Monday, December 19, 2011

Arthur Christmas Movie Review

It's been a while since I last posted a movie review, and I wasn't planning on writing a review for this particular movie, but after seeing it with my niece, I felt inclined to share.
Arthur Christmas is the story of the half-wit clumsy son of Santa, Santa being an overweight guy in a suit. The notions of selfishness and family love were broadcast in the most careful, roundabout, politically correct ways. Most of all the phantom "true meaning of Christmas" was shoved down the viewers throat.
Now this is why I avoid Christmas movies. They turn me into a Scrooge. Arthur Christmas was a perfectly cute and acceptable children's Christmas film, that is, if you don't mind swallowing flies along with your honey. While it was all about Christmas joy, tinsel, Santa, presents, reindeer, and elves; well, that was all it was about. The "true meaning of Christmas" Phantom strikes again. What is the "true meaning" anyway? Is is spending time with family? Is it giving and receiving? Or, "it's the thought that counts"? Is it the notion that less is more and living simple holidays make for the best memories? Who knows.
I wish to leave you with this holiday thought:
What is the true meaning of Christmas for you? 
Or, even better yet: 
How often does the Baby in Bethlehem take top spot in your holiday rush priorities list?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"There be Dragons" Movie Review

Today I went to see "There be Dragons", the movie about St. Josemaria Escriva.
I didn't think it would  be very good, in fact, I was expecting utter boredom. But instead, it turned out to be the best movie I have ever seen.
No lie. No exaggeration. 
And, even if it bankrupts me, and even though I have to drive a million miles to the only theater in town that is playing it, I'm going to see it again. Perhaps I will even see it three times. Not only because movies this good need our support, but mainly because movies like this are worth it.

So do yourself a favor, skip "Thor", and instead see "There be Dragons". But bring tissues. It was so beautifully scripted, the story was so emotionally charged, and you connected instantly with each character on such a deep level, that you can't help but weep. The fellow in the aisle in front of us was weeping (actually, wailing loudly, drenched in tears), and i was his chorus harmony of sobs. The whole theater was in emotional breakdown mode. And, shamefully, there was not a single tissue in sight! 

Also, this Friday, the movie "Priest" is being released into theaters. It is nothing more than a horrendous misrepresentation of the holy priesthood and the Catholic Church, and should be avoided like an outbreak of the black plague. I find it interesting that "Priest" is being released just in time to take viewers away from "There be Dragons", a movie that portrays the perfect example of a saintly priest.


Saturday, April 2, 2011


If you look hard enough, there’s a moral to be found in anything. My most recent moral musing was triggered, oddly enough, by a musical. And not just any musical... but Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
    While I wouldn’t recommend the movie to a child or an adult with a queasy stomach, when viewed in the right light this story will show you a fascinating and disturbing parallel of modern society.  
    This ensanguined, little fable tells the story of a wrongly accused barber who, when released from prison, returns to his hometown of London as a bitter and revenge driven man on the border of madness.  His old shop has been taken over by an offbeat widow who owns a failing meat pie business.  In a frame of less than five minutes (the song “A Little Priest”, look it up on YouTube at your own risk) the two justify the murder and cannibalization of their customers.  
    While this is a rather extreme example, it can be used in its lyrics and imagery to highlight the three contributing elements  of moral rationalization.  These elements being: Avoidance, Denial and Blame. 
    Avoidance is when we focus on every aspect of a situation EXCEPT for what is morally wrong. In A Little Priest the two protagonists focus on the fact that Mrs. Lovett’s business is failing, they focus on the business of her rival, they list of the attributes of each of their victims, mention relatives... and basically focus on  anything except for the dignity of the human person. Avoidance is a vital step to morally justifying just about anything. 
Denial is when we do the best we can to avoid the facts of a situation. Often this is executed by changing the names of things. For instance in the lyrics of A Little Priest where they refer to the corpse as “a nice, plump frame”, reducing what was once the living body of a human being into nothing more than a piece of meat. The power of words cannot be underestimated in their contribution to moral rationalization.
This leads us neatly into Blame... the final shebang of the process. Nothing like shifting the spotlight from our own souls onto the sins of those around us to blur the moral boundaries. In his words, the avenging barber describes London society as “man devouring man”, therefor shifting the wrongness of his actions onto “society” in general.  Something that we, as Christian youth, are all too guilty of.  
I’m no clergy, and I hold no doctorate of theology, I am merely an all-up-in-yo-grill Catholic teenager whose been granted a virtual soapbox. But I write these words from a place of thought, a place of Truth with a capital T. Take it as you will and if it leads you to your own reflection than praise the Lord, if not... enjoy the music.

