newthingsold

The wise man is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things both new and old.

Month: August, 2014

Killing Hercules.

I have seen some pretty terrible faith-based films:  The Omega Code, Apocalypse, and anything starring Kirk Cameron.  But then there are some that I would count as respectable: Thr3e or Faith Like Potatoes.  Last night I watched God’s Not Dead, and managed to put aside most of  my usual complaints about how most films created to appeal to an audience of Christians come across as lame, cheesy, and it’s no surprise why we’re predominantly the only ones who enjoy them because it’s art imitating culture, not creating culture.  There were some things I did enjoy about the film and some things that left me rolling my eyes at the end.

 

One of the best moments of the film, which left me giggling pretty strongly was this cameo from Willie and Korie Robertson, who get ambushed by a leftist blogger/journalist:

Another part that I thought was really well written and delivered was this scene where Dean Cain’s character gets confronted by his mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s:

But there were also things that left me thinking, “Really?!?”

For one thing, I do not know one college professor, and I’ve encountered some pretty arrogant ones, who after inviting a student to present the counterpoint to his lectures (and by the way I have NEVER heard of that happening), would not feel intellectually intimidated enough to do this:

And then there is the final lecture, where not only does the protagonist Josh trump Prof. Raddison, but receives a unanimous ovation from his lecture hall class of 80 students:

 

It felt like for every moment in the film where I found myself starting to really enjoy the film, it would be followed by one that left me wondering, “Is life really like this?  Are people in life this over-the-top?”  And the answer is that yes, it can be and yes, they are.  But the odds of finding in one community someone overly atheistic, one a hardcore Christian, one totally in love with self, one who thought she was but finds out she isn’t and needs someone who isn’t, and many other examples of typical foil pairs  is highly unlikely, just as the evil atheist who experiences a deathbed conversion at the last moment.  This is not to say these things could happen, but the fact that I don’t see them happen in my community on a daily basis makes it hard for me to not notice these things.

Ultimately, God’s Not Dead was okay.  If I’m visiting someone who wants to watch it, I will sit through it with them.  It’s a valuable experience if for no other reason than to be confronted with anti-God arguments which may disturb the viewer to the point of reflecting on his or her faith and how the critiques might strengthen it.  In the end, remember the only way to kill Hercules is to hit him with a car.

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Diving In to “The Jesus Code”

This is a review of the book The Jesus Code by O.S. Hawkins

 

Jesus asked questions of his disciples, not because he did not have an answer but because he wanted to disturb them to thought. Beginning with this as the foundation for the following 52 chapters, O.S. Hawkins provides an overview of fundamental Biblical ideas and concepts, using questions asked by various people in the Bible as the basis for devotional meditations in his book The Jesus Code. A note up front, do not buy this book unless you can devote at least 52 days to read this book, one chapter per day. The ideal way to read this book is to read one chapter a week, doing an in-depth study of the passage which contains each chapter’s topical question each week.

What impresses me about The Jesus Code is how extensive the topics in this book are: fate of the unreached (Ch. 2 “Shall Not the Judge of All the Earth Do Right”), depression (Ch.11 “What Are You Doing Here?”), personal reflection (Ch. 43 “Do You Love Me More Than These”), and other contemporary issues, as well as standard subjects such as faith, doubt, salvation, the roll of works, grace, and money management.

What frustrates me about this book is that at the sake of leaving the chapters brief enough to be read in one sitting, Hawkins leaves some of the Bible passages at the surface level. Whole books have been written on the implications of the parable of the Good Samaritan, and Hawkins packages it up in a five-page chapter (39).

Overall, O.S. Hawkins provides a good read for anyone claiming to be a Believer should read. Whether he or she uses it as the catalyst for an in-depth study, the reader would benefit from reading this book just to see if and how he or she would respond to the topics brought up in the 52 chapters of this book.

*Disclaimer: I received my copy of this book through the BookLook Bloggers Program for free in exchange for reviewing it. I was not obligated to post a positive review; the thoughts and opinions contained are my own.

“Revelation” made clear.

