‘Calvary’— Not a Christmas Film

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Some things are best saved until later. On the basis of the fine review by my friend Philip Jenkins, I ordered the Irish film 'Calvary' from Amazon.UK. This review is here during Advent due to the luck of the draw. Personally, I recommend saving watching this movie until after the New Year. Maybe even wait until Lent or Easter week for full impact. The film, all 98 minutes of it, has been called a classic, and perhaps the best Irish film ever. Certainly, it strikes a nerve, or better a … [Read more...]

The Ultimate Christmas Gift—- The Yogi Book

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The French would call him Mssr. Malaprop, but Peter Lawrence Berra was not just a funny guy, and even his funny sayings, taken in context make a lot more sense than they do in isolation. Most recently you may have run across the guy for whom a famous comic book figure (Yogi Bear) was named, set up against another animated figure--- the AFLAC duck (in a barber shop no less, in which he says 'and they will give you cash, which is just as good as money'). Yogi really is a remarkable story, and … [Read more...]

Great Scott! Exodus God’s and Kings

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-8YsulfxVIRidley Scott is known for films on a epic scale--- think Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, Prometheus, Robin Hood or if you like sci fi, Blade Runner. Exodus: Gods and Kings is of that ilk. He out Cecil B.Demille's Cecil himself. Suddenly, the Bible has become popular fodder for films again (see the recent re-do of the Noah story) and here Scott tries his hand at such classic material. Of course the danger in doing that is: 1) its been done a good … [Read more...]

The Sense of Christmas– Part Three

The Christmas story, as we now celebrate it, is a winter's tale. Never mind Luke's mentioning that shepherds were out in the fields watching their flocks by night, rather than huddled in a cave, which suggests an event sometime other than winter. Never mind that people didn't tend to 'travel from afar' during the winter season of the year (and yet we are told the wise men undertook such a journey). Never mind that usually the census and levying of taxes would come after the New Year in the … [Read more...]

The Sense of Christmas— Part Two

I intimated in my last post that one of the real problems for Protestants in celebrating Advent and Christmas is: 1) that Advent is hardly celebrated at all, with too many Protestants only having a nodding acquaintance with the whole notion of the 'Christian year'; and 2) too much is loaded into Christmas day itself, whereas we should be celebrating a season, not just a day. Indeed, if we want to talk about days, then we should be talking about two days--- the day of his first coming, and the … [Read more...]

The Sense of Christmas— Part One

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If you are able to wade through all the nonsense of Christmas--- the materialistic excess, the narcissism of giving yourself and your immediate family tons of gifts, while ignoring the needs of the homeless and the poor and the hungry at Christmas, and you burrow down to the heart or sense of Christmas, what is it really all about?Unfortunately, and to a very large degree low church Protestants have managed to miss a lot of what the Advent season is about, because they don't really … [Read more...]

The New NIV– A Perfect Christmas Gift

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I don't often take the time to endorse a particular translation of the Bible. There are many useful ones, and several really excellent ones in English, but in this case both the season and recent publication of the new NIV have led me to say something on behalf of this translation. This 2011 translation, based on the best of both the previous NIV and TNIV with updates gets so many things right that it really eclipses its competitors. It goes for both clarity and accuracy of expression in good … [Read more...]

The Nonsense of Christmas– Part Three

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I was standing in the Three Arches shop in Bethlehem looking at one nativity set after another, after another. They were all basically the same. Carved out of the native olive wood, they involved: 1) a barn; 2) animals (including camels); 3) a manger; 4) Mary and Joseph and the baby in the manger; 5) wise men; and 6) shepherds. It may surprise you to know that St. Francis of Assisi, a great lover of animals ('All Creatures Great and Small'), was the first person, apparently, to cook up this … [Read more...]

The Nonsense of Christmas– Part Two

There are all sorts of myths floating around about Christmas, and some of the worst come from the myth-makers supreme (e.g. the Zeitgeist sort of people). I am referring to those who: 1) deny that Jesus existed; 2) insist that all Christian celebrations are really adaptations of earlier pagan practices such as some Egyptian rites, or Roman rituals like Saturnalia and the like. It is surprising to me that this sort of nonsense has gained such a hearing in a skeptical age. If you doubt that it … [Read more...]


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