Monday, August 14, 2017

MONDAY MORNING REFLECTIONS - I'VE GOTTEN POLITICAL

BY STEVE DUNN

It troubles me at time that so much I am writing these days is of a political nature. Hopefully from a Christian perspective, but political nonetheless.  But this troubling lessons when I consider how important having a political position is.  I do not always agree with Rachel Held Evans but what she has written recently on her Facebook page speaks eloquently to what is in my heart.  Again, I do not support every item she advocates, but her point is both well-taken and needful.  (You don't need to comment.  Just read and reflect and come to the answers God lays upon your heart.)


And now from Rachel ....
You don’t like that I’ve “gotten political,” huh?
If saying it’s wrong to mock people with disabilities makes me political, then so be it.
If rejecting the notion that demeaning, groping, insulting, and assaulting women is “just how men are” makes me political, then so be it.
If supporting a free press makes me political, then so be it.
If speaking out when religious and ethnic minorities are targeted with misinformation campaigns that have dramatically increased hate crimes against them makes me political, then so be it.
If believing the president of the United States is not above the rule of law, or the most basic ethical accountability, makes me political, then so be it.
If refusing to stand by as desperate refugee families, including many children, are turned away from safety based on misinformation and fear makes me political, then so be it.
If calling my senators to oppose a healthcare bill that would likely increase the abortion rate and definitely leave my friends with special needs kids bankrupt and desperate makes me political, then so be it.
If expecting the president of the United States to behave with some semblance of decorum and decency, even on Twitter, makes me political, then so be it.
If getting angry when Christian leaders shrug off sexual assault, lying, racism, bullying, cruelty to the vulnerable, and unapologetic greed and self-aggrandizement because it gets them the judge they want or the power they crave makes me political, then so be it.
If turning over tables when Christians sing hymns in honor of this administration's ethno-nationalist agenda makes me political, then so be it.
You don’t like that I’ve gotten political?
I don’t like that the future of the Republic and the integrity of the American Church has been so glibly handed over to a man who has no respect for either.
You’re damn right I’ve gotten political.
And even if you remain silent, you have too.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE MOVIES

BY STEVE DUN

Lately my blog has taken on a distinctly serious side as I have let the cultural and political climate America dominate much of my thinking.  I decided it was time to choose a far less serious topic that may engender comments but I suspect less earth-shattering or vitriolic.  I have passed beyond my 66th birthday and during that time I have seen lots of movies. This past weekend I racked my brain a bit to try and remember all of their titles--which eludes me; but the purpose was to try and ascertain my top 25 favorite movies of all-time. I will warn you that I am a sucker for history, sports movies, science fiction and creative comedy. So for what it's worth--which may not be much--here they are:

1. A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS (1966)  This is my favorite movie of all time which you may never heard of.  Paul Scofield and this film garnered six Academy Awards in this story of Sir Thomas More's refusal to accede to Henry VIII's serial divorces and break with the Catholic Church.

2. THE LORD OF THE RINGS (TRILOGY) (2001  2002  2003)  I loved JRR Tolkien's classics as a teen and was spell-bound by Peter Jackson's on screen version. It's hard for me to separate the three since their part of an entire story but Two Towers was probably my favorite of the trio.

3. THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963) Steve McQueen and James Garner starred in this exciting tale from World War 2.

4. SISTER ACT 1 AND 2 (1992 and  Sister Act 2-Back in the Habit 1993)  Whoopi Goldberg and her singing nuns made the church relevant and religion fun for tons of people.

5. JESUS OF NAZARETH (1977) Franco Zeferelli's miniseries was never theatrically released but it remains the best version ever of the life of Jesus.

6. STAR WARS-A NEW HOPE (1977)  I've loved almost of all of the Star Wars sagas, but the original has always remained my favorite.

7. TWISTER (1996) This movie's mix of excitement, drama and comedy and its fascinating tornados was a delight the first time I saw it on the wide screen and continues to be my most watched movie on the small screen.  I loved the flying cows.

8. THE LONGEST DAY (1962) Another classic WWII movie with an all-star cast and the second most watched movie by me over the years.

9. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL (2003)  Sheer fun with Johnny Depp

10. IT HAPPENS EVERY SPRING (1949) Ray Milland starred in this baseball movie most of you never have seen.

 11. MISSISSIPPI BURNING (1964) Gene Hackman and the FBI take down the Ku Klux Klan in a movie every generation should watch.

 12. AMAZING GRACE (2006) Iaon Gruffod as William Wilberforce who brought down the slave trade in the British Empire.

 13. THE FIRM (1993) Tom Cruise as a young lawyer who breaks the power of a corrupt law firm. One of John Grisham's best books.
 
14. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981) The first in the Indiana Jones series.  I could not leave the theater even to go to the bathroom.


15. HIDDEN FIGURES (2016) NASA, the space of the 60s and breaking the power of segregation with a powerful look at three of the smartest women in history.  The best new movie in the last year.

16. THE LION, WITCH AND THE WARDROBE (2005) CS Lewis' classic tale brought to life on the wide screen and true to the books I loved.

 17. THE PATRIOT  (2000)  Mel Gibson a Revolutionary War hero reminiscent of Francis Marion, The Swamp Fox
 18. EXODUS (1960) Paul Newman and others in Leon Uris' classic on the birth of Israel.


19. FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (1971) This is the only musical on my list.  Topol starred in this story of a Jewish family in changing Russia.  I loved the bottle dancers.  This was also the movie Dianne and I saw on our honeymoon, so it's got to be on the list.

 20. PATTON  (1970) George C. Scott in this classic bio of WWII's most brilliant and controversial general.

21. MONEY BALL (2011) I could have put a ton of baseball movies on the list but Brad Pitt's portrayal of Billy Bean who changed the face of modern baseball was a winner.

22. ARSENIC AND OLD LACE (1944) Cary Grant in this mystery/comedy made before I was born is still one of the funniest I have ever seen--especially with Teddy Roosevelt and the Panama Canal in his basement.

23. VON RYANS EXPRESS (1965)  A classic "escape" movie from WWII with Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard.

 24. HUNT FOR THE RED OCTOBER (1990) One of Tom Clancy's best--a submarine adventure with Sean Connery and Alex Baldwin.  Connery made many movies magnificent.

25. LINCOLN (2012) Daniel Day Lewis was masterful in his portrayal of Lincoln and the emancipation of the slaves at the end of the Civil War.

 26. A FEW GOOD MEN (1992) A classic courtroom drama pitting Tom Cruise and Demi Moore against Jack Nicholson.  One of my most frequently watched movies.

What are some of your top movies?













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Monday, July 24, 2017

MONDAY MORNING REFLECTIONS - FOR THE BEAUTY OF THE EARTH

Photo by Trevor Roberts, Cross and Crown



BY STEVE DUNN

Head down, plowing forward.  That's the way that I live too much of the time.  A "To Do" list that should be renamed "The Tip of the Ice Berg" list.  Meals on the run. Sleep that is interrupted too early by the arrival of morning. Too busy to see the small stuff and sweating the small stuff I see.

These days our media and politics seem to be oozing with the dark side.  Civility and community get sacrificed on the twin altars of political correctness and political intransigence.  Inconvenient truth is dismissed as fake news.  The economy is a harsh master.  The suicide rate in America is rising.

But God is at work revealing something beautiful, refreshing and uplifting.  It is readily observed at any moment of the day and at most places on the planet.  It is the revelation God paints in creation.  And when we stop the racing and shut out the shouting, we just might see it.

What do we see?  Something that is greater than us--the hand of our gracious God: our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.  Makes think of the words of that magnificent hymn penned by Folliot S> Pierpont:

1. For the beauty of the earth,
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

2. For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower,
sun and moon, and stars of light;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

3. For the joy of ear and eye,
for the heart and mind's delight,
for the mystic harmony,
linking sense to sound and sight;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

4. For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

5. For thy church, that evermore
lifteth holy hands above,
offering up on every shore
her pure sacrifice of love;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

6. For thyself, best Gift Divine,
to the world so freely given,
for that great, great love of thine,
peace on earth, and joy in heaven:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

Maybe it's time to stop and what God has made.


