WHAT A WASTE
Date: Tue, 10 Apr 2001
I thought this was a terrible film. Not only is it a silly view of Heaven and Hell from a Christian point of view, but also a pure piece of fluff form the view of must other religions. What would a Buddhist make of "optional" reincarnation? Heaven is a misty theme park, God "up there somewhere", hell is at least visually interesting but of little consequence. Life on earth is all about laughing and rolling in the grass...easy enough for the spoiled yuppies who are the heroes of this film. Visual fireworks cannot make up for a dumb, dumb, dumb, script that makes "Touched by an Angel" look like sophisticated theology.
SHEOL AND HADES
Subject: In reference to your earlier speculation on Hades...
Date: Fri, 04 Aug 2000
...if I recall rightly, the Hebrews of Old Testament times believed that the dead all went to Sheol, the underworld, located under the earth. Hal Lindsey (now I know, based on "The Omega Code", that he isn't the most accurate of sources! :) ) reports that Sheol was divided into two parts, "Paradise" (or sometimes, "the bosom of Abraham"), for the righteous dead, and "Torments", for the unrighteous dead. Apparently it's this Paradise that Jesus was talking about when he reassured the thief upon the cross. It's further recorded that Jesus descended into the underworld (some renditions have it "Hell"), after his death, and preached to the righteous and unrighteous dead there. Dante, in "The Divine Comedy", refers to this event. Speaking of Dante raises a very interesting question; what happens with the righteous dead who didn't have an opportunity to hear the Gospel? Dante solves this problem by introducing "Limbo", which is, while in the underworld, not really part of Hell but rather is intended as an abode for said shades. Limbo is, by comparison with the rest of Hell, quite a pleasant place - the only penalty these departed face is that they will never have the opportunity to see God (except at the Last Judgment). This place, as you will recall, is Virgil's home. In fact, I hope you'll write sometime about "The Divine Comedy".
REINCARNATION? GIVE ME A BREAK!
Subject: Is he in hell? WhatDreamsMayCome
Date: Sun, 5 Mar 2000
I am glad to see all the responses to this AWFUL movie. First of all,this is what I got out of this stupid film: First half:Depressing.Everyone buys the farm Second half:Who's who and who's not Third: After all this,they try anew? Hey,here's a thought:The character played by Robin Williams is in hell. Think about it:when his friend ?son/(whoever) played by Cuba Gooding Jr. mentions God being "up there"...and they are "down there"...If heaven is above and Hell is below, and at no time is JESUS mentioned as the only way to get to heaven, isn't this movie at least slightly flawed? Also,if "heaven" for the lead character is bliss in a living art painting (ok,nice FX) and he at least gets his mutt back in good ol' Heaven, why not other members of the family? Well,since it is revealed that at least a good part of the characters are in fact another character (it is confusing!!) the bottom line:
DECEPTION! LIES! Reincarnate mumbojumbo! Gimme a break!
Response: It was a bit confusing -David.
SUICIDE DOES NOT EQUAL HELL
May 24, 1999. I watched this movie last evening with my wife. We looked at each other in horror when the revelation comes that the woman has gone to hell because she committed suicide. I realize that clear-thinking Christians won't be looking to this movie for theological truths, but I was greatly saddened by the thought that many grieving families of suicide victims will see this movie and despair of God's grace, even for those who kill themselves. Am I missing something or did Christ's death on the cross for us not cover all sins for all time, including the transitory sin of despair. Of course, I realize that the movie was addressed to a largely non-Christian audience, but I hope for greater outrage at this perverted representation of an unmerciful and capricious God. That's not the God of Calvary or the one at the empty tomb or the one who appeared to Mary in the garden. The real God is the one from whom even the powers of hell cannot separate us from his love through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Hanging in there, Michael Kunz
MY SON AND I HAVE LIVED BEFORE
Jan. 6,1999. My 14 and a half year old son was incensed that this movie should have been labelled for 15s. He loved it and basically agreed with its concepts. He's always been a deeply philosophical child, well aware of the existence of "other realities", partly because of our life circumstances which are unusual to say the least, like living in a Gothic novel. :-) However, he seems to have been "born to it", and takes strange events and unusual thoughts in his stride. We both "know" that we have lived before and to add some weight for the peasants, I have experienced many lifetimes, one of which was as one of the great "worms" whose bodies now form part of the Liscannor stone of Ireland. I found the quote about the "worm" never dying and living in fire very intriguing considering what my own research has been revealing, that we are actually an artifical bio-life form of dual nature, a symbiot/host where the symbiot is the KA or HU, a fire elemental serpent (source of the symbol of the "feathered serpent" of many cultures), and the host is MAN, the water-based body. The HU/KA is the source of Kundalini energy and only when we integrate both sides of our nature (perhaps this is why we have two brains), and find the centre of balance, the core, the heart, do we become true HU-MAN beings, able to relate to both the divine and the material aspects of creation. This movie and other "messages" embedded in our reality all around us, just waiting to be "read" (Carl Sagan's book "Contact" pointed out the message using Pi as base signature - now that movie was a great disappointment) all point to a growing awareness of synthesis and potential integration on all levels. There is no one "right WAY", there are as many as there are individual creatures. We each have the Way within us and would do best to find it within our own hearts. Shortcuts not allowed. It spoils the real fun. OBI-WAN KENOBI = NOTHING IS ONE; KNOW NOTHING IS. Try some etymology instead. Much healthier for your host. Liz O'Driscoll
