commentary on divine sovereignty

In 2016 I posted this thought and had a number of comments on it:
"The sovereignty of God is always in accord with the character of God." #kcbob
Here are a few of my responses to comments from back then:

Regarding the character of God:
The sovereignty of God is sometimes misused to malign the character of God by attributing to him things like genocide and infanticide. We see it a lot when people blame God for deaths resulting from earthquakes or when rationalizing killing in his name.

In each case, a person's image of God comes into play. If one thinks the character of God is warlike they might interpret his sovereignty differently from one who sees God as loving. I think that, people missed God appearing in the flesh because they imagined him as a physical warrior rather than a spiritual one.

The OT is filled with stories about God commanding bad things. The question is how we read those verses. Do we unquestioningly read reports of God commanding heinous acts like infanticide or do we understand that the Israelis, like their neighbors, had a view of God as a warrior that influenced their actions and rationalized their behavior.
As to why bad things are permitted:
The question is does God allow life to happen (good things and bad) in general or in specific? Has God designed life to teach us lessons about handling adversity or is he a micromanaging deity who manipulates our lives to allow heinous things so that we can learn from them.

My view is that God created the earth and called it good. The bad stuff comes from within creation and not from outside of it. I think that God "allows" at a macro level and not a micro level. On the flipside, I also believe in miracles, which are the exception and not the rule.
About justice and what it looks like:
Justice is a great word. I think that some would differ in how they define it. I like what the bible says about justice:
Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah 1:17)

This is what the LORD says: “Administer justice every morning; rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed.” (Jeremiah 21:12)

This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Administer true justice: show mercy and compassion to one another.” (Zechariah 7:9)

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. ( Isaiah 30:18)
That said, I think the definition many have of justice might resemble the human view which includes retribution and satisfaction. This is the way that a favorite author of mine puts it:
"There is a biblical concept of “judgement” or “wrath.” Jesus warned frequently that the people were calling judgement on themselves and called them to turn (repent) from the course they were on. Judgement or wrath is the consequence of sinful or hurtful action. It follows from sin like falling is the consequence of jumping off a cliff. Paul writes in the Romans that “the wages of sin is death.” The wage, the thing you get as a result, what you have coming to you, is death. “but the gift of God is eternal life.” 
God, who is a God of love (compassion) and justice (making things right), desires not to see us die, but to give us life. God desires to break us out of the vicious cycle of consequence and to therefore bring about justice—to make things right again, to restore us to where we where meant to be. Not by saying that it is of no consequence that we are bleeding and broken, but by taking us out of the treadmill of death, by liberating us from the tyranny of hurting and being hurt. That is what biblical justice is all about. It is not in conflict with compassion, it is rooted in compassion."
Yes, rooted in compassion, not in conflict with it.
Much of our thoughts on this tap deeply into our ideas about fairness. IMO. Life is simply not fair. Yet I do not see a close relationship to God and fairness. Suffering comes from within creation not from outside of it.

Jesus Revolution | ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Watching the beginnings of this spiritual awakening took me back to the beginnings of my own faith journey. Deep emotions were awakened in me as I was reminded of how simple and pure those times seem to be.  I was also reminded of how religion and institutional faith seemed to overwhelm and overcome that simplicity. I related to the story and the struggles on a very personal and somewhat uncomfortable level.

I loved the telling of how Calvary Chapel got started. I remember most of the major players. Except Lonnie Frisbee - I had not heard of him or the major role that he played. Watching him and seeing how he wanted the movement to stay free and messy brought back a few memories. In reality, back then I was more like Chuck Smith - I wanted order and structure. I wonder how it would have gone if they listened to Lonnie?

I thought that Jonathan Roumie did a great job in playing Lonnie Frisbee. I also loved Kelsey Grammar's interpretation of Chuck Smith. I thought that the first half of the movie was better than the last - the second seemed to drag a bit. Even so, the baptism scenes at Pirate's Cove really moved me - watching lives change for Jesus moved me deeply. I think that the movie was authentic and realistic.

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

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Summer of Soul | ★★★★★★★★★★

Caught this documentary streaming on Hulu. Was not really sure if I would enjoy it because I am more of a bio pic, rather than a documentary, kind of viewer. The first few minutes dragged a bit but I was soon pulled in. Using original footage, and augments from recent interviews with folks who were there, the film documents the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival that was held between June and August.

The movie, especially the music, brought me back to my childhood growing up in New York City. I loved watching the crowds gather. Thrilled to hear the gospel being presented in word and song. More than that I enjoyed seeing so much life in Harlem. I think my favorite segment was when the Fifth Dimension took the stage sing Aquarius - Let the Sunshine In. I found the documentary to have so much life. 

