Doctor Strange (movie)

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nibbler
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Doctor Strange (movie)

Post by nibbler » 11 Mar 2017, 07:50

I think some themes present in the movie are relevant to things people experience during their spiritual journeys.

The high level overview is that there is an arrogant surgeon that loses his ability to use his hands in a car accident. Medical science fails to restore the full use of his hands, he gets increasingly desperate, and his journey for healing takes him to a monastic order of magicians. Yeah, bear with me.

The leader of the order, "The Ancient One" (yeah, bear with me) takes Dr. Strange under her wing. The arrogant doctor has a photographic memory which helps him learn magic at an accelerated rate. He breaks a few rules here and there to continue learning when members of the order feel like certain knowledge is too advanced for him.

He comes across information that makes him question the purpose of the order. Up until this point he was under the impression that the order only existed to heal physical and spiritual ailments. The other magicians reveal that they protect the world from spiritual threats from other dimensions (yeah, bear with me); chief among the threats, a force from the dark dimension where time does not exist.

Through Dr. Strange's studies he learns that The Ancient One has been able to protect the Earth from threats and train magicians for centuries, having an unnaturally long life, because she tapped into the power from the timeless dark dimension, which was something that is expressly forbidden.

There's a TBM among the order that has been helping Doctor Strange with his training. I don't like using the term TBM, personal reasons, but in this case I broke my rule because I didn't want to pass on relating a bad pun. True Believing Magician. At first he does not believe Dr. Strange's allegations but then he sees The Ancient One use dark magic in defense of the world. Seeing the rules being violated with his own eyes, his view of the Ancient one and by extension the monastic order, are challenged.

The movie isn't about him but I did want to focus on him a bit. After the revelation he sees the order as impure, breaking natural law, and after the credits (gotta do that for Marvel movies) it is revealed that he decides to fight against the order because he believes that it is in a corrupt state. He settles on a black and white view of the role of magicians whereas Dr. Strange continues to "do what it takes" to save people, even if that means bending a few rules.

I won't say one side is correct and the other incorrect. The Ancient One hid the knowledge from her pupils because absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely, the rules surrounding the use of dark magic was her way of protecting people. I also don't like locking characters into specific roles. I think there's more benefit in relating my journey to the journey of the TBMagician and Dr. Strange.

I think some of what I'm trying to say came across in the recent power point slides that listed reasons people leave the church, far right and far left.

Am I like the TBMagician, angry at my former tribe because of the things that were hidden from me, angry because the most venerated leaders held themselves to a different standard than they preached, where strict rules and hard boundaries were put in place to help establish a line between right and wrong... or am I like Dr. Strange, a little arrogant, flouting the rules when it suits my needs, ever moving the line between right and wrong perhaps before either myself or others are ready.

I see each "side" as having their strengths and weaknesses. There are other parallels that could be drawn from themes in the movie, skeptics becoming believers, middle way magicians, bad outcomes born out of the best of intentions, the limitations of intellect, more to life than what is seen, etc.
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Heber13
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Re: Doctor Strange (movie)

Post by Heber13 » 11 Mar 2017, 08:01

Good post.

One of my takes on it is the black and white thinking magician is limited only to what the ancient tells him he can do by following the rules.

Whereas, Dr Strange is not so limited...he is more powerful without those limitations. He is the out of the box thinker, which makes him unpredictable but no less committed to the purpose.

Also...when the truth is revealed about the ancient one...Mordo has to leave and go wander to find himself...he feels lost when seeing the truth.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Reuben
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Re: Doctor Strange (movie)

Post by Reuben » 11 Mar 2017, 09:42

I definitely identified the TBM as having a faith crisis. Also, if you stay through the credits, you'll see that he passes through the angry ex-M phase to become an anti-M. Last year, I would have thought of that as being characiture-ish but given it a pass because comic books. I get it now.

Another thought I had: The Ancient One said that death gives life meaning, which is another thing I wouldn't have understood, or at least thought was off-base. (Plus, the bad guys are the ones trying to get immortality, suggesting that it's wrong.) Now I look back at what I used to believe - that life can only have meaning if I live forever - and wonder whether that wasn't a little bit selfish.
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hawkgrrrl
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Re: Doctor Strange (movie)

Post by hawkgrrrl » 11 Mar 2017, 12:23

This is a theme that keeps cropping up in recent movies. If the Q12 / GAs are paying attention, they'd be wise to understand that this is where our collective unconscious is gravitating lately. They either need to steer into the skid or they will appear to be on the wrong side of this.

There was a parody of teen dystopia movies that SNL did about a year or two ago. It was like a mash up of Harry Potter, Divergent, the Maze Runner, the Giver, and others. It was pretty funny, but there were a few tropes that it brought up. The skit identified some non-conformist kids as the "group hoppers." The villains wanted to force people into groups, but the "good" teens understood that they can't be pigeonholed. The leaders didn't want them to be able to have self-expression or love or happiness. They wanted them to be cookie-cutter and do prescribed tasks for the good of the society, not to be individuals. Those who were "true believers" in the system were bad. Those who fought against the system or saw its limitation and flaws and spoke truth to power were "good."

These movie themes are so common nowadays we need to see what it is they are fighting for and against and illustrate how we are on the "right" side. But the problem is that these films are showing kids that the church leaders are just as misguided as these movie villains who don't see the limitations of their systems.

