Tag Archives: woody allen

FRANCIS SCHAEFFER ANALYZES ART AND CULTURE Part 3 PAUL GAUGUIN’S 3 QUESTIONS: “Where do we come from? What art we? Where are we going? and his conclusion was a suicide attempt” (Feature on artist Mike Kelley Part A)

___________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Dr. Francis Schaeffer – Episode 8 – The Age of Fragmentation

NoMirrorHDDHrorriMoN

Dr. Francis Schaeffer – Episode VII – The Age of Non Reason

Dr. Francis Schaeffer examines the Age of Non-Reason and he mentions the work of Paul Gauguin.

Paul Gauguin

Paul Gauguin

Paul Gauguin was born in Paris, France, on June 7, 1848, to a French father, a journalist from Orléans, and a mother of Spanish Peruvian descent. When Paul was three his parents sailed for Lima, Peru, after the victory of Louis Napoleon (1769–1821). His father died during the trip. Gauguin and his mother remained in Lima for four years. There the young Gauguin lived a comfortable life. Gauguin then returned to Orléans, and eventually found his way back to Paris.

Below is from an article by Brian Thomas and is based on Francis Schaeffer’s film series “How should we then live?” In this article you will see some of the thoughts that the artist Paul Gauguin had before deciding to attempt to commit suicide.

________________________________

Gauguin as an artist strived to give his work a more human touch, expressing feelings and knowledge and human reactions to the realities of life, while at the same time freeing himself as an artist to express color and design boldly, overcoming the narrowness of merely copying what the eye can register as the Impressionists painted. In an attempt to obtain his goal of “regaining humanity,” as he called it, he moved to Tahiti in 1891. It was here that he painted his greatest work in 1897: Whence? What? Whither?

During the course of 1897 Gauguin referred increasingly to his own death, alluding to suicide in letters and his journal. In the autumn he noted that “The artist dies, his heirs make a grab for his works, sort out the copyright, his estate, and whatever else there might be to do. Now he has been stripped to the bone. I think about these things, and am going to strip myself first: it gives me a sense of relief.”

As Gauguin contemplated taking his own life he set out to create a painting that would leave a lasting legacy of his faith, worldview, artistic insight and intentions by asking three metaphysical questions: Where do we come from? What art we? Where are we going?


In a letter to friend Daniel de Monfreid, he describes the painting as a “philosophical work” which could be compared to the Gospels. We must read the work, he said, from right to left and interprets it as such:

“In the bottom right-hand corner there is a sleeping child, then three covering women. Two figures dressed in purple are deep in conversation. A crouching figure, which defies perspective, and is meant to do so, looks very large. This figure is raising its arm and looking in astonishment at the two women who dare to think about their own fate. The central figure is picking fruit from a tree. Two cats by a child…a white goat. The idol is raising both its arms with rhythmic energy and seems to be pointing to somewhere beyond here. A covering girl appears to be listening to the idol. An old woman, close to the end of life, completes the circle. She is ready to accept her fate. At her feet a strange, white bird with a lizard in its talons symbolizes the futility of empty words…”

Where do we come from? A baby lies next to some young women as the source of life. What are we? A woman stands reaching for the apple, a probable reference to Eve in the garden and man’s fall into sin and ruin. Where are we going? From right to left we see the process of ageing taking place culminating in an old woman, “ready to accept her fate.” Art historian H.R. Rookmaaker suggests that in the background “mysterious figures, in sad colors, standing near the tree of knowledge, are sad as a result of that knowledge.”

It is interesting to note that a few days after completing this work, Gauguin went off into the woods and swallowed a large amount of arsenic. But his body rejected it and he was unable to keep the poison down.

I give this example to show how form and content can beautifully integrate in such a way as to make the work a more powerful vehicle of expression. It should be obvious to the reader by now that I do not share Gauguin’s unfortunate outlook on life, but as an artist and a Christian, I appreciate the thought and purpose behind his masterpiece. Both the aesthetic quality and intellectual content marry to form an important and thought-provoking piece of art. The creators of the religious kitsch that line the shelves at your local happy Christian bookstore could learn much from the serious attention Gauguin put into his work.

As Schaeffer was quick to warn, we should not judge art by this criterion alone, but view all works of art by its technique, validity, worldview, and suiting of form to content to gain a deeper understanding, appreciation, and true evaluation.

__________________

“WHAT DID SCHAEFFER SEE?” ~ PEOPLE AND MOVEMENTS OF “THE GOD WHO IS THERE”

Published on Jul 4, 2012

It is often commented that Schaeffer saw so much that his grasp of what was happening in culture gave him a near prophetic perspective. What did Schaeffer see that so stirred him to write, lecture, and care so much? What moved him to both despair and compassion enough to open his home to countless people seeking “reality” and “truth?” ~ francisschaefferstudies.org brings you a collage of the thought and movements that Schaeffer mentions in The God Who Is There.

____________________

If we live in a futile existence is our only logical choice a suicide attempt? It seems that more and more artists are telling us that we live in a chance universe and there is no future for us. Didn’t Jackson Pollock also attempt to display that?(This can be seen clearly in episode 8 “The Age of Fragmentation” in How Should we then live?) How do secular people answer these 3 questions:  Where do we come from? What art we? Where are we going?

The Best Art References in Woody Allen FilmsImage via Complex / APJAC Productions

Film: Play It Again, Sam (1972)

In 1972’s Play It Again, Sam, Allen plays a film critic trying to get over his wife’s leaving him by dating again. In one scene, Allen tries to pick up a depressive woman in front of the early Jackson Pollock work. This painting, because of its elusive title, has been the subject of much debate as to what it portrays. This makes for a nifty gag when Allen strolls up and asks the suicidal belle, “What does it say to you?”

______________

Woody Allen in Play It Again Sam

Uploaded on May 20, 2009

Scene from ‘Play it Again Sam’ (1972)

____________

Allan: That’s quite a lovely Jackson Pollock, isn’t it?

Museum Girl: Yes, it is.

Allan: What does it say to you?

Museum Girl: It restates the negativeness of the universe. The hideous lonely emptiness of existence. Nothingness. The predicament of Man forced to live in a barren, Godless eternity like a tiny flame flickering in an immense void with nothing but waste, horror and degradation, forming a useless bleak straitjacket in a black absurd cosmos.

Allan: What are you doing Saturday night?

Museum Girl: Committing suicide.

Allan: What about Friday night?

___________

Guardians of the Secret

1943

painting | oil on canvas

The SFMOMA building is closed for expansion. Many of the works in our collection are on view at other institutions as part of our On the Go program.
  • Guardians of the Secret

    Jackson Pollock, Guardians of the Secret, 1943; oil on canvas, 48 3/8 in. x 75 3/8 in. (122.89 cm x 191.47 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Albert M. Bender Collection, Albert M. Bender Bequest Fund purchase; © Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

_____________

I have spent a lot of time talking about Woody Allen films on this blog and looking at his worldview. He has a hopelessmeaningless, nihilistic worldview that believes we are going to turn to dust and there is no afterlife. Even though he has this view he has taken the opportunity to look at the weaknesses of his own secular view. I salute him for doing that. That is why I have returned to his work over and over and presented my own Christian worldview as an alternative. Over and over Woody Allen has answered these 3 questions in his films: Where do we come from? What art we? Where are we going?

Woody Allen has said on several occasions that he laughs at his fate when he truly feels like crying. In the film series HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE episode “The Age of Non Reason ”  we see modern humanist man act on his belief that we live in a closed system that was produced by chance with no God. Therefore, man’s only alternative is to look to chance and non reason for our search for meaning in life and for moral guidance. Schaeffer rightly points out that without the hope of finding the answer to moral questions or a hope of purpose, secular man turned to the area of non reason and he opens this episode with a discussion on Paul Gauguin and his attempt at suicide. Below is an article by Mark Beuving that quotes from Schaeffer’s “Age of Non reason” episode.

How Should We Then Live The Age of Non Reason

Scott87508

What Art Can’t Do

Mark Beuving —  January 24, 2012
Leonardo Da Vinci was brilliant. And not just in one area. He showed great skill in chemistry, music, architecture, anatomy, engineering, etc. Yet as he explored the world in an effort to find meaning, he realized that meaning would not be discovered through the sciences. You simply cannot begin with the individual things of this world and derive meaning through examining them. (This is a concept I explored in a previous post: What Science Can’t Do.)Realizing that finding meaning through science was futile, Da Vinci set out to find it through art. He had hopes of painting the soul or essence of man. Of course he failed. But Da Vinci is not alone in thinking that meaning can be found through the arts. If we can’t find meaning through the sciences, perhaps the poets, painters, and musicians of this world can point us toward the meaning of life.

Whence Come We? What Are We? Whither Do We Go? by Paul Gauguin (1897-1898)The French painter Paul Gauguin’s search for meaning culminated in his paintingWhence Come We? What Are We? Whither Do We Go? (1897-1898). But as we know, these important questions could not be answered through art. He writes about the painting:

“Whither? Close to the death of an old woman, a strange stupid bird concludes: What? O sorrow, thou art my master. Fate how cruel thou art, and always vanquished. I revolt.” (Cited by Francis Schaeffer in How Should We Then Live?)

Meaning is elusive, but only if we are looking for it in the wrong places.

Meaning is closely related to art. There is an important link between the two. Art is mankind’s constant wrestling with meaning. We find our existence and experience with the world intriguing, so we create works of art—works that go beyond propositions and rationality—in an attempt to identify and record the significance of life.

Art wrestles with meaning and can be a powerful means of communicating meaning. In fact, much of God’s revelation to us in the Bible is encapsulated in beautiful and complex forms of literary art. But art alone can never create meaning. It can present it, challenge it, illuminate it, etc., but art can never produce the meaning we are searching for. Many artists over the years have looked to their art to give them meaning. Some have thought that the meaning won’t be found in the artistic objects themselves, but in the very process of creating art. Either way, art simply cannot do what these romantic minds have hoped it would.

We misuse art when we try to pull ultimate meaning out of it. The best art is a response to the meaning that has been discovered in God, in the world, and in the human experience. Art carries and conveys meaning, but it will never be the source of meaning.

