BP_blog

Seven Things I Learned from Timothy

paul-and-timothyDiscipleship is something we’re all called to in Scripture. It’s not a spiritual gift or a thought or a whim from the Lord. It’s a direct calling. We’re called to go and make disciples, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28: 19).

People always look at discipleship as “Paul teaching Timothy,” right? Teacher and pupil. Radically simple. But any pastor or youth leader or spiritual figurehead knows I speak the truth when I say: It’s not always that simple. No relationship is truly ever one way when it comes to wisdom. Sure, one side will be of greater merit, but both parties tend to walk away more learned. Paul speaks of this in Philemon, where he says that Philemon gave him “joy and encouragement” from loving others. Students will always have some effect on their teachers.
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The Poetry of World War I and Our Need for a Physician

Worcester_Regiment_sentry_in_trench_Ovillers_1916_IWM_Q_4100I volunteered to write this article about the 100th anniversary of World War I, because I had a million ideas. I considered writing something about the German matchbox case that my mechanic gave me, which bears the motto "Gott Mitt Uns": "God With Us." But then I remembered this review by Benjamin Wetzel and decided to leave that angle to the experts. I thought about talking about the comedy show “Blackadder Goes Forth” that was set in World War I, and specifically its surprising final episode, "Goodbyeee." But that speaks for itself.

I thought about the Oxford English Dictionary's “100 Words That Defined World War I”—containing terms like "The Great War," "The War to End All Wars," as well as "Lost Generation" and "unknown soldier"—but again I realized that there are many who could write much more knowledgeably about it. I even thought about some of my childhood literature obsessions that brought on my interest in "The Great War"—specifically, “After the Dancing Days,” the only book I ever went into the YA section of the library for, and the only book whose entire second half I read through hiccupping sobs and tears—and, of course, about the war experiences of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.

Ultimately, though, I dabble in World War I. I'm fascinated and horrified by it, and I think it is worth my study, and the study of any Christian, but I am not qualified to lecture you about it for 1,000 words. Instead, I will walk you through two of many amazing poems by young Englishmen who died in World War I, and explain why you, too, should be ransacking your library's World War I displays.

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A Review of Lamin Sanneh's 'Summoned from the Margin'

9780802867421As I noted in my review of Todd Hartch’s “Rebirth of Latin American Christianity,” Christianity’s demographics worldwide are rapidly changing. In 1921, the French Catholic writer Hilaire Belloc could state without fear of contradiction, “The Faith is Europe and Europe is the Faith.” This is patently no longer the case. Over the past century, Christianity’s center of gravity has shifted south and east, so that the number of Christians in Latin America, Africa, and Asia far outnumber those in Europe and North America. In this second installment of a series on “global Christianity,” we will focus on Africa by examining the autobiography of the continent’s most important (expatriate) theologian.

Lamin Sanneh was born in 1942 in the Gambia, a tiny nation in West Africa. How this man who was raised in a staunchly Muslim family eventually became an important Christian theologian at Yale Divinity School is the subject of his 2012 memoir “Summoned from the Margin: Homecoming of an African” (Eerdmans). In what is mostly a religious autobiography, he chronicles his upbringing in Islam, recalls his conversion to Christianity, and fleshes out at some length his key scholarly insight: that the translation of the Bible into vernacular languages empowers unreached people groups.
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'A Long Way Down' Misses an Opportunity

LongWayDownweb_2817260bWaiting an additional four months for the U.S. release of “A Long Way Down,” the film version of Nick Hornby’s novel of the same name, made this longtime Hornby fan consider traveling across the pond. (How much is a ticket to London? Sigh.) It’s been more than 10 years since the last Hornby film adaptation, “About a Boy, which I count as one of my top 10 favorite movies. My expectations were high.

Unfortunately, the movie was not worth the wait. Pascal Chaumeil’s film adaptation gives us yet another example of a book not translating well to film. At times the pace feels too slow. Some of Hornby’s best lines from the book are left out of the film, concealing much of each character’s inner thoughts. The characters are relatable, but not endearing, and I found myself wondering if such a story could really happen.

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The Choice That Faces Every Believer in America

SMAPicture three young American men, who have moved up through the ranks in this government against certain odds. They are good at what they do, and they are respected.

