Pope Francis, head of the world’s largest church, is easily the most influential Christian in the world. Though non-Catholic, I have been thoroughly impressed and inspired by Pope Francis’s dedication to living the gospel. From rejecting the lavish papal residence to sneaking out of the Vatican at night to help the poor, the current pontiff seems to follow the example of Christ closer than any other Christian figure today. It is with this admiration that
As “big, dumb movies” go, the last few “Fast and Furious” films are some of the best – they’re solidly character-driven, and generally pack an emotional heft beyond your average superhero flick. “Furious 7” is no exception: it’s a briskly paced, action-drenched adventure that hits a new high point for the franchise. In a nutshell, the “Fast and Furious” series centers on Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), and their team of exceptionally
In The Grand Paradox, aptly subtitled “The Messiness of Life, the Mystery of God and the Necessity of Faith,” Ken Wytsma discusses the struggles that all of us endure as we journey through life. As the author repeats many times throughout his work, “life is messy and God is mysterious” and trust in God is a necessity. No matter how strange or complicated life becomes, we will persevere as long as we place God at
There are few times in history so important and yet so obscure as the years following the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, when the movement bearing his name transformed from a band of several dozen followers hiding in terror into an international community that would shape the subsequent history of the world. Despite the paucity of evidence from this period, historians and theologians alike continually return to the earliest years of the Jesus
This past Sunday, as America commemorated the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” and the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I decided to take my 10-year-old daughter to see the film Selma. I am so glad I did. It was one of the most important and powerful films I have ever seen. I was brought to tears during the opening scenes of the film. Selma opens
If you’re an even somewhat aware follower of Jesus in today’s post-Christian culture, then you’ve all but certainly encountered bizarre caricatures of God and Christianity hurled like spears at the faith by critics and detractors. Well-known English actor Stephen Fry recently went on a tirade against God in a now-viral television interview. Ricky Gervais’ 2009 comedy The Invention of Lying interprets religious belief as an emotional panacea, an outlandish lie we tell each other and
The trailers for “Jupiter Ascending” were works of art. I’ve seen a lot of movie promos, but few have grabbed my attention like the artfully composed teasers for Andy and Lana Wachowski’s latest high-dollar project. Despite disappointing reviews, I figured I’d give it a shot – after all, it looked like a nice distraction in the midst of art-movie season (and bitter New England wintertime). Simply put, “Jupiter Ascending” is a hot mess of a
The Christian church is facing a crisis. It is losing face, hemorrhaging influence in the public sphere of Western civilization, churches decline in membership, and increasing swaths of people are not longer interested in what Christianity has to offer. This apparent decline is not a new trend to be sure—and stems, at least in part, from the ecclesiastical shift which began during the Protestant Reformation—but it is no less concerning. In order to address these
Most of the reviews I write deal with blockbuster movies, since that’s the type of film I know most readers will be seeing. That said, I also try to make a point of engaging with art that falls outside the domains with which I’m conventionally familiar. Since I happen to already be an Amazon Prime subscriber, I thought I’d give “Transparent” a look (particularly given how much I enjoyed Amazon’s “Mozart In The Jungle,” which
Baptism. Until you’ve looked into the issue, it might seem like one of those odd topics that some people love to discuss, but in the end the answer you land on isn’t super important. At least that’s what I had thought. Recently though, I decided that Baptism was a topic that deserved a closer look. Towards that end, I borrowed a couple books and got to reading. The first of these books was Alan Conner’s
Clint Eastwood’s biographical study of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle – a sniper credited with over 160 confirmed kills, the most in U.S. military history – will likely be remembered as the “Saving Private Ryan” of the Iraq War. This will undoubtedly seem high praise for a film which just opened in wide release: “American Sniper,” however, not only offers an exceptional character study, but brilliantly captures the conflicted cultural ethos surrounding a war to which
Much talked about, “The Interview” is pretty straightforward: TV host Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapaport (Seth Rogen), while planning a trip to Pyongyang to interview dictator Kim Jong Un, are recruited for a covert assassination mission by CIA agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan). The resulting chaos involves puppies, Katy Perry’s “Firework”, tank battles, fake grapefruits, basketball games (a satisfying potshot in Dennis Rodman’s direction) and giant Siberian tigers, among other things. John Ehrett offers his review.
Few movie stars are more ubiquitously typecast than Benedict Cumberbatch, whose rise to cultural prominence has been nothing short of meteoric. Cumberbatch is now a go-to star for directors seeking a genius or supervillain, coupling a certain aristocratic British charm with a Sheldon Cooperesque tendency to hold average society in utter contempt. “The Imitation Game,” in which Cumberbatch stars as cryptologist and early computer engineer Alan Turing, capitalizes on these strengths while simultaneously probing deeper.
I am always looking for good books to help teach my daughters the beauty of the Christian message. This Christmas season my daughters received several new Christian-themed children’s books. In this post I would like to review three of them, two of which I obtained free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and one that I purchased for my girls as a Christmas gift. Let There Be Light by Desmond Tutu
Theology after Vedanta: An Experiment in Comparative Theology offers an important step forward in comparative studies, laying a foundation for a fruitful (re)reading and (re)working of theological conceptions in our pluralistic context.
As a PhD student, I read a lot. I read for work, school, and fun—hundreds, sometimes thousands of pages each week. Very rarely, however, do I encounter a book that is uproariously funny. Even rarer are books which are simultaneously hilarious and theologically sound. C. T. Casberg’s Genesis of the Dead: A Zombie Comedy of Biblical Proportions, however, fits this bill perfectly. A joy to read, Genesis of the Dead is both side-splittingly-funny and theologically
Very few books are must reads, especially for busy, sleep-deprived, tired-of-reading-books-for-class college students (or their even more taxed cousins, the grad student). Rarely does something come along that clearly and concisely explains complex issues with clarity and precision. Ten years ago, one such book came along: The Drama of Scripture, which captivated readers and shed much need lucidity on discerning the Biblical narrative. Now, ten years later, Craig G. Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen have
While much of the field of the History of Christianity (and indeed, history in general) focuses on the great people and ideas of the tradition or period being studied, the genre of “people’s history” seeks to raise awareness of the ways in which ordinary people have lived throughout time and space. Admirable as this project sounds, it is not without its problems. In my experience, many “people’s histories” tend to make significant assumptions concerning the
“Can you love your neighbor as yourself and at the same time knee him in the face as hard as you can?” The recently released documentary Fight Church is a fascinating narrative that seeks to understand the intriguing intersection between Christianity and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). It spotlights the ministries of numerous pastors who live both as leaders of church congregations and of MMA “fight ministries,” where “feet, fist, and faith collide.” Numerous subplots
In Leadership Lessons: Avoiding the Pitfalls of King Saul (Thomas Nelson, 2013), Ralph K. Hawkins and Richard Leslie Parrott outline ten principles for leadership building from the life and failures of King Saul of Israel. Leadership Lessons uses the “worst practices” model of instruction, learning through the examination of the failures of others, much in the model of Gary McIntosh and Samuel Rima’s classic Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership. Beginning with an explanation of