I’m back! (and how I learnt to accept Iron Man 2)

For those of you who are followers of this blog, you may have noticed that for the past 2/3 weeks, I’ve not been writing much. The reasons for this are both simple and complicated and I feel like I should explain. These past few weeks have been really tough for me, and I don’t usually share why. At church today though I was challenged to live in the light, which means not hiding things regardless of the cost, so here is me being open, whether you want to hear it or not.

I’m a single guy and always have been, something that I’m not happy about. However, I try to live my life and move on, but I do get really quite lonely at times. I think this loneliness is then exaggerated by my own thoughts. Part of my personality is to have really deep feelings for people, more so than I think they realise.  This intensity of feeling is often very tiring and if I do not keep up with just doing things rather than relationships, I get worn out. When people show an interest and chose to share even a part of their life with me, a bond is formed. I get attached to that person and without thinking, want them to succeed. In my heart I put others above myself and I know that may come across as big headed and sound like I’m boasting, but it honestly is what I do. It may in part be down to a lack of self worth, but I think a big part of it is seeing quite quickly what is valuable about people and how they are different to me. But after that first connection, my heart is for them. I am a lion by their side and will shout for what they shout for, regardless of the cost to me. It is when this depth isn’t felt by me (whether it be out there or not) that I feel isolated.

Well, that is how this bad spell started. I felt alone and helpless to change that fact, as not only am I hugely lacking in confidence in this area, but therefore are very few single ladies that I know. Rather than fighting this quickly, I let that part of me that cries out in pain at this have control. And I got down for quite a few days.

This is not the first time this has happened and I doubt it will be the last. The next phase has also had a precedent or two. I cried out to God in desperation asking for Him to help, as I feel helpless and wanted things to change. Surprisingly, I didn’t suddenly meet a fantastic supermodel who was also blessed with brains and a heart. All I got was a reminder that I had a really good life. I have a great bunch of friends, an awesome house, money and an easy well paying job. But as has happened before, this was not a comfort. This only made me feel worse, as I not only felt guilty for how bad I was feeling but also felt that any change would not prevent these bursts coming again. This made me only cry out more.

One of the things about these moods is that at this stage, seeing other people doing fine hurts like hell. I feel like I’m failing by being stuck in this pool of misery and that I’m letting them down. I also find that it has serious effects on my body and I can’t sleep well. This thus makes me ill and tired, thus meaning I have very little energy to try and pull myself out to appear ok around people. I can manage to do it for a very small group, particularly one I know really well, but not a massive one. It is this self destructive nature of it then means it gets dragged out and I can’t get myself out of it. This time it went on for so long that I started to doubt that God actually wanted to help get me out of it, as I hadn’t heard anything from Him. I couldn’t stand being in church because it felt like I was walking into a hospital and being told the Doctor wouldn’t see me.

That is, until today.

Our church has two services, one in the morning and one in the evening. This morning’s was exactly the same as last weeks; it hurt and I wanted to be somewhere else. I wanted to run away and had only come because I knew I had duties to perform. This evening though was a session of worship where we just stood in His presence. If you don’t know what this is, I can’t possibly explain it and if you do, you can’t possibly deny it. I started trying to sing the worship songs, but there were parts I just couldn’t join in with. I refuse to lie to God, as there really is no point in it. I ended up on my knees, clinging to the mustard seed of faith I had left. I wanted a direction, as I had none and was struggling to move forward. I felt like a ship run aground and just asked God to steer me in the way he wanted me to go. I got no direction, but I got an answer.

The leader at the front read out a few words of prophecy and there were a few about people being weary. Those of us sat down were asked to stand as it was necessary for us to wake up our Spirits. It’s really hard to explain how this happened, but I think it just involved saying that and singing a new song to God. What I can say is that the result was amazing. Before I stood up, I was tired of life and honestly wanted to just give up as everything I tried was too hard. Afterwards, I was looking around for mountains to tear down. I had an urge to pray for this to happen to someone else and I was bouncing on the balls of my feet to see someone I could help.

