Review entitled "Growing up in 'Boyhood' about the film 'Boyhood'. "Richard Linklater's new film 'Boyhood' is an immersion in the life of one (fictional) boy. Filmed over the course of 12 years with the same cast (we literally see the children grow up before our eyes), the film follows the life of Mason (Elllar Coltrane), his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) and their parents (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke)". "'Boyhood' is 164 minutes long, but it never wears out its welcome, as it takes a leisurely journey through the lives of one family".
Joint review of two recent books "The Global War on Christians" by John L. Allen Jr. and "Christianophobia: A Faith Under Attack" by Rupert Shortt under the title "Why the persecution of Christians is on the rise". "Christianophobia" is mostly expository, recounting a long litany of persecution. .... All too often, persecution follows three phases: first comes disinformation, which robs prospective victims of their good reputation; that's followed by discrimination, which relegates them to second-class status; and then comes outright persecution, be it by the state, paramilitaries, mobs or those from inimical groups. A great many of the places where Christians suffer discrimination and/or persecution are in countries with Muslim majorities. But societies with Hindu and Buddhist majorities are also by no means above singling out Christians for maltreatment. And Communist tyrannies, like those in China, North Korea, Vietnam and Laos, take second place to none in the sheer brutality of the oppression they visit upon Christians".
Positive review of the book "Christmas with hot apple cider". Review entitled "The promise and its fulfillment: Stories for Christmas". "Edited by N.J. Lindquist, the anthology comprises 67 contributions by 55 Canadian writers. Most of the book's selections are mini-memoirs, short accounts of real-life events. Those non-fiction accounts are interspersed with several fictional short stories and poems and one short play. Memoir or fiction, prose or verse, they are all variations on the theme of Christmas. It's the fifth volume in the Hot Apple Cider series of anthologies that aim to uplift their readers with stories of 'hope, faith, courage and love'." "The selections, from writers of varying degrees of experience range from very serviceable to very good, and the common thread, besides the Christmas theme, is a prevalent tone of warm nostalgia."
Review, entitled "Of Apes and Men" of the movie "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" directed by Matt Reeves. "Andy Serkis, who plays the leader of intelligent apes in 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes', says that 'the heart of the story is about .. family, empathy, prejudice and tribalism'. And, he's right". "The result is a parable about tribalism, that ubiquitous human habit of dividing 'us' from 'them'. Once such dividing lines are drawn -- on the basis of race, religion or nationality -- those on the more powerful side of that insidious boundary have all the excuse they need to exploit, oppress or attack those deemed to be 'other'. In the movie, species is the line that divides the tribes". "Sound familiar ? It's the age-old human story of sectarian conflict -- in places like Israel and the Occupied Territories. Few things are harder for us (man or apes) to overcome than our deeply ingrained prejudices".
"But what if our entire society is built upon a set of deadly illusions -- an elaborate house of cards that propels us toward catastrophe ? This is precisely the premise of Chris Hedges' compelling new book. The result is a brilliant, not-to-be missed critique of 'a society in precipitous decline'. Some 80 per cent of households in our society never buy or read a book over the course of a year; instead the average household has a television turned on for nearly seven hours a day". "For Hedges, democracy is in greater peril than it has ever been". "'Individualism is touted as [our] core value .. Yet most of us meekly submit .. to the tyranny of the corporate state'. It's time to forgo our illusions about the world of limitless prosperity. If we are to avert calamity, we need to push unregulated corporatism aside in favour of democracy -- 'a democracy based not on personal gain but on self-sacrifice -- and the common good. For 'where there is no vision, the people perish' (Proverbs 29)".
Review, entitled "Gods, kings and a bellicose boy", of the movie "Exodus: Gods and Kings" directed by Ridley Scott. "'The Lord is a man of war', says the book of Exodus, and those words inform the new cinematic dramatization of the mass exodus of 400,000 Jews from Egypt around 1300 BC. In 'Exodus: Gods and Kings', God tells Moses: 'I need a general'". "God is depicted in the movie as a bellicose young boy with an English accent. It's an odd shape for the Creator of the Universe to assume. And there's no sign of holiness or love: this belligerent child is used to giving order, not explanations or expressions of empathy. Indeed, religiosity is conspicuous by its absence in this film". "And those of us who prefer the kinder, gentler message of the New Testament may find common cause with the question, 'What kind of fanatics worship such a God ?', which is uttered in despair after the mass killing of Egyptian children by supernatural means. The question might have meant more, however, if it hadn't been asked by a man (Rameses), who is hardly above such ruthless measures himself. What the film fails to deliver is even an iota of emotional connection for the viewer to its characters and events".
Joint review of two recent books "The Global War on Christians" by John L. Allen Jr. and "Christianophobia: A Faith Under Attack" by Rupert Shortt under the title "Why the persecution of Christians is on the rise". "The Global War on Christians" supplements its chronicle of oppression with more analysis. We learn, for instance, that 80 % of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed at Christians. It is estimated that there have been 70 million Christian martyrs since the time of Christ. Fully half of them (45 million) were killed in the 20th century, most falling victim to the twin evils of Nazism and Communism". "There are myriad reasons why Christians are singled out for discrimination or outright persecution. For instance, the faith's vigorous growth (often in its Pentecostal forms) in some places is perceived to threaten 'the traditionally dominant position of other religious groups or the state'. Further, its adherents are often outspoken advocates for human rights and democracy, which makes them threats to authoritarian regimes. And, the increasingly strong connection between nationalism and religion in places like India means that Christians can be perceived as threats to 'national identity'".
Jim Wallis of Sojourners challenges liberals and conservatives alike by reminding us that our religious faith should manifest itself in public life through patience, humility, reflection and accountability.