Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Let the Past Die: A Review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

WARNING: Do not read this post until after you have seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi. If you haven't seen it, go away and come back later. Okay, have you seen it yet? Good. I know when you walked out of the theater you had one burning question: "What did Matt think?" Well, I'm glad you asked.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Friday, October 20, 2017

Charcoal-Infused Hands

After telling you all about my explosive accident last month, I'd like to update everyone on the status of my recovery. I'm pleased to report that after three and a half weeks of being cooped up at home, with twice-daily bandage changes, I was cleared to return to work earlier this week.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Monday, July 17, 2017

As You Wish: What The Princess Bride Taught Me About Love

No real relationship or marriage looks like Buttercup's and Westley's, right? Do fairy tale love stories give us unrealistic expectations? Or can we take a different sort of lesson from these depictions of love? I wrote a post last week - Have Fun Storming the Castle - about how the storytelling in The Princess Bride as a whole can shed some light on life and the afterlife. This week, I'd like to focus more specifically on Buttercup and Westley.

"Mawwiage is what bwings us togevah today."

Throughout the Bible, the relationship between a husband and wife is often used as a symbol - or "type" - of God's relationship with His people, and Christ's relationship with His Church. (Engraved on the inside of my wedding ring is the abbreviation "EPH 5:25," to remind me of the Bible verse from Paul's letter to the Ephesians: "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.") Ever since reading Christopher West's book Fill These Hearts (more on that in the Catholic Pick below), I've often viewed love stories in pop culture through this lens. The Princess Bride is no exception.

I'm not saying the filmmakers had the intention of teaching us about our relationship with God. But creation tends to point back to the Creator. Since God created us male and female, the relationships between men and women will reveal truths about God. So it's no surprise that a writer who wants to tell a love story will  include aspects that can be applied to Christ and the Church, whether or not he or she intends to do so. Ultimately, the writer's intent is inconsequential. The work (the movie, book, play, etc.) stands on its own.

If I'm applying this parallel to The Princess Bride, then Westley would represent Jesus, and Buttercup would represent the Church - or more specifically, the individual viewer. It's funny: when I first started writing this blog post, I expected the parallel to be a bit of a stretch. But then it occurred to me for the first time that Westley suffered and died for Buttercup, and even rose from the dead. Sound familiar?

"My Westley will always come for me."

A common theme in The Princess Bride is that Westley always comes for Buttercup, no matter what. Whether she is forcibly betrothed to Prince Humperdinck, captured by the perpetually incredulous Vizzini ("Inconceivable!"), ignited by flame spurts, swallowed by lightning sand, or attacked by R.O.U.S.'s, Westley always saves her. Like Westley, there is nothing that can stop God from loving us. There is no sin that He cannot forgive (provided, of course, that we ask His forgiveness).

"He didn't come."

It's interesting that after everything Westley had done so far, Buttercup still doubts him after her "wedding" to Humperdinck is hastily concluded. She even heard what she assumed to be Westley breaching the castle defenses earlier in the ceremony. But Humperdinck's insistence that he had killed Westley, coupled with the abrupt ending of the wedding rite, seems to plant doubt in her. Not only does she doubt, she despairs, and comes perilously close to taking her own life. Too the viewer, this may seem the epitome of foolishness. But then, the viewer knows that Westley is alive and in the process of rescuing Buttercup. In our own lives, it's easy to see all the positive ways God has intervened - and all the blessings he's showered upon us - when things are going well. But in the midst of tragedy, those blessings are not always as apparent. It might even feel like God has abandoned us completely. The lesson we can take from The Princess Bride is that there is always a reason for hope.

Since it is a fairy tale, this manifestation of this reason for hope is rather simplistic in The Princess Bride: Westley is physically in the room. In times of despair, our reasons for trusting in God are rarely so obvious. But I will dive deeper into the virtue of hope in a future blog post. Stay tuned!

Catholic Pick: Fill These Hearts

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I first discovered Christopher West through his book The Good News About Sex & Marriage, which explained the Catholic teaching on sexuality and marriage (aptly named, right?), and unpacked Pope St. John Paul II's "theology of the body." My wife and I both read that book when we were engaged, and it blew us away. Not that any of the teachings themselves were shocking, but the way West (and John Paul II before him) explained and presented them was revolutionary. So much so that we have since bought copies of the book for engaged friends. You can find that book here.

