Highway to the Danger Zone!

Dear Readers, Sorry I have been away for so long. I usually try to post at least one thing a month. Having an older family makes us all very busy.

Glad to say I saw the new Top Gun film in the theatre yesterday. Cannot say it will appeal to all audiences, but it brought this GenXer many nostalgic moments and some surprisingly fresh content. Only criticism I might level is that the soundtrack was slightly better in the original, although this reboot develops the characters much better. The producer and company was correct to save this blockbuster originally slated for 2020 for a post-pandemic release. It is truly something worth seeing on the big screen. The audience we saw it with last night gave a slight applause at the end which I have rarely heard from an American audience.

Deep and Sincere Conversation with God

Am reading a fantastic book for Lent by a woman who serves in ministry in the Anglican Church in their home parish in Pittsburgh, PA. She is another C.S. Lewis in her ability to take complex spiritual experiences and capture them with poignant and contemporary images. Her personal honesty and vulnerability make the work eminently readable and relatable. Tish Harrison Warren is author of Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep. It is half spiritual memoir (my favorite genre of writing at this time of my life) and half prayer manual. The structure is based on the Compline service in the Book of Common Prayer, a service the author has grown particularly drawn to and even dependent upon.

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A Spiritual Underdog

God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.

The Four Spiritual Laws

Thus begins a classic tract of a witnessing Christian Church in which I was raised. A tract is a small pamphlet for people in a hurry to remind them in their busyness of their eternal destiny and worth in the eyes of Almighty God. I saw a movie tonight that epitomizes this message through the narrative of an unlikely football hero, a washed up old timer who missed his one chance to play pro only to claw, scrape and grind his way back into the contest. American Underdog about the story of St. Louis Ram’s quarterback Kurt Warner will leave you overcome with hope.

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Lost Sheep from a Fallen Megachurch

Have really been sinking my teeth into podcasting these past several years. On one Orthodox Christian podcast I listen to, I heard a review of another podcast that really piqued my interest in a deep and personal way. I recently finished this long form journalism project from Christianity Today entitled The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill. Man, did it hit several nerves inside of me! First, it strikes me as an effort to talk about things in the modern Protestant Evangelical Church that most have never talked about, at least not publicly. This will be my attempt to blog about this seminal church planting movement started and hosted by my own Generation X.

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Redeeming the Educated Fool

Clean Tuesday of First Week of Great Lent

“Cuz you can go to your college and you can go to your school. If you ain’t got Jesus you’re just an educated fool and that’s all.”

Denomination Blues by the 77’s

I love spiritual memoirs. Seems like I am always finishing one right before the start of Great Lent. This year is no exception as I polished off Eric Metaxas‘ very witty and inspiring story of his coming to Jesus called A Fish Out of Water. There is so much in this book I identify with. A son of two immigrants from the vastly different countries of Germany and Greece, Eric always had difficulty fitting in wherever he went. As an intellectual phenom, he was promoted a grade early on which added to his awkwardness since he was almost always the youngest in his age group. After he achieved his dream of graduating from Yale, he hunted about searching for life’s deeper purpose waiting to be “discovered” for the brilliant person he thought himself to be. In the end, a coworker from a dead end corporate job introduces him to Jesus and the idea that God is not just some remote being but a Person interested in having a relationship with him.

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Proud to Be Black

In this Black History month, there are many ways to celebrate our diverse nation and the stories that comprise it, especially the African American experience. I just finished a documentary that is one recommended way to celebrate. It features a music festival in black Harlem in 1969, one that was almost lost to history in the face of its more popular white cousin, the Woodstock Festival. This Harlem Cultural Festival was lovingly filmed and then forgotten in a basement for half a century. Director Questlove dug it out of the archives and produced a powerful reminiscence in our own time of this important cultural event. Please put aside your own political persuasions to take in this important milestone in history.

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“My Road Leads into the Desert”

Some movies are very slow starters. The new and Oscar nominated Dune is no exception. This 2+ hour film really tested this reviewer’s endurance, but by the end, I was cheering for Duke Paul’s attempt to “go native” on Arakis: the spice-laden, sand world he was sent to on behalf of the mysterious emperor. I was cued on to this great movie by my usual source.

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Unicorn Diaries

Unicorn Diaries is a book about a unicorn named Rainbow Tinstletail, but unicorns call her Bo. She lives in Sparklegrove Forest and learns in Sparklegrove School. Her teacher’s name is Mr. Rumptwinkle. Each unicorn has a unicorn power; Bo’s power is that she can grant one wish every week.

Here are some fun facts about unicorns. First, they glow when they are scared or nervous. Second, when they snore, it sounds like music. Finally, rainbows fly out of their hooves when they dance.

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A Great New Year’s Eve Love Story

Those of you who have met Russians know that they have well developed traditions for celebrating the New Year. One established tradition, almost universal among all Russians, is the watching of a classic Soviet film from 1976, Ирония судьбы or The Irony of Fate. It features a holiday drunken mishap in which an engaged man ends up in someone else’s apartment and in one night, falls completely in love with another woman. The cinematography and amazing soundtrack lend artistry to the tale of love, and the constant comic romance will keep you in stitches all the way up to the moment of midnight. In fact, watching this rather long feature (close to 3 hours) is what helps your crowd make it to the ripe hour of midnight to see the ball drop.

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Our Favorite Christmas Picture Book

It never ceases to amaze us every Christmas season how many good picture books are out there. But there is one I wish to draw attention to as it gives due praise to our often overlooked first responder, the cop on the beat. Cop’s Night Before Christmas has delightful illustrations and continues the Santa Claus legend with a jolly St. Nick adapted to police officers, complete with, not a sleigh but a Christmas helicopter! Best of all, it was actually written by a police officer, Michael D. Harrison. So Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!