Christmas countdown

I don't know about you - but there are certain things around Christmastime that make me feel so grateful for this life. I've compiled a short list, but not in any order and definitely missing things. I hope this brings back memories (or gives you ideas for this Christmas!).

Movies
1. White Christmas
2. Home Alone
3. It's a Wonderful Life
4. A Christmas Carol (both the original AND the Muppet version)
5. Elf

Songs
1. All I Want for Christmas by Mariah Carey
2. Happy Holidays by NSync
3. Soundtrack to Charlie Brown Christmas
4. Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (acoustic style)
5. ALL the Christmas carols with all the verses ... so beautiful!
6. Whatever Christina and I end up performing for church

Activities
1. trying to snowboard for the first time behind a four-wheeler
2. road trips in the middle of snow-storms to Chicago and Indianapolis
3. sledding down a hill on a picnic table
4. hot chocolate, tea, coffee - anywhere, anytime
5. cards, cards and more cards (especially at my friends the Kolts')
6. board games with the fam!
7. COOKIE DECORATING contest (I always lose, but sometimes I manage to get some award for creativity)
8. Cranium
9. baking and cooking ... and being in the kitchen when it's being done
10. breakfast! early mornings are the best!
11. Looking at ridiculous Christmas displays

Traditions
1. Christmas caroling to neighbors
2. cousin sleepover with all the girls
3. Christmas Eve service with candle light "Silent Night"
4. Christmas Eve dinner before the service and gifts afterward
5. Christmas day with G&G Sponsler, and whatever day works for the Nichols masses
6. DOUGHNUTS with Jane at the Nichols'

There are too many to list! Oh, how thankful I've become by the bottom of the list. Wow! Please feel free to add your Christmas countdown favorites here and let me know if I've missed some of my own!

Oh, Mamma Mia

Last night your two faithful bloggers and their "mamma" went to see Mamma Mia, the movie. I tell you, it was pretty hilarious to see my mom giggling through a movie that, with the amount of inappropriateness involved, one would have thought she'd be boycotting instead of paying good money to watch!

Apparently, the songs just get her! I loved the campy-ness of it all, the singing and dancing, Pierce Brosnan attempting to do both, the amazing colors and textiles, and I admit, the songs :)

A General Masquerade


In light of our reading Animal Farm and its symbolism of the totalitarianism government, "classically inclined" met to watch a French documentary tonight. The documentary, made in 1974, invites the audience into the life of
Ugandan dictator Général Idi Amin Dada.

This film is truly surreal. At one moment you are entranced by this jovial, disarming man and the next you are appalled at his confused and evil mind.

Here is a clip from Youtube.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBLSU2DIY80&hl=en]

You can find it easily enough, or if you are really ambitious and thrifty you can watch all 17 parts on Youtube.

Let me know what you think!

Bella

Oh dear!

I am quickly going to write a post tonight about my most recent tears over this movie, Bella. Tragic and ordinary. Ugly and beautiful. Lonely and communal.

When we've come to rest all there is at the river's edge, we become aware of our brokenness. Jose and Nina are broken creatures. They each lived not ignorant or innocent of the world in all its white-washed charms. So, we wait on our seats to see what they make of it.

We are each one tempted to make homes in white-washed tombs. But, see there is a choice.

There is life!
(sigh)

x

Texas heat and Prince Caspian

I was almost uncomfortable today in the Texas heat. But, as my mother quickly reminded me, "that's what you like, you know." One of my strong arguments for Texas and the South is the weather, so I have to be careful about complaining.

I called my mom after I left work today and she was tending a fire, waiting for it to die down enough to cook some bratwursts. Now, that's an Iowa way to usher in the summer months! I almost felt like I was right there - within ten feet of the flame. Then I realized that I was just walking on pavement under a clear, hot Texas sky.

I don't think "hot Texas" would make news anywhere, so why don't we move on to something more interesting - one of my favorite topics: C.S. Lewis. I went to see Prince Caspian.
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Like any good reader of brilliant fiction, I was disappointed with the first movie because it simply failed to live up to the glory of the film I produced in my head. So, given that, my expectations were quite reasonable for Prince Caspian.

No matter how much of the story is lost in film translation, the pure innocence of the child remains. Lucy Pevensey is of course the most endearing. We love her because we all try to remember a time when we were like her. Maybe some people liken her faith to Santa Claus and fairy tales, but Lucy understands what others are convinced to "grow out of." But we all secretly hope that we could be more like Lucy. We hope that it is possible.

