Posts Tagged ‘review’

I was first exposed to Bishop Carlton Pearson on NBC’s Dateline “To Hell and Back”in the Fall of 2007, and did a little internet reading on his story. I saw him again as a panelist in March of this year on ABC’s Night Line Face Off “Does Satan Exist?”. A lot of what he had to say resonated with me and peaked my curiosity to learn more. I recently got his book The Gospel of Inclusion and finished reading it last night.

I enjoyed the book, but it left me unsatisfied. I have a lot of sympathy with what Carlton went through. Like him, my conclusions and de-converting did not begin with an epiphany but was rather the result of a process of wrestling with questions and answers and more questions. True to his disclaimer the book does represent the collective of his post-evangelical sermons and is heavy on Biblical references. I think I was hoping for a little more biographical narrative and less sermonizing, even though I appreciate the difference in tone and aim in the message. I think the book was written primarily as a message to evangelicals, starting where they are and taking them through his theological transition and reasoning making the case for the Gospel of Inclusion.

It’s funny to me that some of the things that many people consider “liberal” seem oddly conservative to me still. Perhaps that’s a measure of how far I’ve come or evidence that I don’t use a yard stick anymore.

I admittedly speed read through the first two-thirds of the book, because he was “preaching to the choir” where I’m concerned. I need no de-converting from evangelicalism. I appreciate the last portion of the book most, where he talked more about life on the otherside of his “coming out” of evangelicalism. I relate to that more. I’m still looking for a book that wrestles more with reading the Bible again for the first time or rethinking faith and practice on the other side of evangelicalism.

I really like Carlton Pearson as a person and have not seen or read anything that would lead me to doubt his motives. If he was out to make money, he surely wouldn’t have thrown away a profitable and high-profile ministry. I think this book is a good bridge for people who are questioning and wrestling with their evangelical background. This book and message won’t lead you away from Christian faith altogether. There’s no brain washing going on here. Just one man’s candid and very personal journal of his faith journey.

For all the laughs that Adam Sandler has delievered over the years his role in Spanglish set him apart as a serious actor. His performance in Reign on Me far surpasses even that achievement. I’ve always loved Don Cheadle. He’s just such a classy, likeable guy. Liv Tyler is so demure and ethereal. The cast as a whole works so well in this film, but the writing and directing are masterfully orchestrated. Mike Binder really amazed me. Who knew he could be capable of such art? He even has a small role in the movie.

The film is heavy without a doubt. How can you make a movie about a 911 widower struggling with grief light hearted? Nonetheless there is tremendous balance with just enough laughs and brevity to rivet your attention and keep your heart from breaking completely until just the right moment.

I haven’t cried watching a movie since Where the Red Fern Grows when I was 9. I cried during this movie! Did you hear me? I cried for God’s sake. I couldn’t help it. What was odd was that I finally broke near the end of the movie during a happy scene of all things. The film takes you into the depths of pain and heartache like few have done before, but it’s not a sad movie. It’s really not. It’s heart warming and endearing. It will make you cherish your life and all those in it that you love. It is a must see, and a must win for an Academy Award.

I was first in line at Blockbuster Tuesday morning to get Tranformers, and I was not disappointed. Wow! I thought the FX were impressive, the story was pretty good, and Megan Fox was amazing. As a Gen X kid, or whatever they call kids that grew up in the 80’s these days, I was a huge Transformers fan of both the cartoons and the toys. I like the way the storyline introduced the whole franchise to a generation that weren’t familiar. There was just enough humor in it to tone down the intensity and remind you what it was to grow up with the franchise. I think Michael Bay did an outstanding job directing. It has got to be one of the best cartoon to movie transitions I’ve ever seen. Five stars all the way!

Rise of the Silver Surfer

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer was ok. The special effects were good. You gotta love anything with Jessica Alba in it, but there was no real wow factor to the movie. I didn’t really enjoy the first one much either. It’s great for kids I guess. Although I’d rank it higher than a lot of B-rated comic movies of recent years, it falls short of Spiderman by a skyscraper.

Even MoneyShari Rhodes deserves an academy award for casting Even Money. How she got these people to sign up for this one, I’ll never know. Consider the A-list here: Kim Basinger, Nick Cannon, Danny DeVito, Kelsey Grammer, Ray Liotta, Jay Mohr, Tim Roth, & Forest Whitaker. The beginning was good, as in the first 15 minutes. I liked the layered intro of the characters, but after that it went down hill quickly. It was terribly written and ridiculously predictable. It starts getting worse, but you keep hoping that something’s going to turn it around soon. It doesn’t happen. About half way through Basinger has an argument with her husband Liotta when this corny background music starts playing. Right then my wife looks up and says, “This sounds like a Lifetime movie.” I could not have described it any better. It would be a perfect Lifetime Original were it not for the all-star cast. Oh, Kelsey Grammar was good though, if only they didn’t bury his face in prosthetics and makeup, as to disguise the fact that it’s Kelsey Grammar.Don’t waste your money or your time on this one. You’ll have better luck with the nickel slots!

