May Poem – The Kingdom of IF

THE KINGDOM OF IF

If only we remembered from whence we came

And delighted in the goodness from above.

If only we grew our strength

From the victory of enduring love.

If only we realized that everything we have is a gift.

And that gifts can be taken away.

If only we toiled for that which lasts

And not so much for the day.

If only we lived lives of hope and not of dreadful dread-

We would know lives of joyful fruit

And not live as if we were already dead.

Lest We Forget

I came across this poem in my daughter’s reading book today. It is a powerful reminder of lessons learned…and forgotten.  Written by Rudyard Kipling for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, it still speaks to us today…lest we forget.

Recessional Poem

God of our fathers, known of old,
  Lord of our far-flung battle line,
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
  Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;
  The Captains and the Kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
  An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

Far-called our navies melt away;
  On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
  Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
  Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
  Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
  In reeking tube and iron shard,
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
  And guarding calls not Thee to guard,
For frantic boast and foolish word-
Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!

Movie Magic?

moviesI must admit I was very surprised when Marvel successfully took comic book characters and imbued them with imagination and life. True movie magic. I didn’t have any real appreciation for comic book characters before the Marvel series came out. I stand corrected.  Still, I have to wonder where all the retro fairy-tales, comic book characters, and childhood game-type movies are going to take us. Why are we looking for deep themes in the shallows?  Maybe we aren’t looking for deep themes.  Maybe we just want to be entertained.

At the cost of millions? In a world struggling with massive cultural divisions, drug addictions, extremist murderers, predictions of WWW III, anxieties over nuclear Armageddon? I don’t believe that entertainment is all that fills people’s minds these days. But what better way to address our fears than through comforting retro toys and games? We know it’s not real, but we get to live out the solutions to our problems through easy, sit-back-and-enjoy scenarios.  Or do we?

Like cotton candy, the taste of pink sugar only lasts so long.  Not pretending to be Nostradamus or anything…I’d just like to add my two cents and make a little prediction. There are a lot of well written stories out there.  As the successful book and subsequent movie Unbroken suggests, real-life inspirational stories are still quite popular.  There are other such stories, perhaps not always as graphic, but every bit as inspirational.

I know one author writing The Forgotten Saints series. Talk about amazing true life tales! These are stories everyone can relate to – real people overcoming incredible odds to make themselves and the world a bit better. I also know fiction authors, largely ignored, who write thrilling tales which inspire the reader toward something truly marvelous, reflecting “a bit of the eternal good”.

I have already posted other blogs listing books by new authors, so I am not going to repeat that here.  Suffice to say, there are many authors working hard to become recognized but finding it nearly impossible to find a place at the table because publishers and other industry specialists hardly want to risk millions on a new author. When you are talking about such a steep investment, I can understand the caution. But is there perhaps a middle road? Less expensive films with more variety of themes.

True movie magic dares to leap over the shallows and inspires life changing hope. That hope rests in characters who can actually be followed, emulated, and valued as real human examples of the best of our race. I suggest that in time audiences will be looking for more movie miracles and less magic.

Perhaps looking a little farther a field, getting a fresh perspective, and remembering that it is the very “outsiders” that do most of the living and investing in this world, who are capable of telling the most riving tales. They’ve often lived them.

 

Do You Believe? Movie Review

Do You BelieveWhen I looked up the statistics about the movie Do You Believe? – I found it revealing that the ratings are so low. But then, look at the culture that director Jon Gunn and writers Chuck Konzelman, Cary Solomon are up against.  The United States, as well as much of Europe, and way too much of the world has renounced our Christian heritage. We are now a secularized world that is more moved by our American mythology of Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and The Avengers, than by the reality of Jesus Christ. Not that I don’t like Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, The Avengers, and the rest of those good guys.  I like them. They point to a truth, but they can only point – they aren’t really true. But movies like God is Not Dead, Do You Believe? face the rather dauntless task of reminding us of a truth that sounds more like fiction than alien beings coming to conquer and save us – depending on their mood. Instead of gods of good and evil, Mr. Gunn, Mr. Konzelman, and Mr. Solomon attempt the near impossible – to use fiction to remind us of something so incredible, we hardly dare to dream something so good is true. Because frankly – in this world – it doesn’t seem true. It is easier to believe in aliens and the inevitable destruction of another major US city (Boy the tax hikes after these events must be killers!) than the reality of God’s own son dying for us, saving us, and preparing a home for us in Heaven.

