Tag Archives: the Princess bride

Drinking the Cup

by Jadell M. Forman

On Mondays at The Neighborhood Café, we’ve been looking at Jesus’ question, Can you drink the cup?, using the cup as a metaphor for life.  Today, we look at what comes after holding and lifting the cup: Drinking.

This past January, upon opening our look at the cup of life, you read this short but profound quote by Henri Nouwen:

  • At worst, drinking together is saying, “We trust each other enough that we don’t want to poison each other.”  At best, it is saying, “I want to get close to you and celebrate life with you.” (Can You Drink the Cup? p 80)

Nouwen is talking about those times when we meet someone for a cup of coffee or tea, invite friends over for a glass of wine or a bottle of beer, or offer a guest or thirsty stranger a glass of water.  Any degree of acceptance shows a measure of trust.

Friends trust each other.  But enemies distrust each other, trying to measuring motives, uncover tactics, and employ counter strategies.

In the movie, The Princess Bride, two enemies meet.  An impatient, pompous, pretentious villain who has captured the soon-to-be Princess Buttercup faces off with a masked pirate.  Dread Pirate Roberts has tracked Vizzini, in order to take Buttercup.  But the masked man finds himself, possibly, at “an impasse?”

Vizzini:    I’m afraid so. I can’t compete with you physically, and you’re no match for my brains.

Dread Pirate Roberts: You’re that smart?

Vizzini: Let me put it this way: have you ever heard of Plato,            Aristotle, Socrates?

Dread Pirate Roberts: Yes.

Vizzini:    Morons.

Dread Pirate Roberts:    Really. [pause] In that case, I challenge you to a            battle of wits.

Vizzini: For the princess? < Pirate nods > To the death? < Pirate nods > I accept.

Dread Pirate Roberts: Good. Then pour the wine.    [Roberts pulls out a small vial, and uncorks it]    Inhale this, but do not touch.

Vizzini: I smell nothing.

Dread Pirate Roberts:    What you do not smell is called Iocane powder. It is odorless, tasteless, dissolves instantly in liquid, and is among the more deadly poisons known to man.

Vizzini: Hmmmm.

Dread Pirate Roberts: < turns away from Vizzini with the goblets, and pours the poison in. Goblets replaced on the table, one in front of each. >
All right. Where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right…and who is dead.

Vizzini: But it’s so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you: are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy’s? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the  wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I  can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.

Dread Pirate Roberts: You’ve made your decision then?

Vizzini: Not remotely. Because iocane comes from Australia, as everyone knows, and Australia is entirely peopled with criminals, and criminals are used to having people not trust them, as you are not trusted by me, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of  you.

Dread Pirate Roberts: Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.

Vizzini: WAIT TILL I GET GOING! Where was I?

Dread Pirate Roberts: Australia.

Vizzini: Yes, Australia. And you must have suspected I would have known the powder’s origin, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.

Dread Pirate Roberts: You’re just stalling now.

Vizzini: You’d like to think that, wouldn’t you? You’ve beaten my giant, which means you’re exceptionally strong, so you could’ve put the poison in your own goblet, trusting on your strength to save you, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But, you’ve also bested my Spaniard, which means you must have studied, and in studying you must have learned that man is mortal, so you would have put the poison as far from yourself as possible, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.

Dread Pirate Roberts: You’re trying to trick me into giving away something.  It won’t work.


Dread Pirate Roberts: Then make your choice.

Vizzini: I will, and I choose– What in the world can that be?    [Vizzini gestures up and away from the table. Roberts looks]

Dread Pirate Roberts:    What? Where? I don’t see anything.

Vizzini: Well, I- I could have sworn I saw something. No matter.
[Vizzini smirks]

Dread Pirate Roberts:
What’s so funny?

Vizzini: I’ll tell you in a minute. First, let’s drink. Me from my glass, and you from yours. < they drink >

Dread Pirate Roberts: You guessed wrong.

Vizzini:    You only think I guessed wrong! That’s what’s so funny! I switched glasses when your back was turned!  Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the  classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!! Ha ha ha–[Vizzini stops suddenly, and falls dead to the right]

Buttercup:    Who are you?

Dread Pirate Roberts: I’m no one to be trifled with. That is all you ever need know.

Buttercup:  And to think, all that time it was your cup that was poisoned.

Dread Pirate Roberts:    They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocane powder.


Buttercup, free from the now-dead Vizzini, finds herself in the hands of Dread Pirate Roberts.  Her current captor is her future deliverer and once true-love Wesley who had mysteriously disappeared some time ago.  But she doesn’t know that yet.  Clarity comes in time.