I really enjoyed Summer of Soul. I recommend it to you. On a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★★★.
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The Courier | ★★★★★★★★☆☆

I lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis in my early teens. Like most people, I hadn't a clue about what was going on in the world of international covert operations. This movie is about one of those ops.

This 2021 true-life spy thriller tells the story of British businessman Greville Wynne, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who was recruited into covert service to transport Russian intelligence.

As the story darkens the brightness, and the bravery, of Mr Wynne shines. In a gutsy display of loyalty across enemy lines, he puts everything on the line. His quiet courage was inspiring.

I found the movie to be impactful. I liked it and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★☆☆.

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Beirut | ★★★★★★★★☆☆

John Hamm, of Mad Men fame, brings a great portrayal of a man whose life fell apart when he was thirty. Ten years later he is called back to the city of his devastation to help an old friend. He really does not want to go but goes anyway. The movie is about his return and finding closure when he does.

I found the movie to be suspenseful. The story was really good. The before and after images of Beirut were heartbreaking. The scenes in this 2018 movie were a lot like what we are seeing in Ukraine these days. War is hell and lives are destroyed in many ways. I liked this flick and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★☆☆.
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CODA | ★★★★★★★★★☆

Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur, Marlee Matlin and Daniel Durant in CODA

CODA (Child Of Deaf Adults) is first and foremost a thumbnail of what it is like for a deaf family living in a hearing community. And what it is like for the youngest member of the family, the only hearing member, to bear the responsibility of being the voice for the family.

I really liked the way that the family dynamics developed. The familial love and the care was endearing. The story really showed the challenges and sacrifices that parents and kids make for each other. I loved the acting and the casting of three deaf actors in supporting roles.

I found the movie heartwarming. The way that the story unfolded was thoughtful and realistic. It helped me to better understand the challenges of the deaf and how the world is not friendly to people who are different. It is a great movie to watch as a family.  I really liked it and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★★☆.

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood | ★★★★★★★★☆☆

This movie surprised me. It was not so much about the TV persona of Mr Rogers but about the healing power of relationships. It is based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Lloyd Vogel. 

I really liked the vulnerable way that the co-stars, Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys, embraced their characters. The roles gave us a peek into way that faith and love can affect our lives. The story was heartwarming and really spoke to me.

The movie was not so much of a biopic but a glimpse into how Fred Rogers lived and loved. It was more of a story of how a hurting man found healing. I really liked this inspiring flick and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★☆☆.

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love and time

I like this quote from Merton, a Catholic monk.
Even so. I wonder. As we all have a limited amount of time.
Is it possible to love someone and not give them a bit of your time?

I think that love and time are linked together.
We express our love by spending time.
If we love baseball we will spend our days watching it.

So how do you deem someone worthy of your time (i.e. love)?
Especially if you think of loving someone as spending time with them.
Is it possible to separate the giving of love and giving of time?


senior reflections

A friend posted these on Facebook.  The source is unknown but said to be over 70 years of age.
  1. After loving my parents, my siblings, my spouse, my children and my friends, I have now startedloving myself.
  2. I have realized that I am not “Atlas”. The world does not rest on my shoulders.
  3. I have stopped bargaining with vegetable & fruit vendors. A few pennies more is not going to break me, but it might help the poor fellow save for his daughter’s school fees.
  4. I leave my waitress a big tip. The extra money might bring a smile to her face. She is toiling much harder for a living than I am.
  5. I stopped telling the elderly that they've already narrated that story many times. The story makes them walk down memory lane & relive their past.
  6. I have learned not to correct people even when I know they are wrong. The onus of making everyone perfect is not on me. Peace is more precious than perfection.
  7. I give compliments freely and generously. Compliments are a mood enhancer not only for the recipient but also for me. And a small tip for the recipient of a compliment, never, NEVER turn it down, just say "Thank You.”
  8. I have learned not to bother about a crease or a spot on my shirt. Personality speaks louder than appearances.
  9. I walk away from people who don't value me. They might not know my worth, but I do.
  10. I remain cool when someone plays dirty to outrun me in the rat race. I am not a rat and neither am I in any race.
  11. I am learning not to be embarrassed by my emotions. It’s my emotions that make me human.
  12. I have learned that it's better to drop the ego than to break a relationship. My ego will keep me aloof, whereas, with relationships, I will never be alone.
  13. I have learned to live each day as if it's the last. After all, it might be the last.
  14. I am doing what makes me happy. I am responsible for my happiness, and I owe it to myself. Happiness is a choice. You can be happy at any time, just choose to be!

