Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Bringing Our Gifts: Symbols of 'The Little Drummer Boy'

An image from the popular television show The Little Drummer Boy.
Anywhere you go from now until about January 2, the carols of Christmas are officially playing, and one of those we often hear is The Little Drummer Boy. This past Sunday was Commitment Sunday, the day of the year when we examine our gifts, talents and resources to discern what we should do for God's glory, and giving to help others. My gifted priest, Father Adam, passionately persuaded us that regardless of what our gift be--whether great or small--it came from God and to God we should give the glory for it through the same gift(s), talent(s) and resources because, when we stand in judgment before Him, He will demand an accounting of what we did with those gifts, and He expects us to say, "I used the gifts you gave me to glorify You."
Michelangelo did a number of Pietas during his long life, but this, his first and best known, will be the subject of my upcoming post.
This is my gift, the ability to interact and understand art and, hopefully, help others to increase their engagement with art as well. So, in the next week, I will be posting on Michelangelo's Pieta, Mary holding the dead body of Christ after the Crucifixion. I have dedicated this blog and every post to the glory of Jesus Christ all ready, however, I attend the Cathedral for my diocese, and we recently acquired an exact replica of Michelangelo's inspired sculpture. One of the staff at the Cathedral, having no idea about my background in Art History, saw me passing by and asked, "Do you know anything about this?" and so, for the next thirty minutes, he received an unsolicited education in Renaissance art and Michelangelo. There have been countless pilgrims to the Cathedral to see the new art work and no means by which to guide them on how to interact with it or strategies for interpreting what Michelangelo was communicating. Now, this is the important thing, and this is why I'm mentioning this, for you and for me: it's likely that the stewardship committee will reject my blog post to distribute as an aide for viewers of the Pieta. Why?
Because God is generous.
This is a good time to review the concept of "destiny" in Christianity. Winston Churchill, one of my very favorite people, did not have the destiny of destroying Hitler, or for conquering socialism and standing up, virtually alone, to face the German threat until America got its rear in gear; none of that was Churchill's destiny, rather, his destiny was to exercise and fulfill his full potential for courage, wisdom, patience, conviction, strength and perserverance; once he achieved the total compacity which God blessed him with for these virtues, then Churchill could become God's instrument in overcoming the evils besetting the world. Hitler didn't fulfill any of his destiny, rather, he insisted on the state of Germany fulfilling its destiny, but because Hitler didn't do the necessary spiritual work within himself first, he couldn't be a guide to Germany along the correct pathway, instead, leading Germany and its people down the path of destruction which he followed himself, too. It's very easy, we have two choices: there is heaven, and there is hell. Which do you want to spend eternity in? 
God generously bestows humiliation, poverty, loneliness, barrenness, misunderstanding and a great multitude of other experiences and conditions that we don't want to experience, but which prove they are the only means of becoming better, stronger, wiser and more courageous people; in other words, suffering is the means by which we advance in holiness, and because holiness is the only pursuit with which we should be concerned--since anything else will end we die, but our holiness is that which we stand with us before God--He generously provides hardships by means of which we can advance and attain to eternal, blessed life. It is likely the stewardship committee will not accept my humble offering because God wants to give me the gift of barrenness as part of His generosity in helping me to grow, because barrenness will help me to become a better Christian, and that may be more important than my humble little essay on a work of art helping viewers become "better" viewers. 😇 I say this in hopes that it will fortify you to make offerings of your gifts and skills, your blessings and talents, so that the rejection or lack of gratitude which you may encounter will not discourage you from making the offering again in the future, but you will, instead, meditate upon what God is giving you in thanksgiving (yes, you read that correctly) for you offering your gifts back to Him for His glory, because He wants to share His glory with you.

Having significantly digressed, even for me, let us now consider today's topic at hand; there are two gifts which the Drummer Boy makes to Christ, and which we are called to make as well:
The first line of the song, "Come, they told me," establishes the evangelism taking place: a group of people--the Three Kings, according to the tradition of the story--are on their way to see the newborn king, and they are spreading the message, the Good News, just as the angels will do with the shepherds in the fields. The opening line invokes the words of Psalm 122: "I rejoiced when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord,'" for how much more rejoicing that this small boy should go see the Lord Himself? But this is the important command: Come. Remember, the Three Kings tell Herod about the birth of the Christ, but Herod doesn't go, he just wants to be told, but to the young boy, they say, "Come," because the invitation is not only an invitation to see the Lord for himself, but to understand why the Three Kings are going there: salvation. Likewise, it's not enough for us to just tell others about Christ; that's good and holy, but like the Three Kings, we need to offer others to "come" and see for themselves, too. Yes, we probably will be rejected by most, but that is not for us to decide; if the Three Kings had not told the Drummer Boy to come with them, we would not have his story, and even if it's not the Lord's will that someone come to Him, we can offer up the experience of our rejection in union with the rejection He has experienced. How do we know this? Because of the next line: "Pa-rum pum pum pum."