After we were married, we heard about a new book by Christopher west called Fill These Hearts. The main idea behind this book is that our sexual desires and all of our physical, earthly desires - while they can be a source of temptation - are actually a gift from God. By pursuing these desires according to God's design, we realize that God is the only one who can ultimately fulfill our desires. Our earthly hunger points us toward a heavenly banquet.

But don't take my word for it; my brief explanation doesn't do the book justice. Christopher West lays it all out for you. As I stated in the main post, this book changed the way I look at many aspects of life. You can find it on Amazon here.


Thanks for reading! If you like my blog, and you'd like to receive emails each time I upload a new post, you can enter your email address below. Or, you can "Like" or "Follow" GCD's Facebook page here. Find me on Twitter here. Am I way off base comparing Westley and Buttercup to Christ and the Church? What are some other examples of movies with religious themes, intentional or unintentional? If you want to express an opinion, ask a question, or give feedback about this post or others, feel free to leave a comment below, or email me at geekycatholicdad@gmail.com.

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Have Fun Storming the Castle: What The Princess Bride Taught Me About Life

Stories with happy endings aren't realistic. The real world doesn't work that way. So what value can a fairy tale like The Princess Bride possibly offer? A lot, actually. Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up:

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Jedi, Like His Father Before Him

There comes a time in a man's life where he starts seriously thinking about the future. He ceases to think only about his own wants and needs, and begins to consider more important things. Instead of worrying about trivial matters, like which Star Wars movie he's going to watch that night, he shifts his focus to other people. I remember this happening to me when I was in college. I asked myself a very important question: "How am I going to introduce Star Wars to my kids?" You laugh, but there are a myriad of issues to consider there. At what age is your youngling old enough to watch the films? Which film do you start with? Do you go in order of release, starting with the original? Or in chronological order, starting with The Phantom Menace? (When I was in college, there were only two trilogies to think about, but now there is a new - and incomplete - trilogy being made, and stand-alone films coming out in between the saga films.) What if you're too forceful (no pun intended) about it, and your kids shy away from all things Star Wars? Or what if - what if - they just don't like it?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hey There, Mr. Blue - A Review of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Let me just start out by answering some questions you might be asking yourself. No, you're not the only one who read the title of this post and tried to fit it into the meter of the song "Mr. Blue Sky." And no, it doesn't quite fit; there are a few too many syllables. Okay, with that out of the way, this review carries a huge spoiler warning, so you won't want to read past this paragraph. In fact, I'm not sure if "review" is the most accurate term. The purpose of this post isn't to inform the reader so they can decide whether or not to go see the movie, but rather to discuss what we already saw. If you're looking for my recommendation, it's this: you should go see this movie. You don't need to have seen any of the other Marvel movies to watch this one, but it helps if you've seen the first Guardians of the Galaxy (obviously). The humor is a bit crude for the younglings, so you might want to leave them at home. (Although I don't think there's anything more objectionable than the first one, so you be the judge.) Once you've seen the movie, be sure to head back over here and check out my review!


Friday, April 14, 2017

What Do You See? My First Thoughts About the New Star Wars Trailer

Like many Star Wars fans, I tuned into the live stream of the Star Wars: The Last Jedi panel at Star Wars Celebration. I mostly just listened while I worked, so I'm sure I missed a lot of details about what they were talking about. But when the Rian Johnson, the film's director, said he had something to show everyone, my ears perked up. "We have a teaser-" (There it is! I though. They're going to show the trailer!) "-poster," he said, and then revealed the image above. But after a few minutes of pretending they weren't going to show a trailer, they relented to the audience's demands. "Of course we have a trailer!" Johnson exclaimed, as the whole place went wild.

