Skip to main content

Posts

The ghosts that haunt us

Last month, the live-action remake of the 1995 anime film Ghost in the Shell hit theaters.
Set in a future when many humans are augmented with cybernetic enhancements, the story follows Major Mira Killian, whose body was mortally injured in a terrorist attack. Her brain is experimentally integrated into a robotic body called a “shell.”  With no memory of her life before the attack, Killian uses her enhanced abilities as part of a counter-terrorist team.
Both films explore themes related to integration of biology and technology, what makes us who we are and the mystery of consciousness (referred to as one’s “ghost”). A central theme in the 2017 film is Killian’s struggle with identity and purpose heightened by her memory loss and cybernetic body. In a way, she is haunted by her own “ghost” as she experiences “glitches” or flashes of memory, leaving her feeling isolated from herself and others.
She longs not only for understanding of who she is, where she came from and her purpose bu…
Recent posts

Hiring a refugee

Besides being a fascinating story about creating a business, 60 Minutes' interview with Chobani's billionaire founder last month gets at the benefits of employing refugees. Several churches in our region are encouraging their members who are employers to consider hiring refugees. It makes such a difference in their lives.
They got here legally. They’ve gone through a most dangerous journey. They lost their family members. They lost everything they have. And here they are. They are either going to be a part of society or they are going to lose it again. The number one thing that you can do is provide them jobs.  The minute they get a job that’s the minute they stop being a refugee.

Bringing God-talk back to open spaces

Some of you have noticed that I took a break from blogging for about a year. It was less intentional than due to an influx of responsibilities and pursuits—from settling into a new job with a local social services agency to going through the college application process for my oldest child and getting my youngest prepared for high school.
In particular, I have had some amazing opportunities to advocate for refugees. My job connected me to the resettlement agencies in our region, and over the past year, I began helping to inform our community as well as congregations about the refugee crisis, connecting them to resettlement agencies and working to develop ways to both embrace refugees who have resettled in our communities as well as those languishing in camps and settlements around the world. It is exciting and encouraging work—one which I hope to share more about both here and at For Such a Time is Now in the coming months.
It’s been a full and good year, but I have missed taking the …

Small miracles

Good films, like all good stories, tell us something about ourselves and the world around us, and the best stories challenge and inspire us. You might think Christian films would be at the top of my list in this regard, but generally they’re not. From their low production quality to poor storytelling and character development, these films leave me more frustrated than inspired.

Over the last few years, faith-based films have seen an infusion of Hollywood studios, star power, and directors. Unfortunately, most of the time this tends to simply put a shiny sheen on poor storytelling. But lately a couple of films have given me hope—and Miracles from Heaven is one of those.

An adaption of Christy Beam’s memoir by the same name, the film tells the story of Christy’s journey and crisis of faith as her young daughter Annabel gets sick and is eventually diagnosed with a life-threatening disease.

This film gets some essential things right—and much of that is due to a strong performance by Jenni…

The temptation of vengeance in movies

Writer and director Scott Derrickson recently posted on Twitter: “I believe that in future history the revenge ethic will be seen as the great cinematic signature of American mental [and] spiritual sickness.”

Historical drama that speaks today

[This review may contain spoilers]
The Oscar-nominated Bridge of Spies is an inspiring story and a great piece of filmmaking. Critics praise the collaboration between Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, calling the film gripping, satisfying, and even eloquent.

Rocky relationships

I grew up watching the Rocky films, so after Sylvester Stallone received a Golden Globe for his performance in Creed, I thought it about time to see that one, too.

Polarizing Fallout

Kyle Hinckley made a stir in the video-game world by successfully completing the hardest mode of Fallout 4 with zero kills.

Real or not real?

Last month, Mockingjay: Part 2 concluded the film version of TheHunger Games series, a dystopian story in which children are forced to fight to the death in a televised Survivor-like arena. President Snow uses

Five things to consider about Syrian refugees

A few days after the news about the ISIS terror attacks in Beirut and the day after the Paris attacks, I was a judge at a high school debate tournament where the Public Forum topic was to resolve this statement: In response to the current crisis, a government should prioritize the humanitarian needs of refugees over its national interests.
Timely, right?
As I listened to my daughter and her team members go over their affirmative and negative arguments in preparation for the tournament (they have to argue both), I was mesmerized. I’d forgotten what it was like to hear a conversation where both sides of such a relevant and hotly contested issue were being discussed so calmly. It’s not that my daughter and her teammates didn’t care about the topic; in fact, they each voiced their own opinions about it. But they did so in a way that was informed and respectful.
I’ve tried to keep that in mind as I’ve read through op-eds, news articles and my Facebook feed this week.
At times, it was a strugg…

Tired of weeping

Oh, I am very weary,
Though tears no longer flow;
My eyes are tired of weeping,
My heart is sick of woe.
~Anne Bronte









The Martian and our divine instinct to help

Last spring, I read Andy Weir’s sci-fi novel, The Martian, in less than 24 hours. It doesn’t disappoint—and neither does the recent film adaption.
Like the novel, the film centers on the crew of the Hermes during a mission on Mars, where astronaut Mark Watney is stranded after the rest of the crew evacuate and leave him behind believing he died during a storm. Using his humor, ingenuity and skills as a scientist, he strives to survive.
Critics and scientists alike praise The Martian’s depiction of science. A powerful tool, science not only continually reveals the secrets of our amazing universe but also helps us survive in and improve the world around us. Indeed, one of the best parts of The Martian is watching Watney science his way through one challenge after another.
But ultimately, science isn’t what saves Watney.
We get so caught up in Watney’s clever resourcefulness that we almost forget the toll of his struggle to survive. Near the end of the film, we get a glimpse of his body—bru…

Our 'Tomorrowland' today

Imagine experiencing a future of such beauty and possibility that it transforms the way you think about reality and the choices you make in the present. That’s what happens to Casey Newton—an optimistic teenage girl who aspires to be an astronaut in a diminishing-NASA era—whenever she touches a lapel pin with the letter ‘T’ on it in the Disney film, Tomorrowland.
Casey is one of many dreamers, artists and inventors who have been given a glimpse of Tomorrowland in hopes of shaping a better future for humanity. That vision sends her on a remarkable and risky journey that changes the way she sees the world—and the fate of a humanity on the brink of self-destruction.
I resonate with Tomorrowland’s theme that our vision of the future can transform the way we live now. Early church believers fixed their vision on a future that helped free them to live risky, transformed lives that changed the world.
“Human life and consciousness requires, by its very nature, a projected future,” says Dallas …

Regina

I met ReGina on a cold January morning in Beirut after a women's Bible study for Iraqi refugees hosted by Heart for Lebanon. We stood next to a portable heater, warming our hands and feet. ReGina wore black, knitted gloves. Two fingers were missing from her right hand. Then she told her story. She and her family were from Mosul, a city of over a million people in northern Iraq. They were part of the Christian community there, which has ancient roots in the region. The Christians of Iraq are considered one of the oldest continuous Christian communities in the world, dating back to the first century AD, hundreds of years before Constantine and the formation of the Catholic Church. One day, as she and her daughter were leaving church, a car bomb exploded. Regina lost those two fingers in the explosion. Her daughter has scars all over her body from the shrapnel, some of which is still embedded. She fled Mosul and now lives in a rented apartment with her daughter and extended family member…

The Tale of the Fortune Hunters

David Reitsma Spoken Word Poetry
"The Tale of the Fortune Hunters"

A spoken word video about the Syrian refugee crisis. 

Filmed by Maarten Smeenk and Directed by David Bonsink