There is no age given for the Three Kings, or Wise Men, which ever title you prefer, but we know they are adults, and their adulthood is juxtaposed against the youth of the Little Drummer Boy. Why? Anyone can encounter Christ at any age. It doesn't matter what age you are, you are meant to let Him enter your life, and you are meant to seek Him out, There is also the dichotomy between the wisdom of the three men, and the youth or innocence of the little boy: wisdom differs from knowledge in that knowledge pertains to the truths of  nature and this world, but wisdom reveals truth  which is above nature and is of the next world, the eternal world. Knowledge takes years to acquire and the maturity of advanced age to grasp, but wisdom requires only an open heart to accept because wisdom is always a gift from God. Wisdom feeds and sustains us in holiness, and holiness is the only currency for purchasing eternal life, the reason each of us exists. There is also the issue of the difference of class between the Three Kings and the Drummer Boy: obviously the Three Kings are wealthy, as judging by their gifts, and the Drummer Boy poor, but Jesus has rewarded them each--not by the greatness of the gift they give Him--but by the love with which the gift is given. The disparity in social status and wealth between the Three Kings and Drummer Boy mirrors Christ's own circumstances: the King of Kings who became the poorest of the poor.
When I was a first year literary theory student, my professor used the example of the "nonsense language" in the song Doo Wah Diddy Diddy, which gets repeated throughout the song. When it came out, older people would sigh and express discouragement over the poor quality of the lyrics, yet the "words that didn't mean anything" were being used to express the language of love, which exists beyond language. We can say the same for the lyrics, Pa-rum pum pum pum which occur throughout The Little Drummer Boy: music is its own type of language, and the language of music is the language of Divine Love, which is why both Psalms 95 and 98 commend the faithful to go with a song in their heart, singing praise to God. These lyrics of seeming nonsense then (Pa-rum pum pum pum) actually communicate to the listener how the Holy Spirit enters and moves in the heart of the Little Drummer Boy. But the Little Drummer Boy's heart also becomes the drum of the Holy Spirit, for the heart beat is like the drum upon which the Holy Spirit sets our rhythm for life and worship.So each time we hear the refrain (which is at the end of nearly every line of lyrics) the emphasis is being placed on elements of the moment which cannot be articulated, which music alone can express, but must be expressed just the same.
"Our newborn king to see," contains a triple importance: the Messiah, the Christ, was specifically "for" the Jewish people, yet these Magi from the East use the pronoun "Our" because they know, in their wisdom, that the arrival of such a king as this cannot be just for one people alone when the whole world groaned and longed for a savior; the Three Kings know that Jesus has come for them, too, and for all, even though nothing has been said about this as of yet. Secondly, this is a king "to see," He won't be up in yonder tall tower, He be on a tall throne or private room, He will be there for all to see, and all are to come and see Him where He is. 
"Our finest gifts we bring," the Three Kings sing, and we know the gifts to be gold, frankincense and myrrh: gold, because it is the most precious metal on earth, and it is what one gives a king; frankincense because it is burned as a pleasing sacrifice to God and, myrrh because, it is the most expensive ointment and the most bitter: it foreshadows the wisdom Jesus will accumulate as He grows on earth, but also the bitter price He will pay for it, and His bitter Passion. Most people all ready know this, but now we need to ask, why juxtapose a drum against these three gifts? A drum is used to summon an army and to help lead an attack, so what is a king without an army? This is, of course, about spiritual warfare, that the Little Drummer Boy is now enlisted in Christ's army to fight off the temptations of the world and the flesh, exactly why Christ came into the world, to teach us how to defeat the devil and how to gain for ourselves eternal life.
Why are the ox and lamb mentioned in The Little Drummer Boy, and specifically that they "kept time" with the beat of the drumming? The ox symbolizes Christ and the work Christ will do up to the Passion (the Apostle Luke is often associated with the ox, again, because each of us have a work to do in life, just as Jesus did (both as a carpenter--i.e., our "day jobs" and as the Messiah, the spiritual work we are each also called to do) and the ox symbolizes that hard, worldly work we are bound to do for our sustenance. The lamb, of course, is the sacrifice of Christ, but also the sacrifice each of us make, according to our calling in life and what God wants us to give back to Him in exchange for the gifts He has bestowed and those He still wants to bestow. 
The Drummer Boy responds that he has no gift, but he offers to play his drum; this is the first gift he gives. Honestly, the drum is an instrument that makes noise, especially when there is no other music; then again, if you took the drums out of most music, it wouldn't be even close to the same. That the drum is so closely associated with noise highlights for us all of our gifts: that instead of being gifts, they can become destructive or unwanted, unless we discipline ourselves and apply wisdom in how best to use our gifts: for God's glory. When "He smiled at me, me and my drum," we know this is a blessing: that both have been consecrated to God and both are going to be blessed abundantly to help in bringing more souls to eternal life because the gift has been given back to God, and then given back to the Drummer Boy because now, he knows what his gift means.
