Get Out | ★★★★★★★★☆☆

I did not think that I would like this movie because it was labelled a horror flick. I think the tag was wrong - it is more like something that you would have seen on the Twilight Zone. Ordinary story turned really weird. Normal people become really creepy.

I thought that the acting was pretty good but the acting did not make this one good - the plot is everything. The setup has a 'guess who's coming to dinner' vibe. You get the impression that it is all about racism. And it is. Only not what you think.

I enjoyed the twists and the turns. I could not figure this one out. It kept me engaged all the way through. The editing seemed to be spot on and the casting was good.

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

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Fall Flicks

Here are a few one liners about the flicks I have (re)watched this Fall but have not reviewed.
  • Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆
    Not a great Superman or Batman movie. Wonder Woman showed up though.
  • Florence Foster Jenkins ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    Meryl Streep acting like she cannot sing.
  • Going in Style ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆
    Fun movie about three old-timers who are cheated out of their pensions and rob a bank.
  • The Great Wall ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆
    Matt Damon fighting reptilian monsters to protect the world says it all.
  • Jack Reacher: Never Go Back ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    If you liked the first one, you will probably enjoy this one too.
  • John Wick: Chapter 2 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
    If you liked the first one, you will probably not enjoy this one.
  • Keeping Up With the Joneses ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    Fun movie about when spies move into the neighborhood.
  • La La Land ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆
    A movie that was simply too full of itself. Major disappointment.
  • Logan ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
    A swearing, bloody and disappointing end to the X-Men Origins and Wolverine series
  • Miss Sloane ★★★★★★★★☆☆
    Jessica Chastain excels in this flick about the dark side of lobbying in DC.
  • A Monster Calls ★★★★★★★★★☆
    A beautiful story about a young boy coping with his single mother's terminal illness.
  • Moonlight ★★★★★★★★★☆
    A great flick about growing up gay in an African American community.
  • Sister Act ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    I love watching this old movie about how God works in and through a nightclub singer.
  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    Tin Fey plays a journalist recounting her wartime coverage in Afghanistan.
  • Why Him? ★★★★★★★☆☆☆
    Story about how your daughter's boyfriend might be better than you think. A bit racy.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆
    How Professor Xavier went bald and other insignificant X-Men triva.
Have you seen many of these? Let me know what you thought about them.

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a simple challenge for 2018

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his
individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them. -Washington Irving

Rise above principle and do what's right. -Joseph Heller

You learn to rise above a lot of bad things that happen in your life. And you have to keep going. -Lauren Bacall

There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty, that makes human nature rise above itself,
in acts of bravery and heroism. -Alexander Hamilton

Merry Christmas

She gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger---there was no room for them to stay in the inn. There were some shepherds in that part of the country who were spending the night in the fields, taking care of their flocks. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone over them. They were terribly afraid, but the angel said to them,
"Don't be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people. This very day in David's town your Savior was born---Christ the Lord! And this is what will prove it to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great army of heaven's angels appeared with the angel, singing praises to God:
"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased!"
When the angels went away from them back into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,
"Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us."
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and saw the baby lying in the manger. When the shepherds saw him, they told them what the angel had said about the child.

All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said.

mixed messages

I think that your entire life is a process of sorting out some of those early messages that you got. -Bruce Springsteen

Ridiculous yachts and private planes and big limousines won't make people enjoy life more, and it sends out terrible messages to the people who work for them. It would be so much better if that money was spent in Africa - and it's about getting a balance. -Richard Branson

I want girls to feel the confidence you get from being smart. They get so many messages that tell them the most important thing is to be beautiful. -Danica McKellar

Each of you is a unique child of God. God knows you individually. He sends messages of encouragement, correction, and direction fitted to you and to your needs. -Henry B. Eyring

The longing we have to communicate cleanly and directly with people is always obstructed by qualifications and often with concern about how our messages will be received. -John le Carre

Gone with the Wind | ★★★★★★★★★★

Ann and I watched this epic film last night. A few thoughts:

    •   Directing of the burning of Atlanta was spectacular;
    •   Unbelievable cinematography for a movie made in 1939;
    •   Clark Gable should have got the Oscar for his brilliant performance;
    •   Vivien Leigh made Scarlett come off the pages of the book;
    •   Great onscreen chemistry between Gable and Leigh;
    •   The backdrop of the South in the Civil War was heartbreaking;
    •   Hattie McDaniel was simply wonderful as Mammy;
    •   I loved the contrast in character between Melanie and Scarlett;
    •   The movie showed the different sides of what it means to be honorable;
    •   I think it is one of the best movies of all time.

