Wednesday, April 23, 2014

In My Dreams; In Love with a Church Girl; the Hiding Place

I will be writing about three movies today: In My Dreams, I’m in Love with a Church Girl, and The Hiding Place.

1.  In My Dreams.

In My Dreams was the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie this past Sunday.  It is about a man and a woman who dream about each other after casting coins into an enchanted wishing well.  Will they find each other in real life?

This was an all right movie, I guess.  I think that the average Internet Movie Database rating of seven out of ten stars is way too generous, but the movie was pleasant to watch.  I was rooting for the man and the woman to find each other in real life, and, as one might expect from a movie like this, there are times when they are in the same place and just miss each other.

I had a slightly difficult time identifying with the main characters.  Their problem was not finding dates, for the man got lots of calls, and the woman got one.  Their challenge was finding the right person.  Still, each was dealing with some sort of burnout or malaise.  The man was recovering from his girlfriend cheating on him, and the woman was mourning the death of her mother, who founded the restaurant that she now owns.
The woman, Natalie, was sweet and pretty.  The man, played by Mike Vogel, who plays Barbie in Under the Dome, was an all right character, I guess.  I did not feel much after watching this movie, as I did after the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, Remember Sunday.  Still, it wasn’t bad.  It was just a bit hollow.

2.  I’m In Love with a Church Girl.

This was a 2013 Christian movie.  It’s about a wealthy ex-drug dealer named Miles, who falls in love with a devoutly religious girl, Vanessa.  Stephen Baldwin plays a gruff DEA agent, who at first is eager to take Miles down, yet roots for Miles from a distance as Miles attends church.  Martin Kove, who played the villainous Sinsei John Creese in Karate Kid, has a role as the cynical, moody leader of the DEA agents.

The romance between Miles and Vanessa was all right.  I somewhat liked Miles, who came across as a friendly guy who was loyal to his friends and cared for the people in his life.  Miles was stepping out of character by dating a church girl, and that was refreshing.  The fact that the Stephen Baldwin character was rooting for Miles to succeed in walking the straight and narrow was another plus to the movie.

The movie would have been much better had it stayed with the same pastor, however.  When Miles and Vanessa first attend church, Miles meets the pastor, who is dressed like a rapper and is played by the guy on whom Miles is based.  Miles is surprised because he never saw a pastor like this before!  The pastor shares with Miles his testimony and tells Miles that he hopes he will see Miles again.  But we never see this pastor again in the movie, and the pastor is replaced with a tall white guy in a suit and tie!  The movie would have been better had the rapper pastor mentored Miles.

3.  The Hiding Place.

This is a 1975 movie.  It is about the Ten Boom family, which sheltered Jews from the Nazis in Holland and later went to a concentration camp.  Much of the Ten Boom family died there, but Corrie was released due to a clerical error.  The Ten Boom family was devoutly Christian, which was why they sheltered Jews, stood up for human dignity before the Nazis, and even prayed that the Nazis might become receptive to God.  Corrie Ten Boom still struggled to love the Nazis, at times, which is definitely understandable.  One line in the movie is that God is deeper than any deep pit.  I would like to believe that, and perhaps the way that Corrie Ten Bloom did so was by leaving her questions with God.  I admire how the Ten Booms sought to trust and follow God and be a light in the worst circumstances.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Write-Up: What Works, by Cal Thomas

Cal Thomas.  What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014.

Cal Thomas is a conservative syndicated columnist.  In What Works, Thomas bemoans what be believes are problems in America, and he proposes solutions.  The “problems” include reliance on government, sexual immorality, family breakdown, and radical Islam.  Thomas’ “solutions” include tax cuts, school choice, and spiritual revival.  Thomas maintains that his conservative beliefs are what works—-that many of them have worked in the past, and they can work now.

Thomas depicts himself in the book as one who is above the partisan fray, as one who believes that we should focus on what works rather than who gets the credit.  Yet, Thomas so often in the book criticizes Democrats and liberals.  The book, in my opinion, would have been much better had Thomas sought common ground with Democrats and liberals, or at least acknowledged the good things (according to his worldview) that Democrats and liberals are doing.  There are Democrats and progressives who are for helping poor people to find work, who are open to school choice, and who support reducing the number of abortions.  Thomas praised the other side (if you will), on some level, when he lauded the Nordics for entitlement reform and for bringing down their national debt.  If only I had seen more of this attitude in the book.

