Don’t watch movies like a baby

I sometimes watch movies like a baby, just taking everything in and not thinking about it one bit.  I love movies but am not very discerning.  I don’t mind bad ones.  I’m easy to please.  I’m not talking about questionable content, I’m talking about ones with a predictable plot, no compelling story, and no character development.  Last week one of my best friends Dave and I watched Point Break.  Not the original cult favorite but the remake. We felt like we owed it to Johnny Utah and Bodhi.  I mean, who spells Bodi with an “h”?  except Patrick Swayze.  This one was terrible.  More like Point Bust.  Or Point Broken. It had some breathtaking scenery and adventure cinematography but it wasn’t a movie.  Confusing plot.  No characters.  No logical progression.  Extra bonus trivia for those of you over the age of 35 (most who loved the original): “Bodhi,” in Sanskrit, is short for “being of wisdom.”  It can also mean “enlightenment” or “awakening” pertaining to the Buddhist faith.  In Hawaii, “Keanu” means “cool mountain breeze.”

How did we decide on that movie?  Well, we didn’t trust our usual guide:  (RT) Maybe we should have.  RT has 2 scores for each movie—a critic score and an audience score.  It also has an app partner for iPhone called Flixster.  This is a good app that has solid movie info, ratings, and trailers.  Here are a couple things to watch out for on RT as you use it: When a movie has a

HIGH CRITIC/LOW AUDIENCE rating.  Beware!  This means that it appealed to those movie critics but not to the average joe like you and me.  Usual busts.

LOW CRITIC/HIGH AUDIENCE rating.  Yes!  These are usually fun flicks that don’t take themselves too seriously.

HIGH CRITIC/HIGH AUDIENCE rating.  Of course these are the sure fire winners.  Zootopia, 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Jungle Book, Star Wars Episode 7, Revenant, Spotlight, The Big Short, just to name a few of the most current ones.

The movie nominees for best picture and best actor/actress are often incredible movies and worth a look.  Two other places for movie ratings and info are Imdb and metacritic but I don’t use them very often at all.

Copyright: damedeeso / 123RF Stock Photo


2 most important questions in processing and discussing a movie (to keep you from watching it like a baby):

  1. What did it say?
  2. Is it true?


Here is a list of some more questions to help process and experience media.  Two people who are experts in this arena are Drew Trotter and Walt Mueller.  I am indebted to them for much of this material.

OTHER QUESTIONS TO EVALUATE MEDIA (music, movies, ads, TV, etc.)

-What is the music’s main topic and theme?

-Does the music offer suggestions on how to think, talk, act, or live?

-What does the music say about the way the world is? Does it say anything about the way the world ought to be?

-What is your gut reaction to it?

-Is there right and wrong? What is right and what is wrong as taught in the music?

-How is God portrayed? What does it say about God?

-Is there something suggested (self, sex, money, power, etc.) to bring value to your life?  Maybe even in place of God?

-What does it say about how to treat others?

-What does it say is the source of happiness and satisfaction in life?

-Who or what is glorified in the music?

-What does this video tell its watchers to find their identity in?

-What does it say about where peace and hope are found?

-Is the music hopeful or hopeless?

-What should we do with it?

-What was your favorite scene/part/song?  Why?  What do you think was the writer’s, producer’s, composer’s, author’s, etc. favorite part?  Why?

-What was this movie’s message/summary in one sentence or less?  (what was it trying to communicate?) Why do you think it said this?  Do you agree with it?  Is it true?

-What part/character do you most identify with?  Why?


What questions would you add?  How do you process/experience movies and media?


Do you eat or dissect media? 3 more questions to ask during movies

Media watching -- dogs with food on TV

Last week we started on the journey of how to process media.  I offered 2 questions that have been very helpful to me.  CLICK HERE for those questions.  Another critical element for me has been my attitude.  How do I approach TV, movies, music, etc.?  When I employ a positive, critical, discerning, teachable attitude, I find I learn exponentially more from that piece of media.  When I learn more I experience more.  When I experience more I learn more.  There is something redeeming to be found in almost everything.  It’s like listening to speakers or learning from professors.  Whether the speaker or professor is good or bad, we can learn.  Even from a terrible speaker we can learn what not to do, or how we don’t want to present.