Nomadland | ★★★★★★★★★★

This movie touched me at a deep level. Maybe it is just timing? Perhaps it is because I resonated with so many characters who were people, like me, in their 'senior years'. Or maybe it is because I live in an urban community where houselessness is epidemic. I am not sure why but Nomadland really moved me like few movies ever have.

The story revolves around Fern, a senior citizen type person, who has experienced great loss. Her husband has recently died. Her town has died - lost their zip code and became a ghost town. The factory closed and her job is gone. She lost her house and is now living in a van.

As she travels about the country she encounters many who, like her, are living on the road in RVs, vans and trailers. These folks are loving people who, in their deep pain, always seem to be caring, giving, loving and helping. Their compassion for each other affected me. I longed to know them.

Frances McDormand, the actress who played Fern, was simply amazing. She has already won a Golden Glode for her performance and she has to be a lock for the Oscar. Her performance was one of the best that I have ever witnessed. She played Fern with beautiful tenderness and transparent brokenness.

Hard to know what else to say. I think that some might see it as a downer - for sure it is not sushine and roses. Yet some I think will be touched, as I was, by the honest portrayal of this hidden part of America. I heartily recommend Nomadland to you. Beware though. Watching it might change your life.

The movie overwhelmed me and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★★★.

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The Trial of the Chicago Seven | ★★★★★★★★☆☆

This is the story of 7 people on trial stemming from various charges surrounding the protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. You may enjoy it if, like me, you are a fan of courtroom dramas. I remember that turbulent time and honestly I had not viewed any of the defendants in positive light at all. In that sense I found the movie to be a bit educational. Here are a few quotes from it.

We want to underscore again, that we’re coming to Chicago peacefully, but whether we’re given permits or not, we’re coming. -Tom Hayden

We carried certain ideas across state lines. Not machine guns or drugs or little girls. Ideas. When we crossed from New York to New Jersey to Pennsylvania to Ohio to Illinois, we had certain ideas. And for that, we were gassed, beaten, arrested, and put on trial. -Abbie Hoffman

This is the Academy Awards of protests and as far as I'm concerned it's an honor just to be nominated. -John Froines

The Riots Were Started By The Chicago Police Department. -Ramsey Clark, former US Attorney General

I'm the head of the Black Panthers, Sondra. When the hell am I not gonna be in trouble? -Bobby Seale

There are civil trials, and there are criminal trials. There's no such thing as a political trial. -William Kunstler

It's almost hard to believe the seven of us weren't able to end a war. -Lee Weiner

Since This Trial Began, 4,752 Us Troops Have Been Killed In Vietnam. -Tom Hayden

Found the movie to be thought provoking. I liked it and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★☆☆.

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The White Tiger | ★★★★★★★★☆☆

This is a dark movie with dark themes and dark characters. It showcases the hopelessness of growing up in the poorest areas of India where, as the main character says, there are two visible castes - “men with big bellies, and men with small bellies”. The film is a story about the haves and the have-nots.

The way that the poor live in India was absolutely heartbreaking but the resiliency of Balram Halwai, the lead character played wonderfully by Adarsh Gourav, was darkly beautiful. Balram was the rare white tiger of the story - a rare Indian who broke the rules, and the law, to succeed.

Though the story, from the novel of the same name, is fictional, I think that the theme is a relevant one. Images of coercion and manipulation by the powerful over the powerless is compelling. I think that it could be a movie that awakens hearts and minds to the suffering of the poor among us.

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

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prayer and spirituality

The word “prayer” has often been trivialized by making it into a way of getting what we want. But I use “prayer” as the umbrella word for any interior journeys or practices that allow you to experience faith, hope, and love within yourself. It is not a technique for getting things, a pious exercise that somehow makes God happy, or a requirement for entry into heaven. It is much more like practicing heaven now.

Such prayer, such seeing, takes away your anxiety for figuring it all out fully for yourself, or needing to be right about your formulations. At this point, God becomes more a verb than a noun, more a process than a conclusion, more an experience than a dogma, more a personal relationship than an idea. There is Someone dancing with you, and you are not afraid of making mistakes. -Richard Rohr

Hillbilly Elegy | ★★★★★★★★☆☆

A friend disliked this one and I almost skipped it. Glad that I watched it. I found the story about a young boy's experiences growing up in a dysfunctional family both refreshing and depressing. 

I thought that the performances by a-lister actresses were dwarfed by the actual story. I found the plot from the memoir by JD Vance (nicely portrayed by Gabriel Basso) to be engaging and endearing. 

You might like Elegy if you enjoy watching movies with interesting characters and challenging themes. I liked the movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★☆☆.
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