Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Review of the Movie “The Secret Life of Pets”

The Secret Life of PetsThe Secret Life of Pets, rated PG
** ½

Have you ever wondered what our pets do when we are away from them during the day – at work, school, etc.? This animated film set in New York City looks at a day in the life of the pets living in a large apartment building. The film is co-directed by Yarrow Cheney and Chris Renaud (who directed Despicable Me 1 and 2) and written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio (who wrote Despicable Me 1 and 2), and Brian Lynch who wrote Minions.  The film had an estimated budget of $75 million and has already made over $200 million in its first two weeks of release.

Max (voiced by Louis C.K.) is a terrier who loves his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper). He can’t wait for her to return back to the apartment each evening. But one evening she brings a new dog, the large rescue Duke (Eric Stonestreet).  Now Max does not have all of Katie’s affections to himself and must share them with this large new “brother”, who is not very nice to Max, eating his food and sleeping in his dog bed.  Max must find a way to convince Katie to get rid of the big dog that is making his life miserable.

The next thing we know, they are out of the apartment building on the streets of the city. We see them attacked by a gang of cats, including Ozone (Steve Coogan), and the alleycats remove Max and Duke’s collars. Soon, they are caught by Animal Control and are being hauled off.  That’s when Max and Duke encounter Snowball, a former magician’s rabbit (Kevin Hart), the leader of the Flushed Pets, who live in the sewers. Snowball is preparing to lead his group of discarded pets in a revolution against humans. All Max and Duke want to do is to get back to the safety of their apartment building.

Gidget (Jenny Slate) who has a crush on Max, convinces the other pets in the apartment building to go looking for Max. We meet Chloe the cat (Lake Bell), the bulldog Mel (Bobby Moynihan), Tiberius the hawk (Albert Brooks) and others who set out to find Max to bring him home. They get assistance from a paralyzed elderly basset hound named Pops (Dana Carvey).  We see Max and Duke begin to put their differences behind them and join together as allies in their quest to return home.

There were several instances of mild “toilet humor” throughout the film, which always got a giggle from the children in the audience. Some parts of the film, particularly those in the sewers (with an alligator and large snake) could be scary for very young children.

There was much to like about this film that shows the positive relationship between pets and humans, although I have to admit that many of the funniest parts of the film were featured in the trailer that has been playing for months. Although we enjoyed the film, it started feeling a bit long at 87 minutes, and the writing was not on par with better animated films of 2016 Zootopia or Finding Dory.

Note: get to the theater early as a new Minions short film Mower Minions, plays before the feature film.


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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articlesteachable

  • True Leaders Are Teachable. Dave Kraft writes “I’ve come to the measured conclusion that, when it comes to the indispensable qualities for being a leader in the body of Christ and in life in general, there’s one characteristic that perhaps should be placed at the top: teachability.”
  • Sharing Our Message. Bob Chapman writes about Barry-Wehmiller and other companies being featured in a Wall Street Journal article titled “Culture Quantified”, about how a positive company culture impacts every aspect of an organization.
  • Millennials and Vocation. Gene Veith writes “Barna has done a study of the millennial generation’s attitude towards work.  Most do not see their careers as central to their identities (unlike Baby Boomers).  Rather, their jobs are there to fund their personal interests.  And yet, Millennial Christians are more likely than Baby Boomers to see their work in terms of “calling” (a.k.a. “vocation”).”
  • Enough about Millennials. Patrick Lencioni writes “Am I the only person in the world who is tired of hearing people talk about Millennials? Whether it’s a complaint about their entitlement mentality or a declaration of their brilliance, it all strikes me as shallow and simplistic.
  • Four Reasons Religious Freedom Matters for Society. Hugh Whelchel writes “If you believe in the Christian view of work, religious freedom is essential to living out that belief in a way that brings all of life, including your work, under the Lordship of Christ.”
  • The Best Workers Make the Best Neighbors. Tom Nelson writes “The Christian faith compels us to live in such a God-honoring way that we do honest work, make an honest profit and cultivate economic capacity so we can serve others and help meet their economic needs. Our diligent work creates economic value, and it is economic value that makes possible the economic capacity for living generously. What the world needs now is jobs, sweet jobs. Good jobs make for good neighbors.”
  • Trust is Hard to Gain and Easy to Lose. Dave Kraft writes “Trust is critically foundational to a team or a family. You don’t demand trust, you earn it, and you earn it more by your character than your competence. More leaders lose trust over character issues than competency issues.”
  • Taking Your Leadership Out of the Office. John Maxwell writes “As a 360° leader, in addition to leading up, across and down, you need to lead out. Leading out means to be on the forefront of an action.”
  • Life on Life: The Key to Sustainable Influence. Steve Graves writes “Jesus’ method was life on life. He poured courage, hope, and direction into His followers, and then He challenged them to do the same with those coming along behind them.”
  • characterCharacter in Leadership: Does it Really Matter Anymore? Albert Mohler writes “Three principles may offer us guidance in considering the issue of character in leadership, whether that leadership is exercised in the political sphere, in the church, or in any other consequential endeavor. These principles, rooted in the Christian worldview, may help us to think as we ponder the issue of character.”
  • Work Hurts Sometimes – And That’s a Good Thing. Tom Nelson writes “If work is difficult today, bask in this wonderful truth. Hardship and frustration in the workplace doesn’t need to be meaningless. Even today, you can embrace it as one of the ways God is renewing and reshaping us into his image.”

