Last week I asked, What have you been reading over Christmas Break?* Now I’d like to know what you’ve been watching. Below is my movie reel with some comments.
My wife (Theresa) and I kicked off the holiday season with Christmas Vacation (1989). Why? To stop. To breathe. To remind ourselves how the holiday season can spin “out of control.” And most importantly, to offer Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany to the Father as we receive the gift of His Son and Holy Spirit. I continue to pray for growth in the fruit of the Spirit, especially patience, as we begin 2011. Not so much a New Year Resolution, as a New Year Longing/Desire.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010): I think that C.S. Lewis’ book stood well on its own without the introduction of an arch enemy, i.e., the evil green mist (which of course brings the White Witch back to once again briefly confront Edmund). While discussing the depiction of Eustace’s “transformation/redemption” with my pastor, I was struck by how “the big screen” cannot give justice to some storytelling. The issue is not just the question of making a family friendly movie, but that the imagination varies when reading the text (parent and child envisioning the passage) and images can at times be much more powerful than those which can be brought the screen (of course one can to some degree re-envision a film’s depiction to make it more real, e.g., the character of Aslan). Hope the film encourages many to read the book in advance and/or follow-up to viewing. New Year resolution: write a longer post focused on Narnia as portrayed in film. Theresa began re-reading the book right afterward and we spent several days comparing the two.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010): I confess that I’m not interested in Harry Potter. But my wife is and as such I’ve sat through the films. They’re ok, but I’m much more a fan of The Lord of Rings. After watching the film, Theresa returned to the book and outlined for me how the series wraps up. While writing Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling was concerned about sharing her Christian faith because it might give away the ending. What do you think?
Charlie Wilson’s War (2007): Fascinating. Can anyone back-up the facts on this one? Didn’t have time to investigate it, but was this film released as a critique of the United States involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan — before and after the current conflict? What does it mean to assist in reconstruction after a major conflict while “minor” conflicts continue unabated?
Doctor Who: Season 1 (Episodes 6-8, 2005): Re-entered the Tardis. It’s been quite awhile. Are there any other Doctor Who fans out there? Are Doctor Who fans largely with science backgrounds? At present, Doctor Who drives home the point that we’re part of something bigger and we’re called to serve others in need. I’ll probably always find the Tom Baker years the best.
Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (2009): To God be the glory! A must see, well done piece sharing the life story of Ben Carson. As you may remember I had the opportunity to hear him speak in the fall and he is an inspiration as I come alongside budding health care professionals part of Penn State Christian Medical Society/CMDA.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946): The film has grown on me over time. This last time I took away how limited human beings are, including myself, in serving others when working outside of God’s grace and leading. Praying for growth in the fruit of the Spirit as I follow Christ in life and ministry. The topic has repeatedly come up in an Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Adult Elective/Sunday School which is discussing Mary Poplin’s Finding Calcutta: What Mother Theresa Taught Me About Meaningful Work and Service (InterVarsity Press. 2008). Note: She’ll speak in Central PA for the Emerging Scholar Network on February 27.
The Secret of Kells (2009): Breathtaking animation, especially the depiction of the creative process. I think it very well may have stimulated some of my recent storytelling. But the graphics involving the Vikings seemed a little too much for family, so I’ve recommended it to those with interest in Celtic Christianity. For more visit: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom (Steven D. Greydanus. Christianity Today. 4/02/2010).
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010): NYU and the Chrysler Building receive some great press while the legend of Battery Park grows. But in general I was frustrated by the combination of Goethe’s poem and a new casting of Merlin’s legacy, particularly since I’ve been discussing Arthurian legend with one of my daughters as we read Looking for the King: An Inklings Novel (David C. Downing. Ignatius. 2010). But that is what you get when Nicholas Cage has the opportunity to create a feature length film with Disney based on the mop scene in Fantasia 😉 Is this another indicator that I like to be rooted in and pass along the legends/stories of the past? Maybe I should check out The Sword in the Stone from the library.
*Note: If you haven’t already done such, please post what you’ve been reading. As for me, I’m still digging into Defending Constantine (Peter Leithart. IVP. 2010) and The Book of Pastoral Rule, but I also picked up The Business of Heaven: Daily Readings from C.S. Lewis (Clive Staples Lewis, Walter Hooper. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1984) and Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation (Ruth Haley Barton. InterVarsity Press. 2006) for some 2011 group studies. Thoughts from all of these books coming sometime in the new year.
About the author:
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the Northeast Regional Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). For a number of years, the Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine was the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!