Friday, May 25, 2012

Daughter of Eve - Amanda Kaye Logue

Amanda Kaye Logue Tampa Bay Times

The first chapters of the Bible tell a dark story about the family of Adam and Eve. Soon after leaving the Garden of Eden their eldest son Cain ignores the warning given by God and murders his younger brother Abel.  (Gen 4:1-16)

Somewhat surprisingly, in Genesis 4 God did not kill Cain but punished him and also protected him from the wrath of people and his life continues. Cain became the patriarch of a powerful tribe.

Amanda ja Jason ref
There is something similarly senseless and dark "humanity" in the story of Amanda Kaye Logue (30) and Jason Andrews (28). The dramatic events have been much in news. Logue joined the US porn movie industry already as a young woman and became known as Sunny Dae. For about ten years she practiced the oldest profession in the world until the events in 2010 when together with her boyfriend and lover Jason she murdered the owner of a tattoo parlour Daniel Avramsen (41).


Loguen Andrews Avramsen
Since the act had been planned it made it even more serious in the system of justice. The entire sequence of events seems so senseless and without any purpose. A kick from a killing? According to the court records Logue was privately serving Avramsen after a wild party in New Port Richey, Pasco County, Florida. Andrews waited patiently outside and the couple exchanged some phone messages. Jason told his girlfriend, who had told him wanting to have sex with him after the deed

"I'm so glad you're really commited to this take. Keep eyes for a knife, etc for me!"

The couple, apparently Jason, hit with knife the man resting on a massage table in the back and then crushed his skull with a ledgehammer. When leaving the scene of crime they stole from the victim 6000$ cash, a camera and laptop computer. That's all - for the life of a human being.

Pasco law enforcement officials first caught Amanda and then Jason. In January 2011 Jason Andrews confessed everything and was given life sentence without possibility of parole. He will spend the rest of his life in prison.The Bible has a stern warning to Jason - and to us all - that if we do not repent the punishment continues also in the coming life, for ever and ever.

Also Amanda has now been sentenced in a court of law.  Like Jason, she also confessed everything and therefore avoided life sentence. Instead, she was sent to 40 years in prison for second degree murder. Logue is now in her prime life, an attractive 30 years old woman who should be married, have children, good work and enjoy life. Instead, she will be a prisoner and perhaps some sixty years old when she finally leaves the correction facility and tries to start normal life.

How this can happen?
Also the relatives and friends of Amanda Logue wonder this. "She is a sweet person". They suggest that her boyfriend Jason Andrews was the devil that mixed her head and life.

"When the devil pops his head in, we succumb to what the devil wants us to do" said Darryl Dobbs.

In the midst of these horrors people have a feeling that the Devil himself is using people to do bad things and affect other people. Jason was used to affect Amanda Logue  and Devil reached the goal - the senseless murder of Daniel Avramsen, a father and husband.

When Jesus was talking with his Jewish adversaries He says in the Gospel of John the causing murders is the genuine work of Devil

"Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar and the father of it."
Joh 8:44

Also in the case of Jesus Devil reached his goal - Jesus of Nazareth is the victim of the worst case of miscarriage of justice in the history of law.

What now, Amanda?
Nicky Cruz
The recent case of the Finnish double-murderer, the feared gang leader Lauri "Late" Johansson, as well as the classic case of Nicky Cruz among the street gangs of USA, demonstrate how Lord Jesus is stronger than Devil, our lusty flesh and more powerful than death itself.

Jesus Christ can wash clean in the blood of the Lamb, heal and save Amanda so that the sweet person, human being, into which God created her is reborn and the works of sin and flesh will be crucified and killed.This truly is a matter of life and death and in the company of the only begotten Son of God Devil has no chance at all.

Jesus does not save anyone by force but you can call Him

The phone number of God is 5015

Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me.Psalm 50:15

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dolph Lundgren - the Mechanik (2005) Механик

Swedish actor, director and martial art expert Dolph Lundgren (1959) is among the top tough guys of today's action movies and popular culture. He is often chosen to act the role of a tough guy probably because he is a tough guy also in real life. "Well known for his tall stature and A1 level of fitness, at peak, Lundgren stood around 195 centimetres (6 ft 5 in) and weighed 250 pounds (110 kg), and continues to be an influence in the world of fitness and bodybuilding." (wiki) you do not want to mess with him in a dark alley.