Though we seek substitutes all the time, God alone is the source of meaning. And once we find meaning in Him, we can explore that meaning in powerful ways through the art we create.

___________________

Episode VII – The Age of Non Reason

________________

I want to take a look at the life of the artist Mike Kelley and his atheist belief system. Then I want to explore what hard rock bands have to say about the issue of suicide. This is because Mike came out of the  hard rock band DESTROY ALL MONSTERS   (with the members  Niagara, Cary Loren,  Jim Shaw,  Larry Miller, Ben Miller, Mike Powers,Ron Asheton,and  Michael Davis, and he was associated with other rock bands such as Sproton Layer,  The Stooges, and MC5). Furthermore, I want to take a look at the issue of suicide and what some of the causes of suicide are. Could have Mike’s atheistic point of view contributed to his suicide? Maybe we can learn from it and help other young people to turn from considering suicide. I believe that putting a lasting hope in people’s lives can help accomplish that objective. We need positive answers to these 3 questions:Where do we come from? What art we? Where are we going?

“I see a lot of things that seem to be nostalgic for the old avant-garde, like redoing of works that have already been done, and I don’t know if it’s trying to go back to those values or if it’s simple laziness. It’s like with contemporary music—I hear a lot of things that sound like I’ve heard them before. It’s almost like, ‘Well, what’s the voice of this generation?’ Maybe there isn’t one.”–MK

Bored – Destroy all Monsters

Uploaded on Oct 15, 2008

Oldschool! \m/

_____________________

Destroy all Monsters – Child of the Night

Uploaded on Sep 10, 2011

1974-1976

__________________

Mike Kelley taking part in his three short dance/performance pieces for Performa 09 known as “Day Is Done Judson Church Dance.” (photos by the author)

Mike Kelley: Bad Boy | Art21 “Exclusive”

Uploaded on Aug 6, 2010

Episode #117: Mike Kelley sets the record straight about being called a “bad boy” throughout his career, describing the shifting tastes of critics and artists towards abject art in recent years.

Mike Kelley’s work ranges from highly symbolic and ritualistic performance pieces, to arrangements of stuffed-animal sculptures, to wall-sized drawings, to multi-room installations that restage institutional environments (schools, offices, zoos), to extended collaborations with artists such as Paul McCarthy, Tony Oursler, and the band Sonic Youth. His work questions the legitimacy of ‘normative’ values and systems of authority, and attacks the sanctity of cultural attitudes toward family, religion, sexuality, art history, and education. He also comments on and undermines the legitimacy of the concept of victim or trauma culture, which posits that almost all behavior results from some form of repressed abuse. Kelley’s aesthetic mines the rich and often overlooked history of vernacular art in America, and his practice borrows heavily from the confrontational, politically conscious “by all means necessary” attitude of punk music.

Learn more about Mike Kelley: http://www.art21.org/artists/mike-kelley

VIDEO | Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera: Norbert Arnsteiner & Nancy Schreiber. Sound: Stacy Hruby & Ullrich Vlasak. Editor: Paulo Padilha. Artwork Courtesy: Mike Kelley. Special Thanks: MUMOK, Vienna.

______________________

“105 Minutes with Mike” : Mike Kelley Interview (Full) 2004

Published on Feb 1, 2013

Artist Mike Kelley. 1954-2012. Art, politics, Dali, New York art scene, Koons, reading from print work and more. Interviewed by Gerry Fialka. Filmed by Eli Elliott. 2004. Uploaded Feb. 1. 2012.

_________________
In the above video Mike Kelley notes at the 46:40 mark  “Art making is making your sickness everyone else’s  sickness. I don’t buy the delusion that art is a curative process. I think art is an analytical process. You can choose to use it for healthy purposes or you do not... I don’t think art every cures you. It just makes you aware of the problems you have.” In an interview with John Welchman (at the 1:16:45 mark in the video below), Mike Kelley stated, “I am a Marxist and a materialist.” Since Mike comes to the table with a materialistic worldview that rejects the notion that humans were put on this world for any purpose in their lives then he did not believe they had any hope for an afterlife and also he could not find any final  answers to the problems that face humankind? Kelley said in the interview (at 1:37:10 mark in the video below) with Welchman, “I am not a believer in any kind of religion.”
In the above video at 7:30 mark Mike Kelley says that Zappa was the best besides John Cage. John Cage attempted to put forth music that was a result of chance and you can see at the 13:20 mark that Kelley said we are creative because of Darwinism luck and he didn’t think there was a reason besides that. Ironically he seems to contradict himself at the 18:30 mark when he says that creativity may be a sign of our humanity.
Many that accept that all there is to this world is chance and matter have turned to drugs as a leap into the area of non-reason and notice at the 24:00 mark in the above video that Kelley comments that if you stay on LSD all the time you will be screwed up all the time and you have to come back to reality sometime.

Mike Kelley with John Welchman

Pioneering Artist Mike Kelley Dies at 57

Over four decades, through bands, writing and his art, Kelley altered the course of contemporary art

By Andrew Russeth and Dan Duray 2/01/12 1:29pm

kelley portrait Pioneering Artist Mike Kelley Dies at 57

Mike Kelley.

Mike Kelley, one of the most critically acclaimed artists of his generation, has died at the age of 57, at his home in South Pasadena, Calif. According to several sources close to the artist that Gallerist has spoken with, the cause of death was suicide.

The artist had recently been selected for the 2012 Whitney Biennial, an exhibition that he has participated in seven times in the past. He has had major one-person exhibitions at the Whitney Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Louvre, MUMOK, Vienna, and numerous other museums.

> Click to see images of Kelley’s art.

A sergeant in the South Pasadena police department told Gallerist that officers responded to the apparent suicide following a 911 call made at 7:47 p.m. by a friend who had stopped by Kelley’s house to check up on him. The friend hadn’t heard from Kelley since Sunday and, unable to gain entry to the home, called the police. Kelley was pronounced dead on the scene. Though police records show no mention of a note, officers said the friend who called 911 mentioned that Kelley had been depressed following a September break-up.

Kelley was born in 1954 in Detroit (he described himself as a “blue-collar anarchist”), and his childhood there provided material for many of his works. In 2010, he produced a sculpture modeled on his childhood home and carted it around the city on the back of a flatbed truck, for a special project with the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

In 1974, he founded the band Destroy All Monsters with Cary Loren, Niagara (Loren’s then-girlfriend) and Jim Shaw. They made noisy, feedback-drenched music that was influenced by the other local bands at the time, The Stooges and the MC5. Destroy All Monsters was recently the subject of two retrospectives, at the Prism Gallery in Los Angeles and at the Boston University Art Gallery. Kelley left the band in 1976, to attend graduate school at CalArts.

One of his earliest installations, The Little Girl’s Room (1980), is up now in the “Under the Big Black Sun” exhibition of California art at The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (LA MoCA), organized by Paul Schimmel, the museum’s chief curator. The piece is based on a performance script centered around a child’s dream-within-a-dream in which the child imagines “the face of a pimp-like man whose smile reveals an infinity of sharp teeth.”

“I could go to Mike about a subject dealing with American art at the beginning of the century or whenever and he would know so much you would wonder if there was anything he doesn’t know,” Mr. Schimmel, who met Kelley in 1981, told Gallerist. “I think Mike is arguably the key individual who changed the world’s perception of Los Angeles art.”

Kelley’s studio released a statement this afternoon saying, “Mike was an irresistible force in contemporary art…. We cannot believe he is gone. But we know his legacy will continue to touch and challenge anyone who crosses its path. We will miss him. We will keep him with us.”

Correction (4:30 pm): An earlier version of this article stated Mike Kelley’s age as 58. He was 57.

arusseth@observer.com

_____________

Now let’s turn to what hard rock bands have to say about suicide.

Papa Roach – Last Resort (Censored Version)

This concerns the song “The Last Resort.”

Amy Winehouse died a few months ago and it was a tragic loss. That really troubled me that she did not seek spiritual help instead of turning to drugs and alcohol. This post today will give hope to those who feel like it is all hopeless.

Walt Mueller noted, The band’s place in the pop music landscape was established with the release of their breakout single, “Last Resort,” which was quickly picked up by MTV and nominated for a “Best New Artist Video” award at the 2000 Video Music Awards. The song is a gut-wrenching first-person chronicle of hopelessness that’s gone so deep the singer is seriously contemplating suicide.   But the band is adamant about the fact that the song is about fighting to survive by overcoming depression, rather than allowing it to lead to suicide. “It’s not saying I can’t go on living. It’s saying I can’t go on living this way,” says Dick (Spin, 10/00).

I know there are some curse words in the following song. I have eliminated both times the curse word is used. I really think that there needs to be a response to the young people who are saying things like the words in this song Here are some of the words:

Do you even care if I die pleading, Would it be wrong, would it be right, If I took my life tonight, Chances are that I might, and I’m contemplating suicide, ‘Cause I’m losing my sight, losing my mind, Wish somebody would tell me I’m fine, Nothing’s alright, nothing is fine, I’m running and I’m crying, I never realized I was spread too thin, Till it was too late andI was empty within, Hungry, feeding on my chaos and living in sin, Downward spiral, where do i begin, It all started when i lost my mother, No love for myself and no love for another,Searching to find a love upon a higher level, finding nothing but QUESTIONS AND DEVILS, I can’t go on living this way, Cut my life into pieces, This is my last resort.

My response to these words:”Do you even care if I die pleading, Would it be wrong, would it be right, If I took my life tonight, Chances are that I might, and I’m contimplating suicide” is that you should plead to someone who can do something about your situation and that is Christ!!!!

Below David Powlison asserts:

How do you get the living hope that God offers you in Jesus? By asking. Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).

Suicide operates in a world of death, despair, and aloneness. Jesus Christ creates a world of life, hope, and community. Ask God for help, and keep on asking. Don’t stop asking. You need Him to fill you every day with the hope of the resurrection.

Below is a portion of the article “Papa Roach—Infesting and reflecting youth culture by Walt Mueller. 

