Undivided (The Unwind Dystology)

UnknownIf you aren’t reading Neil Shusterman, you should be. Unwind  may be one of the best current Young Adult series addressing significant moral and social issues in a way that leads readers toward the truth. This review will cover the final book, Undivided. If you are not familiar with the series, it may be helpful to read some observations about the previous books (just click on the links for more information). Continue reading Undivided (The Unwind Dystology)

Age of Ultron: Human Visions, Second Chances and Filled Gaps

The Avengers have invaded your local theaters – and the public consciousness. Critics like it and audiences Avengers-Age-of-Ultron-Posterlove it. It passed the $700million dollar mark only eight days after its release, and a spokesperson for Disney said it should pass the $1.5 billion that the first movie brought in. That billion, with a ‘b’. The next Avenger movie is several years away, but between now and then you will see plenty of TV shows and movies preparing the way.

I’m not going to rehash all the (appropriately) congratulatory things others are saying about the quality of the film. If we can grant that Joss Whedon knows what he’s doing, we can move on to issues that go beyond the artistic merits of Age of Ultron. Continue reading Age of Ultron: Human Visions, Second Chances and Filled Gaps

The Stones Cry Out: A Review of The Interview

The_Interview_2014_posterIf Sony pictures wanted to stir up a buzz over a film, they could hardly have orchestrated a better series of events than the geo-political drama that played out ahead of The Interview: a mysterious cyberattack on Sony reportedly originating out of North Korea, followed by threats of violence against any theater that dared to show the film, followed by an abrupt Sony decision to pull the film, followed by a tweetfest escalating all the way up to the White House, followed by, finally, a Sony reversal and release of the film online and to independent theaters.

On the face of it, The Interview serves up about two hours of slapstick buffoonery – something on the order of a Three Stooges flick with some gratuitous cheap sex and Rambo-like combat to round out the R-rated mix. But precisely because of geo-political realities, there’s more to The Interview than your typical Hollywood comedy. Here’s the story in sum:

Continue reading The Stones Cry Out: A Review of The Interview

Dracula Untold

Dracula Untold looks to do for Dracula what Maleficent did for its title character. What if there is more to Dracula than we thought? dracula-untold-poster1What if he is a hero (albeit a problematic one)? Dracula Untold suggests that he is just that – a misunderstood monster who has become what he is for love. And make no mistake, Vlad the Impaler is a monster.

His childhood is tragic. He and 999 other kids were impressed into the service of the Sultan of Turkey, who brutally turned them into killers devoid of moral or a conscience. Vlad eventually made his reputation by impaling entire villages of people (much like the real Vlad, who apparently skewered 20,000 people – in one day).

When the film begins, he has apparently put that behind him. He’s now a prince of Transylvania, a tribute country of Turkey. He has a beautiful wife and child and a populace who believes in him. When the Turks return and ask for another 1,000 kids, he’s not about to let that happen. Unfortunately, his army is vastly outnumbered. If he is going to save his people, he needs the kind of power that brings armies to its knees. Continue reading Dracula Untold

Honor Living: How the Moral Absolutes Elevate Human Life

Omni-Mandalay HotelOn the evening of January 1st, 2008, at approximately 7:30pm, a call came in to the Irving, TX, 911 emergency response line. A female voice came screaming onto the line, “Help me … my dad shot me and now I’m dying!”

The caller was 17-year-old Sarah Said. She and her sister Amina, 18, had been shot multiple times in a taxi cab which had been abandoned at the service entrance of the nearby Omni Mandalay hotel. Amina was incapacitated instantly, but Sarah had been able to make this one call before the ninth shot unloaded into her body silenced her voice for good. It is believed with good evidence that the girls’ father, Yaser Abdel Said, an Egyptian-born Muslim who was working as a taxi-driver at the time, is the perpetrator. The girls, both of whom had American boyfriends, had previously fled home with their mother and had been resisting his plans to “sell” them as wives to men of his choosing in Egypt. Said has not been seen since, and is wanted by the FBI. Continue reading Honor Living: How the Moral Absolutes Elevate Human Life

Why should I believe something?

child with glasses and questioning look in front of a chalkboard full of question marks

People believe all sorts of things. Some believe in aliens, while others don’t. Some believe in global warming, while others don’t. Some believe in evolution, while other’s don’t. Some believe in a God or gods, while others do not. Why the disagreement, given there are certainly people of good intention and intellect on either side of many important issues? Why should we believe something? Continue reading Why should I believe something?

Is Believing in Absolute Truth Narrow-Minded or Intolerant?