Monday, April 10, 2017

No Power in the 'Verse Can Stop Me: A Review of Firefly: The Game

I will conclude my trilogy of Firefly-related posts with a board game review of Firefly: The Game. After I started getting into tabletop games (see my post Adventures in Tabletop Gaming), I started listening to a board game podcast called Meeple Nation (find out more at their website). One of the board games they mentioned frequently, and featured on one of their episodes, was Firefly: The Game. As a huge fan of all things Firefly (see my reviews of Firefly and Serenity), and a growing fan of board games, this game sounded right up my alley. I added it to my Amazon wish list, but didn't think I would necessarily buy it any time soon. One day, I saw it being sold for less than half the retail price, so I quickly ordered a copy. I'm glad I did.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Lord, If You Had Been Here: A Reflection on Last Sunday's Gospel

Source: Wikimedia Commons
The gospel reading for this past Sunday is the account of the resurrection of Lazarus, from John's Gospel. Once again, I had a chance to assist with RCIA (see my previous post for an explanation of what that is), which allowed me to reflect more on the Mass readings than I usually do. This passage has all kinds of significance for Christians, as it emphasizes the dogma of the resurrection of the body "on the last day." But it also has a special meaning for me as someone who has lost children, because of Martha's statement: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

Monday, March 20, 2017

Was the Forbidden Fruit a Set-Up?

Source: Wikimedia Commons
A few weeks ago, during an RCIA preparation class, we were discussing the Biblical account of the fall of Adam and Eve. A catechumen - we'll call him Steve - asked me, "Isn't God responsible for everything that happened? He put the tree there." This is an excellent question, not because it represents a flaw in the Christian worldview (spoiler alert: it doesn't), but because it invites us to take a closer look at the nature of free will, and at God's Divine Providence.

Monday, March 13, 2017

I Aim to Misbehave: A Look at Serenity

Back at the end of February, I published a post about the TV show Firefly - a space western that was tragically canceled before its time. As I mentioned in the post, the strength and loyalty of the show's fandom was such that Universal Studios green-lit a movie to continue the story, and that movie was called Serenity. In today's post, I'll take a look at that movie.

Monday, February 27, 2017

You Can't Take the Sky from Me: A Look at Joss Whedon's Firefly

I was introduced to a lot of new things in college. Oh sure, I gained a new appreciation for my faith, and I learned how electricity worked, and I met my future bride. But I'm not going to write about those things today. Thanks to a Netflix account and some fellow geeky engineering students, I discovered a show called Firefly. Between the show, the movie Serenity, and a Firefly board game my wife and I have greatly enjoyed, there's too much for me to write about to fit it all in one post. Today's post will focus chiefly on the television series, and I'll cover the other material in subsequent posts.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Charles's Story

As many of you probably know, Charles Robert - our fourth child - was born a few weeks ago. He is our second living child. Between Timothy (our oldest) and Charles, we had two miscarriages. We lost Lucy at 11 weeks and Elliot at almost 17 weeks. Because of this, and because of the circumstances of Timothy's birth (see Timothy's Story here), this pregnancy and delivery was very different than our first.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Dear Elliot: A Letter to My Son in Heaven

Dear Elliot,

Happy birthday. Your mommy and I miss you so much.

One year ago, I saw you for the first time. I remember seeing your perfect little fingers and toes, and your beautiful eyes. But you had already gone to heaven to be with Jesus.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Feelin' Strong Now: A Look at Rocky III

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about my introduction to the Rocky series, and I discussed Rocky and Rocky II. Today I'd like to continue the story with Rocky III.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Resources for Parents Who Have Suffered a Miscarriage

One of the reasons I started writing about my grief was because it helped me to process things. But I also wanted to share my thoughts and feelings on the matter with other grieving fathers and mothers, so that they might know that they are not alone.

In order to further help these fathers and mothers, I have created a page on this site called "Miscarriage Resources." You can find it in the navigation bar at the top of the site. (For those viewing on your smartphone, just click the grey bar that says "Home," and you'll see a list of pages, including the new "Miscarriage Resources" page.)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Gonna Fly Now: A Look at Rocky and Rocky II

I recently watched all of the Rocky movies - and 2015's Creed - on Amazon Prime. It was only my second time seeing Rocky, and my first time seeing the rest of them. So admittedly, I am late to the party here. These movies are fantastic, and after seeing them I just had to write about them. I was originally going to write about all seven films, but once I got started, I ended up writing a lot more on each movie than I'd planned. So we'll just keep it to Rocky and Rocky II. This post will have spoilers, but I figure that's not a huge deal, because these movies are over 30 years old.