Collateral Beauty | ★★★★★★★★☆☆

I found this movie to be a thoughtful examination of the grieving process and how people mourn in different ways.  Howard, played by Will Smith, is a successful partner in an ad agency. His world is turned upside down and inside out when his young daughter dies.  The movie is about how Howard processes his pain.

I loved how real and raw his reactions are. How he processes his pain by writing letters to death, time and love. And how these three visit Howard and dialog with him about what is going on in his life. Here is his beautiful discussion with love:
Howard: "I saw you every day in her eyes, and I heard you in her voice when she laughed, and I felt you inside of me when she called me "Daddy." And you betrayed me! You broke my heart."

Love: "No. I'm in all of it. I'm the darkness and the light, I'm the sunshine and the storm. Yes, you're right, I was there in her laugh, but I'm also here now in your pain. I'm the reason for everything. I am the only "why." Don't try and live without me, Howard. Please don't."
There are several twists and turns in the movie which really made it interesting.
I genuinely liked this inspiring movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★☆☆.

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Blogging Revelation

Yesterday I finished my 97 day devotional series on the Book of Hebrews at my faith blog. I found it to be a great learning experience as the book has never been an easy read for me.

Today I stepped a bit deeper into uncomfortable waters by starting a series on the Book of Revelation. I am looking forward to this as I have not studied it much since bible college.

I invite you to join me (when you can) at as I daily share my thoughts about this last biblical book.

Blogroll Update

I plan to update my blogroll this week.

You can see the list by scrolling down on the left sidebar.

Let me know if you would like to stay on or be added to it.

Just leave your blog's title and URL in the comments section.

All I ask is that you are a regular reader and I am on your blogroll.

The Shack | ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

The book version of this movie was all the rage a few years ago. I was never interested in reading it. Yet I did enjoy watching the movie version with our small group from church. Here are a few themes from it with my comments.
  • God is good: I loved the look on Papa's face when asked about wrath. The message came through clearly that God is good when things are bad.
  • God loves us: The message was clear that in great tragedy God is walking with us in it and not causing bad things to happen to us.
  • Universalism: I felt that there was an 'all dogs go to heaven' theme in the movie. Even so, I liked the subtle message that hurt people hurt people.
I thought that the story was a bit contrived and told mainly to communicate a message. The acting was okay but not great. Ending was a bit simplistic.

Overall, I liked the movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★☆☆☆.

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Manchester by the Sea | ★★★★★★★★★★

Heard this was a sad movie. I really did not want to watch it. So glad I did. It was not sad. It was a beautiful reflection of life after great loss. It showed a beautiful reality of family life in the aftermath of crisis. And how it takes so long to come to grips with tragedy.

Casey Affleck won a Golden Globe Award for his role. He deserved it. He carried the movie playing an uncle who becomes the sole guardian of his nephew after his brother's death. The tension between what he wanted to do and what he knew he should do was beautifully written and acted. Lucas Hedges and Michelle Williams were great in supporting roles.

I loved Manchester by the Sea and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★★★

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spring and summer flicks

Here are a few one liners about the flicks I have (re)watched this Spring and Summer.
  • The Accountant ★★★★★★★★☆☆
    Ben Afflect does a great job playing a assassin mob bookkeeper with Aspergers.
  • Age of Adeline ★★★★★★★★☆☆
    Love the mystical characteristics of this tale of a woman who never ages.
  • The Big Sick ★★★★★★★★★☆
    Beautifully retold true story of love, arranged marriages, cross cultrural dating and a girl in a coma.
  • Casino ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    I guess it was just too hard to live up the the hype. IMO, good but not great.
  • Deja Vu ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    Fun SciFi flick starring Denzel about time travel and the ability to change the future from the past.
  • Grosse Pointe Blank ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    Crazy tale of a contract killer who goes to his high school reunion.
  • Keeping Up with the Joneses ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    Thoroughly enjoyable story about the spies who move into the cul-de-sac.
  • Lion ★★★★★★★★☆☆
    Heartwarming story about a boy who was lost at age 6 and found his way home 20+ years later
  • Masterminds ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆
    Kooky and funny story based on the true life story of 4 dim-witted people who pulled off a $17m heist.
  • The Matrix Series ★★★★★★★★☆☆
    Had all three flicks recorded and binged through them. Fast forwarded through much of the last two. The rating is for the initial installment which is very good. I give the sequels 3-4 stars each.
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    Another movie that simply could not live up to all of the hype.
  • Snowden ★★★★★★★★☆☆
    Oliver Stone's examination of the life and patriotism of a guy who is called a traitor by some.
  • Spectre ★★★★★★★★☆☆
    A pretty good Bond flick about the criminal agency created in the Ian Fleming books.
  • Solaris ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
    I like SciFi flicks but this is not one of George Clooney's better efforts.
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan ★★★★★★★★☆☆
    I love this campy Star Trek movie and could almost watch it every day. ツ
  • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆
    Not one of the better trekker flicks but a nice way to kill an afternoon.
  • Star Trek IV: The Journey Home ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆
    What can I say. This retired guy was on a Kirk Spock binge. :)
  • Watchmen ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    A fun super hero movie about dark comic book action figures trying to prevent nuclear war.
  • The Way We Were ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆
    Not as good as I remembered it but a nice throwback Thursday movie.
I will augment (marked with *) the list as I watch more movies (at home and at the theater) this summer.

