Won’t You Be My Neighbor? — Movie Review

My oldest daughter, Beth, loved Mr. Rogers as a child.  When he asked a question on his program, she would actually answer him, just as if he were in the room with her! She was a shy little girl, but his quiet, unassuming manner drew her in and she listened carefully to whatever he had to say.  She and I were eager to watch this documentary about the life of Fred Rogers.  I borrowed it from our local library, she brought the popcorn, and we settled in to learn more about her childhood hero.

Fred was a Presbyterian minister who was able to preach without using sermons or wearing a collar.  He had great empathy and compassion for young children — this was his gift.  His passion was to teach them that all our feelings are normal and can be controlled, and that we are loved and special “just the way we are.”  He felt that television was a wonderful vehicle to spread the message of love, understanding and acceptance;  however, many programs for children at that time were thoughtless and violent (has anything changed?)  He was a true servant of God.  Seeing him interact with children brought tears to my eyes.

He began to work out his vision with a local show in Pittsburgh, before he even completed his seminary training.  Eventually this led to the well known “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”  that my daughter watched.  Fred talked with children about being scared and angry;  he broached difficult subjects like divorce and death;  he tried to teach the difference between real life and the world of make-believe;  he wasn’t afraid to explain big words children might be hearing like “assassination”.  While many shows for children speed things up with frenetic energy, Mister Rogers slowed things down.  It allowed children to become calm, quiet and able to listen.  He became known as an authority on how to talk to children about disturbing public events and an advocate of Public Broadcasting.

In this documentary, you meet many people who knew and loved Fred Rogers.  The man you met on The Neighborhood seems to have been the true Fred.  There was no stage mask or personality, just a real person who wanted to connect with and love others, especially children.

VERDICT:  I give this movie five stars.  If you or your children watched Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, you won’t want to miss it. It’s a beautiful bit of nostalgia and a good reminder to use our spiritual gifts and calling as servants. It does have a PG rating (language in a few instances) and as a documentary will not engage young children.  It will probably resonate most with people like me and my daughter, who remember his work.

Maybe you’ll enjoy revisiting the Mr. Rogers theme song:

 

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Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World–Movie Review

I borrowed this film from our local library and watched it last night with my husband and some friends. I may be going a little off topic for the month with this review, but if you know anything about Martin Luther, you’re aware that he was well acquainted with the concept of repentance!  He spent so much time confessing that he was told to go away and come back when he had something worthwhile to report!  Released in 2017, this  movie depicts the major events in Luther’s life, interspersed with comments by theologians and historians.  Every word spoken by Luther was taken verbatim from his writings.  It was well done and gave a good, basic chronological account of the history of the Protestant Reformation.  Even if you’re well versed in this history, there were any number of interesting facts you may not know.  For example:

  • Luther wrote about 25% of the materials printed during his life
  • He was not paid for any of his writing
  • Martin Luther King Jr.’s name was originally Michael King.  His father changed both of their names to Martin Luther out of admiration for the great reformer
  • Luther stated that his reason for marrying his wife Katie, was to please his father and spite the pope

Lutherans and history buffs will enjoy this PBS production, and I would certainly recommend it for confirmands.  I give it five stars!

Have any readers seen this film?  If so, I’d welcome some other comments.

I Can Only Imagine

I just finished watching the movie, I Can Only Imagine.  I don’t think it’s an accident that the next adult Sunday School lesson I’ll be teaching is from the book of Romans and titled “The Transformed Life.” God does that to me all the time! Bart Miller’s story is one of transformation, redemption, forgiveness, hope and most of all music.  His father was abusive and angry, his mother left, and for young Bart, music anchored him, lifted him up, and gave him a dream.  I won’t say more, because you should see this film for yourself.  You’ve probably heard the song, but it’s worth another listen:

 

Who Are We Really?

I’ve found myself thinking about this blog post and feeling that I would like to avoid writing it.  ( I’m preparing a Sunday School lesson on Jonah, the prophet who tried to run away from God, and boy, can I identify).  However, the Holy Spirit keeps nudging me to put it out there, so here goes.

The Hunger Games

Have you read the book, or watched the movie,  The Hunger Games?  I bet almost everyone has.  It’s the story of a young girl, Katniss Everdeen, who through her abilities and virtue, triumphs over an evil government, and becomes a symbol of freedom that motivates others. It’s a story we all want to identify with, especially here in America.  That’s how we see ourselves, right? The land of the brave and the free?  Individualists who broke away from the control of England to establish a country where liberty is  guaranteed and everyone has an opportunity to work hard and succeed.  Hunger Games fits well with the story we tell ourselves about who we are and how we came to exist as a nation.  I suppose that’s okay as far as it goes.

Unfortunately what struck me, particularly when I saw the movie, was the thought that we’re not Katniss, we’re the people in the capital;  the people who are living an extravagant, gluttonous lifestyle, while outside our borders people starve.  Look up the statistics.  Did you know that 16% of the worlds’ population (this is pretty much the U.S., Europe and Japan) consume 80% of the natural resources?  Americans comprise 4% of the world population, but operate 1/3 of its’ cars and use 1/4 of its’ energy.

