Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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THIS & THAT: A Weekly Roundup of Favorite Articles, Cartoons & Quotes

  • 5 Dangers of Money. Paul Tripp writes “Money matters, but God’s grace matters even more. It alone provides both the strength and the freedom we will continue to need until the dangers of money are no more.”
  • What Does It Mean to Abide in Christ? Sinclair Ferguson writes “In a nutshell, abiding in Christ means allowing His Word to fill our minds, direct our wills, and transform our affections. In other words, our relationship to Christ is intimately connected to what we do with our Bibles!”
  • God Invites You to Delight Yourself in Him. Randy Alcorn writes “To delight in God is to be happy with Him and in Him. To do that, we must cultivate our relationship with Him just as we do with other people by spending time with Him, bowing our knee before Him as our Lord, and also spending time with Him as our friend. That’s how we get to know Him, by learning and meditating daily on what’s true about Him.”
  • What’s the Purpose of the Spiritual Gifts? In this two-minute video, Michael Horton provides a helpful perspective on the spiritual gifts. When we understand the gifts and their purpose, we can more easily understand how God has uniquely gifted each one of us.
  • Distinguishing Marks of a Quarrelsome Person. Here’s a helpful (and convicting) article from Kevin DeYoung.
  • How Do We Become Spiritually Mature? John MacArthur writes “We know that sanctification is a divine work through the Word by the Spirit of truth. So, we must plead with the Spirit that He would mold and shape us into the image of Christ, through the truth, from one level of glory to the next.”

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  • More interesting article links
  • Doug Michael’s cartoon
  • Favorite Quotes of the Week

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • The Church of Chicken. I often say that there is no organizational culture that I respect more than Chick Fil-A. Here’s a long, but excellent, article about the organization.
  • Where is God When I Have Been Fired? Russell Gehrlein writes “I have been reading William Morris’ book Where is God at Work? since last August.  His fresh perspective aligns so well with mine, showing the many ways in which God is present in various challenging situations at work.
  • A Timely New Book on Faith and Work—20 Years in the Making. Craig Sanders reviews Dan Doriani’s new book Work: It’s Purpose, Dignity and Transformation, the best book on work from a Christian perspective that I have read. He writes “Doriani’s years of research and reflection on this important topic sets this text apart from other recent books on the theology of work. His smooth exposition of complex economic and theological themes blended with stories from experience and interviews combine for an eminently readable product. I’d recommend this book to pastors so they can learn about connecting faith and work for their congregations, and the discussion questions in each chapter make this a great resource for small-group studies as well.”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
 More links to interesting articles
 The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
 My Review of “The Soul of a Team” by Tony Dungy with Nathan Whitaker
 Snippets from Os Guinness’ book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life”
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My Review of THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON

The Peanut Butter Falcon, rated PG-13
***

The Peanut Butter Falcon is a well-acted and heartwarming film, though it is somewhat marred by adult language. The film is co-directed and co-written by Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz.
Zac, played by Zack Gottsagen, is 22 years old and has Down Syndrome. He lives in a retirement home since his family abandoned him. He has never had any friends, and would like friends that he could call family. Zac repeatedly watches old wrestling videos from Salt Water Redneck, played by Oscar nominee Thomas Haden Church (Sideways), and wants to attend the wrestler’s school advertised in the video. As a result, Zac repeatedly tries to escape forcing Eleanor, a compassionate worker who works at the facility, played by Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Gray), to label him as a flight risk. Continue reading


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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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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.

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  • 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

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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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My Review of THE LION KING

The Lion King, rated PG
** ½

The Lion King is a remake of the popular 1994 animated film, which is also a successful stage musical. The film, being referred to as “live action”, is entertaining and the computer-generated imagery (GGI) is incredible. However, the film comes across as a bit flat, without emotion or as much of the humor of the original. In addition, there are scenes that are dark and violent that will be scary for young children.
The film was directed by Emmy nominee Jon Favreau (Dinner for Five, The Jungle Book, Iron Man, Chef). The screenplay was written by Jeff Nathanson (Catch Me If You Can). The film had a budget of approximately $250 million, and had an opening weekend gross in the U.S. of $191 million.
This film basically follows the storyline of the original film. Simba is the King’s son and future king of Pride Rock. JD McCrary voices the young Simba, and Golden Globe winner Donald Glover (Atlanta), the older Simba. Simba wants to grow up too quickly, and as a result, doesn’t always do what his father Mufasa, voiced by Oscar nominee James Earl Jones (The Great White Hope), wants him to do, which inevitably gets him into trouble. Nala, voiced by Beyoncé, is Simba’s best friend.
Scar, voiced by Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), is the King’s jealous brother, who wants to be King. We see him mislead Simba on a few occasions because has a plan to make himself the tribe’s leader, which calls for collaborating with a pack of hyenas.
I enjoyed the film, but there was just something missing from making it a truly special film. For one, there was not as much humor in this version as there was in the original. The exception was Timon, voiced by two-time Emmy nominee Billy Eichner (Funny or Die’s Billy on the Street) and Pumbaa, voiced by Emmy nominee Seth Rogan (Da Ali G Show). The music, even the songs you loved from the original film, seemed to fall flat. And perhaps most of all, the film seemed to lack in emotion.
The musical score is by Hans Zimmer, ten-time Oscar nominee and winner for The Lion King, with songs by Elton John, Tim Rice and some new music as well.
Content concerns in the film include dark and violent scenes that will be too scary for young children. Themes include the relationship between a father and a son, sacrificing for others, deception, and guilt.
The Lion King is a beautiful and entertaining film, but falls short of being truly special. The CGI is incredible, as is the cinematography by six-time Oscar nominee Caleb Deschanel (The Natural, The Passion of the Christ), and the film is probably worth seeing just for those reasons.