I just started reading a new book. I couldn’t get into The Lord of the Rings as easily as I did The Hobbit. My second attempt to read Eugene Peterson’s Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places failed too. It’s not an easy read like his other books have been. I honestly tried though. I just wasn’t buying it nor enjoying it.

I picked up Searching for God knows what by Donald Miller at the library today. I just can’t put it down. I really enjoyed Blue Like Jazz. His conversational writing style is enjoyable and hysterical. I’ll blog more about the book a little later, but I thought I’d share the first couple quotes that jumped out at me:

“I realized the gospel of Jesus, I mean the essence of God’s message to mankind, wasn’t a bunch of hoops we needed to jump through to get saved, and it wasn’t a series of ideas we had to agree with either; rather, it was an invitation, an invitation to know God.

“If you happened to be a person who thought they knew everything about God, Jesus would have been completely annoying.”

Without a doubt one of the movies with the most spiritual impact that I’ve seen in a while has to be Levity, starring Morgan Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, and Kirsten Dunst. I warn you, it’s gritty. The characters aren’t just flawed, they’re seriously messed up. Three lives intersect, each needing their own measure of grace in hopes of finding redemption. I’ll leave you with a few quotes in hopes that you will see it for yourself:

Miles Evans (Morgan Freeman): You think God talks to me? We argue maybe, but He don’t participate. It’s all right. I’ll see Him one day. When I do, I’m gonna whip His holy ass.

***********************************

Miles Evans: You know, you could get lucky. God might decide to grade you on the curve.
Manuel Jordan (Billy Bob Thornton): It wouldn’t matter either way.
Miles Evans: You don’t know what the hell you talking about, do you? Why be afraid of a God that you don’t believe in? Oh, I know, it seems like people are making up shit so they can feel good about all the pain, all the cruelty, loss, violence, suffering, death. Famine, bigotry, small-mindedness, repression, depression, oppression. Want me to keep talking? ‘Cause I can go on forever with this shit.
Manuel Jordan: No, I get the point.
Miles Evans: The point is: I believe in the lie. Never underestimate its power. Now, as for me, well, I’m lying through my teeth. I’ll see you soon.

Miller ChillI finally tried the new Miller Chill “Chelada Style” today at lunch. (I know “drinking on the job” but it was Friday and I’m self-employed.) I’ll admit that I’m not a beer connoisseur nor a “drunkard,” but I enjoy a good beer (or two) with the right food. When I drink alcohol these days, I’m probably drinking beer as much as 40% of the time, as opposed to when I only drank wine and the occasional mixer.

Anyway, the stuff is good. When I heard “lime & salt,” I first thought it might taste like a Margarita. Not so. Like my astute bartender said, “it tastes like Corona with lime, but it’s less bitter.” Right on description. It’s mildly sweet too but very refreshing. I would say that it tastes like Corona Light with lime. I can’t taste any salt. It has the smooth flavor of Miller Lite. I don’t think a Bud Light version of this “Mexican recipe” would down too well since Bud has more hops flavor than Miller.

For a hot day or good Mexican food you can’t go wrong with Miller Chill. Cheers!

Changing Lanes is an amazing movie I never heard of before but just happened to see at Blockbuster. I’ve never been real impressed by Ben Affleck except in Good Will Hunting, but he really delivered in this one. The movie is an ordinary day that goes to hell quickly and continues to unravel at every turn just until it couldn’t get any worse. It’s a true crescendo effect of emotion with a very powerful ending.

Favorite lines/moments:

Doyle (Jackson): “Money. You… you think I want money? What I want is my morning back. I need you to give my time back to me. Can you give me back my time? Can you give my time back to me? Huh? Can you?” 

Gavin (Affleck): “They’ve got to write their own letters.”

Doyle’s Sponsor (William Hurt): “You know, booze isn’t really your drug of choice anyway. You’re addicted to chaos. For some of us, it’s coke. For some of us, it’s bourbon. But you? You got hooked on disaster.”

Gavin (Affleck): “It’s like you go to the beach. You go down to the water. It’s a little cold. You’re not sure you want to go in. There’s a pretty girl standing next to you. She doesn’t want to go in either. She sees you, and you know that if you just asked her her name, you would leave with her. Forget your life, whoever you came with, and leave the beach with her. And after that day, you remember. Not every day, every week… she comes back to you. It’s the memory of another life you could have had. Today is that girl.”