Sunday, September 11, 2011

Current Movie Review: Contagion

You can't communicate with a culture when you don't speak its language, and the language of our culture is film- Dr. Chad Burns.

I enjoyed a visit from my mother today, as her birthday was Friday, and we had not yet had a chance to celebrate. After a wonderful sermon from Pastor Deneff at College Wesleyan, we had lunch and went to see a movie. The only thing that could have made the experience more enjoyable was Dad being there, but alas, he was out of town on business.

The movie we saw was Contagion, a disaster/suspense thriller about a disease that is difficult to cure. Aside from normal movie problems, (Language, Immodesty Etc.) there were a few overarching themes that were disturbing. The attitude towards death in the film was disconcerting to me. There is a natural human fear of death as the unknown, but throughout the entire film, no spiritual references were made to the deceased in any context. The only "religious" references made in the film were shots of empty churches and mosques, indicating that faith had no power over the disease.

We know that life after death does exist, and that God is the master of it. While it would be unrealistic to expect Hollywood to portray the hope that we have in Christ as being a true hope, there was no message whatsoever in the film that life continued after death. If you are currently alive, you will someday be dead. It may not be pleasant for most people, even most Christians, to dwell on, but it is a fact of life. For the Christian, death is not a terror to be feared, but an old friend, who our Lord has already beaten.
Our Lord's triumph over sin makes death a moment that is bittersweet. Joy that the departed friend or loved one is with the Lord is tempered by natural feelings of grief and loss. In a world that is dark enough, let us enter our final moments with the hope of heaven.

Overall, the movie was poor. Many secular messages such as the condoning of adultery, teenage rebellion, and lying, in my opinion, make the redeeming elements, primarily self-sacrifice, not worth the cost. More and more, I find myself agreeing with one of my dear cousins, when she said, "If we have the opportunity not to watch these films, why do we(as believers) chose to subject ourselves to them?"

Guten Abend, meine Blog-Leser.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Gl├╝cklich Arbeit Tag!

Today, across the United States, families gathered to celebrate with one another. The gathering I attended in eastern Indiana was mirrored in many other places. This is especially important for homeschooling families, as a gathering of like minded believers keeps us focused on who we are, and what we believe. It put me in mind of the celebration of Purim as described in Esther 9:19, "This is why rural Jews-- those in the villages-- gather on the fourteenth of the month of Adar for a day of joy and feasting."

While the Israelite nation gathered to celebrate salvation from destruction, we gather to celebrate our continued existence in a culture which seeks to destroy us not with weapons or warriors, but through ideas, false teachings, and immorality. It is more important than ever that Christians unite rather than divide. Today, I gathered with Godly families who I do not entirely agree with Theologically, but still respect and love for their devotion to Christ. As modern culture intensifies it's attacks on the church, it is important that we have friends and families who keep us accountable in these times.

In 1740 Frederick wrote a pamphlet he entitled ant-Machiavelli, in which he made the statement: "Let a sovereign be ever so formidable, he cannot defend himself against powerful enemies without the assistance of allies." Frederick would live to see the wisdom of his own words, when, in 1756, Prussia was attacked by every power in Europe but England. Frederick's diplomatic miscalculations almost spelled total defeat for Prussia, and he was quick to make alliances after the war.

No matter whether you are a spiritual dwarf or giant, a great pastor or a humble lay person, find those Godly individuals in your life that you respect and trust. No Christian in the world can withstand Satan's attacks forever if they fail to join in the fellowship of believers. They are our modern day "allies" who can provide assistance and prayer when the strong winds of trials blow.

Guten Abend, meine Blog-Leser

Friday, September 2, 2011

Cluttered, yet Hopeful

Guten Abend meine Blog-Leser

Today was a reminder that even when friends seem far away, the Lord is ever present with us. This morning I left my home in Noblesville, IN, and began my yearly trek to Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion IN. Arriving slightly before noon, I unpacked into the house that myself and two other fine young gentlemen will be calling home for the next nine months.  I found myself missing the great group of friends I made last year, but excited at the prospect of my final year at IWU.  Losing and gaining friends is a necessary, though painful part of life, and mourning those who have died, (or in my case, graduated) is natural.

 Frederick wrote of the loss of his best friend, Lt. General Hans Karl von Winterfeldt, in the following way:
Einen Winterfeldt finde ich nie wiederEr war ein guter Mensch,  ein Seelenmensch; Er war mein Freund. 
Roughly in English: I will never again find another Winterfeldt, he was a good man, a soulful man, he was my friend.