I love this movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★★★.

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Unbroken | ★★★★★★★★★☆

This was a great movie to watch so close to Veteran's Day. It reminded me of people, like my son, who voluntarily risked so much to serve our country.

Unbroken is a real epic one about Louis Zamperini. Olympic runner. World War II Army Air Corps’ bombardier. Survivor of a plane crash that left him, and two comrades, stranded on a raft in open sea for 47 days. Brutally mistreated prisoner of war - for over two years, he suffered from disease, exposure, starvation, and near-daily beatings from guards. Louie is the definition of what it means to be unbroken.

The movie will make you cry if you let it. I loved watching Louie grow up. With the help of his older brother, he went from juvenile delinquent to a runner that was destined to break the 4 minute mile years before Roger Bannister. In pursuit of Olympic records, this amazing man heard the call to military service.

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

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Reflections from Private Bob

Here I am a few weeks after I entered the US Army in October 1968. That day in October, when I raised my hand and became a soldier, seems so long ago. Yet it seems like yesterday. I can feel the fear of entering military service knowing that my friends John and Joey had recently died in Vietnam. I remember being drafted and knowing that I did not want to fight in Vietnam. That trip to the recruiter was deeply driven by a desire to find a path that did not include the War in Vietnam. I signed up for an extra year to serve in the US Army Air Command working on missiles with nuclear capability.

I served stateside for three years at a missile firing range in New Mexico. During my military service I grew up a lot. I learned valuable life skills - LOL, like doing my own laundry. I developed technical and interpersonal skills that would last me a lifetime. I met my first wife Ellen. I got outside of my comfort level in a major way as I learned to live away from home and my family. In the end, I wonder what my life would have been like if I had not been drafted.

... reposted from November, 2014

Jackie | ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

I am not sure what I expected to learn when my wife Ann and I watched this movie a few nights ago. I thought that it would be somewhat of a bio-pic detailing the former First Lady's life before and after the White House. I was wrong about that.

The movie focuses on the aftermath of her husband's assassination. It was a moving depiction of the trauma of that event and how she navigated feelings of shock, rage and anger. It gave me a new appreciation for Jackie. Images of the president dying in her lap helped me understand how impossible the situation was for her.

I thought that Natalie portman did a good job in the title role. Yet the story itself overshadowed her acting. Watching this movie brought me back to that awful day in a high school in Brooklyn when I learned that President Kennedy was murdered.

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

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the 007 meme

I have loved these stories since I consumed all of the Ian Fleming spy novels in high school. So I thought it appropriate to do a meme based on the movies that I (mostly) love so much. Answering with my favorite Bond:

car: BMW 750iL (with remote control drive) in Tomorrow Never Dies

gadget: Oddjob's bowler hat was great. 007 watches always had cool stuff.

location: Hard to beat Jamaica in Dr No and Golden Eye.

song: All Time High from Octopussy. Runner-up is Live and Let Die.

singer: Shirley Bassey for Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever.

movie: Goldfinger. Tomorrow Never Dies is a close second.

actor: Sean Connery. Pierce Brosnan is runner-up.

henchman: Harold Sakata as Oddjob. Runner-up is Richard Kiel as Jaws.

villain: Gert Fröbe as Auric Goldfinger. Runner-up is Charles Gray as Blofeld.

actress: Jill St John as Tiffany Case. Michelle Yeoh as Colonel Wai Lin is runner-up.

quote: Bond: Do you expect me to talk? Goldfinger: No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die!

What are your favorites? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook.

Blade Runner 2049 | ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆

If you loved the original Blade Runner flick. If you are a part of the Blade Runner cult. You might like this movie. If not, I suggest that you wait for it on video.

The movie is almost three hours long. I think that it could have been a pretty good two hour movie. It is filled with long stares accompanied by strange and loud sounds. It goes about two hours before Deckard (the iconic original Blade Runner played by Harrison Ford) appears in an almost cliché fashion.

The movie deserved it's R rating, yet I think that some of the imagery was borderline gratuitous in nature. Ryan Gosling was pretty good in the lead role. The storyline was pretty good with a twist towards the end. It was just too long.

I liked the original Blade Runner but thought this movie was too long, over-hyped and overrated. On a scale of ten, give it ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆.

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Hidden Figures | ★★★★★★★★★★

I am sure many of you have already seen this fantastic movie. Ann and I watched it last night on HBO. Oh my. I knew a lot about this story but had no clue how it would affect me. The heartbreaking images of racism, discrimination and bigotry in the 1960s were so troubling. Watching the impacts of the racist "separate but equal" ideology on beautiful Americans of color greatly moved me.

