“Nefarious: Merchant of Souls” Documentary – Sex Trafficking

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“But when he knows that he is not only worse than all those in the world, but is also guilty before all people, on behalf of all and for all, for all human sins, the world’s and each person’s, only then will the goal of our unity be achieved. […] Only then will our hearts be moved to a love that is infinite, universal, and knows no satiety.” (4.1.2) – Dostoevsky, “Brothers Karamazov”

Our trivializations of human dignity and human sexuality have far darker consequences than we are willing to admit. Pray for those victimized directly by the sex trade and indirectly by…….us.

by our selfish hedonism
by our private acti

ons that “aren’t hurting any one”
by our sexualization of children
by our careless and thoughtless devaluation of human life and dignity
by our neglect of the health and welfare of real people in our communities
by our foolish belief that we can have a hook-up culture of contraception, abortion, sterilization, pornography, sexualization of the youth, etc….. and yet somehow avoid pedophilia, rape, prostitution, and sex trafficking.

We reap what we sow. None of us can presume to think that this is not our problem.

Our Faith on Tap group watched this chilling documentary last night. Not for young eyes, but the information is important.
From the documentary website:

“Modern slavery.” It sounds like a paradox. Hasn’t humanity progressed? Didn’t we leave slavery dead on the battlefields of the American Civil War? Didn’t social reformers like Lincoln and Wilberforce legislate against such cruelty over a hundred years ago? So we had thought. But, with over 27 million enslaved people in the world, human trafficking is once again the battlefront of the century.

Regardless of nationality, victims are systematically stripped of their identity, battered into gruesome submission, and made to perform humiliating sexual acts on up to 40 strangers every night. Most are held in dingy apartments and brothels, forced to take heavy doses of illegal drugs, and monitored very closely. Victims are often thrown into such ghastly oppression at 13 years old. Some are abducted outright, while others are lured out of poverty, romantically seduced, or sold by their families.

Nefarious, Merchant of Souls, is a hard-hitting documentary that exposes the disturbing trends in modern sex slavery. From the very first scene, Nefarious ushers you into the nightmare of sex slavery that hundreds of thousands experience daily. You’ll see where slaves are sold (often in developed, affluent countries), where they work, and where they are confined. You’ll hear first-hand interviews with real victims and traffickers, along with expert analysis from international humanitarian leaders.

From initial recruitment to victim liberation—and everything in between—the previously veiled underworld of sex slavery is uncovered in the groundbreaking, tell-all Nefarious, Merchant of Souls.

Remember Death – Thoughts on Steve Jobs’ Passing

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I’ll miss Steve. I have been an Apple fan for a while and kept abreast of the resurrected tech company as they have grown to their present prominence.

I hope to meet Steve in heaven. I know he wasn’t a perfect guy (neither am I). However he was a great leader, loved his wife, valued his kids, and had a passion for beauty. I’m hoping somewhere amongst these he found God.

His physical death is certainly a sad thing. However, the thought of potentially losing him (or anyone) to a spiritual death is the true tragedy. After celebrity deaths, I have always noticed this lingering hope in my heart that I’d meet them someday in paradise. I notice that it has been there all along. In fact, I notice that I have this secret hope for every person I have ever encountered; this secret hope of final reconciliation, and this secret fear that perhaps some will refuse it.

The “Prayer for Those We Love” by St. Ambrose has always rung true to these hopes and fears:

Lord God, We can hope for others nothing better than the happiness we desire for ourselves. Therefore, I pray you, do not separate me after death from those I tenderly loved on earth. Grant that where I am, they may be with me, and that I may enjoy their presence in heaven after being so often deprived of it on earth. Lord God, I ask you to receive your beloved children immediately into your life-giving heart. After this brief life on earth, grant us eternal happiness. Amen. (Saint Ambrose of Milan 339-397)

This is what we wish for all people – from the celebrity to our closest friends and family. What a loss it would be for any of the human family to be absent in eternity?

I recall the loss I felt even around the deaths of troubled celebrities such as Michael Jackson or Heath Ledger. Not that I presume to judge their souls – and I earnestly pray for their Salvation – but one can certainly ascertain their spiritual peril. Furthermore, even the most infamous of these was the victim of their own sins and of sin itself, and thus should never be beyond our sympathy. But what a loss it would be if such troubled souls were never rescued and reconciled in the end?

Regardless of the lives they led, the loss of the least of these is loss indeed.

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” (C.S. Lewis)

I should have prayed for them more. Their physical death is a loss, but their spiritual death would be the true tragedy. The body of Christ, our eventual heavenly family, humanity in general would have lost a soul of infinite value and mystery.

The loss is infinite because a soul is of infinite worth. But the worth is not simply in what a soul is but in what it can be and was made to be. Every soul was made for God – for infinite, incalculable, glory. For this reason, the tragedy is both in the depths to which a soul may have fallen to its death but also in the heights to which it could have risen: they could have been saints.

