A Mere Man

a mere manMy travels took me on an adventure that I’ll never forget. The wisdom I gleaned as the trip events unfolded took me from the somber depths of death to the invigorating honor of eternal life. I saw what few men today have an opportunity to witness and yet it came without pomp and circumstance.

To support a special friend of mine, one who has endured much and was still found with love in her heart toward mankind, I hopped in my car and headed off on what a map program suggested would be a five hour trip. Eight hours later I arrived at the funeral parlor where her father’s viewing had gathered countless souls.

I quietly stepped into the room. The polish on my shoes looked dull compared to the luminous look of joy on my friend’s face. We embraced, as long time friends do, and she scurried me off to meet members of her family that I had never met. Each face reflected thankfulness for my long journey and desire to be of encouragement. But it was I who was encouraged.

One sister attempted to share the value of my attendance, but her eyes suggested that her words fell short in explaining what the moment meant to her sister and family. Her eyes seemed to search for better words, but all she could do was give my hand a gentle squeeze and share a genuine smile.

Her mother received me with open arms and a warm heart. In the midst of her grieving she temporarily set her pain from the loss of her husband aside and showed me compassion. She too was generous with encouraging words and I realized that my presence meant more than any feeble attempt I might make speaking words of comfort.

The generosity of shared love within the room was overwhelming and I quickly forgot I was in a funeral parlor. Somber comments mixed with the jovial soon filled the air as people took their seats and listened to many shared life experiences with my friend’s father. Each talked about their encounter with him and the changes he instilled in their lives. And a few, after sharing their personal growth, pointed out his humorous idiosyncrasies.

Laughter filling the room did everyone’s heart good like medicine. The humble setting was permeated with honor for this man of God. All in attendance recognized his humility. Those who heeded his advice to pray and read the Word of God daily gave amazing testimonies. The number of miracles I heard caused my head to spin.

And yet, he was a mere man.

Eager to hear every life-changing story, I mingled for some time after the service ended. I listened attentively to numerous people and shared few words of my own. My confidence in this man’s legacy was resolute. He indeed was a god-fearing man that was led by the Spirit of the Living God. I had no doubt and I wanted to be a mere man, too.

Moments later I found myself chatting with a woman whose life had been ravaged for the past several years. In a last ditch effort to survive the stream of abuse she endured, she filed for divorce. Our conversation reminded her of what “life” was supposed to look like, which greatly contrasted her present conditions.

Relief came over her face and a glint of hope sparkled in her eyes. It had been too long since she had something to look forward to in life, but on this day hope welled up within her soul. She sensed that the next chapter in her life might be about beauty in place of ashes. She thanked God for our divine appointment and left with great expectations to see what He had in store for her life going forward.

“A divine appointment.” That’s what she called it. Something astonishing had happened and I knew it had nothing to do with me. I felt like a mere man.

Then it dawned on me.

My friend’s father was a man who believed in truth, spoke words of love into the lives of those around him, and made himself available to be an encouragement during their times of need. He was far more than a mere man—He was a man who chose to engage with those that needed encouragement.

© 2017 by CJ Powers

Movies Bring Hope and Direction to Society

Behind the Scenes with CJ PowersSince the Great Depression (1929-1939) the motion picture industry understood their lot in life was to bring hope and direction to society and dove into mass production. This was confirmed and continued during World War II (1939-1945). Even the post war rebuilding years (1946-1952) were palatable thanks to the movies, which only cost a few coins to attend. By the time our country was back on its feet in 1963-64, the cinema’s role in America was labeled the Golden Age of movies (1933-1963, some sources use 1927-1964).

The Hays Motion Picture code was enacted during these early years to make sure films for the general public were appropriate, respectful and encouraging. After all, hope and direction were important causes worth monitoring. But by 1964 the committee that managed the code and approved scripts that made it to the silver screen was pressured by its denominational headquarters to leave the “ungodly world of Hollywood.”

While some films continued to bring hope and a wholesome and unifying direction to Americans, other films brought the opposite. Freedom of speech was challenged beyond what was wholesome. Directional bias toward liberal and aggressive thinking rose in power. The movies moved into a period known as post-classical cinema followed by the angst and spectacle periods.