So, as I reviewed the movie last night, which left me with pondering my vocation in life and wondering if a cup of hot tea would sooth the ache behind my eyes (It was that emotional) and even this morning as I supervised my little ones help paint the classroom wall downstairs (Who knew paint on the bottom of feet could move that fast!) I thought about the irony of ratings and money makers in this world. What does it all mean?  What does it all come down to?

Well, for me, as I face the troubles of my day, big and small, I think about my mom and my husband who have both passed to the other side in recent years. (That scene of watching a Leukemia victim die in a hospital hit rather close to home – though my husband didn’t rise again in the hospital – he did his rising somewhere I cannot yet follow) I think about my kids – and their futures.  Who will they grow up to BE?  I think about the fact that I won’t be around forever either.  I tell them, “Be who call God calls you to be.  Don’t go where you will end up alone.”  When I think of our fashioned gods of clay – our self-made images – I have to ask:  Do these have the keys to the kingdom of Heaven?  Can they take us into eternal life?

Personally, I am not a movie maker, a world shaker, or a woman of means.  I am hoping to glue down some plastic tiles in the boot-room today and if I do that well, my world will be a little neater than it was. As Aristotle once said (I seriously paraphrase- forgive me): “A man is revealed by his habits” so in my habits of cooking, cleaning, serving, loving, hugging,  laughing, and crying as needed, so I reveal myself and the God-habit in me.  He is the cause of my being, the compass of my soul, and the love of my life.

When I consider ratings, I think – well – my writing may not get much notice, but if I nudge one soul towards God, I just changed the composition of Heaven, I just changed an eternal reality.  What more do I want?  Ratings indeed!

Book Reviews: Passport & Don’t You Forget About Me

Great books for Great minds.  A Stunningly Honest Look at Relationships

PassportPassport  by Christopher Blunt a great book that delves deep into intimate relationships between people – not just romantic relationships but the relationship between brothers & sisters, parents and children, friendships, and acquaintances. This is one of the most honest reflections of romantic love I have ever read. Mr. Blunt does an excellent job of sharing relationship struggles from a man’s point of view. Morality and sexuality, passion and love, all brought together under the guidance of the greatest relationship humanity has ever known – our relationship with the God who made us. Well done!

 Imaginative with Crisp Details

Don't You Forget About MeDon’t You Forget About Me by Erin McCole-Cupp is very engaging and keeps you turning the pages to find out what happens next. I am a world away from what the main character experienced, but I found Mary Catherine and Staz’s relationship to be charming – more like what sisters ought to be and often aren’t. The characters are very honest. The details are clear and the plot line is quite plausible – though I sure hope no one ever finds themselves in such a terrifying situation. The issues and concerns regarding contraception and what happens to the human body specifically, and to our society in general when we use contraceptives as a way of life, are very real and handled carefully within an imaginative plot line. Great job!

Happy Reading…

 

Are We Free?

DSCF1956Today my daughter said something that rather took me by surprise.  She is the kind of kid who studies everything with zeal, checks her sources and tries to get a balanced view on everything.  No shallow educational experiences for her.  As a matter of fact, she has become such an ardent historian that I often find myself referring to her for new sources of information.  Her specialty is American history from Colonial Times to the Civil War.  As we were ending our school day, though in fact it never really ends, just changes, she surprised me with the comment: “We were a much freer people when this country began than we are today.”  Hmmm. Just what a concerned mother wants to hear.  But I think her perception isn’t far wrong.  .

In years past, Americans had to fight for everything.  We had to fight to own land, for our freedom to express our faith, to speak and write what we thought, freedom from bigotry at all levels, freedom to educate our kids as we thought best, and freedom to rise higher than the limits imposed on us by others.

But today the loss of freedom I am referring to – which my daughter may not have even considered – is the freedom of will. Everyone is so busy – everyone seems pushed to the limit.  Time for deep thought – Nope.  Time for art – Nope.  Time to prioritize our lives and our loves – Nope.  Amazing that the people in ages past created remarkable works of art, profound and lasting documents which changed the world, considered their lives and the direction humanity was taking in long ponderous conversations, but today we are lucky if we have time for a sitcom….certainly no time for creative innovation beyond the technological kind.  And it isn’t just about a loss of “time”, it’s about our energy level, our capacity for deep meaningful – anything.  Is this what “freedom” is all about?  Freedom from our best, most creative selves?

Like I said, I was surprised by my daughter’s comment. I know she was talking about the legal and fiscal system in our country and the knots we have tied ourselves in, still, I think the proposition has a profound base.  It is a very good question. Though I do not have the answer, I think it is a question worth asking: Are we free?