In the past few weeks I realised one thing that I now see God was trying to increase my revelation of; I have nothing but God. Material objects will never bring me peace and neither will the love of other people. I need God. That is all. It is so simple and pure we often mishear or misunderstand it. I thought that I needed God to guide me or a word from God but that was overcomplicating the beautiful and simple fact; I need Him. It’s simply being there with Him that is enough. I still feel that I really haven’t got a hope to find a girl, but that’s not the point. I don’t need one, all I need is to sit at the feet of the King of Kings and remember whose presence I’m in.

One thing that was clear is that God was building up strength in me. I see myself as a warrior for God, and he’s confirmed this many times. I imagine myself swinging a sword while I pray, which when I brought it up with Him on what I should do when praying for people far off, He gave me a sling. One of the most amazing picture (and the reason for that title above) is that he showed me as being like Iron Man. Once I was raising my hands in worship, and He showed me beams coming out of my hands like Iron Man over the whole room. At first I thought this was to attack, but no, it was to pour His spirit out of me and into others.

When God gives you a picture like that, you kind of grow to like the film much more. I already loved it because of the links to Ephesians 6, a passage I adore, but my love for the character was complete. So, when in Iron Man 2 they decided to write that the suit was killing him, I was really rather annoyed, as the beautiful analogy was ruined. The suit had been a fantastic metaphor for how wonderful becoming a Christian was, but this spoiled it. Now though, I see it differently and can accept it. I don’t believe it’s a reading that they intended, but it can still be like putting on the Ephesians 6 armour; you just get some impurities taken out along the way. its not perfect, but it’s a thought I’ll take in when I next watch the second one. What I would like to see more of in the third one is him struggling to keep putting on the armour and wanting a break. That’s a long way away though, and the next film we’ll get to see him in is going to be the Avengers.

So, to sum up, I’m back. I shall be writing more, thinking lots and hopefully entertaining a few of you when you have nothing else to read on the internet. This post is not about me being perfect, or my moment being awesome; it’s about God. He changed me from a wreck to a wrecking ball. I’ve often thought of myself as His WMD he keeps stashed away. Well, I’m armed again and like it or lump it, the fog has lifted and I am out to meet thing head on. I may fall into this trap again, but hopefully, this testimony will help someone, either simply me, or someone else looking for a breakthrough.

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Who am I?

As you know, on this blog I have not revealed my name. When I started the blog, several years ago, this choice was made because of vain and naive ambition. I did not tell anyone that I was writing it and I hoped that people would just find it and I would never have to advertise. This approach never worked, and shows my naivety about how blogs are discovered. People don’t search for something new that often and are more likely to follow links than to search randomly. That is in essence how the Internet has come to work; an interconnected series of pages spread by word of mouth interspersed with questions asked of google and wikipedia.

When I saw the film Up, I felt so strongly about it that I wanted to share what I thought. I wrote my review of the film here and linked to it on facebook. I reasoned to myself that I did not mind my friends seeing what I thought of the film, quite the reverse, I wanted them to know. I wanted to provoke those who I’d seen it with into thinking about it and thus wanted to thrust my views upon them. Rather than telling them all one at a time, I decided to lose the site anonymity to them as the benefit far outweighed the loss.

At that point, I could have just changed the site and lost anonymity altogether, but I didn’t. The main reason for this was because I have my own company, a film company called Flight Productions. I was attacking another film company that many others respected and our company was still new and hadn’t really established itself. This blog is also a place where I can, and often do, air my Christian views and I wasn’t keen on having those linked back to me later. I am not keen on being famous and that is not one of the reasons I want to become a successful film director but is more a necessary side effect.