What is so magical... so brilliant... is that C.S. Lewis did not intend this series to be exactly symbolic of the Christian story as we perceive it here on earth. Lewis instead asked the question, "If God had created a world (a different world, where animals could talk and trees could move and all sorts of other mystical things might happen)... if God had created another such world, what would redemption look like?" (He says something like this in his replies to children - see "Letters to Children")

Lewis uses the artistic gifts God gave him to pursue this idea to its outermost reaches. He stretched his imagination and took us along. Sure, we are captivated by the characters, the magic, and the absurdities, but the true hook is in the brilliance of reflecting something much greater.

C.S. Lewis so artfully asks us to think about redemption outside of ourselves.

defer

Today again I will defer
my mind, stubborn will not concur

I have only to recommend
the thoughts and wisdom, freely lent

though sometimes late, I'm known to dwell
Read with me, these thoughts are swell

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This is a story in Christianity Today interviewing the director of Prince Caspian. For the whole story, click here.

The Weight of Story
Director Andrew Adamson, whose latest Narnia movie, Prince Caspian, releases to theaters next week, fully feels the burden to get it just right.
by Mark Moring | posted 05/06/08

Why'd you change this? Why did you leave out that? How come you didn't

Andrew Adamson has heard all those questions, and then some. When you're trying to adapt some of the best-loved children's books of all time into big-screen movies, there will be plenty of naysayers and nitpickers, and Adamson fully expected it.


The director sizes up a scene

Already an acclaimed director for the first two Shrek films, Adamson stepped into a whole 'nother world, literally and figuratively, when he took on the first two Narnia films—2005's The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and the sequel Prince Caspian, which opens in theaters May 16.

We recently chatted by phone with the 41-year-old director, who was working on final edits and polishing up special effects in a London studio. His wife and daughters (Isabelle, 4½, and Sylvie, 2½) were living with him in London—sort of a home between homes for the New Zealand natives. After living in Los Angeles for more than a decade (making the Shrek and then the Narnia movies), Adamson will take a break after this one, moving back to his home country for some R&R and extended time with his family.

And he'll pass the Narnia torch on to Michael Apted, the veteran British director behind such films as Amazing Grace and James Bond's The World Is Not Enough. Apted is directing The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, slated for a 2010 release—and Adamson, who will stay on as a producer, assures fans that the franchise is in good hands.

For the rest of the story click here.

expelled, a review

Before I forget, I went to see the movie expelled last week. I went alone because I didn't want to worry about what other people were thinking. Sometimes when I go see a movie with other people I try to figure out how they are processing everything and forget to process it myself.

There was much to process! In the fashion we've come to recognize as Michael Moore (though absent some of his antics), we look at the controversy surrounding evolution, intelligent design, and science. I thought the film brought long-hidden things to light, such as the faith of the early brilliant scientists who saw science not as separate but as another means to bring glory to God. I also thought interesting and poignant the critical conversation with Richard Dawkins in the middle of the film when Ben Stein asked (I would say to the point of insult) if he believed in any God.

After Dawkins said he certainly did not believe in any sort of God at all, Stein went on to ask him how sure he was.. and Dawkins came up with something in the 90th percentile.. and when pressed he was unsure and it could be in the 50 percent range. And then when pressed further about the origin of life he said it could be possible that something or someone reached down and set life into motion.

Interesting.

The rest of the film moved to social Darwinism, seen as a very different animal. The parallels of the Holocaust and even the Eugenics movement were presented as natural steps from Darwin's Origin of Species. I think this could spark some very interesting conversation. Because, whether admitted or denied, we arrive at science from a particular worldview. A darwinist is not going to prove macro-evolution by way of researching Creation. No, normally one proves a point by finding research to support that point. I think this is where we see the suppression the film talks about. I am not sure of the exact instances on which these scientists were released from their contracts and positions, but I did hear something similar in their reactions. These scientists were not setting out to prove macro-evolution; they were setting out to find truth.

It seems that controversy it will remain, but I hope that we can see (as those brilliant beacons in our history - Pascal, Newton) that science and Christianity will not lead us to two different ends.

We will all arrive at Truth. Some will be dismayed and others full of joy.

Justin Taylor has references Joe Carter over at between two worlds in his discussion on this topic.

Also another reference site for the evolution/creation/intelligent design debate is the Veritas Forum.