Rocky IV (1995) made Dolph Lundgren an international star as the very tough Russian boxer. Sylvester Stallone tells that "during [the filming of] Rocky IV, Dolph had hit me so hard I had swelling around the heart and had to stay in intensive care at St. John's Hospital for four days." (wiki)

Nick (Dolph Lundgren)  ref   
As a theologian I think that the low-budget almost B-movie style Mechanik (2005) written by Bryan Edward Hill and directed by Lundgren has a much more powerful content than the number one multi-million amusement park-style shoot-them-all extravaganza Expendables (2010) directed by Sylvester Stallone. In that movie Dolph Lundgren is one of the tough guys with Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Terry Crews, and Randy Couture. But that movie is totally empty unlike Mechanik which makes you think.

William (Ben Cross) ref
As retired Russian Special Forces hit man Nikolai "Nick" Cherenko, Dolph Lundgren is the hero. The characters in the film are made considerably stronger by contrasting the specially trained killing machine and emotionless Nick with the definitely-not-so-tough cry-baby, the British mercenary William Burton (Ben Cross) who is leading a gang of mercenaries in St. Petersburg and appears to be at the verge of physical collapse and alcoholism. The contrast gives the movie psychological depth and makes it more real.

Childhood of Dolph Lundgren
Lundgren is introduced surprisingly frankly in the wikipedia article that has the following about his childhood in Sweden:

Lundgren was born in Stockholm, Sweden in 1957 into an academic, middle-class family living in the suburb of Spånga. His mother, Bridgitta, was a languages teacher, and his father, Karl Lundgren, was an engineer and economist for the Swedish government. He has two sisters and a younger brother. Lundgren was raised in the Lutheran church. Lundgren has said that his father was physically abusive and vented his frustration on his wife and oldest son. He states that during his tirades, his father would call him a "loser", which motivated him later as he wished to prove himself and grew more ambitious. He has said, 'I still love my father, no matter what happened. There are many things about him I still admire. As a child, I was probably too much like him, very stubborn—perhaps that's what he couldn't deal with." He cites his troubled relationship with his father as the reason why he developed a desire to participate in heavy contact sports such as boxing and karate.

As a child, Dolph says he was insecure and suffered from allergies, and even claimed to be a runt. As a teenager, he grew up with his grandparents in the community of Nyland, north of Kramfors. He showed a keen interest in drumming and had aspirations to become a rock star. In his teenage years, he also tried judo, Gōjū-ryū and took up Kyokushin karate and began training heavily with weights.

The Mechanik - Механик

Neva and neoclassical buildings in St. Petersburg
The Mechanik Механик is an extremely violent and brutal movie where body count is lost early on. There is a fine contrast between the life of the ruthless criminals in St. Petersburg and the city itself which is among the most beautiful in the world. The camera takes quite realistic scenes from the streets and houses and also give glimpses from the surrounding countryside. Why in such a paradise there must be such evil and suffering?

Those who know modern Russia probably agree that after the collapse of Communist Soviet Union this is more or less how life is in the underworld of the big cities in mother Russia. The two words, Russian mafia, create much colder shudders than the mentioning of Italian mafia with its codes and manners.

Mother - wife - saint / whore

Julia (Olivia Lee)
The film reflects ambivalent - or should we say complex - attitudes towards women. In the foreground are prostitutes working in Russian nightclubs - but these are not depicted as sex dolls but rather as real human beings with serious problems in life and highly insecure status. In this movie the lives of these working women are not without value.

An important motif in the storyline is the accidental murder of Nick's dear wife Alina and son Vanya in crossfire. Here, in the contrast, the killed woman is a respectable ideal housewife and mother. The kidnapped Julia (Olivia Lee) is a combination of the two archetypes, a good girl forced to bad business (who according to her website seems to have freely chosen her lifestyle).

The powerful scenes depicting the fate of these women could reflect in part back to Dolph Lundgren's own childhood. The threatened good woman (mother type) is given a pistol as she and another woman and helpless children are hiding in the bedroom as a nasty aggressive man enters into it. How many Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Russian and other children have experienced this moment of horror - the man entering the safe room who should be the protector of the family is coming in drunk or otherwise out of his mind and children's hearts are filled with terror from the possibly life-threatening ravings of their father. The cursed king Alcohol is often in the picture in Nordic countries in such situations (I have no knowledge about the good home of Dolph, but I know many children who have experienced drunk father attacks running with mother to the night in the midst of cold winter).