What about the second gift the Drummer Boy makes? His presence. He came to see Jesus and he stays with the Holy Family in the poor manger, in the cold and uncomfortable surroundings with the animals. Jesus makes a gift of His presence to us in the Holy Eucharist: do we make our presence a present to Him? Do we go and be with Him the way He wants us to be with Him? Maybe we have no gift to bring, but we have ourselves, and that is really what God asks from us more than anything, is that we love ourselves as much as He loves us. This Advent, ask God for the gift of proper self-love, that you can recognize your gifts, talents and purpose, and how best to use them for His glory and your own eternal salvation.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Hidden Agendas: Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them

An important note for us to bear in mind is that most of the original film maker crew for the Harry Potter series are returning for the five-film series of Fantastic Beasts; why is this important? They are going to carry through with their same agendas. Now, I will be the first person to admit, we saw the exact same circumstances with The Conjuring--which was incredibly pro-socialist--and then, in spite of everyone still working on the film, The Conjuring 2 was pro-capitalist. Returning director David Yates just completed The Legend Of Tarzan which was definitely pro-socialist (and anti-Catholic), and definitely not a good film. Permit me to make a distinction: while the Harry Potter films were not strictly pro-socialist, the way we have seen films advocate socialism since 2008, the films are very anti-Christian in what they teach children and the behavior of Potter himself (please see Harry Potter vs. The Potter for more).  If I am wrong about Fantastic Beasts, I will be the first person to admit that, I promise. There is, however, an incredible problem: THIS IS A WORLD OF WITCHES AND WITCHCRAFT. Sure, the name "wizard" sounds more innocent than "witch," the bride of Satan, or a warlock, BUT THIS IS SATANIC PRACTICE. AS CHRISTIANS, WE CANNOT BE A PART OF THIS. Wicca and other forms of witchcraft are THE fastest growing "religion" in America. To go and watch a film promoting Satanic activity, is a MORTAL SIN, it separates you from the FACE OF GOD. Please, please, PLEASE do NOT go see this film!
The latest in the Harry Potter universe, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, opens this weekend and will be wildly popular, spilling into next week's Thanksgiving Day box office. In spite of lackluster reviews,, devoted fans can hardly wait to see the first in a five-film extravaganza. Unfortunately, from the trailers released, it appears this is going to be heavily pro-socialist, but even if it's not, HERE IS A LETTER FROM AN EX-WITCH TELLING US THAT HARRY POTTER AND MAGIC IS OF THE DEVIL; this isn't about "fantastic beasts" getting out of a suitcase, this is about the demons of hell being let loose upon the earth and all Christians. Here is the first trailer.
At 1:05-1:16, we hear the hero Newt Scamanger (Eddie Redmayne) say, "We're going to recapture my creatures before they get hurt. They're currently in alien terrain surrounded by millions of the most vicious creatures on the planet: humans." Newt is far more concerned about the animals than humans; the wizards are concerned about the humans only because they are worried that the humans will "fight back"; why is this important? For two reasons: first, as we saw in Noah with Russell Crowe, socialists elevate animals, and demote people because socialists are determined to make people think they are animals, not people, because animals do not have any Constitutional rights, and animals are far easier to control (they don't need wages, individuation, guns, or to worship God, for example); secondly, elite liberals, progressives and socialists, see humanity as totally expendable, especially when it comes to achieving the ends of their agendas, and we certainly don't get the idea that humans mean anything in this Fantastic Beasts world since the wizards seemed only concerned that the No Majs (people who have no magic in them) will "fight back" if they get scared, so keeping them safe is in the interest of the wizards. Here is the next trailer:
The second reason I think this is going to be pro-socialist, is that, at the start of the trailer, someone says, "You've known for 24 hours that an unregistered wizard,..." What?!?!? This is the United States of America, what do you mean, "unregistered wizard?" What, is there a "Checkpoint Charlie" like what we saw at the start of The Man From UNCLE when Napoleon Solo enters communist Berlin? How DARE you suggest that he needs to register in America, but, because these are likely socialists, the government, in this case, MACUSA, wants everyone registered because that is the only way to control people and that is their aim and objective (this is meant to reflect gun control and gun registration issues). Someone asks Newt, "Do you know anything about the wizarding community in America? We don't let things loose," and that would appear the people are not "let loose" either, but they are controlled and registered. This leads me to our third reason why I think the film will be pro-socialist: MACUSA.
Please note something important in this image: She is wearing pants. True, after many women worked in ammunition factories in World War I (yes, WWI, not WWII) some women started wearing work pants in their home or farm, but wearing pants publicly in the 1920s would be seen as risque for a respectable woman (it wasn't until the 1930s that pants for women were seen as being socially acceptable). This, along with the very flat chests the women seem to have in the film, slowly erase the differences between man and woman by making the women look more boyish (especially with their bob haircuts). Granted, this was the style of the 1920s--even though most women would not have been wearing trousers in public as she is--but it's being adapted to tansfer an image of how the differences between male and female are just "social constructs" and nothing that actually exists in nature. This is to further erode and, ultimately, destroy, any sense of identity we have as being "different" from others; Globalists and progressives want us all to be the same and equal.