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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

this.n.that-small

Courtesy of World Magazine

                        Courtesy of World Magazine

IN THE NEWS:

  • This American Moment – Black Lives, Power Politics, and the Unborn. John Piper writes “We wave the banner of the reality and the preciousness and the power of truth. And we renounce all policies, procedures, laws, customs, and tyrannies that obscure or silence the truth — whether in police procedures, national politics, or the industry of child-killing cloaked in the evil rhetoric of reproductive freedom.”
  • The Soul of America. Ravi Zacharias writes “I am staggered by all that is happening around us while the powerful fiddle and bodies litter the floors of offices, airports and even restaurants. How many families will be shattered and offered up at the altar of our foolishness?”
  • What the Supreme Court Abortion’s Ruling Means. Russell Moore writes “The Supreme Court has ruled that the state of Texas’ common-sense laws on abortion clinics are unconstitutional. This is a grievous affirmation of the Court’s commitment to a radical abortion ideology, one that puts unborn children, women, and families at the mercy of a ruthless industry.”
  • LGBT Basics. Doug Wilson writes “Many Christians know that something is wrong with the homosexual agenda, but because of the dearth of teaching on this subject in the church, and because the world’s teaching on it might be described as whatever is the opposite of dearth, we may know what we think without knowing why. So consider this piece to be a very brief, introductory primer.
  • Assisted Suicide: A Quadriplegic’s Perspective. Joni Eareckson Tada writes “Culture is so easily influenced by the entertainment industry. This is why I am sounding an alarm about a very dangerous message in a film released this summer. The movie? Me Before You.”  

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An Evening of Songs From the Soundtrack of My Life – Paul McCartney at Summerfest   

Paul at SummerfestOn Friday, July 8, Paul McCartney performed at the Marcus Amphitheater at the Summerfest music festival on a beautiful summer evening along the shores of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee as a part of his One on One tour. It was the twelfth time I have seen the recently turned 74 year-old former Beatle in concert in the 27 years since the first time at the Rosemont Horizon (now Allstate Arena) with my brother-in-law Al in December, 1989. In addition to the recent concert in Milwaukee, I have seen him in Chicago six times (Rosemont Horizon, Soldier Field, Wrigley Field and three times at the United Center), Indianapolis (at the old Market Square Arena and twice at Conseco Fieldhouse, now known as Banker’s Life Fieldhouse), Milwaukee (the old Country Stadium) and St. Louis (the old Busch Memorial Stadium).  I was able to see former Beatle George Harrison (on his only U.S. tour in 1974) and Ringo Starr (in 2014), both in St. Louis, but sadly never did get to see John Lennon in concert before he was murdered in 1980.

I Want to Hold Your Hand SleeveAs I’ve written before, for me, McCartney concerts always stir emotions as no other concerts can, as the songs are really from the soundtrack of my life. For example…..I can remember my Aunt Linda screaming at the television in her parents’ (my grandparents) living room as the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. Later in that same home, my brother Mike and I first saw the Beatles Rubber Soul album in our Aunt Cindy’s room. My first single was the late 1963 released Beatles’ two-sided hit “I Want to Hold Your Hand”/”I Saw Her Standing There”, with its black & white cover sleeve with the boys in their “Beatles suits” and McCartney holding a cigarette.

Jumping ahead, I remember seeing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the “White Album” for the first time at our K-Mart. I remember excitedly telling my Mom about Sgt. Pepper when we picked her up from work that night. I had to wait for Christmas 1968 to get the “White Album”, which was released November 22.  Do you remember all of the ‘Paul is Dead’ rumors, including listening to “Revolution #9” backwards when it said “turn me on dead man”?

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My 2016 Favorites at Mid-Year

A Few of My Favorite ThingsAs we have the mid-year point, I want to share with you some of my favorites from 2016 in a variety of categories. Except for books, these are all items that were released or took place in 2016. For books, I include my favorite books that I’ve actually read during 2016.  Enjoy, and please let me know what you think by clicking on the ‘Comment’ link above.

