All posts by Bryce Ashlin-Mayo

Primer

I recently watched “Primer,” one of the most thought provoking movies I have seen in a long time. Not that it was just philosophically engaging, but that it was by end very complex and complicated to say the least. I have to also say…hats off to the guys who made a movie like this; that is so smart and well filmed for just $7000. It is truly amazing!

The movie is basically about a group of friends who are engineers and every month pursue a new idea in hope of inventing something amazing and of course get rich. The movie gains momentum when two of friends (the main characters) break the friends’ pact and do an experiment of their own. They find out that their invention is actually a time machine and over the course of a few days/weeks realize the effects of causality and in a nut shell realize they have opened up a “Pandora’s Box.”

To give you a small understanding of how complex the movie storyline is, here is an example of someone who has mapped it out and posted it online.


This movie leads to interesting discussions on paradoxes and causality. For example a paradox is defined as: “an apparently true statement or group of statements that seems to lead to a contradiction or to a situation that defies intuition.” (Wikipedia.org). In theoretical time travel, if you go back in time and meet yourself, would you create a paradox and what would happen?

Have you ever thought about the paradoxes in Scripture? Paradoxes like: God knows the future yet we have free will. Or as John Ortberg describes “the cross as the ultimate paradox: God experiencing the absence of God so that he can draw close to us in our loss and grief.” Or the theological idea of grace, that we can do nothing to gain everything. Or we are invited to loose our lives to gain it. I think and believe that it is those very paradoxes that make God so amazing and beyond complete human understanding. As Thomas Merton once said: “…if you find God with great ease, perhaps it is not God that you have found.” I would change it to: “If we think we completely understand God, perhaps it is not God we understand but ourselves.” The more I know, the more I learn I don’t know, which is both exciting as I see the mystery of God, scary in that it is more and more beyond me and humbling as I understand what I don’t know.

How about causality? “Causality describes the relationship between causes and effects.” (wikipedia.org) In theoretical time travel, especially in this movie, it is used a lot. One of the most famous examples is the idea of the causality of a butterfly flapping its wings thus setting off a chain of events. This is the most problematic element of any time travel movie and the arrogance that somehow someone can go back in time and only change what they want. What if they unintentionally changed the outcome of their birth, would they then just disappear? Now think about causality in scripture and spirituality. How much does what we do effect those around us – both good and bad? How much do we leave out of our understanding of what God did at creation, what we did at the fall or what Christ did on the cross? We often limit those things but it isn’t that simple nor should it be.

Back to the movie…I would highly recommend watching it – probably experiencing it is the better word. But be forewarned…it is thought provoking, you will have to watch it several times, and you may lose some sleep over it as you lay in bed, as I did, trying to figure out what was happening when

Bike Trip

This last weekend was amazing and insanely busy. I first went on a bike trip with some friends (my fellow scaldedrabbits) and although I could only go on the first night that was for them a several day trip, it was awesome to get away with friends and hit the “open road.”

I also went to Winnipeg that weekend for a friends pre-wedding celebration and it was great to meet with friends. I was reminded of how blessed I am to have friends like that. It was awesome and I am so glad I did it.

God is Closer Than You Think

I just finished the book God is Closer Than You Think by John Ortberg. Ortberg is a gifted communicator and this book comes across as what it is meant to be a written sermon. I am sure that is how it started or ended up: as a sermon series at Meno Park. It was a fast read and here are a few quotes from it that I found interesting:

“Thomas Merton once said that if you find God with great ease, perhaps it is not God that you have found.” As a guy who is half introverted and half extroverted and a contemplative it was a great reminder that my struggle at times to find God is a good struggle and an essential part of my spirituality.

I was also struck by the quote from Karl Barth: “God would rather be the suffering God of a suffering people than the blest God of an unblest people.” Ortberg adds to this by talking about “the cross as the ultimate paradox: God experiencing the absence of God so that he can draw close to us in our loss and grief.” The whole paradox idea in Christianity is something I want to explore further with a movie review I want to write soon on “Primer.”

Acoustic Skyline @ Nakamun

One of the worship teams I play guitar with (called Acoustic Skyline) is leading the worship at Camp Nakamun this weekend for Family Camp. I am looking forward to hanging out and playing with my friends and enjoying time with my family, although it will get a bit crazy when I have to leave Sunday morning to preach in church and then rush back to Camp to play for the evening session. It will be fun and I hope a great weekend!!!

Evil: An Investigation

I am in the process of reading a book I bought in the bargain center of chapters entitled Evil: An Investigation by Lance Morrow. I am about a quarter of the way through it and it seems as if it has been written on the heels of Sept. 11. It seems as if it is Lance Morrow’s way of trying to figure out and discern evil. One of the things I have found most interesting is the discussion on the relationship between evil and humour in the brain – which are somehow linked. I am not sure what to do with that but to say that I think, like Lance discusses, that the emotions and reactions that are linked to evil are similarly located with humour which I think explains why humour is often our coping mechanism for evil. I have to admit that when I have experienced evil it is often coped with on an emotional level with humour to some degree not in an unsympathetic way but with humour none-the-less.
I have also found some of the stories of societies in the world that have so deteriorated that some have accepted steeling food from children and pushing elderly people into the fire as entertainment. I think it goes to show the depravity of man and not just in isolated power crazed ways (like Hitler, Stalin, etc.) but in everyday places and in everyday ways.
However, I have to disagree with Lance in that to me, and I could be wrong, he assumes that evil is just in specific places doing specific things where I think it is way more subversive than that. I agree that our medieval concept and picture of Satan is distorted but evil exists and as C.S. Lewis describes in The Screwtape Letters it is more subversive than we give it credit for. I think evil exists as much in apathy as it does in intentionality.