A suicide attempt appears in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS when Zelda Fitzgerald goes to the Seine River with the intention of jumping and Gil Pender stops her. It seems the nihilist worldview of Woody Allen keeps him putting suicides into his films.
Remember Professor Levy from the movie CRIMES AND MISDEMEANOR? After addressing the question IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE AN OPTIMISTIC SECULAR HUMANIST THAT DOES NOT BELIEVE IN GOD OR AN AFTERLIFE? Levy jumps out a window!!!
After Levy committed suicide, Cliff reviewed a clip from the documentary footage in which Levy states: “But we must always remember that when we are born we need a great deal of love to persuade us to stay in life. Once we get that love, it usually lasts us. But the universe is a pretty cold place. It’s we who invest it with our feelings. And under certain conditions, we feel that the thing isn’t worth it anymore.”
Hearing the news of Levy’s death, Halley says, “No matter how elaborate a philosophical system you work out, in the end it’s got to be incomplete.”
Professor Levy seen below:
Crimes e Pecados
What is Woody Allen’s main outlook on life? Francis Schaeffer described it as existentialism.
So some humanists act as if they have a great advantage over Christians. They act as if the advance of science and technology and a better understanding of history (through such concepts as the evolutionary theory) have all made the idea of God and Creation quite ridiculous.
This superior attitude, however, is strange because one of the most striking developments in the last half-century is the growth of a profound pessimism among both the well-educated and less-educated people. The thinkers in our society have been admitting for a long time that they have no final answers at all.
Take Woody Allen, for example. Most people know his as a comedian, but he has thought through where mankind stands after the “religious answers” have been abandoned. In an article in Esquire (May 1977), he says that man is left with:
… alienation, loneliness [and] emptiness verging on madness…. The fundamental thing behind all motivation and all activity is the constant struggle against annihilation and against death. It’s absolutely stupefying in its terror, and it renders anyone’s accomplishments meaningless. As Camus wrote, it’s not only that he (the individual) dies, or that man (as a whole) dies, but that you struggle to do a work of art that will last and then you realize that the universe itself is not going to exist after a period of time. Until those issues are resolved within each person – religiously or psychologically or existentially – the social and political issues will never be resolved, except in a slapdash way.
Allen sums up his view in his film Annie Hall with these words: “Life is divided into the horrible and the miserable.”
However, our intention here is neither to go into the history of irrationalism, nor to examine the proponents of existentialism in our own century, but rather to concentrate on its main thesis. It is this that confronts us on all sides today, and it is impossible to understand modern man without understanding this concept.
Because we shall be using several terms a great deal now, we would ask the reader to attend carefully. When we speak of irrationalism or existentialism or the existential methodology, we are pointing to a quite simple idea. It may have been expressed in a variety of complicated ways by philosophers, but it is not a difficult concept.
Imagine that you are at the movies watching a suspense film. As the story unfolds, the tension increases until finally the hero is trapped in some impossible situation and everyone is groaning inwardly, wondering how he is going to get out of the mess. The suspense is heightened by the knowledge (of the audience, not the hero) that help is on the way in the form of the good guys. The only question is: will the good guys arrive in time?
Now imagine for a moment that the audience is slipped the information that there are no good guys, that the situation of the hero is not just desperate, but completely hopeless. Obviously, the first thing that would happen is that the suspense would be gone. You and the entire audience would simply be waiting for the axe to fall.
If the hero faced the end with courage, this would be morally edifying, but the situation itself would be tragic. If, however, the hero acted as if help were around the corner and kept buoying himself up with this thought (“Someone is on the way!” – “Help is at hand!”), all you could feel for him would be pity. It would be a means to keep hope alive within a hopeless situation. The hero’s hope would change nothing on the outside; it would be unable to manufacture, out of nothing, good guys coming to the rescue. All it would achieve would the hero’s own mental state of hopefulness rather than hopelessness.
The hopefulness itself would rest on a lie or an illusion and thus, viewed objectively, would be finally absurd. And if the hero really knew what the situation was, but consciously used the falsehood to buoy up his feelings and go whistling along, we would either say, “Poor guy!” or “He’s a fool.” It is this kind of conscious deceit that someone like Woody Allen has looked full in the face and will have none of.