MUSIC:  I enjoy music in a variety of genres. My favorites were:

Albums

Top Pick:  Church Clothes 3 – LecraeChurch Clothes 3

Other albums that I’ve enjoyed have been:

Wow to the Deadness (EP) – Steve Taylor and the Danielson Foil

Fallen Angels – Bob Dylan

Stranger to Stranger – Paul Simon

Hymns II – Michael W. Smith

Salvation’s Tide is Rising – Passion

Love Riot – Newsboys

Worship and Believe – Steven Curtis Chapman

This Time Around (EP) – Tedashjii

Facing a Task Unfinished – Keith and Kristyn Getty

I’m really looking forward to two July releases – Where the Light Shines Through by Switchfoot and Hard Love by NEEDTOBREATHE .

Songs

Top pick:  Jumped Out the Whip – Tedashii

Other songs I’ve enjoyed have been:

Float – Switchfoot

My Worth Is Not In Not In What I Own – Keith and Kristyn Getty with Fernando Ortega

Vaporized – Amos LeeJumped Out the Whip – Tedashii

That Old Black Magic – Bob Dylan

It Is What It Is – Lecrae

God and God Alone – Chris Tomlin

I Trust in Christ – Matt Redman

Wow to the Deadness – Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil

Cool Papa Bell – Paul Simon

Down to the River to Pray – Michael W. Smith

I Don’t Know Why (Jesus Loves Me) – Michael W. Smith

White Bikini – Charlie Peacock

Happiness – NEEDTOBREATHE

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Keith and Kristyn GettyFacing a Task Unfinished – Deluxe Digital Edition
****

This is the first album of mostly new material from the pre-eminent modern hymn writers Keith and Kristyn Getty since 2012’s Hymns for the Christian Life (though they have released a Christmas album, live album, an EP and a live Christmas album since that time). The studio album, recorded in Nashville’s historic Ocean Way Recording studio, champions mission and congregational singing, features the Getty’s excellent band, live congregational singing and a few special guest appearances (Chris Tomlin, Fernando Ortega, John Patitucci and Ladysmith Black Mambazo). The album is produced by Nathan Nockels.

The Deluxe digital edition features 17 songs. Here are a few brief comments about each of these wonderful songs, a true gift to the church:

Facing a Task Unfinished – This hymn was originally written in 1931 by China Inland Mission (now OMF International) worker Frank Houghton with music by Samuel Wesley. The Getty’s were asked by OMF to add a new chorus to the hymn, and they were joined by Ed Cash, and Fionan de Barra. An estimated one million believers in more than 5,000 churches in 100 countries joined together to sing this new hymn on February 21. The chorus below was added to the original hymn, and the recording features some excellent congregational singing:

We go to all the world
With kingdom hope unfurled
No other name has power to save
But Jesus Christ The Lord

May the Peoples Praise You – This is an upbeat hymn that features the Getty’s “green grass” band feel.  Inspired by Psalm 67, this hymn is a call to worship and mission.

May the peoples praise You
Let the nations be glad
All Your blessing comes
That we may praise
May praise the Name of Jesus

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Everyone should see the Movie “The BFG”

The BFGThe BFG (Big Friendly Giant), rated PG
****

This film is based on the 1982 children’s book by Roald Dahl. Dahl, who also wrote “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “James and the Giant Peach” which were also made into films, wrote “The BFG” in the last decade of his life and said it was the favorite of his books.

The new film (there was also a cartoon version of the book in 1989), is directed by three-time Oscar winner Steven Spielberg. The screenplay was written by the late Melissa Mathison who was nominated for an Oscar (for 1982’s ET), and to whom the film is dedicated. John Williams does the music score, the twenty-fourth time he has done so for a Spielberg film.

Ruby Barnhill portrays the ten year-old orphan Sophie who doesn’t sleep well. One night about 3:00 am Sophie sees the lanky twenty-four foot giant played by Mark Rylance (Oscar winner for the 2015 Spielberg-directed Bridge of Spies), outside of the orphanage. The BFG is afraid that she will expose him to others, so he takes her to Giant Country where he lives.

Sophie is initially afraid of the BFG, but a friendship begins to grow with this gentle giant. She finds out BFG puts dreams into the heads of children and other “human beans”, and that he is regularly bullied by the nine much larger giants. You will love how he humorously mangles the English language.

Sophie gets an idea to travel to London to visit Queen Victoria, voiced by Penelope Wilton (of Downton Abbey) for assistance with the mean larger giants. And oh yes, BFG also has quite an issue with flatulence when he consumes a certain drink, which are referred to as “whiz poppers”.

The CGI (computer generated animation) in this film is just amazing, especially the facial expressions and the enormous ears of BFG. The film contains themes of loneliness, love, friendship and family. It might be a bit dark and scary for wee ones.  Mark Rylance as the BFG and Ruby Barnhill as Sophie have great chemistry and they are perfect in their roles. I highly recommend this film for “children” of all ages, my favorite movie of 2016 thus far.