Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Leave a comment

My Review of TOMB RAIDER

Tomb Raider, rated PG-13

Tomb Raider is an exciting and entertaining film based on the popular video game series. The series reboot (there were 2001 and 2003 films starring Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft) is directed by Roar Uthaug (The Wave). The screenplay is written by Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons based on a story by Evan Daugherty. The musical score is by Junkie XL (Mad Max: Fury Road). The film had an estimated budget of $94 million.
Oscar winner Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl, Ex Machina) stars as 21-year-old Lara Croft. She lives in London working as a bike courier scraping to make ends meet. She boxes in a local gym but doesn’t even have the money to pay the owner for her time in the gym. Her mother died when she was young. She loves her father, but as we see in flashbacks, he often leaves her (Emily Carey plays a young Lara) for extended periods of time.
Her father, Lord Richard Croft, played by two-time Golden Globe nominee Dominic West (The Affair, The Hour), has long been obsessed with the supernatural. He has built up an impressive business empire, but left Lara seven years ago looking for the hidden tomb of the Japanese Queen Himiko, the Mother of Death, and hasn’t been heard of since. Though Lara hasn’t heard from him, she refuses to believe that he is dead. If she would just agree to sign papers indicating that he is indeed dead, she could be financially secure and receive her inheritance, but she can’t bring herself to do that.

But eventually she gets to the point where she is planning to sign those papers. In that meeting, Lara is given a mysterious Japanese puzzle that her father left behind. The puzzle may leave her some clues as to her father’s disappearance. She decides to leave London and search for her missing father.
She travels to Hong Kong looking for the boat captain that had helped her father seven years ago. But he is missing too. She finds his alcoholic son, Lu Ren, played by Daniel Wu, a Hong Kong boat owner who agrees to give Lara a ride to the hidden island located in the dangerous Devil’s Sea, where Kimiko’s tomb is supposedly located.
On the island, they meet Mathias Vogel, played by Emmy nominee Walton Goggins (Justified). Vogel is an archeologist turned corporate mercenary. He has spent seven years trying to locate Himiko’s tomb, funded by the mysterious Trinity organization.

Themes in the film include self-sacrifice, bravery, family loyalty. Content issues include a good deal of intense action violence and some adult language, including at least one instance of abusing God’s name.
Alicia Vikander is excellent as the energetic and athletic Lara Croft. To prepare for the role, she put on a lot of muscle to play Lara, as she wanted the character to be as realistic as possible. She also wanted to do her own stunts. We see her leaping, swimming, running and shooting a bow and arrow.
Tomb Raider is an exciting action hero film and the end of the film sets up a sequel. I have to admit that I am not familiar with the video game, nor did I see the first two films, so I can’t compare this film to the game or previous films. But I did very much enjoy this well-made film without that background and look forward to the next film in the series.


Leave a comment

THIS & THAT: A Weekly Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes


  • Put God First. In delivering the commencement speech at Dillard University, Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington told the college graduates to put God first in everything they do, adding that everything he has accomplished in this life was due to the grace of God.
  • BreakPoint: The Oscars, Worldview, and The Shape of Water. On this episode of the BreakPoint podcast, Eric Metaxas writes “Sadly, much of this is par for the course these days. But MovieGuide did not simply add up the number of obscenities and scenes of violence and sex; It also identified the film’s underlying worldview: “The Shape of Water,” it says, has a strong Romantic view—that is, it celebrates the philosophy of Romanticism, which teaches that “sexual impulses and the sinful desires of the heart should be lived out” enthusiastically, not “suppressed or rebuked.””
  • A Wrinkle in Timeis Surprisingly Flat. Rebecca McLaughlin. “For a film that explores multiple dimensions of time and space, A Wrinkle in Time is disappointingly flat. I have no sentimental attachment to the book: I read it as an adult, so I have no childhood nostalgia to make the changes from page to screen more painful. But the general flattening felt like a loss.”


  • Church Search. Are you looking to join a church? Click hereto browse or join the Church Search from 9 Marks.
  • Trying to Find a Church on Vacation. “Is that a Baptist church? Ahhhh, i’m not sure.” Every struggled to find a church while on vacation? John Crist and Beth Pilgreen try to find a church to go to while on vacation.

  • The Christian Basis for Civil Disobedience. This episode of the Gospel Coalition podcast is a discussion from 2012 when Tim Keller, Al Mohler, and John Yates sat down to discuss how Christians should evaluate situations that may—or may not—call for civil disobedience.
  • Learn to Pace Your Life Race. Randy Alcorn writes “Life is not a sprint to be run with reckless abandon. It is a marathon to be run with care and thoughtfulness, saving bursts of speed for when they are necessary, but allowing time to recover before the next burst.”
  • Why Suicide Is Everybody’s Business. Joni Eareckson Tada writes “Each year, more than 44,000 people die by suicide in the United States. It is estimated that 25 times that number attempt suicide each year. And the numbers have steadily risen since 2006. Add to that the number of individuals who have chosen physician-assisted suicide—in 2015, 301 people died under Death with Dignity acts in the states of Oregon and Washington alone—and we’re facing a lot of people who have answered “Why not die?” with an empty silence.”

