Entangled

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 11/25/2021

Here is a poem that I wrote on June 2nd, 2019 that was inspired by a period of time in my life in 2016.

The itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the water spout.

Down came all the rain and washed the spider out.

I don’t know about you, but my life feels like a drought.

How will I make it through when I’m emotionally In-N-Out?

I could draw an S.O.S. or scream out loud mayday.

This life has been nuts and yet when’s my PayDay?

I committed and persisted, yet my life just found a way.

As if all of the build-up of promises never even had a say.

Watching them succeed has me craving to feed greed.

Are these desires and dreams of mine a need?

Among the grass, I’m the new invasive weed.

Outside I look fine, but inside I just bleed.

I say a lot that life is pain,

But God is our only joy.

Is my cute quote in vain?

Is God the imagination of a boy?

I’m a broken city invaded with shame,

Like when the ancient troops took Troy.

I’m a small bug in a spider’s web: entangled.

A dropout loaded with debt: strangled.

Like dried-up roadkill: mangled.

Hung over the edge: dangled.

But then I always remember.

That cold night in December.

When I left the Colorado Film School.

Hit the brakes hard and let the tires cool.

I gave up my childhood dreams

To join someone else’s new team.

I exchanged libraries for sanctuaries.

My anxieties could crush my capillaries.

Out came the beaming sun and dried up all the rain.

So then the itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the spout again.

I had so much to gain and in the end it was all my own vain.

Always thought I was Abel, but I’m just Cain with all his disdain.

Footnotes

  1. Free stock photos · Pexels

Thank You, Ravi Zacharias

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 5/19/2020

Dear Ravi Zacharias,

Today you crossed from the shadows of the here and now on Earth to the light of the latter end of your eternity. As you have seen from a brand new perspective, many are sharing how they knew and remember you. Whether that be personal interactions or published works like books, radio, speaking engagements, or even YouTube. For me, I knew you from a selection of published works you released over the years.

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Elementary Years | 2000’s

It all began with my Dad reading to me sections of your book, The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha, when I was in elementary school. He did so because my interest in these sorts of questions began to riddle my mind. Jump forward a bit to when I was entering high school and my life began to take more shape as I slowly was discovering what I was meant to do with my life.

It was within a period of time where I was regularly babysitting 3 kids after school at night, so that my friend Ben could go to a singles ministry once a week and have a night off. As a single dad, Ben was raising his kids essentially by himself. Taking care of his kids was just something that multiple people in the church would do to help him, so that he could have a break from time-to-time.

Anyways, on one of those nights when he returned from being out of the house, we talked first about how the movie was and then the conversation shifted to my developing interest in apologetics. If I remember correctly, he was watching Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows in theaters with a friend. Either way he came back and I asked about the movie, which if you know Ben then questions always will lead to lengthy conversations.

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Entering High School | 2011

So during that hours-long late night conversation, he interrupted my ambitions about apologetics with a strong suggestion. If I really wanted to pursue apologetics and be that leader in my high school, then I needed to read this book that he read years ago. He got up and immediately went to his bookshelf in his room to find it before coming back downstairs. The book he gave me was Jesus Among Other Gods by Ravi Zacharias.

One last story and this one was during my college days at the Colorado Film School. Within this period of my life in 2016, I was wrestling with purpose once again. I was quickly realizing that I didn’t feel called to be in the film industry as a director/writer anymore, yet was unsure of myself because I didn’t know what I was supposed to do next.

But God was directing my steps because there was another huge change happening in my life, which was this slow burn call to find a new church home and with that came a long period of investigating different aspects of church like denominations or where churches stood on certain issues. In addition to that, a few peers from school were asking me more complex questions about existence and God.

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College Years | 2016

So in response to these changes in my life and trying to navigate the grey, I began some extensive research for both situations. In all honesty, I have never read so many books or done so much research ever in my life. Of the many resources I poured over for answers, one of those critical books was Why Suffering? by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale.

Not only did these three books deeply impact me during three unique phases in my life, but your lectures and interviews as well. The amount of time I spent studying your work throughout all these years and applying it to both my own situation and eventually to help others has been immense to say the least.