Today, America is in need of a new hope and a new wholesome direction. It’s the movie industry’s job to provide it, as it did during the Golden Age of cinema. Unfortunately most producers today are looking for message films to support their politics or their religion. Few care about making the types of films that will bring hope and a healthy perspective to the general public.

The more polarized our communities become, the more important it is for the movies to help bring a sense of unity back to the people. But who will heed the call?

Until artists of today find a way to bring unity back into the lives of our beloved characters, stories will continue to divide the population. It’s the duty of filmmakers to reach the general population with new ideas and unifying stories that can emotionally move the audience from our old destructive path to a new thesis world filled with hope.

There is a hungry world waiting anxiously for such films. They long to embrace them, but can’t find any in our noise filled market. Someone must step up and kickoff this new trend that is sure to be supported by people from various walks of life. Where is the first filmmaker ready to take the risk and cross over? When he or she steps forward, will you support that new breed of film? If so, you’ll be a part of bringing a new hope and direction to our society.

© 2017 by CJ Powers

The Death of Neutrality and the Assertiveness of Wonder

pexels-photo-27802I’ve learned a hard lesson over the past couple of weeks. It started with a memo I wrote filled with facts that executives could ponder for the sake of future consideration and direction. I thought the neutrality of the topic allowed the leadership team to look at the information as raw data without any preconceived filters biasing their vision. Instead they assumed that because it wasn’t slanted toward their predisposed notion, it must be against their directive. I was condemned with a very angry pushback.

A recent blog post on how to filter out facts from feelings received the same negative pushback. Some who saw the post as an opposing view distorted my neutral stance. The result was several personal attacks on me from people who didn’t even acknowledge my point of separating fact from feelings before we make condemning comments on heated issues. They overlooked the entire point for the sake of falsely leveraging the neutral post to their opposition so they could slam their biased statement in retaliation.

Neutrality is no longer neutral, but instead is a tool for the aggressive to use as a launching point of opposition to spread their ideas. They push back off of the neutral to make an exaggerated contrasting statement—making a middle of the road balanced viewpoint look skewed. They disfigure the neutrality until their distorted viewpoint appears to be normal.

Historical writings reveal civil wars rising within similar polarized societies. The volatile aura created by people who push their ideas before understanding the opposition’s perspective fuels that fire. Battles ensue based on the society’s rights to secure their way of life without regard to the rights of others.

Since neutrality is no longer a safe haven, but a tool for everyone to leverage, we are forced to pick sides. Or, are we?

I’m a firm believer that when people focus on the wonders of our world, they are less likely to participate in the destruction of it. Wonder is a healthy and wholesome emotion that cannot live next to the lust for destruction. When we focus on the awesome and humble, there is little room to consider the angry rampages of distorted thinking. We become focused on the inspiring.

Denise Leverton wrote in her statement on poetics, “Insofar as poetry has a social function it is to awaken sleepers by other means than shock.”

The darker films, television and books are filled with story elements that shock audiences to consider new viewpoints, the more we need art to explore wonders within our world that shifts our focus back to balanced views. The only thing that can bring balance back to society is the illumination of the wonders that we’ve overlooked.

When we as a people are faced with the ugly and painful for an extended period of time, we begin to think hope no longer exists. A recent song by Zayn and Taylor Swift for Fifty Shades Darker reveals the distorted perspective in its lyrics, “I don’t wanna live forever, ’cause I know I’ll be living in vain.”

Our society once treasured that living forever was a good thing because it held the hope for a future utopia that was just around the corner. But with the “church” and the arts conforming to our dark society rather than reminding others of the wonders that surround us, people have lost touch of a hope that can unite those with opposing viewpoints.

Therefore, I’m going to look for ways to bring wonder back into society. I want to find new wholesome forms of entertainment that gives a glimpse into what that hope filled life might look like. I want to give people a taste of a future that is fulfilling and fun, taking them away from our dark society for a time of pondering the possibilities.

Copyright © 2017 by CJ Powers