We watched the Netflix movie “Don’t Look up” last night. It is less about comets ending the world as it is social and political commentary. The President, played by Meryl Street, is definitely a Trump-like political figure. The biggest commentary, though, is more social as the movie screams dissatisfaction with celebrity culture, social media addiction, and the fact most people don’t have the ability to analyze complicated facts. Sometimes it feels like it is talking about the response to COVID-19 and other times it feels like it is about global climate change.
The movie is better than that other big Netflix Christmas Day offering of Birdbox from a couple of years ago, that is for sure.
The language is strong — very strong — and there is completely gratuitous nudity near the end.
The best scene is at the very end, when the seven sane people left sit down to dinner and Timothee Chalamet leads them in a very touching prayer which could be offered in any church in the world.
However, my big take away was that this movie presents a word that needs to be destroyed and is not worth saving. None of the characters are particularly likable, and it is such an exaggeration of all our worst tendencies that it doesn’t feel particularly believable. However, Mark Rylance is amazing in his portrayal of a Jeff Bezos/Elon Musk/Bill Gates figure.
The movie was such a downer we had to watch an episode of Ted Lasso to get our minds readjusted.
Now, if you want a better all around comet/asteroid destroying the world flick, then I suggest Deep Impact. Every time I watch it I wish the character Morgan Freeman plays was really our president. The human characters in that film are so well fleshed out in meaningful ways that if that movie is on tv, I will stop and watch it.
Then there is Armageddon, which is awful. However, Bruce Willis dies in it every time, and that is something to applaud.
But back to ‘Don’t Look Up’. The cast is under utilized. Cate Blanchett is basically just a trope as is Tyler Perry. Meryl Streep is the caricature of a shallow duplicitous politician. Jonah Hill makes me sick to my stomach. Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, not his acting, but his character, is inconsistent. Jennifer Lawrence, who may be the best actor of our time, is reduced to brooding and screaming. The scientists don’t act like scientists in this movie.
All the negative said, the movie could have some powerful benefit theologically. I told Mrs. Greenbean they should show this movie in seminary and use it as a launching point for the doctrine of total depravity, because ever negative impulse of the human race is covered in this one movie.
The implication of the director, Adam McKay, seems to be if we keep going the way we are, the eventual end will be death by denial of truth. As such, it reminds me less of other asteroid disaster movies and more of Idiocracy, which is a film that feels prophetic fifteen years later.
There are a few laugh out loud moments — and if you do watch it, keep an eye on the ever rising cost of shovels in the film.
In the Bible, the fiftieth year is the celebration of Jubilee, the year after seven years of sevens, as outlined in Leviticus 25. There were four key components, as I understand it, of the Jubilee celebration. First, there is a forgiveness of debts. Second, slaves are set free. Third, boundary markers for property are reset. Fourth, no planting or harvesting is to take place.
Before I go much further, there is very little evidence the ancient Hebrews ever actually observed properly the Jubilee, and the Prophets specifically spell out the ignoring of Sabbaths, sabbatical years, and Jubilees as one of the reasons for the exile and captivity. Isaiah may have been talking about the ultimate Jubilee in Jesus when he referred to the ‘Year of the Lord’s favor’ in Isaiah 61:2. Jesus of course quotes this when he begins his ministry.
But back to Greenbean’s Jubilee.
The forgiveness of debt was more like catching up all the payments for a lease agreement than it was the forgiving of actual debt as in a credit card. However, the net effect of the program would have been to free up people from long obligations. Plus, the forgiveness of debt is a very powerful Old Testament and New Testament idea. Jesus uses that phraseology when referring to sin in the model prayer.
So — I announce on this day that as of December 29, 2021 any individual who owes me money or service is hereby released of that obligation.
Slavery is another issue altogether. I abhor slavery in any form and that includes elitism and classism, which is a certain kind of slavery that separates ruling people from the mere commoners. But I digress. The language about slavery, combined with debt forgiveness, has been interpreted variously through the years as a forgiving of wrongs done to us. Forgiveness.
This one has been tough. I am not a grudge keeper, but there are a handful of people who have hurt me deeply and I have uttered with my mouth or sworn in my heart that I will never forgive them. But here I am, forced to consider not only my Jubilee, but more importantly, the words of Jesus who says forgive, and it shall be forgiven you (Matthew 6). I want to follow Jesus, and we are never more like Christ than when we forgive.
I worked through this one today and shed more than a few tears. The hurt, though decades old, still feels fresh. Some is personal. Other is vocational. Some is old, and I’m thinking of 2010. Some is new, and I’m thinking of personal attacks against me in the midst of COVID-19. All of these things hurt. Yet, it is my Jubilee.
I, therefore, forgive all transgressions against me. This means there will be no recrimination, no reminders, and nothing but a desire for those people who have wronged me to be happy, healthy, blessed, and to be in a relationship with the Lord.
This forgiveness idea goes further, for me, though. I am very cognizant of my own failings. As a young man I was cold and harsh. I’ve said things that were at best rude but were also racist, misogynist, and insensitive. Although I have never attacked anyone in my lifetime physically, I have done so verbally. I had a job in college, and the last year I worked there, I mailed in it. I mean, I did not give them honest work for honest pay. I owe HEB an avocado. In 2008 I transgressed a church in Oregon when I lead them on and then told them no after I had told them yes. I am guilty of gossip. I can be judgmental.
