Category Archives: Flicks

Stolen voices

“Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals.”
— Mary Baker Eddy

The other night, Ron and I bought a copy of The Exorcist and watched it for the first time in 12 or 13 years. Something about it reminds me of The Little Mermaid.

Stay with me.

In The Exorcist, a hideous demon takes over the body of a young girl named Regan. In its confrontation with the priests brought in to cast it out, the demon pulls out all the stops: It snarls. It growls. It shakes Regan’s bed. It induces her to commit all sorts of repulsive acts. And perhaps most unsettlingly of all, it addresses one of the priests in the voice of his recently deceased mother.

In The Little Mermaid, a mermaid falls in love with a human prince and trades her voice to a conniving witch for the temporary use of a human body. If she can win the prince’s heart, she becomes human permanently; if she can’t, she becomes the witch’s prisoner. Predictably, the witch disguises herself as a human and uses the mermaid’s voice in an attempt to trick the prince into marrying her.

In both films, error speaks with a stolen voice, and its opponents can’t defeat it until they recognize the deception.

This is one of error’s favorite tricks. It might seduce you with an attractive voice. It might use a relative’s voice to paralyze you with guilt. Or it might commandeer a trusted mentor’s voice in an attempt to manipulate you.

Error does not care whose voice it steals. It has no shame, and it has no compunction about turning whatever (or whoever) happens to be handy into a weapon it can use to hurt you.

Both The Exorcist and The Little Mermaid make profound statements about the power of discernment. If the priests can’t see through the illusions that seem to be controlling Regan, she is lost — and humanity, perhaps, with her. Similarly, if the prince can’t see through the illusion that seems to be controlling the mermaid’s voice, then she, and he, and all of the ocean are lost.

In the real world, discernment is often the key to healing. It isn’t always easy to distinguish between a person and the error that seems to be gripping him, but it’s got to be done, or the patient is lost — and perhaps all of us with him.

Emily

Busy

Sorry I’ve been so quiet lately. Things are finally slowing down around here, but I’m still trying to catch up all the things I neglected while I was cramming for my certification test and trying to herd my kids all over campus for their EOI tests, so I haven’t had much time for blogging. Meanwhile, my sister had to have her appendix out, so I’m filling in for her over at her Red Kitchen blog. Between that and the Tumbleweed Motel, I’ve got my hands pretty full.

I did take the time to watch a movie with Ron this evening. He’d gotten Paranormal Activity from Netflix. It was OK, but I’m glad we didn’t pay to see it in the theater. It probably should have been called The Linda Blair Witch Project, because the first hour and five minutes were basically The Blair Witch Project with better sets, and the last 15 minutes were The Exorcist without Mercedes McCambridge or the creepy stairwell. Decent flick, but definitely overhyped. About all I can say for it is that it made a couple of fairly valid metaphysical points about what happens when you play around with error instead of dismissing it.

Emily

The Dark Knight: It’s about Principle

NOTE: I considered posting a much more detailed analysis of the metaphysical lessons I found in The Dark Knight, but I wasn’t sure how to do it without building in a lot of spoilers. If anybody wants to discuss specific scenes, let’s do that in the comments section.

Critics and moviegoers have been raving for weeks about the brilliance of Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight — and rightly so. Ledger’s Joker is wonderfully creepy, swapping his predecessors’ Technicolor campiness for the unnerving darkness of a ruthless insanity motivated by nothing more nor less than evil for evil’s sake.

Although this Joker appears to be out for cash at the beginning of the film (the first time we see him, he is orchestrating a bank heist, and he later tells a roomful of crime bosses: “If you’re good at something, never do it for free”), it quickly becomes apparent that money holds no fascination for him, and he seems to exist for the sole purpose of enticing people to compromise their principles.

As Bruce Wayne’s faithful butler, Alfred, explains: “Some men can’t be bought, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

What audiences will (or should) find most unsettling about The Joker is his disturbingly familiar mode of operation.