For years, I played the role of Vizzini in life, trying to figure out how to drink the cup without being poisoned.  In my mind, the Dread Pirate Roberts role was intermittently played by God, Satan, a friend, a stranger, or myself, depending on my mood, perspective, and momentary digestive health.

These days, I’m more often the blindfolded Buttercup, in the dark and waiting around to see how things shake out.  I’ve read enough of God’s story to be logically aware that things will shake out in my favor, but my emotions often betray me.  And I see many of us who “know better,” often betrayed by our emotions of fear, anger, frustration, depression, shame.  We get edgy when life doesn’t unfold the way we want or think it should.  It’s at times like this that we think we’re losing the duel and drinking the poison.

Even so, this mysterious True-Love-Deliverer ultimately wins the battle, my heart, and my life, just as Wesley eventually rescues Buttercup and wins her heart, and everyone (except Vizzini) lives happily ever after.

God’s rescue and love for all who trust him will turn out according to the script he wrote long ago in a land far away.  When the credits roll, and the blindfolds are removed, we’ll drink new wine with the True-Love-Deliverer at our soon-to-be wedding feast.

Jadell M. Forman writes for The Neighborhood Café on Mondays.

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When a Kiss is not Just a Kiss

The Princess Bride Kiss

No one is quiet sure where kissing originated or who invented it. I’d gladly kiss whoever did. Those who research such things say most cultures have some form of kissing and have had since time began. In all cultures kissing is an act of intimacy: from an air kiss when greeting someone to nuzzling a new-born baby to the sensual Western world’s romantic kiss. Personally the last is my favorite.

But what does honesty have to do with kissing?

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)

Jeremiah 6:16-8:7

Colossians 2:8-23

Psalm 78:1-31

Proverbs 24:26


Jeremiah 6:16-8:7: The first section of this reading is a dire warning for disobedience. Once again God lays out the specifics of Israel’s sin and, if they do not repent, the consequences of their disobedience.

God is amazing. He sends Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Jonah, and a slew of other prophets to warn God’s beloved people to repent and turn back to him. In Jonah’s case, God even warns a nation who are not “his people.”

Two thoughts: First, God spends more time correcting the sins of his people than those who have not made a covenant with him. Yet, it seems that Christianity spends more time bewailing the sins of those on the outside than those on the inside. Second, God always seems to send ample warning and opportunity for his people to repent before he sends wrath. Therefore, do the earthquakes, random diseases, and tragedies that befall us humans always point to God’s wrath? If so, where is the explicit warning and opportunity for repentance?

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“An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips,” the writer of Proverbs tells us. How so?

Though some may argue that “The Princess Bride” is simply a sweet, silly romp of a love story, “Princess Bride” author William Goldman does not just marry off Buttercup and Wesley. He too marries honesty with kissing.

“Is this a kissing book?” the grandson (Fred Savage) asks his grandfather (Peter Falk) as Falk reads to him in the beginning of the movie.

“Wait, just wait,” Falk answers. But later in the story we learn, “Since the invention of the kiss, there have only been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one [between Wesley and Buttercup] left them all behind.”

By then Savage’s character is hooked and doesn’t mind the kiss on the lips because Wesley’s (Carey Elwes) honesty and bravery has earned him that passionate and intimate kiss with Buttercup (Robin Wright). It is the most passionate, most pure kiss because of the honesty with which it is pursued and delivered.

How are a kiss on the lips and an honest answer similar? Both require intimacy. Honesty is not just stating facts or statistics. There are lies, dam lies, and then there are statistics, the old but true saying goes. Kissing and truth-telling both require vulnerability and authenticity, closeness. When Wesley drops his Dread Pirate Roberts mask, Buttercup realizes who he really is and how much she loves and trusts him.

Giving someone a factual report requires no risk, no relationship. Telling someone the truth, how you feel, what you think, and who you really are calls for an earned trust and a closeness that often only comes through facing difficulty together, as did Wesley and Buttercup.

Honest answers and a kiss on the lips also involve bravery. When I was in third grade, my best-friend told me he would pay me a quarter to kiss a certain girl on the lips. I was scared to death and could not summon the courage, even for a quarter. In later years, I’ve been asked to give an honest answer in difficult situations and have too often backed down. After my cowardly breakdown, there always seems to be a distance between me and the one I was supposed to be honest with.

Kisses on the lips and honest answers are also similar in that they are gentle. A kiss is not a right hook. Too often “honest” people offer their truth like a right hook. And they feel they have accomplished something if they delivered a fat lip. The difference here is that a kisses that are given are gentle and bless and strengthen the other person. A kiss that is taken is a punch that deflates and manipulates. Plus a gentle kiss does not make a person put up his dukes in defense but rather produces a smile and openness, even to difficult truths.

