Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Review of BLINDED BY THE LIGHT

Blinded by the Light, rated PG-13
***

Blinded by the Light is an entertaining, emotional and heartwarming drama/comedy/musical, inspired by the life of British journalist Sarfraz Manzoor and his love of Bruce Springsteen’s music. It is based on Manzoor’s book Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N’ Roll. Manzoor, who has seen Springsteen in concert more than 150 times, co-wrote the script with director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham), and Paul Mayeda Berges (Bend It Like Beckham). The film’s title is from a Springsteen song that was included on his 1973 debut Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., which Manfred Mann’s Earth Band took to number one in the U.S. in 1977.
The film is set in the town of Luton, north of London in 1987. Manzoor’s character in the film is Javed, well-played by Viveik Kalra. Javed is a 16-year-old Muslim whose parents came from Pakistan. We see Javed and his family experiencing racism. Luton is facing a tough economy and job losses. Javed spends his day writing in his diary – poetry, and lyrics for his best friend’s band – and wants a career as a writer, and to get out of Luton and away from his strict and controlling father Malik, played by Kulvinder Ghir (Bend It Like Beckham). Javed’s father works at an auto plant, before losing his job, and wants Javed to focus on his studies and to be a lawyer or accountant. He tells him to stay away from girls because he will find Javed a wife when the time comes.
Things change for Javed when his classmate Roops, a Sikh from Pakistan, played by Aaron Phagura, gives him two Bruce Springsteen cassettes (Darkness on the Edge of Town and Born in the U.S.A.) and tells him to guard them with his life.  He tells him that he can thank him later. We can see the light come on for Javed at listening to his first Springsteen songs, “Dancing in the Dark” and “The Promised Land”, perhaps ourselves remembering the first time we heard a song from “The Boss”. The latter song comes up several times throughout the film.  Springsteen’s lyrics, which are creatively projected visually, give Javed the inspiration he needs to follow his dreams. Soon, Javed even begins to dress like Springsteen.
Kalra is excellent as Javed, and the film also features a solid supporting cast. Eliza, played by Nell Williams, is Javed’s likeable politically active love interest. Golden Globe nominee Hayley Atwell (The Pillars of the Earth, Captain America), plays Ms. Clay, Javed’s junior college creative writing teacher and mentor who encourages him to follow his dream as a writer. Screen Actor Guild nominee Deen Charles Chapman (Game of Thrones), plays Javed’s best friend Matt, a member of a punk rock band. Javed’s mother Noor, is a hard-working seamstress, played by Meera Ganatra.
The film does a good job capturing hairstyles and clothing from the late 1980’s. Seventeen Springsteen songs are included in the film, including the previously unreleased “I’ll Stand By You Always”, which plays over the ending credits. Some of the songs are played out in entertaining big dance numbers, Bollywood style.
Unfortunately, the film goes out of its way to connect racism with Margaret Thatcher, not unlike Spike Lee when he tried to connect David Duke with President Trump in BlacKkKlansman.
Themes in the film include following your dreams, hard work, a tense father/son relationship, politics, and racism. Content concerns include a small amount of adult language and racist violence.
Blinded by the Light is an entertaining film that has both serious and light-hearted moments, and is based on the story of a British journalist who was inspired to follow his dreams as a writer after hearing the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen. I enjoyed the film which had an excellent message at the end, but was marred by trying to connect the racism against the Pakistanis with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

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3 Areas I Needed Discernment in as a Leader


Hannah Anderson discusses the issue of discernment in her book All is Good: Recovering the Lost Art of Discernment, which was named the best book in the “Christian Living” category of the 2018 Gospel Coalition Book Awards. She defines discernment as the ability to sort between a host of options and pick what is good. She tells us that discernment carries the idea of judging the merits of something, being able to distinguish between good and bad and what is best.
She states that in order to make good decisions, you must become a discerning person, a person skilled in wisdom and goodness itself. At the same time, she states that people who are confident in their own ability to make good decisions shouldn’t be. How are we to get this discernment?  Anderson tells us that God will give us discernment when we ask Him for it.
Discernment is a key attribute of leadership. I would go so far as to say that it is an essential for a good leader to have discernment. I had to make many difficult decisions as a leader. Here are three situations in which discernment was needed for me, and where I would often go to the Lord in prayer for wisdom: Continue reading


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The Importance of Truth-Telling for a Leader


Dee Ann Turner was Vice President, Talent and Human Resources for Chick-fil-A, Inc.  In her book “Bet on Talent: How to Create a Remarkable Culture That Wins The Hearts of Customers” she talks about the importance of truth-telling for a leader. She writes that “the kindest thing you can do for someone is tell the truth. This is especially true when providing feedback.” She tells us that truth-telling helps people perform better and often strengthens relationships; it’s likely that people would thank you for telling the truth, even when they don’t like it.
As a leader, this really resonated with me. I always enjoyed giving positive feedback, administering a good performance evaluation or promoting a team member. The flipside of this was not so enjoyable, but every bit as important. Some leaders will sugarcoat difficult messages, perhaps because they want to be liked or perhaps not to hurt the feelings of the person they were providing the feedback to, and I know that I did that over the years as well. But we do no favors to our team members, instead harming them, and not giving them the chance to improve, when we don’t tell them the truth. Here are a few specific situations in which it is important for leaders to tell their team members the truth: Continue reading


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Leadership Lessons from Chick-fil-A


This summer we’ve been looking at a variety of leadership lessons that can be learned in many places each and every day. Thus far, we’ve looked at leadership lessons from the Bible and also from a mother of newborn triplets. Today we’re going to look at leadership lessons that we can learn from Chick-fil-A.

There’s no organizational culture I appreciate more than that of Chick-fil-A. Their corporate purpose, and their “why”, is: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.”

Here are 9 leadership lessons that we can learn from Chick-fil-A: Continue reading


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Live at Woodstock – Creedence Clearwater Revival
****

On Sunday, August 17, 1969, Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR), arguably the hottest band on the planet at the time (their album Green River had just been released and their single “Bad Moon Rising” was on the radio), played the Woodstock Festival. The band had appeared on the Andy Williams television program in Los Angeles the night before. They then took a flight to Boston, a private jet to upstate New York, a helicopter ride to a nearby Holiday Inn and another one to the rainy and muddy festival site. They were scheduled to play in front of the crowd of 500,000 at 10:00pm that evening. But the Grateful Dead set went long, and they didn’t get on until about 1:00pm, when most of the crowd was asleep.  The band chose not to be included in the film or the soundtrack recording (rumors were that John Fogerty wasn’t happy with the set), but on the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Festival, the entire eleven song set is finally being released for the first time.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More of this review and reviews of
    • Acoustic Live, Vol. 1 by NEEDTOBREATHE
    • Back Again by Mac Powell and the Family Reunion
  • Music News
  • Music Quotes
  • Song of the Week Lyrics

Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


The Mighty Weakness of John Knox by Douglas Bond. Reformation Trust. 138 pages. 2011

****

While in Edinburgh, Scotland recently, we visited St. Giles Cathedral, and parking space 23, which marks the spot of John Knox’s grave. I was sickened to see a tour guide defaming Knox, dancing on his grave and encouraging his tour group to do the same. He called Knox an anti-Semite and misogynist. What could cause such behavior about someone I consider a hero?
In this book from the Long Line of Godly Men series, Douglas Bond writes that critics have found much in Knox to attack. Like the prophets of old, Knox was hated and feared by some, and honored and respected by others. He was not unaware that even in his own day that he was perceived as a thunderbolt, uncharitable and severe. In addition, Bond tells us that it is fair to say that much of the enduring hostility toward Knox is rooted in his doctrine of predestination. The English Parliament condemned Knox’s books to public burning 140 years after his death, and for the most part, Scotland has resented the life and ministry of Knox.
But Bond tells us that Knox is a model for the ordinary Christian, especially the one who feels his own weakness, but who nevertheless wants to serve Christ in a troubled world. Christ was at the center of every dimension of his life. It is this, and this alone, that made Knox mighty in his weakness.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review… and reviews of ~
~ Maturity: Growing Up and Going On in the Christian Life by Sinclair Ferguson
~ God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel: How Truth Overwhelms a Life Built on Lies by Costi Hinn
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading


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What Will Your Legacy Be?


 As I write this, I’ve just returned from a Celebration of Life service for Bob, a dear saint from our church. The service included touching remembrances from his three children and his only sibling, a brother. It’s obvious that Bob has left a wonderful legacy. It made me wonder about the legacy that we will leave with those whose lives we have touched.

Here are three key areas in which Bob’s life impacted others:

Family. Bob was married for 53 years. He and his wife had three children and fifteen grandchildren. It was heart-warming to hear of the ways that Bob showed his love to his family – by being present at their sporting events, going camping with them, allowing his grandchildren to pile stuffed animals on him while he was “sleeping”, by being a protective “big brother”, by stressing that family was more important than career and success, etc. He loved his family and it was clear that his family loved him very much as well. What kind of legacy are you leaving with your family? Are there relationships that you need to heal?

Faith. Bob and his brother were PK’s, or pastor’s kids. Bob graduated from seminary and had a strong faith that he modeled for his family as we heard in the remembrances from his children and brother. His Celebration of Life service was a Christ-centered one that included much loved hymns and scripture. Bob also sang in our church choir. Are you leading your family in the ways of the Lord? Are you leaving a legacy of faith for your family that could carry on for generations?

Vocation. In her comments, Bob’s daughter mentioned that she felt that her father’s greatest legacy was adoption. Bob helped facilitate thousands of adoptions. In fact, he made forty-two trips to China helping parents bring back new members of their family, some of whom attended the service. After the service I talked to a long-time friend of mine who benefitted from Bob’s adoption work.  They were one of the families that Bob went to China with to bring back their adopted child. Bob truly integrated his faith and touched many lives in his work. What kind of legacy are you leaving in your work? People will soon forget what seemed at the time to be outstanding results, but they will never forget how you affected their lives.

Bob was a beloved brother, son, uncle, father, grandfather and husband. As a believer, his family has confidence that they will see him again in glory. Until then, he has left a wonderful legacy, which should be an encouragement for us to do the same.