David, I have enjoyed looking over your website and like your positive approach. I am surprised by your response to Scott under WHAT DREAMS MAY COME. They were: "And reincarnation? Let's see. Hmmm. There are more people alive today than has ever lived. Hence, if there is reincarnation it is reserved for only a select few, unless, of course, we were cud chewing cows or something like that in the past. Not appealing to me, and it certainly wouldn't have worked in the film. Most of my friends who strongly believe in reincarnation believe that they have had several lifetimes and where always persons of note -like queens, kings, or other famous personalities of the past. None of these friends have ever mentioned being a reincarnated peasant or cow. The potential danger in reincarnation is to live life looking backwards. Resting in what one was, rather than advancing into all the wonderful potential of who we are."
Well, what if there were 1000 souls created to begin with and at any one time there were 35 or so souls on earth and right now there are 42? It doesn't mean that reincarnation is restricted to the chosen few. Far from that. Also, I have read a lot about hypnotic regression into previous lives and was regressed once myself. My experience and that of many regressionists are that most people lived very ordinary lives. Your idea that most people get off on that they were kings or queens is a myth. I would welcome your comments. Donna Anderson
MY RESPONSE: Thank you for your kind remarks about Hollywood Jesus. Your point is right when you say, "...if there were a 1000 souls..." However, my point concurs with yours, most would not be reincarnated, just a chosen few, 35 or so, out of 1000. However, when you write that "most people get off on that they were kings or queens is a myth" -I must tell you that my experience is otherwise. I was married once to a wonderful woman, who developed a medical problem. After several unsuccessful attempts by various doctors she finally went to a doctor who practiced hypnotic regression. Under hypnosis it was determined that she had several past lives. She had been a princess in Atlantis and that he (the doctor) had sacrificed her for the sins of the people, hence the pain in his side. In another session it was determined that they had been alive and lovers at the time of Christ. In another, they had been famous brain surgeons in Germany, before Hitler. In still another, they had built the great pyramids by levitating the great stones in place. They also contacted the "Great White Light Brotherhood" (Buddha, Jesus, et al.) and determined that they had lived on several of the planets, Venus, Neptune, etc. I knew nothing of all this. I thought she was just going in for medical treatment. One day I came across the transcriptions of their recorded sessions and was stunned. I also found love letters in which they wrote of being cosmic "soul mates" and that they needed to resume their sexual life together. The doctor was married at the time to a pregnant wife. Nothing I could do or say could save my marriage to my first wife. She left me and and married the doctor. They set up a practice and "helped" others discover their past lives too. Their marriage didn't last, so much for cosmic soul mates that build pyramids together. My other experience comes from my old writer friend who joined a famous reincarnation cult in Hollywood. He introduced me to several "important people" of the past, reincarnated types. After a while, it turned him off toward the idea of reincarnation. I like the Bible. It's more useful to me than what I have experienced in reincarnation. Please write back. This is a very interesting discourse.
Warmly, David Bruce.
DIDN'T LIKE THE ENDING:
Dear David and Hollywood Jesus,
I don't know if I mentioned it yet or not, but I saw "What Dreams May Come"--I was tremendously disappointed. I mean, the thing that disappointed me the most was its ending-- the whole reincarnation thing being inserted, especially when I was expecting a really spectacular ending, was such an awful shock. Up to the end, I was thinking, "Well, sure, it's being liberal in its description of hell and made one mention of reincarnation, but I can overlook that if I see this as a fictional story." This probably wasn't helped by the fact that the first night I went to see it, the film actually melted just before the great climax, something which I had seen happen only on movies or heard about but never actually witnessed. I was given a refund and had to go back to see it again, and I was REALLY hyped up for the spectacular ending, and I didn't get it. It just sort of killed the whole experience so much I thought, "I would have been better off not seeing the ending."