Monday, July 3, 2017

MONDAY MORNING REFLECTIONS - INDEPENDENCE DAY

BY STEVE DUNN

Tomorrow is the 4th of July -Independence Day for America.  A secular holiday observed in this nation but one with important religious implications.  We but need to turn to the Declaration of Independence signed on July 4, 1776.


In pursuit of their freedom from the rule of England and the tyranny of King George III, our Founding Fathers staked their right to that freedom on the gift of a sovereign God.  The secularization of America has attempted to push such a belief from the public square.  In so doing we forget the admonishment of our first President, George Washington in his Farewell Address.





Very little time will be spent on any kind of serious reflection on the Fourth.  In some concert somewhere they will sing "God bless America," but sadly more out of sentimental tradition than earnest prayer.  Baseball, picnics and barbecues,, trips to the beach and the pool, fireworks and NASCAR, ice cream and other sweets, and no small amount of drunkenness will take precedence over prayer and any acknowledgement of the deeper spiritual truth that national and political freedom will always will always be dependent on guns and vigilance, human sacrifice and resolve.  But like all other realities of humanity--these can pass away all too quickly by regime change, political greed, or terrorist onslaught.

There is only one freedom which can endure and it is not dependent upon a human liberator, but a divine one.  The apostle Paul tells us of it:



This Fourth we should indeed give thanks for the men and women whose sacrifice has helped us be free as a nation and whose vigilance protects that freedom.  But ultimately, the only freedom that can endure is that which is grounded in the Spirit of the Lord and obedience to His leadership and dependent upon His power.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

FIRST DAY OF SUMMER AND IMPORTANT LESSON

This post originally appeared on this blog the summer of 2013.  In three days I head out for vacation and am trying to take the advice in its words, so I thought I'd repost it for you. = STEVE

 
BY STEVE DUNN
"First day of Summer supper: Hot dogs, corn on the cob, and sliced tomatoes!!!"
This is what my friend Kay Royer Cocklin posted on her Facebook page yesterday afternoon.  My first response was, "Oh! Yes!!!!!" Made me sad that I had already eaten a bowl of cereal for supper. (My wife is out of town being a grandmother-in-residence and I was too tired after mowing to get very creative.)
Simple things--hot dogs, corn on the cob, sliced tomatoes.  Readily accessible to most of us in America. Better than most things you would have popped into a microwave.  A whole lot cheaper than a steak. Except maybe for the hot dogs, a whole lot healthier, too.
Simple pleasures that those of us who have experienced them--quite satisfying.
Choosing the simple and taking pleasure from it tends to be a counter-cultural concept in 21st century America. Smart phones, smart cars, smart houses, constant digital connection, designer clothes, beds with dual comfort controls, specially manufactured golf clubs, 200 channels of satellite TV--the list goes on and grows more complicated by the second.
And so often those things carry complications that drain the last ounce of simplicity from our lives and replace it anxiety and aggravation.  Ever try to talk to cable company computer?  What happens when your smart car enters a dumb phase?  How much will it cost you to fix it? Do you really have to be available to every human being via phone every moment of your day?  Do the manufactured clubs feel any better when you miss the put or shank the drive?  Do you ever stop working to pay for your smart home long enough to actually be in it?
Don't all the options of life at times just get overwhelming?  Don't you simply run so much that you find yourself in a rat race where the rats are winning?
Don't say "no" because I know you're lying - to yourself as well as me.
Donald Miller writes:  "It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen.  Life will reveal answers at the pace life wishes to do so. You feel like running, but life is a stroll.  This is how God does things."
I pretty much missed the first day of summer because I let myself embrace the complicated.  I put too many things in my schedule.  I didn't stop to savor the sunshine or read a good book.  In fact, I didn't even look at the calendar to notice that it was the first day of summer.  Ironically, it was my sabbath, my day of rest and refreshment and instead I filled it with the things that I hadn't gotten done on my work days.

And I forgot the hot dogs, corn on the cob, and sliced tomatoes.  Didn't pay much attention to God either.

My loss.

(C) 2103 by Stephen Dunn
Permission is given to repost or quote provided this copyright notice is included and a link provided to this blogsite.  The courtesy of an email with a link to its reposting or a copy of the work it is quoted in would be appreciated.