Papa Roach’s Music

In a day and age where the walls are crumbling between what had been a variety of distinctive popular music genres, Papa Roach is like many other chart-topping bands whose music combines sounds that were once distinct. Coby Dick’s raspy and throat-wrenching vocals join with music that incorporates sounds of rap, rock, thrash, funk and metal. Listeners familiar with popular music will hear the influence of Faith No More, the band Dick cites as one of his early favorites. Similar contemporary bands include Korn, Limp Bizkit, The Deftones and P.O.D.

Reviewer Tim Kennedy of Spin describes the resulting sound as “an amalgam of below-the-belt guitar riffage, punk-rock urgency, and half-sung, half-rapped vocals (10/00). Rolling Stone’s Anthony Bozza says listening to Papa Roach is “like standing on a precipice—sustained tension and the threat of a tumble” (8/31/00).

The sound combines with Dick’s lyrics in a powerful and emotional blend that addresses the reality of life for kids who have been burned over and over again. Tobin Esperance says, “We write about things that have happened to our singer, specifically, and friends around us. It’s real life stuff. We’re not writing about s___ that we don’t know about, like girls and cars and money … we only know real life bulls___ that happens” (nyrock.com). Coby Dick says of his autobiographical music, “I’m venting my emotions. It’s blunt” (Rolling Stone, 8/31/00). He says “Papa Roach, lyrically, is my counseling” (Billboard,6/10/00). 

Infest (2000)

Papa Roach released the album they now consider their first in April of 2000. The album quickly began to sell as a result of radio and MTV exposure, went gold after two months thanks to scoring with MTV’s Total Request Live audience, and had gone double platinum by September 2000.

Papa Roach offers an introduction to their music, mission, message and intentions on the album’s title cut. After introducing himself to his listeners, Coby Dick informs them his “God-given talent is to rock all the nations.” In this, the band’s “first manifesto,” the group lays out their plan to “infest” the world and young minds (“wrap you in my thoughts”) with an angry musical message of anarchy and rebellion against a messed-up world that’s let them down: “We’re going to infest/We’re getting in your head/What is wrong with the world today/The government, media or your family.” Institutions and people are not to be trusted. In fact, “First they shackle your feet/Then they stand you in a line/Then they beat you like meat/Then they grab you by your mind … people are the problem today.” Dick admits the struggle so many young people feel: “the game of life is crazy.” Alone in this sea of brokenness and hopelessness, Dick asks, “Would you cry if I died today/I think it be better if you did not say.”

The band’s place in the pop music landscape was established with the release of their breakout single, “Last Resort,” which was quickly picked up by MTV and nominated for a “Best New Artist Video” award at the 2000 Video Music Awards. The song is a gut-wrenching first-person chronicle of hopelessness that’s gone so deep the singer is seriously contemplating suicide. (See lyrics on page 7.) The fact that “Last Resort” is part of the mainstream pop music landscape indicates it is connecting with more and more kids who see it as an expression of their own inner struggles. For casual listeners, the song is very confusing. Listening to the song reveals the criticisms claiming the song promotes suicide could certainly be warranted. Kids who are riding the fence because of numerous other problems in their lives could interpret the song in a way that would give them permission to go over the edge, especially if they don’t know the story behind the song. But the band is adamant about the fact that the song is about fighting to survive by overcoming depression, rather than allowing it to lead to suicide. “It’s not saying I can’t go on living. It’s saying I can’t go on living this way,” says Dick (Spin, 10/00). He also says, “Last Resort” has “a positive edge to it, as far as like, ‘Don’t succumb to it. Keep yourself afloat.’ With these problems in your life, find a friend you can confide in” (Sonicnet.com). Based on the band’s resolve to survive like a roach, one would have to take them at their word. The song chronicles the suicide attempt of one of Coby Dick’s former roommates. After his “unsuccessful” attempt, the young man “turned to God” … Dick claims the attempt was what killed the rotting part of his roommate’s soul. The song has definitely connected. “We’ve gotten so many e-mails from people who tell us ‘Last Resort’ saved their lives,” says Dick. “It makes some people feel less alone” (Rolling Stone,8/31/00)…

“Between Angels and Insects” is an insightful rant against American greed and materialism. Dick says he wrote the song to remind himself that the things the band’s success will bring are not the things that make one happy. The lyrics are powerful and excerpts could serve to spark discussion with teens about the false promises of materialism: “Diamond rings get you nothing/But a life-long lesson/And your pocketbook stressin’/You’re a slave to the system/Working jobs that you hate/For s___ that you don’t need/It’s too bad the world is based on greed/Step back and stop thinking ‘bout yourself … ‘cause everything is nothing/And emptiness is in everything … Possessions they are never gonna fill the void … the things you own, own you.” When discussing the message of the song Buckner says, “all the worldly things that people equate with happiness—do they necessarily make you happy? You can have Rolexes and diamond rings and cars and houses … but really the things that make you happy are peace of mind and passion in your life” (Alternative Press, 10/00).

Help for the Suicidal

God offers you true, living hope–not a false hope based on your death.
By David Powlison

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO

It’s easy to see the risk factors for suicide—depression, suffering, disillusioning experiences, failure—but there are also ways to get your life back on track by building protective factors into your life.

Ask for help

How do you get the living hope that God offers you in Jesus? By asking. Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).

Suicide operates in a world of death, despair, and aloneness. Jesus Christ creates a world of life, hope, and community. Ask God for help, and keep on asking. Don’t stop asking. You need Him to fill you every day with the hope of the resurrection.

At the same time you are asking God for help, tell other people about your struggle with hopelessness. God uses His people to bring life, light, and hope. Suicide, by definition, happens when someone is all alone. Getting in relationship with wise, caring people will protect you from despair and acting out of despair.

But what if you are bereaved and alone? If you know Jesus, you still have a family—His family is your family. Become part of a community of other Christians. Look for a church where Jesus is at the center of teaching and worship. Get in relationship with people who can help you, but don’t stop with getting help. Find people to love, serve, and give to. Even if your life has been stripped barren by lost relationships, God can and will fill your life with helpful and healing relationships.

Grow in godly life skills

Another protective factor is to grow in godly living. Many of the reasons for despair come from not living a godly, fruitful life. You need to learn the skills that make godly living possible. What are some of those skills?

  • Conflict resolution. Learn to problem-solve by entering into human difficulties and growing through them. (See Ask the Christian Counselor article, “Fighting the Right Way.”)
  • Seek and grant forgiveness. Hopeless thinking is often the result of guilt and bitterness.
  • Learn to give to others. Suicide is a selfish act. It’s a lie that others will be better off without you. Work to replace your faulty thinking with reaching out to others who are also struggling. Take what you have learned in this article and pass it on to at least one other person. Whatever hope God gives you, give to someone who is struggling with despair.

Live for God

When you live for God, you have genuine meaning in your life. This purpose is far bigger than your suffering, your failures, the death of your dreams, and the disillusionment of your hopes. Living by faith in God for His purposes will protect you from suicidal and despairing thoughts. God wants to use your personality, your skills, your life situation, and even your struggle with despair to bring hope to others.

He has already prepared good works for you to do. Paul says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). As you step into the good works God has prepared for you—you will find that meaning, purpose, and joy.

__________________

__________

__________________

Francis Schaeffer has written extensively on art and culture spanning the last 2000 years and here are some posts I have done on this subject before : Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 10 “Final Choices” episode 9 “The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence”episode 8 “The Age of Fragmentation”episode 7 “The Age of Non-Reason” episode 6 “The Scientific Age” episode 5 “The Revolutionary Age” ,  episode 4 “The Reformation” episode 3 “The Renaissance”episode 2 “The Middle Ages,”, and  episode 1 “The Roman Age,” . My favorite episodes are number 7 and 8 since they deal with modern art and culture primarily.(Joe Carter rightly noted, “Schaeffer—who always claimed to be an evangelist and not a philosopher—was often criticized for the way his work oversimplified intellectual history and philosophy.”To those critics I say take a chill pill because Schaeffer was introducing millions into the fields of art and culture!!!! !!! More people need to read his works and blog about them because they show how people’s worldviews affect their livesFrancis Schaeffer’s works  are the basis for a large portion of my blog posts and they have stood the test of time. In fact, many people would say that many of the things he wrote in the 1960’s  were right on  in the sense he saw where our western society was heading and he knew that abortion, infanticide and youth enthansia were moral boundaries we would be crossing  in the coming decades because of humanism and these are the discussions we are having now!)

There is evidence that points to the fact that the Bible is historically true asSchaeffer pointed out in episode 5 of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE HUMANRACEThere is a basis then for faith in Christ alone for our eternal hope. This linkshows how to do that.

____________________

Francis Schaeffer with his son Franky pictured below. Francis and Edith (who passed away in 2013) opened L’ Abri in 1955 in Switzerland.

