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Tag Archives: Billy Crystal

Look to the Book

If you asked a series of highly regarded professions, what’s the most important thing in life, answers would vary.  The 1991 film City Slickers sought to address this question, using a man played by Billy Crystal who is going through a mid-life crisis.  After running with the bulls in Spain, a friend suggests an excursion out west, reliving the cattle drives of old like a cowboy.  On this vacation with the guys, Crystal meets Jack Palance who plays Curly Washburn, their trail guide.  During a two week trip from New Mexico to Colorado, Crystal and Palance develop an unlikely friendship before his sudden death.  Left in the middle of no where without a leader, friends played by Bruno Kirby and Daniel Stern step up to lead the herd back to the ranch.  Rejecting an initial offer to finish what they started, Crystal has a change of heart, applying the knowledge Curly bestowed upon him.  When a calf born during their journey is swept away by a raging river, Crystal risks his life to save this animal.  Following a dramatic rescue, Crystal comes to understood what Curly meant by the most important thing in life.
How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping watch [on himself] according to Your word [conforming his life to Your precepts], Psalm 119:9.

My youngest child Lydia started high school today.  As a parent, I don’t know where the time has gone, flying by without any signs of stopping.  Thus, if I could bestow one simple suggestion to my daughter and others like her, its look to the book daily.  When you read the passage above, the Psalmist claims that the only way keep a young person pure is by mediating on the Bible.  As a former student and teacher, I understand the desire to pursue good grades.  Yet, there is a temptation to do whatever is takes to obtain an A, even if it means saying or writing things contrary to what you believe.  After receiving a poor grade on my first college English paper, I brushed aside my convictions to construct a paper acceptable, entertaining and popular in the world’s eyes.  While I received an A, bringing my overall average up to a B, I betrayed the precepts of the Bible.  I guess what I am trying to say is that there is a fine line between being the best that you can be and staying true to your beliefs.

With all my heart I have sought You, [inquiring of You and longing for You]; Do not let me wander from Your commandments [neither through ignorance nor by willful disobedience].  Your word I have treasured and stored in my heart, That I may not sin against You, Psalm 119:10-11.

The concept of meditating on the word of God may be awkward or overwhelming for a millennial.  However, what the Psalmist eludes to in the passage above is that the Bible serves as a filter for human minds.  As individuals look to this book, the more you become aware of God’s desire and expectations.  As you examine, inquire and study how the Bible applies to life, the Bible serves as a flashlight, shining light into formerly unknown areas.  Unfortunately, when Bibles begins to collect dust, minds can forget the difference between right and wrong.  As gray areas expand, human nature will rationalize acts, behavior or words that stray from God’s commandments.  This is why I pray that all my children develop the habit of looking to the book, the Word of God.  If the Bible can change and transform my life, then these living words, Hebrews 4:12, still possess the power to revive souls today.

by Jay Mankus

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A Mid-Faith Crisis

Hollywood’s depiction of a mid-life crisis doesn’t get much better than the 1991 film City Slickers.  Billy Crystal plays a man in his late 30’s who has lost his joy for life.  Depressed, disappointed and struggling to maintain hope for the future, Crystal is sent away by his wife to find himself during a week in Colorado with his buddies.  Disturbing their trail guide, a chain of events culminates in a mid-faith crisis, a watershed moment for Crystal and his 2 friends.

Beyond the big screen, dysfunctional faith forces individuals to confront life’s problems or ignore them, wishing they will disappear.  Enduring a restless night, hours of reflection revealed a troubled heart.  Some where during the last 5 years, I began to neglect most of the relationships in my life.  Subsequently, I find myself in a mid-faith crisis, not sure where to begin.  As my faith has turned lukewarm, Revelation 3:16, not pleasing to the Lord, its time to start over or like the life lesson in City Slickers, do everything better with Christ’s help.

In times of intense difficulty, its easy to throw up your hands, wave the white flag and withdraw into a shell.   Yet, each crisis provides a crossroad where you will wilt under pressure or trust God in the dark.  This critical moment will dictate your proximity to God.  As one who is approaching 30 years of walking with Jesus, I wish I could say faith gets easier the older you become.  Unfortunately, complications in life prove to serve as obstacles, mountains that prevent you from experiencing genuine faith.  Whenever you approach, face or stand in a valley of despair, remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 21:21-22 to conquer any mid-faith crisis you encounter.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Whateverism

 

Over the last 30 years, the term whatever has become synonymous with sarcasm, a common phrase used by valley girls, a brief fad during the 1980’s.  From an English teacher’s perspective, whatever can be used as a pronoun, adjective or informal interjection, designating a thing, number or slang comment.  On the other hand, whateverism refers to an unyielding attempt by a forceful mind to convert simple moral truth into limitless shades of grey according to the Urban Dictionary.

Whateverism is the polar opposite of fundamentalism which is founded upon absolute truth, where right and wrong is clearly defined with moral constructs.  In a culture of increased sensitivity, whateverism is most commonly used when an individual politely agrees to disagree with a person from another faith, saying something like, “that’s nice for you, but I’m content with where I am.”  Since the Bible and prayer has been banned from public education in America in the 1960’s, Hollywood has interjected examples of whateverism within classic movies like City Slickers and Grand Canyon.

In City Slickers, Billy Crystal is undergoing a mid-life crisis, convinced by his wife to spend a few weeks with the guys to go find himself.  During his vacation as a cattle wrangler, he meets Curly, a cowboy who teaches Crystal about the meaning of life using whateverism.  Meanwhile, Kevin Kline, Danny Glover and Steve Martin paths cross unexpectedly in the film Grand Canyon.  As each cast member struggles with various trials, the answer to life can be found by experiencing the Grand Canyon.  Although each of these answers to life’s problems sound somewhat appealing, I’d rather be 100 % confident in Acts 4:12 than find out afterwards I was wrong.  May the promise of Isaiah 55:6 come true for you!.

by Jay Mankus

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