I also worried that people would take the fact I was Christian badly and dismiss my films as being too biased on this view. The truth is that as I say on this blog’s about me page, I believe in Jesus and that affects my views. I can’t deny that, but I now think its come to the point that I realise that it is more important that I won’t hide it. I can’t help but think about Peter’s denial of Christ because although his belief was never shaken, he was afraid of what people would say. I now choose once and for all to learn the lesson here and act on it.

So there you have it. My name is Christopher Graham Mark Turner and I run a film company called Flight Productions. We’re still in the early stages but this year we look set to start pushing forward with several exciting projects. My twitter account is ChrisFlightProd and if you use that site, please feel free to follow, talk and chat with me. I have a facebook page, but I only use facebook for people I’ve met in real life, so don’t try adding me on that if you don’t know me. I hope that this announcement does not change the site in any significant way, but it was something I had to do all the same. Thank you for reading.

The Superman metaphor

One of the most iconic figures of this generation is that of Superman. He is arguably the first popular superhero and almost certainly the root of the genre’s popularity. The style is more popular in film now than ever before and there are at least five new superhero characters coming to the big screen this summer alone. Zack Snyder is set to direct a new reincarnation of Superman and quite honestly, I’m a little worried by that.

Superman is not just a man, he has become a symbol. The fragile identity behind the mask is normally the focus in tales of costumed vigilantes but with Superman it is his alter ego that receives far more attention. His real identity is of course much closer to Superman than Clark Kent, and this was something I have always found interesting with him.

It is his distinction from those of the normal world I think that has led to the comparisons to Jesus. He is a very messianic character who descends to earth with supernatural powers and saves the inhabitants from evil. He is distant from the others as he has a father higher than theirs and is above sin. is weaknesses are almost non-existent and many have claimed that this is a fundamental flaw in the character design.

Most superheroes are in fact much closer to being Christians than Christ. They distance themselves from their friends that chose to just be normal and pursue a higher cause. They have flaws and it is their struggle with trying to do good that is put in the spotlight rather than the great overcomer that they actually are. The rewards of this however are rarely shown, as it does not make a sufficiently interesting story.

What is curious to think of is why almost all other successful superheroes to follow Superman have had their focus reversed. This got me thinking as to whether Superman was a perfect Jesus metaphor or merely another Christian one. Is he the ultimate superhero that all others after have subconsciously opted to follow or is this distinction ludicrous?

I have switched between these two viewpoints and never agreed on one or the other. I find I can take a lot of encouragement from superhero films with regard to my faith. While I’d never be so full of myself to claim I was Superman, could I claim he was meant to be what I should be aiming for? One of the complaints about the character of Superman is that he is hard to relate to due to his near perfect nature. I personally loved Brando Routh’s version of the character in Superman returns and found him to be very vulnerable, but in a private way you’d expect a super-human would. He was also imperfect in the fact he had an illegitimate son and wasn’t physically capable of withstanding anything without some loss. He conquered in the end, but all heroes do, so to use this argument is to almost destroy all blockbuster cinema.

Either way, I adore the character for the way he challenges me to think. I prefer to think him of as a Jesus figure, as aiming to be just like another follower is actually a sin; God made you for who you are not to be like someone else. I think he encompasses the perfect role model figure so well that no other comic character has come close to attempting to rival that. All others have doubts about their choices but Superman is sure.

What do you think though, and feel free to comment on other superheroes too. Do you think there is a better case for the Jesus model or the Christian model? What do you see in superheroes, as they clearly have their fans to become as popular as they are today? In the words of Stan Lee, face front, true believers!

And I stress the word pressure

The last few days at work have been, well, a bit hectic. As an ever so slightly more experienced member of the team, I have been given a fair amount of responsibility, and this has been fascinating me somewhat. It was one of the things that have kept me sane.

