Lost Sparrow (Chris Billing, 2009) BY: Denis Haack Chris Billing is an unassuming man, a journalist and documentarian who cares enough for the truth that he is willing to pursue it even at personal cost.
Get Low (Aaron Schneider, 2009) BY: R. Greg Grooms Get Low admirably scratches the itch without satisfying it. It stirs up the dust just enough to make us curious. It’s a tale that needs to be told. Would that more filmmakers, especially those who are believers, learn to tell it as well.
Snow (Orhan Pamuk, 2002) BY: Denis Haack The story of Snow is deceptively simple, the plot animated by dialogue in a small town cut off from the rest of the world by a snow storm that blankets the landscape in white.
American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood (Marc Eliot, 2009) BY: Denis Haack Clint Eastwood is one of the master storytellers of my generation, and I am grateful for the hours of conversation he has prompted through the films he has made. His movies like his life are a reminder that we live in a world where injustice is rampant and where the yearning for justice that resides deep inside is loudly insistent. Something is wrong, we know it, and we hope for something better. It’s called redemption. In one way, that’s all Clint Eastwood is about.
Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith (Francis Collins, 2010) BY: Denis Haack Occasionally a book is published that provides us a shortcut so we can dip into a variety of works quickly. Francis Collins, geneticist, director of the National Institutes of Health, and author of The Language of God provides us with just that in Belief: Readings on the Reason for Faith. He draws together excerpts from the writings of 32 thinkers reflecting on belief, reason, and faith giving us a rich variety of essays to prompt reflection—and perhaps more reading as we go back to the original to read more.
Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition (Daniel Okrent, 2010) BY: Denis Haack Last Call provides us with a lively opportunity to reflect anew on what shape our citizenship should take, especially when our neighbors hold convictions very different from our own. To what extent should my beliefs—whether religious or moral—be assumed to be for the common good?
The Civil Wars, Poison and Wine (2010) BY: Denis Haack The Poison & Wine EP consists of only four songs, and it makes you yearn for more. The vocals are clear, the melodies lovely, the harmonies effortless, and the performance is simple yet sufficient for the songs to make their way into your heart.
The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical Linguistic Approach to Christian Theology (Kevin J. Vanhoozer, 2005) BY: Denis Haack Wheaton College theologian Kevin Vanhoozer proposes that Christian faithfulness includes what he calls canon sense. It’s practical biblical wisdom for choosing and living faithfully in a fallen world, demonstrating grace even in novel situations. Like common sense, it is learned in living, with a mentor who sees and lives life in deeply biblical categories and for whom faithfulness is a way of life. Canon sense is what attracted me to Francis Schaeffer in the Sixties.
Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010) BY: R. Greg Grooms Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an Extractor, a thief who makes his living by entering the dreams of others and stealing their ideas. It is quite a lucrative business, but for him it has several downsides: it’s dangerous and, thus, exciting (for us if not for him); it cuts him off from his family for reasons you should learn only by watching the movie; it is confusing. The last in Nolan’s opinion may be the worst.
I love my neighbor as myself but only because I don’t much care for myself.
- Garrison Keillor
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