Category Archives: Life is Strange

God’s Not Dead 3 — Here We Go Again

Thoughts on A First Look at the Newest Movie in the GOD’S NOT DEAD Franchise:

I find it ironic that the subtitle of God’s Not Dead 3 (out March 30, 2018) is A Light In Darkness, seeing as how, if secular and Christian reviews are anything to judge by, neither of the previous two “God’s Not Dead” films were the light in the darkness that Christian art is supposed to be (Matthew 5: 14 — 16):

“To say God’s Not Dead preaches to the choir would be an understatement. It’s the pastor, staring in a mirror, preaching to himself.”
~ The A.V. Club

“There are serious movies about the Christian faith, about the persecution of the faithful, and about the intolerance that goes both ways. ‘God’s Not Dead 2’ is not one of them.”
~ www.rogerebert.com

“But on the whole, this movie really isn’t worth anyone’s time. And it’s startling to see that this film, of all films, has been so richly rewarded by the ‘faith-based market’. I shudder to think of what this bodes for the future of the genre.”
~ Peter Chattaway, God’s Not Dead

What the world needs is art that portrays goodness, truth, and beauty, regardless of where that goodness, truth, and beauty comes from.

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”
~ Philippians 4:8

If you want more proof that the “God’s Not Dead” series is lacking goodness, truth, and beauty, this is the reaction an atheist (Mark) has to his girlfriend (Amy) telling him she has cancer:

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Way to not read your catechism, Catholic screenwriters:

“Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin – an inclination to evil that is called “concupiscence.” Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.” (Emphasis mine.)
~ Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 405

To me, no Christian who believes that a character like Mark is an accurate representation of an atheist has a leg to stand on when they criticize secular films for having one-dimensional Christian characters.

On a related note:

“The realistic, gritty atmosphere created by screenwriter/director Paul Thomas Anderson and actor Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview is tremendous. It is practically ruined, however, by Anderson’s evil caricature of Eli, the revenge-minded preacher, and the over-the-top, unrealistic performance of Paul Dano as Eli. In fact, THERE WILL BE BLOOD is one of the most mean-spirited, anti-Christian, superficial, and poorly played portrayals of religion ever created in movie history. God knows there have been plenty of insincere, sinful leaders in the Christian church, but there have also been many good Christians who have exposed and opposed such false leaders. The short length of most feature films often require stereotypes, even negative ones, to tell a good story, but when they are so mean-spirited, superficial and poorly played as this one is, they appeal only to narrow-minded bigots with an ax to grind, whose mental faculties and hearts have been poisoned by their sinful misanthropic prejudice. (Emphasis mine.)
~ Movieguide’s review of There Will Be Blood

Now let’s see what Movieguide thought of God’s Not Dead:

“There are a lot of stories in GOD’S NOT DEAD, but they work because they end up in the same place. The direction and acting are very good. The ending is terrific. GOD’S NOT DEAD is a powerful evangelistic movie. Even better, the entertainment value transcends the message. Viewers won’t be bored. They will be enlightened and inspired by GOD’S NOT DEAD.”

You reap what you sow. If you (Christians) don’t want to be seen as one-dimensional bad guys by non-Christians, than don’t make non-Christians one-dimensional bad guys.

In the universe of “God’s Not Dead,” atheists are devoid of empathy and compassion. Which reminds me of 0:26 — 0:48:

I don’t have high hopes for God’s Not Dead 3.

In conclusion:

If you’re looking for goodness, truth, and beauty — something to put a smile on your face; something to help light your way through the darkness — here are some pieces of art that do that for me (feel free to leave your own down in the comments):

“Caramella Girls” by Miku Hatsune

I like that to think that, when God confused peoples’ language at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11: 1 — 9), it was so that, one day, mankind would be able to listen to a Japanese pop star sing a song in Swedish.

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
~ Isaiah 55:12

“Obstacles” by Syd Matters

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
~ Proverbs 27:17

“Bataille Decisive” (“Decisive Battle”) from Neon Genesis Evangelion (“The Gospel of the New Century”)

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
~ Matthew 25:40

Interstellar (2014)

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
~ Psalm 19:1

“May the beauty which you pass on to generations still to come be such that it will stir them to wonder! Faced with the sacredness of life and of the human person, and before the marvels of the universe, wonder is the only appropriate attitude.”
Saint John Paul II’s Letter to Artists

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Life Is Strange (2015)

“…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
~ Matthew 5:14 — 16

And:

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
~ 1 Corinthians 12:7

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Why Christians Should Give “Kiki’s Delivery Service” A Chance

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A Catholic Responding To An Atheist Responding To Lutheranism

Excerpts from A Look At Luther’s Small Catechism by The Closet Atheist, and my thoughts:

“And make it very plain to [parents] what an awful harm they are doing if they will not help to train children to be pastors, preachers, clerks . . . and that God will punish them terribly for it.”

