Book Review: Meaning At The Movies

Meaning at the Movies: Becoming a Discerning ViewerMeaning at the Movies: Becoming a Discerning Viewer by Grant Horner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All the world’s a screen” – at least that’s how Prof Horner sees it, and I’m starting to agree with him.

Prof Horner’s work here revels both his love for film and for God’s Word and how to balance the two. As an English professor, film guru, and a student of theology, Prof Horner is the right man to speak to this very important Christian question of what do we do with film?

This book will challenge any film lover, parent, student, and Christian to actually use discernment when watching movies, and not just view them for entertainment only. His purpose is not to tell you what movies to watch, but show you how to watch them. Additionally, his goal is teach us how to see ourselves in movies, and then compare that with how God designed us to live as revealed in the Bible.

For Christians, Meaning At The Movies should be added to your “to-read” list and pushed to the top. It will create a conversation in your home, work, or church that will surely help us all use our time to the glory of God, even when we’re holding a bag of popcorn and enjoying a movie together.

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A Bible And A Shovel

As you probably already know, a major snow storm hit the East Coast this past week which brought loads of snow and shut down roads and airports for a few days. Many people are still feeling the effects of the several feet of snow that left them stranded, like the people of Newark, New Jersey. But what you may not have heard about is Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, and a man that appears to be leading his town by example.

I first heard about Mr. Booker when he and Conan O’Brien were “feuding” over YouTube. During his short-lived run on the Tonight show Conan made a joke about Newark that didn’t go over too well with the mayor. So Booker took to YouTube to settle the matter, thus placing Conan on the Newark, New Jersey’s “no fly list”. The feud went back and forth for a while via YouTube and Conan’s show but ended on a high note when Conan invited Booker to the show and donated $100,000 to a charity in Newark.

But this week, Cory Booker was at it again — this time he wasn’t battling Conan, but the snow. According to Twitter’s blog, Cory was out in the streets of Newark with his shovel and a team of people literally digging people out of the snow. He was using his Blackberry phone and his Twitter account to let people know that he could come to them and clear their driveways or sidewalks and get them to where they needed to be. Some people had to work, others had doctor’s appointments, and the mayor wanted to make sure his people could get their safely.

As I read over his Twitter timeline and saw all the tweets and people he was helping I actually started to cry. Really, this man is leading by example and being an inspiration to others to do the same. It’s people helping people and that’s something anyone can get behind, especially those who are Christians, like myself. This challenges my own heart to remember that we all need to take care of each other, not just in snow storms, but in the storms of life. Mayor Booker might be literally digging people out of the weight of snow, but what about the weight of trials and hardship in life? I heard a pastor say once in regards to helping each other “… that’s what Christians do right, we help each other out!” I think he was right. The Christian life is not meant to be lived alone, but in a community of people and at times that is going to include getting our shovels out and doing some hard work to dig each other out. Another pastor I know said this during a men’s retreat which I think is appropriate, “There two things a man needs to be successful in this life: a Bible and a shovel.” He needs a Bible so he can understand God’s Word and follow what it says, and he needs a shovel to work hard and provide for his family and serve the church. Well, Mayor Booker is an example of how to use a shovel, and I am reminded that I can’t just read my Bible and expect things to happen — I need to pick up my shovel once in a while.

Input

Literally every book I got for Christmas (2010). 2011 is shaping up to be the year of “input” (and if you don’t get that reference, go watch Short Circuit). I haven’t decided whether or not I’m going to try and read all of them this year. That would basically be one book a month and a few them are in the 500 page range. If I can resolve to read twenty minutes a day, I think I could it — the real question is do I want to? The verdict is still out on that. Either way you can expect reviews on everything I read.

All the books listed from the top of the stack to the bottom (in the above photo):

1. Worldliness by C.J. Mahaney
2. Whatever Happened to Worship by A.W. Tozer
3. Dedication and Leadership by Douglas Hyde
4. Letters From a Father to His Sons in College by Samuel Miller
5. The Dumbest Generation by Mark Bauerlein
6. Why We Love The Church by Kevin Deyoung and Ted Kluck
7. How Should We Then Live? by Francis Schaeffer
8. Gospel-Powered Parenting by William P. Farley
9. The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
10. Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky
11. The Apostles’ Doctrine of the Atonement by George Smeaton
*12. Style and the Man by Alan Flusser

*not pictured

The Briefing

I grew up listening to “The Bible Answer Man” (Hank Hanegraaff) as a little kid. My mom would pick me up from school and on the drive home his program would be on and he would be discussing all kinds of different news events, theology, Biblical history, etc. It was a great show actually, and one that taught me a lot about studying the Bible and understanding good principles of Biblical interpretation. But recently I’ve been turned on to a new program, one in which I think picks up where the Bible Answer Man leaves off, and one that I hope (Lord willing) will be around for a very long time — that is,“The Briefing” by Albert Mohler.

I’ve shared articles and links for Dr. Mohler before (because honestly his blog is fantastic too), but Bethany and I have been sitting down nightly and listening to his podcast “The Briefing” and we have been very blessed. It’s really no more than 15 minutes long, with absolutely no commercials, and it’s 100% free. Every podcast starts with “…this is The Briefing: A daily analysis of events from a Christian worldview.” And that’s exactly what it is. He walks through some different news items from various publications and basically gives a good, Biblical, Christian perspective on all of it. It is very helpful in understanding all kinds of news items from politics, culture, and religion. Dr. Mohler is incredibly intelligent and I’m probably going to write him a personal “thank-you” letter to tell him that his show is a great blessing to me and my family.

I would highly encourage you to listen to his program whenever you get a chance. Before launching his podcast he was on the radio for years, but it was distracted by callers and commercials. Now with his uninterrupted podcast, I believe he will reach a wider audience and help Christians discern through our own times.

Technically he is doing two podcast now, the one I didn’t mention is called “Thinking In Public” and is also fantastic. They are linked below.

Podcast #1: The Briefing
Length: about 15 minutes each
Topics: various
Frequency: daily

Podcast #2: Thinking in Public
Length: 1 hour
Topics: usually one
Frequency: about every other week.

Shutterfly Christmas Gifts

It’s simply because I love my wife that I’m writing today about Shutterfly’s Christmas stuff. And since I know you were just thinking, “Hey, I wonder what company Shay uses to get all his Christmas cards and photo books?” — I have the perfect solution: Shutterfly.

A few months backs Bethany got a little coupon or something for a Shutterfly photo book and so we decided to create one of our son Titus. As a photographer and a designer, I’m always a little skeptical to venture out using some kind of propriety software to create photo books or any photo gift, especially from a mainstream company like Shutterfly. Normally, I would just get my prints done from a professional photo house and then create my book in professional software like InDesign, but since we had the coupon, I figured we could check out what Shutterfly had to offer. To my surprise, their stuff was pretty well done. The software they provided to create the book was user-friendly, the designs for the book were modern and up-to-date, and the options were endless for your book. Everything from the front to back cover, including the book spine, were customizable and we actually had a lot of fun making it. We created a “0-4 months of Titus” book and plan on doing more in the future.

So if you’re looking for my stamp of approval (and I know you were), then I can honestly say we have been satisfied with Shutterfly’s products, at least the photo book. They’re great, simple, inexpensive gifts for parents and grandparents and we like them.

Obviously, they don’t just do photo books. They’ve got everything you’d need, and here’s just a few that you can check out:
Christmas Cards
Photo Mugs (great for the grandparents)
Greeting Cards
And all different kinds of photo gifts