Now this is what the existential methodology is about. If the universe we are living in is what the materialistic humanists say it is, then with our reason (when we stop to think about it) we could find absolutely no way to have meaning or morality or hope or beauty. This would plunge us into despair. We would have to take seriously the challenge of Albert Camus (1913-1960) in the first sentence of The Myth of Sisyphus: “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.”92 Why stay alive in an absurd universe? Ah! But that is not where we stop. We say to ourselves – “There is hope!” (even though there is no help). “We shall overcome!” (even though nothing is more certain than that we shall be destroyed, both individually at death and cosmically with the end of all conscious life). This is what confronts us on all sides today: the modern irrational-ism.
(Scott and Zelda pictured below)
This series deals with the Book of Ecclesiastes and Woody Allen films. The first post dealt with MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT and it dealt with the fact that in the Book of Ecclesiastes Solomon does contend like Hobbes and Stanley that life is “nasty, brutish and short” and as a result has no meaning UNDER THE SUN.
The movie MIDNIGHT IN PARIS offers many of the same themes we see in Ecclesiastes. The second post looked at the question: WAS THERE EVER A GOLDEN AGE AND DID THE MOST TALENTED UNIVERSAL MEN OF THAT TIME FIND TRUE SATISFACTION DURING IT?
In the third post in this series we discover in Ecclesiastes that man UNDER THE SUN finds himself caught in the never ending cycle of birth and death. The SURREALISTS make a leap into the area of nonreason in order to get out of this cycle and that is why the scene in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS with Salvador Dali, Man Ray, and Luis Bunuel works so well!!!! These surrealists look to the area of their dreams to find a meaning for their lives and their break with reality is only because they know that they can’t find a rational meaning in life without God in the picture.
(Pictured below Scott, Scottie and Zelda Fitzgerald, 1922.)
The Fitzgerald’s vacationing on the French Riviera, May 1924. Scott, Zelda
Zelda and Scottie Fitzgerald, 1933
The fourth post looks at the solution of WINE, WOMEN AND SONG and the fifth and sixth posts look at the solution T.S.Eliot found in the Christian Faith and how he left his fragmented message of pessimism behind. In the seventh post the SURREALISTS say that time and chance is all we have but how can that explain love or art and the hunger for God? The eighth post looks at the subject of DEATH both in Ecclesiastes and MIDNIGHT IN PARIS. In the ninth post we look at the nihilistic worldview of Woody Allen and why he keeps putting suicides into his films.
Dr. Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical flow of Truth & History (intro)
Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical Flow of History & Truth (1)
Dr. Francis Schaeffer – The Biblical Flow of Truth & History (part 2)
midnight in paris – Fitzgeralds and Hemingway
ZELDA FITZGERALD: You look lost!-
GIL PENDER: Oh, yeah!- You’re an American?-
ZELDA FITZGERALD: If you count Alabama as America, which I do.I miss the bathtub gin. What do you do?-
GIL PENDER: Me? I’m a writer.-
ZELDA FITZGERALD: Who do you write?-
GIL PENDER: Oh, right now I’m working on a novel.- Oh, yes?
ZELDA FITZGERALD: I’m Zelda, by the way. Oh, Scott! Scott!- Yes, what it is, sweetheart?- Here’s a writer, from, um… where?-
GIL PENDER: California.–
SCOTT FITZGERALD: Scott Fitzgerald, and who are you, old sport?
GIL PENDER: Gil…the… You havethe same names as…As what? Scott Fitzgerald and…Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.
SCOTT FITZGERALD:The Fitzgeralds. Isn’t she beautiful?
GIL PENDER: Yes. Yes! Yeah, that’s… that’sa coincidence…like….uh…
ZELDA FITZGERALD: You have a glazed look in your eye. Stunned.Stupefied. Anesthetized. Lobotomized
GIL PENDER: I…I…keep looking at the man playing piano, and I believe it or not, recognize hisface from some old sheet music.
ZELDA FITZGERALD: I know I can be one of the great writers of musical lyrics- not that I can write melodies, and I try,and then I hear the songs he writes, and then I realize: I’ll never write a great lyric,- and MY TALENT REALLY LIES IN DRINKING.-
SCOTT FITZGERALD: Sure does.
