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Saturday, December 30, 2006

CHRISTmas in New Bern

So we had the privilege of spending Jesus' birthday time in New Bern, NC, with my mother, stepfather, brother, and aunt. We thank God for them and the good time He gave us with them.

Our long weekend with them included baking cookies and desserts, playing basketball, taking the dogs for a walk, making jokes, eating big dinners, going for a carriage ride behind a large horsie, practicing the Treece family tradition of the "grab bag," sleeping a lot, opening many presents (especially those for our daughter), participating in a God-centered worship service at Temple Baptist Church, and playing a spirited game of pictionary.

We had a blast! We love you guys!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

To Movie Or Not To Movie? - Movie Reviews

I've been thinking for a while about posting some regular movie reviews, since my wife and I go see and rent quite a few. They make for good storylines, conversations, and dates, if well-chosen. Many evangelicals, especially the more "fundamental" or "conservative," shun movie-watching. They think it "unholy" to participate in such things, as if holiness comes mainly from abstaining from certain things. That thought is gnostic and wrong, but I certainly have that strand of thought in the backlog of my mind. By God's grace, I am learning to be schooled by His Word on this one. Some Biblical pointers:
  • God created all things, including artistic media, emotions, pictures, and words, for His glory. "For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer." 1 Timothy 4:4f
  • Seeing something evil does not constitute participating in that evil, especially in art. Isn't that our assumption as we read Biblical narrative?
  • We ought, however, to hate that which is evil, in movies and all of life. "Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good." Romans 12:9
  • We know, too, from experience that we struggle with certain things depicted in movies - things like immoral sex, foul language, crude joking, robbery and greed, slander, gossip, drunkeness and substance abuse, anger and violence, and many other things that spring from our hearts, as Jesus says in Mark 7:21.
  • So we must choose and watch movies (like everything) very carefully, knowing that it is not the art or entertainment that is sinful, but our own hearts and our specific sin struggles.
Now we're ready to review. On to the movies!

"How To Eat Fried Worms"
This is a great movie - fun, energetic, realistic, and hopeful. I can't remember the last movie that reminded me so well of middle school (and almost made me want to go back!), plus there is really nothing objectionable in this movie, unless you have a weak stomach. The eating-worms-all-kinds-of-ways jokes never get dull, either.

"The Illusionist"
This movie was interesting and entertaining. Midway through, I found myself wondering why it hadn't ended yet, but not in a bad way. It kept us guessing in a different way than most magic/murder/heist movies do. The love story, apart from the obvious fornication, was sweet, genuine, and winsome. Many would object to the movies use, almost commendation, of magic, but the reaction of the on-film audience gives us a distance from the truth-or-deception scheme that remains helpful throughout. We still found ourselves happily surprised at the end.

A pretty typical sports movie - your average, down-and-out, working-at-a-bar-part-time dude gets a chance to play for the big, hometown, down-and-out team, with relatively amazing results. Even though this plot has already been pretty well beaten down, I found myself rooting for Vince Papali, even if all the details weren't accurate. It's a rare movie that makes you want to move to Philadelphia, hang out with the down-and-outters, and play football in a muddy little field late at night.

Now on Video
"Rumor Has It"
An interesting modern American coming-of-age, finding-yourself story told through the eyes of the wishy-washy, flimsy-handed morality that appeals to postmodern relativists. The romantic comedy storyline is tried and leaves the view feeling empty in the end. I certainly wouldn't watch this movie with any children around, but it does have some beautiful shots and landscapes.

"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"
Hmmm, dark and disappointing. Lot's of good, weird material but without the spunk of the first installment. I'd skip it and wait for the third.

Good movie, great acting, good history lesson for my high-school-history-forgetting self. We especially like "Dumb and Dumber"s Jeff Daniels playing a serious role as a professor-turned-Army captain.

"Chariots of Fire"
Great movie. The film spends too much time on the arrogant, barely likable runner Harold Abrahams, and not enough on the Scottish sprinter Eric Liddell (for whom the movie is best known), yet it still packs enough of a God-centered punch to leave an impact for years to come. And it makes you want to get out and just . . . run.

"Almost Heroes"
Chris Farley and Matthew Perry are funny, very funny. Much of the subject matter is inappropriate and offensive. You make the call.