Tag Archives: Robert McKee

Harry Potter and Tebowing at the Climax

By Brendan Scott

I love going to the movies.  I was that kid who stood in line to see all of the “Star Wars” movies when they were re-released back in the 90’s and when “The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring” came out ten years ago, I was the first person in line, not just for tickets, but to enter the theater.  And when theaters started releasing movies at midnight, I’m there at 10 pm.  Don’t even get me started on how early I had to get to the theater for “The Return of The King;” it was crazy.

I think the reason I love going to the movies is because I love good stories.  The atmosphere in a crowded theater on opening night is exhilarating.  When “The Sixth Sense” came the theater was packed.  With every twist and turn each of my friends began tucked their legs up on their seats.  We shared in the fear.  We pulled for Bruce Willis’s character to reconnect with his wife and for Haley Joel Osment’s character to receive the help he needed.  As the movie built toward its climax the hairs on my legs stood up and all I wanted to do was hug my knees like everyone else, but fear froze me.  The crowd made the climax of the movie completely captivating, but the well told story made the change the characters experienced even more meaningful and worth the level of fear I had to experience.

Good stories are filled with meaning.  Movie writer and teacher Robert McKee says, “If I could send a telegram to the film producers of the world, it would be these three words: ‘Meaning Produces Emotion’ Not money; not sex; not special effects; not movie stars; not lush photography.”  Meaning is what a good story is all about and the climax of a good movie will be filled with meaning.  McKee states that “The Climax of the last act is your great imaginative leap.  Without it, you have no story.  Until you have it, your characters wait like suffering patients praying for a cure.”

When I’m in a packed theater, I’m suffering along with the main character for that positive or negative turn to occur in the movie.  I want Frodo to make it to Mount Doom and drop the ring into the fires of Mordor.  I want Harry Potter to live or die, maybe both, and so I wait for that turning moment, that meaningful climax.  As an audience, we share the ups and downs of the characters story.  Without the ups and downs that lead to the climax, the climax would be meaningless.

There are people out there that flip to the end of a book before they start just so they can see if it is a good ending or not.  They pick up “Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows” and flip to Harry’s battle with Voldamort.  They want to get the stories payoff without reading the entire book or, even worse, the other six books in the series.  By skipping to the end of the book they miss the reason why Harry had to do what he does.   But just like sharing a story with someone adds to the story’s meaning, the work it takes for character, as well as the reader, to make it to the climax is what makes it meaningful.

The people who want to skip to the climax of a book are the same people who sat down and watched the last episode of Lost with out watching the previous five seasons.  They didn’t want to see the story develop, to see the characters grow and change.  They wanted all of the payoff without watching the six seasons.  These are the same people who on December 5th want to fast forward to Christmas Day.  They want the meaning without any of the work.

More on Christmas in a moment.  Let’s not rush to the climax because right now we’re at the rising action of our story.  Sunday December 4th The Neighborhood Church celebrated the second Sunday of the Advent season by sharing a sit down meal during the worship service.  People met together, ate, and shared stories about Christmas’ past.  It was very meaningful.  The only problem was the service didn’t finish until 12 pm.  An hour into the Denver Broncos game against the Vikings.  Co-blogger and Co-pastor of the Neighborhood Church, Mike Klassen comforted the congregation by reminding us all that “Tebow Time” (A term here meaning going beast mode and winning against all odds) isn’t until the fourth quarter anyway.  So if we missed the first half it would be just fine.

I tevoed Tebow anyway.  As I pressed play on the DVR, I knew I wanted to share a meaningful story with my fellow Bronco fans who’d gathered around the TV with me.  We knew we could just fast forward to the end.  But we wanted to experience the entire story.  If we had just skipped to the end, the win wouldn’t have been as meaningful.  The time we shared together watching the Broncos game was splattered with theological discussions.  Why is Tebow so loud about his faith?  Incomplete pass!  What if Tebow messes up (On the field and in his faith)?  Fumble, no way the ground can’t cause a fumble! What is perseverance of the Saints (No, I’m not talking about football here)? I can’t believe it, the Broncos Win!

