Sunday, February 28, 2010

Movie Review: Percy Jackson and the Olympians

“Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” reaches for the heights of Mount Olympus, but only makes it as far as the great mountain’s entrance gates.

While the mythological story accomplishes enough to make a sequel likely, it ultimately takes its place as just another film in the long line of children's books adapted for the big screen.

Unlike its book counterpart, however, “Jackson” comes across as anything but a children’s film. The very premise of the gods having sexual relations with humans sharply contrasts with Christian values, and the rest of the story takes unnecessary steps to make this into an adult film.

The film’s title character, Percy Jackson, played by Logan Lerman, is the son of Poseidon and has grown up without any knowledge of his father’s position or his own demi-god powers. Zeus made a law that forbade any god from having relations with his or her demi-god children. Percy crosses paths with Zeus, however, when someone steals Zeus’ lightning bolt and Percy gets blamed. Suddenly, Poseidon and Zeus’ brother, Hades, along with a host of many other characters, come after Percy, wanting the lightning bolt for themselves.

When Hades kidnaps Percy’s mother, Percy sneaks out of a camp for demi-gods, where he has begun his training, to save his mother. Along for the road to Hell are Grover, Percy’s protector, and Annabeth, daughter of Athena, the goddess of wisdom. Together, they face monsters worse than Hell itself.

“Jackson” has several flaws. All the gods live in America, not Greece, a relocation never explained. When Percy’s mother gets taken to Hell, it’s easy to not care, and Pierce Brosnan gets far too little screen time as Chiron, the centaur who trains Percy. The CGI effects often fail to bring a suspension of belief and needed items, such as bows and arrows, seem to appear out of nowhere.

Meanwhile, Chiron the centaur and Grover the satyr are able to hide their animal halves in front of humans without any explanation. And then there’s the head of Medusa, a slimy, slivering thing that turns people to stone with one look. Don’t we all need one of those to carry around in our backpack? Mind you, the parts with Medusa, played brilliantly by Uma Thurman, are some of the most enjoyable parts of the film, but they’re also the weirdest parts.

None of “Jackson’s” flaws compare to the way its sexual elements almost ruin the film altogether. The film takes the younger, innocent characters of the book, makes them older, and turns them into characters that accept immoral actions. Grover, the party goat, comes close to pervert status, making advances toward almost every girl he sees and accepting the advances of Hades' promiscuous wife. And what’s a sexually inclined film without a scene in Las Vegas?

“Jackson” does not fail on every count, however. The sequences in Hell are visually impressive, although they, along with other monsters in the film, may scare younger audiences. Percy’s feelings toward the father who left him gives viewers something to relate to, and his sacrificial actions make him a character to look up to.

While some characters do not make a mark, Percy and Annabeth (played by Alexandra Daddario) play well off each other, creating a memorable and enjoyable love-hate relationship. An adventure in itself, the film’s music also leaves an impression. While listeners can hear elements of other film scores, the score fits the film well and exudes the magnificence of Mount Olympus.

Percy’s journey includes several humorous moments, as well as a few action scenes, making for a simply enjoyable film. Directed by Chris Columbus (who directed the first two “Harry Potter” films), “Jackson” takes viewers on an exciting journey to the world of the gods and demi-gods, but fails to make an impression as a whole. With its overused sexual jokes and with its actors failures to connect emotionally, the film does not stand up to the high standards set by its predecessors like the “Harry Potter” series. Nor does have enough weight to draw the overwhelming amount of fans the “Twilight” series has accumulated.

Chimes Artices: Power Outage, Prayer, the iPad

I provided quotes and info for this story:

Prayer on Campus:

Ken Wales Speaks to Students:

Is the iPad Welcome?:

Review: "Kaleidoscope" by Patsy Clairmont

Leave it to Patsy Clairmont to create a book with a cover as cute as she is, a length as tiny as she is, and chapters as short as she is.

Beautiful cover and all, Kaleidoscope fails to connect. Chapters, each based on a single verse from Proverbs, come across as devotional stories. While one or two chapters may hit individual readers hard, most readers will have to either dig deep or read only one chapter per day/week and truly commit to thinking as hard as Winnie the Pooh to get something out of this book.

Mind you, the stories Clairmont tells are delightfully funny, but that doesn’t compensate for lack of depth in the Word. I have yet to read a book by a Women of Faith Speaker that truly dives into God’s Word. Some pointless questions and a few verses to reflect on after each chapter are the closest Clairmont comes to covering readers with the water of the Word of God.

On the bright side, she does bring some clear understanding to a few confusing proverbs, but, as lovely as its cover is, Kaleidoscope does not “find inspiring reflections of the divine that bring clarity to our world.”

*Quote from the book jacket’s description.

Book Summary:

Acclaimed author and Women of Faith speaker Patsy Clairmont causes womens' hearts to leap and their hopes to lift in this quirky, straight-to-the point look at the Proverbs.
Understanding the Christian life and the Bible can be a daunting task. But maybe God didn't mean it to be so hard. In Kaleidoscope of Proverbs, Patsy Clairmont pieces together some powerful messages from God and reveals new facets of beauty, inspiration, and instruction. Written for busy women, Patsy offers brief, powerful chapters that address the key aspects of their lives, hearts, and relationships.
In the Proverbs, God gives us small gems of hope and truth, and in Kaleidoscope of Proverbs, Patsy Clairmont unveils them for readers with her trademark humor and insightful teaching.

* I received a free copy of this book from in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Review: “Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God.”

Sheila Walsh is an incredible speaker and writer who never fails to give her audience a glimpse of her heart and a glimpse of the heart of God. Sometimes, however, a glimpse is all you get.