The book had some parts that I really appreciated.  Thomas told inspiring stories, stressed the need to help unemployed poor people find training and support so they can enter the work force, and promoted a justice system focused more on restoration than locking people up.  Progressives will probably disagree with a lot of what Thomas says and how he says it, but my hunch is that they will agree with him on some points.

Note: I received a complimentary review copy of this book through the BookLook Bloggers ( book review bloggers program.  The program does not require for my review to be positive, and my review reflects my honest reaction to the book.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Book Write-Up: Kant, by Manfred Kuehn

Manfred Kuehn.  Kant: A Biography.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

From the time that I was an undergraduate until now, the eighteenth century philosopher Immanuel Kant has been with me.  I’ve heard or read such things as: “Kant refuted the arguments for the existence of God.”  “Kant offered a moral argument for the existence of God.”  “Kant did not believe time and space are real.”  “Kant did not believe in cause and effect.”  “Your defense of our ability to know the outside world and talk about it objectively can be knocked down by a neo-Kantian!”  “Kant was not an epistemological skeptic but was trying to refute Humean skepticism.”  “We don’t need God to have morality, for Kant offered his own basis for morality: you refrain from doing what you don’t want everyone else to do.”  “Kant was absolutist when it came to ethics.”  “Kant said you should stick with moral principles out of duty, regardless of what you feel.”  “Kant said Abraham should have disobeyed God when God told him to sacrifice his son.”  “Our universe is an orderly machine, as Kant said.”  “Kant was so orderly that people set their clocks according to his daily walks.”  “That guy is not sophisticated enough to understand Kant.”  “You don’t understand Kant.”  “It’s pronounced ‘KOnt,’ not ‘KAnt!’”  “I have a philosophy joke: Who was the greatest philosopher?  I Kant remember!  Ha ha.”

I wondered what exactly Kant believed, for so many things that I read and heard about him seemed contradictory.  I have been particularly curious about Kant’s epistemology—-his view about whether or not we are able to understand the outside world and to talk about it accurately—-and also Kant’s stance regarding religion.  Perhaps I could have read his works on reason: I picked up a book that contained some of Kant’s prominent works at a library giveaway a while back.  But many will agree with me that Kant is not easy to read (though I do remember translating a sample from one of his books about reason for a German class, and I did not find the passage particularly difficult to translate).  I thought that, if I read a biography about Kant, maybe I would get to know him better, and the biography would effectively communicate what his philosophy was, within Kant’s historical context.  I went to a library and saw that shelf after shelf was devoted to Kant: there were more books about Kant in that library than there were about David Hume!  I thumbed through various books.  Many of the ones that I looked at had thick prose.  Manfred Kuehn’s Kant: A Biography attracted me, however, for its prose appeared lucid, accessible, and engaging.  The few pages that I looked at while I was perusing it read like other biographies I have read and enjoyed, ones about Nixon and Reagan.  I decided to check the book out.  “Maybe now I will finally understand Kant!,” I thought.

Do I now understand Kant, after having read Kuehn’s book?  Well, I think that I know Kant better as a person.  As far as Kant’s philosophy is concerned, I’m still hazy, and I figure that I need to read more books to get more of a sense of where Kant was coming from.

Kuehn disagrees with many other biographies of Kant.  There are biographies of Kant that depict him as extremely introverted, unsociable, unwilling to engage other scholars in discussion, misogynistic, cold, orderly, stingy, and shut off from the wider world.  Kuehn attempts to account for these portrayals, as he offers evidence that Kant was sociable and engaged other scholars.  While Kant never married and maybe never even had sex, he had female friends, and he did not marry because he never found the right time.  Kant could also be generous, according to Kuehn.  While I would probably identify with Kant more had he been introverted and unsociable—-he would then be another inspiring example to an Aspergian like me—-I could relate to Kant’s struggles to find a foothold within academia, with all of its rivalries and judgments.

