Movie Review- ‘Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain’

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So, I thought it would be a good idea to take a little break from the discussion of prayer to review a movie I saw recently, though we will probably be talking about prayer by the end of this.  The movie I recently saw was “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain”; a hilarious and poignant documentary/ surrealist-film/ standup show that portrays Hart’s signature self-deprecating-yet-cocky style to highlight issues in his own life.  Now I will forewarn you, this is not a typical review.  If you would like that, there are many other outlets for that.  Like my previous movie reviews (here and here), this is an attempt to tease out the truth that Kevin speaks in this film.  So hang on, and let’s get into it.

Kevin really lays down some amazing relationship advice in “Let Me Explain” which stems from his own admitted fault of marital infidelity.  I have heard the claim from other reviews about charges of misogynistic tendencies directed towards Kevin, and I would have before said the same thing.  But, I have realized that a lot of the issue here is a difference of socio-economic language, and though I am making assumptions here, I would assume that Kevin comes from a predominately African-American, lower income community, and I would assume that many of those that accuse him of being detrimental to women come from a predominately white, middle-upper class community.  These two segments of society speak different languages.  So when Kevin uses the word “b!+ch” (censored for sensitive eyes), I do not think that his intention is to tear down women.  On the contrary, I see a great support of females that many would not give.  Here is an example- one of the jokes that Kevin presents stems around the idea that if you are in a relationship with a female, and when she gets mad she contorts herself in ridiculous ways and looks at you sideways… it is your fault.  He literally blames men for the “craziness” of the females in their lives.  How accurate!  From my own marriage, I have seen where my actions, whether intended or not, have been able to really push my wife to the edge.  I am at fault.  Thanks for that one, Kev, I needed it.

Also, Kevin hilariously deals with the issue of deceit in one’s life, and how lying becomes a way of being, and overtakes us.  To illustrate this, he describes a situation where to defend his 5 minute tardiness to work, he tells of seeing a running baby on the road, adopting it, then seeing a deer-zebra hybrid (deerbra) capturing it, taking it to a zoo, then finding out the baby was actually a man with “Benjamin Button disease” who rode the zebra.  I was crying from laughing so much.  But this and other jokes highlight the futility of lying in our lives, that it becomes a defense mechanism for us.  But it doesn’t really defend us; it paints a clear picture of who we are to those around us, and alienates us from those we love… because they can’t trust us.

To close, the movie was great.  Yeah, there was a lot of crude language.  Yeah, there was some immodest humor.  Sometimes, you have to learn to interpret tongues, even if you don’t speak in the said tongue.  Go see Kevin Hart’s “Let Me Explain” with open eyes and open ears, and subvert the powers today.

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Subversion of the Day- Prayer, A Series: Part III

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As the firework smoke clears, the streets begin to be cleaned, and many slowly open their alcohol-coated eyes, we can look to the next aspect of subversive prayer, which is repentance.  Now, before you roll your eyes and roll back over, I know that that is not a very popular word.  And I want to assuage you of any feelings you may now be having that this blog is the ranting and raving of some strange radical-fundamentalist hybrid who thinks the world is full of sin and that we got to do good or else God is mad at us.

Assuage… Yeah, I don’t know if that is going to be happening.

The thing is, i think there is some truth to that for almost all of us.  Though God sent His son to die to free us from the totalitarian grasp of sin and death, there are actions still taken that hurt others and destroy the world around us, which brings us to the weighty part of this conversation.  In Matthew 21, Jesus has first triumphantly entered Jerusalem and the whole town is in an uproar, and most are excited that the Messiah has come.  So, what does a good king do to continue to gain the respect of those adoring him?  He enters the temple, and begins making people and animals leave, and starts flipping tables over.

Wait… what?

Though at first this sounds like schizophrenia acting up, what is happening here is first an act of true worship, because it is second an act of social justice.  Jesus didn’t just send them out ‘just because’, but because the system that they were partaking in was corrupt, abusive, and harmed the poor.  There were people buying and selling animals at the temple because many traveled a long distance to get to Jerusalem for the upcoming Passover and could not bring livestock with them to sacrifice.  So there was a place to buy them… but at an exorbitant price.  Same with the money changers: they were taking foreign currency in exchange for appropriate temple money… but were taking a little more than necessary off the top.  Those selling doves may have been the worst, because that part of sacrifice was reserved for the poor who could not afford cattle, yet they still had to pay.  So, Jesus was rightfully pissed that people were being abused in the name of His Father. 

So Jesus was a social activist.  What does this have to do with prayer?

