Arrival | ★★★★★★★★★★

Every once in a while a movie comes along that makes you really think. This is one of those movies. For sure it has a SciFi backdrop but this is so different than Star Wars or Star Trek. I felt that I really had to watch it in full before I understood the plotline. The story is so beautiful. So deep. So emotional. It hit me right where I live.

         "If you could see your life from start to finish, would you change things?"

This was asked my Dr Louise Banks, played flawlessly by Amy Adams, to Ian Donnelly, played by Jeremy Renner. It hits to the heart of the story and why I loved this movie so much. Arrival left me a bit uncomfortable with my level of questioning about my past choices. It helped me to see my life in a non-linear timeline.

The movie is certainly a creative investigation of the relationship of time to life. It is well written and well acted. I loved it and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★★★.

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To Forgive is to Let Go

I saw this image on Facebook this morning. The words that popped out to me was "I can let go". It reminded me that there are many facets to forgiveness. Yet at the heart of it is the idea that one person releases another of something. Sometimes it is in the form of a financial debt. Other times it is the letting go of bitterness.

In a very real sense forgiveness is letting go of the things that we cannot control and embracing gracious mercy. I find this idea to be so liberating. For the one forgiven and for one forgiving. It puts forgiveness in a healthy perspective. Instead of one of emotional weakness it presents an image of a tremendously powerful person. One willing to let go of the bad things that control them.

I was going to post this yesterday ...

How soon 'not now' becomes 'never'. -Martin Luther

Procrastination is the thief of time. -Edward Young

Procrastination is opportunity's assassin. -V Kiam

Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week. -Spanish Proverb

Procrastination is something best put off until tomorrow. - G. Vaughan

Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday. -Don Marquis

...originally posted November 25, 2012

On Thanksgiving Day we Acknowledge our Dependence.

On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence. ~WJ Bryan

If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share. ~W. Clement Stone

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues. ~Cicero

Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. ~Oprah Winfrey

O Lord that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness. ~William Shakespeare

If you think Independence Day is America's defining holiday, think again. Thanksgiving deserves that title, hands-down. ~Tony Snow

Thanksgiving Funnies

What happened when the turkey got into a fight?
He got the stuffing knocked out of him.

How many cooks does it take to stuff a turkey?
One, but you really have to squeeze him in!

Can a turkey jump higher than the Empire State Building?
Yes - a building can't jump at all.

Why did they let the turkey join the band?
Because he had the drumsticks.

Why did the Pilgrims eat turkey on Thanksgiving?
They couldn't get the moose in the oven!

Teacher: "Why do we have a Thanksgiving holiday?"
Student: "So we know when to start Christmas shopping!"

-first posted November, 2012

Letting Go of How it “Should” Be

Those of you who read here know that this idea of letting go of control has been a recent recurring theme for me.
So my interest was peaked when I came across "7 Mantras for Letting Go of How Life “Should” Be" [read it here] from Mark and Angel Hack Life. Here is a sampling of their mantras:
  • You must accept the fact that things may never go back to how they used to be.
  • If you want to be effective and bright, let go of your need to always be right.
  • When you hear only what you want to hear, you’re not really listening.
They end the list of seven item advising each of us to be humble and teachable.

I suggest that you read their post in full here. Especially if you need to let go of how life should be.

Fun with Fours

Four names I go by:
  1. Bob
  2. Robert
  3. Dad
  4. Bobby
Four places I've lived:
  1. New York
  2. Texas
  3. Kansas
  4. Missouri
Four things I love to watch on TV:
  1. Homeland
  2. The Americans
  3. Modern Family
  4. Elementary
Four places I have visited:
  1. Hong Kong
  2. Niagara Falls
  3. Acapulco
  4. Vancouver
Four things I love to eat:
  1. NYC Pizza
  2. Key Lime Pie
  3. Alaskan KIng Crab
  4. KC Barbecue
Four favorite drinks:
  1. Nespresso Intenso Coffee
  2. Boulevard Beer
  3. Cabernet Sauvignon
  4. Water

Take one of the fours and share your answers in the comments. ツ

You are not entitled to your opinion.

