Riding Giants

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I was strolling through the virgin megastore a while back and picked up a few dvd’s. I got the first two seasons of Seinfeld, Strange Brew (I’m a total hoser), and last but not least Riding Giants. Riding Giants is a documentary that takes a look at big wave surfing. It takes you through the history of surfing in general but it really focuses in on a select few individuals who have pioneered big wave surfing, starting from the 50s to present day. It’s produced and directed by Stacy Peralta whom some of you may have ridden his skateboards in the past (like my red Caballero deck with green grip tape and Tracker trucks…). First I have to say that this is an AMAZING movie. I am not a surfer and I really don’t even like going to the beach that much, but this movie moved me more than I could ever expect from a surfer movie. To me, it’s one of the most spiritually heavy movies that I’ve seen.

I’ve watched the movies a few times now and what really strikes me the more I watch it is the parallel between these pioneers of surfing and the Church. The counter-culture movement of the first Christians compared to the counter-culture attitude found in the earliest California surfers of the 60’s. Then the similarities of the “Gidget” phenomenon that popularized, but totally altered the surfing experience by ignoring the spirit of the early surfers compared to the acceptance of Christianity by major governments and institutions that have since changed the message of Jesus from a message of revolution that counters conventional wisdom in order counter act the established earthly kingdoms to a message of consumerism that becomes an experience “requirement” and “rewards” or more easily put as a message of the “Santa Claus” Jesus.

Then the movie goes on to show the modernization of big wave surfing lead by Laird Hamilton (the evil surfer in that terrible surfer movie “Northshore”). He, and small group of other men have revolutionized big wave surfing by allowing themselves to catch bigger waves through more “out-of-the-box” techniques such as “toe in surfing” and feet straps. This is where the movie will just put your jaw to he floor. It’s just amazing, beautiful, scary, inspiring. What I really love about this movie is the way it captured the relationships between the surfers, between surfer and nature and between the surfer and sacrifice in order to a much higher purpose than themselves. Their dedication and allegiance to each other is something very rarely seen.

While watching the movie it made me think that if the Church, as a whole, could have half of the dedication and fearlessness that these few men have, we would be painting a much more beautiful picture to those around us. I remember going to church as a little boy and sitting through Tony Campollo films at the night service. Not to diss Campollo, i don’t even remember what he was saying but i guess my point is this: Every Church would be blessed to watch this movie and apply the dedication to a way of life that is full of danger, beauty, sacrifice, new territory, love and above all a desire to experience God in new,radical and terrifying ways. To gravitate towards an experience with our Creator to the point where we are willing to say……”I guess this is a good day to die.”

In short, rent, buy, borrow, lease-to-own this movie quickly.

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2 thoughts on “Riding Giants

  1. I had the opprotunity to watch a different documentary on the spirituality of surfing at the hostel in Huntington Beach awhile back, and that was incredible. Makes me want to see this movie in a real bad way now.

    The very nature of surfing these giant waves….men are drawn to try to interact with, challenge, or conquer the very power of God/nature, and that is something just awe-inspiring, and that accounts for the gravitational pull to it, from the earliest pioneers to today’s common surfer. I know you may not agree with this here–but the Church (and it’s mission), at least from an outside secular standpoint, seem already conquered and explored to many–there is no mysticism or spirituality or challenge that people see. But yet such things are what we find in the Scriptures. Is a more Biblical faith the answer (and not Bibilical in legalsitic, Calvinist terms, but in mystic/spiritual terms)?

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