Now this doesn’t mean we should watch anything and everything.  Certain things have no positive value and can actually hurt us.  Certain elements of media can have disproportionate effects on us.  We each are wired a little different.  Some of us have special sensitivities to specific elements (violence, crime, language, sex, etc.) and we should limit our intake of media that include them.  Some media’s redemptive value is limited because of how dark they are.  The difficult part is to figure out which these are.  (I probably err on taking in too much…OK definitely err on that side!)  There are some great websites that give info and ratings and include the exact content and why it got its ratings.  Here are some of them: Common Sense Media  Kids in Mind Movie ratings  Plugged In   Parent previews

What is the biggest mistake we can make while watching TV?  It’s one that I make regularly.  (but a little less than I used to)  It is taking everything in with no engagement and not involvement and no evaluation.  It is using TV as an escape, to numb the mind.  When I find myself “deserving” to watch a good chunk I am looking to the TV for something it cannot provide.  I also find it way easier to watch questionable stuff when I am looking for comfort and mindless entertainment.  Now this is not to say that TV can’t be recreational or relaxing.  There is a subtle difference but it’s a big one.

3 more questions that can help in processing a movie or show or entertainment:

  1. What was your favorite scene/part/song? Why?  What do you think was the writer’s, producer’s, composer’s, author’s, etc. favorite part?  Why?
  2. What was this movie’s message/summary in one sentence or less? (what was it trying to communicate?) Why do you think it said this?  Do you agree with it?
  3. What part/character do you most identify with? Why?


Do you have any questions that have been helpful as you watch?



2 QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN WE WATCH A MOVIE (or The Bachelor or really anything)

eyes pic 5 -- kid with glasses on

I am a movie buff.  I love watching movies, in the theater or at home.  I am easily impressed.  After college I moved to Virginia Beach and knew 3 local people total.  So I would go to the high school football game on Friday night (for my job with Young Life) and then after see if any high school guys wanted to hang out.  Usually they didn’t because I was new and starting a new chapter at a new school.  So then, alone, I would go to Blockbuster and rent several movies for the weekend.  Later that year I received a Blockbuster Gold Card in the mail.  Cue the choir singing.  You can’t buy it.  You can’t request it.  You can only earn it.  By doing what you might ask?  Renting 100 movies in one calendar year.  Yes, you heard that right.  100 movies.  That’s 2 a week…EVERY WEEK!  If you miss a week, then you have to rent 4 the next week.  The perks were great:  every movie I rented I got another free, no rewinding fees (haha), 4 hour movie reserve privileges, and much, much more.  I know for those of you under 25 this doesn’t make sense but that was the grind.  We had to travel to a store to rent a physical movie.  And for those of you over 25 you’re wondering if I had any type of life.  Don’t worry.  I didn’t.  I was a recluse.  And became a big fan of movies.  But I watched them all the wrong way.

With all my recent posts about The Bachelor and love and soulmates, I thought it might be good to talk about How should we watch The Bachelor?  Or movies?  Or videos?  Or really any media?

What do we do with it?     Swallow it whole.

What should we do with it?   Eat the fish.  Spit out the bones. (first heard from Tim Elmore)

If I’m honest, most of the time I want to watch TV to escape or relax or zone out and I simply ingest it all.  I swallow it all down with little consideration for its message or legitimacy or effects. What should I be doing?  Let me offer these 2 questions that have revolutionized my movie and TV watching:

1.  What did that say?

2.  Is that true?

For question number 1, we want to ask what messages did this movie/TV show/video/etc. communicate?  Was it subtle or explicit?  Was it intentional or by happenstance?  Then for question number 2:  are these messages true?  There are lots of other questions to ask and ways to evaluate and process media but these two are simple, easy to remember and have helped me become a more responsible steward for what I take in.  Another question that follows is:  SO WHAT?  What does this mean for my life and the world?

These are fun questions to discuss over a cookie skillet after an action movie.  You should see college dudes get asked this question.  It’s beautiful.  They squirm a little bit, have a look of confusion, mumble for a minute and then usually come up with something insightful.

For those of you who are people of the Christian faith, these quotations have been helpful to me:

“We must listen to God’s Word and God’s World.”  –John Stott

“We must read the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.”  –Karl Barth

I would update Barth’s to the Bible in one hand (first) and then our iPad in the other (after).  Through the process of writing this post I was challenged and convicted about my media ingestion habits.  Usually I just mindlessly take it all in.  I’ve discovered this is my default.  What’s yours?  How do you watch TV?  How do you watch movies?  What are your media habits?

Next week:  Are you making a life-changing mistake while you watch TV?



