Tuesday, July 30, 2013

book review--A Touch from Heaven by Neal and Christopher Pylant

mixed opinion

I received a free copy of this book through the Destiny Image Book Review program.

I want to deal with this book in two different ways. I think that would be the best way to be fair to it.

First, as an account of the things this father and mother went through when their young son was suddenly taken seriously ill with a brain tumor, I'm quiet fine with this book. It isn't hard to feel sympathy and understanding for them and their difficulties, and if that's all this book was about, I'd have no real problems with it.
But that's not all it's about, and I'd be lying if I said that every part of it set well with me.

One problem with dealing with the ideas in this book is trying to determine which ones the author is supporting, and which ones he may not be. Some things I just wasn't sure about, that way or this. For example, he mentions that at one point, early in their child's illness, he tries to contact the ministry of Oral Roberts in the hopes that he would pray for his child. Knowing that Roberts was a fake and charlatan, more interested in money than anything else, this action on the part of the desparate parents is still understandable to me, and since not much is made of this incident in the rest of the book, it's not something I want to make much of here.

But, for example, he refers a few times to his son being a "promised seed", even though he acknowledges that at no time had God explicitely made a promise to him for a son. There are occasional hints of Word of Faith ideas throughout the book, though they are muted. At one point, he and his family moved, based mostly on his wife's "feeling of urgency" to move, and related it even to Abram in the Bible in Genesis 12, seeming to say that this move was something God wanted them to do. But the problem is, at that time, his wife wasn't even a Christian, and as it turns out, their son's illness takes them back to much the same area they had moved from.

A few other things could raise the eyebrows, too. Some of the young boy's experiences in a state of something like near-death seem to be ones that should be questioned more than accepted. Some of the prophetic words given at the end of the book could rightly be questioned, too, such as the one that says that "Every cell will be made whole. Nothing will be lost", because although the boy was healed and his life spared, he still seemed to suffer effects as he grew up from what he went through.

There's some good things that could be taken from this book, but there are also some iffy things, too. I'm just not sure I'd recommend this book to someone going through something similar to the parents in this book, because some of the things they did or teach seem to have very questionable biblical support.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

book review--Glory Invasion by David Herzog

make it up as you go along theology

It's always interesting reading books like this. It's astonishing, really, the things some people who call themselves Christian teachers try to pass off as biblical teaching, and how those things are accepted with little to no critical thinking on the parts of far too many people.

This book, for example, is pretty much a book of made up theology. He doesn't look to the Scriptures to inform his views, but rather insists upon reading his ideas into the Scriptures. The results, it's easy to imagine, are rather bad indeed.

For example, he goes on and on about what he calls the "glory realm". However, the Bible says nothing about such a place, or the supposed need for any of us to somehow get into this "glory realm". Herzog, however, insists upon trying to read into a few different biblical accounts. "Peter lunged into the glory realm where his body weight did not make him sink but the water actually became solid enough for him to walk on." (p. 50). No account of that event says such a thing. "Both Elijah and Elisha walked and lived in the prophetic glory realm and when they spoke it caused Heaven and earth, kings and nations, to react and respond." (p. 83). Another claim that has no basis in the biblical accounts of these two prophets.

As bad or worse, he tries to use this "glory realm" to support his Word of Faith heresy. "When you speak from the glory realm you are actually allowing God to create that which you are speaking as you are speaking." (p. 74). Allowing God? Wow, arrogant much? And, of course, there is nothing like that taught in the Bible. "When we declare something under the direction of God, that thing is being created as we declare it."(p. 15). Again, not in the Bible.

And his ideas about sounds and words get absolutely loopy. "The walls of Jericho crumbled because people shouted—another amazing defiance of the law of gravity. What made the walls fall? The Israelites were told not to speak for one week. In this way they were conserving the power of the sound in their voices so on the day they released it their shouts would have greater power." (p. 54). The walls of Jericho because of sound waves? Seriously, if that's what you're teaching, you have no business calling yourself a Christian minister at all.

"Zacharias had the power to kill the prophecy in the same way it had come to life—by speaking while in the glory and allowing the opposite to occur, creating a disaster by negative declarations in the glory." (p. 76). Zacharias was the father of John the Baptist. None of this is taught in that account of the prophecy the angel gave to Zacharias. He did not have the power to "kill the prophecy" at all, he had no power to "allow the opposite to occur". This is just rank garbage.

Finally, he even recalls the time he tried to buy some kind of prophetic anointing. "I even approached her (Ruth Heflin) to sow an offering into her life asking God for a return with an increase of the prophetic gift that was on her life." (p. 79). You need only look at Acts 8 to see how evil such an act is.

I'll stop here, that's enough of this guy's garbage. This book is disgusting, vile, unbiblical, and no one who is a Christian should take it in any way seriously.

Friday, July 12, 2013

movie review--Pacific Rim

You had me at kaiju!
As a bit of a fan of anime, giant battle suits are not a new concept. Evangelion, Voltron, and Robotech come most readily to mind. Outside of anime, Power Rangers have also popularized the idea, Transformers has something like it, and Godzilla movies have the robot MechaGodzilla.

In many ways, Pacific Rim is a step forward in the quite enjoyable kaiju genre. While the story may not be as rich (or as convoluted and messed up) as Evangeliion, the action itself is very nice. The kaiju are convincing, at least once you accept that such monsters could even exist at all. The battles between the kaiju and the mechs, called jaegers, are very well done.