_____________
Related posts:

Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 10 “Final Choices” (Schaeffer Sundays)

E P I S O D E 1 0   Dr. Francis Schaeffer – Episode X – Final Choices 27 min FINAL CHOICES I. Authoritarianism the Only Humanistic Social Option One man or an elite giving authoritative arbitrary absolutes. A. Society is sole absolute in absence of other absolutes. B. But society has to be […]

Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 9 “The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence” (Schaeffer Sundays)

E P I S O D E 9 Dr. Francis Schaeffer – Episode IX – The Age of Personal Peace and Affluence 27 min T h e Age of Personal Peace and Afflunce I. By the Early 1960s People Were Bombarded From Every Side by Modern Man’s Humanistic Thought II. Modern Form of Humanistic Thought Leads […]

Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 8 “The Age of Fragmentation” (Schaeffer Sundays)

E P I S O D E 8 Dr. Francis Schaeffer – Episode VIII – The Age of Fragmentation 27 min I saw this film series in 1979 and it had a major impact on me. T h e Age of FRAGMENTATION I. Art As a Vehicle Of Modern Thought A. Impressionism (Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, […]

Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 7 “The Age of Non-Reason” (Schaeffer Sundays)

E P I S O D E 7 Dr. Francis Schaeffer – Episode VII – The Age of Non Reason I am thrilled to get this film series with you. I saw it first in 1979 and it had such a big impact on me. Today’s episode is where we see modern humanist man act […]

Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 6 “The Scientific Age” (Schaeffer Sundays)

E P I S O D E 6 How Should We Then Live 6#1 Uploaded by NoMirrorHDDHrorriMoN on Oct 3, 2011 How Should We Then Live? Episode 6 of 12 ________ I am sharing with you a film series that I saw in 1979. In this film Francis Schaeffer asserted that was a shift in […]

Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 5 “The Revolutionary Age” (Schaeffer Sundays)

E P I S O D E 5 How Should We Then Live? Episode 5: The Revolutionary Age I was impacted by this film series by Francis Schaeffer back in the 1970′s and I wanted to share it with you. Francis Schaeffer noted, “Reformation Did Not Bring Perfection. But gradually on basis of biblical teaching there […]

Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 4 “The Reformation” (Schaeffer Sundays)

Dr. Francis Schaeffer – Episode IV – The Reformation 27 min I was impacted by this film series by Francis Schaeffer back in the 1970′s and I wanted to share it with you. Schaeffer makes three key points concerning the Reformation: “1. Erasmian Christian humanism rejected by Farel. 2. Bible gives needed answers not only as to […]

“Schaeffer Sundays” Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 3 “The Renaissance”

Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 3 “The Renaissance” Francis Schaeffer: “How Should We Then Live?” (Episode 3) THE RENAISSANCE I was impacted by this film series by Francis Schaeffer back in the 1970′s and I wanted to share it with you. Schaeffer really shows why we have so […]

Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 2 “The Middle Ages” (Schaeffer Sundays)

  Francis Schaeffer: “How Should We Then Live?” (Episode 2) THE MIDDLE AGES I was impacted by this film series by Francis Schaeffer back in the 1970′s and I wanted to share it with you. Schaeffer points out that during this time period unfortunately we have the “Church’s deviation from early church’s teaching in regard […]

Francis Schaeffer’s “How should we then live?” Video and outline of episode 1 “The Roman Age” (Schaeffer Sundays)

Francis Schaeffer: “How Should We Then Live?” (Episode 1) THE ROMAN AGE   Today I am starting a series that really had a big impact on my life back in the 1970′s when I first saw it. There are ten parts and today is the first. Francis Schaeffer takes a look at Rome and why […]

Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” (Episode 5) TRUTH AND HISTORY

Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” (Episode 5) TRUTH AND HISTORY Published on Oct 7, 2012 by AdamMetropolis This crucial series is narrated by the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer and former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop. Today, choices are being made that undermine human rights at their most basic level. Practices once […]

Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” (Episode 4) THE BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY

The opening song at the beginning of this episode is very insightful. Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” (Episode 4) THE BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY Published on Oct 7, 2012 by AdamMetropolis This crucial series is narrated by the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer and former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop. Today, choices […]

Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” (Episode 3) DEATH BY SOMEONE’S CHOICE

Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” (Episode 3) DEATH BY SOMEONE’S CHOICE Published on Oct 6, 2012 by AdamMetropolis This crucial series is narrated by the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer and former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop. Today, choices are being made that undermine human rights at their most basic level. Practices […]

Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” (Episode 2) SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS

Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” (Episode 2) SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS Published on Oct 6, 2012 by AdamMetropolis This crucial series is narrated by the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer and former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop. Today, choices are being made that undermine human rights at their most basic level. Practices […]

Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” (Episode 1) ABORTION OF THE HUMAN RACE

It is not possible to know where the pro-life evangelicals are coming from unless you look at the work of the person who inspired them the most. That person was Francis Schaeffer.  I do care about economic issues but the pro-life issue is the most important to me. Several years ago Adrian Rogers (past president of […]

The Characters referenced in Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (Part 29, Pablo Picasso)

In his weekly opinion piece, Andy Rooney shares his views on public art. I have really enjoyed this series on the characters referenced in the film “Midnight in Paris.” I can’t express how much I have learned during this series on the characters referenced in Woody Allen’s latest movie “Midnight  in Paris.” Today I am looking […]

Picasso painting “The acrobat” in Woody Allen movie “Midnight in Paris”

Pablo Picasso, ‘The acrobat,’ January 18, 1930 Picasso Dreamed About Limbs by DAVE SEGAL The Acrobat (1930) is a simple, surreal cartoon, almost comical in its minimalism. It’s practically a one-line drawing that was seemingly slapdashed off in a few minutes, offering a barely feasible depiction of the body’s pliability. With utmost economy (a black […]

The characters referenced in Woody Allen’s movie “Midnight in Paris” (Part 23,Adriana, fictional mistress of Picasso)

(UPDATE: A reader that used the username “therealchirpy” notes, “Although any affair with Picasso may be fictional, isn’t the ‘Adriana’ referred to in Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris’ based on Hemingway’s mistress Adriana Ivancich.” I have found some evidence for that. I read a review that draws that same conclusion although some have said that Hemingway […]

“Woody Wednesday” Here is a list of the top 100 most Spiritually Significant films and Woody Allen’s movie “Crimes and Misdemeanors” made the list!

Woody Allen’s film “Crimes and Misdemeanors” makes the top 100 list!!! I have written about this movie over and over and over and I have even discussed this movie on the Arkansas Times Blog. Here is a list of the top 100 most Spiritually Significant films and Woody Allen’s movie “Crimes and Misdemeanors” made the […]

“Woody Wednesday” A fine review of Woody Allen’s good movie “Another Woman”

A fine review of a good Woody Allen movie. Another Woman An unfairly overlooked semi-classic that improves on Allen’s Bergmanesque dramas, thanks to a formidable cast that includes Gena Rowlands. 2011-09-12 Woody Allen Trevor Gilks 1988 Another Woman, like September, looks like an inessential Woody Allen film. It is yet another unpopular, moderately reviewed movie […]

“Woody Wednesday” A review of Woody Allens movies from John Dart

I enjoyed this review from the 1970′s of Woody Allen movies from John Dart. Woody Allen, Theologian by John Dart Formerly religion religion writer for the Los Angeles Times, John Dart is news editor of the Christian Century magazine. This article appeared in the Christian Century June 22-29, 1977, p. 585. Copyright by the Christian […]

“Woody Wednesday” A review of the movie “Whatever Works” by an Evangelical

A review of the movie “Whatever Works” by an Evangelical. Woody Allen’s nihilist liberalism goes activist Echoing a remark by Malcolm Muggeridge, Mark Richardson at Oz Conservative writes that liberalism is the last surviving extreme ideology, and he gives several example of what he means by this extremism. I added to the thread my own […]

“Woody Wednesday” A review of the Woody Allen movie “Another Woman”

A very interesting review. Eileen A. Joy Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Dept. of English Language and Literature ejoy@siue.edu College of Arts & Sciences Spring Colloquium “Thinking About the University” 9 – 11 April, 2007 Session 2 (Friday, Apr. 11): Staring Back in the Mirror: Professors Consider Their Depiction in Literature and Film “You Must Change […]

By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Woody Allen | Edit | Comments (0)

___________

“Woody Wednesday” Allen acts silly in 1971 interview (Part 4)

“Woody Wednesday” Allen acts silly in 1971 interview (Part 4)

Woody Allen interview 1971 PART 4/4

Uploaded by on Jul 21, 2008

Woody Allen interview from 1971, just after the worldwide release of ‘Bananas’

________________________

David Mishkin

David Mishkin

God and Carpeting: The Theology of Woody Allen by David Mishkin

March 1, 1993

This is an archived article. It originally appeared on March 1, 1993. Some information may be outdated.
A red-haired boy sits next to his mother in the psychiatrist’s office. She is describing her son’s problems and expressing her disappointment in him. Why is he always depressed? Why can’t he be like other boys his age? The doctor turns to the boy and asks why he is depressed. In a hopeless daze the boy replies, “The universe is expanding, and if the universe is everything…and if it’s expanding…someday it will break apart and that’s the end of everything…what’s the point?”His mother leans over, slaps the kid and scolds: “What is that your business!”

This scene from Annie Hall typifies Woody Allen’s quest for understanding! Allen touches on various topics and themes in all his cinematic works, but three subjects continually resurface: the existence of God, the fear of death and the nature of morality. These are all Jewish questions or at least theological issues. Woody Allen is a seeker who wants answers to the Ultimate Questions. His movie characters differ, yet they are all, in some way, asking these questions he wants answered. They are all “Woody Allens” wrestling with the same issues. He explains:

Maybe it’s because I’m depressed so often that I’m drawn to writers like Kafka, Dostoevski and to a filmmaker like Bergman. I think I have all the symptoms and problems that their characters are occupied with: an obsession with death, an obsession with God or the lack of God, the question of why we are here. Almost all of my work is autobiographical—exaggerated but true.1

But Woody Allen does not allow himself to dwell too long on these universal problems. The mother’s response to her red-haired son’s angst is typical of the comedic lid the filmmaker presses over his depressing outlook to close the issue. True, Woody Allen has made his mark by asking big questions. But it is the absence of satisfactory answers to those questions that causes much of the angst—and humor—we see on the screen. Off screen we see little difference.

Allen’s (authorized) biography, published in 1991, sheds some light on his life and times. Woody Allen, whose given name was Allan Konigsberg, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Allen describes his Jewish family and neighborhood as being from “the heart of the old world, their values are God and carpeting.”2 While he did not embrace the religion of his youth, his Jewishness is ever present in his characters, plots and dialogue. Jewish thought is intrinsic to his life and work.

One can see this in the 1977 film Annie Hall, where Allen’s character, Alvy, is put in contrast to his Midwestern, gentile girlfriend. In one scene he is visiting Annie’s parents. Her grandmother stares at him, picturing him as a stereotypical Chasidic Jew with side locks, black hat and a long coat. The screen splits as Alvy imagines his family on the right and hers on the left. Her parents ask what his parents will be doing for “the holidays”:

“We fast, to atone for our sins,” his mother explains.

Annie’s mother is confused. “What sins? I don’t understand.”

Alvy’s father responds with a shrug: “To tell you the truth, neither do we.”