The woman is not helpless this time! She closes her eyes, lifts the pistol in her trembling hand, aims somewhere to the direction of the intruder and repeatedly pulls the trigger - luckily not every violent abusive father faces fate like this - but it may be the secret unfulfilled hope of many a small boy and girl.

The whore/saint problem that men have with women is in my opinion visible in the terrible way women are treated in the movie Mechanik and in the emotions that the abuse raises in the good guy who as a justified revenger finishes the bad ones off. The ladies are sexy, scanty dressed whores, but saving their life or avenging their death is an almost sacred duty of the men in Mechanik.

Lundgren says "I still love my father, no matter what happened"

Frankly, I think this statement is true but not the whole truth.

The disfigured Russian mob boss Sasha Popov (Ivan Petrushinov) could be a dramatized father figure. This is nothing like the respected and beloved father of Dolph, of course. The character is imaginary and like a psychological or even psychiatric archetype of an evil man having absolute authority. The depiction of Sasha in the movie might, however, incorporate emotional underpinnings with roots in the the verbal and physical abuse Lundgren describes.

The very bad man is allowed to do very bad things in the movie. It is amazing and scary to think how in our real life our good God allows evil people to advance so far in their evil deeds against fellow humans and nature before the end and judgement comes. The freedom to be bad is hard to understand and luckily we do have law enforcement people keeping us a bit under the rule of law. The gangster boss seems actually to enjoy being evil and successful at the same time and goes on treating all other people anyway he wants.

The imaginary character gets what viewers of the movie will probably consider a well-deserved murderous end in a shallow pool of rainwater where Nick blows his brains off after some tortuous waiting with a single shot from the deadly shotgun.

Bye bye, "Dad"

My impressions only
I may be far off with my interpretation of the Mechanik as an example how imagination and story telling can work as therapy for the deep wounds in our souls.

Let me repeat that I do not know personally anyone involved in the writing or making of this movie. My analysis is based only on what Dolph Lundgren so honestly and publicly tells about his childhood and on the disturbing imagery in the very powerful and memorable but seriously underrated movie Mechanik that he directed.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Men in Black and in white

No sequel can possibly repeat the experience of total surprise and amazement the original Men in Black (1997) film caused in us viewers. The incredible flights of human imagination where exhilarating and a bit scary at the same time as they were served to us by two stone-faced professionals, Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith.

Two deeper structures in the movie explain some of its attraction that - for one thing - actually tripled the global sale of Ran Bay sun glasses to 5 million dollars.

One structure is the multi-layered humanity that includes aliens disguised as normal people. These special cases can be identified by specially trained government agents. Legal aliens are limited to Manhattan where they fit well with the colourful crowd. The secrecy of the alien layer in the crowd is enforced by wiping clear the memories of humans who by chance have seen the true nature of the space refugees and other visitors.

Second structure is the multi-layered reality of existence exemplified by the opening scene of this Academy Award winning movie and made clear especially in the Belt of Orion.

Orion's belt

The belt around the neck of the cat Orion actually contains another world, a true micro-cosmos, that is carried in the belt of the cat. The idea in this concrete realization of dimensions is brilliant and probably no other movie shows it as effectively as Men in Black. Entire worlds can exist in micro-cosmos unknown to us and we may actually be in the micro-cosmos of some other bigger reality without ever knowing it. Are ants aware of the world of mammals?

Men in white
Men in white are the Biblical beings that represent another type of multidimensionality - life beyond death. This idea is so difficult for us because we think that we know what life and death are

Biblical concept of life beyond death is very radical and goes way beyond the wildest imagination of even the best science fiction writers. The concept of layers in existence, this life and life that continues after death, sets our current life into very special light. It is so hard to imagine that the Bible actually says that God has made something that has never occurred to mortals.

Alien persons in human bodies

Men in white act somewhat similarly to Agents K and J in recognising deeper hidden structures in humans that are seemingly living normal everyday life in Manhattan or elsewhere upon Earth. There are alien life forms, personal beings, that are dwelling inside humans. These were felt and dealt with already by the ancients. Our current science has some ideas about that but even the most modern methods of brain research are unable to effectively reach these aliens as we know so little about our souls.

