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Denny Wayman

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  • Interests
    Film, literature

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  • Occupation
    Senior Pastor - Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara
  • About my avatar
    Looking beneath the surface
  • Favorite movies
    Amistad (4 Stars - 1997) Antwone Fisher (4 Stars - 2003) Beautiful Mind, A (4 Stars - 2002) Beyond Rangoon (4 Stars - 1995) Big Kahuna, The (4 Stars - 2000) Deadman Walking (4 Stars - 1996) Gospel of John, The (4 Stars - 2003) Green Mile, The (4 Stars - 1999) Hero (4 Stars - 2004) Hotel Rwanda (4 Stars - 2004) Kolya (4 Stars - 1997) Legend of Bagger Vance, The (4 Stars - 2000) Les Miserables (4 Stars - 1998) Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (4 Stars - 2003) Luther (4 Stars - 2003) October Sky (4 Stars - 1999) Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored (4 Stars - 1996) Paradise Road (4 Stars - 1997) Passion of the Christ, The (4 Stars - 2004) Pianist, The (4 Stars - 2003) Saving Private Ryan (4 Stars - 1998) Simon Birch (4 Stars - 1998) Spitfire Grill, The (4 Stars - 1996)

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  1. Denny Wayman


    I have to admit that I found the film fascinating in concept and promising in its trailer, but disappointing in its execution. My disappointment is not in the idea but in the lack of context by which we could have understood the cultures that would care for children in the ways they do. It is definitely a strength to simply let the children "speak for themselves," but it is also a weakness. The strength is that we remove whatever ethnocentric comments narration might have made, but the weakness is that we miss the nuances because of our lack of ethnic information necessary to understand the cultures. As to OCEANS getting a 3, I got big critique when I gave EARTH a 3 instead of a 4 simply because it is a beautiful world. I would not argue with the statement that the Earth and the Oceans are beautiful creations of God - but the films themselves adquately reflect the beauty but not the larger purpose of such creations. I would give BABIES the same kind of critique. Why do humans care for babies in the ways they do? For what larger cultural purpose? Where were the faith communities within the lives of the babies? Are such communities absent from all four cultures and have no place in the babies' lives? So I simply call it an adquate film (2 of 4 stars) when it could have been so much more.
  2. That is the lead-in I gave our review. I said, in part, "Roman Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer” is a study in cinematic technique. Filmed in a stormy world with stark forms you almost feel as though the film is in black and white, though it is not. The characters are as colorless as the setting with rugged beauty and empty morals, creating a mystery of international proportions....As the new ghost writer, The Ghost is cinematically and thematically the ghost of the perished writer who has come back to bring closure to his unexplainable death. Much of this intrigue is heightened by the relationship between Great Brittan and America that has been at the center of the Prime Minister’s career...." Denny
  3. Denny Wayman


    Excellent job on the Steve Brown show. I agree most with your final statement that it is through mythology (and I would add science fiction) that people have their minds prepared for understanding the transcendent. It is the vocabulary for faith and once that vocabulary is learned we can have a conversation. That was how I wrote my review. Keep up the good work! Denny
  4. Peter, I appreciate your thorough analysis. I liked the film and give it overall positive marks. One of the observations I would add from my review is this: Additionally the film presents a stereotypical view of the difficulties of life. Although life is often hard and every person has their share of pain, the film weaves pain into everything. This does not ring true. The common grace of God at work in all people, including those outside the church, seems to be missing. Though life is completed by relationship with Jesus Christ, the Christian belief of common grace or prevenient grace expresses the truth that God is present throughout human experience and extends his love to all people. Denny
  5. What an amazing analysis Peter. You should submit that to some print media. Denny
  6. Yes - I remember how pleased we were to find a group of reviewers who looked at film more as we did. We had held some retreats and had primarily come across reviewers who were interested in the number of curse words or scenes of nudity rather than what we considered far more important - the values and worldviews presented. Although I don't have time to particiapte in this forum as much as I would like, I have benefited greatly from the ideas presented here. Denny
  7. That's so true. When we first started our column I had to literally walk a floppy disk to the newspaper with the column each week!! It was great when we not only had a way to email the column but to make past columns available online... What a world... Denny
  8. In celebration of 15 years with our column we have revamped our website. Denny
  9. Denny Wayman