My guess is that most of our top leaders consider movies frivolous and don't stay up on these things, but they are very instructive about where people's heads are.

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nibbler
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Re: Doctor Strange (movie)

Post by nibbler » 12 Mar 2017, 08:39

A few more thoughts were teased out of me.

If we're talking Fowler's stages of faith, it seems like the Ancient One (TAO for short) has a conjunctive or universalizing faith. She preaches purity in adherence to the natural force but walks a path that is not restricted by those limits, and she does this in a manner that she feels is still righteous and just. She also teaches others to walk the path of becoming magicians, adhering to boundaries that she feels are too dangerous for people to cross before they are ready.

I found myself wondering why TAO didn't try to instill that same vision with her initiates from day one. Why not preach that sometimes the rules have to be broken in order to achieve a more harmonious "good?" A higher law. For all we know TAO did have special lessons for people that she felt were prepared, as was the case with Dr. Strange on TAO's deathbed. Mordo, one of the TBMagicians, apparently never received those lessons.

Why not start Mordo out on the vision on day one? Why not start everyone out on the vision on day one? Did TAO's instructions set Mordo up for failure? I imagine TAO spending days on end reiterating the importance of staying away from the dark arts, creating Mordo's stumbling block in the process... or is that a part of the lesson? Setting the stage for an inevitable crisis of convictions, all done with the purpose of facilitating continued spiritual growth and progress.

There's an analogy to be drawn there. I won't say that it's specific to the LDS church, but maybe that's a part of the path for many people. We live in a world of colors, perhaps some of us have to experience the extremities and limitations of a black and white world before we can truly appreciate the colors.

Side notes/tangents:

In the movie the magicians are led by someone that has "the vision" whereas with church I feel like the Mordos are running the show... with a few exceptions.

Dr. Strange was a bit of an anomaly, he appears to jump a few lessons and advance rather quickly. Well the movie is about him and the movie has to be short but in his case I see a person coming from outside of the culture. He was immediately thrust into a position where I had to fight for survival. He was also new, so he wasn't as established in the proper rules of engagement. He had to do what came naturally and he had to rely on what little he knew. When he discovers the truth he reflects and in reference to TAO he says, "She's complicated."
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Heber13
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Re: Doctor Strange (movie)

Post by Heber13 » 12 Mar 2017, 10:06

Perhaps there is enough everyone has to learn, TAO goes at their pace and what the students to are revealing they are ready for, or perhaps asking for.

The only limits being placed on the students is what the students place on themselves.

Mordo may feel betrayed, may wish from day 1 the revelations all be spoon fed to him, may even feel lied to. But TAO may have been willing to treat all like Dr Strange if they pushed for it.

In the church, we can place our own limits on our faith. Part of stage 5 is returning to the tribe without needing to change the institution because we realize it wasn't the institution that kept us in stage 3. It was us. Another reason God doesn't prevent stage 4 journeys. God is within us. The lessons are there to be had for anyone in the church at anytime. Do we push for truth?
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Re: Doctor Strange (movie)

Post by Roy » 12 Mar 2017, 12:47

hawkgrrrl wrote:
11 Mar 2017, 12:23
There was a parody of teen dystopia movies that SNL did about a year or two ago. It was like a mash up of Harry Potter, Divergent, the Maze Runner, the Giver, and others. It was pretty funny, but there were a few tropes that it brought up.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnTltDzqhzM
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Reuben
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Re: Doctor Strange (movie)

Post by Reuben » 12 Mar 2017, 14:30

Heber13 wrote:
12 Mar 2017, 10:06
In the church, we can place our own limits on our faith. Part of stage 5 is returning to the tribe without needing to change the institution because we realize it wasn't the institution that kept us in stage 3. It was us.
I disagree with this. The Church influences us in hundreds of ways to keep to stage 3. The tiny streams of influence add up to a roaring river of control, which members never feel until they try to swim against the current.

Strictly speaking, it's not the institution doing it, or even its doctrine, but the culture. But the leadership is drawn from the culture, and they set the agenda. One went as far as disparaging the faith of those that don't believe in a literal fall, and there's no counterbalancing talk supporting nonliteral belief. We're all complicit, whether we believe literally or not, because we all talk as if we do. Even if every adult member were a nonliteral believer, the next generation would be predominantly literal because of our discourse. Children aren't going to read between the lines.

My wife and I talked today about how the Church could possibly explicitly allow for nonliteral belief without destroying the faith of those who need literal belief. I suggested that the Catholics seem to have it worked out, but I really don't know.

Token callback to the topic at hand: maybe The Ancient One did have this worked out, but Strange deduced too much before she could teach him that TBM needed more rigid rules than he did.
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Re: Doctor Strange (movie)

Post by SamBee » 12 Mar 2017, 18:05

I'm a little bored of superhero films - is there enough here to differentiate it from the rest?
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hawkgrrrl
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Re: Doctor Strange (movie)

Post by hawkgrrrl » 12 Mar 2017, 20:12

SamBee wrote:
12 Mar 2017, 18:05
I'm a little bored of superhero films - is there enough here to differentiate it from the rest?
Me too, but we really enjoyed Dr. Strange partly because it had a lot of humor in it, partly because it reminded us of our trip to Nepal--all the scenes in Kathmandu!

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