Maybe tomorrow will bring more knowledge and help us deal more effectively with things that are not just figments of imagination or hallucinations of damaged brains.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Mentalist and Jesus of Nazareth

Screenshot from the TV show.
Copyright ©2012 CBS
The Mentalist is an American police procedural television series that debuted on September 23, 2008, on CBS. The show was created by Bruno Heller, who is also its Executive Producer. The show follows former "psychic" Patrick Jane (Simon Baker), who is now a consultant to the fictional California Bureau of Investigation (CBI), using the highly developed observational skills he previously employed to "read" peoples' minds. On March 14, 2012, CBS announced that The Mentalist had been renewed for a fifth season.

Patrick Jane and honesty
Simon Baker as the Mentalist

The popularity of the Mentalist largely derives from the excellent acting of Simon Baker who is a natural and highly convincing in his unusual role as Patrick Jane. But in addition to the stellar performance of the main actor the show's popularity may have something to do with the behaviour of the people so finely depicted in the show.

He admits to faking the supernatural aspects of his skills, often asserting that "there's no such thing as psychics", yet he has finely honed skills in cold reading, hypnotism, and pickpocketing, as well as powerful observational skill and a deep insight into the human psyche and behavior. These skills come in handy in every episode, but his unorthodox and bizarre techniques to solve crimes sometimes offend the team of agents he works with.

There is something quite catchy in the social situations in which the Mentalist is cast that probably appeals to most of us - he has an uncanny ability to see through the many masks and webs of lies so typical to us. Because Patrick is consulting a police force he has the liberty of actually saying what he thinks point blank - something most of us would love to do but usually choose not to. How exhilarating it would be to tell the boss, the minister, the merchant, your spouse or someone else "you are lying!" ... but this usually does not happen and is frowned at in civil society. Many different reactions of the victims of Patrick's truthful revelations are finely depicted in the TV show.

Billy Joel and honesty
It is, after all, as Billy Joel so truthfully sings (live Tokyo dome, November 2006)

If you search for tenderness
it isn't hard to find.
You can have the love you need to live.
But if you look for truthfulness
You might just as well be blind.
It always seems to be so hard to give.

Honesty is such a lonely word.
Everyone is so untrue.
Honesty is hardly ever heard.
And mostly what I need from you.

Jesus of Nazareth and honesty
The four Gospels draw together a multidimensional in-depth profile of Jesus of Nazareth and the people coming in contact with him.  In my opinion, no other document from Antiquity comes even near to the psychological richness of the Gospels in their description of people in Roman period Palestine.

Three of the Gospels provide fairly similar - but not at all identical - materials while the fourth one, Gospel of John, is very different and has been quite controversial among historians studying the New Testament.

However, there is an underlying unity in many of the depictions and one remarkable characteristic of Jesus is his uncanny ability to see through the many masks and webs of lies so typical to us.

There are several examples but I only take here two.

1. When a respected Jewish rabbi invited Jesus for a dinner something unusual happened - a woman of ill reputation entered the room and came near Jesus who was lying on his side near the table in Roman manner. She began to cry and her tears wetted Jesus feet which she then dried with her long hair and began to spread expensive ointment on them.

"Now when the Pharisee who had bidden Him saw it, he spoke within himself, saying, “This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is who toucheth him, for she is a sinner.”
And Jesus answering said unto him, “Simon, I have something to say unto thee.”
And he said, “Master, say on.”
Luke 7:39-40 KJ21

The archaic expression in King James version "spoke within himself" is in modern language "he was thinking" but did not actually say anything.

But Jesus was able to "read his thoughts" like a true psychic.

2. When Jesus was walking with his disciples from Jerusalem they stopped at noon time at the famous and still existing Jacob's well near the city of Samaria (Today Nablus, Arabic form of Neapolis). His followers went to town to buy bread but Jesus rested by the well. Oriental women usually came to the well as a group early in the morning. But this woman came to take water alone and in the noon time when there was nobody, she was probably shy of company.

A short dialogue ensued that totally changed the life of the woman. Jesus was not very polite or social but behaved like the fictional Mentalist in the TV show - He spoke honestly and truthfully point blank

 Jesus said unto her, “Go, call thy husband, and come hither.”
The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said unto her, “Thou hast well said, ‘I have no husband’; for thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband. In that thou saidst truly.”
The woman said unto Him, “Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet."
John 4:16-19 KJ21

Comparing Patrick and Jesus
The fictional character Patrick Jane is created in surprisingly sharp and realistic manner by Bruno Heller. Patrick uses his gift of "reading minds" - whether it is a real gift of a psychic or just very accurate observation and understanding of people - in order to reveal the truth. The truth is the harsh reality that law enforcement officials are daily dealing with in the USA and elsewhere - people do murder other people. By exposing the lies Patrick helps the LAW to do its job, find and punish evildoers.

