• Movie Reviews 7 hours ago

    Film in review – “Joe”

    Film in review – “Joe”

    by Ronald P. Salfen
    “Joe” is an old-school, old-fashioned kind of movie.  There’s no slick CGI fantasy sci-fi stuff.  No chase scenes.  No shoot-‘em-ups that look like video games of bloodless bad guys dropping everywhere.  No romance.  No sweet smell of success, either.  Just a bunch of down-home country folks stubbornly, but proudly, being the genuine folks that they are.  And though their motivations are not always for the betterment of humankind, sometimes they transcend themselves and accidentally stumble on the pure right thing to do. Joe (Nicolas Cage) is the straw boss of… continue reading...
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  • Outlook Reporting 1 day ago

    Easter in Memphis

    Easter in Memphis

    by Robert Bullock
    Good news is coming out of Memphis this year from a meeting held on March 22 at Second Presbyterian Church (EPC). The purpose was to help heal the wounds inflicted exactly 50 years ago during a yearlong effort by students and others to overturn the segregation policy at the church. On that day two students, one African American and one white, walked up the steps of the church with the intention of entering and worshipping. They were turned away at the door by church representatives. Immediately the students kneeled and… continue reading...
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  • Outlook Features 1 day ago

    Luke 23:34: Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing… .”

    Who are the 'them' that Jesus is forgiving?  In a moment of intense humanity, he appeals to God for those at his execution.  Besides the faithful women and some followers, Luke records three groups who were there: rulers, the soldiers and people who 'stood looking on'. It is fairly certain Pilate was not there and it is difficult to see the Sanhedrin assembled for the event.  But the Governor and the Temple Elders will have sent official representatives to observe and report.  There are soldiers doing their duty upon orders. … continue reading...
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Film in review – “Joe”

Joe_(2013_film)_poster

“Joe” is an old-school, old-fashioned kind of movie.  There’s no slick CGI fantasy sci-fi stuff.  No chase scenes.  No shoot-‘em-ups that look like video games of bloodless bad guys dropping everywhere.  No romance.  No sweet smell of success, either.  Just a bunch of down-home country folks stubbornly, but proudly, being the genuine folks that they are.  And though their motivations are not always for the betterment of humankind, sometimes they transcend themselves and accidentally stumble on the pure right thing to do. Joe (Nicolas Cage) is the straw boss of a hard-working bunch of backwoods roughnecks who are surreptitiously injecting poison into trees.  That’s right, apparently the lumber company can only “harvest” trees that are already dead, and this under-the-radar crew is paid, in cash, to go make some deadwood out there.  Yes, it’s ironic work for them, since they are sort of the deadwood of that particularly remote neck of the woods.  Joe lives in a ramshackle house that … [Read more...]

Easter in Memphis

Professor Stephen Haynes (rear) with a group attending the March 22 event; Carolyn (front row left) holding copy of Haynes’ book.

Good news is coming out of Memphis this year from a meeting held on March 22 at Second Presbyterian Church (EPC). The purpose was to help heal the wounds inflicted exactly 50 years ago during a yearlong effort by students and others to overturn the segregation policy at the church. On that day two students, one African American and one white, walked up the steps of the church with the intention of entering and worshipping. They were turned away at the door by church representatives. Immediately the students kneeled and began praying for those who were resisting them. The efforts continued for more than a year at the church until the policy was changed.  The story is told in the book, “The Last Segregated Hour” by Rhodes College (then Southwestern at Memphis) professor Stephen Haynes. There were other similar kneel-in events in the Southeast but the longest and most sustained effort took place in Memphis. Fifty years later, Second Church and Independent Church, which split … [Read more...]

Luke 23:34: Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing… .”

Who are the 'them' that Jesus is forgiving?  In a moment of intense humanity, he appeals to God for those at his execution.  Besides the faithful women and some followers, Luke records three groups who were there: rulers, the soldiers and people who 'stood looking on'. It is fairly certain Pilate was not there and it is difficult to see the Sanhedrin assembled for the event.  But the Governor and the Temple Elders will have sent official representatives to observe and report.  There are soldiers doing their duty upon orders.  And there are the people; Mark refers to them as passers-by.  Can we identify with any of these for whom Jesus pleads? Have we ever taken a smirky pride in accomplishing some punishment –  the harsher it is, the more  it seems warranted?  Are we troubled when we reflect upon the times we were righteous victimizers, when we bullied someone or excluded another from a social clique, insisting on punishment that satisfied our anger and fears or 'settled a score' … [Read more...]

Holy Week music sets a high bar, but one church rises to the challenge

by Mary Beth McCauley PHILADELPHIA (RNS) Think Christmas, and carols come to mind: “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night,” “The First Noel.” But think of the other great Christian season — Holy Week and Easter — and most people draw a musical blank. That’s a shame, say church music experts, because the great trove of Holy Week music is firmly rooted in church, where, depending on location, tradition and taste, believers hear everything from folk music to Gregorian chant, from classical requiem Masses to Passions by modern composers. “The music written for Holy Week is some of the richest in our literature,” said David Ludwig, dean of artistic programs at Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. On Palm Sunday there’s “All Glory, Laud and Honor” by Theodulph, bishop of Orleans. On Maundy Thursday, many churches will sing the African-American spiritual “Were You There When They Crucified my Lord?” And often during Lent there’s “Panis Angelicus” (Bread of Angels) by Cesar … [Read more...]

A prayer for pastors on Easter

Dear Lord, I pray for all the pastors today Who will feel enormous pressure to have their sermon Match the greatness of the subject And will surely feel they have failed. (I pray even more for those who think they have succeeded.” Help them to know that it is enough Simply and faithfully to tell the story Of women in dawn hush … Of men running half-believing … Of rolled stones and folded grave-clothes … Of a supposed gardener saying the name of a crying woman … Of sad walkers encountering a stranger on the road home … Of an empty tomb and overflowing hearts. Give them the wisdom to know that sincere humility and awe Surpass all homiletic flourish On this day of mysterious hope beyond all words. Make them less conscious of their responsibility to preach, And more confident of the Risen Christ Whose presence trumps all efforts to proclaim it. Considering all the Easter choirs who will sing beautifully, and those who won’t, And all the Easter prayers that will soar in … [Read more...]

A Lenten reflection on burden bearing

Rachel Young

Holy Week approaches, a week I love for the story it tells and how it enacts the story – with bread and wine on Maundy Thursday, with candles extinguished on Good Friday, with Scripture readings on Holy Saturday, and, on Easter, with declarations of “Christ is risen indeed!” Though Holy Week's retelling of Jesus’ betrayal, death and resurrection enchants me, I often feel distant from its meaning.  I've struggled over the years to feel the power of Christ's death in a personal way.  This Holy Week, after nearly six months of a medical leave of absence, is different.  Meditating on Christ's death broke open for me deeper understanding about my pastoral vocation, especially in regards to pastoral care As a pastor, I am privileged to walk with people in moments of pain, grief, suffering and death.  This part of my vocation is packed with meaning.  I stand in awe of the invitations I receive to engage with people in the most difficult moments of their lives. This work of pastoral … [Read more...]