Reel talk: films I’ve seen recently.

We’ve seen four movies of late,  and they left some impressions. Some of the impressions were better than others, and all of the films but one were big budget flicks. We are a family headed by a lover of comic books, so I’ll start with those. The last film is one that can only be considered an artistic wonder, and it’s something original, unlike most of what filmmakers churn out these days. I’ll put the trailer at the end for those who haven’t heard of it. If you’re an art lover, you’ll want to try and find one the few theaters new you which is running it.

Thor: Ragnarok was an attempt to lighten Thor up, infuse some humor into the franchise, and reunite Loki and Thor in an interesting but shaky alliance to fight off their evil sister whom they never knew about until right before she showed up. Were it not mot for my general enjoyment of Mark Ruffalo and particularly Idris Elba, I wouldn’t have found it very entertaining at all. I give it a ‘C’ and don’t recommend that you see it if you haven’t already.

Secondly, we saw the new Justice League movie. My husband has always preferred DC to Marvel comics anyway, so it stands to reasons that we would like this one more. It was pretty good, and there weren’t any obvious attempts to shove PC narratives down your throat. At least, there weren’t any that one doesn’t expect in a typical Hollywood film. They stuck to the spirit of the comics mostly, unlike Spider-Man: Homecoming which was a disaster of a film more concerned with meeting a diversity quota and opening the minds of its audience.

As an aside, I noticed that the Aquaman of my childhood got a major upgrade in the Justice League. My childhood Aquaman is on the left, while the new and improved Aquaman is on the right.

It just occurred to me that my characterization of this as an improvement it pretty subjective.  As for the film itself, I give it a ‘B’.

We also saw Coco, Disney-Pixar’s latest. it was visually stunning and well presented. Because our kids have been taught and understand all the inherent theological falshoods and problems connected to the Mexican Day of the Dead, they saw this as fantasy and nothing more.  Read the review for this one at the Christian movie review site Plugged In for more information. The worst part of this experience was the 20 minute Frozen “short” at the beginning, which was not only long, but tediously boring.

On to more highbrow stuff.

Below is the trailer for Loving Vincent, a film in which every bit of the animation, and it feels like undervaluing it to call it animation, is hand painted by 100 artists in the post-impressionist style of Vincent Van Gogh. The film is an exploration of his tragic and short life which celebrated his art from beginning to end.

It was original, which sets it apart from most of what it out there today, and it was well done. I highly recommend it for art buffs and hisory lovers. You just have to find theaters which are running it if you’re interested.

Thus ends our recent foray into the movies. We have no intention of seeing the new Star Wars so thus ends our uncharacteristically busy movie stint for quite a while.

Disquiet Time

disquiet time

Disquiet Time: Rants and Reflections on the Good Book by the Skeptical, the Faithful, and a Few Scoundrels. Edited by Jennifer Grant and Cathleen Falsani. Originally published in 2014.

I saw this on the shelf in the library, so I picked it up and flipped through the table of contents to see if I recognized any of the authors who offered essays for this compilation of thoughts on various aspects of The Bible.

When I saw the name Steve Brown, I checked it out without giving much thought to the other authors included. I listen to Steve’s snippets on the radio, and in addition to his awesome voice (second only to Voddie Baucham and followed by Alistair Begg), I appreciate Steve’s solid but compassionate exploration of the gospel.

Being acutely aware of your imperfections makes you giddy at the prospect of new mercies every morning and a Heavenly Father slow to anger and abounding in compassion, Who knows we are but dust. Steve reminds me, since I tend to skip along the outskirts of the town of Condemnationville pretty often, not to go there.

So like I said, I checked out the book. Sigh. I’m not going to hold it against Steve Brown that his essay was parked in the middle of some of the most outlandish interpretations of Scripture I’ve ever read. However, I was sure tempted to.

After nearly every essay, I found myself whipping out my tablet to google the -often female- author of ideas that stretched the bounds of the traditional interpretations of Scripture. A few of the men were kind of sketchy, but more often than not they seemed to stick to the spirit of Scripture. What I found were pastors of liberal denominations, emergent church pastors, and all sorts of interesting biographical information that would have informed me of what was to be found if I was familiar with many of the writers. But I wasn’t.

