Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

The Audacity of HopeThis book is what I’ve been reading over the past several days, and I have to say that it’s been a good choice. Since Gerry and I started watching The West Wing, and as I’ve been reading through certain portions of the New Testament, I’ve become more burdened to pray for and support our President’s leadership of the country … with understanding. And whether he actually authored the words of this book or not, his name is attached to it and therefore I feel it safe to presume that it’s a reasonably accurate representation of his thoughts.

The tone is a little “off” like I’m reading a speech rather than a narrative, and Senator (at the time) Obama is painted as more of a wide-eyed ingenue than I’m comfortable with believing. He couldn’t have really been that surprised to find out that Washington politics were rife with partisanship, could he?

If all obstacles were gone and it was actually possible for one man to change the world, I would sign up for President Obama’s team in an instant. I love his good intentions. I like that he seems to grasp the difference between good and evil, and I’m attracted to his idealism. But … that’s the thing. The sad, sad thing. His vision at the writing of this book (as a Senator) is full of idealism, not realism. And we live in a very real world where things rarely work out according to our intentions, where neither friends nor foes can be counted on to cooperate even in the important things, and where each man’s sin nature is strong.

My guess is that Obama’s first term as President has been a magnificent eye-opener. How this harsh initiation into the “real world” of leadership has changed his perspective, I’ve yet to discover. So I am really looking forward to hearing from him in the upcoming campaign and comparing this updated perspective to the hopeful exuberance with which he first took the office.

Anyway, regarding the book … I have several chapters to go, so I don’t mean for this to be a review just yet. I just wanted to put it out there that my heart attitude is softening toward this man whom I obediently and gladly “give thanks for” as our national leader.

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help themintercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior…” (1 Timothy 2:1-3)

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The song “Sorrow” by Bad Religion absolutely moves me every single time that I hear it.

And lucky for me, it’s played on the radio a lot despite the fact that it’s a 9-year-old song. I have it included in in several of my iTunes playlists as well. Today I watched the music video for the first time and was impacted even more deeply as I watched the emotions on the face of the lead singer. In our world, there is pain, there is sorrow, there is evil, and you cannot come to grips with it by trivializing it. Unless you recognize that there is something greater, you only make a mockery. (I think this is how John Lennon messed up with “Imagine.”)

“Sorrow” explores the suffering of the Biblical character of Job, but there’s a personal connection as well as so many of us long for “the only true messiah” to come to the rescue. While I am not responsible for all of the pain in the world, I certainly am responsible for some. I’m human; I mess up. I cause a whole lot of my own problems, I often cause problems for others, and I am part of the kind of others-second society that is to blame for everything from food shortages to genocide.

Lord, come quickly and rescue me from myself! I ache for that day when there is “sorrow no more…”

Father can you hear me?
How have I let you down?
I curse the day that I was born
And all the sorrow in this world

Let me take you to the hurting ground
Where all good men are trampled down
Just to settle a bet that could not be won
Between a prideful father and his son

Will you guide me now, for I can’t see
A reason for the suffering and this long misery
What if every living soul could be upright and strong
Well, then I do imagine

There will be sorrow
Yeah, there will be sorrow
And there will be sorrow, no more

When all soldiers lay their weapons down
Or when all kings and all queens relinquish their crowns
Or when the only true messiah rescues us from ourselves
It’s easy to imagine

There will be sorrow
Yeah, there will be sorrow
And there will be sorrow, no more

With these lyrics about the Messiah’s return fresh in my mind, I can’t help but to think about the end of the world tomorrow. Oh, sorry. The rapture tomorrow and the end of the world in October. What an idiot this guy is to predict Christ’s return for tomorrow! If he truly understood this rapture that he’s trying to predict, he would know that one of its most basic tenets is that nobody can know the date (Matthew 24:36). And the same Bible that he says predicts the rapture on May 21 (it doesn’t) also says that anyone who believes this guy is a fool (2 Thessalonians).

I understand from reading the Bible that the requirement for Christians is that they should be able to recognize the end of the world when it does come (1 Thessalonians 5). But again, nobody can predict that.

In the midst of my opinion about the May 21 preacher being an idiot, however, I was struck by the thought that just because this guy says the Messiah will return tomorrow does not mean that the Messiah will not return tomorrow. Wouldn’t that be something?! Of course I kinda hope that he’ll stay away just to spite, but … he is coming. He is coming some day and I am eager to see him, and excited in that nervous skydiving-from-a-plane-for-the-first-time sort of way. I’ve never done this before, and it’s going to be grand!

So if the purpose of all of this May 21 hoopla is to make you and me more heaven-minded, then okay, that’s all right with me.

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When my husband and I joyfully accepted the responsibility of planning a party for a friend approaching her 30th birthday, we had no idea of what we were getting into!

Surely it would be as simple as calling our favorite restaurant, making a reservation, and then showing up. And surely her Facebook page would be a good place to glean names for the invitation list, and to get an idea of how many people might attend. She’s a local girl after all, and dearly beloved by all.