So every child must be a pastor, preacher, or clerk?

I understand being a “preacher” in the sense that one is willing to share their faith when the circumstance calls for it. After all:

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
~ 1 Peter 3:15

Otherwise: Being boxed into three roles feels, for lack of a better word, limiting. A child can’t grow up to be, for example, a writer?

I was raised to believe that… trans people were disgusting, and… should be avoided.

Hmm. What does Jesus say about avoiding others and seeing certain people as “disgusting”?

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'”
~ Matthew 25:40

In case, after reading my post that deals with total depravity, you didn’t believe that there are Christians who really believe that we are “worthy of none of the things for which we pray” and “deserve nothing but punishment,” well, here is your proof.

*raises hand*

I believe.

This probably disgusts me more than anything else, especially when we are still urged to pray for what we want, even after being told that we don’t deserve to have our prayers answered. At the same time though, this teaches that no matter how bad we are, God will still give us everything we pray for (because of grace)…

What’s so bad about not deserving anything, really?

If I told you that I had told my girlfriend “I deserve sex,” you’d (probably) justifiably think This guy is a misogynist.

Granted, that is an extreme example.

But my point is: When we go around saying “I deserve ___,” that can lead one down a dark path…

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Photo by Pavel Tereshkovets.

Regarding praying for what one wants:

Not all prayers will be answered. And even if they are, not always in the way that one wanted, or in a way that is immediately clear.

Why? Because:

Ideally, a prayer isn’t a person saying “Do ___, ___, and ___ for me and I’ll continue to love you and serve you, God.”

Ideally, a prayer is: “God, please do ___, ___, and ___ for me. But, trusting that you see what I cannot, and trusting that you have the best interests of humanity at heart, not my will, but your will, be done.”

…we’re told to do good unto others, when, after all, we can’t be good, only God can. So why try?

We “can’t be good” in the sense that, despite the good we do, we will always, to some extent, fall short.

No one is perfect.

Which is why there are signs like this:

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Just because I’m not perfect doesn’t mean I can’t still strive for perfection, though.

To bring up my girlfriend again: Just because I can’t see the world from her perspective — just because I can’t be her — doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t try and empathize with her.*

I am reminded of a quote:

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.”
~ Michelangelo

1:55 — 3:01:

“What is the Sacrament of the Altar?

It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and to drink, instituted by Christ Himself.”

This is just gross and weird. I don’t have anything else to say about it.

Hmm. To give my two cents:

In the desert, God gave his people bread to eat.

Since Jesus is one of the three aspects of God, eating his body is the evolution of that act: No longer are people eating bread that God sent down from Heaven to sustain their life — now people are eating God himself, who has come down from Heaven to be the bread that will sustain them.

I am reminded of the starving passengers in Snowpiercer (2013). Running low on food after scrambling to board a train that is the only hope for survival, the passengers, in their hunger, eventually resort to cannibalism. One of the passengers, seeing that a baby is about to be eaten, cuts off his own arm and says “Give me the child. If you’re so hungry, eat this instead.”

What Jesus is saying when he offers us himself is:

“Do not eat yourselves. Eat me instead.”

The hunger Jesus wants to satisfy is not physical, but spiritual.

*I actually don’t have a girlfriend. 😥

The Dream Lives: Thoughts On Emi’s Arc

Earlier today I completed Emi’s arc in the visual novel Katawa Shoujo.

As far as I can tell, I got the Good Ending: Emi and I are a happy couple.

But it’s the way we’re happy that leaves me thinking Is this really “Good”?

To explain:

When Emi and Hisao first kissed, I felt like this:

Image result for giddy gif

“Natural” is the word I would use to describe everything leading up to that point. I had been worried that Katawa Shoujo would be nothing more than a male fantasy of women just throwing themselves at a guy. And I was glad that I was being proven wrong.

And, after that kiss, when Hisao’s and Emi’s relationship become more physical, though I didn’t agree with them having sex, I understood why it was happening. The sequence of events that led up to them becoming intimate had me thinking That makes sense.

It was only after Hisao and Emi started experimenting sexually — specifically: trying anal sex — that I finally thought OK. This is turning into what I was worried Katawa Shoujo would be. And though I believe I have an understanding of that now, in the end Emi’s arc leaves me disappointed.