This is a review of The  Book of Revelation Made Clear by Tim LaHaye and Timothy E. Parker

 

When I was in elementary/junior high school, the Left Behind series fascinated me.  The way LaHaye and Jenkins interpreted and brought to life Daniel, 2 Corinthians, and most importantly Revelation made for good reading.  When The Book of Revelation Made Clear came my way, I jumped at the chance to read it.  A verse-by-verse study of Revelation from LaHaye and Puzzle Master Timothy E. Parker seemed to be nothing short of awesome, as I was hoping for some analysis that included some of the time-period specific context as well as explanation of possible eschatological interpretations.  The book is way short on the former and overly heavy on the latter.

The format of this book is one that breaks Revelation into chapters and chunks of chapters, with a three-question, multiple choice pre-test, summary of the passages, explanation of the content of the section, and then the answers to the pre-test.  What I enjoyed about this book were the pre-tests; it challenged me to see what I knew/remembered from Revelation and then motivated me to read through the chapters to discover whether or not my answers were right.  What I did not enjoy as much was that to me it felt more like the “What Revelation x:xx Means” sections seemed more like an abridged version of the Left Behind books without the fictional character names and settings.  Fortunately, LaHaye and Parker mange -for the most part- to expound too much beyond the literalist interpretation of the Scripture to conjecture in to theological theory.

For the Believer looking for a study on Revelation that goes verse-by-verse, The Book of Revelation Made Clear is a good place to start.  More seasoned Bible scholars and veteran readers might not find as much pleasure reading it alone, but would benefit from going through it with others as part of a study of Revelation.

I received my copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for a review of the book.  I was not obligated to post a positive review; the thoughts and opinions expressed are solely mine.

Stressed spelled backwards is DESSERTS.

#thestruggleISreal.

Eleven days ago Robin Williams committed suicide.  No shock.  If you are discovering this for the first time, I am sorry you had to find out this way; I really hoped to let you know another way.  But back to the point…

 

After it happened, Twitter as well as the blogosphere erupted in polarized -and at times uncivil- debate over whether Williams should or should not be honored because of death at his own hand, Christians debated whether or not Williams was  burning in Hell because of the act, and others were beginning to further the conversation in another direction by focusing on depression and whether or not Williams could have simply just “snapped out of it.”

 

In the Twitter dialogue specifically, it was interesting to notice that a hash-tag, #thestruggleisreal, began to be applied to something serious, rather than the context in which it is usually used to refer to give a seemingly trivial event a serious mood.  For example: “I was using an electric sharpener for my pencil, stopped paying attention, and it ate my pencil.  #thestruggleisreal.”  But suddenly there were tweets like this:  “Sometimes it is easier to stay under the covers than face my own problems.  #thestruggleisreal.”  

But of course, the community that doesn’t comprehend psychological depression and does not understand that there is no “snapping out of it” just became all the  more passionate about their narrowly focused quips.  In reality though, the struggle IS real.

 

In psychoanalysis, the therapist suspends his or her disbelief as to whether the event a patient describes did or did not happen and takes the event at face value and then begins to work the patient through the event.  The reason he or she does this is because of a fundamental understanding that a person who is suffering internally sees his or her problem is a reality.  That which a person experiences which creates any sort of turmoil inside of us, no matter to what degree, is a real struggle.  And if we keep this reality in mind when we encounter a person with any sort of problem, that they have an issue must be worked through and not just repressed and forgot about, this can begin to transform how we relate to others.  In short empathy enters the situation.

 

Williams’s death is unfortunate.  We should not, however, be so quick to judge his actions.  We should instead feel pity for his family that he was unable to work through his struggles.  #thestruggleisreal

A quote from Rob Bell on this glorious Thursday.

“The peace we are offered is not a peace that is free from

tragedy,

illness,

bankruptcy,

divorce,

depression, or

heartache.

It is peace rooted in the trust that the life Jesus gives us is deeper, wider, stronger, and more enduring than whatever our current circumstances are, because all we see is not all there is and the last word about us and our struggle has not yet been spoken.”

-Rob Bell, from What We Talk About When We Talk About God