    Peter said: "That's an interesting angle that hadn't occurred to me yet. But if we were to follow that allegory/analogy, wouldn't it kind of be in the same ballpark as those people who say that Jesus was saving us from God himself? (Given that Jake saves the Na'vi from his fellow humans, that is.)" If you take the allegory fully then that would be implied. But I don't think Cameron takes any of the original sources he is borrowing from fully. But to follow your line of thought, I suppose you would have to go back to distinct theologies of the atonement. One, that has been rejected by the church overall but which was fairly popular in the early church, is that Jesus redeemed us from the power of Satan. Using that theology, Jake was saving the Na'vi from Satan. An analogy that fits a little better but has other inherent problems. As to the film making the GAIA simply biological - I agree that the inclusion of prophecy - which saves Jake's life - implies some consciousness to it. I also found it interesting that when Jake prays to the Sacred Tree - Neytin explains that their deity does not take sides - but then she does in the final battle. However, the soma/spirit connection which is basic to life on Pandora - does not, in itself - undermine the spiritual. To find, for example, that there is a place in our brain that "processes" spiritual experiences, does not mean that spiritual experiences are only biological imaginations. On a corollary note it is interesting that the leader of the Na'vi clan is a man but the spiritual leader is a woman. Is it pagan or pc or enlightened that causes Cameron to do so? As a Free Methodist we ordain women and I have three women pastors working for me. I find their inclusion in my staff very balancing and helpful to myself and the other male pastor - not only in their gifting/strengths but in simple intuitive abilities. In the film they use the word psychic – but the level was at the level of intuition or discernment – a “good heart” – “courage” – that kind of thing. Denny
  10. Denny Wayman


    I actually liked the film quite a bit. Did not see it as ugly, dirty or overly pc. I see it as amazing cinema - a blending of science fiction with mythology. I liked the incarnational nature of the avatar who needs to "become one of" the Na'vi in order to save them. It is undoubtedly New Age with thie Gaia life force - but that is certainly not new in science fiction going back to the Star Wars films. In this instance we have a biologist giving a possible explanation of how all the trees could be "communicating." The ancestor worship/communication through the port in each of the Na'vi's ponytail is a fascinating mixture of soma/spirit which has some fascinating implications. In my review I am going to say - after it is edited and cleaned up - (warning some spoilers) "Some might say that Cameron has a political agenda since he sets his story on a planet named Pandora where an evil corporation has gone to mine its natural resources because humans have killed “mother earth.” But to take such a simplistic view of the story is to miss the vast array of ideas Cameron used as both writer and director to tell his story. Using virtually every idea of science fiction and mythology available, Cameron strums a variety of themes. In the realm of science fiction the central idea is that scientists have discovered how to join human DNA with that of the Na’vi, a humanoid species that is native to the planet. What makes this different is that these hybrid creatures become avatars of the humans. Using an electronic sleep chamber that joins their nervous systems, the humans live through the avatar’s bodies. In the mythical realm the central focus is that the Na’vi live in direct union with the life force of their planet. in which everything is connected to one life force symbolized by their sacred tree. Similar to the New Age belief that all of life shares Gaia - the life force in which everything is connected, on Pandora the scientists discover this as a measurable biological reality using electrical impulses. They discover that the Na’vi have a port at the end of their ponytails that allow them to literally bond with the animals and trees on their planet as they attain a respectful dominance over their shared life. But these two central themes are only the beginning. The story Cameron tells is full of love and betrayal, jealousy and greed, death and rebirth, incarnation and prophecy, ancestor worship and warrior rituals. The natives of Pandora walk a “trail of tears” as the evil corporate warriors devastate their home and yet when they battle against forces far more advanced their counterattack is savage in its retribution."
  11. Denny Wayman


    Yes - I agree. This, for me, was the weakest part of the film. It could have been even better if he was a nuanced character. Denny
  12. I glanced through the thread and didn't see anyone mentioning the title. How can a Christian leader like Mandela be portrayed as believing the creed of INVICTUS? Out of the night that covers me, Black as the Pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul. In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed. Beyond this place of wrath and tears Looms but the Horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years Finds and shall find me unafraid. It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul. Denny
  13. Fascinating film. I found it interesting, in a backhanded kind of way. In my review I make similar observations. Here is part of what I observed:
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