The Magical Congress of the United States Of America, MACUSA, sounds just like Marcuse, as in Herbert Marcuse, the "Father of the 'New Left'" in America (his name was dropped by the communists who kidnapped George Clooney's character in Hail Caesar!). Marcuse is so important to liberals, even I have some of his books, because his name was always being dropped by Art Historians in their erudite articles. The fourth reason I think this will go pro-socialist is because of Jon Voight. Voight portrays Senator Shaw in the film, and Voight is a well-known Republican in liberal Hollywood, and Senator Shaw is a villain in the film; just as I have speculated on directors, such as Christopher Nolan and JJ Abrams casting liberals as villains in films, because audience members would see the liberal and know that "liberals are villains," so the opposite, I think, is being done with Voight to cast Republicans as villains.
Jacob is a factory worker, but he wants to be a baker. Now, a factory worker, in the 1920s, in New York, what does that tell you? He was probably a member of a union, or he would be today. Why is this important? He's not educated, as he says at one point, I know I'm not dreaming because I don't have the brains to make this up. He's not an immigrant himself--he has an American accent--but his last name of "Kowalski" means his parents were immigrants. The uneducated, immigrant, factory-working class was THE CLASS socialists want to target, because they think they have the highest chance of making them want to re-distribute the wealth of the country in their favor, so just as Jacob wants to "be a wizard," what he might in fact really be saying is, I want to be part of the 1% of the wealthiest people in the country. On a slightly different note, the female wizard asks Newt if Newt erased the memory of Jacob; why is this important? It's a typical strategy of socialists, to think they can just "erase" something and then it no longer exists, like Hillary erasing her hard drives of all her illegal dealings while she was Secretary of State. Reality is the greatest enemy of liberals, so they try to change it any chance they get (and that includes changing people's understanding of their identity because our identity is the "filter" through which we interact with reality) and history is recorded reality, so by erasing Jacob's memory, they are attempting to control the historical record of what they did and didn't do.
The fourth reason I think Fantastic Beasts will be pro-socialist, is that film makers are talking about making Dumbledore gay. Am I just being homophobic in not wanting gay characters, like the gay Sulu in Star Trek Beyond? There are two reasons why Globalists and elite liberals push homosexuality upon society (remember, in America, less than 1% of the population is gay AND transgender, but they want us to think that 55% of Americans are gay): first, Christians have to choose between honoring God or accepting gays. If we don't accept gays, we are bashed and bullied horribly as being homophobic or worse, so this makes it difficult to identify as being a Christian, and for a group who wants to drive God out of the world completely so the government can become God, this is a great tactic.
"Something is stalking our city. Reeking destruction and then disappearing without a trace," then, perhaps in another voice, I can't tell, someone says, "Witches live among us." There is a poltical group in the film, the Second Salem, of the Salem Witch Trials, that is, and that's because a "witch" is a political term in the United States which refers to the "Witch Hunts" of the McCarthy Era post-World War II when Senator Joseph McCarthy sought to uproot socialists and communists working against the government in the US, specifically targeting the Democrat Party and Hollwyood. This character is obviously a villain in the film, not just because she is rooting out socialists who are living in the city, but because she also wants to identify who the witches are and root them out, too. I know that I am specifically being targeted by this character: to make me see how poorly liberals and real-life witches view me for wanting to keep them from their "freedom of religion," when in fact, witchcraft is NOT a religion at all because it worships Satan and Satan is an anarchist, and because he seeks to overthrow all order and create chaos, Satan--and anything to do with him--should be expressly forbidden by society whic is bound by law and order. By making villains out of people like myself, Fantastic Beasts, other films, and people on the Left in general, use bullying techniques to belittle our position and make us seem like we are the closed-minded bullies.
Secondly, for the globalists who want to control the human population--not because of the environment, rather, because a smaller population is easier to register, monitor and control--homosexuality is the ultimate form of birth control: gays cannot have children, so by forcing homosexuality to become more socially acceptable, more people will identify themselves as gay, and they won't reproduce, and they won't be Christians. By making Dumbledore gay, then, the children, teens and adults who watch the film, will believe that being gay is okay, and we shouldn't judge; this isn't about "judging," this is about mortal sin and sexual perversion.
Now, the fifth reason,....
Fantastic Beasts takes place in 1926, during the Roaring 20s, a time of great economic prosperity just before the huge collapse of the Great Depression. With four films yet to go in the series, this will be explored; why is this important? A sequel to Mary Poppins is coming out that will take place during the Great Depression, and--with Emily Blunt cast in the lead--it will assuredly be pro-socialist. Democrats love the Great Depression for two reasons: first, they think it shows how unreliable capitalism is (if President Franklin Roosevelt hadn't have been such a socialist like Obama, he could have allowed the economy to quickly recover instead of intentionally prolonging the depression, but that didn't fit his agenda) and, secondly, it greatly increased the number of people dependent upon the government for their living, which is exactly what Democrats, liberals, progressives, socialists and communists want. But I digress: this is especially important because we hear talk in the trailers of Grundelvelt and the killings in Europe: this is, metaphorically speaking, sitting us up to see the rise of Hitler, and socialists are desperate to make people think that Nazis weren't socialists--which they were, NAZI stands for National Socialists German Workers' Party, not the National Capitalist Movement for the Rich, which is exactly what they want you to think it did stand for--but they Nazis were "crude nationalists" who clung to their German identity; sure, they were concerned with their German identity, but because Hitler wanted them to believe they were superior to every other nationality and identity in the world; Globalists today don't want us to have any identity whatsoever (male/female, black or white, rich or poor, religious or secular, etc.) because once we are a herd of animals, we are easier to control So, the rise of Grundelvelt will mimic the rise of Hitler in Germany, and that is supposed to tell audiences that, if you cling to your identity, whatever that identity is, you are a Nazi. Also, Dumbeldore's gay lover will be Grundelvelt. NOTE: At the end of this post is an interview with Ezra Miller who is in the film, and he calls the presidential election results "neo-fascist." If you asked Mr. Miller to distinguish between a fascist, socialist, communist and capitalist, I bet money he couldn't do it.