I don’t really know how to continue at this point since my head is still in a whirl, so here in no particular order are the thoughts currently going through my head:

  1. For a woman who is afraid to open up to others, Emi certainly comes prepared for “opening up to others.”
  2. Despite their words of love and trust, Emi and Hisao still aren’t opening up to each other. At least, not  physically. What I mean is: When it comes to their souls, they are wearing no protection — there is nothing holding them back from sharing the deepest parts of themselves.
    Image result for katawa shoujo hisao emi
    Not so when it comes to their bodies. When it comes to their bodies, their mindset is “Don’t let too much out.” It comes across as dishonest. Like they’re saying “I love you. Not all of you, though.”
    Image result for man and woman usb port comic
  3. Emi’s arc was, to me, 10 minutes too long. If it had ended with Hisao and Emi embracing in front of her father’s grave, comforted by the knowledge that nothing would ever keep them apart, that would’ve been perfect. Instead, they go back to Emi’s dorm room for another night of sex. Which makes me think What would their relationship be like without the sex?
  4. The end of Emi’s arc made me appreciate a story like Life Is Strange more. In Life Is Strange, my love for my best friend Chloe was platonic. I chose not to kiss her because I didn’t want to feel like, from that point on, my relationship with Chloe was defined by that kiss — defined by a desire to be physically satisfied by her — instead of defined by a desire for Chloe’s well-being.
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  5. I wanted to love Emi’s arc. And for 6 of those 8 hours, I did. Those last two hours still had a lot that I loved. But, also much that I did not.
  6. Maybe I’m asking too much of a dating sim like Katawa Shoujo. Only time will tell whether I’m right or wrong.
  7. Don’t fail me now, fanfiction! *Starts writing own Emi arc*

A Catholic Responds To Christian Apologetics

Note #1: Language.

Note #2: Contains spoilers for Life Is Strange.

Thank you to The Closet Atheist for inspiring me to write this.

Below are excerpts from her post Apologetics 101: Lesson 1 and the thoughts I had while reading them:

Postmodernism says there is no objective truth or reality, but rather, reality is whatever we’re feeling

And?

I mean, it’s good to have some definition of a word, but on its own that does nothing to reassure me that the god of the Bible is who he says he is.

Secularists treat life as if it has no value

This is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. It’s basically saying “You can’t be good without God.” And that’s just not true. Why? Because: Atheists are just as capable as Christians of having empathy and showing compassion. Which, ironically, the Bible itself points out: “He has put eternity in the human heart.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Not the Christian heart — the human heart.

You don’t have to say “Jesus is lord!” in order to fight to defend your country from fascists. You don’t have to say “Jesus is lord!” in order to slip $5 into the hand of a homeless person. You don’t have to say “Jesus is lord!” in order to cry at the funeral for a family member.

I could go on, but I’ll stop there.

We all have a “God-hole” that can’t be filled by stuff

I agree.

In life, we’re always wanting more.

To repeat what I said in Is Humanity Pagan?:

There is no climax to end all climaxes.

Without God, man tries to rise to become a god himself

As someone who struggles with pride, I can tell you for a fact that, even with God, “man tries to rise to become a god himself[.]”

Money can’t save us; it hasn’t fixed poverty or other problems of our world, so why should we expect it to? (note: neither has prayer)

I agree that money is, ultimately, not the solution to societal ills like poverty. A change of mindset is. Throwing money at a person who isn’t motivated to make their own isn’t going to lift that person out of their circumstances.

And prayer by itself won’t save us, either. Because:

“Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26)

The reason why people don’t believe in God is because they don’t want to be obedient

I wouldn’t be surprised if that was some person’s reason for not wanting to believe in a power higher than themselves.

But, if you actually talk to atheists (like the Bible says to do — Matthew 5:14 — 16) you’ll find that that is not the case for everyone.

A Christian college can’t make you a godly person

I agree.

On a related note: 5 Insane Realities At My Fundamentalist Christian College

Revelation from God provides a “truth detector” from error and falsehood which arise from a man-made doctrinal base

I agree.

It’s hard discerning what is an apparent “Revelation from God” and what is, in fact, nonsense someone pulled out of their ass.

The world’s knowledge is limited by the mind of man and his imagination, while the mind of God is infinite and unlimited

I agree. We don’t know it all.

How boring would life be if we did?

When you’re trapped on a desert island, it’s more useful to have a Bible than fire (I think this was implied but not directly stated)

Depends: Is the island overrun with White Walkers?