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Mike Erich, 1955-2017

One of the joys of blogging is the virtual relationships I have made over the years. One such friendship is with Mike Erich - the Mad Theologian. I have had so many wonderful conversations with Mike over the years about the bible and our shared faith.

Mike passed away on Wednesday. He was 61 and a resident of Utah. I am saddened by his passing. Many of us prayed for his healing from cancer. Here are a few things that I think of when I remember Mike, the Mad Theologian:
  • He loved to discuss the scriptures even when we disagreed.
  • In our disagreements, he always afforded more grace to me than I to him.
  • He really helped me to understand a different way to look at the bible.
  • He faithfully offered prayers on the Daily Prayer blog.
  • He had a heart for God and wanted all to know His love.
I already miss Mike. He is one of the kindest men that I have never met in person.

Please join me in praying for Mike's wife, family and friends.

And please visit Mike Erich - the Mad Theologian to read more about Mike from his friend Jared.

Blogging Hebrews

I have begun a new series of devotions on the Book of Hebrews at With Devotion, my faith blog. Each day I purpose to briefly share a bit from my heart on this letter to Jewish believers. Please join me there when you can at

Peter Principles

A few quotes from Canadian educator Laurence Johnston Peter who was a best known for the Peter principle.

In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.

A man doesn't know what he knows until he knows what he doesn't know.

Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent
and well informed just to be undecided about them.

Against logic there is no armor like ignorance.

Speak when you are angry--and you will make the best speech you'll ever regret.

If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.

Originality is the fine art of remembering what you hear but forgetting where you heard it.

If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is the significance of a clean desk?

An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn't happen today.

You can always tell a real friend: when you've made a fool of yourself he doesn't feel you've done a permanent job.

Our Prime Purpose

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them. -Dalai Lama

The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others. -Albert Schweitzer

What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like. -Saint Augustine

I've been helped by acts of kindness from strangers. That's why we're here, after all, to help others. -Carol Burnett

You feel alive to the degree that you feel you can help others.
-John Travolta

In our family, where we began with no money, we like to say that we have discovered that God invented money so those who have it can help others. -Tom Brokaw

What is "The Press"?

I exchanged a few ideas on this topic yesterday on Facebook. Here are my thoughts:
Defining a "legitimate" press organization these days is pretty much a matter of opinion. Does one really think that organizations that are more pundit than press are legit? For example, I love your blog but would not consider it an outlet of the press.
Guess I associate "the press" with journalism and journalists and not pundits.

Not saying that blogs and FB are not good sources of opinion but, I may be wrong, I don't see them as "the press". Yet I think that it is all covered under free speech.
So how would you answer the question? What do you think of as "The Press"?

Blogging the Baptist

On Wednesday I began a new series of devotions on John the Baptist. Seemed like a good person to study during Lent. John is an amazing biblical figure. He was filled with the Holy Spirit before he was born. The angel Gabriel called him "great in the eyes of the Lord". Jesus agreed saying "among those born of women there is no one greater than John".

John is a transitional figure. A bridge between the old and the new. A good person to study in this season of Lent. A time that presents us with opportunities to let go of the old and embrace the new. To clear the road of past obstacles. To prepare the way to find God in a new way in a new season. You can catch my Lenten devotions on John here.