Everything!  Haven’t you figured this out by now?  Sometimes there are restrictions that we have placed in our own hearts (which those who follow Jesus are referred to as temples of God) that put an unnecessary weight on those around us.  We have made our hearts a den of thieves where we steal the dignity and the image of God from others around us, when it was supposed to be a place where God resides.  And because of that, we need to drive out the things that have made it hard for others to come to God.  We need to repent.  We need to see that cleansing ourselves shocks and disarms the powers and principalities because they don’t know what to do when we change the rules and only live based on love.  And when we reclaim a desire for doing what is right, one that we will starve and dehydrate without, Jesus says we will be satisfied.  Repent in prayer, seek to make things right, and subvert the powers today.

 

God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
    for they will be satisfied.

     The words of Jesus, Matthew 5:6

Subversion of the Day: Prayer, A Series- Part II

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What better time to talk about prayer, and celebration in prayer, than on a day when many people across the United States are celebrating the moment that they received independence from Britain… or at least celebrating a day off work?  And that is the Subversion of the Day: celebration in prayer.  Once again, to a seasoned activist or a civil organizer/disorganizer or a monkey wrencher (which i am not yet any of these), this may seem like folly.  What would being celebratory in our prayers do at all for subverting the powers?

More than you think, obviously.

To answer this, and to move along through the topic of prayer, i want to take a look at a portion of Jesus the Christ’s life that is represented in the Book of Matthew, Chapter 21.  In the beginning of this section, Jesus was coming to Jerusalem on a mission that he had already been explaining to His followers- he was going to die.  But to lead up to that moment, there were opportunities to teach, heal, and fulfill Hebraic prophecy along the way.  In this first case, Jesus makes appropriate arrangement to enter Jerusalem in a pretty powerful way- as a coming king.  And it seems pretty apparent that they people agreed because as he rode in on a borrowed donkey, they shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Hosanna in the highest!”  So what does hosanna mean?  It meant save, savior, or emphatically, SAVE US NOW!  These people celebrating His arrival believed that He was the promised Messiah who would return Israel to it’s former glory and save them from Roman occupation.  This is further verified when they call him Son of David, which was to say he was the true heir of the throne of David the great king, as opposed to the person that was currently on it.

So… what does this have to do with prayer?

Oh, yeah.  In our prayers, as we come face to face with God through Jesus (see the post from the other day), we must celebrate the Savior that came, that is present, and that is coming again.  We must celebrate that he came as the savior, but not to give Israel earthly power again, but to free the whole world from having to wear the chains of sin and death, to be able to choose life and love.  When we pray in a celebratory fashion, it begins to destroy the foundations of a world that wants us to mourn, and says we refuse to cry anymore about the evil you propagate, but we choose to celebrate the One who has freed us.  He said that we will be comforted, so lets believe Him now, and celebrate.  Subvert the powers today.

God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

-The words of Jesus, Matthew 5:4

Subversion of the Day: Prayer, a Series

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Yesterday I preached a much-too-long-winded sermon at The Salvation Army Richmond Citadel Corps, and the sermon was about the nature of prayer, what it is, how we go about it, and a few other things.  So I thought that this week that the Subversion of the Day could be a series of thoughts on prayer, broken down to highlight how this activity, often seen as merely contemplative, is in actuality one of the greatest subversive acts that we could do, and should do daily (and more often than that).  So before we get into the real thick of what this word implies for action, I thought it would be good to examine what it actually means.
A commonly used word in the New Testament meaning prayer is the Greek proseuche.  The gentleman here goes into a good amount of detail explaining this word, but for our purposes, it is a combination of two words- pros, meaning face to face or intimate; and euche, meaning wish, request or vow.  So when put together, this word means to be face to face in an intimate relationship with God where we ask for or give over something.
There is an old Victorian era toy called a thaumatrope that had a disc with a picture on two sides, and a string on both ends.  When one would twist the string, it would make it appear to the viewer that they shared the same side while in motion.  In a way, this is a good way to view how prayer works- two beings, God and us, seperated deeply but brought together through the thaumatrope, which would be Jesus, and the act of spinning, which would be the Holy Spirit.  When it spins, the boundaries between us and Him become so thin, that it looks like we are melding.

So what does this have to do with subversive behavior?

Everything.  To really be subversive, you have to break the bonds of the way that we have been taught by the powers and principalities to see the world- division, aggression, violence, and sin/ego/desire/.  You have to choose to love, to let yourself be a vessel for the Holy Spirit to love others, and then, the thaumatrope gets spinning.  When we love everyone we see to the point that we would die for them, we begin to break the chains of a world that shoots first and asks questions later, and we begin to see heaven get a little closer to earth.  When we pray, we come face to face with God, and He then can use use to pierce the darkness.  Pray to love others, and subvert the powers today.

The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.
James 5:16