The real character of Jesus of Nazareth that comes so vividly to our attention in the four Gospels uses his prophetic ability to see the truth about people for the purpose of GRACE. Honesty about the respected Pharisee Simon's thoughts about a woman bring a totally new reality to the world of religion where condemning others as sinners is such a favourite past time. The  life of the woman at the well of Jacob was completely changed by the honesty and insight of Jesus and the shy loner actually ran back to the town and spoke publicly about the remarkable man she had met.

Knowing the truth about people is so important in the service of Law and Order as it protects the innocent and brings the guilty to justice.

Knowing the truth about people is so important in the service of Grace as it can lift up the fallen, fix the broken heart, bring forgiveness and love where once was only betrayal and hatred.

Grace without truth is mishmash, truth without grace can be cruel.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Humiliation of Superman

God of Israel says "I will not give My glory unto another."  Isaiah 48:11

This is in the context of Isaiah prophecy against idol worship among the people of God.

There is a certain red line that should not be crossed.

In case of the Superman series I think it was already in the first movie where the critical line was crossed. Superman became a symbol of a divine being who can turn time back and raise the dead.

While Superman is busy saving others, Lois's car falls into the ground due to an aftershock. It quickly fills with dirt and debris and she suffocates to death. Distraught at being unable to save Lois, Superman ignores Jor-El's warning not to interfere with human history, preferring to remember Jonathan Kent's advice that he must be on Earth for "a reason". He travels back in time in order to save Lois, altering history so that her car is never caught in the aftershock. Superman then delivers Luthor and Otis to prison and flies into the sunrise for further adventures.

True, it was not the handsome Adonis-like Clark Kent/Superman Christopher Reeve (1952-2004) who wrote the script that crossed the line. There were several writers, including Academy Award winner Mario Puzo (1920-1999) of Godfather fame, David (1937-2003) and Leslie Newman (d. 2003) and Robert Benton (b. 1952). The final script was rewritten by Thomas Frank "Tom" Mankiewicz (1942-2010) of James Bond fame on request by director Richard Donner (b. 1930).

Christopher Reeve did not write the script that lifted the fictional character into an idol, Superman  who is like god. But he became a powerful symbol and personalized this character to all humanity from Alaska to Australia.

Humiliation of king Herod Agrippas
The Acts of Apostles describes the humiliation of King Herod Agrippas I (10 BC - 44 AD) in the coastal town of Caesarea (north of modern Tel Aviv).

And when Herod had sought him and found him not, he examined the guards and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Caesarea and there stayed. And Herod was highly displeased with those from Tyre and Sidon. But they came with one accord to him and, having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was nourished by the king’s country.

And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne and delivered an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, “It is the voice of a god, and not of a man!”

And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory; and he was eaten by worms and gave up the ghost.
Acts 12:19-23 KJ21

Other cases
Here are some examples further illuminating the red line that mere humans should not cross, not even in fiction without proper handling giving God the glory.

Such hybris was abhorred already by ancient Greeks and Romans and the Bible gives stern warning of the consequences.

Tower of Babel reaching heavens (Genesis 11:5-8)

RMS Titanic (1911 - 15 April 1912) the Unsinkable pride of human technological achievement

Third Reich (30 January 1933 - 23 May 1945) Thousand years of rule with the true Fuehrer of humanity

Klement Gottwald (1896-1953) Stalinist president of Czechoslovakia in 1948 to whose honour archbishop Josef Beran had a Te Deum sung in Prague Cathedral.

Gottwald died on 14 March 1953, just five days after attending Stalin's funeral in Moscow on 9 March. His death, due to a burst artery brought about by prolonged heart disease, was heavily affected by other factors: syphilis and alcoholism. His body was initially displayed in a mausoleum at the site of the Jan Žižka monument in the district of Žižkov, Prague. However in 1962 due to a botched embalming, the body had blackened and was decomposing. It was then removed and cremated.

