Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: love others (page 1 of 2)

Sermon: I Have Decided

A sermon I preached on Sunday, September 13, 2015 at Peakland United Methodist. The texts were Proverbs 1:20-22 and Mark 8:27-38.

 

Guest Post: Love God, Love Others

by Kara Byrne

washing_3262c-2Read Exodus 20:1-17.

I was a teacher before I was a parent, so you’d expect that I’d have this whole discipline/ behavior management thing figured out, right? Nope. The lines get blurry when they’re your own children. We’ve tried various techniques with varying results which has often left me wondering: what are the desired behaviors? What do we most want our children to portray? Well, that answer is actually pretty easy: loving God and loving others.
Guess what? Those are the exact  desired behaviors that God established a few thousand years ago. It’s a shame I didn’t consider that first…

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Jesus Said: Follow Me

“Jesus called out to them, ‘Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people'” (Matthew 4:19).

Remember playing the game “Follow the Leader” when you were a kid? I used to work in an after-school children’s ministry setting. At the end of the day, before the parents had arrived and when there just was not enough time to do another activity, we would play Follow the Leader.

I would be the leader to start, and we would go up and down halls; circle tables and chairs; tumble over couches. It was fun! And it usually always lasted the right amount of time.  Continue reading

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Dallas Buyers Club received nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey, Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Best Original Story, Best Film Editing, and Best Makeup & Hairstyling.

Update: Won Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto; Won Best Makeup & Hairstyling; Won Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey

Dallas Buyer's ClubIn 1985 Rock Hudson, the famed actor, learned that he had the HIV virus that births AIDS. Rumors abound quickly (and they still do) that Hudson was homosexual, which was the cause of the disease. As Dallas Buyer’s Club opens, Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is playing cards in a rodeo locker room. Their playing board is a newspaper with the Hudson story.

This is the kind of details that director Jean-Marc Vallée provides in this film. At times they are so subtle that one may miss them in the first viewing. Nevertheless, it is the attention to details that make this film Oscar worthy. The film has been nominated for Best Picture, Best Leading Actor (Matthew McConaughey) and Best Supporting Actor (Jared Leto).

McConaughey and Leto both put their bodies through extreme measures to portray their HIV positive characters. The drastic amount of weight loss for a character can go one of two ways. It can be a huge distraction from the performance of the actor, or it can enhance the actor’s portrayal making the performance even more powerful. Here, McConaughey and Leto are the latter. The drastic weight loss only enhances the powerful performance they give, winning both actors Golden Globes.

In the scene where they are playing cards on Rock Hudson’s story in the newspaper, Ron makes every inappropriate comment possible about Hudson and his sexuality. The very first scene has Ron having sex with a woman at the rodeo. Right out of the gate, we know that this rodeo rider is arrogant and homophobic. He is fueled by cigarettes, liquor, and occasionally speed or coke. In every sense of the word, Ron Woodroof is the stereotypical, straight, white male.

Ron’s life, attitude, and story changes after an electrical accident at a Texas oil field. The doctors at the hospital report to him that he is HIV+. He is given 30 days to live. Ron cannot, and will not, accept this news. He is not Rock Hudson. His attitude, which was so common in the 1980s, was that if he was straight, he could not have AIDS. It takes some time before Ron accepts his reality, and is able to recall that he most likely contracted the disease when having an unprotected sexual encounter with two women at the rodeo, and one them was heavily using drugs.

Once accepting his disease, he works out a deal with a hospital orderly to get the new drug AZT. When that option is no longer one, Ron makes a trip to Mexico where a former American doctor is practicing medicine. It is there that Ron learns how dangerous AZT can be. And it is when we learn that the big pharmaceutical companies are using the epidemic to push AZT, even though it does not work as they say it does. Jennifer Gardner gives a mediocre performance as Dr. Eve Saks, who will be the only doctor in the Dallas hospital who stands up against the pharmaceutical push of the drug. It is a strong character, who cares deeply for her patients and the only one brave enough and bold enough to stand up to big pharmaceutical. Yet, Gardner’s performance of this strong character is limp at best.

DBC priestRon takes his health care into his own hands. He dresses up as a cancer stricken priest to smuggle drugs into the United States. He attempts to sell the drugs to homosexual men, but his arrogance and attitude get in the way. He meets Rayon (Jared Leto), a transsexual who is able to help Ron get in with the community. Ron’s friendship with Rayon is what breaks down Ron’s arrogance and attitude toward those who are different from him. It is through this relationship that Ron has his self-awakening moment. He stands up for Rayon in the grocery store when one of his former co-workers and friends makes unnecessary remarks to Rayon. Ron discovers his bravery and boldness.

Together, Rayon and Ron create a co-op called the Dallas Buyer’s Club. Individuals who are looking for better drugs for HIV and AIDS buy a membership into the Club that then gives them free medications. It was modeled after similar Clubs in other states. The pharmaceutical drugs that are being used, are not helping the patients. The medications that Ron brings in from all over the world, make a difference. Neither of them cure.

dallasbuyersclub

It is hard to say who redeems who in this film. Rayon’s presence in Ron’s life changes Ron for the better. Unfortunately, while the same can be true about Ron’s presence in Rayon’s life, the change is not quite the same. While Ron changes his behaviors (and attitudes), Rayon continues to use recreational drugs. Ron makes the commitment to change, Rayon struggles with what that commitment looks like.

As blogger Randall Golden pointed out in his post about the film, there is a very important message, subtle, but important after the end credits:

AIDS is not over. Access to treatment could save more lives.

AIDS is one of the greatest epidemics of our time. There are people who are still being mistreated, not getting access to appropriate medications, and who are being treated as outsiders. The call by Christ to love our neighbor as ourselves is such an important call. The men and women all around the world who are suffering from HIV and AIDS deserve our love. Just as Jesus had bravery and boldness to touch the leper, may we who claim Christ as Lord have the same bravery and boldness to touch those with AIDS.

I Think You Can

The other night I was reading through an old journal I kept from 2009 and 2010. I found a lot of random quotes from devotionals, sermons, and books that said something to me at the time.  In the midst there was this quote from Albert Outler I had found in a sermon by Zan Holmes.

We must stop telling ourselves and others that we must love one another. Instead, we must tell ourselves and others that we can love ourselves and others because we are loved by Jesus!

It got me thinking about some of the language we use in the church. We use a lot of “musts” and especially a lot of “should.” But we don’t always use “can.” Okay, let’s get some definitions:

Should: used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions

Can: be able to

So, there is a difference between what we should do and what we can do. Too often in church we tend to say, and I’m guilty of it myself, we should – fill in the blank. We should love God. We should love others. We should fight for justice. We should welcome all.

Remember the children’s book, The Little Engine that Could? The little engine didn’t try to overcome the difficulties of the journey by telling herself, “I think I should. I think I should. I think I should.” No, she told herself, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.”

TheLittleEngine

Outler has it right, and is right to draw our attention to it. These are not things we should do, these are things we can do. I know I should love God. I know I should love others. I know I should love myself. But when that changes to I can love God; I can love others; I can love myself, it becomes less of a downer, and more empowering.

Now it doesn’t mean that it won’t be hard. Just like the little engine, there will be curves and hills to overcome. Our lives are filled with all kinds of craziness. But rest assured, you can do it! You can love God with all your whole self. You can love others for who they are. And you can love yourself.

And you know why you can? Because the One who conquered death loves you. The One who gives the gift of grace loves you. The One who became like you and me loves you. Because of this love, I think you can!

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