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
People interested in truth often look to philosophy for answers. However, atheist philosophies offer more questions than answers, and this has serious consequences. Statistics show that atheists end up more prone to suicide than people who have a spiritual foundation. One woman, Sharon Rocha, ended up committing suicide after reading an article at the Raving Atheists blog. In her suicide note, Rocha stated “I have been stripped of my delusions… The universe is a cold, uncaring place in which life is short, meaningless and full of suffering.” If you are an atheist thinking of suicide or just seriously interested in the meaning of life, I recommend reading Solomon’s book Ecclesiastes. The book outlines the deceptions of a false perception of reality and the delight of knowing the God who created the universe for a good purpose.
The name Ecclesiastes is translated from Latin into The Preacher. So what exactly is the connection between philosophy and a preacher preaching the gospel? Well, as I’ve written various articles on Christianity, I’ve found that few atheists are interested in reading them. However, when I’ve pointedly challenged the philosophical roots of atheism, I’ve found some atheists eager to step up and defend their beliefs through dialogue and debate. Philosophical questions and challenges are at the core of the book of Ecclesiastes and there is an undertone of evangelism. There’s a saying “You can attract more bees with honey than with vinegar.” But, as we’ll see in Ecclesiastes, you can attract even more bees by prodding the beehive. But you’d better be prepared for what you’re getting into.
Ecclesiastes 12.11 states: “The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails–given by one Shepherd.” (NIV)
Goads are pointed prods that are used to help direct cattle and sheep. Words of truth prick the conscience and help to guide people towards moral and ethical reason. The firmly embedded nails signify the fixed principles of logic and the reality of absolute truth. Words of logic help to pin down people who have developed a false paradigm and a false view of reality. Logic helps people to see that their beliefs are not in harmony with reality.
Dr. Francis schaeffer – The flow of Materialism(from Part 4 of Whatever happened to human race?)
Meaninglessness and Materialism
There is a wealth of insight in the book of Ecclesiastes, but you can break down the main philosophical aspects into three main points:
1. The Emptiness of Worldly Pre-occupations – Eccl. 2:1-11
2. The Brevity of Life – Eccl. 12:1-8
3. The Only Logical Purpose in Life – Eccl. 12:13-14
Solomon begins Ecclesiastes 1.2-3 announcing “‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.’ What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?” How discouraging can you get? The key to understanding the book of Ecclesiastes is to understand that he makes many false statements based upon a materialist perspective, in viewing everything “under the sun” as meaningless. Solomon addresses common materialist idols in society and shows why these are meaningless and empty pursuits. Solomon tries learning, laughter an liquor in an attempt to find satisfaction, but he’s left empty.
Solomon was the perfect candidate to dispel the illusion that wealth and physical pleasure can bring the kind of deep fulfillment we’re searching for in life. As the wealthiest man in history he had everything available at his fingertips. Whatever he desired, he could have. But time after time he was struck by the emptiness of all these material allurements.
Common folks don’t have the money to be able to fulfill whatever whim we may have. In society we are led to believe that if we just had a bigger house, a better job, a more pleasant husband or wife, or whatever it may be, then we would be happy. For us common folks, happiness may seem as though it’s always just around the corner. If only… then I’d be happy. But Solomon became the ultimate object lesson in this regard because he was able to try anything and everything he wanted and he finding out first-hand that materialism represents a sad and vacuous existence compared to theism.
King Solomon of Israel wrote the book of Ecclesiastes after he had backslidden to a certain degree. He had known what was right, but disobeyed God in his life and took on many wives, horse stables and wealth, though these things were forbidden for a king of Israel. Deuteronomy 17:16-17 outlines:
“Only he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he may multiply horses; because Yahweh has said to you, You shall henceforth return no more that way. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart not turn away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.”
It seems Solomon allowed his great wisdom get to his head, so to speak, and to fill him with pride. His heart gradually became dulled to God’s presence and purpose. But, nevertheless, God disciplined him and allowed him to see his folly. Though he had made mistakes, Solomon offers that truth is still truth and a person should continue to teach the truth as God guides:
“And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs.”