One day, they and all the members of Congress, lobbyists, and members of the press in the capital are summoned to a great conference on the Mall, facing the Washington Monument. There is also a small stage with an assortment of musicians. When all have assembled, the White House press secretary announces that when the musicians begin playing, every single person must literally fall down and worship this image.

If any man does not comply, he will be promptly bound and thrown into the Potomac River, never to emerge alive.
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‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ Is an Unusually Smart Summer Blockbuster

dawn-of-the-planet-of-the-apes-pics-10Summer movies have earned a reputation for shallow storytelling and effects-driven action. These films cater to disengaged students on break who have more interest in entertainment than entertaining profound thoughts. Try diving head first into July’s cinematic offerings and you may suffer a concussion.

And summer sequels may require you to purchase a frontal lobotomy along with your popcorn, making up in explosions what they lack in exposition (I’m looking at you, Michael Bay). But once in a while, a summer movie aspires to be more than just a diversion. That’s the case with this week’s “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” a science fiction thriller that doesn’t monkey around with its themes of conflict, justice, prejudice, and evil.
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Teaching Young Women to Have Truly Godly Expectations

WR703740Of late, I’ve become aware of websites like Stay-at-Home Daughter and Raising Homemakers that advocate homemaking skills and domestic pride. In a way I can see the point. In a society saturated with immodesty and frivolous waste of life and money, we are a culture hungry for tradition, and it is wonderful to establish a respect for the domestic arts in young people, both women and men.

Yet I’ve been wondering if the number of blogs and websites dedicated to these arts is unintentionally feeding an idolization of a domestic sphere that many Christians will never inhabit. I am not criticizing these sites. Rather, I use them to raise awareness that we may be facing a problem in our churches. I should add that I’m speaking specifically to the female experience, though I have no doubt that similar insecurities are experienced by my brothers in Christ.

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The Films of 1939, Part 7

Annex20-20Russell20Rosalind20Women20The_NRFPT_05I remember that the first time I saw 1939’s “The Women,” despite its title, I was shocked to discover that not a single male actor appeared onscreen. But while men are physically absent, their presence is never far from this film’s biting social commentary.

For “The Women,” based on Clare Boothe Luce’s hit play, is a film filled with some of the most spectacular female acting talent of Hollywood’s Golden Age, and by removing men from the onscreen equation, it reveals much about how men are viewed and perhaps more importantly, how women view each other. Therein lies its genius, for by packing “The Women” with women, the filmmakers provide an unvarnished, unflinchingly honest portrayal of female relationships—mothers and daughters, wives and singles, employers and employees, and above all, friends, from the backstabbing to the supportive and everything in-between.

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Flannery O'Connor's 'A Prayer Journal' Offers a Glimpse of Her Humanity

9780374236915On my first day as a summer editorial assistant at BreakPoint, a nearly 20-year-old me was feeling a bit queasy. I thought to myself, “How will I ever do this? There’s no way I have anything to say to anyone about anything. I can’t do this.”

I racked my brain for a list of potential blog topics to share with my boss. My fears ran the gamut: Will I misinterpret an important issue? Will I misapply a scriptural principle? Will I, God forbid, overlook a comma splice? Is there a possibility of contributing any writing good enough for BreakPoint? What was I thinking when I applied for this internship, and what am I doing here?

The stress pushed me to pray a nervous prayer that morning—“Help me, dear God”—and I continued to mutter quick pleas for help throughout the day. My time here would be characterized by need, and I knew it.

Thankfully, I find myself in good company. Surprisingly, between the years of 1946 and 1947, a young Flannery O’Connor found herself in a situation quite similar to mine. O’Connor was a college student studying writing in Iowa, and at the age of 20 or so, was learning her way as a writer. Admittedly, I am no Flannery O’Connor. She is recognized as an important voice in the canon of American literature, particularly for her gripping and grotesque short stories. I am not recognized in any canon of literature, American or otherwise.
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Why Sometimes, We SHOULD Take Scripture Literally

JIM-Bible-Reading1I picture a TV commercial advertising a new version of the Bible. A grungy, black-and-white scene of someone puzzling and fuming over their ESV or KJV opens the ad, and an exasperated voice asks:

“Does Scripture confuse you? Are you fed up with trying to choke down all of those ‘hard sayings,’ especially from the Old Testament and in the Epistles of Paul? Are you tired of being offended and condemned on every page, and having to slog through Bronze Age politics and superstition, just to get to the good stuff?”