Time is a River

In Einstein's equation, time is a river. It speeds up, meanders, and slows down. The new wrinkle is that it can have whirlpools and fork into two rivers. So, if the river of time can be bent into a pretzel, create whirlpools and fork into two rivers, then time travel cannot be ruled out. -Michio Kaku

The concept of time as a river fascinates me. The topic of time travel has always interested me. I loved seeing it in tv shows like Star Trek and Timeless. The Time Machine and Back to the Future were classic time travel flicks. Going back, and going forward, in time is simply a fascinating concept. Here are a few timely quotes. ツ

Time travel offends our sense of cause and effect - but maybe the universe doesn't insist on cause and effect. Edward M. Lerner

I distracted myself from the fear and terrorism by thinking about things like how the universe began and whether time travel is possible. -Malala Yousafzai

'Closed timelike curve' is the jargon for time travel. It means you go out, come back and meet yourself in the past. -Kip Thorne

The bottom line is that time travel is allowed by the laws of physics. -Brian Greene

Time travel used to be thought of as just science fiction, but Einstein's general theory of relativity allows for the possibility that we could warp space-time so much that you could go off in a rocket and return before you set out. -Stephen Hawking

“If time travel is possible, where are the tourists from the future?” -Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time

The Young Pope | ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

I recorded this series thinking that I might not really enjoy it all that much. But the IMDB rating was 8.5 out of 10. So I began watching. I thought it to be an interesting take on the Papacy and religious power structures.

The series was typical for HBO. A bit racy. F bombs. Yet the characters were complex. The plot was interesting. The acting was pretty good.

The story begins with the ascension of a young cardinal who becomes pope as a compromise between different factions in the college of cardinals. Early on it becomes obvious that this young pope is very different than the affable young cardinal that the other cardinals knew. He soon becomes a polarizing figure as he embraces a demanding leadership style. Here are a few thoughts:
  • Power and position can change people. Not all are ready for power.
  • People are complex. I loved the way that this young pope danced between doubt and belief. And how he seemed to grow into the role of pope.
  • Woundings from our childhood can follow us into our adult life. Lenny, the young pope, was troubled by his abandonment by his parents. This gave him empathy for children and judgment for those who hurt children.
  • Leaders react differently towards a new boss. It was interesting to see how the various cardinals reacted toward Lenny. Some conspired against him but were humbled by Lenny's piety and love for God.
  • Miracles come through the prayers of wounded people. I loved that Lenny prayed even when he doubted.
  • Lenny was someone that I really did not want to like. The more I got to 'know' him the more I understood who he was and eventually gained an appreciation for him and how he fought his 'demons'.
  • Jude Law did a great job in title role. He made Lenny a believable young pope.
  • I thought that the series had a pretty weird ending. It felt contrived and pretty unbelievable.
Not sure that this is a series for everyone. Even so. I liked it and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★☆☆☆.

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Interpreting Donuts and Rose Bushes

“There are no facts, only interpretations.” -Friedrich Nietzsche

“One person's craziness is another person's reality.” -Tim Burton

“Some people see the glass half full. Others see it half empty. I see a glass that's twice as big as it needs to be.” -George Carlin

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” -John Lubbock

“The optimist sees the donut, the pessimist sees the hole.” -Oscar Wilde

...originally posted February 8, 2013

The Bacon Toaster

Like your ice cream maker, waffle maker, and popcorn machine, the $40 Bacon Express is really
only capable of one task in the kitchen: cooking bacon. But while you can live without ice cream,
waffles, and popcorn, it’s hard to imagine a life without that crispy, salty staple. More here.

The Crown | ★★★★★★★★★★

Ann wanted to watch this ten part Netflix series. I was not thrilled but watched with her anyways. And I am glad that I did. Here is a list of things that I absolutely loved about The Crown.
  • The transparency and honesty of the script. I thought that this would be a puff piece of adoration towards the English monarchy and all things royal. Oh my. I was mistaken. The portrayal of royal life was not cast in the best light.
  • The relational way the story was told. Four relationships dominated the storyline. The narrative emphasized the interactions between Queen Elizabeth and her father, her husband, her sister and Winston Churchill.
  • The maturing of the young queen. I was shocked to find out how poorly educated the queen was in her early life. It seemed to be both a reflection of the times and of the monarchy. Her passion to grow as a human being was impressive.
  • The resistance to change by the British government. It was difficult to watch 'statesmen', Churchill included, manipulate the young queen the way that they did. They resisted everything from TV cameras at he coronation to which royal secretary the queen could hire to who her sister could marry.
  • The responsibility that the queen felt to choose 'The Crown' over her family. This seemed to come to bear frequently. It began when her uncle was banished from the realm when he abdicated the throne and continued on into many decisions Elizabeth had to make.
  • The acting. Claire Foy recently won a Golden Globe for her performance and John Lithgow was nominated for one. The way that these two humanized Elizabeth and Winston was so amazing. The gloves came off and these two showed us a compelling and raw image of these people. I also loved the acting of Matt Smith as Prince Phillip and Vanessa Kirby as Princess Martgaret. 
  • Finally, and I could wax on, each of the ten episodes seemed to speak to the difficulties of making hard decisions even when they are made for 'royal' purposes. The series showed us dysfunction in families, in governments and in ourselves. Each of us feel that we know the 'royal' thing to do but in the end find ourselves questioning the nobility of those decisions.
I really liked the series and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★★★.

