. How could it not be? We become so body obsessed, so driven into our earthly pleasures that we are distracted from God.

I believe MY carnal lust is just as harmful as some guy that lusts after another guy.

HIM: Yes. And I condemn your sins as much as I condemn my own. Is it wrongs to condemn sin but not love them as brothers?

ME: It is when we single them out as untouchables.

HIM: Homosexuals are untouchables.

ME: No more untouchable than any of us.

Which is what has happened, man. And the sooner we admit it and move out of that era, the better for all of us.

And thank God he still reaches in and touches our hearts, right?

HIM: You are making sin as a grey area.

ME: Nope. I’m not. I’m simply conscious of the fact that I am a sinner.

HIM: It’s ok to condemn kleptomania and ensure they don’t act on it but it’s the end of the world when some hillbilly condemns homosexuality which is apparently like lynching nowadays

ME: I didn’t condemn anything.

HIM: It’s wrong for you to condemn sin?

ME: That’s what the Bible says

HIM: No, it’s wrong to punish sinners.

ME: You can judge a person by their fruit, not by what’s rotten.

Christ tells us time and time again not to point out the speck in the other man’s eye when ours is full of splinters

HIM: Exactly. So as a Christian our walk in Christ is built to surround ourselves among the sinners and spread His gospel. That includes clothe condemnation of sin. “Go and sin no more” -Jesus

ME: But that’s about a personal walk, not telling others how to walk.

HIM: Jesus told the prostitute how to walk did he not?  Sin no more is exactly that.  What’s the point of scripture if it’s not meant as a guide? What’s the point of fellowship or Church?

ME: He is God.

HIM: We are to live as Christ did. Did he not tell the prostitute to sin no more?

ME: Fellowship is about iron sharpening iron. It’s not about choosing what sins are acceptable and what are not for your Christian community. That’s what the second letter to the Corinthians is all about!

HIM: What’s the iron? The troubling truth about sin?

ME: It’s faith.  You are to build up faith with faith.

It’s all about a PERSONAL experience. I can’t tell someone else how to have a personal experience with God.

HIM: Nobody is telling one how to. That doesn’t even makes sense

Being a Christian is about loving one another as Christ loves us but also being our brother’s keeper in that walk with Christ. If you’re atheist and gay, whatever… But if you’re a Christian and proudly brandish your sinful homosexuality then it’s a duty to tell that person to go and sin no more. There is no condemnation to hell or anything. At least there better not or your stone will shatter your glass house.

ME: I agree with you about accountability. Our BIGGEST problem as a church though is that we do a heck of a job making it clear they aren’t even welcome to come inside in the first place. We’ve done all we can to make them feel as unwelcome as possible by saying things like what Mr. Robertson said and then backing him up with the power of the entire community.

HIM: We welcome all people including gays. The problem is its accepted behavior. The church deems it as sin and gays don’t like being called out and then they feel unwelcome. Well no shit.

Kleptos attend church without problem. Why? Because they know they are sinners like the rest and want to overcome.

ME: Do you honestly think that, or are you just saying it? Do you really think that Kleptos experience the same concentrated religious persecution as gays?

HIM: No because society has deemed homosexuality as ok. When society deems kleptomania as ok, the same conflict will arise.

ME: That’s bunk, dude. I’m surprised at you. Homosexuals were being tied to fence posts and beaten to death. . . Like yesterday!! And the church was just as unwelcoming then as they are now.

HIM: I don’t agree with those actions then either. Don’t group me with that.

And please, kkk or Islam isn’t my faith.

ME: In fact, in many of those cases, the church were culpable. Just as it was in the South during the KKK’s reign. We HAVE TO start reaching out to them if we want to see them in Heaven!

HIM: They want Christians to accept their behavior as not sin.  That’s a sticking point.

ME: We – as a faith – HAVE TO do all we can to show that we aren’t the ignorant bigots that are standing in their way to salvation. We have to RISE ABOVE the hate and show God’s love like never before if we hope to make any kind of difference.

HIM: If a homosexual went to my church Sunday and said, I” am a sinner, i want to stop sinning. Please help” then he’s welcome like any other sinner.

If he shows up saying “I’m here, I’m queer” them he’s not trying to become a better Christian. His motives would be questioned.

ME: If you had something about yourself that you could not change – something that everyone else told you had to be changed or else – you would want the same acceptance that they do. Instead, we bury our heads in the sand, refuse to accept that God would allow someone to be “born that way” when we have a Bible that tells us we are all born that way in some way or the other, and blindly lead the blind.

HIM: How do you know I’m not struggling with a disease I have to bury deep?

ME: I know you are. We all are. That’s the promise of being human.


Three Adaptations: The Hobbit, Life of Pi, and Les Miserables



For better or worse, Peter Jackson and company have decided to create more than a simple adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit, or There and Back Again.” With the inclusion of stories from “The Silmarillion” and even some of the legendary author’s incomplete works, the team have taken what will be their final opportunity to present us with as much of Middle-earth as possible.  This has resulted in some very mixed reviews from mainstream critics and moviegoers alike.  But if you are like me, and you want to get sucked into Tolkien’s universe for as long as possible – forgoing bathroom breaks and the use of your lower limbs, you will love every minute of it!

