• Movie Reviews 4 hours ago

    Film in review – “The Equalizer”

    Film in review – “The Equalizer”

    by Ronald P. Salfen
    At one level, there’s a lot of violence in this film – and most of it is up front and personal – so it’s not a good one to recommend for the genteel churchgoing audience. But the character that Denzel Washington plays, Robert McCall, is an interesting and complex one. Denzel himself is almost always eminently watchable, so this film just might be of interest to the not-so-squeamish who appreciate something just a little different. Robert McCall seems to be leading a quiet, unobtrusive life as a blue-collar worker at… continue reading...
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  • Movie Reviews 4 hours ago

    Film in review – “Automata”

    Film in review – “Automata”

    by Ronald P. Salfen
    The two major themes are frequent assumptions in recent movies: the first, that the near future of the Earth is very bleak: in this case, sunstorms are going to ravage the atmosphere and create so much radiation that 97% of the world’s population is wiped out, and the ones who remain will be huddled in decaying cities, trying to survive in a bleak landscape with little hope for the future. The humans who remained were at least technologically advanced enough to create robots, called “pioneers,” who were supposed to clean… continue reading...
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  • Book Reviews 1 day ago

    The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and their Secret World War

    The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and their Secret World War

    by Michael Parker
    by Stephen Kinzer Times Books, New York. 416 pages REVIEWED BY MICHAEL PARKER In the 1950s, when Americans were genuinely frightened that the Soviet Union might dominate the world, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles, the director of the CIA, neatly divided the world into two parts: atheistic communism and Western Christian civilization. With a Manichean worldview giving them all the assurance they needed that they were on the side of the angels, the Dulles brothers launched a series of covert operations to topple hostile regimes around… continue reading...
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Film in review – “The Equalizer”

The_Equalizer_poster

At one level, there’s a lot of violence in this film – and most of it is up front and personal – so it’s not a good one to recommend for the genteel churchgoing audience. But the character that Denzel Washington plays, Robert McCall, is an interesting and complex one. Denzel himself is almost always eminently watchable, so this film just might be of interest to the not-so-squeamish who appreciate something just a little different. Robert McCall seems to be leading a quiet, unobtrusive life as a blue-collar worker at a home improvement warehouse-type store. He helps customers, he seems to be on good terms with other employees, he appears to be friendly and unassuming and almost anonymous in his private life. He lives alone in a neat little apartment. He reads a lot. He seems to have trouble sleeping at night, so usually he’ll walk to the restaurant/bar down the street at 2 a.m., sit in the corner booth with his hot tea and read a book. And when he puts the book down, it always has … [Read more...]

Film in review – “Automata”

Automata_poster

The two major themes are frequent assumptions in recent movies: the first, that the near future of the Earth is very bleak: in this case, sunstorms are going to ravage the atmosphere and create so much radiation that 97% of the world’s population is wiped out, and the ones who remain will be huddled in decaying cities, trying to survive in a bleak landscape with little hope for the future. The humans who remained were at least technologically advanced enough to create robots, called “pioneers,” who were supposed to clean up the air and the water and make the world hospitable for humans once again. But the “pioneers” fail to solve the enormous atmospheric issues, and they are now only good for “domestics” or other types of servants. Ah, but this is where sin and utter depravity intervene (John Calvin would have been proud). Somebody has taken some of the robots and rebuilt them. They were supposed to have two unalterable protocols: that they could not harm humans and that they could … [Read more...]

Human trafficking survivors offered full scholarship at Christian university

(RNS) Point Loma Nazarene University wants to offer human trafficking survivors who want to earn a college degree a full-ride scholarship. PLNU, a private Christian university located in San Diego, officially launched an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign this week with a goal to raise $40,000 in 40 days. The money will fund the Beauty for Ashes Scholarship Fund, a reference to the Bible verse Isaiah 61:3. San Diego is the 13th highest child prostitution area in the country, according to the FBI and PLNU’s Center for Justice & Reconciliation resource website, Abolish Human Trafficking. The site also says 1.2 million children are trafficked every year, and it’s the second-largest source of illegal income in the world. “One of the things we are hearing over and over again … is that (the survivors) so badly want a college education, but that just seems so completely out of the realm of possibility for them,” said Kim Jones, external relations volunteer at CJR. “Many of them, … [Read more...]

The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and their Secret World War

The Brothers

by Stephen Kinzer Times Books, New York. 416 pages REVIEWED BY MICHAEL PARKER In the 1950s, when Americans were genuinely frightened that the Soviet Union might dominate the world, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles, the director of the CIA, neatly divided the world into two parts: atheistic communism and Western Christian civilization. With a Manichean worldview giving them all the assurance they needed that they were on the side of the angels, the Dulles brothers launched a series of covert operations to topple hostile regimes around the world. The countries on the brothers’ black list included Guatemala, Iran, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Republic of the Congo, Egypt and Cuba. Historians today generally believe that none of them were necessarily lackeys of the USSR. Their nationalist policies, however, were a threat to global capitalism and Western powers adjusting to a post-colonial world. Stephen Kinszer tells this fascinating story in a fast-paced … [Read more...]

Tent of Nations: Cultivating hope against incredible odds in Palestinian territory

BETHLEHEM (PNS)  Imagine coming to work only to find that the tools and services you use to perform your daily tasks have been taken away. As you look around, you see that your co-workers have everything they need to succeed. That’s how Daoud Nassar feels every day. Nassar is the director of Tent of Nations, a 100-acre working farm on a hilltop south of Bethlehem in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory. Nassar recently met with a delegation from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) during its visit to the Middle East. He gave the group a tour of facilities and explained the challenges he and his family have faced over the years to keep the farm from slipping into Israeli government control. This valuable piece of Palestinian land was purchased by Nassar’s grandfather in 1916 and has remained in the family ever since. For nearly 75 years, the family worked the farm by day and slept in its caves by night, producing olive trees, grapes, wheat and other crops. In 1991, the … [Read more...]

Houston withdraws pastors’ subpoenas

(RNS) The mayor of Houston on Wednesday withdrew the subpoenas of sermons from five pastors who opposed an ordinance banning discrimination against LGBT people. Filed two weeks ago, the subpoenas outraged many conservative Christians as an affront to religious freedom. Some liberal groups, including Americans United for Separation of Church and State, also said the subpoenas went too far. Houston Mayor Annise Parker said Wednesday (Oct. 29) that as important as it is to protect the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), the subpoenas became a distraction. They were aimed at pastors active in the movement to overturn HERO through a citywide vote. Parker, Houston’s first openly gay mayor, said she made the decision after meeting with Houston pastors and then with national Christian leaders, including National Clergy Council President Rob Schenck. “They came without political agendas, without hate in their hearts and without any desire to debate the merits of HERO,” Parker … [Read more...]