Regarding philosophy, Kuehn’s book is useful for those who would like summaries of the various stages of Kant’s thought and works.  I am still hazy about Kant’s thought, however, for a variety of reasons.  For one, Kant changed his mind about things.  Earlier, for example, Kant radically distinguished between what we know empirically and what we know rationally (a priori, prior to experience).  Later on, he appeared to conflate the two.  Second, the way people understood and characterized what Kant was saying was not necessarily how he himself understood what he was saying.  Kant was accused of being an atheist and a dangerous epistemological skeptic, when Kant viewed his project differently.  Third, Kant seemed to me to be all over the map in what he said.  On some things, he seemed to me to contradict himself, and yet there were times when he could hold those apparently contradictory concepts together with some nuance.  I think specifically of his support for the American and French revolutions, even though he wrote against the idea that people can revolt against their government.  Fourth, Kant did not always believe in what he wrote.  While, in his writings, he was rather open to the existence of God and immortality, he personally was very skeptical about these things, according to Kuehn.  My impression is that Kant was interested in religion in terms of its social consequences: its promotion of morality and social well-being.

I think that Kuehn could have explained better what was at stake in many of the philosophical discussions of the day.  Kuehn is effective when he describes the interaction between Kant and other philosophers and the political systems of that time.  But I often felt that I was reading about philosophical discussions and did not fully understand the significance of what I was reading.  In my opinion, Kuehn would have done well to have included a glossary of philosophical terms, such as pre-established harmony and idealism.  Pre-established harmony comes up often in Kuehn’s book.  Kant had a pietist evangelical background, which he did not exactly hate or scorn, and the pietists loathed a prominent philosopher named Christian Wolff because Wolff believed in pre-established harmony, which they took to imply fatalism.  Kant appeared to be open to pre-established harmony, however.  I am not entirely sure what pre-established harmony was, or why the pietists hated that concept so much.  It is associated with Leibniz, who held that our world is the best possible world, so maybe that is relevant to pre-established harmony.  Regarding idealism, my hazy impressions are that it either maintained that all of the world is in the mind of God, or that it is in human minds, but I should do more reading about that.  According to Kuehn, Kant was accused of being an idealist, but Kant believed that he was refuting idealism!

I had moments of lucidity in reading Kuehn’s discussion about Kant’s philosophy.  According to Kuehn, Kant said that we know things by how they appear to us, not according to how they actually are.  That makes a degree of sense to me!  Kant also discussed contradictions within reason.  Kant may not have taken these insights into the realm of complete epistemological skepticism: perhaps Kant was critical in his analysis of reason, not thoroughly skeptical.

There were some aspects of Kant’s thought that I found interesting.  For instance, Kant was critical of looking for a Golden Age (perhaps a supernatural one), for he believed that the evil in this world was somehow necessary in our progress and maturation.

Overall, I could identify with what one thinker quoted in the book said about Kant’s works: it takes thirty years to understand them, and then one has to wait another thirty years before one is qualified to comment on them!

As I said, I will need to read more.  The next book that I will read is the Cambridge Companion to David Hume, and it looks very lucid to me.  The Cambridge Companion series advertises itself as such—-as accessible books that break down complex thoughts for readers.  I notice that there are Cambridge Companion books about the German Idealists, Kant, and the influence of Kant’s thought.  I may read those books in the future—-not immediately, but in the future.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter 2014

For Easter, I went to Catholic mass with my Mom and step-Dad last night, and I went to my Presbyterian church this morning.  I am not sure what to get out of these services as someone who is not entirely sure what he believes.  I will say, though, that I enjoyed the music at the Catholic service last night—-both the powerful Catholic songs, and also the evangelical (as far as I know) song, “As the Deer.”

This morning’s service was interesting.  The Pastor Emeritus’ grandkids were there, and they livened up the children’s part of the service with their comments.  It was like an episode of “Kids Say the Darndest Things” (remember that show?).  The pastor’s sermon was all right.  It reminded me of how death is an inevitability, and that is why people desire an afterlife.  I am a fairly young man, so I have not yet experienced seeing my parents, siblings, cousins, and peers dying around me.  My grandparents are still alive.  Death seems to me to be a long way off, but it will someday be a reality to me.  I can somewhat understand why there are people who celebrate the resurrection of Jesus as a sign that death is defeated and there will be an afterlife.  I do not think that one has to have a conservative Christian perspective to believe in an afterlife, however, for there are other afterlife beliefs out there: ghosts, reincarnation, etc.

During the prayer part of the service, someone expressed concern about atheists’ attacks on Christians.  She said that there are more Christians than atheists, yet atheists somehow manage to wage their attacks.  The pastor responded in agreement, saying that there is a creationist radio program that he likes to listen to, and an atheist web site is responding to that program with “inaccurate things about creation” (my pastor’s words, according to my memory).  The pastor prayed that Christians might be able to drown out the atheists’ voices with the message that Christ lives.