- Merwin <3

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Unknown Movie Review

I waited a few days before blogging this review, mainly because i don’t like to write reviews while still on a buttered-popcorn high.
Unknown was an action thriller with an interesting plot and a very good cast. The acting quality was great, and it was a pleasure to hear some decent dialogue. The story was the best part. No only was there tense build up, but there was a neat twist to top all. (I knew the story would be good when i found out it was based on a novel.) The action wasn’t over done, and there was just enough humanness and soul injected into each character that you felt they deserved a happy ending.
There were a few inappropriate scenes, and some innuendo that lasted longer than necessary. Also, a man kills himself with cyanide poisoning. The gore wasn’t too heavy, although there were a few things that took me a little off balance.
All things considered, I would not recommend this movie for children under 15 years.
However, i would say that it is an interesting flick for adults and older teens.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Is there a man in the house?

There is a sharp contrast that goes unnoticed. That statement might seem like an oxymoron, because after all, how can a sharp contrast go unnoticed?
It can.
The contrast is this--male actors from the 30’s and 40’s compared to  male actors of our present century.
In the video below are pictures of actors from the 30’s and 40’s, preceded by their baby photos.
The words i would use to describe these men, even if i didn’t find them particularly attractive, are masculine, tailored, and chivalrous.  They look intelligent, successful and confident, a few are dark and bad to the bone--yet suave, some appear to be having way to much fun in black and white. They are all strikingly  masculine have a clean cut well groomed appearance, could take command and would never worry about chipping a nail.

Now that you have see the previous video, take a look at this next one.

These are more recent actors, as is obvious.
Here are a few things i found especially interesting about this video.
First of all, are all men nowadays trying to appear feminine? Did i not get the memo?
I guess i must have gotten lost in the transition. From the poses these men are striking, to the bare chested, to the ear rings and the common Beiber hairstyle (anyone else notice that 60% of them have the same hair?) these guys are just too...girly.
Second, who made this video? Some of these actors are still in their early teens! If an adult woman made this video, that’s just creepy. Even worse if a young girl made this video, since some of the actors shown are in their 30s and early 40s, i must question her attraction to a feminine father figure.
Who makes a ‘25 hottest guys’ list, anyway? I thought only end of year issues of ‘People’ magazine did that.
Don’t get me wrong, many of the actors of today have lots of talent, but that doesn’t change how they are trying to look. If in their plan of how to set their style, feminine qualities are not the aim, then shouldn't’ they try a little bit harder to look manly? An objective viewer who  looks at any one of these guys will recognize that they are working hard to appear cute and pretty. The pictures reveal men and boys that look more like a silly femme fatale,  posing and parading to drive their victims into screaming hysteria most especially and pitifully among their victims are  women twice their age.
Our current society is confused, to say the least. Women need to regain their proper role, and guys, man up.


Monday, January 31, 2011

The Right to Marry...?

