Thursday, July 31, 2014

DVD/Blu-Ray Review: Noah

I am on a Bible movie binge right now. In the middle of watching the Bible Collection films, I took an evening to finally watch the controversial Noah film starring Russell Crowe, provided by the kind folks at Grace Hill Media.

As a fiction film, Noah works well. Good script. Good actors. Compelling plot. The special effects, particularly the rock giants called "Watchers," could use some work, but all in all I enjoyed the film as a film. And the controversial elements did not bother me as much as I expected. I do not know much about the books of Enoch or the theology surrounding fallen angels, though, which could contribute to my lack of disappointment in the film.

I wish Hollywood could make a film that would stay true to the Bible. Liberties give a film its story, but in Noah, I saw a man who barely communicated with God (and his visions were induced by unusual means), a grandfather with very strange powers (which he never calls upon God to use), and a message of mercy dependent on man rather than on God. The film focuses on the man Noah, with no reference to or vision of God's Noahic Covenant or His ultimate plan, set in motion from the very beginning when God cursed the land but promised a savior in Eve's descendant. The environmental message was also very strong, as was the idea that everyone has some good in them.

All that said, I'm surprised that I'm not really all that upset with the movie. I enjoyed watching it. It has generated discussion. I hope there will be better, more accurate films in the future made by people who do not set out to make the "most unbiblical Biblical film ever made."

You can win a free copy of Noah. Check out my last post for your chance to win!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Giveaway: Win a FREE COPY of NOAH on Blu-Ray/DVD

Here's your chance to win a FREE copy of the recent Russell Crowe film Noah. I have a free Blu-ray/DVD combo pack to give away. Entering is simple.

The film's liberties with the original Bible story have stirred up a lot of conversation.

ANSWER ANY of the below questions on this blog to be entered to win! If you SHARE this contest with your friends or SUBSCRIBE to this blog and include a note that you did so in your comment for an ADDITIONAL ENTRY.

- Should Hollywood make more Christian-themed films?

- Is it OK to take liberties with the Bible for the sake of film and conversation? How important is accuracy in these films?

- If you have seen Noah, comment with your thoughts on the film (its take on creation, the fallen angels, or anything else that interests you).

- Any other thoughts on Noah? If you saw the film, what did you think?

Be sure to include some way to contact you in case you win, or check back soon for the winner!

The film officially comes out Tuesday July 29. See the trailer below.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Christian Nonfiction Review: The Atheist's Fatal Flaw

If I had not already read so many books in defense of the Christian faith, I would be seriously caught off-guard by "The Atheist's Fatal Flaw." Norman L. Geisler and Daniel J. McCoy spend so much time laying out the atheist arguments, a believer could accidentally skip the last few chapters and walk away an Atheist, or something close to that.

While I found all the extensive Atheist arguments fascinating, I was disappointed by the lack of Geisler and McCoy's rebuttals. After seven chapters quoting Atheist authors, the authors' arguments boiled down to just two supposed contradictions in the Atheist stance. And those points do not satisfactorily address all of the Atheist arguments just brought up.

Let me save you some time. The points are basically these: Why is divine intervention wrong, but societal intervention Okay? And how can we demand that God both fix the problem of evil and give mankind full autonomy?

Also note, this is an intellectual book. It's not for beginners.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Christian Fiction Review: Murder at the Mikado

After I read Julianna Deering's first Drew Farthering mystery novel, I decided I would never read more of her work. As I recall, I did not care for the slow development of the story or how the clues worked out. But as I'm in love with "The Mikado" and anything Gilbert and Sullivan, I could not resist Deering's latest Farthering novel, "Murder at the Mikado." And I'm glad I read it.

I've now missed the second novel, which is referenced in Deering's third book, but not enough to confuse. This time, I could not put Deering's book down. My only complaints: There is little character development, the clues come about mostly by conversation and Drew seems to have the same information as the police, meaning he's not really needed to solve the case. Still, this was a very good mystery novel that left me guessing who was guilty all the way through. I definitely enjoyed all the Gilbert and Sullivan references, although The Mikado did not play much of a role in the plot.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review of it.

Christian Nonfiction Review: 10:10 Life to the Fullest

I was surprisingly drawn in by Daniel Hill's "10:10 Life to the Fullest." Hill writes that living out John 10:10's "life to the full" requires a 3-D faith, that is a faith where we recognize and act in spite of our fears, a faith where we have an intimate relationship with Jesus, and a faith where we listen for God's voice, vision and mission.

Hill has some great insights, with great background facts and new ideas. I appreciate his idea that "mission" does not have to mean overseas missions, but can be just looking for people to develop relationships with. I still have a hard time with this, though. I don't feel built for the exhausting work that is socializing and debating. And Hill really only gives one or two pointers that feel practical. He does not offer much in the way of actual steps to take.