[Actor throws down her Bible and glares at the camera, hair awry and shoulders slumped.]

“Then do we have great news for you!”
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What's Wrong with 'Jersey Boys'?

Still-from-Clint-Eastwood-011This is a tough review for me to write. “Jersey Boys” (based on the popular Broadway show about singing group The Four Seasons) was practically written for me. I'm a 20-something Jersey Girl with a passionate love of falsetto and an irrational nostalgia for the ’60s. I don't think I've enjoyed the experience of watching any movie as much as this one in a very long time.

Francesco Stephen Castelluccio—better known as Frankie Valli (and played by John Lloyd Young)—grew up in Newark, New Jersey, in the 1940s. He is introduced in "Jersey Boys" in 1951 as a barber in training, a good boy with an angelic voice. While his friends, Tommy DeVito (Vincent Piazza) and Nick Massi (Michael Lomenda), rotate in and out of prison, Frankie is protected by people who continually ask him, "Aren't you supposed to be home by 11?" and then send him back to his mother. Read More >
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The Dark Knight’s Resilience at 75

9780786471287Dateline: Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, April 2013—“The Wall St. Journal” reports that the “Bagram Batman” patrols the U.S. Army base, watching for miscreants who forget safety regulations or shoplift at the base store. Leaping from rooftops or from between huts, the camo-wearing cowled crusader brings order to the troops.

Dateline: San Francisco, Nov, 2013—The Make-a-Wish Foundation grants the request of five-year-old Miles Scott, in remission from leukemia, to be “Batkid” for a day. The resulting event makes international news as the city comes together to grant his wish. Batman himself takes Miles on patrol (in a black Lamborghini), where they encounter and capture various Batman villains.

As he reaches his 75th anniversary, Batman is now much more than a comic book superhero, exploited by a large media conglomerate. The character that used to inspire journalists to headline their stories about anything to do with Batman with “Pow!” “Wham!” and “Zap!” now inspires people to use him as a role model, a symbol of perseverance and triumph over daunting circumstances.
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A Dialogue about Disney's Latest Trend

640px-Phillip_and_aurora_in_maleficent(Note: This article contains spoilers for “Maleficent,” “Frozen,” and “Once upon a Time.")

Gina Dalfonzo: There seems to be something of a pattern lately with “true love's kiss" in fairytale shows and movies not being quite what it used to be. On ABC's “Once Upon a Time,” a sleeping spell was broken by a mother kissing her son. In “Frozen,” the act that broke a spell was that of a sister sacrificing herself to save her sister. And in “Maleficent,” it was, of all things, Maleficent's remorseful kiss on Aurora's forehead that woke her up!

The saying goes that three examples signal a trend. So do you think we have a definite trend here? And what are your thoughts on it?
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'How to Train Your Dragon 2' Is a Lovable, Game-Changing Family Film

how-to-train-your-dragon-2-trailer(Note: This article contains spoilers.)

The story of a boy discovering and riding a dragon has been told before. It’s nothing revolutionary. So why is the sequel of this ostensibly unoriginal summer cartoon being hailed as a game-changer for Hollywood film franchises? Because it’s honest, gorgeous, ironically fresh, and cuts into territory long held by our favorite animation leviathans.

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Let's Fire the Gun and See

5886__bigIn a recent Life Report podcast, esteemed colleagues Steven Ertelt (founder and editor of LifeNews.com) and Josh Brahm (director of education, Right to Life of Central California) took issue with the notion there can be a “silver bullet” to ending abortion. The discussion centered around one “silver bullet” in particular: something I proposed in a 2012 BreakPoint piece titled “We Could End Abortion 'Overnight'—If We Really Wanted To.” The plan I proposed is called The One-Minute Strategy to End Abortion.

Responding to the article, Ertelt stated, “We can't, unfortunately, end abortion right now, even if we wanted to, and many of us do.”

Brahm concurred. “My concern,” he said, “was [the strategy] doesn't deliver on the promise. . . . I agree with [Haggard] against apathy. . . I'm just concerned with the way the article is written because it basically says if every pastor spent one minute on Sunday morning talking about abortion, like, the church would unify, and we would raise up, and . . . end abortion . . . 'overnight'. . . What if everybody rose up; then what?”
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