At 1:28, we see a group of wizards ready their wands, followed by a shot of police men readying their guns,... now, it's possible--and I want to think, even probable--that the film isn't actually shot this way, that there isn't going to be a "show-down" between the liberals,... I mean, the wizards, and the cops, because Blue Lives Matter. There are plenty of examples in trailers where scenes are juxtaposed together to create an impression that something happens in the narrative, even though it actually doesn't,... I am, however, truly upset that someone thought it would be a good idea to make people believe that a group of wizards getting ready to cast spells on police officers was a good idea, given the increasing number of officers' deaths and injuries from violent organizations and individuals. I am NOT going to go see this film. Even if it is pro-capitalist--which I seriously doubt, even if I am wrong about the reasons--by the very fact that this encourages the use of witchcraft and spells, THIS, LIKE ALL THE HARRY POTTER FILMS, IS ANTI-CHRISTIAN and cannot be entertainment for those who call themselves the children of God. This is where you make a choice who you belong to: to God, or the world, and Satan owns the world.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
P.S.--Here is an interview with Ezra Miller where he basically says that Trump is a fascist and so are the people who voted for him. He's just talking up to 5:00, or you can skip to 6:00:

Thursday, November 3, 2016

How to Watch Doctor Strange

What do we have here? An incredibly loaded character profile. Let's start at the top, with his head. Strange has at least three different hairstyles in the film to correspond to his three different existential states: his hairstyle as a doctor, the wanderer, and then the sorcerer. Hair, and anything on or pertaining to the head, symbolizes our thoughts because our thoughts originate in our minds which are located in our head, so the way a character wears their hair, for example, will tell you about their thoughts. When Strange is the doctor, he is logical, so his hair is mostly combed back, it's "disciplined" because he only allows himself to believe things he can analyze through logical processes. When he's the "wanderer," he has lost the use of his hands and can no longer perform surgeries and tries desperately to find some healing art to restore his "power," his hair is messed up and thick, shaggy, he has lost his analyzing powers because it didn't make sense that he should have been in that wreck (he has now become a "wreck" himself) and so now, he can't discipline himself, he sees himself in a "new light" (more on this below). As a sorcerer, he has freed his mind from logic, but he also hasn't lost the use of his logical powers. He isn't wholly a mystic, but also not a hostage to disbelief and "materialism" anymore (more on this imperative subject below). Notice the "flair" of white hair on the side of his head: white symbolizes faith, purity, innocence. In this case, it probably denotes faith, that he has learned there is more than the material and that knowledge of the reasonableness of faith has made him wise (because Strange is a neurologist, we are going to be exploring HIS NEUROLOGY, and anything and everything that happens to the head, thoughts, thought processes, etc., is going to have elevated importance in this film because of Strange's profession). On a different level, the head also symbolizes "the head of government," it is not wholly the governing function of an individual's body, but also the collective body of a group of people--such as Americans, or the English or Russians, etc.--.and how the "head of government" is the central control of a society; so we have that to keep in mind as well. Facial hair also has a three-stage development in the film: when Strange starts out, he's clean-shaven. Normally, this denotes the civilized man, because the Romans distinguished themselves from the barbarians because barbarians didn't shave their beards, but civilized men did (no offense to any of the men out there, this is art, not fashion nor your morning routine). After the wreck, Strange has grown a shaggy beard; why? We see him wearing a gray shirt and brown pants when he meets the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) because gray is the color of the pilgrim, a penitent or one who has started their "novitiate" into a new state of life. Strange's pants are brown at this point because brown is the color of dirt, meaning, a character is literally "dirty," as in corrupt, or they have been humbled ("From dust you came and to dust you shall return") and that Strange's pants are brown means that he has lost his "standing in society" (the legs symbolize our "standing" and reputation with others, so he's no longer a respected neurologist as he was) so he has been humbled. He wears a beard, then, as a sign of feeling he has been cast out from society because he no longer occupies a place in society, which is why he goes to the "margins" of the civilized world, Tibet, because he doesn't belong in the mainstream of the world anymore (remember, the guy gives Strange the WiFi password and tells him, "We're not savages," because they are on the outskirts of civilization, they have to tell people they are not barbarians like the barbarians who lived on the edge of the Roman civilization) but Strange feels he has, at this point, before the Ancient One sets him upon a new path, has become a barbarian, or at least one who doesn't belong. Then, after he begins to master the magic and mysticism, he grows wiser, Not wise, like the Ancient One, but wiser than he was when he was a doctor; this is still an origin story, so Strange still has far to go, but this is about his transition from the old way to the new way. Now, let's move onto the neck, and there are two details here we ourselves would be wise to note. First, the red cloak of levitation. When images of Cumberbatch as Strange emerged, writers mocked the high collar design on the cape and said how ridiculous-looking it was, and even commented that the collar was something which "had to go" from the original comic to the cinematic adaption. The neck symbolizes that which leads us or guides us, so it's a vulnerable place for a character; that Strange wears a high-collar means the collar "blocks" or "protects" his neck, i.e., protects him from being led by something that is going to hurt him. For example, one character warns Strange to be careful which path he travels down, because stronger men than him have lost their way; they have lost their way because they allowed themselves to be led by something that controlled them, that consumed them, and the high collar on the cloak is meant to symbolize how Strange is protecting himself from going down that wrong path.  