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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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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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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A Table in the Presence of My Enemies

It is rare that I watch a film and have to run immediately to blog about it. But a newly released movie has completely enraptured me.

The very modestly named movie Pig carries with it a weight of relational content and mystery that few modern movies measure up to. Nicholas Cage plays a forest recluse whose love for the humblest of animals, a truffle-hunting pig, compels him to hunt down the thieves that take him. He comes out of his reclusion to reveal a world he left behind in the city of Portland, Oregon, a world of friends and family who have lost their first loves in search of fleeting worldly gain, earthly lusts, and extreme disconnection from humanity. But this recluse’s single-minded love and devotion for a simple creature gradually brings them all back around to what is real, holy, and worthy of love.

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Beyond Mere Appearance

Sunday November 7, 2021; 20th Sunday after Pentecost

Galatians 1:11-19
Luke 16:19-31

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Glory to Jesus Christ. Glory forever. A classic Danish film portrays the theme of this morning’s gospel in the person of a French maid. Babette’s Feast features a penniless woman cast out by circumstances in her home country to foreign land in the north. Like poor Lazarus, she arrives at the home of two unmarried sisters cold, alone, and in need of help. But if a person were to conclude that Babette’s outward circumstances defined her inward disposition, they would be wrong. For while she was poor in possessions, her artistic soul made her rich beyond the reach of mere circumstance. As the apostle says, “…being poor, yet making many rich“, she managed in the end to exhaust her entire bank account towards a feast for her friends.

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A Story that Never Grows Old

My friends at the Fellowship for the Performing Arts have taken their stage monologue play to the cinema! In less than two weeks, this fine theater company will premiere its first ever movie about the life of C.S. Lewis, The Most Reluctant Convert. It will be showing for one night only on Wednesday, November 3 in theaters across the country. Already here in Boston, one of the three theaters showing it has sold out!

Early reviews have promised a strong story from a great cast. For me, it has served as a consolation for not going to NYC for a while to see one of their excellent stage productions about the famous Christian apologist. Get your tickets now for a once in a lifetime event!

Great New Family Drama

We are not the kind of family that watches very much TV. We are more of a movie family. But when I heard about the new ABC reboot of the classic Wonder Years, I knew we had to break our usual pattern of waiting until it came out in DVD and watch it live as it first broadcasts. The new Wonder Years runs every Wednesday night at 8:30pm EST and is now past the second episode, and so far it does not disappoint.

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A Surprise from God

There was a time in my life when I was a clueless Protestant convert to the Holy Orthodox Church. Every weekend, as a bachelor, I headed to a monastery that bore the name of a despised Greek Orthodox Metropolitan that became a saint after his death and is loved the world over by the common people. This saint taught me so much in the brief time that I knew him that I labeled my automobile, the St. Nektarios Taxi Service. Every weekend I was bringing pilgrims to this monastery that bore his name. Tonight, I saw an online screening of a new movie about his life as part of the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival. It was every bit of what I remember from my bachelorhood encounters with this saint who is the champion of the common man.

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Christianity Without the Cheese

Happy Easter to those on the Western calendar. Christ is Risen! Alleluia!

To those of us in the East, 4 more weeks til we party in the resurrection. But our friend Dallas Jenkins has given us a reason to celebrate early. FINALLY, media featuring the Son of God that is not overly sappy, obvious, moralistic, or preachy. Tonight in honor of Easter Sunday, Dallas gave us episode one of season Two of The Chosen. I recommend watching the whole first season and giving this brilliant man all the money you have saved up to donate to worthy evangelism! I cannot tell you how long I have waited for such understated, artistic loveliness. You will not be disappointed!