With that said, none of those published works compare to what I’ve appreciated the most about your life. In fact, the reason I and millions of other people have admired you all these years was because of the genuine care you had for the person engaging in ideas with you. The compassion that was evident when you would hear a person’s inquires and walk with them to what always appeared to be an inevitable conclusion. In the same respect, you seemed to arrive to said answer in a way that felt respectful of the person standing before you as an imager of God.

Thank you not just for the knowledge I acquired in my head learning from your material, but most importantly the heart that you had after God. Thank you for helping the thinker believe and the believer think. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless.

Footnotes

  1. RZIM at Passion City Church (June 26th, 2017)

Causation, Karma, and Kung Fu: Dragon (2011) | Film Analysis

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 5/27/2019

This is the third and final film analysis paper that I wrote while I went to the Colorado Film School. The first two were The Dark Knight: A Scene Analysis and Of Monsters and Men: Trollhunter (2010) | Film Analysis. I wrote this third paper for my Contemporary Global Cinema class, which was taught by Andrew Houston at the time. This paper was originally published on December 7th, 2016 and was one of my last assignments at CFS. Since this is a blog-post and not in the original format, I have made minor revisions to this film analysis to make it up to date with the rest of my blog. With all of that in mind, here is my film analysis:

When considering cinema in general, a quintessential part that is often glossed over is the worldviews that the characters on-screen inhabit. Consider this the subconscious factor in a character’s motivations as they make decisions from both an explicit and implicit sense. In particular, a character’s worldview helps us as the audience understand more fully why a character believes what they believe. Now in the West, the worldviews of a cinematic character are rarely elaborated on, in order to appeal to the broadest audience possible by avoiding points of controversy like religion. So instead, we will look at Eastern cinema for a more fleshed-out look at worldviews in film.

When deciding on which film precisely, I have chosen the Hong Kong movie Wǔ xiá (2011) which is translated into Dragon in the English version. I chose this film because it portrays a great difference in thinking in our two main characters who make for quite the odd couple. The film is about a burglary that takes place at a general store where Donnie Yen’s character, Liu Jin-Xi, works and the aftermath case is investigated by Detective Xu Baijiu played by Takeshi Kaneshiro. The film opens with the inciting incident of the burglary, but what coincides thereafter is an investigation to sort out the loose ends of a peculiar crime scene.

At first it seems that Liu Jin-Xi has, in an attempt to protect the general store, accidentally killed both burglars in some sort of brawl. With too many loose ends, Detective Xu Baijiu looks further into the crime scene only to find that Liu Jin-Xi is actually a former martial artist named Tang Long. As a former martial artist, Long used to be apart of the 72 Demons gang led by his own father, The Master, played by Yu Wang who famously portrayed the One-Armed Swordsman in the 1970’s in a series of Chinese films.

Now the main scene that shows this conflict in worldviews between these two characters is right after Detective Baijiu pushes Long off of a bridge to see if his martial artist theory is correct and if Long intentionally did kill the two burglars. Turning the case from a self-defense to a double homicide, but Long simply falls onto a tree before falling into the river below as the theory appears to now hold no water. Once Long is recovered from the river, wet and shaken up, the two have a conversation over a warm campfire as the sun sets behind them. It is here when the themes of karma and materialism clash as the two converse, revealing their innermost beliefs regarding the world they equally share.

Long begins this discourse as he says “If you hadn’t come today, I wouldn’t have fallen. It’s karma.” Detective Baijiu replies sternly with, “It was an accident.” In response, Long says the following monologue that succinctly presents his perspective on human existence:

“No. What I mean to say is: the fabric of existence is composed of a myriad of karmic threads. Nothing exists in and of itself, everything is connected. For example, if I hadn’t come to this village, I wouldn’t have met Ayu. If her husband hadn’t left her, I wouldn’t have married her. If I hadn’t gone to the store, I wouldn’t have seen the criminals, and they wouldn’t have died. Then you wouldn’t have come here… No one truly has free will. When one man sins, we all share his sin. We are all accomplices.”