Like I said, the story itself is rather on the simple side, and the movie follows a pretty standard formula. You can find elements from Star Wars, Independence Day, the anime series Evangelion, and of course Godzilla--I'm pretty sure that at one point I head the Godzilla roar, and there were snatches of music that reminded me of the Godzilla theme.

To put it simply, I pretty thoroughly enjoyed this movie! There is little objectionable in the movie, a bit of language but that's about it. I suspect this is the kind of movie we've been wanting from previous movies like the Godzilla takes Manhattan one, as well as Cloverfield. Forget little raptor-like Godzilla babies, forget jerky camera work that nevers lets one see the monster, give us giant monsters and robots slugging it out with each other, and lots of it!

On that front, Pacific Rim delivers, making it a very enjoyable, satisfying movie.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

book review--The 12 Gemstones of Revelation by Mary Trask

somewhat dull, scripturally suspect

I received a free copy of this book through the Destiny Image Book Review program.

First, I didn't really find this book all that interesting, though much of that may be my own fault. Gemstones are simply not a big interest of mine, they aren't something I put a lot of study into. No doubt it's a fascinating field, and certainly gemstones can be quite nice to look at, but it's simply something I'm not well informed on.

When she says early in the book "Though some question to which modern-day gemstone varieties the apostle John was referring in his vision (and how they correlate to the stones assigned to the 12 tribes of Israel), it is interesting to explore how one might interpret suggested symbolisms in relation to our Christian walk." (pp. 13-14), I find myself wondering why her take on these things should be taken as been all that authoritative. Why, for example, should X stone by made to represent Y tribe? Are their plain biblical texts that say that this stone was meant to represent that tribe? There simply doesn't seem to be anyplace where that is plainly said, which means that a lot of what she teaches is rather speculative.

Then, there's this comment. "In studying God's Word, it is important to remember that there are many different facets and levels of learning that each of us can achieve while growing in intimacy with our Lord." (p. 18). Through the book, she makes it seem as if these gemstones represent levels we can advance to and through. Now, where does the Bible say that this is what these stones represent? I did not see where she showed that from the Bible, so why should I accept her premise that there are such levels?

She ends most of her chapters with a prayer she wants the reader to pray. One aspect of most or all of these prayers is the standard charismatic rebukes of demonic spirits who are suppose to be keeping people down. Where does the Bible tell us to do that kind of thing?

More questionable then that, right after these prayers she gives a brief paragraph that she calls "The Lord's Word to You", which is phrased as if it is God speaking to the reader. Is she really claiming that these words really are from God? Should we take them as seriously as the Bible? What about people who read the book who aren't believers in Christ, or who don't agree with what she's saying?

I think some things she teaches in this book should be seriously questioned. I'm not satisfied that she has made a good biblical case for what she's wanting us to do and believe.

Friday, July 5, 2013

movie review--The Lone Ranger

A Calculated Insult to the US?

Looked at simply as a movie, The Lone Ranger isn't half bad. It's entertaining, humorous, quirky, with lots of action and an interesting perspective as being told as an account by the aged Tonto. So far as that went, I enjoyed it, though it did go a bit long, in my opinion.

But there is more going on here than just another fairly interesting flick, I think. There is something in it that comes off more like propoganda. More to the point, anti-American propoganda, and since it was released the day before Independence Day in the US, I can't help but think that there is something in the nature of a calculated insult in them releasing this movie at that particular time.

If you've seen movies like Dances With Wolves, Pocahontas, and Avatar, you'll soon find that The Lone Ranger is very much along those same lines.

The main message of this movie could be summed up in the phrase "white guilt". If there is something wrong with the world, well, you can blame the white guys. It's a bunch of stuffy white people who bring Christianity to the Indians whom they consider heathen, while the Indians are fine with their animistic beliefs. It's the white guys who think silver is something of value, while the Indians consider it a cursed rock. It's the white guys who kill senselessly, while the Indians never do so. It's the white guys whose greed causes them to build things like railroads, it's the white guys who believe in civilization and progress. When Tonto is facing down the main bad guy at the end of the film, he tells that man that he's simply another white man, as if him being white explained all of the bad things he had done.

Along with that, there is the notion of national guilt. There is the sense that the USA is what is wrong. Two of the three sets of villains represent the US military and US business. The reason for building the railroad is so that the east and the west of the US can be joined together. It's the greedy white US military leader who screams to his troops to mow down the Indians "For God and country!"

In his book "The Everlasting Man", Chesterton deals a bit with those of his own time who tried to paint the people of the western hemisphere as being essentially sinless until Europeans came and defiled their land and their cultures. He rightly points out that, while one cannot deny the reality of Eurorpean sins in their dealings with those peoples, upon what basis are we to assume that those peoples were themselves so perfect before the coming of people from Europe?

It is quite one thing for people to point out the ways the US has mistreated people like the various Indian tribes in the nation's history, that is a reality that should be acknowledged and repented of. But it is quite another to make those peoples seem like they had been so idyllic before people of paler skin came. That seems rather far-fetched, and serves the purpose more of propoganda than of truth and history.

In the end, I simply cannot recommend this movie. The propoganda aspect is simply too off-putting to me.