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Martin, Billy and the Lord

I read a short but great article on the Billy Graham website about Billy Graham's relationship with Martin Luther King, Jr. On this day that we celebrate the legacy of Dr. King I thought that I might share a bit from that article.
Describing a 1957 meeting in New York City, Mr. Graham writes in his autobiography, "One night civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whom I was pleased to count a friend, gave an eloquent opening prayer at the service; he also came at my invitation to one of our Team retreats during the Crusade to help us understand the racial situation in America more fully."
King credited Mr. Graham with having a significant part in reducing the tension between whites and blacks in the South. In 1965, Mr. Graham canceled a tour of Europe to preach a series of crusades in Alabama, praying that the Gospel would tear down walls of division between the races and seeing the importance of his work alongside King’s.

King later said, “Had it not been for the ministry of my good friend, Dr. Billy Graham, my work in the civil rights movement would not have been as successful as it has been.”

During the civil rights movement, Mr. Graham preached, “Jesus was not a white man; He was not a black man. He came from that part of the world that touches Africa and Asia and Europe. Christianity is not a white man’s religion and don’t let anybody ever tell you that it’s white or black. Christ belongs to all people; He belongs to the whole world.”

Mr. Graham was in Australia at the time of King’s death. He remembers the moment someone approached him with news of King’s assassination, which was followed by journalists seeking a quote: “I was almost in a state of shock. Not only was I losing a friend through a vicious and senseless killing, but America was losing a social leader and a prophet, and I felt his death would be one of the greatest tragedies in our history."
I suggest that you read the entire piece here. I am encouraged knowing that these two were friends. Both of them have exhibited in their lives such a love for God and for the people He loves. I admire them both.

...originally posted January, 2012.

Beware the Half Truth

Religious life seems to be filled with clichés that are almost true.
Here are a few with my short takes on them.
  • Everything Happens for a Reason:
    Some things do happen for a reason.
  • When God closes a door, God opens a window.
    Hopefully the window is on the first floor.
  • God Helps Those Who Help Themselves:
    God helps those who cannot help themselves.
  • Let go and let God.
    God usually does not do things he wants us to do.
  • What Would Jesus Do?
    Not the same as what does Jesus want me to do.
  • You can’t outgive God!
    But you can outgive things given to religious groups.
  • Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together.
    Coffee shops are great places to assemble for fellowship.
  • God Won't Give You More Than You Can Handle:
    Sometimes we need others to help us handle life.
  • God Said It, I Believe It, That Settles It:
    Simplistic readings of the scriptures are not helpful.
  • If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it. 
    What if God did not bring you to it?
  • Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin:
    Love your neighbor. Hate your own sin.
  • You're never more safe than when you're in God's will.
    Sometimes being in God's will involves torture and persecution.
Did I miss any of your favorite clichés? Perhaps you can share one or two of them?

Are We Rowing or Rocking the Time Away?

Tough times never last, but tough people do. -Robert H. Schuller

Lost time is never found again. -Benjamin Franklin

If you love life, don't waste time, for time is what life is made up of. -Bruce Lee

It takes a long time to become young. -Pablo Picasso

Let us never know what old age is. Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years. -Ausonius

The time is always right to do what is right. -Martin Luther King, Jr.

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time. -Leo Tolstoy

Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else. -Peter Drucker

Know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time. -Jesus Christ

17 for '17

A few one liner targets for the new year.
Church: Embrace a new understanding of what it means to me.

Exercise: Stretch and Move every day.

Facebook: Comment less.

Faith: Find new ways to engage it.

Family: Stop worrying out about them.

Food: Enjoy what I eat. Continue to use small plates..

Friends: Be open to new friendships.

News: Try to disengage from the nightly news shows - local and national.

Politics: Continue to engage folks who think differently.

Prayer: Ask less for things and more to accept things.

Spiritual: Control less. Trust more.

Theology: See politics target.

Vacations: Take a few road trips.

Writing: Care less about how much I post on my blogs.
That is just 14. Room for you to suggest a few target areas for me. ツ