Archive for the 'movies' Category


Some Hope

Last night 25 people, mostly teenagers, were shot and wounded in Chicago. How tragic. As violent crime escalates in parts of the city, there are some who are risking their own lives to help bring hope and change. They’re known by some as The Interrupters.  I just watched a film that chronicles their amazing and heroic efforts to make a difference in the lives of young people tempted by and drawn into violent lives.  The film is well done and moving but not for the faint of heart.  Perhaps it’s time for some of us to open our eyes to reality and try to understand what is going on and why.  The problem is not just “guns” but rests with the brokenness of human lives.  While the footage is raw, the work of The Interrupters is inspiring and worth knowing about. We need more people like this — men and women who care for their communities not just in the city but everywhere. I’m praying for these courageous men and women. 


Winning film awards

Director Nathan Clarke is the founder of Fourth Line Films and his recent documentary Wrestling For Jesus is winning awards at film festivals all around the country.  I’m not a wrestling fan so for me considering it a ministry for Jesus is odd and a little unsettling.  However, Clarke seems good at inviting us into something that is quite different from what most of us experience.  I’m intrigued. Wrestling for Jesus is the story of man from rural South Carolina who started a professional wrestling league and how his passion and vision for it are tested when his life begins to falter.  Other films by Clarke include “Family” a story of young gang members in Central American prisons and “Neighbors” the story of two men in Nigeria caught in a community wide conflict. 

It just so happens Clarke is a Christian but I love how he asserts that “Christian” is a bad adjective for art.  He says, “I have no fear of judgment by my Christian peers.  I actually feel more fear about judgment from the secular world that this is just another piece of Christian propaganda.  Ultimately I wanted to create a piece of art that would be taken at face value, that would be judged because it’s a piece of art, not because a Christian created it or didn’t create it.  I believe God has made us to create things — that is what I want to do.  What I want is for people to watch the movie  and talk about that, not talk about me.  I just want to create something that causes people to stop, think and maybe consider their life a little more deeply.”

Keep up the good work Nathan Clarke!


disaster porn and cultural obsession

Last weekend was supposed to be the end of the world or so claimed self-declared bible scholar Harold Camping who continues to fail miserably at his attempts to identify the exact time [to the hour] of Judgment Day’s arrival. He has now switched the date to October 21st – I mean, who takes this guy seriously?

Yet, as a culture, let’s not be too harsh with Mr. Camping. We too have our own obsession with the idea of Judgment Day. Don’t we? From the Discovery Channel’s popular programs on Nostradamus and his disaster day predictions – to the Mayan calendar 2012 – to the vast array of Hollywood anti-Christ, apocalyptic, destruction of human race themed blockbusters [‘disaster porn’ as some have called it] – our western world’s lust for devastation seems insatiable. Apparently the German people have a term for it: ruinenlust [love of ruins].

Our fascination can be traced way back. For example, in the 13th century Thomas Celano wrote a poem about Judgment Day called Dies Irae. Four centuries later the lyrics become the most famous movement of Mozart’s Requiem.“Day of wrath! O day of mourning! See fulfilled the prophets’ warning, Heaven and earth in ashes burning!”
  Sound familiar?  Today this music shows up everywhere from The Seventh Seal to the X-Men trilogy, the musical Rent, and even in a commercial for AXE cologne.  What this has to do with smelling good – I don’t know.

Here’s my point. It seems Mr. Camping isn’t the only person fixated on the notion of Judgment Day. If we are quick to condemn his obsession with it, as a culture we might want to reflect on the reason for our own.


“This is My Normal” — Film Premier

Two of my good friends, Bob and Brian, who happen to also be part of the Parkview family, have made a documentary on life in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya.  The film, entitled This is My Normal  [Wonderkind Studios], is premiering April 7th at the Arcade theater in St Charles, IL. [showing soon in CA, AZ, OR, NY]

Poverty can be a complex issue finances alone can’t solve.  This film seeks to reveal the greater need of personal transformation required to free those trapped in the cycle of poverty.  It is a moving, inspiring, informative and artfully created work I highly recommend.  Here is the trailer…


at a theater near you

posterthumbWell it has finally happened. Tucker Max’s best selling book, I hope They Serve Beer In Hell, has been made into a movie and hits theaters in just a few days. Now, I read a lot of books — many listed on the NY Times best-seller list. And I’m the first to support an individual’s right to express themselves in whatever medium they choose. And normally, I refuse to critique books I haven’t actually read or movies I haven’t seen….but in this case I make an exception. This is just my opinion – but I cannot see anything positive or redeeming in the kind of reckless and remorseless debauchery that is apparently represented and promoted in Max’s literature or film. Clearly, Tucker Max disagrees. In the introduction to his book he writes,

“My name is Tucker Max, and I am an a******. I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or reasonable, and just generally act like a raging d*******. But, I do contribute to humanity in one very important way: I share my adventures with the world.”

Giving credit where credit is due, Tucker is at least honest about himself and his behavior. Alot of people will no doubt laugh at his degenerate antics but the notion that Tucker Max is somehow contributing to humanity is in itself a joke.

“The way of a fool seems right to him.” -Proverbs 12:15


jersey boy

I’m not a big movie watcher neither am I a professional wrestling fan – so a movie about professional wrestling is nowhere on my radar UNLESS of course it’s about a New Jersey wrestler and The Boss does some of the music.

Ok…the truth is I haven’t seen the movie and probably won’t – but the song “The Wrestler” is at worth a listen. It is classic Springsteen – which some of you will love and others will hate. For me?  I like it.  Why? I guess you can take the boy out of Jersey but you can’t take the Jersey out of the boy.


