Movie Review: Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

The mere mention that name brings thoughts of the Civil War, honesty, and freedom of slaves. Oft forgotten though, is his work of the 13th Amendment, which truly granted slaves freedom. Not the Emancipation Proclamation.

This film tells the story of how Lincoln worked to pass this amendment to our constitution. It shows the reasoning behind it, the politics involved, and the opposition to it. Some democrats in the Union refused to acknowledge black people as equal in the Nation. They fight long and hard to fail the amendment, as they argue the south will never surrender with slavery abolished. The amendment will prolong the war, and worse yet, completely divide the nation past the point of repair.

We see a glimpse into how Abe lived his life during this short moment in history. We see his family. We see his cabinet. And most importantly, we see his personality brilliantly captured in a manner which not only compliments his virtues, but recognizes his flaws. He is a man, serving as president, in a divided country. He is Lincoln.

Things I liked

The star of this movie is of course Lincoln, and much of the movie is spent on how he lived in every aspect of life….
– Even thought Lincoln was president of the United states of America, family always came first. In cabinet meetings his son would drop in and Lincoln think nothing of it. His wife, Mary, still grieving over the loss of Willie, puts on the mask of a happy first lady, and supports Lincoln in his decisions. She will challenge him on his thoughts, but when his mind is made, she supports him completely. When the votes were being cast, Lincoln stayed at home with his son and spent the day with him. Over and over we see him placing family priorities above everything else in this movie.

– Lincoln was not as perfect a man as many of the history books make him out to be. He was wily and shrewd and could play politics with the best of them. That was not his usual Modus Operandi however. Often he would reason and talk to someone to achieve the desired goal or viewpoint. But when necessary, he acted in ways which were quite political and manipulative. At times we see him offer jobs of patronage for yes votes. One time he flat out lies the the representative assemble, an action deemed “Impeachable” by one of his advisors. I appreciated they made Lincoln a man who lived life. Not a man larger than life.

– Finally about the portrayal of Lincoln, was his personality and how he lead others. Manipulation was a rarity by him, though he would participate in it. We do see many commendable leadership traits by Lincoln. One such trait is his use of stories to communicate points. His use of appropriate humor to defused tense situations. His grace and teaching spirit. He gave one boy a pardon for laming his horse to avoid battle because “I don’t want to hang a boy for being frightened. What good would it be for him.” His meekness as president. His ability to accomplish goals by doing things himself. All of these traits are ones which are to be commended, and while he was not perfect, should be recognized for his strengths.

In addition to Lincoln and how he related to many aspects of the 13th amendment and family, I enjoyed the given perspective of the Civil War. Often slavery is wrongly portrayed as the main factor and basis for the Civil war, which is simply not True. The Vice President of the Confederate State of America said in the movie “You can’t take away our slaves and expect a complete surrender. You take away that and you destroy our economy. Our way of life. Our power. We won’t even know who we are anymore.”

We are shown the civil was was not mainly about slavery, but about political power and economic security. I appreciated an accurate focus of the war, not twisted and warped into something it wasn’t.

The last thing I would like to note is the quality of the movie. The videography, the lighting, the costumes, the acting, the score…. All were masterfully done. I would have no issue believing Linclon was just like the man on the screen. His mannerisms, his voice, and action were all perfectly mimicked according to historical records. It was a treat to watch and see all of these artistic fields blended together to create the picture on screen.

Things I didn’t like

The main issue I take with this movie is the profanity. There is a lot of it. Dozens misuses of God’s name are said. D—, B—–, F—, and more are used by old men, soldiers, and some riled up congressmen. Even Lincoln dishes out an S— word for some crude humor.

The movie opens with a battle scene where “the Colored Union Soldiers” are fighting Confederates. It is raining, so water has collected in many places. We see men getting beat to death with rifles, stabbed in the stomach with bayonets, stomped to death and drowned… all in the course of around two minutes. While this is not at all enjoyable to watch. It is good to be reminded no battle is glorious or should be praised, especially in the instance of this war.

We are shown a cart dripping large amounts of blood being wheeled, then multiple amputated arms and legs dumped into a pit behind the hospital.

Near the end of the movie. Lincoln goes to the last battle ground in Virginia, and we are shown the aftermath of war. Dead corpses are shown everywhere in various forms of death. Some were ripped open, guts spilling out onto the muddy ground. Some had bayonets in the back. While others where in piles behind cover, piled on top of each other. With John William’s scoring, and Mr. Lincoln’s reaction, it was enough to make you sick and tear up at the same time.