“You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.” -Harlan Ellison

“Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry...” -Thomas Jefferson

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in.” -Isaac Asimov

“Nothing is more conductive to peace of mind than not having any opinions at all.” -Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

“If God were our one and only desire we would not be so easily upset when our opinions do not find outside acceptance.” -Thomas à Kempis

... originally posted August, 2014

Honoring Service and Sacrifice

I am reposting this to commemorate Veterans Day. I am not sure that I have ever seen a more moving image representing what it means to honor our soldiers. Those who have served in uniform really understand what it means to honor those who have served us and have sacrificed, and are sacrificing, their all for their country.

I know that my three years in the US Army changed my whole image of military service. That time gave me a peek into both the mundane and extraordinary aspects of serving the country. Years later I learned a lot about the struggles of military families when my son courageously served two tours on the front lines of Iraq.

The truth is that military service can go from risking your life one day to doing menial tasks the next. Soldiers like my son do what needs to be done. They respond to terror attacks by volunteering to fight and to serve. For that I honor them all today.

An Election Benediction

May you remember that all politics and all platforms and all legalities and all borders and all leaders are temporary.

May you recall that political movements and boundaries and personalities and programs are here one day and gone the next. All of these are passing away.

May you resist the temptation to place ultimate trust in any person, policy, party, movement, or nation—even a beautiful idea that is embodied by a nation—because there is no nation with an eternal foundation.

May you know that your kingdom is not of this world but of the world that is coming to this world and that is not yet here.

May you in the same breath grasp that engagement with the things of this world—not escape from its harsher, darker realities—is the sacrificial pattern of Jesus Christ.

May you discover your role in the just and merciful governance of the world God made good and pursue that cosmos-converting vocation with love amid the world’s brokenness and grittiness.

May you see your work in the world—all of your callings and activities—as a participation in bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth.

May you have strength and beauty and determination and wisdom as you love your neighbor and your enemy as Christ has loved you, seeking with all persons to bring justice, mercy, and lasting peace.

May you comprehend that your salvation is not dependent on who you vote for in an election, or in whether or not you vote; that you are under no biblical or theological or moral obligation to vote for a person or party or proposal or initiative if that vote violates your conscience.

May you be grateful for the opportunity to participate in your government and if you choose not to participate in the election may you find ways to make that non-participation more than a protest, and may you find tangible ways to help and protect the poor and oppressed who might have been helped or shielded by your vote.

May you realize that the kingdom of God is within you and that the Son of God sets you free even as you vote for whomever your conscience dictates, without anxiety or fear, for the Spirit the Father gives us does not make us timid, but bestows on us power, love, and self-discipline.

May your posture toward every human leader be driven by respectful prayer, and where protest and prophecy and non-violent resistance are needed, may you have the courage to speak and oppose and critique in humility and charity.

May you perceive God’s love for creation in sending Jesus to embody a New Humanity, and may you join in Christ’s care for the earth and all its creatures and resources, for we await with patience not only the coming of the Son in the flesh but his perfect bride, a people who beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.

May you trust that Providence is working behind the scenes of history to draw all things to a good and fitting and proper end with justice and mercy.


Hacksaw Ridge | ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Thanks to my Facebook friend Dustin Siggins for today's movie review.

"Hacksaw Ridge" is a tremendous movie of courage under literal and figurative fire. It stars Andrew Garfield as Seventh-Day Adventist, Army medic, and conscientious objector Desmond Doss, who became the first person to win the Medal of Honor for reasons besides combat action.

The movie succeeds in highlighting a man who braved pressure and torment from his fellow soldiers -- before facing down gunfire from the enemy -- to save 75 soldiers in 12 hours during one of (if not the) the bloodiest battles of World War II.

The movie does have its issues. It is excessively gory, with at least 20 minutes of what one friend would call "violence porn" that offsets the great visual effects seen in those same scenes.

