Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
After a successful Halloween night of frightening children, Jack Skellington, a skeletal King of the Pumpkins, has a post-Halloween Ecclesiastes moment where he sings:
There are few who deny at what I do I am the best…
(he goes on to sing about how good he is at scaring people)
Yet year after year it’s the same routine
And I grow so weary of the sound of screams.
I, Jack the Pumpkin King,
Have grown so tired of the same old thing.
Oh somewhere deep inside of these bones
A longing that begins to grow
There’s something out there far from my home
A longing that I’ve never known.
Who here would even understand
That the Pumpkin King with his skeleton grin
Would tire of his crown? If they only understood
He’d give it all up if he only could.
I believe Jack would agree with King Solomon that fame, glory, and other treasures of this world are “vanity” or ultimately meaningless and unfulfilling. Jack then goes for a walk with his ghost dog Zero and happens upon a strange part of the woods with a circle of trees with doors on them. Each door has a different symbol on it including a turkey, a shamrock, a painted egg, a jack-o-lantern and a Christmas tree.
Jack opens the Christmas door and finds himself falling onto a pile of snow in
I think it is also worth noting how similar (and generic) the elves look in contrast to the rich diversity of creatures in
While Jack is gone, the entire community of
Jack is frustrated by their responses and sings,
“Listen now you don’t understand.
That’s not the point of Christmas Land…
Everyone please, now, not so fast,
There’s something here that you don’t quite grasp.”
He then says to himself, “Well I may as well give them what they want” and proceeds to twist his description of Santa into the frightening demon-like “Sandy Claws”. This is similar to how people attempt to evangelize through fear (fundamentalism) or giving them what they want (liberalism) both of which ultimately warp the nature of God. Reflecting afterwards, Jack says to himself, “Well at least they’re excited but they don’t understand that special kind of feeling in
In an effort to become a Christmas apologist and gain more understanding for himself, Jack then proceeds to read as much as he can about Christmas saying, “There’s got to be a logical way to explain this Christmas thing.” After reading about the scientific method, he asks the scientist Dr. Finklestein for some laboratory equipment to aid his quest to quantify Christmas. Jack’s friends notice that Jack is different and sing, “Something’s up with Jack”.
Meanwhile, Jack is performing experiments with candy canes, holly berries, ornaments and such things in an attempt to distill the meaning of Christmas.
Christmastime is buzzing in my skull.
Will it let me be? I cannot tell.
There are so many things I cannot grasp.
When I think I’ve got it, then at last
Through my bony fingers it does slip
Like a snowflake in a fiery grip.
Something here I’m not quite getting,
Though I try I keep forgetting,
Like a memory long since passed
Here in an instant, gone in a flash.
What does it mean? What does it mean?
These dolls and toys confuse me so.
Confound it all, I love it though.
Simple objects nothing more
But something’s hidden through a door
Though I do not have the key
Something’s here I cannot see.
What does it mean? What does it mean?
I’ve read these Christmas books so many times.
I know the stories and I know the rhymes.
I know the Christmas carols all by heart.
My skull’s so full it’s tearing me apart.
As often as I’ve read them something’s wrong,
So hard to put my body finger on
Or perhaps it’s really not as deep
As I’ve been led to think.
Am I trying much too hard?
Of course! I’ve been too close to see
The answer’s right in front of me!
It’s simple really, very clear,
Like music drifting in the air
Invisible but everywhere
Just because I cannot see it,
Doesn’t mean I can’t believe it.
I really can sympathize with Jack as he tries to sort out the mysteries. Then, he becomes a bit prideful (with which I also sympathize) with thoughts similar to the words of the serpent in the Garden of Eden when it convinces Adam and Eve that they can become like God:
You know I think this Christmas thing
Is not as tricky as it seems.
And why should they have all the fun?
It should belong to anyone.
Not anyone, in fact but me!
Why, I can make a Christmas tree,
And there’s no reason I can find
I couldn’t handle Christmastime.
I bet I could improve it too
And that’s exactly what I’ll do.
He then shouts, “This year, Christmas will be ours!” and all of the inhabitants of
After accidentally bringing the Easter Bunny, they finally succeed in capturing him. Much to Santa’s shock and protest, Jack takes his hat and tells him his plans to handle things this year so that Santa can take a break. As Lock, Shock and Barrel cart Santa away, he asks them to release him, saying, “Haven’t you heard of peace on earth and goodwill toward men?” To which they reply, “No!” as they take him to Oogie Boogie’s lair. Oogie then proceeds to mock him proclaiming: “Well, well, well what have we here?
As the Oogie Boogie man continues harassing him in his gambling themed house of horror, Jack is playing the role of Santa Claus, delivering the frightening and dangerous gifts that the townspeople have created. His coffin sleigh (pulled by skeletal reindeer) is eventually shot down by the army and Jack lands in a cemetery on a book held by an angel statue where he sings sadly.
What have I done?
Find a deep cave to hide in.
In a million years they’ll find me only dust
And a plaque that reads “Here lies poor old Jack”.
But I never intended all this madness. Never.
And nobody really understood.
How could they? That all I ever wanted
Was to bring them something great.
Why does nothing ever turn out like it should?
He goes back and redeems himself by rescuing Santa who then sets things right. He flies over
While that is the end of the movie, I wanted to add some details and comments about the minor character Dr. Finklestein, the scientist as he is the embodiment of a creator whose nature is significantly different from that of God. Many people mistakenly identify God with these characteristics. The first time we meet him, he is in his wheelchair (showing a lack of power), yelling at one of his creations, a rag doll named Sally who had given him deadly nightshade so that she might escape. He yells, “You’re mine, you know. I made you with my own hands.” She replies, “You can make other creations. I’m restless. I can’t help it.” He urges her to simply be patient.
Later, he rightfully suspects her of poisoning his soup again and says that he won’t have any unless she has some first. She says that she isn’t hungry and he tries to give her a guilt trip by replying, “You want me to starve! Me to whom you owe your very life…” After she pretends to have a taste, he slurps the soup down and, poisoned, falls asleep giving Sally the opportunity to run away again. When he awakes with a headache he yells, “You’ve poisoned me for the last time, you wretched girl,” and locks in a tower room.
Sally the rag doll flops out of her window and lands hard, causing her arms and legs to fall apart. She takes out a needle, and sews herself back together (man as self sufficient). Later in a reverse manner of the Prodigal Son’s father, opens her door saying, “You can come out now if you promise to behave,” and then finds her missing.
Fed up with her, he eventually makes a new and improved woman, and says, “You will be a decided improvement over that treacherous Sally.” Opening up her duck bill shaped hinged metal skull, he puts in part of his own brain (thus losing intelligence) from his own duck billed hinged skull and says, “What a joy to think of all we’ll have in common. We’ll have conversations worth having.” He then kisses the bit of brain and the skull lid closes down on his fishy lips. I’m so thankful that our creator is not like Dr. Finklestein!
Essentially today, the residents of
Last year I realized how I am surrounded by death. When I walk to the Carrick Library, I pass by three cemeteries, two funeral homes, a monument (headstone) business and am greeted by yet another graveyard next to the library. People are dying to live in my neighborhood. Figuratively, I am also surrounded by the walking dead, wandering around like sheep without a shepherd. The hollow eyes of decaying buildings gape through weed jungles. Graffiti and litter snarl at passersby. These initial realizations put me in a state of grief and depression but I am realizing that the way out of the abyss of my feelings is not denial of the chaos and destruction of the people and places that surround me, but rather finding ways of resurrecting and redeeming them. The power of re!