“The Hobbit” were the bedtime stories the professor read to his sons when they were mere boys.  “The Lord of the Rings,” on the other hand, were the stories he wrote when they had grown old enough to fully understand the complexities of adult life.  Tolkien even went back and reworked one particular chapter from “The Hobbit” to further flesh out the tale: my absolute favorite passage from any of the books, “Riddles in the Dark.”  In the original story, Gollum was an honor-bound creature who gladly gave Bilbo the ring after being bested in their puzzles.  However, in the new context of the rings power, Gollum was given greater depth and an obsession for the possession of his precious prize.  Tolkien had wanted to create a whole new work from “The Hobbit,” creating a parallel narrative that would have the same emotional complexity and violence of “The Lord of the Rings.”  Taking the advise of his publisher, “The Hobbit” was left with only minor alterations.

Now it is Peter Jackson and crew that have given “The Hobbit” the long shadows that trail towards the Oscar winning series.  The additions of more combat, grittier imagery, and more frightening villains have allowed the story to keep the whimsy and charm of the child’s tale and also carry some of the adventure and gloom that the earlier films’ fans expect.

And that’s where the controversy starts.

If you’re a purist, this adaptation will not satisfy you.  If you’re a fan of the original films and are not prepared for the musical numbers and slapstick, you will not be satisfied.  If you are joe-blow movie-goer, you will probably find the length and pace tedious and will not be satisfied.  And to confound the issue even further, if you are easily distracted by new technology, the 3D and 48 frames per second will probably hold you back a bit too!  (I recommend seeing it more than once, and seeing it at the most advanced theater available to you.  I’ve seen it twice, and it was much better the second time around, and it was twice the movie at Arclight Cinemas versus AMC.)

For the rest of us, this is the movie we’ve been waiting for, and I for one was not disappointed.

Martin Freeman makes a very sympathetic Bilbo.  Sir Ian McKellen brings us more of the Gandalf we all love, and the Dwarves come across as diverse, fleshed out versions of their literary selves.

It all reminds me of when J. R. R.’s son Christopher (who drew the original maps of Middle-earth) tried to complete his father’s incomplete works based on his father’s notes.  Here was one of the children for whom this fantasy was created attempting to give all that was left of that world to us.  Since 1977, he has made difficult decisions in how to best present his late father’s work in “The Silmarillion,” “Unfinished Tales,” the twelve volumes of “The History of Middle-earth, and”The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún.”

He too was met with harsh criticism.



When Ang Lee tried to tell a delicate story about man’s struggles with our monstrous nature in “The Hulk,” he failed to capture the essence of his subject.  With “Life of Pi,” however, he has brilliantly created a masterpiece with similar subject matter while presenting us with the adapted material with careful and reverent sensibilities.  This is easily one of the best pictures of 2012.

“Life of Pi” touches on two of my favorite subject matters: religion and storytelling.

The major dramatic question of the bookends revolves around whether Pi can tell this cynical writer a story that will make him believe in God, and we are given a possible parable that allows us to make up our own minds.  There is whimsy and merriment in this spiritual journey, but there is also harsh reality and an argument for reason.  Yann Martel’s book certainly tells a story about life that is so different from our own experiences, yet in many ways no different from our own lives, and David Magee’s adaptation floats on waves of splendor.

In some ways, this film reminds me of Tim Burton’s masterpiece, “Big Fish.”  It is an argument for the importance of storytelling.  The gift of a great story can alter us in ways that very little else can.  I was inspired by this story as I watched it, and I know it will stay with me for many years.

OVERALL: 10/10


There is an unbroken four minute close-up of Anne Hathaway working through dozens of emotions through song.  And I could have sworn that I saw scripted, golden letters appear at the bottom of the screen: “For Your Consideration.”  When the music faded, I leaned over to my companion and whispered, “Well, she’s won the Oscar; now they just need to give it to her.”

Another adaptation, this one based on the musical that was based on the French language concept album that was itself based on Victor Hugo’s book, “Les Miserables” has been performed many times before.  However, the films (including the 1998 version starring Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush, Uma Thurman, and Claire Daines) have generally stuck to a dramatization of the novel and not the staged-musical.  A major undertaking, this is the first film to bring the hit Broadway show to an English speaking audience without simply being a filmed version of the play.  Tom Hooper was very brave to take on this project, and doubly so to film it in the manner he chose.

This film is remarkable in so many ways.  To start, the singing is not recorded in a vocal booth and played over for the actors to lip sync to.  These characters are piloted through the most emotionally driven performances of any filmed musical in history.  And they might very well be the most emotionally guided in any story told on screen, soundtrack, or stage.  The orchestral score is completely dictated by the actor’s decisions as well, and every note lifts the story upon it’s shoulders and carries the audience with it.

The cast is superb and perfectly cast.  Hugh Jackman shows the world why he’s such a stand-up guy on Broadway’s boards, conjuring the hardships of slavery and the worries of a haunted man in his eyes and face.  Russel Crowe bellows his opera with a dash of rock and roll, walking the line between solid ground and the abyss with a demeanor befitting his station as one of Hollywood’s greatest stars.  Amanda Seyfried and Isabelle Allen both create a Cosette worth fighting for, and Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, Daniel Huttlestone, and the others at the barricades bring their hopeless cause to life with passion and a tangible trepidation.  I particularly enjoyed the scenes shared by Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen, who milked every comic moment with a zeal that was both delightful and dangerous.  Yet even with such a diversely talented group, all of whom exceeded even the least managed expectations, Anne Hathaway was the stand-out.  She opened herself up to us all and treated us to the most rare of vulnerabilities, creating a performance in this film that will be remembered by history.

We live in a truly remarkable time.  Les Miserables was created under circumstances that few filmmakers would dare to contemplate, and it is a triumph.

And we live in a time where an actor can travel a road that has stops at both Wolverine or Catwoman and a French period piece opera.