• Movie Reviews 2 hours ago

    Film in review – “Before I Go To Sleep”

    Film in review – “Before I Go To Sleep”

    by Ronald P. Salfen
    Christine (Nicole Kidman) wakes up every day remembering nothing. She wakes up in bed with a man who claims to be her husband; he tries to reassure her that she is fine now, though she was the victim of a terrible accident several years ago. Christine struggles to believe what he is saying, then wonders why she doesn’t and why she feels afraid. After he leaves for work, she receives a phone call, from a Dr. Nasch (Mark Strong) who says he’s been treating her so that she can overcome… continue reading...
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  • Movie Reviews 2 hours ago

    Film in review – “Whiplash”

    Film in review – “Whiplash”

    by Ronald P. Salfen
    This is an extraordinary movie for music lovers, but even those without the requisite “chops” can still enjoy the sparkling dynamics. Andrew (Miles Teller) is a drummer. In fact, that’s pretty much all he is. He’s enrolled at a prestigious music school in New York City; it is the best in the country and he has talent. He practices constantly. He doesn’t have much of a family; his mother absented herself from his life, his dad raised him and cares about him, but he has no siblings. Not much in… continue reading...
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  • Outlook Features 2 days ago

    Reclaiming Thanksgiving Day

    Reclaiming Thanksgiving Day

    by Michael Parker
    Of all the American holidays rooted in a Christian tradition, Thanksgiving has been the least corrupted by commercialism. Yet, because of the way it has evolved over time, the origins and original meaning of Thanksgiving have been largely obscured or hopelessly distorted. Contrary to popular belief, the first Thanksgiving was not started by the Pilgrims in 1621 and did not grow out of the tradition of the harvest festival. Thanksgiving Day, historians are agreed, is rooted in the English Reformation. In the early 16th century in England, there were 95… continue reading...
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Film in review – “Before I Go To Sleep”

Before_i_go_to_sleep_poster

Christine (Nicole Kidman) wakes up every day remembering nothing. She wakes up in bed with a man who claims to be her husband; he tries to reassure her that she is fine now, though she was the victim of a terrible accident several years ago. Christine struggles to believe what he is saying, then wonders why she doesn’t and why she feels afraid. After he leaves for work, she receives a phone call, from a Dr. Nasch (Mark Strong) who says he’s been treating her so that she can overcome her trauma. This intrigues her enough that she finds the camera he says she has hidden in her wardrobe. When she plays what’s recorded there, she finds a video of herself, obviously crying and upset, trying to tell herself things that she has remembered, but is afraid she’ll forget again once she sleeps. This encourages her enough to go visit with Dr. Nasch to find out more, but she feels somewhat ambivalent about him. Also, there seems to be some emotional connection here, and not just professional … [Read more...]

Film in review – “Whiplash”

Whiplash_poster

This is an extraordinary movie for music lovers, but even those without the requisite “chops” can still enjoy the sparkling dynamics. Andrew (Miles Teller) is a drummer. In fact, that's pretty much all he is. He's enrolled at a prestigious music school in New York City; it is the best in the country and he has talent. He practices constantly. He doesn't have much of a family; his mother absented herself from his life, his dad raised him and cares about him, but he has no siblings. Not much in the way of friends, either, because he's really single-minded right now. Driven to be the best he can possibly be. And he already thinks he's pretty good – an attitude which a certain teacher will do his best to drive right out of him. Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) is the jazz band conductor, but he looks and acts more like a Marine drill sergeant. He expects his students to stand up and come to attention when he enters the room. He yells at them for making mistakes in long, loud, profane tirades. … [Read more...]

Reclaiming Thanksgiving Day

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 10.14.21 AM

Of all the American holidays rooted in a Christian tradition, Thanksgiving has been the least corrupted by commercialism. Yet, because of the way it has evolved over time, the origins and original meaning of Thanksgiving have been largely obscured or hopelessly distorted. Contrary to popular belief, the first Thanksgiving was not started by the Pilgrims in 1621 and did not grow out of the tradition of the harvest festival. Thanksgiving Day, historians are agreed, is rooted in the English Reformation. In the early 16th century in England, there were 95 religious holidays in addition to the regular Sabbath worship days. The religious reforms instituted by Henry VIII in 1536 limited this number to 27 a year. Later, the Puritans took the reform of religious holidays a step further. They eliminated them – all of them! Looking askance at the Christological cycle from Advent to Easter and the proliferation of saints’ days throughout the year, the Puritans dismissed these celebrations as … [Read more...]

Statement from the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns

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The Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns expresses deep concern and holy outrage at the verdict given in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown. We lament that justice was denied for Michael Brown, his family, and the citizens of the U.S., especially people of color. A justice system that fails to indict a white officer standing trial for killing an unarmed 18-year-old black youth perpetuates the sin of racism in a society that fails to affirm that black lives matter. We pray for courage for the church, that we might not only confess our complicity in a system that makes such a verdict possible, but that we might be a prophetic witness through a loud and clear voice to the world of the just love and peace of Jesus Christ. We pray for the family and friends of Michael Brown, who suffer not only the failure of our justice system, but also the loss of their beloved. We pray for all victims of systemic racial injustice, recognizing God’s mandate to us to raise our … [Read more...]

Ferguson pastors urge peace after grand jury doesn’t indict

ST. LOUIS (RNS) Like so many others Monday (Nov. 24) night, the congregants at West Side Missionary Baptist Church were glued to televisions as a grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case was announced. One woman sobbed in her chair as she learned that police Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the fatal shooting. Then, with the press conference far from over, the church’s television went dark. And the congregants at the church turned instead to prayer and preaching. Within seconds, the Rev. Starsky Wilson was at the pulpit, calling for “contrary folk.” “Thank God for people who go against the teachings of the church,” Wilson said, while referencing those who had told the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that he was moving too fast on civil rights issues. “Thank God for contrary young people. “To be contrary is to say we’ve had enough.” Wilson was named by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon as a co-chair of the 16-member Ferguson Commission to look for a way forward … [Read more...]

Prayer following the grand jury decision in Ferguson: From Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

At the invitation of the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has been providing pastoral support to the church leadership in the community.news A prayer following the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri, November 2014 God our Shelter, hold us under the shelter of your wings as we bow before you in grief and pain for the brokenness of our world. Some years we wonder why the Advent texts that prepare us for your Coming One begin with judgment, not with hope. Not this year.  This year, we struggle with juries and justice and judgment-- What is right? What is wrong? What is fair? What can we do, with such fear and anger and longing, that can bind us together, rather than further tear apart the fabric of our common life? We are all too aware of our flawed humanity, and we need the hope of Advent: the hope that once again, as long ago, You may show up among us in our cities, our neighbors, and ourselves-- in the midst of civic unrest … [Read more...]