Why is the cape red? Better question: why are nearly all capes red? Capes rest upon the shoulders, because shoulders symbolize our burdens, like the mythical Atlas carrying the world upon his shoulders. Capes are red because red symbolizes blood: either we love someone or something enough to sacrifice our (red) blood for it, or we hate someone or something to spill their (red) blood to appease our wrath (so, when someone turns red with anger, their [red] blood is boiling because they have been brought to the point of spilling someone else's blood, even if just metaphorically doing it). So, capes are red because it is only the strength someone gets from love that can help them carry the burden they take upon themselves to save the one they love through self-sacrifice. How Strange's understanding of love evolves in the film will be a vehicle of his conversion and how he saves the world. Now, the other point about his neck: he wears a medallion (well, maybe that's not a good word, but it will suffice for now) around his neck; whatever that is, is what he has chosen as "his path," the path of his destiny and himself as a person. Whatever we learn about that thing hanging on his neck, we can say is Stephen Strange in his most concentrated essence.  What about the blue shirt Strange wears? This validates our interpretation about everything else: blue symbolizes both sadness/melancholy and wisdom, because it is only through sadness and difficult experiences that we gain wisdom, which is the greatest of all treasures, so the "signs" we see of the white streak in his hair, the facial hair, the high-collar and medallion he wears, all add up to accumulated wisdom in which he is now clothed (the blue shirt/tunic). Lastly, Strange stands against a black background; why? Black always symbolizes death: the "good death" is when we die to ourselves and become "alive" to the needs of others; the "bad death" is when we die to the needs of others, and we live only for ourselves. Strange, like all of us, has to die to what he was--in his case, a brilliant neurosurgeon who was arrogant and proud of himself and his accomplishments--but he also has to die so he doesn't become Kaecilius (Mads Mikelson), who is also arrogant. So, in order to live, to live the live he was meant to, which was meant to save lives, he has to die, and that good death is the "back drop" of his whole characterization.
"If I can't shake a stick at it, it doesn't exist," one of my atheist philosophy professors said, every single week of my undergrad education. In spite of the "gospel" he tried to instill within me, I never bought it; I knew there were things that exist even though I couldn't shake a stick at it, or even articulate it, like my soul. Every Christian should be thrilled that Marvel is introducing Doctor Stephen Strange into the universe of super-heroes; why? Because we believe in a immaterial universe, as well as the material one. God, angels, demons, the soul, all belong to the immaterial, the world of spirit, rather than the world of flesh; that doesn't mean the spirit world doesn't intrude into the material one, quite the opposite, and with this new film, Marvel makes that case. Each of the trailers is included in this clip:
You will definitely want to see this, and you will definitely want to see it on the big-screen: the artistry of the film was made for it and you will be losing so much of the film makers' intentions in seeing it on a smaller screen that the struggles of Strange will be diminished. There are, from what I understand TWO POST-CREDITS SCENES, so stay until the end the very end, because they will both have ramifications for other films. Now, why is his name Stephen Strange?
We know that windows and glass symbolize reflection, of the inner, meditative kind, that when a character looks at glass or into a mirror, they are "reflecting" on their inner-reality. Why will this be important? Because animals can't reflect, being able to "reflect" means you have choices, and you ponder those choices, which means you have free will, and when you have free will, you are responsible for the choices you make, be they good or evil consequences. Now, of his whole body that could become damaged in the wreck, why does Strange loose the use of his hands? Hands symbolize strength, specifically, our strength as individuals. Why? Because we give our hand in a gesture of a "hand shake" when we are giving our word of honor about something, because our "honor" comes from our source of strengths as individuals: if we don't have strength of character, we don't have honor, and if we don't have honor, no one is going to enter into an agreement with us where we make a promise to honor that agreement. For Strange, his hands, the hands of the surgeon, signify that he will use his honor to try and correct a patient's problem, rather than make that problem worse (go into their brain and intentionally do something that will ruin that person). Strange loses his hands' ability to operate because Strange has to learn--as do each and every single one of us--that he has a greater, deeper source of strength than just that which he can do as a surgeon, he has power coming from his spirit, he has power in the world that cannot be seen, where there is a battle that cannot be seen, but must still be fought.