Closing Thoughts

“You can know True North. When I was a surveyor, I would align my compass to true North, The compass points you true north but does not warn you of obstacles and swamps along the way. So while you can plow through people, ideals, and goals focused on True North, without looking at your surroundings, you can wind up stuck in the swamp….”

Lincoln says to Thaddeus Stevens about Mr. Stevens unwavering principle on the black right to freedom, vote, and more. Lincoln illustrates how while we can know we are right about something, being obnoxious about it and plowing through people with the idea is not going to get you anywhere. It is also going to get you stuck with your idea and people will not want to listen to you. How does Mr. Stevens respond? Well, you’ll have to watch it to find out. ;)
This quote stuck in my mind, because I was instantly reminded of some Christians. You know of whom I speak. ;) How important it is to remember while we are right in following Christ and God’s word it true, that we not become arrogant in such knowledge. That we remain as gentle as a dove, yet wise as a serpent when we witness with our actions, words, and life. The movie portrayed that concept excellently, and gave me a heart check and application to implement.

“Can we choose to be born? Are we fitted to the times we’re born into? We begin with equality, that’s the origin isn’t it? That’s justice. See we’ve shown that a people can endure awful sacrifice and yet cohere.”

Another outstanding quote from Lincoln. He asks this to a young man, while sitting in the communication room, about to send a message to Grant. While an answer never is decided, the point is made… Are we in this place and time for a purpose? As Christians, we can answer a resounding “Yes”. This makes an excellent talking point for witnessing or starting conversations about life purpose, and I intend to use it as such.

All in all. This movie is like Lincoln himself. It stands tall and true on biblical principles, history, and showing what the Civil war truly was. However, problems (which Lincoln also had) need to be recognized and not excused. These are the language and quite gruesome scenes.
If we remember anything about Lincoln portrayed in this flick, it should be his indubitable spirit and wisdom in the time into which he was fitted. He saw and felt from his deepest conviction the 13th amendment was the the first step in solve to the nation’s problems about division and slavery. And he did what ever he felt within his power as president to do get that done.

When deciding to see this movie, I’ll close with Lincoln’s advice, as my wisdom in this is lacking. He said when making decisions…. “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day.”


Election 2012: The Results and Our Role

The Presidential elections for 2012 have almost concluded. I wanted to take a minute and talk about our role in government and respect to the established authority, even if we disagree with the man who will be elected.

First, we have to keep an eternal perspective. America is not going to exist in heaven. These policies which are going to continue to change are not eternal.
Christ and His Kingdom is. Scripture declares Christ ruler over all creation. He is the true King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He deserves our service and honor more than anyone. This election doesn’t change our responsibility to be a witness and live a life worthy of Christ.

Revelation 1:4-6
John, to the seven churches which are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.
To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Matthew 28:16-20
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

This president and government is established by God. Everything is going exactly according to His plan. He wasn’t surprised at the turn of the swing states, He wasn’t surprised at the result of this election. He knows and has made the perfect plan of past, present, and future. We can rest in this fact.
How liberating and how we can rejoice in a God that has His divine hand over all creation and the happenings within it. He controls the flow of history, the governments, and leaders in it.

Romans 13 1-7
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

Colossians 1:9-17
For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

Proverbs 21:1
The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord,
Like the rivers of water;
He turns it wherever He wishes

We as Christians can and should rest in the knowledge of God’s sovereign and perfect plan. We also can and should remember Christ is our ultimate King, and we ultimately submit to Him.

What is our role then?
As it always has been.

We are to live for Christ, Pray for our leaders, and be a witness to others.
In the grand scheme of things, our role as Christians has not changed. This election should not distract us from our life purpose of dying to self and living for Christ.

Romans 12
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

In regard to praying for our leaders. This is a command and a responsibility we have. Regardless if we agree with them or not.

1 Timothy 2
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

So, if you are still reading, (I am impressed to say the least) this election may impact us materially, but it cannot and should not shake us in our foundation with Christ. We need to focus not on a four year term, but an eternal plan.

That is how Christ’s kingdom will prevail.
That is how we will be able to continue to live as a sacrifice to Him.
And That is how we can have…
“The peace that passes all understanding.”