Seriously, though: Depending on the circumstances, if I had to choose between a Bible or fire, I’d pick fire.

For example: If the person I’m stranded with is going to die of exposure before they have a chance to hear the Good News, unless there’s a miracle, a Bible isn’t going to warm them up.

Morality is objective and comes from the Bible

Which version of the Bible are we talking about here?

Because if it’s the King James Bible, you’re telling me that for over 1,611 years (at least) people didn’t know that killing your neighbor isn’t generally something you should do? It’s a wonder anyone lasted long enough to hear such a revelation…

Seriously, though: While I consider the Bible to be the source of much of what I consider moral, morality does not come from the pages of the Bible alone.

What I mean when I say that is: You don’t have to look long to find codes of conduct that predate, or come after, the words written in the Bible.

Regarding morality: There’s a reason the 10 Commandments say “Thou shalt not kill” and not “Never kill” — because there are circumstances where the moral thing to do is kill.

If a bullet is the only way to save a mother and her child from the person who has invaded their home, than pull the trigger.

Mormon beliefs and practices are really bizarre (because Christianity is so not bizarre?)

Why single out Mormons?

And I agree: Christianity can be bizarre.

But, you know what? Life is strange, so a strange worldview suits me just fine.

Don’t be a “silent witness”; rather, go up to people and start a conversation in order to find what makes them tick so that you can try to convert them to Christianity

Let your actions speak louder than your words.

A lot of people don’t believe that they’re lost and think they’re a good person

I don’t believe anyone is “lost.”

We’re all on a journey, even if we don’t know for sure what is at the top of the mountain we’re climbing.

Keep seeking what is good, true, and beautiful, and I believe you will one day find yourself in the presence of the creator of all that is good, true, and beautiful.

“Holy tension” is when the Bible doesn’t make sense like when Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt (but if God wants to do things like that, then He can)

I thought Lot’s wife turning to salt made sense. God said “Don’t do the thing.” And what did Lot’s wife do? She did the thing.

On the other hand: Why a pillar of salt? God has infinite options for condemning disobedience, and that’s what He goes with? OK.

Unbelievers will be encouraged to examine the evidence for theism

I agree.

The question is: For what purpose?

Liberals relegate scripture as myth, legend, or fable in order to discount the veracity of the Bible

Examples of “Liberals” please.

“The skies declare His glory – HAVE YOU LOOKED AT THE SKY?” (Checkmate, atheists!)

The beauty of the world is one reason I believe in a god.

But: Different strokes for different folks.

You can’t change people’s minds, only the Holy Spirit can do that; you can only point them in the right direction

I believe that God, being God, allows all things to be possible since all things, ultimately, have their source in Him.

However: I don’t see how a person will come to believe in God without using their free will. After all: Just like how you can’t force someone to love you, you can’t force someone to believe in you. Which it sounds like what the Holy Spirit is doing here — flipping the “I believe in God” switch in your brain itself.

“The virgin birth is true because God” (I specifically pointed out to myself in my notes that this was a direct quote from my teacher)

*Groan*

Noah’s Ark is hard to understand, but we can believe it, because believing something comes before understanding it, not the other way around

I agree. Sometimes, it’s necessary to take a leap of faith.

For example: If I’m slowly dying, and my best friend says they’re going to help me, than for the sake of our friendship I’m going to trust that the person who says “I have your best interests at heart” really does have my best interests at heart. After all: I don’t want to lose my best friend like Max lost Chloe:

For more: Chloe, Euthanasia, and Seeing All Ends

We don’t understand wind either, but we believe that it’s there because we can see its effects!

Really? That’s the best you can do?

One difference between God and the wind: Wind destroys mindlessly, and God does not.

Hurricane Harvey wasn’t sentient; it wasn’t aware that it was passing through Houston.

I want my tuition money back.

13 Reasons Why: How To Talk About Suicide?

Recently, a study came out showing that 13 Reasons Why was potentially responsible for an increase in suicidal thoughts:

’13 Reasons Why’ may have lead to spike in suicidal thoughts

13 Reasons Why

Which caused me to think about Kate’s suicide in Life Is Strange.

Even though the scene goes against the World Health Organization’s guidelines for portraying suicide — i.e., don’t show the suicide attempt (don’t show Kate going through with it) — the reason I myself am OK with that, is this:

People have the chance to prevent Kate’s death.

There’s nothing stopping a person from replaying the scene with Kate on the roof until they get the outcome they want.