Additionally, Vince Vaughn struggles in the role of Basic Training Drill Sergeant, and while flashbacks to Doss' childhood provide an appropriate backdrop to his beliefs against violence, they are often awkwardly inserted.

The most powerful scenes in the movie might be:
  1. When Doss saves multiple Japanese soldiers in addition to his own men; and
  2. When the unit refuses to re-engage in battle until Doss, who they had previously mocked and declared their weakest member, finishes praying for them.
As a movie, on a scale of ten, I'd give it ★★★★★★★★☆☆.

Dustin Siggins is Associate Editor for The Stream and a public relations consultant.
He previously served as the public relations officer and DC Correspondent for LifeSiteNews, and has been widely published on important issues of public policy and culture. Follow him on Twitter: @DustinSiggins

Catch other mini-reviews by selecting the Movies link in the menu bar above.

Election Day Predictions

I predict that these things will remain true on Wednesday:
  • America will remain a great country built on diverse views;
  • People will be divided on candidates but unified on freedom;
  • Our constitution will still be an amazing and enduring document;
  • The hardest change will be the change in my attitude;
  • Politics will continue to dominate the news - and Facebook;
  • Squawk Radio pundits will still not be all that influential;
  • I will continue to be a bit too much of a political junkie.
How about you? Do you have anything to add to my list? ツ

What Control Freaks don't want to Control

This cartoon cracks me up. Not that I can relate. Just don't ask my wife. ツ

I think that many control freaks like me often do not understand that one of the few things that we can really control is ourselves. A few years ago I wrote that about self control.. here is a clip from that post:

"Self Control is not mind control ... actually it is the opposite of mind control. Self Control is the exercise of the inner man over the outer man."

I find it interesting that so many of the things we control freaks want to control cannot be. And at the same time we do not want to control the very thing we should. Here are a few thoughts about the power of self control.

He who reigns within himself and rules his passions, desires, and fears is more than a king. - John Milton

He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still. -Lao Tzu

Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city. -Proverbs 16:32

I am, indeed, a king, because I know how to rule myself. -Pietro Aretino

You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you. -Brian Tracy

Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power. -Seneca

The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions. -Tennyson

- first published February 6, 2010

When you let go, you allow yourself to grow and heal.

This year it has become increasingly clear to me that I am only trusting God when I am letting go of control.

Marc and Angel offer some tips [here] to us on what it means to let go. They write that when you let go:
  1. you allow yourself to make the best of what you’ve got. 
  2. you get to use your resources more effectively. 
  3. you free your mind from needless worries. 
  4. you learn more about how life really works. 
  5. you get to appreciate others for who they truly are. 
  6. you get to focus less on pleasing others, and more on just doing the best you can. 
  7. you allow yourself to grow and heal. 
  8. it gets easier to forgive yourself, and love yourself again. 
  9. you get to enjoy more of life’s pleasant surprises. 
  10. you live more gratefully (and gracefully).
You can read the rest of their post here. I like what they have to say and recommend it to you. I especially resonate with this from their post: "the root cause of most human stress is simply our stubborn propensity to hold on to things".

It is so hard to let go of control and trust God. Yet it is so necessary. Can you relate?

Presidential Checklist

My Facebook friend Duane offered up criteria for his ideal candidate. Here is his list combined with a few of my own.

The President of the United States should:
  • be a person of demonstrated high moral character;
  • support equal rights for all citizens;
  • have plans to strengthen the middle class of Americans;
  • make the path to the middle class easier for those less fortunate;
  • change our leadership role in the world from one of police officer to one of peace officer;
  • have plans to strengthen Social Security and Medicare;
  • have specific plans to make government more efficient;
  • enforce existing immigration laws and go after people who hire illegal workers;
  • appoint people to the Supreme Court who understand the constitution and are not politically biased;
  • be a leader who can bring consensus to controversial national issues.

Thanks again to Duane for the first seven on the list. Let me know what items you might add or subtract from the list.