Nothing worth knowing can be understood by the mind.3

Allen suggests that the greatest thinkers in history died knowing no more than he does now. He often uses humor to poke fun at pretentious intellectuals who spout textbook answers. In another Annie Hall scene Alvy is standing in line at a movie theater. The man behind him is trying to impress his date. Alvy is annoyed, and when the man begins commenting on pop philosopher Marshall McLuhan, Alvy turns and informs him that he knows nothing about McLuhan. To prove his point, he escorts McLuhan himself into the scene. The philosopher deftly puts the object of Alvy/Allen’s scorn (a Columbia University professor of TV, media and film) in his place. Alvy steps out of character and, as Woody Allen, he looks into the camera and sighs: “Boy, if life were only like this.…”

Allen’s films do not merely expose and poke fun at pseudo-intellectuals; they point out that no school of human thought can provide ultimate solutions. Allen’s lack of faith in the world’s systems generates some great one-liners:

He tells how he was caught cheating on a college metaphysics exam: “I was looking into the soul of the boy sitting next to me.”4

He also pokes fun at existentialism, commenting on a course he took in the subject: “I didn’t know any of the answers so I left it all blank. I got a hundred.”5

His first wife studied philosophy in college: “She used to prove that I didn’t exist.”6

Psychology also figures into Allen’s scripts—many of his characters are seeing a therapist.

In Sleeper, Allen’s character wakes up 200 years in the future, where he quickly discovers that the future holds the same old problems as ever. Lamenting the wasted years, he remarks:

“My analyst was a strict Freudian. If I had been going all this time I’d probably almost be cured by now.”7

In another film he describes the unproductive nature of his own therapy:

“My analyst got so frustrated he put in a salad bar.”8

So much for faith in therapy! And when it comes to science, Allen asks and answers the questions, “Can a human soul be glimpsed through a microscope? Maybe—but you’d definitely need one of those very good ones with two eyepieces.”9

The political process as a means of change is also shrugged off:

“Have you ever taken a serious political stand on anything?” he is asked.”Sure,” he responds, “for twenty-four hours once I refused to eat grapes.”10

And, finally, it is the questions of the human soul—its mortality and morality—that seem really to preoccupy the filmmaker.

I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.11

In his early writings fear of death provided a great platform for a punch line:

“It’s not that I’m afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”12“It is impossible to experience one’s own death objectively and still carry a tune.”13

“Death is one of the few things that can be done as easily lying down.”14

“What is it about death that bothers me so much? Probably the hours.”15

Allen’s concern for his own mortality is ever present in his writings as well as his filmmaking. In one short story he dreams he is Socrates in ancient Greece, about to be executed for crimes against the state. His friend tries to calm his fear.

Friend: “What about all that talk about death being the same as sleep?”Woody: “Yes, but the difference is that when you’re dead and somebody yells, ‘Everybody up, it’s morning,’ it’s very hard to find your slippers.”16

The absurdity of Allen’s humor helps to cushion the seriousness of the subject. Could it be that his comments are so clever and funny that the laughter drowns out the genuine note of anxiety over those issues? In his later films Allen began dealing with death more realistically:

In Hannah and Her Sisters his character Mickey Sacks is tested for a serious medical problem. He agonizes over the possible results only to learn they are negative. Mickey is elated—he leaves the office literally jumping for joy. Yet the next scene shows him depressed again. He realizes that the encouraging test results are but a postponement of death which is still inevitable. In despair, he attempts suicide. Failing that, he goes to a movie theater. The Marx Brothers’ film Duck Soup, an old favorite of his, is playing. The film provides a temporary escape; it even cheers him. His immediate answer to depression is that one should enjoy life while one can. However, that answer apparently did not satisfy Woody Allen, the writer, as Hannah and Her Sistersis one of the few films in which Allen provides a happy ending. Later films raise the same concerns—and usually conclude on a less optimistic note.To you I’m an atheist, to God I’m the loyal opposition.17

Allen’s fear of death is inextricably linked to his uncertainty about the existence of God. He ponders in an early essay:

“Did matter begin with an explosion or by the word of God? And if by the latter, could He not have begun it just two weeks earlier to take advantage of some of the warmer weather?”18

Again, glibness is his antidote to grappling with the hard questions. The eternal is brought down to the level of the earthly, and therefore minimized.

Yet, Allen never fully embraces the position of atheist. Once, when asked if he believed in God, he replied with a typical Allenesque formula:

“I’m what you’d call a teleological, existential atheist—I believe that there’s an intelligence to the universe, with the exception of certain parts of New Jersey.”19

He ponders spiritual matters, but a punch line always yanks the focus to the sublime, then to the ridiculous. Other examples include:

“I keep wondering if there is an afterlife, and if there is, will they be able to break a twenty?”20“There is no question that there is an unseen world. The problem is, how far is it from Midtown and how late is it open?”21

Woody Allen is, in the words of his biographer, “a reluctant [he hopes there is a God] but pessimistic [he doubts there is] agnostic who wishes he had been born with religious faith [not to be confused with sectarian belief] and who believes that even if God is absent, it is important to lead an honest and responsible life.”22

Never kill a man, especially if it means taking his life.23

The existence of God is an issue which would not only answer the questions of death and an afterlife, but also the problem of how we ought to live now. Two of Allen’s films which best deal with this issue were made 14 years apart: the 1975 cinematic spoof on the Napoleonic wars and Russian novels, Love and Death, and the 1989 critically acclaimed piece, Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Love and Death was the last of his all-out, zany comedies and the beginning of his on-screen grappling with issues of God and morality. In it Allen plays the part of Boris who denies the existence of God but would truly like to have real faith.

“If I could only see a miracle,” Boris argues, “a burning bush, the seas part.…Uncle Sasha pick up a check.” Or, “If only God would give me some sign. If He would just speak to me once, anything, one sentence, two words. If He would just cough.”

Boris is often debating with his wife Sonia on these important issues of life:

Boris: What if there is no God?…What if we’re just a bunch of absurd people who are running around with no rhyme or reason?Sonia: But if there is no God, then life has no meaning. Why go on living? Why not just commit suicide?

Boris: Well, let’s not get hysterical! I could be wrong. I’d hate to blow my brains out and then read in the papers they found something!

Later in the film Boris attempts to assassinate Napoleon. Standing over the French emperor, he prepares to shoot. But his conscience (not to mention his cowardice) prevents him from pulling the trigger. His previous philosophical ramblings come to a halt when the rubber meets the road. Boris concludes that murder is morally wrong. There are universal standards and there is even a reason to act morally.

The film ends with Boris being executed for a crime he did not commit. Could it be that Woody Allen was punishing his own character for believing, even momentarily, that there are indeed moral standards and even accountability?

After all, the logical conclusion in following such a path would be to acknowledge the existence of God. Keeping his own role of skeptic intact, Allen gives the plot a twist. In the jail cell his character is visited by “an angel of God” who promises Boris that he will be released. Since the angel’s word proves to be false, Boris again has a reason to be cynical. But in his final scene he speaks optimistically (after all, this is a comedy),

“Death is not really an end; think of it as an effective way to cut down on your expenses.”

As always, Allen’s one-liners are successful in reducing or obscuring the seriousness of the subject matter.

In Crimes and Misdemeanors Woody Allen tackles the issue of morality on a much more serious level. Wealthy ophthalmologist Judah Rosenthal has been having an extramarital affair for two years. When he attempts to end his illicit relationship, his mistress threatens to tell his wife. When backed into an impossible corner and offered an easy way out, Judah finds himself thinking the unthinkable.

Judah’s moral confusion is presented against a backdrop of the religion of his youth. Though he has long since rejected the Jewish religion, he is continually confronted with memories that activate his conscience. He remembers the words of his childhood rabbi:

“The eyes of God are on us always.”

Judah later speaks with another rabbi, a contemporary of his. The rabbi remarks on their contrasting worldviews:

“You see it [the world] as harsh and empty of values and pitiless. And I couldn’t go on living if I didn’t feel with all my heart a moral structure with real meaning and forgiveness and some kind of higher power and a reason to live. Otherwise there is no basis to know how to live.”

These words are ultimately pushed aside, as Judah succumbs to the simple solution of hiring a hit-man to murder his demanding lady in waiting. After the crime, Judah experiences gut-wrenching guilt. Judah Rosenthal finds the case for morality so strong that after the murder he blurts out:

“Without God, life is a cesspool!”

His conscience pushes him to great despair as, again, he examines the situation from a past vantage point. He envisions a Passover seder from his childhood. The conversation becomes a family debate over the importance of the celebration. Some of the relatives don’t believe in God and consider the ritual a foolish waste of time. The head of the extended family stoutly defends his faith, saying, “If necessary, I will always choose God over truth.”

Perhaps this is why Judah rejected his religion—he could not see faith as anything other than some sort of noble delusion for those who refuse to accept life’s ugly truths. As Judah continues to dwell on his crime, he has another vision in which his rabbi friend challenges him with the question: “You don’t think God sees?”

“God is a luxury I can’t afford,” Judah replies. There is a final ring to the statement as Judah decides to put the entire incident behind him.

Judah almost turns himself in; however, the price is too high and so he chooses denial, the most common escape. “In reality,” he says in the last scene, “we rationalize, we deny or else we couldn’t go on living.”

Another character, Professor Levy, speaks on morality in one of the film’s subplots. Levy is an aging philosopher much admired by the character played by Woody Allen, a filmmaker. The filmmaker is planning a documentary based on Levy’s life, and we first see the professor on videotape, discussing the paradox of the ancient Israelites:

“They created a God who cares but who also demands that you behave morally. This God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, who is beloved to him.…After 5,000 years we have not succeeded to create a really and entirely loving image of God.”

Levy eventually commits suicide. Despite his great learning, his final note discloses nothing more than the obvious: “I’ve gone out the window.”

Professor Levy’s suicide leaves Allen’s character stunned. Still, his humor ameliorates the situation as the filmmaker protests,

“When I grew up in Brooklyn, nobody committed suicide; everyone was too unhappy.”

The final comment on Levy’s suicide is a surprising departure from Allen’s security blanket of humor:

“No matter how elaborate a philosophical system you work out, in the end it’s gotta be incomplete.”

