Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Way Home

Not a lot of phrases these days have the ability to produce extreme reactions in people like "Christian movie".

Think about it: when you read it just now, you either cringed at the memory of past experiences watching lame stories with terrible dialog, or perhaps the phrase filled your heart with warm fuzzies. The former reaction is likely if you saw atrocities like "The Omega Code", and the latter is true for you if you forgave the substandard acting in "Fireproof" or "Facing the Giants" because you agreed with the message.

The good news is, the quality of the post-"Facing the Giants" movies aimed for a primarily Christian audience has been steadily, though slowly, improving. It's not quite up to Hollywood standards yet, but it's getting better.

A recent entry into this field, The Way Home, was recently provided to me for review purposes. The only "stars" are Dean Cain, formerly Superman on ABC's Lois and Clark series, and, in a small but significant role, the guy who played Cletus from "The Dukes of Hazzard."

Despite the lack of A-list actors, and the predictable ending, The Way Home turned out to be pretty good. It won't be an Oscar contender, but it was worth my while.

The story, in a nutshell, is that a family is packing for a vacation, and the toddler takes advantage of his father's momentary inattention and disappears. The police are called, and a search team is formed to comb through the woods near the house.

Particularly uplifting are the various ways in which the community comes together and supports the family, prays for them, and helps in the search. Yes, the ending was a little too warm and fuzzy, but it is a true story, after all.

As much as anything else, The Way Home resembles one of the better episodes of "Touched By an Angel": emotional, heart-warming, and button-pushing.  I give it a solid B.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Thoughts following Game 3 of rangers/Yankees

1. This is a real confidence-builder: The Rangers ran the Yankees' best pitcher out of the game Friday, and outplayed the Yanks for 8 of the 9 innings. The fact that they have now slammed the Yankees for 26 out of 27 innings has to be a real confidence-boost for the Rangers, and has to be causing doubts in the minds of the Yankees players. Don't underestimate the mental side of this game.

2. Feliz's speed in the last AB against Texieria: 98, 98, 99, 100, 98, 99. It's very significant, because it means the batter and pitcher look each other in the eye, and they both understand what kind of pitch is coming. They're daring each other. Even if Feliz had a great breaking ball, it wouldn't have been right, and he knows it, to pitch anything but a fastball. Great way to end it.

3. The toe-to-toe, man-to-man aspect mentioned in #2 above is vital. Tex has been around a while, and can hit a fastball as well as anyone. But for Feliz to take his challenge like that says a lot about his ability to shine when it matters most.

4. Hope this performance in New York doesn't make the Yankees want Lee that much more.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

MLB greed-a Double whammy

Major League Baseball has come in and told the Rangers to tell their tenants--small businesses who rent space in the offices of the Ballpark--that the precedent which has been set for the last 17 seasons is now no longer in effect. They can no longer watch games from their office without purchasing a ticket. At least for the playoffs.

MLB has always had ridiculous rules which come across as greedy. For example, go try to find a clip on Youtube. If you do get lucky enough to find one, bookmark it and come back in a week, and it won't be there. That's because MLB won't let any game footage be shown online, because they want you to view it on the league's website.

A great example of the ridiculousness of MLB's policy is in that article linked to at the beginning of this post. Watch the video, which comes from a news report on local DFW station WFAA. When it gets to the 1:22 mark, the original clip shows some baseball action as part of the news story. But that part is blacked out in this clip because the MLB won't let the news station--reporting a legitimate news story, mind you--show baseball players playing baseball. Because, you know, it might infringe on MLB's copyrighted material. Or something.

Not a lot of things sadden me like greed does. Before money was invented, people found ways to do evil because they wanted more. Eve was convinced by a snake that God was holding out on her. So she and Adam sinned. Later, they had kids, and one was upset that his brother had something he didn't get. So we have history's first murder. Greed is arguably the root cause of most of the world's troubles. Ultimately, the MLB is simply an example of the human condition. The MLB's actions are a symptom, not the problem. But the MLB still has the freedom to make the right choice. Hopefully they'll change their mind.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Love and War--A Review

It's only natural that, after writing about the topics of God's design for men (Wild at Heart), women (Captivating),  spiritual warfare (Waking the Dead), and the parallels between human romance and our relationship with God (The Sacred Romance), it's only logical that John and Stasi Eldredge expound on, and combine, all of those ideas in a book about marriage. Those already familiar with the ministry and writings of both Eldredges will see many similarities in their latest book, Love and War.    But it's not merely the same old regurgitated stuff. Love and War is full of fresh ideas, filtered through the familiar Ransomed Heart framework.

Marriage is perhaps the most covered topic in all of American Christianity. And judging by the way marriage among professing Christians has been getting bludgeoned, it's understandable why.  But Love and War differs from the bulk of marriage-themed books in most Christian bookstores in at least two major ways.

First, there's the transparency of the authors themselves. John and Stasi share their victories, their defeats, their success, their failures, their ups, their downs, their fights, and their sins.  They are open about the topic of sex as it has played out in their marriage. They are open about expectations, and falling short of them. They are open about their pre-marriage pasts, each of them. The authors are open even as they urge the reader to adopt the same kind of transparency. 

Secondly, the authors are not afraid to point out that marriage is hard. Some marriage books will tell you that marriage is hard work. But this is the first I have seen which says, in frank terms, that marriage will, at times, test you, break your heart, confound your expectations, and ultimately drive you to God as the only One who can answer your questions and heal the damage done in the process. Like other Eldredge books, a certain amount of emphasis is given to the topic of past hurts, and the need for healing.

Although I was provided a free copy from Ransomed Heart for review purposes, I am free to say what I want about Love and War. That said, I highly recommend the book for all people who are married, or someday wish to be.