Readers will catch several glimpse of both Sheila’s and God’s heart in Walsh’s latest book, “Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God.” While the book contains plenty of deep, Biblical insights, it doesn’t flow well, and readers can find much of its content in Walsh’s previous books.

Walsh uses her own testimony and the stories of several people in the Bible to teach readers about courage, beauty, waiting on God, crying out to God, trusting God, and realizing God has a plan for your life. Her words don’t really begin to resonate until half way through the book, however, and even then, the lessons don’t stick unless you make an effort to study a chapter a day and put the chapters into practice. All the lessons she teaches have deep truths, but don’t seem to connect to one another.

Walsh begins and closes with the example of how much more fun swinging can be when someone you trust is pushing you, but she doesn’t fully utilize the metaphor throughout the book, and some of her best content does not come until the end.

Walsh’s best content, like her closing chapter on the parts of life that will unexpectedly transform into jewels and gold in heaven, doesn’t entirely fit into the book’s theme and would better suit a book of its own. Walsh’s testimonies seem scarce and scattered, as well, and would resonate more if gathered into one book.

Overall, however, “Beautiful Things” is beautiful. Despite its flaws, the book offers plenty of wisdom if one makes an effort to digest and apply the trust in God that Walsh encourages.

P.S. This book is aimed at women, but would have just as much applicability to men.

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion review for

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Review: Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts

"Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts" makes a great resource for any person with a desire for a deeper study of God's Word. The book, complete with maps, photos, and outlines, would make a great textbook for most Bible courses, especially classes that overview either the Old Testament or Old Testament or classes that focus on the geography of the Bible.

While the reference book doesn't include as much geological background as it could, it does exactly what it's title promise: It delivers easy-to-understand maps and charts. Each chapter covers a specific book of the Bible and includes resources such as outlines of the book, maps of geographical locations in the book, and information on the author, date, themes, and literary structure of the book. Depending on the book being covered, the chapter may include more details on the book, as well.

The majority of the material appears in the Old Testament sections, so, the book could use some more extensive coverage on New Testament books. Then again, the shorter the book covered, the shorter the coverage. That makes enough sense. Still, while "Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts" provides plenty of simple material that lays the Bible out clearly, it's not a deep theological explanation of books. It's book introductions could come right out of a teen's study Bible. Ultimately, the books makes a great companion for a Bible class or the study of the Bible, but doesn't stand completely on its own. It has its use, but its much like a lot of other sources on the market.

I received a free copy of this book from in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Review: Revolve 2010 Biblezine

I spent my teenage years as the weirdo loner, too mature for her age and never fitting in. Thus, I can't speak with complete authority when I review and criticize Revolve 2010 for its focus on teenage issues that I never fully dealt with: boys, boys, and more boys.... and little bit of looks. Really, that's all Revolve 2010 looks at, and while I can't completely relate to all of its contents, I can certainly tell that its "sharp look and relevant articles" for teen girls doesn't go nearly as deep or be quite as honest as it could.

This "Biblezine" does include the New Testament with colorful headers and interesting asides, but, unfortunately, most of the "articles" included are mindless dribble, content any Christian girl should find obvious, and content that doesn't fit the Bible verses that parallel them.

On the bright side (and the colors in this magazine are bright), the general design and content probably do appeal to most teenage girls. A few elements similar to blogs and Facebook give the magazine a touch of creativity. Most of the content, however, would be better off in its own book, rather than next to New Testament text. The magazine promises to reveal the relevance of God’s Word to teens, but the majority of articles do not come straight out of Scripture, and, remembering the mature teenager I was, I would prefer a magazine that delves deeper into the text, not one that talks solely on boys.

The magazine also uses a lot of space promoting Revolve books, events, and products instead of focusing on Scripture. Another note: some of the text message passages are more puzzles than they are creative and fun ways to make Scripture relevant.

Plus, the cover given as a preview promises an article on "Caught in a Sin Spiral" that I was really looking forward to. The copy I received had a different cover and had no such article.

I received a free copy of this book from in exchange for my honest review of it.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Tom Howard Dies of Heart Attack

Music Pioneer Tom Howard Dies During Hike; Suffers Massive Heart Attack

By Harmony Wheeler, Bully! Pulpit News

(Los Angeles, CA) -- Music Producer and recording artist Tom Howard, known for his work with a variety of artists like Larry Norman, CeCe Winans, Sixpence None The Richer, Dolly Parton and Lynyrd Skynyrd, died of a massive heart attack on Thursday while hiking with family at Edwin Warner Park in Nashville, according to online reports. Writing on Howard's Facebook page, friend and musical collaborator Jennifer Goetz noted, “he didn't feel well, complained of feeling nauseous. After a little while he collapsed and they tried to revive him. By the time the paramedics got there he was gone."

Remembered for his musical genius as a recording artist, producer and arranger, Howard was a friend to many artists in his adopted home town of Nashville, He grew up surrounded by an artistic culture in the Twin Cities and remembered conducting an orchestra on the radio from his living room as a child. He recorded his debut album, “A View From the Bridge,” in 1978 with Larry Norman’s Solid Rock record label and was one of a select group of devout Christian musicians Norman assembled to be a part of his musical community along with Randy Stonehill, Daniel Amos, Mark Heard, and others who performed on each others' records and tours. In subsequent years, Howard went on to release several more albums including The Harvest and Danger In Loving You and composed movie scores and arranged string accompaniments for hundreds of artists.

Howard is survived by his wife, Dori and children, Katie and Joseph.