Thursday, March 13, 2014

An OnCourse article on Senioritis just about 4 years ago

You may have gotten a flu shot, but there is no vaccination for Senioritis, the dreaded affliction that attacks in the last days of high school. Especially during the latter spring months of senior year, many students find it difficult to care about studies and are desperate to move on to college, work or really anything that isn't high school.

After 12 years of school, the same schedules and the same people, most seniors are ready for something else. (Kindergarten doesn't count, because who didn't love that year. Finger painting, free play and all the Play Dough you can eat. But school doesn't stay like that.)

Like the common cold, Senioritis doesn't have a cure, but there are methods to deal with the symptoms.

• Symptom #1: Desire to blow off school work.
Maybe you're sure you have enough credits to graduate. Maybe you've already been accepted to the college of your choice. Maybe you've already decided you don't want to go off to college. So why bother? Well, your main reason to do good work should never be to impress college admissions committees. Colossians 3:23 says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men" (NIV).

• Symptom #2: Hating every day because you want to be out.
As you mark the days until graduation off on the calendar, you may feel as though you are a prisoner carving the days on the cell wall. But there are valuable things that can happen during these days.

You are spending concentrated time with friends that you might not get to see as much--if at all--in the days and years to come after graduation. Don't miss the opportunities for fun. Don't miss the opportunities to tell people about Jesus. You have friends who really need Him. What better time than in these last days? Each day should be used to its fullest, as Psalm 118:24 says: "This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" (NIV).

• Symptom #3: Skipping out on church and youth group.
In my youth ministry experience, I've noticed that during the last days of the senior year, some students become scarce at youth group and Sunday school. With so much to cram into those last few months, it's easy to justify skipping church. But, resist the temptation.

The juniors, sophomores and especially the lowly freshmen look to you for leadership. Yeah, a lot of the lessons and activities are things you've done before. But it might not be about what you get out of church but what you can give.

As the writer of Hebrews wrote, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (10:25, NIV). I think the Day in context means the Lord's return, but Graduation Day could work as well.

Other symptoms may also characterize Senioritis, but the important thing to remember is that you will get through this year. It can still be an excellent time, if you allow it to be the Lord's time.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Preferences and Predictions for This Year's Oscars

Three of the films I had on my ten best list for last year are nominated for Oscars (you can look at my December 31, 2013 post to see why I liked the first three films), so not surprisingly the same three top my list of preferred films of those nominated this year for best picture:

List of Nominated Films from Favorite to Least Favorite:

1) Nebraska

2) 12 Years a Slave

3) Gravity

4) Captain Phillips - This may be Tom Hanks best performance as the captain of ship boarded by pirates. His breakdown at the end of the film is quite powerful.

5) Dallas Buyers Club - Again, great performances especially by Matthew McConaughey and Jered Leto as AIDS patients. But I didn't like the way the film embraced the thinking of understandably desperate and at times irrational activists of the eighties. One might think from the film that doctors and hospitals were evil for denying some AIDS patients the drug AZT because they wanted to perform studies with placebos. Then we learn that doctors and hospitals were evil because they were giving patients too much AZT. And unlicensed medical clinics in Mexico were the true cutting edge of technology. And, of course, the only people more evil than Big Pharm are Republicans. But the film captures the time quite well and tells a powerful story. Plus, it has bull riding as many more films should.

6) Her - Lesser Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine on the Spotless Mind are examples of his bizarre magic realism) is still a good thing. For some reason, I never quite warmed to Joaquin Phoenix as a man who falls in love with his operating system. And there are scenes of "phone sex" that range from very funny to awkward and uncomfortable.

7) American Hustle - In the tradition of The Sting and the Oceans film, a con film set during the Abscam scandals of the '70's and '80's. Decent twisty plot, but there is less to it than the film makers seem to think is there.

8) The Wolf of Wall Street - For the third time, we go retro, into the '90's. At three hours, this tale of debauched, greedy stock traders is at least an hour too long.

9) Philomena - Really dislike this film. It purports to be true story of the journalist who helps a woman find her son who was taken by Irish nuns. And the journalist lectures about journalistic ethics that compel him to tell the true story. But the film makes up things, like a bonfire of convents records which didn't happen. It also has a brutal confrontation at the end of the film of the woman with a nun, who in the real world had been dead for years. We learn that nuns and the Catholic church are even more evil than doctors and hospitals. But not Republicans. We're reminded in this film that they are the worst.

Now, as for what's likely to win?

1) 12 Years a Slave (not just a good film, but a film Academy members can pat themselves on the back for voting for)

2) Gravity (perhaps the most widely liked film, perhaps a consensus pick)

3) American Hustle

4) Captain Phillips

5) Wolf of Wall Street

6) Her

7) Dallas Buyers Club

8) Nebraska

9) Philomena