Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rodcast 37: Festivus

Ezra, Nehemiah, favorite Christmas movies, airing of grievances and the opening of gifts. Sounds like it won't take too long right? RIGHT?! ... wrong.

Download here.

By the way, I love It's a Wonderful Life, but I can't explain how. So I got Stephanie Asalone to do it for me. Here are her words:

Watching "It's a Wonderful Life" with my brother, dad, and his wife on Christmas Eve night, the thought crossed my mind that I should write a post about the unique power of this particular movie. There really aren't many movies out there that speak to so many people from so many walks of life for so many years (64 this year) as this one does. Why is that the case, though?

1) Universal concepts: Redemption and second chances (for George, for Clarence...). The little-considered power of one person's influence on another (which is not as cliched or pollyanna as some may claim), and the ripple effect of that influence. The fact that you don't know what you have until it's gone. This is a Christmas movie that doesn't necessarily fall along religious lines.

2) Couching these concepts in a life situation many people could identify with in post-World War II America (the movie came out in 1946) and can today in the current economic troubles...and could through many social and economic troubles in the years in between. It is "evergreen" for this reason--George Bailey is as much 'everyman' now as he was back in '46.

3) The lack of preachiness. George and his family aren't perfect, and the fact that no one is made out to be a martyr, a "devil" (I would argue Potter is made to seem more lost-in-selfishness than outright evil), or an angel, for that matter (except Clarence, of course) makes what could be a choke-on-it-syrupy ending into a tearjerker. The belief that all people are good at heart, but some have forgotten that fact for one reason or another (Mr. Potter, Sam Wainwright to a lesser degree) is an unspoken sermon to be found here. Being reminded of that concept--either for oneself or in regard to those around them--adds to the way this movie gets to people, regardless of personal circumstance.

4) When George is standing on the bridge, crying and praying: "I want to live again. Please God, let me live again"...that was the moment the tears started to flow for me this last time. He was obviously speaking about more than one kind of living. The idea you can be alive and just go through the motions...waste your time and forget your potential...that's huge too. George may well have been doing it just as much as Mr. Potter, though in a different way. As one of my former home teachers once told me: "Don't judge someone just because they choose to sin differently than you do." The same can be said for the way in which an individual chooses to "play small". George was doing great things with his life, both for his family and for his community, but he was missing the end result of those efforts, either through lack of opportunity to see them or through his own refusal to believe he could mean so much to so many. When all those people come flowing into the house at the end and throw money on the table...George finally sees it. Which leads me into...

5) The idea that good people have good returned unto them. In a world where it seems no good deed goes unpunished, to see "an Israelite without guile" be rewarded for his honesty, his integrity, his doing what's right in so many situations can't help but be encouraging. To see evidence that when the giver is the one in need, those who've received will step up and take their turn at giving encourages people to continue giving, or, alternatively, become givers. Which leads me into...

6) "It's a Wonderful Life" is also impactful because it can be seen as a call to service above self. People sometimes need reminded that they really are their brother's keeper...or need to be encouraged to continue in their acting upon this realization. It can be easy to become cynical in either role, and to have the opportunity to see a "third party example" situation and realize the reward to be had--however delayed--in being a giver, is helpful in bringing people to see the value of taking care of others at any stage of either person's life.

There is so much that can be said for and about this movie. It is timeless and I hope it continues to be shown Christmas Eve night on NBC for many years to come. It is encouraging and inspiring without crossing the line into hokeyness. Thank you, Frank Capra, for the marvelous gift you gave in making "It's a Wonderful Life". If we were to be honest with ourselves, we'd realize it really is.


  1. Wahoo! I'm famous! Thanks for posting my blog thing about "IAWL", Jon. It was a great experience to write it a couple years ago, and to look it up again this year, reread it, and share it with you...and now all the Rodcast listeners. Looking forward to tomorrow night...the tradition continues.

    You can now strike through Christmas movies & airing of grievances off the list on the left. I think you should add a discussion of whether it's worth showing up to sacrament meeting after the passing of the sacrament...every time I attend your ward (as I did this past Sunday), that issue crosses my mind. Maybe cover it with your "church attendance" topic already listed.

    That was not Tiff's dad sitting on the back row at church Sunday, btw. I have no idea who that guy was.

    "Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas" is AWESOME. It was a Jim Henson TV special, and also adorable. Check it out on IMDb.

    I also love "Pee Wee's Christmas Special". We had it on VHS for years and my brother and I would watch it over and over. Perennially funny...I'm with Laura on that one (though not most of the rest of her list outside "IAWL", "Home Alone" and "Christmas Vacation").

    "Baby, It's Cold Outside" IS the date-rape song. SO BAD. Especially coming from Dean Martin.

    I agree with the dog-poop-in-yard problem. So disgusting. That can be one of my grievances.

    I had to walk away when Jon made the comment about rolling up his sleeves and pantlegs to "do the church thing". Hilarious.

    IKEA is EXPENSIVE, besides. A $700 couch?? I got a whole living room for less than $1200, including tax and delivery, from Ashley. The rest of their stuff may be priced right, but the big items are break-the-bank priced (for what you get), modular (lacking color/character), and, as was mentioned, not pre-assembled (and hence more prone to not staying in one piece).

    Rhett: Why should you not have pride in being the best-quality teaching hospital in the country? Do you realize how competitive that field is, Rhett? How many great teaching hospitals they're up against? You can hate whatever else about the U, but give respect where it is due. That #1 ranking is a real accomplishment. There really isn't a better hospital system in the state.

    It's funny that Rhett pushed Jon and Peter to rush through his grievances so he could go on and on about hating the U.

    My ward's gift to the members at the ward Christmas party was a copy of the New Testament like Peter got. So now no one has an excuse not to participate in 2011 Sunday School...perfect.

    This was a friggin' long podcast, btw. You weren't kidding.


  2. I like that Rhett started out his rant about the U by saying "I hate their hypocrisy" because he then went on to say...

    "They were very over-rated and subpar" followed shortly by "I hate the fact that they talk all kinds of trash".

    After describing U fans saying they're going to pour beer on player's wives as "classless", he went on to say "I hate the lady who dances between the third and fourth quarter. I would punch her in the face and gladly go to jail for it."

    So at least the BYU fans are not hypocrites, right?

    Excellent object lesson showing that we can easily see the worst in others while being unaware of the same things in ourselves and how we should never take ourselves or our sports too seriously.