So with this knowledge in mind, we now know what Long’s viewpoint in life is and even in his current situation of potentially going to prison for murder. There is a lot to unpack here, but first we need to understand Detective Baijiu’s perspective on both the situation at-hand and his perspective of the world as well. Earlier in the film, as he is attempting to solve the case, he is quoted saying the following during a montage:

“Good or bad, it’s determined by our physiology. The Shanzhong Meridian controls our emotions and gives us empathy. My Shanzhong Meridian is overdeveloped. It makes me too empathetic… my rational self appears separately from me, it tells me human emotions can be altered and controlled by manipulating the Meridian. That’s why I use two needles [for acupuncture therapy]. One is inserted in the Shanzhong, to suppress my empathy, the other in the Tientu to control the poison. You can’t trust humanity. Through science, I’ve discovered only physiology and the law don’t lie.”

When compared side by side the two worldviews bear both commonalities and stark differences. For starters, let’s observe the film from an epistemic perspective and see how their differing worldviews compare to one another. Long grew up in a world outside of modern civilization in rural China. 

A common man that was surrounded by the ancient belief in karma that can be found in Buddhism. “Karma is the law of moral causation” and is a core doctrine of belief within Buddhism (2). Put succinctly, karma is the idea that whatever wrongs or rights that are made in the past will directly affect the present as one is rebirthed. This causational link of events is very much attached to a linear concept of time and thus is limited by that conceptual idea.

To contrast, Detective Baijiu has grown up in a more civilized part of China where Western thought has made its greatest impact: in the city. This influence is what pressed upon Detective Baijiu to adopt some form of a materialistic worldview. Where only matter is reality and everything can be answered through the power of scientific inquiry.

Although his faith in science is a classic example of scientism in action and his version of naturalism is quite common in the West. As a detective, Baijiu also sees the world through a much more pessimistic perspective as most likely in his career he has only seen the worst in people. It must be hard for him to see saints when his job is to stop sinners. The world he sees is only functional and right when the law is firmly established in society and everything lines up.

Now that our two main characters have been briefly described, let’s see what makes this clash in worldviews so unique. How they actually believe almost the exact same thing in the long run, but have differing definitions for their stances in life. Between the two ideologies, they share three distinct similarities with each other that are fundamental to both worldviews: that there is no god, that there is no soul, and that we are bound by circumstantial causation. We will reflect on all three before going full circle and see why at the beginning of the film Long and Baijiu are at odds, but by the end are allies fighting for the same goal. First, we will start with their shared belief in no god(s).

1) There Is No God(s)

Now when the topic of contrasting different religions and belief systems is brought up, the reality of it all is that most of these faiths bear several similarities across the board. Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, John C. Lennox, remarks on this similarity when he says that “in particular, ancient Near Eastern accounts [on the origins of the universe] typically contain theogonies, which describe how the gods are generated from primeval matter. These gods are, therefore, mere deifications of nature and its powers. This means that such ancient worldviews stand much closer to modern materialism than might at first appear (3).” As odd as it may seem, polytheism and atheism are much closer in relation than one would expect. The same can be said of other pairings like Buddhism alongside materialism.

Both Buddhism and materialism share the belief in no god(s). For materialism, the existence of a non-material deity and/or force somehow living amidst the material or separate from the material is illogical. This is based on the grounds that only matter and the laws therein that bind matter are all that exists in our universe. The affirmation that neither the spiritual nor the supernatural could possibly co-exist within a universe constructed of only matter. Matter is all that there is and all that there ever could be in our reality, according to materialism.

When it comes to Buddhism and whether or not it is a form of theism is a hot-button topic of debate in religious circles. While there are certain factions of Buddhism like Pure Land Buddhism that some suggest as theistic in nature, the vast majority of scholars and Buddhists affirm that Buddhism is very atheistic on a fundamental level. This is because it is silent on the subject regarding the existence of god(s).

As philosopher Ravi Zacharias would put it, “there is no teaching about god in Buddhism… the goal of the faith is to cease desiring (3).” Hence, Buddhism is rooted in the implicit belief that one can be good enough to get to Nirvana without the assistance or grace of god(s). While modern Buddhism may have theistic themes in certain sects, classical Buddhism is strictly atheistic in its origins and fundamental values.