Though he learned lessons the hard way, Solomon gave “good heed” to present the truths that he learned and to help teach people his wisdom. It seems he may have been the first “life coach.” In the United States the “pursuit of happiness” is considered a fundamental right from the Declaration of Independence. But this pursuit, in and of itself, can become destructive when relativism rules. A 2011 study shows the 10 countries with the highest suicide rates tend to be countries where atheism has predominated. Most on the list are countries of the former Soviet Union where atheism was enforced by the state for over 70 years. Other statistics bear out the fact that atheists are more prone to suicide than theists. The American Journal of Psychiatry published an article December 2004, Religious Affiliation and Suicide Attempt, with some basic conclusions:
“CONCLUSIONS: Religious affiliation is associated with less suicidal behavior in depressed inpatients. After other factors were controlled, it was found that greater moral objections to suicide and lower aggression level in religiously affiliated subjects may function as protective factors against suicide attempts. Further study about the influence of religious affiliation on aggressive behavior and how moral objections can reduce the probability of acting on suicidal thoughts may offer new therapeutic strategies in suicide prevention.”
Two key aspects were cited in the AJP article: less aggressive behavior and a moral objection to suicide. The decrease of aggression in spiritual people may have to do with the knowledge that there is in-fact deep meaning in life. Sometimes intellectuals are prone to suicide. Solomon confirmed that materialist knowledge without spiritual truth brings grief: “For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.”
(Alan Sandage below)
Like Solomon, people who have large IQs can tend to have inflated egos. In 2010, in an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Stephen Hawking declared that heaven is a “fairy tale” for fearful people. He is correct in one sense that Christians are fearful in that we fear God with a sense of awe and wonder at his majestic wisdom and power. In contrast to Hawking, the Jewish physicist Alan Sandage was an atheist most of his life but simply could not dispel all the evidence he had seen in the cosmos pointing to God’s necessary existence. He became a Christian at age 60, explaining, “I could not live a life full of cynicism. I chose to believe, and a peace of mind came over me.” One of the reasons Sandage believed was the complexity of the universe: “The world is too complicated in all its parts and interconnections to be due to chance alone.”
(Stephen Hawking below in black and white and then a picture from recent movie about Hawking)
It doesn’t take a great mind to understand what Solomon and Sandage knew, it only takes an open mind. Three decades ago, Stephen Hawking declared humanity was on the verge of discovering the “theory of everything”with a 50 per cent chance of knowing it by 2000. But by 2010 Hawking had given up hope. If only Hawking had read the book of Ecclesiastes, he could have saved a lot of wasted time: “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Hawking is a good example showing that intelligence and wisdom are two very distinct things.
(King Solomon author of Ecclesiastes below
The “one shepherd” mentioned in Ecclesiastes 12.9 seems to portray Jesus. In John 10.11, Jesus is quoted as saying “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” NIV Jesus is also referred to as the “word made flesh.” In this sense Jesus is the source of all truth and spiritual satisfaction, as implied by Psalm 81:16. “I would satisfy you with wild honey from the rock”, Jesus being the rock of our salvation.The Logical Conclusions One of the conclusions of Ecclesiastes is that we can live a live of true joy when God is the foundation of our lives:“It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God. For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life, because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart.”Another conclusion is that there is ultimate justice in the world and this knowledge has ramifications for a healthy personal life and for a healthy society:
“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
We will be less prone to bitterness when we realize God will address all injustice in the future. And we understand why corruption is rampant today in society because many people do not believe there is any kind of accountability to our Creator. People assume that they can do anything they can get away with. Hopefully more people will recognize that atheism neither works as a personal philosophy nor as a good basis for society.
Even Communist China sees that theism is pragmatically more effective and beneficial than an atheistic model of society: “The officially atheist Chinese government is surprisingly open to Christianity, at least partially, because it sees a link between the faith and economic success, said a sought after scholar who has relations with governments in Asia.” Dr. William Jeynes, senior fellow of The Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, N.J., outlined this fact. But the truth is a dangerous thing and has a way of shaking up deceptive paradigms: “Jeynes concluded by saying that the key message he wants to convey is that China is both open to Christianity and nervous about the religion because of the potential problems it could bring to the communist government.”