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The objection of Christians being intolerant or narrow-minded is one of the more popular charges thrown down when discussing some of the moral issues of our day. Christians in many cases, are painted with broad strokes to be the “horse with blinders on its eyes, limiting its vision of the world; or that of an ostrich with its head buried in the sand, completely oblivious to the surrounding world.”[1] But is this true?

In my daughter’s homeschool  apologetics training, we have spent a great deal of time working through the objections coming against believing absolute truth exists. One of those objections that we see and hear every so often is with reference to the matters of Christians being intolerant or narrow-minded. Whenever these objection emerge, I find it to be the opportune moment to discuss it and show her how to apply the claim to itself and demonstrate how it breaks down.

Because it has been a crazy month at work, and this topic is so relevant in our home discussions and my workplace, I would like to present four reasons why the “intolerance” objection is false. And how this accusation of Christians being “narrow minded” is really not a bad thing. As I share this post, I am wanting us to bear in mind that those who make these statements do not possess a biblical worldview and think very differently about truth and reality.

How to Break it Down

The first reason this objection is self-defeating is because truth by definition is that which corresponds to all of reality. By its very nature, truth is narrow and at times, divisive by its definition and application. To give an example of how truth corresponds to reality at least today, let’s suppose that there is a blue 2010 Mazda 3 outside my house and in my driveway. If we were to get up and go outside my house, look in the driveway, look at the registration corresponding to the car and see that the color of the Mazda 3 is truly blue, then all the other claims of the car being different year or color are false. Continue reading Is Believing in Absolute Truth Narrow-Minded or Intolerant?

Abdu Murray and Grand Central Questions, Part 2

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We continue our discussion with Abdu Murray about his new book Grand Central Question: Answering the Critical Concerns of the Major Worldviews (IVP, 2014). (Part 1 of discussion.) Murray is an attorney, a former Muslim, and an experienced apologist, and his book examines the critical questions of human existence in light of some of today’s major worldviews.

CAA: There are a number of Christian thinkers today who are critical of rational apologetics and who claim that this approach is wrongheaded in a postmodern period. Some hold that the best we can do is tell our personal story and live a visibly Christian life. Have you found in your travels that people are no longer interested in rational arguments for Christianity?

AM: Actually, I have found quite the opposite to be true. I speak at open forums to diverse audiences. Almost every engagement I have is followed by Q&A and almost every time the questions are about propositional truths and how they apply to our lives and ultimate realities. Christians and non-Christians alike are asking these questions. They want—actually need—rational answers to their rationally stated questions. I can recall quite vividly one incident after I spoke at a church about the foundation for the resurrection of Jesus as a historical fact. An older couple, both of whom said they followed Christ for years, told me that they had finally come back to church that day after a year’s absence. They stayed away so long because their son died a year before and while they “hoped” that they would see their son again in the resurrection of believers, they always feared that it was just a feeling. But after hearing the rational arguments in favor of Jesus’ resurrection, they were overjoyed with the confidence that they would see their son again. At our events, we’re seeing many non-Christians coming to faith because they finally find rational answers to the questions they’ve always had.

Continue reading Abdu Murray and Grand Central Questions, Part 2

Jonathan Maberry's Rot and Ruin: Honor, Idealism, and the Monsters Within

“When writers tell a story about monsters, we’re usually using them as a vehicle in cvr9781442402331_9781442402331_lgorder to tell a story about our own world.” – Jonathan Maberry

The horror genre is becoming increasingly cerebral, at least in terms of how zombies are being used  (World War ZWarm Bodies, and The Walking Dead). Jonathan Maberry’s Rot and Ruin series is a welcome addition to the list. He uses a zombie apocalypse to highlight the value of human life, the bankruptcy of relativistic ethics, the potential beauty (and horror) of free will, and the importance of  offering genuine hope in an apparently hopeless world.
The initial book, Rot and Ruin, was Booklist’s Ten Best Horror Novels for Young Adults and a Bram Stoker winner. In addition to being optioned for the big screen, it was nominated for several state Teen Book Awards, the Cybils Award, the Eva Perry Mock Printz medal, the Dead Letter Best Novel Award, and four Melinda Awards). The second book in the series, Dust and Decay, won the 2011 Bram Stoker Award. This review will cover only the first two entries to the series; next month I will post a review of the final two books.

The New-er Atheists: Two movements battle for heart and mind

heart and mind

The term ‘New Atheist’ is beginning to get a bit old already. It is still relatively new, chronologically, at least in relation to centuries of classical atheists. The movement seems to have arisen, or at least gained popularity, after the events of 9/11 (2001) in the USA. It was characterized by a shift towards the use of rhetoric, emotion, fear, and embodied very ‘religious’ type behaviors (some argue mirroring religious fundamentalists), despite the often claimed ‘reason’ branding. Continue reading The New-er Atheists: Two movements battle for heart and mind