Saturday, May 30, 2015

Happy Birthday Norman Vincent Peale

The controversial minister Norman Vincent Peale founded the modern inspirational movement. He wrote the book, The Power of Positive Thinking, and initiated a movement across the World. He combined psychology and religion to help people overcome their fears and achieve success.

A controversial minister because some Evangelical Christians do not find his teachings Christian, but instead consider him a heretic and a cult leader. Several psychologists also have spoke out against his teachings and consider them dangerous. The Wikipedia post for Norman Vincent Peale came across as extremely biased, and the entire post was dedicated to refuting Peale’s teachings.

However more people accept and embrace his positive thinking than ridicule it. He has his detractors, but don’t let them stop you from reading his words of wisdom. In the media today and among our friends and family, negative thoughts abound. Turning these thoughts around, and having a positive outlook on life would fix a lot of the World’s perceived problems. That is not to say one should bury his head in the sand like an ostrich, and ignore real problems, but things are often not as bad as they seem.

The Power of Positive Thinking published in 1956 has sold over 5 million copies. Throughout the text Peale uses bible verses and psychology to assist readers in obtaining a positive viewpoint on life and give them strength. In doing so, he seeks to minimize a person’s fears, worries and stress so the individual can pursue positive actions and outcomes. It is difficult to find a solution when you see the problem as insurmountable.

Peale wants people to live a vigorous and vital life. He wants people to pursue their dreams energetically with hope rather than wallow in fear. Hope motivates people while fear saps a person’s strength and desire.

Norman Vincent Peale also started Guideposts magazine to help people find comfort and hope. It is still a thriving entity fully accessible on social media. It offers prayers and inspirational messages throughout the day to help with daily difficulties.

He was born May 31, 1898 so on what would have been his 117th birthday enjoy life, explore and be energized.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Review of Disney's Tomorrowland: an Optimist's View of the Future

Synopsis: In Disney's Tomorrowland the world is getting ready to self destruct, and everyone is willing to let it go. Except Casey Newton, she refuses to accept its demise. She wants to fix the problem, and she drags the other characters along for the ride. Tomorrowland has time travel, dimensional travel, fight scenes, robots and androids, and a little bit of steam punk. The dimensional travel mixes Jules Verne’s space ship with Dr. Who’s phone booth.

Review: Tomorrowland communicates a positive theme. The message throughout the movie is one person can make a difference. It is a decent movie, 4 stars. The acting, story line and message are good. Although, the beginning felt too much like a pre-ride movie at Epcot. Once you get past the introduction, the movie perks up.

George Clooney plays Frank. He is the one that created the mess by making something he shouldn’t have. Frank is a bit cranky and disillusioned, and is happy living off the grid.

Britt Robertson plays the protagonist, Casey Newton. She is the optimist, and runs counter current to the rest of the characters. She believes things can change, and the world can be fixed. It is not doomed.

Raffey Cassidy plays Athena in the movie, and she does a great job. She recruits Frank and Casey for the utopian society. She reminds me a bit of Hayley Mills from the original Parent Trap.

The antagonist is David Nix, played by Hugh Laurie. He would rather not fix the world's problems. He doesn't feel that people in their current state are worth rescuing.

Brad Bird directed the movie and helped write it. He also did The Incredibles and Ratatouille. I think, his goal was to create a movie reminiscent of a 1950 children’s matinee, and he was successful. It is a good children’s science fiction matinee movie. It has some laughs, some action, and emotional pull. It is worth seeing.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Without Pain How Would We Know Joy

In Augustus Waters’ house, a drawing of an angel with the caption – without pain how would we know joy hangs over the television. August has cancer. His soon to be girlfriend Hazel Grace has cancer, and their mutual friend Isaac also has cancer. They met in a support group. They’re all teenagers. Augustus’ parents have filled the house with encouragements or inspirational memes. For those not familiar with the book, The Fault in Our Stars, read it. It is poignant, but good.

They’re teenagers trying to survive to adulthood. They have all the normal problems of teenagers plus the added bonus of cancer. John Green does a great job of portraying teenage angst combined with the reality of death.

Enough about the book, let’s look at the encouragement – without pain how could we know joy. Hazel Grace doesn’t buy into it. Her rejoinder … “the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate,” is a perfectly good response. Cancer patients definitely know pain, and finding joy under the circumstances could be difficult. However, Grace and Augustus do find moments of joy.

Besides Grace’s response, two other responses come to mind.  The first argument in favor of the saying dictates sometimes we have to leave something behind in order to find something new and wonderful. We may need to get fired from an okay job in order to move on to a better job. The old job becomes comfortable, and we don’t want to leave it to find a new job. Most people fear the unknown. They fear change. Sometimes they have to be forced to find something new, and this is painful.

In some cases it is a bad relationship that they fear leaving behind. It doesn’t matter how many times her partner cheats on the relationship or hits her.  She desires to stay in the bad circumstances rather than seek a better connection with a nicer person.

The remaining response to the encouragement is more of a philosophical argument. How can you debate whether a situation is bad or good if you have limited experiences? How can you determine joy, if you’ve never felt pain?

Everyone knows pain. Like Grace, some know pain more than others. Pain can be physical or emotional. In some cases, emotional pain can actually trigger physical pain. We get so emotionally upset that our bodies rebel against us.

But does everyone know joy? Joy means happiness, delight, pleasure and bliss. Again our emotions can generate physical feelings. During moments of happiness our body releases endorphins. They relieve stress and make us feel good. By the way chocolate also causes the body to release endorphins so maybe Grace was on to something.

Without pain how could we know joy? Is it necessary to have pain in order to understand joy? Maybe, but I really like Grace’s answer the best.