FROM TARNISHED ANGEL: Two months ago my very best lifetime friend died very suddenly. We had shared a 42 year friendship. I traveled to his funeral, and there found enormous comfort from those with whom we had also shared our youth. One of our mutual friends suggested that I read the book-WHAT DREAMS MAY COME. Upon my return home, I did read it-and was profusely intrigued, and at the same time, I had real questions about some things, that I felt had been left out of the book. I am, by nature, an extremely 'visual' person, and so, I longed to see the film, for I was certain that it would be, for me, an experience rich in "Personal-Spiritual" content. Now, having 'experienced' this beautiful mosaic of love- the LOVE that I am certain comes to each of us from our God, I know, with absolute certainty, that when it is my time, your time, and the 'time' that God chooses for each of us, that we shall "see" those who have gone before us, and, God willing, we will be in a realm as spiritually peaceful, as that created by the producer, director, and cinematic genius, that created this visual masterpiece. With that said-ponder this: Who, but God Almighty, could "create" a mind such as the one responsible for the beautiful visual adaptation of the magnificent book-WHAT DREAMS MAY COME? Perhaps God, mine,and yours, thought it timely. I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, Tarnished Halo
FROM DARREN IN AUSTRALIA: This movie sucked, it was lost in its own gobbidily gook double talk. Spiritually offensive.
FROM SCOTT: David, I appreciate your movie reviews and desire to find points of contact. If God is truly Sovereign, then He is Sovereign over Hollywood. Certainly, the "imago dei" is not entirely dead--God does allow the unbeliever to recognize truths. And, of course, because men are fallen beings, we regularly misappropriate and corrupt truth. "What Dreams May Come" is a great example of how spiritual human beings naturally are and how we corrupt the truth at the same time. I applaud you for finding the points of contact--many Xians wrongly assume that there are none and I think that speaks droves about bad theology within the church. However, I personally would have like to see you deal more with all the problems in this movie. I believe that Apostle Paul gives us that very model in Acts 17:16-34 where he makes points of contact with his pagan audience, points out the problems with their thinking and reinterprets their truths into true Truth. I am deeply concerned with the megadose of Eastern thought in this film, especially as it relates to both Buddhism and Hinduism. At one point in the movie, Albert (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) tells Chris that "thought is real and the physical is illusion." Having studied world religions, that caught my attention, recognizing that metaphysic to be right from the pages of both of these Eastern religions. For them, this world is an illusion to be escaped--what is real is what is to come in Nirvana, Enlightenment, etc. and, as you pointed out, reincarnation is all over this film. I have since learned that the producers (Metafilmics) designed a film group to tackle metaphysics with an obviously Eastern stance. I do not think this film will do well for the same reason that "Grand Canyon" didn't do well despite an awesome cast: too deep, too philosophical. Most people want something light and this film makes you think too much. But, thanks again for finding points of contact. Those that do see it will talk and that's a great opportunity for evangelism. By the way, in this article I was reading on the film (before I went to see it), the producers said they were making a "new heaven" where marriages continue; the producers complained about Jesus' insistence in Matthew that earthly marriages are dissolved. I couldn't help but see the tremendous irony since the wedding--the greatest wedding-- between the Lamb and His Bride will be consummated at this time! The producers said they were restoring human dignity by bringing marriage into the afterlife but I found it quite degrading that heaven could not transcend anything more than earthly relationships.
Adios in Christ,
Scott M. Armstrong
Scott, did you go to seminary? Wow, I am impressed with your insight and terminology. You are right, my reviews tend toward the positive connections and that I have very little negative response. I imagine that the film maker is a friend of mine and we are discussing the spiritual connections over a cup of coffee. I keep the conversation on a positive note. I am always mindful of other Christian reviewers that will be tearing my friend apart. But, since I love my friend, my approach is different.
You are very right, Jesus said there is no marriage in heaven, except for the big one, in which we will all be apart of. I can't wait. Cosmic unity, wow, think of it.
And reincarnation? Let's see. Hmmm. There are more people alive today than has ever lived. Hence, if there is reincarnation it is reserved for only a select few, unless, of course, we were cud chewing cows or something like that in the past. Not appealing to me, and it certainly wouldn't have worked in the film. Most of my friends who strongly believe in reincarnation believe that they have had several lifetimes and where always persons of note -like queens, kings, or other famous personalities of the past. None of these friends have ever mentioned being a reincarnated peasant or cow. The potential danger in reincarnation is to live life looking backwards. Resting in what one was, rather than advancing into all the wonderful potential of who we are.
FROM DEAN: WHAT DREAMS MAY COME sums up life from a Hollywood point of view which is radically different from how Jesus presented the truth.