The True After the Rose Confession by Susan Kehoe

Bachelor gif olivia winning

Happy Easter Monday!  This is a banner day.  Not just because death was put to death but also because this is the first guest post ever!  Meet my dear friend and one of my favorite people in the world Susan Kehoe.  Here’s her reply when I asked how people can connect with her:

Insta: @suzznews or Twitter: @susankehoe or my blog:

Gold.  Pure gold.  Now you understand one of the many reasons that so many people love Suz so much.  She’s hilarious.  Onward.  Here’s her post:


I confess: I used to hate the Bachelor. Now, I don’t miss a week and have been a faithful Fantasy League player for the last 5 seasons. I’m not sure which confession is worse.

In the post-college “I’ll do anything to make friends” phase of my life, I pretended to like the Bachelor to meet girls my age and have something to talk about. I hid my eye rolls and annoyance at the fake romance, but began to be secretly invested in these “journeys” and soon it became must watch TV.

I watch for the drama, train wrecks and cool filming locations, all fully understanding it’s just a game. I get that it’s totally absurd to date dozens of people at the same time and expect helicopter rides and private concerts on every date. All of that is part of the deal when you turn on the TV on Monday nights. It’s “After the Rose” that bothers me most.

Bachelor you tonight vs you tomorrow

We know the odds are stacked against the new happy couple; it’s hanging in the air in the live studio audience that only 16% of final couples “make it.” We want to believe the best for them, but we fear that all the yacht rides, dinnerless dinners on the beach and snorkeling trips won’t replace the need for real connection. So what do they need? Same is true for every couple:

  • Time together. A seasoned family counselor said it’s a must to date someone at least a year before engagement, through all four seasons. Our lives and jobs have busy and slower times and even our brains go through changes throughout the year. Plus, you need to spend a Christmas and birthday with them!
  • Intimacy. True intimacy only comes from repair, and repair comes from tough times together, or so said our pre-marital counselor, and we couldn’t agree more. When we’ve been through hard times, we trust our partner and when we encounter more bumps in the road, we look back to previous hard times with a sense of fondness because we made it through!
  • Death. Okay, hear me out. Jesus says in John 12 that a seed must first die to produce more seeds, that “anyone who loves their life will lose it.” Tim Keller draws upon these words in his book, “The Meaning of Marriage.” He says we fight so hard to keep that new love, the butterfly feeling, but the truth is, the best comes after that love fades away and we develop a deeper, richer, committed love comes after the “thrills” have died away.

I want the very best for Lauren B, Ben and heck even Jojo, Caila and every other girl that wanted that final rose. I just don’t think they have “won” or “lost” yet. If the goal is a long term, committed relationship, let’s not pretend they have arrived. Private islands don’t deliver that, years together do.



7 More Reasons You Watch The Bachelor

Bachelor gif Jojo what

Wow.  Last week was painful.  I can’t believe Ben is the champion of all Bachelors.  He told 2 women he loved them.  He didn’t need to.  He chose to.  Instead of one person being crushed after they got out of the helicopter (business as usual), it became utterly devastating.  Ben gave Jojo the most amount of false hope one can give—telling her he loves her.  This was unnecessary.  It was something he “felt” like doing.  It was wrong.  But somehow he was celebrated for it.  “I came into this not knowing if I would find love…but with you it WAS real…always.  I found love with you.  But I found it with somebody else more.”  Does anyone else have problems with this?  Maybe it’s in the definition of love.  Can you “find love” with 2 people at the same time?  That’s for a future post.  But for this week, onward.

7 more reasons you watch The Bachelor:

  1. You like to cringe. It is CRA-ZEE.  We want to see people do unbelievable things to win attention or win someone’s heart.  But secretly we wonder if we would do the same things.  (especially after copious amounts of wine and having an open bar 24-7).
  2. You are a hopeless romantic. We want to see this work.  It makes love seem so simple.  We love to see crazy dates that almost no one else will ever get to go on.  We want to see 2 people fall in love amid crazy circumstances and weird challenges.
  3. You are a voyeur. (and so am I)  We love to peek into people’s dates, intimate moments, conflict, make-out sessions, brokenness, and love life.
  4. You like to escape. It’s easier to talk about other people’s love lives than our own.
  5. You like to watch with other people. It is one of the few shows that people still watch live to be in the loop.  It is community-building and just plain fun.  It is as addictive as Chewy Spree, but much better for your teeth.  (one friend said she started out watching it reluctantly to make friends but got hooked).  It is the best water cooler talk and fodder for exciting conversation.
  6. It has a continuous storyline, even between seasons. It is so smart and savvy to use use people from the season before, because viewers are already invested in their “journey.”
  7. You get to judge and feel just a little bit morally superior with no repercussions. If we are honest, the show makes us feel a little better about ourselves.

Next week:  THE FIRST GUEST POST!!  Who will it be?  Drake?  Beyonce?  The Rock? Someone even better.  Stay tuned.