I had a hard time identifying with any of this.  It is not because I like atheist trolls—-I don’t, and I will not publish their comments here (as I will not publish comments from fundamentalist Christian trolls).  But I can identify with atheist arguments.  I think that they have the upper hand on the creation/evolution debate.  On the Bible, however, I find them to be a mixed bag.  They make a decent case that the Bible is not inerrant and perfect, and they also raise interesting questions and notice a lot of weird details that few others notice or mention.  But a good number of them believe that Jesus did not exist, contrary to what the vast majority of biblical scholars say, and these atheists are such know-it-alls about it.

In any case, I think that a better approach is to listen to people’s cases, not to drown them out with louder, zealous voices.

I rarely pray that people might change their beliefs.  I used to do that as a conservative Christian, but I don’t anymore.  One reason is that I cannot picture a lot of people I know changing their beliefs.  For example, I cannot picture my Mom becoming a conservative Christian.  I cannot picture my Dad voting.  They are who they are.  They hold their ideas for the reasons that they do.  They’ve held the same ideas for years.

But I can picture certain people becoming open to change, given the right settings.  My impression is that my pastor does not read too many books—-he does research for his sermons and uses the Internet and commentaries, but he said to me that he does not read many books, whereas his wife does.  But he does interact with other pastors (some of whom are rather liberal) and is close friends with an academic who has written books about theology.  My pastor participates in interfaith dialogue.  If I were to tell him why I tend to agree with atheists rather than fundamentalists on evolution and the Bible’s errancy, I am not sure if he would be that receptive.  My communication skills are not always the best, and I can easily come across as a bitter village atheist with an ax to grind about religion.  But if my pastor were to discuss these questions with people who are thoughtful and gentle, and who have managed to keep their faith and live lives of spirituality amidst the challenges and ambiguities, that would make a world of difference, I think.

Anyway, those are my musings for the day.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Book Write-Up: Lone Star Trail, by Darlene Franklin

Darlene Franklin.  Lone Star Trail.  Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2011.

I would like to thank Moody Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.  See here for Moody’s page about it.

Lone Star Trail is part of the Texas Trails series, also known as the Morgan Family Series.  This series focuses on the Morgan family in nineteenth century Texas.  The books are connected with each other, yet each of them can be read alone, without knowledge of the other books.  Lone Star Trail is about Jud Morgan.  Jud’s brother Calder was the father of Raleigh, who is one of the main characters in Vickie McDonough’s Long Trail Home.

In Lone Star Trail, Jud Morgan is upset because German immigrants are settling in Texas.  Their language and customs are different from his own, and he believes that they are trying to fashion Texas in their own image.  Due to a series of events, a German family, the Fleischers, ends up staying with the Morgans, and Jud is somewhat attracted to Wande, who is part of that German family.  As far as I could see, Jud in the book never has a dramatic epiphany in which he concludes that his prejudice is wrong, nor was there a part of the book in which Jud accepted Christ and make a dramatic turnaround in his life.  Jud was already a Christian, trying to live according to Christian ethics yet often finding himself getting in the way.  Jud’s prejudice was lessened as he spent time with the Fleischers and saw that they were people like him, and that they were hard-working and had integrity.  Moreover, the romance between Jud and Wande was very low-key, and the ending of the book was not particularly rosy but highlighted that “The Morgan family would face the future—-together” (page 284).  All of these were reasons that I loved this book.

The book has loveable characters (except for Tom Cotton, and there were times when I liked even him).  In addition, the church is not prejudiced and welcomes outsiders, as the church should do.  If I have a favorite part of the book, it is Jud’s proposal to Wande: “I’m not perfect, and I can’t promise I’ll always say the right thing or do the right thing.  But I can promise you that I will always love you…with all my heart” (page 281).

Excellent book!

I Chronicles 6

I have two items for my blog post today about I Chronicles 6.

1.  The note on v 8 in the HarperCollins Study Bible states that the high priest Zadok “is made a descendant of Aaron by identifying his father as Ahitub (the grandfather of Abiathar, another high priest at the time of David…).”