John Lennon (1940-1980) "We're more popular than Jesus" Interview 4 March 1966.

Kurt Cobain (1967-1994) of Nirvana fame. Heart-shaped box
"The video is rather odd and depicts a little girl in what seems to be a Ku Klux Klan uniform and an old man with a Santa hat on dressed like Jesus and tying himself to a cross. It also shows a rather large woman wearing a suit of meat for the verse "meat eating orchids forgive no one just yet." Later in the video her uniform turns black and she tries to snatch unborn babies from a tree."

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sinking of the Lusitania

RMS Lusitania 1913
Largest and fastest of her time
Wikipedia tells that RMS Lusitania was a British ocean liner, named after the ancient Roman province of Lusitania, which is part of present day Portugal. The ship entered passenger service with the Cunard Line on 26 August 1907 and continued on the line's heavily traveled passenger service between Liverpool, England and New York City, which included a port of call at Queenstown, (now Cobh) Ireland on westbound crossings and Fishguard, Wales on eastbound crossings.

Lusitania was constructed as part of the competition between the Cunard Line and other shipping lines, principally from Germany, for the transatlantic passenger trade. Whichever company had the fastest and most luxurious ships had a commercial advantage: Lusitania and her sister Mauretania together provided a regular express service between Britain and the United States until the intervention of the First World War.

Lusitania was briefly the largest ship ever built at the time of her completion (due to the slightly larger Mauretania, entering service shortly after.). She was 70 feet (21 m) longer, two knots faster, and 10,000 tons larger than the most modern German liner, Kronprinzessin Cecilie. Passenger accommodation was 50% larger than any of her competitors providing for 552 saloon class, 460 cabin class and 1,186 in third class. Her crew comprised 69 on deck, 369 operating engines and boilers and 389 to attend to passengers. She had wireless telegraph, electric light, electrical lifts, and sumptuous interiors.

The two ships both held the Blue Riband speed record for a transatlantic crossing at different times in their careers. Mauretania was generally the slightly faster of the two and continued to hold the record after the war until 1929.

The Cunard board had decided to use Parsons' turbine propulsion, which accounted for their 22-year retention of the speed record with her running mate RMS Mauretania. The turbines produced more horsepower, and (theoretically) less onboard noise and vibration, compared to expansion engines used in earlier vessels. The ships were the largest ever built at the time they were constructed, and had 50% greater passenger space than their nearest rivals, allowing unprecedented luxury for all Saloon, Cabin, and Steerage passengers.

The sinking

Sinking of RMS Lusitania by German U-boat U-20
Oil painting. wikimedia

Wikipedia tells that during the First World War, as Germany waged submarine warfare against Britain, the ship was identified and torpedoed by the German U-boat U-20 on 7 May 1915 and sank in 18 minutes.

The vessel went down 11 miles (18 km) off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland, killing 1,198 of the 1,959 people aboard, leaving 761 survivors. The sinking turned public opinion in many countries against Germany, contributed to the American entry into World War I and became an iconic symbol in military recruiting campaigns of why the war was being fought.

A dive team from Cork Sub Aqua Club, diving under license, discovered 15,000 rounds of the .303 (7.7×56mmR) caliber rifle ammunition transported on the Lusitania in boxes in the bow section of the ship. The find was photographed but left in situ under the terms of the license. In December 2008, Gregg Bemis's dive team estimated a further four million rounds of .303 ammunition were on the ship at the time of its sinking. Mr. Bemis announced plans to commission further dives in 2009 for a full-scale forensic examination of the wreck.

Argument over whether the ship was a legitimate military target raged back and forth throughout the war as both sides made misleading claims about the ship. At the time she was sunk, she was carrying a large quantity of rifle ammunition and other supplies necessary for a war economy, as well as civilian passengers. Several attempts have been made over the years since the sinking to dive to the wreck seeking information about precisely how the ship sank, and argument continues to the current day.

Jennifer Rosenberg wrote in her summary of the events somewhat apologetically that it was not the torpedo but rather the ammunition cargo on board that sank RMS Lusitania.

In 2008, divers explored the wreck of the Lusitania, situated eight miles off the coast of Ireland. On board, the divers found approximately four million U.S.-made Remington .303 bullets. The discovery supports the German's long-held belief that the Lusitania was being used to transport war materials. The find also supports the theory that it was the explosion of munitions on board that caused the second explosion on the Lusitania.