I had a conversation one evening with a fellow employee about how he likes pressure, but not stress. Instantly I agreed with him, but then upon trying to define the difference, I couldn’t. I started leaning towards stress being a negative form of pressure, but in truth this isn’t really a satisfactory meaning, as you can be stressed when nothing is exerting any demand on you. I have now come up with an improved idea; stress is when you excessively worry about a problem and pressure is when others worry you excessively about a problem. This got me wondering as to whether you can assure that you have pressure without anyone being stressed, as this would of course be the optimal solution. However, I have my doubts that there is one golden solution, as people are all so different that any management technique cannot encompass all this variety.

As someone who then had to manage a few other people, I was very aware of my own actions and their effects in this area. I was under pressure to make the project meet its deadline and was keen to ensure things were done quickly. I noticed how much little things began to annoy me and how optimisations were springing to mind all over the place. At one point I was alarmed to see someone had left their desk, but then realised they hadn’t disappeared for good, but were just getting a drink or something. My tolerances changed dramatically and updates were needed constantly. I began thinking that I wouldn’t like myself as a manager, but I was disregarding this and pursuing my own wishes regardless.

You see this is why management fascinates me, imperfect people being managed by flawed individuals. The problem they are hired to solve is not technically what you are employed to solve; management’s job is to get the most out of the people. It is a kind of job that requires a balance between sympathising with your staff and making them work as hard as you possibly can. It’s not an easy job, but it certainly is good to watch. I’m fortunate to see three very different manager’s styles at my work, and it’s been very interesting to see how they have handled this week. For a people watcher, watching other people try to manage their team is quite close to heaven.

A super year ahead

Last year, was not a great one for superhero films. Iron Man 2 is arguably the only tentpole one, and Kick Ass also came out but was not to everyone’s taste, and was certainly far from conventional. Iron Man 2 was in my opinion an alright film, but wasn’t quite as good as the first one. My review of Kick Ass can be read on this site and that I quite enjoyed.

Next year however promises quite a wide selection. The first major one will be Thor, the Marvel tale of the Norse God of Thunder. Directed by Kenneth Branagh and staring Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins, it certainly promises a whole host of talent. The trailer can be found here and while not amazing, is intriguing. I’ve never seen the appeal of Thor as a character, as his Hammer is not the most amazing power and the fact he’s a son of a God is neither exciting nor original. I’ll probably go and watch it, but I don’t expect it to be anything revolutionary.

The next one is X-men: First Class, the prequel to the much loved film series. No trailer has been released yey, but a few photos have been released here to highlight the 60’s style and the retro costumes. Recasting James McAvoy as Charles Xavier is a bold move, and I’m not really convinced it will work. The photos of Michael Fassbender as Magneto however, look exactly right, and the costume design for Emma Frost looks brilliant. As a big fan of the series, I’m really looking forward to this one.

After that, comes the first new hero from DC for quite a long time, Green Lantern. The trailer is also out, and Ryan Reynolds stars as the hero in a completely CG costume. Not that familiar with the character, this was always going to have to work hard to convince me, and quite frankly, I’m not impressed. The effects are everywhere and the main hero looks complete jerk, but not in the amusing way that Tony Stark is. Humans seem to be reduced to minor roles and the breadth of vision seems to be more important than the depth. So far, not planning on seeing this, but it may convince me yet.

Finally, the other offering from Marvel before the Avengers movie can happen is Captain America: The First Avenger. That subtitle is necessary to let you know this is a period piece and purely an origin story. It features Chris Evans (yes, the Human Torch) fighting a Nazi Hugo Weaving. No trailer yet, but the images show a really built up Evans and a old fashioned retro styling that has certainly caught my eye. The story has never really grabbed me, but as with X-men, a period superhero story could well be worth watching.

However, at this stage all is speculation and I could be entirely wrong. I will let you know what I think once I’ve seen them, feel free to tell me your thoughts. And sorry for the punny title.

A view of the world

I wanted to share with you one cool way of viewing the world that I’ve recently thought of and is quite fascinating, particularly for visual thinkers.