This confused me.  I was aware of the scholarly view that Zadok was a Jebusite who became a high priest under David and Solomon, and the Chronicler tied Zadok to the line of Aaron out of the conviction that only sons of Aaron could be high priests.  But I was unaware that the Chronicler was saying that Zadok’s father was the grandfather of Abiathar, the other high priest during David’s reign, whom the Zadokites would fully supplant after Abiathar sided with Adonijah rather than Solomon for the monarchy of Israel (I Kings 2).  My impression was that Zadok and Abiathar were descended from different sons of Aaron, not that they had the common descendant of Ahitub.  Zadok was descended from Aaron’s son, Eleazar whereas Abiathar was descended from Aaron’s son Ithamar (I Chronicles 24:3).  Granted, this does create some bumps in the Bible.  You have God promising Eleazar’s son Phinehas an everlasting priesthood (Numbers 25:13), and Phinehas is the prominent priest in Joshua and Judges.  Yet, you also have God saying that he appointed the father of Eli, who descends from Ithamar, to be priest back when Israel was in Egypt (I Samuel 2:28).  Abiathar was descended from Eli, and so, when Abiathar lost the high priesthood, that fulfilled the prophecy that the house of Eli would lose the high priesthood on account of the sins of Eli’s sons (I Kings 2:27).  So which son of Aaron did God originally prefer for the high priesthood over Israel: Eleazar or Ithamar?  It seems to me that one perspective in the Bible said Eleazar, whereas another perspective said Ithamar.  I suppose that one can harmonize, if one wishes: it was never promised that Phinehas would be high priest, and the father of Eli in I Samuel 2:28 could be Levi (from whom Aaron and all of the Levites descended), not Ithamar specifically.  But I think that there is good reason to believe that there are two perspectives in the Hebrew Bible about whom God originally chose to be high priest.

I disagree with the note on I Chronicles 6:8 in the HarperCollins Study Bible, for I do not think that the Ahitub who was the father of Zadok was supposed to be the same Ahitub who was the grandfather of Abiathar.  There is no indication in I Chronicles 6 that such was the case, for Abiathar is not mentioned there.  Rather, I believe that the father of Zadok and the grandfather of Abiathar were two different Ahitubs.  Why not?  The same names pop up more than once in I Chronicle’s genealogy, so two people could have had the same name!

2.  In I Chronicles 6, Elkanah the father of Samuel is said to descend from the tribe of Levi, whereas I Samuel 1:1 depicts Elkanah as an Eprathite who lived in Ephraim.  I think that I have read some commentators who have suggested that the Chronicler ties Samuel to the Levites because he did not think that a non-Levite could do the priestly sorts of things that Samuel did in I Samuel.  I am not entirely convinced by that, though.  Samuel in I Chronicles 6 does not descend from Aaron, the only family from whom high priests could come, according to P.  Actually, Samuel descends from Korah, the Levite who launched a revolt against Moses and Aaron in Numbers 16!  (Korah’s father in I Chronicles 6 has a different name from what he has in the Pentateuch, but there is enough overlap between Korah’s genealogy in I Chronicles 6 and his genealogy in Exodus 6:24, that they are probably the same Korah.)

The note on I Samuel 1:1 in the HarperCollins Study Bible states that Samuel is given a Levitical Kohathite ancestry in I Chronicles 6 because that would entitle Samuel to perform the responsibilities that he does in I Samuel 2-3, specifically surrounding the Ark of the Covenant.  Maybe, but does that entitle Samuel to offer the sacrifices that he does?  Was that right not restricted to Aaronides, according to P and the Chronicler?  I did a search, and there are passages in I Chronicles in which only Aaronides sacrifice whereas the other Levites do grunt work, help with the slaughter, or perform other responsibilities (i.e, carrying, music), whereas there are other passages in which Levites minister to God, which presumably includes sacrificing.  I wrote a post about that here.  Perhaps the Chronicler is making Samuel a Levite to make his priestly work acceptable, though I think that he would have done so more effectively had he made Samuel an Aaronide.  Or maybe the Chronicler was not trying to address how Samuel could do priestly things.  I read in Roddy Braun’s Word Biblical Commentary on I Chronicles that the Chronicler may have noticed that Exodus 6:24 mentions an Elkanah who was the son of Korah, and so he decided to attach Elkanah the father of Samuel to Korah’s line.  You may notice all those Elkanah’s in I Chronicles 6!