Continue reading

Leave a comment

FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles


  • Christian Lawyers Discuss Their Work. In this video, New Testament scholar Sean McDonough argues that the work modern lawyers do has its roots in the Bible, specifically Luke 10:25-29. Starting at the 9:06 point in the video, professional lawyers share how the Christian faith changes their approach to their work. This video is part of Jesus And Your Job, a video series on how Christians in different industries view their work.
  • The Honorable Edmund Moy, 38th Director of the U.S. Mint | Interview and Video. Bill Peel writesEd Moy served as Director of the US Mint (2006-2011). He is an advisor to presidents, a television commentator, an author, a business executive, a corporate director, as well as a pastor and follower of Jesus. Through his story, Ed shares how service to the Lord is more than a Sunday event but an everyday working reality.”

  • A Magazine about Work. The current issue of Light Magazine is on the topic of work. Russell Moore explains why teaching our kids to work is a vital part of parenting. Jason Thacker explores the rise of automation and its effects on the ever-changing job force. Justin Lonas looks at the challenges in rural America and how the church can be a helpful presence. And Carolyn McCulley chronicles the relationship between women and work and the factors that have made it so confusing.
  • When Work Gets Wearisome. Scott Sauls writes “It turns out that even Jesus, the one with enough power to speak the galaxies into existence by speaking, had to endure the Sisyphus experience in his work of saving souls and loving people, places, and things to life. Shouldn’t we, who are far less strong and far less perfect than he, expect similar things for ourselves? If Jesus, who will one day resolve every groan in his good creation, was subject to the groan, shouldn’t we expect to be also?”

Continue reading

1 Comment


I Can Only Imagine, rated PG
*** ½

I Can Only Imagine is the story behind MercyMe’s song of the same title, the most- played Contemporary Christian song of all time.  It is one of the best faith-based films that I have seen. The film is directed by Andrew and John Erwin (October Baby, Woodlawn, Mom’s Night Out), and written by Alex Cramer, Brent McCorkle (Unconditional), and John Erwin.
We first meet Bart Millard, played as a young boy by Brody Rose, living in Greenville, Texas. His home life isn’t good, as his father Arthur, played by two-time Golden Globe nominee Dennis Quaid (The Special Relationship, Far from Heaven), is physically and verbally abusive toward Bart and his mother Adele, played by Tanya Clarke.

Arthur has never gotten over his failure to achieve his football dreams.  Bart’s mom sends him to a church camp where he meets a girl named Shannon, played by Taegen Burns. But when Bart returns home, his Mom has left the home, abandoning him to live alone with his father. The older Bart, played by J. Michael Finley, tries to earn his father’s approval by playing football. But a crushing tackle results in both of Bart’s legs being broken, thus ending his football playing days and his hopes of fulfilling his father’s dreams.
Shannon, now played by Madeline Carroll, encourages him to take the Glee Club as an elective, led by Mrs. Fincher, played by Priscilla C. Schirer (War Room). It is there that he finds out that he can sing and is given a lead role in the musical Oklahoma!, a role that he accepts reluctantly. But Bart’s relationship with his father continues to deteriorate, and so he decides to leave both his father and Shannon.
Bart leaves for Oklahoma City and eventually becomes the lead singer for a then struggling band, MercyMe, named for Memaw’s favorite expression. He asks a famous music manager Brickell, played by actor and country music artist Trace Adkins, to attend one of the band’s shows. Brickell is supportive of Bart but tells him that the band isn’t quite ready. After a promising showcase at the Gospel Music Association doesn’t result in an expected record deal, Bart decides to return home to deal with his relationship with his father. But Bart is not prepared for the father he returns home to.

Michael Finley is excellent in the lead role of Bart Millard as is Dennis Quaid as Arthur Millard, Bart’s abusive father. Nicole DePort portrays Amy Grant in a twist to the story that I didn’t see coming. 91-year-old Oscar winner Cloris Leachman (The Last Picture Show), portrays Bart’s Memaw in a small role. Themes in this emotionally powerful film include family dysfunction, fear, abuse, core lies, pursuing dreams, forgiveness, repentance, faith, redemption and reconciliation.
I Can Only Imagine is an emotional, well-made and acted film, and one of the best faith-based films I’ve seen, although due to the subject matter, parts of the film are difficult to watch. If you want to read more about this powerful story, check out Bart Millard’s new book I Can Only Imagine: A Memoir.

