• Advent Outpost Blog 3 hours ago

    Longest night of the year: Pain and redemption during Advent

    Longest night of the year: Pain and redemption during Advent

    by Becca Messman
    Psalm 130  Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD. Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications! If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning. O Israel, hope in the LORD! For… continue reading...
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  • Movie Reviews 1 day ago

    Film in review – “Citizenfour”

    Film in review – “Citizenfour”

    by Ronald P. Salfen
    There are so many different ways to approach this film. One prominent critic, Godfrey Cheshire of RogerEbert.com, has dubbed it “the movie of the century.” But you may feel it’s unnecessary to watch it, because you already know its content: Edward Snowden, a once-obscure 29-year-old analyst for the National Security Agency (NSA), becomes so concerned about the pervasiveness of government surveillance on ordinary citizens that he leaks hundreds of sensitive documents proving the incredibly long reach of Big Brother Watching You (George Orwell’s famous phrase about ubiquitous government oversight from… continue reading...
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  • Movie Reviews 2 days 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...
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Longest night of the year: Pain and redemption during Advent

Becca headroom

Psalm 130  Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD. Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications! If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning. O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem. It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.   Psalm 130 is one of powerful waiting: the waiting that shouts at the computer upon reading about more dear students being gunned down in Pakistan; the waiting that hangs up the phone with a friend with a sigh and a prayer for better news, soon; the waiting on the way home from a rough doctor’s visit and the days when the phone may or may not ring with test results; the … [Read more...]

Film in review – “Citizenfour”

Citizenfour_poster

There are so many different ways to approach this film. One prominent critic, Godfrey Cheshire of RogerEbert.com, has dubbed it “the movie of the century.” But you may feel it’s unnecessary to watch it, because you already know its content: Edward Snowden, a once-obscure 29-year-old analyst for the National Security Agency (NSA), becomes so concerned about the pervasiveness of government surveillance on ordinary citizens that he leaks hundreds of sensitive documents proving the incredibly long reach of Big Brother Watching You (George Orwell’s famous phrase about ubiquitous government oversight from his eerily prophetic novel entitled “1984,” written in 1949). This 2014 documentary, by director Laura Poitras, actually began as a tracking of governmental surveillance of the Internet, showing officious officials solemnly testifying to Congress that no such clandestine activity existed (presumably, their bald-faced lies were in the interest of “protecting national security”). Director … [Read more...]

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...]