Thursday Quote Day: Helen Keller

This week’s “Thursday Quote Day” features a quote from Helen Keller:

“Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find joy in overcoming obstacles.” (Helen Keller)

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Sunday Devotional: Hark The Herald Angels Sing

“Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

It’s Christmas Eve and it’s the eve of celebrating the birth of Jesus.  This Christmas hymn reminds us of the reasons why the angels were singing that night.  Not only to celebrate and mark the occasion of the birth but what the birth meant.  It meant God and sinners could be reconciled.  It meant that Jesus was Emmanuel (God with us).  It meant the opportunity for second birth, that we don’t have to die a second death.

This is the good news.  This is the reason the angels sing.  This is the reason we should sing.  So let us do just that.

MoviePass Adventures: Month 2

Into month number 2 of MoviePass and this time of year is great for films so ample opportunity to put it to use.  Here are the films I saw the second month of of having MoviePass:

1) Wonder

This film is based a novel and tells the story of Auggie Pullman and his family.  He’s a kid who’s just starting middle school and has had a lot to overcome and over the course of the film you see the impact that he has on everyone that comes in contact with him and vice versa.  This is one of the best films I’ve seen period.  Loved this film and would recommend it to everyone.

2) Coco

The next film in the long line of great Pixar films.  This one features the story of a young boy named Miguel who feels he’s a musician but his family doesn’t approve.  The film tells the story of family and following your dream.  It was really good and worth seeing in theaters.

3) The Man Who Invented Christmas

This film is a mix of “based on a true story” and a telling of the classic A Christmas Carol.  It tells the story of author Charles Dickens as he finds the inspiration to write the classic novel and how those characters mingle and intertwine with what’s going on in his life.  Christopher Plummer plays a great Ebenezer Scrooge and Dan Stevens is a wonderful Charles Dickens.  This is a great Christmas/holiday film to watch this season.

4) The Mountain Between Us

The film, based on the novel of the same name, tells the story of two strangers who catch a charter flight.  That flight crash lands in the middle of the Rocky Mountains and the two depend on each other to survive out in the middle of nowhere.  It’s a visually stunning film and both Elba and Winslet carry the film as the two principal actors.  It was worth seeing on the big screen just for the outdoor/mountain shots.

(I thought I’d end up seeing more films but there was a stretch where there weren’t any major releases worth seeing due to The Last Jedi looming so it looks like month 3 will have more films to see)

Bittersweet Symphony: Thoughts on “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

I went and saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the eighth episode in the saga this past Thursday night.  I wanted to wait a few days A) to avoid spoiling for others (warning there may be spoilers in this post) and B) to ruminate on my thoughts of the film.

I titled this post “Bittersweet Symphony”.  Those that may catch that reference it is the title of a 90s song.  And I think that title sums up my feelings on The Last Jedi.  On it’s own, it’s a really good film.  But in comparison to the previous film (The Force Awakens) and even more so the saga as a whole, it is very bittersweet.

This is no fault of director Rian Johnson.  He made his film and I was impressed (that was the word I immediately thought of when walking out of the theater) by the decisions that he made and the path he took.  On it’s own, this film immediately found and went its own path.  In the context of the third trilogy, it feels like in many ways it departed (good bad or indifferent) from what was established in the previous film.  A lot of people have brought up these thoughts (dismissing Rey’s parents as nobodies, killing off Snoke with no real explanation of who he is and how big a threat he is) as well as other thoughts (not explaining where a lot of the resistance leaders were after TFA, killing of Captain Phasma with little screentime, etc) It felt like Rian Johnson took a lot of TFA and just scrapped it to tell his own story.  Which is fine, it’s his right as a storyteller to do that.

Hence the bittersweet feeling.  As I kid, I dreamed about what episode VII, VIII & IX would be like.  As a teenager I heartily read through the Thrawn trilogy and the Dark Empire graphic novels and a lot of the EU (Expanded Universe) books.  Even though it seemed like there would never be that sequel trilogy, there was all this other media that told the further adventures of Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, Lando, Wedge and the rest.

When Disney bought Lucasfilm from George Lucas and went away from his treatment of the sequel trilogy (he had written up a treatment) and went their own path, I don’t think I realized it at the time but I especially do now.  We will never (unless that treatment is turned into novels/graphic novels) know what George Lucas had in mind for the further Skywalker adventures.  While we get these new films and such (which I’m not complaining about and I do enjoy in their own right) it is sad that the EU that I loved growing up is dismissed and more importantly that George Lucas, the man who dreamed up this universe, never got to finish the story.  That would be like C.S. Lewis not getting to write the last 3 books of The Chronicles of Narnia or J.R.R. Tolkien not getting to finish The Lord of the Rings and someone else coming in to write those books.

I wonder if Disney wouldn’t have been better off just having Johnson direct this entire trilogy (like they’re doing with the new one after IX) than to come in after Abrams like he did and then discard a lot of things Abrams had developed.  Regardless, it is a film that has developed a lot of buzz (positive and negative) as the flashing “Opening weekend” lights have started to fade.

I am sure I will see it more times.  And I’m sure my thoughts and feelings about the film will continue to settle.  But I think the feeling of bittersweetness will stick around with this film (and I think in some ways it will do so with Episode IX as well).  I mentioned this before, for kids growing up, this is their Star Wars trilogy like for me the original trilogy was and for others the prequel trilogy.  They will view this trilogy differently from me and that’s okay.  For me, it reminds me of an “alternate timeline” and that somewhere else the EU or whatever Lucas had in mind are out there as well and are legitimate timelines of how the Star Wars saga continues.

There’s so much of a thought out there now that it’s extremes, you must absolutely love something or hate it.  That shouldn’t be the case.  People can have opinions (especially something subjective like movies and art) that cover a wide range of perspective.  When it comes to The Last Jedi, I can enjoy it as a film and still fill bittersweet about the story it tells in itself and the saga as a whole.

Sunday Devotional: “Joy To the World”

“Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love”

“Joy to the World” is one of the most well known Christmas carols.  It is a song about joy and hope.  The birth of Jesus brought well needed joy and hope into the world.  Even today, the world needs joy and hope.  There is much suffering and loss.  People are hurting and wanting hope.  Jesus brings that hope.  He came to the world to bring hope.  He came to break the curse of sin.  He came to bring righteousness again.

This Christmas season, let us remember this hope.  Let us sing of this joy.  Even in the midst of hurt.  Even in the midst of sin being glorified.  Jesus came to bring real hope and joy.  Let us celebrate that.