• Movie Reviews 16 hours ago

    Film in review – “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”

    Film in review – “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”

    by Ronald P. Salfen
    This adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s century-old novel brings to life a really fantastic fantasy world of wizards, dwarves, elves, dragons and all manner of ferocious creatures clashing in a melee-style free-for-all, where frankly it’s hard to tell who’s on whose side, even if you have seen the other installments, but especially if you haven’t. Perhaps the best way to distill Tolkien’s purpose is to dissect the character motivations: Smaug, the fire-breathing dragon (Benedict Cumberbatch) is pure evil.  He is motivated completely by greed and will simply destroy whatever, or whomever,… continue reading...
    ShareShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail to someone
  • Movie Reviews 16 hours ago

    Film in review – “Foxcatcher”

    Film in review – “Foxcatcher”

    by Ronald P. Salfen
    A film that’s just been nominated for three Golden Globes should be better than this. It’s loosely based on the true story of the U.S. Olympic wrestling team training on the DuPont estate, largely because of the largesse of John Du Pont (Steve Carell), the rich inheritor of a huge chemical fortune, who pretty much does absolutely nothing for a living. Carell plays Du Pont with such a complete lack of affect that we think he’s probably on antidepressives, when in fact, we see him snorting some cocaine. Carell’s Du… continue reading...
    ShareShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail to someone
  • Advent Outlook Features 2 days ago

    Season of Preparation

    Season of Preparation

    by J. Barrie Shepherd
    Let’s at least go through the motions, lighting candles, folding open paper windows, hanging greens and singing songs of ancient expectation in a time when hope seems blackened by an early, bitter frost. Who knows what momentary comfort may be found in make-believe? While all the time the babe – already born – lies wailing for the mother milk of human kindness, the rough yet warming blanket of true justice spread across this waiting world. continue reading...
    ShareShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail to someone

Film in review – “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”

The_Hobbit_-_The_Battle_of_the_Five_Armies

This adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's century-old novel brings to life a really fantastic fantasy world of wizards, dwarves, elves, dragons and all manner of ferocious creatures clashing in a melee-style free-for-all, where frankly it's hard to tell who's on whose side, even if you have seen the other installments, but especially if you haven't. Perhaps the best way to distill Tolkien's purpose is to dissect the character motivations: Smaug, the fire-breathing dragon (Benedict Cumberbatch) is pure evil.  He is motivated completely by greed and will simply destroy whatever, or whomever, gets in his way.  This installment begins with the fire-breathing Smaug laying waste to a whole city. He seems unstoppable, until someone with incredible resourcefulness and bravery dares to stand in his way. That's Bard (Luke Evans), who also inspires others with his ferocious energy to combat all the evil that threatens peace.  Then there's Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), who became king by … [Read more...]

Film in review – “Foxcatcher”

Foxcatcher_First_Teaser_Poster

A film that’s just been nominated for three Golden Globes should be better than this. It’s loosely based on the true story of the U.S. Olympic wrestling team training on the DuPont estate, largely because of the largesse of John Du Pont (Steve Carell), the rich inheritor of a huge chemical fortune, who pretty much does absolutely nothing for a living. Carell plays Du Pont with such a complete lack of affect that we think he’s probably on antidepressives, when in fact, we see him snorting some cocaine. Carell’s Du Pont is full of himself with no particular reason to be, other than he’s used to his moneymaking people jump when he calls, which they usually do as long as he pays them. He doesn’t seem to have any real friends. In fact, he wistfully explains once that the only boyhood friend he had, the son of the chauffeur, was later found to be paid by his mother to be his friend. Yes, that’s pretty pathetic. And so is this character. Much more sympathetic is the wrestling team … [Read more...]

Franciscan order on verge of bankruptcy after financial fraud is uncovered

VATICAN CITY (RNS) One of the largest Franciscan religious orders, founded on the humble teachings of St. Francis of Assisi more than 800 years ago, announced it is on the brink of bankruptcy after admitting some of its monks embezzled funds from its accounts. The Italian news magazine Panorama on Friday (Dec. 19) reported that tens of millions of dollars were missing from the Order of Friars Minor and had been invested in offshore companies. Panorama also claimed Swiss prosecutors had seized Franciscan accounts in Switzerland because the account holders had allegedly invested in illegal operations that could include arms and drug trafficking. Brother Michael Perry, the American head of the order, said an internal inquiry was begun in September and revealed “a number of questionable financial activities that were conducted by friars entrusted with the care of the patrimony of the order.” In a letter posted on the order’s website, Perry said the order was in “grave, and I … [Read more...]

Season of Preparation

BarrieShepherd-1312

Let's at least go through the motions, lighting candles, folding open paper windows, hanging greens and singing songs of ancient expectation in a time when hope seems blackened by an early, bitter frost. Who knows what momentary comfort may be found in make-believe? While all the time the babe - already born - lies wailing for the mother milk of human kindness, the rough yet warming blanket of true justice spread across this waiting world. … [Read more...]

Four Views on the Historical Adam

Historical Adam

edited by Matthew Barrett and Ardel. B. Caneday Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich. 288 pages The controversy over a traditional versus an evolutionary interpretation of the creation narratives in Genesis was largely a 19th and early 20th century fracas, but many evangelicals have never given up the fight — even if it’s now a quarrel almost exclusively among themselves. So what accounts for the latest round of debate? The answer is Francis Collins. Head of the Human Genome Project in the 1990s and 2000s and a self-professed evangelical, Collins possesses a unique authority to speak on this issue to conservative Christians. His 2006 book “The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief” makes a compelling case for evolution based on recent discoveries of the human genome. Collins himself embraces theistic evolution. Another important contemporary writer on this issue is Peter Enns, who in his 2012 book “The Evolution of Adam” argues that the apostle Paul, as a … [Read more...]

A Prayer Life that Gives Life: Renewing Faith and Ministry in Lent

Gary Neal Hansen

A 90-minute Presbyterian Outlook webinar Tuesday, February 17, 2015 – 2 p.m. ET (11 a.m. PT) featuring Gary Neal Hansen Click here to register for the live webinar with free on-demand replay – $29.95 (1-6 participants) Click here to pre-order the DVD – $43.95 (free shipping) There is no better time than Lent to explore prayer as a way to grow our faith and strengthen our ministry. We know we need an ongoing, intimate connection with God. Without it, faith stagnates and ministry leads to burnout. Sadly, many Christians know only one way to pray, and if that way leaves them dry they assume prayer itself is not for them. Each of us needs a prayer life that really fits--and this webinar is designed to help you find one. Over the centuries Christians have developed a rich variety of ways to draw close in prayer. If we understand our own needs and understand how different ways of praying can help us grow, we are on the way to thriving. We will look at three very different kinds of … [Read more...]