Remember, all of the dialogue is written by Woody Allen. Though his own character supplies comic relief to this dark film, his conclusions are just as bleak. Everyone is guilty of something whether it’s considered a crime or a misdemeanor.

Yet, Allen’s theological questions rarely address the nature of that guilt. The word “sin” is reserved for the grossest offenses—the ones that make the evening news—or would, if they were discovered. Judah Rosenthal’s crime is easily recognizable as sin, while various other infidelities and compromises are mere misdemeanors.

Sin against God is not something Allen appears to take seriously in any of his films. When evangelist Billy Graham was a guest on one of Allen’s 1960s television specials, the comedian was asked (not by Graham) to name his greatest sin. He responded:

“I once had impure thoughts about Art Linkletter.”24

However, when he distances himself from the personal nature of sin and looks to crimes or sins against humanity, Allen speaks with a passion.

In Hannah and Her Sisters the viewer is introduced to the character of Frederick, an angry, isolated artist who is disgusted with the conditions of the world. Of Auschwitz, Frederick remarks to his girlfriend:

“The real question is: ‘Given what people are, why doesn’t it happen more often?’ Of course, it does, in subtler forms.…”

In Allen’s theology, all have fallen short to a greater or lesser degree, but ironically, his view of human imperfection never appears in the same discussion as his thoughts about God.

He does admit to being disconnected with the universe:

“I am two with nature.”25

But he doesn’t mention a connection with a personal God because he doesn’t see a correlation between human failures and the question of connectedness to God.

While Allen is a unique thinker, he seems to be pedestrian when it comes to wrestling with problems of immorality and even inhumanity. While he calls the existence of God into question, he does not deal with our responsibility in acknowledging God if he does exist.

It is simple to analyze sin on a human level. The more people get hurt, the bigger the sin. But the biblical perspective is quite different: Any and all sin causes separation from God. One cannot view such a cosmic separation as large or small based on degrees of sin. Ironically, one of Allen’s short stories underscores the foolishness of comparison degrees of sin:

“Astronomers talk of an inhabited planet named Quelm, so distant from earth that a man traveling at the speed of light would take six million years to get there, although they are planning a new express route that will cut two hours off the trip.”26

The biblical perspective of separation from God is similar. Having “better morals” than the drug pusher, the rapist or the ax murderer makes a big difference—in our society. We should all strive to be the best people we can be, if only to improve the overall quality of life. But in terms of a relationship with God, doing the best one can is like being two hours closer to Quelm. God is so removed from any unrighteousness that the difference between “a little unrighteous” and a lot is irrelevant.

The question his films and essays never ask is: Could being alienated from God be the root cause of our alienation from one another…and even our alienation from our own selves?

“It’s hard to get your heart and your head to agree in life. In my case they’re not even friendly.”27

Woody Allen has a unique way of expressing the uneasy terms on which many people find their heads and their hearts. Perhaps that is why he has received 14 Academy Award nominations. Allen will shoot a scene as many as twenty times, hoping to capture the actors and scenery perfectly. His biographer says “he doesn’t like to go to the next thing until what he’s working on is perfect—a process that guarantees self-defeat.”28

Is filmmaking Woody Allen’s escape from the world at large? His biographer notes, “He assigns himself mental tasks throughout the day with the intent that not a moment will pass without his mind being occupied and therefore insulated from the dilemma of eschatology.”29

It is a continual process—writing takes his mind off of the ultimate questions, yet the characters he creates are always obsessed with those very same questions. Allen determines their fate, occasionally handing out a happy ending. And he seems painfully aware that he will have little to say about the ending of his own script.

There is much to be appreciated and enjoyed in Woody Allen’s humor, but it also seems as if he uses jokes to avoid taking the possibility of God’s existence very seriously. Maybe Woody Allen is afraid to find that God doesn’t exist, or on the other hand maybe he’s afraid to find that he does. In either case, he seems to need to add a comic edge to questions about God to prove that he is not wholehearted in his hope for answers.

Will Woody Allen tackle the problem of his own halfhearted search for God in a serious way in some future film or essay? Maybe, but if the Bible can be believed, it’s an issue that God has already dealt with. The prophet Jeremiah quotes the Creator as saying: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13)

Endnotes

  1. Eric Lax, Woody Allen, (New York: Knopf Publishing, 1991), p. 179.
  2. Ibid., p. 166.
  3. Manhattan, 1979.
  4. Lax, p. 141.
  5. Stardust Memories, 1980.
  6. Lax, p. 150.
  7. Sleeper, 1973.
  8. Hannah and Her Sisters, 1986.
  9. Woody Allen, “My Speech to the Graduates,” Side Effects, (New York: Random House Publ., 1980), p. 82.
  10. Sleeper.
  11. Lax, p. 183.
  12. Woody Allen, “Death (A Play),” Without Feathers, (New York: Random House Publ., 1975), p. 106.
  13. Woody Allen, “My Philosophy,” Getting Even, (New York: Warner Books, 1971), p. 25.
  14. Allen, “Early Essays,” Without Feathers, p. 108.
  15. Allen, “Selections From the Allen Notebook,” Without Feathers, p. 10.
  16. Allen, “My Apology,” Side Effects, p. 54.
  17. Stardust Memories.
  18. Allen, “My Speech to the Graduates,” Side Effects, p. 82.
  19. Sleeper.
  20. Allen, “Selections From the Allen Notebook,” Without Feathers,p. 8.
  21. Allen, “Examining Psychic Phenomena,” Without Feathers, p. 11.
  22. Lax, p. 41.
  23. Love and Death, 1975.
  24. Lax, p. 132.
  25. Ibid., p. 39.
  26. Allen, “Fabulous Tales and Mythical Beasts,” Without Feathers, p. 194.
  27. Crimes and Misdemeanors, 1989.
  28. Lax, p. 322.
  29. Ibid., p. 183.

 

Related posts:

“Woody Wednesday” Will Allen and Martin follow same path as Kansas to Christ?

Several members of the 70′s band Kansas became committed Christians after they realized that the world had nothing but meaningless to offer. It seems through the writings of both Woody Allen and Chris Martin of Coldplay that they both are wrestling with the issue of death and what meaning does life bring. Kansas went through […]

According to Woody Allen Life is meaningless (Woody Wednesday Part 2)

Woody Allen, the film writer, director, and actor, has consistently populated his scripts with characters who exchange dialogue concerning meaning and purpose. In Hannah and Her Sisters a character named Mickey says, “Do you realize what a thread were all hanging by? Can you understand how meaningless everything is? Everything. I gotta get some answers.”{7} […]

“Woody Wednesday” Part 1 starts today, Complete listing of all posts on the historical people mentioned in “Midnight in Paris”

I have gone to see Woody Allen’s latest movie “Midnight in Paris” three times and taken lots of notes during the films. I have attempted since June 12th when I first started posting to give a historical rundown on every person mentioned in the film. Below are the results of my study. I welcome any […]


“Woody Wednesday” Allen acts silly in 1971 interview (Part 1)

“Woody Wednesday” Allen acts silly in 1971 interview (Part 1)

Woody Allen interview 1971 PART 1/4

Uploaded by on Jul 21, 2008

Woody Allen interview from 1971, just after the worldwide release of ‘Bananas’

__________________________

Looking at the (sometimes skewed) morality of Woody Allen’s best films.

In the late ’60s, Woody Allen left the world of stand-up comedy behind for the movies. Since then, he’s become one of American cinema’s most celebrated filmmakers. Sure, he’s had his stinkers and his private life hasn’t been without controversy. But he’s also crafted some of Hollywood’s most thought-provoking comedies. Philosophical, self-deprecating and always more than a tad pessimistic, Allen adds another title to his oeuvre this Friday with Midnight in Paris. Whether it will be remembered as one of his greatest or another flop is too early to say, but its release gives us a chance to look back at some of his most indispensable works.

Love and Death (1975)

Allen’s Love and Death owes a lot to Tolstoy’s War and Peace and the films of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. Death himself even makes an appearance, recalling the existential dread of Bergman’s The Seventh Seal. But despite the movie’s many highbrow allusions, Allen is more concerned with simply having a good time. Gags and one-liners abound, making it, if not a comic masterpiece, a pretty good way to spend an hour and a half.

Annie Hall (1977)

Like Love and Death, this Oscar winner paired Allen and Diane Keaton as a couple. But unlike Love and Death, it’s less concerned with throw-away gags. Instead, Allen uses humor to explore the complicated nature of relationships and the difficulties of love and communication. And of course, there’s also his trademark pessimism. The film begins with a joke about two women on vacation in the Catskills. One says to the other, “Boy, the food in this place is terrible,” and the other replies, “Yeah I know, and such small portions.” Allen’s character, Alvy Singer, goes on to say, “That’s essentially how I feel about life. Full of loneliness and misery and suffering and unhappiness—and it’s all over much too quickly.” In the end, Alvy’s salvation lies in art, for only there can he give life the happy ending it can’t have otherwise.

Related posts:

“Woody Wednesday” Will Allen and Martin follow same path as Kansas to Christ?

