Sunday, September 26, 2004

The Purpose Driven Life

OK, so our church is beginning Rick Warren’s study, The Purpose Driven Life today (9/26). I am naturally skeptical about most things and this is no exception. I’ve heard good things about this book from people whom I respect, but I’ve also seen about every church between Anderson and Alexandria have their church signs indicating that they are undergoing this study. It seems trendy to me. I’m not saying that the study wasn’t valuable to those from whom I have heard good comments. I’m not saying that the study won’t be valuable to me, either. It just seems on par with any other trend. "Have you been to the new Italian restaurant in Indianapolis?" "Have you heard the new single from Dave Matthews Band?" "Has your church done the ‘40 Days?’ No?? Oh, you’ve just GOT to try it, it’s wonderful!"

Who me? Skeptical? Naaah...In addition to that, I can't help from noticing commercial aspects to all of this. I can't help but notice the little ® next to every reference to "Purpose Driven." I also can't help but notice that the little ® doesn't seem to be referenced to "Purpose Driven Life," but rather just "Purpose Driven." Hmmm... I can see it now. "The Purpose Driven® Church." "The Purpose Driven® Faith." "The Purpose Driven® Prayer." "The Purpose Driven® BMW." It's Jabez all over again. Seems like there were two full aisles of Jabez-related product last time I was in our Christian Bookstore. "Jabez for Women" "Jabez for Teens" "Jabez for Dummies"

Having said all that, I am sincerely going to give this my absolute best effort. I'm reading the book (I even signed and had Christy witness the "My Covenant" commitment at the front of the book), attending a small-group (Tuesdays at 6:30AM, mind you), and attending our normal Sunday services, at which time, the sermons will be related to the Purpose Driven Life. We'll see what happens.

In other news:

Films recently watched:
Schindler's List (1993) dir. by Steven Spielberg

This DVD had been sitting on my shelf since I bought it in March, 2004.

I saw this theatrically not long after it was released. There were definitely images from this film which were forever imprinted, but much of it was lost. Somehow, I remembered Oskar Schindler as an absolute hero and Amon Goeth as an absolute villain (interestingly, #'s 13 & 15, respectively on AFI's "Heros & Villains" list for what it's worth). I think my brain wanted (or needed) to compartmentalize these people into "white" and "black" but I now see more grey. As it is said on the documentary, Voices from the List (contained on the DVD) Oskar was no angel. He began his work in order to make his fortune and he did. Not until the end did he spend that fortune to redeem those on his list. Amon Goeth, while clearly the villain in this film, was also more complex than I had remembered. He clearly had conflicted feelings toward his Jewish maid Helen and toward Schindler's efforts to save those on the list.

After seeing films like Life Is Beautiful (1997) and The Pianist (2002), the shocking images from Schindler don't resonate like I remember from the first viewing. Don't get me wrong, though, it is absolutely a moving story, brilliantly directed by Spielberg. Another thing that struck me with this recent viewing was the beautiful camera work. The high-contrast black & white images are as striking as the story itself and well-presented on the DVD release.

This is one of those films that I thought I'd never see twice (in a good way, not the same way as "I don't ever want to see Corky Romano again." :)). Now, having seen it (Schindler) a second time, I'm glad that I did. Still, 11 years in between was probably about right .

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