To be fair, there were plenty of opportunites here to eat the meat and spit out the bones. As a longtime believer who is familiar with and well taught of the Scripture, it was easy enough for me to do that. The new believer, the seeker, or the person just looking for an understanding of the Bible would come away from this book fairly convinced that there is very little need for sanctification and that Scriptural interpretation is intensely personal.

I think I just described post-modern American Christianity in its entirety in one sentence.

If I am making this book sound as if I didn’t enjoy it at all, I’m not being clear enough. There were parts I enjoyed immensely, little nuggets stuck right in the middle of essays I thought were otherwise drivel. But as I said before, I can handle that, and not everyone can.

One of the most egregious essays was Debbie Blue’s exploration of her thoughts on the story of  the conflict between Hagar, found in Genesis 16. She was so postmodern (not to mention feminist) in perspective, I asked one of our daughters what she thought about Blue’s opinion. She too thought Blue was off base in the way she interpreted the story, and that was before you consider that she repeatedly painted the picture of Ishmael as a toddler (rather than a young teen) when he and Hagar were sent away from Sarah and Isaac with the promise from God that he would make Ishamel a great nation.

Because I have wearied of a church which prizes propriety over piety, and seems uttely devoid of being able to bridge the gaps between the reality of human struggling, God’s mercy, and the command for us to increase in sanctification with the understanding that we will never fully arrive this side of Paradise, I picked up this book expecting far more than I got. It wasn’t worthless, but neither was it a wealth of encouragement to grow in grace.

You can get some idea of the impetus and thrust of the editors and contributors to Disquiet Time by reading a few posts at this site dedicated to the premise of the book. A book, by the way, which you can skip.

Grade: C-


Keto Clarity

keto clarityKeto Clarity, by Jimmy Moore. Published in 2014. 256 pages.

A good friend of mine loaned me this book a couple of months ago and asked that I read it and tell her what I thought of it. Since I’d been toying off and on with the idea of “going keto” for quite some time, I was glad  to do it.

Incidentally, my friend is a very thin woman with no need to diet. Her interest in the subject was not motivated by weight loss but rather the numerous other health benefits which have been reported by people who have adopted a ketogenic approach to health and fitness.

For those unfamiliar with the term “ketogenic diet“, the idea is based on the premise that most carbs are bad for you, that our traditional way of thinking is wrong (namely, that we need extra glucose for our metabolism sake), and that a high -quality- fat, low carbohydrate diet is the best way for most carbohydrate addicted Americans to reset their metabolism and break the addiction to sugars and grains which is the real culprit behind our obesity/diabetes/heart disease ridden population.

I just started on this particular journey two weeks ago, so I haven’t reached a definitive conclusion on the matter itself. My purpose at this juncture is simply to review the book. The one thing I can say unequivocally is that over the past two weeks hunger between meals has been virtually non existent, as well as cravings. The jury is still out on pain relief, although I worked out my injured shoulder pretty hard this morning and the expected pain has no materialized. So far, so good. Now, to the book:

I liked it as an informational tool. I took some time to cross reference the information, read a few studies, and do the best I could as an amateur nutrition research sleuth to find out if there was anything here that was blatantly false or dangerous. I couldn’t find anything. Given that I long ago dismissed the notion of the “four food groups” as essential to good nutrition, I was careful to make allowances for my anti-grain bias.

The biggest misconception people have about keto, according to Moore, is that it is a high protein, meat gorging diet. In reality, too much protein is discouraged:

“There are three reasons why people fail to reach a ketogenic state: too many carbohydrates, too much protein, or not enough fat.”

The fats are of course, high quality fats: avocados, coconut or olive oil, butter (preferably grass fed), nuts, etc. Meats are a small part the equation, and it’s one of the things that distinguishes keto from paleo, although they are closely related. The biggest difference is that keto discourages heavy consumption of starchy fruits and vegetables such as bananas and potatoes.

The bottom line according to the authors -and I was convinced of this before I ever encountered this book-  is that sugars and many grains are inflammatory to the body and to be strictly limited. This plan however, isn’t for every one and while I think the book is very useful for informative purposes, my endorsement of it is not a recommendation that the readers embark on a ketogenic lifestyle.

It is without question in my mind, better than the standard SAD; including wheat based products.

Grade: B-

Content advisory: This post is not meant to be received as medical advice or endorsement of any kind. Read the book for yourself, and talk to our doctor if you have any other questions.