2) There Is No Soul

In regards to the soul, materialism again has the belief that matter is all there is to life in the universe. The soul in its most basic definition is the essence of who we are as individual persons and what makes us human even after our life is over. Materialists, like Baijiu, believe that time itself is the measure that makes our reality real. To say that there is an existence or a life after our own time ends is preposterous to the materialists because everything that is can only exist in the confines of time. We begin. We live. We end. This is an essential truth for the materialist.

For the Buddhist, like Long, the soul is not real and is a fundamental of Buddhism called Anatta meaning “non-self” or “non-soul” that separates Buddhism from the majority of world religions all together. A Buddhist may believe in the ever-present recurrence of the rebirth cycle, but to have an eternal soul is not supported by any Buddhist writings. The soul happens to be an issue that yet again divides Hindus from Buddhists, respectively. On the other hand, it is a second fundamental similarity between both materialists and Buddhists.

3) Circumstantial Causation

At last, we arrive at one more commonality that both Baijiu and Long share and that is this: they both assert strongly the notion of circumstantial causation. A term that I coined to show the parallel between the two and can be taken in the literal sense. In that everything that is caused is the direct result of the circumstances that one may find themselves in or in the long run of their life. For instance, a Japanese woman living in the 1940s may find herself in an internment camp in the Midwestern United States due to the previous circumstances of her living on the Pacific side of the U.S. during World War II. She is simply where she is based off of circumstances that she cannot control because of the ever long list of circumstances that led to this very moment of her imprisonment.

The materialist would respond to a scenario like this and say that this Japanese woman is apart of a less-developed section of the evolutionary tree that is struggling to survive amidst the presence of a stronger branch of human evolution. The Buddhist would reply with the fact that this is happening due to something awful that the Japanese woman did in a previous rebirth and karma is giving her exactly what she deserves. In this same respect, both materialism and Buddhism carry this idea of circumstantial causation into their own belief systems. The materialist has to logically conclude that all humans can do is fit the most basic evolutionary needs with the use of their cognitive faculties guiding them to reproduction and survival of the species. This conclusion follows because naturalism is the underlying force behind materialism in most cases, especially for Baijiu in the film.

Due to the circumstances of previous members of the evolutionary family tree, the modern human has the sole purpose of surviving long enough to reproduce, in order to pass on their genetic makeup onto the more evolved next generation. This cycle of evolution is interestingly similar to the way karmic rebirth plays out in the mind of a Buddhist. We are born due to circumstantial causation and must perform better in this life to guarantee a better life later down the timeline, according to this Eastern philosophy.

An oddity, but nevertheless a similarity between the two differing viewpoints. In other words, natural selection through the process of evolutionary naturalism within a materialistic worldview is identical with Buddhism because karma through the process of rebirth within a Buddhist worldview has the same exact circumstantial causation. Thus, the two belief systems are almost perfectly aligned in this respect.

So how does this culmination of a case in favor of the similarities between materialism and Buddhism connect with the relational dynamic of both Long and Baijiu? Well in the explicit sense, the two are at odds over their differences, yet by the end set their differences aside to fight the ultimate evil: the Master of the 72 Demons. In the implicit sense, could it be a stretch to argue that subconsciously the two figured out their own similarities in their own worldviews throughout the unfolding of the film’s narrative, which led them to fight alongside one another in the end? For Long, a battle for redemption, honor, and family. For Baijiu, a battle for truth, justice, and the survival of the fittest to make way for the next generation.

The two have differing reasons because of differing worldviews during the whole film and yet they work together to stop this evil threat. Why would they do that exactly? The field of sociology might just have the answer. Within sociology, there is the common idea that there are more differences between two people within the same sub-culture than there are between two people in different sub-cultures. Therefore, these two different people, Baijiu and Long, being from two different sub-cultures fought against the Master because they were more aligned than they thought at first. The Master, who was from the same sub-culture that Long was apart of, in the end viewed the world drastically different than the way Long views it and hence they differed so much leading to this battle.

