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!

The Power of Confession in Community

Saturday, November 28, 2020
First Day of the Nativity Fast
Commencement of Advent in the Orthodox Church

In this season of hope and expectation of deliverance, I saw a film about the power of confession within community. Words on Bathroom Walls tells the story of a young man named Adam diagnosed with schizophrenia during his senior year in high school and how he copes with this very difficult mental illness. He hears and sometimes sees characters and voices that severely distract and sometimes rip apart his soul. His first instinct is to try to pretend that he can hide it from friends and those beyond his immediate family circle. When that plan backfires, he is expelled from school for being too much of a danger to others. His mother and stepfather enroll him in a private Catholic school where he is given a second chance and encounters an extraordinary young lady named Maya whose love begins to chip away at his defensive and ultimately harmful facade.

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Another Downton Abbey

Fans of the now concluded Downton Abbey have been looking for sometime for the next creation of director Julian Fellowes. I am pleased to say that his latest creation Belgravia, now available on DVD or through a subscription to EPIX, more than fits the bill.

I just finished watching this six episode mini-drama about a self-made businessman named James Trenchard who makes his way into London society via marriage with his eligible daughter Sophia. All the usual pretensions of true and not-so-true aristocracy play out in this wonderful tale of love, betrayal, and everlasting integrity. So order your copy of the drama wherever you find good British period pieces. You won’t be sorry you did!