Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Reflections on Ash Wednesday

Michael here...

Today was my first experience with an Ash Wednesday service, and I found it to be meaningful and thought provoking. (I'm not Catholic, so the newness of the service allowed me to focus on the message more clearly.)The short phrase that was spoken as the sign of the cross was being marked on our foreheads really caused me to think. It was simply, "turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel". The more I thought about, the more profound it became for me. After all, isn't sin simply those times when we don't have faith in the Gospel. When I write Gospel I mean the good news that Jesus Christ is indeed Lord. That despite the broken nature of our world and the pain and suffering all around us, Jesus is indeed ruling over our universe, and will set things back to right. Not only that, but that he plans to use each of us to help accomplish that mission. It's faith because I can't always see that. The world is just too messed up and too painful at times, so I have to trust that Jesus is indeed at work, and that His plan will ultimately prevail. My anxieties and fear come when I don't believe that Jesus is really in charge. It's in those times that I fear that the powers that are in charge will destroy me and crush any hope that I have. But if Jesus is indeed Lord as the Gospel proclaims, then it's not all up to me after all. The pressure's off. I don't have to work so hard to make things work out, after all that seems to be GOD's job anyway.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Film Review: Like Dandelion Dust

There are literally thousands of movies released every year, and several thousand from the past that await viewing. In order to make sense out of that chaos, you need a plan and some basic rules on how to choose what movies you plan to watch. Two of my rules coincided in a movie that I recently viewed. Rule #1: The Barry Pepper Rule: Simply put, if Barry Pepper is in a movie, then it is mandatory viewing. I don't know why exactly, but i know that it's true. This rule rarely leads me astray (see the movie "3" about racing legend Dale Earnhardt for an exception to the rule). Rule #2: Avoid movies that have clear and blatant agendas. This is almost impossible, because all movies have an agenda of some sort. It's the blatant ones that I feel are trying to manipulate me that I work hard to avoid. This includes religious movies that include crosses in every scene, evangelism by the bucket loads, and some sort of tearful repentance scene set to a backdrop of Casting Crowns music. While invoking the Barry Pepper rule I picked up the movie "Like Dandelion Dust" recently. I didn't realize that it was adapted from a book by a well known Christian inspirational author. I am pleased to say, however, that I didn't feel manipulated in the least, and actually enjoyed the film. It's a story about adoption and redemption, and the inner turmoils that occur within the family that gives up a child and in the family that takes a child in. The film does a nice job of not villifying either side of the struggle, which provided a great tension throughout. It's movie worth seeing, and yes, Barry Pepper was excellent.

Also, do you have any movie watching rules that you employ? Feedback is welcome!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sugarland's Grasshopper Cupcake

Michael here...

Tony has said of me that I am unable to pass by a new or cool looking bakery or coffee shop, and sadly it's true. This past weekend led me to Chapel Hill where I took my daughter and her friend our for her birthday. After a gut exploding dinner at Pepper's Pizza (I went with the Ball Park slice, which was pizza with andouille sausage, feta cheese, and pork bbq), we strolled down Franklin St. for a little dessert. We landed in Sugarland bakery, a carb lovers delight, that is obviously operated by people who love their craft. The girls went with gelato, but I chose the 72,000 calorie Grasshopper cupcake. It was delicious, all minty and sweet. If you ever get the chance, drop in at Sugarland and enjoy any of their wide assortment of dessert items. (Also, the coffee was really good).