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Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My 2020 Favorites

As has been my practice for several years, I want to share with you my favorites for 2020 in a variety of categories. (Here is my list from 2019). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s list will look very different from past years, as concerts and conferences have been cancelled and movie theatres have been closed.

Except for books, and the film A Hidden Life (a 2019 film that wasn’t available for me to see until 2020), these are all items that were released in 2020. For books, I include my favorite books that I read during 2020, regardless of when the book was published.

Enjoy, and please let me know what you think of my list, as well as what would be on your list.

Movies

Top Pick: A Hidden Life (read my review here).

Other films I enjoyed, in no particular order, were:

      • Hamilton
      • Just Mercy
      • 1917

Music: Albums

Top Pick: Patient Kingdom – Sandra McCracken (read my review here)

Here are the rest of my Top 10 albums of 2020:

  1. The Life of Christ Quintology – Keith and Kristyn Getty (and friends)
  2. Rough and Rowdy Ways – Bob Dylan
  3. McCartney III – Paul McCartney
  4. Restoration – Lecrae
  5. Out of Body – NEEDTOBREATHE
  6. Chris Tomlin and Friends – Chris Tomlin
  7. Live from the Forum MMXVIII – Eagles
  8. Blues with Friends – Dion
  9. Let There Be Wonder – Matt Redman

Other albums I enjoyed, in no particular order, were:

  • American Standard – James Taylor
  • Christ Be All EP – Grace Worship
  • The Lost Demos EP – TobyMac
  • Evensong – Hymns and Lullabies at The Close of Day – Keith and Kristyn Getty
  • Letter to You – Bruce Springsteen
  • A Drummer Boy Christmas – for King & Country
  • Vintage – Shane and Shane

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My Review of A HIDDEN LIFE

A Hidden Life, rated PG-13
****

A Hidden Life, now available on home video, is a powerful film based on true events about a humble and devout Austrian farmer who refused to swear an oath of loyalty to Hitler when called to serve for Germany in World War II. The film, which runs just under three hours and moves along slowly, is beautifully filmed, is thought-provoking, demonstrates the strong faith of the two lead characters, and is one of the best films I’ve seen in some time, though it was largely passed over during awards season. The film was written and directed by three-time Oscar nominee Terrence Mallick (The Tree of Life, The Thin Red Line). The title of the film comes from a line in George Eliot’s novel Middlemarch.
“..for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

The film is about Franz Jägerstätter, played by August Diehl (Inglorious Basterds), a Catholic Austrian farmer. Franz is married to Fani Jägerstätter played by Valerie Pachner. As the film begins, we see Franz serving in the German army, but he doesn’t see combat. During this time, he begins to believe that participation in the war would be a sin. He is allowed to return home, where he and Fani start a family that will grow to three young girls. We see them working hard on their farm, using scythes to cut wheat and bale hay, and raising livestock in the small Austrian village of St. Radegund, near the German border. Franz has a quiet but strong faith. He serves as a sexton at the local Catholic church, without pay. Franz’s mother Rosalia Jägerstätter, played by Karin Neuhäuser, and and Fani’s sister, Resie Schwaninger, played by Maria Simon, come to live with them.
When the war continues, there is fear that Franz will be called back to fight for the German army. His feelings about Hitler begin to spread when he refuses to return the Nazi salute of “Heil Hitler!” to those he passes by. As a result, he and his family begin to be ostracized by the members of the village. We feel the tension each time the bike bell rings with the rider carrying the summons to serve. Eventually, in 1943, Franz receives his notice. Continue reading