But why would you shoot a torpedo on a ship in the first place except in order to destroy it?

RMS Titanic was a passenger liner that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on 15 April 1912 after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton, UK to New York City, US. The sinking of Titanic caused the deaths of 1,514 people in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history.

RMS Lusitania was a passanger liner that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Ireland on 7 May 1915 after being hit by a torpedo sent by the ice cold heart of a human being. The sinking of Lusitania caused the deaths of 1,198 people in one of the cruellest wartime maritime attacks in history.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I served the King of England (2006)

I served the king of England 2006

The Czech film I served the King of England (2006) should not be dismissed as yet another movie. For this is a quite significant statement about the meaning of life using cinematography as the medium. The movie is combination of the work of two Czech geniuses, celebrated writer Bohumil Hrabal (1914 – 1997) and Oscar winning director Jiří Menzel (1938).

Both men lived through the Communist era and experienced problems with the authorities. So we should listen carefully and try to understand what these representatives of 20th century European history are saying. For Ivan Barnev as young Jan Dítě and Oldrich Kaiser as the older Jan are unusually authentic movie characters explained by the suspicion that they portray, or so it seems to me, through the character of Jan Dítě both Hrabal and Menzel themselves.

My baby!
Jiří Menzel in 2007
Movie rights to the book by Hrabal were a matter of greatest importance to Menzel. The fight for the rights between producers culminated in violence as when Menzel actually hit his competitor with his stick.

Although he eventually won the rights in 1996 he did not make the film until 2006 and until now it has remained the director's last full-feature film. The famous stick was later auctioned...

However, the very existence of the amendment, now invalidated by Hrabal, remained secret until Nov. 30, 1995, when the original contract expired. On Dec. 6, Kachyna signed a new contract with Hrabal that gave the director and production companies Fronda Film and Whisconti the exclusive right to make the movie. This contract was confirmed by the writer on April 19, 1996.
Prague Post 1996

Touching Czech hearts
Director Jiri Menzel's 2006 movie about a Czech waiter who becomes a millionaire is based on Bohumil Hrabal's novel of the same name. The fictional waiter is affected by historical events buffeting Czechoslovakia from 1935 to 1950 or so. Menzel won an Oscar in 1968 for “Closely Watched Trains,” which is based on another Hrabal novel.

Menzel travels frequently, promoting his films around the world. He said recently that he was not interested in another Oscar and has no future film projects in the works.

More than 800,000 people in the Czech Republic have seen “I Served the King of England”, the Czech news agency said. It has also been screened at international movie festivals in Cannes, France; Sofia, Bulgaria; Sydney; Istanbul; Lisbon; Moscow; Pula, Croatia; Edinburgh and Copenhagen.

It received a critic's choice award at a Berlin festival early this year and has been nominated for the people's choice award of the European Film Academy.
Prague Post 2007

Bohumil Hrabal in 1994
This is an important movie making a statement about humanity.  Even people may not like the comparison I think this is in some ways an European counterpart to the American film Forrest Gump.

The many mirrors seen during the movie point to constant self-reflection, who are we as Czech, what did we do, what happened to the Jews in the WW II, who are we today? But it rises above nationalistic analysis and becomes a discussion on humanity: what is the meaning of all this, what is the meaning of life, death, love, separation, life as a millionaire or in utter poverty?

As a theologian I find the description of the three epochs in Czech history stylized but both accurate and scary. The happy 1920'ies nevertheless represent some sort of normalcy which is replaced first by an inhuman ideology entering the hearts of people, the absolutely horribly well-acted Liza  - Julia Jentsch (1978) - an admirer of Adolf Hitler.

After the war the Wagnerian national romantic era is replaced by the inhuman Communist ideology so well-known inside out to both the writer and director. Its chaotic futility is finely symbolized by the stupid work done in the prison picking feathers and then blowing them into a chaotic mess. The fourth epoch, the attempt to rebuild life in freedom after the fall of Communism is a refreshing return back to the normalcy in all of its austerity.

I think that the final scene is a key to understanding the philosophy of life underlying the dramatic events in Hrabal's book and Menzel's movie.  It gives in a symbolic nutshell their answer to the meaning of life:

Old Jan Dítě is shown sitting with the culinary expert from the good old times hotel. Cutting the talk short they just do the essential thing... enjoy drinking Postřižinské beer.