“In the end, life offers only one tragedy: not to have been a saint” (Charles Peguy)

As the dust settles in the wake of Steve Jobs’ death, I am encouraged to hear stories of admiration by those who worked with him. I am encouraged by accounts of his love of his wife and his children (see Taylor Marshall’s Blog: Taylormarshall.com). I was encouraged to hear of his somewhat inexplicable determination to keep porn off of the iDevices. I truly hope that Steve found God in the end. In fact, I hope that it wasn’t really the end at all.

Functionalism and Human Personhood

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For your entertainment and pondering, here is a video project from my college days that addresses the topic of “Functionalism and the Human Person”.

Functionalist definitions of person-hood are often used in the abortion debate as a justification for why unborn children do not posses the right to life. The attempt is made to reduce the definition of the “human person” to simply that of the aggregate of its functions. In other words, the functionalist claims that we afford individuals the right to life – “person-hood” – because of what they do rather than what they are.

The two videos provide a quick and dirty look at how functionalism is used (errantly in my opinion) to describe or define (and in some cases, explain away) what it means to be a human “person”. If you enjoy the video and want to read a bit more, I have attached my corresponding essay that is more in depth and has citations for you to pursue.

Enjoy, and let me know your thoughts!

Click to read my essay on Functionalism and the Human Person

The Rewatchability of Movies and the Mystery of the Human Person

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Few movies that I watch any more leave me with any desire to see them again. As technology advances, a movie may employ 3d graphics, CGI, and surround sound, and they may feature big explosions, loud car chases, and bright vibrant colors, and yet I can’t remember the last time I bothered to buy the DVD. Few films nowadays really move and impress me enough for me to want to see them a second time.

Gran TorinoThe last movie I saw that seemed to have this characteristic of “rewatchability”,was Gran Torino directed by and starring Clint Eastwood. If you haven’t seen this fine piece of cinema then you really ought to consider renting (or buying the DVD). It is a powerful movie with a great message. The last time I watched it – which wasn’t the first time – I actually started watching it again right afterwards because the TV station was running it twice! And yet, Gran Torino features very little action, only one explosion, no epic fight scenes, no fancy CGI, it wasn’t in 3D, etc., etc., etc. …you get the picture. So what makes a movie re-watchable?

I’m sure there are many factors, but I have a theory about what I believe is one of the biggest. For me, characters are hands-down what make or break a movie’s re-watchability. Sure, I like big movie explosions as much as the next guy…

Car Exploding

WHOOOOO!

…but here is the thing about explosions: It doesn’t matter how big they are or how much high tech wizardry is used, once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it.

Car Exploding

… meh

Characters are different though. When characters are rich, believable, and well-acted, they present us a glimpse of the phenomenon we experience with people in real life: people are inexhaustible. You can spend your life getting to know someone and there will still be things to learn and appreciate.

In a world of finite things (such as explosions)…

Car Exploding

ALL RIGHT ALREADY!

…people are an interesting phenomena because they are just darned interesting; they are little points of infinity swimming in a sea of finitude.

One of my favorite quotes from CS Lewis is as follows:

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
― C.S. Lewis

For this reason, in so far as a movie has good characters, it offers the viewer something that can not be fully exhausted no matter how many times they watch. No matter how many times you watch a Rhett Buttler and Scarlet O’Hara (Gone with the Wind), Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean), Sean Thornton (Quiet Man), St. Thomas More (Man for All Seasons), Thomas Becket (Becket), Msgr. Hugh O’Flaherty (The Scarlet and the Black), or Walt Kowalski (Gran Torino), the characters and the movies they inhabit are still interesting and unexpected. (Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Carribean is a good example here because without him I don’t think I would have bothered re-watching “Pirates” at all, let alone the sequels)

I love that guy…

There are certainly many factors that go into a good movie and certainly a movie that has good characters but an ill-conceived plot, boring subject matter, and un-enjoyable audiovisuals is still going to be a chore to get through. Nevertheless, many of the most re-watchable movie out there – such as Gran Torino – are what they are because of the good writing and acting that went into them and in spite of a lack of the cinematic bells and whistles modern movie-going thrill-seekers think they need.

Bells and Whistles

Great fun, to be sure. 

So think about this next time you are logging into Netflix or visiting the movie theater at the mall. I would be very interested in knowing your “re-watchable” movies and what you think of the characters therein.

Christ’s love burns…

Aside

An authentic encounter with Christ’s love leaves people sure of two things: His eternal, passionate, unconditional love for them and his equally passionate righteous indignance toward their sin. If people are getting either one of these from us without the other, we are sharing a truncated, watered down, sterile version of Christ’s love.