In the raging debate over homosexual “marriage” in the United States today, many are the arguments, rebuttals, and counterarguments that are passed to and fro between the opposing sides. Ever since the 1993 court case in Hawaii where the court ruled that  “a ban on such marriages may well violate the State Constitution's prohibition against sex discrimination” (New York Times), the debate has gained prominence and priority in the public square. It has gone so far as to rival and even displace the debate over legalized abortion, becoming a key issue in recent presidential elections and elections for other public offices (The Pew Forum). Amid the different arguments, one argument pro seems to emerge again and again, forming a central point from which all others flow: marriage is a right. This tenant is so central to the discussion that it merits direct and dedicated study. Unfortunately, the answer to the question “is marriage a right?” is not so clear cut as this false dichotomy might suggest. There is no basic right to marriage; yet there is a right to marriage, but not in the same respect.       
By simple, basic, logical deduction, marriage cannot be a basic human right, contrary to what so many proponents of gay marriage would like to believe: in an essay posted on, the assertion is made that “Same Sex Marriage is a Basic Human Right”, which obviously must rest on the assumption that marriage in any form is a basic human right. There are even many proponents of traditional marriage who would probably consider marriage as they understand it a basic human right, but these are also in the wrong. Basic human rights are those justified claims or entitlements that are intrinsically part of the human existence and are inseparable from any given human except in very few cases, such as when the just government deprives felons and convicts of their liberty. They are undeniable to any man.  As Americans, we fundamentally believe in basic human rights, as is evidenced by our founding document, the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…
The idea of “inalienable” human rights is as integral to our nation as the idea of governmental power coming from the people governed. A human being’s basic rights cannot be infringed upon by any other human being. A man has a basic right to nutrition and hydration: to deprive him of the same would be a terrible crime. By the same token, shelter, liberty, and hygiene must not be infringed upon by any individual. Marriage does not fall into this category in any way. If marriage is a basic human right, then it is intrinsically wrong to deny it to anyone for any reason. This means that if a dirty, disease-riddled old man with a long criminal history and three teeth approached a Miss New York, or some such example of youthful health and beauty, and demanded marriage, and she (understandably) declined, she would be violating his basic human right to marriage. The only way to fulfill his “right” to marriage is to deny her any choice in the matter. It would certainly seem that while marriage is not a fundamental right, the ability to refuse a person’s hand is. To say that the man has a right to marry whoever he wants doesn’t make any sense. It violates the principle of non-contradiction. The principle of non-contradiction is an ancient philosophical idea that says that something cannot both be and not be at the same time in the same respect. The same action fulfills a basic human right while denying a basic human right. Yet it seems that such an elementary fact is lost on even our leaders and public servants. In the recent ruling by Federal Court Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco, it was found that the freedom to marry is a fundamental right:
The freedom to marry is a fundamental right… The parties do not dispute that the right to marry is fundamental… Here, because the right to marry is fundamental, the court looks to the evidence presented at trial to determine 1) the history, tradition, and practice of marriage in the United States…   (pp 109-110)
Despite the clearly worded legal finding, to say that marriage is a basic or fundamental human right is to defy rational reason. Marriage is not a fundamental right, but rather a privilege granted by a religious or governmental authority.
To say that marriage is not a basic human right is not to say that it is not a right conferred on American citizens by United States law. Perhaps here it is good to point out a couple of errors in the original question. To say that marriage is either a right or it isn’t, as implied by the question “is marriage a right?”, is a bit of an equivocation, as it uses the idea that marriage is a legal right to support the claim that it is also a fundamental right. Equivocation is a logical fallacy that uses ambiguous language to mislead—technically speaking, it is the means to an invalid conclusion based on statements in which one term has two different meanings. The statement also smacks of a false dichotomy, which is another fallacy that offers only two options or solutions to a question or problem when in fact there are more than two and sometimes even several options or solutions. There are many things that we call our “rights” that are not basic human rights or needs, such as the right to inherit money from a deceased parent, the right to own a car, and the right to drive in the carpool lane. These things are privileges granted by our government and enshrined in law as “rights”. Marriage is one such legal right. The following information concerning the legality and legal rights concerning marriage is taken with little variance from the Cornell University Legal Information Institution; however, there is enough paraphrasing to make direct quotation a hopeless endeavor. Marriage is, according to current federal law, the union of a couple as spouses. Since 1996, when then-president Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law, The federal government has recognized “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife” (1 U.S.C. § 7). This definition still stands on a federal level, but has been altered by numerous states within their borders. Marriage is indeed mostly regulated by the states; the main federal regulation for marriage is the “full faith and credit” clause of the constitution:
Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof (Article IV § 1).
The basic qualifications for marriage in any state are 1) the parties’ legal ability to marry each other, 2) mutual consent of the parties, and 3) a legal marriage license/contract. States also regulate how legal marriages can be dissolved. Once a couple is married, their rights and responsibilities toward one another concerning property and support are defined by the laws of the state in which they live. A marriage can only be terminated by a court granting divorce or annulment. Under the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, federal law grants “equal rights and protection,” which would seem to include the legal right to marriage, to all citizens of the United States:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. (Amendment 14, § 1)
Clearly the law allows for the right to marriage, but only a legal right.  
Now, as a parting thought, let’s ask ourselves how this discussion can be directly applied to the same-sex “marriage” debate.  As is mentioned above, many has been the time that variations of the phrase “but marriage is a right!” has been thrown and bandied about as an argument for the legalization of homosexual “marriage”. Besides the confusion that this statement does (sometimes unintentionally) spread, there is a major problem with using it as a premise to arrive at the conclusion that “therefore gay “marriage” is a right.” The syllogism then looks something like this:
A. marriage is a right
B. homosexual “marriage” is marriage
homosexual marriage is a right
Assuming that premise “A” refers to a legal right allows for a closer examination of premise “B”. Premise “B” is a definition, a statement of the essence of homosexual “marriage”. This definition is wrong. The “evidence” pro this definition is commonly given that gay marriage has been practiced throughout history even back to the ancient Greeks. There have indeed been gay relationships throughout history from Biblical times to the modern day. However, these relationships were universally treated as apart from traditional mixed-sex marriages. Native Americans, Greeks, Romans, name the people—all cultures that had any semblance of existing homosexual unions differentiated between them and marriage (Wikipedia). This is because seemingly all cultures from that day to fairly recently knew that the word for “marriage” in their language actually meant “a mixed-sex union”, as it does in ours. An act of Congress can’t make “green” mean “blue”, a ruling by the Supreme Court can’t make “dark” mean “light”, and an executive order can’t make “ocean” mean “mountain”. Neither can any of these declare that marriage isn’t a heterosexual union, especially using the pretext that marriage is a basic human right.              

