Tuesday, May 26, 2015

movie review: Mad Max: Fury Road

my impressions from the preview were right

I'd seen previews to the recent Mad Max movie, and hadn't been impressed with what I'd seen. Then the movie came out, and I saw good things being said and written about it, so I decided to take the risk, and see it.

Overall, I think my impressions from the previews was closer to the mark, at least in my opinion.

I can say that a lot of effort was made to make it interesting and entertaining. The movie is basically a long car chase set in two parts, with lots of strange-looking vehicles, lots of strange-looking people, a main bad guy who looked like a Predator gone to seed, and rather more eye candy than I was comfortable with. Perhaps one big reason I didn't like was all this strangeness, or grotesqueness.

But for all of the action, the explosions, the flame-throwing guitar, the porcupine-line cars, the biker gang of old ladies, I found the whole thing rather boring. Even the budding romance between the rogue warboy and the runaway wife only added a small bit of heart to the dystopian road trip.

We knew who the bad guys were because they were bloated and deformed. We knew who the good girls were because they were young and beautiful. I will give some props to Hardy as he plays Max as an atypical movie hero, someone who came rather closing to living up the word "mad".

But the closest the movie comes to having a heart is when one of the bad guys laments the death of his unborn brother.

In the end, I was glad when this movie was over, and have no plans to see it again.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

book review--The Other Side of the River by Kevin Reeves

good account of one way the church is going wrong

For several years, I was kind of on the edge of a lot of the things this author writes about, going to some of the types of churches he mentions such as Vineyard churches, and being a member of a missions organization that while claiming to be nondenominational was still very much Charismatic and taught things like taking our cities for God and spiritual warfare that involved activities like rebuking and binding Satan and claiming territory and resources.

The author of this book does a good job of comparing what he was being taught to what the Bible says, and finding the things being taught to not be taught in the Bible. It is a sad testimony about churches that far too many of them don't do the same. The author points out some of the lame excuses church leaders' use to allow unbiblical activities and spiritual manifestation to be practiced in their churches.

One of the best things this author does is to point out what is really behind these practices—elitism. These bizarre manifestation like drunk in the spirit and acting like animals are all dressed up in pride—this is the next big move of God, this is cutting-edge stuff, this puts you ahead of the average church-goer. And going further, if you accept what is being taught and attend the conferences and school and stuff like that, then you'll walk in miracles all the time, you'll become the head and not the foot, you'll be a part of the Elijah or Joshua Generation or Joel's Army or become a super-apostle or some other thing meant to play to your pride.

This book is well worth reading. I can recommend it very highly

Friday, May 1, 2015

book review: Bringing Heaven to Earth by Josh Ross and Jonathan Storment

dominionism from the left

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

Trying to give a fair evaluation to this book has been rather tricky. There were some things in it that seemed ok, but my overall impression was that the book was rather iffy, even trite.

For one thing, Scripture is used in a haphazard fashion. “When Jesus spoke about hell, He referred to the town dump right outside Jerusalem”, p. 60. So, in the story of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus, the rich man died and ended up in the town dump? On pages 34-35, they tried to draw a parallel between Jesus' temptation in the wilderness and His baptism and Israel's time in the wilderness and then crossing the Jordan into The Promised Land, but they get the events of Jesus' life backwards—in Matthew 3 and 4, Jesus is first baptized, then He goes into the wilderness. “You might be convince that you're a sheep, and you might find out it's better to be a goat.”, p. 68. Umm...goats are those who will be taken from God's presence. I'm pretty sure it's never better to be a goat.

On pp. 105-107, in writing about the book of Galatians, the authors sum up the concerns Paul expressed in the book in this way, “...we can make a mess out of God's gift of life”. This is, at the best way to try to read it, a trite way of summing up how the Galatian Christians were adding their own works to try to earn salvation, and coming close to falling into apostasy. “There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus, or in the community that wears His name. Fred Phelps is just as forgiven as are those who rejoiced when he died”. This is definitely playing fast and loose with Paul's statement in Romans 8, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” I see no reason to think that Phelps was in Christ Jesus, and thus wasn't condemned. This statement by these authors seems to hint that they hold a universalist view.

Following a similar path I remember when reading some of the books by Emergents, these guys have littered their book with deconstructive “What if...?” questions. Their trite “Jesus party” mentality is, frankly, offensive. The way they continually slam the church because of bad press is so thin as to be laughable, especially since the accusations are clearly false.

This book isn't a complete waste, but it does a poor job of teaching Scripture, and honestly comes off more as a piece of propaganda then as a work of theology. It's seem like their trying to entice people in with all kinds of sweet thing while covering over or explaining away the bad things, like the statement about hell that I referred to earlier in this review. In the end, it's all law, and all their own law—do you hang out with people who are like yourself? Well, that's just bad. Do you care about the truth of the biblical accounts? That's not important. To put it simply, they are “Deeds, not creeds” types.

Finally, there is simply the dominionist note of this book. “We are to steward God's world and to exercise loving dominion over creation”. I've read books by dominionists who are on the conservative side of social, political, and thoelogical things, and it's not the first time I've noticed those on the left having similar ambitions. It's always amazing how much those on either side can make of the request in Jesus' prayer that “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. But what else does all of this talk about making earth into heaven, about earth being the womb of heaven, about heaven not being far away, mean except that it's our job to make earth like heaven? From the left or from the right, it's all dominionism, and I want nothing to do with either of them. Man's attempts to make a paradise on earth cannot but fail, and badly, no matter how much you dress it up in christian-like rags.