Archives For January 2012

I hate clowns.  Perhaps you should too.

This weekend Brooke and I will go on our annual pilgrimage with the kids downtown Nashville to see The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Yes, this is our third year of the madness. The kids absolutely love the animals and acrobats making death-defying flips in the air.  But every year we see those ridiculous clowns. We break out in a cold sweat when they approach us. I try to avoid hating anything but for some reason I am haunted by these crazies. For crying out loud there is a dedicated website dedicated to “clown hatred.”  It explains the rationale about clowns (my emphasis added):

They scare little kids (mine), they cause neurosis in some adults (me), they have big floppy feet (I have big feet, are they making fun of me?), they try to fit too many of their kind in a car, I could go on and on.

It was the movie Poltergeist (1982) that ruined me.  The scene where the clown disappears from the chair across from the boy and then attacks him is a recurring nightmare. I think after I saw that movie, I threw every stuffed animal clown I had in the house and quickly gave up watching Bozo the Clown.  Then Stephen King had to rub it in my face with the book/movie, IT.  Good grief.

I simply hate clowns. Sorry, it’s personal. There was a period of time as a kid when I was playing with my G.I. Joes and I would find unique ways to kill my stuffed animal clowns. I am sure some of them are nice and do some good things like attempt to cheer up children in hospitals. But I don’t buy it.

Truth is, I am a clown. I wear the mask of a clown too often. I make all sorts of facial expressions to make you think better of me. I try to entertain and show a lot of color but ultimately look just like every other clown out there. I hide behind the makeup. I try to be someone or something else.

The beautiful yet creepy song “John Wayne Gacy” written by Sufjan Stevens has a haunting line that always makes the hair on my arms stand up.  The notorious Chicago area serial killer John Wayne Gacy often dressed up as a clown to lure his victims. Sufjan saw something deeper at heart and expressed it in this line,

And in my best behavior
I am really just like him
Look beneath the floor boards
For the secrets I have hid

So I may not be a serial killer but what do I hide? As a culture, I think we spend a lot of time and energy analyzing the sin of everyone else. I am incredibly guilty of that.  The song is a reminder that this mask I put on each day represents the sin of my life. Until I take off this mask and makeup, I cannot truly be the person God wants me to be. I am just a floppy-shoed fraud until then.

I take splice in 1 Samuel 16:7

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

I pray every day for an honest heart that shows compassion, love and the ‘real’ me God wants in this world.  May you as well. 

What about you?  Any clown stories you need to get off your chest?  

I hope you get the idea from reading this blog that I love movies.  I am developing multiple lists of movies to share with my children someday.  When I was a kid I remember being exposed to several powerful movies for the first time.  I was inspired by some of them and some of them haunt me until this day.  My mother and I joke now but when I was eight years old I first watched Platoon (1986).  Although a fantastic Oscar worthy film, most would agree it’s hardly one to introduce to an eight year old.  To this day mom keeps apologizing about that, which makes me laugh and I then remind her that I turned out just fine.  As that semi-innocent eight year old, I dreamed of being a soldier. I think she felt that me watching Platoon would provide some perspective about what the military could look like. Yep, after a couple of hours of Oliver Stone’s Vietnam, that was enough for me to abandon that ambition. (Thanks mom?)

Like anything in culture, each person has their own filter in what they are able to absorb.  We can be molded by the world so I have become quite self-conscious on how my worldview is formed.  It is a reminder that the world can be scary. I’m a parent now and my wife and I are trying to figure out what our kids should absorb when it comes to education and entertainment.  Recently my kids (2 and 3) and I were watching Aladdin and it is one of the darkest kids movies I’ve seen. In fact, most Disney movies are like that I’ve noticed. I recently read about The Top 26 Most Disturbing Kids Movies by Babble.com.  Is your young child watching one of these?  My wife has usually been the wise one to ask the question,

“Should the kids be watching this?”

In your mind you think that it is a great movie about heroes, villains, and a family uniting to save the world.  What is wrong with that? Wait…but they hit and the even (gulp), kill the villain.

The tension is strong because we don’t just want to expose our kids to just fairy tales.  We want them to be inspired but also see what real life looks like.  One of my favorite Christian thinkers and commentators of culture is Phil Cooke.  In his recent blog, The Change Revolution he noted,

After all, if we filmed the Bible, much of it would be R-rated, and occasionally worse. The Bible doesn’t gloss over real life and God apparently wasn’t afraid to tell real, authentic stories. I think the culture would respect our message much more if we stopped producing just cheesy, G-rated films and started telling gritty stories about real life.

Should we sugar coat life?

My check as a parent now is questioning “what, when, and why” I should introduce when it comes to entertainment, learning, etc.  Most parents would agree that the book To Kill a Mockingbird has a life-changing message that every child should read.  But I’m challenged to rethink when the girls are ready for such an important message.  Most importantly, I am are challenged to pray for the wisdom to figure this out on a daily basis. Romans 12:2 cautions us to never forget that we must go ultimately to God for this discernment.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

What was the most disturbing movie you first watched as a kid? 

If you are a parent, how do you filter what you share with your kids? 

I am looking for a dare to be great situation.

These are the words from the immortal everyday hero, Lloyd Dobler in the movie Say Anything (1989).  It was the first movie I saw that was written and directed by Cameron Crowe.  Crowe gave us other amazing lines in his movies like “You complete me”, “I gave her my heart, she gave me a pen”, and “I’m never as good as when you’re there.”  I always liked Lloyd because he was the everyman, someone I could relate to on film.  His words, especially this line always sticks with me and I kind of wear it around my shoulder.

Why?

We all want to be the “idea” of Lloyd and act out our mission in life.  There are situations when we want our actions to be great but let’s admit it, we’re afraid.   That’s okay because if you aren’t afraid, it won’t be as great.  We want our actions to be honorable.  We want them to be dangerous (in a good way).  We want our actions to matter and be memorable.  It doesn’t matter if it is January or the end of a long year.  When you see that opportunity like Lloyd, act.  If it is a girl you’ve always been intimated by, go for it.  If it is that idea you’re afraid to introduce at work, go for it.  Look around you because your friends and family are cheering for you.

I love tackling a challenge that seems insurmountable at the time but after you get through it, you look back and say, “Wow, that just happened.” We want our stories to live beyond us.  30 years from now you will remember these feats, I promise you.

 

What is your dare to be great situation you are facing?  What are your waiting for? 

 

PS  I read that Kirk Cameron was almost cast to play Lloyd.  That was right after Robert Downey, Jr. turned the part down. Thank God for providing John Cusack.  Oh how that would have been a game changer…