And as Tebow rallied the Broncos from an 8 point deficit late in the fourth quarter we were discussing how God’s Grace works in our lives.  Life is like a good movie with many turns.  In “The Return of the King,” Frodo loses hope.  He turns away from his mission and decides he will keep the ring, but Grace steps in (In the form of Sam) and saves him.  Grace does what Frodo cannot do, destroy the ring and bring him back to the Shire.  Grace creates the meaningful change in Frodo’s life.  If Tebow fails on the field or in life, Grace will be there for him too.  Grace is there for all of us, offering a chance to make a meaningful change in our lives.  A chance to Tebow (Go beast mode/let God takeover), which brings us back to Christmas.

Christmas is not about what you get or even about what you give.  It is about experiencing the season with the people you love.  It is about sharing special moments with those around you.  Most of all it’s about God sending the Incarnation of Grace down to the world as the baby Christ.  If we fast forwarded to Christmas Day it would be like reading the last page of a book, only watching the Broncos during the fourth quarter, and fast forwarding all our favorite movies to the climax: empty and meaningless.  So slow down and know that no matter how long it seems until Christmas, that God is working in your life.  Christmas is more than just the climax of Christmas day.  It is about the Grace we have been given and the work it does in our life.  Let Grace make a meaningful change in your life this season.

Brendan is an avid Bronco fan and movie enthusiast who believes in Tebowing every night because the best way to live a meaningful story is to stay connected to the author.

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The Only Way People Change

Robert McKee put down his coffee cup and leaned onto the podium. He was addressing his screenwriting class, of which author Donald Miller was a participant. McKee, the guru of all Hollywood screenwriters, was explaining the way the characters in a story change.

“You have to go there. You have to take your character to a place where he just can’t take it anymore…Writing a story isn’t about making your fantasies come true. The whole point of the story is the character arc. You didn’t think joy could change a person, did you? Joy is what you feel when the conflict is over. But it’s conflict that changes a person.”

His voice was like thunder now. “You put your characters through hell. You put them through hell. That’s the only way we change.”

All of us face crises that that either cause us to change or become even more steadfast in our ways. Please join us in today’s daily Bible conversation as we learn from one man who changed—and how you can change, too.

*Excerpt from A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller (2009, Thomas Nelson), 180.

TODAY’S READING

2 Chronicles 32:1-33:13
Romans 15:23-16:9
Psalm 25:16-22
Proverbs 20:16-18

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

2 Chronicles 32:1-33:13. King Sennacherib of Assyria arrogantly claimed that his god was bigger than Judah’s God. Big mistake. Assyria’s military disaster and Sennacherib’s murder are recorded in secular history.

The water supply mentioned in 32:3 was later called Hezekiah’s tunnel—evidence of the tunnel exists to this day.

Although King Hezekiah struggled with pride at one point during his reign, he humbled himself and repented. After David and Solomon, Hezekiah ranks as Israel’s third greatest king.

Romans 15:23-16:9. Chapter 16 is a window into the role of women in the early church:

  • Phoebe (verse 1) is described as a “servant” of the church in Cenchrea. The word “servant” can also be translated “deaconess.” In fact, Greek nuances of the word leave a high probability that she served in a role of church leadership.
  • Priscilla (verse 3) is listed before her husband Aquila. In the culture at that time, the more prominent person is listed first. Interestingly enough, in the seven references to them in the New Testament, Priscilla is mentioned first six of those times! This gives us an indication that Priscilla was sat least an equal member this husband and wife ministry team.
  • Junia (verse 7) was listed alongside Andronicus as “outstanding among the apostles.” A great deal of debate has ensued regarding Junia, because this implies that Junia was an apostle.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends! Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: http://www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

Change—true change—never comes easily for any of us. And anyone who says it’s easy is lying.

Manasseh was as evil as his father Hezekiah was good. He reversed Judah’s godly spiritual climate to the point that God brought judgment on Manasseh. So God sent the King of Assyria to conquer Judah and take Manasseh prisoner. In a sign of utter humiliation, the king ordered that a hook be placed in Manasseh’s nose.

