• Bilbo Baggins goes on an adventure
    Featured Posts,  Reel Life Journeys

    Bilbo Baggins becomes less comfortable, more helpful

    “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit…” Professor J.R.R. Tolkien scribbled these words unexpectedly on a blank page in a term paper he was grading during the early 1930s. He had no idea where the words came from or where they would lead, but he was determined to find out. He spent the next few years drawing upon his love of languages and mythology to craft the fanciful tale of Bilbo Baggins and his adventures in The Hobbit. Since the book was first published in 1937, millions of copies of The Hobbit have been sold to readers around the world in more than 40 languages. New editions…

  • Reel Life Journeys

    Lessons learned during six years of Reel Life Journeys

    Dear Readers, After writing more than 70 columns about films, faith and family, I’ve decided to take a break. I would like to tell you that I am flying to New Zealand for a small part in Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit.” But the simple truth is that I have a number of writing projects I would like to complete in the next twelve months. Discontinuing my monthly Reel Life Journeys column will free up the time I need for these new projects. However, I did not make this decision quickly. Only after much thought and prayer did I see that this was the best road to take at this point…

  • Reel Life Journeys

    Courage to change deplorable situations can be found within

    For this reel life journey, let’s travel back in time to 1963. In Washington, D.C., President John Kennedy, our nation’s 35th president, walks downstairs from his White House residence and starts his workday in the Oval Office. In Jackson, Mississippi, as portrayed in the movie The Help, black women in neatly ironed blue uniforms ride a city bus down the boulevard to a white neighborhood of fine homes. At their stop, they get off the bus and walk over to the houses that they keep. They enter through the back door and start their workday. These women do much more than clean the house. They cook the meals, do the…

  • Reel Life Journeys

    Potter’s love for his friends triumphs over all

    It’s been a long journey to normalcy for Harry Potter. Some people work their whole lives to achieve fame and fortune. Harry had it thrust upon him before he was out of his playpen, but it never mattered much to him. All he really wanted was to live in a family of love. As we are reminded in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” in theaters now, Harry was just a small child when his parents were murdered by the evil wizard Voldemort in Godric’s Hollow on All Hallows’ Eve. Left with only vague memories and a lightning bolt scar on his forehead, Harry was sent to live…

  • Featured Posts,  Reel Life Journeys

    A reflective journey through Middle-earth during Lent

    It’s Lent, the forty days before Easter when many people fast, give alms, and reflect on who they are in the sight of God and others. Often during Lent, I will watch the extended editions of the three Lord of the Rings films, for they give me another opportunity to visit Middle-earth and to explore the lives and motivations of the main characters. Each time I watch the films, I see, as Boromir tells Aragorn, that “there is weakness, there is frailty, but there is courage also and honor to be found in men,” and most definitely in hobbits. So join me as we take a Lenten journey of reflection and step…

  • Reel Life Journeys

    Don’t fear the end of times, live today with compassion

    “The end is near” is a phrase that’s been around for a long, long time. We heard it most recently from Harold Camping, the 89-year-old civil engineer, self-taught bible sage and owner of the Family Radio Network. Camping’s numerological calculations and extensive study of Scripture led him to predict that the Day of Judgment (also known as the Rapture) was supposed to happen Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 6 pm Eastern daylight time. Earthquakes and other terrible natural events would begin at that time, culminating in the end of the world five months later on October 21, 2011. Yet we also know from Scripture that when referring to his return,…

  • Reel Life Journeys

    Our response to adversity defines our lives, our faith

    Last month I wrote of our Lenten journey and how we should follow the example of Jesus (and the Abbate family) to care for others, even in the darkest times of our lives. Now in the glorious light of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday, I want to tell you about the Hamilton family, specifically their daughter Bethany, whose life is portrayed in the new film Soul Surfer. Bethany discovers that a tragic event she thought was the end of her life was in fact just the beginning to a new, more meaningful one. The only daughter of surfers Sheri and Tom Hamilton, Bethany grew up on the island of Kauai…

  • Reel Life Journeys

    Jesus calls us to care for others, even during the darkest times

    Just as the Abbate family sat down to dinner one evening, the telephone rang. It was the phone call that all parents fear: their son had been in an automobile accident. The events that followed became the factual basis for a new film in theaters now: The 5th Quarter. The Abbates hurriedly drove to the area of town where a new subdivision was under construction, but were stopped at the entrance by the police. “I need to be with my son in there,” Steven Abbate shouted at the officers. When told to wait for someone to explain the situation, he wouldn’t stand still. Steven ran through the woods and around…

  • Featured Readings for Lent,  Reel Life Journeys

    During Lent we learn the true meaning of true grit

    Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well. – Matthew 5:38-39 Rooster Cogburn never turned the other cheek. When we watch True Grit and meet Cogburn, the cantankerous one-eye U.S. Marshal portrayed by John Wayne (1969) and Jeff Bridges (2010), it’s easy to imagine that he always lived by the “eye for an eye” directive found in the book of Exodus, chapter 21. In Cogburn’s fictional era of…

  • Featured Readings for Lent,  Reel Life Journeys

    This dark Lenten journey will soon end in the Light

    I am alone. I walk along a shadowed path, a dark Lenten journey into self-consideration. Night has fallen early; I can barely see the way ahead. I stumble and fall, many times, for I am weak and unsure of my way. Where should I turn? The black forest closes around me, tall trees of sins surround me: mighty redwoods of past transgressions on the left, massive oaks of inaction on the right. Suddenly my feet step onto a metal sidewalk that carries me into the darkness. It slowly descends, a one-way escalator, a monstrous, mechanical movement machine, pulling me down into a deep chasm. Like a giant indoor shopping mall,…