What have you been watching over Christmas Break?

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.


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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tom Grosh IV

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 South Central PA Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). The Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine is 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!

More Posts - Website


  • W. Brian Lane commented on January 8, 2011 Reply

    My wife and I have watched a lot of Law & Order: SVU on Netflix over our mutual winter break. It’s amazing to me how almost everything in the detectives’ personal lives (Stabler’s divorce, Benson’s mother dying) happens off-camera and receives little screen time, yet that’s what I’m most interested in. I almost wonder if, in the local church community, Christians have the opposite problem: Everything interesting in our professional/vocational lives happens off-camera, and doesn’t receive much conversation time.

    Also, Elf and the Alvin & the Chipmunks movie (the recent CGI film, not the hand-drawn hot air balloon race around the world) are Christmas features at our house.

    • Tom Grosh IV commented on January 10, 2011 Reply

      “I almost wonder if, in the local church community, Christians have the opposite problem: Everything interesting in our professional/vocational lives happens off-camera, and doesn’t receive much conversation time.”

      — Excellent observation Brian. Any recommendations regarding how to encourage this conversation/dialogue?

      Each week at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ, we have prayer in “fellowship groups,” i.e., groups which are largely age/life situation based. These add to small groups, hallway chats, the sermon, and adult electives/Sunday School. It seems that small groups and adult electives are vital places for such conversation.

      At present I’m part of an adult elective which is reading/discussing Mary Poplin’s “Finding Calcutta: What Mother Teresa Taught Me About Meaningful Work and Service,” http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/code=3472. In the fall, I participated in an adult elective which read/discussed Dennis Hollinger’s “Head, Heart & Hands: Bringing Together Christian Thought, Passion and Action,” http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/code=3263. Note: Dennis Hollinger and Mary Poplin are speakers in our 2010-2011 Central PA Christian Scholar Series/Emerging Scholars Network, http://www.etownbic.org/christianscholar. These books and presentations by Christian scholars have led to significant conversations regarding faith and vocation.

  • joymchavez@gmail.com'
    Joy commented on January 9, 2011 Reply

    I am an astronomy graduate student and love Dr. Who. I just finished season one, and will be starting with David Tennant as the Dr. soon. I enjoy sci-fi just as a genre. I don’t try to analyze or figure out their science. I simply enjoy the story and imagination of the story-creator. I do relate to the Dr.’s companions and their desires to be part of an adventure, travels, and heroism. The Dr.’s crazy personality, and the Tardis’s seeming randomness is in contrast to my other favorite sci-fi series, Star Trek: The Next Generation. Picard is so very careful, wise, thorough, and (mostly) patient. The whole ship is very orderly, while Dr. Who flies by the seat of his pants. They are both a lot of fun.

    • Tom Grosh IV commented on January 10, 2011 Reply

      So great to meet another Dr. Who fan! We’ll have to share notes 😉 Thank-you for giving a window on how you as an astronomy graduate student perceive/enjoy Dr. Who, Star Trek, and the larger sci-fi genre.

      Note 1: Another Dr. Who fan came out of cyberspace via email, “‘Dr. Who’?! Totally cool (old and new). respect.”

      I responded, “‘You may be a doctor. But I’m the Doctor. The definite article, you might say.’ — 4th Doctor, Tom Baker … but yes, applicable to all incarnations of the Doctor ;-)”

      Note 2: My background in the sciences is in Biology (BS, Grove City College). But since then, my interests drifted into History/Philosophy of Science and fun with tech students (undergrad/grad) and faculty while a staff at Carnegie Mellon U (1996-2006). In addition connecting with a wide range of students and faculty through ESN, I’m partnering with the Christian Medical and Dental Association in working with students/professionals in health care at PSU-Hershey Medical Center.

  • hannaheag@comcast.net'
    Hannah commented on January 10, 2012 Reply

    I like Dr. Who, but mostly because I’m a nerdy English major. 🙂 I especially enjoy the ones with literary references or plots, like the David Tennant episode that features the lost Shakespeare play “Love’s Labours Won.” I do like Tom Baker’s performances a lot, also.

    I’ve also been really enjoying Inspector Lewis episodes lately. Many of them significantly incorporate literary quotations or figures as well, and I enjoy that. Since they’re set in Oxford, they sometimes incorporate other academic disciplines as well (mathematics, music, etc.).

    • Tom Grosh IV commented on January 10, 2012 Reply

      Excellent Hannah! Maybe we should chose several ‘choice’ episodes and have a Central PA Christian Scholars Doctor Who party with academic commentary 🙂 I have a local friend (unlike me) who is completely “up-to-date.” A summer tea party?

      Maybe I’ll try to sneak in another “What I’ve read/seen over break post,” after the brief series on Amy Sherman‘s Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good (InterVarsity Press. 2011). Honestly I could not put her book down over break. On Thursday, I’ll dig into Chapter 2: What Do The Righteous Look Like?. Stay tuned 🙂

  • hannaheag@comcast.net'
    Hannah commented on January 22, 2012 Reply

    I think a Central PA Christian Scholars’ Dr. Who tea party is a splendid idea. I may even be caught up by then . . .

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.