Leave a comment


I Knew You When – Bob Seger (Deluxe Edition)

This is 72-year old Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Bob Seger’s eighteenth studio album. It was self-produced and recorded in Detroit and Nashville and dedicated to longtime friend Glenn Frey, who died in 2016. The album cover features a mid-60’s photo of Seger. Some of the songs were written and originally recorded several years ago.
I saw Seger in concert with the Silver Bullet Band back at the now defunct Poplar Creek Music Theatre near Chicago in the summer of 1980 and have enjoyed his music ever since. Here are a few brief comments about each of the songs:
Gracile –  The album opens strong with this rocker, featuring excellent guitar, including a nice solo, bass, drums and backing vocals. This song is a about a woman. She’s a winner, her body is gracile (slender, thin, graceful), and she’s in control.  
Busload Of Faith
–  This song was written by Lou Reed and appeared on his 1989 album New York. It was the first single released from the new album.  Seger changed some of the lyrics, substituting “You can’t depend on the President” for Reed’s “You can’t depend on the churches”. It’s an upbeat song with horns, a guitar solo and gospel-like backing vocals.
The Highway – This rocker is driven by guitar and a drum beat. It features a strong vocal by Seger, backing vocals, some of which sounds like an uncredited Bruce Springsteen, and a guitar solo. In a world of phony prophets, he’s packing up his gear, getting out of here and heading for the highway.    Continue reading

Leave a comment

THIS & THAT: A Weekly Roundup of Favorite Articles and Quotes

  • My Amazon Reviews. Check out more than 350 of my Amazon book and music reviews, along with a few movie reviews. My movie reviews are also posted on IMDb, book reviews on Good Reads and music reviews on New Release Today.
  • 2018 Ligonier National Conference. For more than 20 years, the Ligonier National Conference has been an event I look forward to every year. This year was certainly different as it was the first with Dr. R.C. Sproul, who died in December. Read these daily recaps from Nathan W. Bingham. Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3. You can watch the messages from the conference here.
  • 2019 Ligonier National Conference. Registration has just opened for the 2019 Ligonier National Conference to be held in Orlando, Florida March 14-16. The theme will be “He is Holy”. Get the lowest rate by this Saturday, March 17.
  • Evangelical Leader Collin Hansen Believes We Live in “A Culture Full of Fear and Loathing”. Collin Hansen, Editorial Director of the Gospel Coalition is interviewed as part of a series called ‘Uncomfortable,” hosted by Amna Nawaz, that offers in-depth honest conversations with influential figures about issues dividing America.
  • Spurgeon’s Orphanage: How One Woman Changed the World. Sara Willcocks writes “Anne was a devout Christian and widow of an Anglican preacher. She is one of the great unknowns behind the remarkable story of our 150-year legacy. The charity exists today because of Anne’s devotion to Jesus Christ and the financial donation she gave to renowned preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon.”

Continue reading

Leave a comment


Book Reviews
When Is It Right to Die?  A Comforting and Surprising Look at Death and Dying by Joni Eareckson Tada. Zondervan Updated Edition. 208 pages. 2018

There are few people I respect more than Joni Eareckson Tada. She has had tremendous influence since a diving accident left her in a wheelchair fifty years ago. I’ve read many of her books and seen her speak at conferences. This is a revised edition of a book that she wrote 25 years ago. Much has changed during that time. When the book was first written, some of what is covered in this helpful new edition was only theoretical.
The book goes beyond the theoretical to the practical. Joni helps us make the moral judgments we will all be faced with. She brings what she and her family have learned from going through the dying process with her father. She writes about her own periods of depression, suicidal thoughts, severe pain and also breast cancer.
She writes about physician assisted suicide, which is now legal in five states in the U.S. She recalls the case of Terri Schiavo case, who was deemed to be in a “persistent vegetative state”, and other stories from the headlines, but indicates that most of these stories never make the headlines. She shares heart-breaking letters that have been sent to her.
Joni tells us that 44,000 people commit suicide in the U.S. each year, and many, many more attempt it, in addition to those who take advantage of states that provide physician’s assisted suicide. Why the increase in those taking their own life? Joni states that it is often due to pain and no hope for relief. This much and no more.
She shares several answers that people give as to when it is right to die (when it’s too expensive to live, mercy, pain, etc.). She writes that unfortunately 38% of evangelicals support in certain cases “mercy killing”. She defines the various terms in the conversation (euthanasia, physician’s assisted suicide, etc.).
Scripture says that death is the final enemy. Joni writes that you have the right to live. She writes how your decision for life matters to others, to yourself and to the enemy, and to God.
She shows from the Bible that God is opposed to mercy killing, but that it is acceptable to let dying people die. The act of dying does not need to be prolonged. End of life decisions are difficult. She recommends an Advanced Care Directive, as opposed to a Living Will. She recommends that you assist your loved ones by documenting your wishes and revisit them often. Ask God to give you wisdom on these important decisions. Continue reading