REVIEW: Minding the Gap

Death defying kickflips from concrete ledges. Balance bending rail grinds that will leave you breathless. One of this year’s films in the running for the Academy Award for Best Documentary is “Minding the Gap,” a film that should have also been nominated for its cinematography. The film is about the skateboarding community in Rockford, Illinois and features camera work that could have only been honed in alleyways, empty swimming pools, and public stairwells trying to capture the sickest tricks. The film is about the sport it depicts so well, but as it unfolds is about something else entirely, generational patterns of sin and hardship.

As filmmaker Bing Liu follows his skater friends around, he allows the story to develop naturally. Digging deeper into their lives he begins to recognize the broken homes and abusive families they come from. These dark commonalities give Liu the open door to shed light on the unusually high rates of domestic violence in the city of Rockford. Unfortunately, this is a trend continuing in Liu’s friends as they enter young adulthood.


They have trouble keeping jobs, they drink excessively, and they abuse their significant others. Liu takes his evolving movie as an opportunity to unpack his own childhood with help from his mother. It’s heart-wrenching hearing his mother show deep remorse for the ways Liu was abused by his stepfather, while also documenting the disintegrating, unhealthy relationship of his friend Zack and the mother of Zack’s child. Two generations living out the same story.

This generational deja vu is something very human, and something God speaks into from the very beginning. In Genesis 20 we read,

“Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, ‘She is my sister.’”

Now stop me if you’ve heard this before. As Genesis continues in chapter 26,

“So Isaac stayed in Gerar. When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, ‘She is my sister,’ because he was afraid to say, ‘She is my wife.’”

You’re not going crazy. Here are father and son, Abraham and Isaac, their hearts filled with fear and insecurity, lying an identical lie. They didn’t trust God and took the protection of their wives into their own hands. In both cases, the lie backfires and they nearly lose everything. In families, in institutions, and in the hearts of man we are prone to these generational patterns. We are stuck dragging the heavy chains of the past, slaves to the sins of our parents. They are thick chains, but they are not unbreakable.


The book of Deuteronomy gives us a painful instruction manual. In chapter 12 we read, “Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains, on the hills and under every spreading tree, where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods. Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places. You must not worship the Lord your God in their way. But you are to seek the place the Lord your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling.”

The prior inhabitants of God’s chosen land left patterns behind, almost grooves in the land leading to the worship of their gods. These verses are warning God’s people that if they’re not careful as they enter the land, they could easily click into the grooves of the past. The only way to prevent this is to tear it all down. Patterns are comfortable, they’re easy. Sometimes clicking into the routines of the past even feels good. The process of tearing it down is always the opposite. Changing the direction of a generation always comes with pain.


For Liu and his friends it involves bringing the generational patterns into the light with his film. Zack will see this film and come face to face with some of his worst moments. Liu sat behind his camera and watched tears stream down his mother’s face. Even as an outsider, it is heartbreaking to watch, but that feeling of lament is the feeling of chains of the past being broken. What you hear in the film isn’t just plastic wheels filled with ball bearings hitting pavement, it’s the sound of shackles falling off. It’s the sound of future generations being freed. “Minding the Gap” is about skateboarding in Rockford, Illinois, but it’s also about hope.

Created #LikeAGirl


I once asked a male friend, “Do you think you’re more in the image of God than me because you’re a male?”  He seemed unsure of himself and uneasy, but his kneejerk reaction was, “Yes. God is male and so am I.”  I spent several years wrestling with whether or not that was true, and trying desperately to see myself reflected in the Trinity and in the Church.  Did God want me to be a vibrant part of His body?  Are women meant to be equal co-laborers with men or are we really just the runners-up behind the MVP?

In an attempt to help a male loved one understand what I was struggling with, I asked him to consider a role reversal.  Imagine that God has always described herself as “God the Mother”, and Eve was created first and then Adam as her helper.  Imagine that it was Adam who ate the fruit and tempted Eve to join him in his sin.  Then God chose the matriarchs and made a covenant with Sarah to make her descendents more numerous than the stars.  The Old Testament is predominantly about women with occasional references to their husbands.  There is a period of great prosperity under the monarchy of the queens, and God speaks through the prophetesses.  The Messiah comes in the form of a woman and she has 12 female disciples.  The apostle Pauline writes the majority of the New Testament and instructs that men are to be silent in church and she permits no man to have authority over a woman, but they will be saved through procreation.  How do you as a man feel in that world?  Do you feel like you are an important and desired member of that community?

After wondering for a long time whether God really did want women to be subservient and silent, a friend said something that changed everything.  “I think Satan hates the Gospel first, and he hates women second.”  What if it isn’t God that hates me, but Satan?


According to the ESV study Bible, contemporary Ancient Near Eastern creation myths only tell of the creation of man, not woman.  The Bible is the only sacred manuscript that spends time telling the origin story of woman.  In Satan’s retelling of how the world came to be, he attempts to erase Eve from the narrative. God on the other hand, makes sure His daughters know where they came from and that He created them on purpose.

When we think about Satan deciding to tempt Eve first, historically Eve has been blamed and maligned for being weak and foolish.  He went after her because she was easily swayed and an easy target.  First of all, it’s important to note that the text makes it clear that Adam and Eve were together at the time (Gen. 3:6), both were part of the conversation and shared equal responsibility for the decision that they made.  Then if we think about a basic strategy for influencing a group, one would not start by attacking the weakest link.  If one takes out the weak link, the strong one that is left would be unaffected.  (“So what? I didn’t care what that person thought anyway.”)  I think that instead, Satan targeted Eve because he knew that she had influence with Adam.  He rightly knew that if he could get her, he could get both of them.  Eve wasn’t weak, she was important.

wisdom2-e1281804850921 Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly

I think we can find this idea reinforced in the book of Proverbs.  Solomon talks about two kinds of women, Lady Wisdom (Prov. 1:20-33) and Lady Folly (Prov. 9:13-18).  They are described metaphorically as well as literally.  They each show that women have crucial influence with men and in the world.  The kind of woman that a man aligns himself with will strongly impact the kind of life he lives.  Unfortunately we know that Eve encompassed both sides of these women.  She began as Lady Wisdom, and exerted her influence towards a path of folly.  I think the message we see is not that women are silly and empty-headed.  The message is that women need to take care to pursue wisdom from the Lord because our actions have power in God’s world.

There are several points I can make on this topic.  For now I’ll conclude with the idea that Satan is threatened by Eve in a unique way and he thrives whenever she is silent and powerless.  God endowed Eve with half of his image when He made her able to create life.  God is the creator of all things, and women reflect God’s loving creativity in our ability to bring new life into the world.  Satan is extremely uncreative and can’t generate anything original; he can only twist something that God already made.  All of his lies are distortions of the truth and are based on something that already exists.  One of several examples of this can be seen when Satan is tempting Jesus in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-14).  The best he can do is to misapply God’s words from scripture, he has no original thoughts.  Eve therefore can do the one thing that Satan cannot: bring something into the world that has never been before.  And that drives Satan nuts.

In cultures where women thrive and have a meaningful role in society, those communities enjoy innovation and prosperity.  In cultures where women are most oppressed and voiceless, the whole community is impaired and progress is minimal.  I do not wish to say that women are better than men or inherently less sinful than men.  I think we share equal depravity along with an equal measure of God’s image.  My hope is to put this forth as a corrective to centuries of blame and shame placed on women to justify mistreatment as their “punishment” for causing the Fall.  I hope that we will seize opportunities to see women reflected in God’s Word and in the Church, and together will mirror our wonderful Creator for the flourishing of all things.