Several members of the 70′s band Kansas became committed Christians after they realized that the world had nothing but meaningless to offer. It seems through the writings of both Woody Allen and Chris Martin of Coldplay that they both are wrestling with the issue of death and what meaning does life bring. Kansas went through […]

Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop were prophetic (jh29)

Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop were prophetic (jh29) What Ever Happened to the Human Race? I recently heard this Breakpoint Commentary by Chuck Colson and it just reminded me of how prophetic Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop were in the late 1970′s with their book and film series “Whatever happened to the human […]

“Woody Wednesday” Allen is searching for satisfaction in wrong place jh17

Coldplay – 42 Live Coldplay perform on the french television channel W9. In 1992 Woody Allen took up with one of his adopted kids and lived in with her. He was given over to the pursuit of pleasure. Actually he has made that a major focus of his life. In the latter part of his […]

“Woody Wednesday” Allen realizes if God doesn’t exist then all is meaningless (jh 15)

The Bible and Archaeology (1/5) The Bible maintains several characteristics that prove it is from God. One of those is the fact that the Bible is accurate in every one of its details. The field of archaeology brings to light this amazing accuracy. _________________________- I want to make two points today. 1. There is no […]

“Woody Wednesday” How Allen’s film “Crimes and Misdemeanors makes the point that hell is necessary (jh 14)

Crimes and Misdemeanors: A Discussion: Part 1 Adrian Rogers – Crossing God’s Deadline Part 2 Jason Tolbert provided this recent video from Mike Huckabee: John Brummett in his article “Huckabee speaks for bad guy below,” Arkansas News Bureau, May 5, 2011 had to say: Are we supposed to understand and accept that Mike Huckabee is […]

Agnostic Allen notes, “The people who successfully delude themselves seem happier than the people who can’t” (Woody Wednesday Part 5)

Woody Allen interviews Billy Graham on Religion This article below makes we think of the lady tied to the Railroad in the Schaeffer video. Dr. Francis schaeffer – The flow of Materialism (Modern man sees no hope for the future and has deluded himself by appealing to nonreason to stay sane. Look at the example […]

A review of Woody Allen’s latest movie “Midnight in Paris” (Woody Wednesday Part 4)

Midnight in Paris Not Dove Family Approved Theatrical Release: 6/10/2011 Reviewer: Edwin L. Carpenter Source: Theater Writer: Woody Allen Producer: Letty Aronson Director: Woody Allen Genre: Comedy Runtime: 100 min. MPAA Rating: PG-13 Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kurt Fuller, Kathy Bates Synopsis: Midnight in Paris is a romantic comedy that follows a family travelling […]

Woody Allen films and the issue of guilt (Woody Wednesday Part 3)

Woody Allen and the Abandonment of Guilt Dr. Marc T. Newman : AgapePress Print In considering filmmaking as a pure visual art form, Woody Allen would have to be considered a master of the medium. From his humble beginnings as a comedy writer and filmmaker, he has emerged as a major influential force in Hollywood. […]

According to Woody Allen Life is meaningless (Woody Wednesday Part 2)

Woody Allen, the film writer, director, and actor, has consistently populated his scripts with characters who exchange dialogue concerning meaning and purpose. In Hannah and Her Sisters a character named Mickey says, “Do you realize what a thread were all hanging by? Can you understand how meaningless everything is? Everything. I gotta get some answers.”{7} […]

“Woody Wednesday” Part 1 starts today, Complete listing of all posts on the historical people mentioned in “Midnight in Paris”

I have gone to see Woody Allen’s latest movie “Midnight in Paris” three times and taken lots of notes during the films. I have attempted since June 12th when I first started posting to give a historical rundown on every person mentioned in the film. Below are the results of my study. I welcome any […]

 

 

“Woody Wednesday” The heart wants what it wants”jh67

I read this on www.crosswalk.com which is one of my favorite websites.

Life Lessons from Woody Allen

I confess I am a huge film buff. But I’ve never really been a Woody Allen fan, even though most film critics consider him to be one of the most gifted and influential filmmakers of our time. Of course, some of my film savvy friends who are aficionados of Allen’s work have been recommending some of his more interesting films. Although often very dark, many of him movies have some interesting worldview themes.

Woody Allen’s personal life has certainly been checkered with controversy. Last week Chuck Colson discussed Allen’s life and work and recent interview in the Washington Post:

“The heart wants what it wants.”

You may remember those words. They’re the excuse Woody Allen offered in 1992 for leaving his longtime lover to run off with her daughter. Even many of Allen’s fans were repulsed by the affair and by Allen’s cavalier attitude…

So Allen’s heart got what it wanted. According to the unwritten laws of our culture–and according to the philosophy he expressed in that infamous sentence–he ought to be happy.

Only he’s not, according to a new interview in the Washington Post. Interviewer David Segal quips that Allen’s worldview “is so bereft of meaning, so godless and absurd, that the only proper response is to curl up on a sofa and howl for your mommy.”

Not the kind of talk you would expect from one of the most successful men in film. By any secular standard Allen should be on top of the world. Apparently this is not the case. According to Colson:

As Allen confesses, movies were only a “means” for him to live the kind of lifestyle he wanted, but now that he has it, he has to keep making movies to distract himself from it. Like the writer of Ecclesiastes, who “withheld not [his] heart from any joy,” Woody Allen apparently has concluded that “all is vanity…”

Read the entire commentary on BreakPoint:  When the Heart Gets What it Wants

Read the Washington Post interview with Woody Allen: Cloud in the Silver Lining

Related posts:

“Woody Wednesday” Will Allen and Martin follow same path as Kansas to Christ?

Several members of the 70′s band Kansas became committed Christians after they realized that the world had nothing but meaningless to offer. It seems through the writings of both Woody Allen and Chris Martin of Coldplay that they both are wrestling with the issue of death and what meaning does life bring. Kansas went through […]

Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop were prophetic (jh29)

Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop were prophetic (jh29) What Ever Happened to the Human Race? I recently heard this Breakpoint Commentary by Chuck Colson and it just reminded me of how prophetic Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop were in the late 1970′s with their book and film series “Whatever happened to the human […]

“Woody Wednesday” Allen is searching for satisfaction in wrong place jh17

Coldplay – 42 Live Coldplay perform on the french television channel W9. In 1992 Woody Allen took up with one of his adopted kids and lived in with her. He was given over to the pursuit of pleasure. Actually he has made that a major focus of his life. In the latter part of his […]

“Woody Wednesday” Allen realizes if God doesn’t exist then all is meaningless (jh 15)

The Bible and Archaeology (1/5) The Bible maintains several characteristics that prove it is from God. One of those is the fact that the Bible is accurate in every one of its details. The field of archaeology brings to light this amazing accuracy. _________________________- I want to make two points today. 1. There is no […]

“Woody Wednesday” How Allen’s film “Crimes and Misdemeanors makes the point that hell is necessary (jh 14)

Crimes and Misdemeanors: A Discussion: Part 1 Adrian Rogers – Crossing God’s Deadline Part 2 Jason Tolbert provided this recent video from Mike Huckabee: John Brummett in his article “Huckabee speaks for bad guy below,” Arkansas News Bureau, May 5, 2011 had to say: Are we supposed to understand and accept that Mike Huckabee is […]

Agnostic Allen notes, “The people who successfully delude themselves seem happier than the people who can’t” (Woody Wednesday Part 5)

Woody Allen interviews Billy Graham on Religion This article below makes we think of the lady tied to the Railroad in the Schaeffer video. Dr. Francis schaeffer – The flow of Materialism (Modern man sees no hope for the future and has deluded himself by appealing to nonreason to stay sane. Look at the example […]

A review of Woody Allen’s latest movie “Midnight in Paris” (Woody Wednesday Part 4)

Midnight in Paris Not Dove Family Approved Theatrical Release: 6/10/2011 Reviewer: Edwin L. Carpenter Source: Theater Writer: Woody Allen Producer: Letty Aronson Director: Woody Allen Genre: Comedy Runtime: 100 min. MPAA Rating: PG-13 Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kurt Fuller, Kathy Bates Synopsis: Midnight in Paris is a romantic comedy that follows a family travelling […]

Woody Allen films and the issue of guilt (Woody Wednesday Part 3)

Woody Allen and the Abandonment of Guilt Dr. Marc T. Newman : AgapePress Print In considering filmmaking as a pure visual art form, Woody Allen would have to be considered a master of the medium. From his humble beginnings as a comedy writer and filmmaker, he has emerged as a major influential force in Hollywood. […]

According to Woody Allen Life is meaningless (Woody Wednesday Part 2)

Woody Allen, the film writer, director, and actor, has consistently populated his scripts with characters who exchange dialogue concerning meaning and purpose. In Hannah and Her Sisters a character named Mickey says, “Do you realize what a thread were all hanging by? Can you understand how meaningless everything is? Everything. I gotta get some answers.”{7} […]

“Woody Wednesday” Part 1 starts today, Complete listing of all posts on the historical people mentioned in “Midnight in Paris”

I have gone to see Woody Allen’s latest movie “Midnight in Paris” three times and taken lots of notes during the films. I have attempted since June 12th when I first started posting to give a historical rundown on every person mentioned in the film. Below are the results of my study. I welcome any […]

Dave Hope and Kerry Livgren of Kansas: Their story of deliverance from drugs jh16c

The recent events in Little Rock concerning KARK TV’s top weatherman Brett Cummins and his experience of drinking alcohol and snorting coke has left a lot of people asking questions. Since the evening ended in the tragic death of one of Brett’s friends, Dexter Williams, many questions have centered on the use of illegal drugs. Some has wondered why KARK in their press release failed to even mention Cummins’ drug use.

I am hoping that those that I know who are involved in drugs will think long and hard also about the recent addition to the “27 Club” of Amy Whinehouse.

Dave Hope and Kerry Livgren went on a journey in their life together. They both were founding members of the rock group Kansas. Dave Hope actually got heavily involved in the drug scene as his rock band made it to the top. His story of deliverance through Christ is in the two video clips later in this post. First I want to take a look at the story of Kerry Livgren. Step by step in this 8 minute video clip he tells about his journey and how he found the answer he was searching for by putting his faith alone in Christ. I want to challenge those who have chosen to escape through drugs to watch this video and I wound love to have your feedback.

Kerry Livgren testimony

Uploaded by on Nov 1, 2009

Kerry Livgren( music group Kansas) testimony and promotion of film The Imposter starring Kevin Max(DC Talk) and Jeff Deyo.

__________________

At this point I am posting a portion of a previous post I did earlier this year. It deals with the search for satisfaction that Woody Allen, Coldplay, Kansas and King Solomon all went on. It includes the video clips of Dave Hope and Kerry Livgren of Kansas.

________________________________

Here is an article I wrote a couple of years ago:

Solomon, Woody Allen, Coldplay and Kansas

What does King Solomon, the movie director Woody Allen and the modern rock bands Coldplay and Kansas have in common? All four took on the issues surrounding death, the meaning of life and a possible afterlife, although they all came up with their own conclusions on these weighty matters.