For these things, and so much more, I ask that you forgive me, on this my Jubilee, especially If I have hurt you in any way.
Property boundaries are the third part of this celebration. I have very few literal property boundaries and they all are older than me and are in their original locations, so there is nothing to reset there. But the idea of a reset, of ‘returning to your property’ rings differently in my ear right now. It feels like a reset is needed in my mindset — the real estate of my soul. I need to reset to some things that I used to do when I was a young man. I was very ambitious with desires to write, lead, and make a difference. I came to realize my ambition when unchecked, could lead me to use people and manipulate, so over the decades I have crucified this ambition within me.
But I think I have gone too far. I need to reset some of this and recognize the natural ambition the Lord gave me is a part of who I am. Redeemed ambition is one that pushes myself to accomplish without manipulating others or using other people in the process. It means ambition for a better way, and not a bigger way. I need to reset some boundaries on my time, what I prioritize, and what really matters. I have a book that is finished and I will peddle it vigorously this year. I have another project with two co-authors which I will pursue with zeal. There is also a third, secret book which is one-third finished. I will finish it this year.
I must also likewise reset the boundaries in my personal life. The sprouts are grown now. They no longer need me to teach them or care for them. I need not tell them what to do. I must reset that boundary now in my fiftieth year and see my children as sojourners with me on the Jesus path. I can learn from them and they can learn from me and together we can be stronger, but they are my peers now. Special peers to be sure, but not little children who must be guided by the hand. This is a hard thing to let go of.
On this the dawning of my fiftieth year, I reset my mind, my soul, my work, and relationships.
And that brings me to the last of the four parts of Jubilee as I understand it. That is the prohibition on sowing and reaping, leaving the ground fallow. This would have been two years in a row for the Hebrews, because of the Sabbath year of the seventh set of sevens the year before. Mrs. Greenbean and I are now at a new place in our life. Our children are grown and we have liberty — Jubilee — to rediscover marriage at this stage in our lives as well as rediscover the world. When you don’t have crops to tend, you can travel. So that is my practice for the foreseeable future — to travel, visit, see, eat, learn, and grow as a citizen of the world. Who knows when bad health or economics or war or pandemics may come and rob the ability to travel.
I therefore on this day, commit to traveling at least once a year, and maybe two times a year, to some place I have never been before, or to revisit some grand locale I have enjoyed in the past.
“Oh Lord, help me forgive and to let go of the pain. Forgive me for my sins of the mind, the mouth, and the rash moments. Allow my relationships to be pure and motivated by love. Help me to work hard and to accomplish the tasks I believe you have called me to do. Bless thou, the work of my hands. May my travels always be a blessing to the world and never a curse. Thank you for the fifty years you’ve allowed me on this planet, in this flesh, with my family, and in this odd life of ministry. It has been a great blessing to me and I have enjoyed it. I boldly ask for another seventy years, that with Moses I may reflect on one hundred twenty years with you and sing your praises as I make my way into eternity. However, I wish to not live one more day than you have planned, and I submit to your will in all things. Thank you for the gift of Jubilee. In the name of Jesus the Messiah whom I follow. Amen.”
First, let all reasonable people agree 2021 didn’t happen; 2021 was only Part II of 2020. So, we are treating 2021 like Apple Treated the iPhone 9 or Microsoft treated Windows 9 — we’re just going to pretend it doesn’t exist.
However, my predictions last year (Click here to read them) were not that off target. I was spot on about three of them, and near enough to accurate on about three there that I was very pleased — well above my average of 30% accuracy.
That said . . . let’s get started with my annual exercise in ridiculousness and make ten predictions for 2022. Keep in mind as you read, these are not things I necessarily want to happen. They are things I think will happen. I have no clairvoyance and no crystal ball. I am not a prophet or the son of a prophet. I’m just making guesses (although I’d really like #7 to happen, but like tomorrow).
10. On January 6, nothing will happen. There will be no big anniversary, no big celebration, and no repeat of the insurrection. There will, though, be tons of media hype, from both the left and the right.
9. The Tennessee Titans will win the Super Bowl.
8. Al Pacino will receive the only Oscar nomination from ‘House of Gucci’, and he may win as best supporting actor.
7. By summer, a pill or oral regimen will be available which in all practicality cures COVID-19.
6. President Biden will announce after the midterm elections he is not seeking re-election.
5. Governor Greg Abbott of Texas will not win his bid to keep his current job.
4. Someone you know will own or subscribe to a self-driving car.
3. The Houston Astros will again return to the World Series, and again they will lose to a far superior National League team.
2. Inflation will continue to incrementally grow through the winter and early spring, but by summer it will begin to taper off as interest rates increase.
1. The Southern Baptist Convention, after a decade of implosion, will collapse.
The Christmas stories from the Fondue Writer’s Club comes to an end today with Paul Bennett’s excellent, ‘Let This Be Your Last Battle.’ This story has something for everyone — love, loss, adventure, war, and PECAN PIE!
Thanks for reading our stories. We will be back early next year with more.