His look at fear, intimacy and mission is a great read that I want to go back to some day. But for someone like me who is not super emotional, Hill makes it all look too easy, something that I know it's not.

I also worry that his more personal view of mission needs more clarification to stress the importance of doctrine, so as to avoid a "God is love" everything goes theology. Having read a few other reviews of the book on Amazon, I see there may be more errors along this line, doctrinal and interpretation errors, that I did not notice.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review of it.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Recipe Book Review: Snack Girl to the Rescue

Half recipes, half advice, Lisa Cain's "Snack Girl to the Rescue" calls itself a "real life guide to losing weight and getting healthy." Cain provides some practical tips for various situations, a lot of which (parties, drinking, etc) I could not personally relate to. She stresses small steps for a healthier life, but at the same time emphasizes eating healthier. Here's where I had a problem. Most of her recipes are not for picky eaters like me. I was hoping the book would have snacks that were healthier version of fatty foods I like, but the recipes are more for people who like vegetables and fruits. There were very few that appealed to me. So the book is not for everyone. If you're one to underline tips (even if some of them are obvious) and then make sure you memorize and apply them, this may be a book for you. But I couldn't get much out of it. I did, however, find Cain's insights on nutritional labels and food Marketing interesting.

* I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review of it.

Christian NonFiction Review: Ex-Muslim

I have to be honest. I am skeptical of Naeem Fazal's supernatural Christian testimony - although his commitment to the faith is in his favor. Christ has clearly worked a great change in his life. Still, I have other problems with his book.

I found his life story following his Muslim background to his conversion and after engaging, but was disappointed that it had no clear organization and had very little that would really help me defend my own faith. Naeem's story is one based more on the love and experience of Christ. Not that there is anything wrong with that in itself, but from personal experience I can't agree with Naeem's implied "ask Jesus to show himself supernaturally and he will show himself" system. I also didn't care for Naeem's sermonizing in the latter half of his book. This is where he lost my attention and started to sound like any other typical NonFiction Christian author.

Part of Naeem's journey included a time spent in the "Word of Faith" movement, which he now calls a childish time. He no longer believes in a prosperity gospel, so far as I can tell. However, it is not clear how much he has cut ties with this false gospel that includes blasphemous teachings. He once dreamed of being a faith healer, himself, and he does not make any clear condemnation of the extreme Charismatic movements. This bothered me only because it made me question how much of the false movements influenced his current beliefs.

I do appreciate Naeem's passion for cultural diversity, but not at the cost of essential doctrine (another item left unclear in the book).

All that said, it was an interesting and easy read. I would give it 3/5 stars because it's not a terrible book and it is a good cause. I just felt a bit nit picky this time around.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Christian Fiction Review: Love Comes Home

While slow moving, Ann H Gabhart's "Love Comes Home" is a touching story of faith, endurance, and, as the title says, love. Gabhart knows how to create real-life characters and to develop them for an engaging and relatable story.

In "Love Comes Home," the Merritt sisters deal with the aftermath of World War II. One sister has lost a husband and must take care of the child he left behind, as well as learn to let go and let a new man into her life. Another sister desperately wants a child with her husband, just returned from fighting in the war. The third sister, who is not as present in the story, deals must cope with her changed husband, affected from the war. And one younger, adopted sister wonders about her real parents. Their stories are enduring, tragic and happy.

I learned after reading the book that it is a part of a series by Gabhart, but I had not read the previous book in the series, and I now would love to read the rest of the series at some point. My only complaint is that Gabhart gives her characters a lot of off-track flashbacks in the middle of her storytelling.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Christian NonFiction Review: 90 Minutes in Heaven 10th Anniversary Edition

Since Don Piper comes from a more traditional Baptist background, I tend to give his story more credit. I'm still skeptical. His account of Heaven doesn't match up with the one other "I died and went to Heaven" story that I have read. At one point, Piper says a friend told him to test the validity and purpose of his story by seeing how people responded. That's a test of experience, not Scripture.

But here's the thing: "90 Minutes in Heaven" isn't really about Heaven. Sure, Piper's conclusions on life and purpose come from the time he says he spent in Heaven (and the record does seem to support his story that he actually died). But the great majority of his book follows his recovery after his fatal car accident. This is a book that deals with depression, life purpose, limitations, physical disabilities and so much more. Piper's story is encouraging. I haven't read the book before, so I can't attest to the quality of added material for the 10th Anniversary Edition, but I can attest to the fact that this is an incredible testament to the Christian faith. So I have to recommend the book after all.

*Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.