Another note: Elkanah, the father of Samuel, lived in Ephraim.  According to I Chronicles 6:66, there were Kohathites—-the Levitical family with which I Chronicles 6 associates Elkanah the father of Samuel—-who lived in Ephraim.  Maybe the Chronicler is trying to explain how Elkanah could be a Levite yet live in Ephraim, or perhaps Elkanah really was a Levite who lived in Ephraim, but I Samuel, for some reason, did not tell us that Elkanah was a Levite.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Crossroads; I Am Gabriel; Long Walk to Freedom

I watched three movies recently: Crossroads, I Am Gabriel, and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.  The first and the third are not explicitly Christian movies, whereas the second one is.

1.  Crossroads: A Story of Forgiveness.

Crossroads is said to be a Christian movie on some web sites, but actually it is a 2007 Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie, which is based on a true story.  In this movie, Dean Cain plays a construction worker named Bruce Murakami, whose wife and adopted daughter die in an automobile accident when a car races into their vehicle.  There are conflicting eyewitness reports about what happened, and the police are blaming Bruce’s wife.  Bruce wants to see justice for his family, so he hires a cynical defense attorney, Erin (played by Peri Gilpin from Frasier).  After great reluctance, Erin helps Bruce to investigate.  They learn that the accident occurred because someone was racing his car.

Justin, a teenager, was the guilty racer, and he faces becoming a convicted felon and spending thirty years of his life in jail.  Bruce initially wants for Justin to get the maximum punishment, but then he decides to meet with Justin, and Justin reminds him of his own son.  Bruce and Justin agree to speak at high schools about the accident to warn high school students not to race, since that can hurt somebody.  Bruce’s younger son is initially upset that his mother and little sister are being used in some educational presentation, but he changes his mind after he carelessly rides his bike out of the driveway without looking and is hit by a van.  Bruce decides to reduce the charges and to keep Justin from being labeled a felon, and Bruce and Justin continue to speak at high schools.

This is a decent movie about bringing good out of bad.  That does not make the bad any less bad, by any means, but it is a constructive way to move forward, both for the victims and also the person who caused the accident.  The victims are dealing with pain at their loss, and the person who caused the accident is dealing with feelings of guilt that he can never completely atone for.  Bruce forgave Justin, but in a manner that entailed restoration and making a positive difference in the world.

2.  I Am Gabriel.

I Am Gabriel is a 2012 Christian movie.  In this movie, a town becomes depressed after a woman loses her baby, along with her ability to have children.  Rain is scarce, and the economy is sluggish.  In the midst of this, a boy named Gabe comes into the town carrying a prayer mat and solemn proclamations.  Gabe encourages people to pray and reminds them of God’s love.  He knows people’s stories.  He is a conduit through which God brings rain, heals a girl of her near-blindness, and raises a lady from the dead.  The town experiences revival, as things get better and people pray on prayer mats.

The doctor, played by John Schneider, senses from the outset that Gabe was sent by God.  The sheriff, played by Dean Cain, is skeptical, and he does not believe in God on account of the death of his wife.  When the sheriff confronts Gabe in front of the local church’s congregation, Gabe exhorts him not to let his own anger blind him to what God is doing.  Gabe then reveals himself to be the angel Gabriel.

I pretty much agree with the average rating for this movie on the Internet Movie Database: five out of ten stars.  It was not a good movie, though it’s chilling, solemn music managed to stay with me after I was done watching it.  The movie is thought-provoking, however, because it confronts me with the questions of what keeps me from joining what God is doing, and if I can even change myself so as to participate in God’s alleged work.

By the way, Dean Cain has appeared in more than one Christian movie, and I have wondered what his own spiritual beliefs are.  In an interview with Beliefnet, he states the following, as he discusses a movie he was in, The Way Home, in which a community comes together and prays.  He explores different beliefs about God’s activity in the world and says that he prays and tries to follow the Golden Rule, even though he is not part of any organized religion.

3.  Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

This is a 2013 movie about the life of Nelson Mandela.  It goes from his youth, through his imprisonment, to his release from prison and his efforts to rebuild South Africa.

Perhaps the most powerful part of the movie was his relationship with his wife, Winnie, who was a leader in the struggle against Apartheid while Nelson was in prison.  In the end, she chose violent revolution, whereas Nelson chose the path of forgiveness and reconciliation, and the two parted ways.  While I have long tended to demonize Winnie, I could sympathize with her more as I watched this movie, even though I admire Nelson’s approach much more.  She was a regular person who was propelled to political activism through her own suffering and the suffering of her husband.  This is a good movie, and the soundtrack made it even better.

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