Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)


An excerpt of a review recently posted on Schaeffer's Ghost:
But that’s not how the world really works. I am not the hero. That role has already been filled. The whole universe and everyone in it from the dawn of time to the end of ages are merely bit players in a story about Someone Else. My life matters because of what it says about Him. He’s the main character. He did the saving. My contribution was, well, getting myself into a big, rotten, stinking mess. His contribution was reaching down into the mire to save my sorry soul. Every teensy bit of progress I’ve experienced in my life is the result of His work. He fights sin in my life; my efforts are the palest imitation of His effectual acts. I’m not the hero. I’m not an ‘actor’. Heck, I’m not even a supporting actor—best case scenario, I’m an uncredited extra. If I were to be nominated for an Oscar for my performance, it would be for something like ‘Woman at restaurant’ or ‘Girl carrying books.’ I’m so far from being the center of the story that it’s laughable.
Full review available here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Anger Workbook, by Les Carter and Frank Minirth


An excerpt of a review recently posted on The Mortal Coyle:
[...] Minirth and Carter present their biblical principles as, essentially, a list of dos and don’ts. A set of laws, if you will. God is mentioned, and Christ, but as a source of strength and a good example, respectively. The gospel, though occasionally (and obliquely) hinted at, is never clearly presented, nor is it used as the central spring from which godly behavior flows. Instead, religion is reduced to merely a ‘part’ of the whole man that must be adequately addressed to ensure wholeness. You won’t be well-rounded and healthy until you address the ‘spiritual’ side of your life, and the guidance provided by Scripture should be followed because it’s good advice. 
So forgiveness is recommended not because Christ in His infinite mercy purchased forgiveness for us at great cost to himself, but because forgiving people makes us feel better (and withholding forgiveness is bad for our own development). Don’t get me wrong—forgiveness is better for us, but that’s not the ultimate reason why we are called to forgive. We forgive because we have been forgiven, and nothing anyone can do to us could ever match the sin we’ve committed against a holy God. 
But then, when Minirth and Carter talk about the sin nature and Adam’s fall, there is never any sense of the horror of sin—of anger as a sin against the very nature of God, something loathsome and reprehensible and deserving of wrath. Anger seems to be more of an ‘oopsie’, something we really should work on in order to improve ourselves and our relationship (again, partly true). So I guess it makes sense that their portrayal of forgiveness is so off-kilter. If all we’ve been forgiven is a character flaw, then that forgiveness can’t really motivate us to forgive the real and tangible wrongs we endure at the hands of others, and we need to look elsewhere for motivation.
Full review available here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Murder Is Announced, by Agatha Christie


"A murder is announced and will take place on Friday, October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6:30pm." So reads the notice in the Gazette. The denizens of Chipping Cleghorn are agog, and they turn out in force to Little Paddocks to see what may be seen. The appointed hour comes and goes, and sure enough, there is a corpse on the floor of the quaint English cottage known as Little Paddocks: the body of an apparent house-breaker, shot through the heart, his pistol beside him. Was it murder? Suicide? An accident? Fortunately, Miss Marple happens to be in town and lends her prodigious skill to the police, who are--frankly--baffled. But the house-breaker is not the last fatality in Chipping Cleghorn. Before long, there are more mysterious deaths. But who could have done it? The whole town is peopled with nice old ladies, a few young people, a war widow ... not exactly prime murder suspects. But Miss Marple had better figure out what happened, and fast--the residents of Chipping Cleghorn are dropping like flies ...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Sacred Search: What If It's Not About Who You Marry, But Why?, by Gary Thomas


An excerpt of a review recently posted on Schaeffer's Ghost:
I’ve read a lot of marriage books. Not all of them, mind you, or even most of them. But as someone who tends to believe that there is no obstacle you can’t study your way over and no problem you can’t think your way out of, I have devoured marriage books like a chubby kid eats cookies the day before fat camp. The results of this literary quest have been middlin’ at best. There have been some winners, to be sure, but I’ve been disappointed far more often than I’ve been impressed. I’ve managed to avoid many of the less- sound books (theologically speaking), but even the ‘good’ ones tend to be poorly written, overly chummy in tone, or downright unsettling. (Also, it turns out that reading books on marriage, even good books on marriage, doesn’t necessarily make you awesome at being married. Apparently there’s more to it than just reading.) 
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Gary Thomas is not only a decent writer (would that more Christian authors could make such a claim!), but also that his theology of marriage and the resulting advice were quite solid.
Full review available here.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Premium Rush (2012)


Wilee loves his job as a bike messenger. He rides his bike--fixed gear, no brakes--through the streets of New York City with absolute fearlessness. And in a city full of taxicabs, buses, and angry drivers, that's no mean feat--especially since bike messengers are on the top of everyone's hate list. A bike messenger has to fight just to stay alive, let a lone to get his package to the destination on time. It's a hard job--and it just got harder. Wilee's latest delivery is more than it seems, and there's a dirty cop who's determined to get his hands on it. Will Wilee be able to deliver the envelope, or will the dirty cop turn our hero into roadkill?