381: “Watchmen” raises questions of spiritual authority … and we welcome reflections from readers …

Scene from Watchmen
T
he day after Amazon made its big move this week — moving its Kindle E-reader into our I-Phones for free and trying as rapidly as possible to dominate E-book delivery in the U.S. — I was scheduled to lecture to a couple hundred high school seniors. The theme of this Humanities-class lecture was: “From the Reformation to Today — Media, Spirit, Change.”
Watchmen iconic image
    Here’s what was most intriguing: I asked these 17- and 18-year-olds some questions about their media preferences. While the Kindle is a very important device for millions of people, it’s not a big deal for these young media consumers. And, while every one of those high school kids would love to own an I-Phone, most of them don’t — and the big move by Amazon this week didn’t matter to these bright young leaders-in-waiting.
    Where do they live on a daily basis in the media world? Video. (TV. Movies. Video games. And especially — YouTube.)
    They’re the population driving YouTube numbers through the roof. A bunch of these very smart young people — by a show of their raised hands — already have their own YouTube channels they’re developing. They’re the ones for whom the big news this week is not Amazon’s move — it’s the opening of “Watchmen” this weekend.
    They’re not alone, of course. Even many of our more mature friends of ReadTheSpirit have their eye on “Watchmen,” as well as other important movies and videos this week.
    So, today, we’re using our “weekend” space here at ReadTheSpirit to serve up …

AN INVITATION TO YOU …
    Send us an Email, like many readers have done in recent weeks, telling what you think about “Watchmen,” if you’re planning to see it. Or, tell us about some other film you think we should not miss. This is the post-Oscar period when films are either finding new life (the winners) or are vanishing (the also-rans).
    Here’s the kind of thing we’re talking about …

JAMES BOND BIBLE STUDY CREATOR, Benjamin Pratt emailed in response to Ed McNulty’s thoughtful recommendation of “Frozen River,” which was highlighted at the Oscars.
    Check out Dr. Pratt’s own online landing page to learn more about how he interweaves spiritual reflections with contemporary media — in Dr. Pratt’s case, the works of Ian Fleming. Here’s what Dr. Pratt wanted to share with our readers about “Frozen River”:

    “Frozen River” was a must see for me. My son-in-law is a Border Patrol Agent.
    I went in the hope of learning more about the dangerous world in which he lives daily. I came away with more than an insight into his life; I came away with a look into the underbelly of our society. Courtney Hunt’s somber “Frozen River” offers a look on the other side of the frozen chasm existing in our society.
    We who live metaphorically as the prophet Amos calls “those who lie on beds of ivory…and are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!” (Amos 6: 4, 6) peer into the underbelly of our society captured in dire, demeaning poverty, ethnic tension, depressed real estate, high gas prices and illegal immigration.
    Not a pleasant frozen vista — but one very necessary for our souls.

REMEMBER: WE’RE EAGER TO HEAR ABOUT “WATCHMEN.”

    Earlier, we published Jim Leach’s preview of the story’s significance — and the mix of anxiety and hope that fans were feeling as they approached this debut weekend.

    HERE ARE A FEW THOUGHTS, based on seeing the film myself at a midnight debut in a suburban cinemplex:
    Some sequences of the new movie are an almost shot-for-shot remake of the comic series as if the comics were virtually storyboarding a movie. But longtime comic fans will find many revisions in the complex tale.
    The film’s rating is: “R for strong graphic violence, sexuality, nudity and language.” That phrase means exactly what it says. This is a film that may offend viewers with its intensity of graphic content.
    In a cineplex near our Home Office, two large theaters completely sold out to crowds heavily packed with late-teens and mainly 20-somethings with pretty obvious groups of comic and gaming fans woven through the crowd.
    I don’t describe the film as “complex” casually. If you don’t know the “Watchmen” story, this film doesn’t help viewers with a lot of the subtext elements. The central storyline is simple to understand, by the time the movie ends, but there’s a huge array of cultural and comic and historic references sprinkled through nearly every scene of the film.
    SO — we do, indeed, want to hear from you on this film.

    ALSO — We’re recommending, today, a cool new Wiley paperback that isn’t “religious,” but that does explore philosophical and spiritual questions related to the film. If you’re trying to discuss the movie in a small group, it’s a good idea to grab a copy of this book.
    The themes of the original “Watchmen,” which first was published two decades ago, couldn’t be more timely today. Among the major questions explored in the original comic books (and in this new Wiley companion volume) are themes about authority in our rapidly changing and deeply troubled world.
    Who should we regard as heroes? What standards should we require? If super-powerful figures claim the right to be called heroes, should we trust them? As people become extremely powerful in our world, can they betray us? Or, even worse in some cases, can they be so oblivious to the needs of their neighbors that they wind up causing great damage? Is it even possible to be a really super hero today?
    The jury’s still out on whether this new movie version can capture those big questions.

PLEASE, tell us what you think.

    Not only do we welcome your notes, ideas, suggestions and personal
reflections—but our readers enjoy them as well. You can do this
anytime by clicking on the “Comment” links at the end of each story.
You also can Email ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm. We’re also reachable on Facebook, Digg, Amazon, GoodReads and some of
the other social-networking sites as well, if you’re part of those
groups.

    This also is a good time to sign up for our Monday-morning ReadTheSpirit Planner by Emailit’s
free and you can cancel it any time you’d like to do so. The Planner
goes out each week to readers who want more of an “inside track” on
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section.
    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)

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