The Dark Knight shows no good guys — only guys, some of whom behave better than others — and it is in this atmosphere of relativity that The Joker is able to operate. Throughout the film, we see people tolerate and even embrace error in one form or another — greed, fear, anger, grief, apathy — and throughout the film, The Joker uses these lapses as a basis from which to manipulate his victims, leading them further away from Principle and turning them into agents of violence and destruction.

Whether they intended to or not, the filmmakers have created a powerful illustration of what Mary Baker Eddy refers to in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures as “animal magnetism” — the sometimes hypnotic effect of error as it seduces human thought away from God, divine Principle.

Life, health, and happiness are based on a fixed Principle, Mrs. Eddy explains, and as long as man adheres to that Principle, he can’t be deprived of goodness. While another may attempt to harm us, those attempts can’t reach us unless we allow ourselves to waver from Principle, giving error room to do its dirty work in our thought. Once we veer from Principle, however, we open ourselves up to aggressive mental suggestions, leaving our thought vulnerable to the whims of error.

This point is driven home particularly well in a scene from The Dark Knight in which The Joker observes: “Nobody panics when things go according to plan, even if the plan is horrifying. If I tell the press that tomorrow, like, a gangbanger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will get blown up, nobody panics.”

In other words, society has moved the goalposts: “Thou shalt not kill” has become “Thou shalt not kill unless,” leaving people with nowhere to stand as they try to defend themselves against The Joker’s suggestions.

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? I know I have — I’ll allow someone to talk me into abandoning Principle ever so briefly, for what seems to be a very good reason, and before I know it, I’m inundated with requests to bend the rules for others. It can be pretty hard to put the genie back into the bottle when The Joker is in your face, demanding consistency.

Outrageous costumes and over-the-top special effects notwithstanding, I think The Dark Knight offers up a strikingly accurate depiction of what error is and what it does, serving as a cautionary tale to all of us who might be tempted to allow fear, greed, or self-will to guide our actions instead of waiting on Principle to open the right path and provide us safe passage out of whatever material circumstances seem to loom before us.

Emily

D’oh!

Sorry for the hiatus … didn’t mean to skip out on you for so long, but I’ve had my hands full. I’ll have some cool garden photos to share as soon as I get a hand free. If you need something to do in the meantime, go see the new Batman movie. Heath Ledger’s Joker is dazzlingly creepy, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are wonderful, and the plot has all sorts of metaphysical implications to think about — which is not something you normally expect from a popcorn flick based on a comic-book hero.

At a much more personal level, when Eye Candy cut my reporters’ throats for no good reason in March, I thought I would never again be able to bear the sight of a gorgeous man in an Armani suit tearing around in an exotic Italian sportscar. I was wrong, as Christian Bale so graciously showed me this evening. 😉

Emily

10 on Tuesday: Movies

This week’s 10 on Tuesday topic is 10 Movies That You’ve Intended to Watch, But Haven’t.

I’m cheating a little bit and including the ones mentioned in “Science Fiction Double Feature” that I haven’t seen yet.

1. Toy Story 2
2. The Invisible Man
3. King Kong
4. It Came from Outer Space
5. Forbidden Planet
6. Tarantula
7. Day of the Triffids
8. When Worlds Collide
9. Dr. Strangelove
10. The Big Lebowski

What are yours?

Emily

Quiet Sunday

We had a nice quiet Sunday. I was at a church meeting for most of the afternoon, and then I spent the afternoon puttering around here before Ron and I headed out to the movies to see American Gangster, which I highly recommend. It’s a great movie that deals with a lot of issues at a lot of different levels without ever feeling like it’s preaching at the audience, and the characters are complex, sympathetic, and fascinating. It deals a lot with the idea of adhering to Principle, but it isn’t heavy-handed toward those who find themselves unable to do so.

Besides all that … how could a girl not enjoy staring at Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe for a couple of hours? 🙂

Emily