Let me start off by pointing out what they all had in common. First, they were very successful and rose to the top of their fields. Second, they were very famous and of course, thirdly they were wealthy and experienced the privileges that fame and wealth brought. Finally, they were still seeking answers to life’s great questions even though it seemed they had experienced all the world had to offer.

Unlike many the past grammy winners of “Best Rock Album,” Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends by Coldplay is filled with songs that deal with spiritual themes such as death, the meaning of life and searching for an afterlife.

Leadsinger Chris Martin notes, “…because we’ve had some people close to us we’ve lost, but some miracles — we’ve got kids. So, life has been very extreme recently, and so both death and life pop up quite often” (MTV News interview, June 9, 2008).

Russ Briermeier of Christianity Today observes that this album is “often provocative, spiritual, and seemingly on the verge of identifying a greater truth, asking and inspiring many questions without providing the answers.” It reminded me of King Solomon’s search for answers in the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. Solomon also dealt the subject of death a lot. Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 asserts, “It is better to spend your time at funerals than at festivals. For you are going to die, and you should think about it while there is still time. Sorrow is better than laughter, it may sadden your face, but it sharpens your understanding.”

The subject of death is prominent in the songs “Poppyfields,” “Violet Hill,” “Death and All His Friends,” “42,” and the “Cemeteries of London.” Then the song “The Escapist” states, “And in the end, We lie awake and we dream, we’re makin our escape.” In the end we all die. Therefore, I assume this song is searching for an afterlife to escape to. The song “Glass of Water” sheds some more light on where we possibly escape to: “Oh he said you could see a future inside a glass of water, with riddles and the rhymes, He asked ‘Will I see heaven in mine?’

Coldplay is clearly searching for spiritual answers but it seems they have not found them quite yet. The song “42“: “Time is so short and I’m sure, There must be something more.” Then the song “Lost“: “Every river that I tried to cross, Every door I ever tried was locked, I’m just waiting til the shine wears off, You might be a big fish in a little pond, Doesn’t mean you’ve won, Because along may come a bigger one and you will be lost.”
Solomon went to the extreme in his searching in the Book of Ecclesiastes for this “something more” that Coldplay is talking about, but he did not find any satisfaction in pleasure (2:1), education (2:3), work (2:4), wealth (2:8) or fame (2:9). All of his accomplishments would not be remembered (1:11) and who is to say that they had not already been done before by others (1:10)? This reminds me of the big fish in the little pond that Coldplay was talking about. Even if you think you are on top, are you really? Also Solomon’s upcoming death depressed him because both people and animals alike “go to the same place — they came from dust and they return to dust” (3:20).

In 1978 I heard the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas when it rose to #6 on the charts. That song told me thatKerry Livgren the writer of that song and a member of Kansas had come to the same conclusion that Solomon had. I remember mentioning to my friends at church that we may soon see some members of Kansas become Christians because their search for the meaning of life had obviously come up empty even though they had risen from being an unknown band to the top of the music business and had all the wealth and fame that came with that. Furthermore, like Solomon and Coldplay, they realized death comes to everyone and “there must be something more.”

Livgren wrote:

“All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see, Dust in the Wind, All we are is dust in the wind, Don’t hang on, Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and Sky, It slips away, And all your money won’t another minute buy.”

Both Kerry Livgren and Dave Hope of Kansas became Christians eventually. Kerry Livgren first tried Eastern Religions and Dave Hope had to come out of a heavy drug addiction. I was shocked and elated to see their personal testimony on The 700 Club in 1981 and that same  interview can be seen on youtube today. Livgren lives in Topeka, Kansas today where he teaches “Diggers,” a Sunday school class at Topeka Bible Church. Hope is the head of Worship, Evangelism and Outreach at Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin, Florida.

The movie maker Woody Allen has embraced the nihilistic message of the song “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas. David Segal in his article, “Things are Looking Up for the Director Woody Allen. No?” (Washington Post, July 26, 2006), wrote, “Allen is evangelically passionate about a few subjects. None more so than the chilling emptiness of life…The 70-year-old writer and director has been musing about life, sex, work, death and his generally futile search for hope…the world according to Woody is so bereft of meaning, so godless and absurd, that the only proper response is to curl up on a sofa and howl for your mommy.”

The song “Dust in the Wind” recommends, “Don’t hang on.” Allen himself says, “It’s just an awful thing and in that context you’ve got to find an answer to the question: ‘Why go on?’ ”  It is ironic that Chris Martin the leader of Coldplay regards Woody Allen as his favorite director.

Lets sum up the final conclusions of these gentlemen:  Coldplay is still searching for that “something more.” Woody Allen has concluded the search is futile. Livgren and Hope of Kansas have become Christians and are involved in fulltime ministry. Solomon’s experiment was a search for meaning to life “under the sun.” Then in last few words in the Book of Ecclesiastes he looks above the sun and brings God back into the picture: “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: Fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”

You can hear Kerry Livgren’s story from this youtube link:

(part 1 ten minutes)

(part 2 ten minutes)

Kansas – Dust In The Wind

Ecclesiastes 1

Published on Sep 4, 2012

Calvary Chapel Spring Valley | Sunday Evening | September 2, 2012 | Pastor Derek Neider

_____________________

Ecclesiastes 2-3

Published on Sep 19, 2012

Calvary Chapel Spring Valley | Sunday Evening | September 16, 2012 | Derek Neider

_____________________________

All my posts on Woody Allen’s movie “Midnight in Paris” (Part 40)

I have 40 posts concerning the movie “Midnight in Paris” by Woody Allen. Below are the links to all of the posts.

“Midnight in Paris” one of Woody Allen’s biggest movie hits in recent years July 18, 2011 – 6:00 am

 
 

(Part 32, Jean-Paul Sartre)July 10, 2011 – 5:53 am

 

 (Part 29, Pablo Picasso) July 7, 2011 – 4:33 am

(Part 28,Van Gogh) July 6, 2011 – 4:03 am

(Part 27, Man Ray) July 5, 2011 – 4:49 am

(Part 26,James Joyce) July 4, 2011 – 5:55 am

(Part 25, T.S.Elliot) July 3, 2011 – 4:46 am

(Part 24, Djuna Barnes) July 2, 2011 – 7:28 am

(Part 23,Adriana, fictional mistress of Picasso) July 1, 2011 – 12:28 am

(Part 22, Silvia Beach and the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore) June 30, 2011 – 12:58 am

(Part 21,Versailles and the French Revolution) June 29, 2011 – 5:34 am

(Part 16, Josephine Baker) June 24, 2011 – 5:18 am

(Part 15, Luis Bunuel) June 23, 2011 – 5:37 am

(Part 1 William Faulkner) June 13, 2011 – 3:19 pm

________________________________

FILM NOTE – Midnight in Paris, written and directed by Woody Allen, starring Owen Wilson

… It was the best of times …

Midnight in Paris is as much a pleasure to watch as Woody Allen’s best films even though it’s not as good — the fantasy is so powerful.  This time travel film takes us, and its main character, Gil (Owen Wilson), a successful screen writer, back to the Paris of the 1920’s where we meet the artists and literati who made the city the brilliant center that we all go to Paris looking for — even those too young or unworldly to realize it. 

Gil is ensconced in a fancy hotel with his beautiful fiancee, Inez — of course that’s part of the fantasy, too, that and the French food.  She and her rich, conventional right wing parents are dutifully intent on seeing the sights — Versailles and all that — guided by a know-it-all smart guy and his adoring girlfriend, but Gil — vaguely discontent, and yearning to be a serious novelist, has another agenda.  He withdraws from family fun to search out his own Paris — the Paris of his imagination — and wonder of wonders at the stroke of midnight, finds it.

Swept off mysteriously in a chauffeured car, he’s delivered to the intellectual and artistic soirees of 1920’s Paris, where Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald rub shoulders with Hemingway and Picasso while Cole Porter plays the piano [partial list of famous people], and eventually everybody who is anybody ends up at Gertrude Stein’s for intellectual discussions, artistic critiques, gossip and lovemaking.

Oh how marvelous to encounter Hemingway (Corey Stoll), young, darkly handsome, intense, having just published his first novel speaking in the dead-pan of his writing style about courage under fire  (“I’ve read all you work,” Gil tells him though at this point Hemingway’s only published one book).  How delicious to see Zelda dive too deep into the absinthe with the Princeton-elegant Scott guiding her to the next party.  And joy of joys, how wonderful that our very American Gil with Wilson’s farm-boy drawl, patent simplicity and naïve aura (though he is a successful screenwriter, Woody Allen has his cake and eats it to on that one) not only meets but draws to himself Picasso’s mistress, played by Marion Cotillard looking like the dancer Olga Khokhlova whom Picasso loved at the time.  (So much for prissy, materialistic Inez, in any time zone.)

And. here’s something really valuable, Gil gets a focused critique on the pages of his novel by none other than Gertrude Stein – it’s going to serve him in good stead back in his own time.  To see Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein sitting under Picasso’s famous, groundbreaking portrait of Gertrude and looking exactly like her is a high point of the movie and feels, for the moment, a high point of life (they really don’t have the same facial structure but Bates and Woody’s camera pull it off). 

Gil’s travel back to the 20’s in the chauffeured car is smooth but some of the other time travels lurch and are less believable, and are accompanied by preaching about the value of being of one’s own time that sounds like forced virtue.

And Allen seems so in love with the idea of this movie that he hurries through characters, settling on caricatures for his artists and writers from the past rather than on real people, let alone the creators they were, engaged in hot struggles to develop their modes of expression.  For all the fun it is to engage with Hemingway, his clipped, cliché-ridden courage talk is so obvious it’s camp, and while Adrien Brody does a great look-alike caricature bit of Salvador Dali, it’s a bit, not a person.  So if you have another way of being in Paris at its beautiful best (appealing photography) and chatting with Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Matisse and Picasso, by all means do it. 

If not, see this movie.  It’s a treat:  once again we have to thank Woody Allen for giving us great pleasure, the most fun, and a fantasy fulfilled. 

Yvonne Korshak

Comments very welcome.  Scroll down, click on “comments,” write in comment box and click on “post.”  Emails are private, no emails ever appear with comments.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 126 other followers