Turns out that there are 1503 people on her friends list! Yeeeeeaaaaahhh… So we picked another strategy for building the guest list, and arbitrarily picked the 30 for the number of guests who might actually attend. *fingers crossed*

And it wasn’t as simple as calling a place and putting our names down. We worked with the birthday girl to determine a date and a time, and then I began researching restaurants online and making calls to see who might have space for us. This place? Already booked. That place? Too expensive. Over here? Not allowing groups on weekends. Over there? Can’t take multiple payments. In the air? You can only fit so many people in a balloon basket.

This has been going on for several days now, and I’m continually surprised by how difficult it is to hunt down the information I need to make a choice and book the dang reservation. (How wonderful it would be if there was a one-stop-shop called www.greatpartyrestaurants.com … but nobody’s even registered that domain.)

Arrrrrrr!

Aaarrrrrr! (Sorry, pirate moment here…)

Certainly others in the area have felt this frustration before, and certainly they will in the future. So I would like to share the information I’ve gathered along the way to booking my friend’s special day. When you want to do a little something special, whether it’s a rehearsal dinner or whether it’s a birthday party, start working on it well in advance and then check out these places…

Click here for the restaurants…

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I watched Facing the Giants tonight for the first time ever. I know, I know … what kind of Christian am I anyway? This is like the flagship movie for us … and thank God. Before Giants all we really had to claim was Left Behind. (Shudder.)

I am not a fan of sports movies, or so-called “inspirational” movies for that matter. But when this movie first came out, all of my friends told me that I had to see it. That it would inspire me. That it would make me cry. That it would change my life.

Ehh.

There’s a good amount tension in the story, but the strokes are too big and, therefore, too predictable. There are little things that make me uncomfortable, like slow frame-change rate, poor Steadicam, and too-long theatrical pauses. Bits of just awful acting are scattered throughout, and I can’t stand the moralizing lyrics of the soundtrack … show me why this moment is great, don’t tell me with a song I’ve heard a hundred times already on Christian radio.

And honestly, I think I’m just not used to hearing Scripture quoted and God taken at his word in a serious movie like this, and I’m kind of ashamed of that. Because, yes, this is a serious movie despite all of its issues. It does set a new bar for religious filmmaking, and I think that if these types of movies can be made with greater frequency, they will eventually and naturally gain greater finesse.**

The pace does pick up as the movie goes on, and the comic bits are pretty good. Although the characters are directed poorly, their development is written well. An inspirational bit that I happened to enjoy quite a bit was The Death Crawl scene. Intense.

Anyway, this movie is a good start in terms of future faith-oriented movies. Well, it’s more than a good start, it’s actually gone some of the distance… I’m not a fan of Giants, but I do approve.

**Three comments from IMDB that I’m agreeing with…

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Coming home

Winter must finally be over here in southern California. I’m looking out the window and it’s beautiful outside, just like when we arrived here in 2009. Amazing that Gerry and I have been in California over a year! I find that even more spectacular than the fact that we’ll have been married a year on Monday. (Being married is almost easy; being a Californian is more of a challenge.)

I was up in the mountains last week with a team from work, and as beautiful as it is up there at Big Bear Lake, I was the most homesick that I’ve ever been in my 30 years. You have no idea how instantly everything changed when I got in my car to to wind down the mountain and come home. I didn’t even care that a gas tanker explosion closed the only road over the second set of mountains, that the closest detour went all the way up to freakin’ Pomona, and that traffic was stop and go for almost three hours. I blasted the music on my iPod, sang along, and smiled because I would see my Gerry sometime that day!

This morning, I read something crazy in my Bible, about the people of Israel during their time of hard slavery in Egypt:

“God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act” (Exodus 2:25-26).

And then in the footnotes, it says: “Or ‘and acknowledged his obligation to help them.'” What?! I tend to think of God as big enough not to have any obligations to anyone — he can do what he freakin’ wants to do — but then I’m forgetting that there are things he has obligated himself to. The promises he made to Noah, Abraham, David, Mary. The promises he made to us.

It is encouraging that God’s going to stick it out when he says he will, and not change his mind on some whim.

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A few weeks ago I watched The Stoning of Soraya M. It was more horrible than I’d anticipated. Oh, not the stoning, how could that get any worse? But rather, the evil hearts of the men accusing Soraya. Her own husband and father set her up on false charges, terrorized “witnesses” to speak against her, and then gladly hurled the first stones at her. And for what? Her husband wanted to take a second wife and didn’t feel that he could support both women. So rather than giving a divorce, he kills her. She is a beautiful woman with an innocent heart. Not a spot of guile on her. These men were just horrible.

The movie reminded me of how Iran has only been under Sharia law for a short time. Many people in the film, which was set in 1986, remember the old days — the good days. And many people alive today remember living normally in their home country. Women driving, shopping, laughing, showing their hair. Literature. Art. Debate and politics. It makes me want to find out what happened, and how it happened so quickly.

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Geese, lots of geese

This pointed quote summarizes my own feelings about the movie The Notebook:

“Recently, I was tricked into watching The Notebook which was about geese. Lots of geese. It also had something to do with an old lady who conveniently lost her memory so she could not remember being a whore throughout the entire film.”

~ From David Thorne’s latest escapade involving Blockbuster Video *

You are very welcome. 🙂

* Warning: There are NSFW images on the site I linked to, but the story there is hilarious. So if you go there, do it from home and be aware.

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