But Manasseh’s heart wasn’t completely hardened against God. We read,

In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers (2 Chronicles 32:12).

Manasseh repented and renewed the spiritual reforms of his father and Judah was delivered from the Assyrians.

Why do we so often wait until the point of desperation before we repent?

I wonder what our lives would be like if we viewed every painful or frustrating experience as an opportunity to lean into Jesus.

Paul wrote,  “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” If God has begun a good work in us, and that good work involves change, and we only truly change as a result of pain, frustration, hell—then pain and frustration aren’t the enemy.

Now pain and frustration almost always change us, either for better or worse. In Manasseh’s case, he could have become embittered by the pain and humiliation he endured. But instead he allowed it to direct him to God.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. How has God used pain and frustration to change you?

If you’re reading this blog on FaceBook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here.

www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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Presto Chango!

When I re-introduced myself at my twenty year high school reunion, most of my classmates simply gaped. I was unrecognizable to them. Not just because I had grown older, but because I had become someone entirely different. One long-lost friend said, “Eugene, we voted you most likely to be dead.”

In a way he was right. I had died. All most of them could remember about me was that I was a good [sic] source for drugs and that I had flunked my sophomore year and had disappeared (dropped out) in the fall of my junior year. There are no pictures of me in the yearbooks, even my name was expunged for what would have been my junior and senior years.

I had died. At least that angst driven, drug addicted, confused, human IED I was back then had.

Robert McKee, in his book Story, writes that we humans don’t “take any risks we don’t have to, change if we don’t have to. Why should we? Why do anything the hard way if we can get what we want the easy way?”

How is it then that I had changed (again not gray hair, wrinkles, and a bit of a gut) so in twenty years? McKee was right. It was not easy and it came at the cost of two lives.

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

2 Samuel 20:14-21:22

Acts 1:1-26

Psalm 121:1-8

Proverbs 16:18

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

2 Samuel 20:14-21:22 David, with God’s help, solidifies his rule of Israel. But he is getting old and even his Psalm is more about looking back than reaching for what God has ahead. Even great men like David seem to forget to live in the present and hope in the future.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

Every story has a turning point. Robert McKee calls it the “negation of the negation.” This is the point in a story where the worst that could possibly happen does–and then gets worse. Nothing changes, truly changes, in our stories until this point.

For Jesus’ friends nothing could get worse than Jesus’ awful death. They are grief stricken, deflated, finished. Every dream, hope, and plan for their world to get better was nailed to the cross and drained of life.

But wait! Jesus conquers death, is resurrected! Now he’ll show those Romans and those unbelieving religious people. Now Jesus’ll set things right. Jesus’ll get ‘em.

But instead of using his power to conquer evil, he wanders around for forty days eating fish and teaching and saying cryptic things such as, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

I can imagine the folks at the back of the crowd, confused looks on their faces, asking, “Who’s this Holy Spirit guy? We’re his witnesses? What does that mean?” Then Jesus floats off into heaven.

Things just got a whole lot worse. Jesus has disappeared in a cloud and left the entire revolution up to losers like Peter and Bartholomew and you and me. This is the plan, however, the true turning point. But they don’t know that. We know the end of the story, they don’t. This is it for them. Only now are they ready for change. And change they do.

In The Message, in his introduction to Acts, Eugene Peterson writes, “The story of Jesus doesn’t end with Jesus. It continues in the lives of those who believe in him. . . . [T]hey are in on the action of God, God acting in them, God living in them. Which also means, of course, in us.”

We only change if we have to. The easy way would have been for Jesus to bodily stick around. Jesus, it seems, never did anything the easy way.

I’m glad for that because I was dead at sixteen, out of earthly options. Then one of those “who believe in him,” two thousands years after the fact, showed me the One who had given his life for me. Then and only then was I changed!

  1. Do you agree that we must be forced to change?
  2. Do we have a different perspective on pain than does God?
  3. Can you name a time of the negation of the negation in your life?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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