Thanks Bill Maher

This week, Bill Maher’s film Religulous [religion + ridiculous] gets released for all America to see – or at least those who have an interest in paying to hear what Maher thinks about God and those who worship him. Maher is more about dissing “religion” than God, although it’s easy to think otherwise.  The fact is Maher claims not to be an atheist. He says, “There’s a really big difference between an atheist and someone who just doesn’t believe in religion. Religion to me is a bureaucracy between man and God that I don’t need. But I’m not an atheist, no. I believe there’s some force. If you want to call it God…” Most recently he has described himself as an apatheist – someone who doesn’t care but clearly his obsession with God betrays the truth. For some reason, Maher cares deeply.  [to learn more about Maher go to]

In the self-described documentary, which has been labeled more of an ambush-style reality TV show, Maher traveled to a few of the world’s most prominent religious destinations, such as Jerusalem, the Vatican, and Salt Lake City, interviewing believers from a variety of backgrounds and groups.

Among those interviewed by Maher was a man playing Jesus at a Holy Land theme park in Orlando, Muslims at a gay bar in Amsterdam, and Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda, a Puerto Rican heretic who calls himself both “the Second Coming of Jesus” and “the Antichrist.”

To obtain interviews, Maher admittedly lied about himself and his film. “We never, ever, used my name,” Maher said. “We never told anybody it was me who was going to do the interviews. We even had a fake title for the film. We called it ‘A Spiritual Journey.'”  But Maher was/is not about finding out what makes religious people religious, but about using the antics of mostly fringe religious people to try and support his thesis that religion is a crock of spit – in his words, “a neurological disorder that justifies crazies and stops people from thinking.”

Check out this trailer…

Listen, it’s easy to get angry at Maher – but perhaps as Christians we should thank him. Yes – thank him for raising a topic worthy of focus and dialogue.  God.

Honestly, the overall question Maher wrestles with is a good and appropriate one. Why such widespread religion? There must be some natural explanation for the universality and persistence of religious belief. Why have and why do people [down thru the centuries] in all cultures on every continent believe in God and seek Him?

Could it be true that “in the beginning God created”  not only our universe, galaxy, solar system and earth but us [human beings] with each of us reflecting his image with the amazing capacity to think, reason, create, feel and love setting us apart from all other life forms?  Could it also be true that “God has set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” [Ecclesiastes 3:11]

Maher also contends that religion is the cause for most of the problems in the world and in the end will destroy us all. This notion is becoming increasingly popular with some, yet when scrutinized, it lacks reason and credibility.

In all fairness, while religion has done much good in our world, one must concede – it can be divisive and lead to conflict, cruelty, terrorism, and war. History proves this. History also proves that efforts at outlawing religion [as Maher might suggest] have produced the same kind of tragic results. There have been several massive atheistic efforts to suppress, and ultimately eliminate, religion of any kind. In the 20th century, Soviet Russia, the Khmer Rouge [Cambodia], Cuba and Communist China were all determined to keep religion from dividing society or eroding the power of the state. The result was not more peace and harmony, but more suffering and oppression. Atheism can claim no less responsibility when it comes to the world realities of war, hatred, racism and suffering.

Take some time to think through these things. Get ready for the discussion this movie may generate with your family and friends and when the interaction begins, thank Bill Maher for caring enough to raise the issue.


a story of community

DISCLAIMER: recommending movies is not my thing. However.

I watched a movie last night…the first of my summer vacation. My expectations were low but it was recommended by a friend so I figured – why not?  Lars And The Real Girl surprised me. I liked it a lot. Call me crazy but it is a film about community in the truest biblical sense. 

There is no way to explain the plot and have it not sound goofy, weird or mildly perverted but this film is anything but foul or foolish. I watched it twice simply to experience the humor and humanity of the story of an entire town that rallies around a friend in need.

If you’ve seen the trailers – don’t let them fool you. The film has depth both artistically and morally. An early scene shows Lars sitting in a Sunday worship service at his church while the pastor’s words are heard in the background, “In this world there is only one true law. The Lord told us what to do – to love one another.” Apparently Lars’ community understood what the Lord meant.

Not a lot of movies make me think about Scripture. This one did.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.


Ben Stein has his say

Ben Stein is a lot of things, lawyer, writer, comedian, movie star, suit and tie and tennis shoe wearer, and now documentary film maker. His recently released film, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed investigates the clash of worldviews…one that accepts the existence of God and one that does not.

Stein believes he’s involved in one of the leading cultural and political battles of his life: the fight for academic freedom against an establishment that teaches Darwinian evolution as fact. Intelligent Design (ID) -– the belief that certain aspects of the world are so complex that they must have been created by an intelligent being, instead of by a random process –- deserves a place at the academic table, Stein asserts.

I’ve read some who say the film exposes the hypocrisy of an academic and cultural elite who pretend they value freedom of inquiry and expression but in fact suppress it when it clashes with their deeply held materialistic convictions. Could this actually be true?

Whatever the case, it is quite possible this movie will generate much needed discussion in the public square concerning the idea of Creation. It can certainly be used as an opportunity to dialogue with those who hold to the worldview of evolution.

Watching movies isn’t my favorite pastime but I plan on watching this one. Have you seen it? If so, what did you think? If not, do you plan of seeing it? Check out the trailer…

re: the random-ness

Husband. Father. Senior Pastor of Parkview Community Church in Glen Ellyn, IL. you've located the place where I put down my random thoughts. The key word here is random: music, sports, art, food, books, news, spiritual musings, weird stories, etc. I'm especially interested in how everyday experiences of life intersect with the ancient stories of Scripture. Thanks for reading.
October 2020

Thoughts gone by

"No problem can withstand the assault of substantial thinking." Voltaire