To summarize, at first Baijiu and Long appear to be on opposite ends of the spectrum of worldviews, that is Buddhism and materialism. As seen previously, the two subconsciously may have recognized some similarities in their thinking (i.e. no god(s), no soul, and circumstantial causation) and this led to their teamwork throughout the final battle in Dragon. Which when the title, Wǔ xiá, is translated into English, it means knight-errant. This word equates to a medieval knight or a warrior searching in the hopes of finding an honorable quest.

So two warriors from two polar opposite worldviews are subconsciously looking for something worth fighting for that is greater than themselves. In this instance, beyond the self, in order to bring about a satisfactory end to their individual quests. Baijiu fights in the hopes of eradicating the outlaw to further the human species and Long fights in the hopes of entering Nirvana by fixing the debts of his past life. Together, by the end of the film, the two are walking on their own quests and both have only a few more steps before reaching the end of their journey. Like an ancient Chinese proverb once said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless.

Footnotes

  1. Dragon (2011)
  2. http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/karma.htm
  3. Seven Days That Divide The World, P. 94
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5jr00Hyk54
  5. Disclaimer

Who Is Chris Cribari?

Photo Cred: Nathan Cribari | Updated: 2/17/2022

For those of you that are new to this blog, I figured it might be time to reintroduce myself. I grew up in Southern California for the first 10 years of my life and then my family moved to Colorado in July 2007 for my Dad’s job where I have lived ever since. I was raised by my parents in the Calvary Chapel Movement, along with my four siblings (Rachel, John, Corban; Nathan).

I came to faith in Christ when I was 9 in the summer of 2006 and have been a Christian since then. My parents strong belief in Christianity had a great impact on my path towards the Christian faith, but the decision was all my own. I privately accepted Christ walking home from my friend David’s house where we were watching Playboy DVD’s after school. I publicly came to Christ at Calvary Chapel Oxnard’s VBS summer camp a few weeks later. My group leader explained the Gospel to me after I questioned him on whether or not it was true.

I am an avid storyteller, along with an active listener to people’s stories. I started writing my first stories in either 2nd or 3rd grade and continue to write to this day. At home, I have stacks of partially-written novels, poems, sermon ideas, and short stories either on flash-drives or busting out of years-old binders. Writing allows my soul to speak truthfully, even when my high-spectrum autism disorder gets in the way.

Because I love stories, I also love watching movies! When Blockbuster was a thing, my siblings and I would watch our VHS movie collection to death. This collection that we had contained the original Star Wars trilogy, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Wallace & Gromit series, a pair of Jurassic Park movies, a few Val Kilmer movies from the 90s, and a dozen other odd films.

When we got a little older, we boys got the privilege of watching my Dad’s infamous movie collection that holds some of the best films I’ve ever seen. This collection consisted of mostly war movies like Braveheart, Gladiator, and Saving Private Ryan. It also had other genre movies like A Beautiful Mind, Equilibrium, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, The Matrix, and the Phantom of the Opera (2004). It might just be a box of DVD’s, but it holds some of my favorite memories with my Dad.

I occasionally compete in Strongman too. I have competed several times and I am preparing for future competitions as well. My favorite Strongman lifts are atlas stones, deadlift, and log press.

In faith I was largely influenced by C.S. Lewis, James White, Norman Geisler, Peter Kreeft, R. C. Sproul, and William Lane Craig. Other inspirations include Brian Jacques, George Lucas, and Michelangelo. There’s so many more, but there’s not enough time to mention the rest.

I attended the Colorado Film School and have an education in screenwriting, along with directing for the screen. I’m in the process of writing two books. The first book is a fictional novel that focuses on a married couple grieving a stillborn birth and the problem of suffering. The other book is like Mere Christianity, but better and for the modern world. My dream is to be a published writer.

I started this blog because it gave me the opportunity to speak freely about whatever is on my mind. People have also asked and encouraged me to write as well. Most importantly, I believe God put me on this planet to write for Him and I will continue that pursuit in showing people what it means to be known God.

This blog started in June of 2015 and will continue to go on as long as God wills. I’m Chris Cribari and this is just a frame of my life. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!