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Which is why I believe that, when it comes to portraying heavy issues like suicide, episodic games like Life Is Strange are better at it than television series like 13 Reasons Why because, ultimately, the choices a character makes, and how characters respond to those choices, are up to the viewer/player, not up to a writer who could have a different interpretation than you of the story you’re experiencing:

From the very beginning, I agreed that we should depict the suicide with as much detail and accuracy as possible. I even argued for it—relating the story of my own suicide attempt to the other writers.
Nic Sheff

To an extent not possible with a Netflix series, an episodic video game’s story is only as harmful as the person experiencing that story allows it to be.

For example: Want to send the message that, when it comes to suicide, it is not others, but the suicidal person themselves, who is responsible for their actions?* Don’t wait for anyone else to say so; send that message yourself by pressing Square:

Life is Strange48

*Where the show romanticizes the aftermath of suicide, it also blames everyone in Hannah’s life.
How ’13 Reasons Why’ gets suicide wrong

Video Games Are Art

Art: The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. (Thanks, Google.)

My favorite moment in Life Is Strange: Episode 1, Chloe’s house — Max sits on the swing that the deceased father of her best friend built for the two of them and thinks back to happier times.

Despite the prompt to get up — “Space Get Up” — you can sit on the swing for as long as you want.

If this 1 minute and 49 seconds isn’t an “expression or application of human creative skill and imagination” in a “visual form” that is beautiful and emotionally powerful, than I don’t know what is.

0:17 — 2:06:

Why I Have Mixed Feelings About “Life Is Strange: Before The Storm”

Life Is Strange (2015) is my favorite video game, and one of my favorite stories, ever.

So when a prequel —  Life Is Strange: Before The Storm — was announced at E3 2017…

…a part of me screamed “Yes!” while another part moaned “No!”

Why?

Well, as Cracked put it: The past was more interesting before we saw it happen.

When a magician hears the audience gasp and say, “How’d he do that?” he does not turn around and loudly announce, “Oh, the rabbit’s in my assistant’s ass.” Similarly, professional writers know that there are some questions that their audience doesn’t want answered, even though they think they do. Like a magician, a writer wants his audience to live in that space between knowing and wanting to know. That’s what keeps them coming back for more.

Having watched the trailer three times, my feelings towards it are more positive than they were on my first watch. For example: Before The Storm seems to be delving into Chloe’s psyche through the use of nightmares — Chloe dreams she is in the car on the day of her dad’s accident — like Life Is Strange did with Max near the end of Episode 5. (Max’s nightmare being one of my favorite sections of that game.) But… but…

sigh

You know the airport fight in Godzilla (2014)? The fight that you never saw happen?

Here’s why I’m ultimately glad Gareth Edwards cut away right before Godzilla and the MUTO went at it: The fight I imagine will  be superior to the fight I see.

And it’s the same with Before The Storm: The story I imagine will be superior to the story I see.

Another aspect of Before The Storm that has me thinking Don’t do that is the crow imagery:

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Depending on who you talk to, crows are considered bad luck. And Chloe, to put it lightly, could be called unlucky.

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The crow imagery reminds me of the Chosen One prophecy in the “Star Wars” prequels.

Thanks to the prequels, now in Return of the Jedi the Emperor’s death isn’t the result of Darth Vader choosing to save his son’s life — it’s the fulfillment of a prophecy.

The crow imagery has the potential to change Chloe’s death in Life Is Strange from a tragic accident…

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…to the cruel, calculated machinations of the universe: The universe has it out for Chloe, and won’t stop until she loses everything — her dad, her best friend and, finally, her life.

Which would make sense, given what we hear in Life Is Strange:

Image result for life is strange chloe punished by the universe

But still: I would rather have Chloe’s death be an accident, not the fulfillment of the universe’s sadistic plan for one Arcadia Bay teen.

One reason why: Chloe’s fate being set in stone — if the crow imagery is anything to judge by — robs the “Life Is Strange” series of one of its most thought-provoking attributes: Choice.

Image result for life is strange whoever said we had a single fate

At the end of Life Is Strange, Chloe could have “forced” Max to make one choice or another by, for example, putting her step-dad’s gun to Max’s head and telling her “Don’t go back in time and allow me to die.” But she didn’t. Chloe chose to allow Max to make her own choice. Ultimately, it was free will, not fate, that killed Chloe.

Image result for life is strange final choice

Of course, all of this is just a reaction to the first trailer. I’ll have to play the game in its entirety before I have the… big picture.

Image result for life is strange max taking a picture

But I’m praying like Kate Marsh that Beyond The Storm isn’t what I fear it is.

Image result for life is strange kate marsh