You may tell yourself that at least we’re not drafting people to compete in a murderous game for our entertainment.  Think again.  We haven’t quite gotten to that level, but we’re more than willing to view many “reality” shows that encourage conflict, lust and greed for our enjoyment.

Here’s the naked truth.  We live in the capital and we are those evil people.  We have no hope of isolating ourselves from sin, our own and that of society.  We don’t need a Katniss;  we need a savior.  Come Lord Jesus.

 

 

What Turns You On?

Eric Liddell,  the famous Olympic runner portrayed in the movie “Chariots of Fire” once said, “God made me fast and when I run, I feel His pleasure.”  If, like Kate, you are wondering how to spend your time, look toward your God-given talents and gifts, and look for your passion.  When do you get the feeling, “this is what I was meant to do?”

A couple of my blogging sisters call me “the blogoholic”.  They say I am obsessed with our blog.  I don’t think that’s really true, but right now it is my passion.  It doesn’t feel like work to write a post practically every day.  I get a charge out of every comment and like.  I get an even bigger charge when I find a new writer to join us,  learn something new about technology, or when someone else shares a post.  Writing is a talent, and encouragement is one of my spiritual gifts–being the chief blogger combines both and I love it.

My dear friend, Nancy is a teacher.  She once told me that teaching is not just a job for her–if she couldn’t get paid for it, she would teach anyway.   She would teach Sunday School, or Bible Study, or join the Literacy Council and teach reading.  Teaching is her passion.

Beth Ann, one of the lady bloggers, is a musician.  The best times of her life have been spent making music.  She sings in the choir, she plays guitar for Via de Cristo weekends and serves on the Via de Cristo Board as the head musician.  Music touches her in a special way.  It’s her passion.

Michele, another Lutheran Lady, loves people and loves to witness.  She proclaims her Christian faith “loud and proud.”  It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you’ve done, Michele wants to be your friend and introduce you to her best friend, Jesus.  It’s her passion.

So think about your life.  What are the things that make you feel fulfilled?  When do you get that “click” that means, I was created for this?  If you became independently wealthy and didn’t need to work, how would you spend your time and money?  What energizes you?  What turns you on?  I want to hear from our readers and bloggers!

“Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord.”  Romans 12:11

 

 

One Man’s Change

My husband and I recently took the teens from our church to see the movie, “The Case for Christ.”  It is the story of Lee Strobel, a journalist and atheist.  When his wife becomes a Christian, he is distressed and decides to use his investigative skills to disprove Christianity by attacking the resurrection.  Even St. Paul agrees it is the linchpin of our faith.

“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”  1 Corinthians 15:14

After consulting with many experts in individual fields, here’s what he found:

  • The Bible is a reliable source because there are many more existing copies, and earlier copies of it than any other ancient document
  • Over 500 people could not have had the same delusion of seeing Jesus alive after the crucifixion–this would be more miraculous than the miracle itself!
  • Medical experts agree that Jesus could not have been alive when He was taken down from the cross
  • Eye witness accounts all contained the same core of the resurrection story.  There were variances in secondary details –this is exactly what would be expected.  Identical reports are suspect.
  • Jews of that time would never have chosen women as the first witnesses;  women were not allowed to be witnesses.  This could only mean they were reporting the truth.  If they were lying, they would have chosen men as the witnesses.
  • The disciples led changed lives, and were willing to die for their faith.  Who would chose to die for a lie?  What would be the motive?

I would recommend this film, especially to young or newer Christians.  It falls in the category of “apologetics.” (defending the faith).  Lee Strobel went on to become a Pastor, writer and professor.  He is the author of a number of books including “The Case For Christ” which tells his conversion story and on which the movie is based.

I’d be interested in hearing other comments on the film or book.

Now Thank We All Our God

iThis hymn was written by a Lutheran pastor, Martin Rinkart (1586-1649) in the village of Eilenberg, Saxony.  When he began his pastorate, the Thirty Years War was in progress.  Refugees fled into  Eilenberg while the Swedish army laid siege to the walled city.  The times were desperate.  People were dying from famine and plague.  Pastors were under terrible strain as they attempted to preach the gospel while caring for the sick and dying and burying the dead.  One after another, the pastors also became ill and died until only Martin Rinkart was left.  On some days he conducted as many as fifty funerals.  Finally the Swedes demanded a ransom.  It was Pastor Rinkart who left the safety of the city to negotiate with the enemy and bring a conclusion to the hostility and suffering.  He composed this hymn in thanksgiving for the survivors of Eilenberg.  What a wonderful example of giving thanks in all circumstances.   In Germany it is used in the same way Americans sing the doxology.

Now thank we all our God, With heart and hand and voices,

Who wondrous things hath done, In whom this world rejoices,

Who from our mothers’ arms, Hath blessed us on our way

With countless gifts of love, And still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,

With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us,

And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed,

And free us from all ills, in this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,

The Son and Him who reigns with them in highest heaven,

The one eternal God, whom earth and heaven adore,

For thus it was, is now, and shall be ever more.