I think the best way to explain this is to use an example. Recall the last time you went to the cinema. Now, my way of thinking starts of with seeing this as a move from now to then in four dimensional space. Its a move in three dimensional space from your current location to the cinema you were thinking of and then a move in time to the period when you saw that film. Its a fully visual model of the world, and one that allows a lot of fun if you can picture it fully.

I’m assuming you have managed to picture that and will continue. Consider the people you were with when you went to the cinema, and how you all came to be there by traversing different paths in this four dimensional space. Even the clothes you wear have a history that traverses back to a factory and to a drawing board. This scene can then be extracted again and the process repeats, ever expanding. And of course, this can be applied to more than just clothes, every object can be abstracted to its origins. That the moment you are visulaising exists as it is in that exact state is practically miraculous. In the world in which we live, so many things are manufactured that you can guarantee there to be some design in almost everything we see, and so this can only increase our wonder at the scenes that surround us. Even if the design is not particularly exciting, then its still interesting to consider how many other people were involved in approving it. This is just the start. Consider an action you do more than once as existing in the four dimensional space. For example a song, a walk you take or a person’s laugh. The three dimensional object exists simultaneously at different times in this four dimensional space.

One of the other interesting things I’m trying to do is visualise all the things I know about the world in this way; what part of the whole 4 dimensional space of the universe do I know about? In this world view, you only get one possible view of each instance in time, and thats determined by where your eyes are facing at that time. Whenever we blink, our whole world view disappears, even if only for a fraction of a second. When we open our eyes, where we point them in 3D space determines what we know about the overall space. If we keep our eyes focussed on one thing, we’ll miss whats going on around us, but if we keep our head constantly filtting from one thing to another, we won’t appreciate anything in depth.  Our view of the world is determined by what we chose to look at, so pointing your eyes in the right direction is essential.

So what about those things we don’t see, since there are bound to be things we will miss. Well, we can think about these in our mind and construct an approximation. An artists impression if you will, where we trust someone else’s account of events to be accurate but don’t have all the details. This is essentially how we see all historical events, as vague images that are not entirely connected and could have happened anytime within a given range, as we don’t know the exact time. So it is in essence a blur on our otherwise clear picture. The question then is, is this a good thing, or would it be better for us to keep our world view clearly defined? You have to chose what is more important, clarity or breadth. Do you want to turn your gaze as wide as you can, or focus it and accept ignorance in some areas? I have my opinion, but will not comment, so as to not to affect yours too much, though I may have already displayed my bias. Let me know what you think.

I’ve recently begun to realise that I’m possibly more visual than most, so let me know if you struggle with this. Tell me what you think though regardless, and if you have any more creative ways of playing with this idea. Its probably not the first time someone has thought of this, but it is an intersting one none the less, one which makes me wonder all the more at the world around me; it is literally too much for me to take in.

District 9 Vs Moon

I just watched District 9 again on DVD, and my word, is it a good film. I maintain my opinion, that for all its flaws, it is a stunning piece of work one of the best science fiction films of last year, without a doubt. I saw Moon recently, hoping for similar things, but on first viewing, nowhere near as impressive. Sam Rockwell is always dependable, and he is here very good. But the film feels stretched, but is only 90 minutes long. It does not cover anywhere near as great a range of ideas as District 9, which in the first hour deals with identity, race, segregation and isolation in good depth, from all sides, while maintaining a good narrative and pace. Moon on the other hand was quite predictable and slow, and not very original. It was a film that did not try to hide behind dialogue, but got its audience to think, which I admire, but I was often thinking about what would happen, and not the science ideas. One of the major problems I had with Moon was that I kept trying to predict the twist, and when it failed to meet my expectations, as I continually hyped it up as the film progressed, I was left disappointed.  Whereas what District 9 does, is make you empathize with Wikus, and try to imagine his point of view, and makes you feel what he does. I think I will have to try and watch Moon again, to see if it improves.

What do you think, seen either one, which do you prefer, or too close to call?