My thought for the day is that you should treasure the Godly friendships placed in your life. Proverbs 27:17 reminds us that, "Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens the countenance of his friend." Today I was blessed by a visit from one of my good friends, French Ancien' Regime historian Andrew Dial. He graduated from IWU two years ago, and I was fortunate enough to share several classes with him.

We had wonderful discussions ranging from 18th Century History, to deeper Theology, and spent a good bit on the state of modern culture. Andrew has moved on to graduate school at a secular college, and we discussed the lengths of depravity that have become acceptable in the modern day. All in all, his visit was a wonderful answer to prayer, as I missed the housemates I became such good friends with last year. Another major praise is that the Campus Media Services has contacted me about a position, so my lack of a job during the school year this year has been filled!

So even on days that seem to bring painful memories, God can use the people in our lives to remind us that He is the one in control.

Guten Abend, mit Gott gehen.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Historical Snapshot-Frederick the Great

guten Morgen meine Blog-Leser!

If you are going to travel with us on this journey, you should at least be acquainted with all of the party members, right? Well, my name is Alex Burns, and if you want to know more than that, you can check out my profile on the side of the page. Our travel guide is the most important man who ever lived. You have probably heard of him, whether in passing or as the Lord of your life. He was a Jewish Carpenter who lived in the 1st Century, and is still alive today. You can find all you ever wanted to know about him, and His vital teachings on life in His best selling book, the Bible.

The last party member is a man you might remember from world history class in Highschool, but is not very well known. He is remembered by many names in the historical record: Frederick the Great, Der Alte Fritz, Le Mechant Homme, Unser Vater, and many others. He was the King of a small german country known as Prussia from 1740-1786.  A controversial figure, he is credited with setting Prussia on the path of dominance in Germany. He was foremost a soldier, but his favorite pastime was playing the flute. He was a brilliant statesmen and economist, yet wore the same plain military coat unit it was too ragged to wear any longer. He was careless and reckless with his life, and the lives of those in his command, yet wept on being reunited with his favorite hound. He was an absolute monarch, but considered himself, "the first servant of the state."

 This is a man that we historians will never fully understand. Historian Robert Asprey aptly described him as, "The Magnificent Enigma." Something that the official histories often leave out is Fritz' (as we shall know him) great sense of humor and irony. One day, while seeing to economic reform, Fritz noticed a group of Prussian citizens gathered around a wall, craning their necks to look at a cartoon. The cartoon depicted the King (Fritz) beating taxes out of a poor farmer. Rather than have the author arrested, or reprimand the villagers, as many Kings of the 18th Century would have done, Fritz simply smiled at the joke, and called out, "Hang it lower, so that the people do not have to crane their necks!"

He was the premier 18th Century monarch, and transformed Prussia from a second rate country to a world power in his life time. If you would like to get to know this member of the party a little better, than check out one of his many biographies; I would particularly recommend the one authored by Giles MacDonogh.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Early on the morning of September 30, 1745; Frederick II, King in Prussia, found himself fighting for his life, in hostile territory, cut off from his supply lines near a village called Soor in the modern day Czech Republic. The resulting encounter became known as the Battle of Soor. His opponent, Prince Charles Alexander of Lorriane, an older, more experienced general, had occupied a strong hilltop position between Frederick and his supply line. Frederick, whose long and illustrious military career was only beginning, would later point to this moment as the time when he came closest to total defeat.

I find myself in a similar situation to the young king of Prussia. Despite successes, life has begun to bog down, and the long term goals that I set for myself in highschool, goals dealing with morality, family, and faith, have been replaced by goals based around temporal happiness, career fulfillment, and material gain. Like Frederick, I needed a wake up call, something to remind me of the principles that allowed me (with God's help,) to be successful in the first place.

Looking back on his life, Frederick said of this moment, "Ahh Soor... I was in soup up to my ears." While the visual may be unpleasant, as one imagines the King of Prussia treading water in giant vat of soup, the sentiment is clear. Carelessness brought on by overconfidence (and in my case, an acceptance of the modern culture) will only lead to heartache... or, to put it as Frederick did, An Earful of Soup. So, if you dare, join me on this mission to set the clock back on current events, and turn the tables on modern culture. I hope it is a enjoyable journey, led by Our Savior, with me and "old Fritz" along for the ride.