His name is "Strange" precisely because there is nothing strange about him: he's perfectly normal. He's meant to be an archetype, someone with whom we can all identify, because if there were actually anything "strange" about him, we couldn't identify with him and he would, therefore, thereby and therewith, cease to qualify as a "hero." The name "Stephan" means "crown," and so his "normality" and lack of strange-ness is his crown, because it's what allows this character to be a vehicle for us, the viewers. We have to see ourselves, our lives, our struggles, in his story, which means, he reflects the common that binds all of us together. From what we have seen, there are two main points we have to be ready for in the film, and the first is the word play we see when Strange meets Kaecilius (Mikelson at 0:46 in trailer above):
Kaecilius: "Mister...?"
Strange: "It's doctor."
Kaecilius: "Mister Doctor?"
Strange: "It's Strange."
Kaecilius: "Maybe. Who am I to judge?"
This conversation tells us two things.
Two things about Kaecilius. First, yellow. We see the Ancient One (Swinton) wearing yellow, with a hood hanging over her face, and using energy to transform the city-scape; then we also see Kaecilius wearing yellow, as he does in this scene (although this particular shot is kind of dark). Yellow is the color of gold, which signifies kingship, because gold is the only gift that is worthy to give a king. A king is supposed to stand up and charge into battle, and lay down his life for the life of his people, lead well and be a father to them. A bad king runs away from that battle and causes his people to lay down their lives for him (this is how "cowardice" becomes associated with yellow). The Ancient One wears yellow because she draws her power for her innate dignity, her kingship from being a daughter of God which is given to each of us. Kaecilius wears yellow because he is going to artificially instill kingship in every person (we have to see exactly how he does it, but it looks like his character is like Daniel Bruhl's character in Captain America: Civil War). The second thing we need to pay attention to for Kaecilius is his eyes. When the Ancient One sends Strange on that mind trip, she touches his forehead and says, "Open your eye!" so he can see within himself and discover the universe he has missed. Kaecilius' eyes are burnt, looking like a raccoon's, but there is a specific event that caused his eyes to look like this, so eyes as the ability to inwardly reflect and "see" beyond the surface of things, has been turned into a negative by Kaecilius, and Strange himself risks becoming that way, too.
First, word play will "mirror" the mirror images we will see in the film, that is, everything has a dual. Kaecilius, as we can guess, is exactly what Strange WILL BECOME if Strange does not fight and defeat him first (this is typical in the Marvel Universe and why it has been so successful); when we see Strange and Kaecilius fight, Strange fights himself, and when Strange is losing, it's because he has to more thoroughly learn the lessons he has learned, in other words, experience has to make up what has been missing from his mystical lessons. Secondly, this conversation describes exactly what kind of "spiritual threats" the sorcerers are meant to protect the world from: Pope Francis and homosexuality. What does Kaecilius do in this conversation when meeting Strange? He takes two forms of proper address, "Mister," and "Doctor," and he combines them into one, complete name: neither of these names are "names," and they are not meant to "go together," anymore than two men are meant to go "together" in sexual union, or two women together in sexual union: "Mister Doctor" is not the way names identify us, nor the way they work to convey who we are, and the same can be said of homosexuality. This interpretation is validated by Kaecilius replying that he doesn't understand that the man he is talking to is named Strange, but that having two forms of address is itself "strange," and saying "Who am I to judge?" Kaecilius echoes Pope Francis who shockingly replied, "Who am I to judge?" when asked about gay priests. This is the "spiritual threat" (Pope Francis is supposed to be the leader of the Christian world, not the defender of liberal policy) which makes the sorcerers like the Avengers, so let's explore that.
If hair symbolizes thoughts, then why is the Ancient One bald? We can have a bald villain, like Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) in Batman vs Superman, because, just as Luthor has shaved off all his hair, so he has cut-off all his thought, his inward reflections. Because the Ancient One has completely mastered self-reflection and meditation, has completed the journey of self-knowledge and discipline, she IS her thoughts; there is no weakness or doubt in her path because she has consistently chosen the right path and best thing to do (like, for example, Professor Xavier in X-Men). Now, there is a problem with the Ancient One, but we will have to see how that plays out before we can make deductions about it; preliminarily, I don't think it's a problem, but we will have to see what happens. So, what about her gray outfit? If she is so advanced, then why does she wear gray if gray is the color of the pilgrim or the novitiate? Because those who know, know that they know not. This gray outfit is a sign of the Ancient One's humility, which allows her to continue to advance in (endless) knowledge. 