The movie is about three amazing African American women. It covers their groundbreaking work in the early days of NASA. The story is about faith, persistence, courage and character in the face of adversity and struggle.

Here are a few themes I loved about the movie:
  • Faith: I love the beautiful impact that faith had on these hidden figures;
  • Discrimination: these scenes were heartbreaking and deeply moving;
  • Patriotism: great images of African Americans cheering for the astronauts.
The story was not really about NASA but I really enjoyed reliving images from my youth when Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom and John Glenn risked their lives in space. I loved watching how the whole country came together.

The acting was superb. Taraji P Henson, in the lead role of Katherine Johnson, was superb in presenting a great image of beautiful genius. All three of the 'hidden figures' presented us with powerful images of grace.

Lastly, I hope that the story stays with me. I pray that it will continue to change me. That it will cause me to be thankful for the beautiful ways that people of color have overcome and become living testaments to Dr King's dream.

I greatly loved this movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★★★.

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Happy Labor Day

A beautiful ode to the joy of labor by Walt Whitman.

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat,
The deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench,
The hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

me is for meme

  1. Who are you named after? My uncle's first name is my middle name.
  2. Last time you cried? I regularly teared up seeing victims in Houston.
  3. Soda or Water? Water. I tend to refill sodas too much for my own good,
  4. What's your pizza? Italian sausage and mushroom.
  5. Do you still have your tonsils? Got them removed when I was about 5.
  6. Would you bungee jump? Not no but hell no!
  7. Did you go to college? Goofed around in community college and was drafted.
  8. Untie your shoes when taking them off? Usually.
  9. Roller coasters do you like them? No!
10. Favorite Ice cream? Pistachio.
11. Favorite things? Being with my wife Ann.
12. Shorts or Jeans? Shorts means the weather is warm!
13. What are you listening to right now? Instrumental Folk Radio on Sonos via Pandora.
14. Favorite Color? Blue.
15. Tattoos? I am too cheap for body art.
16. Color of hair? Blonde gave way to brown in '68 which gave way to gray in '90. #likehavinghair
17. Eye color? Blue.
18. Favorite thing to eat? Alaskan King Crab!
19. Scary or Happy endings? Neither. Thoughtful endings with a twist do it for me.
20. Android or iPhone? Android works so well with google fiber! And it is way cheaper.
21. Car? Our Toyota Sienna ramped van is great for getting Ann around town!
22. Favorite holiday? Easter marks the start of Spring, nice weather and new beginnings for me.
23. Beer or wine? Depends on the meal and my mood.
24. Night owl or mornings? Mornings. Yet I'm not as much of an early riser as I once was.
25. Fave day of the week? Mondays are good for retired guys like me. ツ

The Founder | ★★★★★★★★☆☆

Caught this interesting movie about McDonald's mega-franchiser Ray Kroc, wonderfully played by Michael Keaton, on Netflix a few days ago. I was fascinated by the quazi-historical perspective offered in the narrative. A few thoughts about it:
  • The story is about the breakdown of relationships in business and in marriage.
  • Ray's journey took a turn when he felt rejected and unappreciated.
  • The McDonald brothers revolutionized the restaurant business.
  • Ray took franchising to a level never seen before. Other chains followed his lead.
  • Fast food franchising is all about real estate. Not sure that I ever understood that.
  • Great leaders know how to treat their employees. Others rely on contracts.
I really liked the movie and, on a scale of ten, give it ★★★★★★★★☆☆.

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Dick Gregory, 1932-2017

Dick Gregory was an American civil rights activist, social critic, writer, entrepreneur, comedian, and actor. I remember watching him on TV. He passed away yesterday. Here are a few things that he said.
Love is man's natural endowment, but he doesn't know how to use it. He refuses to recognize the power of love because of his love of power

I'm not a comic. I'm a humorist.

It's cool to be healthy.

I never learned hate at home, or shame. I had to go to school for that.

Hell hath no fury like a liberal scorned.

Fear and God do not occupy the same space.

Riches do not delight us so much with their possession, as torment us with their loss.

The most difficult thing to get people to do is to accept the obvious.

Once I realized the value of making people laugh, I got very good at it. Fast.

To me, seeing a really great comedian is a bit like watching a musician or a poet.

Poor is a state of mind you never grow out of, but being broke is just a temporary condition.

When you have a good mother and no father, God kind of sits in. It's not enough, but it helps.
Please join me in asking God to comfort Mt Gregory's family and friends.

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 ★★★★★★★☆☆☆.

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

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 ★★★★★★★★★★.

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

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