Thursday, November 29, 2007


If you are a romantic at heart; if you loved watching the old Disney movies about Snow White, Cinderella, about Sleeping Beauty, Bambi, Thumper, and all those cute birds/mice/rabbits that help make dreams come true - then you definitely want to go see the movie Enchanted. It is a marvelous mix of animation and live film, of comedy and romance, of 'inside' jokes and throwaway lines that, if you are familiar with those Disney greats, you will find yourself nodding. laughing, saying, "yeah! I know where that came from!"

As we were driving home from watching it, I remarked to Bonnie that it is the sort of movie that used to come out at this time of year, that perceived 'family time' between Thanksgiving and Christmas. You could count on a colorful, animated, full-length movie, or a film with great songs about Christmas, or something that made you want to go out and do something for others, simply for the sake of doing.

But now, it seems that the movies that come out at this time of year are filled only with the color of red - as in blood, gore, violence, and over-the-top depravity. They focus on people killing, simply for the sake of killing. They devote story lines to depravity that is elevated (almost) to a lifestyle the viewer should emulate. They are filled with songs that degrade women, that exult about cruelty, that speak of unspeakable acts as if they are, or should be, everyday events in our lives.

(And often, we are told by the promoters and the reviewers, these sorts of images, these sorts of actions, are 'okay' because someone is giving an Academy Award performance, or someone has written a 'gritty' script, or a Grammy-worthy song.)

I've been thinking about the contrast in movies at this time of year because I have gotten a couple of emails concerning a film that is about to come out called The Golden Compass - a fantasy with magicians, witches, alternative worlds, etc., etc. And the emails are all about how
the movie should be boycotted (if not banned outright) because it is un-Christian, based on a trilogy by an avowed atheist. So? It is a fantasy - about a fantasy world, about polar bears that can talk, about people who can fly in the air.

Yet, there hasn't been a whisper from these folks who are so concerned over values, Christian living, families about movies like American Gangster or Hitman or any of the others of this genre.

Why is that? How can we become so concerned, so outraged, so up-in-arms over films that are simply fantasies, but not over movies that are simply disgusting?

I don't know; I don't have any answers. But as one who has seen both American Gangster and Enchanted, I know which one I will go see again, which one I will recommend to folks, which one I will buy when it is released as a DVD.

And it's not the one that stars two actors who have received Academy Awards.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Beginning in early October, we were blessed
with the gift of Patricia - a young woman from
Zambia - who came as a part of the Mission
to the USA program coordinated through the
Synod of the Covenant. It has been some years
(almost 30) since the church had participated
in the program, and so we were not sure what
to expect. Some of us had high expectations,
that she would make all our problems disappear
somehow. Some had middling expectations,
that she wouldn't be too much of a 'burden.'
Some had low expectations, just that it
wouldn't demand too much time and energy
to have her with us.

I read something once that spoke of God's
hopes exceeding our expectations - and that's
what happened to us. God hoped Patricia
would come and change lives, and she did.
God hoped that some of us, if not all, would
open our hearts, our homes, our faith to her
gentle teaching, and some of us did. God
hoped that Patricia would have the confidence
and the contentment that her children and
husband and church in Zambia would be in
good hands while she was gone, and she did.
God hoped that we would become just like
children, and be nurtured and taught and
blessed and loved by this Christ-like person
in our midst, and when we did, we walked a
little further along the streets of the kingdom
towards home.

We were so impressed with this gentle,
soft-spoken, gracious young woman who
had the courage to leave her husband, her
3-year-old son,her 6-month old twins (!)
behind. What incredible courage, trust,
confidence, faith. All in this humble and
graceful daughter of God.

And then, she stood up and spoke, and the
strength of her faith, the power of her trust
in God, her unwavering conviction that,
indeed, all things (everything!) is possible
with God, her passion for sharing the Good
News of Jesus Christ, not just with us, but
especially with the poor, the broken, the
abandoned of her country and of God's
world came flowing out, and we were all
blown away!

And then she said, 'Thank you', sat down
and smiled.

I'll bet that's how people experienced that
missionary from Galilee who was so
gracious, so gentle, so soft-spoken.
But when he opened his mouth, all
the power and passion of God's heart
came flowing forth and everyone was
just blown away!

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman