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Sunday Matinee #5 Evil Dead II
Give Ash a hand: a very literal reading?! Plus: a Subscriber Giveaway!
It’s the fifth Sunday, Dear Reader, and that’s a special occasion for R-Rated Movie Club. We have our first giveaway and I’m glad you’re here for it. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to please consider becoming a paid subscriber to receive monthly Bonus Content like extra essays. Okay, on to our first-ever giveaway for all subscribers!
Subscriber Giveaway: What’s the Prize Pair?
I’m grateful for all R-Rated Movie Club readers and I’m especially grateful for all of you who are subscribers. I’m encouraged by you coming along for the ride on this new creative project of mine. As a way to say “thank you” to all subscribers, we have a giveaway on fifth Sundays.
Enter to win a Prize Pair of one Bible and one movie!
About the Bible: The winner will receive a print copy of one of the three Bibles I use for preaching. The winner gets to pick which translation; I get to pick which edition.
Bible Options: New Revised Standard Version, Common English Bible, The Message
About the Movie: The winner will receive a copy of one of the movies highlighted in Quotes With Notes or the Feature Presentation since January 1, 2023. The winner gets to pick the movie and which format (DVD, Blu-ray, 4K, digital).
Movie Options: The Blues Brothers, The Matrix, Gladiator, Deadpool, Evil Dead II
Subscriber Giveaway: Who can enter and how to enter?
All R-Rated Movie Club readers who 1. subscribe. That’s it! Everyone who is a subscriber, free or paid, by today at 11:59pm on Sunday, January 29, 2023 is automatically entered to win.
One entrant will be randomly selected. I’ll notify the winner via the email address they use to subscribe to R-Rated Movie Club. The winner has 72 hours to confirm receipt of the notification email. If they don’t respond in 72 hours, a new winner will be randomly selected and they have 72 hours to respond and so on.
Subscribers are eligible to win once per calendar year. If you win the giveaway from January 2023 you won’t be eligible again until January 2024. That way all subscribers have a chance to wine a Prize Pair every year.
Many will be automatically entered. One will win. I’ve always wanted to write that.
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Quotes With Notes
Matthew 5:30 NRSVUE
Full Text: Matthew 5:21-37 (Revised Common Lectionary)
For the Sixth Sunday of Epiphany (February 12, 2023)
Sign up for a free course at EnterTheBible.org to learn more.
Context: Jesus is teaching about how we should relate with one another in the Sermon on the Mount. A vast majority of this teaching is about how we live together.
30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.*
Evil Dead II | 1987 De Laurentiis Entertainment Group | IMDB
Starring Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Ted Raimi
Written by Sam Raimi and Scott Spiegel | Directed by Sam Raimi
Context: Ash (Bruce Campbell) finds himself stuck in a haunted cabin in the woods. The evil dead around him have possessed his hand, which begins attacking him. The only recourse, of course, is to cut it off with a chainsaw as you yell…
Ash: That's right... Who's laughing now... Who's laughing now?!
Jesus was a comedian. I honestly think Jesus loved to laugh. We get clues that he appreciated comedy in the Sermon on the Mount with his use of hyperbole - deliberate exaggeration to make a point. He uses this rhetorical device to get people’s attention, and because of that some of his teachings have endured and remain famous beyond Christian culture.
For example, in the Gospel of Matthew 7:3-5, Jesus doesn’t say, “Why do you see someone else’s faults but not deal with your own? Or how can you tell them, do better, when you could do better? First, deal with your own faults and do better, and then you can help your neighbor.” I mean, that’s what he’s saying, but he says it in a more colorful way. You’re going on and on about the speck in your neighbor’s eye? Hello! What about that log you’ve got shoved in your own eye socket, buddy?! There’s a wonderful film adaptation of the Gospel according to Matthew that’s called, er, The Gospel According to Matthew, where you can see Bruce Marchiano as Jesus play this teaching for laughs (near the 42:45 mark) and truly, his interpretation works!
This teaching has similar hyperbole. Does Jesus really want you to cut off your own hand? Of course not! Does he really say if you don’t cut off your hand that causes you to sin that you’re going to hell for all of eternity? No, and that’s for several reasons, including a few if you read the scripture footnote. But does he get the point across? Absolutely. You can either “cut off” your wrong ways and do better with the rest of your life or keep going down a destructive path and you’re done for.
Which brings us to Evil Dead II. Poor Ash, he just can’t catch a break. First, his girlfriend, Linda, gets possessed by demons, becomes a Deadite, attacks him, and the only thing he can do is decapitate her with a shovel. And that’s just in The Evil Dead (1981), the poor guy has to basically do the whole thing again in the (kinda-sorta remake-ish) sequel Evil Dead II! Later, his right hand becomes possessed after a possessed Linda bites him, and now that starts attacking him with anything it can reach. Finally, Ash does the only thing he can do: stab his own demon hand, rev up the chainsaw, and sever it off with bloody splatter galore. Partly to assert dominance over his demon hand, and perhaps partly to reassure himself this was the best move, he shouts, “Who’s laughing now?!”
I think we’ve all been there.
A hyperbolic “cut off your hand” and a literal “cut off your hand” moment. One of the things that makes Evil Dead II so effective is it’s a comedy disguised as a horror movie. The terrifying scenes are so extreme that all you can really call them is hyperbole. It’s not just one evil laugh, it’s minutes worth of cringy cackle. It’s not just a little blood, it’s a flood of blood. It’s not just characters yelling at each other, it’s characters screaming at each other while enemies scream at them. Director Sam Raimi does something well in this movie over and over: he makes you scared, then he makes you laugh.
When a teaching really sticks with you weeks or even years later, ask yourself why. Was it the wisdom itself, or perhaps the way it was expressed? Was it because you took it to heart and can see honest change, or maybe you can look back on that rough patch and see God loved you through it and you’ve come out healthier on the other side. There’s this old saying about being in the middle of a great challenge, one that reassures us we can overcome this and it gets better: “Someday, we’ll look back on all of this and be able to laugh.”
Blessings, friends, have an excellent day. May your life’s journey meet the heart of God in ways you can recognize and that are meaningful. And to today’s preachers, may worship be a blessing for you personally and may your sermon and prayers remind everyone that God loves all people. See you at the movies.
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