--Noah De La Cruz

Works Cited
"Defense of Marriage Act." Library Of Congress, 1996. Web. 07 Dec. 2010. <>.
"History of Same-sex Unions." Wikipedia, 4 Dec. 2010. Web. 13 Dec. 2010. < wiki/History_of_same-sex_unions >.
Index Page - The U.S. Constitution Online - 25 June 2010. Web. 04 Dec. 2010. <>.
Jackson, Jeff. "You Don't Have a Right to Marry." American Conservative News Politics & Opinion - The Land of the Free. 15 Feb. 2004. Web. 04 Dec. 2010. <>.
"Marriage." Cornell University, 19 Aug. 2010. Web. 07 Dec. 2010. < wex/marriage>.
"Midterm Elections Renew Same-Sex Marriage Debate." Pew Research Center, 23 Nov. 2009. Web. 06 Dec. 2010. < briefs/midterm-elections-renew-same-sex-marriage-debate.html >.
"Same Sex Marriage Is a Basic Human Right." 30 Apr. 2004. Web. 06 Dec. 2010. <>. Schmalz, Jeffery. "In Hawaii, Step Toward Legalized Gay Marriage." The New York Times, 7 May 1993. Web. 04 Dec. 2010. <,html>.

"The Declaration of Independence." Independence Hall Association, 4 July 1995. Web. 05 Dec. 2010. < /index.htm >.
Walker, Vaughn. No C 09-2292 VRW. Digital image. Scribd. Aug. 2010. Web. 04 Dec. 2010. <>.

We Are The Change

    Last year when my youth group leader first proposed the idea of traveling to Washington DC for the annual March for Life,  I didn’t know how to respond.  Sure, I’m pro-life but what’s the point of marching a couple of blocks holding a sign that protests a practice that dated back to the 5th century?  What’s the point?    My mind was decided for me when someone close to me offered to pay for my trip.  What was there to lose? If nothing else I could spend time with some chums and maybe visit a monument or two.  Why not?     The morning before the march we went to a youth rally at the Verizon Stadium.  The first part was basically a Christian music concert, with much dancing and merry-making, which was all fine and dandy, but not exactly what you would call spiritually moving to me.  What hit me was when we began to pray the rosary after the concert and prior to Mass.  If you’ve never been surrounded by 20,000  people lifting their prayers to the heavens, than there’s no way I can describe it to you, but something in the sound moved my heart in a way that nothing ever has. 
The march began, and as I took up my place in throng,  I looked around me,  I saw the thousands of children, teens, college students, and adults, of all sizes, races, and walks of life, standing beside me.  These were people who have chosen to commit to a cause greater than themselves, to give voice to those who have none.  People who would walk for those who were denied their first steps. People who would stand against the elements of the earth, the disdain of others and their own fears to show the world that there is hope.  And that maybe, as the world looks on, even if just one heart is moved, that we have become the change we wish to see in the world.  

- Merwin <3