HOLLYWOODS MESSAGE BEING
Life has come into being for men and women to pursue an ideal mate, to die and experience what they imagined in the next life, to be willing to stay in hell with someone who is there which will set you free to go to heaven, heaven being experiencing what ever you imagine. Is God there? Yes, He is up there loving us and hoping he is getting through but kind of powerless to do anything beyond our desires and imagination. Once bliss is ours because we are reunited with the ideal spouse and our family is reunited, then we will want to leave it all and be reincarnated so we can pursue that ideal mate once again in a new body. Where is Jesus Christ in all this? Oh, he is a curse word to be used to puncuate sentences when frustrated. That is the message of WHAT DREAM MAY COME. Hollywood can keep her dreams. I prefer the TRUE and LIVING GOD REVEALED THROUGH THE SON OF GOD JESUS CHRIST He is the solid rock on which I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. Life is more than man can think. It involves the revelation of God regarding His wonderful Son who died and rose that we might live again in a new body to be with Him for ever. Only an idiot would want to come back to earth to be reincarnated when he has seen the full incarnation of God in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. The message of God's Son is one of incarnation, not reincarnation. He revealed clearly that once we leave this life if we know Him as Savior we will be with Him and recognize him for who He is, one who is the same yesterday, today and forever! If we fail to come to him then we will die in our sins and not be able to be with Him where He is. Not being with Jesus is hell. God so loved the world (that's you) that whosoever believes in him (that can be you), should not perish but have everlasting life. Moses and Elijah appeared hundreds of years after they died with Christ on the mount of transfiguration when the glory of God shined out of Jesus' body and they were recognized as still being Moses and Elijah. Reincarnatin is an invention of the devil to deceive people and blind their minds lest the light of the glorious goodnews of Jesus Christ should shine in to them and save them. When one comes to Christ and finds Him to be the way, the truth and the life, then the blinders of Hollywood fall off and life now and in the future is seen for what it really is. Hollywood's version of life and spirituality shall be exposed in the final analysis as inspired by the one who wanted to make himself God and began the downword spiral into oblivion. Selah!
You are right about the point of view in the film. However, there are many spiritual points of view in the entertainment business. Ironically, those who support reincarnation would also fault the film's presentation of it. Reincarnation, in terms of Karma, is generally presented differently than it is in the film.
"What Dreams" reflects the view of the source book's author. I am sure that some, not all, of those involved in the film would question the existance of any kind of Hell. Most, I'm sure, would not believe in reincarnation. Hollywood is far from being united on anything, believe me.
I am surprized that a film about Heaven and Hell was even made at all. And, in fact, there were certain areas of agreement with the Bible: Heaven is desirable and Hell has pain. Choices in this life determined life in the next. Separation is the pain of Hell and relationship is the joy of Heaven.
Where the film differs with the Bible can be found in the words of Jesus, who said, "I am the Way (to heaven), the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me. -John 14:6.
FROM NICK: I offer a differing interpretation of the "parable" in Luke, when you talk about heaven and hell. The term is "Hades", where the rich man went. In Evangelical circles, Hades is equivalent to hell. But I am not sure if that is totally accurate. Gehenna, with unrepentant sinners and gnashing of teeth, means hell. Hades means "the netherworld".
You might be wondering why I put quotes around "parable". It is because there is speculation as to whether or not this is not a parable, but an actual account. This is the first and only story where Christ gives a proper name to a character. Further, there was an instance where another "Lazarus" did actually die. At the end of the "parable", Abraham says "if they don't listen to Moses and the prophets, they won't listen even if someone rises from the dead." Interestingly enough, real world's Lazarus' rising from the dead proved exactly that. Instead of converting the Pharisees, it made the Pharisees conspire to kill Jesus.
In light of all eternity, there are only two places: Heaven and Hell. However, this, and other Scriptural points make me consider that there is a third, temporal place or state, which Scripture states as Hades. I don't expect you to agree, and that's okay. I just thought of throwing some food for thought.
MY RESPONSE: You are absolutely right on Hades. It is not Gehenna. Your Bible knowledge is far superior to most. Hades is the intermediate state not the final state. The "parable" is one that turns the table. The rich man is a believer -one of the chosen seed (son of Abraham). The poor man is, well, who knows? Your basic nobody. Someone that only God notices and cares for. They both die and suddenly the tables are turned, the rich man is now the beggar and Lazarus is richly satisfied. It is not an "accept Jesus" kind of story. Rather, a warning to the so called "elect."
I used the NLT because of it's "English as a second language" style. Hence, the use of the word 'hell' for 'hades.' Also, the movie is about the immediate after-death state of those that pass on. And, that is exactly what Jesus was talking about.
Warmly, David Bruce.