As Benedict Wong tells Strange, "The Avengers protect the world from physical dangers, we safeguard it against more mystical threats." So while the Avengers battle the socialist Ultron, the sorcerers remind us of the ideological conflicts taking place and how those spiritual battles threaten us on a daily basis (like in the US when "transgender" individuals are allowed to use any restroom they want, or locker room). As Marvel has been detailing consistently, the whole world is under attack from socialism and progressive positions, and this clip polarizing the material world and the spiritual could be between a Christian and an atheist:
"There is no such thing as spirit! We are made of matter and nothing more." THAT is exactly what socialist want us to believe, that we have no soul. We are animals, not the children of God, but beasts, who have to be fed by caretakers, given lots of sex, and drugs, and controlled by caretakers because we can't make decisions for ourselves. Now, if you think I am over-reading, especially just because these are trailers and clips, I understand, however, I have read the synopsis and there is a very important detail we have to watch for: life being artificially sustained. Because socialism artificially sustains systems and programs as opposed to a free market that makes systems become self-sustaining or die if they can't. That is what we need to look for. I all ready have my ticket for a showing Friday afternoon, so I will work very hard to get that post up asap! As always, thank you so much for stopping by to see if I have updated the blog, thank you!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Sherlock Season 4 & Xander Cage #2

Essentially, we have the violin of Sherlock standing in for Sherlock; why? "Instruments" have a wonderful, organic presence in art, because our bodies can be viewed as instruments, as in the Man Ray photograph of Kiki (his muse, model and mistress) on the right. Not knowing anymore of the plot of the three episodes in the season than we do, we can't say anything definite about why the string has been plucked, but we can say that a broken string usually indicates violent playing, i.e., when someone has been playing furiously upon an instrument, so much so, that the string breaks. What this would indicate, then, is that the villain(s) of Season 4 have done precisely that to Sherlock: played upon him furiously. Now, there is another possibility, which is that Sherlock has played upon himself furiously; how? His drug addiction. If you will recall during The Abominable Bride, Sherlock had increased his dosage of,... whatever it is he takes (heroine? cocaine? both?) and Mycroft looked for the list (when I post on TAB, and I will, promise, we'll discuss how genius that was of Mycroft to do) so, the plucked string in the image above could also be a indication that Sherlock's drug addiction has worsened, and as the "instrument of justice" who was brought back to deal with Moriarty (or whoever else threatens the Empire) the instrument may be all played out.
I'm so sorry, Grandma has been diagnosed with kidney cancer. We believe it has been caught early enough and, after the surgery to remove the kidney, she will be all right, but there has been a lot of additional care she needs these last couple of weeks because she isn't well enough to go into surgery, so I sincerely apologize for not posting regularly. Please remember her and the doctor performing the surgery in your prayers; thank you! I all ready have my ticket to see Doctor Strange this Friday in IMAX 3D--oh, yea, it's going to be totally worth those few extra bucks--and I am putting together a quick Strange post now: there is SO MUCH, even just from trailers, for us to be looking for, that we have to have some kind of a road map before we hit the theater, so I will deliver.
On the big screen, Sherlock Holmes 3 with Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, directed by Guy Ritchie, was supposed to be in full production--i.e., filming--now,... as in, they were supposed to be actually making the movie,... That hasn't happened. Another set-back which may be more political than artistic has caused Sherlock Holmes 3 to be delayed again. So far thus, two different writers have come up with two different scripts, and both scripts have now been cast aside; Warner Brothers has, rather, brought in a team of writers to work on the script, from scratch. This is a rather unusual move, generally speaking, a "team" of writers are usually only brought in at the start of a franchise, for example, Universal's new Monster Universe that has Dracula Untold for the first of the film line-ups; it tends to be looked at as a case of "too many cooks in the kitchen," but there might be another reason,... you probably remember Joss Whendon's Save the Day PSA about voting for Hillary,... Whedon claimed he had made five such PSAs and they would be released before Election Day, and we have yet to see another one;there might still be one or even two released, however, I think the massive public backlash against the celebrities appearing in the PSA has made Warner Brothers think twice before rushing out with another RDJ movie (since he figured so prominently in the ad) and by delaying the film, WB may be hoping that the public will forget/forgive and not create a disaster; it seems "Team Downey," the production team of RDJ and his wife Susan, think the same thing because they have collaborated with WB to get the script re-written. Again, the schedules of RDJ, Ritchie and Law were all set to be filming now, so the script re-writing doesn't make much sense to me,... at all, unless it's to give the toxic fumes coming off RDJ a chance to fade.
So, Sherlock Season 4 has been officially listed as airing January 1, 2017 (as they have done in the past) beginning with the first episode The Six Thatchers. There are, as usual, three episodes in the season, and star Benedict Cumberbatch has alluded to the possibility--as is also typical and usual--that this is the last season, even as he says that he would be despondent if this were the last time he portrayed Holmes. There's been a few drips of other news, but for the most part, we can get to it later; for the moment, here is the second trailer for XXX, and it looks great:
There are no more patriots, only rebels and tyrants, and that's quite accurate: when both sides in America are claiming that they are the patriotic ones, values have to be displayed in a different light, and that light of illumination comes down to power: who wants it and why. I think Donnie Yen is officially on the short-list of my favorite actors now. So, I am getting up a pre-post on Doctor Strange! As always, thank you so much for always checking in and keeping faith in me!
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner