• Movie Reviews 21 hours ago

    Film in review – “The Trip To Italy”

    Film in review – “The Trip To Italy”

    by Ronald P. Salfen
    I have an old friend who is a great conversationalist. Recently he proposed that we go on a road trip together, “just once before we die.” What would we do? Drive, eat, talk. Maybe see some spectacular scenery (how about Wyoming?). If both of us could afford it at the time (we’ve both had our ups and downs), stay in some nice places. Dine at some fine restaurants. Converse about anything and everything, but try to keep it light most of the time. Humor always appreciated, because we’re in this… continue reading...
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  • Movie Reviews 2 days ago

    Film in review – “November Man”

    Film in review – “November Man”

    by Ronald P. Salfen
    This spy thriller is kind of in the genre of John le Carre’s literary potboilers: the viewer has to try to piece together a plot from the seemingly disconnected actions of the characters, and the viewer’s chase to guess the end-game parallels the characters chasing each other on the screen. Viewers who long for clarity and straightforwardness will naturally be frustrated, but part of the point is that that’s the way it is in the shadowy world of espionage: few things are clear. And even fewer are pure. Pierce Brosnan… continue reading...
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  • Movie Reviews 3 days ago

    Film in review – “What If”

    Film in review – “What If”

    by Ronald P. Salfen
    Even we married folks have friends of the opposite gender. And occasionally it will occur to us that we seem to have much in common with said friend, though there’s always this clanging warning bell going off inside our heads; much like when big construction equipment goes in reverse: you can’t help but hear the loud beeping. There’s danger here, especially combined with a lack of due vigilance. And it’s not really fair to compare a friendship with a live-in relationship, anyway, because the dynamics of intimacy are so different.… continue reading...
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Film in review – “The Trip To Italy”

trip to italy

I have an old friend who is a great conversationalist. Recently he proposed that we go on a road trip together, “just once before we die.” What would we do? Drive, eat, talk. Maybe see some spectacular scenery (how about Wyoming?). If both of us could afford it at the time (we’ve both had our ups and downs), stay in some nice places. Dine at some fine restaurants. Converse about anything and everything, but try to keep it light most of the time. Humor always appreciated, because we’re in this for a good time; all we really want to do is enjoy one another’s company. The same ground rules apply to old friends Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. They’ve already done this once, around England (they’re both Brits), with the pretext of Rob writing restaurant reviews. Now his editor wants him to do an Italian mini-tour: Liguria, Tuscany, Rome, Amalfi, Capri. Fire up the sports car. Plug in the Alanis Morissette music (can we really be nostalgic about 90s pop, or is that, too, ironic?). Bring on … [Read more...]

Film in review – “November Man”

The_November_Man_poster

This spy thriller is kind of in the genre of John le Carre’s literary potboilers: the viewer has to try to piece together a plot from the seemingly disconnected actions of the characters, and the viewer’s chase to guess the end-game parallels the characters chasing each other on the screen. Viewers who long for clarity and straightforwardness will naturally be frustrated, but part of the point is that that’s the way it is in the shadowy world of espionage: few things are clear. And even fewer are pure. Pierce Brosnan plays Devereaux, a supposedly retired CIA operative whose “nom de guerre” was “November Man,” because after he went through the landscape, everything was dead. Devereaux himself states that a bullet travels at 1400 feet per second, and, particularly in the case of a head shot, death is not only instantaneous, but painless. Ostensibly, that was supposed to comfort the young woman he was trying to protect at the time. But somehow “this won’t hurt a bit” has never been … [Read more...]

Film in review – “What If”

what_if_movie_poster

Even we married folks have friends of the opposite gender. And occasionally it will occur to us that we seem to have much in common with said friend, though there’s always this clanging warning bell going off inside our heads; much like when big construction equipment goes in reverse: you can’t help but hear the loud beeping. There’s danger here, especially combined with a lack of due vigilance. And it’s not really fair to compare a friendship with a live-in relationship, anyway, because the dynamics of intimacy are so different. But occasionally even otherwise intelligent people will play with fire and blithely assume that no one will get burned. Chantry (Zoe Kazan) meets Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) and they seem to have an instant chemistry, except she quickly informs him that she lives with her boyfriend. Wallace, still recovering from walking in on his ex-girlfriend “in flagrante delicto,” decides he doesn’t need to be strung along any more than he already has. But he also … [Read more...]

Speaking from the heart

Jana Childers

“A MAN CANNOT LIE,” said Sigmund Freud (in the sexist language of his day), “if he lies with his lips he will chatter the truth from his fingertips.” Freud is talking, of course, about the way we human beings have of telegraphing our true feelings. “No, please, take all the time you need,” we say, and even as we arrange our features in an oh-so-patient expression, our drumming digits give us away. Most of us know what it is to be betrayed by our own non-verbals. Shifting feet (the desire to flee), a lifted chin (aggression, often compensating for fear), crossed arms (self-protection) … traitors, all. Freud’s words remind us of the old expression “the truth will out.” “Yes,” he seems to be saying, “and it will be the truth about you.” Sometimes it is not the fingers or the feet that give us away but our voices. Nearly every time we open our mouths, word choice, pronunciation and inflection patterns send subtle and not-so-subtle clues about what is going on in our unconscious minds. … [Read more...]

A vision of the future (September 7, 2014)

Scripture Passage and Lesson Focus: Jeremiah 30:1-3, 18-22 To understand the book of Jeremiah it is helpful to have at least a basic grasp of the radical political and religious changes that the people of God experienced during the tumultuous period from the eighth to the sixth centuries BCE (before the common era). Israel struggled to survive amid the relatively rapid rise and fall of three superpowers in the Ancient Near East: Assyria, Babylon and Persia. The fall and disappearance of the northern kingdom of Israel to the Assyrians in 721, the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple in 587 at the hands of the Babylonians, exile in Babylon until 539, and the return of Judah as a client state in the Persian Empire transformed both the political and religious identity of the people who came to be called Jews. The prophets who spoke for Jahweh believed that the disastrous events engulfing the covenant people during this time reflected the righteous will of God who … [Read more...]

The new pastor’s first year: Part 1

earl-johnson-jr

What should a teaching elder and the session try to accomplish in the first year of ministry? If people think that the pastor will fulfill their expectations, continue great traditions, make creative changes, preach inspiring sermons, fill the pews, participate in community events and rejuvenate the church school and youth groups … what should he or she do in the first twelve months? Make no major changes.  One rule of thumb that is often advised is to avoid all radical changes. It takes time to get to know the history and members of any congregation and pastors often make the mistake of adopting a top-down administrative model of running the church without really understanding the personality of their new charge. Perhaps this style works in a corporation or small business when change is necessary for survival. But in a church that is totally dependent on volunteers, such an approach is often resented and resisted. In a few words: add new programs but make few alterations to old … [Read more...]