thoughts on the Tree of Life

I’m here and there today, working on the marvelous pile of “Christmas gift could-be’s” I found in my parents’ storage room. Turns out, after living in Honduras for three years and Austin for one and four years of college in Michigan before that, I let quite a few things pile up there. Old corkboards, frames, half-finished canvas paintings, sketches, journals (that’s a two hour sidetrack right there!), and other knick knacks. Nothing like some good handsaw therapy – throw in a screwdriver and a pair of pliers and you’ve got a world of “what could this be?” waiting for you!

I’m taking a break to return to a topic I promised to write about awhile ago.

The film Tree of Life by Terrence Malick stands out from the cinematic crowd for loads of reasons. The first is filmmaker Terrence Malick. All Movie Guide at the New York Times says, “Terrence Malick is one of the great enigmas of contemporary filmmaking, a shadowy figure whose towering reputation rests largely on a very small body of work,” which is why you’ve probably never heard of him. My intrigue started because I follow Brett McCracken at his blog The Search. I am always impressed with McCracken’s assessment of culture and film, so I thought I would trust his strong support of Malick’s work.

Fast forward to last week when I watched Tree of Life with my good friends in their living room, cradling a hot cup of spice tea. Sometimes (all the time), I get nervous watching films I’ve suggested. I have a complex because in high school I was notorious for picking out lame movies. So, I was almost sweating I was so nervous and hopeful my friends would like/and understand the film. We had heard it was very slow and very deep, so the living room was the perfect set-up. I had my journal handy to write down common symbols, metaphor, and anything that came to mind.

Now, I’m looking at those journal pages going, “Whoa. Linear thinking isn’t anywhere in my vocabulary, that’s for sure!”

I know I’ll be processing this film and it’s meaning for a while (which is something I love about what Malick did). Today, I just want to tackle the (maybe) obvious overarching theme in the film of nature vs. grace. Malick pulled us in and then stretched us apart with his shots of nature’s beauty and man’s limitations. At the very beginning of the film, the narration sets up the message of the entire film.

It’s hard to get past this stunning contrast.

Before I start giving my scattered opinion, what do you think?

Watch this. (I’m sorry I canNOT find the nature vs. grace narrative anywhere on youtube)

and then this featurette where people talk through the story of the Tree of Life. (spoiler alert here!)

Here’s a write up over at White Horse Inn, if you need to hear someone’s opinion. I kind of promise I’ll chime in soon! I know, I know… I less than tackled this, but it’s SOOOO big!

Happy Friday!

this & that

As promised, I’m going to just blast you with links and sites and books and articles. Any and all responses/thoughts will add to the discussion already going on in my head, so thanks in advance!

  • This is a review for the film Tree of Life written by Roger Ebert. This film by Terrence Malick is undeniably spiritual and I can’t believe I still haven’t seen it. For all the reviews and trailers and background information, it’s already gained my loyalty. If you’ve seen it, what do you think? If you haven’t, will you?
  • I follow a few blogs (okay, quite a few) sporadically and I always like to look up the “about” page. Partly because I’m just a curious person and partly because looking at “normal” people making it big in the blog world makes me think I could, too. Anyway, a couple of these creative bloggers are Mormons. In addition to the massive commercial campaign to make us think Mormon is as normal as bread and butter, there was also the smash Broadway hit, “The Book of Mormon” recently. If you’ve got some questions, Kevin DeYoung‘s article, “Mormonism 101” is a good place to start.
  • With the GOP debates in full swing, I appreciated this article over at WORLD magazine on the war on terror. We must always, always remember where our true allegiance lies.  “Woe to those who . . . rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the LORD!” (Isaiah 31:1)
  • I just love the words of this old hymn I found on Trevin Wax’s blog. We used to sing it in the Lutheran church and it is so rich! Read the lyrics to “If God Himself be for me” below and listen to the organ play it here.
    If God Himself be for me, I may a host defy,
    For when I pray, before me my foes confounded fly.
    If Christ, the Head, befriend me, if God be my support,
    The mischief they intend me shall quickly come to naught.I build on this foundation, that Jesus and His blood
    Alone are my salvation, the true eternal good;
    Without Him, all that pleases is valueless on earth:
    The gifts I owe to Jesus alone my love are worth.His Holy Spirit dwelleth within my willing heart,
    Tames it when it rebelleth, and soothes the keenest smart.
    He crowns His work with blessing, and helpeth me to cry
    “My Father!” without ceasing to Him Who reigns on high.

    To mine His Spirit speaketh sweet words of soothing power,
    How God to Him that seeketh for rest, hath rest in store;
    How God Himself prepareth my heritage and lot,
    And though my body weareth, my Heav’n shall fail me not.

    – Paul Gerhardt, 1656

  • Are you fighting temptation? Well, welcome to the party. Gosh, I’d be worried if I was the only one! It makes me feel even BETTER when I read an analogy from someone like C.S. Lewis (whom I admire like crazy) about past sins and future temptations and it makes sense! This excerpt is taken out of a collection of his letters and is SO spot on and encouraging!
  • You may not share my musical tastes (and that is completely fine), but I completely enjoyed the live performances of Feist and Bon Iver on the Jools Holland show. Watch them HERE. Both are so clever with instrumentation and … well, I just appreciate their musical style and creativity.
  • If you’re not a fan of that music, try this out – Keith and Kristyn Getty made this song FREE in anticipation of their Christmas album. It’s a beautiful song to get “stuck” in your soul. You can listen/download it here:
Okay… there is more to come. What news have you worth sharing?
let LOVE fly like cRaZy