Showing posts from January, 2010

What The Dog Saw - Book Review

I recently completed Malcolm Gladwell's newest book What The Dog Saw: And Other Adventures . Gladwell is the wildly successful author of The Tipping Point, Blink and Outliers.  What The Dog Saw is a collection of essays that Gladwell completed for The New Yorker over the last decade or so.  Gladwell's success in the world of nonfiction has been largely attributed to his ability to tell a story, but I believe that his boundless curiosity about the world and how it works is his most endearing quality.  For example, The Tipping Point asked the basic question, "How do movements, trends and cultural phenomenon begin and grow?"  Blink asked, "How do people make decisions...really?"  Outliers asked "What makes successful people, successful?"  What The Dog Saw is simply a series of the same kind of great stories and questions that make Gladwell's work so engaging.  Gladwell wonders in The Pitchman what makes Ron Popeil, the CEO of Ronco and t

The Lovely Bones: Review

The Lovely Bones is the newest film by big-budget director Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings Trilogy, King Kong), adapted from Alice Seebold's bestseller of the same name.  The book (and the film) are narrated by 14-year old Suzie Salmon (played convincingly by Saoirse Ronan) who is brutally murdered by a serial killer, but remains connected to her life in an in-between place that is neither heaven nor earth.  Her presence, which can sometimes be seen and felt by her family members and even her killer, both draws them all together even as it threatens to tear them apart.  In the end, the Lovely Bones invites us to see that life is sweet, beautiful, fleeting and often tragic, death is only a beginning, justice is elusive but true and sure,  and all that we can do is the best that we can with the gifts that we have been given.  What has attracted a great deal of criticism is the way in which Jackson chose to interpret the story.  Jackson's liberal use of CGI worlds and trippy

I Saw The Light

I've been thinking a lot this week about good and evil, and how we tell the difference between the two. You are probably thinking, "Dude...that's not so hard.  Why would it take you all week?"  It would seem like a pretty pointless exercise, I will admit.  Still, despite the fact that it seems simple, it's a lot more complicated to explain.  I mean, how do you know that something is good or evil... really know ? I remember reading about this town in Germany during the Nazi regime.  This town was full of ordinary people who lived ordinary lives.  The town was made up of farmers, postmen, housewives, shop owners, teachers and bankers.  Some of them happened to be Jewish.  When the persecution of Jews in Germany began in earnest, the people in the town who weren't Jewish not only encouraged it, they participated in it.  Neighbors turned on neighbors.  Property was seized. Families were destroyed and people were sent to concentration camps. We all can a

"No Room At The Inn" DVD Curriculum Review

I recently received a copy of the Hungry Planet Bible Project's DVD curriculum No Room At The Inn .  Unfortunately, I received it too late to use it as part of my 2009 Advent studies.  I will without a doubt be using this next year.  My church has recently undergone a huge transformation.  We launched a food ministry to cook one meal a week and to distribute food to the hungry as needed.  We also launched a clothes closet for needy families to find clothes.  Along with existing ministries to at-risk children and partnerships with our local elementary school to tutor students who are falling behind, we have moved from being a church that primarily was concerned with self-preservation to one that is concerned with giving itself away for the kingdom of God.  No Room At The Inn would have been a vital part of that transformation, but I know that God has a plan for its use in my church next year.  The stories that are told on the DVD by the people affected by homelessness are poignant,

Rediscovering God In America - Book Review

Rediscovering God In America: Reflections on the Role of Faith in our Nation's History & Future by Newt Gingrich and featuring the photography of Callista Gingrich  The latest book by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is not immediately what you would expect from the outspoken, oft-controversial, conservative intellectual.  It's kind of a coffee table book, to be honest, that Gingrich offers up as a "rebuttal to those who seek to write God out of American history."  While Rediscovering God In America is assuredly right-leaning in terms of rhetoric it is an easy and informative read, filled with beautiful photographs taken by Gingrich's wife, Callista.  The book takes a brief "walking tour" through some of Washington D.C.'s most famous landmarks and memorials for the purpose of telling their stories, revealing their spiritual side, and demonstrating how God has had God's hand in the American public square since it's inception. 

The Game's Afoot...

Sherlock Holmes (Rated PG-13) Robert Downey, Jr; Jude Law; Rachel McAdams. Directed by: Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes is probably one of the most recognizable and marketable literary characters of all time.  The great detective was originally conceived by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the 19th century and since then has been portrayed in TV, film, radio, comic books and of course in popular literature for over a century.  The most famous portrayal of Holmes came from Basil Rathbone who portrayed the detective from 1939 to 1946 in a series of films that held closely to the original stories set in Victorian London.  In his wildest dreams Rathbone could never have imagined Sherlock Holmes and the action-packed, computer graphic-laden, thriller that director Guy Ritchie brought to life.  Rathbone also could have never imagined the interpretation of Holmes that Robert Downey, Jr delivers.  Unlike the perpetually calm, resolute and always-in-control Holmes of yore, Downey, Jr’s Holmes is a ma