 American Journal of Psychiatry, Religious Affiliation and Suicide Attempt, Kanita Dervic, M.D., Maria A. Oquendo, M.D., et al., Am J Psychiatry 161:2303-2308, December 2004 (http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/161/12/2303)
 Raving Theist, Peterson Mother Commits Suicide After Reading Atheist Blog, (http://ravingatheist.com/2003/05/peterson-mother-commits-suicide-after-reading-atheist-blog/)
 Proverbs 24.13, NIV
 IN DEFENSE OF NON-NATURAL, NON-THEISTIC MORAL REALISM” Erik Wielenberg FAITH AND PHILOSOPHY, Vol. 26 No. 1 January 2009 (http://philpapers.org/archive/WIEIDO.1.pdf)
 Ecclesiastes 6.7 (NIV)
 Ecclesiastes 1.8b, KJV
 Ecclesiastes: Guide to Evangelism (http://www.discoveret.org/lcoc/news/01n0606.htm)
 Ecclesiastes 12.9, KJV
 Top 10 Countries With Highest Suicide Rates – 2011, (http://www.top-10lists.com/2011/05/top-10-countries-with-highest-suicide.html)
 See American Journal of Psychiatry
 Ecclesiastes 1.18
 The Guardian, Stephen Hawking: ‘There is no heaven; it’s a fairy story’, (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/may/15/stephen-hawking-interview-there-is-no-heaven)
 The Telegraph, Allan Sandage (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/science-obituaries/8150004/Allan-Sandage.html)
 Leadership U, A Scientist Reflects on Religious Belief (http://www.leaderu.com/truth/1truth15.html)
 New Scientist, Stephen Hawking says there’s no theory of everything, September 2, 2010,
 Ecclesiastes 3.11b, NIV
 Ecclesiastes. 5:18-20
 Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, NIV
 The Christian Post, Scholar: China Notices Link Between Christianity, U.S. Economic Success (http://www.christianpost.com/news/scholar-china-notices-link-between-christianity-us-economic-success-50287/)
Bright Lights, Brilliant Minds A Tale of Three Cities Episode:2 Paris 1928 BBC Documentary 2014
Bright Lights, Brilliant Minds A Tale of Three Cities Episode:2 Paris 1928 BBC Documentary 2014
Dr James Fox tells the story of Paris in 1928. It was a city that attracted people dreaming of a better world after World War I. This was the year when the surrealists Magritte, Dali and Bunuel brought their bizarre new vision to the people, and when emigre writers and musicians such as Ernest Hemingway and George Gershwin came looking for inspiration.
Paris in 1928 was where black musicians and dancers like Josephine Baker found adulation, where Cole Porter took time off from partying to write Let’s Do it, and where radical architect Le Corbusier planned a modernist utopia that involved pulling down much of Paris itself.
Gil, who once lived in Paris briefly, longs for the era of great writing that was the 1920s, when the city was populated by great artists intermingling and collaborating and drinking, like Hemingway, Picasso, Fitzgerald, Dali, and so on. One night after having suffered through another one of Inez’s pseudo-intellectual friend Paul’s (a squirmingly awkward and hilarious turn by Michael Sheen) speeches about art, instead of going dancing with the group, Gil decides to walk back to the hotel and wander the streets at night, gathering some fresh and air and inspiration. He gets lost during this sojourn, and picked up, half drunk, by a couple in an old Peugeot. The people are Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and soon Gil is hobnobbing with everyone from Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso to Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel, and having his novel read and critiqued by Gertrude Stein.
The wine, women and song of Paris
Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) is a successful screenwriter who wants more from life. While on holiday in Paris with his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her stuffy, conservative parents, Gil’s finds himself at a creative impasse, working on his novel about nostalgia. Goaded by Inez to stick to money-making movies, Gil separates himself from the group one night – lost and drunk – and at the stroke of twelve, finds himself back in 1920′s Paris. There, he runs into all the greats including Cole Porter, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. When he meets Picasso’s girlfriend Adriana (Marion Cotillard), Gil’s got to choose between the past and present.