What if our close relationships could be summed up the way Wesley and Buttercup’s kiss was? “Since the invention of the honest answer, there have only been five answers that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.”

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


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Let’s Get This Party Started!

All too often, people who aren’t followers of Jesus equate the church with this hilarious scene from The Princess Bride. Unfortunately, we’ve done a good job of reinforcing the stereotype.


After living in our home for a couple of years, our oldest daughter became friends with another girl in the neighborhood. When Anna told the girl where we lived, the girl replied, “Oh, you live in the party house.”

In the five years we’ve lived in our home, hundreds of people have joined us for various parties. Not potlucks. Parties. It helps that my wife easily takes on the role of being “the life.”

No one has ever called the police to shut everything down, but we do know how to have a good time.

When asked why we have so many parties, I respond, “We’re just trying to be biblical.”

Please join me as we delve a little deeper into today’s topic!


Leviticus 22:17-23:44
Mark 9:30-10:12
Psalm 44:1-8
Proverbs 10:19


Leviticus 22:17-33. Reading this section about God’s command to give him the best of the people’s flocks, rather than the leftovers, causes me to ask myself, Do I give God my best—or my leftovers?

But this also brings me back to Jesus, the only true, unblemished sacrifice. His once-for-all sacrifice enables us to experience an intimate relationship with God despite our blemishes and uncleanness.

Leviticus 23. Sacred assemblies were national gatherings of public, corporate worship (verse 3).

Since this chapter lists the religious festivals in the Hebrew calendar, I’ll give you a quick summary of their significance:

Passover commemorated Israel’s departure from Egypt, prompted by the last plague when the death angel “passed over” the houses of the Israelites, but killed the firstborn Egyptian males of every family and flock.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread marked the beginning of the barley harvest (March-April). Unleavened bread was made from the newly harvested grain without adding yeast and was celebrated as the first sign of coming harvests that year.

During this harvest festival, the people brought the Firstfruits of their harvest to the priest who then waved the sheaf of grain before the God to draw his attention to the sacrifice. This was an acknowledgement that their harvest came from God and belonged to him.

The Feast of Weeks, also known as Pentecost, was celebrated seven weeks after the beginning of harvest. The significance of the harvest and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost in Acts 2 is inescapable and exciting to explore.

The Feast of Trumpets commemorated the covenant between God and his people. It lasted ten days and concluded with the Day of Atonement, which observed God’s forgiveness of Israel. For good reason, it later became the Jewish New year.

The Feast of Tabernacles coincided with the final harvest in the Fall, just prior to the rainy season. The festival reminded the people of the forty years that they wandered in the wilderness. To take them back in time, they lived in booths during the seven day celebration.

Mark 9:33-37. Children in Jesus’ day had no rights. They were powerless, needy, and reliant on their parents. Jesus said that when we love people who will never be able to repay us—like little children—we’re really loving him.

Mark 9:42-50. This is a really challenging passage. In it, Jesus tells us to remove anything that might cause us to sin. While we can’t remove every temptation–for example, I can’t control the sales ads in the paper (if I’m a shopoholic)–I know I can do better at eliminating unhealthy influences.

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Christians aren’t known for having a good time. In fact, the most fun some churches allow comes in a covered dish with tater tots on top.

But take a close look at the list of required festivals in Leviticus 23.  What does it tell us about God?

He likes to party. From my initial count, God required his chosen people to take the day off and celebrate a minimum of 31 days a year!

And God was just getting started.

Just look at Jesus. He performed his first miracle by turning water into wine at a wedding so the fun could continue. He was also known for hanging out with a pretty rough crowd at times (Mark 2:15). Undoubtedly, they were much more fun to hang out with than the Pharisees. In fact, Jesus said this about himself: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” ’ But wisdom is proved right by her actions” (Matthew 11:19).

Jesus surely wasn’t accused of being a drunkard for going to bed early on a Saturday night.

The early church followed Jesus’ example by regularly hosting love feasts. Rather than distribute a small paper-like wafer and a little cuplet of grape juice to partake of the body and blood of Jesus, the early believers held a community-wide meal.

All too often, it seems like the church is so concerned about not having too much fun that we guarantee we won’t have enough.

But this simply goes against solid biblical principles.

Of course, I’m not advocating wild drunkenness and carousing—God still wants us to live holy lives. But somewhere along the way, I think the church has forgotten how to have a good time.

We of all people, have something (and someone) to celebrate.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. Do you agree that Christians aren’t known for having a good time? Why or why not?
  3. Why would God command his people to celebrate? Do you celebrate to the extent that God commands it? Why or why not?
  4. If you followed Jesus’ command to remove anything that causes you to sin, what would you need to eliminate?

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

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