Hrabal's portraits on Postřižinské beers

Friday, May 4, 2012

Jesus and the adulterous woman

Jesus went unto the Mount of Olives.
And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came unto Him; and He sat down and taught them.
And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst,
they said unto Him, “Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
Now Moses in the law commanded us that such should be stoned but what sayest thou?”
This they said testing Him, that they might have cause to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not.
So when they continued asking Him, He lifted Himself up and said unto them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.
And they who heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the eldest even unto the last, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted Himself up and saw none but the woman, He said unto her, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?”
11 She said, “No man, Lord.” And Jesus said unto her, “Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more.”
12 Then spoke Jesus again unto them, saying, “I am the Light of the world. He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
John 8:1-12  KJ21

In Greek the words "light of life" is φως της ζωης  Phos tees zooes

Sylvia Kristel - Emmanuelle

In memoriam Sylvia Maria Kristel
28 September 1952 – 17 October 2012

Sylvia Kristel as Emmanuelle

The Bible forbids adultery. This is clear from the Ten Commandments "Thou shalt not commit adultery" Exodus 20:14 to the Mosaic laws of family relations and sexual purity and to the harsh death sentence of an adulterous woman by stoning in Jesus times John 8:1-12.

Yet the Jewish people, the chosen people of God, were and are an "adulterous generation" from the strictest Hassidic rabbies to the wealthy film producers in Hollywood. 

Jews only?

Of course, sexuality is a tremendous power in all humans and we all belong to the category of adulterous people, whether in deed or just in secret dreams and hopes. Many a Christian preacher, prelate and pastor has fallen because of this basic nature of humans. Islam is very strict in highly moralistic. Yet, sexual crimes, rape and adultery are major themes also in Muslim life described in Cairo cinema.

Orgasm in the origin myBlog

Sexual liberation
The change in Western culture began in the 1960'ies and led to a major re-evaluation of human sexuality. The word "adultery" was wiped out from vocabulary and the concept of sinful relations and deeds was deemed Medieval and harmful to young.

With psychological and psychiatric influence, largely originating from that Jewish genius Sigmund Freud, human nature was understood as consisting of libido, person and super-person. The super-ego was the cause of much troubles, anxiety, neuroses and even more serious mental disturbances. So why to shackle the sexual drive of two or more agreeing adults as long as no harm is done?

Sylvia Kristel's Emmanuelle as a human being
Kristel at Paris screening of
 documentary about her life,
 25 September 2007
The Dutch actress Sylvia Kristel (1952) - in her world famous role as erotic Emmanuelle - conquered the world during the time of rising sexual liberation. She provided the world with "virile dreams come true" in softcore French style movies that also women appreciated because of their sensuality and female power. The Emmanuelle franchise has made more money than any other French movies.

The difference to other such movies is subtle but clear. In her face, large eyes and attitude we do not meat the usual materialistic and fleshy porn star without a soul, a machine trying to make men come for money.  Instead, she is in the movies a human being and she involves to the beautiful sceneries in Bangkok and elsewhere also something about the more serious side of sexual relations. There is some complexity in the women and their experiences also in the erotic world. Perhaps this humanity is the key to her great commercial success and legendary stature in the billion dollar business of erotic art.

Kristel and the value of traditional marriage institution
The fundamental seriousness of sexual relationships is hidden behind the hedonistic softened search for satisfaction in Emmanuelle movies. But it is underscored in her autobiography Nue (2006) telling, for example, about the abuse she herself experienced as a child in the hands of heartless adult men.

Most surprising is the voice of Kristel among the sex stars in this adulterous generation that has been demanding total Freudian freedom for human lusts - as long as nobody is hurt (or so). For Sylvia tells in her book that one of the deepest tragedies in her life was the divorce of her parents.

Kristel was born in Utrecht, Netherlands, as the daughter of Piet and Jean-Nicholas, who ran an inn in Utrecht. In her 2006 autobiography Nue she claims to have been sexually abused by an elderly guest at the hotel at the age of nine, an event which she has refused to discuss in detail. Her parents divorced when she was 14 years old after her father left home for another woman. "It was the saddest thing that ever happened to me", she says of the experience of her parents' separation. She has a younger sister, Marianne.

The keeping of the Biblical ideal - a lifelong faithful bond between man and woman united by the coitus as a single unit  to be the image of God - is, according to Sylvia Kristel, a significant value.